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Corporatist Corruption:
Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime

Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability

News Corporatism Recommended Links Casino Capitalism Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Control Fraud
 (crisis of corporate governance)
Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry Bill Clinton, the man who sold Democratic Party to Wall Street and helped FIRE sector to convert the country into casino Audatioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Propaganda of Shareholder Value  Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite
Deregulation as crony capitalism Revolving Doors as Corruption Brooksley Born and Three Marketeers Lack of transparency, problems with following GAAP standards Principal-agent problem Revolving Doors as Corruption
Corruption of Regulators Corruption at the SEC Corruption of FED Corruption of Treasury Corruption of Congress John Dugan and the corruption of Office of Comptroller of currency
Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy America’s Financial Oligarchy Banking Bonuses as Money Laundering Numbers racket Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy
Quiet coup Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism The Great Transformation Kleptocracy Wall Street Propaganda Machine
Credibility Trap Privatization as a special case of corruption        
Think Tanks Enablers The Maestro Has No Clothes Glass-Steagall repeal Phil Gramm Financial Humor Etc

"At its heart, therefore, the financial crisis was a breakdown in the rule of law in America."

-- James Galbraith

In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.

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

Systemic fraud was the second nature of corporatist regimes from its humble beginning in the first half of the XX century in Mussolini Italy to reincarnation of corporatism by Reagan. In this sense the terms corporatism and the term crony capitalism reflect the same social phenomenon. Both means the elimination of accountability. And first and foremost elimination of accountability for the financial sector, as fish rots from the top. According to Wikipedia corruption occurred on several different scales:

Scales of corruption

Corruption can occur on different scales. There is corruption that occurs as small favors between a small number of people (petty corruption), corruption that affects the government on a large scale (grand corruption), and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the every day structure of society, including corruption as one of the symptoms of organized crime (systemic corruption).

Wikipedia conveniently omitted neoliberalism as the source of system corruption.  At a deeper level it is corruption that form the backbone to globalization. As neoliberal regimes enforce deregulation, privatization, and structural adjustment policies, requiring civil service to shrink, the side effect of externality of this policies is outflow of money iether to G7 countries (for the third worlds) or to offshore jurisdictions (for the USA and other G7 countries). While Western governments, the World Bank and IMF denounce corruption, their own policies promote it on a systemic level. 

Like Mussolini used to say (or was it attributed to him) the essence of corporatism is  to [corporate] friends everything, to enemies the law. And that's the essence of Clinton-Bush-Obama regime if we are talking about high level executives. Small fish still can be fried, but big sharks are untouchable. No executives went to jail after 2008 financial crisis. No executives went to jail due to deception of people before Iraq war or due to incompetence or worse during 9/11. 

Mussolini claimed that by elimination of accountability the dynamic (or heroic) capitalism based on private initiative could be prevented from degenerating into stale crony capitalism.  But opposite is actually true. There is a short initial period when deregulation unleashed private energy, but after that corruption emerges and the situation can deteriorate deeper that it was under stale state capitalism regime.

Many analysts assert that China is one of the main examples of state capitalism in the 21st century. But this is only partially true as elements of corporatism in China are very strong. The same was actually true for the USSR. All those three regimes are just different flavor of general corporatist model. As Margaret Thatcher used to say "There is no alternative".

The difference is only in degree of state involvement in economics, not in the substance of the social regime.  Bremmer describes state capitalism the following way (We're All State Capitalists Now - By Niall Ferguson Foreign Policy):

In this system, governments use various kinds of state-owned companies to manage the exploitation of resources that they consider the state's crown jewels and to create and maintain large numbers of jobs. They use select privately owned companies to dominate certain economic sectors. They use so-called sovereign wealth funds to invest their extra cash in ways that maximize the state's profits. In all three cases, the state is using markets to create wealth that can be directed as political officials see fit. And in all three cases, the ultimate motive is not economic (maximizing growth) but political (maximizing the state's power and the leadership's chances of survival). This is a form of capitalism, but one in which the state acts as the dominant economic player and uses markets primarily for political gain.

Just replace the word capitalism with corporatism in the last sentence and you will get pretty apt definition of both China and USSR social models.

Mussolini also aptly characterized corporatism as "state socialism turned on its head": instead of state controlling the corporations, in corporatism corporations are controlling the state.

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 abolition of private property. It was this intellectual tradition that led to Corporatism, as the key is the attempt to merge corporate power with the state power. Such a system does not nessesary need to take form of national socialism. It became dominant in XX century in various, often milder forms (including BTW the "New Deal" in the USA).

Due to its origin Corporatism has been attractive social model in the Latin countries of Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and France) and Latin America, where it resonated with Catolisism. Germany also has significant catholic population which, by some accounts, was the core of the NSDP. The connection between Catholicism and the Continental corporatism movements is also obvious in the various Christian Democrat parties (where for ‘Christian’ we should read ‘Roman Catholic’). In USA corporatism initially got fertile ground in states with significant Catholic population such as Wisconsin with its high percentage of German Catholics (senator McCartney represented Wisconsin in the US senate). However, its influence goes much wider.

The key idea of corporatism is to eliminate or at least lessen the inherent conflict between the owners of capital represented by management and labor represented by unions.  And one way to do it and to institualize trade unions as the only legitimate representatives of workers and work with its corrupted leadership, not with charismatic leaders of the strikes or, worse, communists. This way demands of workers were partially accommodated in a form that was acceptable to large capital. And the key here are interest of large capital as it is the primary political force in any corporatist regime. Quoting Benito Mussolini: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.

Later in the USA large corporations understood that outsourcing of labor represents a lever that makes negotiation with trade union unnecessary. Globalization makes possible by-and-large ignore labor demand using outsourcing as a powerful wedge issue. Due to this development, in core of which was the dramatic rise of international communication and Internet, corporatism mutated into a different form in which demands of lower classes were just ideologically suppressed in a way that was done under communist dictatorships using Marxist ideology and labor was split using verge issues and brainwashed to vote against its own political interests. Paradoxically part of organized labor especially in mid-Western states became a staunch supporter of Republican Party (What's the matter with Kansas)

The resulting social order took a very specific form of "free market capitalism" (aka Neoliberalism) which like some previous forms of corporatism such as national socialism has very strong ideological component. Actually so strong that was able to defeat Marxism on international arena and series of neolibral revolutions shook former Soviet camp. Some states like China internally transformed into neoliberal form, avoiding "color revolution" stage.

As an ideology neoliberalism represent eclectic set of pseudoscience theories that somewhat mirror of Hitler theories of superiority of Arian race in economic terms  (replace the Arian race with corporations and "free market").  Like Marxism it became powerful global in its reach secular religion, with its own set of prophets, martyrs, holy books, and the plan of salvation.

In reality free market plays the role of Heaven in Christianity, an idealized but unachievable construction. There was never was and will never be any real "free market" in any neoliberal states  for a simple reason as it is impossible and contracts the fact that neoliberalism as a form of corporatism is a merge of power of large corporations and the state. As such large corporation, and under neoliberalism especially large financial players are always subsidized (and rescued) by state because they control the state. It is the same merger of state power and corporations as in classic corporatism  but with more prominent role of financial oligarchy in the mix: Johnson (The Quiet Coup - Magazine - The Atlantic) called acquiring by financial oligarchy dominant influence on the state a "Quiet coup" (not very dissimilar to NSDP takeover of power in Germany).

But religious component of neoliberalism are so strong that all concerns about this issue are suppressed in "true believers" (which constitute the majority of population in major Western countries).

That's why corruption of government is an immanent feature of corporatist regimes and it instantly became a prominent feature of the US capitalism (and a real problem) immediately after election of Reagan, which signifies political victory of neoliberalism in the USA (with Saving and Loan Crisis was the first act of this corruption drama). And it goes without saying that it became pervasive under Clinton-Bush-Obama regimes. Paradoxically it was especially acute under Clinton administration during which all "socialist" elements of "New Deal" (government regulation of private sector) were completely dismantled.


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Old News ;-)

[Mar 24, 2019] "Russia Gate" investigation was a color revolution agaist Trump. But a strnge side effect was that Clintons have managed to raise a vicious, loud mouthed thug to the status of some kind of martyr.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Back in November of 2016, the American people were so fed up with the neoliberal oligarchy that everyone knows really runs the country that they actually elected Donald Trump president ..."
"... The oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years, and appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an official investigation in order to lend it the appearance of legitimacy. Every component of the ruling establishment (i.e., the government, the media, the intelligence agencies, the liberal intelligentsia, et al.) collaborated in an unprecedented effort to remove an American president from office based on a bunch of made-up horseshit which kind of amounts to an attempted soft coup. ..."
"... It now appears that the world will see that the so-called "Russia Gate" investigation was nothing more than the pro-Clintonista BS that Trump always claimed it was. ..."
"... As for the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, they should be treated like the creeps they are: corrupt, opportunistic and power hungry. Like Typhoid Mary, they infect everything they touch ..."
"... I'm also convinced that Trump and Clinton colluded, but that they did so in order to get her elected. I don't think he really wanted the job. But still, Hillary can do nationalist, and the designs of the Empire would have proceeded either way. ..."
"... Trump is a crook who takes money wherever he can get it, from subcontractors foolish enough to work for him to bankers dumb enough to believe his financial statements. No doubt he has helped Russian crooks sanitize their booty, but that is apparently too difficult for Mueller to prove. ..."
"... It is not good news that this troglodyte was not indicted, but it is good news that Russia was not found guilty of electing him. Russiagate is an existential issue for the "national security" establishment and just another propaganda offensive designed to justify the largely useless & destructive activities of the Pentagon. ..."
"... It is time to build cooperation not continue the stupidity of US unilateralism and pursuit of global hegemony. Trump and his team have to be removed from office. Democrats don't need Russiagate to do it. The truth will work better. ..."
Mar 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ken , Mar 23, 2019 2:09:31 PM | link

Back in November of 2016, the American people were so fed up with the neoliberal oligarchy that everyone knows really runs the country that they actually elected Donald Trump president. They did this fully aware that Trump was a repulsive, narcissistic ass clown who bragged about "grabbing women by the pussy" and jabbered about building "a big, beautiful wall" and making the Mexican government pay for it. They did this fully aware of the fact that Donald Trump had zero experience in any political office whatsoever, was a loudmouth bigot, and was possibly out of his gourd on amphetamines half the time. The American people did not care. They were so disgusted with being conned by arrogant, two-faced, establishment stooges like the Clintons, the Bushes, and Barack Obama that they chose to put Donald Trump in office, because, fuck it, what did they have to lose?

The oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years, and appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an official investigation in order to lend it the appearance of legitimacy. Every component of the ruling establishment (i.e., the government, the media, the intelligence agencies, the liberal intelligentsia, et al.) collaborated in an unprecedented effort to remove an American president from office based on a bunch of made-up horseshit which kind of amounts to an attempted soft coup.

This is the story Donald Trump is going to tell the American people.
https://consentfactory.org/2019/03/21/mueller-dammerung/

GeorgeV , Mar 23, 2019 2:13:42 PM | link

It now appears that the world will see that the so-called "Russia Gate" investigation was nothing more than the pro-Clintonista BS that Trump always claimed it was. The Clintons once again, both Bill and Hillary, have managed to raise a vicious, loud mouthed thug in the White House to the status of some kind of martyr. What a country America it is. One thing should be clear however. Any politician or media pundit that towed the pro-Clintonista line should be barred from public office or the media forever.

As for the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, they should be treated like the creeps they are: corrupt, opportunistic and power hungry. Like Typhoid Mary, they infect everything they touch. There is one difference between Typhoid Mary, and Bill and Hillary: Typhoid Mary didn't realize what she was doing, the Clintons did!

the pair , Mar 23, 2019 2:14:43 PM | link
sorry to double post, but it just occurred to me that they pulled a classic DC move: if you have something humiliating or horrible to admit, do it on a friday night.

i have to wonder if the entire western media is cynically praying for a (coincidentally distracting) school shooting or terrorist attack within the next two days.

ger , Mar 23, 2019 2:16:08 PM | link
I have close friends that have been on the MSNBC/Maddow Kool-Ade for years. Constantly declaring Mueller was on the verge of closing in on Trump and associates for treason with the Russians. On Friday night after dinner at our home, the TV was tuned to MSNBC so they could watch their spiritual leader Rachel Maddow....what a pitiful sight (both Maddow and friends). No one was going to jail or be impeached for conspiring with Putin.....how on how could that be true. Putin personally stole the election from Clinton and THEY are just going to let him walk was the declaration a few feet from my chair. Normally, I would recommend grieve counseling, but they are still my friends ... now they can go back to blaming Bernie for Clinton's loss. Maybe I will recommend grieve counseling!
DontBelieveEitherPropaganda , Mar 23, 2019 2:27:18 PM | link
@dltravers: Apart from the "goyim" you may be right.. But if you want to claim with that Trumps opponents where under the pressure of the Zionists, you got it all wrong man.. ;) No presidents been more under the Zionist thumb than DJT.
That ofc doesnt make Hillarys Saudi and Muslim brotherhood connections better.. ;)

Anyway, cheers to the end of this BS! And lets hope that Trump has now payed off his debts with Adelson now that he secured Bibis reelection. But dont hold your breath.. ;)

Nathan Mulcahy , Mar 23, 2019 2:31:06 PM | link
"very politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit and everyone who swallowed this moronic load of bull spunk has officially discredited themselves for life".

I wish so, but that's not how the exceptional nation of US of A works, as demonstrated by the Iraq WMD fiasco case. In fact, very politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit (about Saddam's WMD" BS) is alive and well, spreading more BS. What is even more depressing is that the huge chunk of this exceptional nation cannot have enough of the BS and is chanting "give me more, give me more...".

Disgusting! sorry for the pessimistic rant.

renfro , Mar 23, 2019 2:56:18 PM | link
The Dems were stupid to gin up the Russian collusion.

However some good things have come out of the investigation. It cost taxpayers 2 million but recouped over 25 million from those convicted of fraud and tax evasion.
And its not over, Mueller has sent 5 to 7 referrals or evidence/witnesses to SDNY, EDNY, DC, EDVA, plus the National Security and Criminal Divisions. These from information turned up crimes unrelated to his Russia probe and allegedly concerning Trump or his family business, a cadre of his advisers and associates. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn.

The bad news is it exposed how wide spread and corrupt the US has become...in private and political circles.

The other bad news is most of the Trump lovers and Trump haters are too stupid to drop their partisan and personal blinders and recognize that ....ITS THE CORRUPTION STUPID.

BraveNewWorld , Mar 23, 2019 3:00:34 PM | link
b you have repeatedly made the case that this whole thing was kicked off by the Steele dossier. That is factually incorrect. The first investigation was already running before the dossier ever materialized. That investigation spawned the special prosecutors investigation when Trump fired Comey and then went on TV and said it was because of the Russia investigation. The Russia investigation was originally kicked off by Papadopoulos drinking with the the Australian ambassador and bragging about what the campaign was doing with Russia. Remember the original evidence was presented to the leadership of both the House and the Senate when they were both controlled by the Republican party and every one that was briefed came out on camera and said the Justice dept was doing the right thing in pursuing this.

I think the Democrats should lose Hillary down a deep hole and not let her near any of the coming campaign events. But this came about because of the actions of the people around Trump. Not because Hillary controls the US government from some secret bunker some where.

Lozion , Mar 23, 2019 3:09:29 PM | link
One could argue Russiagate was on the contrary quite a success. The Elites behind the scheme never believed it would end up with Trump's impeachment. What they did accomplish though is a deflection via "Fake News" from the Dem's election failures & shenanigans and refocus the attention towards the DNC's emerging pedophilia scandals (Weiner, the Podesta's, Alefantis, etc) & suspicious deaths (Seth Rich, etc) towards a dead-end with the added corollary of preventing US/Ru rapprochement for more then half an administration..
Blooming Barricade , Mar 23, 2019 3:10:02 PM | link
The deeply tragic thing about this for the media, the neocons, and the liberals is that they brought it upon themselves by moving the goalposts continuously. If, after Hillary lost, they had stuck to the "Russia hacked WikiLeaks" lie, then they probably have sufficient proof from their perspective and the perspective of most of the public that Russia helped Trump win. In this case it would be remembered by the Democrats like the stolen election of 2000 (albeit the fact that it was a lie this time). They had multiple opportunities to jump off this train. Even the ridiculous DNI report could have been their final play: "Russia helped Trump." Instead of going with 2000 they went with 2001, aka 9-11, with the same neocon fearmongers playing the pipe organ of lies. As soon as they accepted the Steele Dossier, moving the focus to "collusion" they discredited themselves forever. Many of the lead proponents were discredited Iraq war hawks. Except this time it was actually worse because the whole media bought into it. This leaves an interesting conundrum: there were at least some pro-Afghanistan anti-Iraq warmongers who rejected the Bush premise in the media, so they took over the airwaves for about two years before the real swamp creatures returned. This time, it will be harder to issue a mea culpa. They made this appear like 9-11, well, this time the truthers have won, and they are doomed.
dh-mtl , Mar 23, 2019 3:11:13 PM | link
Societies collapse when their systems (institutions) become compromised. When they are no longer capable of meeting the needs of the population, or of adapting to a changing world.

Societal systems become compromised when their decision making structures, which are designed to ensure that decisions are taken in the best interest of the society as a whole, are captured by people who have no legitimacy to make the decisions, and who make decisions for the benefit of themselves, at the expense of society as a whole.

Russia-gate is a flagrant example of how the law enforcement and intelligence institutions have been captured. Their top officials, no longer loyal to their country or their institution, but rather to an international elite (including the likes of Soros, the Clintons, and far beyond) have used these institutions in an attempt to delegitimize a constitutionally elected president and to over turn an election. This is no less than treason of the highest order.

Indeed, the actions much of the Washington establishment, as well as a number international actors, since Trump was elected seems suspiciously like one of the 'Color Revolutions' that are visited upon any country who's citizens did not 'vote right' the first time. Over-throw the vote, one way or another, until the result that is wanted is achieved. None of these 'Color Revolutions' has resulted in anything good for the country involved. Rather they have resulted in the destruction of each country's institutions, and eventually societal collapse.

In the U.S. the capturing of systems' decision making structures is not limited to Russia-Gate and the overturning of the electoral system. Their are other prime examples:

- The capture of the Air Transport Safety System by Boeing that has resulted in the recent 737 Max crashes, and likely the destruction of the reputation of the U.S. aviation industry, in an industry where reputation is everything.

- The capture of the Financial Regulatory System, by Wall Street, who in 1998 rewrote the rules in their own favor, against the best interests of the population as a whole. The result was the 2008 financial crisis and the inability of the U.S. economy to effectively recover from that crisis.

- This capture is also seen in international diplomatic systems, where the U.S. is systematically by-passing or subverting international law and international institutions, (the U.N. I.C.J., I.N.F. treaty) etc., and in doing so is destroying these institutions and the ability to maintain peace.

The result of system (institution) capture is difficult to see at first. But, in time, the damage adds up, the ability of the systems to meet the needs of the population disappears, and societal decline sets in.

It looks today like the the societal decline is acellerating. Russia-gate is just one of many indicators.

English Outsider , Mar 23, 2019 3:27:38 PM | link
The pair @ 3.

Your comment on the BBC is on the mild side. I listen to it when I drive in in the morning and also get annoyed sometimes. When it is reporting on the Westminster bubble it is factually accurate as far as I can judge. Apart from that, and particularly in the case of the BBC news, we're in information control territory.

But accept that and the BBC turns into quite a valuable resource. It's well staffed, has good contacts, and picks up what the politicians want us to think with great accuracy.

In that respect it's better than the newspapers and better also than the American media. Those news outlets have several masters of which the political elite is only one. The BBC has just the one master, the political elite, and is as sensitive as a stethoscope to the shifting currents within that political elite.

So I wouldn't despise the BBC entirely. It tells us how the politicians want us to think. In telling us that it sometimes gives us a bearing on what the politicians et al are doing and what they intend to do.

worldblee , Mar 23, 2019 3:28:20 PM | link
The never-Trumpers will never let their dreams die. Of course, they never oppose Trump on substantive issues like attempting a coup in Venezuela, withdrawing from the INF treaty, supporting the nazis in Ukraine, supporting Al Qaeda forces in Syria, etc. But somehow they're totally against him and ready to haul out the latest stupid thing he said as their daily fodder for conversation...
ben , Mar 23, 2019 3:32:48 PM | link
renfro @ 10 said;"The Dems were stupid to gin up the Russian collusion."

Uh no, just doing their job of distracting the public, while ignoring the real issues the
American workers care about. You know, the things DJT promised the workers, but has never delivered.(better health care for all, ending the useless wars overseas, an infrastructure
plan to increase good paying jobs), to name just a few.

The corporate Dems( which is the lions share of them), are bought and paid for to distract, and they've done it well.

The Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, and most who have come before, are of the same ilk.

Bend over workers and lube up, for more of the same in 2020...

Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 3:48:10 PM | link
I profoundly disagree with the notion that Russiagate had anything to do with Hillary's collusion with the DNC. Gosh, that is naive at best.
1) Hillary didn't need to collude against Sanders - the additional money that she got from doing so was small change compared the to overall amount she raised for her campaign.

2) Sanders was a long-time friend of the Clintons. He boasted that he's known Hillary for over 25 years.

3) Sanders was a sheepdog meant to keep progressives in the Democratic Party. He was never a real candidate. He refused to attack Hillary on character issues and remained loyal even after Hillary-DNC collusion was revealed.

When Sanders had a chance to total disgrace Hillary, he refused to do so. Hillary repeatedly said that she had NEVER changed for vote for money but Warren had proven that she had: Hillary changed her vote on the Bankruptcy Bill for money from the credit card industry.

4) Hillary didn't try to bury her collusion with the DNC (as might be expected), instead she used it to alienate progressive voters by bring Debra Wasserman-Shultz into her campaign.

5) Hillary also alienated or ignored other important constituencies: she wouldn't support an increase in the minimum wage but accepted $750,000 from Goldman Sachs for a speech; she took the black vote for granted and all-but berated a Black Lives Matters activist; and she called whites "deplorables".

Hillary threw the race to her OTHER long-time friend in the race: Trump. The Deep-State wanted a nationalist and that's just what they got.

6) Hillary and the DNC has shown NO REMORSE whatsoever about colluding with Sanders and Sanders has shown no desire whatsoever to hold them accountable.

IMO Russiagate (Russian influence on Trump) and accusations of "Russian meddling" in the election are part of the same McCarthyist psyop to direct hate at Russia and stamp out any dissent. Trump probably knowingly, played into the Deep State's psyop by:

> hiring Manafort;

> calling on Russia to release Hillary's emails;

> talking about Putin in a admiring way.

And it accomplished much more than hating on Russia:

> served as excuse for Trump to do Deep State bidding;

> distracted from the real meddling in the 2016 election;

> served as a device for settling scores:

- Assange isolated
(Wikileaks was termed an "agent of a foreign power");

- Michael Flynn forced to resign
(because he spoke to the Russian ambassador).

hopehely , Mar 23, 2019 3:49:15 PM | link The US owes Russia an official apology. And also Russia should get its stolen buildings and the consulate back. And maybe to get paid some compensation for the injustice and for damages suffered. Without that, the Russiagate is not really over.
Jen , Mar 23, 2019 4:01:43 PM | link
BraveNewWorld @ 11:

If memory serves me correctly, the initial accusations of collusion between DJT's presidential campaign and the Kremlin came from Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity company hired by the Democratic National Committee to oversee the security of its computers and databases. This was done to deflect attention away from Hillary Clinton's illegal use of a personal server at home to conduct government business during her time as US State Secretary (2009 - 2013), business which among other things included plotting with the US embassy in Libya (and the then US ambassador Chris Stevens) to overthrow Muammar Gaddhafi's government in 2011, and conspiring also to overthrow the elected government in Honduras in 2010.

The business of Christopher Steele's dossier (part or even most of which could have been written by Sergei Skripal, depending on who you read) and George Papadopoulos' conversation with the half-wit Australian "diplomat" Alexander Downer in London were brought in to bolster the Russiagate claims and make them look genuine.

As B says, Crowdstrike does indeed have a Ukrainian nationalist agenda: its founder and head Dmitri Alperovich is a Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council (the folks who fund Bellingcat's crapaganda) and which itself receives donations from Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk. Crowdstrike has some association with one of the Chalupa sisters (Alexandra or Andrea - I can't be bothered dredging through DuckDuckGo to check which - but one of them was employed by the DNC) who donated money to the Maidan campaign that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych's government in Kiev in February 2014.

james , Mar 23, 2019 4:16:03 PM | link
thanks b... i would like russiagate to be finished, but i tend to see it much like kadath @2.. the link @2 is worth the read as a reminder of how far the usa has sunk in being a nation of passive neocons... emptywheel can't say no to this as witnessed by her article from today.. ) as a consequence, i agree with @14 dh-mtl's conclusion - "It looks today like the the societal decline is acellerating. Russia-gate is just one of many indicators."

the irony for those of us who don't live in the usa, is we are going to have watch this sad state of affairs continue to unravel, as the usa and the west continue to unravel in tandem.. the msm as corporate mouthpiece is not going to be tell us anything of relevance.. instead it will be continued madcow, or maddow bullshit 24-7... amd as kadath notes @2 - if any of them are to step up as a truth teller - they will be marginalized or silenced... so long as the mainstream swallow what they are fed in the msm, the direction of the titanic is still on track...

@19 hopehely... you can forget about anything like that happening..

WDDiM , Mar 23, 2019 4:36:17 PM | link
What Difference Does it Make?
They don't really need Russia-gate anymore. It bought them time. As we speak nuclear bombers make runs near Russian borders every day and Russian consulates get attacked with heavy weaponry in the EU and no Russian outlet is even making a reference,while Israel is ready to move heavy artillery in to Golan targeting Russia bases in Syria and China raking all their deals for civilian projects in the Med.
Russia got stuffed in the corner getting all the punches.
Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:37:43 PM | link
What a horrible witch hunt, but the msm will keep on denying and keep creating new hoaxes about Trump, Russia.
Heck the media even deny there was no collussion, they keep spinning it in different ways!

But remember folks, we here was always right...
The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right.
https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/the-mueller-report-is-in-they-were-wrong-we-were-right-a915d23a6d82

iv> also, there is a big risk that the media, deep state will create new accusations coming days.

Posted by: Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:39:30 PM | link

also, there is a big risk that the media, deep state will create new accusations coming days.

Posted by: Zanon | Mar 23, 2019 4:39:30 PM | link

Russ , Mar 23, 2019 4:41:30 PM | link
People are forgetting to call Dembot agent Wheeler "FBI rat Wheeler", or just Rat Wheeler. Or EmptySqueal.
karlof1 , Mar 23, 2019 4:47:23 PM | link
Thanks for citing Caitlin Johnstone's wonderful epitaph, b--Russiavape indeed!

During the fiasco, the Outlaw US Empire provided excellent proof to the world that it does everything it accused Russia of doing and more, while Russia's cred has greatly risen. Meanwhile, there're numerous other crimes Trump, his associates, Clinton, her associates--like Pelosi--ought to be impeached, removed from office, arrested, then tried in court, which is diametrically opposed to the current--false--narrative.

Scotch Bingeington , Mar 23, 2019 4:47:39 PM | link
The people who steered us into two years of Russiavape insanity are the very last people anyone should ever listen to ever again when determining the future direction of our world.

Yes, absolutely. And not just regarding the world's future, but even if you happen to be in the same building with one of them and he/she bursts into your already smoke-filled room yelling that the house is on fire.

Btw, whatever authority has ever ruled that "ex-MI6 dude" Steele (who doesn't remind me of steel at all, but rather of a certain nondescript entity named Anthony Blair) is in fact merely 'EX'? He himself? The organisation? The Queen perhaps?

Zanon , Mar 23, 2019 4:52:41 PM | link
Scotch Bingeington

Expose them at every opportunity, they should not get away with this like nothing happend:

If you think a single Russiagate conspiracist is going to be held accountable for media malpractice, you clearly haven't been awake the past 2 decades. No one will pay for being wrong. This profession is as corrupt & rotten as the kleptocracy it serves

defeatism isn't the answer -- should remind & mock these hacks every opportunity. Just need to be aware of the beast we're up against.


https://twitter.com/MarkAmesExiled/status/1109235461430657026
Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 5:00:23 PM | link
Who will say that the King has no clothes?

The establishment plays on peoples fears and so we all sink together as we all cling to our "lesser evils", tribal allegiances, and try to avoid the embarrassment of being wrong.

Although everyone is aware of the corruption and insider dealing, no one seems to want to acknowledge the extent, or to think critically so as to reveal any more than we already know.

It's almost as though corruption (the King's nudity) is a national treasure and revealing it would be a national security breach in the exceptional nation.

And so to the Deep State cabal continues to rule unimpeded.

WDDiM , Mar 23, 2019 5:08:16 PM | link
The oligarchy that runs the country responded to the American people's decision by inventing a completely cock-and-bull story about Donald Trump being a Russian agent who the American people were tricked into voting for by nefarious Russian mind-control operatives, getting every organ of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years

Posted by: Ken | Mar 23, 2019 2:09:31 PM | 4

You people don't get it do you?
'The Plan' was to get rid of Turkey-Russia-Israel (and a few others) with one fell swoop....

steve , Mar 23, 2019 5:11:08 PM | link
Deep state makes the warren commish seem authoritative
john , Mar 23, 2019 5:13:37 PM | link
the rot in DC is palpable. this whole russiagate fiasco's been like some kind of really bad audition for deeper state kabuki...what's next?

keeping brand Trump alive.

Blooming Barricade , Mar 23, 2019 5:22:08 PM | link
Matt Taibbi:

It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD
The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-is-wmd-times-a-million

Pft , Mar 23, 2019 5:38:41 PM | link
Russia gate was both a diversion from the real collusions (Russian Mafia , China and Israel) and a clever ruse to allow Trump to back off from his campaign promise to improve relations with Russia. US policy toward Russia is no different under Trump than it was during Obamas administration. Exactly what the Russia Gaters wanted and Trump delivered.

That Mueller could find nothing more than some tax/money laundering/perjury charges in which the culprits in the end get pardoned is hardly surprising given his history. Want something covered up? Put Mueller on it.

To show how afraid Trump was of Mueller he appointed his long term friend Barr as AJ and pretended he didn't know how close they were when it came out. There is no lie people wont believe. Lol

Meanwhile Trumps Russian Mafia connections stay under the radar in MSM, Trump continues as Bibi's sock puppet, the fake trade war with China continues as Ivanka is rolling in China trademarks .

The Rothschild puppet that bailed out Trumps casinos as Commerce Secretary overseeing negotiations that will open the doors for more US and EU (they willy piggy back on the deal like hyenas) jobs to go to China (this time in financial/services) and stronger IPR protections that will facilitate this transfer, and will provide companies more profits in which to buyback stocks but wont bring manufacturing jobs back.

tuyzentfloot , Mar 23, 2019 5:46:31 PM | link
The collusion story has been hit badly and it will likely lose its momentum, but I wonder how far reaching this loss of momentum is. There are many variants. The 'unwitting accomplice' is an oxymoron which isn't finished yet. The Russians hacking the election: not over. The Russians sowing discord and division. Not over. Credibility of the Russiagate champions overall? Not clear. Some could take a serious hit. Brennan and other insiders who made it onto cable tv?
It is possible that the whole groupthink about Russiagate changes drastically
and that 'the other claims' also lose their credibility but it's far from certain. After years of building up tension Russia's policies are also changing. I think they have shown restraint but their paranoia and aggressiveness is also increasing and some claims will become true after all.
JOHN CHUCKMAN , Mar 23, 2019 5:48:55 PM | link

"Russiagate" has always been a meaningless political fraud.

When folks like Hillary Clinton sign on to something and give it a great deal of weight, you really do know you are talking about an empty bag of tricks. She is a psychopathic liar, one with a great deal of blood on her hands.

My problem with this official result is that it may tend to give Trump a boost, new credibility.

The trouble with Trump has never been Russia - something only blind ideologues and people with the minds of children believe - it is that he is genuinely ignorant and genuinely arrogant and loud-mouthed - an extremely dangerous combination.

And in trying to defend himself, this genuine coward has completely surrendered American foreign policy to its most dangerous enemies, the Neocons.


https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/john-chuckman-comment-americas-democrats-launch-lawsuit-against-trump-and-russia-and-wiki-leaks-over-election-hilarious-this-is-a-country-fit-to-dominate-the-earth-they-cant-manage-their-own/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/john-chuckman-comment-yet-more-ignorant-gossip-and-innuendo-about-trump-and-russia-this-all-reminds-me-of-insane-past-american-campaigns-against-procter-gamble-or-harry-potter-charging-devil/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/12/08/john-chuckman-comment-what-americas-neocons-represent-for-arms-control-agreements-such-as-the-inf-with-russia-and-heres-the-deadly-weakness-in-trumps-psychology-that-has-allowed-neocons-to-ta/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/john-chuckman-comment-a-comment-rightly-asks-with-trump-doing-everything-the-establishment-wants-why-do-they-still-want-to-get-rid-of-him-i-think-these-are-the-essential-reasons/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/john-chuckman-comment-some-very-dark-thoughts-of-where-america-is-going-in-its-relations-with-russia-and-iran-i-do-think-we-live-in-dangerous-times-and-they-are-deliberately-manufactured/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/john-chuckman-comment-complete-degradation-of-a-self-styled-great-nation-which-allows-paid-thugs-to-use-poison-gas-to-give-it-an-excuse-for-still-more-killing-the-dark-place-we-are-brought-to-by-tr/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/john-chuckman-comment-more-on-the-strange-phenomenon-of-trump-and-americas-neocons-a-man-who-imagines-himself-a-great-leader-leading-nothing-and-he-still-has-pathetic-followers-who-think-hes-fi/

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/john-chuckman-comment-new-phony-book-on-trump-and-russia-whats-really-going-on-with-all-the-mumbo-jumbo-insanity-in-america-the-real-target-aint-trump-neocons-and-russia/


Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 5:59:03 PM | link
Blaming Russiagate on Hillary is very easy for those who hate her or hope that Trump will deliver on his faux populist fake-agenda.

No one wants to contemplate the possibility that Hillary and Trump, and the duopoly they lead, fixed the election and planned Russiagate in advance.

It seems a bridge too far, even for the smart skeptics at MoA.

So funny.

Trump has proven himself to be a neocon. He broke his campaign promise to investigate Hillary within DAYS of being elected. He has brought allies of his supposed enemies into his Administration.

Yet every one turns from the possibility that the election was fixed. LOL.

The horrible possibility that our "democracy" is managed is too horrible to contemplate. Lets just blame it all on Hillary.

Welcome to the rabbithole.

Copeland , Mar 23, 2019 6:23:41 PM | link
Those who have been holding their breath for two years can finally exhale. I guess the fever of hysteria will have to be attended a while longer. A malady of this kind does not easily die out overnight. Those who have been taken in, and duped for so long, can not so easily recover. The weight of so much cognitive dissonance presses down on them like a boulder. The dust of the stampeded herd behind Russiagate is enough paralyze the will of those who have succumbed.

As Joseph Conrad once wrote, "The ways of human progress are inscrutable."

Jonathan , Mar 23, 2019 7:02:54 PM | link
@37 Jackrabbit,

Of course it was fixed. That's what the Electoral College is for .

Arioch , Mar 23, 2019 7:06:26 PM | link
Russiagate is a pendulum, it reached the dead point, it would hange in the air for a moment, then it would start swinging right backwards at full speed crashign everything in the way!

It would be revealed, it was Russia who paid Muller to start that hysteria and stole money from American tax-payers and make America an international laughing stock. "Putin benefited from it", highly likely!

Muller's investigation is paid for with Manafort's seized cash and property and Manafort has made Yanukovich king of Ukraine, so Manafort is Putin's agent, so Muller is working of Putin's money, so it was Putin's collusion everything that Muller is doing! Highly likely.

fast freddy , Mar 23, 2019 7:12:20 PM | link
There is no "Liberal Media". Those whom claim to be Liberal and yet support the Warmonger Democratic Party (Republican lite) are frauds. Liberalism does not condone war and it most certainly does not support wars of aggression - especially those wars waged against defenseless nations. Neither can liberalism support trade sanctions or the subjugation of Palestinians in the Apartheid State of ISreal.
Peter , Mar 23, 2019 7:16:00 PM | link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHo6cW0HVkQ DISGRACEFUL WILL WE EVER SAY NO?
vk , Mar 23, 2019 7:24:32 PM | link
@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 23, 2019 3:48:10 PM | 18

We must be very careful with the words we choose, in order to paint the correct conjuncture and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.

It's one thing to say Bernie Sanders is not a revolutionary; it's another completely different thing to say he was in cahoots with the Clintons.

If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary. Not only he chose to do so, but he only didn't win because the DNC threw all its weight against him.

Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist. He's an imperialist who believes the spoils of the empire should be also used to build a Scandinavian-style Welfare State for the American people only. A cynic would tell you this would make him a Nazi without the race theme, but you have to keep in mind societies move in a dialectical patern, not a linear one: if you preach for "democratic socialism", you're bringing the whole package, not only the bits you want.

I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists. Americans are more aware of their own contradictions (more enlightened) now than before he disputed those faithful primaries of 2016. And the most important ingredient for that, in my opinion, was the fact he was crushed by both parties; that the "establishment" acted in unison not to let him get near the WH. That was a didactic moment for the American people (or a signficant part of it).

But I agree Russiagate went well beyond just covering the Clintons' dirt in the DNC.

It may have be born like that, but, if that was the case, the elites quickly realized it had other, ampler practical uses. The main one, in my opinion, was to drive a wedge between Trump's Clash of Civilizations's doctrine -- which perceives China as the main long term enemy, and Russia as a natural ally of the West -- and the public opinon. The thing is most of the American elite is far too dependent on China's productive chain; Russia is not, and can be balkanized.

Sandwichman , Mar 23, 2019 7:30:58 PM | link
counterpoint: If the Mueller report does not EXPLICITLY exonerate Trump, it does NOT exonerate Trump.
wagelaborer , Mar 23, 2019 7:43:06 PM | link
There is a funny video compilation of the TV talking heads predicting the end of Trump, new bombshells, impeachment, etc., over the last two years.
Unfortunately, the same sort of compilation could be made of sane people predicting "this new information means the end of Russiagate" over the same time period.
The truth is that the truth doesn't matter, only the propaganda, and it has not stopped, only spun onto new hysteria.
Rob , Mar 23, 2019 7:58:15 PM | link
As others have said, hard core Russiagaters will likely not be convinced that they have been wrong all along. They have too much emotional investment in the grand conspiracy theory to simply let it go. Rather, they will forever point to what they believe are genuine bits of evidence and curse Mueller for not following the leads. And the Dems in the House of Representatives will waste more time and resources on pointless investigations in an effort to keep the public sufficiently distracted from more important matters, such as the endless wars and coups that they support. A pox on all their houses, both Democrats and Republicans.
Sandwichman , Mar 23, 2019 8:08:59 PM | link
"...hard core Russiagaters will likely not be convinced that they have been wrong all along."

Wrong about what? There seems to be "narrative" operative here that there are only two positions on this matter: the "right" one and the "wrong" one and nothing else.

Sunny Runny Burger , Mar 23, 2019 8:10:36 PM | link
Ben nails it in "Mar 23, 2019 3:32:48 PM | 17".

Ben's and other comments might make this a little bit superfluous but it's short.

A case of divide and conquer against the population

This time it was a fabricated scandal.

Continued control over "facts" and narratives, the opportunity for efficient misdirection and distraction, stealing and wasting other people's time and effort, spurious disagreements, wearing down relations.

The illusion of choice, (false) opposition, blinded "oversight", and mythical claims concerning a civilian government (in the case of the US: "of, for, and by" or something like that).

Who knew or knows is irrelevant as long as the show goes on. There's nothing to prove anything significant about who if anyone may or may not be behind the curtain and thus on towards the next big or small scandal we go because people will be dissatisfied and hungry and ready to bite as hard as possible on some other bait for or against something.

Maybe "Russiagate" was impeccably engineered or maybe it organically outcompeted other distractions on offer that would ultimately also waste enormous amounts of time and effort.

Management by crisis

The scandals, crises, "Science says" games and rubbish, outrage narratives, and any other manipulations attempt and perhaps succeed at controlling the US and the world through spam.

Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 8:11:22 PM | link
Jonathan @39: Of course it was fixed. That's what the Electoral College is for.

Well, you can say the same think about money-as-speech , gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. Despite all these, Americans believe that their democracy works.

I contend that what we witnessed in 2016 was a SHOW. Like American wrestling. It was (mostly) fake. The proper term for this is kayfabe .

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

And we have seen other 'shows' also, like:

> White Helmets;

>> Skripal;

>> the Kavanaugh hearings;

>> pulling troops out of Syria.

aspnaz , Mar 23, 2019 8:19:24 PM | link
My advice to the yanks mourning Russiagate: move to the UK. The sick Brits will keep the Russia hating cult alive even after they spend a decade puking over Brexit.
mourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 8:50:48 PM | link
Jackrabbit @18
So, you don't think HRC qualifies as a nationalist? She can't fake populist, but she can do nationalist.
I also think she is much too ambitious to have intentionally thrown the election. It was her turn dammit! Take a look at her behavior as First Lady if you think she's the kind of personality that is content to wield power from behind the scenes.
Cortes , Mar 23, 2019 8:51:27 PM | link
As usual, a fine essay. Thank you.

A couple of suggestions?

The headline would be better worded "Russiagate really is finished."

And the reaction at Colonel Lang's site makes interesting reading.

Les , Mar 23, 2019 8:55:52 PM | link
They didn't fall for the Steele dossier. I recall that emptywheel had discredited the dossier during the election as it was known to have been rejected by major media outlets leading up to the election. I think they merely fell behind the others as the outgoing administration, the Democrats, the CIA, and the media chose to use the dossier to 'blackmail' Trump.
paul , Mar 23, 2019 8:56:02 PM | link
The most important fruit of russiagate, from the view of the establishment of the hegemon, is that America has now taken a giant step towards full bore censorship.
Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:00:35 PM | link
vk @43

We must be very careful ... and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.
Don't we already have plenty of evidence that there is no precious democratic baby in the bath? What do you think the Yellow Vests are doing every weekend?

If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary.
Why not? Do you know him personally? Can you vouch for him?

Have you read this: Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016 ?

Bernie referred to Hillary as "my friend" many times on the campaign trail. He told Politico that he's known her for 25 years but they are not "best friends". That's Sander's typical word judo. Like when he was asked about Zionism, his response: what's that?

The fact is, Bernie is friendly with all the top Democrats: Obama campaigned for him and Schumer wouldn't allow funding for democratic candidates that opposed him.

Then there's other strangeness. Like Bernie's refusal to release his 2014 tax returns. Bernie said his returns were "boring" but when his 2015 tax return was delayed the press asked him to release his 2014 return (Hillary boasted that she had released 10 years of returns). Bernie refused.

Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist.... I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists.
Really? LOL. Sanders REFUSED to lead a Movement for real change. That might've changed things for the better Mi>- like the Yellow Vests are changing things for the better.

What have we seen from the Democratics since 2016? Bullshit like Russiagate, meaningless astroturf activism around bathrooms and statues, and outlandish policies like open borders. These things just irritate most Americans and will lead to more failure for the Democrats and another 4 years for Trump.

Lastly, you said nothing about Bernie's refusal to attack Hillary on character issues and to counter her assertion that she NEVER changed her vote for money. Other examples: Bernie refused to discuss Hillary's home email server, never mentioned Hillary's well known work to squash investigations of Bill Clinton for abusing women (Jennifer Flowers), and didn't talk about other scandals like Benghazi ("What difference does it make") and her glee at the overthrow of Quadaffi ("we came, we saw, we kicked his ass").

And what of Trump? He was the ONLY republican populist in a field of 19. Do you find that even a little bit strange?

Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:02:11 PM | link
Sorry, here's a more readable version:

We must be very careful ... and not to throw the bathtub with the baby inside.
Don't we already have plenty of evidence that there is no precious democratic baby in the bath? What do you think the Yellow Vests are doing every weekend?

If Bernie Sanders really was a "friend" of the Clintons, then he wouldn't even have disputed the primaries against Hillary.
Why not? Do you know him personally? Can you vouch for him?

Have you read this: Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016 ?

Bernie referred to Hillary as "my friend" many times on the campaign trail. He told Politico that he's known her for 25 years but they are not "best friends". That's Sander's typical word judo. Like when he was asked about Zionism, his response: what's that?

The fact is, Bernie is friendly with all the top Democrats: Obama campaigned for him and Schumer wouldn't allow funding for democratic candidates that opposed him.

Then there's other strangeness. Like Bernie's refusal to release his 2014 tax returns. Bernie said his returns were "boring" but when his 2015 tax return was delayed the press asked him to release his 2014 return (Hillary boasted that she had released 10 years of returns) . Bernie refused.

Now, I agree he's not a revolutionary socialist.... I believe the rise of Bernie Sanders had an overall positive impact in the world as it exists.
Really? LOL. Sanders REFUSED to lead a Movement for real change. That might've changed things for the better Mi>- like the Yellow Vests are changing things for the better.

What have we seen from the Democratics since 2016? Bullshit like Russiagate, meaningless astroturf activism around bathrooms and statues, and outlandish policies like open borders. These things just irritate most Americans and will lead to more failure for the Democrats and another 4 years for Trump.

Lastly, you said nothing about Bernie's refusal to attack Hillary on character issues and to counter her assertion that she NEVER changed her vote for money. Other examples: Bernie refused to discuss Hillary's home email server, never mentioned Hillary's well known work to squash investigations of Bill Clinton for abusing women (Jennifer Flowers), and didn't talk about other scandals like Benghazi ("What difference does it make") and her glee at the overthrow of Quadaffi ("we came, we saw, we kicked his ass").

And what of Trump? He was the ONLY republican populist in a field of 19. Do you find that even a little bit strange?

mourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 9:06:00 PM | link
Jonathan @39
Exactly! It's the Electoral College that decides elections, not voters.
Jackrabbit , Mar 23, 2019 9:13:59 PM | link
mourning dove @57: Exactly! It's the Electoral College that decides elections, not voters.

Do you think Hillary didn't know that? She refused to campaign in the three mid-western states that would've won her the electoral college. Each of the states were won by Trump by a thin margin.

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 23, 2019 9:14:04 PM | link
Gosh and Blimey!
Comment #56 in a thread about an utterly corrupt political system and no-one has mentioned the pro-"Israel" Lobby?
Words fail me. So I'll use someone else's...

From Xymphora March 21, 2019.

"Truth or Trope?" (Sailer):

"Of the top 50 political donors to either party at the federal level in 2018, 52 percent were Jewish and 48 percent were gentile. Individuals who identify as Jewish are usually estimated to make up perhaps 2.2 percent of the population.
Of the $675 million given by the top 50 donors, 66 percent of the money came from Jews and 34 percent from gentiles.
Of the $297 million that GOP candidates and conservative causes received from the top 50 donors, 56 percent was from Jewish individuals.
Of the $361 million Democratic politicians and liberal causes received, 76 percent came from Jewish givers.
So it turns out that Rep. Omar and Gov. LePage appear to have been correct, at least about the biggest 2018 donors. But you can also see why Pelosi wanted Omar to just shut up about it: 76 percent is a lot."

Erelis , Mar 23, 2019 9:35:12 PM | link
Next up another false flag operation. The thing is, it would have be non-trivial and involving the harming of people to jolt the narrative back to that favoring the deep state. And taking off the proverbial media table, that Mueller found no collusion. Yes, election in 2016 no collusion, but Putin was behind the latest horrific false flag, "oh look, Trump is not confronting Putin"...
daffyDuct , Mar 23, 2019 9:40:02 PM | link

Not even getting into the "treason", "putin's c*ckholster", "what's the time on Moscow, troll!" crap we've been subjected to for 3 years, please enjoy this mashup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjUvfZj-Fm0.

mourning dove , Mar 23, 2019 9:54:13 PM | link
Jackrabbit,

I've said before that she's a terrible strategist and she ran a terrible campaign and she's terribly out of touch. I think she expected a cake walk and was relying on Trump being so distasteful to voters that they'd have no other option.

I think Trump legitimately won the election and I don't believe for a second that she won the popular vote. There were so many problems with the election but since they were on the losing side, nobody cares. In 2012 I didn't know anyone else who was voting for Jill Stein, way too many people were still in love with Obama. She got .4% of the vote. In 2016 most of the people I knew were voting for Jill Stein, she drew a large crowd from DemExit, but they say she got .4% of the vote. Total bullshit. There was also ballot stuffing and lots of other problems, but it still wasn't enough.

I'm also convinced that Trump and Clinton colluded, but that they did so in order to get her elected. I don't think he really wanted the job. But still, Hillary can do nationalist, and the designs of the Empire would have proceeded either way.

jadan , Mar 23, 2019 9:56:37 PM | link

Trump is a crook who takes money wherever he can get it, from subcontractors foolish enough to work for him to bankers dumb enough to believe his financial statements. No doubt he has helped Russian crooks sanitize their booty, but that is apparently too difficult for Mueller to prove.

It is not good news that this troglodyte was not indicted, but it is good news that Russia was not found guilty of electing him. Russiagate is an existential issue for the "national security" establishment and just another propaganda offensive designed to justify the largely useless & destructive activities of the Pentagon.

It is time to build cooperation not continue the stupidity of US unilateralism and pursuit of global hegemony. Trump and his team have to be removed from office. Democrats don't need Russiagate to do it. The truth will work better.

[Mar 23, 2019] Killing for Credibility A Look Back at the 1999 NATO Air War on Serbia by Brett Wilkins

Mar 23, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.

One Man's Terrorist

Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation, stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan descended deeper into civil war.

The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however, is something altogether different.

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration armed and trained these fighters in flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.

When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.

The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia, called it "without any question a terrorist group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.

However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president called the war an internal Russian affair and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.

Although NATO called the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict. President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary of State James Rubin later admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small."

Wagging the Dog?

In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:

The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.

Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters."

While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted – that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves." This was completely false . US diplomat David Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.

However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been "fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington. Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner, acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."

Bloody Hypocrites

The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention. More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses, where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.

Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the world's worst human rights records. The list goes on and on.

Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995. Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned convoys of fleeing refugees.

"Painful for the Serbs"

Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much of its water supply.

NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards. There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac forecast as many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in nearby apartments.

Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age 23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."

Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7, killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic and medical dispensary were also bombed in the mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.

Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece was blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.

On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing. An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to help those wounded in the first strike.

No One Is Safe

The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175 bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000 residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children, died when bombs meant to destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."

The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded. Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later reported that the US deliberately bombed the embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.

There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including 16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month later, another column of refugees was bombed near Koriša, killing 87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM missile blew the roof off of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.

NATO's "Murderous Thugs"

As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.

The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group "murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles rescued the besieged militants. It later emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.

Credibility Conundrum

The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton added that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton, declaring on the eve of the war that "to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote that the Clinton administration "transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United States into a major test of American resolve."

Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.

Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history. Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian people in service of NATO's credibility.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com

Read more by Brett Wilkins

[Mar 22, 2019] Mobsters have better morale that the Democratic establishment

But Clintons are mobsters in disguise, so what's the difference. Jared Kushner father is as close to a mobster as one can get (hiring a prostitute to compromise relative is one of his tricks)
Notable quotes:
"... Don't ever think the Democratic establishment is your friend. They want you to die in foreign wars and your children to work in starvation-wage service jobs until they're 70 so that the top 0.1% can buy their kids' way into Yale ..."
Mar 22, 2019 | twitter.com

Mike Gravel ‏ 9:37 AM - 22 Mar 2019

Don't ever think the Democratic establishment is your friend. They want you to die in foreign wars and your children to work in starvation-wage service jobs until they're 70 so that the top 0.1% can buy their kids' way into Yale

Navi ‏ 9:50 AM - 22 Mar 2019

"It's already happening" while the DCCC is trying their best to stop primary challenges is a little shortsighted no? If you don't call out what is wrong what are you really 'fixing'? We can walk and chew gum at the same time!

[Mar 20, 2019] What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About 'Freedom' by Thom Hartman

Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post focuses on an important slice of history in what "freedom" has meant in political discourse in the US. But I wish it had at least mentioned how a well-funded, then extreme right wing effort launched an open-ended campaign to render US values more friendly to business. They explicitly sought to undo New Deal programs and weaken or end other social safety nets. Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell codified the strategy for this initiative in the so-called Powell Memo of 1971.

One of the most effective spokesmen for this libertarian program was Milton Friedman, whose bestseller Free to Choose became the foundation for a ten-part TV series.

By Thom Hartman, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print . He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute . Produced by the Independent Media Institute

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism . We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom .

The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they're on the streets.

While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a "free" society.

The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding.

The irony -- of the nation founded on the world's greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves -- is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans.

But what do those words mean?

If you ask the Koch brothers and their buddies -- who slap those words on pretty much everything they do -- you'd get a definition that largely has to do with being "free" from taxation and regulation. And, truth be told, if you're morbidly rich, that makes a certain amount of sense, particularly if your main goal is to get richer and richer, regardless of your behavior's impact on working-class people, the environment, or the ability of government to function.

On the other hand, the definition of freedom and liberty that's been embraced by so-called "democratic socialist" countries -- from Canada to almost all of Europe to Japan and Australia -- you'd hear a definition that's closer to that articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed, in January 1944, a " second Bill of Rights " to be added to our Constitution.

FDR's proposed amendments included the right to a job, and the right to be paid enough to live comfortably; the right to "adequate food and clothing and recreation"; the right to start a business and run it without worrying about "unfair competition and domination by monopolies"; the right "of every family to a decent home"; the right to "adequate medical care to achieve and enjoy good health"; the right to government-based "protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment"; and the right "to a good education."

Roosevelt pointed out that, "All of these rights spell security." He added, "America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

The other nations mentioned earlier took President Roosevelt's advice to heart. Progressive "social democracy" has kept Europe, Canada, and the developed nations of the East and South Pacific free of war for almost a century -- a mind-boggling feat when considering the history of the developed world since the 1500s.

Just prior to FDR winning the White House in the election of 1932, the nation had been treated to 12 years of a bizarre Republican administration that was the model for today's GOP. In 1920, Warren Harding won the presidency on a campaign of "more industry in government, less government in industry" -- privatize and deregulate -- and a promise to drop the top tax rate of 91 percent down to 25 percent.

He kept both promises, putting the nation into a sugar-high spin called the Roaring '20s, where the rich got fabulously rich and working-class people were being beaten and murdered by industrialists when they tried to unionize. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (the three Republican presidents from 1920 to 1932) all cheered on the assaults, using phrases like "the right to work" to describe a union-free nation.

In the end, the result of the " horses and sparrows " economics advocated by Harding ("feed more oats to the horses and there'll be more oats in the horse poop to fatten the sparrows" -- that generation's version of trickle-down economics) was the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until after World War II).

Even though Roosevelt was fabulously popular -- the only president to be elected four times -- the right-wingers of his day were loud and outspoken in their protests of what they called "socialist" programs like Social Security, the right to unionize, and government-guaranteed job programs including the WPA, REA, CCC, and others.

The Klan and American Nazis were assembling by the hundreds of thousands nationwide -- nearly 30,000 in Madison Square Garden alone -- encouraged by wealthy and powerful "economic royalists" preaching "freedom" and " liberty ." Like the Kochs' Freedomworks , that generation's huge and well-funded (principally by the DuPonts' chemical fortune) organization was the Liberty League .

Roosevelt's generation had seen the results of this kind of hard-right "freedom" rhetoric in Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany, the very nations with which we were then at war.

Speaking of "the grave dangers of 'rightist reaction' in this Nation," Roosevelt told America in that same speech that: "[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."

Although right-wingers are still working hard to disassemble FDR's New Deal -- the GOP budget for 2019 contains massive cuts to Social Security, as well as to Medicare and Medicaid -- we got halfway toward his notion of freedom and liberty here in the United States:

You're not free if you're old and deep in poverty, so we have Social Security (although the GOP wants to gut it). You're not free if you're hungry, so we have food stamps/SNAP (although the GOP wants to gut them). You're not free if you're homeless, so we have housing assistance and homeless shelters (although the GOP fights every effort to help homeless people). You're not free if you're sick and can't get medical care, so we have Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (although the GOP wants to gut them all). You're not free if you're working more than 40 hours a week and still can't meet basic expenses, so we have minimum wage laws and the right to unionize (although the GOP wants to gut both). You're not free if you can't read, so we have free public schools (although the GOP is actively working to gut them). You're not free if you can't vote, so we've passed numerous laws to guarantee the right to vote (although the GOP is doing everything it can to keep tens of millions of Americans from voting).

The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that "freedom" means the government doesn't provide any of the things listed above.

Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we're broke and sick, we're "free" to die like a feral dog in the gutter.

Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.

Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America's lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states .

America -- particularly the Democratic Party -- is engaged in a debate right now about the meaning of socialism . It would be a big help for all of us if we were, instead, to have an honest debate about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty .



cuibono , , March 20, 2019 at 2:53 am

Know Your Rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfInFVPkQs

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm

I have been informed by Fox that knowing your rights is un-American

everydayjoe , , March 20, 2019 at 4:26 am

Let us not forget the other propaganda arm of Republican party and big money- Fox news. They spew the freedom nonsense while not adhering to any definition of the word.

I worked in the midwest as an Engineer in the 90s to early 2000s and saw plants being gutted/shifted overseas, Union influence curtailed and mid level and bottom pay stay flat for decades; all in the name of free market.

Sadly the same families that are the worst affected vote Republican! But we know all this and have known it for a while. What will change?

lyman alpha blob , , March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am

They want freedom -- for the wolves to eat the sheep.

PKMKII , , March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm

And then act like it's fair because they don't have laws against the sheep eating the wolves.

Norb , , March 20, 2019 at 8:39 am

The intro to this post is spot on. The Powell memo outlined a strategy for a corporate coup d'eta. Is was completely successful. Now that the business class rules America, their only vision is to continue the quest and cannibalize the country and enslave its people by any means possible. What tools do they use to achieve these ends? -- debt, fear, violence and pandering to human vanity as a motivator. Again, very successful.

Instead of honest public debate- which is impossible when undertaken with liars and thieves, a good old manifesto or pamphlet like Common Sense is in order. Something calling out concrete action that can be taken by commoners to regain their social respect and power. That should scare the living daylights out of the complacent and smug elite.

Its that, or a lot of public infrastructure is gong to be broken up by the mob- which doesn't work out in the long run. The nations that learn to work with and inspire their populations will prosper- the rest will have a hard time of it. Look no further than America's fall.

Carla , , March 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Thank you, Norb. You've inspired me to start by reading Common Sense.

Jamie S , , March 20, 2019 at 9:13 am

This piece raises some important points, but aims too narrowly at one political party, when the D-party has also been complicit in sharing the framing of "freedom" as less government/regulation/taxation. After all, it was the Clinton administration that did welfare "reform", deregulation of finance, and declared the end of the era of "big government", and both Clinton and Obama showed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in a "grand bargain".

WJ , , March 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm

+100

If in place of "the GOP," the author had written, "The national Democratic and Republican parties over the past fifty years," his claim would be much more accurate. To believe what he says about "the GOP," you have to pretend that Clinton, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Feinstein simply don't exist and never did. The author's implicit valorization of Obamacare is even more disheartening.

But perhaps this is the *point* of the piece after all? If I were a consultant to the DNC (and I make less than $100,000/yr so I am clearly not), I would advocate that they commission, underscore, and reward pieces exactly like this one. For the smartest ones surely grasp that the rightist oligarchic policy takeover has in fact happened, and that it has left in its wake millions of disaffected, indebted, uneducated, uninsured Americans.

(Suggesting that it hadn't was the worst idiocy of Clinton's 2016 campaign. It would have been much better had she admitted it and blamed it on the Republican Senate while holding dear old Obama up as a hamstrung martyr for the cause. I mean, this is what everybody at DailyKos already believes, and the masses -- being poor and uneducated and desperate -- can be brought around to believe anything, or anyway, enough of them can be.)

I would advocate that the DNC double down on its rightful claims to Roosevelt's inheritance, embrace phrases like "social democracy" and "freedom from economic insecurity," and shift leftward in all its official rhetoric. Admit the evisceration of the Roosevelt tradition, but blame it all on the GOP. Maybe *maybe* even acknowledge that past Democratic leaders were a little naive and idealistic in their pursuit of bipartisanship, and did not understand the truly horrible intentions of the GOP. But today's Democrats are committed to wresting back the rights of the people from the evil clutches of the Koch Republicans. This sort of thing.

Would my advice be followed? Or would the *really* smart ones in the room demure? If so, why do you think they would?

In short, I read this piece as one stage in an ongoing dialectic in the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2020 election wherein party leaders try to determine how leftward its "official" rhetoric is able to sway before becoming *so* unbelievable (in light of historical facts) that it cannot serve as effective propaganda -- even among Americans!

NotTimothyGeithner , , March 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Team Blue elites are the children of Bill Clinton and the Third Way, so the echo chamber was probably terrible. Was Bill Clinton a bad President? He was the greatest Republican President! The perception of this answer is a key. Who rose and joined Team Blue through this run? Many Democrats don't recognize this, or they don't want to rock the boat. This is the structural problem with Team Blue. The "generic Democrat" is AOC, Omar, Sanders, Warren, and a handful of others.

Can the Team Blue elites embrace a Roosevelt identity? The answer is no. Their ideology is so wildly divergent they can't adjust without a whole sale conversion.

More succinctly, the Third Way isn't about helping Democrats win by accepting not every battle can be won. Its about advancing right wing politics and pretending this isn't what its about. If they are too clear about good policy, they will be accused of betrayal.

jefemt , , March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Kris Kristofferson

shinola , , March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

"nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free"
;)

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

The modern GOP has a very brutalist interpretation of Christianity, one where the money changers bring much needed liquidity to the market.

where , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

it's been 2 generations, but we assure you, the wealth will eventually trickle down

Dwight , , March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Be patient, the horse has to digest your oat.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 10:13 am

This article makes me wonder if the GOP is still a political party anymore. I know, I know, they have the party structure, the candidates, the budget and all the rest of it but when you look at their policies and what they are trying to do, the question does arise. Are they doing it because this is what they believe is their identity as a party or is it that they are simply a vehicle with the billionaires doing the real driving and recruiting? An obvious point is that among billionaires, they see no need to form their own political party which should be telling clue. Certainly the Democrats are no better.

Maybe the question that American should ask themselves is just what does it mean to be an American in the year 2020? People like Norman Rockwell and his Four Freedoms could have said a lot of what it meant some 60 years ago and his work has been updated to reflect the modern era ( https://www.galeriemagazine.com/norman-rockwell-four-freedoms-modern/ ) but the long and the short of it is that things are no longer working for most people anymore -- and not just in America. But a powerful spring can only be pushed back and held in place for so long before there is a rebound effect and I believe that I am seeing signs of this the past few years.

GF , , March 20, 2019 at 11:06 am

And don't forget FRD's Second Bill of Rights:

" a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security."

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 10:20 am

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

I agree, and we should also be having a debate about capitalism as it actually exists. In the US capitalism is always talked about in rosy non-specific terms (e.g. a preference for markets or support for entrepreneurship) while anybody who says they don't necessarily support capitalism has to answer for Stalin's gulag's or the Khmer Rouge. All the inequalities and injustices that have helped people like Howard Schultz or Jeff Bezos become billionaire capitalists somehow aren't part of capitalism, just different problems to be solved somehow but definitely not by questioning capitalism.

Last night I watched the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I couldn't help but laugh at all these powerful politicians, investors, and legal giants going along with someone who never once demonstrated or even explained how her groundbreaking innovation actually worked. $900 million was poured into that company before people realized something that a Stanford professor interviewed in the documentary saw when she first met Holmes. Fracking companies have been able to consistently raise funding despite consistently losing money and destroying the environment in the process. Bank balance sheets were protected while working people lost everything in the name of preserving American capitalism. I think it's good to debate socialism and capitalism, but there's not really any point if we aren't going to be talking about Actually Existing Capitalism rather than the hypothetical version that's trotted out anytime someone suggests an alternative.

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am

There was a great comment here on NC a little while ago, something to the effect of "capitalism has the logic of a cancer cell. It's a pile of money whose only goal is to become a bigger pile of money." Of course good things can happen as a side effect of it becoming a bigger pile of money: innovation, efficiencies, improved standard of living, etc. but we need government (not industry) regulation to keep the bad side effects of capitalism in check (like the cancer eventually killing its host).

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 12:21 pm

"efficiency" is very often not good for the Commons, in the long term.

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Shoot, must have missed that comment but it's a good metaphor. Reminds me of Capital vol. 1, which Marx starts with a long and dense treatment of the nature of commodities and commodification in order to capture this process whereby capitalists produce things people really do want or need in order to get at what they really want: return on their investment.

Jack Gavin , , March 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I also agree but I think we need to have a the same heated debate over what capitalism means. Over the years I have been subjected to (exposed) to more flavors of socialism than I can count. Yet, other than an introductory economics class way back when, no debatable words about what 'capitalism' is seems to get attention. Maybe it's time to do that and hope that some agreeable definition of 'freedom' falls out.

jrs , , March 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

of course maybe socialism is the only thing that ever really could solve homelessness, given that it seems to be at this point a worldwide problem, although better some places than others (like the U.S. and UK).

Stratos , , March 20, 2019 at 11:11 am

This article lets the Dems off the hook. They have actively supported the Billionaire Agenda for decades now; sometimes actively (like when they helped gut welfare) and sometimes by enabling Repubs objectives (like voter suppression).

At this point in time, the Dem leadership is working to deep six Medicare for All.

With 'friends' like the Dems, who needs the Repubs?

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

our last democratic president was Carter

thump , , March 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm

1) In the history, a mention of the attempted coup against FDR would be good. See The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer. ( Amazon link )

2) For the contemporary intellectual history, I really appreciated Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains . ( Amazon link ) Look her up on youtube or Democracy Now . Her book got a bit of press and she interviews well.

Bob of Newton , , March 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Please refer to these folks as 'rightwingers'. There are Democratic as well as Republicans who believe in this type of 'freedom'.

Jerry B , , March 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

This post seems heavily slanted against the GOP and does not take into account how pro-business the Democrats have become. I tenuously agree with Yves intro that much of the current pro business value system campaign in the US was started with the political far right and the Lewis Powell Memo. And that campaign kicked into high gear during the Reagan Presidency.

But as that "pro business campaign" gained steam, the Democratic Party, IMO, realized that they could partake in the "riches" as well and sold their political soul for a piece of the action. Hartman's quote about the billionaire class should include their "wholly owned Republicans and Democrat politicians".

As Lambert mentions (paraphrasing), "The left puts the working class first. Both liberals and conservatives put markets first, liberals with many more layers of indirection (e.g., complex eligibility requirements, credentialing) because that creates niches from which their professional base benefits".

As an aside, while the pro-business/capitalism on steroids people have sought more "freedom", they have made the US and the world less free for the rest of us.

Also the over focusing on freedom is not uniquely GOP. As Hartman mentions, "the words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding." US culture has taken the concept of freedom to an extreme version of individualism.

That is not surprising given our history.

The DRD4 gene is a dopamine receptor gene. One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the "7R" form) produces a receptor protein that is relatively unresponsive to dopamine. Being unresponsive to dopamine means that people who have this gene have a host of related traits -- sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD. -- -- Seems like the type of people that would value extreme (i.e. non-collective) forms of freedom

The United States is the individualism poster child for at least two reasons. First there's immigration. Currently, 12 percent of Americans are immigrants, another 12 percent are children of immigrants, and everyone else except for the 0.9 percent pure Native Americans descend from people who emigrated within the last five hundred years.

And who were the immigrants?' Those in the settled world who were cranks, malcontents, restless, heretical, black sheep, hyperactive, hypomanic, misanthropic, itchy, unconventional, yearning to be free, yearning to be rich, yearning to be out of their, damn boring repressive little hamlet, yearning. -- -- Again seems like the type of people that would value freedom in all aspects of life and not be interested in collectivism

Couple that with the second reason -- for the majority of its colonial and independent history, America has had a moving frontier luring those whose extreme prickly optimism made merely booking passage to the New World insufficiently, novel -- and you've got America the individualistic.

The 7R variant mentioned above occurs in about 23 percent of Europeans and European Americans. And in East Asians? 1 percent. When East Asians domesticated rice and invented collectivist society, there was massive selection against the 7R variant. Regardless of the cause, East Asian cultural collectivism coevolved with selection against the 7R variant.

So which came first, 7R frequency or cultural style? The 4R and 7R variants, along with the 2R, occur worldwide, implying they already existed when humans radiated out of Africa 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. A high incidence of 7R, associated with impulsivity and novelty seeking, is the legacy of humans who made the greatest migrations in human history.

So it seems that many of the people who immigrated to the US were impulsive, novelty seeking, risk takers. As a counterpoint, many people that migrated to the US did not do so by choice but were forced from their homes and their countries by wars.

The point of this long comment is that for some people the concept of freedom can be taken to extreme -- a lack of gun control laws, financial regulation, extremes of wealth, etc. After a brief period in the 1940's, 1950's, and early 1960's when the US was more collective, we became greedy, consumerist, and consumption oriented, aided by the political and business elites as mentioned in the post.

If we want the US to be a more collective society we have to initially do so in our behaviors i.e. laws and regulations that rein in the people who would take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Then maybe over an evolutionary time period some of the move impulsive, sensation seeking, ADHDness, genes can be altered to a more balance mix of what makes the US great with more of the collective genes.

IMO, if we do not begin to work on becoming a collective culture now, then climate change, water scarcity, food scarcity, and resource scarcity will do it for us the hard way.

In these days of short attention spans I apologize for the long comment. The rest of my day is busy and I do not have more time to shorten the comment. I wanted to develop an argument for how the evolutionary and dysfunctional forms of freedom have gotten us to this point. And what we need to do to still have some freedom but also "play nice and share in the future sandbox of climate change and post fossil fuel society.

[Mar 20, 2019] The sex slave scandal that exposed pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein by Maureen Callahan

Notable quotes:
"... Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school. ..."
"... Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on "work release." ..."
"... Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. As of 2015, Epstein had settled multiple such cases. ..."
Oct 09, 2016 | nypost.com
Judge gives deadline for arguments relating to unsealing Jeffrey Epstein documents Documents related to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein may be unsealed Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's deal with feds was illegal: judge Northam has only himself to blame In 2005, the world was introduced to reclusive billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, friend to princes and an American president, a power broker with the darkest of secrets: He was also a pedophile, accused of recruiting dozens of underage girls into a sex-slave network, buying their silence and moving along, although he has been convicted of only one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Visitors to his private Caribbean island, known as "Orgy Island," have included Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Stephen Hawking.

According to a 2011 court filing by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, she saw Clinton and Prince Andrew on the island but never saw the former president do anything improper. Giuffre has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was a minor, a charge Buckingham Palace denies.

"Epstein lives less than one mile away from me in Palm Beach," author James Patterson tells The Post. In the 11 years since Epstein was investigated and charged by the Palm Beach police department, ultimately copping a plea and serving 13 months on one charge of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old girl, Patterson has remained obsessed with the case.

"He's a fascinating character to read about," Patterson says. "What is he thinking? Who is he?"

Patterson's new book, "Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy," is an attempt to answer such questions. Co-authored with John Connolly and Tim Malloy, the book contains detailed police interviews with girls who alleged sexual abuse by Epstein and others in his circle. Giuffre alleged that Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell, abused her. Ghislaine Maxwell has denied allegations of enabling abuse.

Epstein has spent the bulk of his adult life cultivating relationships with the world's most powerful men. Flight logs show that from 2001 to 2003, Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's private plane, dubbed "The Lolita Express" by the press, 26 times. After Epstein's arrest in July 2006, federal tax records show Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation that year.

Bill Clinton in 1994. AP

Epstein was also a regular visitor to Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, and the two were friends. According to the Daily Mail, Trump was a frequent dinner guest at Epstein's home, which was often full of barely dressed models. In 2003, New York magazine reported that Trump also attended a dinner party at Epstein's honoring Bill Clinton.

Last year, The Guardian reported that Epstein's "little black book" contained contact numbers for A-listers including Tony Blair, Naomi Campbell, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.

In a 2006 court filing, Palm Beach police noted that a search of Epstein's home uncovered two hidden cameras. The Mirror reported that in 2015, a 6-year-old civil lawsuit filed by "Jane Doe No. 3," believed to be the now-married Giuffre, alleged that Epstein wired his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving his prominent friends and underage girls. The ultimate purpose: blackmail, according to court papers.

Britain's Prince Andrew in 2012 AP

"Jane Doe No. 3" also alleged that she had been forced to have sex with "numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders."

"We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives," Patterson says.

"The reader has to ask: Was justice done here or not?"

Epstein, now 63, has always been something of an international man of mystery. Born in Brooklyn, he had a middle-class upbringing: His father worked for the Parks Department, and his parents stressed hard work and education.

'We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives.'

- James Patterson

Epstein was brilliant, skipping two grades and graduating Lafayette High School in 1969. He attended Cooper Union but dropped out in 1971 and by 1973 was teaching calculus and physics at Dalton, where he tutored the son of a Bear Stearns exec. Soon, Epstein applied his facility with numbers on Wall Street but left Bear Stearns under a cloud in 1981. He formed his own business, J. Epstein & Co.

The bar for entry at the new firm was high. According to a 2002 profile in New York magazine, Epstein only took on clients who turned over $1 billion, at minimum, for him to manage. Clients also had to pay a flat fee and sign power of attorney over to Epstein, allowing him to do whatever he saw fit with their money.

Still, no one knew exactly what Epstein did, or how he was able to amass a personal billion-dollar-plus fortune. In addition to a block-long, nine-story mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Epstein owns the $6.8 million mansion in Palm Beach, an $18 million property in New Mexico, the 70-acre private Caribbean island, a helicopter, a Gulfstream IV and a Boeing 727.

"My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won't get a straight answer from him," one high-level investor told New York magazine. "He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I've also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It's like looking at the Wizard of Oz -- there may be less there than meets the eye."

Jeffrey Epstein's Palm Beach home Splash News

"He's very enigmatic," Rosa Monckton told Vanity Fair in 2003. Monckton was the former British CEO of Tiffany & Co. and confidante to the late Princess Diana. She was also a close friend of Epstein's since the 1980s. "He never reveals his hand . . . He's a classic iceberg. What you see is not what you get."

Both profiles intimated that Epstein had a predilection for young women but never went further. In the New York magazine piece, Trump said Epstein's self-professed image as a loner, an egghead and a teetotaler was not wholly accurate.

Donald Trump in 1990 AP

"I've known Jeff for 15 years," Trump said. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it -- Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Three years after that profile ran, Palm Beach Police Officer Michele Pagan got a disturbing message. A woman reported that her 14-year-old stepdaughter confided to a friend that she'd had sex with an older man for money. The man's name was Jeff, and he lived in a mansion on a cul-de-sac.

Pagan persuaded the woman to bring her stepdaughter down to be interviewed. In his book, Patterson calls the girl Mary. And Mary, like so many of the other girls who eventually talked, came from the little-known working-class areas surrounding Palm Beach.

A friend of a friend, Mary said, told her she could make hundreds of dollars in one hour, just for massaging some middle-aged guy's feet. Lots of other girls had been doing it, some three times a week.

Mary claimed she had been driven to the mansion on El Brillo Way, where a female staffer escorted her up a pink-carpeted staircase, then into a room with a massage table, an armoire topped with sex toys and a photo of a little girl pulling her underwear off.

Ghislaine Maxwell Getty Images

Epstein entered the room, wearing only a towel, Mary said.

"He took off the towel," Mary told Pagan. "He was a really built guy. But his wee-wee was very tiny."

Mary said Epstein got on the table and barked orders at her. She told police she was alone in the room with him, terrified.

Pagan wrote the following in her incident report:

"She removed her pants, leaving her thong panties on. She straddled his back, whereby her exposed buttocks were touching Epstein's exposed buttocks. Epstein then turned to his side and started to rub his penis in an up-and-down motion. Epstein pulled out a purple vibrator and began to massage Mary's vaginal area."

Palm Beach assigned six more detectives to the investigation. They conducted a "trash pull" of Epstein's garbage, sifting through paper with phone numbers, used condoms, toothbrushes, worn underwear. In one pull, police found a piece of paper with Mary's phone number on it, along with the number of the person who recruited her.

On Sept. 11, 2005, detectives got another break. Alison, as she's called in the book, told Detective Joe Recarey that she had been going to Epstein's house since she was 16. Alison had been working at the Wellington Green Mall, saving up for a trip to Maine, when a friend told her, "You can get a plane ticket in two hours . . . We can go give this guy a massage and he'll pay $200," according to her statement to the police.

Alison told Recarey that she visited Epstein hundreds of times. She said he had bought her a new 2005 Dodge Neon, plane tickets, and gave her spending money. Alison said he even asked her to emancipate from her parents so she could live with him full-time as his "sex slave."

She said Epstein slowly escalated his sexual requests, and despite Alison's insistence that they never have intercourse, alleged, "This one time . . . he bent me over the table and put himself in me. Without my permission."

Alison then asked if what Epstein had done to her was rape and spoke of her abject fear of him.

An abridged version of her witness statement, as recounted in the book:

Alison : Before I say anything else . . . um, is there a possibility that I'm gonna have to go to court or anything?
Recarey : I mean, what he did to you is a crime. I'm not gonna lie to you.
Alison : Would you consider it rape, what he did?
Recarey : If he put himself inside you without permission . . . That, that is a crime. That is a crime.
Alison : I don't want my family to find out about this . . . 'Cause Jeffrey's gonna get me. You guys realize that, right? . . . I'm not safe now. I'm not safe.
Recarey : Why do you say you're not safe? Has he said he's hurt people before?
Alison : Well, I've heard him make threats to people on the telephone, yeah. Of course.
Recarey : You're gonna die? You're gonna break your legs? Or  --
Alison : All of the above!

Alison also told Recarey that Epstein got so violent with her that he ripped out her hair and threw her around. "I mean," she said, "there's been nights that I walked out of there barely able to walk, um, from him being so rough."

Two months later, Recarey interviewed Epstein's former house manager of 11 years, documented in his probable-cause affidavit as Mr. Alessi. "Alessi stated Epstein receives three massages a day . . . towards the end of his employment, the masseuses . . . appeared to be 16 or 17 years of age at the most . . . [Alessi] would have to wash off a massager/vibrator and a long rubber penis, which were in the sink after the massage."

Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school.

In May 2006, the Palm Beach Police Department filed a probable-cause affidavit, asking prosecutors to charge Epstein with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor -- a second-degree felony -- and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 14-year-old minor, also a second-degree felony.

Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court.

Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on "work release."

Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. As of 2015, Epstein had settled multiple such cases.

Giuffre has sued Ghislaine Maxwell in Manhattan federal court, charging defamation -- saying Maxwell stated Giuffre lied about Maxwell's recruitment of her and other underage girls. Epstein has been called upon to testify in court this month, on Oct. 20.

The true number of Epstein's victims may never be known.

He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, not that it fazes him. "I'm not a sexual predator, I'm an 'offender,' " Epstein told The Post in 2011. "It's the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel."

[Mar 19, 2019] Monopoly: too big to ignore

Mar 19, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

by John Quiggin on March 9, 2019

That's the headline given to my latest piece in Inside Story

Here's the opening para

Two hundred years after the birth of Karl Marx and fifty years after the last Western upsurge of revolutionary ferment in 1968, the term "monopoly capitalism" might seem like a relic of outmoded enthusiasms. But economists are increasingly coming to the view that monopolies, and associated market failures, have never been a bigger problem.

and the conclusion

The problems of monopoly and inequality may seem so large as to defy any response. But we faced similar problems when capitalism first emerged, and Western countries came up with the responses that created the broad-based prosperity of the mid twentieth century. The internet, in particular, has the potential to enhance freedom and equality rather than facilitate corporate exploitation. The missing ingredient, so far, has been the political will.

Share this:

hix 03.09.19 at 10:14 am ( 1 )

Good read, just one minor complaint, why not just use a random stock screener to get current market cap data instead of 2016 ones:
https://finance.yahoo.com/screener/unsaved/ca63a480-28d8-4809-bd40-fab28b414da2
Glen Tomkins 03.09.19 at 5:25 pm ( 2 )
"Monopoly" is such an ugly term. We prefer to call it "market power" these days, because of course it's a good thing if the job creators and their enterprises have more power to do all the good things they do for us. It's clearly class warfare, if not racism, to use the term of abuse, "monopoly", when you mean "market power".
Dipper 03.09.19 at 8:51 pm ( 3 )
Of all the examples to choose, airlines would seem to be a bad one. They come and go with rapidity, and airlines are now being used as an example of how to reform banks.

Running the modern air industry needs lots of infrastructure and lots of regulations, so would seem to be an obvious place to have monopoly airlines. The critical thing that has happened has been the splitting of the infrastructure from the market-facing entities. So the booking systems, airport handling, and other services are all done by firms who don't directly face the paying customer. Pretty much anyone can set up an airline, and they can become quite big

Banking regulation is going in the direction of the airline industry. The idea being to split up the major systems and financial risk repositories from the market-facing companies. Hence, again, anyone can set up a bank.

One significant issue behind the growth in monopolies is regulation. The debate in the UK over the EU has included much discussion of regulation, much of it from a Remain/pro EU angle being that more regulation is a costless good. But there is an obvious and well-known cost, that regulation acts as a barrier to new entrants, and hence destroys innovation and creates conditions for monopolies, cartels, and oligopolies. It is surely no coincidence that the EU, an organisation that cannot look at any object without trying to regulate it, is sliding into recession and has effectively zero productivity increase this century. If you regulate what you have now, you just make the status quo your future. In the end, you just end up like the CBI, reduced to demanding more and more cheap labour to fuel your dinosaur members' wishes for more profit.

So. Split the resource-heavy stuff from the market-facing stuff, and try to avoid regulating your economy into a coma.

Collin Street 03.09.19 at 9:11 pm ( 4 )
Sure, monopoly's a problem.

But.

A significant fraction of the population can't keep track of their actual cost structures and will, cheerful and unknowing, sell at a loss. Unless you can exclude them from the market -- unless you have some mechanism for excluding people from the market -- the clearing price will be below the cost price: no market that does not have exclusion mechanisms can possibly be profitable.

That is to say: a profitable sector of industry requires exclusion mechanisms and all profit relies on rent .

The question we have to ask is, then: how do we distribute rent opportunities? We used to be able to use transport costs to create rent "naturally", but we can't do that any more: at least with monopoly some things still get made and some people still make money.

[honestly? I think uniform tariff barriers coupled with socialism [or socialism-approximating structures like dirigisme among firms with effectively-universally-held shares] are the only real solution.]

bad Jim 03.10.19 at 7:24 am ( 5 )
Um. "Monopoly" triggers thoughts of a scotty dog and a flat iron. Regarding the minimum wage, I'm encouraged to see oligopsony mentioned, not just because I love rare words; it's only recently than in such discussions the more common word "monopsony" was used. But how else to explain how Walmart greeters and burger flippers, despite their disparate productivity and different employers, are paid the same meager wage?

It says something about our common discourse, by which I mean American politics, that people preach as though market power was as unimaginable as ethical conduct, the first of which is tacitly assumed and the second generally acknowledged as nonexistent.

John Quiggin 03.10.19 at 7:36 am ( 6 )
@Dipper I'm sure you'll sympathize when I observe that Australia is different from other places (a point you've often made about Britain), at least with respect to airlines.

We've only had one successful entry on a substantial scale in the history of commercial aviation (when Virgin Blue displaced Ansett in 2001). Against that, there has been a long string of failed attempts to break up the duopoly (now consisting of two full-service airlines each with a low-cost subsidiary).

So, in an Australian publication, airlines are on obvious example.

mpowell 03.11.19 at 3:52 pm ( 7 )
You argue that what has been missing is political will, but at the same time you acknowledge that new versions of the old solutions for these problems must be found. I would focus more on the latter than the former. Yes, the EU is creating stronger privacy protection now, but one of the main impacts will be to strengthen existing large players. Do we really want to move to a regulated monopoly model so quickly? These new markets have been evolving rapidly over the past 15 years and models of the internet economy that made sense even 10 years ago are now out-dated. I think we still need to figure out what people need out of these new provided services and how to get there. It seems a lot harder than simply breaking up the producers and distributers of basic commodities.
hix 03.11.19 at 6:01 pm ( 8 )
And here i was thinking Dipper would try to make his weak case with the strongest arguments- Ryanair or Easyjet*. Virgin Atlantic, really? While airlines in Europe are probably not the most obvious easy to comprehend example for monopoly or oligopoly one could pick, those terms are still quite accurate as a description of the current situation in most submarkets.

*The crux with those two is that there are and were a gazillion other discount carriers, but non of those are sucesfull, Ryanair in particular in contrast produces an insane return on equity.

Ronan 03.12.19 at 12:38 pm ( 9 )
Have you read 'Game of Mates' about cronyism among the elite in Australia ? Kind of interesting and eye opening(at least for an outsider like me) Might be of interest if you havent.

https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/game-of-mates-how-billionaires-get-rich-at-our-expense-20170526-gwe0dp.html

Daniel 03.12.19 at 8:58 pm ( 10 )
Speaking of monopoly, I read one (or more) of your contributors say, "buy my book on Amazon." Amazon is the most dangerous monopolist, stay away.

[Mar 19, 2019] Corporations must be in the service of the nation, not the other way around

Mar 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Carla , , March 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

"Corporations must be in the service of the nation, not the other way around." Bingo! As long as corporations have the constitutional rights of "persons," they will continue to pummel those of us for whom constitutional rights were intended. Please urge your congress critter to sign on to cosponsor the We the People Amendment and implore your senators to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate:

https://legiscan.com/US/bill/HJR48/2019

Note: Tulsi Gabbard and Ilhan Omar are original co-sponsors in the 116th Congress, but not yet AOC, so if anyone from her district is reading, give her office a call !

P.S. For those of you who had concerns about it, a section 3 has been added to the original resolution: "Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press."

Strictly speaking, this was unnecessary: the press has, and has always had, its first amendment rights BECAUSE it is the PRESS, not because of its corporate form. But people's inability to make that distinction caused so much angst that the sentence, redundant as it is, was added to the proposed amendment.

[Mar 17, 2019] Market Concentration Is Threatening the US Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Notable quotes:
"... Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone. ..."
"... The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model. ..."
"... The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org

Rising inequality and slow growth are widely recognized as key factors behind the spread of public discontent in advanced economies, particularly in the United States. But these problems are themselves symptoms of an underlying malady that the US political system may be unable to address.

The world's advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928 , and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.

After promising annual growth of "4, 5, and even 6%," US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projections , the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.

Many factors are contributing to the US economy's low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans' poorly designed tax "reform" has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists' parlance), rather than providing useful services.

But an even deeper and more fundamental problem is the growing concentration of market power , which allows dominant firms to exploit their customers and squeeze their employees, whose own bargaining power and legal protections are being weakened . CEOs and senior executives are increasingly extracting higher pay for themselves at the expense of workers and investment.

For example, US corporate executives made sure that the vast majority of the benefits from the tax cut went into dividends and stock buybacks, which exceeded a record-breaking $1.1 trillion in 2018 . Buybacks raised share prices and boosted the earnings-per-share ratio, on which many executives' compensation is based. Meanwhile, at 13.7% of GDP , annual investment remained weak, while many corporate pensions went underfunded.

Evidence of rising market power can be found almost anywhere one looks. Large markups are contributing to high corporate profits . In sector after sector, from little things like cat food to big things like telecoms, cable providers, airlines, and technology platforms, a few firms now dominate 75-90% of the market, if not more; and the problem is even more pronounced at the level of local markets.

As corporate behemoths' market power has increased, so, too, has their ability to influence America's money-driven politics. And as the system has become more rigged in business's favor, it has become much harder for ordinary citizens to seek redress for mistreatment or abuse. A perfect example of this is the spread of arbitration clauses in labor contracts and user agreements, which allow corporations to settle disputes with employees and customers through a sympathetic mediator, rather than in court.

Multiple forces are driving the increase in market power. One is the growth of sectors with large network effects, where a single firm – like Google or Facebook – can easily dominate. Another is the prevailing attitude among business leaders, who have come to assume that market power is the only way to ensure durable profits. As the venture capitalist Peter Thiel famously put it , "competition is for losers."

Some US business leaders have shown real ingenuity in creating market barriers to prevent any kind of meaningful competition, aided by lax enforcement of existing competition laws and the failure to update those laws for the twenty-first-century economy. As a result, the share of new firms in the US is declining.

None of this bodes well for the US economy. Rising inequality implies falling aggregate demand, because those at the top of the wealth distribution tend to consume a smaller share of their income than those of more modest means.

Moreover, on the supply side, market power weakens incentives to invest and innovate. Firms know that if they produce more, they will have to lower their prices. This is why investment remains weak, despite corporate America's record profits and trillions of dollars of cash reserves. And besides, why bother producing anything of value when you can use your political power to extract more rents through market exploitation? Political investments in getting lower taxes yield far higher returns than real investments in plant and equipment. 1

Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone.

The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model.

The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it.

The challenge, as always, is political. But with US corporations having amassed so much power, there is reason to doubt that the American political system is up to the task of reform. Add to that the globalization of corporate power and the orgy of deregulation and crony capitalism under Trump, and it is clear that Europe will have to take the lead.

[Mar 17, 2019] As Hemingway replied to Scott Fitzgerald assertion The rich are different than you and me : yes, they have more money.

Highly recommended!
Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Notable quotes:
"... Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. ..."
"... Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference. ..."
"... I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right ..."
"... Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status. ..."
"... "They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different." ..."
"... "He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him." ..."
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

Carolinian December 29, 2015

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Mar 11, 2019] Is There Any Real Evidence of Elite Pedophile Sex Rings Involving Government Pop Culture – Collective Evolution

Mar 11, 2019 | www.collective-evolution.com

Pedophilia has come up in the mainstream a lot lately, as PizzaGate came to light fairly recently and more and more pedophile rings are being exposed, some of which have involved government officials.

If you're unfamiliar with PizzaGate, it refers to a wide range of email correspondence leaked from the DNC that allegedly unearthed a high-level elitist global pedophile ring in which the U.S. government was involved.

It emerged when Wikileaks released tens of thousands of emails from the former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, John Podesta, who also served as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. It's because of these emails that many claimed John Podesta was a part of these child trafficking rings as well.

Since then, conspiracy theorists and world renowned journalists alike have been looking into the topic and speculating how big this problem could be and who could be involved within these underground rings.

For example, award winning American journalist Ben Swann explained the Pizzagate controversy in detail on mainstream news:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-GZFHLAcG8A?start=0&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0&theme=light

Not long after, Swann's entire online personal brand and accounts had all but vanished from the internet. Why?

More recently, there's been some speculation that these pedophile rings could stretch into pop culture, potentially involving more pedophilia scandals and symbolism within the media. The question here is: Is there any tangible evidence of all of this, or is it mere speculation?

Pedophilia Symbolism

I'd like to begin by identifying the symbols that are used by pedophiles to identify themselves and make their requests within underground networks. Here is a link to a declassified FBI document illustrating the symbols and images used by pedophiles to "identify their sexual preferences."

So, how do these images relate to pizza? First of all, before PizzaGate was even suggested, "cheese pizza" was used as a code word to discuss "child porn" (hint: it's the same initials, CP). A quick Google search will reveal that the market for underage sex workers is fairly substantial, and you can even see a 2015 post on Urban Dictionary that explains how "cheese pizza" is used as code for child porn.

As per PizzaGate and the symbolism, it all started when multiple emails involving John Podesta, his brother, and Hillary Clinton simply didn't add up. Strange wording discussing pizza and cheese left readers confused, and because the emails made so little sense, it led many to suspect that they were code for something else.

For example, this email addressed to John Podesta reads: "The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related)," and this email sent from John Podesta asks: "Do you think I'll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?" There are many more examples, and I encourage you to go through the Wikileaks vault to explore.

On top of that, the DNC was associated with two pizza places, Comet Ping Pong and Besta Pizza, which use very clear symbols of pedophilia in their advertising and have strange images of children and other ritualistic type images and suspicious videos on their social media accounts – which has since been made private given the controversy over the images and their link to the DNC, but again, a quick Google search will show you what those images looked like. You can read the email correspondence between John Podesta and Comet Ping Pong's owner, James Alefantis, here .

... ... ...

[Feb 23, 2019] Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a "potential co-conspirator" in his crimes

Notable quotes:
"... "I wanted to tell you that I have compiled a list of 34 confirmed minors," Villafana wrote to Lefkowitz. "There are six others, whose name [sic] we already have, who need to be interviewed by the FBI to confirm whether they were 17 or 18 at the time of their activity with Mr. Epstein." ..."
"... Epstein agreed to a 30-month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of house arrest and the agreement to pay dozens of young girls under a federal statute providing for compensation to victims of child sexual abuse. .the U.S. Attorney's Office promised not to pursue any federal charges against Epstein or his Named and Un-Named co-conspirators. ..."
"... His legal team? Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, and Alan Dershowitz. ..."
"... The federal non-prosecution agreement Epstein's legal team negotiated immunized all named and unnamed potential co-conspirators in Epstein's child trafficking network, which includes those who allegedly procured minors for Epstein and any powerbrokers who may have molested them." ..."
Feb 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

LOLITA EXPRESS...ORGY ISLAND...ELITE PEDOPHILE RING ?-2006
* George W Bush President: January 20, 2001 – Jan. 20, 2009
* Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General USA: Feb. 3, 2005–Sept. 17, 2007
* Michael Bernard Mukasey, AG. USA: Nov. 9, 2007 – Jan. 20, 2009
* Eric Holder, A G. USA: Feb. 3, 2009 – April 27, 2015
* Loretta Lynch, Attorney General USA: April 27, 2015 – Present
* Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana
* Epstein's Attorneys: Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz.

+ "He (Epstein) is an enthusiastic member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations."

+ Bill Clinton...26 trips aboard the "Lolita Express"

Jeffrey Epstein's Boeing 727 is equipped with the necessary hardware for him to wake up, roll out of bed, and start trading.

+ Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a "potential co-conspirator" in his crimes.

+ Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein's former assistant Sarah Kellen -- have been repeatedly accused in court filings of acting as pimps. Oxford-educated Maxwell, recently seen dining with Clinton at Nello's on Madison Avenue. Manhattan-London G. Maxwell, daughter of the mysteriously deceased media titan Robert Maxwell.

+ A new lawsuit has revealed how Clinton took multiple trips to Epstein's private island where he 'kept young women as sex slaves'

+ Clinton was also apparently friends with a woman who collected naked pictures of underage girls for Epstein to choose from

+ Clinton invited her (pimp) to Chelsea's wedding

+ According to former child sex slave Virginia Roberts and a class action lawsuit against convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, former President Bill Clinton was present during sex parties involving up to twenty underage girls at Epstein's secluded island in the Caribbean.

+ 20 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 said were sexually abused by Epstein, Palm Beach Police and FBI

+ 35 female minors sexually abused, Epstein settled lawsuits from more than 30 "Jane Doe" victims since 2008; the youngest alleged victim was 12 years old at the time of her abuse.

..............................Source: FBI & Federal Prosecutors

+ flights on Epstein's planes 1997 to 2005, include Dershowitz (FOX NEWS, Harvard Law), former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers, Naomi Campbell, and scientist Stephen Pinker.

+ In the most recent court documents, filed on December 30, Roberts further claims she was sex-trafficked to "many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders." Roberts said Epstein trafficked children to politicians, Wall Streeters and A- listers to curry favor, advance his business, and for political influence.

The FIX

2015 Doc Release by Judge:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana wrote to Epstein lawyer Jay Lefkowitz in a Sept. 19, 2007, email. "I will include our standard language regarding resolving all criminal liability and I will mention 'co-conspirators,' but I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all of the other crimes and all of the other persons that we could charge ... maybe we can set a time to meet, if you want to meet 'off campus' somewhere, that is fine. I will make sure that I have all the necessary decision makers present or 'on call' as well."

"I wanted to tell you that I have compiled a list of 34 confirmed minors," Villafana wrote to Lefkowitz. "There are six others, whose name [sic] we already have, who need to be interviewed by the FBI to confirm whether they were 17 or 18 at the time of their activity with Mr. Epstein."

In a December 2007 letter, the prosecutor acknowledges some notifications of alleged victims but says they were sent after the U.S. Attorney's Office signed the plea deal and halted for most of the women at the request of Epstein's lawyers.

"Three victims were notified shortly after the signing of the Non-Prosecution Agreement of the general terms of that Agreement," Villafana wrote, again to Lefkowitz. "You raised objections to any victim notification, and no further notifications were done."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2015/07/judge-unseals-more-details-in-jeffrey-epstein-underage-sex-lawsuit-210065

Original Deal Hidden

On Sept. 24, 2007, in a deal shrouded in secrecy that left alleged victims shocked at its leniency,

Epstein agreed to a 30-month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of house arrest and the agreement to pay dozens of young girls under a federal statute providing for compensation to victims of child sexual abuse. .the U.S. Attorney's Office promised not to pursue any federal charges against Epstein or his Named and Un-Named co-conspirators.

Sources:

Fox By Malia Zimmerman, May 13, 2016

Daily Mail Reporter 19 March 2014

Gawker Nick Bryant 01/22/15

Western Journalism Kris Zane March 27, 2014

Politico By Josh Gerstein 07/07/15

New York Magazine, By Landon Thomas Jr.

THE FIX IS IN

"In 2006 the FBI counted at least 40 underage girls who had been molested by Epstein. Authorities searched his Florida mansion and found two computers containing child *********** and homemade video and photographs from cameras hidden in bedroom walls which had been used to film sex acts. The case was airtight for many counts of sexual crimes but Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer and the Justice Department stepped in and offered Epstein a plea deal. In 2008 Epstein pleaded guilty in a Florida court to one count of soliciting underage girls for sex. His punishment was 13 months of "8 hour nights only" at a halfway house. No other charges about raping underage girls nor running an underage sex trafficking ring were mentioned in the plea. His legal team? Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, and Alan Dershowitz.

The federal non-prosecution agreement Epstein's legal team negotiated immunized all named and unnamed potential co-conspirators in Epstein's child trafficking network, which includes those who allegedly procured minors for Epstein and any powerbrokers who may have molested them."

http://dcxposed.com/2015/01/26/bilderberg-pervs-island-sin-scandal-threatens-ultra-elite-politicians-lawyers-royalty/

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

The Talented Mr. Epstein

Lately, Jeffrey Epstein's high-flying style has been drawing oohs and aahs: the bachelor financier lives in New York's largest private residence, claims to take only billionaires as clients, and flies celebrities including Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey on his Boeing 727. But pierce his air of mystery and the picture changes. Vicky Ward explores Epstein's investment career, his ties to retail magnate Leslie Wexner, and his complicated past.

June 27, 2011 12:00 am

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2003/03/jeffrey-epstein-200303

Jeffrey Epstein: International Moneyman of Mystery

So how do termite grouping patterns fare as an investment strategy? Again, facts are hard to come by. A working day for Epstein starts at 5 a.m., when he gets up and scours the world markets on his Bloomberg screen -- each of his houses, in New York, St. Thomas, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as the 727, is equipped with the necessary hardware for him to wake up, roll

http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_7912/index3.html

[Jan 11, 2019] As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, The Party's Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic And Pro-War Than Republicans by Glenn Greenwald

Clinton Democrats (DemoRats) are so close to neocons that the current re-alliance is only natural and only partially caused by Trump. Under Obama some of leading figures of his administration were undistinguishable from neocons (Samantha Power is a good example here -- she was as crazy as Niki Haley, if not more). There is only one "war party in the USA which continently consists of two wings: Repugs and DemoRats.
Notable quotes:
"... Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham , one of the country's most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton , who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump's decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon. ..."
"... That's not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that "the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm's way" ..."
"... But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent. ..."
"... This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan ..."
"... While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining ..."
"... At the same time, Democratic policy elites in Washington are once again formally aligning with neoconservatives , even to the point of creating joint foreign policy advocacy groups (a reunion that predated Trump ). The leading Democratic Party think tank, the Center for American Progress, donated $200,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and has multilevel alliances with warmongering institutions. ..."
"... By far the most influential [neo]liberal media outlet, MSNBC, is stuffed full of former Bush-Cheney officials, security state operatives, and agents , while even the liberal stars are notably hawkish (a decade ago, long before she went as far down the pro-war and Cold Warrior rabbit hole that she now occupies, Rachel Maddow heralded herself as a "national security liberal" who was "all about counterterrorism"). ..."
"... All of this has resulted in a new generation of Democrats, politically engaged for the first time as a result of fears over Trump, being inculcated with values of militarism and imperialism, trained to view once-discredited, war-loving neocons such as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, and former CIA and FBI leaders as noble experts and trusted voices of conscience. It's inevitable that all of these trends would produce a party that is increasingly pro-war and militaristic, and polling data now leaves little doubt that this transformation -- which will endure long after Trump is gone -- is well under way. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of both parties , but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington's reflexively pro-war establishment.

Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country's most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump's decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.

But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump's Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.

That's not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that "the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm's way" far more than they agree with the pro-war view that "the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region."

But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.

A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.

Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump's announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops there than Republicans and independents.

This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan:

With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed . Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

This latest poll is far from aberrational. As the Huffington Post's Ariel Edwards-Levy documented early this week , separate polling shows a similar reversal by Democrats on questions of war and militarism in the Trump era.

While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining. "Those who voted for Democrat Clinton now said by a 42-point margin that the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria involving ISIS," Edwards-Levy wrote, "while Trump voters said by a 16-point margin that the nation had no such responsibility." (Similar trends can be seen among GOP voters, whose support for intervention in Syria has steadily declined as Trump has moved away from his posture of the last two years -- escalating bombings in both Syria and Iraq and killing far more civilians , as he repeatedly vowed to do during the campaign -- to his return to his other campaign pledge to remove troops from the region.)

This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted their "beliefs" based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party's base spent the Bush-Cheney years denouncing war on terror policies, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantánamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency .

But what's happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he's willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers; his efforts to establish less hostile relations with adversary countries is indicative of weakness or even treason.

At the same time, Democratic policy elites in Washington are once again formally aligning with neoconservatives , even to the point of creating joint foreign policy advocacy groups (a reunion that predated Trump ). The leading Democratic Party think tank, the Center for American Progress, donated $200,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and has multilevel alliances with warmongering institutions.

By far the most influential [neo]liberal media outlet, MSNBC, is stuffed full of former Bush-Cheney officials, security state operatives, and agents , while even the liberal stars are notably hawkish (a decade ago, long before she went as far down the pro-war and Cold Warrior rabbit hole that she now occupies, Rachel Maddow heralded herself as a "national security liberal" who was "all about counterterrorism").

All of this has resulted in a new generation of Democrats, politically engaged for the first time as a result of fears over Trump, being inculcated with values of militarism and imperialism, trained to view once-discredited, war-loving neocons such as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, and former CIA and FBI leaders as noble experts and trusted voices of conscience. It's inevitable that all of these trends would produce a party that is increasingly pro-war and militaristic, and polling data now leaves little doubt that this transformation -- which will endure long after Trump is gone -- is well under way.

[Jan 05, 2019] Obama as the agent of the Deep State consciously deciving his voters with faux populism promises which he never intended to follow

Obama strategy in Syria was replica of Clinton strategy in Yugoslavia during the Balkan Wars. Divide everybody up by ethnicity or religion (Croats are Catholics, Serbians are Orthodox not to mention the various Muslims and Albanians lurking about), arm them, create false flags to set them at each other's throats. Enjoy the results.
Obama like Clinton before him was a real wolve in sheep's clothing
Notable quotes:
"... Jackrabbit, I agree with Bevin. Obama was really useful to the deep state because, as the "First Black President" he was widely popular, not just inside the US but outside it as well. Before the 2016 election, there was a widespread hope inside the US elite that Hillary Clinton, as the "First Woman President" would be able to serve a similar function in giving US imperialism a pleasing face. ..."
"... Trump, by contrast, hurts the US deep state because his true nature as a greedy, incompetent egotist is just too blatantly obvious to too many people. And he won't follow a script, the way GW Bush usually did. That's why we see major sections of the US deep state going out of their way to be publically hostile towards Trump. ..."
Jan 05, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Jan 5, 2019 6:10:33 PM | 17

bevin @10:

But the notion that it is part of a complex and tightly scripted conspiracy in which he plays his public part and the deep state play theirs, pretending to be at odds with each other, is bizarre.
I would've agreed with you before Obama. I followed the criticisms of Obama from true progressives closely. It was clear within 2 or 3 years that Obama was betraying his 'base'.

His lofty rhetoric didn't match his actions. His Nobel Peace Prize can only be viewed today as a ruse. He talked of peace and fairness but worked behind the scenes to further the establishment.

Fast forward to the 2016 election where Sanders was a sheepdog and Hillary ran a terrible campaign. It's difficult to look back and not be at least somewhat suspicious of the 2016 election. A populist nationalist was what the Deep State NEEDED to face the threat from Russia and China to their NWO project. And that is what they got. After recognizing the threat in 2013-14 (when Russia countered the Empire in Syria and Ukraine).

Similar excuses are made for both Obama and Trump. We are told that they were FORCED to succumb to Deep State scheming and political power. But a much more logical view is that these "populists" know exactly what they are doing: they know what their 'job' is to serve the establishment and act as the leader of the Deep State's political arm. In return they get financial gain, social standing, and life long protection. Sweet.

Obama 'turned the page' on the Bush Administration's warmongering. He promised a more peaceful USA. But he conducted covert wars and bragged of his drone targeting.

Trump 'turned the page' on Obama's deceitfulness. He promised to put 'America First' but within months attacked Syria with missiles "for the babies". Evidence that his first attack was prompted by a false flag didn't deter him from attacking AGAIN - also based on a false flag. Trump is still helping the Saudis in Yemen. And he's not doing what's necessary to get peace in Korea.

Obama promised 'transparency' ("Sunlight is the best disinfectant") but 'no drama' Obama protected CIA torturers, NSA spies, and bankers. Trump promised to "drain the swamp" but has welcomed oligarchs and neocons into his Administration.

How much sly BS do we have to see before people connect the dots? A real populist will NEVER be elected in USA unless there is a revolution; USA political elites are fully committed to a neoliberal economics that make society neofeudal, and a neoconservative-driven foreign policy that demands full spectrum dominance that brooks no opposition to its NWO goals.

Anyone who believes otherwise has drunk the Kool-Aid, an addictive, saccharine concoction, provided without charge and in abundance.

Glenn Brown | Jan 5, 2019 10:27:14 PM |

39@ 10 17

Jackrabbit, I agree with Bevin. Obama was really useful to the deep state because, as the "First Black President" he was widely popular, not just inside the US but outside it as well. Before the 2016 election, there was a widespread hope inside the US elite that Hillary Clinton, as the "First Woman President" would be able to serve a similar function in giving US imperialism a pleasing face.

Trump, by contrast, hurts the US deep state because his true nature as a greedy, incompetent egotist is just too blatantly obvious to too many people. And he won't follow a script, the way GW Bush usually did. That's why we see major sections of the US deep state going out of their way to be publically hostile towards Trump.

Yes, their public rejection of Trump is partly motivated by the need to be able to claim that Trump is an aberration from all previous US Presidents, as opposed to Trump and his policies being just a particularly explicit continuation of the same underlying trends.

But I see no reason to doubt that the US elites really wish they had someone as President who was better at supplying the right propaganda and less obviously an incompetent fool. So I don't understand why you think the US oligarchy and deep state would have thought they needed someone like Trump, or would have greatly preferred him to Hillary Clinton.

[Dec 08, 2018] In office, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama rarely fought for progressive principles -- and routinely undermined them."

Dec 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

ben , Dec 5, 2018 4:54:14 PM | link

"The last two Democratic presidencies largely involved talking progressive while serving Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The obvious differences in personalities and behavior of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama diverted attention from their underlying political similarities. In office, both men rarely fought for progressive principles -- and routinely undermined them."

Article from Truthdig: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/what-it-means-that-hillary-clinton-might-run-for-president-in-2020/

[Nov 27, 2018] The political fraud of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal"

Highly recommended!
After Democratic party was co-opted by neoliberals there is no way back. And since Obama the trend of Democratic Party is toward strengthening the wing of CIA-democratic notthe wing of the party friendly to workers. Bought by Wall Street leadership is uncable of intruting any change that undermine thier current neoliberal platform. that's why they criminally derailed Sanders.
Notable quotes:
"... When you think about the issue of how exactly a clean-energy jobs program would address the elephant in the room of private accumulation and how such a program, under capitalism, would be able to pay living wages to the people put to work under it, it exposes how non threatening these Green New Deals actually are to capitalism. ..."
"... To quote Trotsky, "These people are capable of and ready for anything!" ..."
"... "Any serious measures to stop global warming, let alone assure a job and livable wage to everyone, would require a massive redistribution of wealth and the reallocation of trillions currently spent on US imperialism's neo-colonial wars abroad." ..."
"... "It includes various left-sounding rhetoric, but is entirely directed to and dependent upon the Democratic Party." ..."
"... "And again and again, in the name of "practicality," the most unrealistic and impractical policy is promoted -- supporting a party that represents the class that is oppressing and exploiting you! The result is precisely the disastrous situation working people and youth face today -- falling wages, no job security, growing repression and the mounting threat of world war." - New York Times tries to shame "disillusioned young voters" into supporting the Democrats ..."
"... It is an illusion that technical innovation within the capitalist system will magically fundamentally resolve the material problems produced by capitalism. But the inconvenient facts are entirely ignored by the corporate shills in the DSA and the whole lot of establishment politicians, who prefer to indulge their addiction to wealth and power with delusions of grandeur, technological utopianism, and other figments that serve the needs of their class. ..."
"... First it was Obama with his phoney "hope and change" that lured young voters to the Dumbicrats and now it's Ocacia Cortez promising a "green deal" in order to herd them back into the Democratic party--a total fraud of course--totally obvious! ..."
"... from Greenwald: The Democratic Party's deceitful game https://www.salon.com/2010/... ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Raymond Colison4 days ago

they literally ripped this out of the 2016 Green Party platform. Jill Stein spoke repeatedly about the same exact kind of Green New Deal, a full-employment, transition-to-100%-renewables program that would supposedly solve all the world's problems.

When you think about the issue of how exactly a clean-energy jobs program would address the elephant in the room of private accumulation and how such a program, under capitalism, would be able to pay living wages to the people put to work under it, it exposes how non threatening these Green New Deals actually are to capitalism.

In 2016, when the Greens made this their central economic policy proposal, the Democrats responded by calling that platform irresponsible and dangerous ("even if it's a good idea, you can't actually vote for a non-two-party candidate!"). Why would they suddenly find a green new deal appealing now except for its true purpose: left cover for the very system destroying the planet.

To quote Trotsky, "These people are capable of and ready for anything!"

Greg4 days ago
"Any serious measures to stop global warming, let alone assure a job and livable wage to everyone, would require a massive redistribution of wealth and the reallocation of trillions currently spent on US imperialism's neo-colonial wars abroad."

Their political position not only lacks seriousness, unserious is their political position.

"It includes various left-sounding rhetoric, but is entirely directed to and dependent upon the Democratic Party."

For subjective-idealists, what you want to believe, think and feel is just so much more convincing than objective reality. Especially when it covers over single-minded class interests at play.

"And again and again, in the name of "practicality," the most unrealistic and impractical policy is promoted -- supporting a party that represents the class that is oppressing and exploiting you! The result is precisely the disastrous situation working people and youth face today -- falling wages, no job security, growing repression and the mounting threat of world war." - New York Times tries to shame "disillusioned young voters" into supporting the Democrats

Penny Smith4 days ago
It is an illusion that technical innovation within the capitalist system will magically fundamentally resolve the material problems produced by capitalism. But the inconvenient facts are entirely ignored by the corporate shills in the DSA and the whole lot of establishment politicians, who prefer to indulge their addiction to wealth and power with delusions of grandeur, technological utopianism, and other figments that serve the needs of their class.
Jim Bergren4 days ago
First it was Obama with his phoney "hope and change" that lured young voters to the Dumbicrats and now it's Ocacia Cortez promising a "green deal" in order to herd them back into the Democratic party--a total fraud of course--totally obvious!

Only an International Socialist program led by Workers can truly lead a "green revolution" by expropriating the billionaire oil barons of their capital and redirecting that wealth into the socialist reconstruction of the entire economy.

Master Oroko4 days ago
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal" is a nice laugh. Really, it sure is funny hearing these lies given any credence at all. This showmanship belongs in a fantasy book, not in real life. The Democratic Party as a force for good social change Now that's a laugh!
Vivek Jain4 days ago
from Greenwald: The Democratic Party's deceitful game https://www.salon.com/2010/...
лидия5 days ago
"Greenwashing" of capitalism (and also of Zionist apartheid colony in Palestine) is but one of dirty tricks by Dems and their "left" backers.
Kalen5 days ago
Lies, empty promises, meaningless tautologies and morality plays, qualified and conditional declarations to be backpedalled pending appropriate political expediencies, devoid any practical content that is what AOC, card carrying member of DSA, and in fact young energetic political apparatchik of calcified political body of Dems establishment, duty engulfs. And working for socialist revolution is no one of them.

What kind of socialist would reject socialist revolution, class struggle and class emancipation and choose, as a suppose socialist path, accommodation with oligarchic ruling elite via political, not revolutionary process that would have necessarily overthrown ruling elite.

What socialist would acquiesce to legalized exploitation of people for profit, legalized greed and inequality and would negotiate away fundamental principle of egalitarianism and working people self rule?

Only National Socialist would; and that is exactly what AOC campaign turned out to be all about.

National Socialism with imperial flavor is her affiliation and what her praises for Pelosi, wife of a billionaire and dead warmonger McCain proved.

Now she is peddling magical thinking about global change and plunge herself into falacy of entrepreneurship, Market solution to the very problem that the market solutions were designed to create and aggravate namely horrific inequality that is robbing people from their own opportunities to mitigate devastating effects of global change.

The insidiousness of phony socialists expresses itself in the fact that they lie that any social problem can be fixed by current of future technical means, namely via so called technological revolution instead by socialist revolution they deem unnecessary or detrimental.

Me at home Kalen4 days ago
The technical means for achieving socialism has existed since the late 19th century, with the telegraph, the coal-powered factory, and modern fertilizer. The improvements since then have only made socialism even more streamlined and efficient, if such technologies could only be liberated from capital! The idea that "we need a new technological revolution just to achieve socialism" reflects the indoctrination in capitalism by many "socialist" theorists because it is only in capitalism where "technological growth" is essential simply to maintain the system. It is only in capitalism (especially America, the most advanced capitalist nation, and thus, the one where capitalism is actually closest towards total crisis) where the dogma of a technological savior is most entrenched because America cannot offer any other kind of palliative to the more literate and productive sections of its population. Religion will not convince most and any attempt at a sociological or economic understanding would inevitably prove the truth of socialism.

[Nov 23, 2018] Sitting on corruption hill

Highly recommended!
Mueller is in the cave just below the Clinton foundation" sign. Entrance is behind the bag with the dollars ;-)
Nov 23, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

[Nov 06, 2018] 'Somebody' made fradulent promises and put people in danger to acheive some political goal. Sounds like Clintons or Soros.

Notable quotes:
"... "a group called CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project" a group that has received funding from Soros, to Pueblo Sin Fronteras through a person named 'Alex Mensing' who works both for CARA and as "an on-the ground coordinator in Mexico for the Pueblo Sin Fronteras". ..."
"... ..A vital part of that expansion has involved money: major donations from some of the nation's wealthiest liberal foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Open Society Foundations of the financier George Soros, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Over the past decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally.... ..."
"... US based groups or cutouts are the organizers of the caravan. ..."
"... The list of Democratic Party-connected organizations that might have originated the idea of a caravan from Central America is small. I surmise Clinton Global Initiative because they would have the requisite connections and blaming Soros seems to easy and convenient. But Soros is also rumored to be behind support for European migrants so it's certainly possible. ..."
Nov 06, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 2:28:56 PM | link

How did this group of thousands come together to walk to US were Trump has vowed to keep illegals out. People like this would naturally come together if they were catching a ship, or at some sort of aid post refugee camp ect.

After a search on caravan starting point, I found this at the Guardian.

"Who organized the caravan?
In interviews, Honduran members of the group said that they learned about the caravan from Facebook posts, and a report on the local HCH television station, which erroneously suggested that a former congressman and radio host would cover the costs of the journey.
After that, rumours spread quickly, including the mistaken promise that any member would be given asylum in the US. Darwin Ramos, 30, said he was desperate to flee threats from a local drug gang, and when news of the caravan reached his neighbourhood, he seized on it as his best chance to escape."
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/24/caravan-migrants-what-is-it-where-from-guatemala-honduras-immigrants-mexico


Uh huh. 'Somebody' made mistaken promises.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 4:06:27 PM | link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pueblo_Sin_Fronteras
"Pueblo Sin Fronteras (en: People without Borders) is an immigration rights group known for organizing several high profile migrant caravans in Mexico and Central America. The organization's efforts to facilitate immigration and calls for open borders attracted considerable amounts of coverage in the Mexican and American media."

Pueblo Sin Fronteras website. Zero information there other than the have bases or offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tijuana in Mexico.
https://www.pueblosinfronteras.org/commitees.html
No information on who they are or who funds them. Very much a political organization.
On two caravans like this have occurred, both organized by this shadowy group.
Slow moving lots of press coverage that can last for weeks so long as the peasant suckers stay suckers and don't pull out. Very much an anti Trump political show put on by whoever funds and controls this Pueblo Sin Fronteras organisation.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 4:34:48 PM | link
Centro Sin Fronteras is the parent group to Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/centro-sin-fronteras/
"Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, former fugitive from U.S. immigration authorities, and activist for illegal immigrants in the U.S., formed the activist group La Familia Latina Unida ("The United Latin Family") as an expansion of the Centro Sin Fronteras. [7] La Familia Latina Unida runs Pueblo Sin Fronteras ("People Without Borders"), a group that organizes "migrant caravans" from Mexico and Latin America to cross the U.S. border illegally"

CSF website here https://fluenglish.wordpress.com/about/
Again nothing on who finances them.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 4:41:49 PM | link
The majority of people in the caravan may be leaving their own countries due to violence poverty ect, but the caravan itself is a manufactured political event. left to their own devices, some may have moved towards the US in small groups, others would have been deterred due to Trumps immigration policy, but they have joined this so called caravan on false promises made by the organisers. Nothing better than kids, women and oldies doing it tough or better yet dying for political media coverage.
dh-mtl , Nov 5, 2018 5:26:11 PM | link
Peter AU 1 | Nov 5, 2018 4:34:48 PM | 73 says:

"Again nothing on who finances them. (Pueblo Sin Fronteras)"


This article, published the last time that Pueblo Sin Fronteras was in the headlines, ( https://joeforamerica.com/2018/04/whos-really-behind-the-illegal-immigrants-the-migrant-caravan-and-pueblo-sin-fronteras/) links "a group called CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project" a group that has received funding from Soros, to Pueblo Sin Fronteras through a person named 'Alex Mensing' who works both for CARA and as "an on-the ground coordinator in Mexico for the Pueblo Sin Fronteras".

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 5:41:08 PM | link
Sleepy "If they request asylum, their entry is legal"

If they get into the US, immediately present themselves to authorities and request asylum, then their entry is deemed legal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees
US has signed up to the 1967 protocol but not the 1951 convention.

As for the politically organized caravan, the peasants have officially been offered a home in Mexico, but the organizers prefer them to go on to the US. As they have been offered a place in mexico, they are now economic migrants wanting greener pastures in the US rather than refugees.

The peasants themselves, I think are mostly genuine though organizers are mixed through the group. The peasants are no more than consumables in a political action.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 6:16:23 PM | link
The money.

. ..A vital part of that expansion has involved money: major donations from some of the nation's wealthiest liberal foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Open Society Foundations of the financier George Soros, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Over the past decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally....
https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/us/obama-immigration-policy-changes.html

Pft , Nov 5, 2018 6:36:34 PM | link
How can people not see this caravan march as the obvious false flag it is to influence the election. The actors are being paid and busses have been mobilized and paid for to move them forward. The right says Soros money might be behind it and they may be right. Surprised the left has not blamed Putin. Which proves my point that the left is actively conspiring with the right the keep them in power. Why wouldnt they care?. As Caitlin Johnstone says, after I said it, they get paid the same no matter what. As part of a 2 party monopoly,with 2 parties the minimum to serve the illusion of a representative Democracy,the oiligarchs will continue to throw money to the loser.

This has been scripted well in advance. Republicans need to maintain both houses for the 2nd stage of Trumps destruction of America (credibility and finance), especially its government and middle class as the elite will be protected from the damage. Democrats are standing on the sidelines rambling about Russia Gate or Khashoggi Gate or mobilizing their forces to support gay marriages and transgender access to bathrooms. And to boot they bring out Hillary and Obama at the last moment to bash Trump to galvanize the rights voters even more. No other purpose for doing so.

To be sure, a Democratic win means nothing except perhaps as a poor proxy for a lack of support for Trump. 40% of their candidates come from the military or intelligence services. They are owned by the oligarchs as much as tbe Republicans. The only difference in the parties is the costumes they wear and the rhetoric the speak

Or perhaps its as simple as not wanting to share responsibility for what is to come as their best shot to win in 2020

Frankly the best outcome would be the decimation of the Democrat Party and its subsequent dissolution. Lets end the farce of a Democracy. One party for all. Hail Trump or whomever he appoints as his successor, or just let the elites vote and announce who they voted for every 4 years. Thats pretty much what the constitution meant for us to be doing anyways. The idea of a Direct vote by all citizens for President and Senate would have horrified them. Seeing the results of elections these past 40 years I have concluded they are right.


Jackrabbit , Nov 5, 2018 6:42:21 PM | link
b, RJPJR, Jay, Yeah Right, et al

Invaders or Dupes? Have the caravan migrants been misled?

While it's true that anyone can request asylum, the caravan migrants appear to be under the impression that they have a legitimate claim to asylum in USA because they are fleeing gang violence in their home country. That is very likely to be untrue.

Such a claim MIGHT be valid in countries that have signed the Cartagena Declaration and ratified it into law - but the US has not. The Declaration expands the definition of refugees to include:

"persons who have fled their country because their lives, security or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order".

The Brazil Declaration is an effort to expand the Cartegena Declaration . The USA is also not involved in this effort either, though I believe that they have "observer" status.

FYI
The 1951 UN Convention as amended defines a refugee as someone with a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" . The caravan stories I have heard are unlikely to qualify under this definition.

Some countries that have loads of asylum seekers have set up camps to hold them. Some, like Australia, even have camps in foreign countries. Trump's talk of setting up tents implies that USA will also establish such camps. Life in these camps is likely to be uncomfortable and unproductive. Only those will genuine asylum claims would tough it out.

Grieved , Nov 5, 2018 7:40:05 PM | link
How telling it is that when we disagree on the nature of the Caravan, we fall into an either-or choice between 2 absolutes. Either it is a complete hoax from the ground up, or it's a completely authentic grass-roots happening.

But we have seen enough color revolutions to understand that there is always an authentic component to each one. I have commented several times on how delicately the CIA and other organizers of color revolutions symbiotically fuse with good and authentic people who have a noble cause. How these bad people can merge with such good people is a wonder to me.

But this itself is the fact that must demolish the partisan thinking of "one side or the other". It's clear that the people who run things and their henchmen who arrange things are marvelously nuanced when it comes to good and evil. They'll be good when it suits them and evil for the same reason, and treat people well and badly, all depending on the exigencies of the mission.

In simple words, there undoubtedly is a core heart to the population of the caravan that is good, hopeful, enterprising and industrious, and that hopes to receive just one little break from the world, and a sliver of social justice. This radiating core of goodness and humanity, which would break open the hearts of ordinary people like you and me, to the organizers and their fixers is simply the perfect place to hide, concealed by superb protective coloration.

Take a look at the Maidan in Ukraine, and see how many good people thought they were fighting to create a wonderful new world, until the snipers fired on both sides and brought off the color revolution with superb skill and complete amoral ruthlessness - all as a result of long planning and preparation, not to mention the cash to hire mercenaries and provide the best logistics.

So I personally will stand by my thought that we will see what this is when the shooters begin to provoke the violence. And if that happens, then sadly, it will be the innocents who again, as always, are massacred.

But if the US handles it well, and permits controlled entry under the supervision of the border authorities, and there are no shooters and no provocations coming either from the Caravan people - or from some other force off to the side that doesn't seem to belong to anyone, but which seems to be the cause of death to both sides - then this will all fizzle out as another political skirmish of short duration, and the Democrats and Republicans will move on to their next diversions.

RJPJR , Nov 5, 2018 7:47:23 PM | link
Posted by: Grieved | Nov 5, 2018 7:40:05 PM | 97

You wrote: "Either it is a complete hoax from the ground up, or it's a completely authentic grass-roots happening."

I am inclined to believe that it is both, to wit an authentic grass-roots happening that has been hijacked (like so many others) by interested parties for their own ends.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 5, 2018 6:59:25 PM | 95

Thanks for the link!

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 7:53:13 PM | link
Grieved 97
That's the way I'm seeing it. "But we have seen enough color revolutions to understand that there is always an authentic component to each one. I have commented several times on how delicately the CIA and other organizers of color revolutions symbiotically fuse with good and authentic people who have a noble cause. How these bad people can merge with such good people is a wonder to me."

Well put, not only the above paragragh but the whole comment. Not much most of us can do to help the naive perhaps desperate people sucked in to the US political caravan but we should at least be exposing those who are exploiting and furthingf their misery for political purposes.

Jackrabbit , Nov 5, 2018 8:27:50 PM | link
RJPJR:
I am inclined to believe that it is both, to wit an authentic grass-roots happening that has been hijacked ...

I think it is fake as per info @93.

The caravan people are real and hopeful of a better life but they have been duped into believing that they could get asylum.

Pft , Nov 5, 2018 8:40:05 PM | link
Nemesiscalling@94

Requirement for any President or political leader is to be a good actor. I believe they simply follow a script prepared by the real rulers operating in the shadows. Maybe I am wrong. Its like fake wrestling as Caitlin Johnstone pointed out. You have to be a good actor and pretend to care while actually making sure you qlose if the script calls for it

Jackrabbit@100

Its true they have been duped but the point is that desparate and poor people rarely work together spontaneously in an organized fashion and a caravan such as this must be organized and paid for. Someone is feeding them. The timing is too good to be true. Obviously they have been promised something, asylum, money or whatever and assured of their safety. To determine who is behind it you simply need to look at who benefits.

Jackrabbit , Nov 5, 2018 9:35:42 PM | link
Pft

@91 you wrote: The actors are being paid ...

When discussing this caravan "false flag", many people will dismiss "conspiracy theories" that involve paid actors.

RJPJR @98 thought the caravan an an "authentic grass-roots happening that has been hi-jacked" . But that theory is also unsatisfying. As you point out (Pft), it is strange that ordinary people organize themselves to make a march like the caravan.

The best explanation is that people were organized to make the march by local groups [connected to Clinton Global Initiative?] which got PAID to do so. These trusted local groups then told the marchers that: 1) they would get support along the way, and 2) that they have a good/great chance of actually getting asylum.

Organizers would not want a member of the caravan to tell a reporter that the march was fake, or that they are paid. But it has been reported that "well wishers" have given the marchers food and money. And the press has not questioned that support. And the marchers seem to have a genuine belief that they qualify for asylum. Such a belief would be easy to instill in poor, uneducated people who can be easily duped into believing that an international treaty like the Cartegena Declaration applies to all countries.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 5, 2018 9:55:29 PM | link
Jackrabbit, in my post @67 I linked the Pueblo Sin Fronteras website. When I found out about this group I looked for their website which I was able to access, and although information was sparse on this shadowy group, they proudly advertised their work on this caravan.
Since posting a link here I am now censored from that website - security exceptions blah blah.
Not local globalist groups but US based groups or cutouts are the organizers of the caravan.
Jackrabbit , Nov 5, 2018 10:24:10 PM | link
Peter AU1

Good detective work!

But my hunch is that the trail ends with a one or more local groups that are known to people in the area. These poor people basically had to be sold a 'bill of goods'. That's difficult unless you are known/trusted (have a "brand" like Coca-Cola).

There would be several intermediary groups. Maybe a large in-country charity with US connections? And one or more groups outside the country (US, Mexico, even EU) that are connected to / get funding and direction from a major US group.

Let's face it, whoever was behind this would not want the caravan to be connected to back to group with US political connections. And it's probably unlikely that we will find any 'smoking gun' that does that.

The list of Democratic Party-connected organizations that might have originated the idea of a caravan from Central America is small. I surmise Clinton Global Initiative because they would have the requisite connections and blaming Soros seems to easy and convenient. But Soros is also rumored to be behind support for European migrants so it's certainly possible.

It really the same reasoning that led b to suspect that it was CIA/MI6 that foiled assassination plot in Denmark, not Mossad.

[Nov 03, 2018] Kunstler The Midterm Endgame Democrats' Perpetual Hysteria

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Democratic Party split into a four-headed monster comprised of Wall Street patrons seeking favors, war hawks and their corporate allies looking for new global rumbles, the permanent bureaucracy looking to always expand itself, and the various ethnic and sexual minorities whose needs and grievances are serviced by that bureaucracy. It's the last group that has become the party's most public face while the party's other activities – many of them sinister -- remain at least partially concealed. ..."
"... the Republicans are being forced to engage on some real issues, such as the need for a coherent and effective immigration policy and the need to redefine formal trade relations. (Other issues like the insane system of medical racketeering and the deadly racket of the college loan industry just skate along on thin ice. And then, of course, there's the national debt and all its grotesque outgrowths.) ..."
"... Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has become the party of bad ideas and bad faith, starting with the position that "diversity and inclusion" means shutting down free speech, an unforgivable transgression against common sense and common decency. It's a party that lies even more systematically than Mr. Trump, and does so knowingly (as when Google execs say they "Do no Evil"). Its dirty secret is that it relishes coercion, it likes pushing people around, telling them what to think and how to act. Its idea of "social justice" is a campus kangaroo court, where due process of law is suspended. And it is deeply corrupt, with good old-fashioned grift, new-fashioned gross political misconduct in federal law enforcement, and utter intellectual depravity in higher education. ..."
"... I hope that the party is shoved into an existential crisis and is forced to confront its astounding dishonesty. I hope that the process prompts them to purge their leadership across the board. ..."
Nov 03, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Kunstler: The Midterm Endgame & Democrats' "Perpetual Hysteria"

by Tyler Durden Fri, 11/02/2018 - 17:05 44 SHARES Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Back in the last century, when this was a different country, the Democrats were the "smart" party and the Republicans were the "stupid" party.

How did that work?

Well, back then the Democrats represented a broad middle class, with a base of factory workers, many of them unionized, and the party had to be smart, especially in the courts, to overcome the natural advantages of the owner class.

In contrast, the Republicans looked like a claque of country club drunks who staggered home at night to sleep on their moneybags. Bad optics, as we say nowadays.

The Democrats also occupied the moral high ground as the champion of the little guy. If not for the Dems, factory workers would be laboring twelve hours a day and children would still be maimed in the machinery. Once the relationship between business and labor was settled in the 1950s, the party moved on to a new crusade on even loftier moral high ground: civil rights, aiming to correct arrant and long-lived injustices against downtrodden black Americans. That was a natural move, considering America's self-proclaimed post-war status as the world's Beacon of Liberty. It had to be done and a political consensus that included Republicans got it done. Consensus was still possible.

The Dems built their fortress on that high ground and fifty years later they find themselves prisoners in it. The factory jobs all vamoosed overseas. The middle class has been pounded into penury and addiction.

The Democratic Party split into a four-headed monster comprised of Wall Street patrons seeking favors, war hawks and their corporate allies looking for new global rumbles, the permanent bureaucracy looking to always expand itself, and the various ethnic and sexual minorities whose needs and grievances are serviced by that bureaucracy. It's the last group that has become the party's most public face while the party's other activities – many of them sinister -- remain at least partially concealed.

The Republican Party has, at least, sobered up some after getting blindsided by Trump and Trumpism. Like a drunk out of rehab, it's attempting to get a life. Two years in, the party marvels at Mr. Trump's audacity, despite his obvious lack of savoir faire. And despite a longstanding lack of political will to face the country's problems, the Republicans are being forced to engage on some real issues, such as the need for a coherent and effective immigration policy and the need to redefine formal trade relations. (Other issues like the insane system of medical racketeering and the deadly racket of the college loan industry just skate along on thin ice. And then, of course, there's the national debt and all its grotesque outgrowths.)

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has become the party of bad ideas and bad faith, starting with the position that "diversity and inclusion" means shutting down free speech, an unforgivable transgression against common sense and common decency. It's a party that lies even more systematically than Mr. Trump, and does so knowingly (as when Google execs say they "Do no Evil"). Its dirty secret is that it relishes coercion, it likes pushing people around, telling them what to think and how to act. Its idea of "social justice" is a campus kangaroo court, where due process of law is suspended. And it is deeply corrupt, with good old-fashioned grift, new-fashioned gross political misconduct in federal law enforcement, and utter intellectual depravity in higher education.

I hope that Democrats lose as many congressional and senate seats as possible. I hope that the party is shoved into an existential crisis and is forced to confront its astounding dishonesty. I hope that the process prompts them to purge their leadership across the board. If there is anything to salvage in this organization, I hope it discovers aims and principles that are unrecognizable from its current agenda of perpetual hysteria. But if the party actually blows up and disappears, as the Whigs did a hundred and fifty years ago, I will be content. Out of the terrible turbulence, maybe something better will be born.

Or, there's the possibility that the dregs of a defeated Democratic Party will just go batshit crazy and use the last of its mojo to incite actual sedition. Of course, there's also a distinct possibility that the Dems will take over congress, in which case they'll ramp up an even more horrific three-ring-circus of political hysteria and persecution that will make the Spanish Inquisition look like a backyard barbeque. That will happen as the US enters the most punishing financial train wreck in our history, an interesting recipe for epic political upheaval.

[Oct 05, 2018] How the Russia Spin Got So Much Torque by Norman Solomon

Notable quotes:
"... Shattered ..."
"... Yet last year, notably without success, the Clinton campaign devoted plenty of its messaging to the Trump-Russia theme. As the "Shattered" book notes, "Hillary would raise the issue herself repeatedly in debates" with Trump. For example, in one of those debates she said: "We have seventeen – seventeen ..."
"... In early spring, the former communications director of the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, summed up the post-election approach neatly in a Washington Post ..."
"... The inability of top Clinton operatives to identify with the non-wealthy is so tenacious that they still want to assume "the public will be with us" the more they talk about Russia Russia Russia. Imagine sitting at a kitchen table with average-income voters who are worried sick about their financial futures – and explaining to them that the biggest threat they face is from the Kremlin rather than from US government policies that benefit the rich and corporate America at their expense ..."
"... One of the most promising progressives to arrive in Congress this year, Rep. Jamie Raskin from the Maryland suburbs of D.C., promptly drank what might be called the "Klinton Kremlin Kool-Aid." His official website features an article about a town-hall meeting that quotes him describing Trump as a "hoax perpetrated by the Russians on the United States of America. ..."
"... Like hundreds of other Democrats on Capitol Hill, Raskin is on message with talking points from the party leadership. That came across in an email that he recently sent to supporters for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. It said: "We pull the curtain back further each day on the Russian Connection, forcing National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign, Attorney General Sessions to recuse, and America to reflect on who's calling the shots in Washington. ..."
A new book about Hillary Clinton's last campaign for president – Shattered , by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes – has gotten a lot of publicity since it appeared two weeks ago. But major media have ignored a revealing passage near the end of the book.

Soon after Clinton's defeat, top strategists decided where to place the blame. "Within 24 hours of her concession speech," the authors report, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta "assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument."

Six months later, that centerpiece of the argument is rampant – with claims often lurching from unsubstantiated overreach to outright demagoguery.

A lavishly-funded example is the "Moscow Project," a mega-spin effort that surfaced in midwinter as a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It's led by Neera Tanden, a self-described "loyal soldier" for Clinton who also runs the Center for American Progress (where she succeeded Podesta as president). The Center's board includes several billionaires.

The "Moscow Project" is expressly inclined to go over the top, aiming to help normalize ultra-partisan conjectures as supposedly factual. And so, the homepage of the "Moscow Project" prominently declares: "Given Trump's obedience to Vladimir Putin and the deep ties between his advisers and the Kremlin, Russia's actions are a significant and ongoing cause for concern."

Let's freeze-frame how that sentence begins: "Given Trump's obedience to Vladimir Putin." It's a jaw-dropping claim; a preposterous smear.

Echoes of such tactics can be heard from many Democrats in Congress and from allied media. Along the way, no outlet has been more in sync than MSNBC, and no one on the network has been more promotional of the Russia-runs-Trump meme than Rachel Maddow, tirelessly promoting the line and sometimes connecting dots in Glenn Beck fashion to the point of journalistic malpractice.

Yet last year, notably without success, the Clinton campaign devoted plenty of its messaging to the Trump-Russia theme. As the "Shattered" book notes, "Hillary would raise the issue herself repeatedly in debates" with Trump. For example, in one of those debates she said: "We have seventeen – seventeen – intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election ."

After Trump's election triumph, the top tier of Clinton strategists quickly moved to seize as much of the narrative as they could, surely mindful of what George Orwell observed: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." After all, they hardly wanted the public discourse to dwell on Clinton's lack of voter appeal because of her deep ties to Wall Street. Political recriminations would be much better focused on the Russian government.

In early spring, the former communications director of the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, summed up the post-election approach neatly in a Washington Post opinion article : "If we make plain that what Russia has done is nothing less than an attack on our republic, the public will be with us. And the more we talk about it, the more they'll be with us."

The inability of top Clinton operatives to identify with the non-wealthy is so tenacious that they still want to assume "the public will be with us" the more they talk about Russia Russia Russia. Imagine sitting at a kitchen table with average-income voters who are worried sick about their financial futures – and explaining to them that the biggest threat they face is from the Kremlin rather than from US government policies that benefit the rich and corporate America at their expense.

Tone deaf hardly describes the severe political impairment of those who insist that denouncing Russia will be key to the Democratic Party's political fortunes in 2018 and 2020. But the top-down pressure for conformity among elected Democrats is enormous and effective.

One of the most promising progressives to arrive in Congress this year, Rep. Jamie Raskin from the Maryland suburbs of D.C., promptly drank what might be called the "Klinton Kremlin Kool-Aid." His official website features an article about a town-hall meeting that quotes him describing Trump as a "hoax perpetrated by the Russians on the United States of America. "

Like hundreds of other Democrats on Capitol Hill, Raskin is on message with talking points from the party leadership. That came across in an email that he recently sent to supporters for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. It said: "We pull the curtain back further each day on the Russian Connection, forcing National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign, Attorney General Sessions to recuse, and America to reflect on who's calling the shots in Washington. "

You might think that Wall Street, big banks, hugely funded lobbyists, fat-check campaign contributors, the fossil fuel industry, insurance companies, military contractors and the like are calling the shots in Washington. Maybe you didn't get the memo.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy . His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death .

[Oct 02, 2018] I m puzzled why CIA is so against Kavanaugh?

Highly recommended!
An interesting hypothesis. CIA definitly became a powerful political force in the USA -- a rogue political force which starting from JFK assasination tries to control who is elected to important offices. But in truth Cavanaugh is a pro-CIA candidate so to speak. So why CIA would try to derail him.
Notable quotes:
"... I think I've figured out why they had to go to couples counseling about an outside door and why she came up with claim that she needed an outside bedroom door because she'd been assaulted 37 years ago. The Palo Alto building codes for single family homes were created to make sure single family homes remained single family and weren't chopped up into apartments. ..."
"... An outside door into a master bedroom with attached bathroom is a red flag that it's intended for an illegal what's called in law apartment ..."
"... So she wants the door. Husband says waste of money and trouble. Contractor says call me when you're ready. So they go to counseling Husband explains why the door's unreasonable. Therapist asks wife why she " really deep down" needs the door. Wife makes up the story about attempted rape 35 years ago flashbacks If only there were 2 doors in that imaginary bedroom she could have escaped. ..."
"... Kacanaugh was nominated. CIA searched for sex problems in his working life. Found nothing Searched law school and college found nothing. In desperation searched high school found nothing. Searched CIA personnel records which go back to grade school and found one of their own employees was about Kavanaugh's age and attended a high school near his and the students socialized. ..."
"... She's 3rd generation CIA. grandfather assistant director. Father CIA contractor who managed CIA unofficial band accounts. And she runs a CIA recruitment office. ..."
Oct 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [257] Disclaimer says: September 29, 2018 at 8:28 am GMT 400 Words

I think I've figured out why they had to go to couples counseling about an outside door and why she came up with claim that she needed an outside bedroom door because she'd been assaulted 37 years ago. The Palo Alto building codes for single family homes were created to make sure single family homes remained single family and weren't chopped up into apartments.

Outside doors enter public areas kitchen sunroom living rooms not bedrooms. An outside door into a master bedroom with attached bathroom is a red flag that it's intended for an illegal what's called in law apartment

There's a unit It's a stove 2 ft counter space and sink. The stoves electric and plugs into an ordinary household electricity. It's backed against the bathroom wall. Break through the wall, connect the pipes running water for the sink. Add an outside door and it's a small apartment.

Assume they didn't want to make it an apartment just a master bedroom. Usually the contractor pulls the permits routinely. But an outside bedroom door is complicated. The permits will cost more. It might require an exemption and a hearing They night need a lawyer. And they might not get the permit.

So she wants the door. Husband says waste of money and trouble. Contractor says call me when you're ready. So they go to counseling Husband explains why the door's unreasonable. Therapist asks wife why she " really deep down" needs the door. Wife makes up the story about attempted rape 35 years ago flashbacks If only there were 2 doors in that imaginary bedroom she could have escaped.

Kacanaugh was nominated. CIA searched for sex problems in his working life. Found nothing Searched law school and college found nothing. In desperation searched high school found nothing. Searched CIA personnel records which go back to grade school and found one of their own employees was about Kavanaugh's age and attended a high school near his and the students socialized.

She's 3rd generation CIA. grandfather assistant director. Father CIA contractor who managed CIA unofficial band accounts. And she runs a CIA recruitment office.

I'm puzzled why CIA is so against Kavanaugh?

[Oct 02, 2018] I like the suggestion Monica Lewinsky should sit behind Kavanaugh in the hearing

Oct 02, 2018 | www.eschatonblog.com

noblejoanie 10 days ago ,

I like the suggestion Monica Lewinsky should sit behind Kavanaugh in the hearing. Trumpish move

Wapiti noblejoanie 10 days ago ,

I think this should happen.

I also think that former AG Harris should lead off her questioning with "When investigating President Clinton, did you ask Monica Lewinsky under oath if Mr. Clinton came in her mouth?"

Then start questioning his sexual history. I'm curious if he ever had sex with two women. Or a guy and a woman.

[Oct 02, 2018] Kavanaugh vs Bill Clinton

Looks like Neoliberal Democrats have zero problem with rapists as long as they are democrats.
Oct 02, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Jean , September 28, 2018 at 11:58 pm

BS

I Believe Juanita

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/opinion/juanita-broaddrick-bill-clinton.html

What About Bil

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/us/politics/bill-clinton-sexual-misconduct-debate.amp.html

What Hillary Knew
Hillary Clinton once tweeted that "every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported." What about Juanita Broaddrick?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/546170/

The Clinton Double Standard

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/10/bill-clinton-harvey-weinstein-sexual-assault

rife kimler , September 29, 2018 at 6:18 am

So Clinton did not fly around with Jeffery Epstein?

jean , September 29, 2018 at 7:43 pm

https://www.salon.com/2017/10/16/hillary-clinton-weinstein-bbc-trump-bill/

You'd Better Put Some Ice On That: How I Survived Being Raped by Bill Clinton

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37797819-you-d-better-put-some-ice-on-that

[Sep 12, 2018] State AGs to Step Up Enforcement Against Tech Companies

Sep 12, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Such separate priorities may also extend to areas in which the federal government regulates extensively, such as securities law (or at least did in the not-so-distant past), as I discussed in this post, Mary Jo White Leaves Behind a Weakened SEC for Trump to Weaken Further :

During the administration of President George W. Bush, state attorneys general used state authority to prosecute securities and financial transgressions. Notably, former New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relied on authority provided by the state's 1910 Martin Act, which predates the federal securities law, to take legal action actions against insurance firms for brokerage practices, hedge funds for improper trading practices in mutual fund shares, and investment banks for conflicts of interest that distorted the investment research they provided, to name some of the most significant initiatives. Spitzer's successors as attorney general, current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have not had the impact that Spitzer had when he was lauded as the Sheriff of Wall Street.

Another New York regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services used the threat of denying a NY state banking charter to force tougher terms on settlements in which the Eric Holder/Loretta Lynch DoJ and other federal regulators had rolled over (see this post by Yves for a summary: Wall Street's Nemesis, Benjamin Lawsky, to Resign in June .).Other states, such as California, have their own expansive statutes– though now-US Senator Kamala Harris demonstrated when she served as California's AG that she more interested in virtue-signalling than taking scalps.

Crusading state AGs are not just Democrats. As I wrote in New EPA Lawsuit Policy Advances Trump's Deregulatory Agenda , Scott Pruitt– who recently stepped down as EPA administrator:

has been a longstanding bugbear of environmentalists. In his previous role as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma– a major producer of oil and natural gas– he either filed or joined lawsuits that sought to stymie the modest pro-regulatory environmental and climate change agenda the EPA previously espoused.

Like-minded Republicans AGs often joined him in these efforts.

So, What's On the Agenda for These AGs?

The most immediate threat to the tech industry might arise in the area of antitrust enforcement– which, shall we say, has not been a major priority for recent administrations, although the European Union has investigated and fined Google over competition concerns. Yet as recently as the Clinton administration, Microsoft was a target of an major antitrust action instigated by multiple state AGs in conjunction with the DoJ

Over to the WSJ again:

The [Sessions meeting ] announcement -- released amid last week's congressional hearings into the practices of Facebook and Twitter -- shed little light on who was raising the concerns or what remedies might be under consideration. But recent comments by several of the state attorneys general suggest they are actively exploring an antitrust investigation and hope to enlist Washington.

"I think the companies are too big, and they need to be broken up," Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Thursday in a radio interview.

There is some evidence that party politics are driving this potential enforcement initiative:

Republicans' allegations that the tech companies suppress conservative voices has bubbled up for months in conservative media and was amplified by Mr. Trump late last month . Democrats have said that is the issue -- more than antitrust policy -- behind the coming Justice Department meeting, with Republicans hoping to stir their conservative base ahead of November elections

All the attorneys general who are expected to attend this month's meeting in Washington are Republicans, with Democratic officials saying they have yet to be invited.

Although it's too soon to say where these preliminary discussions between the DoJ and the the state AGs may lead, I want to draw attention to another development– the weakening of the hold of corporate Democrats on the direction of the party. David Sirota published an interesting piece in Monday's Guardian, Yes, let's wipe out Trump. But take neoliberal Democrats with him, too .

Sirota's piece wasn't especially concerned about Big Tech per se, and focused on a percolating progressive policy agenda. He mentions regulation, but only as it affects financial firms and pharmaceutical companies and where so far, corporate Democrats have successfully insulated their paymasters from any significant increase in legal liability.

But if progressives start to wield greater influence on the Democratic side– and Republican AGs follow through with a tougher approach to enforcement– the future might shape up to be a less comfortable operating environment for US internet companies. Or at least we might hope. /n

TS , September 12, 2018 at 8:31 am

I can understand antitrust and data-privacy violations but with regard to "stifling the free exchange of ideas" on their platforms, what legal statutes are being violated even if these companies were found to be supressing conservative speech?

Mark , September 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm

The OLG Munich recently decided that Facebook violated the right to free speech of a politician by deleting her post. Facebook gave their community rules as a reason for the deletion. The court ruled that Facebook could not rely on their rights a privat entity to do as they please in their own place (Hausrecht in German) but rather had to uphold the right to free spreech granted by the German constitution. This is a new interpretation of the law by a significant court and possibly transfers some of the burden ususally only placed on the state (uphold free speech) unto a privat company. The reason given is that Facebook is a controlling, monopolistic entity in the realm of social interaction and has therefore more responsibilties. The OLG Munich is the highest court in its court-district, Southern Bavaria, only below the federal court (BGH) and the ruling sets a binding precedent in its district and serves as an interesting opinion for the rest of Germany. Mind you precedent is of a lot less important in Germany than in the case-law US system and there are many differing rulings out there.

I suppose the arguments for supressing conservative speech or something like that might go a similar route in the US.

source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180907/00455240595/german-court-tells-facebook-it-cant-delete-comments-even-though-german-law-says-it-must-delete-comments.shtml

PS: Please excuse the rambling source it is the only one in English I could find; also take my reasoning regarding the court ruling with a pinch of salt since I am not an attorney. At least the apparent confusion between forced deletion on one hand and forced non-deletion on the other hand mentioned in the source is easily explained. Free speech has its limits and violating those is in some cases a criminal offence, e.g. criminal insults, incitement to violance against people, etc.. A recent law in Germany requires sites like Facebook or Twitter to take obvious cases of such posts down, instead of waiting for the police or prosecution to act. This is worthy of a discussion in itself but it still leaves room between what Facebook arbitrarily deems acceptable based in its guidelines and what is acceptable under free speech in Germany, and here the court made their ruling.

[Sep 12, 2018] If You Read This Book, It'll Make You a Radical A Conversation with Thomas Frank by John Siman

Notable quotes:
"... "Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps ..."
"... And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory. ..."
Sep 11, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Thomas Frank's new collection of essays: Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society (Metropolitan Books 2018) and Listen, Liberal; or,Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? (ibid. 2016)

To hang out with Thomas Frank for a couple of hours is to be reminded that, going back to 1607, say, or to 1620, for a period of about three hundred and fifty years, the most archetypal of American characters was, arguably, the hard-working, earnest, self-controlled, dependable white Protestant guy, last presented without irony a generation or two -- or three -- ago in the television personas of men like Ward Cleaver and Mister Rogers.

Thomas Frank, who grew up in Kansas and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, who at age 53 has the vibe of a happy eager college nerd, not only glows with authentic Midwestern Nice (and sometimes his face turns red when he laughs, which is often), he actually lives in suburbia, just outside of D.C., in Bethesda, where, he told me, he takes pleasure in mowing the lawn and doing some auto repair and fixing dinner for his wife and two children. (Until I met him, I had always assumed it was impossible for a serious intellectual to live in suburbia and stay sane, but Thomas Frank has proven me quite wrong on this.)

Frank is sincerely worried about the possibility of offending friends and acquaintances by the topics he chooses to write about. He told me that he was a B oy Scout back in Kansas, but didn't make Eagle. He told me that he was perhaps a little too harsh on Hillary Clinton in his brilliantly perspicacious "Liberal Gilt [ sic ]" chapter at the end of Listen, Liberal . His piercing insight into and fascination with the moral rot and the hypocrisy that lies in the American soul brings, well, Nathaniel Hawthorne to mind, yet he refuses to say anything (and I tried so hard to bait him!) mean about anyone, no matter how culpable he or she is in the ongoing dissolving and crumbling and sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" ( Thomas Frank in NYC on book tour https://youtu.be/DBNthCKtc1Y ).

And I believe that Frank's self-restraint, his refusal to indulge in bitter satire even as he parses our every national lie, makes him unique as social critic. "You will notice," he writes in the introduction to Rendezvous with Oblivion, "that I describe [these disasters] with a certain amount of levity. I do that because that's the only way to confront the issues of our time without sinking into debilitating gloom" (p. 8). And so rather than succumbing to an existential nausea, Frank descends into the abyss with a dependable flashlight and a ca. 1956 sitcom-dad chuckle.

"Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps " (p. 178).

And it is his analysis of this "Creative Class" -- he usually refers to it as the "Liberal Class" and sometimes as the "Meritocratic Class" in Listen, Liberal (while Barbara Ehrenreich uses the term " Professional Managerial Class ,"and Matthew Stewart recently published an article entitled "The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy" in the Atlantic ) -- that makes it clear that Frank's work is a continuation of the profound sociological critique that goes back to Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) and, more recently, to Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites (1994).

Unlike Veblen and Lasch, however, Frank is able to deliver the harshest news without any hauteur or irascibility, but rather with a deftness and tranquillity of mind, for he is both in and of the Creative Class; he abides among those afflicted by the epidemic which he diagnoses: "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education. They are a 'creative class' that naturally rebels against fakeness and conformity. They are an ' innovation class ' that just can't stop coming up with awesome new stuff" ( Listen, Liberal , pp. 27-29).

And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory.

The class that now runs the so-called Party of the People is impoverishing the people; the genius value-creators at Amazon and Google and Uber are Robber Barons, although, one must grant, hipper, cooler, and oh so much more innovative than their historical predecessors. "In reality," Frank writes in Listen, Liberal ,

.there is little new about this stuff except the software, the convenience, and the spying. Each of the innovations I have mentioned merely updates or digitizes some business strategy that Americans learned long ago to be wary of. Amazon updates the practices of Wal-Mart, for example, while Google has dusted off corporate behavior from the days of the Robber Barons. What Uber does has been compared to the every-man-for-himself hiring procedures of the pre-union shipping docks . Together, as Robert Reich has written, all these developments are 'the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants.' This is atavism, not innovation . And if we keep going in this direction, it will one day reduce all of us to day laborers, standing around like the guys outside the local hardware store, hoping for work. (p. 215).

And who gets this message? The YouTube patriot/comedian Jimmy Dore, Chicago-born, ex-Catholic, son of a cop, does for one. "If you read this b ook, " Dore said while interviewing Frank back in January of 2017, "it'll make y ou a radical" (Frank Interview Part 4 https://youtu.be/JONbGkQaq8Q ).

But to what extent, on the other hand, is Frank being actively excluded from our elite media outlets? He's certainly not on TV or radio or in print as much as he used to be. So is he a prophet without honor in his own country? Frank, of course, is too self-restrained to speculate about the motives of these Creative Class decision-makers and influencers. "But it is ironic and worth mentioning," he told me, "that most of my writing for the last few years has been in a British publication, The Guardian and (in translation) in Le Monde Diplomatique . The way to put it, I think, is to describe me as an ex-pundit."

Frank was, nevertheless, happy to tell me in vivid detail about how his most fundamental observation about America, viz. that the Party of the People has become hostile to the people , was for years effectively discredited in the Creative Class media -- among the bien-pensants , that is -- and about what he learned from their denialism.

JS: Going all the way back to your 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? -- I just looked at Larry Bartels's attack on it, "What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- and I saw that his first objection to your book was, Well, Thomas Frank says the working class is alienated from the Democrats, but I have the math to show that that's false. How out of touch does that sound now?

TCF: [laughs merrily] I know.

JS: I remember at the time that was considered a serious objection to your thesis.

TCF: Yeah. Well, he was a professor at Princeton. And he had numbers. So it looked real. And I actually wrote a response to that in which I pointed out that there were other statistical ways of looking at it, and he had chosen the one that makes his point.

JS: Well, what did Mark Twain say?

TCF: Mark Twain?

JS: There are lies, damned lies --

TCF: [laughs merrily] -- and statistics! Yeah. Well, anyhow, Bartels's take became the common sense of the highly educated -- there needs to be a term for these people by the way, in France they're called the bien-pensants -- the "right-thinking," the people who read The Atlantic, The New York Times op-ed page, The Washington Post op-ed page, and who all agree with each other on everything -- there's this tight little circle of unanimity. And they all agreed that Bartels was right about that, and that was a costly mistake. For example, Paul Krugman, a guy whom I admire in a lot of ways, he referenced this four or five times. He agreed with it . No, the Democrats are not losing the white working class outside the South -- they were not going over to the Republicans. The suggestion was that there is nothing to worry about. Yes. And there were people saying this right up to the 2016 election. But it was a mistake.

JS: I remember being perplexed at the time. I had thought you had written this brilliant book, and you weren't being taken seriously -- because somebody at Princeton had run some software -- as if that had proven you wrong.

TCF: Yeah, that's correct . That was a very widespread take on it. And Bartels was incorrect, and I am right, and [laughs merrily] that's that.

JS: So do you think Russiagate is a way of saying, Oh no no no no, Hillary didn't really lose?

TCF: Well, she did win the popular vote -- but there's a whole set of pathologies out there right now that all stem from Hillary Denialism. And I don't want to say that Russiagate is one of them, because we don't know the answer to that yet.

JS: Um, ok.

TCF: Well, there are all kinds of questionable reactions to 2016 out there, and what they all have in common is the faith that Democrats did nothing wrong. For example, this same circle of the bien-pensants have decided that the only acceptable explanation for Trump's victory is the racism of his supporters. Racism can be the only explanation for the behavior of Trump voters. But that just seems odd to me because, while it's true of course that there's lots of racism in this country, and while Trump is clearly a bigot and clearly won the bigot vote, racism is just one of several factors that went into what happened in 2016. Those who focus on this as the only possible answer are implying that all Trump voters are irredeemable, lost forever.

And it comes back to the same point that was made by all those people who denied what was happening with the white working class, which is: The Democratic Party needs to do nothing differently . All the post-election arguments come back to this same point. So a couple years ago they were saying about the white working class -- we don't have to worry about them -- they're not leaving the Democratic Party, they're totally loyal, especially in the northern states, or whatever the hell it was. And now they say, well, Those people are racists, and therefore they're lost to us forever. What is the common theme of these two arguments? It's always that there's nothing the Democratic Party needs to do differently. First, you haven't lost them; now you have lost them and they're irretrievable: Either way -- you see what I'm getting at? -- you don't have to do anything differently to win them.

JS: Yes, I do.

TCF: The argument in What's the Matter with Kansas? was that this is a long-term process, the movement of the white working class away from the Democratic Party. This has been going on for a long time. It begins in the '60s, and the response of the Democrats by and large has been to mock those people, deride those people, and to move away from organized labor, to move away from class issues -- working class issues -- and so their response has been to make this situation worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse! And there's really no excuse for them not seeing it. But they say, believe, rationalize, you know, come up with anything that gets then off the hook for this, that allows them to ignore this change. Anything. They will say or believe whatever it takes.

JS: Yes.

TCF: By the way, these are the smartest people! These are tenured professors at Ivy League institutions, these are people with Nobel Prizes, people with foundation grants, people with, you know, chairs at prestigious universities, people who work at our most prestigious media outlets -- that's who's wrong about all this stuff.

JS: [quoting the title of David Halberstam's 1972 book, an excerpt from which Frank uses as an epigraph for Listen, Liberal ] The best and the brightest!

TCF: [laughing merrily] Exactly. Isn't it fascinating?

JS: But this gets to the irony of the thing. [locates highlighted passage in book] I'm going to ask you one of the questions you ask in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "Why are worshippers of competence so often incompetent?" (p. 165). That's a huge question.

TCF: That's one of the big mysteries. Look. Take a step back. I had met Barack Obama. He was a professor at the University of Chicago, and I'd been a student there. And he was super smart. Anyhow, I met him and was really impressed by him. All the liberals in Hyde Park -- that's the neighborhood we lived in -- loved him, and I was one of them, and I loved him too. And I was so happy when he got elected.

Anyhow, I knew one thing he would do for sure, and that is he would end the reign of cronyism and incompetence that marked the Bush administration and before them the Reagan administration. These were administrations that actively promoted incompetent people. And I knew Obama wouldn't do that, and I knew Obama would bring in the smartest people, and he'd get the best economists. Remember, when he got elected we were in the pit of the crisis -- we were at this terrible moment -- and here comes exactly the right man to solve the problem. He did exactly what I just described: He brought in [pause] Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard, considered the greatest economist of his generation -- and, you know, go down the list: He had Nobel Prize winners, he had people who'd won genius grants, he had The Best and the Brightest . And they didn't really deal with the problem. They let the Wall Street perpetrators off the hook -- in a catastrophic way, I would argue. They come up with a health care system that was half-baked. Anyhow, the question becomes -- after watching the great disappointments of the Obama years -- the question becomes: Why did government-by-expert fail?

JS: So how did this happen? Why?

TCF: The answer is understanding experts not as individual geniuses but as members of a class . This is the great missing link in all of our talk about expertise. Experts aren't just experts: They are members of a class. And they act like a class. They have loyalty to one another; they have a disdain for others, people who aren't like them, who they perceive as being lower than them, and there's this whole hierarchy of status that they are at the pinnacle of.

And once you understand this, then everything falls into place! So why did they let the Wall Street bankers off the hook? Because these people were them. These people are their peers. Why did they refuse to do what obviously needed to be done with the health care system? Because they didn't want to do that to their friends in Big Pharma. Why didn't Obama get tough with Google and Facebook? They obviously have this kind of scary monopoly power that we haven't seen in a long time. Instead, he brought them into the White House, he identified with them. Again, it's the same thing. Once you understand this, you say: Wait a minute -- so the Democratic Party is a vehicle of this particular social class! It all makes sense. And all of a sudden all of these screw-ups make sense. And, you know, all of their rhetoric makes sense. And the way they treat working class people makes sense. And they way they treat so many other demographic groups makes sense -- all of the old-time elements of the Democratic Party: unions, minorities, et cetera. They all get to ride in back. It's the professionals -- you know, the professional class -- that sits up front and has its hands on the steering wheel.

* * *

It is, given Frank's persona, not surprising that he is able to conclude Listen, Liberal with a certain hopefulness, and so let me end by quoting some of his final words:

What I saw in Kansas eleven years ago is now everywhere . It is time to face the obvious: that the direction the Democrats have chosen to follow for the last few decades has been a failure for both the nation and for their own partisan health . The Democrats posture as the 'party of the people' even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning . The Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way . What we can do is strip away the Democrats' precious sense of their own moral probity -- to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side . Once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible. (pp. 256-257).

[Aug 08, 2018] Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People

Notable quotes:
"... please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war. ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [207] Disclaimer , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 7:08 am GMT

After observing Skynet's coordinated attack on Alex Jone's Infowars yesterday, we can hardly wait to implement Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People, and eagerly await the God-Emperor's word.

Second, please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war.

No one else may have been paying attention to the unintended consequences of that, but many folks on our side of the present divide were. Food for thought. A reminder about the shape of the battlefield (legal and otherwise) and Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement.

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/03/man-bites-dog-dogs-get-pissed-off.html

[Aug 07, 2018] Trillion Dollar Companies the Apple Empire and Concentrated Markets by Binoy Kampmark

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google ), ..."
"... Power and influence has shifted. Political leaders have little of these relatively speaking, certainly over the behavioural consistency and content of subjects and citizens. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, distinctly outside a political process he can still control, does. "He can turn off or on your mood. He can take any product up or down. He can pretty much kill any company in the tech space." And that's just Facebook. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

It seems a distant reality, or nightmare now: a company that was near defunct in 1996, now finding itself at the imperial pinnacle of the corporate ladder. Then, publications were mournful and reflective about the corporation that gave us the Apple Computer. An icon had fallen into disrepair. Then came the renovations, the Steve Jobs retooling and sexed-up products of convenience.

Apple's valuation last Thursday came in at $1 trillion and may well make it the first trillion dollar company on the planet. That its assets are worth more than a slew of countries is surely something to be questioned rather than cheered. This un-elected entity, with employees versed in evading, as far as possible, the burdens of public accountability, poses a troubling minder about how concentrated financial power rarely squares with democratic governance.

Chalking up such a mark is only impressive for those keeping an eye on the trillion dollar line. China's state-owned PetroChina is another muscular contender for getting there first , while the Saudi Arabian energy company Aramco, which produces a far from negligible 10 percent of the world's oil, could well scoot past Apple should it go public.

Cheering was exactly what was demanded by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, whose piece in The Week suggests that Apple reached that mark "the right way". The critics of such concentrated power, technology company or otherwise, were simply wrong. "For them, superbig is automatically superbad."

Praise for Apple, an abstract being, is warranted in the way that its ally, modern capitalism, should be. "The story of Apple is really the story of modern capitalism doing what it does best: turning imagination into reality." The author prefers to see Apple, and Amazon, as products of US genius in the capitalist context.

The New York Times is similarly impressed, linking individual gargantuan successes to the broader American effort in the economy. A small gaggle of US companies commanding "a larger share of total corporate profits" than at any time since the 1970s, is not necessarily something to snort at. The nine-year bull market has, essentially, been powered by the four technology giants. "Their successes are also propelling the broader economy, which is on track for its fastest growth rate in a decade."

To its credit, the paper does pay lip service to concerns that such "superstar firms" are doing their bit to stifle wage growth, shrink an already struggling, barely breathing middle class, while jolting income inequality.

This is where the trouble lies: a seemingly blind understanding of capitalism's inner quirks and unstable manifestations. The paradox behind the tech giant phenomenon does not lie in the wisdom that innovation comes from competition. The converse is claimed to be true: that concentration, oligopolistic power, and strings pulled by a few players is the way to keep innovation alive. This was Microsoft's vain argument during the 1990s, something that did not sit well with the antitrust denizens.

The fraternity of economists, rarely capable in agreeing on broader trends, has become abuzz with literature focused on one unsettling topic: the continuing, and accelerating concentration of US industry. Gustavo Grullon, Yelena Larkin and Roni Michaely noted in April last year that government policies encouraging competition in industry had been "drastically reversed in the US" with a 75 percent increase in the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) measuring market concentration. (Antitrust regulators beware.) The authors observe how, "Lax enforcement of antitrust regulations and increasingly technological barriers to entry appear to be important factors behind this trend."

Marketing professor from NYU, Scott Galloway, is one who has supped from the cup of the tech giants. He has written about their exploits ( The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google ), his addresses having become something of a viral phenomenon with analyses of the companies at the DLD Conference in Munich. Initially seduced by the bling and the product, he enjoyed the magic mushroom inducements the tech giants supplied, relished in their success and stock options, extolled their alteration of human behaviour. "This started as a love affair. I want to be clear. I love these companies."

This year, a change of heart took place. Galloway, after spending "the majority of the last two years" of his life "really trying to understand them and the relationship with the ecosystem" is convinced that these behemoths must be broken up. The big four, striving all powerful deities, sources of mass adoration, have become "our consumptive gods". "And as a result of their ability to tap into these very basic instincts, they've aggregated more market cap than the majority of nation's GDP".

Power and influence has shifted. Political leaders have little of these relatively speaking, certainly over the behavioural consistency and content of subjects and citizens. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, distinctly outside a political process he can still control, does. "He can turn off or on your mood. He can take any product up or down. He can pretty much kill any company in the tech space." And that's just Facebook.

What Galloway points out with a forceful relevance is that liberties and freedoms are not the preserve of estranged markets and their bullish actors. Regulation and oversight are required. A return to competition would only be possible through some form of intervention and coaxing, perhaps even economic violence. The memory of the great financial crisis initially stimulated an appetite for regulation. In recent years, such urgings have been satiated. The tech giants, fully aware of this, continue to burgeon.

[Aug 04, 2018] The US empire was always conducting trade wars that even included deliberately created cartels

Notable quotes:
"... These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost? ..."
"... Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production. ..."
"... The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels. ..."
"... In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans. ..."
"... On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers. ..."
Aug 04, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Donald Trump is using his trade wars to support the part of the US capital that has heavily lost from free trade globalization, which is more powerful than ever in our days. This is also part of the Trump agenda to persuade Americans for his "patriotic devotion" based on his "America First" slogan.

The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels.

In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans.

On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers.

In his book Globalization and its discontents , Joseph Stiglitz describes how the United States under Clinton administration set up a cartel in favor of the US aluminum industry:

The United States supports free trade, but all too often, when a poor country does manage to find a commodity it can export to the United States, domestic American protectionist interests are galvanized. This mix of labor and business interests uses the many trade laws - officially referred to as "fair trade laws," but known outside the United States as "unfair fair trade laws"- to construct barbed-wire barriers to imports.

These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost?

During my term in government, perhaps the most grievous instance of U.S. special interests interfering in trade - and the reform process - occurred in early 1994, just after the price of aluminum plummeted. In response to the fall in price, U.S. aluminum producers accused Russia of dumping aluminum.

Any economic analysis of the situation showed clearly that Russia was not dumping. Russia was simply selling aluminum at the international price, which was lowered both because of a global slowdown in demand occasioned by slower global growth and because of the cutback in Russian aluminum use for military planes. Moreover, new soda can designs used substantially less aluminum than before, and this also led to a decline in the demand.

As I saw the price of aluminum plummet, I knew the industry would soon be appealing to the government for some form of relief, either new subsidies or new protection from foreign competition. But even I was surprised at the proposal made by the head of Alcoa, Paul O'Neill: a global aluminum cartel.

Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production.

I worked hard to convince those in the National Economic Council that it would be a mistake to support O'Neill's idea, and I made great progress. But in a heated subcabinet meeting, a decision was made to support the creation of an international cartel.

While I had managed to convince almost everyone of the dangers of the cartel solution, two voices dominated. The State Department, with its close connections to the old-line state ministries, supported the establishment of a cartel. The State Department prized order above all else, and cartels do provide order. The old-line ministries, of course, were never convinced that this movement to prices and markets made sense in the first place, and the experience with aluminum simply served to confirm their views.

Rubin, at that time head of the National Economic Council, played a decisive role, siding with State. At least for a while, the cartel did work. Prices were raised. The protfits of Alcoa and other producers were enhanced. The American consumers - and consumers throughout the world - lost, and indeed, the basic principles of economics, which teach the value of competitive markets, show that the losses to consumers outweigh the gains to producers. Donald Trump is using his trade wars to support the part of the US capital that has heavily lost from free trade globalization, which is more powerful than ever in our days. This is also part of the Trump agenda to persuade Americans for his "patriotic devotion" based on his "America First" slogan.

The reality is that the US empire was always conducting trade wars that included not only tariffs on specific products, but even deliberately created cartels.

In the early 90s the Clinton administration uncritically adopted the neoliberal doctrine from Ronald Reagan and continued the big fraud against the majority of the Americans.

On the one hand, the Clinton administration was selling the big fairy tale of neoliberalism to the American public: free market capitalism would bring prosperity for all through that trickle-down fiasco. And it was translated, as always, in further cuts in public spending - more tax-cuts for the super-rich. On the other hand, behind the scenes, the same administration was implementing the most aggressive protectionism in favor of some US corporations and against consumers.

In his book Globalization and its discontents , Joseph Stiglitz describes how the United States under Clinton administration set up a cartel in favor of the US aluminum industry:

The United States supports free trade, but all too often, when a poor country does manage to find a commodity it can export to the United States, domestic American protectionist interests are galvanized. This mix of labor and business interests uses the many trade laws - officially referred to as "fair trade laws," but known outside the United States as "unfair fair trade laws"- to construct barbed-wire barriers to imports.

These laws allow a company that believes a foreign rival is selling a product below cost to request that the government impose special tariffs to protect it. Selling products below cost is called dumping, and the duties are called dumping duties. Often, however, the U.S. government determines costs on the basis of little evidence, and in ways which make little sense. To most economists, the dumping duties are simply naked protectionism. Why, they ask, would a rational firm sell goods below cost?

During my term in government, perhaps the most grievous instance of U.S. special interests interfering in trade - and the reform process - occurred in early 1994, just after the price of aluminum plummeted. In response to the fall in price, U.S. aluminum producers accused Russia of dumping aluminum.

Any economic analysis of the situation showed clearly that Russia was not dumping. Russia was simply selling aluminum at the international price, which was lowered both because of a global slowdown in demand occasioned by slower global growth and because of the cutback in Russian aluminum use for military planes. Moreover, new soda can designs used substantially less aluminum than before, and this also led to a decline in the demand.

As I saw the price of aluminum plummet, I knew the industry would soon be appealing to the government for some form of relief, either new subsidies or new protection from foreign competition. But even I was surprised at the proposal made by the head of Alcoa, Paul O'Neill: a global aluminum cartel.

Cartels work by restricting output, thereby raising prices. O'Neill's interest was no surprise to me; what did surprise me was the idea that the U.S. government would not only condone a cartel but actually play a pivotal role in setting one up. He also raised the specter of using the antidumping laws if the cartel was not created. These laws allow the United States to impose special duties on goods that arc sold at below a "fair market value," and particularly when they are sold below the cost of production.

I worked hard to convince those in the National Economic Council that it would be a mistake to support O'Neill's idea, and I made great progress. But in a heated subcabinet meeting, a decision was made to support the creation of an international cartel.

While I had managed to convince almost everyone of the dangers of the cartel solution, two voices dominated. The State Department, with its close connections to the old-line state ministries, supported the establishment of a cartel. The State Department prized order above all else, and cartels do provide order. The old-line ministries, of course, were never convinced that this movement to prices and markets made sense in the first place, and the experience with aluminum simply served to confirm their views.

Rubin, at that time head of the National Economic Council, played a decisive role, siding with State. At least for a while, the cartel did work. Prices were raised. The protfits of Alcoa and other producers were enhanced. The American consumers - and consumers throughout the world - lost, and indeed, the basic principles of economics, which teach the value of competitive markets, show that the losses to consumers outweigh the gains to producers.

http://digamo.free.fr/stig2002

It was the time where the Democrats had become Republicans and the US bipartisan dictatorship was established for good to serve the corporate America.

https://youtu.be/8d1ibtOVImg

[Jul 30, 2018] Google Bitten by 2nd Antitrust Fine in the EU, $5 Billion, Hugest Ever Anywhere. Third Waiting in the Wings by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street. ..."
"... But don't cry for Google. These practices helped it earn it a net profit of $12.7 billion in 2017 and of $19.5 billion in 2016. The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day. ..."
"... "The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day." ..."
"... An unlocked phone direct from the mfg instead of the carrier will have fewer apps. Also you can disable many apps, just ignore the "may cause other apps to misbehave " message; it isn't true. Some of the apps you do need, and online forums will list which you need and which you don't. ..."
"... if you can quit FB cold turkey you can reduce your exposure to Google. For example I went back to using a paper calendar. ..."
"... LineageOS is a current Android version and not several years old like with earlier Moto G versions, it gets up to date security patches, has no spyware. You can even install only the Google Apps you want, and can delete or uninstall pretty much anything. Especially on older phones with limited storage this is a godsend. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: The EU doesn't mess around, does it?

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.

In the US, the internet giants – Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al. – can do pretty much as they please, interrupted only by occasional hearings in Congress, where Mark Zuckerberg, or whoever, has to grin-and-bear it for a few hours, knowing that this too shall pass. The EU takes antitrust actions against super-dominant giants a tad more seriously.

The EU's Competition Commission, after a three-year investigation, hit Google with a €4.3 billion antitrust fine – $5 billion – the highest fine ever by any antitrust agency anywhere.

No one dominates like Google. According to earlier EU findings cited by Bloomberg , Google's market share exceeds 90% for general Internet search, licensed mobile device operating systems, and app stores for Android software.

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."

The fine is so large because of Google's "very serious illegal behavior" going back to 2011 and due to the huge revenues Google has earned with this behavior, she said.

In addition, Google was given 90 days to stop its "illegal practices" of forcing cellphone makers that use Google's Android operating system to install Google apps.

This fine comes on top of the €2.4-billion fine the EU hit Google with in 2017 after an investigation into Google's shopping-search service.

And the EU is not through yet. It's investigating Google's online advertising contracts and could issue an additional fine. Online advertising is Google's primary revenues source.

Bloomberg:

The EU said Google ensures that Google Search and Chrome are pre-installed on "practically all Android devices" sold in Europe. Users who find these apps on their phones are likely to stick with them and "do not download competing apps in numbers that can offset the significant commercial advantage derived on pre-installation."

Google's actions reduce the incentives for manufacturers to install and for users to seek out competing apps, it said.

The probe targeted contracts that require Android-phones makers to take Google's search and browser apps and other Google services when they want to license the Play app store, which officials say is a "must-have" for new phones.

The EU also found illegal Google's "significant financial incentives" to telecoms operators and manufacturers that exclusively install Google search on devices. Rivals couldn't compete with these payments, making it difficult for any other search engine to get their app pre-installed. The EU said Google stopped doing this in 2014.

Google's contracts also prevented handset makers selling phones using other versions of Android, the EU said. This hampered manufacturers from making devices using Amazon.com Inc.'s Fire OS Android version, it said.

Regulators rejected arguments that Apple Inc. competes with Android, saying Apple's phone software can't be licensed by handset makers and that Apple phones are often priced outside many Android users' purchasing power. Users face "switching costs" to move from Apple to Android and would continue to face Google Search as a default on Apple devices.

In a long statement on its blog , holier-than-thou Google praises itself from A through Z, in essence portraying itself as the greatest gift to mankind and that therefore, it should be allowed to do as it pleases. It includes this:

Today, because of Android, there are more than 24,000 devices, at every price point, from more than 1,300 different brands, including Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish phone makers.

And these devices are running on Android. In other words: Google is everywhere, and its ads and apps are on all these devices. Hence the Competition Commission's point: if you're this dominant, you've got to follow some rules.

At the end of its long statement, Google said: "We intend to appeal." Companies always appeal fines. Google is no exception. And the end product might be much less ambitious.

At the press conference, Vestager said it was up to Google to figure out how to comply with the Commission's order. "The obvious minimum" Google would need to do, she said, is that the "contractual restrictions disappear."

But don't cry for Google. These practices helped it earn it a net profit of $12.7 billion in 2017 and of $19.5 billion in 2016. The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day.

"This emerging trend highlights just how much risk some investors are willing to take in the current environment." Read As Risks Balloon, Yield Chasers Blow Off the Fed


Raulb , July 19, 2018 at 7:32 am

It's interesting free market advocates are always going on about regulations, the need for free markets and market efficiency but don't seem to care so much about monopolies, outsize profits, the concentration of market power and its abuse that further impedes the operation of free markets and the billionaires that result.

Google's dominance in search and mobile is market failure. Facebook's dominance of social is market failure. Amazon's dominance is market failure, Apple being able to accumulate $800 billion it does not know what to do with is market failure.

Under conventional market theory all these entities would have stiff competition and not be able to accumulate outsize profits or monopoly power so the question is where is the competition and how come the the market is not working? And while the theories continue these firms concentrate even more power, control and windfall profits.

How come free market advocates always seem to be more concerned about attempts to impose minimum wages, health care or proper working conditions on amazon workers for instance than any of this? And we will not even talk about negative externalities like the emergence of a global spyware economy based on surveillance and creepily staking people 24/7. And using seemingly endless 'VC funds' to build these US centric monopolies.

oaf , July 19, 2018 at 8:17 am

We are being stalked; and a virtual individual, more or less fleshed-out, is created in the Cloud for each of us it is based on our behavior, every possible detail of which is incorporated into the dossier. How accurate these representations are can be affected by multiple variables Fake news? How about *Fake Browsing* or *Fake Shopping*. Feel free to experiment!!!

Carolinian , July 19, 2018 at 11:37 am

We are being stalked by allowing ourselves to be stalked. All Android apps carry a "permissions" warning telling how they are planning to stalk you. And of course smartphones themselves are spybots by design–a business model pioneered by Apple, not Google. One could argue that many of the worst current practices of Google are the result of trying to imitate competitors such as Apple and Facebook.

Android is based on open source Linux and there's probably no reason why smartphone manufacturers couldn't get their free operating systems elsewhere. Perhaps one big reason they don't is that they are in on the stalking.

blennylips , July 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Back in 2013, a google engineer, Beena Bhatia, took out this patent for google: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser ..blah..blah..blah

I found in a marginalrevolution.com article back then. Turns out MR got it from here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2515635/Google-files-patent-robot-writes-Facebook-posts-emails-tweets–need-FULL-access-scan-accounts.html

The patent was filed by a Google software engineer on behalf of the firm It describes a system that analyses a user's online posts, emails and texts The system, or bot, would then generate automated replies for future posts These replies would be written in a way that mimics that person's usual language and tone

From the patient:

( 1 of 1 )
United States Patent 8,589,407
Bhatia November 19, 2013
Automated generation of suggestions for personalized reactions in a social network

Abstract

A system and method for automatic generating suggestions for personalized reactions or messages. A suggestion generation module includes a plurality of collector modules, a credentials module, a suggestion analyzer module, a user interface module and a decision tree. The plurality of collector modules are coupled to respective systems to collect information accessible by the user and important to the user from other systems such as e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems. The information from these collector modules is provided to the suggestion analyzer module. The suggestion analyzer module cooperates with the user interface module and the decision tree to generate suggested reactions or messages for the user to send. The suggested reactions or messages are presented by the user interface module to the user. The user interface module also displays the original message, other information about the original message such as others' responses, and action buttons for sending, discarding or ignoring the suggested message.

If representations are not accurate, you need to volunteer more info till they get you right.

ST , July 19, 2018 at 8:38 am

"The decision and a fine of enormous magnitude has been expected. And Google's shares are currently flat for the day."

As big a fine as this is that last sentence shows that fines don't work. A monopolist will always pass on fines for it's illegal behaviour to its (captive) consumer/s. The only remedy is for criminal proceedings to be bought against it's senior officers with guaranteed jail time to persuade them to stop. That or breaking up the company.

pretzelattack , July 19, 2018 at 9:35 am

and antitrust law enforcement is a joke in the u.s. but hey, russia russia russia.

Big River Bandido , July 19, 2018 at 11:10 am

One serious project for the left, once it gains power, will be to reverse and destroy the entire line of legal argument that grants personhood to corporations.

Of particular harm are the court decisions on this point in the last 20 years or so, which have brought this concept to its logical extreme. (I'm thinking in particular of the recent gay-wedding-cake case, in which the Court [i.e., Justice Kennedy] implied that corporations have a right to hold, promote, and exercise political opinions, just as if they were a real person with the fiat. The so-called rationale of that decision is far worse in its long-term implications than the immediate outcome of the case.)

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Even a monopolist cannot simply Ma pass on the fines. Cause if they could have increased prices already since as you write, they are monopoly. Why haven't they done it? Monopolists are not dumb, they already extract the maximum price they think the market can bear.

LarryB , July 19, 2018 at 11:12 am

In the end, the only effect that this is going to have is to transfer money from Google to the EU. Cell phone manufacturers will install Chrome and Google Search whether Google requires it or not. There simply isn't anything else out there that works as well.

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2018 at 11:28 am

Yours Truly has an Android phone. With more than 150 apps, and guess what: I didn't install most of them. They simply came with the phone.

I can recall a recent incident when I needed to call 911 and my phone was off. I turned it on, and, guess what, those 150-plus apps just HAD to update. That process took 15 minutes.

Fortunately, I wasn't in a life-threatening situation. I was only trying to call to report gunfire nearby. In central Tucson, that happens fairly often.

Since the phone was in update mode for 15 minutes before I could even get to the opening screen with the "emergency call" link, I decided not to call 911. It was simply too late to make a timely report.

If I had my druthers, I'd rather have a phone with just a handful of apps. I don't need all of this Google crud. Especially if if poses a risk to health and safety.

albert , July 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Why do you put up with 150 apps?

Are you implying that you can't uninstall them?

. .. . .. -- .

ChiGal in Carolina , July 19, 2018 at 2:46 pm

An unlocked phone direct from the mfg instead of the carrier will have fewer apps. Also you can disable many apps, just ignore the "may cause other apps to misbehave " message; it isn't true. Some of the apps you do need, and online forums will list which you need and which you don't.

On my current Android form I have not signed into Chrome and use DDG instead of Google. Pretty much easy as pie Slim, attagirl -- if you can quit FB cold turkey you can reduce your exposure to Google. For example I went back to using a paper calendar.

oh , July 19, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Root your phone and delete all those apps including Google's. Don't use anything google -- gmail, youtube, chrome, google search, google voice, google groups and more of the EVIL company's concoctions created solely to spy on you and sell your data.

Needless to say the crooked cell phone carriers will farm your data and track you.

I'm so sick of these crooked companies, google, facebook, netflix, whatsapp, linkedin and others that snoop on you. Get tutamail or protonmail for your e-mail.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Root your phone and delete all those apps including Google's.

This is the wrong way to approach this. The right way ist to install a 3rd party ROM like LineageOS and then not install any gapps.

Be prepared however that only very few programs will work. You will then lack Google play services and they are needed for many many programs. Not much more than what is in f-droid. There is of course no play store whatsoever then.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:04 pm

What exact phone model is it?

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm

It's a Moto G from Motorola.

nervos belli , July 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

For whatever reason my reply didn't go through this morning.PS: this is now the third attempt even. Now replacing all URLs in hope it will go through

I wrote exact model for a reason: there are about two dozen different Moto G versions over 6 years of releases.

Pretty much all of them allow however LineageOS or other third party Android images. Those have no bloatware apps except what comes with the OS itself. If the LineageOS download section has no image for your specific phone, then visit xda-developers forum or needrom which both have even more.

LineageOS is a current Android version and not several years old like with earlier Moto G versions, it gets up to date security patches, has no spyware. You can even install only the Google Apps you want, and can delete or uninstall pretty much anything.
Especially on older phones with limited storage this is a godsend.

Synoia , July 19, 2018 at 11:40 am

I believe that under German law (and I'm not 100% positive of this), executives and directors can become personally liable for the actions of the businesses they manage.

A $5 Billion levied on directors and management, and not shareholders, would appear to be more effective.

Those responsible bear none of the penalty. And, if corporation be people, then is the corporation and its officers conspiring?

ChiGal in Carolina , July 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm

I hope Eric Schmidt pays all $5b out of his pocket and they use it to fund the studies of monopoly impacts he put the kibosh on. Some community service too wouldn't be a bad idea for such a bully.

nervos belli , July 19, 2018 at 3:02 pm

We have the same sort of corporate veil in Germany as all other modern western capitalist countries in form of "Kapitalgesellschaft". A public company is such a company, the other would be the GmbH aka Ltd.

A manager who does criminal things (see Diesel scandal VW/VAG an Audi manager was recently held in custody) can be held liable including fines or jail. But I don't know of any anti-trust actions which pierced the veil.

David Carl Grimes , July 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm

What ever happened to "Don't be evil"

[Jul 24, 2018] Bernie Sanders embraces the anti-Russia campaign by Patrick Martin

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email." ..."
"... In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line. ..."
"... The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party. ..."
"... There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on the CBS interview program "Face the Nation" Sunday and fully embraced the anti-Russia campaign of the US military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party and much of the media.

In response to a question from CBS host Margaret Brennan, Sanders unleashed a torrent of denunciations of Trump's meeting and press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A preliminary transcript reads:

SANDERS: "I will tell you that I was absolutely outraged by his behavior in Helsinki, where he really sold the American people out. And it makes me think that either Trump doesn't understand what Russia has done, not only to our elections, but through cyber attacks against all parts of our infrastructure, either he doesn't understand it, or perhaps he is being blackmailed by Russia, because they may have compromising information about him.

"Or perhaps also you have a president who really does have strong authoritarian tendencies. And maybe he admires the kind of government that Putin is running in Russia. And I think all of that is a disgrace and a disservice to the American people. And we have got to make sure that Russia does not interfere, not only in our elections, but in other aspects of our lives."

These comments, which echo remarks he gave at a rally in Kansas late last week, signal Sanders' full embrace of the right-wing campaign launched by the Democrats and backed by dominant sections of the military-intelligence apparatus. Their opposition to Trump is centered on issues of foreign policy, based on the concern that Trump, due to his own "America First" brand of imperialist strategy, has run afoul of geostrategic imperatives that are considered inviolable -- in particular, the conflict with Russia.

Sanders did not use his time on a national television program to condemn Trump's persecution of immigrants and the separation of children from their parents, or to denounce his naming of ultra-right jurist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or to attack the White House declaration last week that the "war on poverty" had ended victoriously -- in order to justify the destruction of social programs for impoverished working people. Nor did he seek to advance his supposedly left-wing program on domestic issues like health care, jobs and education.

Sanders' embrace of the anti-Russia campaign is not surprising, but it is instructive. This is, after all, an individual who presented himself as "left-wing," even a "socialist." During the 2016 election campaign, he won the support of millions of people attracted to his call for a "political revolution" against the "billionaire class." For Sanders, who has a long history of opportunist and pro-imperialist politics in the orbit of the Democratic Party, the aim of the campaign was always to direct social discontent into establishment channels, culminating in his endorsement of the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email."

In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line.

The experience is instructive not only in relation to Sanders, but to an entire social milieu and the political perspective with which it is associated. This is what it means to work within the Democratic Party. The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party.

New political figures, many associated with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are being brought in for the same purpose. As Sanders gave his anti-Russia rant, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat next to him nodding her agreement. The 28-year-old member of the DSA last month won the Democratic nomination in New York's 14th Congressional District, unseating the Democratic incumbent, Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranking member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives.

Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has been given massive and largely uncritical publicity by the corporate media, summed up in an editorial puff piece by the New York Times that described her as "a bright light in the Democratic Party who has brought desperately needed energy back to New York politics "

Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders were jointly interviewed from Kansas, where the two appeared Friday at a campaign rally for James Thompson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the US House of Representatives from the Fourth Congressional District, based in Wichita, in an August 7 primary election.

Thompson might appear to be an unusual ally for the "socialist" Sanders and the DSA member Ocasio-Cortez. His campaign celebrates his role as an Army veteran, and his website opens under the slogan "Join the Thompson Army," followed by pledges that the candidate will "Fight for America." In an interview with the Associated Press, Thompson indicated that despite his support for Sanders' call for "Medicare for all," and his own endorsement by the DSA, he was wary of any association with socialism. "I don't like the term socialist, because people do associate that with bad things in history," he said.

Such anticommunism fits right in with the anti-Russian campaign, which is the principal theme of the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections. As the World Socialist Web Site has pointed out for many months, the real thrust of the Democratic Party campaign is demonstrated by its recruitment as congressional candidates of dozens of former CIA and military intelligence agents, combat commanders from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and war planners from the Pentagon, State Department and White House.

There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict.

[Jul 23, 2018] The Democratic Party's Pitch to Billionaires by Eric Zuesse

Notable quotes:
"... The wing of the Democratic Party that looks for the dollars instead of the votes is called "The Third Way" and it presents itself as representing the supposedly vast political center, nothing "extremist" or "marginal." But didn't liberal Republicanism go out when Nelson Rockefeller did? Conservative Democrats are like liberal Republicans -- they attract flies and billionaires, but not many votes. And didn't the Rockefeller drug laws fill our prisons with millions of pathetic drug-users and small drug-dealers but not with the kingpins in either the narcotics business or the bankster rackets (such as had crashed the economy in 2008 -- and the Third Way Democrat who had been the exceptional politician and liar that was so slick he actually did attract many votes, President Barack Obama, told the banksters privately, on 27 March 2009, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you." And, he did keep his promise to them, though not to his voters .) ..."
"... They want another Barack Obama. There aren't any more of those (unless, perhaps, Michelle Obama enters the contest). But, even if there were: How many Democrats would fall for that scam, yet again -- after the disaster of 2016? ..."
"... Maybe the Third Way is right, and there's a sucker born every minute. But if that's what the Democratic Party is going to rely upon, then America's stunningly low voter-participation rate is set to plunge even lower, because even more voters than before will either be leaving the Presidential line blank, or even perhaps voting for the Republican candidate (as some felt driven to do in 2016). ..."
"... Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity . He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The wing of the Democratic Party that looks for the dollars instead of the votes is called "The Third Way" and it presents itself as representing the supposedly vast political center, nothing "extremist" or "marginal." But didn't liberal Republicanism go out when Nelson Rockefeller did? Conservative Democrats are like liberal Republicans -- they attract flies and billionaires, but not many votes. And didn't the Rockefeller drug laws fill our prisons with millions of pathetic drug-users and small drug-dealers but not with the kingpins in either the narcotics business or the bankster rackets (such as had crashed the economy in 2008 -- and the Third Way Democrat who had been the exceptional politician and liar that was so slick he actually did attract many votes, President Barack Obama, told the banksters privately, on 27 March 2009, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you." And, he did keep his promise to them, though not to his voters .)

They're at it, yet again. On July 22nd, NBC News's Alex Seitz-Wald headlined "Sanders' wing of the party terrifies moderate Dems. Here's how they plan to stop it." And he described what was publicly available from the 3-day private meeting in Columbus Ohio of The Third Way, July 18-20, the planning conference between the Party's chiefs and its billionaires. Evidently, they hate Bernie Sanders and are already scheming and spending in order to block him, now a second time, from obtaining the Party's Presidential nomination. "Anxiety has largely been kept to a whisper among the party's moderates and big donors, with some of the major fundraisers pressing operatives on what can be done to stop the Vermonter if he runs for the White House again." This passage in Seitz-Wald's article was especially striking to me:

The gathering here was an effort to offer an attractive alternative to the rising Sanders-style populist left in the upcoming presidential race. Where progressives see a rare opportunity to capitalize on an energized Democratic base, moderates see a better chance to win over Republicans turned off by Trump.

The fact that a billionaire real estate developer, Winston Fisher, cohosted the event and addressed attendees twice, underscored that this group is not interested in the class warfare vilifying the "millionaires and billionaires" found in Sanders' stump speech.

"You're not going to make me hate somebody just because they're rich. I want to be rich!" Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a potential presidential candidate, said Friday to laughs.

I would reply to congressman Ryan's remark: If you want to be rich, then get the hell out of politics! Don't run for President! I don't want you there! And that's no joke!

Anyone who doesn't recognize that an inevitable trade-off exists between serving the public and serving oneself, is a libertarian -- an Ayn Rander, in fact -- and there aren't many of those in the Democratic Party, but plenty of them are in the Republican Party.

Just as a clergyman in some faiths is supposed to take a vow of chastity, and in some faiths also to take a vow of poverty, in order to serve "the calling" instead of oneself, anyone who enters 'public service' and who aspires to "be rich" is inevitably inviting corruption -- not prepared to do war against it . That kind of politician is a Manchurian candidate, like Obama perhaps, but certainly not what this or any country needs, in any case. Voters like that can be won only by means of deceit, which is the way that politicians like that do win.

No decent political leader enters or stays in politics in order to "be rich," because no political leader can be decent who isn't in it as a calling, to public service, and as a repudiation, of any self-service in politics.

Republican Party voters invite corrupt government, because their Party's ideology is committed to it ("Freedom [for the rich]!"); but the only Democratic Party voters who at all tolerate corrupt politicians (such as Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York State) are actually Republican Democrats -- people who are confused enough so as not really to care much about what they believe; whatever their garbage happens to be, they believe in it and don't want to know differently than it.

The Third Way is hoping that there are enough of such 'Democrats' so that they can, yet again, end up with a Third Way Democrat being offered to that Party's voters in 2020, just like happened in 2016. They want another Barack Obama. There aren't any more of those (unless, perhaps, Michelle Obama enters the contest). But, even if there were: How many Democrats would fall for that scam, yet again -- after the disaster of 2016?

Maybe the Third Way is right, and there's a sucker born every minute. But if that's what the Democratic Party is going to rely upon, then America's stunningly low voter-participation rate is set to plunge even lower, because even more voters than before will either be leaving the Presidential line blank, or even perhaps voting for the Republican candidate (as some felt driven to do in 2016).

The Third Way is the way to the death of democracy, if it's not already dead . It is no answer to anything, except to the desires of billionaires -- both Republican and Democratic.

The center of American politics isn't the center of America's aristocracy. The goal of groups such as The Third Way is to fool the American public to equate the two. The result of such groups is the contempt that America's public have for America's Government . But, pushed too far, mass disillusionment becomes revolution. Is that what America's billionaires are willing to risk? They might get it.

*

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity . He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Jun 24, 2018] Was the Marketplace of Ideas Politically Hijacked -

Notable quotes:
"... A Stigler Center panel examines the influence of Big Five tech firms over political discourse and the marketplace of ideas. ..."
"... "Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company." ..."
"... "We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community." ..."
"... "Google not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition." ..."
"... "Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world." ..."
Jun 24, 2018 | promarket.org

Was the Marketplace of Ideas "Politically Hijacked"? Posted on June 21, 2018 by Asher Schechter

A Stigler Center panel examines the influence of Big Five tech firms over political discourse and the marketplace of ideas.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/c0E15ka446M

At one point during Mark Zuckerberg's Senate hearing in April , the Facebook CEO had the following peculiar exchange with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC):

Graham: But you, as a company, welcome regulation?

Zuckerberg: I think, if it's the right regulation, then yes.

Graham: You think the Europeans had it right?

Zuckerberg: I think that they get things right.

Graham: . So would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?

Zuckerberg: Absolutely.

Graham: Okay. Would you submit to us some proposed regulations?

Zuckerberg: Yes. And I'll have my team follow up with you so, that way, we can have this discussion across the different categories where I think that this discussion needs to happen.

Graham: Look forward to it.

This telling bit of dialogue was part of an overall pattern: the hearing was meant to hold Facebook (and Zuckerberg himself, as the company's founder, CEO, and de facto single ruler ) accountable for the mishandling of millions of people's private data. Yet one after another , the senators were asking an evasive Zuckerberg if he would be willing to endorse their bills and proposals to regulate Facebook. This mode of questioning repeated itself (to a somewhat lesser extent) during the House's tougher questioning of Zuckerberg the following day.

Needless to say, most company CEOs grilled by Congress following a major scandal that impacts millions of people and possibly the very nature of American democracy are not usually treated in this way -- as private regulators almost on equal footing with Congress.

Facebook, however, is not a typical company. As a recent Vox piece noted, with its vast reach of more than two billion users worldwide, Facebook is more akin to a government or a "powerful sovereign," with Zuckerberg -- due to his unusual level of control over it -- being the "key lawgiver." Zuckerberg acknowledged as much himself when he said, in a much-quoted moment of candor , that "in a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company." More than other technology companies, he added, Facebook is "really setting policies."

The notion that corporations can become so powerful that they are able to act as a "form of private government" (to quote Zephyr Teachout ) has long been part of the antitrust literature. Indeed, as the Open Market Institute's Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller recently noted during a panel at the Stigler Center's Digital Platforms and Concentration antitrust conference, it is deeply rooted in the rich tradition of antimonopoly in America.

That digital platforms are major political players has also been well documented . Once disdainful of politics, in the past two years Google, Facebook, and Amazon have dramatically ramped up their lobbying efforts, as the public and media backlash against their social, economic, and political power intensified. Google, which enjoyed unprecedented access to the Obama White House, is now the biggest lobbyist in Washington, with other tech platforms not far behind.

Market power begetting political power is not new in itself. As the participants of the Stigler panel noted, it is the immense power that concentrated digital intermediaries like Google and Facebook wield over digital markets, human interaction and the marketplace of ideas, particularly when it comes to the distribution of political information, that presents a unique challenge. As Lina Khan (also of Open Markets) recently noted , the current landscape of Internet media is one in which a handful of companies "are basically acting as private regulators, as private governments, over the dissemination and organization of information in a way that is totally unchecked by the public."

The latter part, at least, seems to be changing rapidly, as Americans (and millions more worldwide) grapple with ongoing revelations showing the profound impact that digital monopolies have on political opinions and outcomes, in the US and across the world. As Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) said during Zuckerberg's House hearing in April: "Facebook is becoming a self-regulated superstructure for political discourse."

Left to right: Scott Cleland, Ellen Goodman, Matt Stoller, Barry Lynn, Guy Rolnik

The exact nature of tech platforms' political power, its roots, and how to best deal with it -- all questions debated during the Stigler Center panel -- are complex and varied. But the key question seems rather simple. As Sarbanes put it during the same Congressional hearing: "Are we, the people, going to regulate our political dialogue, or are you, Mark Zuckerberg, going to end up regulating the political discourse? ״

A Private Regulator of Speech

Facebook, said Rutgers Law School professor Ellen Goodman, operates as a private speech regulator. As such, much like public governments, it "privileges some [forms of] speech over others." Unlike governments, however, which as regulators of speech purport to support public good, Facebook has adopted a "First Amendment-like radical libertarianism" through which it has so far refused to differentiate between "high- and low-quality information, truth or falsity, responsible and irresponsible press."

Facebook, famously, argues that it is not a media company, but a technology company. "It's not a player, it's not a [referee], it's just the engineer who made the field," said Goodman, the co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. The purpose of Facebook's "First Amendment rhetoric," she noted, is "to maximize data flow on its platform," but by doing so, "it implies, or even says explicitly, that it's standing in the shoes of the government."

Facebook and other platforms, said Goodman, have benefited from the process of deregulation and budget cuts to public media -- a process that has predated the Internet, and led to Washington essentially "giving up" on media policy. The government effectively "exempted these platforms from the kind of ordinary regulation that other information intermediaries were subjected to." With "platforms in the shoes of government, [and] government out of media policy," the concentration of platform power over information flows was allowed to continue undisturbed.

The problem, however, is that much like fellow FAANGs Amazon and Google, Facebook is not just an impartial governor, but a market participant interested in "monopolizing the time of its users," with a strong incentive to privilege its own products and business model that "eviscerates journalism."

"It also tunes its algorithm to favor certain kinds of speech and certain speakers," added Goodman. "There's almost no transparency, save for what it selectively, elliptically, and sometimes misleadingly posts on its blog."

"People Live in Fear"

In a seminal 1979 essay on what he termed the "political content" of antitrust, former FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky argued that "political values," such as "the fear that excessive concentration of economic power will foster anti-democratic political pressures," should be incorporated into antitrust enforcement. In recent years, this view has been echoed by a growing number of antitrust scholars , who argue that the way antitrust enforcement has been conducted in the US for the past 40 years -- solely through the prism of "consumer welfare" -- is ill equipped to deal with the new threats posed by digital platforms.

The Unites States, remarked Lynn during the panel, was born "out of rebellion against concentrated power, the British East India Company." The original purpose of antimonopoly in America, said Lynn, was the protection of personal liberty from concentrated economic and political power: "to give everybody the ability to manage their own property in the ways that they see fit, manage their own lives in the way that they see fit. To be truly independent of everybody else. To not be anybody else's puppet." Liberty and democracy, he added, "are functions of antimonopoly."

A state in which Facebook and Google wield enormous influence over the flow of information -- where, to quote a recent piece by Wired 's Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "every publisher knows that, at best, they are sharecroppers on Facebook's massive industrial farm" -- is antithetical to this ethos, said Lynn, and is firmly rooted in the "absolute, complete failure" of antitrust in the United States. "Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company." These digital intermediaries, he added, are "using their power in ways that are directly threatening our most fundamental liberties and our democracy."

"Our country has allowed the concentration of power in giant intermediaries -- Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- vastly more powerful than the original intermediary which we fought, which was the British East India Company."

The blame for the outsize influence that Facebook and other digital platforms have over the political discourse, said Lynn, rests squarely on the shoulders of the antitrust community: "For 200 years in this country, antimonopoly was designed to create freedom from masters. In 1981, when we got rid of our traditional antimonopoly and replaced it with consumer welfare, we created a system that has given freedom to master."

In today's concentrated media landscape, he contended, "people live in fear. We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community."

"We have reporters, editors, and publishers of our newspapers who live in fear every day. This is true of the people who publish our books and who write our books. They live in fear [that] Amazon is going to shut them down. Whose fault is that? It's the people in the antitrust community."

Lynn went on to quote from Thompson and Vogelstein's Wired piece: "The social network is roughly 200 times more valuable than the Times . And journalists know that the man who owns the farm has the leverage. If Facebook wanted to, it could quietly turn any number of dials that would harm a publisher -- by manipulating its traffic, its ad network, or its readers."

"This was hidden in the middle of the article," said Lynn. "[Thompson], as a journalist, felt obliged to put this out there He was crying out to the people in this community, in the antitrust community. He's saying 'protect me, the publisher, the editor of this magazine. Protect me, the reporter. Please make sure that I have the independence to do my work.'"

The "Code of Silence" Has Been Broken

Recent changes to Facebook's newsfeed have caused referral traffic from Facebook to media companies' websites to sharply decline , once again raising concerns about the significant impact that the company has on the media industry. The satirical news site The Onion , for instance, has launched a public war against Facebook, calling it "an unwanted interloper between The Onion and our audience." "We have 6,572,949 followers on Facebook who receive an ever-decreasing amount of the content we publish on the network," the site's editor-in-chief, Chad Nackers, told Business Insider .

The backlash by major news outlets and politicians across the political spectrum against the power of Facebook and other tech platforms as de facto regulators of speech on the Internet is a new phenomenon, said Guy Rolnik, a Clinical Associate Professor for Strategic Management at the University of Chicago Booth school of Business, during the panel. Until not too long ago, he said, Internet monopolies were the "darlings of the news media." Less than a year ago , he noted, Zuckerberg was even touted by several media outlets as a viable presidential candidate. "The idea that a person who has unprecedented private control over personal data and the public discourse at large would also be the president of the United States was totally in the realm and perimeter of what is legitimate," he said.

What has changed? "In many ways, what has changed is that many people associate Facebook today with the election of Donald Trump. This is why we see so much focus on those issues that were very salient and important for years," Rolnik maintained. Trump's election, and Facebook's role in the lead-up to it, broke the "code of silence."

Nevertheless, newsrooms today, he said, still do everything in their power "to make sure that everything is shareable on Facebook." In the words of Thompson and Vogelstein, they are still "sharecroppers on Facebook's massive industrial farm."

Google has "Politically Hijacked the US Antitrust Enforcement Process"

Scott Cleland, president of the consultancy firm Precursor LLC and former deputy US coordinator for international communications and information policy in the George HW Bush administration, has long warned that concentration among digital platforms will negatively impact the US economy and society at large.

In 2007, Cleland testified before the Senate on the then-proposed Google-DoubleClick merger, calling upon antitrust enforcers to block the merger and warning that lax antitrust enforcement (of the kind that ultimately led the Google-DoubleClick merger to be approved) would allow Google to become the "ultimate Internet gatekeeper" and the "online-advertising bottleneck provider picking content winners and losers" -- both of which came true. In 2011, he published the book Search & Destroy: Why You Can't Trust Google Inc . , in which he warned readers of Google's surveillance-based business model and its "unprecedented centralization of power over the world's information."

During the conference, Cleland presented a new white paper entitled " Rejecting the Google School of No-Antitrust: Fake Consumer Welfare Standard " in which he argues that Alphabet/Google has "politically hijacked the US antitrust enforcement process from 2013 to 2018."

US antitrust enforcers, he said, were initially "very tough" on Google during the first years of the George W. Bush administration. Between 2008 and 2012, both the Bush II and Obama administrations brought "strong and consistent antitrust scrutiny and enforcement to Google." Then, in 2013, the Federal Trade Commission decided to drop its case against the company, despite the conclusion of its staff that Google had used anticompetitive tactics. Following Obama's reelection, which Google at the time was credited with delivering, antitrust enforcement against Big Tech firms essentially ceased. "They shut down all those investigations and they did nothing for the last five years. DOJ went from very active -- four or five major antitrust actions -- to nothing. Crickets."

Back then, Google and Facebook were still "fiercely competing," he said. Google was going after Facebook's territory with Google Plus, and Facebook countered by going after Google search with Yahoo and Bing. But then, in 2014, something happened: the large tech firms "mysteriously stopped competing."

"Yahoo returned to working with Google. Apple dropped Bing for Siri and moved to Google search. Apple and Microsoft dropped their patent suits, and then Microsoft and Google made peace after scratching each other's eyes out. Google went from 70 percent share of search and search advertising in the PC market to 95 percent of that in both of those markets today," said Cleland.

What happened? Cleland points to the what he calls the "Google School of No-Antitrust," a narrative with which according to him Google had been trying to "influence public opinion, the media, elected and government officials, and US and state antitrust enforcers, to make the public believe Google (and other Internet platforms) have no antitrust risk or liability, because they offer free innovative products and services, and to make conservatives believe that the Google School of No-Antitrust and the Chicago School's consumer welfare standard and application are the same, when they are not."

Google, he asserted, "not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition." It did so, he argued, by "politically hijacking the most important market, which is information."

"Google not only vanquished competition. What it did is it vanquished the antitrust enforcers who are supposed to protect the process of competition."

Cleland, who identifies as a free market conservative, argued that the current Internet is far from a free market. "Who thinks it's a good idea that all of the world's information goes through one bottleneck?" he asked, adding that "all the bad things that you're seeing right now are the result of policy."

One such policy is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provided Internet companies with legal immunity for the content their users generated or shared and is often credited with enabling the creation of the Internet as we know it today. Cleland sees Section 230 as "market structuring" and has compared it to the libertarian concept of creating artificial islands outside any governmental territory, known as " seasteading ."

"Section 230 says -- I'm paraphrasing, but that's what it says -- that US policy recognizes that the Internet is a free market that should be unfettered by federal and state regulations," said Cleland. "Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world."

"Basically, Section 230 was a libertarian's dream. They got what they wanted. I am a limited government conservative. What they wanted was a no-government world."

Much of today's problems regarding the conduct of digital platforms, he said, results from this policy. "Twenty-two years ago, we as a nation immunized all interactive computer services from any civil liability. We said, 'It is OK. There is no accountability, no responsibility for you looking the other way, when your platform or things that are going on on your platform harm others.'"

Section 230, he maintained, "basically created 21 st -century robber barons. Those guys know they have the full weight of the government. If they go to court, they're going to win, and they have almost all the time."

Antitrust Is "One Part of the Answer"

When it comes to addressing these threats to free speech and democratic discourse, said Goodman, antitrust is only "one part of the answer." The other part, she asserted, is regulation.

"The First Amendment that we have, that we know and love today," she said, "was not born in 1789 in Philadelphia. It developed in the latter part of the 20th century against a particular set of industrial and social practices that mitigated some of the costs of free speech and spread the benefits."

Lawmakers and policymakers, she argued, should "retrieve and resuscitate the vocabulary of media policy," focusing on three core values: "freedom of mind and autonomy; non-market values of diversity and localism/community; and a concept of the public interest and fiduciary responsibility."

Whenever someone makes an argument for using antitrust or regulation as a way to structure markets of information, Stoller cautioned, there are those who will argue that this amounts to censorship. When asked how to avoid censorship when discussing the use government power over speech, Goodman was conflicted: "There is no way around that. There's a real tension here between absolute liberty of speech and controls on speech," she said. We cannot have this whole conference with us fantasizing about various regulatory possibilities that involve use restrictions -- limits on the flow of data, limits on the collection of data -- without acknowledging that under our First Amendment doctrine right now, probably none of that passes muster."

However, Goodman pointed to the Northwest Ordinance as a possible roadmap. "Nobody would say, or maybe they did, that [the Northwest Ordinance ] was an anti-private property rule. It was structuring the market so that more people could own property. That's what the history of media regulation in this country has been: structuring speech markets so that more people can speak."

Disclaimer: The ProMarket blog is dedicated to discussing how competition tends to be subverted by special interests. The posts represent the opinions of their writers, not necessarily those of the University of Chicago, the Booth School of Business, or its faculty. For more information, please visit ProMarket Blog Policy .

[May 23, 2018] 2016 Hillary fiasco post mortem by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... Chasing Hillary ..."
"... As one person who had talked to Clinton about the difference between Trump and Sanders crowds recounted, her feeling was that 'at least white supremacists shaved.'" ..."
"... Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it ..."
May 23, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"Clinton to be honored at Harvard for 'transformative impact'" [ The Hill ]. Irony is not dead.

"From the Jaws of Victory" [ Jacobin ]. Some highlights from Amy Chozick's Chasing Hillary , which really does sound like a fun read:

"In the public's mind, Clinton's 'deplorables' quip is remembered as evidence of her disdain for much of Trump's fan base. But there was one other group Clinton had a similar dislike of: Bernie Sanders supporters.

As one person who had talked to Clinton about the difference between Trump and Sanders crowds recounted, her feeling was that 'at least white supremacists shaved.'"

UPDATE "Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it" [Josh Barro, Business Insider ].

[May 03, 2018] Alert The Clintonian empire is still here and tries to steal the popular vote throug

Highly recommended!
The dramatic rise fo the number of CIA-democrats as candidates from Democratic Party is not assedental. As regular clintonites are discredited those guys can still appeal to patriotism to get elected.
Notable quotes:
"... Bernie continuously forcing Hillary to appear apologetic about her campaign funding from big financial interests. She tries hard to persuade the public that she will not serve specific interests. Her anxiety can be identified in many cases and it was very clear at the moment when she accused Bernie of attacking her, concerning this funding. Hillary was forced to respond with a deeply irrational argument: anyone who takes money from big interests doesn't mean that he/she will vote for policies in favor of these interests! ..."
"... Bernie drives the discussion towards fundamental ideological issues. He forced Hillary to defend her "progressiveness". She was forced to speak even about economic interests by names. A few years ago, this would be nearly a taboo in any debate between any primaries. ..."
"... After the disastrous defeat by Trump in 2016 election, the corporate Democrats realized that the progressive movement, supported mostly by the American youth, would not retreat and vanish. On the contrary, Bernie Sanders' popularity still goes up and there is a wave of progressive candidates who appear to be a real threat to the DNC establishment and the Clintonian empire. ..."
"... It seems that the empire has upgraded its dirty tactics beyond Hillary's false relocation to the Left. Seeing the big threat from the real progressives, the empire seeks to "plant" its own agents, masked as progressives, inside the electoral process, to disorientate voters and steal the popular vote. ..."
"... This is a Master's class in blatant historical revisionism and outright dishonesty. Beals was not a soldier unwillingly drafted into service, but an intelligence officer who voluntarily accepted an influential and critically important post for the Bush Administration in its ever-expanding crime against humanity in Iraq. ..."
May 03, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing

globinfo freexchange

During the 2016 Democratic party primaries we wrote that what Bernie achieved, is to bring back the real political discussion in America, at least concerning the Democratic camp. Bernie smartly "drags" his primary rival, Hillary Clinton, into the heart of the politics. Up until a few years ago, you could not observe too much difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, who were just following the pro-establishment "politics as usual", probably with a few, occasional exceptions. The "politics as usual" so far, was "you can't touch the Wall Street", for example.

Bernie continuously forcing Hillary to appear apologetic about her campaign funding from big financial interests. She tries hard to persuade the public that she will not serve specific interests. Her anxiety can be identified in many cases and it was very clear at the moment when she accused Bernie of attacking her, concerning this funding. Hillary was forced to respond with a deeply irrational argument: anyone who takes money from big interests doesn't mean that he/she will vote for policies in favor of these interests!

Bernie drives the discussion towards fundamental ideological issues. He forced Hillary to defend her "progressiveness". She was forced to speak even about economic interests by names. A few years ago, this would be nearly a taboo in any debate between any primaries.

After the disastrous defeat by Trump in 2016 election, the corporate Democrats realized that the progressive movement, supported mostly by the American youth, would not retreat and vanish. On the contrary, Bernie Sanders' popularity still goes up and there is a wave of progressive candidates who appear to be a real threat to the DNC establishment and the Clintonian empire.

It seems that the empire has upgraded its dirty tactics beyond Hillary's false relocation to the Left. Seeing the big threat from the real progressives, the empire seeks to "plant" its own agents, masked as progressives, inside the electoral process, to disorientate voters and steal the popular vote.

Eric Draitser gives us valuable information for such a type of candidate. Key points:

One candidate currently generating some buzz in the race is Jeff Beals, a self-identified "Bernie democrat" whose campaign website homepage describes him as a " local teacher and former U.S. diplomat endorsed by the national organization of former Bernie Sanders staffers, the Justice Democrats. " And indeed, Beals centers his progressive bona fides to brand himself as one of the inheritors of the progressive torch lit by Sanders in 2016. A smart political move, to be sure. But is it true?

Beals describes himself as a "former U.S. diplomat," touting his expertise on international issues born of his experience overseas. In an email interview with CounterPunch, Beals describes his campaign as a " movement for diplomacy and peace in foreign affairs and an end to militarism my experience as a U.S. diplomat is what drives it and gives this movement such force. " OK, sounds good, a very progressive sounding answer. But what did Beals actually do during his time overseas?

By his own admission, Beals' overseas career began as an intelligence officer with the CIA. His fluency in Arabic and knowledge of the region made him an obvious choice to be an intelligence spook during the latter stages of the Clinton Administration.

Beals shrewdly attempts to portray himself as an opponent of neocon imperialism in Iraq. In his interview with CounterPunch, Beals argued that " The State Department was sidelined as the Bush administration and a neoconservative cabal plunged America into the tragic Iraq War. As a U.S. diplomat fluent in Arabic and posted in Jerusalem at the time, I was called over a year into the war to help our country find a way out. "

This is a Master's class in blatant historical revisionism and outright dishonesty. Beals was not a soldier unwillingly drafted into service, but an intelligence officer who voluntarily accepted an influential and critically important post for the Bush Administration in its ever-expanding crime against humanity in Iraq.

Moreover, no one who knows anything about the Iraq War could possibly swallow the tripe that CIA/State Department officials in Iraq were " looking to help our country find a way out " a year into the war. A year into the war, the bloodletting was only just beginning, and Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, and the other corporate vultures had yet to fully exploit the country and make billions off it. So, unfortunately for Beals, the historical memory of the anti-war Left is not that short.

It is self-evident that Beals has a laundry list of things in his past that he must answer for. For those of us, especially Millennials, who cut our activist teeth demonstrating and organizing against the Iraq War, Beals' distortions about his role in Iraq go down like hemlock tea. But it is the associations Beals maintains today that really should give any progressive serious pause.

When asked by CounterPunch whether he has any connections to either Bernie Sanders and his surrogates or Hillary Clinton and hers, Beals responded by stating: " I am endorsed by Justice Democrats, a group of former Bernie Sanders staffers who are pledged to electing progressives nationwide. I am also endorsed for the Greene County chapter of the New York Progressive Action Network, formerly the Bernie Sanders network. My first hire was a former Sanders field coordinator who worked here in NY-19. "

However, conveniently missing from that response is the fact that Beals' campaign has been, and continues to be, directly managed in nearly every respect by Bennett Ratcliff, a longtime friend and ally of Hillary Clinton. Ratcliff is not mentioned in any publicly available documents as a campaign manager, though the most recent FEC filings show that as of April 1, 2018, Ratcliff was still on the payroll of the Beals campaign. And in the video of Beals' campaign kickoff rally, Ratcliff introduces Beals, while only being described as a member of the Onteora School Board in Ulster County . This is sort of like referring to Donald Trump as an avid golfer.

Beals has studiously, and rather intelligently, avoided mentioning Ratcliff, or the presence of Clinton's inner circle on his campaign. However, according to internal campaign documents and emails obtained by CounterPunch, Ratcliff manages nearly every aspect of the campaign, acting as a sort of éminence grise behind the artifice of a progressive campaign fronted by a highly educated and photogenic political novice.

By his own admission, Ratcliff's role on the campaign is strategy, message, and management. Sounds like a rather textbook description of a campaign manager. Indeed, Ratcliff has been intimately involved in "guiding" Beals on nearly every important campaign decision, especially those involving fundraising .

And it is in the realm of fundraising that Ratcliff really shines, but not in the way one would traditionally think. Rather than focusing on large donations and powerful interests, Ratcliff is using the Beals campaign as a laboratory for his strategy of winning elections without raising millions of dollars.

In fact, leaked campaign documents show that Ratcliff has explicitly instructed Beals and his staffers not to spend money on food, decorations, and other standard campaign expenses in hopes of presenting the illusion of a grassroots, people-powered campaign with no connections to big time donors or financial elites .

It seems that Ratcliff is the wizard behind the curtain, leveraging his decades of contact building and close ties to the Democratic Party establishment while at the same time manufacturing an astroturfed progressive campaign using a front man in Beals .

One of Ratcliff's most infamous, and indefensible, acts of fealty to the Clinton machine came in 2009 when he and longtime Clinton attorney and lobbyist, Lanny Davis, stumped around Washington to garner support for the illegal right-wing coup in Honduras, which ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in favor of the right-wing oligarchs who control the country today. Although the UN, and even U.S. diplomats on the ground in Honduras, openly stated that the coup was illegal, Clinton was adamant to actively keep Zelaya out.

Essentially then, Ratcliff is a chief architect of the right-wing government in Honduras – the same government assassinating feminist and indigenous activists like Berta Cáceres, Margarita Murillo, and others, and forcibly displacing and ethnically cleansing Afro-indigenous communities to make way for Carribbean resorts and golf courses.

And this Washington insider lobbyist and apologist for war criminals and crimes against humanity is the guy who's on a crusade to reform campaign finance and fix Washington? This is the guy masquerading as a progressive? This is the guy working to elect an "anti-war progressive"?

In a twisted way it makes sense. Ratcliff has the blood of tens of thousands of Hondurans (among others) on his hands, while Beals is a creature of Langley, a CIA boy whose exceptional work in the service of Bush and Clinton administration war criminals is touted as some kind of merit badge on his resume.

What also becomes clear after establishing the Ratcliff-Beals connection is the fact that Ratcliff's purported concern with campaign financing and "taking back the Republic" is really just a pretext for attempting to provide a "proof of concept," as it were, that neoliberal Democrats shouldn't fear and subvert the progressive wing of the party, but rather that they should co-opt it with a phony grassroots facade all while maintaining links to U.S. intelligence, Wall Street, and the power brokers of the Democratic Party .

Info from the article How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns by Eric Draitser

[Apr 30, 2018] Mueller s past is so laden with misfeasance and malfeasance that he should have been disbarred a few decades ago

Key figures on anti-trump color revolution including Mueller, Rosenstein and Comey are closely connected with Clinton foundation
Notable quotes:
"... Guess who took over this investigation in 2002? Bet you can't guess. No other than James Comey. ..."
"... Guess who ran the Tax Division inside the Department of Injustice from 2001 to 2005? No other than the Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Rod Rosenstein. ..."
"... Guess who was the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during this time frame??? I know, it's a miracle, just a coincidence, just an anomaly in statistics and chances: Robert Mueller. ..."
"... Then of all surprises, in April 2016, James Comey drafts an exoneration letter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile the DOJ is handing out immunity deals like candy on Halloween. ..."
"... The DOJ didn't even convene a Grand Jury. Like a lightning bolt of statistical impossibility, like a miracle from God himself, like the true "Gangsta" Homey is, James steps out into the cameras of an awaiting press conference on July the 8th of 2016 and exonerates the Hillary from any wrongdoing. ..."
"... It goes on and on, Rosenstein becomes Asst. Attorney General, Comey gets fired based upon a letter by Rosenstein, Comey leaks government information to the press, Mueller is assigned to the Russian Investigation witch hunt by Rosenstein to provide cover for decades of malfeasance within the FBI and DOJ and the story continues. ..."
Apr 30, 2018 | www.unz.com

NoseytheDuke , April 23, 2018 at 11:39 am GMT

@renfro

I'm on the other side of the planet but a friend in the Mid-West sent me this and I thought I'd ask if anyone else had seen it?

Is there corruption in DC?

From 2001 to 2005 there was an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation. A Grand Jury had been empaneled. The investigation was triggered by the pardon of Marc Rich ..

Governments from around the world had donated to the "Charity". Yet, from 2001 to 2003 none of those "Donations" to the Clinton Foundation were declared.

Guess who took over this investigation in 2002? Bet you can't guess. No other than James Comey.

Guess who was transferred in to the Internal Revenue Service to run the Tax Exemption Branch of the IRS? Your friend and mine, Lois "Be on The Look Out" (BOLO) Lerner.

It gets better, well not really, but this is all just a series of strange coincidences, right?

Guess who ran the Tax Division inside the Department of Injustice from 2001 to 2005? No other than the Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Rod Rosenstein.

Guess who was the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during this time frame??? I know, it's a miracle, just a coincidence, just an anomaly in statistics and chances: Robert Mueller.

What do all four casting characters have in common? They all were briefed and were front line investigators into the Clinton Foundation Investigation.

Now that's just a coincidence, right? Ok, lets chalk the last one up to mere chance.

Let's fast forward to 2009. James Comey leaves the Justice Department to go and cash-in at Lockheed Martin.

Hillary Clinton is running the State Department, on her own personal email server.

The Uranium One "issue" comes to the attention of the Hillary. Like all good public servants do, you know looking out for America's best interest, she decides to support the decision and approve the sale of 20% of US Uranium to no other than, the Russians.

Now you would think that this is a fairly straight up deal, except it wasn't, I question what did the People get out of it?? Oddly enough, prior to the sales approval, Bill Clinton goes to Moscow, gets paid 500K for a one-hour speech then meets with Vladimir Putin at his home for a few hours.

Ok, no big deal right? Well, not so fast, the FBI had a mole inside this scheme.

Guess who was the FBI Director during this time frame? Yep, Robert Mueller. He requested the State Department allow himself to deliver a Uranium Sample to Moscow in 2009, under the guise of a "sting" operation -- (see leaked secret cable 09STATE38943).. while it is never clear if Mueller did deliver the sample, the "implication" is there ..

Guess who was handling that case within the Justice Department out of the US Attorney's Office in Maryland ?? No other than, Rod Rosenstein.

Remember the "informant" inside the FBI -- - Guess what happened to the informant? Department of Justice placed a GAG order on him and threatened to lock him up if he spoke about the Uranium Deal. Personally, I have to question how does 20% of the most strategic asset of the United States of America end up in Russian hands??? The FBI had an informant, a mole providing inside information to the FBI on the criminal enterprise and NOTHING happens, except to the informant -- Strange !!

Guess what happened soon after the sale was approved? 145 million dollars in "donations" made their way into the Clinton Foundation from entities directly connected to the Uranium One deal.

Guess who was still at the Internal Revenue Service working the Charitable Division?

No other than, Lois Lerner. Ok, that's all just another series of coincidences, nothing to see here, right? Let's fast forward to 2015.

Due to a series of tragic events in Benghazi and after the nine "investigations" the House, Senate and at State Department, Trey Gowdy who was running the 10th investigation as Chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, discovers that the Hillary ran the State Department on an unclassified, unauthorized, outlaw personal email server.

He also discovered that none of those emails had been turned over when she departed her "Public Service" as Secretary of State which was required by law.

He also discovered that there was Top Secret information contained within her personally archived email. Sparing you the State Departments cover up, the nostrums they floated, the delay tactics that were employed and the outright lies that were spewed forth from the necks of the Kerry State Department, they did everything humanly possible to cover for Hillary.

Guess who became FBI Director in 2013? Guess who secured 17 no bid contracts for his employer (Lockheed Martin) with the State Department and was rewarded with a six million dollar thank you present when he departed his employer. No other than James Comey. Folks if I did this when I worked for the government, I would have been locked up -- The State Department didn't even comply with the EEO and small business requirements the government places on all Request For Proposals (RFP) on contracts -- It amazes me how all those no-bids just went right through at State -- simply amazing and no Inspector General investigation !!

Next after leaving the private sector Comey is the FBI Director in charge of the "Clinton Email Investigation" after of course his FBI Investigates the Lois Lerner "Matter" at the Internal Revenue Service and exonerates her. Nope couldn't find any crimes there. Nothing here to report --

Then of all surprises, in April 2016, James Comey drafts an exoneration letter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile the DOJ is handing out immunity deals like candy on Halloween.

The DOJ didn't even convene a Grand Jury. Like a lightning bolt of statistical impossibility, like a miracle from God himself, like the true "Gangsta" Homey is, James steps out into the cameras of an awaiting press conference on July the 8th of 2016 and exonerates the Hillary from any wrongdoing. As I've said many times, July 8, 2016 is the date that will live in infamy of the American Justice System ..

Can you see the pattern?

It goes on and on, Rosenstein becomes Asst. Attorney General, Comey gets fired based upon a letter by Rosenstein, Comey leaks government information to the press, Mueller is assigned to the Russian Investigation witch hunt by Rosenstein to provide cover for decades of malfeasance within the FBI and DOJ and the story continues.

FISA Abuse, political espionage .. pick a crime, any crime, chances are this group and a few others did it. All the same players. All compromised and conflicted. All working fervently to NOT go to jail themselves. All connected in one way or another to the Clinton's. They are like battery acid, they corrode and corrupt everything they touch. How many lives have the Clinton's destroyed?

As of this writing, the Clinton Foundation, in its 20+ years of operation of being the largest International Charity Fraud in the history of mankind, has never been audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

Let us not forget that Comey's brother works for DLA Piper, the law firm that does the Clinton Foundation's taxes.

Twodees Partain , April 23, 2018 at 10:23 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke

More on Mueller for renfro, who seems to think that Mueller has some kind of integrity hidden somewhere:

http://themillenniumreport.com/2017/05/robert-mueller-the-old-fixer-is-back-in-town/

[Apr 21, 2018] On the Criminal Referral of Comey, Clinton et al by Ray McGovern

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Putting aside his partisan motivations, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) was unusually blunt two months ago in warning of legal consequences for officials who misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to enable surveillance on Trump and his associates. Nunes's words are likely to have sent chills down the spine of those with lots to hide: "If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial," he said ."The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created." ..."
"... The media will be key to whether this Constitutional issue is resolved. Largely because of Trump's own well earned reputation for lying, most Americans are susceptible to slanted headlines like this recent one -- "Trump escalates attacks on FBI " -- from an article in The Washington Post , commiserating with the treatment accorded fired-before-retired prevaricator McCabe and the FBI he ( dis)served . ..."
"... What motivated the characters now criminally "referred" is clear enough from a wide variety of sources, including the text messages exchange between Strzok and Page. Many, however, have been unable to understand how these law enforcement officials thought they could get away with taking such major liberties with the law. ..."
"... None of the leaking, unmasking, surveillance, "opposition research," or other activities directed against the Trump campaign can be properly understood, if one does not bear in mind that it was considered a sure thing that Secretary Clinton would become President, at which point illegal and extralegal activities undertaken to help her win would garner praise, not prison. The activities were hardly considered high-risk, because candidate Clinton was sure to win. ..."
"... Comey admits, "It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the re-started investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in the polls." ..."
"... The key point is not Comey's tortured reasoning, but rather that Clinton was "sure to be the next president." This would, of course, confer automatic immunity on those now criminally referred to the Department of Justice. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men -- even very tall men. One wag claimed that the "Higher" in "A Higher Loyalty" refers simply to the very tall body that houses an outsized ego. ..."
"... "Hope springs eternal" would be the cynical folk wisdom. FYI we haven't had a functioning constitution since the National Security Act of 1947 brought this nation under color of law, but the IC types wouldn't have you know that. Too tough to square the idea you'd never have had your CIA career in a world where the FISA court couldn't exist either. ..."
"... there is concrete evidence that the Democratic party/Clinton manipulated the primaries to destroy Clinton's challanger. That the DOJ, FBI & other alphabet agencies conspired with Clinton to equally, destroy Trump's campaign. ..."
"... We saw the same nonsense with Obama, the "peace president". Obama a man who never saw a Muslim he did not want to bomb or a Jew he did not want to bail out ..."
"... The best thing about this referral is that it also demands deputy AG Rod Rosenstein the weasel to recluse himself from this case. Rosenstein is the pinnacle of corruption by the deep state. ..."
"... Former CIA Director John Brennan is the prime mover behind the ongoing coup attempt against Trump. He gathered his deep state allies at DOJ and the FBI to join him in this endeavor. Brennan's allies -- McCabe, Lynch, Strzok, Yates, ect., may or may not be aware of Brennan's true motive behind creating all the noise and distraction since the 2016 election. It could be they're just partisan hacks; or they're on board with Brennan to keep secret what was revealed in the hack of the Podesta emails. ..."
"... Assange had 'physical proof' Russians didn't hack DNC, Rohrabacher says https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/19/julian-assange-has-physical-proof-russians-didnt-h/ ..."
"... I noticed Comey tried to pull a J Edgar-style subtle blackmail on Trump by the way he brought up the so-called "dossier" ..."
"... Bill Clinton got recruited into CIA by Cord Meyer, who bragged of it himself in his cups. ..."
"... Hillary cut her teeth on CIA's Watergate purge of Nixon. (If it's news to anyone that the Watergate cast of characters was straight out of CIA central casting, Russ Baker has conclusively tied the elaborate ratfeck to the intelligence community.) ..."
"... Obama was son of spooks, grandson of spooks, greased in to Harvard by Alwaleed bin-Talal's bagman. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | www.unz.com

Wednesday's criminal referral by 11 House Republicans of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as several former and serving top FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials is a giant step toward a Constitutional crisis.

Named in the referral to the DOJ for possible violations of federal law are: Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey; former Attorney General Loretta Lynch; former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; FBI Agent Peter Strzok; FBI Counsel Lisa Page; and those DOJ and FBI personnel "connected to" work on the "Steele Dossier," including former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.

With no attention from corporate media, the referral was sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah John Huber. Sessions appointed Huber months ago to assist DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz. By most accounts, Horowitz is doing a thoroughly professional job. As IG, however, Horowitz lacks the authority to prosecute; he needs a U.S. Attorney for that. And this has to be disturbing to the alleged perps.

This is no law-school case-study exercise, no arcane disputation over the fine points of this or that law. Rather, as we say in the inner-city, "It has now hit the fan." Criminal referrals can lead to serious jail time. Granted, the upper-crust luminaries criminally "referred" enjoy very powerful support. And that will come especially from the mainstream media, which will find it hard to retool and switch from Russia-gate to the much more delicate and much less welcome "FBI-gate."

As of this writing, a full day has gone by since the letter/referral was reported, with total silence so far from T he New York Times and The Washington Post and other big media as they grapple with how to spin this major development. News of the criminal referral also slipped by Amy Goodman's non-mainstream DemocracyNow!, as well as many alternative websites.

The 11 House members chose to include the following egalitarian observation in the first paragraph of the letter conveying the criminal referral: "Because we believe that those in positions of high authority should be treated the same as every other American, we want to be sure that the potential violations of law outlined below are vetted appropriately." If this uncommon attitude is allowed to prevail at DOJ, it would, in effect, revoke the de facto "David Petraeus exemption" for the be-riboned, be-medaled, and well-heeled.

Stonewalling

Meanwhile, the patience of the chairmen of House committees investigating abuses at DOJ and the FBI is wearing thin at the slow-rolling they are encountering in response to requests for key documents from the FBI. This in-your-face intransigence is all the more odd, since several committee members have already had access to the documents in question, and are hardly likely to forget the content of those they know about. (Moreover, there seems to be a good chance that a patriotic whistleblower or two will tip them off to key documents being withheld.)

The DOJ IG, whose purview includes the FBI, has been cooperative in responding to committee requests for information, but those requests can hardly include documents of which the committees are unaware.

Putting aside his partisan motivations, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) was unusually blunt two months ago in warning of legal consequences for officials who misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to enable surveillance on Trump and his associates. Nunes's words are likely to have sent chills down the spine of those with lots to hide: "If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial," he said ."The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created."

Whether the House will succeed in overcoming the resistance of those criminally referred and their many accomplices and will prove able to exercise its Constitutional prerogative of oversight is, of course, another matter -- a matter that matters.

And Nothing Matters More Than the Media

The media will be key to whether this Constitutional issue is resolved. Largely because of Trump's own well earned reputation for lying, most Americans are susceptible to slanted headlines like this recent one -- "Trump escalates attacks on FBI " -- from an article in The Washington Post , commiserating with the treatment accorded fired-before-retired prevaricator McCabe and the FBI he ( dis)served .

Nor is the Post above issuing transparently clever warnings -- like this one in a lead article on March 17: "Some Trump allies say they worry he is playing with fire by taunting the FBI. 'This is open, all-out war. And guess what? The FBI's going to win,' said one ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. 'You can't fight the FBI. They're going to torch him.'" [sic]

Mind-Boggling Criminal Activity

What motivated the characters now criminally "referred" is clear enough from a wide variety of sources, including the text messages exchange between Strzok and Page. Many, however, have been unable to understand how these law enforcement officials thought they could get away with taking such major liberties with the law.

None of the leaking, unmasking, surveillance, "opposition research," or other activities directed against the Trump campaign can be properly understood, if one does not bear in mind that it was considered a sure thing that Secretary Clinton would become President, at which point illegal and extralegal activities undertaken to help her win would garner praise, not prison. The activities were hardly considered high-risk, because candidate Clinton was sure to win.

But she lost.

Comey himself gives this away in the embarrassingly puerile book he has been hawking, "A Higher Loyalty" -- which

amounts to a pre-emptive move motivated mostly by loyalty-to-self, in order to obtain a Stay-Out-of-Jail card. Hat tip to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone for a key observation, in his recent article , "James Comey, the Would-Be J. Edgar Hoover," about what Taibbi deems the book's most damning passage, where Comey discusses his decision to make public the re-opening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Comey admits, "It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the re-started investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in the polls."

The key point is not Comey's tortured reasoning, but rather that Clinton was "sure to be the next president." This would, of course, confer automatic immunity on those now criminally referred to the Department of Justice. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men -- even very tall men. One wag claimed that the "Higher" in "A Higher Loyalty" refers simply to the very tall body that houses an outsized ego.

I think it can be said that readers of Consortiumnews.com may be unusually well equipped to understand the anatomy of FBI-gate as well as Russia-gate. Listed below chronologically are several links that might be viewed as a kind of "whiteboard" to refresh memories. You may wish to refer them to any friends who may still be confused.

2017

2018

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years. In retirement, he co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).


Mike Whitney , April 20, 2018 at 4:15 am GMT

This story appears to be developing very fast. Interested readers might want to look at this short video on the Tucker Carlson show last night: http://video.foxnews.com/v/5773524495001/?playlist_id=5198073478001#sp=show-clips

Will McCabe wind up in jail? Will Comey? Will Hillary face justice? Fingers crossed!

jilles dykstra , April 20, 2018 at 6:05 am GMT
A weird country, the USA. Reading the article I'm reminded of the 1946 Senate investigation into Pearl Harbour, where, in my opinion, the truth was unearthed. At the same time, this truth hardly ever reached the wider public, no articles, the book, ed. Harry Elmer Barnes, never reviewed.
Greg Bacon , Website April 20, 2018 at 6:54 am GMT

Will McCabe wind up in jail? Will Comey? Will Hillary face justice? Fingers crossed!

The short answer is NO. McCabe might, but not Comey and the Killer Queen, they've both served Satan, uh I mean the Deep State too long and too well.Satan and the banksters–who really run the show–take care of their own and apex predators like Hillary won't go to jail. But it does keep the rubes entertained while the banksters continue to loot, pillage and plunder and Israel keeps getting Congress to fight their wars.

Ronald Thomas West , Website April 20, 2018 at 7:23 am GMT
"Hope springs eternal" would be the cynical folk wisdom. FYI we haven't had a functioning constitution since the National Security Act of 1947 brought this nation under color of law, but the IC types wouldn't have you know that. Too tough to square the idea you'd never have had your CIA career in a world where the FISA court couldn't exist either.

Consortium News many sops tossed to 'realpolitik' where false narrative is attacked with alternative false narrative, example given, drunk Ukrainian soldiers supposedly downing MH 17 with a BUK as opposed to Kiev's Interior Ministry behind the Ukrainian combat jet that actually brought down MH 17, poisons everything (trust issues) spewed from that news service.

The realpolitik 'face saving' exit/offer implied in the Consortium News narrative where Russia doesn't have to confront the West with Ukraine's (and by implication the western intelligence agencies) premeditated murder of 300 innocents does truth no favors.

Time to grow up and face reality. Realpolitik is dead; the caliber of 'statesman' required for these finessed geopolitical lies to function no longer exist on the Western side, and the Russians (I believe) are beginning to understand there is no agreement can be made behind closed doors that will hold up; as opposed to experiencing a backstabbing (like NATO not moving east.)

Back on topic; the National Security Act of 1947 and the USA's constitution are mutually exclusive concepts, where you have a Chief Justice appoints members of our FISA Court, er, nix that, let's call a spade a spade, it's a Star Chamber. There is no constitution to uphold, no matter well intended self deceits. There will be no constitutional crisis, only a workaround to pretend a constitution still exists:

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2017/12/01/the-oath-and-the-trash-bin/

For those who prefer the satire:

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2016/01/07/moot-court/^

animalogic , April 20, 2018 at 8:00 am GMT
To comprehend the internal machinations s of US politics one needs a mind capable of high level yoga or of squaring a circle. On the one hand there is a multimillion, full throttle investigation into – at best – nebulus, inconsequential links between trump/ his campaign & Russia.
On the other there is concrete evidence that the Democratic party/Clinton manipulated the primaries to destroy Clinton's challanger. That the DOJ, FBI & other alphabet agencies conspired with Clinton to equally, destroy Trump's campaign.

Naturally, its this 2nd conspiracy which is retarded. Imagine, a mere agency of a dept, the FBI, is widely considered untouchable by The President ! Indeed, they will "torch" him. AND the "the third estate" ie: the msm will support them the whole way! As a script the "The Twilight Zone" would have rejected all this as too ludicrous, too psychotic for even its broad minded viewers.

Jake , April 20, 2018 at 11:29 am GMT
The Deep State will make certain none of its most important functionaries get anything close to what they deserve.
redmudhooch , April 20, 2018 at 11:43 am GMT
Just a show, nothing will happen. Anything to keep you talking about anything other than 9/11, fake economy, fake war on terror, or Zionists..
jacques sheete , April 20, 2018 at 11:49 am GMT

And that will come especially from the mainstream media

I quit reading right there. Use of that term indicates mental laziness at best. What's mainstream about it? Please refer to corporate media in proper terms, such as PCR's "presstitute" media. Speaking of PCR, it's too bad he doesn't allow comments.

DESERT FOX , April 20, 2018 at 12:58 pm GMT
The MSM is controlled by Zionists as is the U.S. gov and the banks, so it is no surprise that the MSM protects the ones destroying America, this is what they do. Nothing of consequence will be done to any of the ones involved, it will all be covered up, as usual.
tjm , April 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm GMT
What utter nonsense. These people are ALL actors, no one will go to jail, because everything they do is contrived, no consequence for doing as your Zionist owners command.

There is no there there. This is nothing but another distraction, something o feed the dual narratives, that Clinton and her ilk are out to get Trump, and the "liberal media" will cover it up. This narrative feeds very nicely into the primary goal of driving Republicans/conservatives to support Trump, even as Trump does everything they elected him NOT TO DO!

We saw the same nonsense with Obama, the "peace president". Obama a man who never saw a Muslim he did not want to bomb or a Jew he did not want to bail out

Yet even while Obama did the work of the Zionist money machine, the media played up the fake battle between those who thought he was not born in America, "birthers" and his blind supporters.

Nothing came of any of it, just like Monica Lewinsky, nothing but theater, fill the air waves, divide the people, while America is driven insane.

anon [321] Disclaimer , April 20, 2018 at 1:49 pm GMT
The best thing about this referral is that it also demands deputy AG Rod Rosenstein the weasel to recluse himself from this case. Rosenstein is the pinnacle of corruption by the deep state. It's seriously way pass time for Jeff Sessions to grow a pair, put on his big boy pants, unrecuse himself from the Russian collusion bullshit case, fire Rosenstein and Mueller and end the case once and for all. These two traitors are in danger of completely derailing the Trump agenda and toppling the Republican majority in November, yet Jeff Sessions is still busy arresting people for marijuana, talk about missing the forest for the trees.

As far as where this referral will go from here, my guess is, nowhere. Not as long as Jeff Sessions the pussy is the AG. It's good to hear that Giuliani has now been recruited by Trump to be on his legal team. What Trump really needs to do is replace Jeff Sessions with Giuliani, or even Chris Christie, and let them do what a real AG should be doing, which is clean house in the DOJ, and prosecute the Clintons for their pay-to-play scheme with their foundation. Not only is the Clinton corruption case the biggest corruption case in US history, but this might be the only way to save the GOP from losing their majority in November.

anon [321] Disclaimer , April 20, 2018 at 1:54 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon

But it does keep the rubes entertained while the banksters continue to loot, pillage and plunder and Israel keeps getting Congress to fight their wars.

Sadly I think you're right. Things might be different if we had a real AG, but Jeff Sessions is not the man I thought he was. He's been swallowed by the deep state just like Trump. At least Trump is putting up a fight, Sessions just threw in the towel and recused himself from Day 1. Truly pathetic. Some patriot he is.

Twodees Partain , April 20, 2018 at 2:32 pm GMT
@Nick Granite

" He's ferreted out more than a few and probably has a lot better idea who his friends are he certainly knows the enemies by now."

He failed to ferret out Haley, Pompeo, or Sessions and he just recently appointed John Bolton, so I don't agree with your assessment. If his friends include those three, that says enough about Trump to make any of his earlier supporters drop him.

Anyway, not having a ready made team, or at least a solid short list of key appointees shows that he was just too clueless to have even been a serious candidate. It looks more as though Trump is doing now what he intended to do all along. That means he was bullshitting everybody during his campaign.

So, maybe the neocons really have been his friends all along.

Twodees Partain , April 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

It's also telling that Ray didn't mention what was included in the referral regarding an enforced recusal of Rosenstein going forward.

https://desantis.house.gov/_cache/files/8/0/8002ca75-52fc-4995-b87e-43584da268db/472EBC7D8F55C0F9E830D37CF96376A2.final-criminal-referral.pdf

Authenticjazzman , April 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm GMT
@Renoman

" America is a very crooked country, nothing suprises me".

Every country on this insane planet is "crooked" to a greater or lesser degree, when to a lesser degree, this is simply because they, the PTB, have not yet figured out how to accelerate, how to increase their corruption and thereby how to increase their unearned monetary holdings.

Money is the most potent singular factor which causes humans to lose their minds, and all of their ethics and decency.
And within the confines of a "socialist" system, "money" is replaced by rubber-stamps, which then wield, exactly in the manner of "wealth", the power of life or death, over the unwashed masses.

Authenticjazzman "Mensa" qualified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet, and pro jazz musician.

anon [140] Disclaimer , April 20, 2018 at 7:24 pm GMT
@Ronald Thomas West

BTW Jeff Sessions is a fraternal brother of Pence (a member of the same club, same [recently deceased] guru) and is no friend of Trump.

That would explain why Sessions reclused himself from the start, and refused to appoint a special council to investigate the Clintons. He's in on this with Pence.

anon [140] Disclaimer , April 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm GMT
Just as it looks like the Comey memos will further exonerate Trump, we now have this farce extended by the DNC with this latest lawsuit on the "Trump campaign". The Democrats are now the most pathetic sore losers in history, they are hell bent on dragging the whole country down the pit of hell just because they can't handle a loss.
anon [140] Disclaimer , April 20, 2018 at 7:34 pm GMT
Wishful thinking that anything will come of this, just like when the Nunes memo was released. Nothing will happen as long as Jeff Sessions is AG. Trump needs to fire either Sessions or Rosenstein ASAP, before he gets dragged down by this whole Russian collusion bullshit case.
SunBakedSuburb , April 20, 2018 at 7:45 pm GMT
Former CIA Director John Brennan is the prime mover behind the ongoing coup attempt against Trump. He gathered his deep state allies at DOJ and the FBI to join him in this endeavor. Brennan's allies -- McCabe, Lynch, Strzok, Yates, ect., may or may not be aware of Brennan's true motive behind creating all the noise and distraction since the 2016 election. It could be they're just partisan hacks; or they're on board with Brennan to keep secret what was revealed in the hack of the Podesta emails.

John Podesta, in addition to being a top Democrat/DC lobbyist and a criminal deviant, is also a long-time CIA asset running a blackmail/influence operation that utilized his deviancy: the sexual exploitation of children.

Haxo Angmark , Website April 20, 2018 at 10:38 pm GMT
Seth Rich is still dead...
utu , April 20, 2018 at 11:33 pm GMT
Assange had 'physical proof' Russians didn't hack DNC, Rohrabacher says https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/19/julian-assange-has-physical-proof-russians-didnt-h/
UrbaneFrancoOntarian , April 21, 2018 at 12:18 am GMT
@anon

His cowardice is shocking. I wonder what they have on him? Probably some Roy Moore shit. Some shady stuff happened in the old South.

Ronald Thomas West , Website April 21, 2018 at 12:56 am GMT
@utu

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2017/09/16/incompetent-espionage-wikileaks-iii/

Yeah, and General Kelly won't let Rohrabacher meet with Trump. What do you suppose is up with that (rhetorical question)

RobinG , April 21, 2018 at 1:02 am GMT
@utu

What kind of "physical proof" could Assange have? A thumb drive that was provably American, or something? Rohrabacher only got Red Pilled on Russia because he had one very determined (and well heeled) constituent. But he did cosponsor one of Tulsi Gabbard's "Stop Funding Terrorists" bills, which he figured out on his own. Nevertheless, a bit of a loose cannon and an eff'd up hawk on Iran He's probably an 'ISIS now, Assad later' on Syria.

anonymous [185] Disclaimer , April 21, 2018 at 2:36 am GMT
I noticed Comey tried to pull a J Edgar-style subtle blackmail on Trump by the way he brought up the so-called "dossier". Anyone could see it was absurd but he played his hand with it, pretending it was being looked at. I would say Trump could see through this sleazy game Comey was trying to play and sized him up. Comey is about as slimy as they get even as he parades around trying to look noble. What a corrupt bunch.
Culloden , April 21, 2018 at 2:45 am GMT
"The culprit has swayed with the immediate need for a villain "

[What follows is excerpted from an article headlined Robert Mueller's Questionable Past that appeared yesterday on the American Free Press website:]

During his tenure with the Justice Department under President George H W Bush, Mueller supervised the prosecutions of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the Lockerbie bombing (Pan Am Flight 103) case, and Gambino crime boss John Gotti. In the Noriega case, Mueller ignored the ties to the Bush family that Victor Thorn illustrated in Hillary (and Bill): The Drugs Volume: Part Two of the Clinton Trilogy. Noriega had long been associated with CIA operations that involved drug smuggling, money laundering, and arms running. Thorn significantly links Noriega to Bush family involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Regarding Pan Am Flight 103, the culprit has swayed with the immediate need for a villain. Pro-Palestinian activists, Libyans, and Iranians have all officially been blamed when US intelligence and the mainstream mass media needed to paint each as the antagonist to American freedom. Mueller toed the line, publicly ignoring rumors that agents onboard were said to have learned that a CIA drug-smuggling operation was afoot in conjunction with Pan Am flights. According to the theory, the agents were going to take their questions to Congress upon landing. The flight blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland.

http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/

"We were in Libya for oil" (only). Who said that:

http://www.firmmagazine.com

Bennis Mardens , April 21, 2018 at 2:47 am GMT
Without exception, leftists are degenerate filth.

But they won't be going to jail.

It's kabuki theater.

Art , April 21, 2018 at 5:21 am GMT
My god – who believes this woman?

Hillary says "they would never let me be president" – she is serious. She has gone bonkers with self-pity.

This is no longer laughable – it boarders on the pathological.

Art

WhiteWolf , April 21, 2018 at 5:39 am GMT
@Bennis Mardens

There has been some former high flyers going to jail recently. Sarkozy is facing a hard time at the moment. If it can happen to a former president of France it can happen to Hillary.

Stonehands , April 21, 2018 at 6:20 am GMT
@Twodees Partain

I still read ZH articles, but the commentariat has devolved to lockeroom towel-snapping, barely above YouTube chattering.

Stonehands , April 21, 2018 at 6:42 am GMT
@Ronald Thomas West

Ronald, thank-you for posting this Doug Coe sermon; l have never heard of him. BTW are you a Christian?

Stonehands , April 21, 2018 at 7:56 am GMT
@Ronald Thomas West

Ronald, thank-you for posting this Doug Coe sermon; l have never heard of him. BTW are you a Christian?

Twodees Partain , April 21, 2018 at 10:11 am GMT
@Culloden

Here's another about Mueller's involvement with the FBI's Whitey Bulger scandal.

https://saraacarter.com/questions-still-surround-robert-muellers-boston-past/

Mueller's past is so laden with misfeasance and malfeasance that he should have been disbarred a few decades ago.

Ronald Thomas West , Website April 21, 2018 at 1:14 pm GMT
@Stonehands

Am I a Christian? Well, no. I had some exposure to Christianity but it never took hold. On the other hand, I do believe there was a historical Jesus that was a remarkable man, but there is a world (or universe) of difference between the man and the mythology. Here's some of my thoughts on the matter:

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/04/11/celebrating-the-anti-christ/

^ It doesn't necessarily go where the title might suggest (for many)

CIA in Charge , April 21, 2018 at 1:58 pm GMT
@Authenticjazzman

Nothing uncanny about it. There's a frenetic Democratic cottage industry inferring magical emotional charisma powers that explain the outsized influence of those three. The fact is very simple. All three are CIA nomenklatura.

(1.) Bill Clinton got recruited into CIA by Cord Meyer, who bragged of it himself in his cups.

(2.) Hillary cut her teeth on CIA's Watergate purge of Nixon. (If it's news to anyone that the Watergate cast of characters was straight out of CIA central casting, Russ Baker has conclusively tied the elaborate ratfeck to the intelligence community.)

(3.) Obama was son of spooks, grandson of spooks, greased in to Harvard by Alwaleed bin-Talal's bagman. While he was vocationally wet behind the ears he not only got into Pakistan, no mean feat at the time, but he went to a falconry outing with the future acting president of Pakistan. And is there anyone alive who wasn't flabbergasted at the instant universal acclaim for some empty suit who made a speech at the convention? Like Bill Clinton, successor to DCI Bush, Obama was blatantly, derisively installed in the president slot of the CIA org chart.

Authenticjazzman , April 21, 2018 at 6:06 pm GMT
@CIA in Charge

Excellent post and quite accurate information, however my point being that the irrational fear harbored by the individuals who could actually begin to rope these scumbags in, is just that : Irrational, as they seem to think or have been lead/brainwashed to believe that these dissolute turds are somehow endowed with supernatural, otherworldy powers and options, and that they are capable of unholy , merciless vengeance : VF, SR, etc.

And the truth is as soon as they finally start to go after them they, they will fall apart at the seams, such as with all cowards, and this is the bottom line : They, the BC/HC/BO clique, they are nothing more than consumate cowards, who can only operate in such perfidious manners when left unchallenged.

Authenticjazzman "Mensa" qualified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet, and pro Jazz artist.

[Apr 13, 2018] The End of International Law by Thierry Meyssan

Notable quotes:
"... Bill Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, blithely violating Internal Law. George Bush Jr. did the same by attacking Iraq, and Barack Obama by attacking Libya and Syria. As for Donald Trump, he has never hidden his distrust of supra-national rules. ..."
"... " Globalisation ", in other words the " globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values ", has created a class society between states. ..."
"... " Communication ", a new name for " propaganda ", has become the imperative in international relations. From the US Secretary of State brandishing a phial of pseudo-anthrax to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs lying about the origin of Novitchok in the Salisbury affair, lies have become the substitute for respect, and cause general mistrust. ..."
"... Russia is wondering today about the possible desire of the Western powers to block the United Nations. If this is so, it would create an alternative institution, but there would no longer be a forum which would enable the two blocks to discuss matters. ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | www.voltairenet.org

o the Western powers hope to put an end to the constraints of International Law? That is the question asked by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov, at the Moscow conference on International Security [ 1 ].

Over the last few years, Washington has been promoting the concept of " unilateralism ". International Law and the United Nations are supposed to bow to the power of the United States.

This concept of political life is born of the History of the United States - the colonists who came to the Americas intended to live as they chose and make a fortune there. Each community developed its own laws and refused the intervention of a central government in local affairs. The President and the Federal Congress are charged with Defense and Foreign Affairs, but like the citizens themselves, they refused to accept an authority above their own.

Bill Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, blithely violating Internal Law. George Bush Jr. did the same by attacking Iraq, and Barack Obama by attacking Libya and Syria. As for Donald Trump, he has never hidden his distrust of supra-national rules.

Making an allusion to the Cebrowski-Barnett doctrine [ 2 ], Sergueï Lavrov declared: " We have the clear impression that the United States seek to maintain a state of controlled chaos in this immense geopolitical area [the Near East], hoping to use it to justify the military presence of the USA in the region, without any time limit, in order to promote their own agenda ".

The United Kingdom also seem to feel quite comfortable with breaking the Law. Last month, it accused Moscow in the " Skripal affair ", without the slightest proof, and attempted to unite a majority of the General Assembly of the UN to exclude Russia from the Security Council. It would of course be easier for the Anglo-Saxons to unilaterally rewrite the Law without having to take notice of the opinions of their opponents.

Moscow does not believe that London took this initiative. It considers that Washington is calling the shots.

" Globalisation ", in other words the " globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values ", has created a class society between states. But we should not confuse this new problem with the existence of the right to a veto. Of course, the UNO, while it declares equality between states whatever their size, distinguishes, within the Security Council, five permanent members who have a veto. This Directorate, composed of the main victors of the Second World War, is a necessity for them to accept the principle of supra-national Law. However, when this Directorate fails to embody the Law, the General Assembly may take its place. At least in theory, because the smaller states which vote against a greater state are obliged to suffer retaliatory measures.

La " globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values " ignores honour and highlights profit, so that the weight of the propositions by any state will be measured only by the economic development of its country. However, over the years, three states have managed to gain an audience to the foundations of their propositions, and not in function of their economy – they are the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (today under house arrest in his own country), the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, and the Holy See.

The confusion engendered by Anglo-Saxon values has led to the financing of intergovernmental organisations with private money. As one thing leads to another, the member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, have progressively abandoned their propositional power to the profit of private telecom operators, who are united in a " consultative committee ".

" Communication ", a new name for " propaganda ", has become the imperative in international relations. From the US Secretary of State brandishing a phial of pseudo-anthrax to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs lying about the origin of Novitchok in the Salisbury affair, lies have become the substitute for respect, and cause general mistrust.

During the first years of its creation, the UNO attempted to forbid " war propaganda ", but today, it is the permanent members of the Security Council who indulge in it.

The worst occurred in 2012, when Washington managed to obtain the nomination of one of its worst war-hawks, Jeffrey Feltman, as the number 2 of the UNO [ 3 ]. From that date onward, wars have been orchestrated in New York by the very institution that is supposed to prevent them.

Russia is wondering today about the possible desire of the Western powers to block the United Nations. If this is so, it would create an alternative institution, but there would no longer be a forum which would enable the two blocks to discuss matters.

Just as a society which falls into chaos, where men are wolves for men when deprived of the Law, so the world will become a battle-field if it abandons International Law. Thierry Meyssan

[Apr 01, 2018] All the President s Women by Andrew Levine

This is probably the most vicious attack on Trump trangressions that i encountered so far...
Notable quotes:
"... The problem for Trump is that what his accusers are saying puts him in legal and political jeopardy. They are claiming, in effect, that he has committed a variety of unlawful and impeachable offenses – from obstruction of justice to violations of campaign finance laws. ..."
"... The Clinton-Lewinsky dalliance led to a series of events that prevented Clinton from doing even more harm to our feeble welfare state institutions than he would otherwise have done. ..."
"... Fire and Fury ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

There is no doubt about it: Stormy Daniels is a formidable woman. Karen McDougal is no slouch either, though she is hard to admire after that riff, in her Anderson Cooper interview, about how religious and Republican she is; she even said that she used to love the Donald. Stormy Daniels is better than that.

How wonderfully appropriate it would be if she were to become the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

Even in a world as topsy-turvy as ours has become, there has to be a final straw.

To be sure, evidence of Trump's vileness, incompetence, and mental instability is accumulating at breakneck speed, and there are polls now that show support for him holding fast or even slightly rising. Trump's hardcore "base" seems more determined than ever to stand by their man.

But even people as benighted as they are bound to realize eventually that they have been had. Many of them already do, but don't care; they hate Clinton Democrats that much. This is understandable, but foolish; so foolish, in fact, that they can hardly keep it up indefinitely.

To think otherwise is to despair for the human race.

What, if anything, can bring them to their senses in time for the 2018 election?

Stormy Daniels says she only wants to tell her story, not bring Trump down. But her political instincts seem decent, and she is one shrewd lady. Therefore, I would not be the least surprised if that is not quite true. It hardly matters, though, what her intentions are; I'd put my money on her.

A recession might also do the trick. A recession is long overdue, and Trump's tax cut for the rich and his tariffs are sure to make its consequences worse when it happens.

To turn significant portions of Trump's base against him, a major military conflagration might also do -- not the kind Barack Obama favored, fought far away and out of public view, but a real war, televised on CNN, and waged against an enemy state like North Korea or Iran. It would have to go quickly and disastrously wrong, though, in ways that even willfully blind, terminally obtuse Trump supporters could not fail to see.

Or the gods could smile upon us, causing Trump's exercise regimen (sitting in golf carts) and his fat-ridden, cholesterol rich diet to catch up with him, as it would with most other sedentary septuagenarians. The only downside would be that a heart attack or stroke might elicit sympathy for the poor bastard. No sane person could or should hope for a calamitous economic downturn or for yet another devastating, pointless, and manifestly unjust war, especially one that could become a war to end all wars (along with everything else), on the off-chance that some good might come of it. And if the best we can do is hope that cheeseburgers with fries will save us, we are grasping at straws.

These are compelling reasons to hope that the accusations made by Daniels and McDougal and Summer Zervos – and other consensual and non-consensual Trump victims and "playmates" – gain traction. If the several defamation lawsuits now in the works can get the president deposed, this is not out of the question.

The problem for Trump is not that his accusers' revelations will cause his base to defect; no matter how salacious their stories and no matter how believable they may be. Trump's moral turpitude is taken for granted in their circles; and they do not care about the myriad ways his words and deeds offend the dignity of the office he holds or embarrass the country he purports to put "first." If any of that mattered to them, they would have jumped ship long ago.

Except perhaps for unreconstructed racists and certifiable sociopaths, white evangelicals are Trump's strongest supporters. What a despicable bunch of hypocrites they are! As long as Trump delivers on their agendas, his salacious escapades don't faze them at all. Godly folk have evidently changed a good deal since the Cotton Mather days.

What has not changed is their seemingly limitless ability to believe nonsense.

And in case light somehow does manage to shine through, Trump has shown them how to restore the darkness they crave. When cognitive dissonance threatens, all they need do is scream "fake news."

The problem for Trump is that what his accusers are saying puts him in legal and political jeopardy. They are claiming, in effect, that he has committed a variety of unlawful and impeachable offenses – from obstruction of justice to violations of campaign finance laws.

In this case as in so many others, it is the cover-up, not the underlying "crime," that could lead to his undoing – especially if the stories Daniels and the others are telling shed light upon or otherwise connect with or meld into Robert Mueller's investigation of (alleged) Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election.

Trump could and probably will survive their charges. His base is such a preternaturally obdurate lot that there may ultimately be no last straw for them. We may have no choice, in the end, but to despair for a sizeable chunk of the human race.

Stormy Daniels would not be any less admirable on that account. She took Trump on and came out on top. For all the world (minus the willfully blind) to see, she, the porn star, is a strong woman who has her life together, while he, the president, is a discombobulated sleaze ball who is leading himself and his country to ruin.

***

It was different with Monica Lewinsky, another presidential paramour who, almost two decades ago, also held the world's attention.

There was nothing sleazy or venal about Lewinsky's involvement with Bill Clinton; and, for all I know, unless chastity counts, she is as good and virtuous a person as can be. But personal qualities are not what made her affair with our forty-second president as historically significant as it turned out to be.

It would be fair to say that of all the women who have ever had intimate knowledge of that old horn dog's private parts, there is no one who did more good for her country. If only for that, if there were a heaven, there would be special place in it just for her.

The Clinton-Lewinsky dalliance led to a series of events that prevented Clinton from doing even more harm to our feeble welfare state institutions than he would otherwise have done.

Who knows how much progress he would have turned back had he and Monica never done the deed or at least not been found out. Building on groundwork laid down by Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush, he and his wife had already terminated Aid to Families With Dependent Children, one of the main government programs aimed at relieving poverty. This was to be just the first step in "ending welfare as we know it."

With their "donors" pushing for more austerity, those two neoliberal pioneers were itching to begin privatizing other, more widely supported social programs, including even Social Security, the so-called "third rail" of American politics.

The "Lewinsky matter" put the kybosh on that idea, leaving the American people forever in Monica's debt.

Back in the Kennedy days, Mel Brook's two-thousand year old man got it right when he said: presidents "gotta do it," to which he added – " because if they don't do it to their wives and girlfriends, they do it to the nation."

Stormy Daniels made much the same point ten years ago, while flirting with the idea of running against Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Vitter's political career had been almost ruined when his name turned up in the phone records of the infamous "DC Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Daniels told voters that, unlike Vitter, she would "screw (them) honestly."

What then are we to make of the fact that Trump screws both the nation and his wife (maybe) and his girlfriends (or whatever they are)?

Blame it on arrested development, on the fact that despite his more than seventy-one years, Trump still has the mind of a teenage boy, one with money and power enough to live out his fantasies.

The contrast with Bill Clinton is stark. Clinton is a philanderer with eclectic tastes, a charming rascal with a broad and mischievous mind. Honkytonk women from Arkansas appeal to him as much as zaftig MOTs from the 90210 area code.

Trump, on the other hand, goes for super-models, Playboy centerfolds, and aspiring beauty queens -- standard teenage fantasy fare.

He seems to have had little trouble living his dreams – not thanks to his magnetic face, form and figure, and certainly not to his refinement, wit or charm, but to his inherited and otherwise ill-gotten wealth.

It is money and the power that follows from it that draws women to his net.

Henry Kissinger understood; recall his musings on the aphrodisiacal properties of power. Even in his prime, that still unindicted war criminal (and later-day Hillary Clinton advisor) was even more repellent than Trump. But that never kept him from having to fight the ladies off.

This fact of life puts a heavy responsibility on the women with whom presidents hook up.

Consider Melania. She made a Faustian bargain when she agreed to become Trump's trophy bride; in return for riches and a soft life in a gilded tower, she sold her soul. She might have thought better of it had she taken the burdens she would incur as First Lady into account, but why would she? The prospect was too improbable.

She has, it seems, a very practical, old world view of marriage, and is therefore tolerant of her husband's womanizing. At the same time, as a mother and daughter, she is, like most immigrants, a strong proponent of old world "family values."

Too much of a proponent perhaps; insofar as her idea was to "chain migrate" her parents out of Slovenia and onto Easy Street, or to raise a kid who would never want for anything, there were less onerous ways of going about it. After all, there are plenty of rich Americans lusting after supermodels out there, and it is a good bet that many of them are less repellent than Trump.

She was irresponsible as well. She ought to have realized that the man she married had already spawned two idiot sons, along with other fruit from the poisonous tree, and that four bad apples in one generation are enough.

And so now she finds herself a single mother – not in theory, of course, but very definitely in practice. Unlike most women in that position, she is not wanting for resources. But it must be a hard slog, even so. To her credit, Melania seems to be handling the burden well. More power to her!

She also deserves credit for her body language when the Donald is around; the contempt she shows for him is wonderful to behold. Best of all is her sense of the absurd. The way she plagiarized from Michelle Obama had obvious comic validity, and making childhood bullying her First Lady cause – all First Ladies have causes -- was a stroke of genius.

On balance, therefore, it is hard not to feel sorry for her. Of all the women in Trump's ambit, she deserves humiliation the least.

The rumor mill has it that with all the publicity about Daniels and the others , she has finally had enough. This may be the case; the old world ethos requires discretion and a concern with appearances. That is not the Donald's way, however, and now she is paying the price.

What a magnificent humiliation it would be if she and Trump were to split up on that account. This could happen soon. I would expect, though, that through a combination of carrots and sticks, Trump and his fixers will find a way to minimize the political effects. More likely still, they will channel Joe Kennedy and Jackie O, and figure out a way to head the problem off.

Then there is poor forgotten Tiffany. Her Wikipedia entry lists her as both a law student and a "socialite." I hope her studious side wins out and that, despite the genes from her father's side, she is at least somewhat decent and smart.

I'd be more confident of that if she would do what Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti, did: use her mother's, not her father's, name. Unless she is a sleaze ball too, a Trump in the Eric and Don Junior mold, that would be a fine way to make a political point.

It would also pay back over the years. With the Trump administration on its current trajectory, who, in a few years' time, would take a Tiffany Trump seriously? A Tiffany Maples would stand a better chance.

Her half-sister, the peerless Ivanka, the Great Blonde Hope, is, of course, her father's sweetie. Let's not go there, however. Her marriage to Jared Kushner is already enough to process.

What a pair those two make; and what a glorious day it will be when the law finally catches up with Jared, as it did with his Trump-like father, Charles. Perhaps he will take Ivanka down a notch or two with him. Despite an almost complete lack of qualifications, Trump made his son-in-law his minister of almost everything; a pretty good gig for a feckless, airhead rich kid. Among other things, Trump enabled him to become Benjamin Netanyahu's ace in the hole. Netanyahu is a Kushner family friend. Netanyahu has more than his share of legal troubles too. Let them all go down together!

Ivanka and Jared are well matched – they share a "business model." It has them exploiting their daddies' connections and money.

Jared peddles real estate; his efforts have gotten his family into serious debt, while putting him in solid with Russian and Eastern European oligarchs, Gulf state emirs, and Mohammad bin Salman – people in comparison with whom his father-in-law seems almost virtuous.

Ivanka sells trinkets and schmatas to people who think the Trump name is cool. There actually are such people; at two hundred grand a pop, Mar-a-Lago is full of them. Ivanka's demographic is made up mostly of their younger set.

Two other presidential women bare mention: Hope Hicks and Nikki Haley. Surely, they both have tales to tell, but it looks, for now, as if their stories would be of little or no prurient interest. Neither of them appear to have been propositioned or groped.

Even though Hicks is said to be like a daughter to the Donald – we know what that could mean! – it is a safe bet that there was nothing of a romantic nature going on between them. For one thing, Hicks seems too close to Ivanka; for another, she is known to have dallied with two Trump subordinates, Corey Lewandowski and Rob Porter. The don is hardly the type to let his underlings have at his women.

Haley had to quash a spate of rumors that flared up thanks to some suggestive remarks Michael Wolff made while hawking Fire and Fury . The rumor caught on because people who hadn't yet fully realized what a piece of work Trump is, imagined that something had to be awry inasmuch as her main qualification for representing the United States at the United Nations was an undergraduate degree in accounting. Abject servility to the Israel lobby also helped.

But the Trump administration is full of ambitious miscreants whose views on Israel and Palestine are as abject and servile as hers, and compared to many others in Trump's cabinet she is, if anything, over qualified. Think of neurosurgeon Ben Carson heading the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is qualified because, as a child, he lived in public housing.

With the exception of Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, Summer Zervos and whoever else comes forward with a juicy and credible tale to tell, the women currently in the president's ambit, though good for gossip and interesting in the ways that characters on reality TV shows can be, are of little or no political consequence.

This could change if any of them decides to "go rogue," to use an expression from the Sarah Palin days. But, while neither Melania nor Tiffany can yet be judged hopeless, it would be foolish to expect much of anything good to come from either of them.

Stormy, Karen, Summer, and whoever else steps forward are a better bet. They are the only ones with any chance of doing as much for their country and the world as Monica Lewinsky did a generation ago.

Among the president's women, they are a breed apart. This is plainly the case with Stormy Daniels; it is already clear that she deserves what all Trump's money can never buy – honor and esteem. To the extent that the others turn out to be similarly courageous, they will too.

[Apr 01, 2018] Big American Money, Not Russia, Put Trump in the White House: Reflections on a Recent Report by Paul Street

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Running against what she (wrongly) perceived (along with most election prognosticators) as a doomed and feckless opponent and as the clear preferred candidate of Wall Street and the intimately related U.S foreign policy elite , including many leading Neoconservatives put off by Trump's isolationist and anti-interventionist rhetoric, the "lying neoliberal warmonger" Hillary Clinton arrogantly figured that she could garner enough votes to win without having to ruffle any ruling-class feathers. ..."
"... Smart Wall Street and K Street Democratic Party bankrollers have long understood that Democratic candidates have to cloak their dollar-drenched corporatism in the deceptive campaign discourse of progressive- and even populist-sounding policy promise to win elections. ..."
"... Trump trailed well behind Clinton in contributions from defense and aerospace – a lack of support extraordinary for a Republican presidential hopeful late in the race. ..."
"... one fateful consequence of trying to appeal to so many conservative business interests was strategic silence about most important matters of public policy. Given the candidate's steady lead in the polls, there seemed to be no point to rocking the boat with any more policy pronouncements than necessary ..."
"... Misgivings of major contributors who worried that the Clinton campaign message lacked real attractions for ordinary Americans were rebuffed. The campaign sought to capitalize on the angst within business by vigorously courting the doubtful and undecideds there, not in the electorate ..."
"... Of course, Bill and Hillary helped trail-blaze that plutocratic "New Democrat" turn in Arkansas during the late 1970s and 1980s. The rest, as they say, was history – an ugly corporate-neoliberal, imperial, and racist history that I and others have written about at great length. ..."
"... My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency ..."
"... Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton ..."
"... The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America ..."
"... Still, Trump's success was no less tied to big money than was Hillary's failure. Candidate Trump ran strangely outside the longstanding neoliberal Washington Consensus, as an economic nationalist and isolationist. His raucous rallies were laced with dripping denunciations of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and globalization, mockery of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, rejection of the New Cold War with Russia, and pledges of allegiance to the "forgotten" American "working-class." He was no normal Republican One Percent candidate. ..."
"... Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache ..."
"... "In a frontal assault on the American establishment, the Republican standard bearer proclaimed 'America First.' Mocking the Bush administration's appeal to 'weapons of mass destruction' as a pretext for invading Iraq, he broke dramatically with two generations of GOP orthodoxy and spoke out in favor of more cooperation with Russia . He even criticized the 'carried interest' tax break beloved by high finance" (emphasis added). ..."
"... "What happened in the final weeks of the campaign was extraordinary. Firstly, a giant wave of dark money poured into Trump's own campaign – one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney's munificently financed 2012 effort – to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments [Then] another gigantic wave of money flowed in from alarmed business interests, including the Kochs and their allies Officially the money was for Senate races, but late-stage campaigning for down-ballot offices often spills over on to candidates for the party at large." ..."
"... "In a harbinger of things to come, additional money came from firms and industries that appear to have been attracted by Trump's talk of tariffs, including steel and companies making machinery of various types [a] vast wave of new money flowed into the campaign from some of America's biggest businesses and most famous investors. Sheldon Adelson and many others in the casino industry delivered in grand style for its old colleague. Adelson now delivered more than $11 million in his own name, while his wife and other employees of his Las Vegas Sands casino gave another $20 million. ..."
"... Peter Theil contributed more than a million dollars, while large sums also rolled in from other parts of Silicon Valley, including almost two million dollars from executives at Microsoft and just over two million from executives at Cisco Systems. ..."
"... Among those were Nelson Peltz and Carl Icahn (who had both contributed to Trump before, but now made much bigger new contributions). In the end, along with oil, chemicals, mining and a handful of other industries, large private equity firms would become one of the few segments of American business – and the only part of Wall Street – where support for Trump was truly heavy the sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds clearly began with the Convention but turned into a torrent " ..."
"... The critical late wave came after Trump moved to rescue his flagging campaign by handing its direction over to the clever, class-attuned, far-right white- and economic- nationalist "populist" and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, who advocated what proved to be a winning, Koch brothers-approved "populist" strategy: appeal to economically and culturally frustrated working- and middle-class whites in key battleground states, where the bloodless neoliberal and professional class centrism and snooty metropolitan multiculturalism of the Obama presidency and Clinton campaign was certain to depress the Democratic "base" vote ..."
"... Neither turnout nor the partisan division of the vote at any level looks all that different from other recent elections 2016's alterations in voting behavior are so minute that the pattern is only barely differentiated from 2012." ..."
"... An interesting part of FJC's study (no quick or easy read) takes a close look at the pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Internet activism that the Democrats and their many corporate media allies are so insistently eager to blame on Russia and for Hillary's defeat. FJC find that Russian Internet interventions were of tiny significance compared to those of homegrown U.S. corporate and right-wing cyber forces: ..."
"... By 2016, the Republican right had developed internet outreach and political advertising into a fine art and on a massive scale quite on its own. ..."
"... Breitbart and other organizations were in fact going global, opening offices abroad and establishing contacts with like-minded groups elsewhere. Whatever the Russians were up to, they could hardly hope to add much value to the vast Made in America bombardment already underway. Nobody sows chaos like Breitbart or the Drudge Report ." ..."
"... no support from Big Business ..."
"... Sanders pushed Hillary the Goldman candidate to the wall, calling out the Democrats' capture by Wall Street, forcing her to rely on a rigged party, convention, and primary system to defeat him. The small-donor "socialist" Sanders challenge represented something Ferguson and his colleagues describe as "without precedent in American politics not just since the New Deal, but across virtually the whole of American history a major presidential candidate waging a strong, highly competitive campaign whose support from big business is essentially zero ." ..."
"... American Oligarchy ..."
"... teleSur English ..."
"... we had no great electoral democracy to subvert in 2016 ..."
"... Only candidates and positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. As a result, in countries like the US and, increasingly, Western Europe, political parties are first of all bank accounts . With certain qualifications, one must pay to play. Understanding any given election, therefore, requires a financial X-ray of the power blocs that dominate the major parties, with both inter- and intra- industrial analysis of their constituent elements." ..."
"... Elections alone are no guarantee of democracy, as U.S. policymakers and pundits know very well when they rip on rigged elections (often fixed with the assistance of U.S. government and private-sector agents and firms) in countries they don't like ..."
"... Majority opinion is regularly trumped by a deadly complex of forces in the U.S. ..."
"... Trump is a bit of an anomaly – a sign of an elections and party system in crisis and an empire in decline. He wasn't pre-approved or vetted by the usual U.S. " deep state " corporate, financial, and imperial gatekeepers. The ruling-class had been trying to figure out what the Hell to do with him ever since he shocked even himself (though not Steve Bannon) by pre-empting the coronation of the "Queen of Chaos." ..."
"... His lethally racist, sexist, nativist, nuclear-weapons-brandishing, and (last but not at all least) eco-cidal rise to the nominal CEO position atop the U.S.-imperial oligarchy is no less a reflection of the dominant role of big U.S. capitalist money and homegrown plutocracy in U.S. politics than a more classically establishment Hillary ascendancy would have been. It's got little to do with Russia, Russia, Russia – the great diversion that fills U.S. political airwaves and newsprint as the world careens ever closer to oligarchy-imposed geocide and to a thermonuclear conflagration that the RussiaGate gambit is recklessly encouraging. ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

"She Doesn't Have Any Policy Positions"

On the Friday after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and prior to the Tuesday on which the vicious racist and sexist Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Bernie Sanders spoke to a surprisingly small crowd in Iowa City on behalf of Hillary Clinton. As I learned months later, Sanders told one of his Iowa City friends that day that Mrs. Clinton was in trouble. The reason, Sanders reported, was that Hillary wasn't discussing issues or advancing real solutions. "She doesn't have any policy positions," Sanders said.

The first time I heard this, I found it hard to believe. How, I wondered, could anyone run seriously for the presidency without putting issues and policy front and center? Wouldn't any serious campaign want a strong set of issue and policy positions to attract voters and fall back on in case and times of adversity?

Sanders wasn't lying. As the esteemed political scientist and money-politics expert Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen note in an important study released by the Institute for New Economic Thinking two months ago, the Clinton campaign "emphasized candidate and personal issues and avoided policy discussions to a degree without precedent in any previous election for which measurements exist .it stressed candidate qualifications [and] deliberately deemphasized issues in favor of concentrating on what the campaign regarded as [Donald] Trump's obvious personal weaknesses as a candidate."

Strange as it might have seemed, the reality television star and presidential pre-apprentice Donald Trump had a lot more to say about policy than the former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a wonkish Yale Law graduate.

"Courting the Undecideds in Business, not in the Electorate"

What was that about? My first suspicion was that Hillary's policy silence was about the money. It must have reflected her success in building a Wall Street-filled campaign funding war-chest so daunting that she saw little reason to raise capitalist election investor concerns by giving voice to the standard fake-progressive "hope" and "change" campaign and policy rhetoric Democratic presidential contenders typically deploy against their One Percent Republican opponents. Running against what she (wrongly) perceived (along with most election prognosticators) as a doomed and feckless opponent and as the clear preferred candidate of Wall Street and the intimately related U.S foreign policy elite , including many leading Neoconservatives put off by Trump's isolationist and anti-interventionist rhetoric, the "lying neoliberal warmonger" Hillary Clinton arrogantly figured that she could garner enough votes to win without having to ruffle any ruling-class feathers. She would cruise into the White House with no hurt plutocrat feelings simply by playing up the ill-prepared awfulness of her Republican opponent.

If Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen (hereafter "JFC") are right, I was on to something but not the whole money and politics story. Smart Wall Street and K Street Democratic Party bankrollers have long understood that Democratic candidates have to cloak their dollar-drenched corporatism in the deceptive campaign discourse of progressive- and even populist-sounding policy promise to win elections. Sophisticated funders get it that the Democratic candidates' need to manipulate the electorate with phony pledges of democratic transformation. The big money backers know it's "just politics" on the part of candidates who can be trusted to serve elite interests (like Bill Clinton 1993-2001 and Barack Obama 2009-2017 ) after they gain office.

What stopped Hillary from playing the usual game – the "manipulation of populism by elitism" that Christopher Hitchens once called "the essence of American politics" – in 2016, a year when the electorate was in a particularly angry and populist mood? FJC's study is titled " Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of Hunger Games : Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election." It performs heroic empirical work with difficult campaign finance data to show that Hillary's campaign funding success went beyond her party's usual corporate and financial backers to include normally Republican-affiliated capitalist sectors less disposed than their more liberal counterparts to abide the standard progressive-sounding policy rhetoric of Democratic Party candidates. FJC hypothesize that (along with the determination that Trump was too weak to be taken all that seriously) Hillary's desire get and keep on board normally Republican election investors led her to keep quiet on issues and policy concerns that mattered to everyday people. As FJC note:

"Trump trailed well behind Clinton in contributions from defense and aerospace – a lack of support extraordinary for a Republican presidential hopeful late in the race. For Clinton's campaign the temptation was irresistible: Over time it slipped into a variant of the strategy [Democrat] Lyndon Johnson pursued in 1964 in the face of another [Republican] candidate [Barry Goldwater] who seemed too far out of the mainstream to win: Go for a grand coalition with most of big business . one fateful consequence of trying to appeal to so many conservative business interests was strategic silence about most important matters of public policy. Given the candidate's steady lead in the polls, there seemed to be no point to rocking the boat with any more policy pronouncements than necessary . Misgivings of major contributors who worried that the Clinton campaign message lacked real attractions for ordinary Americans were rebuffed. The campaign sought to capitalize on the angst within business by vigorously courting the doubtful and undecideds there, not in the electorate " (emphasis added). Hillary Happened

FJC may well be right that a wish not to antagonize off right-wing campaign funders is what led Hillary to muzzle herself on important policy matters, but who really knows? An alternative theory I would not rule out is that Mrs. Clinton's own deep inner conservatism was sufficient to spark her to gladly dispense with the usual progressive-sounding campaign boilerplate. Since FJC bring up the Johnson-Goldwater election, it is perhaps worth mentioning that 18-year old Hillary was a "Goldwater Girl" who worked for the arch-reactionary Republican presidential candidate in 1964. Asked about that episode on National Public Radio (NPR) in 1996 , then First Lady Hillary said "That's right. And I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don't recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl."

It was a revealing reflection. The right-wing Democrat Hillary acknowledged that her ideological world view was still rooted in the conservatism of her family of origin. Her problem with the reactionary Republicanism afoot in the U.S. during the middle 1990s was that it was "not conservative in many respects." Her problem with the far-right Republican Congressional leaders Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay was that they were betraying true conservatism – "the conservatism [Hillary] was raised with." This was worse even than the language of the Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC) – the right-wing Eisenhower Republican (at leftmost) tendency that worked to push the Democratic Party further to the Big Business-friendly right and away from its working-class and progressive base.

Of course, Bill and Hillary helped trail-blaze that plutocratic "New Democrat" turn in Arkansas during the late 1970s and 1980s. The rest, as they say, was history – an ugly corporate-neoliberal, imperial, and racist history that I and others have written about at great length. (I cannot reprise here the voluminous details of Mrs. Clinton's longstanding alignment with the corporate, financial, and imperial agendas of the rich and powerful. Two short and highly readable volumes are Doug Henwood, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency [OR Books, 2015]; Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton [CounterPunch Books, 2015]. On the stealth, virulent racism of the Clintons in power, see Elaine Brown's classic volume The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America [2003].)

What happened? Horrid corporate Hillary happened. And she's still happening. The "lying neoliberal warmonger" recently went to India to double down on her "progressive neoliberal" contempt for the "basket of deplorables" (more on that phrase below) that considers poor stupid and backwards middle America to be by saying this : "If you look at the map of the United States, there's all that red in the middle where Trump won. I win the coasts. But what the map doesn't show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product (GDP). So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward" (emphasis added).

That was Hillary Goldman Sachs-Council on Foreign Relations-Clinton saying "go to Hell" to working- and middle-class people in Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia. It was a raised middle and oligarchic finger from a super-wealthy arch-global-corporatist to all the supposedly pessimistic, slow-witted, and retrograde losers stuck between those glorious enclaves (led by Wall Street, Yale, and Harvard on the East coast and Silicon Valley and Hollywood on the West coast) of human progress and variety (and GDP!) on the imperial shorelines. Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin had to go on television to say that Hillary was "wrong" to write off most of the nation as a festering cesspool of pathetic, ass-backwards, lottery-playing, and opioid-addicted white-trash has-beens. It's hard for the Inauthentic Opposition Party (as the late Sheldon Wolin reasonably called the Democrats ) to pose as an authentic opposition party when its' last big-money presidential candidate goes off-fake-progressive script with an openly elitist rant like that.

Historic Mistakes

Whatever the source of her strange policy silence in the 2016 campaign, that hush was "a miscalculation of historic proportion" (FJC). It was a critical mistake given what Ferguson and his colleagues call the "Hunger Games" misery and insecurity imposed on tens of millions of ordinary working- and middle-class middle-Americans by decades of neoliberal capitalist austerity , deeply exacerbated by the Wall Street-instigated Great Recession and the weak Obama recovery. The electorate was in a populist, anti-establishment mood – hardly a state of mind favorable to a wooden, richly globalist, Goldman-gilded candidate, a long-time Washington-Wall Street establishment ("swamp") creature like Hillary Clinton.

In the end, FJC note, the billionaire Trump's ironic, fake-populist "outreach to blue collar workers" would help him win "more than half of all voters with a high school education or less (including 61% of white women with no college), almost two thirds of those who believed life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than now, and seventy-seven percent of voters who reported their personal financial situation had worsened since four years ago."

Trump's popularity with "heartland" rural and working-class whites even provoked Hillary into a major campaign mistake: getting caught on video telling elite Manhattan election investors that half of Trump's supporters were a "basket of deplorables." There was a hauntingly strong parallel between Wall Street Hillary's "deplorables" blooper and the super-rich Republican candidate Mitt Romney's infamous 2012 gaffe : telling his own affluent backers saying that 47% of the population were a bunch of lazy welfare cheats. This time, though, it was the Democrat – with a campaign finance profile closer to Romney's than Obama's in 2012 – and not the Republican making the ugly plutocratic and establishment faux pas .

"A Frontal Assault on the American Establishment"

Still, Trump's success was no less tied to big money than was Hillary's failure. Candidate Trump ran strangely outside the longstanding neoliberal Washington Consensus, as an economic nationalist and isolationist. His raucous rallies were laced with dripping denunciations of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and globalization, mockery of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, rejection of the New Cold War with Russia, and pledges of allegiance to the "forgotten" American "working-class." He was no normal Republican One Percent candidate. As FJC explain:

"In 2016 the Republicans nominated yet another super-rich candidate – indeed, someone on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. Like legions of conservative Republicans before him, he trash-talked Hispanics, immigrants, and women virtually non-stop, though with a verve uniquely his own. He laced his campaign with barely coded racial appeals and in the final days, ran an ad widely denounced as subtly anti-Semitic. But in striking contrast to every other Republican presidential nominee since 1936, he attacked globalization, free trade, international financiers, Wall Street, and even Goldman Sachs. ' Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache . When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing. For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.'"

"In a frontal assault on the American establishment, the Republican standard bearer proclaimed 'America First.' Mocking the Bush administration's appeal to 'weapons of mass destruction' as a pretext for invading Iraq, he broke dramatically with two generations of GOP orthodoxy and spoke out in favor of more cooperation with Russia . He even criticized the 'carried interest' tax break beloved by high finance" (emphasis added).

Big Dark Money and Trump: His Own and Others'

This cost Trump much of the corporate and Wall Street financial support that Republican presidential candidates usually get. The thing was, however, that much of Trump's "populist" rhetoric was popular with a big part of the Republican electorate, thanks to the "Hunger Games" insecurity of the transparently bipartisan New Gilded Age. And Trump's personal fortune permitted him to tap that popular anger while leaping insultingly over the heads of his less wealthy if corporate and Wall Street-backed competitors ("low energy" Jeb Bush and "little Marco" Rubio most notably) in the crowded Republican primary race.

A Republican candidate dependent on the usual elite bankrollers would never have been able to get away with Trump's crowd-pleasing (and CNN and FOX News rating-boosting) antics. Thanks to his own wealth, the faux-populist anti-establishment Trump was ironically inoculated against pre-emption in the Republican primaries by the American campaign finance "wealth primary," which renders electorally unviable candidates who lack vast financial resources or access to them.

Things were different after Trump won the Republican nomination, however. He could no longer go it alone after the primaries. During the Republican National Convention and "then again in the late summer of 2016," FJC show, Trump's "solo campaign had to be rescued by major industries plainly hoping for tariff relief, waves of other billionaires from the far, far right of the already far right Republican Party, and the most disruption-exalting corners of Wall Street." By FJC's account:

"What happened in the final weeks of the campaign was extraordinary. Firstly, a giant wave of dark money poured into Trump's own campaign – one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney's munificently financed 2012 effort – to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments [Then] another gigantic wave of money flowed in from alarmed business interests, including the Kochs and their allies Officially the money was for Senate races, but late-stage campaigning for down-ballot offices often spills over on to candidates for the party at large."

"The run up to the Convention brought in substantial new money, including, for the first time, significant contributions from big business. Mining, especially coal mining; Big Pharma (which was certainly worried by tough talk from the Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, about regulating drug prices); tobacco, chemical companies, and oil (including substantial sums from executives at Chevron, Exxon, and many medium sized firms); and telecommunications (notably AT&T, which had a major merge merger pending) all weighed in. Money from executives at the big banks also began streaming in, including Bank of America, J. P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. Parts of Silicon Valley also started coming in from the cold."

"In a harbinger of things to come, additional money came from firms and industries that appear to have been attracted by Trump's talk of tariffs, including steel and companies making machinery of various types [a] vast wave of new money flowed into the campaign from some of America's biggest businesses and most famous investors. Sheldon Adelson and many others in the casino industry delivered in grand style for its old colleague. Adelson now delivered more than $11 million in his own name, while his wife and other employees of his Las Vegas Sands casino gave another $20 million.

Peter Theil contributed more than a million dollars, while large sums also rolled in from other parts of Silicon Valley, including almost two million dollars from executives at Microsoft and just over two million from executives at Cisco Systems. A wave of new money swept in from large private equity firms, the part of Wall Street which had long championed hostile takeovers as a way of disciplining what they mocked as bloated and inefficient 'big business.' Virtual pariahs to main-line firms in the Business Roundtable and the rest of Wall Street, some of these figures had actually gotten their start working with Drexel Burnham Lambert and that firm's dominant partner, Michael Milkin.

Among those were Nelson Peltz and Carl Icahn (who had both contributed to Trump before, but now made much bigger new contributions). In the end, along with oil, chemicals, mining and a handful of other industries, large private equity firms would become one of the few segments of American business – and the only part of Wall Street – where support for Trump was truly heavy the sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds clearly began with the Convention but turned into a torrent "

The critical late wave came after Trump moved to rescue his flagging campaign by handing its direction over to the clever, class-attuned, far-right white- and economic- nationalist "populist" and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, who advocated what proved to be a winning, Koch brothers-approved "populist" strategy: appeal to economically and culturally frustrated working- and middle-class whites in key battleground states, where the bloodless neoliberal and professional class centrism and snooty metropolitan multiculturalism of the Obama presidency and Clinton campaign was certain to depress the Democratic "base" vote . Along with the racist voter suppression carried out by Republican state governments (JFC rightly chide Russia-obsessed political reporters and commentators for absurdly ignoring this important factor) and (JFC intriguingly suggest) major anti-union offensives conducted by employers in some battleground states, this major late-season influx of big right-wing political money tilted the election Trump's way.

The Myth of Potent Russian Cyber-Subversion

As FJC show, there is little empirical evidence to support the Clinton and corporate Democrats' self-interested and diversionary efforts to explain Mrs. Clinton's epic fail and Trump's jaw-dropping upset victory as the result of (i) Russian interference, (ii), then FBI Director James Comey's October Surprise revelation that his agency was not done investigating Hillary's emails, and/or (iii) some imagined big wave of white working-class racism, nativism, and sexism brought to the surface by the noxious Orange Hulk. The impacts of both (i) and (ii) were infinitesimal in comparison to the role that big campaign money played both in silencing Hillary and funding Trump.

The blame-the-deplorable-racist-white-working-class narrative is belied by basic underlying continuities in white working class voting patterns. As FJC note: " Neither turnout nor the partisan division of the vote at any level looks all that different from other recent elections 2016's alterations in voting behavior are so minute that the pattern is only barely differentiated from 2012." It was about the money – the big establishment money that the Clinton campaign took (as FJC at least plausibly argue) to recommend policy silence and the different, right-wing big money that approved Trump's comparative right-populist policy boisterousness.

An interesting part of FJC's study (no quick or easy read) takes a close look at the pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Internet activism that the Democrats and their many corporate media allies are so insistently eager to blame on Russia and for Hillary's defeat. FJC find that Russian Internet interventions were of tiny significance compared to those of homegrown U.S. corporate and right-wing cyber forces:

"The real masters of these black arts are American or Anglo-American firms. These compete directly with Silicon Valley and leading advertising firms for programmers and personnel. They rely almost entirely on data purchased from Google, Facebook, or other suppliers, not Russia . American regulators do next to nothing to protect the privacy of voters and citizens, and, as we have shown in several studies, leading telecom firms are major political actors and giant political contributors. As a result, data on the habits and preferences of individual internet users are commercially available in astounding detail and quantities for relatively modest prices – even details of individual credit card purchases. The American giants for sure harbor abundant data on the constellation of bots, I.P. addresses, and messages that streamed to the electorate "

" stories hyping 'the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another by the Russians miss the mark.' By 2016, the Republican right had developed internet outreach and political advertising into a fine art and on a massive scale quite on its own. Large numbers of conservative websites, including many that that tolerated or actively encouraged white supremacy and contempt for immigrants, African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, or the aspirations of women had been hard at work for years stoking up 'tensions between groups already wary of one another.' Breitbart and other organizations were in fact going global, opening offices abroad and establishing contacts with like-minded groups elsewhere. Whatever the Russians were up to, they could hardly hope to add much value to the vast Made in America bombardment already underway. Nobody sows chaos like Breitbart or the Drudge Report ."

" the evidence revealed thus far does not support strong claims about the likely success of Russian efforts, though of course the public outrage at outside meddling is easy to understand. The speculative character of many accounts even in the mainstream media is obvious. Several, such as widely circulated declaration by the Department of Homeland Security that 21 state election systems had been hacked during the election, have collapsed within days of being put forward when state electoral officials strongly disputed them, though some mainstream press accounts continue to repeat them. Other tales about Macedonian troll factories churning out stories at the instigation of the Kremlin, are clearly exaggerated."

The Sanders Tease: "He Couldn't Have Done a Thing"

Perhaps the most remarkable finding in FJC's study is that Sanders came tantalizingly close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination against the corporately super-funded Clinton campaign with no support from Big Business . Running explicitly against the "Hunger Games" economy and the corporate-financial plutocracy that created it, Sanders pushed Hillary the Goldman candidate to the wall, calling out the Democrats' capture by Wall Street, forcing her to rely on a rigged party, convention, and primary system to defeat him. The small-donor "socialist" Sanders challenge represented something Ferguson and his colleagues describe as "without precedent in American politics not just since the New Deal, but across virtually the whole of American history a major presidential candidate waging a strong, highly competitive campaign whose support from big business is essentially zero ."

Sanders pulled this off, FJC might have added, by running in (imagine) accord with majority-progressive left-of-center U.S. public opinion. But for the Clintons' corrupt advance- control of the Democratic National Committee and convention delegates, Ferguson et al might further have noted, Sanders might well have been the Democratic presidential nominee, curiously enough in the arch-state-capitalist and oligarchic United States

Could Sanders have defeated the billionaire and right-wing billionaire-backed Trump in the general election? There's no way to know, of course. Sanders consistently out-performed Hillary Clinton in one-on-one match -up polls vis a vis Donald Trump during the primary season, but much of the big money (and, perhaps much of the corporate media) that backed Hillary would have gone over to Trump had the supposedly "radical" Sanders been the Democratic nominee.

Even if Sanders has been elected president, moreover, Noam Chomsky is certainly correct in his recent judgement that Sanders would have been able to achieve very little in the White House. As Chomsky told Lynn Parramore two weeks ago, in an interview conducted for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the same think-tank that published FJC's remarkable study:

"His campaign [was] a break with over a century of American political history. No corporate support, no financial wealth, he was unknown, no media support. The media simply either ignored or denigrated him. And he came pretty close -- he probably could have won the nomination, maybe the election. But suppose he'd been elected? He couldn't have done a thing. Nobody in Congress, no governors, no legislatures, none of the big economic powers, which have an enormous effect on policy. All opposed to him. In order for him to do anything, he would have to have a substantial, functioning party apparatus, which would have to grow from the grass roots. It would have to be locally organized, it would have to operate at local levels, state levels, Congress, the bureaucracy -- you have to build the whole system from the bottom."

As Chomsky might have added, Sanders oligarchy-imposed "failures" would have been great fodder for the disparagement and smearing of "socialism" and progressive, majority-backed policy change. "See? We tried all that and it was a disaster!"

I would note further that the Sanders phenomenon's policy promise was plagued by its standard bearer's persistent loyalty to the giant and absurdly expensive U.S.-imperial Pentagon System, which each year eats up hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars required to implement the progressive, majority-supported policy agenda that Bernie F-35 Sanders ran on.

"A Very Destructive Ideology"

The Sanders challenge was equally afflicted by its candidate-centered electoralism. This diverted energy away from the real and more urgent politics of building people's movements – grassroots power to shake the society to its foundations and change policy from the bottom up (Dr. Martin Luther King's preferred strategy at the end of his life just barely short of 50 years ago, on April 4 th , 1968) – and into the narrow, rigidly time-staggered grooves of a party and spectacle-elections crafted by and for the wealthy Few and the American Oligarchy 's "permanent political class" (historian Ron Formisano). As Chomsky explained on the eve of the 2004 elections:

"Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, 'That's politics.' But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics The urgency is for popular progressive groups to grow and become strong enough so that centers of power can't ignore them. Forces for change that have come up from the grass roots and shaken the society to its core include the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the women's movement and others, cultivated by steady, dedicated work at all levels, every day, not just once every four years sensible [electoral] choices have to be made. But they are secondary to serious political action."

"The only thing that's going to ever bring about any meaningful change," Chomsky told Abby Martin on teleSur English in the fall of 2015, "is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don't pay attention to the election cycle." Under the American religion of voting, Chomsky told Dan Falcone and Saul Isaacson in the spring of 2016, "Citizenship means every four years you put a mark somewhere and you go home and let other guys run the world. It's a very destructive ideology basically, a way of making people passive, submissive objects [we] ought to teach kids that elections take place but that's not politics."

For all his talk of standing atop a great "movement" for "revolution," Sanders was and remains all about this stunted and crippling definition of citizenship and politics as making some marks on ballots and then returning to our domiciles while rich people and their agents (not just any "other guys") "run [ruin?-P.S.] the world [into the ground-P.S.]."

It will take much more in the way of Dr. King's politics of "who' sitting in the streets," not "who's sitting in the White House" (to use Howard Zinn's excellent dichotomy ), to get us an elections and party system worthy of passionate citizen engagement. We don't have such a system in the U.S. today, which is why the number of eligible voters who passively boycotted the 2016 presidential election is larger than both the number who voted for big money Hillary and the number who voted for big money Trump.

(If U.S. progressives really want to consider undertaking the epic lift involved in passing a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, they might want to focus on this instead of calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment. I'd recommend starting with a positive Democracy Amendment that fundamentally overhauls the nation's political and elections set-up in accord with elementary principles and practices of popular sovereignty. Clauses would include but not be limited to full public financing of elections and the introduction of proportional representation for legislative races – not to mention the abolition of the Electoral College, Senate apportionment on the basis of total state population, and the outlawing of gerrymandering.)

Ecocide Trumped by Russia

Meanwhile, back in real history, we have the remarkable continuation of a bizarre right-wing, pre-fascist presidency not in normal ruling-class hands, subject to the weird whims and tweets of a malignant narcissist who doesn't read memorandums or intelligence briefings. Wild policy zig-zags and record-setting White House personnel turnover are par for the course under the dodgy reign of the orange-tinted beast's latest brain spasms. Orange Caligula spends his mornings getting his information from FOX News and his evenings complaining to and seeking advice from a small club of right-wing American oligarchs.

Trump poses grave environmental and nuclear risks to human survival. A consistent Trump belief is that climate change is not a problem and that it's perfectly fine – "great" and "amazing," in fact – for the White House to do everything it can to escalate the Greenhouse Gassing-to-Death of Life on Earth. The nuclear threat is rising now that he has appointed a frothing right-wing uber-warmonger – a longtime advocate of bombing Iran and North Korea who led the charge for the arch-criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq – as his top "National Security" adviser and as he been convinced to expel dozens of Russian diplomats. Thanks, liberal and other Democratic Party RussiaGaters!

The Clinton-Obama neoliberal Democrats have spent more than a year running with the preposterous narrative that Trump is a Kremlin puppet who owes his presence in the White House to Russia's subversion of our democratic elections. The climate crisis holds little for the Trump and Russia-obsessed corporate media. The fact that the world stands at the eve of the ecological self-destruction, with the Trump White House in the lead, elicits barely a whisper in the reigning commercial news media. Unlike Stormy Daniels, for example, that little story – the biggest issue of our or any time – is not good for television ratings and newspaper sales.

Sanders, by the way, is curiously invisible in the dominant commercial media, despite his quiet survey status as the nation's "most popular politician." That is precisely what you would expect in a corporate and financial oligarchy buttressed by a powerful corporate, so-called "mainstream" media oligopoly.

Political Parties as "Bank Accounts"

One of the many problems with the obsessive Blame-Russia narrative that a fair portion of the dominant U.S. media is running with is that we had no great electoral democracy to subvert in 2016 . Saying that Russia has "undermined [U.S.-] American democracy" is like me – middle-aged, five-foot nine, and unblessed with jumping ability – saying that the Brooklyn Nets' Russian-born center Timofy Mozgof subverted my career as a starting player in the National Basketball Association. In state-capitalist societies marked by the toxic and interrelated combination of weak popular organization, expensive politics, and highly concentrated wealth – all highly evident in the New Gilded Age United States – electoral contests and outcomes boil down above all and in the end to big investor class cash. As Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues explain:

"Where investment and organization by average citizens is weak, however, power passes by default to major investor groups, which can far more easily bear the costs of contending for control of the state. In most modern market-dominated societies (those celebrated recently as enjoying the 'end of History'), levels of effective popular organization are generally low, while the costs of political action, in terms of both information and transactional obstacles, are high. The result is that conflicts within the business community normally dominate contests within and between political parties – the exact opposite of what many earlier social theorists expected, who imagined 'business' and 'labor' confronting each other in separate parties Only candidates and positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. As a result, in countries like the US and, increasingly, Western Europe, political parties are first of all bank accounts . With certain qualifications, one must pay to play. Understanding any given election, therefore, requires a financial X-ray of the power blocs that dominate the major parties, with both inter- and intra- industrial analysis of their constituent elements."

Here Ferguson might have said "corporate-dominated" instead of "market-dominated" for the modern managerial corporations emerged as the "visible hand" master of the "free market" more than a century ago.

We get to vote? Big deal.

People get to vote in Rwanda, Russia, the Congo and countless other autocratic states as well. Elections alone are no guarantee of democracy, as U.S. policymakers and pundits know very well when they rip on rigged elections (often fixed with the assistance of U.S. government and private-sector agents and firms) in countries they don't like, which includes any country that dares to "question the basic principle that the United States effectively owns the world by right and is by definition a force for good" ( Chomsky, 2016 ).

Majority opinion is regularly trumped by a deadly complex of forces in the U.S. The list of interrelated and mutually reinforcing culprits behind this oligarchic defeat of popular sentiment in the U.S. is extensive. It includes but is not limited to: the campaign finance, candidate-selection, lobbying, and policy agenda-setting power of wealthy individuals, corporations, and interest groups; the special primary election influence of full-time party activists; the disproportionately affluent, white, and older composition of the active (voting) electorate; the manipulation of voter turnout; the widespread dissemination of false, confusing, distracting, and misleading information; absurdly and explicitly unrepresentative political institutions like the Electoral College, the unelected Supreme Court, the over-representation of the predominantly white rural population in the U.S. Senate; one-party rule in the House of "Representatives"; the fragmentation of authority in government; and corporate ownership of the reigning media, which frames current events in accord with the wishes and world view of the nation's real owners.

Yes, we get to vote. Super. Big deal. Mammon reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as the leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens find , "government policy reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office."

Trump is a bit of an anomaly – a sign of an elections and party system in crisis and an empire in decline. He wasn't pre-approved or vetted by the usual U.S. " deep state " corporate, financial, and imperial gatekeepers. The ruling-class had been trying to figure out what the Hell to do with him ever since he shocked even himself (though not Steve Bannon) by pre-empting the coronation of the "Queen of Chaos."

He is a homegrown capitalist oligarch nonetheless, a real estate mogul of vast and parasitic wealth who is no more likely to fulfill his populist-sounding campaign pledges than any previous POTUS of the neoliberal era.

His lethally racist, sexist, nativist, nuclear-weapons-brandishing, and (last but not at all least) eco-cidal rise to the nominal CEO position atop the U.S.-imperial oligarchy is no less a reflection of the dominant role of big U.S. capitalist money and homegrown plutocracy in U.S. politics than a more classically establishment Hillary ascendancy would have been. It's got little to do with Russia, Russia, Russia – the great diversion that fills U.S. political airwaves and newsprint as the world careens ever closer to oligarchy-imposed geocide and to a thermonuclear conflagration that the RussiaGate gambit is recklessly encouraging.

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Paul Street's latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

[Mar 11, 2018] Is Trump the New Clinton by Musa al-Gharbi

Notable quotes:
"... If Mueller's probe drags on and fails to produce a "smoking gun," the whole affair may end up seeming so complex, muddy, and partisan that most of the public would prefer to move on, eager to talk about something else . ..."
"... In 1996, Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole decided to take a hard line on China -- portraying the nation as a growing economic and geopolitical threat to the United States and a violator of international rules and norms. In response, China tried to leverage its extensive diplomatic , intelligence , and financial networks in the United States in order to sway the election in favor of Dole's rival, Democrat Bill Clinton. ..."
"... This is not a theory, it is historical fact: there was a major Congressional investigation . In the end, several prominent Democratic fundraisers, including close Clinton associates, were found to be complicit in the Chinese meddling efforts and pled guilty to various charges of violating campaign finance and disclosure laws (most notably James T. Riady , Johnny Chung , John Huang , and Charlie Trie ). Several others fled the country to escape U.S. jurisdiction as the probe got underway. The Democratic National Committee was forced to return millions of dollars in ill-gotten funds (although by that point, of course, their candidate had already won). ..."
"... Clinton authorized a series of controversial defense contracts with China as well -- despite Department of Justice objections . Federal investigators were concerned that the contractors seemed to be passing highly sensitive and classified information to the Chinese. And indeed, the companies in question were eventually found to have violated the law by giving cutting-edge missile technology to China, and paid unprecedented fines related to the Arms Export Control Act during the administration of George W. Bush. But they were inexplicably approved in the Bill Clinton years. ..."
Mar 11, 2018 | thebaffler.com

A president can be reelected despite corruption, foreign meddling, and sex scandals Bill Clinton was reelected with help from China. / The Baffler Imagine for a moment that special counsel Robert Mueller is unable to establish direct and intentional collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Or, suppose he proves collusion by a few former campaign aides but finds nothing directly implicating the president himself. In either event -- or in just about any other imaginable scenario -- it seems improbable that Congress will have the votes to impeach Trump or otherwise hold him accountable prior to 2020.

If Mueller's probe drags on and fails to produce a "smoking gun," the whole affair may end up seeming so complex, muddy, and partisan that most of the public would prefer to move on, eager to talk about something else .

In other words, Russiagate could well continue to distract and infuriate Trump without breaking his hold on power.

Is it shocking to think evidence of Russian chicanery could be shrugged off? Don't be shocked. After all, the last major case of foreign meddling and collusion in a U.S. presidential race didn't exactly end up rocking the republic.

In 1996, Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole decided to take a hard line on China -- portraying the nation as a growing economic and geopolitical threat to the United States and a violator of international rules and norms. In response, China tried to leverage its extensive diplomatic , intelligence , and financial networks in the United States in order to sway the election in favor of Dole's rival, Democrat Bill Clinton.

This is not a theory, it is historical fact: there was a major Congressional investigation . In the end, several prominent Democratic fundraisers, including close Clinton associates, were found to be complicit in the Chinese meddling efforts and pled guilty to various charges of violating campaign finance and disclosure laws (most notably James T. Riady , Johnny Chung , John Huang , and Charlie Trie ). Several others fled the country to escape U.S. jurisdiction as the probe got underway. The Democratic National Committee was forced to return millions of dollars in ill-gotten funds (although by that point, of course, their candidate had already won).

It was a scandal that persisted after the election in no small part because many of Clinton's own policies in his second term seemed to lend credence to insinuations of collusion.

Several prominent Democratic fundraisers, including close Clinton associates, were found to be complicit in Chinese meddling efforts and pled guilty to campaign finance violations.

Rather than attempting to punish the meddling country for undermining the bedrock of our democracy, Bill Clinton worked to ease sanctions and normalize relations with Beijing -- even as the U.S. ratcheted up sanctions against Cuba, Iran, and Iraq. By the end of his term, he signed a series of sweeping trade deals that radically expanded China's economic and geopolitical clout -- even though some in his administration forecast that this would come at the expense of key American industries and U.S. manufacturing workers.

Clinton authorized a series of controversial defense contracts with China as well -- despite Department of Justice objections . Federal investigators were concerned that the contractors seemed to be passing highly sensitive and classified information to the Chinese. And indeed, the companies in question were eventually found to have violated the law by giving cutting-edge missile technology to China, and paid unprecedented fines related to the Arms Export Control Act during the administration of George W. Bush. But they were inexplicably approved in the Bill Clinton years.

For a while, polls showed that the public found the president's posture on China to be so disconcerting that most supported appointing an independent counsel (a la Mueller) to investigate whether the Clinton Administration had essentially been " bought ."

Law enforcement officials shared these concerns: FBI director Louis Freeh (whom Clinton could not get rid of, having just fired his predecessor ) publically called for the appointment of an independent counsel. So did the chief prosecutor charged with investigating Chinese meddling, Charles La Bella . However, they were blocked at every turn by Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno -- eventually leading La Bella to resign in protest of the AG's apparent obstruction.

The 1996 Chinese collusion story, much like the 2016 Russian collusion story, dragged on for nearly two years -- hounding Clinton at every turn. That is, until it was discovered that the president had been having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The 1996 Chinese collusion story dragged on for nearly two years -- hounding Clinton at every turn. That is, until the Monica Lewinsky scandal came along.

This was Bill Clinton's second known extra-marital affair with a subordinate : in the lead-up to his 1992 election it was also discovered that Clinton had been involved in a long-running affair with Gennifer Flowers -- an employee of the State of Arkansas during Bill's governorship there, appointed as a result of Clinton's intercession on her behalf.

The drama of the inquiry into Bill Clinton's myriad alleged sexual improprieties, the President's invocation of executive privilege to prevent his aides from having to testify against him, Clinton's perjury , subsequent impeachment by the House, acquittal in the Senate, and eventual plea-bargain deal -- these sucked the oxygen away from virtually all other stories related to the president.

Indeed, few today seem to remember that the Chinese meddling occurred at all. This despite continuing China-related financial improprieties involving both the Clintons and the DNC Chairman who presided over the 1996 debacle, Terry McAuliffe -- and despite the fact that the intended target of the current foreign meddling attempt just so happens to be married to the intended beneficiary of the last.

And the irony in this, of course, is that not only do we find ourselves reliving an apparently ill-fated collusion investigation, but the foreign meddling story is once again competing with a presidential sex scandal -- this time involving actual porn stars. (Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones both posed for Penthouse after their involvement with Clinton surfaced. Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are well-established in the industry.)

Much like Bill Clinton, our current president has a long pattern of accusations of infidelity, sexual harassment and even assault. However all of Trump's alleged sexual misconduct incidents occurred before he'd assumed any public office. Therefore, although some Democrats hope to provide Trump's accusers an opportunity to testify before Congress if their party manages to retake the House in 2018, the legal impact of these accounts is likely to be nil. The political significance of such theater is likely being overestimated as well.


The danger for Democrats in all this is that they could get lulled into the notion that Trump's liabilities -- the Mueller probe, the alleged affairs, and whatever new scandals and outrages Trump generates in the next two years -- will be sufficient to energize and mobilize their base in 2020. Democratic insiders and fatcats are likely to think they can put forward the same sort of unpalatable candidate and platform they did last cycle -- only this time, they'll win! A strong showing in 2018 could even reinforce this sense of complacency -- leading to another debacle in the race for the White House in 2020.

Democrats consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by believing they've got some kind of lock. Remember the " Emerging Democratic Majority " thesis? Remember Hillary Clinton's alleged 2016 " Electoral Firewall ?" What have the Democrats learned from 2016? The answer is, very little if they believe the essential problem was just James Comey and the Russians.

Here's one lesson Democrats would do well to internalize:

The party has won by running charismatic people against Republican cornflake candidates (see Clinton v. Bush I or Dole, or Obama v. McCain or Romney). Yet whenever Democrats find themselves squaring off against a faux-populist who plays to voters' base instincts, the party always make the same move: running a wonky technocrat with an impressive resume, detailed policy proposals, and little else.

Does it succeed in drawing a sharp contrast? Pretty much always. Does it succeed at winning the White House? Pretty much never: Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and now Clinton.

Democrats could be headed for trouble if they are counting on the Mueller investigation to bring Trump down.

Democrats rely heavily on irregular voters to win elections; negative partisanship races tend to depress turnout for these constituents. More broadly, if left with a choice between a "lesser of two evils" the public tends to stick with the "devil they know." In short: precisely what Democrats don't need in 2020 is a negative partisanship race.

A referendum on Trump might not play out the way Democrats expect. Against all odds, it looks like the president will even have an actual record to run on . He should not be underestimated.

Clinton-style triangulation is also likely to backfire. Contemporary research suggests there just aren't a lot of " floating voters " up for grabs these days. Rather than winning over disaffected Republicans, this approach would likely just alienate the Democratic base.

The party's best bet is to instead focus on mobilizing the left by articulating a compelling positive message for why Americans should vote for them (rather than just against Trump). They will need to respond to Trump with a populist of their own -- someone who can credibly appeal to people in former Obama districts that Hillary Clinton lost . And they need to activate those who sat the last election out -- for instance by delivering for elements of their base that the party has largely taken for granted in recent cycles.

If the Democratic National Committee wants to spend its time talking about Russia and sex scandals instead of tending to these priorities, then we should all brace for another humiliating "black swan" defeat for the party in 2020.

But, you say, isn't Trump the least popular president ever after one year in office? Guess whose year-one (un)popularity is closest to Trump's? Ronald Reagan. He was under 50 percent in approval ratings at the end of his first year; but he went on to win reelection in an historic landslide. Barack Obama was barely breaking even after year one but won reelection comfortably. Bill Clinton was only slightly above 50 percent after his first year.

You know who else had the lowest approval rating in a quarter-century after Trump's first year in office? The Democratic Party.

Musa al-Gharbi is a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in Sociology at Columbia University. Readers can connect to his research and social media via his website .

[Jan 20, 2018] What Is The Democratic Party ? by Lambert Strether

Highly recommended!
"Institutionally, the Democratic Party Is Not Democratic"
Very apt characterization "the Democratic Party is nothing more than a layer of indirection between the donor class and the Democratic consultants and the campaigns they run;" ... " after all, the Democratic Party -- in its current incarnation -- has important roles to play in not expanding its "own" electorate through voter registration, in the care and feeding of the intelligence community, in warmongering, in the continual buffing and polishing of neoliberal ideology, and in general keeping the Overton Window firmly nailed in place against policies that would convey universal concrete material benefits, especially to the working class"
Notable quotes:
"... That said, the revivification of the DNC lawsuit serves as a story hook for me to try to advance the story on the nature of political parties as such, the Democratic Party as an institution, and the function that the Democratic Party serves. I will meander through those three topics, then, and conclude. ..."
"... What sort of legal entity is ..."
"... Political parties were purely private organizations from the 1790s until the Civil War. Thus, "it was no more illegal to commit fraud in the party caucus or primary than it would be to do so in the election of officers of a drinking club." However, due to the efforts of Robert La Follette and the Progressives, states began to treat political parties as "public agencies" during the early 1890s and 1900s; by the 1920s "most states had adopted a succession of mandatory statutes regulating every major aspect of the parties' structures and operations. ..."
"... While 1787 delegates disagreed on when corruption might occur, they brought a general shared understanding of what political corruption meant. To the delegates, political corruption referred to self-serving use of public power for private ends, including, without limitation, bribery, public decisions to serve private wealth made because of dependent relationships, public decisions to serve executive power made because of dependent relationships, and use by public officials of their positions of power to become wealthy. ..."
"... Two features of the definitional framework of corruption at the time deserve special attention, because they are not frequently articulated by all modern academics or judges. The first feature is that corruption was defined in terms of an attitude toward public service, not in relation to a set of criminal laws. The second feature is that citizenship was understood to be a public office. The delegates believed that non-elected citizens wielding or attempting to influence public power can be corrupt and that elite corruption is a serious threat to a polity. ..."
"... You can see how a political party -- a strange, amphibious creature, public one moment, private the next -- is virtually optimized to create a phishing equilibrium for corruption. However, I didn't really answer my question, did I? I still don't know what sort of legal entity the Democratic Party is. However, I can say what the Democratic Party is not ..."
"... So the purpose of superdelegates is to veto a popular choice, if they decide the popular choice "can't govern." But this is circular. Do you think for a moment that the Clintonites would have tried to make sure President Sanders couldn't have governed? You bet they would have, and from Day One. ..."
"... More importantly, you can bet that the number of superdelegates retained is enough for the superdelegates, as a class, to maintain their death grip on the party. ..."
"... could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we're gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way. ..."
"... That's exactly ..."
"... Functionally, the Democratic Party Is a Money Trough for Self-Dealing Consultants. Here once again is Nomiki Konst's amazing video, before the DNC: https://www.youtube.com/embed/EAvblBnXV-w Those millions! That's real money! ..."
"... Today, it is openly acknowledged by many members that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were running an operation together. In fact, it doesn't take much research beyond FEC filings to see that six of the top major consulting firms had simultaneous contracts with the DNC and HRC  --  collectively earning over $335 million since 2015 [this figure balloons in Konst's video because she got a look at the actual budget]. (This does not include SuperPACs.) ..."
"... One firm, GMMB earned $236.3 million from HFA and $5.3 from the DNC in 2016. Joel Benenson, a pollster and strategist who frequents cable news, collected $4.1m from HFA while simultaneously earning $3.3 million from the DNC. Perkins Coie law firm collected $3.8 million from the DNC, $481,979 from the Convention fund and $1.8 million from HFA in 2016. ..."
"... It gets worse. Not only do the DNC's favored consultants pick sides in the primaries, they serve on the DNC boards so they can give themselves donor money. ..."
"... These campaign consultants make a lot more money off of TV and mail than they do off of field efforts. Field efforts are long-term, labor-intensive, high overhead expenditures that do not have big margins from which the consultants can draw their payouts. They also don't allow the consultants to make money off of multiple campaigns all in the same cycle, while media and mail campaigns can be done from their DC office for dozens of clients all at the same time. They get paid whether campaigns win or lose, so effectiveness is irrelevant to them. ..."
"... the Democratic Party is nothing more than a layer of indirection between the donor class and the Democratic consultants and the campaigns they run; ..."
"... the Democratic Party -- in its current incarnation -- has important roles to play in not expanding its "own" electorate through voter registration, in the care and feeding of the intelligence community, in warmongering, in the continual buffing and polishing of neoliberal ideology, and in general keeping the Overton Window firmly nailed in place against policies that would convey universal concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. ..."
"... the bottom line is that if Democratic Party controls ballot access for the forseeable future, they have to be gone through ..."
"... In retrospect, despite Sanders evident appeal and the power of his list, I think it would have been best if their faction's pushback had been much stronger ..."
Jan 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

An alert reader who is a representative of the class that's suing the DNC Services Corporation for fraud in the 2016 Democratic primary -- WILDING et al. v. DNC SERVICES CORPORATION et al., a.k.a. the "DNC lawsuit" -- threw some interesting mail over the transom; it's from Elizabeth Beck of Beck & Lee, the firm that brought the case on behalf of the (putatively) defrauded class (and hence their lawyer). Beck's letter reads in relevant part:

... ... ...

[Jan 05, 2018] FBI launches new Clinton Foundation investigation

Jan 05, 2018 | thehill.com

The Justice Department has launched a new inquiry into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, law enforcement officials and a witness tells The Hill.

FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., where the Foundation was started, have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, and law enforcement officials said additional activities are expected in coming weeks.

The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the Foundation complied with applicable tax laws, the officials said.

... ... ...

One challenge for any Clinton-era investigation is that the statute of limitations on most federal felonies is five years and Clinton left office in early 2013.

[Dec 12, 2017] Thoughts on Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism by Hugh

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. ..."
"... As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country. ..."
"... 9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. ..."
"... Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it. ..."
"... The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman. ..."
"... Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other. ..."
"... The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. ..."
"... At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model. ..."
"... I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state. ..."
"... With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy. ..."
"... But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component. ..."
"... It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation. ..."
"... Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door. ..."
"... I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. ..."
"... A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate. ..."
"... Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face. ..."
"... Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. ..."
"... The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light. ..."
"... "Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ..."
Aug 19, 2012 | Corrente

I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.

With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?

America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).

As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.

9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'ętre.

Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.

Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat as pragmatism.

The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.

Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.

And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.

The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.

At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 5:55am

I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.

That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.

With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.

For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.

The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.

It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.

lambert on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 9:18am

Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.

I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.

But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)

And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 1:37pm

I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.

Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.

I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 8:28am

Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.

A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.

Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 3:57pm

I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.

The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.

This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.

Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 10:44pm

I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.

The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.

What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.

What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?

Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:49pm

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.

But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.

That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.

Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

[Dec 04, 2017] The neoliberal framework in antitrust is based on pecifically its pegging competition to consumer welfare, defined as short-term price effects and as such s unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy

Notable quotes:
"... This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output. ..."
"... This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : February 11, 2017 at 11:43 AM , 2017 at 11:43 AM
http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/amazons-antitrust-paradox

January, 2017

Amazon's Antitrust Paradox
By Lina M. Khan

Abstract

Amazon is the titan of twenty-first century commerce. In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meager profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead. Through this strategy, the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it. Elements of the firm's structure and conduct pose anticompetitive concerns -- yet it has escaped antitrust scrutiny.

This Note argues that the current framework in antitrust-specifically its pegging competition to "consumer welfare," defined as short-term price effects-is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon's dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output.

Specifically, current doctrine underappreciates the risk of predatory pricing and how integration across distinct business lines may prove anticompetitive. These concerns are heightened in the context of online platforms for two reasons. First, the economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits, a strategy that investors have rewarded. Under these conditions, predatory pricing becomes highly rational-even as existing doctrine treats it as irrational and therefore implausible. Second, because online platforms serve as critical intermediaries, integrating across business lines positions these platforms to control the essential infrastructure on which their rivals depend. This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors.

This Note maps out facets of Amazon's dominance. Doing so enables us to make sense of its business strategy, illuminates anticompetitive aspects of Amazon's structure and conduct, and underscores deficiencies in current doctrine. The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon's power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties.

Financial parasitism and looting are the "new normal"

Sep 17, 2012 | wsws.org

Financial parasitism and looting are the "new normal."

The decision by the US Federal Reserve Board to provide indefinite support to financial markets under a third round of so-called quantitative easing (QE3), announced last week, coupled with the earlier decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) to intervene in the bond markets, marks a new stage in the breakdown of the global capitalist economy that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The moves by the world's major central banks to pump more money into the global financial system signify that four years after financial markets stood on the brink of collapse in September 2008, there is no prospect of a return to what were once considered "normal" conditions.

Far from lessening its support to the banks and financial institutions, the Fed is increasing it. The earlier interventions were implemented with time limits. In its latest decision, the Fed has given an indefinite commitment. As the headline of one article in the Financial Times put it, "Fed Sets Its Sights on Infinity and Beyond."

Moreover, the form of the commitment marks a major turn. Rather than buying up Treasury bonds, the Fed is going to intervene to the tune of $40 billion a month to buy up mortgage-backed securities from the banks and investment houses. It will thereby enable the banks to offload some of the "toxic assets" that provided the trigger for the breakdown.

It used to be said that the task of the Fed was to take away the punch bowl just as the party was about to get going. No longer. Now the Fed is committed to increasing the alcohol content, with a pledge that it will keep topping up the supply indefinitely.

In providing a rationale for the decision, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cited the continuing high levels of US unemployment-job growth, even at the lower wage levels now prevailing in the US, is failing to keep pace with population growth-and the anaemic growth in the US economy. According to conventional theory, the Fed's actions will lower interest rates across the board, making investment decisions more attractive to corporations and leading to economic growth and increased employment.

But as Bernanke well knows, as does everyone else in financial circles, those conditions do not apply. Corporations, above all financial institutions, are continuing to accumulate profits, but they are not being used to finance new productive investments. Rather, they are being funnelled into large cash reserves to be deployed in speculation.

Moreover, cuts in government spending both in Europe and the US are lowering wages and increasing unemployment, thereby reducing consumer demand. The ECB has made it a condition that governments whose bonds it buys must put in place austerity programs aimed at cutting spending and increasing unemployment. In the US, government spending is contracting and may decline even further at the end of the year with the arrival of the so-called "fiscal cliff," when earlier decisions by Congress to automatically initiate cuts come into effect.

The Fed's decision is not aimed at bringing about economic "recovery" in any meaningful sense of the term. Rather, its market intervention is intended to raise the price of stocks and asset-backed securities, lifting the profits of corporations, above all the banks and finance houses, not through investment in the real economy but via financial operations. In other words, the very financial parasitism that led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the near-meltdown of the US and global financial system has become the official policy of the Fed.

The class interests served by this policy can be seen both in the manner of its implementation and its consequences.

Financial journalist Michael West accurately summed the circumstances of its introduction in an article published in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald.

"They demanded the Fed 'deliver'," he wrote. "The consequences of 'failure' were 'dire', they cried." Bernanke then "obliged the denizens of Wall Street" with the "ultimate money-printing bonanza. And they then had the cheek to dress it up as a boon for the jobless. In reality, the banks get to shovel their lame mortgage debts plumb into the lap of the taxpayers at $40 billion a month."

As he noted, the Fed is buying not just government bonds, but the "mortgage-backed securities which are clogging up Wall Street balance sheets."

The Fed's decision will have global consequences, all of which will impact adversely on the social and economic circumstances of workers as well as the world's poorest people. Immediately the decision was announced, the prices of oil and gold jumped, signalling the start of a new round of commodity speculation.

This will impact the prices of fuels for transport as well as for cooking and heating, and set off inflation in basic foodstuffs. Already the prices of corn, wheat and soybeans, crucial for the well-being of billions of people, have started to increase.

By printing money, the Fed is also undermining the value of the US dollar in global currency markets, which will have a significant impact in Europe as the euro rises. This will lead to further cuts in exports and increased unemployment as firms find it increasingly difficult to compete.

Countries such as Brazil and Australia, where increases in currency values have already heavily impacted on manufacturing, will also be adversely affected. Further downward pressure on the dollar increases the prospect of "currency wars," as national governments strive to maintain their export markets.

There is also a political aspect to the Fed's decision. In 2008, the collapse of Lehman Brothers played a crucial role in swinging the support of key sections of the American ruling elite behind the election of Barack Obama over his Republican opponent John McCain.

The Fed's latest action in the run-up to this year's election will similarly provide a boost to the Obama re-election campaign.

But the most significant political conclusions are those that must be drawn by the working class. The decision to promote financial parasitism at the expense of the jobs, livelihoods and social position of the working class in the US and the world over is another powerful expression of the historic crisis and bankruptcy of the capitalist system. There is no economic "recovery" waiting around the corner.

The banks and financial interests represented by the US Federal Reserve and the ECB have a program: parasitism accompanied by the systematic looting and impoverishment of the population.

The working class in the US and internationally must adopt its own independent program, thought out and fought for to the end. It must initiate a struggle for workers' governments committed to the expropriation of the banks and finance houses as the first, and indispensable, step in the establishment of a planned socialist economy, in which the resources created by the labour of billions are used to meet human needs instead of profit.

Nick Beams

[Oct 24, 2017] The Blind Justice Lady is real

Oct 24, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

AlaricBalth -> Creepy_Azz_Crackaah , Oct 24, 2017 1:03 PM

"Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status. The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic..."

Spewed coffee after reading this quote.

E.F. Mutton -> Gerry Fletcher , Oct 24, 2017 12:57 PM

The Blind Justice Lady is real, she just has a .45 at the back of her head held by Hillary

And don't even ask where Bill's finger is

[Oct 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction David Harvey, 2007

This article is 10 year old but the analysis presented still remain by-and-large current.
You can read full article in Neoliberalism As Creative Destruction - David Harvey by Open Critique - issue
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. ..."
"... Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. ..."
"... State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit. ..."
"... State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. ..."
"... Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties. ..."
"... For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1 ..."
"... The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated. ..."
"... The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives. ..."
Oct 23, 2017 | journals.sagepub.com

Neoliberalism has become a hegemonic discourse with pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it is now part of the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. How did neoliberalism achieve such an exalted status, and what does it stand for? In this article, the author contends that neoliberalism is above all a project to restore class dominance to sectors that saw their fortunes threatened by the ascent of social democratic endeavors in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although neoliberalism has had limited effectiveness as an engine for economic growth, it has succeeded in channeling wealth from subordinate classes to dominant ones and from poorer to richer countries. This process has entailed the dismantling of institutions and narratives that promoted more egalitarian distributive measures in the preceding era.

Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to be concerned, for example, with the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up military, defense, police, and juridical functions required to secure private property rights and to support freely functioning markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit.

For a variety of reasons, the actual practices of neoliberalism frequently diverge from this template. Nevertheless, there has everywhere been an emphatic turn, ostensibly led by the Thatcher/Reagan revolutions in Britain and the United States, in political-economic practices and thinking since the 1970s. State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world.

Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties.

The creation of this neoliberal system has entailed much destruction, not only of prior institutional frameworks and powers (such as the supposed prior state sovereignty over political-economic affairs) but also of divisions of labor, social relations, welfare provisions, technological mixes, ways of life, attachments to the land, habits of the heart, ways of thought, and the like. Some assessment of the positives and negatives of this neoliberal revolution is called for. In what follows, therefore, I will sketch in some preliminary arguments as to how to both understand and evaluate this transformation in the way global capitalism is working. This requires that we come to terms with the underlying forces, interests, and agents that have propelled the neoliberal revolution forward with such relentless intensity. To turn the neoliberal rhetoric against itself, we may reasonably ask, In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance, and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

The "Naturalization" of Neoliberalism

For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1

Setting aside the question of whether the final part of the argument necessarily follows from the first, there can be no doubt that the concepts of individual liberty and freedom are powerful in their own right, even beyond those terrains where the liberal tradition has had a strong historical presence. Such ideals empowered the dissident movements in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union before the end of the cold war as well as the students in Tiananmen Square. The student movement that swept the world in 1968 -- from Paris and Chicago to Bangkok and Mexico City -- was in part animated by the quest for greater freedoms of speech and individual choice. These ideals have proven again and again to be a mighty historical force for change.

It is not surprising, therefore, that appeals to freedom and liberty surround the United States rhetorically at every turn and populate all manner of contemporary political manifestos. This has been particularly true of the United States in recent years. On the first anniversary of the attacks now known as 9/11, President Bush wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times that extracted ideas from a U.S. National Defense Strategy document issued shortly thereafter. "A peaceful world of growing freedom," he wrote, even as his cabinet geared up to go to war with Iraq, "serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites Americas allies." "Humanity," he concluded, "holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom s triumph over all its age-old foes," and "the United States welcomes its responsibilities to lead in this great mission." Even more emphatically, he later proclaimed that "freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world" and "as the greatest power on earth [the United States has] an obligation to help the spread of freedom." 2

So when all of the other reasons for engaging in a preemptive war against Iraq were proven fallacious or at least wanting, the Bush administration increasingly appealed to the idea that the freedom conferred upon Iraq was in and of itself an adequate justification for the war. But what sort of freedom was envisaged here, since, as the cultural critic Matthew Arnold long ago thoughtfully observed, "Freedom is a very good horse to ride, but to ride somewhere." 3 To what destination, then, were the Iraqi people expected to ride the horse of freedom so selflessly conferred to them by force of arms?

The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated.

What the United States evidently sought to impose upon Iraq was a full-fledged neoliberal state apparatus whose fundamental mission was and is to facilitate conditions for profitable capital accumulation for all comers, Iraqis and foreigners alike. The Iraqis were, in short, expected to ride their horse of freedom straight into the corral of neoliberalism. According to neoliberal theory, Bremers decrees are both necessary and sufficient for the creation of wealth and therefore for the improved well-being of the Iraqi people. They are the proper foundation for an adequate rule of law, individual liberty, and democratic governance. The insurrection that followed can in part be interpreted as Iraqi resistance to being driven into the embrace of free market fundamentalism against their own will

It is useful to recall, however, that the first great experiment with neoliberal state formation was Chile after Augusto Pinochet s coup almost thirty years to the day before Bremers decrees were issued, on the "little September 11th" of 1973. The coup, against the democratically elected and leftist social democratic government of Salvador Allende, was strongly backed by the CIA and supported by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all left-of-center social movements and political organizations and dismantled all forms of popular organization, such as community health centers in poorer neighborhoods. The labor market was "freed" from regulatory or institutional restraints -- trade union power, for example. But by 1973, the policies of import substitution that had formerly dominated in Latin American attempts at economic regeneration, and that had succeeded to some degree in Brazil after the military coup of 1964, had fallen into disrepute. With the world economy in the midst of a serious recession, something new was plainly called for. A group of U.S. economists known as "the Chicago boys," because of their attachment to the neoliberal theories of Milton Friedman, then teaching at the University of Chicago, were summoned to help reconstruct the Chilean economy. They did so along free-market lines, privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation, and facilitating foreign direct investment and free trade. The right of foreign companies to repatriate profits from their Chilean operations was guaranteed. Export-led growth was favored over import substitution. The subsequent revival of the Chilean economy in terms of growth, capital accumulation, and high rates of return on foreign investments provided evidence upon which the subsequent turn to more open neoliberal policies in both Britain (under Thatcher) and the United States (under Reagan) could be modeled. Not for the first time, a brutal experiment in creative destruction carried out in the periphery became a model for the formulation of policies in the center. 6

The fact that two such obviously similar restructurings of the state apparatus occurred at such different times in quite different parts of the world under the coercive influence of the United States might be taken as indicative that the grim reach of U.S. imperial power might lie behind the rapid proliferation of neoliberal state forms throughout the world from the mid-1970s onward. But U.S. power and recklessness do not constitute the whole story. It was not the United States, after all, that forced Margaret Thatcher to take the neoliberal path in 1979. And during the early 1980s, Thatcher was a far more consistent advocate of neoliberalism than Reagan ever proved to be. Nor was it the United States that forced China in 1978 to follow the path that has over time brought it closer and closer to the embrace of neoliberalism. It would be hard to attribute the moves toward neoliberalism in India and Sweden in 1992 to the imperial reach of the United States. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism on the world stage has been a very complex process entailing multiple determinations and not a little chaos and confusion. So why, then, did the neoliberal turn occur, and what were the forces compelling it onward to the point where it has now become a hegemonic system within global capitalism?

Why the Neoliberal Turn?

Toward the end of the 1960s, global capitalism was falling into disarray. A significant recession occurred in early 1973 -- the first since the great slump of the 1930s. The oil embargo and oil price hike that followed later that year in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war exacerbated critical problems. The embedded capitalism of the postwar period, with its heavy emphasis on an uneasy compact between capital and labor brokered by an interventionist state that paid great attention to the social (i.e., welfare programs) and individual wage, was no longer working. The Bretton Woods accord set up to regulate international trade and finance was finally abandoned in favor of floating exchange rates in 1973. That system had delivered high rates of growth in the advanced capitalist countries and generated some spillover benefits -- most obviously to Japan but also unevenly across South America and to some other countries of South East Asia -- during the "golden age" of capitalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. By the next decade, however, the preexisting arrangements were exhausted and a new alternative was urgently needed to restart the process of capital accumulation. 7 How and why neoliberalism emerged victorious as an answer to that quandary is a complex story. In retrospect, it may seem as if neoliberalism had been inevitable, but at the time no one really knew or understood with any certainty what kind of response would work and how.

The world stumbled toward neoliberalism through a series of gyrations and chaotic motions that eventually converged on the so-called 'Washington Consensus" in the 1990s. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism, and its partial and lopsided application from one country to another, testifies to its tentative character and the complex ways in which political forces, historical traditions, and existing institutional arrangements all shaped why and how the process actually occurred on the ground.

There is, however, one element within this transition that deserves concerted attention. The crisis of capital accumulation of the 1970s affected everyone through the combination of rising unemployment and accelerating inflation. Discontent was widespread, and the conjoining of labor and urban social movements throughout much of the advanced capitalist world augured a socialist alternative to the social compromise between capital and labor that had grounded capital accumulation so successfully in the postwar period. Communist and socialist parties were gaining ground across much of Europe, and even in the United States popular forces were agitating for widespread reforms and state interventions in everything ranging from environmental protection to occupational safety and health and consumer protection from corporate malfeasance. There was. in this, a clear political threat to ruling classes everywhere, both in advanced capitalist countries, like Italy and France, and in many developing countries, like Mexico and Argentina.

Beyond political changes, the economic threat to the position of ruling classes was now becoming palpable. One condition of the postwar settlement in almost all countries was to restrain the economic power of the upper classes and for labor to be accorded a much larger share of the economic pie. In the United States, for example, the share of the national income taken by the top 1 percent of earners fell from a prewar high of 16 percent to less than 8 percent by the end of the Second World War and stayed close to that level for nearly three decades. While growth was strong such restraints seemed not to matter, but when growth collapsed in the 1970s, even as real interest rates went negative and dividends and profits shrunk, ruling classes felt threatened. They had to move decisively if they were to protect their power from political and economic annihilation.

The coup d'état in Chile and the military takeover in Argentina, both fomented and led internally by ruling elites with U.S. support, provided one kind of solution. But the Chilean experiment with neoliberalism demonstrated that the benefits of revived capital accumulation were highly skewed. The country and its ruling elites along with foreign investors did well enough while the people in general fared poorly. This has been such a persistent effect of neoliberal policies over time as to be regarded a structural component of the whole project. Dumenil and Levy have gone so far as to argue that neoliberalism was from the very beginning an endeavor to restore class power to the richest strata in the population. They showed how from the mid-1980s onwards, the share of the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States soared rapidly to reach 15 percent by the end of the century. Other data show that the top 0.1 percent of income earners increased their share of the national income from 2 percent in 1978 to more than 6 percent by 1999. Yet another measure shows that the ratio of the median compensation of workers to the salaries of chief executive officers increased from just over thirty to one in 1970 to more than four hundred to one by 2000. Almost certainly, with the Bush administrations tax cuts now taking effect, the concentration of income and of wealth in the upper echelons of society is continuing apace. 8

And the United States is not alone in this: the top 1 percent of income earners in Britain doubled their share of the national income from 6.5 percent to 13 percent over the past twenty years. When we look further afield, we see extraordinary concentrations of wealth and power within a small oligarchy after the application of neoliberal shock therapy in Russia and a staggering surge in income inequalities and wealth in China as it adopts neoliberal practices. While there are exceptions to this trend -- several East and Southeast Asian countries have contained income inequalities within modest bounds, as have France and the Scandinavian countries -- the evidence suggests that the neoliberal turn is in some way and to some degree associated with attempts to restore or reconstruct upper-class power.

We can, therefore, examine the history of neoliberalism either as a utopian project providing a theoretical template for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political scheme aimed at reestablishing the conditions for capital accumulation and the restoration of class power. In what follows, I shall argue that the last of these objectives has dominated. Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power. As a consequence, the theoretical utopianism of the neoliberal argument has worked more as a system of justification and legitimization. The principles of neoliberalism are quickly abandoned whenever they conflict with this class project.

Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power.

Toward the Restoration of Class Power

If there were movements to restore class power within global capitalism, then how were they enacted and by whom? The answer to that question in countries such as Chile and Argentina was simple: a swift, brutal, and self-assured military coup backed by the upper classes and the subsequent fierce repression of all solidarities created within the labor and urban social movements that had so threatened their power. Elsewhere, as in Britain and Mexico in 1976, it took the gentle prodding of a not yet fiercely neoliberal International Monetary Fund to push countries toward practices -- although by no means policy commitment -- to cut back on social expenditures and welfare programs to reestablish fiscal probity. In Britain, of course, Margaret Thatcher later took up the neoliberal cudgel with a vengeance in 1979 and wielded it to great effect, even though she never fully overcame opposition within her own party and could never effectively challenge such centerpieces of the welfare state as the National Health Service. Interestingly, it was only in 2004 that the Labour Government dared to introduce a fee structure into higher education. The process of neoliberalization has been halting, geographically uneven, and heavily influenced by class structures and other social forces moving for or against its central propositions within particular state formations and even within particular sectors, for example, health or education. 9

It is informative to look more closely at how the process unfolded in the United States, since this case was pivotal as an influence on other and more recent transformations. Various threads of power intertwined to create a transition that culminated in the mid-1990s with the takeover of Congress by the Republican Party. That feat represented in fact a neoliberal "Contract with America" as a program for domestic action. Before that dramatic denouement, however, many steps were taken, each building upon and reinforcing the other.

To begin with, by 1970 or so, there was a growing sense among the U.S. upper classes that the anti-business and anti-imperialist climate that had emerged toward the end of the 1960s had gone too far. In a celebrated memo, Lewis Powell (about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon) urged the American Chamber of Commerce in 1971 to mount a collective campaign to demonstrate that what was good for business was good for America. Shortly thereafter, a shadowy but influential Business Round Table was formed that still exists and plays a significant strategic role in Republican Party politics. Corporate political action committees, legalized under the post-Watergate campaign finance laws of 1974, proliferated like wildfire. With their activities protected under the First Amendment as a form of free speech in a 1976 Supreme Court decision, the systematic capture of the Republican Party as a class instrument of collective (rather than particular or individual) corporate and financial power began. But the Republican Party needed a popular base, and that proved more problematic to achieve. The incorporation of leaders of the Christian right, depicted as a moral majority, together with the Business Round Table provided the solution to that problem. A large segment of a disaffected, insecure, and largely white working class was persuaded to vote consistently against its own material interests on cultural (anti-liberal, anti-Black, antifeminist and antigay), nationalist and religious grounds. By the mid-1990s, the Republican Party had lost almost all of its liberal elements and become a homogeneous right-wing machine connecting the financial resources of large corporate capital with a populist base, the Moral Majority, that was particularly strong in the U.S. South. 10

The second element in the U.S. transition concerned fiscal discipline. The recession of 1973 to 1975 diminished tax revenues at all levels at a time of rising demand for social expenditures. Deficits emerged everywhere as a key problem. Something had to be done about the fiscal crisis of the state; the restoration of monetary discipline was essential. That conviction empowered financial institutions that controlled the lines of credit to government. In 1975, they refused to roll over New York's debt and forced that city to the edge of bankruptcy. A powerful cabal of bankers joined together with the state to tighten control over the city. This meant curbing the aspirations of municipal unions, layoffs in public employment, wage freezes, cutbacks in social provision (education, public health, and transport services), and the imposition of user fees (tuition was introduced in the CUNY university system for the first time). The bailout entailed the construction of new institutions that had first rights to city tax revenues in order to pay off bond holders: whatever was left went into the city budget for essential services. The final indignity was a requirement that municipal unions invest their pension funds in city bonds. This ensured that unions moderate their demands to avoid the danger of losing their pension funds through city bankruptcy.

Such actions amounted to a coup d'état by financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City, and they were every bit as effective as the military overtaking that had earlier occurred in Chile. Much of the city's social infrastructure was destroyed, and the physical foundations (e.g., the transit system) deteriorated markedly for lack of investment or even maintenance. The management of New York's fiscal crisis paved the way for neoliberal practices both domestically under Ronald Reagan and internationally through the International Monetary Fund throughout the 1980s. It established a principle that, in the event of a conflict between the integrity of financial institutions and bondholders on one hand and the well-being of the citizens on the other, the former would be given preference. It hammered home the view that the role of government was to create a good business climate rather than look to the needs and well-being of the population at large. Fiscal redistributions to benefit the upper classes resulted in the midst of a general fiscal crisis.

Whether all the agents involved in producing this compromise in New York understood it at the time as a tactic for the restoration of upper-class power is an open question. The need to maintain fiscal discipline is a matter of deep concern in its own right and does not have to lead to the restitution of class dominance. It is unlikely, therefore, that Felix Rohatyn, the key merchant banker who brokered the deal between the city, the state, and the financial institutions, had the reinstatement of class power in mind. But this objective probably was very much in the thoughts of the investment bankers. It was almost certainly the aim of then-Secretary of the Treasury William Simon who, having watched the progress of events in Chile with approval, refused to give aid to New York and openly stated that he wanted that city to suffer so badly that no other city in the nation would ever dare take on similar social obligations again. 11

The third element in the U.S. transition entailed an ideological assault upon the media and upon educational institutions. Independent "think tanks" financed by wealthy individuals and corporate donors proliferated -- the Heritage Foundation in the lead -- to prepare an ideological onslaught aimed at persuading the public of the commonsense character of neoliberal propositions. A flood of policy papers and proposals and a veritable army of well-paid hired lieutenants trained to promote neoliberal ideas coupled with the corporate acquisition of media channels effectively transformed the discursive climate in the United States by the mid-1980s. The project to "get government off the backs of the people" and to shrink government to the point where it could be "drowned in a bathtub" was loudly proclaimed. With respect to this, the promoters of the new gospel found a ready audience in that wing of the 1968 movement whose goal was greater individual liberty and freedom from state power and the manipulations of monopoly capital. The libertarian argument for neoliberalism proved a powerful force for change. To the degree that capitalism reorganized to both open a space for individual entrepreneurship and switch its efforts to satisfy innumerable niche markets, particularly those defined by sexual liberation, that were spawned out of an increasingly individualized consumerism, so it could match words with deeds.

This carrot of individualized entrepreneurship and consumerism was backed by the big stick wielded by the state and financial institutions against that other wing of the 1968 movement whose members had sought social justice through collective negotiation and social solidarities. Reagan's destruction of the air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1980 and Margaret Thatchers defeat of the British miners in 1984 were crucial moments in the global turn toward neoliberalism. The assault upon institutions, such as trade unions and welfare rights organizations, that sought to protect and further working-class interests was as broad as it was deep. The savage cutbacks in social expenditures and the welfare state, and the passing of all responsibility for their well-being to individuals and their families proceeded apace. But these practices did not and could not stop at national borders. After 1980, the United States, now firmly committed to neoliberalization and clearly backed by Britain, sought, through a mix of leadership, persuasion -- the economics departments of U.S. research universities played a major role in training many of the economists from around the world in neoliberal principles -- and coercion to export neoliberalization far and wide. The purge of Keynesian economists and their replacement by neoliberal monetarists in the International Monetary Fund in 1982 transformed the U.S.-dominated IMF into a prime agent of neoliberalization through its structural adjustment programs visited upon any state (and there were many in the 1980s and 1990s) that required its help with debt repayments. The Washington Consensus that was forged in the 1990s and the negotiating rules set up under the World Trade Organization in 1998 confirmed the global turn toward neoliberal practices. 12

The new international compact also depended upon the reanimation and reconfiguration of the U.S. imperial tradition. That tradition had been forged in Central America in the 1920s, as a form of domination without colonies. Independent republics could be kept under the thumb of the United States and effectively act, in the best of cases, as proxies for U.S. interests through the support of strongmen -- like Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, and Pinochet in Chile -- and a coterie of followers backed by military assistance and financial aid. Covert aid was available to promote the rise to power of such leaders, but by the 1970s it became clear that something else was needed: the opening of markets, of new spaces for investment, and clear fields where financial powers could operate securely. This entailed a much closer integration of the global economy with a well-defined financial architecture. The creation of new institutional practices, such as those set out by the IMF and the WTO, provided convenient vehicles through which financial and market power could be exercised. The model required collaboration among the top capitalist powers and the Group of Seven (G7), bringing Europe and Japan into alignment with the United States to shape the global financial and trading system in ways that effectively forced all other nations to submit. "Rogue nations," defined as those that failed to conform to these global rules, could then be dealt with by sanctions or coercive and even military force if necessary. In this way, U.S. neoliberal imperialist strategies were articulated through a global network of power relations, one effect of which was to permit the U.S. upper classes to exact financial tribute and command rents from the rest of the world as a means to augment their already hegemonic control. 13

Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to stimulate worldwide growth. 14 Even if we exclude from this calculation the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Russian and some Central European economies in the wake of the neoliberal shock therapy treatment of the 1990s, global economic performance from the standpoint of restoring the conditions of general capital accumulation has been weak.

Despite their rhetoric about curing sick economies, neither Britain nor the United States achieved high economic performance in the 1980s. That decade belonged to Japan, the East Asian "Tigers," and West Germany as powerhouses of the global economy. Such countries were very successful, but their radically different institutional arrangements make it difficult to pin their achievements on neoliberalism. The West German Bundesbank had taken a strong monetarist line (consistent with neoliberalism) for more than two decades, a fact suggesting that there is no necessary connection between monetarism per se and the quest to restore class power. In West Germany, the unions remained strong and wage levels stayed relatively high alongside the construction of a progressive welfare state. One of the effects of this combination was to stimulate a high rate of technological innovation that kept West Germany well ahead in the field of international competition. Export-led production moved the country forward as a global leader.

In Japan, independent unions were weak or nonexistent, but state investment in technological and organizational change and the tight relationship between corporations and financial institutions (an arrangement that also proved felicitous in West Germany) generated an astonishing export-led growth performance, very much at the expense of other capitalist economies such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Such growth as there was in the 1980s (and the aggregate rate of growth in the world was lower even than that of the troubled 1970s) did not depend, therefore, on neoliberalization. Many European states therefore resisted neoliberal reforms and increasingly found ways to preserve much of their social democratic heritage while moving, in some cases fairly successfully, toward the West German model. In Asia, the Japanese model implanted under authoritarian systems of governance in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore also proved viable and consistent with reasonable equality of distribution. It was only in the 1990s that neoliberalization began to pay off for both the United States and Britain. This happened in the midst of a long-drawn-out period of deflation in Japan and relative stagnation in a newly unified Germany. Up for debate is whether the Japanese recession occurred as a simple result of competitive pressures or whether it was engineered by financial agents in the United States to humble the Japanese economy.

So why, then, in the face of this patchy if not dismal record, have so many been persuaded that neoliberalization is a successful solution? Over and beyond the persistent stream of propaganda emanating from the neoliberal think tanks and suffusing the media, two material reasons stand out. First, neoliberalization has been accompanied by increasing volatility within global capitalism. That success was to materialize somewhere obscured the reality that neoliberalism was generally failing. Periodic episodes of growth interspersed with phases of creative destruction, usually registered as severe financial crises. Argentina was opened up to foreign capital and privatization in the 1990s and for several years was the darling of Wall Street, only to collapse into disaster as international capital withdrew at the end of the decade. Financial collapse and social devastation was quickly followed by a long political crisis. Financial turmoil proliferated all over the developing world, and in some instances, such as Brazil and Mexico, repeated waves of structural adjustment and austerity led to economic paralysis.

On the other hand, neoliberalism has been a huge success from the standpoint of the upper classes. It has either restored class position to ruling elites, as in the United States and Britain, or created conditions for capitalist class formation, as in China, India, Russia, and elsewhere. Even countries that have suffered extensively from neoliberalization have seen the massive reordering of class structures internally. The wave of privatization that came to Mexico with the Salinas de Gortari administration in 1992 spawned unprecedented concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few people (Carlos Slim, tor example, who took over the state telephone system and became an instant billionaire).

With the media dominated by upper-class interests, the myth could be propagated that certain sectors failed because they were not competitive enough, thereby setting the stage for even more neoliberal reforms. Increased social inequality was necessary to encourage entrepreneurial risk and innovation, and these, in turn, conferred competitive advantage and stimulated growth. If conditions among the lower classes deteriorated, it was because they failed for personal and cultural reasons to enhance their own human capital through education, the acquisition of a protestant work ethic, and submission to work discipline and flexibility. In short, problems arose because of the lack of competitive strength or because of personal, cultural, and political failings. In a Spencerian world, the argument went, only the fittest should and do survive. Systemic problems were masked under a blizzard of ideological pronouncements and a plethora of localized crises.

If the main effect of neoliberalism has been redistributive rather than generative, then ways had to be found to transfer assets and channel wealth and income either from the mass of the population toward the upper classes or from vulnerable to richer countries. I have elsewhere provided an account of these processes under the rubric of accumulation by dispossession. 15 By this, I mean the continuation and proliferation of accretion practices that Marx had designated as "primitive" or "original" during the rise of capitalism. These include

(1) the commodification and privatization of land and me forceful expulsion or peasant populations {as in Mexico and India in recent times);

(2) conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusively private property rights;

(3) suppression of rights to the commons;

(4) commodification of labor power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption;

(5) colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); (6) monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land;

(7) the slave trade (which continues, particularly in the sex industry); and

(8) usury, the national debt, and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as radical means of primitive accumulation.

The state, with its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in backing and promoting these processes. To this list of mechanisms, we may now add a raft of additional techniques, such as the extraction of rents from patents and intellectual property rights and the diminution or erasure of various forms of communal property rights -- such as state pensions, paid vacations, access to education, and health care -- won through a generation or more of social democratic struggles. The proposal to privatize all state pension rights (pioneered in Chile under Augusto Pinochet s dictatorship) is, for example, one of the cherished objectives of neoliberals in the United States.

In the cases of China and Russia, it might be reasonable to refer to recent events in "primitive" and "original" terms, but the practices that restored class power to capitalist elites in the United States and elsewhere are best described as an ongoing process of accumulation by dispossession that grew rapidly under neoliberalism. In what follows, I isolate four main elements.

1. Privatization

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project. Its primary aim has been to open up new fields for capital accumulation in domains formerly regarded off-limits to the calculus of profitability. Public utilities of all lands (water, telecommunications, transportation), social welfare provision (public housing, education, health care, pensions), public institutions (such as universities, research laboratories, prisons), and even warfare (as illustrated by the "army" of private contractors operating alongside the armed forces in Iraq) have all been privatized to some degree throughout the capitalist world.

Intellectual property rights established through the so-called TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement within the WTO defines genetic materials, seed plasmas, and all manner of other products as private property. Rents for use can then be extracted from populations whose practices had played a crucial role in the development of such genetic materials. Bio-piracy is rampant, and the pillaging of the worlds stockpile of genetic resources is well under way to the benefit of a few large pharmaceutical companies. The escalating depletion of the global environmental commons (land, air, water) and proliferating habitat degradations that preclude anything but capital-intensive modes of agricultural production have likewise resulted from the wholesale commodification of nature in all its forms. The commodification (through tourism) of cultural forms, histories, and intellectual creativity entails wholesale dispossessions (the music industry is notorious for the appropriation and exploitation of grassroots culture and creativity). As in the past, the power of the state is frequently used to force such processes through even against popular will. The rolling back of regulatory frameworks designed to protect labor and the environment from degradation has entailed the loss of rights. The reversion of common property rights won through years of hard class struggle (the right to a state pension, to welfare, to national health care) into the private domain has been one of the most egregious of all policies of dispossession pursued in the name of neoliberal orthodoxy.

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project.

All of these processes amount to the transfer of assets from the public and popular realms to the private and class-privileged domains. Privatization, Arundhati Roy argued with respect to the Indian case, entails "the transfer of productive public assets from the state to private companies. Productive assets include natural resources: earth, forest, water, air. These are the assets that the state holds in trust for the people it represents. ... To snatch these away and sell them as stock to private companies is a process of barbaric dispossession on a scale that has no parallel in history." 16

2. Financialization

The strong financial wave that set in after 1980 has been marked by its speculative and predatory style. The total daily turnover of financial transactions in international markets that stood at $2.3 billion in 1983 had risen to $130 billion by 2001. This $40 trillion annual turnover in 2001 compares to the estimated $800 billion that would be required to support international trade and productive investment flows. 17 Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery. Stock promotions; Ponzi schemes; structured asset destruction through inflation; asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions; and the promotion of debt incumbency that reduced whole populations, even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt peonage -- to say nothing of corporate fraud and dispossession of assets, such as the raiding of pension hinds and their decimation by stock and corporate collapses through credit and stock manipulations -- are all features of the capitalist financial system.

The emphasis on stock values, which arose after bringing together the interests of owners and managers of capital through the remuneration of the latter in stock options, led, as we now know, to manipulations in the market that created immense wealth for a few at the expense of the many. The spectacular collapse of Enron was emblematic of a general process that deprived many of their livelihoods and pension rights. Beyond this, we also must look at the speculative raiding carried out by hedge funds and other major instruments of finance capital that formed the real cutting edge of accumulation by dispossession on the global stage, even as they supposedly conferred the positive benefit to the capitalist class of spreading risks.

3. The management and manipulation of crises

Beyond the speculative and often fraudulent froth that characterizes much of neoliberal financial manipulation, there lies a deeper process that entails the springing of the debt trap as a primary means of accumulation by dispossession. Crisis creation, management, and manipulation on the world stage has evolved into the fine art of deliberative redistribution of wealth from poor countries to the rich. By suddenly raising interest rates in 1979, Paul Volcker, then chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, raised the proportion of foreign earnings that borrowing countries had to put to debt-interest payments. Forced into bankruptcy, countries like Mexico had to agree to structural adjustment. While proclaiming its role as a noble leader organizing bailouts to keep global capital accumulation stable and on track, the United States could also open the way to pillage the Mexican economy through deployment of its superior financial power under conditions of local crisis. This was what the U.S. Treasury/Wall Street/IMF complex became expert at doing everywhere. Volker s successor, Alan Greenspan, resorted to similar tactics several times in the 1990s. Debt crises in individual countries, uncommon in the 1960s, became frequent during the 1980s and 1990s. Hardly any developing country remained untouched and in some cases, as in Latin America, such crises were frequent enough to be considered endemic. These

debt crises were orchestrated, managed, and controlled both to rationalize the system and to redistribute assets during the 1980s and 1990s. Wade and Veneroso captured the essence of this trend when they wrote of the Asian crisis -- provoked initially by the operation of U.S.-based hedge funds -- of 1997 and 1998:

Financial crises have always caused transfers of ownership and power to those who keep their own assets intact and who are in a position to create credit, and the Asian crisis is no exception . . . there is no doubt that Western and Japanese corporations are the big winners. . . . The combination of massive devaluations pushed financial liberalization, and IMF-facilitated recovery may even precipitate the biggest peacetime transfer of assets from domestic to foreign owners in the past fifty years anywhere in the world, dwarfing the transfers from domestic to U.S. owners in Latin America in the 1980s or in Mexico after 1994. One recalls the statement attributed to Andrew Mellon: "In a depression assets return to their rightful owners." 18

The analogy to the deliberate creation of unemployment to produce a pool of low-wage surplus labor convenient for further accumulation is precise. Valuable assets are thrown out of use and lose their value. They lie fallow and dormant until capitalists possessed of liquidity choose to seize upon them and breathe new life into them. The danger, however, is that crises can spin out of control and become generalized, or that revolts will arise against the system that creates them. One of the prime functions of state interventions and of international institutions is to orchestrate crises and devaluations in ways that permit accumulation by dispossession to occur without sparking a general collapse or popular revolt. The structural adjustment program administered by the Wall Street/Treasury/ IMF complex takes care of the first function. It is the job of the comprador neoliberal state apparatus (backed by military assistance from the imperial powers) to ensure that insurrections do not occur in whichever country has been raided. Yet signs of popular revolt have emerged, first with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico in 1994 and later in the generalized discontent that informed anti-globalization movements such as the one that culminated in Seattle in 1999.

4. State redistributions

The state, once transformed into a neoliberal set of institutions, becomes a prime agent of redistributive policies, reversing the flow from upper to lower classes that had been implemented during the preceding social democratic era. It does this in the first instance through privatization schemes and cutbacks in government expenditures meant to support the social wage. Even when privatization appears as beneficial to the lower classes, the long-term effects can be negative. At first blush, for example, Thatchers program for the privatization of social housing in Britain appeared as a gift to the lower classes whose members could now convert from rental to ownership at a relatively low cost, gain control over a valuable asset, and augment their wealth. But once the transfer was accomplished, housing speculation took over particularly in prime central locations, eventually bribing or forcing low-income populations out to the periphery in cities like London and turning erstwhile working-class housing estates into centers of intense gentrification. The loss of affordable housing in central areas produced homelessness for many and extraordinarily long commutes for those who did have low-paying service jobs. The privatization of the ejidos (indigenous common property rights in land under the Mexican constitution) in Mexico, which became a central component of the neoliberal program set up during the 1990s, has had analogous effects on the Mexican peasantry, forcing many rural dwellers into the cities in search of employment. The Chinese state has taken a whole series of draconian measures through which assets have been conferred upon a small elite to the detriment of the masses.

The neoliberal state also seeks redistributions through a variety of other means such as revisions in the tax code to benefit returns on investment rather than incomes and wages, promotion of regressive elements in the tax code (such as sales taxes), displacement of state expenditures and free access to all by user fees (e.g., on higher education), and the provision of a vast array of subsidies and tax breaks to corporations. The welfare programs that now exist in the United States at federal, state, and local levels amount to a vast redirection of public moneys for corporate benefit (directly as in the case of subsidies to agribusiness and indirectly as in the case of the military-industrial sector), in much the same way that the mortgage interest rate tax deduction operates in the United States as a massive subsidy to upper-income home owners and the construction of industry. Heightened surveillance and policing and, in the case of the United States, the incarceration of recalcitrant elements in the population indicate a more sinister role of intense social control. In developing countries, where opposition to neoliberalism and accumulation by dispossession can be stronger, the role of the neoliberal state quickly assumes that of active repression even to the point of low level warfare against oppositional movements (many of which can now conveniently be designated as terrorist to garner U.S. military assistance and support) such as the Zapatistas in Mexico or landless peasants in Brazil.

In effect, reported Roy, "India's rural economy, which supports seven hundred million people, is being garroted. Farmers who produce too much are in distress, farmers who produce too little are in distress, and landless agricultural laborers are out of work as big estates and farms lay off their workers. They're all flocking to the cities in search of employment." 19 In China, the estimate is that at least half a billion people will have to be absorbed by urbanization over the next ten years if rural mayhem and revolt is to be avoided. What those migrants will do in the cities remains unclear, though the vast physical infrastructural plans now in the works will go some way to absorbing the labor surpluses released by primitive accumulation.

The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives.

[Sep 21, 2017] After 2.5 Years, A Lawsuit To Unseal Draft Whitewater Indictments Against Hillary Gets Its Day In Court

Sep 21, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

McClatchy points out, since March 2015 Judicial Watch has been engaged in a back and forth battle with the National Archives which argues that "the documents should be kept secret [to preserve] grand jury secrecy and Clinton's personal privacy."

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that files Freedom of Information Act requests, wants copies of the documents that the National Archives and Records Administration has declined to release. It filed a FOIA request for the documents in March 2015 and in October 2015 the group sued for the 238 pages of responsive records.

According to Judicial Watch: " The National Archives argues that the documents should be kept secret, citing grand jury secrecy and Clinton's personal privacy."

But Judicial Watch says that because so much about the Whitewater case has already been made public, "there is no secrecy or privacy left to protect."

The documents in question are alleged drafts of indictments written by Hickman Ewing, the chief deputy of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton's alleged involvement in fraudulent real estate dealings dating back to the 70's.

Ewing told investigators he drafted the indictments in April 1995. According to Judicial Watch, the documents pertain to allegations that Hillary Clinton provided false information and withheld information from those investigating the Whitewater scandal.

Meanwhile, for those who haven't been alive long enough to remember some of the original Clinton scandals dating back to the 1970's, the Whitewater scandal revolved around a series of shady real estate deals in the Ozarks, not to mention a couple of illegal, federally-insured loans, back when Bill was Governor of Arkansas.

Of course, like with all Clinton scandals, while several other people ended up in jail as a result of the FBI's Whitewater investigation, Bill and Hillary emerged unscathed. Wikipedia offers more details:

The Whitewater controversy, Whitewater scandal (or simply Whitewater), was an American political episode of the 1990s that began with an investigation into the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal, in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s.

A March 1992 New York Times article published during the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign reported that the Clintons, then governor and first lady of Arkansas, had invested and lost money in the Whitewater Development Corporation. The article stimulated the interest of L. Jean Lewis, a Resolution Trust Corporation investigator who was looking into the failure of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, also owned by Jim and Susan McDougal.

Lewis looked for connections between the savings and loan company and the Clintons, and on September 2, 1992, she submitted a criminal referral to the FBI naming Bill and Hillary Clinton as witnesses in the Madison Guaranty case. Little Rock U.S. Attorney Charles A. Banks and the FBI determined that the referral lacked merit, but Lewis continued to pursue the case. From 1992 to 1994, Lewis issued several additional referrals against the Clintons and repeatedly called the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock and the Justice Department regarding the case. Her referrals eventually became public knowledge, and she testified before the Senate Whitewater Committee in 1995.

David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against the Clintons, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton had pressured him into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons' partner in the Whitewater land deal. The allegations were regarded as questionable because Hale had not mentioned Clinton in reference to this loan during the original FBI investigation of Madison Guaranty in 1989; only after coming under indictment himself in 1993, did Hale make allegations against the Clintons. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation resulted in convictions against the McDougals for their role in the Whitewater project. Jim Guy Tucker, Bill Clinton's successor as governor, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years of probation for his role in the matter. Susan McDougal served 18 months in prison for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions relating to Whitewater.

Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal.

Just more attempts to "criminalize behavior that is normal"...

jamesmmu , Sep 21, 2017 6:36 PM

Understanding The Battle Between The Deep State – And "One Nation Under God" – The Holy War Within The United States Of America.

http://investmentwatchblog.com/understanding-the-battle-between-the-deep...

knukles -> jamesmmu , Sep 21, 2017 7:00 PM

"National Security" Will Prevail Again. Hillary's health and mental condition are at risk.

Hillary/Diezapam 2020

Holy war? FFS people, this shit's straight out of the End of Days stories or numerous religious, spiritual and philosophical belief systems. Yes, the war between good and evil is real and evil has the upper hand at the moment. Greatly has the upper hand.

Edit and More Importantly, Andre Ward's announced his retirement from boxing Man was a thing of beauty in the ring....

Four chan -> knukles , Sep 21, 2017 7:27 PM

the first work the clintons did for the cia

booboo -> Four chan , Sep 21, 2017 8:22 PM

Didn't Sandy Berger get caught stealing Clinton related documents from the National Archives?

Wonder what else he make off in his socks?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16706-2005Mar31.html

Lumberjack -> Lumberjack , Sep 21, 2017 6:48 PM

Was Hillary Clinton Fired from the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry?

https://www.cato.org/blog/was-hillary-clinton-fired-nixon-impeachment-in...

In 1999, nine years before the Calabrese interview, Zeifman told the Scripps-Howard news agency: "If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her." In a 2008 interview on "The Neal Boortz Show," Zeifman was asked directly whether he fired her. His answer: "Well, let me put it this way. I terminated her, along with some other staff members who were ! we no longer needed, and advised her that I would not ! could not recommend her for any further positions."

Blankenstein -> YourAverageJoe , Sep 21, 2017 8:29 PM

They owned the property of what was most likely a drug smuggling operation in Paron, Arkansas.

That property has ties with the Rose law firm in Little Rock , in which Hillary Rodham Clinton was formerly a partner. While some observers believe the property was intended as an additional presidential residence - the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, for example, reported it was rumored to be a "White House West"; and contractors who worked on it whimsically tagged it "Camp Chelsea" - there are strong indications something quite different might be taking place in Paron

Simultaneous with this, residents said there was an increase in low-flying airplanes over the property. Unlike the military aircraft that occasionally fly over the area, these were "small Cessna-like" aircraft, according to Hill. He said the planes typically fly through a pass in the Cockspur Mountains on Southeast's property, several miles from the main road.

"After the planes leave, 20 to 30 minutes will go by, and small trucks and Jeeps leave the property at two different entrances," said Hill. He added that neighbors, during a flurry of aircraft activity, had logged the details, which they then passed on to federal authorities

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/993980/posts

Blankenstein -> insanelysane , Sep 21, 2017 8:23 PM

The ones with Vince Foster's fingerprints on them?

" After nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, the White House said this evening that it had unexpectedly discovered copies of missing documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton's law firm that describe her work for a failing savings and loan association in the 1980's.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/06/us/elusive-papers-of-law-firm-are-foun...

"The mysterious appearance of the billing records, which had been the specific subject of various nvestigative subpoenas for two year s, sparked intense interest about how they surfaced and where they had been"

"But Whitewater investigators believe that the billing records show significant representation. They argue that the records prove that Ms. Clinton was not only directly involved in the representation of Madison, but more specifically, in providing legal work on the fraudulent Castle Grande land deal."

"Investigators believe this suggests that, at some point, this copy was passed from Vince Foster to Hillary Clinton for her review.

In addition, investigators had the FBI conduct fingerprint analysis of the billing records. Of significance, the prints of Vince Foster and Hillary Clinton were found."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/arkansas/docs/recs.html

Rebelrebel7 , Sep 21, 2017 7:22 PM

It is extremely unfortunate that criminal behavior is now considered normal! The Clintons are responsible for that.

The Clintons were extremely guilty of Whitewater for profiteering on a failed real estate deal at Arkansas' residents expense, in addition to dozens of other crimes! I often wonder how life could be much better if the Clintons were never elected! The invasive and rampant corruption in virtually every sector of our society, has made this country 100% dysfunctional!

There had been criminal activity at the local level in government in some regions, but Clinton nationalized it, and legitimized it. Nixon was impeached, and resigned, giving people belief that nobody was above the law.

Now, Trump has not committed a single impeachable offense, and all that they ever talk about is impeachment!

I recall reading that Starr had DNC loyalties. My guess is that Republicans were more concerned with a President Gore, than a President Clinton.

Chippewa Partners , Sep 21, 2017 7:49 PM

The Rose Law Firm billings records? They were found sitting on her night stand next to her bed FFS...........

This is a great article on her prowess in cattle trading ......all of you wanna-be traders should try to emulate her ability!!!

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436066/hillary-clintons-cattle-fut...

Anunnaki , Sep 21, 2017 8:17 PM

The real scandal is how Hellary turned 1000$ into 100k in cattle futures. They said it would be like winning the lottery two days in a row

[Sep 21, 2017] Emails Hillary Clinton Sought Russian Officials For Pay-To-Play Scheme

Sep 21, 2017 | www.mintpressnews.com

Although Hillary Clinton has blamed numerous factors and people for her loss to Donald Trump in last year's election, no one has received as much blame as the Russian government. In an effort to avoid blaming the candidate herself by turning the election results into a national scandal, accusations of Kremlin-directed meddling soon surfaced. While such accusations have largely been discredited by both computer analysts and award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh, they continue to be repeated as the investigation into Donald Trump's alleged collusion with the Russian government picks up steam.

However, newly released Clinton emails suggest that that the former secretary of state's disdain for the Russian government is a relatively new development. The emails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, show that the Russian government was included in invitations to exclusive Clinton Foundation galas that began less than two months after Clinton became the top official at the U.S. State Department.

In March of 2009, Amitabh Desai, then-Clinton Foundation director of foreign policy, sent invitations to numerous world leaders, which included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Desai's emails were cc'd to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and later forwarded to top Clinton aide Jake Sullivan.

The Clinton Foundation's activities during Hillary's tenure as secretary of state have been central to the accusations that the Clinton family used their "charitable" foundation as a means of enriching themselves via a massive "Pay to Play" scheme. Emails leaked by Wikileaks, particularly the Podesta emails , offered ample evidence connecting foreign donations to the Clintons and their foundation with preferential treatment by the U.S. State Department.

[Sep 19, 2017] Time for a Conservative Anti-Monopoly Movement by Daniel Kishi

Sep 19, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Amazon, Facebook and Google: The new robber barons?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2010. Credit: /CreativeCommons/SteveJurvetson Earlier this month Amazon, announced its plans to establish a second headquarters in North America. Rather than simply reveal which city would become its second home, the Seattle-based tech company opted instead to open a bidding war. In an eight page document published on its website, Amazon outlined the criteria for prospective suitors, and invited economic developers to submit proposals advocating for why their city or region should be the host of the new location.

Its potential arrival comes with the claim that the company will invest more than $5 billion in construction and generate up to 50,000 "high paying jobs." Mayors and governors, hard at work crafting their bids, are no doubt salivating at the mere thought of such economic activity. Journalists and editorial teams in eligible metropolises are also playing their parts, as newspapers have published a series of articles and editorials making the case for why their city should be declared the winner.

Last Tuesday Bloomberg reported that Boston was the early frontrunner, sending a wave of panic across the continent. Much to the relief of the other contenders, Amazon quickly discredited the report as misinformation, announcing in a series of tweets on Wednesday that it is "energized by the response from cities across [North America]" and that, contrary to the rumors, there are currently no front-runners on their "equal playing field."

That Amazon is "energized" should come as no surprise. Most companies would also be energized by the taxpayer-funded windfall that is likely coming its way. Reporters speculate that the winner of the sweepstakes!in no small part to the bidding war format!could be forced to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local subsidies for the privilege of hosting Amazon's expansion.

Amazon has long been the beneficiary of such subsidies, emerging in recent years as a formidable opponent to Walmart as the top recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C. organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has received more than $1 billion in local and state subsidies since 2000. With a business plan dedicated to amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits, Amazon, under the leadership of its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, operates on razor-thin profit margins in most industries, while actually operating at a loss in others. As such, these state and local subsidies have played an instrumental role in Amazon's growth

Advocates of free market enterprise should be irate over the company's crony capitalist practices and the cities and states that enable it. But more so than simply ruffling the feathers of the libertarian-minded, Amazon's shameless solicitation for subsidies capped off a series of summer skirmishes in the Democratic left's emerging war against monopolies.

Earlier this summer when Amazon announced its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, antitrust advocates called upon the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission's Antitrust Division to block the sale and update the United States government's legal definition of monopoly. Although the acquisition!which was approved in August!only gives Amazon a 1.5 percent market share in the grocery industry, it more importantly provides the tech giant with access to more than 450 brick-and-mortar Whole Foods locations. Critics say that these physical locations will prove invaluable to its long term plan of economic dominance, and that it is but the latest advance in the company's unprecedented control of the economy's underlying infrastructure.

Google also found itself in the crosshairs of the left's anti-monopoly faction when, in late June, the European Union imposed a $2.7 billion fine against the tech company for anti-competitive search engine manipulation in violation of its antitrust laws. The Open Markets Program of the New America Foundation subsequently published a press release applauding the EU's decision. Two months later, the Open Markets Program was axed . The former program director Barry Lynn claims that his employers caved to pressure from a corporation that has donated more than $21 million to the New America Foundation. The fallout emboldened journalists to share their experiences of being silenced by the tech giant, and underscores the influence Google exerts over think tanks and academics

Most recently, Facebook faced criticism after it was discovered that a Russian company with ties to the Kremlin purchased $100,000 in ads from the social media company in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Facebook, as a result, has become the latest subject of interest in Robert Mueller's special investigation into Russian interference in last fall's election. But regardless of whether the ads influenced the outcome, the report elicited demands for transparency and oversight in a digital ad marketplace that Facebook, along with Google, dominates . By using highly sophisticated algorithms, Facebook and Google receive more than 60 percent of all digital ad revenue, threatening the financial solvency of publishers and creating a host of economic incentives that pollute editorial autonomy.

While the Democratic left!in an effort to rejuvenate its populist soul !has been at the front lines in the war against these modern-day robber barons, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, suggests that opposition to corporate consolidation need not be a partisan issue. In a piece published in The Atlantic , Mitchell traces the bipartisan history of anti-monopoly sentiment in American politics. She writes :

If "monopoly" sounds like a word from another era, that's because, until recently, it was. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, the term was frequently used in newspaper headlines, campaign speeches, and State of the Union addresses delivered by Republican and Democratic presidents alike. Breaking up too-powerful companies was a bipartisan goal and on the minds of many voters. But, starting in the 1970s, the word retreated from the public consciousness. Not coincidentally, at the same time, the enforcement of anti-monopoly policy grew increasingly toothless.

Although the modern Republican Party stands accused of cozying up with corporate interests, the history of conservative thought has a rich intellectual tradition of being skeptical!if not hostile!towards economic consolidation. For conservatives and libertarians wedded to the tenets of free market orthodoxy!or for Democrats dependent on campaign contributions from a donor class of Silicon Valley tycoons!redefining the legal definition of monopoly and rekindling a bipartisan interest in antitrust enforcement are likely non-starters.

But for conservatives willing to break from the principles of free market fundamentalism, the papal encyclicals of the Roman Catholic Church, the distributist thought of Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, the social criticism of Christopher Lasch, and the observations of agrarian essayist Wendell Berry provide an intellectual framework from which conservatives can critique and combat concentrated economic power. With a respect for robust and resilient localities and a keen understanding of the moral dangers posed by an economy perpetuated by consumerism and convenience, these writers appeal to the moral imaginations of the reader, issuing warnings about the detrimental effects that economic consolidation has on the person, the family, the community, and society at large.

The events of this summer underscore the immense political power wielded by our economy's corporate giants. To those who recognize the dangers posed by our age of consolidation, the skirmishes from this summer could serve as a rallying cry in a bipartisan war for independence from our corporate crown.

Daniel Kishi is an editorial assistant at The American Conservative . Follow him on Twitter at @DanielMKishi

[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.

[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.