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[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Mar 20, 2020] This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:25 utc | 225

A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States' crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare -- in addition to being cruel in itself -- is "feeding the coronavirus epidemic" by hampering nations' capacity to respond.

"This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible," Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.

https://truthout.org/articles/economists-demand-trump-immediately-lift-iran-cuba-venezuela-sanctions/

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:37 utc | 229

Promising to "smash" Venezuela's government during a "maximum pressure March," Trump has imposed crushing sanctions that force Venezuela to spend three times as much as non-sanctioned countries on coronavirus testing kits.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/17/us-sanctions-venezuelas-health-sector-coronavirus/

[Mar 11, 2020] Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice the Empire's Sin City of London

Mar 11, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

... ... ...

The 2008 crisis put in the spotlight the psychopathic level of greed, vice, apathy and short-sightedness from those who wanted to play into the City of London and Wall Street casino houses. Get rich quick and don't care who you screw in the process, after all, at the end of the day you're either a winner or a loser.

Since the general public tends to consist of decent people, there is a widespread difficulty in comprehending how entire economies of countries have been hijacked by these piranhas. That we have hit such a level of crime that even people's hard earned pensions, education, health-care, housing etc. are all being gambled away LEGALLY.

Looking upon investment bankers today, one is reminded of those sad addicts in the casino who are ruined and lose everything, except the difference is, they are given the option to sell their neighbour's family into slavery to pay off their debt.

It is no secret that much of the "finance" that goes through the City of London and Wall Street is dirty and yet despite this recognition, there appears to be an inability to address it and that at this point we are told that if we tried to address it by breaking up and regulating the "Too Big to Fail" banks, then the whole economy would come tumbling down.

That is, the world is so evidently run by criminal activity that at this point we have become dependent on its dirty money to keep afloat the world economy.

Faced with the onrushing collapse of the financial system, the greatest Ivy League trained minds of the world have run into a dead end: the bailouts into the banking system that began this past September have prevented a chain reaction meltdown for a few months, but as the liquidity runs out so too will the ideas on where the money justifying bank bailouts will come from.

With these dead ends, we have seen the lightbulb go off in the minds of a large strata of economists who have been making the case in recent years that valuable revenue can yet be generated from one more untapped stream: the decriminalisation and legalisation of vice.

Hell, the major banks have already been doing this covertly as a matter of practice for generations so why not just come out of the closet and make it official? This is where the money is at. This is where the job market is at. So let us not "bite the hand that feeds us"!

But is this truly the case? Is there really no qualitative difference how the money is generated and how it is spent as long as there is an adequate money flow?

Well it is never a good sign when beside the richest you can also find the poorest just a stone's throw away. And right beside the largest financial center in the world, the City of London, there lies the poorest borough in all of London: Tower Hamlets with a 39% poverty rate and an average family income amounting to less than £ 13, 000/year .

A City within a City

" Hell is a city much like London "

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Although Wall Street has contributed greatly to this sad situation, this banking hub of America is best understood as the spawn of the City of London.

The City of London is over 800 years old, it is arguably older than England herself, a nd for over 400 years it has been the financial center of the world.

During the medieval period the City of London, otherwise known as the Square Mile or simply the City, was divided into 25 ancient wards headed each by an alderman. This continues today . In addition, there existed the ominously titled City of London Corporation, or simply the Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City. This also still continues today .

Though the Corporation's origins cannot be specifically dated, since there was never a "surviving" charter found establishing its "legal" basis, it has kept its functions to this day based on the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is a charter of rights agreed to by King John in 1215, which states that " the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties ". In other words, the legal function of the Corporation has never been questioned, reviewed, re-evaluated EVER but rather it has been left to legally function as in accordance with their "ancient liberties", which is a very grey description of function if you ask me. In other words, they are free to do as they deem fit.

And it gets worst. The Corporation is not actually under the jurisdiction of the British government. That is, the British government presently does not have the authority to undermine how the Corporation of the City chooses to govern the largest financial center in the world . The City has a separate voting system that allows for, well, corporations to vote in how their separate "government" should run. It also has its own private police force and system of private courts.

The Corporation is not just limited to functioning within the City. The City Remembrancer, which sounds more like a warped version of the ghost of Christmas past, has the role of acting as a channel of communication between the Corporation and the Sovereign (the Queen), the Royal Household and Parliament. The Remembrancer thus acts as a "reminder", some would even say "enforcer", of the will of the Corporation. This position has been held by Paul Double since 2003, it is not clear who bestows this non-elected position.

Mr. Double has the right to act as an official lobbyist in the House of Commons, and sits to the right of the Speaker's chair, with the purpose of scrutinising and influencing any legislation he deems affects the interests of the Corporation. He also appears to have the right to review any piece of legislation as it is being drafted and can even comment on it affecting its final outcome. He is the only non-elected person allowed into the House of Commons.

According to the official City of London website , the reason why the City has a separate voting system is because:

"The City is the only area in the country in which the number of workers significantly outnumbers the residents and therefore, to be truly representative of its population, offers a vote to City organisations so they can have their say on the way the City is run."

However, the workers have absolutely no say. The City's organisations they work for have a certain size vote based on the number of workers they employ, but they do not consult these workers, and many of them are not even aware that such elections take place.

If you feel like you have just walked through Alice's Looking Glass, you're not alone, but what appears to be an absurd level of madness is what has been running the largest financial center in the world since the 1600s, under the machinations of the British Empire.

Therefore the question is, if the City of London has kept its "ancient liberties" and has upheld its global financial power, is the British Empire truly gone?

Offshore Banking: Adam Smith's Invisible Hand?

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say " because God wouldn't trust them in the dark ") never went away .

After WWII, colonisation was meant to be done away with, and many thought, so too with the British Empire. Countries were reclaiming their sovereignty, governments were being set up by the people, the system of looting and pillaging had come to an end.

It is a nice story, but could not be further from the truth.

In the 1950s, to "adapt" to the changing global financial climate, the City of London set up what are called "secrecy jurisdictions". These were to operate within the last remnants of Britain's small territories/colonies. Of Britain's 14 oversea territories, 7 are bona fide tax havens or "secrecy jurisdictions". A separate international financial market was also created to facilitate the flow of this offshore money, the Eurodollar market. Since this market has its banks outside of the UK and U.S., they are not under the jurisdiction of either country.

By 1997, nearly 90% of all international loans were made through this market.

What is often misunderstood is that the City of London's offshore finances are not contained in a system of banking secrecy but rather of trusts. The difference being that a trust ultimately plays with the concept of ownership. The idea is that you hand over your assets to a trustee and at that point, legally those assets are no longer yours anymore and you are not responsible for accounting for them. Your connection to said assets is completely hidden.

In addition, within Britain's offshore jurisdictions, there is no qualification required for who can become a trustee: anyone can set up a trust and anyone can become a trustee. There is also no registry of trusts in these territories. Thus, the only ones who know about this arrangement are the trustee and the settler.

John Christensen, an investigative economist, estimates that this capital that legally belongs to nobody could amount to as high as $50 trillion within these British territories. Not only is this not being taxed, but a significant portion of it has been stolen from sectors of the real economy.

So how does this affect "formerly" colonised countries?

There lies the rub for most developing nations. According to John Christensen, the combined external debts of Sub-Saharan African countries was $177 billion in 2008. However, the wealth that these countries' elites moved offshore, between 1970-2008, is estimated at $944 billion, 5X their foreign debt. This is not only dirty money, this is also STOLEN money from the resources and productivity of these economies. Thus, as Christensen states, "Far from being a net debtor to the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor" to offshore finance.

Put in this context, the so-called "backwardness" of Africa is not due to its incapability to produce, but rather that it has been experiencing uninterrupted looting since these regions were first colonised.

These African countries then need to borrow money, which is happily given to them at high interest rates, and accrues a level of debt that could never be repaid. These countries are thus looted twice over, leaving no money left to invest in their future, let alone to put food on the table.

Offshore havens are what make this sort of activity "legal" and rampant.

And it doesn't stop there. Worldwide, it is estimated that developing countries lose $1 trillion every year in capital flight and tax evasion. Most of this wealth goes back into the UK and U.S. through these offshore havens, and allows their currencies to stay strong whilst developing nations' currencies are kept weak.

However, developing nations are not the only ones to have suffered from this system of looting. The very economies of the UK and U.S. have also been gutted. In the 1960s and onward, the UK and U.S., to compensate for the increase in money flow out of their countries decided that it was a good idea to open their domestic markets to the trillions of dollars passing through its offshore havens.

However, such banks are not interested in putting their money into industry and manufacturing, they put their money into real estate speculation, financial speculation and foreign currency trade. And thus the financialization of British and American economies resulted, and the real jobs coming from the real economy decreased or disappeared.

Although many economists try to claim differently, the desperation has boiled over and movements like the yellow vests are reflections of the true consequences of these economic policies.

We have reached a point now where every western first world country is struggling with a much higher unemployment rate and a lower standard of living than 40 years ago. Along with increased poverty has followed increased drug use, increased suicide and increased crime.

A Stable Economy based on Freedom or Slavery?

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) report in 2017 , the UK has by far the highest rate of drug overdose in all of Europe at 31% followed by Germany at 15%. That is, the UK consists of 1/3 drug overdoses that occur in all of Europe.

The average family income in the UK is presently £28, 400. The poverty rate within the UK is ~20%.

The average family income of what was once the epicentre of world industrialisation, Detroit, has an average family income of $26, 249. The poverty rate of Detroit is ~34.5%.

What is the solution?

Reverse Margaret Thatcher's 1986 Big Bang deregulation of the banking system that destroyed the separation of commercial banking, investment banking, trusts and insurance for starters. A similar restoration of Glass-Steagall in the USA should follow suit, not only to break up the "Too Big to Fail" banking system but to restore the authority of nation states over private finance once more. IF these emergency measures were done before the markets collapse (and they will collapse), then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.

Let us end here by hearkening to the words of Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister from 1945-1951:

" Over and over again we have seen that there is another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the government of the country. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which is being decided by the people. "

[Mar 11, 2020] A cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 10 2020 18:54 utc | 10

To complete the SC's double-header, here's a cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice: the Empire's Sin City of London

Extra points for the headline.

[Mar 11, 2020] Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump triumph by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Highly recommended !
Notable quotes:
"... by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy ..."
"... He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands. ..."
"... Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take. He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. ..."
"... Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way" ..."
"... It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. ..."
"... The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. ..."
"... Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity. ..."
"... Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics . ..."
"... By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy . Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take. He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. Just as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.

The ultra rich are "scouts", "experimenting with new styles of living", who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The progress of society depends on the liberty of these "independents" to gain as much money as they want and spend it how they wish. All that is good and useful, therefore, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward, no distinction made between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.

Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: "the idle rich", who don't have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing "fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs". Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but "aimless display", they are in fact acting as society's vanguard.

Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way" .

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn't possess a narrative either (except "hope"), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion.

As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people's lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, -> -> beginning with the agreement to limit global warming .

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It's too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish . The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics .

By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.


ianfraser3 , 16 Nov 2016 17:54

EF Schumacher quoted "seek first the kingdom of God" in his epilogue of "Small Is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered". This was written in the early 1970s before the neoliberal project bit in the USA and the UK. The book is laced with warnings about the effects of the imposition of neoliberalism on society, people and the planet. The predictions have largely come true. New politics and economics needed, by leaders who place at the heart of their approach the premise, and fact, that humans are "by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish". It is about reclaiming our humanity from a project that treats people as just another commodity.
LionelKent -> greven , 16 Nov 2016 14:59
And persistent. J.K. Galbraith viewed the rightwing mind as predominantly concerned with figuring out a way to justify the shift of wealth from the immense majority to an elite at the top. I for one regret acutely that he did not (as far as I know) write a volume on his belief in progressive taxation.
courtsfurnishing -> Harryonthehill , 16 Nov 2016 10:05
Millions see no benefit from the wealth generated by these 'entrepreneurs', that is the nub of the matter. 'Trickle-down' economics is the biggest lie of my lifetime: (DOB 1951).
User237167 , 16 Nov 2016 08:40
Albert Einstein said, "capitalism is evil" in his famous dictum called, "Why Socialism" in 1949. He also called communism, "evil", so don't jump to conclusions, comrades. ;)

His reasoning was it distorts a human beings longing for the social aspect. I believe George references this in his statement about people being "unselfish". This is noted by both science and philosophy.

Einstein noted that historically, the conqueror would establish the new order, and since 1949, Western Imperialism has continued on with the predatory phase of acquiring and implementing democracy/capitalism. This needs to end. As we've learned rapidly, capitalism isn't sustainable. We are literally overheating the earth which sustains us. Very unwise.

Einstein wrote, "Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society."

Personally, I'm glad George and others are working on a new economic and social construct for us "human beings". It's time we leave the predatory phase of "us versus them", and construct a new society which works for the good of our now, global society.

zavaell -> LECKJ3000 , 16 Nov 2016 06:28
The problem is that both you and Monbiot fail to mention that your "the spontaneous order of the market" does not recognize externalities and climate change is outside Hayek's thinking - he never wrote about sustainability or the limits on resources, let alone the consequences of burning fossil fuels. There is no beauty in what he wrote - it was a cold, mechanical model that assumed certain human behaviour but not others. Look at today's money-makers - they are nearly all climate change deniers and we have to have government to reign them in.
aLERNO , 16 Nov 2016 04:52
Good, short and concise article. But the FIRST NEOLIBERAL MILESTONE WAS THE 1973 COUP D'ETAT IN CHILE, which not surprisingly also deposed the first democratically-elected socialist government.
willpodmore , 16 Nov 2016 04:10
Neoliberalism is the theory of capitalism in decline. A failed system that cannot produce growth or rising living standards for the majority. A system run by the IMF, the EU and other undemocratic bodies. And Mr Monbiot says we should stay in the neoliberal EU!
FunkyJunkie -> JVRTRL , 16 Nov 2016 03:23
here here, all the Austrians and those of central European descent (Friedman) are paranoid about the ascent of government and unfortunately it both colours their views and distorts their thinking. A recent reading of Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" confirmed my view that there was a lot of weak logic and quite poor intellectual thinking overall applied, tho in its day it would have resonated.
MGEvans -> marxmarv , 16 Nov 2016 03:10
You owe me five bucks mate.
accipiter15 , 16 Nov 2016 02:34
A great article and explanation of the influence of Hayek on Thatcher. Unfortunately this country is still suffering the consequences of her tenure and Osborne was also a proponent of her policies and look where we are as a consequence. The referendum gave the people the opportunity to vent their anger and if we had PR I suspect we would have a greater turn-out and nearly always have some sort of coalition where nothing gets done that is too hurtful to the population. As for Trump, again his election is an expression of anger and desperation. However, the American voting system is as unfair as our own - again this has probably been the cause of the low turn-out. Why should people vote when they do not get fair representation - it is a waste of time and not democratic. I doubt that Trump is Keynsian I suspect he doesn't have an economic theory at all. I just hope that the current economic thinking prevailing currently in this country, which is still overshadowed by Thatcher and the free market, with no controls over the city casino soon collapses and we can start from a fairer and more inclusive base!
JVRTRL -> Keypointist , 16 Nov 2016 02:15
The system that Clinton developed was an inheritance from George H.W. Bush, Reagan (to a large degree), Carter, with another large assist from Nixon and the Powell Memo.

Bill Clinton didn't do it by himself. The GOP did it with him hand-in-hand, with the only resistance coming from a minority within the Democratic party.

Trump's victory was due to many factors. A large part of it was Hillary Clinton's campaign and the candidate. Part of it was the effectiveness of the GOP massive resistance strategy during the Obama years, wherein they pursued a course of obstruction in an effort to slow the rate of the economic recovery (e.g. as evidence of the bad faith, they are resurrecting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Obama originally proposed in 2012, and now that they have full control, all the talk about "deficits" goes out the window).

Obama and the Democratic party also bear responsibility for not recognizing the full scope of the financial collapse in 2008-2009, passing a stimulus package that was about $1 trillion short of spending needed to accelerate the recovery by the 2010 mid-terms, combined with a weak financial regulation law (which the GOP is going to destroy), an overly complicated health care law -- classic technocratic, neoliberal incremental policy -- and the failure of the Obama administration to hold Wall Street accountable for criminal misconduct relating to the financial crisis. Obama's decision to push unpopular trade agreements didn't help either. As part of the post-mortem, the decision to continuing pushing the TPP may have cost Clinton in the rust belt states that went for Trump. The agreement was unpopular, and her shift on the policy didn't come across as credible. People noticed as well that Obama was trying to pass the measure through the lame-duck session of Congress post-election. With Trump's election, the TPP is done too.

VoltefarcedePfeffel , 15 Nov 2016 21:11
Another nasty neoliberal policy of Reagan and Thatcher, was to close all the mental hospitals, and to sweeten the pill to sell to the voters, they called it Care in the Community, except by the time those hospitals closed and the people who had to relay on those institutions, they found out and are still finding out that there is very little care in the community left any more, thanks to Thatcher's disintegration of the ethos community spirit. In their neoliberal mantra of thinking, you are on your own now, tough, move on, because you are hopeless and non productive, hence you are a burden to taxpayers. Its been that way of thinking for over thirty years, and now the latest group targeted, are the sick and disabled, victims of the neoliberal made banking crash and its neoliberal inspired austerity, imposed of those least able to fight back or defend themselves i.e. vulnerable people again!
TanTan -> crystaltips2 , 15 Nov 2016 20:10

If you claim that the only benefit of private enterprise is its taxability, as you did, then why not cut out the middle man and argue for full state-directed capitalism?


Because it is plainly obvious that private enterprise is not directed toward the public good (and by definition). As we have both agreed, it needs to have the right regulations and framework to give it some direction in that regard. What "the radical left" are pointing out is that the idea of private enterprise is now completely out of control, to the point where voters are disenfranchised because private enterprise has more say over what the government does than the people. Which is clearly a problem.

As for the rest, it's the usual practice of gathering every positive metric available and somehow attributing it to neoliberalism, no matter how tenuous the threads, and as always with zero rigour. Supposedly capitalism alone doubled life expectancy, supports billions of extra lives, invented the railways, and provides the drugs and equipment that keep us alive. As though public education, vaccines, antibiotics, and massive availability of energy has nothing to do with those things.

As for this computer being the invention of capitalism, who knows, but I suppose if one were to believe that everything was invented and created by capitalism and monetary motives then one might believe that. Energy allotments referred to the limit of our usage of readily available fossil fuels which you remain blissfully unaware of.

Children have already been educated to agree with you, in no small part due to a fear of the communist regimes at the time, but at the expense of critical thinking. Questioning the system even when it has plainly been undermined to its core is quickly labelled "radical" regardless of the normalcy of the query. I don't know what you could possibly think left-wing motives could be, but your own motives are plain to see when you immediately lump people who care about the planet in with communist idealogues. If rampant capitalism was going to solve our problems I'm all for it, but it will take a miracle to reverse the damage it has already done, and only a fool would trust it any further.

marxmarv -> hyp Alx , 15 Nov 2016 19:48
Then we can put the entire Washington Consensus to bed and never have to hear any of these awful names we've been hearing on our tellies for the past 30 years. Giant meteors at the hotel where Soros is holding his neoliberal huddle would be nice.
marxmarv -> grittygran , 15 Nov 2016 19:24
Liberalism itself is, to an extent, based on judgment and ritual humiliation, as shown by a few moments spent flipping through <I>The New Republic and other chronicles of their bourgeois aspirations. Whatever this brave new world without neoliberalism shall be, there are parts of this totalizing ideology called liberalism that taking with us seems to lead only to this same drama a few generations hence. Perhaps liberalism itself is toxic to political economy, under the theory that what it has brought is exactly what it brings, and that its influence may be better preserved in social libertinism than economic libertinism.
marxmarv -> greven , 15 Nov 2016 18:52
Communism didn't collapse, so much as neoliberalism took its scalp. Context matters here, and the West can't pretend it wasn't torturing, raping and murdering to make that happen.
yorkslass -> JGreen42 , 15 Nov 2016 18:32

A vote for Trump, Boris, Farage and Aaron Banks is a vote against neoliberal ism? Seriously?

Even these chaps realise that money is made from the 'little guy' and if the little guy is deprived of a reasonable income and the opportunity to spend it as he/she wills, then the 'big guys' eventually lose out as well.

The strategy adopted by all the corporative elites has been to import labour from countries which care about health and education for the masses and whose residents are happy to take low wages and UK government top ups in the form of tax credits and child benefits. After all, the wage differentials ensure they can educate their own children privately in their home countries and they can return home at any time for private health care when necessary.

The leaders of the EU have done all they can to ensure a more even distribution of wealth amongst member states. But in fact it suits no one except their wealthy cronies, who can pick and choose where they pay their taxes (or not). Migrants don't want it - they are happy to earn relatively high wages elsewhere and spend it in their own relatively impoverished home countries; and the native population of the wealthier countries don't want their own standards of living eroded by unfair competition from migrants.

The system is unsustainable long term and everyone knows it. If they weren't aware of what was happening before the Cameron negotiations, they certainly were when they saw the reaction, and the greed, of the Polish Minister in particular. Brexit happened becasue of Cameron's failure.

The Trump triumph is more difficult to understand. He seems to have picked up on Farage's rhetoric and applied it to the US (particularly in regard to Mexican migrants undercutting local wages and the apparent need for fences along the borders). I am not convinced however that the US as a federal superstate faces the same problems as the EU - which is currently a hybrid intergovernmental organisation / federal superstate, or rather in transition from the former to the latter. However if the US is the exemplar or the model into which the EU is morphing then it is best to stop the process right now.

CherryHill -> sadsaddo , 15 Nov 2016 18:15
This is the real scam regarding the NHS:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/15/revealed-temp-agencies-avoidance-scheme-costs-taxpayers-hundreds-of-millions

People can't be expected to work like this. No wonder we have trouble recruiting NHS staff. Who wants to be 'employed' by a two-person company? Shocking.

Also, somebody – and I don't care who it is – needs to get on top of the tax evasion and, now, National Insurance evasion by these companies. Billions are being lost. And to think you're quibbling about the cost of a few imaginary women having babies.

User781652 -> Trouthunter , 15 Nov 2016 17:03
Bernie Sanders, writing in the Boston Globe less than a month before the US election, mentioned 'one family (the Waltons) having more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of our population'. Does anyone know who this family is, as I have never heard of them? Those who think it is the famous family from the American TV series of the same name need not reply.
undercoverguyzer -> Dave_P , 15 Nov 2016 16:57
Well the rich did make a secret of it. Neoliberalism is the pattern that connects policies that roll back state social support and roll out pro-market 'solutions' with pseudoscientific economic explanations. The rich funded the considerable network of think tanks that took the neoliberal agenda to governments as the new truth, and the cover story was that there would be growth that lifts all boats. It hasn't happened. Instead we have inequality and stalled growth, but the new medicine 'austerity', continues to be neoliberal.

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

Highly recommended!
Neoliberalism destroys solidarity; as the result it destroys both the society and individuals
Notable quotes:
"... Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others. ..."
"... On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today. ..."
"... the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation. ..."
"... Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other. ..."
"... Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms ..."
"... More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one. ..."
"... A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. ..."
"... the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." ..."
Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

'We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited.'

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won't really be noticed.

It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers". Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities ("She got a new office chair and I didn't"), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.

Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

See also

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Under neoliberalism inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve: Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations and redefines citizens as consumers
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? ..."
"... Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . ..."
"... Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. ..."
"... Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances. ..."
"... Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. ..."
"... Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. ..."
"... It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative' ..."
"... Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre. ..."
"... Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one ..."
"... Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one. ..."
"... When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel . ..."
"... Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man. ..."
"... Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". ..."
"... Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. ..."
"... Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities. ..."
"... The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised". ..."
"... The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years. ..."
"... What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century. ..."
Apr 16, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? @GeorgeMonbiot

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

See also Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe, Sep 24, 2014

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it's unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe . We are all neoliberals now.

***

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international": a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal . But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.

At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes 's economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change ... there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative'

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, "it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised."

***

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative". But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism". The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers , endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Naomi Klein documented that neoliberals advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted. Photograph: Anya Chibis/The Guardian

As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine , neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet's coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as "an opportunity to radically reform the educational system" in New Orleans .

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel .

In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all phone services and soon became the world's richest man. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man.

Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.

Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land , Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.

Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.

Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to "cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them".

***

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised".

The nouveau riche were once disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Today, the relationship has been reversed

The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. "The market" sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What "the market wants" tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. "Investment", as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities "camouflages the sources of wealth", leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entre preneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.

These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers do not know for whom they toil ; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police cannot discover the beneficial owners ; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no one understands.

The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively . But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom , Bureaucracy or Friedman's classic work, Capitalism and Freedom .

***

For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.

Neoliberalism, Locke and the Green party | Letters Read more

Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.

George Monbiot's How Did We Get into This Mess? is published this month by Verso. To order a copy for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) ) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Topics Economics

[Mar 10, 2020] The Bankruptcy of the American Left by Chris Hedges

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs. ..."
"... Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries ..."
"... Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself. ..."
"... "We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump." ..."
"... "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about." ..."
"... When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased." ..."
"... "The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share." ..."
"... "Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary." ..."
Feb 05, 2018 | www.truthdig.com

There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics , multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls " inverted totalitarianism ," the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control -- which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry -- we will continue to be victims.

Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.

"This is a crisis of global dimensions," David North , the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States, told me when we spoke in New York. "It is a crisis that dominates every element of American politics. The response that we're seeing, the astonishing changes in the state of the government, in the decay of political life, the astonishingly low level of political and intellectual discourse, is in a certain sense an expression of the bewilderment of the ruling elite to what it's going through."

"We can expect a monumental explosion of class struggle in the United States," he said. "I think this country is a social powder keg. There is an anger that exists over working conditions and social inequality. However [much] they may be confused on many questions, workers in this country have a deep belief in democratic rights. We totally reject the narrative that the working class is racist. I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem."

North argues, correctly, that capitalism by its nature lurches from crisis to crisis. This makes our current predicament similar to past crises.

"All the unanswered questions of the 20th century -- the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars -- are with us again, and add to that fascism," he said.

"We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump."

The sociologist Charles Derber , whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

"We don't really have a left because we don't have conversations about capitalism," Derber said. "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about."

"As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more intersectional, we need intersectional resistance," Derber said. "At the end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the '60s, fell apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character. It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same with blacks. Same with gays."

The loss of this intersectionality was deadly. Instead of focusing on the plight of all of the oppressed, oppressed groups began to seek representation for their own members within capitalist structures.

"Let's take a modern version of this," Derber said. " Sheryl Sandberg , the COO of Facebook, she did a third-wave feminism thing. She said 'lean in.' It captures this identity politics that has become toxic on the left. What does 'lean in' mean? It means women should lean in and go as far as they can in the corporation. They should become, as she has, a major, wealthy executive of a leading corporation. When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased."

"The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share."

"People in movements are products of the system they're fighting," he continued. "We're all raised in a capitalistic, individualistic, egoistic culture, so it's not surprising. And it has to be consciously recognized and struggled against. Everybody in movements has been brought up in systems they're repulsed by. This has created a structural transformation of the left. The left offers no broad critique of the political economy of capitalism. It's largely an identity-politics party. It focuses on reforms for blacks and women and so forth. But it doesn't offer a contextual analysis within capitalism."

Derber, like North, argues that the left's myopic, siloed politics paved the way for right-wing, nativist, protofascist movements around the globe as well as the ascendancy of Trump.

"When you bring politics down to simply about helping your group get a piece of the pie, you lose that systemic analysis," he said. "You're fragmented. You don't have natural connections or solidarity with other groups. You don't see the larger systemic context. By saying I want, as a gay person, to fight in the military, in a funny way you're legitimating the American empire. If you were living in Nazi Germany, would you say I want the right of a gay person to fight in combat with the Nazi soldiers?"

"I don't want to say we should eliminate all identity politics," he said. "But any identity politics has to be done within the framework of understanding the larger political economy. That's been stripped away and erased. Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It's just been erased. That's why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire."

"Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary."

"How much of the left," he asked, "is reproducing what we are seeing in the society that we're fighting?"

[Mar 09, 2020] The Politics of Privatization How Neoliberalism Took Over US Politics by Brett Heinz

Highly recommended!
Sep 08, 2017 | www.faireconomy.org

Many of us have come across the term "neoliberal," or "neoliberalism" before, but for all its use, few have ever taken the chance to actually explain what it is. An inadequate popular definition has allowed the term to be abused and misrepresented in a variety of ways. Despite these misrepresentations, however, "neoliberalism" is a concept that is very useful for understanding the world we live in today.

In simple terms, neoliberalism is a broad ideology that became popular in political, economic, and governmental circles in the 1970's and reached its peak in global popularity in the 1980's. Neoliberalism describes the political paradigm we are in right now, the political conditions of modern society . As the name suggests, it calls for a revitalization of the classical liberal view of economic policy. It's important to understand that "classical liberal" here refers to an older understanding of the word liberal than the one it has in modern America- it is referencing the liberalism of the Enlightenment era, represented by thinkers like Adam Smith and John Locke, not modern social liberalism as embodied by Barack Obama and much of the rest of the Democratic Party. In concrete policy terms, neoliberalism means free trade, low taxes, deregulation, privatization, and balanced budgets.

Neoliberalism represents a shift in the way we look at the world: it entails seeing every aspect of society, even those typically considered civic or community affairs, in the terms of the market economy.

"Stagflation" & Schools of Economic Thought

Neoliberalism emerged as a reaction to welfare state politics and Keynesian economics that had become popular in the West following the end of World War II.

What is Keynesian Economics? Two major schools of economic thought are Classical Economics and Keynesian Economics. Adam Smith's (1723-1790) theory of Classical Economics asserts that the market is a rapidly-adjusting, self-correcting entity. John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) believed that Classical Economics was flawed. If classical economics were true, Keyes asserted, waves of massive unemployment wouldn't exist, as the market would quickly self-adjust for the downturn. Keynes theorized that during an economic downturn, consumer demand tended to drop, causing employers to lay off employees, which would then decrease overall consumer demand, and the cycle would continue. Keynes concluded that in periods of economic downturn, government could manipulate demand by hiring, directly or through policy, unemployed workers and break the cycle.

Following a long period of significant prosperity, the 1970's brought with it a phenomenon known as "stagflation" - simultaneous stagnation (where worker wages are kept flat) and inflation (where the cost of living rises). Keynesians, who had been the dominant group in American economics at the time, believed it was impossible for stagflation to exist for any extended period of time.

As the Keynesians tried to make sense of economic realities of the day, a new wave of economists began to create other schools of thought. Milton Friedman (known as "the Chicago School" or "monetarists") made the case not only for a different approach to monetary policy in order to solve stagflation, but also for the idea that many forms of governmental involvement in the economy are in fact harmful. Others, like James Buchanan pioneered a field known as "public choice theory," which made the case to the economics profession that government bureaucrats acted in personal self-interest, not in the public interest, and thus that policy prescriptions should be much more cautious in calling for governmental solutions to economic issues.

Activist Business

At the same time as the intellectual environment began to shift toward the political right in economics, the business community also began to be more aggressive in asserting their interests in politics. This development was prompted in part by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. writing a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971, arguing that "the American economic system is under attack" from progressive critics of big business and that the business community should fight back. A number of conservative and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations were created and expanded during this period in order to make the intellectual case for "freer" capitalism, including the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1974), and the American Enterprise Institute (founded in 1938 but becoming influential during the 1970′s).

A Radical Message

Combine a turn against government in the field of economics and a growing assertion of political power by businesses, and throw in increased public skepticism of government after Vietnam and Watergate, and you have a recipe for fundamental political change. Between the economic disarray, the public distrust, and both intellectual and financial support for an alternative to post-war welfare statism, a new ideology became dominant in the political sphere. This ideology was encapsulated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who summed it up perfectly with his famous quote: "in this current crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem."

Such a claim may sound like standard conservative fare today, but both Reagan and his message were quite radical at the time, even among Republicans. At the time of his election, Reagan was seen by some ( including Gerald Ford ) as simply too far right to win. The last (elected) Republican president before him, Nixon, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and a number of other progressive programs. He also called for healthcare reform that could arguably be called stronger than Obamacare, and an expansion of welfare , the latter of which was the inspiration for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed shortly after he left office. Pieces of Nixon's economic agenda were noticeably left-wing, so much so that one journalist at the time noted that he left the Democrats having to resort to "me-tooism."

Nixon took such positions because he needed to respond to political pressures from the left, the same pressures that had pushed LBJ on civil rights legislation and the war on poverty. In the late 1970's, as the activism and radicalism of the 1960's began to die out, those pressures began to be outweighed by increasing pressure from businesses in the direction of neoliberalism. This started under Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the cautious deregulation of airlines in 1978 and the trucking industry in 1980. However, it was Reagan who truly delivered the neoliberal agenda in America and institutionalized it into government.

Importantly, this era also saw the start of the growth in the importance of campaign donations. Republicans had not only a strong base of think tanks to provide them with a network of intellectual support, they also had far more money from the corporate interests they were serving. Congressional Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in campaign expenditures in every election year from 1976 to 1992.

Traditionally, Democrats had relied on unions as a critical source of both campaign donations and organizational support. With union strength declining (a trend the Reagan administration encouraged through policy), the Democrats were being totally outgunned. According to Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson's book "Winner-Take-All Politics":

" From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACS [political action committees] increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly five fold. Labor spending only rose about half as fast... By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC donations -- down from half six years earlier."

The Third Way

Even with the emergence of conservative "Reagan Democrats" during the 1980's, the game had changed for the Democratic Party. Recognizing this, a number of Democrats (including Bill Clinton) joined together in a group called the Democratic Leadership Council with the goal of dragging the party to the right and boosting campaign contributions. They succeeded. When Clinton eventually won the presidency, he cemented neoliberalism as the law of the land by making it clear that the Democrats would not challenge the new fundamental doctrine of limited government involvement in many parts of the economy, and as a result made the Democrats politically competitive again. (Both the previously mentioned "Winner-Take-All Politics" and Thomas Ferguson and Joel Roger's "Right Turn" go more into detail on this issue, and on neoliberalism more generally).

Instead of challenging the entirety of Reagan's assertion of government-as-problem, Clinton espoused a "third way" ideology: in his second inauguration, he said that "Government is not the problem, and Government is not the solution. We -- the American people -- we are the solution." Though the Clinton White House at times backed left-liberal policies like mild tax hikes on the wealthy, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Family Medical Leave Act, it also continued the neoliberal march of rolling back progressive achievements through the deregulation of Wall Street (the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, etc.), conservative welfare reform in 1996, NAFTA, and the gutting of public housing .

A One-Party System

Clinton himself was aware of the way that American politics was moving to the right, and he was sometimes frustrated with it. Allegedly, he once entered a meeting in the Oval Office complaining : "Where are all the Democrats? I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans. We're Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn't that great?"

Despite this, however, Clinton and most of the rest of the Democratic Party accepted their role doing nothing more than, to borrow a phrase from political philosopher Roberto Unger, "to put a softer face on the agenda of their conservative opponents." They seek to make marginal improvements for poor, working class, and middle class voters here and there, but never seek to fundamentally shake up the political-economic system in any way. As one critic put it in 1990, even before Clinton's election, the Democratic Party is "...history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party. They do not interfere with capitalist momentum, but wait for excesses and the inevitable popular reaction." This is why many left-wing critics will refer to some Democrats as neoliberals even when they don't literally advocate for free market capitalism.

Neoliberalism within the Democratic Party looks less like a proposal to privatize or abolish Social Security as much as it does a commitment to benefit-cutting "entitlement reform." It can be seen both in language (the constant discussion of education as an "investment" in "skills" necessary for "improving the workforce," instead of a guaranteed right for all citizens) and in policy (proposing tax cuts for the middle class instead of social spending even when taxes are at some of their lowest rates in decades ; compromis[ing] in advance on major policy proposals like the 2009 stimulus; advocating piecemeal technocratic reforms to healthcare and finance instead of deeper, fundamental reform; etc.).

With their opponents on the defensive and partially compliant with their agenda, the Republicans continued to push further right under the leadership of Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America." The Democrats started to dig their heels in and push back a little for the first time during the later part of the George W. Bush administration as his (and the wars') approval ratings sank, and they now seem to have more or less stabilized. An increasingly loud progressive coalition of activists and advocates continues to push for ideas like single-payer healthcare, often dismissed as radical despite both being an international norm and the explicit goal of many mainstream Democratic politicians before neoliberalism's rise. The Democratic party establishment, on the contrary, is largely fine holding on to ideological territory that is, in certain areas, to the right of where it was several decades ago.

With the establishment of both major political parties accepting neoliberal ideology, it became default wisdom among economic, political, and media elites. Because the most powerful class of America accepted it as fact, it was instilled into the American consciousness as "common sense" that can't be seriously challenged. Ideas in direct opposition to neoliberalism were largely marginalized, and as a result, much of our modern debate now takes place within its bounds. Today, though, this marginalization is rapidly disappearing.

Today, we are witnessing the collapse of neoliberalism's "common sense" status. Republican elites took neoliberalism being one of their root organizing principles for granted while running campaigns using dog-whistle racism, never realizing that they were attracting a base of voters who hated immigrants a lot more than they hated regulation. The Republicans have drifted so far to the right that unabashed nationalists like Trump can now take the lead of the party, even as he espouses racist xenophobia-inspired protectionism that are in conflict with the neoliberal ideals of the party's business wing.

Even during their neoliberalization, the Democrats always had a left-wing occupied by social democrats. Today they largely occupy the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They were empowered by both opposition to the Iraq War late in the Bush era and the subsequent economic crash that occurred as a result of neoliberal deregulation of the finance sector. Obama ran as a semi-progressive but governed as a standard Democrat, leaving progressive disappointment and frustration to rise to the surface again once a primary was held to determine who would be the Democratic candidate after Obama: thus, the Bernie phenomenon.

Globalism & Neoliberalism

It seems as though the extinction of neoliberalism is embedded in the formula of neoliberalism itself. Neoliberalism and accompanying globalization have resulted in inequality and poverty for significant portions of the population, leaving many people economically impoverished and politically alienated. This prompts an inevitable political reaction, angry and populist in nature. The center-left (ex. Hillary Clinton) and center-right (ex. Jeb Bush) sing the praises of neoliberal globalization, while the left (ex. Bernie Sanders) vigorously attacks the "neoliberal" part of it, and the far-right (ex. Donald Trump) vigorously attack the "globalization" part of it. Today, progressives dislike neoliberalism, but also believe that the far-right's disdain for all forms of globalization is a distraction and misidentification of the root issue, using foreigners and people of color as scapegoats. The problem is not globalization, but globalization implemented in such a way so as to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

Neoliberalism is a powerful ideology and way of looking at the world. The neoliberal views most government involvement in the economy as harmful, and seeks to leave social problems to be solved by private enterprise and markets whenever possible. This is an idea that, over the last several decades, has become widely accepted to varying degrees by people across the political spectrum, and as such has been embedded into modern government and public policy.

When discussing modern politics, a recognition of the role neoliberalism has played in fueling massive increases in inequality and corrupting our democracy is vital.

A number of other industrialized countries have undergone neoliberalization on roughly the same time frame as the US, and are now experiencing similar backlashes: the U.K., neoliberalized under Margaret Thatcher and others, now has UKIP on its right and Jeremy Corbyn and social democratic Scottish nationalists on its left. France has witnessed the rise of not only the National Front on its far-right, but also the rise of populist socialists like Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Germany has the AfD and Pegida on its right and Die Linke on its left. New Zealand has New Zealand First. Sweden has the Sweden Democrats. Spain has Podemos. Additionally, backlash against "Washington Consensus" neoliberalism in Latin America contributed to a revitalization of left-populism in many countries. Though there are some nations that have experienced some form of neoliberalism without such political effects, a definite connection between neoliberalism and the emergence of anti-neoliberal populism certainly seems to exist.

[Mar 04, 2020] US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf

Notable quotes:
"... US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf. With minor differences of style. Trump upsets the leadership of the Bloods in 2016, but it turns out that, outrageous as he is, he is good for business, so all the Bloods but the wimps with a weak stomach fall in behind him. ..."
"... But let's just suppose that the old Crips are not quite as pathetic as they look. Let's imagine that they actually learned something in 2016. It was supposed to be easy for them in 2016, and they were surprised. So they have had four years to hone their election-stealing skills. And most of the traditional election stealing organizations in this country seem largely to hate Trump. ..."
"... So let's posit that the FBI & CIA, or whoever it is manages to prop up Biden, and succeed in stealing the election for him. Who would object to that? ..."
"... Not two gangs but one Deep State political mafia with two families running a protection racket (MIC), prostitution (media propaganda, psyops), drugs (industry incentives), and gambling (overseas adventurism) ..."
Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Eric in Kansas , Mar 4 2020 5:00 utc | 122

Okay, here's a little speculative fiction.

The setup: US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf. With minor differences of style. Trump upsets the leadership of the Bloods in 2016, but it turns out that, outrageous as he is, he is good for business, so all the Bloods but the wimps with a weak stomach fall in behind him.

The Crips are bloated and in decline. A bunch of naïve, starry eyed nobodies mount a campaign to take the Crips legit. The old Crips are irritated that they have to take time out from grifting so as to squash the upstart pests.

That is where I see us today. But let's just suppose that the old Crips are not quite as pathetic as they look. Let's imagine that they actually learned something in 2016. It was supposed to be easy for them in 2016, and they were surprised. So they have had four years to hone their election-stealing skills. And most of the traditional election stealing organizations in this country seem largely to hate Trump.

So let's posit that the FBI & CIA, or whoever it is manages to prop up Biden, and succeed in stealing the election for him. Who would object to that?

Yes, exactly – all the Trump die-hards, and 'tribal' gang bangers would object. It could get really nasty.

And so far, I have not seen any evidence that any of the characters that would be willing to play such a gambit have any inclination to give a shit for the consequences for us little people.

Jackrabbit , Mar 4 2020 5:23 utc | 125

Eric in Kansas @121: gang warfare

Not two gangs but one Deep State political mafia with two families running a protection racket (MIC), prostitution (media propaganda, psyops), drugs (industry incentives), and gambling (overseas adventurism)...

... aka "Tammany on the Potomac."

Wikipedia describes Tammany as :

The Tammany Society emerged as the center for Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city in the early 19th century. After 1854, the Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city's rapidly expanding immigrant community, which functioned as its base of political capital. The business community appreciated its readiness, at moderate cost, to cut through red tape and legislative mazes to facilitate rapid economic growth... Tammany Hall also served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M. "Boss" Tweed in the mid-19th century....

[Tweed's biographer wrote:]

It's hard not to admire the skill behind Tweed's system ... The Tweed ring at its height was an engineering marvel, strong and solid, strategically deployed to control key power points: the courts, the legislature, the treasury and the ballot box. Its frauds had a grandeur of scale and an elegance of structure: money-laundering, profit sharing and organization.

!!

kiwiklown , Mar 4 2020 8:32 utc | 141
trailertrash @6 --- Americans have been railroaded into endless squabbling about voting and democracy instead of demanding good governance. How does choosing between two similarly corrupt parties deliver good governance?

Voting in the lesser evil is still choosing evil.

What does it profit a nation to have voting every 4 years when excrement covers her sidewalks? and vets suicide themselves daily? and soldiers get raped daily by fellow soldiers?

[Mar 04, 2020] Why Are We Being Charged? Surprise Bills From Coronavirus Testing Spark Calls for Government to Cover All Costs by Jake Johnson

Highly recommended!
Notes of disaster capitalism in action...
Notable quotes:
"... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions." ..."
"... Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up? ..."
"... In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital." ..."
"... Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China. ..."
"... Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays ..."
"... The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

"Huge surprise medical bills [are] going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone." by Jake Johnson, staff writer Public health advocates, experts, and others are demanding that the federal government cover coronavirus testing and all related costs after several reports detailed how Americans in recent weeks have been saddled with exorbitant bills following medical evaluations.

Sarah Kliff of the New York Times reported Saturday that Pennsylvania native Frank Wucinski "found a pile of medical bills" totaling $3,918 waiting for him and his three-year-old daughter after they were released from government-mandated quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.

"My question is why are we being charged for these stays, if they were mandatory and we had no choice in the matter?" asked Wucinski, who was evacuated by the U.S. government last month from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I assumed it was all being paid for," Wucinski told the Times . "We didn't have a choice. When the bills showed up, it was just a pit in my stomach, like, 'How do I pay for this?'"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions."

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told the Times that

"the most important rule of public health is to gain the cooperation of the population."

"There are legal, moral, and public health reasons not to charge the patients,"

Gostin said.

Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up?

-- William LeGate (@williamlegate) March 2, 2020

In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital."

"An additional $90 in charges came from radiologists who read the patients' X-ray scans and do not work for the hospital," Kliff noted.

The CDC declined to respond when Kliff asked whether the federal government would cover the costs for patients like the Wucinskis.

The Intercept 's Robert Mackey wrote last Friday that the Wucinskis' situation spotlights "how the American government's response to a public health emergency, like trying to contain a potential coronavirus epidemic, could be handicapped by relying on a system built around private hospitals and for-profit health insurance providers."

We should be doing everything we can to encourage people with #COVIDー19 symptoms to come forward. Huge surprise medical bills is going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone, regardless of if you are insured. https://t.co/KOUKTSFVzD

-- Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) March 1, 2020

Play this tape to the end and you find people not going to the hospital even if they're really sick. The federal government needs to announce that they'll pay for all of these bills https://t.co/HfyBFBXhja

Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China.

"He went to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he said he was placed in a closed-off room," according to the Herald . "Nurses in protective white suits sprayed some kind of disinfectant smoke under the door before entering, Azcue said. Then hospital staff members told him he'd need a CT scan to screen for coronavirus, but Azcue said he asked for a flu test first."

Azcue tested positive for the flu and was discharged. "Azcue's experience shows the potential cost of testing for a disease that epidemiologists fear may develop into a public health crisis in the U.S.," the Herald noted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, highlighted Azcue's case in a tweet last Friday.

"The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together," Sanders wrote. "We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills. Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health."

Last week, as Common Dreams reported , Sanders argued that the coronavirus outbreak demonstrates the urgent need for Medicare for All.

The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together. We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills.

Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health. https://t.co/c4WQMDESHU

-- Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 28, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged by more than two dozen over the weekend, bringing the total to 89 as the Trump administration continues to publicly downplay the severity of the outbreak.

Dr. Matt McCarthy, a staff physician at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, said in an appearance on CNBC 's "Squawk Box" Monday morning that testing for the coronavirus is still not widely available.

"Before I came here this morning, I was in the emergency room seeing patients," McCarthy said. "I still do not have a rapid diagnostic test available to me."

"I'm here to tell you, right now, at one of the busiest hospitals in the country, I don't have it at my finger tips," added McCarthy. "I still have to make my case, plead to test people. This is not good. We know that there are 88 cases in the United States. There are going to be hundreds by middle of week. There's going to be thousands by next week. And this is a testing issue."

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.


Harry_Pjotr 13h

Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays

Smerl fern 12h

A wall street bank or private predator may own your emergency room. A surprise bill may await your emergency treatment above insurance payments or in some instances all of the bill.

An effort was made recently in congress to stop surprise billings but enough dems joined repubs to kill it. More important to keep campaign dollars flowing than keep people alive. fern Smerl 12h I know emergency rooms are being purchased by organizations like Tenet (because they are some of the most expensive levels of care) and M.D.s provided by large agencies. I'm not as up on this as I should be but a friend of mine tells me that some of this is illegal. I have received bills that were later discharged by challenge. This is worth investigating further. Atlas oldie 11h Hmmmm A virus that overwhelmingly kills the elderly and/or those with pre-exisitng conditions.

Sounds like a medical insurance companies wet dream. As well as .gov social security/medicare wet dream.

Just sayin'

Ticki 11h

The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. And as has been stated, the unconscionable idea suggested that a possible vaccine (a long way away or perhaps not developed at all) might not be affordable to the workers who pay the taxes that fund the government? That's insane.

leftonadoorstep 11h

Another example of "American Exceptionalism." China doesn't charge its coronavirus patients, neither does South Korea. I guess they are simply backward countries.

Barton 11h

I own my own home after years of hard work paying it off. It's the only thing of value, besides my old truck, that I have. If I get the virus, I will stay home and try to treat it the best I can. I can't afford to go to the hospital and pay thousands in medical bills, with the chance that they'll come after my possessions. America, the land of the _______. Fill in the blank. (Hint: it's no longer free).

fern 1 Barton 11h

There are other ways to protect your home. Homesteading or living trust. I'm not good at this but I know there are ways to do it. Hopefully, it would never come to that but outcomes are not certain even with treatment in this case.

Giovanna-Lepore oldie 11h

As someone who lost a mother at 5 years old I can sympathize with your grief in losing a daughter-in-law and especially seeing her four children orphaned. However, I think you miss the point here: This is about we becoming a society invested in each others welfare and not a company town that commodifies everything including the health and well being of us all.

fern 1 Giovanna-Lepore 11h

I'm going by: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1129/text

As a revision it is better but flawed. It is a cost containment bill based on the same research as the republican plan with global budgets and block grants.

Edited: I encourage you to read this:
-ttps://www.rand.org/blog/2018/10/misconceptions-about-medicare-for-all.html Giovanna-Lepore 10h oldie:

Part D

Higher education is not free but they do need to become free for the students and payed by us as a society.

Part D is a scam, a Republican scam also supported by corporate democrats because of its profit motive and its privatization

Medicare only covers 80% and does not cover eye and dental care and older folks especially need these services. Medicaid helps but there are limits and one cannot necessarily use it where one needs to go. Expanded, Improved Medicare For All is a vast improvement. because it covers everyone in one big pool and, therefore, much more dignified than the rob Paul to pay peter system we have.

Social Security too can be improved. Why should it simply be based on the income of the person which means that a person working in a low paying job in a capitalist system gone wild with greed will often work until they die.

Pell grants can be eliminated when we have what the French have: publicly supported education for everyone.

The demise of unions certainly did not help but it was part of the long strategy of the Right to privatize everything to the enrichment of the few.

Yunzer SuspiraDeProfundis 10h

Thank goodness for the "/s". Poe's Law you know

The overall competence that Canada is handling this outbreak, compared to the USA, is stark. First world (Canada) versus third-world (USA). Testing is practically available for free, to any suspect person, sick or not, as Toronto alone can run 1000 tests a day and have results in 4 hours. That is far more than all the US's capacity for 330 million people.

I wonder how long before Canada closes its borders to USAns? Me and my wife (both in a vulnerable age/medical group) should seriously consider fleeing to my brother's place in Toronto as the first announced cases in Pittsburgh are probably only days away. What about our poor cat though? We could try to smuggle her across the border, but she is a loud and talkative kitty

Greenwich 10h

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media. Did get this from my NJ Sen. Menendez –

Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC)

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • For more information : htps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
  • How it spreads : The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. [Read more.]
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html )
  • Symptoms : For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Seeker 9h Greenwich:

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media.

I agree it is being hyped by the media to the point of being fear mongering. At the same time it is being ignored by the administration to such an extent that really little almost nothing is being done. At some point the two together will create an even bigger problem.

It is like the old adage: "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Each over/under reach in considering the reality of the situation has its own problem, which multiply when combined. Every morning when I wake up I say a little atheistic prayer to myself before I get out of bed: "Another day and for better or worse...".

Seeker 8h

Well, two reported here in Florida tonight. One in my county, one in the county next door. And more of the "we already knew, but told you late". One person checked into the hospital on Wednesday. We hear it Monday night. Both were ignored far a long time it seems, and 84 in particular are being watched (roommates, friends, hospital workers not alerted for several days, the usual). But no one knows every place they had been since becoming infected.

Oh, and they have tested a handful of people. No worry?

I can't see anyway that this level of incompetency is an accident. Spring break is just starting usually a 100's of thousand tourist bonanza.

So the question is do they want to kill us, or just keep us in fear?

I think the later. But the end result is a crap shoot. So once again, it is a gamble with our lives.

Archie1954 7h

The business of America is business. Sometimes that can go too far and this is one of those times. Making money from the loss, distress, harm and suffering of others is perverse beyond belief.

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Mar 01, 2020] The USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates

Mar 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Joerg ,

It is an illusion to talk of "the Left" and "the Right" anymore, because the USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates.
Think of this enormous sum of 23 (I believe) trillion Dollars missing in the Pentagon. And the House even decided to not research where this money went! To this see https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1407-mark-skidmore-on-the-pentagons-missing-trillions/

Or think of the Ukraine and Joe and Hunter Biden (and other corrupt persons from the EU). Author Bill Martin mentions this above with :"dirty business in Ukraine".

But its not only about corruption. Now it's also about a murder-attempt -- as every Mafia would never hesitate to execute. And Western media doesn't report this.

This has happened: Because of Joe Biden's quid-pro-quo demand to former Ukrainian president Poroshenko (no billions of Dollars from the US, if Shokin was not fired) state prosecutor Shokin was then fired. But some months ago there had now also been a poison-attack on Shokin.

And now Shokin goes after Joe Biden -- and he must, if he wants to survive!: To this on the site https://youtube.com/channel/UCdeMVChrumySxV9N1w0Au-w There click the video "JOE BIDEN, UKRAINE AND VIKTOR SHOKIN MERCURY POISONING".

[Mar 01, 2020] https://off-guardian.org/2020/02/29/the-trump-impeachment-looking-back-and-looking-forward/

Mar 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Savorywill Yes, I agree completely (though I would have to study the materials more carefully to fully understand it all). It is mentioned that one accomplishment of Trump was his take-down of the Bush dynasty for the lies spun justifying the Iraq war. It was in S. Caroline that Trump did this, in a debate of Republican candidates at the start of the election campaign in 2016. I knew nothing about Trump at the time, having lived in Japan and Australia for many years, never saw the Apprentice or even heard of him. So, when he started snipping at Jeb saying that Jeb's brother George, led America in the biggest mistake in US history by starting the war on Iraq, and the audience started booing, to which Trump replied, 'oh, those are just paid for lobbyists – I don't need them as my campaign is self-funded', it was absolutely astonishing and I could hardly believe my ears, or eyes. Yet, there it was on TV, one of the first debates of the Republican party for their candidate. I then saw that Trump was, indeed, something very different from what we had ever seen in American politics.

I was rapt when he defeated Hillary, and completely surprised as it was so unexpected. It did give me faith in America again, to some degree. Here is the woman who orchestrated the criminal destruction of Libya, and then laughed about the horrific murder of Gaddafi, who was only trying to provide a decent society for Libyan citizens and deal with the madness of the forces around him. What happened to him, and to Libya, was just so heartbreaking, and she thought it was a big joke and tried to do the same in Syria. So, I was thrilled when she got beaten. Not that everything Trump has done since then has met with my approval, but he seems to be winding down the wars as he promised and I don't mind listening to his speeches at the rallies, which I sometimes do watch. I particularly like when he went to a farming area in California and signed a bill enabling local farmers to access water, something they were unable to do because of various regulations. I never heard of any other presidents so hands-on with their involvement with such things and I thought his speech in India, recently, was incredible. I couldn't stand listening to Hillary for any more than a few minutes. Even Obama never really rang true to me. He would say things like 'change we can believe in', or 'hope for more hope', vague platitudes like that that didn't really have many specifics. I can understand Clint Eastwood's speech talking to the empty chair (representing Obama) at the Republican convention in 2012, actually. Obama seems like a media projection, or something. Hard to identify or see him as an actual person.


sharon marlowe ,

"Not that everything Trump has done since then has met with my approval, but he seems to be winding down the wars as he promised"

What is "winding down the wars"? Do mean that you stopped paying attention?

Savorywill ,

Seems like they are winding down, don't you think? Just today I read the the Taliban just signed an agreement to that effect, to finally finish that war going on for nearly 20 years, no closer to success since the start. The US is not overtly involved in the Syrian conflict as well as it seems to be trying to get out of Iraq.

Had Hillary won, she would have gone full bore into Syria and probably would have made matters much, much worse. She is a thorough warmonger, her track record clearly demonstrated that.

sharon marlowe ,

First, an attempted assassination-by-drone on President Maduro of Venezuela happened. Then Trump dropped the largest conventional bomb on Afghanistan, with a mile-wide radius. Then Trump named Juan Guido as the new President of Venezuela in an overt coup. Then he bombed Syria over a fake chemical weapons claim. He bombed it before even an investigation was launched. Then the Trump regime orchestrated a military coup in Bolivia. Then he claimed that he was pulling out of Syria, but instead sent U.S. troops to take over Syrian oil fields. trump then assassinated Gen. Solemeni. Then he claimed that he will leave Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi government asked the U.S. to leave, and Trump rejected the request. The Trump regime has tried orchestrating a coup in Iran, and a coup in Hong Kong. He expelled Russian diplomats en masse for the Skripal incident in England, before an investigation. He has sanctioned Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, and Venezuela. He has bombed Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Those are the things I'm aware of, but what else Trump has done in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America you can research if you wish. And now, the claim of leaving Afghanistan is as ridiculous as when he claimed to be leaving Syria and Iraq.

"winding down the wars" makes no sense.

Antonym ,

Trump just signed a peace pact with the Taliban. As they are basically CIA -ISI irregulars he got the green light from Langley.

He needs this gesture for his re-election campaign.

Savorywill ,

Yes, what you say is right. However, he did warn both the Syrian and Russian military of the attack in the first instance, so no casualties, and in the second attack, he announced that the missiles had been launched before they hit the target, again resulting in no casualties. When the US drone was shot down by an Iranian missile, he considered retaliation. But, when advised of likely casualties, he called it off saying that human lives are more valuable than the cost of the drone. Yes, he did authorize the assassination of the Iranian general, and that was very bad. His claims that the general had organized the placement of roadside bombs that had killed US soldiers rings rather hollow, considering those shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place.

I am definitely not stating that he is perfect and doesn't do objectionable things. And he has authorized US forces to control the oil wells, which is against international law, but at least US soldiers are not actively engaged in fighting the Syrian government, something Hillary set in motion. However, the military does comprise a huge percentage of the US economy and there have to be reasons, and enemies, to justify its existence, so his situation as president must be very difficult, not a job I would want, that is for sure.

Petra Liverani ,

The assassination (or other means of disappearance) of Soleimani seems to have been a collusion between Trump and Rouhani who wasn't a fan of the guy and the evidence shows that the crash of PS-752 was staged.
https://occamsrazorterrorevents.weebly.com/blog/did-ps-752-crash-in-tehran

I do like this video, Seats and People, by Peekay and Meta-Scriptors

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vftD3hh6Yro?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

sharon marlowe ,

There were at least nine people killed when Trump bombed Douma.

Only a psychopath would kill people because one of its spy drones was shot down. You don't get points for considering killing people for it and then changing your mind.

People should get over Hillary and pay attention to what Trump has been doing. Why even mention what Hillary would have done in Syria, then proceed to be an apologist for what Trump has done around the world in just three years? Trump has been quite a prolific imperialist in such a short time. A second term could well put him above Bush and Obama as the 21st century's most horrible leaders on earth.

Dungroanin ,

Sharon,

Who has done the shit under the Trump Regime (lol Regime! You lot)

Trump – not.
Regime – yes.

Dungroanin ,

Sharon,

Magically? No.

Factually yes.

If you think that the potus is the omnipotent ruler of everything he certainly seems to be having some problems with his minions in the CIA, NSA, FBI..State Dept etc.

The potus is best described (by Assad actually) as a CEO of a board of directors appointed by the shareholders who collectively determine their OWN interests.

Your gaslighting ain't succeeding round here – Regime! So desperate, so so sad 🤣

sharon marlowe ,

Are you seven years old? There's no such thing as omnipotent rulers. I said Trump was the leader of the U.S. regime. That's how it's said in the real world;)

Dungroanin ,

Right – and the regime of which he is the leader of has been trying to usurp him from day one, correct?

So in your world view Trump has been trying to overthrow himself?

That all the Russiagate, Ukrainegate – coupgates in short are all Trump doing it to himself!!!

Who is being childish by conflating all of that?

Koba ,

He's sent more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan he strayed several coups in Latin America and was game for taking on the dprk until they got nukes and wants to bomb Iran! Winding down?!

Dungroanin ,

Yeah yeah and 'he' gave Maduro 7 days to let their kid takeover in Venezuela! And built a wall. And got rid of obamacare and started a nuke war with Rocketman and and and

Dungroanin ,

Savory,

In 2016 Trumps role (whether he fully realised it or not) was to get rid of all the existing Republican candidates that may have stopped Hillary getting her crown.

He and the Clinton family were old friends in NY and he played golf with Bill regularly.

What you haven't identified in what you saw in 2016 is the choreographed pantomime villainy of The Donald during the debates with Hillary.

It was designed for him to lose appeal and keep GOP voters at home.

The reason Hillary lost :

The stitch up of Bernie and his supporters as revealed by the DNC email leaks which kept them from voting for her;

Her failure to campaign effectively being a cold hearted murdering bitch that couldn't empathise with a kitten;

A load of ordinary poorish Americans who got a bit pissed at being labelled 'deplorable' by her.

Simple as that.

Donald was as suprised as anyone to have actually won that night – he had to go chat to the Clintons and say "what the fuck am I supposed to do now? I have a whole load of Apprentice episodes lined up to film, and Hotels & Golf courses to build!"

Obviously he couldn't say it must be a mistake and his friends the Clintons should be allowed back into the White House as planned – that wouldn't have washed – so he ended up in the Oval Office.

As potus he would have to make decisions which no one including the Clintons could force him to do anything HE ultimately didn't want to do. No matter how many of the stooges imposed upon him tried to get away with murder.

He quickly realised there was some nasty goings on that he was supposed to rubberstamp and he rebelled against it at his inauguration speech which gave the establishment a slap across the face as Pres George W Bush quipped to his dad PresGeorge Bush

"That was some weird shit"

And all else followed the yellow brick road to right here, right now.

Good innit?

Antonym ,

The Left has fallen into reactionary insanity

The other main proof for the above: they support Islamism just because the "alt-right" opposes it.

Islamism kicks all the Left's causes in the teeth: equality only for Muslims, as all the others are despicable kaffirs; misogyny to the power of 2; LGTB rights below zero; nothing against shark capitalism in the Koran.

The Iranian Left was massacred in 1988 by the Iranian Islamists.

Dungroanin ,

Antzy the Bush's from Grandaddy Prescot to the CIA JFK killers and Pres George Senior to Pres Dubya to all current scions are bestties with the most extreme form of islamists in hostory the Wahhabists who enable the Saudis to control Saudi Arabia and it's wealth – they have even been referred to as the most Likudist state outside of Israel by Nuttyyahoo!

So there.

Koba ,

The Jew defender has spoken! Show me this support for Islamism! Im yet to find even a mainstream or fringe left wing party support that at all! Good goy a shekel has been deposited into your account

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

The USA Deep State is a Five Eyes partner and as such Trump must be given the proverbial boot for being an uneducated boor lacking political gravitas & business gravitas with his narcissistic Smoot-Hawley II 2019 trade wars.

Screw the confidence man-in-chief. He is a liability for the USA and global business.

Trump is not an asset.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

Okay, I'll admit that he is a Russian Federation asset in so far as he is Putin's & Russian Federation Intelligence asset fodder that Putin can utilize at will whenever he desires but aside from being the biggest dumb arse in the Western Empire he is really an ignorant ignoramus when you drill right down to it.

I support the USA Deep State conspiracy to rid the good people of the United States of America of the Orange Oaf conundrum. The global business community would rather restore business fundamentals IMHO.

As MOU my perspective is absolute, sorry.

Like Josef Stalin I too have a reputation to uphold.

MOU

Joerg ,

It is an illusion to talk of "the Left" and "the Right" anymore, because the USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates.
Think of this enormous sum of 23 (I believe) trillion Dollars missing in the Pentagon. And the House even decided to not research where this money went! To this see https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1407-mark-skidmore-on-the-pentagons-missing-trillions/

Or think of the Ukraine and Joe and Hunter Biden (and other corrupt persons from the EU). Author Bill Martin mentions this above with :"dirty business in Ukraine".
But its not only about corruption. Now it's also about a murder-attempt – as every Mafia would never hesitate to execute. And Western media doesn't report this.
This has happened: Because of Joe Biden's quid-pro-quo demand to former Ukrainian president Poroshenko (no billions of Dollars from the US, if Shokin was not fired) state prosecutor Shokin was then fired. But some months ago there had now also been a poison-attack on Shokin. And now Shokin goes after Joe Biden – and he must, if he wants to survive!: To this on the site https://youtube.com/channel/UCdeMVChrumySxV9N1w0Au-w There click the video "JOE BIDEN, UKRAINE AND VIKTOR SHOKIN MERCURY POISONING".

paul ,

Trump, Sanders and Corbyn were all in their own way agents of creative destruction.
Trump tapped into the popular discontent of millions of Americans who realised that the system no longer even pretended to work in their interests, and were not prepared to be diverted down the Identity Politics Rabbit Hole.
The Deep State was outraged that he had disrupted their programme by stealing Clinton's seat in the game of Musical Chairs. Being the most corrupt, dishonest and mendacious political candidate in all US history (despite some pretty stiff opposition) was supposed to be outweighed by her having a vagina. The Deplorables failed to sign up for the programme.
Almost as a by product of his 2016 victory, Trump showed up the MSM hacks for what they were, lying, partisan shills utterly lacking in any integrity and credibility. The same applies to the intrigues and corruption of the Dirty Cops and Spookocracy. They had to come out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves as the dirty, lying, seditious, treasonous, rabid criminal scum they are. The true nature of the State standing in the spotlight for all the world to see. This cannot be undone.
For all his pandering to Adelson and the Zionist Mafia, for all his Gives to Netanyahu, Trump has failed to deliver on the Big Ticket Items. Syria was supposed to have been invaded by now, with Hillary cackling demonically over Assad's death as she did over Gaddafi, and rapidly moving on to the main event with Iran. They will not forgive him for this. They realise they are under severe time pressure. It took them a century to gain their stranglehold over America, and this is a wasting asset. America is in terminal decline, and may soon be unable to fulfil its ordained role as dumb goy muscle serving Zionist interests. And the parasite will find it difficult to find a replacement host.

paul ,

Sanders was shafted in 2016 by the corrupt DNC machine, and he is being shafted again.
He will probably be sidelined in favour of some third rate hack like Buttplug, or some other synthetic, manufactured nonentity.
If he isn't, and by some miracle does secure the nomination, they will fail to support him and just allow him to be defeated by Trump. It doesn't matter.
There are millions of decent people who have long been persuaded to play the game of Lesser Evils. They will be as disenchanted as was Trump's Base by a transparently corrupt, rigged system, and finally withdraw their support.
This has to be seen as a positive development.
They can no longer paper over the cracks.

paul ,

Likewise, there are more than a few crumbs of comfort to be drawn from the smearing and destruction of Corbyn.
As in America, it forced the Deep State to step out from behind the curtain and take direct control. The Zionist wire pullers had to step out into the spotlight and reveal the true extent of their domination.
The endless treachery and backstabbing of the Blairites have shown the Labour Party to be a lost cause, a dead end, a waste of time, effort and energy, and a waste of a man's rations, making way for something more worthwhile. This is another positive development.

Koba ,

Paul the people playing the lesser of two evils game aren't good people. They pretend they are. That's it. In a nutshell.

Dungroanin ,

Well Bill you make great points especially around the Impeachment minutiae – Eric the Schiffleur, Paul, a genuine legal expert, Schiffs shape changing and snakeeyed mesmerising , the levitation of Bolton into a Saviour? Holly shit!! Yanks eat some nasty foods no wonder there is great obesity (gratuitous I know).

BUT Bill, you will insist on working the old long con – the Left/Right imaginary one dimensional divide.

WHY?

There is only a 3-D Top-Bottom construct in the world in a roughly Pyramidal 'con' shape which shifts its peaks and size in time (4D).

It is the super rich oligarch owning Pathocracy in the hidden heights and their visible representative Kings and plutocrats at the top and their circles of diminishing powers and affluence down to the majority of humans below – kept in the dirt and slavery through indenture where they can't by shear violence of slave masters and dog soldiers.

There is only that top – bottom, squashed by bought priests and philosophers and 'economists' into first a 2-D triangle and then squashed into a 1-D line that people are told is left and right. The great owners of everything having disappeared of that scale but represented by their ciphers:-

Clintons / Obama are Left – Bush's / Trump are right.

Crap – they are just pawns in the top down 4D game trying to claw up the peaks – no wonder Donald named his son Baron – it may be his way of giving the finger to the glass ceiling he aims to shatter.

Bernie is a threat to that pyramid as Jeremy was here in the UK.

They had to stop Jeremy at any cost and the Judaeo-phobic smear was massive, added to the terrorist smear in the 2017 election. Along with the he was both a Brexiteer and anti Brexiteer smear and a Commie!

It was still not quite certain so the US openly interfered in rhe UK election with Pompeo's Gauntlet to stop Corbyn – where the fuck is the concerned democratic purveyors of the US on that election interference by the Sec of State and a pressure group upon a another sovereign country ?
Where are the judges? The IG's ? The glitterati? The Intellectuals ?
YOU Bill?

They FIXED the postal ballots to make sure – even after making sure a unprecedented winter, December, short daylight, prexmas date to minimise turnout.

Yes they did.

Sanders looks like he is going to get the gauntlet but being Jewish to start with – it will be harder to throw the Judaeophobe mud at him – so the shit thrown is, COMMUNIST ! It has already started, but to make sure the election will also be rigged, whether via the delegates or by the 'hanging chard de nous jour'.

Only a massive turnout and careful independent international election inspectors would ever get near that – though they didn't stop the Bolivian coup by the CIA did they?

Anyway Trump has a trump card he will play anyday soon – a NEW YALTA – which will turn him into a giant statesman of the world stage and he'll stomp home for his second term – for these above in the Pyramid better the devil they know and give Baron a baronial peak of his own snd Donald his pound if flesh!

George Mc ,

Haven't you just agreed with him here?

He thinks the left died in the 1960s, over a half century ago. It's pretty simple to identify a leftist: anti-imperialist/ anti-capitalist. The Democrats are imperialists. People who vote for the Democrats and Republicans are imperialists. This article is a confused mess, that's my whole point;)

If the Democrats and Republicans (and those who vote for them) are imperialists (which they are) then the left are indeed dead – at least as far as political representation goes. Although to be sure, that makes his point confused to say the least. He seems to be attempting to drum up support for Sanders who, by his own logic, isn't going to make a damn bit of difference (any more than Corbyn would have made had HE been elected in the UK).

George Mc ,

Truth be told, I usually tend to glaze over when I see articles about Trump's impeachment. Or indeed articles about American politics in general. And I see the Corbyn fiasco as the ultimate indication that UK politics is just another rigged show. The ultimate irony being, as I've said, that Corbyn would not have made a difference even if elected anyway. The fact that the media went so ruthlessly after him is an indication that even the appearance of socialism is too much for them. But I feel that, in the spirit of "What else can we write about?", we will continue to have articles on the minutiae of shenanigans between Boris and Patel etc. It seems to me that the only hope we now have is from events outside the political system which threaten to burst the charade apart.

George Mc ,

I think that if Corbyn had been elected, there would have been a severe limit as to what he could have achieved. (While of course, the media would be going into meltdown about plans for a new Auschwitz on the M1 etc.) However – I grant that the very election of such an "extreme" figure would cause a similar meltdown behind the scenes as it would lead to the deadliest thing of all: hope! It would have been a signal that an extensive part – even the majority – of the British public were sick of this neoliberal cancer. Thus, while the practical effect of a Corbyn victory would have been limited, the psychological effect (the damage done to the showbiz façade) would have been profound.

sharon marlowe ,

"Truth be told, I usually tend to glaze over when I see articles about Trump's impeachment. Or indeed articles about American politics in general."

lol So do I:)
It definitely irked me that such an article appeared here. It looked like a U.S.-TV-political-pundit-monologue thing.

[Mar 01, 2020] Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

Notable quotes:
"... Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss? ..."
"... The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

fajensen , , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

[Feb 29, 2020] The US's Inalienable Right to Violence by Gregory Shupak

Jan 21, 2020 | fair.org

Even when critical of US actions, media commentary on recent US bombings and assassinations in the Middle East is premised on the assumption that the US has the right to use violence (or the threat of it) to assert its will, anytime, anywhere. Conversely, corporate media coverage suggests that any countermeasure -- such as resistance to the US presence in Iraq -- is inherently illegitimate, criminal and/or terroristic.

Iranian puppeteers

One step in this dance is depicting US military forces in Iraq as innocent bystanders under attack by sadistic Iranian puppetmasters. Media analysis of the US murder of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani consistently asserted that he was "an architect of international terrorism responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans" ( New York Times , 1/3/20 ) or "a terrorist with the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands" ( Washington Post , 1/7/20 ). According to Leon Panetta ( Washington Post , 1/7/20 ), a former Defense secretary and CIA director,

The death of Soleimani should not be mourned, given his responsibility for the killing of thousands of innocent people and hundreds of US military personnel over the years.

There is little evidence for this contention that Iran in general or Soleimani personally is responsible for killing hundreds of Americans. When the State Department claimed last April that Iran was responsible for the deaths of 608 American servicemembers in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, investigative journalist Gareth Porter ( Truthout , 7/9/19 ) asked Navy Commander Sean Robertson for evidence, and Robertson "acknowledged that the Pentagon doesn't have any study, documentation or data to provide journalists that would support such a figure."

Porter showed that the US attribution of deaths in Iraq to Iran is an unsubstantiated government talking point from the Cheney era, one that was exposed at the time when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno admitted that, though the US had attributed Iraqi resistance fighters' weapons to Iran, US troops found many sites in Iraq at which such weapons were being manufactured.

Gareth Porter reported in Truthout ( 7/9/19 ) that "the myth that Tehran is responsible for killing over 600 US troops in the Iraq War is merely a new variant of a propaganda line that former Vice President Dick Cheney used to attempt to justify a war against Iran more than a decade ago."

Scholar Stephen Zunes ( Progressive , 1/7/20 ) similarly demonstrated the lack of evidence for the idea that Iran is behind the killing of US forces in Iraq. Zunes noted that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq , compiled by America's 16 intelligence agencies, downplayed Iran's role in Iraq's violence at roughly the same time that the Bush administration was saying that Iran was culpable.

As Porter pointed out, there was a much simpler explanation for American deaths in the period: The US targeted Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Mahdi Army fought back, imposing more casualties on US troops.

That the pundits dusted off 13-year-old propaganda to rationalize killing Soleimani is a clear indication that they were desperately grasping for any imperialist apologia within reach. If the American public is led to believe that Soleimani killed hundreds of Americans, large swathes of it are likely to regard his assassination as justified, necessary, or at worst a feature of the tit-for-tat ugliness inherent to war.

The narrative also ideologically shores up the US war on Iran in the American popular consciousness by presenting Iranians as primordially violent savages out to spill the blood of Americans, notably those in the military who are in the Middle East, presumably doing nothing but minding their own business. Presenting Iran as the reason for attacks on US forces in Iraq also implies that Iraqis had little objection to the US invasion, legitimizing the US's ongoing military presence in the country. The most obvious point about the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq is that they wouldn't happen if US soldiers weren't in Iraq.

When violence isn't violence

Another media dance move is to condemn anti-imperial violence while naturalizing imperialist violence. An editorial in the New York Times ( 1/3/20 ) said that Soleimani

no doubt had a role in the campaign of provocations by Shiite militias against American forces in Iraq that recently led to the death of an American defense contractor and a retaliatory American airstrike against the militia responsible for the attack.

Having US troops in Iraq, a country in which the US is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands , is not a "provocation," in the Times ' perspective; opposition to their presence is the provocation.

The December 27 attack that killed the US contractor did not occur in a vacuum. In 2018, the US was suspected of bombing affiliates of Kataib Hezbollah, the group the US blames for killing the contractor. Israel is suspected of carrying out a string of deadly bombings of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, of which Kataib Hezbollah is a key component, between July and September, a scenario at which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted .

The US reportedly confirmed that Israel was behind at least one of the bombings, and said it supports Israel's actions while denying direct participation. In any case, the US's lavish military support for Israel means that the former is effectively a party to the latter's bombing. Thus, the Kataib Hezbollah attack that killed the contractor can be seen as " retaliatory ," which complicates the notion that the subsequent US attack was as well.

Another Times editorial ( 1/4/20 ) describes Soleimani as "one of the region's most powerful and, yes, blood-soaked military commanders." At no point is Trump or any other US leader described as "blood-soaked" or anything comparable -- here, or in any of the mainstream media coverage I can find -- even as he and his predecessors are sopping with that of Afghans , Iraqis , Libyans and Syrians , to cite only a few recent cases. Evidently imperial violence is so righteous it leaves no trace behind.

Stephen Hadley, national security adviser in the George W Bush administration, wrote in the Washington Post ( 1/5/20 ):

What is clear is that one of the PMFs, Kataib Hezbollah, has been behind the escalating violence over the past several months as part of a campaign (assuredly with Iranian approval) to force out US troops. The campaign culminated in the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad. (The head of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed with Soleimani.)

By expelling US forces, the Iraqi government would be falling into Kataib Hezbollah's trap: rewarding the militia's violent campaign, strengthening the Iranian-backed PMFs, weakening the Iraqi government and state sovereignty, and jeopardizing the fight against the Islamic State.

Kataib Hezbollah's actions are called "violence" twice in these three sentences, with their apex apparently being "the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad." Remarkably, the author makes no mention of the December 29 US airstrikes on five sites in Iraq and Syria that the US says belong to Kataib Hezbollah, bombings that reportedly killed 25 and injured 55 . Those, it would seem, do not constitute "violence." Iraqis damaging the embassy of the country whose economic sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children is "violence," but the US's lethal air raids are not. And expelling foreign armies weakens state sovereignty!

"No one in Baghdad was fooled" by anti-US protests in Iraq, which were "almost certainly a Soleimani-staged operation to make it look as if Iraqis wanted America out," declared Thomas Friedman ( New York Times , 1/3/20 ). (In a 2016 poll , 93% of young Iraqis said that they perceived the US as an "enemy.")

Thomas Friedman's Times article ( 1/3/20 ) on Soleimani's murder was bad even by Thomas Friedman standards. He dismissed the protests at the US embassy:

The whole "protest" against the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad last week was almost certainly a Soleimani-staged operation to make it look as if Iraqis wanted America out when in fact it was the other way around. The protesters were paid pro-Iranian militiamen. No one in Baghdad was fooled by this.

In a way, it's what got Soleimani killed. He so wanted to cover his failures in Iraq he decided to start provoking the Americans there by shelling their forces, hoping they would overreact, kill Iraqis and turn them against the United States. Trump, rather than taking the bait, killed Soleimani instead.

That there were thousands of protesters at the US embassy and that the Iraqi security forces stood aside to allow them to demonstrate suggests that what happened at the embassy cannot be reduced to a hoax stage-managed and paid for by Iran. Furthermore, the US did kill Iraqis two days before the protests, and that's what ignited them (to say nothing of the longer term record of the US devastating Iraq ). Like Hadley, however, Friedman pretends that the US's December 27 bombings didn't happen.

In the imperial imagination, the US has the right to violently pursue its objectives wherever it wants, and any resistance is illegitimate.

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media , is published by OR Books.

  1. Konstantin Goranovic

    January 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Kudos to you Gregory for keeping us informed in this era of "post-truth". It takes courage to do what you are doing and I really admire it. Reply
  2. Christian J Chuba

    January 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    And yet their are 'fact checkers' out out the pro-Iran / anti-American media juggernaut, someone went to Tehran and reported on Soleimani's funeral, gasp, she must be denounced as a useful idiot because that was staged. All events we don't like are staged. Did Iran let people out of school or advertise the time and place of the procession? Most likely but so was JFK's funeral. In any case, who actually bothered to find out if the Iranians forced or paid people to attend Soleimani's funeral.

    I do feel violated being subjected to Friedman's self-proclaimed expertise. He does not feel any need to actually validate his statements other than to say, 'no one was fooled' and voila it is so. Great work if you can get it. Reply

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[Feb 24, 2020] Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world by Nikil Saval

Feb 03, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

It's not just a populist backlash – many economists who once swore by free trade have changed their minds, too. How had they got it so wrong?

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email T he annual January gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos is usually a placid affair: a place for well-heeled participants to exchange notes on global business opportunities, or powder conditions on the local ski slopes, while cradling champagne and canapes. This January, the ultra-rich and the sparkling wine returned, but by all reports the mood was one of anxiety, defensiveness and self-reproach.

The future of economic globalisation, for which the Davos men and women see themselves as caretakers, had been shaken by a series of political earthquakes. "Globalisation" can mean many things, but what lay in particular doubt was the long-advanced project of increasing free trade in goods across borders. The previous summer, Britain had voted to leave the largest trading bloc in the world. In November, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump , who vowed to withdraw from major trade deals, appeared to jeopardise the trading relationships of the world's richest country. Forthcoming elections in France and Germany suddenly seemed to bear the possibility of anti-globalisation parties garnering better results than ever before. The barbarians weren't at the gates to the ski-lifts yet – but they weren't very far.

In a panel titled Governing Globalisation , the economist Dambisa Moyo , otherwise a well-known supporter of free trade, forthrightly asked the audience to accept that "there have been significant losses" from globalisation. "It is not clear to me that we are going to be able to remedy them under the current infrastructure," she added. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, called for a policy hitherto foreign to the World Economic Forum : "more redistribution". After years of hedging or discounting the malign effects of free trade, it was time to face facts: globalisation caused job losses and depressed wages, and the usual Davos proposals – such as instructing affected populations to accept the new reality – weren't going to work. Unless something changed, the political consequences were likely to get worse.

The backlash to globalisation has helped fuel the extraordinary political shifts of the past 18 months. During the close race to become the Democratic party candidate, senator Bernie Sanders relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton on her support for free trade . On the campaign trail, Donald Trump openly proposed tilting the terms of trade in favour of American industry. "Americanism, not globalism, shall be our creed," he bellowed at the Republican national convention last July. The vote for Brexit was strongest in the regions of the UK devastated by the flight of manufacturing. At Davos in January, British prime minister Theresa May, the leader of the party of capital and inherited wealth, improbably picked up the theme, warning that, for many, "talk of greater globalisation means their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut." Meanwhile, the European far right has been warning against free movement of people as well as goods. Following her qualifying victory in the first round of France's presidential election, Marine Le Pen warned darkly that "the main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalisation that is endangering our civilisation."

It was only a few decades ago that globalisation was held by many, even by some critics, to be an inevitable, unstoppable force. "Rejecting globalisation," the American journalist George Packer has written, "was like rejecting the sunrise." Globalisation could take place in services, capital and ideas, making it a notoriously imprecise term; but what it meant most often was making it cheaper to trade across borders – something that seemed to many at the time to be an unquestionable good. In practice, this often meant that industry would move from rich countries, where labour was expensive, to poor countries, where labour was cheaper. People in the rich countries would either have to accept lower wages to compete, or lose their jobs. But no matter what, the goods they formerly produced would now be imported, and be even cheaper. And the unemployed could get new, higher-skilled jobs (if they got the requisite training). Mainstream economists and politicians upheld the consensus about the merits of globalisation, with little concern that there might be political consequences.

Back then, economists could calmly chalk up anti-globalisation sentiment to a marginal group of delusional protesters, or disgruntled stragglers still toiling uselessly in "sunset industries". These days, as sizable constituencies have voted in country after country for anti-free-trade policies, or candidates that promise to limit them, the old self-assurance is gone. Millions have rejected, with uncertain results, the punishing logic that globalisation could not be stopped. The backlash has swelled a wave of soul-searching among economists, one that had already begun to roll ashore with the financial crisis. How did they fail to foresee the repercussions?


I n the heyday of the globalisation consensus, few economists questioned its merits in public. But in 1997, the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik published a slim book that created a stir. Appearing just as the US was about to enter a historic economic boom, Rodrik's book, Has Globalization Gone Too Far?, sounded an unusual note of alarm.

Rodrik pointed to a series of dramatic recent events that challenged the idea that growing free trade would be peacefully accepted. In 1995, France had adopted a programme of fiscal austerity in order to prepare for entry into the eurozone; trade unions responded with the largest wave of strikes since 1968. In 1996, only five years after the end of the Soviet Union – with Russia's once-protected markets having been forcibly opened, leading to a sudden decline in living standards – a communist won 40% of the vote in Russia's presidential elections. That same year, two years after the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), one of the most ambitious multinational deals ever accomplished, a white nationalist running on an "America first" programme of economic protectionism did surprisingly well in the presidential primaries of the Republican party.

What was the pathology of which all of these disturbing events were symptoms? For Rodrik, it was "the process that has come to be called 'globalisation'". Since the 1980s, and especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, lowering barriers to international trade had become the axiom of countries everywhere. Tariffs had to be slashed and regulations spiked. Trade unions, which kept wages high and made it harder to fire people, had to be crushed. Governments vied with each other to make their country more hospitable – more "competitive" – for businesses. That meant making labour cheaper and regulations looser, often in countries that had once tried their hand at socialism, or had spent years protecting "homegrown" industries with tariffs.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Anti-globalisation protesters in Seattle, 1999. Photograph: Eric Draper/AP

These moves were generally applauded by economists. After all, their profession had long embraced the principle of comparative advantage – simply put, the idea countries will trade with each other in order to gain what each lacks, thereby benefiting both. In theory, then, the globalisation of trade in goods and services would benefit consumers in rich countries by giving them access to inexpensive goods produced by cheaper labour in poorer countries, and this demand, in turn, would help grow the economies of those poorer countries.

But the social cost, in Rodrik's dissenting view, was high – and consistently underestimated by economists. He noted that since the 1970s, lower-skilled European and American workers had endured a major fall in the real value of their wages, which dropped by more than 20%. Workers were suffering more spells of unemployment, more volatility in the hours they were expected to work.

While many economists attributed much of the insecurity to technological change – sophisticated new machines displacing low-skilled workers – Rodrik suggested that the process of globalisation should shoulder more of the blame. It was, in particular, the competition between workers in developing and developed countries that helped drive down wages and job security for workers in developed countries. Over and over, they would be held hostage to the possibility that their business would up and leave, in order to find cheap labour in other parts of the world; they had to accept restraints on their salaries – or else. Opinion polls registered their strong levels of anxiety and insecurity, and the political effects were becoming more visible. Rodrik foresaw that the cost of greater "economic integration" would be greater "social disintegration". The inevitable result would be a huge political backlash.

As Rodrik would later recall, other economists tended to dismiss his arguments – or fear them. Paul Krugman , who would win the Nobel prize in 2008 for his earlier work in trade theory and economic geography, privately warned Rodrik that his work would give "ammunition to the barbarians".

It was a tacit acknowledgment that pro-globalisation economists, journalists and politicians had come under growing pressure from a new movement on the left, who were raising concerns very similar to Rodrik's. Over the course of the 1990s, an unwieldy international coalition had begun to contest the notion that globalisation was good. Called "anti-globalisation" by the media, and the "alter-globalisation" or "global justice" movement by its participants, it tried to draw attention to the devastating effect that free trade policies were having, especially in the developing world, where globalisation was supposed to be having its most beneficial effect. This was a time when figures such as the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman had given the topic a glitzy prominence by documenting his time among what he gratingly called "globalutionaries" : chatting amiably with the CEO of Monsanto one day, gawking at lingerie manufacturers in Sri Lanka the next. Activists were intent on showing a much darker picture, revealing how the record of globalisation consisted mostly of farmers pushed off their land and the rampant proliferation of sweatshops. They also implicated the highest world bodies in their critique: the G7, World Bank and IMF. In 1999, the movement reached a high point when a unique coalition of trade unions and environmentalists managed to shut down the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle.

In a state of panic, economists responded with a flood of columns and books that defended the necessity of a more open global market economy, in tones ranging from grandiose to sarcastic. In January 2000, Krugman used his first piece as a New York Times columnist to denounce the "trashing" of the WTO, calling it "a sad irony that the cause that has finally awakened the long-dormant American left is that of – yes! – denying opportunity to third-world workers".

Where Krugman was derisive, others were solemn, putting the contemporary fight against the "anti-globalisation" left in a continuum of struggles for liberty. "Liberals, social democrats and moderate conservatives are on the same side in the great battles against religious fanatics, obscurantists, extreme environmentalists, fascists, Marxists and, of course, contemporary anti-globalisers," wrote the Financial Times columnist and former World Bank economist Martin Wolf in his book Why Globalization Works. Language like this lent the fight for globalisation the air of an epochal struggle. More common was the rhetoric of figures such as Friedman, who in his book The World is Flat mocked the "pampered American college kids" who, "wearing their branded clothing, began to get interested in sweatshops as a way of expiating their guilt".

ss="rich-link"> Globalisation once made the world go around. Is it about to grind to a halt? Read more

Arguments against the global justice movement rested on the idea that the ultimate benefits of a more open and integrated economy would outweigh the downsides. "Freer trade is associated with higher growth and higher growth is associated with reduced poverty," wrote the Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati in his book In Defense of Globalization. "Hence, growth reduces poverty." No matter how troubling some of the local effects, the implication went, globalisation promised a greater good.

The fact that proponents of globalisation now felt compelled to spend much of their time defending it indicates how much visibility the global justice movement had achieved by the early 2000s. Still, over time, the movement lost ground, as a policy consensus settled in favour of globalisation. The proponents of globalisation were determined never to let another gathering be interrupted. They stopped meeting in major cities, and security everywhere was tightened. By the time of the invasion of Iraq, the world's attention had turned from free trade to George Bush and the "war on terror," leaving the globalisation consensus intact.

Above all, there was a widespread perception that globalisation was working as it was supposed to. The local adverse effects that activists pointed to – sweatshop labour, starving farmers – were increasingly obscured by the staggering GDP numbers and fantastical images of gleaming skylines coming out of China. With some lonely exceptions – such as Rodrik and the former World Bank chief and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz – the pursuit of freer trade became a consensus position for economists, commentators and the vast majority of mainstream politicians, to the point where the benefits of free trade seemed to command blind adherence. In a 2006 TV interview, Thomas Friedman was asked whether there was any free trade deal he would not support. He replied that there wasn't, admitting, "I wrote a column supporting the Cafta, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade."


I n the wake of the financial crisis, the cracks began to show in the consensus on globalisation, to the point that, today, there may no longer be a consensus. Economists who were once ardent proponents of globalisation have become some of its most prominent critics. Erstwhile supporters now concede, at least in part, that it has produced inequality, unemployment and downward pressure on wages. Nuances and criticisms that economists only used to raise in private seminars are finally coming out in the open.

A few months before the financial crisis hit, Krugman was already confessing to a "guilty conscience". In the 1990s, he had been very influential in arguing that global trade with poor countries had only a small effect on workers' wages in rich countries. By 2008, he was having doubts: the data seemed to suggest that the effect was much larger than he had suspected.

In the years that followed, the crash, the crisis of the eurozone and the worldwide drop in the price of oil and other commodities combined to put a huge dent in global trade. Since 2012, the IMF reported in its World Economic Outlook for October 2016 , trade was growing at 3% a year – less than half the average of the previous three decades. That month, Martin Wolf argued in a column that globalisation had "lost dynamism", due to a slackening of the world economy, the "exhaustion" of new markets to exploit and a rise in protectionist policies around the world. In an interview earlier this year, Wolf suggested to me that, though he remained convinced globalisation had not been the decisive factor in rising inequality, he had nonetheless not fully foreseen when he was writing Why Globalization Works how "radical the implications" of worsening inequality "might be for the US, and therefore the world". Among these implications appears to be a rising distrust of the establishment that is blamed for the inequality. "We have a very big political problem in many of our countries," he said. "The elites – the policymaking business and financial elites – are increasingly disliked . You need to make policy which brings people to think again that their societies are run in a decent and civilised way."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Illustration by Nathalie Lees

That distrust of the establishment has had highly visible political consequences: Farage, Trump, and Le Pen on the right; but also in new parties on the left, such as Spain's Podemos, and curious populist hybrids, such as Italy's Five Star Movement . As in 1997, but to an even greater degree, the volatile political scene reflects public anxiety over "the process that has come to be called 'globalisation'". If the critics of globalisation could be dismissed before because of their lack of economics training, or ignored because they were in distant countries, or kept out of sight by a wall of police, their sudden political ascendancy in the rich countries of the west cannot be so easily discounted today.

Over the past year, the opinion pages of prestigious newspapers have been filled with belated, rueful comments from the high priests of globalisation – the men who appeared to have defeated the anti-globalisers two decades earlier. Perhaps the most surprising such transformation has been that of Larry Summers. Possessed of a panoply of elite titles – former chief economist of the World Bank, former Treasury secretary, president emeritus of Harvard, former economic adviser to President Barack Obama – Summers was renowned in the 1990s and 2000s for being a blustery proponent of globalisation. For Summers, it seemed, market logic was so inexorable that its dictates prevailed over every social concern. In an infamous World Bank memo from 1991 , he held that the cheapest way to dispose of toxic waste in rich countries was to dump it in poor countries, since it was financially cheaper for them to manage it. "The laws of economics, it's often forgotten, are like the laws of engineering," he said in a speech that year at a World Bank-IMF meeting in Bangkok. "There's only one set of laws and they work everywhere. One of the things I've learned in my short time at the World Bank is that whenever anybody says, 'But economics works differently here,' they're about to say something dumb."

Over the last two years, a different, in some ways unrecognizable Larry Summers has been appearing in newspaper editorial pages. More circumspect in tone, this humbler Summers has been arguing that economic opportunities in the developing world are slowing, and that the already rich economies are finding it hard to get out of the crisis. Barring some kind of breakthrough, Summers says, an era of slow growth is here to stay.

In Summers's recent writings, this sombre conclusion has often been paired with a surprising political goal: advocating for a "responsible nationalism". Now he argues that politicians must recognise that "the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good".


O ne curious thing about the pro-globalisation consensus of the 1990s and 2000s, and its collapse in recent years, is how closely the cycle resembles a previous era. Pursuing free trade has always produced displacement and inequality – and political chaos, populism and retrenchment to go with it. Every time the social consequences of free trade are overlooked, political backlash follows. But free trade is only one of many forms that economic integration can take. History seems to suggest, however, that it might be the most destabilising one.

Nearly all economists and scholars of globalisation like to point to the fact that the economy was rather globalised by the early 20th century. As European countries colonised Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, they turned their colonies into suppliers of raw materials for European manufacturers, as well as markets for European goods. Meanwhile, the economies of the colonisers were also becoming free-trade zones for each other. "The opening years of the 20th century were the closest thing the world had ever seen to a free world market for goods, capital and labour," writes the Harvard professor of government Jeffry Frieden in his standard account, Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the 20th Century. "It would be a hundred years before the world returned to that level of globalisation."

In addition to military force, what underpinned this convenient arrangement for imperial nations was the gold standard. Under this system, each national currency had an established gold value: the British pound sterling was backed by 113 grains of pure gold; the US dollar by 23.22 grains, and so on. This entailed that exchange rates were also fixed: a British pound was always equal to 4.87 dollars. The stability of exchange rates meant that the cost of doing business across borders was predictable. Just like the eurozone today, you could count on the value of the currency staying the same, so long as the storehouse of gold remained more or less the same.

When there were gold shortages – as there were in the 1870s – the system stopped working. To protect the sanctity of the standard under conditions of stress, central bankers across the Europe and the US tightened access to credit and deflated prices. This left financiers in a decent position, but crushed farmers and the rural poor, for whom falling prices meant starvation. Then as now, economists and mainstream politicians largely overlooked the darker side of the economic picture.

In the US, this fuelled one of the world's first self-described "populist" revolts, leading to the nomination of William Jennings Bryan as the Democratic party candidate in 1896. At his nominating convention, he gave a famous speech lambasting gold backers: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." Then as now, financial elites and their supporters in the press were horrified. "There has been an upheaval of the political crust," the Times of London reported, "and strange creatures have come forth."

Businessmen were so distressed by Bryan that they backed the Republican candidate, William McKinley, who won partly by outspending Bryan five to one. Meanwhile, gold was bolstered by the discovery of new reserves in colonial South Africa. But the gold standard could not survive the first world war and the Great Depression. By the 1930s, unionisation had spread to more industries and there was a growing worldwide socialist movement. Protecting gold would mean mass unemployment and social unrest. Britain went off the gold standard in 1931, while Franklin Roosevelt took the US off it in 1933; France and several other countries would follow in 1936.

The prioritisation of finance and trade over the welfare of people had come momentarily to an end. But this wasn't the end of the global economic system.


T he trade system that followed was global, too, with high levels of trade – but it took place on terms that often allowed developing countries to protect their industries. Because, from the perspective of free traders, protectionism is always seen as bad, the success of this postwar system has been largely under-recognised.

Over the course of the 1930s and 40s, liberals – John Maynard Keynes among them – who had previously regarded departures from free trade as "an imbecility and an outrage" began to lose their religion. "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war, is not a success," Keynes found himself writing in 1933 . "It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous – and it doesn't deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it." He claimed sympathies "with those who would minimise, rather than with those who would maximise, economic entanglement among nations," and argued that goods "be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible".

The international systems that chastened figures such as Keynes helped produce in the next few years – especially the Bretton Woods agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) – set the terms under which the new wave of globalisation would take place.

The key to the system's viability, in Rodrik's view, was its flexibility – something absent from contemporary globalisation, with its one-size-fits-all model of capitalism. Bretton Woods stabilised exchange rates by pegging the dollar loosely to gold, and other currencies to the dollar. Gatt consisted of rules governing free trade – negotiated by participating countries in a series of multinational "rounds" – that left many areas of the world economy, such as agriculture, untouched or unaddressed. "Gatt's purpose was never to maximise free trade," Rodrik writes. "It was to achieve the maximum amount of trade compatible with different nations doing their own thing. In that respect, the institution proved spectacularly successful."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Construction workers in Beijing, China. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Partly because Gatt was not always dogmatic about free trade, it allowed most countries to figure out their own economic objectives, within a somewhat international ambit. When nations contravened the agreement's terms on specific areas of national interest, they found that it "contained loopholes wide enough for an elephant to pass", in Rodrik's words. If a nation wanted to protect its steel industry, for example, it could claim "injury" under the rules of Gatt and raise tariffs to discourage steel imports: "an abomination from the standpoint of free trade". These were useful for countries that were recovering from the war and needed to build up their own industries via tariffs – duties imposed on particular imports. Meanwhile, from 1948 to 1990, world trade grew at an annual average of nearly 7% – faster than the post-communist years, which we think of as the high point of globalisation. "If there was a golden era of globalisation," Rodrik has written, "this was it."

Gatt, however, failed to cover many of the countries in the developing world. These countries eventually created their own system, the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD). Under this rubric, many countries – especially in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia – adopted a policy of protecting homegrown industries by replacing imports with domestically produced goods. It worked poorly in some places – India and Argentina, for example, where the trade barriers were too high, resulting in factories that cost more to set up than the value of the goods they produced – but remarkably well in others, such as east Asia, much of Latin America and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where homegrown industries did spring up. Though many later economists and commentators would dismiss the achievements of this model, it theoretically fit Larry Summers's recent rubric on globalisation: "the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good."

The critical turning point – away from this system of trade balanced against national protections – came in the 1980s. Flagging growth and high inflation in the west, along with growing competition from Japan, opened the way for a political transformation. The elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were seminal, putting free-market radicals in charge of two of the world's five biggest economies and ushering in an era of "hyperglobalisation". In the new political climate, economies with large public sectors and strong governments within the global capitalist system were no longer seen as aids to the system's functioning, but impediments to it.

Not only did these ideologies take hold in the US and the UK; they seized international institutions as well. Gatt renamed itself as the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the new rules the body negotiated began to cut more deeply into national policies. Its international trade rules sometimes undermined national legislation. The WTO's appellate court intervened relentlessly in member nations' tax, environmental and regulatory policies, including those of the United States: the US's fuel emissions standards were judged to discriminate against imported gasoline, and its ban on imported shrimp caught without turtle-excluding devices was overturned. If national health and safety regulations were stricter than WTO rules necessitated, they could only remain in place if they were shown to have "scientific justification".

The purest version of hyperglobalisation was tried out in Latin America in the 1980s. Known as the "Washington consensus", this model usually involved loans from the IMF that were contingent on those countries lowering trade barriers and privatising many of their nationally held industries. Well into the 1990s, economists were proclaiming the indisputable benefits of openness. In an influential 1995 paper, Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner wrote: "We find no cases to support the frequent worry that a country might open and yet fail to grow."

But the Washington consensus was bad for business: most countries did worse than before. Growth faltered, and citizens across Latin America revolted against attempted privatisations of water and gas. In Argentina, which followed the Washington consensus to the letter, a grave crisis resulted in 2002 , precipitating an economic collapse and massive street protests that forced out the government that had pursued privatising reforms. Argentina's revolt presaged a left-populist upsurge across the continent: from 1999 to 2007, leftwing leaders and parties took power in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all of them campaigning against the Washington consensus on globalisation. These revolts were a preview of the backlash of today.


R odrik – perhaps the contemporary economist whose views have been most amply vindicated by recent events – was himself a beneficiary of protectionism in Turkey. His father's ballpoint pen company was sheltered under tariffs, and achieved enough success to allow Rodrik to attend Harvard in the 1970s as an undergraduate. This personal understanding of the mixed nature of economic success may be one of the reasons why his work runs against the broad consensus of mainstream economics writing on globalisation.

"I never felt that my ideas were out of the mainstream," Rodrik told me recently. Instead, it was that the mainstream had lost touch with the diversity of opinions and methods that already existed within economics. "The economics profession is strange in that the more you move away from the seminar room to the public domain, the more the nuances get lost, especially on issues of trade." He lamented the fact that while, in the classroom, the models of trade discuss losers and winners, and, as a result, the necessity of policies of redistribution, in practice, an "arrogance and hubris" had led many economists to ignore these implications. "Rather than speaking truth to power, so to speak, many economists became cheerleaders for globalisation."

In his 2011 book The Globalization Paradox , Rodrik concluded that "we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national determination, and economic globalisation." The results of the 2016 elections and referendums provide ample testimony of the justness of the thesis, with millions voting to push back, for better or for worse, against the campaigns and institutions that promised more globalisation. "I'm not at all surprised by the backlash," Rodrik told me. "Really, nobody should have been surprised."

But what, in any case, would "more globalisation" look like? For the same economists and writers who have started to rethink their commitments to greater integration, it doesn't mean quite what it did in the early 2000s. It's not only the discourse that's changed: globalisation itself has changed, developing into a more chaotic and unequal system than many economists predicted. The benefits of globalisation have been largely concentrated in a handful of Asian countries. And even in those countries, the good times may be running out.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Illustration by Nathalie Lees

Statistics from Global Inequality , a 2016 book by the development economist Branko Milanović, indicate that in relative terms the greatest benefits of globalisation have accrued to a rising "emerging middle class", based preponderantly in China. But the cons are there, too: in absolute terms, the largest gains have gone to what is commonly called "the 1%" – half of whom are based in the US. Economist Richard Baldwin has shown in his recent book, The Great Convergence, that nearly all of the gains from globalisation have been concentrated in six countries.

Barring some political catastrophe, in which rightwing populism continued to gain, and in which globalisation would be the least of our problems – Wolf admitted that he was "not at all sure" that this could be ruled out – globalisation was always going to slow; in fact, it already has. One reason, says Wolf, was that "a very, very large proportion of the gains from globalisation – by no means all – have been exploited. We have a more open world economy to trade than we've ever had before." Citing The Great Convergence, Wolf noted that supply chains have already expanded, and that future developments, such as automation and the use of robots, looked to undermine the promise of a growing industrial workforce. Today, the political priorities were less about trade and more about the challenge of retraining workers , as technology renders old jobs obsolete and transforms the world of work.

Rodrik, too, believes that globalisation, whether reduced or increased, is unlikely to produce the kind of economic effects it once did. For him, this slowdown has something to do with what he calls "premature deindustrialisation". In the past, the simplest model of globalisation suggested that rich countries would gradually become "service economies", while emerging economies picked up the industrial burden. Yet recent statistics show the world as a whole is deindustrialising. Countries that one would have expected to have more industrial potential are going through the stages of automation more quickly than previously developed countries did, and thereby failing to develop the broad industrial workforce seen as a key to shared prosperity.

For both Rodrik and Wolf, the political reaction to globalisation bore possibilities of deep uncertainty. "I really have found it very difficult to decide whether what we're living through is a blip, or a fundamental and profound transformation of the world – at least as significant as the one that brought about the first world war and the Russian revolution," Wolf told me. He cited his agreement with economists such as Summers that shifting away from the earlier emphasis on globalisation had now become a political priority; that to pursue still greater liberalisation was like showing "a red rag to a bull" in terms of what it might do to the already compromised political stability of the western world.

Rodrik pointed to a belated emphasis, both among political figures and economists, on the necessity of compensating those displaced by globalisation with retraining and more robust welfare states. But pro-free-traders had a history of cutting compensation: Bill Clinton passed Nafta, but failed to expand safety nets. "The issue is that the people are rightly not trusting the centrists who are now promising compensation," Rodrik said. "One reason that Hillary Clinton didn't get any traction with those people is that she didn't have any credibility."

Rodrik felt that economics commentary failed to register the gravity of the situation: that there were increasingly few avenues for global growth, and that much of the damage done by globalisation – economic and political – is irreversible. "There is a sense that we're at a turning point," he said. "There's a lot more thinking about what can be done. There's a renewed emphasis on compensation – which, you know, I think has come rather late."

[Feb 24, 2020] The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: it's bad economics by Dani Rodrik

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. ..."
"... The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash. ..."
"... The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world. ..."
"... That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest. ..."
Nov 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics.

As even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena – from Augusto Pinochet to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, from the Clinton Democrats and the UK's New Labour to the economic opening in China and the reform of the welfare state in Sweden.

The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash.

We live in the age of neoliberalism, apparently. But who are neoliberalism's adherents and disseminators – the neoliberals themselves? Oddly, you have to go back a long time to find anyone explicitly embracing neoliberalism. In 1982, Charles Peters, the longtime editor of the political magazine Washington Monthly, published an essay titled A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto . It makes for interesting reading 35 years later, since the neoliberalism it describes bears little resemblance to today's target of derision. The politicians Peters names as exemplifying the movement are not the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, but rather liberals – in the US sense of the word – who have become disillusioned with unions and big government and dropped their prejudices against markets and the military.

The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world.

That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest.

But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas.

The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.


N eoliberalism is typically understood as being based on key tenets of mainstream economic science. To see those tenets without the ideology, consider this thought experiment. A well-known and highly regarded economist lands in a country he has never visited and knows nothing about. He is brought to a meeting with the country's leading policymakers. "Our country is in trouble," they tell him. "The economy is stagnant, investment is low, and there is no growth in sight." They turn to him expectantly: "Please tell us what we should do to make our economy grow."

The economist pleads ignorance and explains that he knows too little about the country to make any recommendations. He would need to study the history of the economy, to analyse the statistics, and to travel around the country before he could say anything.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tony Blair and Bill Clinton: centre-left politicians who enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism. Photograph: Reuters

But his hosts are insistent. "We understand your reticence, and we wish you had the time for all that," they tell him. "But isn't economics a science, and aren't you one of its most distinguished practitioners? Even though you do not know much about our economy, surely there are some general theories and prescriptions you can share with us to guide our economic policies and reforms."

The economist is now in a bind. He does not want to emulate those economic gurus he has long criticised for peddling their favourite policy advice. But he feels challenged by the question. Are there universal truths in economics? Can he say anything valid or useful?

So he begins. The efficiency with which an economy's resources are allocated is a critical determinant of the economy's performance, he says. Efficiency, in turn, requires aligning the incentives of households and businesses with social costs and benefits. The incentives faced by entrepreneurs, investors and producers are particularly important when it comes to economic growth. Growth needs a system of property rights and contract enforcement that will ensure those who invest can retain the returns on their investments. And the economy must be open to ideas and innovations from the rest of the world.

But economies can be derailed by macroeconomic instability, he goes on. Governments must therefore pursue a sound monetary policy , which means restricting the growth of liquidity to the increase in nominal money demand at reasonable inflation. They must ensure fiscal sustainability, so that the increase in public debt does not outpace national income. And they must carry out prudential regulation of banks and other financial institutions to prevent the financial system from taking excessive risk.

Now he is warming to his task. Economics is not just about efficiency and growth, he adds. Economic principles also carry over to equity and social policy. Economics has little to say about how much redistribution a society should seek. But it does tell us that the tax base should be as broad as possible, and that social programmes should be designed in a way that does not encourage workers to drop out of the labour market.

By the time the economist stops, it appears as if he has laid out a fully fledged neoliberal agenda. A critic in the audience will have heard all the code words: efficiency, incentives, property rights, sound money, fiscal prudence. And yet the universal principles that the economist describes are in fact quite open-ended. They presume a capitalist economy – one in which investment decisions are made by private individuals and firms – but not much beyond that. They allow for – indeed, they require – a surprising variety of institutional arrangements.

So has the economist just delivered a neoliberal screed? We would be mistaken to think so, and our mistake would consist of associating each abstract term – incentives, property rights, sound money – with a particular institutional counterpart. And therein lies the central conceit, and the fatal flaw, of neoliberalism: the belief that first-order economic principles map on to a unique set of policies, approximated by a Thatcher/Reagan-style agenda.

Consider property rights. They matter insofar as they allocate returns on investments. An optimal system would distribute property rights to those who would make the best use of an asset, and afford protection against those most likely to expropriate the returns. Property rights are good when they protect innovators from free riders, but they are bad when they protect them from competition. Depending on the context, a legal regime that provides the appropriate incentives can look quite different from the standard US-style regime of private property rights.

This may seem like a semantic point with little practical import; but China's phenomenal economic success is largely due to its orthodoxy-defying institutional tinkering. China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices in property rights. Its reforms produced market-based incentives through a series of unusual institutional arrangements that were better adapted to the local context. Rather than move directly from state to private ownership, for example, which would have been stymied by the weakness of the prevailing legal structures, the country relied on mixed forms of ownership that provided more effective property rights for entrepreneurs in practice. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), which spearheaded Chinese economic growth during the 1980s, were collectives owned and controlled by local governments. Even though TVEs were publicly owned, entrepreneurs received the protection they needed against expropriation. Local governments had a direct stake in the profits of the firms, and hence did not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

China relied on a range of such innovations, each delivering the economist's higher-order economic principles in unfamiliar institutional arrangements. For instance, it shielded its large state sector from global competition, establishing special economic zones where foreign firms could operate with different rules than in the rest of the economy. In view of such departures from orthodox blueprints, describing China's economic reforms as neoliberal – as critics are inclined to do – distorts more than it reveals. If we are to call this neoliberalism, we must surely look more kindly on the ideas behind the most dramatic poverty reduction in history.

One might protest that China's institutional innovations were purely transitional. Perhaps it will have to converge on western-style institutions to sustain its economic progress. But this common line of thinking overlooks the diversity of capitalist arrangements that still prevails among advanced economies, despite the considerable homogenisation of our policy discourse.

What, after all, are western institutions? The size of the public sector in OECD countries varies, from a third of the economy in Korea to nearly 60% in Finland. In Iceland, 86% of workers are members of a trade union; the comparable number in Switzerland is just 16%. In the US, firms can fire workers almost at will; French labour laws have historically required employers to jump through many hoops first. Stock markets have grown to a total value of nearly one-and-a-half times GDP in the US; in Germany, they are only a third as large, equivalent to just 50% of GDP.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices ... ' Photograph: AFP/Getty

The idea that any one of these models of taxation, labour relations or financial organisation is inherently superior to the others is belied by the varying economic fortunes that each of these economies have experienced over recent decades. The US has gone through successive periods of angst in which its economic institutions were judged inferior to those in Germany, Japan, China, and now possibly Germany again. Certainly, comparable levels of wealth and productivity can be produced under very different models of capitalism. We might even go a step further: today's prevailing models probably come nowhere near exhausting the range of what might be possible, and desirable, in the future.

The visiting economist in our thought experiment knows all this, and recognises that the principles he has enunciated need to be filled in with institutional detail before they become operational. Property rights? Yes, but how? Sound money? Of course, but how? It would perhaps be easier to criticise his list of principles for being vacuous than to denounce it as a neoliberal screed.

Still, these principles are not entirely content-free. China, and indeed all countries that managed to develop rapidly, demonstrate the utility of those principles once they are properly adapted to local context. Conversely, too many economies have been driven to ruin courtesy of political leaders who chose to violate them. We need look no further than Latin American populists or eastern European communist regimes to appreciate the practical significance of sound money, fiscal sustainability and private incentives.


O f course, economics goes beyond a list of abstract, largely common-sense principles. Much of the work of economists consists of developing stylised models of how economies work and then confronting those models with evidence. Economists tend to think of what they do as progressively refining their understanding of the world: their models are supposed to get better and better as they are tested and revised over time. But progress in economics happens differently.

Economists study a social reality that is unlike the physical universe. It is completely manmade, highly malleable and operates according to different rules across time and space. Economics advances not by settling on the right model or theory to answer such questions, but by improving our understanding of the diversity of causal relationships. Neoliberalism and its customary remedies – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. Good economists know that the correct answer to any question in economics is: it depends.

Does an increase in the minimum wage depress employment? Yes, if the labour market is really competitive and employers have no control over the wage they must pay to attract workers; but not necessarily otherwise. Does trade liberalisation increase economic growth? Yes, if it increases the profitability of industries where the bulk of investment and innovation takes place; but not otherwise. Does more government spending increase employment? Yes, if there is slack in the economy and wages do not rise; but not otherwise. Does monopoly harm innovation? Yes and no, depending on a whole host of market circumstances.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Today [neoliberalism] is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas that have produced growing economic inequality and precipitated our current populist backlash' Trump signing an order to take the US out of the TPP trade pact. Photograph: AFP/Getty

In economics, new models rarely supplant older models. The basic competitive-markets model dating back to Adam Smith has been modified over time by the inclusion, in rough historical order, of monopoly, externalities, scale economies, incomplete and asymmetric information, irrational behaviour and many other real-world features. But the older models remain as useful as ever. Understanding how real markets operate necessitates using different lenses at different times.

Perhaps maps offer the best analogy. Just like economic models, maps are highly stylised representations of reality . They are useful precisely because they abstract from many real-world details that would get in the way. But abstraction also implies that we need a different map depending on the nature of our journey. If we are travelling by bike, we need a map of bike trails. If we are to go on foot, we need a map of footpaths. If a new subway is constructed, we will need a subway map – but we wouldn't throw out the older maps.

Economists tend to be very good at making maps, but not good enough at choosing the one most suited to the task at hand. When confronted with policy questions of the type our visiting economist faces, too many of them resort to "benchmark" models that favour the laissez-faire approach. Kneejerk solutions and hubris replace the richness and humility of the discussion in the seminar room. John Maynard Keynes once defined economics as the "science of thinking in terms of models, joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant". Economists typically have trouble with the "art" part.

This, too, can be illustrated with a parable. A journalist calls an economics professor for his view on whether free trade is a good idea. The professor responds enthusiastically in the affirmative. The journalist then goes undercover as a student in the professor's advanced graduate seminar on international trade. He poses the same question: is free trade good? This time the professor is stymied. "What do you mean by 'good'?" he responds. "And good for whom?" The professor then launches into an extensive exegesis that will ultimately culminate in a heavily hedged statement: "So if the long list of conditions I have just described are satisfied, and assuming we can tax the beneficiaries to compensate the losers, freer trade has the potential to increase everyone's wellbeing." If he is in an expansive mood, the professor might add that the effect of free trade on an economy's longterm growth rate is not clear either, and would depend on an altogether different set of requirements.

This professor is rather different from the one the journalist encountered previously. On the record, he exudes self-confidence, not reticence, about the appropriate policy. There is one and only one model, at least as far as the public conversation is concerned, and there is a single correct answer, regardless of context. Strangely, the professor deems the knowledge that he imparts to his advanced students to be inappropriate (or dangerous) for the general public. Why?

The roots of such behaviour lie deep in the culture of the economics profession. But one important motive is the zeal to display the profession's crown jewels – market efficiency, the invisible hand, comparative advantage – in untarnished form, and to shield them from attack by self-interested barbarians, namely the protectionists . Unfortunately, these economists typically ignore the barbarians on the other side of the issue – financiers and multinational corporations whose motives are no purer and who are all too ready to hijack these ideas for their own benefit.

As a result, economists' contributions to public debate are often biased in one direction, in favour of more trade, more finance and less government. That is why economists have developed a reputation as cheerleaders for neoliberalism, even if mainstream economics is very far from a paean to laissez-faire. The economists who let their enthusiasm for free markets run wild are in fact not being true to their own discipline.


H ow then should we think about globalisation in order to liberate it from the grip of neoliberal practices? We must begin by understanding the positive potential of global markets. Access to world markets in goods, technologies and capital has played an important role in virtually all of the economic miracles of our time. China is the most recent and powerful reminder of this historical truth, but it is not the only case. Before China, similar miracles were performed by South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and a few non-Asian countries such as Mauritius . All of these countries embraced globalisation rather than turn their backs on it, and they benefited handsomely.

Defenders of the existing economic order will quickly point to these examples when globalisation comes into question. What they will fail to say is that almost all of these countries joined the world economy by violating neoliberal strictures. South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, heavily subsidised their exporters, the former through the financial system and the latter through tax incentives. All of them eventually removed most of their import restrictions, long after economic growth had taken off.

But none, with the sole exception of Chile in the 1980s under Pinochet, followed the neoliberal recommendation of a rapid opening-up to imports. Chile's neoliberal experiment eventually produced the worst economic crisis in all of Latin America. While the details differ across countries, in all cases governments played an active role in restructuring the economy and buffering it against a volatile external environment. Industrial policies, restrictions on capital flows and currency controls – all prohibited in the neoliberal playbook – were rampant.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Protest against Nafta in Mexico City in 2008: since the reforms of the mid-90s, the country's economy has underperformed. Photograph: EPA

By contrast, countries that stuck closest to the neoliberal model of globalisation were sorely disappointed. Mexico provides a particularly sad example. Following a series of macroeconomic crises in the mid-1990s, Mexico embraced macroeconomic orthodoxy, extensively liberalised its economy, freed up the financial system, sharply reduced import restrictions and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). These policies did produce macroeconomic stability and a significant rise in foreign trade and internal investment. But where it counts – in overall productivity and economic growth – the experiment failed . Since undertaking the reforms, overall productivity in Mexico has stagnated, and the economy has underperformed even by the undemanding standards of Latin America.

These outcomes are not a surprise from the perspective of sound economics. They are yet another manifestation of the need for economic policies to be attuned to the failures to which markets are prone, and to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each country. No single blueprint fits all.


A s Peters's 1982 manifesto attests, the meaning of neoliberalism has changed considerably over time as the label has acquired harder-line connotations with respect to deregulation, financialisation and globalisation. But there is one thread that connects all versions of neoliberalism, and that is the emphasis on economic growth . Peters wrote in 1982 that the emphasis was warranted because growth is essential to all our social and political ends – community, democracy, prosperity. Entrepreneurship, private investment and removing obstacles that stand in the way (such as excessive regulation) were all instruments for achieving economic growth. If a similar neoliberal manifesto were penned today, it would no doubt make the same point.

Critics often point out that this emphasis on economics debases and sacrifices other important values such as equality, social inclusion, democratic deliberation and justice. Those political and social objectives obviously matter enormously, and in some contexts they matter the most. They cannot always, or even often, be achieved by means of technocratic economic policies; politics must play a central role.

Still, neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is vibrant, strong and growing. Where they are wrong is in believing that there is a unique and universal recipe for improving economic performance, to which they have access. The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.

A version of this article first appeared in Boston Review

[Feb 22, 2020] Jeffrey And I Had Everyone On Videotape Ghislaine Maxwell Reportedly Told Friend

Notable quotes:
"... The acquaintance, socialite and distant relative to the royals Christina Oxenberg, said that Maxwell also told her that Epstein bought a private helicopter because commercial pilots were "eyes and ears" he did not need. ..."
"... Maxwell has been accused by several alleged Epstein victims of both facilitating and participating in sexual crimes. She has vehemently denied the claims and has not been charged with any crimes in connection to Epstein's activities. ..."
Feb 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Jeffrey Epstein's alleged 'madam' told a former acquaintance that she and the now-dead pedophile had "everything on videotape," according to The Telegraph .

The acquaintance, socialite and distant relative to the royals Christina Oxenberg, said that Maxwell also told her that Epstein bought a private helicopter because commercial pilots were "eyes and ears" he did not need.

She revealed she had spoken to the FBI about what she had been told.

Ms Oxenberg, 57, first met Maxwell in the early 1990s and said she would never forget a conversation the pair once had in Maxwell's home.

"We were alone," she said. "She said many things. All creepy. Unorthodox. Strange. I could not believe whatever she was saying was real. Stuff like: 'Jeffrey and I have everyone on videotape.'"...

Maxwell has been accused by several alleged Epstein victims of both facilitating and participating in sexual crimes. She has vehemently denied the claims and has not been charged with any crimes in connection to Epstein's activities.

If true, we wonder who exactly was taped?

[Feb 21, 2020] Who Is Les Wexner Decline and Fall of Victoria's Secret Titan

Feb 21, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

L Brands went public in 1969 and Wexner was a billionaire by the 1980s, a person familiar with his finances has said. A self-proclaimed workhorse, Wexner preferred to focus on his job rather than managing his money, according to people who knew him at the time.

Then Epstein showed up.

The former math teacher and Bear Stearns Cos. banker became a central figure in the billionaire's life. The pair met in the late 1980s in Palm Beach, Florida, when Epstein was hustling for clients of his money-management firm that he said catered only to billionaires. The New Yorker and Wexner, one of the nation's richest people at the time, struck up a friendship that seemed odd to some who were close to the fashion mogul. Wexner soon abandoned the money manager he had been working with. In 1991, he gave Epstein power of attorney. He explained in a letter to his philanthropic foundation in August -- days before Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell -- that the financier previously had "wide latitude to act on my behalf with respect to my personal finances." 'Good Decisions'

One of Epstein's roles was to manage Wexner's soaring stock holdings, but his duties also included suburban planning and yacht design. He represented Wexner when the billionaire sold a New York townhouse to the German government in 1991, according to Jessica Rohm, a retired real estate agent. Epstein was the beneficiary of hand-me-downs including a Boeing 727 and another Manhattan mansion on East 71st Street. "He votes the shares. I decide when to sell it," Epstein said in a 2003 interview at his private Caribbean island. "If you take a look back you'll see I've made very good decisions."

Wexner has a $7 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index . Less than a fifth of that is tied up in L Brands, thanks in part to the share sales Epstein oversaw. The mandate proved enormously profitable for him. Epstein's Financial Trust Co. collected $208 million in fee income from 2003 through 2006, according to accounts first obtained by the New York Times.

The filings indicate that Wexner was his central -- perhaps only -- backer in those years. When the two cut ties in 2007, fee income at Financial Trust fell to $4 million that year from $66 million in 2006.

Epstein's Backer

Fee income at financier's firm cratered after Wexner cut ties

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/b0e44d52e1e84df899cb22c7aae11cf8.html?brand=business&webTheme=default&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: USVI filings, New York Times

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Twelve years later, in July 2019, those ties sparked a crisis for Wexner after Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking. After weeks of silence, Wexner disavowed the convicted pedophile, who had served time on other charges in Florida a decade earlier, noting his former money manager had "misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family." Days later, Epstein was dead.

[Feb 21, 2020] Private Equity's War to Preserve Surprise Billing

Notable quotes:
"... If you want proof that private equity is predatory, you need go not further than its concerted efforts to extend and intensify the devastating practice of surprise billing. ..."
"... Physicians' groups, it turns out, can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract. The doctors are then free to charge patients, who desperately need care, however much they want. ..."
"... This has made physicians' practices in specialties such as emergency care, neonatal intensive care and anesthesiology attractive takeover targets for private equity firms . ..."
"... Emergency rooms, neonatal intensive care units and anesthesiologists' practices do not operate like an ordinary marketplace. Physicians' practices in these specialties do not need to worry that they will lose patients because their prices are too high. ..."
"... It's not only patients that are victimized by unscrupulous physicians' groups. These doctors' groups are able to coerce health insurance companies into agreeing to pay them very high fees in order to have them in their networks. ..."
"... and it needs to be annual ..."
Feb 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

If you want proof that private equity is predatory, you need go not further than its concerted efforts to extend and intensify the devastating practice of surprise billing.

Bad enough that patients develop afflictions or have accidents that land them in the hospital. Recovering physically is hard enough. But to then have the stress and financial damage of large and unexpected bills, which are exercises in rent extraction, is the sort of thing that creates Madame DeFarges.

Private equity experts Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt did the sleuthing to document how private equity has greatly extended and profited from this abuse. What most people do not realize is the degree to which hospitals have outsourced what most people would assume were core functions provided by doctors on the hospital's payroll, such as emergency room doctors. With many large nominally not-for-profit hospital groups run by MBAs out to justify higher pay packages for themselves, many practice areas are in fact outsourced. Private equity has hoovered up these groups. They, and not the hospital, provide the personnel for a particular case, and they make sure to get some out of network practitioners on the team to pad the bills.

One metric: a Stanford study determined that the odds of getting a surprise bill had increased from 32% in 2010 to 43% in 2016, and the average amount had risen over that time period from $220 to $628. A new study in Health Affairs found that this out of network billing raises health care costs by $40 billion per year .

Appelbaum gave a high-level overview in a op-ed in The Hill last May :

Physicians' groups, it turns out, can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract. The doctors are then free to charge patients, who desperately need care, however much they want.

This has made physicians' practices in specialties such as emergency care, neonatal intensive care and anesthesiology attractive takeover targets for private equity firms .

Emergency rooms, neonatal intensive care units and anesthesiologists' practices do not operate like an ordinary marketplace. Physicians' practices in these specialties do not need to worry that they will lose patients because their prices are too high.

Patients can go to a hospital in their network, but if they have an emergency, have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit or have surgery scheduled with an in-network surgeon, they are stuck with the out-of-network doctors the hospital has outsourced these services to .

It's not only patients that are victimized by unscrupulous physicians' groups. These doctors' groups are able to coerce health insurance companies into agreeing to pay them very high fees in order to have them in their networks.

They do this by threatening to charge high out-of-network bills to the insurers' covered patients if they don't go along with these demands. High payments to these unethical doctors raise hospitals' costs and everyone's insurance premiums.

Appelbaum cited Yale economists who'd examined what happened when hospitals outsourced their emergency room staffing to the two biggest players, EmCare, which has been traded among several private equity firms and is now owned by KKR and TeamHealth, held by Blackstone:

.after EmCare took over the management of emergency services at hospitals with previously low out-of-network rates, they raised out-of-network rates by over 81 percentage points. In addition, the firm raised its charges by 96 percent relative to the charges billed by the physician groups they succeeded.

The study also described how TeamHealth extorted insurers by threatening them with high out-of-network charges for "must have" services:

in most instances, several months after going out-of-network, TeamHealth physicians rejoined the network and received in-network payment rates that were 68 percent higher than previous in-network rates.

California and the Federal government tried to pass legislation to curb surprise billing. As we noted, the California bill was yanked suddenly and no one felt compelled to offer an explanation. The bi-partisan Federal effort also failed.

Appelbaum and Batt, in a new article at CEPR, explain how private equity has been throwing money at astroturf group to keep its scam going :

Early in the summer of 2019, Congress appeared poised to protect consumers from surprise medical bills and to hold insured patients financially harmless in situations where they were unable to choose their doctor .

Two solutions, both of which take surprise charges to patients out of the equation, have been put forward. Employers, patient advocates, and insurance companies favor paying out-of-network doctors a rate "benchmarked" to rates negotiated with in-network doctors to hold down health costs. Not surprisingly, this solution is opposed by large physician staffing companies and specialist physician practices that want to continue to charge prices higher than the in-network fees. These doctors' practices, some backed by private equity firms, have been lobbying intensively for a second option that would allow doctors dissatisfied with a negotiated rate to seek a higher fee via an arbitration process that they believe will ensure higher physician pay and higher company revenues and profits.

The campaign by Physicians for Fair Coverage, a private equity-backed group lobbying on behalf of large physician staffing firms, launched a $1.2 million national ad campaign in July to push for this second approach.8 The lobbying campaign bore fruit. In July, [sponsors of the House bill] Pallone and Walden accepted an amendment to allow arbitration, but only in special cases, and it required the arbitrator to use negotiated rates instead of provider charges when deciding on disputes over payment.9 But the private equity-owned physician staffing companies were not satisfied. In late July, a mysterious group called Doctor Patient Unity launched a $28 million ad and lobbying campaign (now up to nearly $54 million) aimed at keeping any legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills from passing. In mid-September, a representative for Doctor Patient Unity finally revealed what many observers already suspected -- that PE-owned doctor staffing firms Envision Healthcare and TeamHealth were behind the campaign

Agreement on a joint House and Senate bipartisan bill by Senators Alexander and Murray and Congressmen Pallone and Walden nearly made it into the omnibus continuing resolution that passed in December 2019. It was stymied when Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, offered a last-minute alternative. The Neal bill protects consumers from surprise medical bills but requires disputes between providers and insurance companies to be resolved through arbitration. This, of course, is what the PE-owned staffing firms and the doctors' practices they own lobbied for. Lack of support from the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House delayed passage of the legislation. In his September 2019 fundraising report, Neal reported receipt of $29,000 from Blackstone, owner of TeamHealth.

The entire article is very much worth reading , since it offers more detail on how the private equity firms tightened their grip on these chokepoints. And the threat of legal curbs has had an impact. As the piece also explains, the value of the debt on Envision, the parent of EmCare, and TeamHealth both fell into junk terrain and rebounded a bit when the bills were sidelined for 2019, but remains distressed:

Appelbaum and Batt are pessimistic that anything will get done in 2020:

In the current legislative session, Congress is again working to pass legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills. But the disagreements in Congress remain unresolved Chances of a compromise bill emerging in this session of Congress do not look good as of this writing (mid-February 2020), and relief for insured patients from unexpected medical bills does not appear to be on the horizon.

However, bond investors clearly think there's still a risk of legislation with some teeth, although the earliest possibility is 2021. Keep your fingers crossed.


jackiebass February 21, 2020 at 6:31 am

Where I live the emergency room doctors are contracted out to a private group. This has been the practice for over a decade. Recently the local hospital got rid of their dialysis services by selling it to a private company. When a person is sick they don't think about asking if the provider is in their network. They simply want treatment to help recover.Another problem is in many areas there isn't a choice. Expensive services can have only one or no providers. That means you have to go out of you area and probably your network. I'm on medicare and chose to be on traditional medicare. You aren't locked into a small network of providers. My supplemental is through my former employer. Unfortunately it's network plan. Occasionally I have services not paid because they are out of network, even though medicare covers 80%. The deductible for out of network is so high that I end up with paying the 20%. I believe there is only one reason for network heart care. It's to increase profits and has little to do with reducing costs.

Shiloh1 February 21, 2020 at 8:02 am

If Al Capone was around today he would be in this criminal enterprise.

Criminal prosecution is the solution. Not "single payer for racketeering" or "mob protection for all".

Best government money can buy.

human February 21, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Capone famously once answered a reporter that, "Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class."

flora February 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

I was thinking of Al Capone and his almost untouchable Chicago 'enterprise'. He was untouchable in Chicago because his racket paid off the judges, prosecutors, aldermen, and politicians. It took the feds stepping in to shut Capone down.

How many more people will go bankrupt, or avoid going to the doctor or hospital for fear of bankruptcy because of this PE surprise billing racket? Several state leges are passing or trying to pass legislation to block surprise billing.

Thanks for this post.

hoonose February 21, 2020 at 9:51 am

I hope that you've been negotiating your out of network billings! A third or half off may not be unreasonable. Heck, the hospital only collects about 25% of its total billings!

flora February 21, 2020 at 4:24 pm

This is one reason we need traditional M4A. Traditional Medicare has payment limits that the provider has to accept if they bill Medicare. (Medicare fraud is a problem, but it is tracked and prosecuted.)

Note: Medicare Advantage plans do not have this surprise billing limits protection. see:
https://pnhp.org/news/kathleen-sebelius-and-bill-frist-digging-for-the-medicare-advantage-gold/

John Anthony La Pietra February 21, 2020 at 6:34 am

Maybe I'm missing something, but offhand I don't see how this can even be a thing under a single-payer health-care system. If someone knows better otherwise, please enlighten me.

If I've got that much right, could this be another part of the motivation against M4A?

human February 21, 2020 at 7:35 am

Of course it is. A single-payer system will have massive leverage to achieve fair pricing and compensation.

hoonose February 21, 2020 at 11:34 am

Of course providers are all worried that compensations will be too meager and oppressive. For instance if the docs' income expectations go unmet, then they will certainly buck!

Yves Smith Post author February 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm

But the "providers," as in the MDs, are not the beneficiaries, or at least not much. It's the companies that own the practices .which are owned by PE funds.

Cripes February 21, 2020 at 7:05 am

This reminds me of the TV ad running lately featuring a nice young couple opening their cable bill and declaring "Its a ransom note!" as if its the height of comedy that we are living in a kleptocracy where everyone is constantly subject to "your money or your life" banditry we pretend were left behind in central park muggings of the 1970s.

I have recently had multiple occasions that I needed to write on patient responsibility forms that out of network and balance billing is refused, followed with letters citing applicable state laws and CMS contracts barring conduct in my state. It's insane.
Still I have stacks of collection notices I must beat back and win every time. They only need to win once to destroy someone. Have we no prisons?

The rapine and dispossession of late-stage American crapitalism (can we finally get to End Stage?) always exceeds our worst expectations.
Crime-infested swamp of a country.

Dare we hope a movement can coalesce and endure after a decent man in his waning years is thrust into an historical opportunity to move this train wreck from disaster?

He's the community organizer Obama never was and the new dealer FDR never quite was.

In the flatness of our current political terrain, Bernie's grandfatherly menscheism makes him a moral colossus next to the sniveling careerists and the nefarious old crassus.

1776, 1860, 1932, 1968. What will we make of this year?

On to Milwaukee

John Anthony La Pietra February 21, 2020 at 7:29 am

Can you put the rebuttal into your own easily reproducible form? Either a neat page to staple thoroughly to the bills (copied/printed in needed quantities) or a big rubber stamp with blanks to fill in if applicable?

Yves Smith Post author February 21, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Yes, if you can provide it, I would make it a post. Your version with your state's language and how to find similar language in other states. This is VERY important.

Note I have heard one reader say that their doctors said they wouldn't schedule the surgery if she made an issue out of out of network MDs, that she needed to go elsewhere. So those doctors were completely on board with this practice.

DHG February 21, 2020 at 7:22 am

Anyone who has not made themselves judgment proof really is the fool. No assets, nothing for them to get.

floyd February 21, 2020 at 8:23 am

Disagree -as Chris Hedges says, those people have value as prisoners where they can generate $40K+/yr for some private prison.

flora February 21, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Yep.

"You wouldn't think you'd go to jail over medical bills": County in rural Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coffeyville-kansas-medical-debt-county-in-rural-kansas-is-jailing-people-over-unpaid-medical-debt/

fnx February 21, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Doesn't mean that can't get a judgment against you! Then you spend the rest of your life trying to avoid having people send money via Paypal or other services direct to your bank account since they can take it. Or winning the lottery or buying a new car the list is endless.

TG February 21, 2020 at 12:14 pm

I am currently visiting some old colleagues in Denmark. I told them about the new practice in the United States of "surprise medical billing."

They were shocked. "Sure that's something Trump would do, but surely the Democrats would stop it?"

Hahahaha.

Susan the other February 21, 2020 at 12:48 pm

As in "Privatize Sovereignty, Socialize Property" by David Cieplay, Blackstone and its ilk have this very business model. In this case they are buying up emergency room doctors' practices – with the promise they will make more money – and passing the cost on to insurance companies (poetic justice) and the state and federal gov. Because we have no laws against this sort of corporate privateering (heaven forbid congress should suddenly remember how and why to legislate), all the costs of health care are socialized and because the PE funds are untouchable they have effectively privatized sovereignty. When we all realize their useful function in this scam is one big nothing burger, congress will have to act. It's just another testament to how venal, immoral, lazy and rotten congress is. I can smell it from here.

Howard February 21, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Besides PE, it also makes sense that the real estate sector in general would be opposed to anything that reduces financial burden (particularly anything that would lessen medical debt) on middle- and lower-middle-income households, because foreclosures and desperation fire sales would then dry up.

TimH February 21, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Here's the California situation, from https://www.dmhc.ca.gov/Portals/0/HealthCareInCalifornia/FactSheets/fsab72.pdf

The law protects consumers from surprise medical bills when:
An enrollee goes to an in-network facility such as a hospital, lab or imaging center, but services are provided by an out-of-network health provider.

An enrollee receives emergency services from a doctor or hospital that is not contracted with the patient's health plan or medical group.

JCC February 21, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Yet another anecdote

I've been a relatively healthy individual and so rarely use my insurance. I used it for the first time in 20 years for a full yearly physical (just because it was "that time", not for any health problems). The annual full checkup is, supposedly, fully covered, and I chose a local clinic in my network.

The various clinics involved ended up billing me directly, so far, for over $3500.00, and that was before the colonoscopy bill which still hasn't arrived. I checked my Insurance Portal and, sure enough, the supposed covered charges were listed as "Denied".

So, considering all these costs were supposed to be covered, I took a full day off work (6 solid hours on various phone calls) to get it straightened out. While going through all these bills and working through each charge I discovered 1 bill for a clinic appt (a subsidiary of CVS) that never happened and 1 very high bill for standard blood tests (Quest) that never happened due to a screwup initiated by the CVS-owned clinic. We'll see what happens.

But while talking with one of the Insurance Co. reps she told me a classic surprise billing horror story that happened to her. She gets occasional nosebleeds and one day got a serious one while on the highway before her exit. A CHP officer pulled up behind her after she pulled over to take care of the situation and refused to let her continue on without going to the nearest Emergency Room, so she went.

Her visit lasted 1/2 hour. She was handed a bucket of clean water and a towel. After cleaning up, she waited around for awhile, gave up waiting, washed the towel out, cleaned the bucket out and left. She went on to tell me that 30 days later she recieved a bill from the Emergency Services group at the hospital for $45,000.00. For a towel and a bucket of water.

It took her two days of unpaid time off to get it straightened out and the bill removed.

She then told me she's voting for Sanders, too.

So I've learned three lessons from this; 1) even with insurance things go wrong far too often when it comes to billing issues, and 2) Surprise Billing is far more common than I was led to believe, and 3) Health Insurance/care in this country is riddled with fraud and outright criminality.

Yves Smith Post author February 21, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Hate to tell you, but with a colonoscopy, the exam is covered by Obamacare, but any snipping of polyps is not, and that can easily run to $1000.

The US Is the only advanced economy where colonoscopies are recommended for everyone over 50. In other countries, they are recommended only for people in high risk groups.

If you get an annual ( and it needs to be annual ) fecal occult blood test (easy and cheap, MD puts gloved finger in you, wipes test panel, and tells you right there), the results in terms of detection are on par with colonoscopies.

[Feb 20, 2020] Epstein Mentor Les Wexner Leaves L Brands, Sells 55% Stake In Victoria's Secret For $525 Million

Feb 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Les Wexner is stepping down as chairman and CEO of L Brands as the company prepares to sell a 55% stake in its flagship brand, Victoria's Secret, to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $525 million, according to a pair of reports from Bloomberg and WSJ.

Last month, we reported that Wexner, a longtime friend, benefactor and mentor to financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was preparing to sell the company that he essentially built and led for decades.

Sources familiar with the talks told WSJ at the time that a full or partial sale of Victoria's Secret was expected, as the company was finally giving up on turning around the struggling lingerie brand.

WSJ described the decision to give up control of Victoria's Secret was an acknowledgement that 82-year-old billionaire Wexner "couldn't revei the fortunes of a troubled lingerie brand he had built around shopping malls and sex appeal.

Three other L Brands board members will step down along with Wexner, though Abigail's will remain on the board. A successor has already been chosen, per WSJ.

In an internal memo to staff, Mr. Wexner shared news of the deal and his departure. "I've thought about where I fit in the picture," he wrote in the email. "In keeping with this same thoughtful examination, I have decided that now is the right time to pass the reins to new leadership."

L Brands said it had promoted one of its longtime executives, Andrew Meslow, to take over as chief executive and be added to the board when the Sycamore deal closes. Mr. Meslow, who joined the company in 2003, is chief operating officer of its Bath & Body Works chain.

Three longtime board members, including L Brand's lead independent director, will step down at the next annual meeting. Two other directors left last year amid pressure from an activist investor. Mr. Wexner, who owns a 17% stake, and his wife Abigail will keep seats on the board.

The deal will spin off VS as a separate company with a valuation worth $1.1 billion, just a fraction of the $34 billion valuation for Lululemon Athletica and other rivals.

[Feb 14, 2020] The best about Trump is that it makes the US system so visibly transparent: The king and his servants (acolytes) looking for personal advantage ... Hillarious. Don't you second-rate allies/acolytes use the wrong words. We better give you talking points.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Feb 13 2020 11:16 utc | 147

Pft 85 < The Constitution of the United States of America is a corporate charter. in form and substance, it redirected the distribution of profits from shareholders to feudal lords.

What it has been doing since Lincoln was shot is to develop lordships (called monopoly possessing corporations) and making sure those lordships were vested by rule of law, war in foreign land, and other measures as needed, to make sure the feudal lords and their corporations were always profitable no matter what and to be sure that any need or want the feudal lords had need for, the USA corporation would extract from those (called Americans) that it governs. ..

When the feudal lords fail, the government is made to give the feudal lord the money it needs to keep going. until the failed feudal lord can realize by its bull shit existence to be profitable again.

Vig , Feb 13 2020 12:48 utc | 152

Comment les Etats-Unis ont demandé à la communauté internationale de soutenir leur plan israélo-palestinien.or look for lefigaro.fr then international,then moyen orient.
Posted by: willie | Feb 13 2020 0:48 utc | 94

Interesting willie. Yes the best about Trump is that it makes the US system so visibly transparent: The king and his servants (acolytes) looking for personal advantage ... Hillarious. Don't you second-rate allies/acolytes use the wrong words. We better give you talking points.

https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/comment-les-etats-unis-ont-demande-a-la-communaute-internationale-de-soutenir-leur-plan-israelo-palestinien-20200201

[Feb 14, 2020] Now here is a good piece on Trump gangsterism by Gordon Duff

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Feb 12 2020 22:34 utc | 77

Now here is a good piece on Trump gangsterism by Gordon Duff.
I guess some is Duffy but most entirely believable.
Q wont reprint this .

ben , Feb 12 2020 22:41 utc | 81

Thanks for the link ut @ 77; An excerpt;

"Those who accept the policies of the Trump administration, cancellation of the JCPOA with Iran, seizing oil fields in Syria, endless sanctions on nation after nation, Europe blackmailed, endless threats emanating almost hourly from Trump's iPhone as "national policy" or even criminally deranged is simply not paying attention."

Excellent come back for the Qanon fantasy, which, IMO, ranks right up there with Ayn Rand's fevered dreams...

Pft , Feb 12 2020 23:28 utc | 85
Ran across this quote which is more true than not.

There is no America. Everything is just one vast corporation, an association of corporations. There's no Britain. There's no America. There's no Holland. There's no China. There's no Russia. It's one conglomerate of corporations. Money runs the thing."

-- Peter Finch as character Howard Beale, in the movie "Network

Its true when you consider the interlocking ownership of the elites in the major corporations and industries, which also capture governments political parties and regulatory agencies, and in China of course these local global elites make up parts of the party elite. While money is an important attribute of power, I think its a means and not an end to them. Their motivations is an ideology based on Platos Republic where they are pholisopher kings ruling the rest, and a religious idea that they, as elites may evolve to become like God and recover what was lost after the fall - as man was originally made in Gods image. Another name for it is Transhumanism which actually is idea that came from gnostic Judeo-Christian beliefs. Religion like Eugenics has not disappeared, both have just been renamed and repurposed. The Elites are Gods chosen people and the rest exist to serve.

uncle tungsten , Feb 13 2020 1:23 utc | 96
Penelope #95

Exactly Penelope, that is precisely what the Trump and establishment oligarchy want. Red herrings to mesmerise and nimble fingers to pick pockets and all backed by their 'rule of law', their thugs, their assault on humanity.

Benign neglect of the safety of citizens as part of this strategy of creating high level terror (be it actual violence or a coronavirus)is called out in this excellent analysis .

[Feb 10, 2020] Victoria's Secret Sale To Sycamore Imminent; L Brands' Shares Pop

Notable quotes:
"... - Alex Acosta Federal Prosecutor was told to tank the case against Epstein because Epstein was Intelligence, who gave Acosta the order, his Boss AG Gonzales who reported directly the Bush Jr aka Clinton's brother from another mother ? ..."
"... He's not being terminated, he's being removed from the scene. Financier of pedofile ring and abuser of women is not positive for the brand. Even if branch is only throw away underwear - maybe he can move into adult diaper industry. ..."
Feb 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Victoria's Secret Sale To Sycamore Imminent; L Brands' Shares Pop by Tyler Durden Mon, 02/10/2020 - 07:15 0 SHARES Shares of Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands jumped 10% Monday on news private equity firm Sycamore Partners is close to a deal to purchase the women's lingerie brand, reported CNBC .

News of the potential deal involving Sycamore was released in the overnight hours, with more details expected this week.

There was no word on a succession plan for L Brands CEO Les Wexner. Still, as we noted several weeks ago, his mediocre performance as CEO and controversial relationship with late sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein , assured that his time at the helm of the company is coming to an end. That said, since we first previewed the potential sale of Victoria's Secret, there has been no indication if the transaction is tied to Wexner's relationship with Epstein.

Victoria's Secret has experienced declining sales in the last four years, which triggered a mass exodus of investors from L Brands' stock, sending it plunging 74% since 2016. Shareholders criticized Wexner for his inability to evolve Victoria's Secret to changing consumer demands, despite L Brands having massive success in its other companies, such as Bath & Bodyworks personal care shop.

Victoria's Secret generated $7.4 billion in sales last year but has been considered a dying brand among consumers.


William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

WEXNER & THE OTHER OLIGARCHS WHO FINANCED EPSTEIN'S KIDDIE SEX SLAVE OPERATION

William Dorritt , 4 hours ago link

WEXNER'S 300 ft yacht will never be sold

- Too much physical evidence on the ship ??

- It will be quietly scrapped in Pakistan

while the DOJ, FBI and Federal Courts continue to provide cover for the Elite Pedos

- 2 x CIA and 1 former Mosad have stated that Epstein was a Mosad Compromise Operation

- The operation created Control Files on the Business, Academic (MIT, Harvard etc) and Political Elite in the US and Europe

- Dershowitz and Weinstein were frequent Flyers as were both Clintons

- Virginia Roberts testified she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz who she found repulsive

- Prince Andrew was photographed embracing under age Roberts inside of the Wexner-Epstein kiddie sex mansion in NYC as was Israeli PM Barak who also supplied Weinstein with former Mosad contact; company that specialized in making PR problems go away, Black Cube

- Asia Argento, Me Too, accused Weinstein of raping her and up to 100 other actresses; boyfriend Antony Bordain who had outspoken against Weinstein died after x Mosad was employed to solve problems

- Epstein was a Globalist who belonged to the CFR and Tri Lateral Commission

- Epstein ran a Eugenics program in NM, in the Middle of the Governor's Ranch, Zorro Ranch

- Bill Gates was friends with Epstein after Epstein's kiddi-sex conviction

- McCain's wife said they knew about Epstein, and did zero for the kiddie-sex-slaves

- Epstein's neighbor in the Virgin Island also ran a sex slave cult operation, Nexium

- Alex Acosta Federal Prosecutor was told to tank the case against Epstein because Epstein was Intelligence, who gave Acosta the order, his Boss AG Gonzales who reported directly the Bush Jr aka Clinton's brother from another mother ?

- AG Barr successfully defended the Acosta deal as AG, the next day the Federal Judge who approved the original deal told the kiddie sex victime 30+ of them to piss up a rope or better luck next time

- Epstein's "death" ended all legal action in the courts

- Sleeping guards, the cameras were broken, hung himself with toilet paper from 3 feet etc, videos lost and erased from prison. 4- chan reported Epstein taken out of prison in van minutes before death announcement was made

- Disney was bring children to Epstein Island

Seasmoke , 4 hours ago link

Wexner > Epstein.

mendigo , 4 hours ago link

He's not being terminated, he's being removed from the scene. Financier of pedofile ring and abuser of women is not positive for the brand. Even if branch is only throw away underwear - maybe he can move into adult diaper industry.

William Dorritt , 2 hours ago link

Wiki

Sycamore Partners was founded in 2011 by Stefan Kaluzny and Peter Morrow. Before Sycamore, Kaluzny was a Managing Partner at Golden Gate Capital and was employed since the firm's inception. Prior to joining Golden Gate, he co-founded Delray Farms, Inc. and also served as its Chief Executive Officer. Kaluzny received a BA from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School . Morrow served as a Principal at Golden Gate before co-founding Sycamore. Morrow received a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business .

LBO = Asset Stripping, Pension Stripping, Part time workers, WalMart Pay Scale, No benefits, Everything Made in Slave Countries ????

NAV , 17 minutes ago link

New York: Stefan Kaluzny has made a ton of money -- and drawn his share of critics -- buying down-on-the-heels retailers using lots of debt.

Now, Kaluzny's Sycamore Partners is under scrutiny again, after completing a deal that left even seasoned leveraged-buyout experts agog. On Tuesday, Sycamore pulled off a $5.4 billion refinancing of Staples Inc., which it bought in 2017, that funded a staggering $1 billion dividend to the private equity firm.

The dividend is among the biggest in recent memory, even in a world where buyout firms routinely extract large sums for themselves after taking companies private. Combined with a payment it took in January, it means Sycamore has recovered -- in less than two years -- roughly 80% of the equity it originally put up as part of the deal. Private equity investors typically run their companies for five to seven years before taking profits and exiting the investment. - Sycamore Partners under scrutiny after pocketing $1 billion from Staples deal, live mint.com

MARDUKTA , 3 hours ago link

WEXNER A SICK ******* POS PEDO, WEAPONS AND DRUG TRAFFICKER WHO WILL HANG AT GITMO WHEN IT'S HIS TURN.

WHY THE HELL DO YOU THINK HE SOLD HIS **** COMPANY?

YO, EPSTEIN!

ReflectoMatic , 3 hours ago link

Draw a huge oval shaped ring around the San Luis Valley of Colorado, at the top edge is Vail, at the bottom edge is the Epstein Zorro Ranch. In the center is the Blood-of Christ Mnt, Crestone and the Baca Grande Ranch which was owned by Maurice Strong, and where his wife Hanne & Nazi paperclip Vrill communicated with non-human beings starting in 1978.

In 1982 Maurice convened in Vail a gathering of the 300 top world leaders to 'hand them' the plan during a week long gathering in which they were drugged with psychedelics. 10 years later Maurice gave us Agenda 21 then in 2015 Agenda 2030, meanwhile, trade with China expanded and factories were relocated to China, the European Union was created and the North American Union was being created in secret. All seemed to be progressing well to bring about the plan, the One World Government & Religion (GAIA).

Did China get suckered by the globalist & democrats into thinking they were going to takeover the United States? Even worse, did the globalist think they were playing the top of the game?

Jeffery Epstein is thought to be the Messiah of biblical prophesy by many of the most powerful people. China is now a sort of leper colony. Saint James, kin to Jesus, and a central theme of this play, it is home of Rothschild & Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell. The associated mindset/group, they bring to us this plague of bat theme.

The brains were at the northern edge, that ring, in Vail. The

[Feb 09, 2020] Following the US assassination of Soleimani, the Trump administration is leading American conduct abroad into a zone of probably unprecedented lawlessness by Patrick Lawrence

Notable quotes:
"... In our late-imperial phase, we seem to have reached that moment when, whatever high officials say in matters of the empire's foreign policy, we must consider whether the opposite is in fact the case. So we have it now. ..."
"... Lawlessness begets lawlessness is the operative (and obvious) principle. In a remarkable speech at the Hoover Institution last week, Pompeo termed the Soleimani assassination "the restoration of deterrence" and appeared to promise other such operations against other nations Washington considers adversaries. Ominously enough, Pompeo singled out China and Russia. ..."
"... Against the background of the events noted above, it is clear from this speech alone that our secretary of state is a dangerously incompetent figure when it comes to judging global events, the proper responses to them, and the probable consequences of a given response. If we are going to think about costs, the heaviest will fall on Americans in months to come. ..."
"... Immediately after the U.S. drone that killed Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, Mohammad Javad Zarif sent out a message whose importance should not be missed. "End of US's malign presence in West Asia has begun," Iran's foreign minister wrote. These few words, rendered in Twitterese, bear careful consideration given they come from an official whose nation had just sustained a critical blow. ..."
"... Gradually but rather certainly now, the community of nations is losing its patience with late-phase imperial America. With exceptions such as Japan and Israel, the Baltics and Saudi Arabia, this is so across both oceans and more or less across the non–Western world. In the Middle East, the American presence will remain for the time being, but we are now in the beginning-of-the-end phase. This was Zarif's meaning. And we now know the end will come neither peaceably nor lawfully. ..."
"... Amazing how the US government is bringing back the old days: "Slave markets" See: reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-rights/executions-torture-and-slave-markets-persist-in-libya-u-n-idUSKBN1GX1JY "Pillage", as pointed out in this article. ..."
"... To have such a person as the top diplomat in the USA shows how low the USA has sunk. For him to pretend to be some sort of Christian is sinister and extremely dangerous for everyone. There is NO reason for the US animosity towards Iran except subservience to Israel, which, again without real justification, claims to be terrified of Iran, which unlike Israel is NOT attacking others and has not for centuries. ..."
"... SecStae's remarks about deterrence befit a military commander, NOT a diplomat. Paranoia, grandiosity and violence begin with potus and cascade downward and about. Congress does its part in investing in machinery of war. ..."
"... Pompeo reminds me of the pigs in Animal Farm. He is a grotesque figure, steely-eyed, cold-blooded, fanatical, and hateful. "We lied, cheated, and stole" Pompous Maximus will get his comeuppance one of these days ..."
"... Pillage as policy. The Empire has fully embraced gangster capitalism for its modus operandi. ..."
"... Here is an interesting article that explains how governments have changed the rules so that they can justify killing anyone who they believe may at some point in time have the potential to be involved in a terrorist plot: viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-new.html ..."
"... This rather Orwellian move gives governments the justification that they to kill any of us just because they feel that we might pose a threat and that is a very, very scary prospect. It is very reminiscent of the movie Minority Report where crimes of the future are punished in the present. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Special to Consortium News

Of all the preposterous assertions made since the drone assassination of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3, the prize for bottomless ignorance must go to the bottomlessly ignorant Mike Pompeo.

Speaking after the influential Iranian general's death, our frightening secretary of state declaimed on CBS's Face the Nation , "There was sound and just and legal reason for the actions the President took, and the world is safer as a result." In appearances on five news programs on the same Sunday morning, the evangelical paranoid who now runs American foreign policy was a singer with a one-note tune. "It's very clear the world's a safer place today," Pompeo said on ABC's Jan. 5 edition of This Week.

In our late-imperial phase, we seem to have reached that moment when, whatever high officials say in matters of the empire's foreign policy, we must consider whether the opposite is in fact the case. So we have it now.

We are not safer now that Soleimani, a revered figure across much of the Middle East, has been murdered. The planet has just become significantly more dangerous, especially but not only for Americans, and this is so for one simple reason: The Trump administration, Pompeo bearing the standard, has just tipped American conduct abroad into a zone of probably unprecedented lawlessness, Pompeo's nonsensical claim to legality notwithstanding .

This is a very consequential line to cross.

Hardly does it hold that Washington's foreign policy cliques customarily keep international law uppermost in their minds and that recent events are aberrations. Nothing suggests policy planners even consider legalities except when it makes useful propaganda to charge others with violating international statutes and conventions.

Please donate to the Winter Fund Drive.

Neither can the Soleimani assassination be understood in isolation: This was only the most reckless of numerous policy decisions recently taken in the Middle East. Since late last year, to consider merely the immediate past, the Trump administration has acted ever more flagrantly in violation of all international legal authorities and documents -- the UN Charter, the International Criminal Court, and the International Court of Justice in the Hague chief among them.

Washington is into full-frontal lawlessness now.

'Keeping the Oil'

Shortly after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria last October, the president reversed course -- probably under Pentagon and State Department pressure -- and said some troops would remain to protect Syria's oilfields. "We want to keep the oil," Trump declared in the course of a Twitter storm. It soon emerged that the administration's true intent was to prevent the Assad government in Damascus from reasserting sovereign control over Syrian oilfields.

The Russians had the honesty to call this for what it was. "Washington's attempt to put oilfields there under [its] control is illegal," Sergei Lavrov said at the time. "In fact, it's tantamount to robbery," the Russian foreign minister added. (John Kiriakou, writing for Consortium News, pointed out that it is a violation of the 1907 Hague Convention. It is call pillage.)

Few outside the Trump administration, and possibly no one, has argued that Soleimani's murder was legitimate under international law. Not only was the Iranian general from a country with which the U.S. is not at war, which means the crime is murder; the drone attack was also a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty, as has been widely reported.

In response to Baghdad's subsequent demand that all foreign troops withdraw from Iraqi soil, Pompeo flatly refused even to discuss the matter with Iraqi officials -- yet another openly contemptuous violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

It gets worse. In his own response to Baghdad's decision to evict foreign troops, Trump threatened sanctions -- "sanctions like they've never seen before" -- and said Iraq would have to pay the U.S. the cost of the bases the Pentagon has built there despite binding agreements that all fixed installations the U.S. has built in Iraq are Iraqi government-owned.

At Baghdad's Throat

Trump, who seems to have oil eternally on his mind, has been at Baghdad's throat for some time. Twice since taking office three years ago, he has tried to intimidate the Iraqis into "repaying" the U.S. for its 2003 invasion with access to Iraqi oil. "We did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil," he said on the second of these occasions.

Baghdad rebuffed Trump both times, but he has been at it since, according to Adil Abdul–Mahdi, Iraq's interim prime minister. Last year the U.S. administration asked Baghdad for 50 percent of the nation's oil output -- in total roughly 4.5 million barrels daily -- in exchange for various promised reconstruction projects.

Rejecting the offer, Abdul–Mahdi signed an "oil for reconstruction" agreement with China last autumn -- whereupon Trump threatened to instigate widespread demonstrations in Baghdad if Abdul–Mahdi did not cancel the China deal. (He did not do so and, coincidentally or otherwise, civil unrest ensued.)

U.S. Army forces operating in southern Iraq, April. 2, 2003. (U.S. Navy)

Blueprints for Reprisal

If American lawlessness is nothing new, the brazenly imperious character of all the events noted in this brief résumé has nonetheless pushed U.S. foreign policy beyond a tipping point.

No American -- and certainly no American official or military personnel -- can any longer travel in the Middle East with an assurance of safety. All American diplomats, all military officers, and all embassies and bases in the region are now vulnerable to reprisals. The Associated Press reported after the Jan. 3 drone strike that Iran has developed 13 blueprints for reprisals against the U.S.

Lawlessness begets lawlessness is the operative (and obvious) principle. In a remarkable speech at the Hoover Institution last week, Pompeo termed the Soleimani assassination "the restoration of deterrence" and appeared to promise other such operations against other nations Washington considers adversaries. Ominously enough, Pompeo singled out China and Russia.

Here is a snippet from Pompeo's remarks:

"In strategic terms, deterrence simply means persuading the other party that the costs of a specific behavior exceed its benefits. It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it. Your adversary must understand not only do you have the capacity to impose costs but that you are, in fact, willing to do so . In all cases we have to do this."

Against the background of the events noted above, it is clear from this speech alone that our secretary of state is a dangerously incompetent figure when it comes to judging global events, the proper responses to them, and the probable consequences of a given response. If we are going to think about costs, the heaviest will fall on Americans in months to come.

Immediately after the U.S. drone that killed Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, Mohammad Javad Zarif sent out a message whose importance should not be missed. "End of US's malign presence in West Asia has begun," Iran's foreign minister wrote. These few words, rendered in Twitterese, bear careful consideration given they come from an official whose nation had just sustained a critical blow.

24 hrs ago, an arrogant clown -- masquerading as a diplomat -- claimed people were dancing in the cities of Iraq.

Today, hundreds of thousands of our proud Iraqi brothers and sisters offered him their response across their soil.

End of US malign presence in West Asia has begun. pic.twitter.com/eTDRyLN11c

-- Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 4, 2020

Gradually but rather certainly now, the community of nations is losing its patience with late-phase imperial America. With exceptions such as Japan and Israel, the Baltics and Saudi Arabia, this is so across both oceans and more or less across the non–Western world. In the Middle East, the American presence will remain for the time being, but we are now in the beginning-of-the-end phase. This was Zarif's meaning. And we now know the end will come neither peaceably nor lawfully.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Please donate to the Winter Fund Drive.


Jeff Harrison , January 21, 2020 at 19:38

Well, there's two relevant bits here. Bullshit walks and money talks. Our money stopped talking $23T ago. What goes around, comes around. Whenever, however it comes down, it's gonna hurt.

Antiwar7 , January 21, 2020 at 13:46

Amazing how the US government is bringing back the old days: "Slave markets" See: reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-rights/executions-torture-and-slave-markets-persist-in-libya-u-n-idUSKBN1GX1JY "Pillage", as pointed out in this article.

rosemerry , January 21, 2020 at 13:28

To have such a person as the top diplomat in the USA shows how low the USA has sunk. For him to pretend to be some sort of Christian is sinister and extremely dangerous for everyone. There is NO reason for the US animosity towards Iran except subservience to Israel, which, again without real justification, claims to be terrified of Iran, which unlike Israel is NOT attacking others and has not for centuries.

Even if the USA hates Iran, it has already done inestimable damage to the Islamic Republic before this disgraceful action. Cruelty to 80 million people who have never harmed, even really threatened, the mighty USA, by tossing out a working JCPOA and installing economic "sanctions", should not be accepted by the rest of the world-giving in to blackmail encourages worse behavior, as we have already seen.

"It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it. " This is exactly what should be rejected by us all. These "leaders" will not change their behavior without solidarity among "allies" like the European Union, which has already caved in and blamed Iran for the changes -Iran has explained clearly why it made- to the JCPOA which the USA has left.

Abby , January 21, 2020 at 20:15

The only difference between Trump and Obama is that Trump doesn't hide the US naked aggression as well as Obama did. So far Trump hasn't started any new wars. By this time in Obama's tenure we had started bombing more countries and accepted one coup.

dfnslblty , January 21, 2020 at 12:43

SecStae's remarks about deterrence befit a military commander, NOT a diplomat. Paranoia, grandiosity and violence begin with potus and cascade downward and about. Congress does its part in investing in machinery of war.

Cheyenne , January 21, 2020 at 11:49

The above comment shows exactly why bellicose adventurism for oil etc. is so stupid and dangerous. If we continually prance around robbing people, they're gonna unite to slap us down.

Hardly seems like anyone should need that pointed out but if anybody mentioned it to Trump or any other gung ho warhawk, he must not have been listening.

Dan Kuhn , January 21, 2020 at 13:08

Trump and Pompeo seem to have entered the Wild West stage of recent American history. I think they watch too many western movies, without understanding the underrlying plot of 100% of them. It is the bad guys take over a town, where they impose their will on the population, terrorizing everyone into obediance. They steal everything in sight and any who oppose them are summarily killed off. In the end a good guy ( In American parlance, " a good guy with a gun" shows up . The town`s people approach him and beg him to oppose the bad guys. He then proceeds to kill off the bad guys after the general population joins him in his crusade. it looks as though we are at the stage in the movie where the general population is ready to take up arms against the bad guys.

The moral of the story the bad guys, the bullies, Pompeo and Trump, are either killed or chased out of town. But perhaps the problem is that this plot is too difficult for Trump and Pompeo to understand. So they don`t quite get the peril that there gunmen and killers are now in. They don`t see the writing on the wall.

Caveman , January 21, 2020 at 11:30

It seems the only US considerations in the assassination were – will it weaken Iran, will it strengthen the American position? On that perspective, the answer is probably yes on both counts. Legal considerations do not seem to have carried any weight. In the UK we recently saw a chilling interview with Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It was clear that he saw the assassination as another nail in the coffin of the Iranian regime, simply furthering a policy objective.

Vera Gottlieb , January 21, 2020 at 11:19

What is even sadder is the world's lack of gonads to stand up to this bully nation – that has caused so much grief and still does.

Michael McNulty , January 21, 2020 at 11:01

The US government became a crime syndicate. Today its bootleg liquor is oil, the boys they send round to steal it are armies and their drive-by shootings are Warthog strafings using DU ammunition. Their drug rackets in the back streets are high-grade reefer, heroin and amphetamines, with pharmaceutical-grade chemicals on Main Street. They still print banknotes just as before; but this time it's legal but still doesn't make them enough, so to make up the shortfalls they've taken armed robbery abroad.

paul easton , January 21, 2020 at 12:55

The US Government is running a protection racket, literally. In return for US protection of their sources of oil, the NATO countries provide international support for US war crimes. But now that the (figurative) Don is visibly out of his mind, they are likely to turn to other protectors.

Gary Weglarz , January 21, 2020 at 10:34

One need not step back very far in order to look at the bigger longer range picture. What immediately comes into focus is that this is simply the current moment in what is now 500 plus years of Western colonialism/neocolonialism. When has the law EVER had anything to do with any of this?

ML , January 21, 2020 at 10:31

Pompeo reminds me of the pigs in Animal Farm. He is a grotesque figure, steely-eyed, cold-blooded, fanatical, and hateful. "We lied, cheated, and stole" Pompous Maximus will get his comeuppance one of these days. I hope he plans more overseas trips for himself. He is a vile person, a psychopath proud of his psychopathy. He alone would make anyone considering conversion to Christianity, his brand of it, run screaming into the night. Repulsive man.

Michael Crockett , January 21, 2020 at 09:40

Pillage as policy. The Empire has fully embraced gangster capitalism for its modus operandi. That said, IMO, the axis of resistance has the military capability and the resolve to fight back and win. Combining China and Russia into a greater axis of resistance could further shrink the Outlaw US Empire presence in West Asia. Thank you Patrick for your keen insight and observations. The Empires days are numbered.

Sally Snyder , January 21, 2020 at 07:28

Here is an interesting article that explains how governments have changed the rules so that they can justify killing anyone who they believe may at some point in time have the potential to be involved in a terrorist plot: viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-new.html

This rather Orwellian move gives governments the justification that they to kill any of us just because they feel that we might pose a threat and that is a very, very scary prospect. It is very reminiscent of the movie Minority Report where crimes of the future are punished in the present.

[Feb 09, 2020] Globalism requires rapacious capitalism.

Jan 27, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jake , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 10:49 pm GMT

Globalism requires rapacious capitalism. Globalism is billionaires and multi-millionaires getting richer while the middle classes of the entire Western world get squeezed and then squeezed more, with once stable working classes ruined.

Liberal voters fall for it because the Globalists swear they are helping all the blacks and browns of the world. Liberal academics, journalists, artists, and 'ordinary rich' people back it because they invariably despise both the white working class and the non-Liberal white middle class. Neocons (WASPs as well as Jews) practice rapacious capitalism religiously because they worship Mammon.

[Feb 09, 2020] For me the scariest thing is not that the world is ruled by gangsters a criminal elite with the US ruling class its top mafia family.

Jan 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Jan 26 2020 18:35 utc | 22

Hausmeister and I discussed rule by fear, "deimocracy".

That was off topic, and belongs more properly here.

And to that discussion I wish to proffer an interesting related essay>

@ steelcityscribblings.(uk)"Talking WW3 Blues" "...For me the scariest thing is not that the world is ruled by gangsters – a criminal elite with the US ruling class its top mafia family. It is that this particular family, and the lesser criminals who ride its coat-tails, are justifiably worried...."

They too are ruled by fear. Not logos, not knowledge, fear, and panic.

What can go wrong with that?

They conjure up these, the lesser gods of the wars they've made since ...you name a date... And thus themselves are ruled, as they rule the people, by war and fear and panic.

[Feb 09, 2020] Pompeo and the Mafia Hit Strategy by Kurt Nimmo

Jan 21, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

For the former tank commander, murder -- not simply double-tapping the target with a firearm, but blowing him into meaty chunks with a Hellfire missile -- is "real deterrence."

Pompeo said during a speech at Stanford University's Hoover Institute "there was 'a bigger strategy' behind the killing of Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, Iran's elite foreign espionage and paramilitary force.

The USG Mafia Hit Strategy on steroids is not confined to threatening Iran, however. Pompeo eluded to Russia and China's leaders being assassinated.

Pompeo didn't come out and say Trump's government will steer Hellfire missiles specifically at Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or even Kim Jung-un . The message, however, is inescapable, especially for folks opposed to neoliberal crony capitalist domination of their national economies, industries, public services, and natural resources

Iran wants a nuke to prevent an attack by the USG in collaboration with the Zionist government in Israel. Ditto, North Korea. It remembers when the USG bombed virtually every city, town, and hamlet in the country and killed a third of the population. No doubt the mullahs in Tehran vividly recall Muammar Gaddafi's fate. They also remember how the CIA colluded with the Brits to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and installed a monarchial tyrant.

It is entirely rational to seek the most effective deterrent to foreign invasion and mass murder campaigns waged relentlessly by the crony capitalist neolib USG and its little vicious client, Israel, the racist state where only Jews are considered first-class citizens and Arabs are tortured and killed -- or at best maimed (during anti-occupation protests, Israel snipers are instructed to aim for the eyes ).

For neocons, Trumpsters, and Fox News teleprompter readers, "taking out" Soleimani in Mafia hit fashion "was a brilliant move."

. @jockowillink says President @realDonaldTrump 's gamble ordering the strike that killed Soleimani was a brilliant move that killed an enemy of America and the Iranian people on #TheBrianKilmeadeShow @foxnation @foxnewsradio https://t.co/2w4S5n3yC8

Trump Threatens to Kill Iran's Spiritual Leader

-- Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) January 14, 2020

Yes, of course, murdering leaders of recalcitrant nations is considered a "brilliant move" by psychopaths. The Italian-Jewish Mafia killed opponents one-by-one or in small groups while the USG kills opponents in the thousands, even the millions. The Gambino family and Kosher Nostra founded by Arnold Rothstein (who was himself assassinated) would have loved to take out their opponents with Reaper drones and Hellfire missiles, courtesy of witless US taxpayers and debt-serfs.

State Department officials involved in U.S. embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific U.S. embassies, two State Department officials said, further undermining Trump's claims that Soleimani posed an imminent threat. https://t.co/sG9ZXyxOa3

-- Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 13, 2020

USG embassies were not and are not under threat by Iran. In Iraq, the people protesting outside the embassy are Iraqis. They want the USG and its contractors out of their country which is still reeling from Bush the Lesser's invasion, a follow-up on more than a decade of child-killing (over 500,000) sanctions and a previous invasion by Junior's father, the former CIA boss who would become president.

Corporate war propaganda media is pushing the narrative that Trump impulsively decided to slaughter Soleimani, as if it simply came to him out of the blue.

. @douglaslondon5 , who retired from CIA at the end of 2018, writes that he and his team "often struggled in persuading the president to recognize the most important threats" because of Trump's "focus on celebrity, headlines, and immediate gratification." https://t.co/1SlVDNb44l

-- Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 15, 2020

Hardly. This is simply another anti-Trump gimmick. If you look beyond this one-dimensional pre-election circus, you'll see Trump's orthodox Jewish son-in-law, Sheldon Adelson, and a cast of Zionist characters steering the president into war with Israel's enemies. Indeed, Trump is driven by a pathological need for attention and this has been successfully exploited by neocons in the service of a tiny nation based on racial and religious superiority.

The basic method Trump used to kill Soleimani was developed by the Israelis >30 years ago. Here's a screen shot from "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations," by Israeli author Ronen Bergman, here describing Israeli developments in late 1980s pic.twitter.com/MWKifPPjPF

-- James Perloff (@jamesperloff) January 14, 2020

The neolib USG with its Israel-first neocon faction is the largest and most deadly Mafia organization in the world.

The US government has killed millions since the end of FDR's war under false pretense and has overthrown countries far and wide. It trains and enables sadistic paramilitaries, has armed crazed Wahhabi jihadists, and is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon against innocent civilians.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this articl e was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Feb 09, 2020] The CIA drug connection is as old as the Agency

Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Agent76 , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:06 pm GMT

Jan 14, 2020 The Dirty American Secret You're *NOT* Supposed to Know About

https://www.youtube.com/embed/02F5r2y9JU0?feature=oembed

December 3, 1993 The CIA Drug ConnectionIs as Old as the Agency

LONDON -- The Justice Department is investigating allegations that officers of a special Venezuelan anti-drug unit funded by the CIA smuggled more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States with the knowledge of CIA officials – despite protests by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the organization responsible for enforcing U.S. drug laws.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/03/opinion/03iht-edlarry.html

Desert Fox , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:39 pm GMT
@Agent76 Agree, the CIA and MI6 and the Mossad are the biggest drug runners in the world.

[Feb 09, 2020] Bush older acted as a gangster in Kuwait war: he was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Bush older was the first president from CIA. He was already a senior CIA official at the time of JFK assassination and might participate in the plot to kill JFK. At least he was in Dallas at the day of assassination. .
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

SolontoCroesus , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 5:20 pm GMT

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003.

Nothing to do with 9 years of sanctions on Iraq that killed a million Iraqis, "half of them children," and US control of Iraqi air space, after having killed Iraqi military in a turkey-shoot, for no really good reason other than George H W Bush seized the "unipolar moment" to become king of the world?

Maybe it's just stubbornness: I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

According to Jeffrey Engel, Bush's biographer and director of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University, Gorbachev harassed Bush with phone calls, pleading with him not to go to war over Kuwait

https://www.c-span.org/video/?310832-1/into-desert-reflections-gulf-war

(It's worth noting that Dennis Ross was relatively new in his role on Jim Baker's staff when Baker, Brent Skowcroft, Larry Eagleburger & like minded urged Bush to take the Imperial Pivot.)

According to Vernon Loeb, who completed the writing of King's Counsel after Jack O'Connell died, Jordan's King Hussein, in consultation with retired CIA station chief O'Connell, parlayed with Arab leaders to resolve the conflict on their own, i.e. Arab-to-Arab terms, and also pleaded with Bush to stay out, and to let the Arabs solve their own problems. Bush refused.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?301361-6/kings-counsel

See above: Bush was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Once again insist on entering into the record: George H Bush was present at the creation of the Global War on Terror, July 4, 1979, the Jerusalem Conference hosted by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu and heavily populated with Trotskyites – neocons.

International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., 1981.
(Wurmser became Netanyahu's acolyte)

Z-man , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

Yes I remember it well. I came back from a long trip & memorable vacation, alas I was a young man, to the television drama that was unfolding with Arthur Kent 'The Scud Stud' and others reporting from the safety of their hotel balconies filming aircaft and cruise missiles. It was surreal.
You are correct of course.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump Secretly Threatened Europe With Auto Tariffs If It Didn t Declare Iran In Breach Of Nuclear Deal

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's threats of auto tariffs to gain trade concessions with the Europeans is certainly nothing new, but using the same to dictate foreign policy is, notes WaPo's diplomatic correspondent John Hudson. ..."
"... Interestingly, in Wednesday's joint statement the European signatories attempted to distance their drastic action away from Washington's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign. "Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," they said . ..."
"... The statement also underscored Europe hopes to use the mechanism "to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA" and in the words of one official quoted in The Guardian to prevent nuclear advancement to the point that the Iranians "learn something that it is not possible for them to unlearn" . ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

A bombshell revelation from The Washington Post a day after France, Britain and Germany took unprecedented action against Iran by formally triggering the dispute resolution mechanism regulating conformity to the deal, seen as the harshest measure taken by the European signatories thus far. The European powers officially see Iran as in breach of the deal which means UN and EU punitive sanctions are now on the table.

But according to The Post , how things quickly escalated to this point is real story : " Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn't," says the report.

This came as a "shock" to all three countries, with one top European official calling it essentially "extortion" and a new level of hardball tactics from the Trump administration.

After the US leveraged the new tariffs threat according to the report, European capitals moved quick to trigger the mechanism, which involved the individual European states formally notifying the agreement's guarantor, the European Union, that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal.

This followed the Jan.6 declaration of Tehran's leadership to no longer be beholden to uranium enrichment limits. And that's where things got interesting as Washington's pressure campaign dramatically turned up the heat on Europe.

"Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement," the report continues .

However, the report notes France, the UK, and Germany were already in deep discussion on moving forward with triggering the mechanism. "We didn't want to look weak, so we agreed to keep the existence of the threat a secret," a European official cited by WaPo claims.

Trump's threats of auto tariffs to gain trade concessions with the Europeans is certainly nothing new, but using the same to dictate foreign policy is, notes WaPo's diplomatic correspondent John Hudson.

Interestingly, in Wednesday's joint statement the European signatories attempted to distance their drastic action away from Washington's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign. "Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," they said .

The statement also underscored Europe hopes to use the mechanism "to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA" and in the words of one official quoted in The Guardian to prevent nuclear advancement to the point that the Iranians "learn something that it is not possible for them to unlearn" .

Now that the mechanism has been enacted, the clock starts on 65 days of intensive negotiations before UN sanctions would be reimposed if no resolution is reached. Specifically a blanket arms embargo would be imposed among other measures, and certainly it would mark the deal's final demise, given the Europeans are Iran's last hope for being equal partners in the deal.

Also interesting is that in the hours before The Washington Post report was published, Iranian FM Zarif charged that the EU investigation into Iran's alleged non-compliance meant Europe is allowing itself to be bulled by the United States .

Indeed the new revelation of the secret threats attempting to dictate Europe's course appear to confirm precisely Zarif's words to reporters earlier on Wednesday : "They say 'We are not responsible for what the United States did.' OK, but you are independent" he began. And then added a stinging rebuke: "Europe, EU, is the largest global economy. So why do you allow the United States to bully you around?"

[Feb 09, 2020] Trumps Mercenary Foreign Policy by Daniel Larison

Jan 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

elley Vlahos comments on the president's willingness to send more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia:

It is time to claw back from this toxic relationship, and the first place to start is to transform our current mission of paternalistic "power projection" to one of "national defense." Who cares what the House of Saud wants to buy -- it's not what the American taxpayer pays for, and amen to Amash for putting it in such bald terms.

Trump's statement that he will send more troops to Saudi Arabia in exchange for payment sums up his foreign policy worldview quite well. He has no objection to sending U.S. troops to other countries, and he doesn't mind putting them in harm's way, as long as he thinks someone will pay for it. Trump is not interested in whether a particular mission makes the U.S. more secure, and he certainly doesn't think strategically about what the U.S. should be trying to accomplish. He just wants to get someone to fork over some cash. The absurd thing is that the cash is never forthcoming, but Trump keeps sending the troops to these places anyway.

We saw the same mercenary attitude during the campaign when he talked about setting up a "big, beautiful safe zone" in Syria, which he assured us would be paid for by Arab client states. We have seen it several times when he talks about "taking the oil" from this or that country to compensate the U.S. for our military interventions. As long as the Saudis and Emiratis are paying customers for weapons that they use to kill Yemenis, Trump will happily put their preferences and interests first.

Oddly enough for a self-proclaimed nationalist, the president has no notion of the national interest, but sees everything in narrow terms of wealth that can be extracted from others. This is why he talks about NATO as if it were a protection racket and shakes down South Korea for more money, and it is why he thinks it is acceptable to keep U.S. forces in Syria illegally so that they can control Syrian oil fields. It is why he insists that Iraq pay us for the cost of the installations that the U.S. built during the occupation of their country. It is also one reason why he relies so heavily on economic warfare in his attempt to coerce other states to do what he wants, because he seems to think that everyone is just as preoccupied with getting money as he is.

Contrary to the common assumption that Trump espouses some sort of "Jacksonian" foreign policy, this is an approach that ignores national honor and interest and focuses solely on lucre. Trump resembles nothing so much as a minor German prince from the 17th or 18th century who hires out his soldiers to fight the wars of other countries. This is what a mercenary foreign policy looks like, and it has nothing to do with making the U.S. more secure


Barlaam of Weimerica16 hours ago

Even granted that Trump doesn't meet the low bar of Jacksonianism in foreign policy, I'm weary of even that much - all the talk of national honour seems to amount to little more than doing incredibly stupid and wicked things, and then persisting in them, because to do otherwise would cause a loss of face or credibility.
FL_Cottonmouth Barlaam of Weimerica12 hours ago
"Credibility" to the neocons is nothing more than "street cred." They're like gangsters.
David Naas15 hours ago
True believers will not be suaded by mere "facts". (When "fact" has become a synonym for "fake news".) Nor even if their little noses are rubbed in the Trumpoo. Not even when Trump's daily circus empowers the Left and discourages the old conservatives.

We are begging for a national trauma and we will get it.

Antiphon David Naas14 hours ago
lol - blow me down with that argument: Trumpoo and "old conservatives".

Mmkay...

HenionJD15 hours ago
Hey, so long as they're not hauling our kids away to die in some forsaken "s**thole" who cares where our "killing machines" our sent?
FL_Cottonmouth HenionJD12 hours ago
The old English and American republicans were exactly right about the dangers of a "standing army" (that is, the professionionalization of the military). I'm for reinstating the draft not as a means of bolstering our ranks but as a means of mobilizing a permanent antiwar movement.
FL_Cottonmouth13 hours ago • edited
I've never liked applying the term "Jacksonian" to foreign policy because the Jackson presidency didn't have much of a foreign policy (unlike, say, his protégé James K. Polk ). Most of what gets passed off as "Jacksonian" in terms of foreign policy is really just Gen. Jackson's military policy during the Creek War, the War of 1812, and the annexation of Spanish Florida. In other words, "Jacksonian foreign policy" is just another for "militarized foreign policy."

Indeed, I can only imagine how outraged Jackson would be with the imperialism that "conservative" pundits are justifying in his name. Jackson was fiercely loyal to the ideal of the citizen-soldier/militiaman - and to the men themselves - and would have been furious if foreign influence in the government turned them into mercenaries. Knowing Jackson, the men responsible for such treachery might not have lived for very much longer.

To the extent that Jackson even addressed foreign policy, he (like John Quincy Adams) echoed the wisdom of the Founding Fathers:

If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, we find our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere desire to do justice to every nation and to preserve the blessings of peace, our intercourse with them has been conducted on the part of this Government in the spirit of frankness; and I take pleasure in saying that it has generally been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion and the mutual desire to be just, and the claims of our citizens, which had been long withheld, have at length been acknowledged and adjusted and satisfactory arrangements made for their final payment; and with a limited, and I trust a temporary, exception, our relations with every foreign power are now of the most friendly character, our commerce continually expanding, and our flag respected in every quarter of the world.

While I am thus endeavoring to press upon your attention the principles which I deem of vital importance in the domestic concerns of the country, I ought not to pass over without notice the important considerations which should govern your policy toward foreign powers. It is unquestionably our true interest to cultivate the most friendly understanding with every nation and to avoid by every honorable means the calamities of war, and we shall best attain this object by frankness and sincerity in our foreign intercourse, by the prompt and faithful execution of treaties, and by justice and impartiality in our conduct to all. But no nation, however desirous of peace, can hope to escape occasional collisions with other powers, and the soundest dictates of policy require that we should place ourselves in a condition to assert our rights if a resort to force should ever become necessary. Our local situation, our long line of seacoast, indented by numerous bays, with deep rivers opening into the interior, as well as our extended and still increasing commerce, point to the Navy as our natural means of defense. It will in the end be found to be the cheapest and most effectual, and now is the time, in a season of peace and with an overflowing revenue, that we can year after year add to its strength without increasing the burdens of the people. It is your true policy, for your Navy will not only protect your rich and flourishing commerce in distant seas, but will enable you to reach and annoy the enemy and will give to defense its greatest efficiency by meeting danger at a distance from home. It is impossible by any line of fortifications to guard every point from attack against a hostile force advancing from the ocean and selecting its object, but they are indispensable to protect cities from bombardment, dockyards and naval arsenals from destruction, to give shelter to merchant vessels in time of war and to single ships or weaker squadrons when pressed by superior force. Fortifications of this description can not be too soon completed and armed and placed in a condition of the most perfect preparation. The abundant means we now possess can not be applied in any manner more useful to the country, and when this is done and our naval force sufficiently strengthened and our militia armed we need not fear that any nation will wantonly insult us or needlessly provoke hostilities. We shall more certainly preserve peace when it is well understood that we are prepared for War.

To the extent that Jackson is even endorsing war rather than peace and trade, it is in the context of national defense - literally defending our national borders from attack, not defending our military bases on/within the borders of foreign countries from attack.

Taras778 hours ago • edited
To add to the many outrages of the day coming out of this admin, now sending the troops as mercenaries for hire to saudi takes it down to a new low, these lows being set almost every week.

The murder of Iranian general must put a new low on the military as well as the drone operators are now in a place not good, assassins of someone outside of a war and/or combat. It hearkens back to obama's killing program and its probable continuation by trump.

Not good programs to be affiliated with for the US military for anyone with a conscience.

[Feb 09, 2020] The Deeper Story Behind The Assassination Of Soleimani

Highly recommended!
Looks like the end of Full Spectrum Dominance the the USA enjoyed since 1991. Alliance of Iran, Russia and China (with Turkey and Pakistan as two possible members) is serious military competitor and while the USA has its set of trump cards, the military victory against such an alliance no longer guaranteed.
Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Days after the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, new and important information is coming to light from a speech given by the Iraqi prime minister. The story behind Soleimani's assassination seems to go much deeper than what has thus far been reported, involving Saudi Arabia and China as well the US dollar's role as the global reserve currency .

The Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, has revealed details of his interactions with Trump in the weeks leading up to Soleimani's assassination in a speech to the Iraqi parliament. He tried to explain several times on live television how Washington had been browbeating him and other Iraqi members of parliament to toe the American line, even threatening to engage in false-flag sniper shootings of both protesters and security personnel in order to inflame the situation, recalling similar modi operandi seen in Cairo in 2009, Libya in 2011, and Maidan in 2014. The purpose of such cynicism was to throw Iraq into chaos.

Here is the reconstruction of the story:

[Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq] Halbousi attended the parliamentary session while almost none of the Sunni members did. This was because the Americans had learned that Abdul-Mehdi was planning to reveal sensitive secrets in the session and sent Halbousi to prevent this. Halbousi cut Abdul-Mehdi off at the commencement of his speech and then asked for the live airing of the session to be stopped. After this, Halbousi together with other members, sat next to Abdul-Mehdi, speaking openly with him but without it being recorded. This is what was discussed in that session that was not broadcast:

Abdul-Mehdi spoke angrily about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.

The complete (translated) words of Abdul-Mahdi's speech to parliament:

This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.

Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.

I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.

After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this "third party".

Nobody imagined that the threat was to be applied to General Soleimani, but it was difficult for Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to reveal the weekslong backstory behind the terrorist attack.

I was supposed to meet him [Soleimani] later in the morning when he was killed. He came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered to the Iranians from the Saudis.

We can surmise, judging by Saudi Arabia's reaction , that some kind of negotiation was going on between Tehran and Riyadh:

The Kingdom's statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom's view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation.

Above all, the Saudi Royal family wanted to let people know immediately that they had not been informed of the US operation:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike. In light of the rapid developments, the Kingdom stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences.

And to emphasize his reluctance for war, Mohammad bin Salman sent a delegation to the United States. Liz Sly , the Washington Post Beirut bureau chief, tweated:

Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Washington to urge restraint with Iran on behalf of [Persian] Gulf states. The message will be: 'Please spare us the pain of going through another war'.

What clearly emerges is that the success of the operation against Soleimani had nothing to do with the intelligence gathering of the US or Israel. It was known to all and sundry that Soleimani was heading to Baghdad in a diplomatic capacity that acknowledged Iraq's efforts to mediate a solution to the regional crisis with Saudi Arabia.

It would seem that the Saudis, Iranians and Iraqis were well on the way towards averting a regional conflict involving Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Riyadh's reaction to the American strike evinced no public joy or celebration. Qatar, while not seeing eye to eye with Riyadh on many issues, also immediately expressed solidarity with Tehran, hosting a meeting at a senior government level with Mohammad Zarif Jarif, the Iranian foreign minister. Even Turkey and Egypt , when commenting on the asassination, employed moderating language.

This could reflect a fear of being on the receiving end of Iran's retaliation. Qatar, the country from which the drone that killed Soleimani took off, is only a stone's throw away from Iran, situated on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz. Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Tehran's regional enemies, both know that a military conflict with Iran would mean the end of the Saudi royal family.

When the words of the Iraqi prime minister are linked back to the geopolitical and energy agreements in the region, then the worrying picture starts to emerge of a desperate US lashing out at a world turning its back on a unipolar world order in favor of the emerging multipolar about which I have long written .

The US, now considering itself a net energy exporter as a result of the shale-oil revolution (on which the jury is still out), no longer needs to import oil from the Middle East. However, this does not mean that oil can now be traded in any other currency other than the US dollar.

The petrodollar is what ensures that the US dollar retains its status as the global reserve currency, granting the US a monopolistic position from which it derives enormous benefits from playing the role of regional hegemon.

This privileged position of holding the global reserve currency also ensures that the US can easily fund its war machine by virtue of the fact that much of the world is obliged to buy its treasury bonds that it is simply able to conjure out of thin air. To threaten this comfortable arrangement is to threaten Washington's global power.

Even so, the geopolitical and economic trend is inexorably towards a multipolar world order, with China increasingly playing a leading role, especially in the Middle East and South America.

Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia together make up the overwhelming majority of oil and gas reserves in the world. The first three have an elevated relationship with Beijing and are very much in the multipolar camp, something that China and Russia are keen to further consolidate in order to ensure the future growth for the Eurasian supercontinent without war and conflict.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pro-US but could gravitate towards the Sino-Russian camp both militarily and in terms of energy. The same process is going on with Iraq and Qatar thanks to Washington's numerous strategic errors in the region starting from Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria and Yemen in recent years.

The agreement between Iraq and China is a prime example of how Beijing intends to use the Iraq-Iran-Syria troika to revive the Middle East and and link it to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

While Doha and Riyadh would be the first to suffer economically from such an agreement, Beijing's economic power is such that, with its win-win approach, there is room for everyone.

Saudi Arabia provides China with most of its oil and Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, supply China with most of its LNG needs, which lines up with Xi Jinping's 2030 vision that aims to greatly reduce polluting emissions.

The US is absent in this picture, with little ability to influence events or offer any appealing economic alternatives.

Washington would like to prevent any Eurasian integration by unleashing chaos and destruction in the region, and killing Soleimani served this purpose. The US cannot contemplate the idea of the dollar losing its status as the global reserve currency. Trump is engaging in a desperate gamble that could have disastrous consequences.

The region, in a worst-case scenario, could be engulfed in a devastating war involving multiple countries. Oil refineries could be destroyed all across the region, a quarter of the world's oil transit could be blocked, oil prices would skyrocket ($200-$300 a barrel) and dozens of countries would be plunged into a global financial crisis. The blame would be laid squarely at Trump's feet, ending his chances for re-election.

To try and keep everyone in line, Washington is left to resort to terrorism, lies and unspecified threats of visiting destruction on friends and enemies alike.

Trump has evidently been convinced by someone that the US can do without the Middle East, that it can do without allies in the region, and that nobody would ever dare to sell oil in any other currency than the US dollar.

Soleimani's death is the result of a convergence of US and Israeli interests. With no other way of halting Eurasian integration, Washington can only throw the region into chaos by targeting countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria that are central to the Eurasian project. While Israel has never had the ability or audacity to carry out such an assassination itself, the importance of the Israel Lobby to Trump's electoral success would have influenced his decision, all the more so in an election year .

Trump believed his drone attack could solve all his problems by frightening his opponents, winning the support of his voters (by equating Soleimani's assassination to Osama bin Laden's), and sending a warning to Arab countries of the dangers of deepening their ties with China.

The assassination of Soleimani is the US lashing out at its steady loss of influence in the region. The Iraqi attempt to mediate a lasting peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been scuppered by the US and Israel's determination to prevent peace in the region and instead increase chaos and instability.

Washington has not achieved its hegemonic status through a preference for diplomacy and calm dialogue, and Trump has no intention of departing from this approach.

Washington's friends and enemies alike must acknowledge this reality and implement the countermeasures necessary to contain the madness.


Boundless Energy , 1 minute ago link

Very good article, straight to the point. In fact its much worse. I know is hard to swallow for my US american brother and sisters.

But as sooner you wake up and see the reality as it is, as better chances the US has to survive with honor. Stop the wars around the globe and do not look for excuses. Isnt it already obvious what is going on with the US war machine? How many more examples some people need to wake up?

Noob678 , 8 minutes ago link

For those who love to connect the dots:

Iran Situation from Someone Who Knows Something

Not all said in video above is accurate but the recent events in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa are all related to prevent China from overtaking the zionist hegemonic world and to recolonize China (at least the parasite is trying to hop to China as new host).

Trade war, Huawei, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet ..... the concerted efforts from all zionist controlled media (ZeroHedge included) to slander, smearing, fake news against China should tell you what the Zionists agenda are :)

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

Trump Threatens to Kill Iraqi PM if He Doesn't Cancel China Oil Deal - MoA

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

.........


The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found George W. Bush guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush, **** Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

... ... ..

Thom Paine , 9 minutes ago link

When Iran has nukes, what then Trump?

I think Israel's fear is loss of regional goals if Iran becomes untouchable

TupacShakur , 13 minutes ago link

Empire is lashing out of desperation because we've crossed peak Empire.

Things are going downhill and will get more volatile as we go.

Buckle up folks because the final act will be very nasty.

Stalking Wolf , 12 minutes ago link

Unfortunately, this article makes a lot of sense. The US is losing influence and lashing out carelessly. I hope the rest of the world realizes how detached majority of the citizens within the states are from the federal government. The Federal government brings no good to our nation. None. From the mis management of our once tax revenues to the corrupt Congress who accepts bribes from the highest bidder, it's a rats best that is not only harmful to its own people, but the world at large. USD won't go down without a fight it seems... All empires end with a bang. Be ready

[Feb 09, 2020] Iraqi Prime Minister Was Forced To Resign After Trump Threatened His Life

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com


This is a must read This was just a rumor earlier today, but apparently enough people know about it and it's being confirmed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Was Forced To Resign After Trump Threatened His Life

On January 5th, the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution to expel US troops from the country. In attendance was, caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who, according to reports provided insight into why specifically Iraq was in this situation, and predominantly spoke about threats that came his way from US President Donald Trump and the US policy towards the country.

The following is the summary of reports regarding Abdul-Mehdi's comments during the January 5 vote of the Iraqi Parliament. These reports have been nor officially confirmed nor denied by the Prime Minister office.

Abdul-Mehdi adressed the US hostile actions against the country. For example, the politician reportedly said that the US refused to complete the infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless it is promised 50% of oil revenues. The Prime Minister refused to make the concession.

Then, when the Prime Minister visited China and reached an important agreement to undertake construction of the projects instead of the US, President Donald Trump allegedly called him, telling him to rescind the agreement with China, otherwise there would be massive demonstrations against him, that would force him out of his seat.

HINT : A 50-person Iraqi delegation visited China in 2019 and that protests began on October 1st, observed a religious holiday, and then ramped up once again on October 25th. The flames of the protests were further fanned by mainstream media outlets.

Then, when massive demonstrations materialized against Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Trump once again allegedly called him. The US President allegedly threatened to position US marine snipers "atop the highest buildings," who will target and kill protesters and security forces alike in an attempt to pressure the Prime Minister.

Instead of complying, Adel Abdul-Mahdi refused and handed in his resignation and the US still attempt to pressure him in cancelling the supposed deal with China.

Later on, when the Iraqi Minister of Defense publicly said that a third side was targeting both protesters and security forces alike, Abdul-Mahdi allegedly received a new call from Trump who threatened to kill both him and the Minister of Defense if they kept talking about this "third side".

There is more...

Also this threadreader tweet on the same subject.

Assad said that he finds Trumps brutal honesty refreshing. Instead of hiding behind nicely worded threats Trump just comes out and tells people what he means. up 19 users have voted. --

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump is a GODFATHER and his clique is literally a gangster MAFIA using extortion and operating protection racket

Jan 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kali , Jan 7 2020 19:07 utc | 20

This is how a MAFIA BOSS operates. Trump made an offer Abdul Mahdi couldn't refuse. Trump is a GODFATHER and his clique is literally a gangster MAFIA using extortion and OPERATING A PROTECTION RACKET.

Trump had already asked Iraqi Prime Ministers -twice- if the U.S. could get Iraq's oil as reward for invading and destroying their country. The requests were rejected. Now we learn that Trump also uses gangster methods (ar) to get the oil of Iraq. The talk by the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi happened during the recent parliament session in Iraq (machine translation):

Al-Halbousi, Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, blocked the speech of Mr. Abdul Mahdi in the scheduled session to discuss the decision to remove American forces from Iraq.

At the beginning of the session, Al-Halbousi left the presidential seat and sat next to Mr. Abdul-Mahdi, after his request to cut off the live broadcast of the session, a public conversation took place between the two parties. The voice of Adel Abdul Mahdi was raised.

Mr. Abdul Mahdi spoke with an angry tone, saying:

"The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They are those who refuse to complete building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for giving up 50% of Iraqi oil imports, so I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it, and today Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement."

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

The reliable Based Cat in Iraq seems to confirm the timeline:

TØM CΛT @TomtheBasedCat - 4:00 UTC · Jan 7, 2020
Yes a 50-person delegation visited China in 2019 and then the protests started on October 1st until the Arbaeen dates, then picked up again on Oct 25th. I'm skeptical about the 3rd party but the timing itself was interesting. The flames were fanned by Gulf media and Al-Hurra.

Tom_LX , Jan 7 2020 19:20 utc | 21

A scandal is developing as one consequence of Trump's evil deed after Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi revealed the gangster methods U.S. President Trump used in his attempts to steal Iraq's oil.

Well well well, looks like Trump has been studying Cheney's map lately now that he is not fixated on Kim and accusations of being Putin's Puddle.

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//dc.html?doc=5746914-National-Security-Archive-Doc-08-Iraqi-Oilfields
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2007/4/21/325872/-

What is described by the PM is typical behavior of a gangster threatening a weaker opponent. Trump had better get some LSD to get him back in touch with Reality.

AriusArmenian , Jan 7 2020 19:30 utc | 24
MoA has done great reporting but this report is astounding.
It is stunning.

But it is the standard operating procedure of US elites. Trump is nothing unusual except for his persona. He gives away the game. Clinton/Bush/Obama/Trump, they are all power mad, vindictive, and vile. The elites that run the two major parties are together in pushing forward to war behind their political posturing.

[Feb 07, 2020] Our Military is Clashing With Russians While Defending Syrian Oil. Why

Feb 07, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Last month, American military forces physically blocked Russian troops from proceeding down a road near the town of Rmelan, Syria. U.S. troops were acting on orders of President Trump, who said back in October that Washington would be "protecting" oil fields currently under control of the anti-Assad, Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces.

Meanwhile, the Russians are acting on behalf of Syrian president Bashar Assad, who says the state is ultimately in control of those fields. While no shots were fired in this case, the next time Moscow's forces might not go so quietly.

U.S. officials offered few details about the January stand-off, but General Alexus Grynkewich, deputy commander of the anti-ISIS campaign, said: "We've had a number of different engagements with the Russians on the ground." Late last month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported: "Tensions have continued to increase significantly in recent days between U.S. and Russian forces in the northeastern regions of Syria."

Stationed in Syria illegally, with neither domestic nor international legal authority, American personnel risked life and limb to occupy another nation's territory and steal its resources. What is the Trump administration doing?

American policy in Syria has long been stunningly foolish, dishonest, and counterproductive. When the Arab Spring erupted in 2011, Washington first defended Assad. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called him a "reformer." Then she decided that he should be ousted and demanded that the rest of the world follow Washington's new policy.

[Feb 05, 2020] Trump as a middle level gangster

There is a real danger for gangstrism mode of forign policy -- policimakers live in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs...
Feb 05, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Diplomacy, accommodation, compromise, mutuality, the perspectives of others: It is already clear these are among the defining features of 21 st century statecraft. Jealous of its dissipating preeminence, the U.S. proves indifferent to all such considerations. There is no longer even the pretense of deriving authority by way of example, so radical is Washington's preference for coercive might alone. The paradox is not difficult to grasp: In displays of unadorned power we also find the limits of power. The Trump administration's conduct of foreign policy -- primarily but not only in the Mideast -- makes failure and an American comeuppance inevitable.

... ... ...

Many years ago, during the first term of George W. Bush, Karl Rove gave an interview in which he asserted that the U.S. was no longer bound by "discernible reality," as the White House aide put it. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," Rove explained. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

Rove Warning Overlooked

This singularly arrogant remark was much noted at the time but was thought to reflect only the kookier extremes of the Bush II administration. What a misinterpretation that has proven to be. Rove was effectively warning us that the U.S. had already begun its fundamental shift toward sheer power as the instrument of its foreign policies. This is plain in hindsight.

... These policies share two features. They rest on power alone -- in this they are Karl Rove's dream made flesh -- and they are bound to fail, if they are not already failing.

It is evident now that the European allies will defy U.S. efforts to sabotage NordStream 2 and keep Huawei out of 5–G. London announced last week that it will allow Huawei to participate in its 5–G development program. Germany made a similar decision last autumn.

In the Middle East, it is equally clear that Iran has no intention of buckling under U.S. sanctions and military threats. U.S. influence in the region has already begun to decline since the drone assassination of a top Iranian general on Iraqi soil early last month. The Pentagon now faces popular Iraqi demands to withdraw its troops.

And now the Mideast -- Israel and Palestine. The Trump administration sacrificed all claim to "honest broker" status when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 -- a unilateral move that prompted the Palestinians to stop talking to the U.S. about the plan Jared Kushner was by then developing. Of all that is wrong with the new Trump–Kushner plan, the absence of Palestinian input more or less assures that it will prove dead on arrival.

Power alone is power blind. Power blind is certain to fail, for it cannot see its way.

[Feb 05, 2020] Stumbling Into Catastrophe by Daniel McAdams

Feb 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Daniel McAdams via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

There is a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs. Needless to say it's even worse when they believe they can create their own reality and invent outcomes out of whole cloth.

Things seldom go as planned in these circumstances.

President Trump was sold a bill of goods on the assassination of Iran's revered military leader, Qassim Soleimani, likely by a cabal around Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the long-discredited neocon David Wurmser. A former Netanyahu advisor and Iraq war propagandist, Wurmser reportedly sent memos to his mentor, John Bolton, while Bolton was Trump's National Security Advisor (now, of course, he's the hero of the #resistance for having turned on his former boss) promising that killing Soleimani would be a cost-free operation that would catalyze the Iranian people against their government and bring about the long-awaited regime change in that country. The murder of Soleimani – the architect of the defeat of ISIS – would "rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the [Iranian] regime depends for stability and survival," wrote Wurmser.

As is most often the case with neocons, he was dead wrong.

The operation was not cost-free. On the contrary. Assassinating Soleimani on Iraqi soil resulted in the Iraqi parliament – itself the product of our "bringing democracy" to the country – voting to expel US forces even as the vote by the people's representatives was roundly rejected by the people who brought the people the people's representatives. In a manner of speaking.

Trump's move had an effect opposite to the one promised by neocons. It did not bring Iranians out to the street to overthrow their government – it catalyzed opposition across Iraq's various political and religious factions to the continued US military presence and further tightened Iraq's relationship with Iran. And short of what would be a catastrophic war initiated by the US (with little or no support from allies), there is not a thing Trump can do about it.

Iran's retaliatory attack on two US bases in Iraq was initially sold by President Trump as merely a pin-prick. No harm, no foul, no injuries. This despite the fact that he must have known about US personnel injured in the attack. The reason for the lie was that Trump likely understands how devastating it would be to his presidency to escalate with Iran. So the truth began to trickle out slowly – 11 US military members were injured, but it was just "like a headache." Now we know that 50 US troops were treated for traumatic brain injury after the attack. This may not be the last of it – but don't count on the mainstream media to do any reporting.

The Iranian FARS news agency reported at the time of the attack that US personnel had been injured and the response by the US government was to completely take that media outlet off the Internet by order of the US Treasury !

Last week the US House voted to cancel the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq and to prohibit the use of funds for war on Iran without Congressional authorization. It is a significant, if largely symbolic, move to rein in the oft-used excuse of the Iraq war authorization for blatantly unrelated actions like the assassination of Soleimani and Obama's thousands of airstrikes on Syria and Iraq .

President Trump has argued that prohibiting funds for military action against Iran actually makes war more likely, as he would be restricted from the kinds of military-strikes-short-of-war like his attack on Syria after the alleged chemical attack in Douma in 2018 (claims which have recently fallen apart ). The logic is faulty and reflects again the danger of believing one's own propaganda. As we have seen from the Iranian military response to the Soleimani assassination, Trump's military-strikes-short-of-war are having a ratchet-like effect rather than a pressure-release or deterrent effect.

As the financial and current events analysis site ZeroHedge put it recently:

[S]ince last summer's "tanker wars", Trump has painted himself into a corner on Iran, jumping from escalation to escalation (to this latest "point of no return big one" in the form of the ordered Soleimani assassination) -- yet all the while hoping to avoid a major direct war. The situation reached a climax where there were "no outs" (Trump was left with two 'bad options' of either back down or go to war).

The Iranians have little to lose at this point and America's European allies are, even if impotent, fed up with the US obsession with Saudi Arabia and Israel as a basis for its Middle East policy.

So why open this essay with a photo of Trump celebrating his dead-on-arrival "Deal of The Century" for Israel and Palestine? Because this is once again a gullible and weak President Trump being led by the nose into the coming Middle East conflagration. Left without even a semblance of US sympathy for their plight, the Palestinians after the roll-out of this "peace" plan will again see that they have no friends outside Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. As Israel continues to flirt with the idea of simply annexing large parts of the West Bank, it is clear that the brakes are off of any Israeli reticence to push for maximum control over Palestinian territory. So what is there to lose?

Trump believes he's advancing peace in the Middle East, while the excellent Mondoweiss website rightly observes that a main architect of the "peace plan," Trump's own son-in-law Jared Kushner, "taunts Palestinians because he wants them to reject his 'peace plan.'" Rejection of the plan is a green light to a war of annihilation on the Palestinians.

It appears that the center may not hold, that the self-referential echo chamber that passes for Beltway "expert" analysis will again be caught off guard in the consequence-free profession that is neocon foreign policy analysis. "Gosh we didn't see that coming!" But the next day they are back on the teevee stations as great experts.

Clouds gathering...


Minamoto , 23 minutes ago link

It is hard to believe that Trump has any confidence in Jared Kushner. Yet, he does enough to go public with a one-sided plan developed without Palestinian input.

francis scott falseflag , 41 minutes ago link

a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

The same is true of the economists and financial analysts who live in the bubble of the NSYE and the echo chamber of Manhattan. All of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

Ruler , 1 hour ago link

The problem all incompetent leaders have, is seeing how their opponents see them.

Bokkenrijder , 1 hour ago link

If Trump continues to be 'dumb' enough to consistently hire these people and consistently listen to them, and if his supporters continue to be dumb enough to consistently believe all the lies and excuses, then Trump and his supporters are 100% involved in the neoCON.

RafterManFMJ , 1 hour ago link

Dude, it's 666D chess!

The Real John Bolton

[Feb 02, 2020] I Felt Like I Was In Hell - NYT Exposes Rampant Sexism, Harassment Toxic Masculinity At Victoria's Secret

Feb 02, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The reaction that L Brands shareholders displayed last week following reports that Les Wexner was planning to sell Victoria's Secret and step down from leading the parent company is all readers really need to know when it comes to Wexner's legacy.

As the founder and CEO of L Brands, Wexner took Victoria's Secret, a brand he bought in 1980 for a million dollars and transformed it into a multibillion dollar juggernaut in women's fashion. But years of tepid sales, combined with the cancellation of the VS fashion show and the canning of longtime marketing chief Ed Razek last August were harbingers of more change to come. And after Wexner's name was once again dragged through the mud thanks to his status as a key enabler of former protege Jeffrey Epstein (with whispers that his conduct as Epstein's biggest financial benefactor might even have verged on criminal), it seemed obvious that the man who once ruled the company from a position of untouchable strength had finally lost the confidence of the board, and - more importantly - of its investors.

When news of the pending sale of VS and Wexner's plan for retirement hit the tape last week, some wondered about the timing, seeing as the company's earnings report isn't due for another three-and-a-half weeks.

Well, a report published Saturday by the New York Times might offer a few clues. After four Times reporters interviewed more than two dozen former models and employees, the paper put together a #MeToo-style expose revealing allegations of abusive behavior by top executives - behavior that Wexner was aware of, and which he openly condoned.

But rampant sexism and a culture that protected bullies and sex pests weren't Wexner's only shortcomings, according to NYT. He also rebuffed and punished executives who tried to steer Victoria's Secret in a more progressive and contemporary direction - for example, executives who suggested selling underwear that could actually fit American women.

Six current and former executives said in interviews that when they tried to steer the company away from what one called its "porny" image, they were rebuffed. Three said they had been driven out of the company.

Criticism of Victoria's Secret's anachronistic marketing went viral in 2018 when Mr. Razek expressed no interest in casting plus-size and "transsexual" models in the fashion show.

When it came to depredations targeting models, Razek showed no qualms about flexing his power and leverage to try and push models to date him.

He also clearly allowed Epstein to portray himself as an executive at the company as a ruse to meet with models.

"I had spent all of my savings getting Victoria's Secret lingerie to prepare for what I thought would be my audition," a woman identified as Jane Doe said in a statement read aloud last summer in a federal court hearing in the Epstein case. "But instead it seemed like a casting call for prostitution. I felt like I was in hell."

Razek left the company in August, just before the company cancelled the Victoria's Secret fashion show. But the blame for his behavior ultimately falls on Wexner, an executive who clearly had no qualms about enabling abusers, especially when their victims were minors and/or women.

"With the exception of Les, I've been with L Brands longer than anyone," Mr. Razek wrote to employees in August when he announced he was leaving the company he had joined in 1983.

Mr. Razek was instrumental in selecting the brand's supermodels - known as "Angels" and bestowed with enormous, feathery wings - and in creating the company's macho TV ads.

But his biggest legacy was the annual fashion show, which became a global cultural phenomenon.

"That's really where he sunk his teeth into the business," said Cynthia Fedus-Fields, the former chief executive of the Victoria's Secret division responsible for its catalog. By 2000, she said, Mr. Razek had grown so powerful that "he spoke for Les."

Wexner was also portrayed as behind the times, particularly where his views on the 'body positive' movement were concerned

In March, at a meeting at Victoria's Secret headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, an employee asked Mr. Wexner what he thought about the retail industry's embrace of different body types. He was dismissive.

"Nobody goes to a plastic surgeon and says, 'Make me fat'" Mr. Wexner replied, according to two attendees.

Razek would sometimes directly remind models that he could make or break their careers.

Mr. Razek often reminded models that their careers were in his hands, according to models and current and former executives who heard his remarks.

Alyssa Miller, who had been an occasional Victoria's Secret model, described Mr. Razek as someone who exuded "toxic masculinity." She summed up his attitude as: "I am the holder of the power. I can make you or break you."

He would sometimes pester models for their phone numbers while they were standing around in VS lingerie. He also showed a preference for young, typically barely legal models.

At castings, Mr. Razek sometimes asked models in their bras and underwear for their phone numbers, according to three people who witnessed his advances. He urged others to sit on his lap. Two models said he had asked them to have private dinners with him.

One was Ms. Muise. In 2007, after two years of wearing the coveted angel wings in the Victoria's Secret runway show, the 19-year-old was invited to dinner with Mr. Razek. She was excited to cultivate a professional relationship with one of the fashion industry's most powerful men, she said.

Mr. Razek picked her up in a chauffeured car. On the way to the restaurant, he tried to kiss her, she said. Ms. Muise rebuffed him; Mr. Razek persisted.

For months, he sent her intimate emails, which The Times reviewed. At one point he suggested they move in together in his house in Turks and Caicos. Another time, he urged Ms. Muise to help him find a home in the Dominican Republic for them to share.

"I need someplace sexy to take you!" he wrote.

Ms. Muise maintained a polite tone in her emails, trying to protect her career. When Mr. Razek asked her to come to his New York home for dinner, Ms. Muise said the prospect of dining alone with Mr. Razek made her uneasy; she skipped the dinner.

She soon learned that for the first time in four years, Victoria's Secret had not picked her for its 2008 fashion show.

One incident reported by the NYT is particularly cringe-worthy: Razek allegedly made a lewd comment about supermodel Bella Hadid's "titties", and whether they would meet TV standards, right in front of the influential model and her team.

In 2018, at a fitting ahead of the fashion show, the supermodel Bella Hadid was being measured for underwear that would meet broadcast standards. Mr. Razek sat on a couch, watching.

"Forget the panties," he declared, according to three people who were there and a fourth who was told about it. The bigger question, he said, was whether the TV network would let Ms. Hadid walk "down the runway with those perfect titties." (One witness remembered Mr. Razek using the word "breasts," not "titties.")

At the same fitting, Mr. Razek placed his hand on another model's underwear-clad crotch, three people said.

And with that, the same newspaper that helped launch the #MeToo movement has claimed another scalp in its crusade to rework American culture in accordance with its progressive, 'body positive' agenda. The age of Wexner and Razek at L Brands has ended. What's next? Only time will tell.

[Jan 27, 2020] There's a recent Foreign Affairs piece that also compares the US to Athens in abusing its financial clout and thereby alienating allies

Jan 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

occupatio , Jan 27 2020 23:46 utc | 81

Review of history: Bullies have a limited life as do Reserve Currencies all things end.
https://www.zerohedge.com/article/history-worlds-reserve-currency-ancient-greece-today
Posted by: Likklemore | Jan 27 2020 20:14 utc | 49

There's a recent Foreign Affairs piece that also compares the US to Athens in abusing its financial clout and thereby alienating allies.

The Twilight of America's Financial Empire

occupatio , Jan 27 2020 23:47 utc | 82

proper link:
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2020-01-24/twilight-americas-financial-empire

[Jan 26, 2020] The Collapse of Neoliberalism by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
From the book The Great Democracy by Ganesh Sitaraman.
This is a very valuable article, probably the best written in 2019 on the topic, that discusses several important aspects of neoliberalism better then its predecessors...
Notable quotes:
"... For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. ..."
"... neoliberal policies had already wreaked havoc around the world ..."
"... "excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization was probably the single most important cause of the crisis"; he also notes that after the crisis, the International Monetary Fund's policies "exacerbated the downturns." ..."
"... In study after study, political scientists have shown that the U.S. government is highly responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthiest people, corporations, and trade associations -- and that it is largely unresponsive to the views of ordinary people. The wealthiest people, corporations, and their interest groups participate more in politics, spend more on politics, and lobby governments more. Leading political scientists have declared that the U.S. is no longer best characterized as a democracy or a republic but as an oligarchy -- a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism. ..."
"... neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. ..."
"... Demagogues rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. ..."
"... In spite of these failures, most policymakers did not have a new ideology or different worldview through which to comprehend the problems of this time. So, by and large, the collective response was not to abandon neoliberalism. After the Great Crash of 2008, neoliberals chafed at attempts to push forward aggressive Keynesian spending programs to spark demand. President Barack Obama's advisers shrank the size of the post-crash stimulus package for fear it would seem too large to the neoliberal consensus of the era -- and on top of that, they compromised on its content. ..."
"... When it came to affirmative, forward-looking policy, the neoliberal framework also remained dominant. ..."
"... It is worth emphasizing that Obamacare's central feature is a private marketplace in which people can buy their own health care, with subsidies for individuals who are near the poverty line ..."
"... Fearful of losing their seats, centrists extracted these concessions from progressives. Little good it did them. The president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and this time was no different. For their caution, centrists both lost their seats and gave Americans fewer and worse health care choices. ..."
"... The Republican Party platform in 2012, for example, called for weaker Wall Street, environmental, and worker safety regulations; lower taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals; and further liberalization of trade. It called for abolishing federal student loans, in addition to privatizing rail, western lands, airport security, and the post office. Republicans also continued their support for cutting health care and retirement security. After 40 years moving in this direction -- and with it failing at every turn -- you might think they would change their views. But Republicans didn't, and many still haven't. ..."
"... Although neoliberalism had little to offer, in the absence of a new ideological framework, it hung over the Obama presidency -- but now in a new form. Many on the center-left adopted what we might call the "technocratic ideology," a rebranded version of the policy minimalism of the 1990s that replaced minimalism's tactical and pragmatic foundations with scientific ones. The term itself is somewhat oxymoronic, as technocrats seem like the opposite of ideologues. ..."
"... The technocratic ideology preserves the status quo with a variety of tactics. We might call the first the "complexity canard." ..."
"... The most frequent uses of this tactic are in sectors that economists have come to dominate -- international trade, antitrust, and financial regulation, for example. The result of this mind-set is that bold, structural reforms are pushed aside and highly technical changes adopted instead. Financial regulation provides a particularly good case, given the 2008 crash and the Great Recession. When it came time to establish a new regulatory regime for the financial sector, there wasn't a massive restructuring, despite the biggest crash in 70 years. ..."
"... Instead, for the most part, the Dodd-Frank Act was classically technocratic. It kept the sector basically the same, with a few tweaks here and there. There was no attempt to restructure the financial sector completely. ..."
"... The Volcker Rule, for example, sought to ban banks from proprietary trading. But instead of doing that through a simple, clean breakup rule (like the one enacted under the old Glass-Steagall regime), the Volcker Rule was subject to a multitude of exceptions and carve-outs -- measures that federal regulators were then required to explain and implement with hundreds of pages of technical regulations ..."
"... Dodd-Frank also illustrates a second tenet of the technocratic ideology: The failures of technocracy can be solved by more technocracy. ..."
"... Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a government body tasked with what is called macroprudential regulation. What this means is that government regulators are supposed to monitor the entire economy and turn the dials of regulation up and down a little bit to keep the economy from another crash. But ask yourself this: Why would we ever believe they could do such a thing? We know those very same regulators failed to identify, warn about, or act on the 2008 crisis. ..."
"... In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus's head like the goddess Athena. ..."
"... Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think. In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities -- and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. ..."
"... Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East. ..."
"... The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today's problems. ..."
"... The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | newrepublic.com
Welcome to the Decade From Hell , our look back at an arbitrary 10-year period that began with a great outpouring of hope and ended in a cavalcade of despair. The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. "Laissez-faire is finished," declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash "called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years -- the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us."

... ... ...

[Jan 25, 2020] "We All Knew About Epstein" Admits Cindy McCain - Who Did Nothing About It

Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Sat, 01/25/2020 - 18:30 0 SHARES

Sen. John McCain's widow says "everyone" knew about Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking ring, but were "afraid" to do anything about it.

"Epstein was hiding in plain sight," said McCain, during an appearance at the State of the World 2020 conference in Florida, according to the Washington Examiner .

" We all knew about him. We all knew what he was doing, but we had no one that was -- no legal aspect that would go after him . They were afraid of him. For whatever reason, they were afraid of him."

McCain said a girl from her daughter's high school was one of Epstein's victims and that she hopes Epstein "is in hell."

Epstein's massive wealth and his connections to powerful politicians and celebrities allowed him to continue trafficking young women and girls long after many had exposed his devious interests.

Dr. Barbara Sampson, the New York City medical examiner, said Epstein died by suicide at a Manhattan federal detention facility last August. His death and the circumstances surrounding it have created controversy after the former medical examiner of New York, Dr. Michael Baden, told 60 Minutes that he believes Epstein was murdered . - Washington Examiner

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MwE0P1UYPm0

Tags Social Issues

[Jan 24, 2020] It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

Jan 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Danny , Jan 24 2020 15:11 utc | 25

It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

A separate Sunni state in West Iraq would be doomed. We need to leave these people alone, we've made enough foolish mistakes and this will get a lot of people killed. That's along with US troops being put in harms way for ridiculous reasons like stealing Syrian oil and now occupying Iraq against their parliaments wishes.

Back in the day you told someone you were American and they wanted to shake your hand and ask you about this place or that. Now they want to spit in our faces

[Jan 23, 2020] Ghislaine Hacked Jeffrey Epstein's Alleged Madam Claims Email Server 'Breached'

Jan 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Give Me Some Truth , 1 hour ago link

How is it possible that Maxwell's lawyers keep doing all this work for her when nobody apparently knows where she is?

I know all kind of civil lawyers are trying to reach her for questioning, depositions, etc? If her lawyers know where she is, do they have to reveal this? I guess not. Or they are working for someone they never even talk to?

Bizarre.

Give Me Some Truth , 1 hour ago link

Jean Brunnell, the modeling agency executive and another one of Epstein's main procurers of girls, is another important Epstein accomplice who is apparently on the lam (and another co-accoplice authorities have not arrested or even questioned).

Brunnell's lawyer has actually admitted in interviews that he has no idea where his client is.

Brunnel had previously been quoted that he would be eager and willing to work with authorities or answer their questions. This same lawyer responded to this quote, with the comment, "I don't know about that." I at least give him points for honesty.

toady , 1 hour ago link

This is the stuff...

They need not be allowed a defense unless they appear. Tried in absentia, with a defense... convicted without the ability to appeal due to their failure to appear. And the lawyers should be sent to gitmo until they give them up.

Give Me Some Truth , 1 hour ago link

It has now been over a year since the DOJ "re-opened" its "investigation" into Epstein. Any prosecutor who has just passed his bar exam would need only a few weeks to compile a mountain of evidence against Ghislaine Maxwell. Enough to charge her with scores of crimes.

And it's not like the Feds were starting from scratch. In 2007, the FBI did its own investigation (until it was spiked) and this after the Palm Beach Police Department had compiled its own mountains of evidence. Plus, there have been numerous civil court filings that prove her guilt and complicity as well as numerous public comments of former victims, all of whom implicate and name her as Epstein's key partner.

The fact she is so clearly "off limits" is the greatest tell about the scale of corruption and the extent of the cover-up involved here.

... Now, I do think at some point authorities will conclude they have no choice but to charge her (given that the entire world thinks just like me), so it will be interesting how they handle her if and when she is arrested. They certainly will not use her to reveal the entire real story. They simply cannot do this at this point without charging scores of current and former government employees.

Why are the FBI and DOJ even being allowed to lead this "Investigation?"

[Jan 23, 2020] In a day like yesterday....US merits to remain in Iraq getting 50% oil revenues while contributing zero to rebuilt the country they previosuly destroyed and funding and spreading chaos, unrest and terrorism...

Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sasha , Jan 23 2020 23:09 utc | 116

In a day like yesterday....US merits to remain in Iraq getting 50% oil revenues while contributing zero to rebuilt the country they previosuly destroyed and funding and spreading chaos, unrest and terrorism...
On this day in 1991, the US bombed an infant formula production plant in Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm. The US lied, calling it a biological weapons facility, but in actuality, "it was the only source of infant formula food for children one year and younger in Iraq."

https://twitter.com/Americas_Crimes/status/1219824455712694272


Lurker in the Dark , Jan 23 2020 23:29 utc | 119

This is already a hot war the US is prosecuting against Iran.

[Jan 22, 2020] Wikipedia is nothing but a tool for the concealment of truth.

Jan 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Arch Mangle , Jan 21 2020 14:04 utc | 3

The Wikipedia article on the Douma attack makes no mention of the recent OPCW leaks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Douma_chemical_attack

It's clear to me that Wikipedia is nothing but a tool for the concealment of truth.

somebody , Jan 22 2020 12:39 utc | 96

Posted by: Walter | Jan 22 2020 12:30 utc | 95

Of course. Intelligence services wordwide and their governments knew this as soon as they saw the image.

But Western main stream media does not report on it.

[Jan 21, 2020] How a Hidden Parliamentary Session Revealed Trump's True Motives in Iraq by Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. ..."
"... After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement." ..."
"... It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

After the feed was cut, MPs who were present wrote down Abdul-Mahdi's remarks, which were then given to the Arabic news outlet Ida'at . Per that transcript , Abdul-Mahdi stated that:

The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. "

Abdul-Mahdi continued his remarks, noting that pressure from the Trump administration over his negotiations and subsequent dealings with China grew substantially over time, even resulting in death threats to himself and his defense minister:

After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement."

"I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement. When the defense minister said that those killing the demonstrators was a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened myself and the defense minister in the event that there was more talk about this third party."

Very few English language outlets reported on Abdul-Mahdi's comments. Tom Luongo, a Florida-based Independent Analyst and publisher of The Gold Goats 'n Guns Newsletter, told MintPress that the likely reasons for the "surprising" media silence over Abdul-Mahdi's claims were because "It never really made it out into official channels " due to the cutting of the video feed during Iraq's Parliamentary session and due to the fact that "it's very inconvenient and the media -- since Trump is doing what they want him to do, be belligerent with Iran, protected Israel's interests there."

"They aren't going to contradict him on that if he's playing ball," Luongo added, before continuing that the media would nonetheless "hold onto it for future reference .If this comes out for real, they'll use it against him later if he tries to leave Iraq." "Everything in Washington is used as leverage," he added.

Given the lack of media coverage and the cutting of the video feed of Abdul-Mahdi's full remarks, it is worth pointing out that the narrative he laid out in his censored speech not only fits with the timeline of recent events he discusses but also the tactics known to have been employed behind closed doors by the Trump administration, particularly after Mike Pompeo left the CIA to become Secretary of State.

For instance, Abdul-Mahdi's delegation to China ended on September 24, with the protests against his government that Trump reportedly threatened to start on October 1. Reports of a "third side" firing on Iraqi protesters were picked up by major media outlets at the time, such as in this BBC report which stated:

Reports say the security forces opened fire, but another account says unknown gunmen were responsible .a source in Karbala told the BBC that one of the dead was a guard at a nearby Shia shrine who happened to be passing by. The source also said the origin of the gunfire was unknown and it had targeted both the protesters and security forces . (emphasis added)"

U.S.-backed protests in other countries, such as in Ukraine in 2014, also saw evidence of a " third side " shooting both protesters and security forces alike.

After six weeks of intense protests , Abdul-Mahdi submitted his resignation on November 29, just a few days after Iraq's Foreign Minister praised the new deals, including the "oil for reconstruction" deal, that had been signed with China. Abdul-Mahdi has since stayed on as Prime Minister in a caretaker role until Parliament decides on his replacement.

Abdul-Mahdi's claims of the covert pressure by the Trump administration are buttressed by the use of similar tactics against Ecuador, where, in July 2018, a U.S. delegation at the United Nations threatened the nation with punitive trade measures and the withdrawal of military aid if Ecuador moved forward with the introduction of a UN resolution to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding."

The New York Times reported at the time that the U.S. delegation was seeking to promote the interests of infant formula manufacturers. If the U.S. delegation is willing to use such pressure on nations for promoting breastfeeding over infant formula, it goes without saying that such behind-closed-doors pressure would be significantly more intense if a much more lucrative resource, e.g. oil, were involved.

Regarding Abdul-Mahdi's claims, Luongo told MintPress that it is also worth considering that it could have been anyone in the Trump administration making threats to Abdul-Mahdi, not necessarily Trump himself. "What I won't say directly is that I don't know it was Trump at the other end of the phone calls. Mahdi, it is to his best advantage politically to blame everything on Trump. It could have been Mike Pompeo or Gina Haspel talking to Abdul-Mahdi It could have been anyone, it most likely would be someone with plausible deniability .This [Mahdi's claims] sounds credible I firmly believe Trump is capable of making these threats but I don't think Trump would make those threats directly like that, but it would absolutely be consistent with U.S. policy."

Luongo also argued that the current tensions between U.S. and Iraqi leadership preceded the oil deal between Iraq and China by several weeks, "All of this starts with Prime Minister Mahdi starting the process of opening up the Iraq-Syria border crossing and that was announced in August. Then, the Israeli air attacks happened in September to try and stop that from happening, attacks on PMU forces on the border crossing along with the ammo dump attacks near Baghdad This drew the Iraqis' ire Mahdi then tried to close the air space over Iraq, but how much of that he can enforce is a big question."

As to why it would be to Mahdi's advantage to blame Trump, Luongo stated that Mahdi "can make edicts all day long, but, in reality, how much can he actually restrain the U.S. or the Israelis from doing anything? Except for shame, diplomatic shame To me, it [Mahdi's claims] seems perfectly credible because, during all of this, Trump is probably or someone else is shaking him [Mahdi] down for the reconstruction of the oil fields [in Iraq] Trump has explicitly stated "we want the oil."'

As Luongo noted, Trump's interest in the U.S. obtaining a significant share of Iraqi oil revenue is hardly a secret. Just last March, Trump asked Abdul-Mahdi "How about the oil?" at the end of a meeting at the White House, prompting Abdul-Mahdi to ask "What do you mean?" To which Trump responded "Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil," which was widely interpreted as Trump asking for part of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for the steep costs of the U.S.' continuing its now unwelcome military presence in Iraq.

With Abdul-Mahdi having rejected Trump's "oil for reconstruction" proposal in favor of China's, it seems likely that the Trump administration would default to so-called "gangster diplomacy" tactics to pressure Iraq's government into accepting Trump's deal, especially given the fact that China's deal was a much better offer. While Trump demanded half of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for completing reconstruction projects (according to Abdul-Mahdi), the deal that was signed between Iraq and China would see around 20 percen t of Iraq's oil revenue go to China in exchange for reconstruction. Aside from the potential loss in Iraq's oil revenue, there are many reasons for the Trump administration to feel threatened by China's recent dealings in Iraq.

The Iraq-China oil deal – a prelude to something more?

When Abdul-Mahdi's delegation traveled to Beijing last September, the "oil for reconstruction" deal was only one of eight total agreements that were established. These agreements cover a range of areas, including financial, commercial, security, reconstruction, communication, culture, education and foreign affairs in addition to oil. Yet, the oil deal is by far the most significant.

Per the agreement, Chinese firms will work on various reconstruction projects in exchange for roughly 20 percent of Iraq's oil exports, approximately 100,00 barrels per day, for a period of 20 years. According to Al-Monitor , Abdul-Mahdi had the following to say about the deal: "We agreed [with Beijing] to set up a joint investment fund, which the oil money will finance," adding that the agreement prohibits China from monopolizing projects inside Iraq, forcing Bejing to work in cooperation with international firms.

The agreement is similar to one negotiated between Iraq and China in 2015 when Abdul-Mahdi was serving as Iraq's oil minister. That year, Iraq joined China's Belt and Road Initiative in a deal that also involved exchanging oil for investment, development and construction projects and saw China awarded several projects as a result. In a notable similarity to recent events, that deal was put on hold due to "political and security tensions" caused by unrest and the surge of ISIS in Iraq, that is until Abdul-Mahdi saw Iraq rejoin the initiative again late last year through the agreements his government signed with China last September.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center left, meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, center right, in Beijing, Sept. 23, 2019. Lintao Zhang | AP

Notably, after recent tensions between the U.S. and Iraq over the assassination of Soleimani and the U.S.' subsequent refusal to remove its troops from Iraq despite parliament's demands, Iraq quietly announced that it would dramatically increase its oil exports to China to triple the amount established in the deal signed in September. Given Abdul-Mahdi's recent claims about the true forces behind Iraq's recent protests and Trump's threats against him being directly related to his dealings with China, the move appears to be a not-so-veiled signal from Abdul-Mahdi to Washington that he plans to deepen Iraq's partnership with China, at least for as long as he remains in his caretaker role.

Iraq's decision to dramatically increase its oil exports to China came just one day after the U.S. government threatened to cut off Iraq's access to its central bank account, currently held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an account that currently holds $35 billion in Iraqi oil revenue. The account was set up after the U.S. invaded and began occupying Iraq in 2003 and Iraq currently removes between $1-2 billion per month to cover essential government expenses. Losing access to its oil revenue stored in that account would lead to the " collapse " of Iraq's government, according to Iraqi government officials who spoke to AFP .

Though Trump publicly promised to rebuke Iraq for the expulsion of U.S. troops via sanctions, the threat to cut off Iraq's access to its account at the NY Federal Reserve Bank was delivered privately and directly to the Prime Minister, adding further credibility to Abdul-Mahdi's claims that Trump's most aggressive attempts at pressuring Iraq's government are made in private and directed towards the country's Prime Minister.

Though Trump's push this time was about preventing the expulsion of U.S. troops from Iraq, his reasons for doing so may also be related to concerns about China's growing foothold in the region. Indeed, while Trump has now lost his desired share of Iraqi oil revenue (50 percent) to China's counteroffer of 20 percent, the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq may see American troops replaced with their Chinese counterparts as well, according to Tom Luongo.

"All of this is about the U.S. maintaining the fiction that it needs to stay in Iraq So, China moving in there is the moment where they get their toe hold for the Belt and Road [Initiative]," Luongo argued. "That helps to strengthen the economic relationship between Iraq, Iran and China and obviating the need for the Americans to stay there. At some point, China will have assets on the ground that they are going to want to defend militarily in the event of any major crisis. This brings us to the next thing we know, that Mahdi and the Chinese ambassador discussed that very thing in the wake of the Soleimani killing."

Indeed, according to news reports, Zhang Yao -- China's ambassador to Iraq -- " conveyed Beijing's readiness to provide military assistance" should Iraq's government request it soon after Soleimani's assassination. Yao made the offer a day after Iraq's parliament voted to expel American troops from the country. Though it is currently unknown how Abdul-Mahdi responded to the offer, the timing likely caused no shortage of concern among the Trump administration about its rapidly waning influence in Iraq. "You can see what's coming here," Luongo told MintPress of the recent Chinese offer to Iraq, "China, Russia and Iran are trying to cleave Iraq away from the United States and the U.S. is feeling very threatened by this."

Russia is also playing a role in the current scenario as Iraq initiated talks with Moscow regarding the possible purchase of one of its air defense systems last September, the same month that Iraq signed eight deals, including the oil deal with China. Then, in the wake of Soleimani's death, Russia again offered the air defense systems to Iraq to allow them to better defend their air space. In the past, the U.S. has threatened allied countries with sanctions and other measures if they purchase Russian air defense systems as opposed to those manufactured by U.S. companies.

The U.S.' efforts to curb China's growing influence and presence in Iraq amid these new strategic partnerships and agreements are limited, however, as the U.S. is increasingly relying on China as part of its Iran policy, specifically in its goal of reducing Iranian oil export to zero. China remains Iran's main crude oil and condensate importer, even after it reduced its imports of Iranian oil significantly following U.S. pressure last year. Yet, the U.S. is now attempting to pressure China to stop buying Iranian oil completely or face sanctions while also attempting to privately sabotage the China-Iraq oil deal. It is highly unlikely China will concede to the U.S. on both, if any, of those fronts, meaning the U.S. may be forced to choose which policy front (Iran "containment" vs. Iraq's oil dealings with China) it values more in the coming weeks and months.

Furthermore, the recent signing of the "phase one" trade deal with China revealed another potential facet of the U.S.' increasingly complicated relationship with Iraq's oil sector given that the trade deal involves selling U.S. oil and gas to China at very low cost , suggesting that the Trump administration may also see the Iraq-China oil deal result in Iraq emerging as a potential competitor for the U.S. in selling cheap oil to China, the world's top oil importer.

The Petrodollar and the Phantom of the Petroyuan

In his televised statements last week following Iran's military response to the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani, Trump insisted that the U.S.' Middle East policy is no longer being directed by America's vast oil requirements. He stated specifically that:

Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil . (emphasis added)"

Yet, given the centrality of the recent Iraq-China oil deal in guiding some of the Trump administration's recent Middle East policy moves, this appears not to be the case. The distinction may lie in the fact that, while the U.S. may now be less dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, it still very much needs to continue to dominate how oil is traded and sold on international markets in order to maintain its status as both a global military and financial superpower.

Indeed, even if the U.S. is importing less Middle Eastern oil, the petrodollar system -- first forged in the 1970s -- requires that the U.S. maintains enough control over the global oil trade so that the world's largest oil exporters, Iraq among them, continue to sell their oil in dollars. Were Iraq to sell oil in another currency, or trade oil for services, as it plans to do with China per the recently inked deal, a significant portion of Iraqi oil would cease to generate a demand for dollars, violating the key tenet of the petrodollar system.

Chinese representatives speak to defense personnel during a weapons expo organized by the Iraqi defense ministry in Baghdad, March, 2017. Karim Kadim | AP

As Kei Pritsker and Cale Holmes noted in an article last year for MintPress :

The takeaway from the petrodollar phenomenon is that as long as countries need oil, they will need the dollar. As long as countries demand dollars, the U.S. can continue to go into massive amounts of debt to fund its network of global military bases, Wall Street bailouts, nuclear missiles, and tax cuts for the rich."

Thus, the use of the petrodollar has created a system whereby U.S. control of oil sales of the largest oil exporters is necessary, not just to buttress the dollar, but also to support its global military presence. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the issue of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and the issue of Iraq's push for oil independence against U.S. wishes have become intertwined. Notably, one of the architects of the petrodollar system and the man who infamously described U.S. soldiers as "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy", former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, has been advising Trump and informing his China policy since 2016.

This take was also expressed by economist Michael Hudson, who recently noted that U.S. access to oil, dollarization and U.S. military strategy are intricately interwoven and that Trump's recent Iraq policy is intended "to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control of the region's oil reserves," and, as Hudson says, "to back Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar."

Hudson further asserts that it was Qassem Soleimani's efforts to promote Iraq's oil independence at the expense of U.S. imperial ambitions that served one of the key motives behind his assassination.

America opposed General Suleimani above all because he was fighting against ISIS and other U.S.-backed terrorists in their attempt to break up Syria and replace Assad's regime with a set of U.S.-compliant local leaders – the old British "divide and conquer" ploy. On occasion, Suleimani had cooperated with U.S. troops in fighting ISIS groups that got "out of line" meaning the U.S. party line. But every indication is that he was in Iraq to work with that government seeking to regain control of the oil fields that President Trump has bragged so loudly about grabbing. (emphasis added)"

Hudson adds that " U.S. neocons feared Suleimani's plan to help Iraq assert control of its oil and withstand the terrorist attacks supported by U.S. and Saudi's on Iraq. That is what made his assassination an immediate drive."

While other factors -- such as pressure from U.S. allies such as Israel -- also played a factor in the decision to kill Soleimani, the decision to assassinate him on Iraqi soil just hours before he was set to meet with Abdul-Mahdi in a diplomatic role suggests that the underlying tensions caused by Iraq's push for oil independence and its oil deal with China did play a factor in the timing of his assassination. It also served as a threat to Abdul-Mahdi, who has claimed that the U.S. threatened to kill both him and his defense minister just weeks prior over tensions directly related to the push for independence of Iraq's oil sector from the U.S.

It appears that the ever-present role of the petrodollar in guiding U.S. policy in the Middle East remains unchanged. The petrodollar has long been a driving factor behind the U.S.' policy towards Iraq specifically, as one of the key triggers for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was Saddam Hussein's decision to sell Iraqi oil in Euros opposed to dollars beginning in the year 2000. Just weeks before the invasion began, Hussein boasted that Iraq's Euro-based oil revenue account was earning a higher interest rate than it would have been if it had continued to sell its oil in dollars, an apparent signal to other oil exporters that the petrodollar system was only really benefiting the United States at their own expense.

Beyond current efforts to stave off Iraq's oil independence and keep its oil trade aligned with the U.S., the fact that the U.S. is now seeking to limit China's ever-growing role in Iraq's oil sector is also directly related to China's publicly known efforts to create its own direct competitor to the petrodollar, the petroyuan.

Since 2017, China has made its plans for the petroyuan -- a direct competitor to the petrodollar -- no secret, particularly after China eclipsed the U.S. as the world's largest importer of oil.

As CNBC noted at the time:

The new strategy is to enlist the energy markets' help: Beijing may introduce a new way to price oil in coming months -- but unlike the contracts based on the U.S. dollar that currently dominate global markets, this benchmark would use China's own currency. If there's widespread adoption, as the Chinese hope, then that will mark a step toward challenging the greenback's status as the world's most powerful currency .The plan is to price oil in yuan using a gold-backed futures contract in Shanghai, but the road will be long and arduous."

If the U.S. continues on its current path and pushes Iraq further into the arms of China and other U.S. rival states, it goes without saying that Iraq -- now a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative -- may soon favor a petroyuan system over a petrodollar system, particularly as the current U.S. administration threatens to hold Iraq's central bank account hostage for pursuing policies Washington finds unfavorable.

It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive.

anonymous [331] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 5:54 am GMT

One can see how all these recent wars and military actions have a financial motive at their core. Yet the mass of gullible Americans actually believe the reasons given, to "spread democracy" and other wonderful things. Only a small number can see things for what they really are. It's very frustrating to deal with the stupidity of the average person on a daily basis.

This is not Trump's policy, it is American policy and the variation is in how he implements it. Any other person would have fallen in line with it as well. US policy has it's own inner momentum that can't change course. The US depends upon continuation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Were that to be lost the US likely would descend into chaos without end. When the USSR came apart it was eventually able to downsize into the Russian state. We don't have that here; there is no core ethnicity with it's own territory left anymore, it's just a jumble. For the US it's a matter of survival.

John Chuckman , says: Website Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm GMT
Yes, but we also have this

It is reported this morning (CNN) that Trump bragged about the killing to a crowd at a big fundraising dinner.

Just sick, official state murder for campaign donations.

That's what America is reduced to.

[Jan 21, 2020] Neocon foreign policy based on Full spectrum Dominance doctrine does not proceed well. Americans have been deceived by this militaristic doctrine, gangsterism in forign policy is not going to work

Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

UncommonGround , says: Show Comment January 19, 2020 at 12:54 pm GMT

There were brutal sanctions against Iraq in the 90s. After that the country was devastated by the invasion of 2003. Hostility against Iran has been continuous. It's no suprise that things are not going well in the region and that American politics failed. But this was to be expected.

Good relations with Iran were possible. Even recently Iran thought that the nuclear agreement could lead to better relations with the West. Iran should be our best ally in the region because the middle classes there feel close to the West and are very friendly with Westerners who visit the country. We could have had better results if we had tryed a more reasonable politics. But it seems that there were other forces that wanted conflict with Iran and the destruction of Iraq independently of the interests of the US which would have gained from a more reasonable position. We can say the same about Russia.

After wars and sanctions the only way to hold everything together is through military means. There was as doctrine which promoted unbridled militarism and the use of force (wasn't there a saying that "Americans are from Mars, Europeans from Venus"?). Everybody who didn't submit to our rules and interests was viewed as an enemy, military force was seen as the solution to everything.

This is not functioning well. Americans have been decieved by this militaristic doctrine, this is not going to work. Russia has challenged this, a part of Europe isn't very happy, in South America you can only run the system ressorting to radical politicians like Bolsonaro who destroy the environment and create more poverty, in other places this politics created instability and enemies. I think it should be the time for the American elites to discuss seriously the ways that the country has been following simply because there are better ways to have better results.

Franklin Ryckaert , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 7:10 am GMT
@anonymous Yes, for the American Empire to exist (and expand) it needs the Petro-dollar, because only if it is widely used in the world can its collapse be prevented. But why is the dollar so shaky? Because it is no real money, based on real value, but created out of thin air as debt and it can only function in an ever expanding pyramid scheme.

The origin of this fraud is the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. And yes that was mainly a Jewish creation. Nobody, not even Ron Paul, dares to mention that.

Miro23 , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 8:11 am GMT

Iraq's decision to dramatically increase its oil exports to China came just one day after the U.S. government threatened to cut off Iraq's access to its central bank account, currently held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an account that currently holds $35 billion in Iraqi oil revenue. The account was set up after the U.S. invaded and began occupying Iraq in 2003 and Iraq currently removes between $1-2 billion per month to cover essential government expenses. Losing access to its oil revenue stored in that account would lead to the "collapse" of Iraq's government, according to Iraqi government officials who spoke to AFP.

A very revealing article.

It doesn't make sense for any country to hold reserves in the US. The Zio-Glob CIA gangsters are ready to defraud or smash up any country that challenges their petrodollar system. Witness Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Iran and their hostility to Russia and China.

Truth Jihad , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 1:43 pm GMT
Iraqi officials say around $35 billion of the country's oil revenues are held at the US Federal Reserve, which means Washington's threat to restrict access could be a major problem
https://www.afp.com/en/news/15/iraq-warns-collapse-if-trump-blocks-oil-cash-doc-1nn3l14
Greg Bacon , says: Website Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 1:55 pm GMT
Hidden? Revealed?

You don't need to twist yourself into a pretzel to figure out why Trump whacked –the Mafia term–Soleimani.
Jared the Snake's Tel Aviv masters told him they wanted Zion Don to pull the trigger and their will was done.

I voted for a President Trump and instead, got President Shecky, beholden to Jew and Israeli interests who has bent over backwards to please the Israeli terrorists, but who will now go back to his old shtick; pretending to be MAGA or KAG until he gets re-elected, then it will be gloves off and most likely, another War for Israel and Wall Street in 2021.

Having an Israeli-Firster in the WH isn't unusual, but when you have a vain simpleton who doesn't understand foreign policy or is so damned lazy, he lets a slumlord take care of it is a prescription for a major disaster.

[Jan 21, 2020] Trump Tries Real Hard to Start a War for Israel. He Should be Impeached Because He is a War Criminal by Kurt Nimmo

Notable quotes:
"... In my last post, I said it was time to close down this blog, mostly due to its ineffectiveness, short reach, and choir preaching. I wrote that I might as well pound sand for all the good it did. ..."
"... The US began targeting Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This included "freezing" -- polite-speak for theft -- around $12 billion in Iranian assets, including gold, property, and bank holdings. After Obama agreed to return this filched property and money as part of the nuke deal (minus any real nukes), neocons said he gave away US taxpayer money to international terrorists. This warped lie became part of the narrative, yet another state-orchestrated fake news "alternative fact." ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

In my last post, I said it was time to close down this blog, mostly due to its ineffectiveness, short reach, and choir preaching. I wrote that I might as well pound sand for all the good it did.

A few days later, Trump killed a high level Iranian military leader and I have decided a post is in order, never mind that a round of tiddlywinks will have about the same influence as a post here. The wars just keep on coming, no matter what we do.

Let's turn to social media where dimwits, neocon partisans, and clueless Democrats are running wild after corporate Mafia boss and numero uno Israeli cheerleader Donald Trump ordered a hit on Gen. Qasem Soleimani and others near Baghdad's international airport on Thursday.

Let's begin with this teleprompter reader and "presenter" from Al Jazeera:

"This is what happens when you put a narcissistic, megalomaniacal, former reality TV star with a thin skin and a very large temper in charge of the world's most powerful military You know who else attacks cultural sites? ISIS. The Taliban." – me on Trump/Iran on MSNBC today: pic.twitter.com/YCRARB2anv

-- Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 5, 2020

It is interesting how the memory of such people only goes back to the election of Donald Trump.

The US began targeting Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This included "freezing" -- polite-speak for theft -- around $12 billion in Iranian assets, including gold, property, and bank holdings. After Obama agreed to return this filched property and money as part of the nuke deal (minus any real nukes), neocons said he gave away US taxpayer money to international terrorists. This warped lie became part of the narrative, yet another state-orchestrated fake news "alternative fact."

Here's another idiot. He was the boss of the DNC for a while and unsuccessfully ran for president.

Nice job trump and Pompeo you dimwits. You've completed the neocon move to have Iraq become a satellite of Iran. You have to be the dumbest people ever to run the US government. You can add that to being the most corrupt. Get these guys out of here. https://t.co/gQHhHSeiJQ

-- Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) January 5, 2020

Once again, history is lost in a tangle of lies and omission. Centuries before John Dean thought it might be a good idea to run for president, Persians and Shias in what is now Iraq and Iran were crossing the border -- later drawn up by invading Brits and French -- in pilgrimages to the shrines of Imam Husayn and Abbas in Karbala. We can't expect an arrogant sociopath like Mr. Dean to know about Ashura, Shia pilgrimages, the Remembrance of Muharram, and events dating back to 680 AD.

Shias from Iran pilgrimage to other Iraqi cities as well, including An-Najaf, Samarra, Mashhad, and Baghdad (although the latter is more important to Sunnis).

Corporate fake news teleprompter reader Stephanopoulos said the Geneva Conventions (including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347) outlaw the targeting of cultural sites, which Trump said he will bomb.

Trump said there are 52 different sites; the number is not arbitrary, it is based on the 52 hostages, many of them CIA officers, taken hostage during Iran's revolution against the US-installed Shah and his brutal secret police sadists.

Pompeo said Trump won't destroy Iran's cultural and heritage sites. Pompeo, as a dedicated Zionist operative, knows damn well the US will destroy EVERYTHING of value in Iran, same as it did in Iraq and later Libya and Syria. This includes not only cultural sites, but civilian infrastructure -- hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, and mosques.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Geneva Conventions outlaws attacks on cultural objects & places of worship. Why is Trump threatening Iran w/ war crimes?

POMPEO: We'll behave lawfully

S: So to be clear, Trump's threat wasn't accurate?

P: Every target that we strike will be a lawful target pic.twitter.com/zOGTpfYmba

Invoking the United Nations' Historic "Uniting for Peace" Resolution 377 Before Trump Embroils Us in War with Iran

-- Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2020

Although I believe Jill Stein is living in a Marxian fantasy world, I agree with her tweet in regard to the Zionist hit on Soleimani:

Now THIS is grounds for #impeachment – treachery unleashing the unthinkable for Americans & people the world over: Trump asked Iraqi prime minister to mediate with #Iran then assassinated Soleimani – on a mediation mission. https://t.co/f0F9FEMALD

-- Dr. Jill Stein 🌻 (@DrJillStein) January 5, 2020

Trump should be impeached -- tried and imprisoned -- not in response to some dreamed-up and ludicrous Russian plot or even concern about the opportunist Hunter Biden using his father's position to make millions in uber-corrupt Ukraine, but because he is a war criminal responsible for killing women and children.

As for the planned forever military occupation of Iraq, USA Today reports:

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told lawmakers that a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, including U.S. ones, was required "for the sake of our national sovereignty." About 5,000 American troops are in various parts of Iraq.

The latest:
-- Iraqi lawmakers voted to oust U.S. troops
-- U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS has paused operations
-- Hundreds of thousands mourned General Suleimani in Iran
-- President Trump said the U.S. has 52 possible targets in Iran in case of retaliation https://t.co/pmUuAQdKlc

-- The New York Times (@nytimes) January 5, 2020

No way in hell will Sec. State Pompeo and his Zionist neocon handlers allow this to happen without a fight. However, it shouldn't be too difficult for the Iraqis to expel 5,000 brainwashed American soldiers from the country, bombed to smithereens almost twenty years ago by Bush the Neocon Idiot Savant.

Never mind Schumer's pretend concern about another war. This friend of Israel from New York didn't go on national television and excoriate Obama and his cutthroat Sec. of State Hillary Clinton for killing 30,000 Libyans.

I'm concerned President Trump's impulsive foreign policy is dragging America into another endless war in the Middle East that will make us less safe.

Congress must assert itself.

President Trump does not have authority for war with Iran. pic.twitter.com/tra71uY9Ao

-- Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 5, 2020

Meanwhile, it looks like social media is burning the midnight oil in order to prevent their platforms being used to argue against Trump's latest Zionist-directed insanity.

It is absolutely crazy that Twitter is auto-locking the accounts of anyone who posts this "No war on Iran" image, and forcing them to delete the anti-war tweet in order to unlock their account.

Will @TwitterSupport say what's going on? Very screwed up https://t.co/zGTvVfNNqt

-- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 5, 2020

More lies from The Washington Post, the CIA's crown jewel of propaganda:

Trump faces Iran crisis with fewer experienced advisers and strained relations with traditional allies https://t.co/Xi3vKw9Bw9

-- Steven Ginsberg (@stevenjay) January 5, 2020

This is complete and utter bullshit, but I'm sure the American people will gobble it down without question. Trump's advisers are neocons and they are seriously experienced in the art of promoting and engineering assassination, cyber-attacks, invasions, and mass murder.

Newsmax scribbler John Cardillo thinks he has it all figure out.

"In mid-October Soleimani instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran "

That's why we hit him https://t.co/56XKm9Kqwe

-- John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 5, 2020

Imagine this, however improbable and ludicrous: Iran invades America and assassinates General Hyten or General McConville, both top members of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now imagine the response by the "exceptional nation."

We can't leave out the Christian Zionist from Indiana, Mike Pence. Mike wants you to believe Iran was responsible for 9/11, thus stirring up the appropriate animosity and consensus for mass murder.

Neither Iran nor Soleimani were linked to the terror attack in the "9/11 Commission Report." Pence didn't even get the number of hijackers right. https://t.co/QtQZm2Yyh9

-- HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) January 5, 2020

Finally, here is the crown jewel of propaganda -- in part responsible for the death of well over a million Iraqis -- The New York Times showing off its rampant hypocrisy.

In Opinion

The editorial board writes, "It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind President Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires" https://t.co/2swusvBWbg

-- The New York Times (@nytimes) January 5, 2020

Never mind Judith Miller, the Queen of NYT pro-war propaganda back in the day, spreading neocon fabricated lies about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. America -- or rather the United States (the government) -- is addicted to quagmires and never-ending war. This is simply more anti-Trump bullshit by the NYT editorial board. The newspaper loves war waged in the name of Israel, but only if jumpstarted by Democrats.

Trump the fool, the fact-free reality TV president will eventually unleash the dogs of war against Iran, much to the satisfaction of Israel, its racist Zionists, Israel-first neocons in America, and the chattering pro-war class of "journalists," and "foreign policy experts" (most former Pentagon employees).

Expect more nonsense like that dispensed by the robot Mike Pence, the former tank commander now serving as Sec. of State, and any number of neocon fellow travelers, many with coveted blue checkmarks on Twitter while the truth-tellers are expelled from the conversation and exiled to the political wilderness.

*

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Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Jan 20, 2020] Everything you wanted to know about Prince Andrew but was afraid to ask

Jan 20, 2020 | youtu.be

RobG Everything you wanted to know about Prince Andrew but was afraid to ask

https://youtu.be/OkCn_V6juxM?t=4378

[Jan 20, 2020] The type who would want a frightened little girl (someone like a Bill Clinton) is a much more devious character. They're into power. They crave fear.

Jan 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Thomasina , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 8:02 pm GMT

@Rev. Spooner I would highly doubt Trump has had sex with minors or raped women. It doesn't fit his MO. Crass, big-mouthed, a braggart? Yes, but not a rapist or a child abuser. Trump likes big, glamorous women who he can impress with his money, who make HIM look good, the type who come to him, not little girls who are frightened. He's into enticing women with his status.

The type who would want a frightened little girl (someone like a Bill Clinton) is a much more devious character. They're into power. They crave fear. "Look how powerful I am, they're frightened of me." Now this is a sick individual.

And no way Trump is a rapist. He doesn't have to be; it would be beneath him, in his mind.

[Jan 19, 2020] Not Just Hunter Widespread Biden Family Profiteering Exposed

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Of course, Biden in 2019 said "I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else -- even distant family -- about their business interests. Period." ..."
"... James Biden : Joe's younger brother James has been deeply involved in the lawmaker's rise since the early days - serving as the finance chair of his 1972 Senate campaign. And when Joe became VP, James was a frequent guest at the White House - scoring invites to important state functions which often "dovetailed with his overseas business dealings," writes Schweizer. ..."
"... According to Fox Business 's Charlie Gasparino in 2012, HillStone's Iraq project was expected to "generate $1.5 billion in revenues over the next three years," more than tripling their revenue. According to the report, James Biden split roughly $735 million with a group of minority partners . ..."
"... David Richter - the son of HillStone's parent company's founder - allegedly told investors at a private meeting; it really helps to have "the brother of the vice president as a partner." ..."
Jan 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer is out with a new book, " Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite," in which he reveals that five members of the Biden family, including Hunter, got rich using former Vice President Joe Biden's "largesse, favorable access and powerful position."

Frank Biden, Vice President Joe Biden, & Mindy Ward

While we know of Hunter's profitable exploits in Ukraine and China - largely in part thanks to Schweizer, Joe's brothers James and Frank, his sister Valerie, and his son-in-law Howard all used the former VP's status to enrich themselves.

Of course, Biden in 2019 said "I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else -- even distant family -- about their business interests. Period."

As Schweizer puts writes in the New York Post ; "we shall see."

James Biden : Joe's younger brother James has been deeply involved in the lawmaker's rise since the early days - serving as the finance chair of his 1972 Senate campaign. And when Joe became VP, James was a frequent guest at the White House - scoring invites to important state functions which often "dovetailed with his overseas business dealings," writes Schweizer.

Consider the case of HillStone International , a subsidiary of the huge construction management firm, Hill International. The president of HillStone International was Kevin Justice, who grew up in Delaware and was a longtime Biden family friend. On November 4, 2010, according to White House visitors' logs, Justice visited the White House and met with Biden adviser Michele Smith in the Office of the Vice President .

Less than three weeks later, HillStone announced that James Biden would be joining the firm as an executive vice president . James appeared to have little or no background in housing construction, but that did not seem to matter to HillStone. His bio on the company's website noted his "40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally "

James Biden was joining HillStone just as the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq. Six months later, the firm announced a contract to build 100,000 homes. It was part of a $35 billion, 500,000-unit project deal won by TRAC Development , a South Korean company. HillStone also received a $22 million U.S. federal government contract to manage a construction project for the State Department. - Peter Schweizer, via NY Post

According to Fox Business 's Charlie Gasparino in 2012, HillStone's Iraq project was expected to "generate $1.5 billion in revenues over the next three years," more than tripling their revenue. According to the report, James Biden split roughly $735 million with a group of minority partners .

David Richter - the son of HillStone's parent company's founder - allegedly told investors at a private meeting; it really helps to have "the brother of the vice president as a partner."

Unfortunately for James, HillStone had to back out of the major contract in 2013 over a series of problems, including a lack of experience - but the company maintained "significant contract work in the embattled country" of Iraq, including a six-year contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In the ensuing years, James Biden profited off of Hill's lucrative contracts for dozens of projects in the US, Puerto Rico, Mozambique and elsewhere.

Frank Biden , another one of Joe's brothers (who said the Pennsylvania Bidens voted for Trump over Hillary), profited handsomely on real estate, casinos, and solar power projects after Joe was picked as Obma's point man in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Months after Joe visited Costa Rica, Frank partnered with developer Craig Williamson and the Guanacaste Country Club on a deal which appears to be ongoing.

In real terms, Frank's dream was to build in the jungles of Costa Rica thousands of homes, a world-class golf course, casinos, and an anti-aging center. The Costa Rican government was eager to cooperate with the vice president's brother.

As it happened, Joe Biden had been asked by President Obama to act as the Administration's point man in Latin America and the Caribbean .

Frank's vision for a country club in Costa Rica received support from the highest levels of the Costa Rican government -- despite his lack of experience in building such developments. He met with the Costa Rican ministers of education and energy and environment, as well as the president of the country. - NY Post

And in 2016, the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education inked a deal with Frank's Company, Sun Fund Americas to install solar power facilities across the country - a project the Obama administration's OPIC authorized $6.5 million in taxpayer funds to support.

This went hand-in-hand with a solar initiative Joe Biden announced two years earlier, in which "American taxpayer dollars were dedicated to facilitating deals that matched U.S. government financing with local energy projects in Caribbean countries, including Jamaica," known as the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI).

Frank Biden's Sun Fund Americas announced later that it had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to build a 20-megawatt solar facility in Jamaica.

Valerie Biden-Owens , Joe's sister, has run all of her brother's Senate campaigns - as well as his 1988 and 2008 presidential runs.

She was also a senior partner in political messaging firm Joe Slade White & Company , where she and Slade White were listed as the only two executives at the time.

According to Schweizer, " The firm received large fees from the Biden campaigns that Valerie was running . Two and a half million dollars in consulting fees flowed to her firm from Citizens for Biden and Biden For President Inc. during the 2008 presidential bid alone."

Dr. Howard Krein - Joe Biden's son-in-law, is the chief medical officer of StartUp Health - a medical investment consultancy that was barely up and running when, in June 2011, two of the company's execs met with Joe Biden and former President Obama in the Oval Office .

The next day, the company was included in a prestigious health care tech conference run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - while StartUp Health executives became regular White House visitors between 2011 and 2015 .

StartUp Health offers to provide new companies technical and relationship advice in exchange for a stake in the business. Demonstrating and highlighting the fact that you can score a meeting with the president of the United States certainly helps prove a strategic company asset: high-level contacts. - NY Post

Speaking of his homie hookup, Krein described how his company gained access to the highest levels of power in D.C.:

"I happened to be talking to my father-in-law that day and I mentioned Steve and Unity were down there [in Washington, D.C.]," recalled Howard Krein. "He knew about StartUp Health and was a big fan of it. He asked for Steve's number and said, 'I have to get them up here to talk with Barack.' The Secret Service came and got Steve and Unity and brought them to the Oval Office."

And then, of course, there's Hunter Biden - who was paid millions of dollars to sit on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma while his father was Obama's point man in the country.

But it goes far beyond that for the young crack enthusiast.

With the election of his father as vice president, Hunter Biden launched businesses fused to his father's power that led him to lucrative deals with a rogue's gallery of governments and oligarchs around the world . Sometimes he would hitch a prominent ride with his father aboard Air Force Two to visit a country where he was courting business. Other times, the deals would be done more discreetly. Always they involved foreign entities that appeared to be seeking something from his father.

There was, for example, Hunter's involvement with an entity called Burnham Financial Group , where his business partner Devon Archer -- who'd been at Yale with Hunter -- sat on the board of directors. Burnham became the vehicle for a number of murky deals abroad, involving connected oligarchs in Kazakhstan and state-owned businesses in China.

But one of the most troubling Burnham ventures was here in the United States, in which Burnham became the center of a federal investigation involving a $60 million fraud scheme against one of the poorest Indian tribes in America , the Oglala Sioux.

Devon Archer was arrested in New York in May 2016 and charged with "orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors and a Native American tribal entity of tens of millions of dollars." Other victims of the fraud included several public and union pension plans. Although Hunter Biden was not charged in the case, his fingerprints were all over Burnham . The "legitimacy" that his name and political status as the vice president's son lent to the plan was brought up repeatedly in the trial. - NY Post

Read the rest of the report here .

[Jan 18, 2020] The inability of the USA elite to tell the truth about the genuine aim of policy despite is connected with the fact that the real goal is to attain Full Spectrum Dominance over the planet and its people such that neoliberal bankers can rule the world

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 17 2020 19:24 utc | 6

Yes! The inability to tell the truth about the genuine aim of policy despite its being published because that policy goal--to attain Full Spectrum Dominance over the planet and its people such that neoliberal bankers can rule the world--is actually 100% against genuine American Values as expressed by the Four Freedoms (1.Freedom of speech; 2.Freedom of worship; 3.Freedom from want; 4.Freedom from fear) and the articulated goals/vision of the UN Charter--World Peace arrived at via collective security and diplomacy, not war--which are still taught in schools along with Wilson's 14 Points. Then of course, there's the war against British Tyranny known as the Spirit of '76 and the Revolutionary War for Independence and the documents that bookend that era. In 1948, Kennan stated, in an internal discussion that was never censored, the USA consumed 60% of global resources with only 5% of the population and needed to somehow come up with a policy to both continue and justify that great disparity to both the domestic and international audience. Yet, those truths were never provided in an overt manner to the American public or the international audience. The upshot being the US federal government since it dropped the bombs on Japan has been lying or misleading its people such that it's now habitual. And Trump's diatribe against the generals reflects the reality that he too was taken in by those lies.

[Jan 17, 2020] Trump Threatened Euro-Poodles With 25% Car Tarrifs If They Didn't Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Treaty by John Hudson

Jan 17, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com


1 day ago
CHUCKMAN 7 hours ago ,

What an absolutely chaotic man, using trade measures like military weapons.

Mychal Arnold 7 hours ago ,

Mafia!

[Jan 16, 2020] Will The US Obsession With Sanctions Destroy The Dollar

Notable quotes:
"... Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, ..."
"... "Washington is treating the EU as an adversary. It is dealing the same way with Mexico, Canada, and with allies in Asia. This policy will provoke counter-reactions across the world." ..."
"... The National Interest ..."
"... Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare ..."
"... "We must increase Europe's autonomy and sovereignty in trade, economic and financial policies ... It will not be easy, but we have already begun to do it." ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Thu, 01/16/2020 - 17:50 0 SHARES

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

When the US places financial sanctions one one country, it de facto sanctions many other countries as well -- including many of its allies.

This is because not all countries and firms are interested in participating in the US sanctions-based foreign policy.

Sanctions, after all, have become a favorite go-to strategy for American policymakers who seek to isolate or punish foreign states that don't cooperate with US international policy goals.

In recent years, the US has been most active in imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran, with many consequences for US allies who are still open to doing business with both of those countries.

The US can retaliate against organizations that violate US sanctions in a variety of ways. In the past, the US has sued firms such as the Netherlands' ING Groep and Switzerland Credit Suisse. Both firms have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines in the past. The US has been known to go after individuals .

US bureaucrats like to remind firms that penalties await them, should then not buckle under US sanctions plan. In November 2018, for example, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced :

I promise you that doing business in Iran in defiance of our sanctions will ultimately be a much more painful business decision than pulling out of Iran.

Fear of sanctions has caused some firms to stop work mid project, such as when Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas Group abandoned a $10 billion pipeline that was nearing completion.

Not surprisingly, these firms -- who employ people, pay taxes, and contribute to economic growth -- have put pressure on their governments to protest the mounting interference from the US into private trade.

As a result, some European politicians are increasingly looking for ways to get around US sanctions . In a tweet last week, Germany's deputy foreign minister Niels Annen wrote "Europe needs new instruments to be able to defend itself from licentious extraterritorial sanctions."

Another "senior German government official" concluded, "Washington is treating the EU as an adversary. It is dealing the same way with Mexico, Canada, and with allies in Asia. This policy will provoke counter-reactions across the world."

But how is the US so easily able to sanction so much of the world, including companies in huge and influential countries like Germany?

The answer lies in the fact the US dollar and the US economy remain at the center of the international trade system.

SWIFT: How the US Sanctions the World

By the waning days of the Cold War, the US dollar had become the dominant currency in the non-communist world, thanks to the Bretton Woods agreement, the petrodollar, and the sheer size of the US economy.

Once the Communist Bloc collapsed, the dollar was poised to grow even more in importance, and the world's financial institutions searched for a way to make global trade and investing even faster and easier.

Henry Farrell at The National Interest describes what came next:

Financial institutions wanted to communicate with other financial institutions so that they could send and receive money. This led them to abandon inefficient institution-to-institution communications and to converge on a common solution: the financial messaging system maintained by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) consortium, based in Belgium. Similarly, banks wanted to make transactions in the globally dominant currency, the U.S. dollar. ... In practice, the physical infrastructure, for a variety of efficiency reasons, tended to channel global flows through a small number of central data cables and switch points.

At the time, Europe was still years away from creating the euro, and it only seemed natural that a centralized dollar-transfer system be developed for all the world.

SWIFT personnel have always maintained their organization is apolitical, neutral, and only interested in providing a service. But geopolitical realities have long intervened. Farrell continues:

The centralizing tendencies meant that the new infrastructure of global networks was asymmetric: some nodes and connections were far more important than others. ... What this meant was that a few states -- most prominently the United States -- had the latent ability to transform the global economic infrastructures ... into an architecture of global power and information gathering.

By 2001, the power of this centralized system had become apparent. And in the wake of 9/11, the US used the "War on Terror" and an opportunity to turn SWIFT into an enormous international tool for surveillance and financial power.

In his book Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare Juan Zarate shows how the US Treasury officials pressured SWIFT and its personnel to provide the US government with the means to use this international financial "plumbing" to deprive the US's enemies of access to markets.

This started out slow, and SWIFT officials were concerned it would become widely known that SWIFT was becoming politicized and largely a tool of the US and US allies. Nevertheless, the American regime pressed its advantage, and by 2012 "for the first time ever, SWIFT unplugged designated Iranian banks from its system, in accordance with a European directive and under the threat of possible US legislation."

This only strengthened worries among both world regimes and the world's financial institutions that the basic technical infrastructure of the international financial system was really a political tool.

The World Searches for Alternatives

Naturally, Russia and China have been highly motivated to find alternatives to SWIFT. But even perennial US allies have grown far more wary of leaving the financial system in a place where it can be so easily dominated by the US regime. If Iranian banks can be "unplugged" so easily from the global system, what's to stop the US from taking similar steps against German banks, French banks, or Italian banks?

This, of course, is an implied threat behind US demands that European companies not try to work around US sanctions or face "punishment." From the US perspective, if Germans refuse to kowtow to US policy, then there's an easy solution: simply cut the Germans off from the international banking system.

Consequently, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced in 2008

"We must increase Europe's autonomy and sovereignty in trade, economic and financial policies ... It will not be easy, but we have already begun to do it."

By late 2019, the UK, France, and Germany had put together a workaround called "INSTEX" designed to facilitate continued trade with Iran without using the dollar and the SWIFT system built upon it. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have joined the system as well.

As of January 2020, however, the cumbersome system remains unused. But we remain in the very early stages of European efforts to get a divorce from the dollar-dominated financial system. The INSTEX system has been devised, for now, for a limited purpose. But there is no reason it cannot be expanded in the future. The short-term prospects for a functional system are low. Longer-term, however, things are different. The motivation for a long-term workaround is growing. The Trump administration has embraced showmanship that looks good in a short-term news cycle, but which encourages US allies to pull away. Farrell continues:

Unlike Obama, Donald Trump did not use careful diplomacy to build international support for [new sanctions] against Iran. Instead, he imposed them by fiat, to the consternation of European allies, who remained committed to the [Iran agreement put in place under Obama]. The United States now threatened to impose draconian penalties on its allies' firms if they continued to work inside the terms of an international agreement that the United States itself had negotiated. The EU invoked a blocking statute, which effectively made it illegal for European firms to comply with U.S. sanctions, but without any significant consequences. SWIFT, for example, avoided the statute by never formally stating that it was complying with U.S. sanctions; instead explaining that it was regrettably suspending relations with Iranian banks "in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system."

All of this is viewed with alarm by not only Europe, but by China and Russia as well. The near-constant stream of threats by the US administration to impose ever harsher limits and sanctions on both China and Europe has pushed the rest of the world to accelerate plans to get around US sanctions. After all, as of mid-2019, the US had nearly 8,000 sanctions in place against various states and organizations and individuals. The term now being used in reference to American sanctions is " overuse ." It was one thing when the US imposed sanctions in some extreme cases. But now the US appears increasingly fond of using and threatening sanctions regularly, without consulting allies.

This makes continued US dominance in this regard less likely as allies the world pour more and more resources into ending the US-SWIFT control of the system. In a 2018 report, "Towards a Stronger International Role of the Euro," the European Commission described U.S. sanctions as " wake-up call regarding Europe's economic and monetary sovereignty. "

The effort still has a long way to go, but perhaps not as far as many think.

Source.

The dollar remains far ahead of the euro in terms of the dollar's use as a reserve currency, but the dollar and the euro are move evenly matched when it comes to international payment transactions.

If the rest of the world remains sufficiently motivated, more can certainly be done to rein in dollar-based sanctions. Indeed, in 2019, former US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew admitted :

the plumbing is being built and tested to work around the United States. Over time as those tools are perfected, if the United States stays on a path where it is seen as going it alone there will increasingly be alternatives that will chip away at the centrality of the United States.

If the US finds itself not longer at the center of the global financial system, this will bring significant disadvantages for the US regime and US residents. A decline in demand for the dollar would also lead to less demand for US debt. This would put upward pressure on interest rates and thus bring higher debt-payment obligations for the US regime. This would constrain defense spending and the ability of the US to project its power to every corner of the globe. At the same time, central bank efforts to drive interest rates back down would bring a greater need to monetize the debt. The resulting price inflation in either consumer goods or assets would be significant.

The fact none of this will become obvious next week or next month doesn't mean it will never happen . But the US's enthusiasm for sanctions means the world is already learning the price of doing business with the United States and with the dollar.


Arising , 11 minutes ago link

Sanctions are a weak man's weapon when he can't/won't negotiate.

Maghreb , 29 minutes ago link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Nazi_boycott_of_1933 January....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102 April

Took three months to pass the legislation to seize control of the Gold supply even though they knew the U.S defaulted on the War debt of first world war and America was only partially involved.

Better move fast. U.S has not declared War for real since Pearl Harbour.

Best way to avert it is to look at the economic calculations being made and slow what they need for this extended and probably apocalyptic war to start.

They need man power for what is planned but I have a suspicion this time they are planning for megadeath on all sides.

Schroedingers Cat , 2 hours ago link

The Us Dollar will be destroyed sometime between now and 1 week before the Sun turns into a red giant and swallows the Earth.

uhland62 , 1 hour ago link

Nothing will be destroyed. Situations like this are about chipping away and crumbling. Rome was not built in a day. People sit in wait to find a weak spot of the hegemon and if you think that the US is a perfect and perpetual hegemon than you are as delusional as Obama.

He bragged in 2015 that he/they twisted arms of countries when they did not do what he 'needed' them to do. (See y-tube). Every country, every person who had arms twisted is sitting in wait to hit back. Chisel away, apply needlepricks, obedience can be forced; desire for revenge never dies.

You need to treat people well on your way up because you are meeting them all again on your way down.

CashMcCall , 2 hours ago link

Will The US Obsession With Sanctions Destroy The Dollar?

Hopefully it will destroy the US BULLY TOO...

This saga of Sanctions all started with the Black Jesus Obama and Russia. It was a disaster then, harmful to Russian women and children and never affect the oligarchs. It is Stalingrad stuff.

Then along comes the pile of **** known as the Orange Jesus. Considering Trump's pretend hatred of Obama, he sure loved the community organizers weaponizing of the Dollar Reserve... So much so the orange ******* now has 40% of the world population under Dollar Reserve Sanctions. More Stalingrad ****. And the world hates it.

So there is no question that nations will find ways around sanctions and the mother fking pencil necked poodles that support this mfkirng ****. They can't comprehend that if TRUMP does this to some country, he can do it to them.

The Dollar Reserve was intended to be apolitical a means of global commerce. At Bretton Woods, Maynard Keynes addressed the Reserve Currency to avoid this. He recommended a synthetic reserve currency composed of five of the world's leading currencies called the BANCOR. He was voted down by the US delegation that only would accept the Dollar over the Pound. Britain was too weak after the war to oppose the US. So that set up the Dollar Reserve by intimidation and bullying. What else is new.

Now the US uses their 800 military bases to enforce their Sanctions and Dollar reserve weaponizing.

This will come to an end. Europe is a larger economy than the US and Asia is larger than the US and Europe Combined. So this dollar reserve weaponizing crap will end.

Interesting isn't it that the two most economically illiterate presidents in history, love sanctions. I promise, the Dollar reserve as the primary currency of exchange is THE DEAD MAN WALKING.... They are also the most RACIST presidents in US History.

CashMcCall , 2 hours ago link

Goldamn did a white paper on this... If the US loses the Dollar Reserve the GDP would tank 30%. So yeah... welcome to the the stone age and fighting in the streets. But to neutralize the dollar Reserve damage only requires competition to the US Dollar.

So far the Yuan is not printed in enough quantity to compete in a big way. The Euro has never shown the inclination to be anything but a poodle.

WWII has never ended. Look at NATO... who are they opposing... RUSSIA. Give it a rest. Russia is not going to attack Europe. So this NATO military facade is about to crumble. Trump attempting to get NATO to attack Iran and enter the Middle east is laughable and won't happen. Only the British Poodles are stupid enough for that.

And why is Britain fking with anybody... Doesn't the Queen have enough RYSIST issues now that Harry and Megan have called her a RYSIST? Love to see Britain go it alone but they are real pussies and have filled the world with hatred so there will be consequences.

alphasammae , 3 hours ago link

Sanctions use the same philosophy of the the Mafia and having to use it means the days of the dollar hegemony are gradually ending. What goes around comes around. yin-yang.

jm , 3 hours ago link

Probably, but it will take a while. Alternatives are few at present.

CashMcCall , 2 hours ago link

YES but for the first time they are present. The Euro is a Reserve Currency but Europe has never asserted its status. Likely due to Germany. Germany destroys Europe in so many way. Merkel is pathetic.

Now the Yuan as of 2016 is a reserve currency and they are trading Iron ore from Australia and Brazil in Yuan. Also China has a 24 Trillion dollar internal commodities market that trades in Yuan. So the mechanics of massive Trade are already set in place in China and Asia.

Traditionally the largest trading nation had the reserve currency. The US is no longer the largest trading nation. They are the largest debtor nation however.

Maghreb , 21 minutes ago link

This only Bretton woods post World War II rules. Back in the old days gold was trusted because people who had it actually hd to produce or trade for it. War economy is always pure fiat even if it means killing your own soldiers and robbing their families.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/veterans-face-greater-risks-amid-opioid-crisis/

If it gets dirty everyone is going to have to play the game. Why do you think they are still dealing with Afghanistan like its the centre of the universe for the last 20 years.

PTSD and ******** propaganda on young men is enough to push them over the edge. Same thing for the nasty **** that happens to women.

All these currencies are pure fiat floating against perceived demand and ******** technocrats. People want to die in these situations they are going to monetize human misery. The opiate epidemics in the 60s pushed the U.S of the Gold standard. Where do you think the French got all those U.S dollars from straight after the war.

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMs6eI1VRBQ

fackbankz , 1 hour ago link

Ever heard of this little thing called cryptocurrency? It can't be weaponized like a CB currency because there is no centralized authority and no need for a trusted third party. It can cross international borders at the speed of light and cheaply to boot. It's quite clever. I imagine it will become all the rage in the next couple years.

Maghreb , 35 minutes ago link

I dont think you understand the concept of war. They napalmed kids to heard their parents into concentration camps. That was the Pentagon. Theyre not going to spare your internet service provider in the name of free trade and libertarian finance.

Bit coin can be used the same way as the military script just by switching off your computer and forcing you to adopt another currency. They did it every few months in Vietnam. IBM ran the analytics with a super computer and they still didnt beat the Tet Offensive which was just people letting of steam for lunar new year by killing anyone who worked with the Americans.

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

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

After World War II penicillin was a global commodity used as black market currency to cure venereal disease.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50851420

Hedge. Iodine for fallout. Water purification tablets. Toilet Paper and Sanitary wipes and shoes. Batteries. You wont be allowed to grow food when it starts.

Demeter55 , 3 hours ago link

Economic sanctions, sanctions of any kind, are like pepper: use cautiously, sparingly, and only when the recipe calls for it. Don't inhale, either. Massive sneeze attacks can follow and the dish can be ruined.

pedoland , 3 hours ago link

the Fed destroyed the dollar

madashellron , 3 hours ago link

IT'S CALLED SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT, NOT ONCE BUT A THOUSAND TIMES!

Mustafa Kemal , 3 hours ago link

CAATSA, Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions,

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/caatsa.aspx

signed by Trump in 2017 means we have essentially entered into a world where the American regime is weaponizing sanctions to dominate the planet.


Of course, karma is a law, which cannot be avoided, and this article is right. It is only a matter of time. Moreover, he is right in that when we lose this status our ability to wage endless wars throughout the planet will stop. I hope to see that day.

It is my feeling that the primary reason we are not in a major war at this moment is that our "adversaries" have noted our decline, as well have many astute and not so astute ZH members have, and are waiting us out. The other is that our military is not as good as we claim and some of us know it.

https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Military-Supremacy-American-Strategic-ebook/dp/B07DVSM76H/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=martyanov&qid=1579218682&sr=8-2

Element , 3 hours ago link

... the American regime is weaponizing sanctions to dominate the planet.

Good. Because the alternative is to bomb countries.

Element , 3 hours ago link

... and are waiting us out. The other is that our military is not as good as we claim and some of us know it.

Because everyone else's military is so much better, right?

Idiot.

Mustafa Kemal , 3 hours ago link

You appear "ideologically possessed" as Jordan Pederson says; namely you do not seek the truth but have a position to promote.

Here read em and weep

https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Military-Supremacy-American-Strategic-ebook/dp/B07DVSM76H/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=martyanov&qid=1579218682&sr=8-2

logicalman , 3 hours ago link

It's hard to break with the Mob.

NotAGenius , 1 hour ago link

You don't, alive.

44magnum , 3 hours ago link

Zionist banker bucks masquerading as US Dollars.

No US dollars since 1913

3rdWorldTrillionaire , 3 hours ago link

Not true, the US Treasury issued certificates backed by silver as late as the 1960s.

Silver Fox 47 , 3 hours ago link

Truth bomb

BillEpstein , 3 hours ago link

american war whores sure have proven eisenhower to be a prophet

Silver Fox 47 , 3 hours ago link

along with Gen. Smedley Butler

indus creed , 1 hour ago link

....who, unlike Ike, was a combat General.

Element , 3 hours ago link

No

crypt007 , 4 hours ago link

GOLD should be trading currently at least at 4,800 and SILVER should be trading today at triple digits -- The Federal Reserve and PPT like to manipulate the precious metals, stop manipulating the PM morons.

Let's take a look at the SILVER chart:

SILVER -- TF = Daily -- SILVER --time frame is daily-- has developed a very well known technical pattern CUP and HANDLE -- SILVER STRONG BUY -- https://invst.ly/pie5l

Son of Captain Nemo , 4 hours ago link

$USD was already DOA when Don Rumsfeld declared that $2.3 trillion ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6pkCG9fs3I ) was missing from the DOD t he day before this was allowed to ( https://www.ae911truth.org/ ) happen!...

The rest is shall we say "academic" ( https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-29/true-size-us-national-debt-including-unfunded-liabilities-222-trillion-dollars )!!!

P.S.

"Donny Appleseed" send$ his tiding$ to the American lemming... counting all those "0"s that are only gettin bigger with each sweep of the EST "second hand".

Still allowed to be "alive" after all that damage and all these years!

NotAGenius , 1 hour ago link

See "logicalman"'s comment above. You can't break with the mob. Alive.

crypticcurrency , 4 hours ago link

I just attended a China - US conference. The chinese fund managers who spoke there said that China's economy is at a standstill and now is the time for "VULTURE" funds to be active acquiring heavily discounted firms which are over-leveraged. Not the sounds of a ready for prime time currency. And the market know as less than 2% of global reserves are Yuan as in the chart and Chinese dollar reserves are 30% of what they were years ago.

CashMcCall , 2 hours ago link

who ran the conference BANNON.

PGR88 , 4 hours ago link

Germany's deputy foreign minister Niels Annen wrote "Europe needs new instruments to be able to defend itself from licentious extraterritorial sanctions."

Dare we say the word? (((gold)))

crypt007 , 4 hours ago link

The BIG problem with the US dollar is not only the data but it is also the staggering amounts of printing, printing, printing and QE4ever that totally destroy the purchasing power of the US Dollar. Only GOLD and SILVER are the real 'store of value'.

Let's take a look at the US Dollar chart:

US DOLLAR Index -- TF = 4H -- ROUNDED TOP suggesting much lower levels ahead -- US DOLLAR STRONG SELL -- https://invst.ly/pj042

inhibi , 4 hours ago link

Like how in the 80's everybody assumed flying cars were "near future", people who think the dollar will lose (or already lost) reserve status are delusional.

It will take a long long time to ween the world off of the entire banking complex, literally made by and through the dollar.

Multiple reasons, primarily:

1) US gov still a strong presence around the world militarily and financially

2) US dollar still the #1 currency used in transactions between major firms

3) US banking system has, in its pockets, about 80% of the worlds billionaire class, which conversely, makes most of the major decisions around the world

4) SWIFT system and World Bank both huge institutions that literally hold most 3rd world countries economics (see Venezuela for examples of a 3rd world country trying to NOT do what the US wants)

Woodenman , 4 hours ago link

When you build a house of cards it can collapse faster than you can blink.

TBT or not TBT , 2 hours ago link

Tell that to the mullahs. Shades of the Berlin Wall moment for the USSR.

eekastar , 4 hours ago link

All 4 are loosing credibility fast

Consuelo , 4 hours ago link

In a static geopolitical environment, your points are valid. After all, it's been this way for a very long time. You would - and perhaps will be however, amazed at just how fast the dynamics of your 4 points can change when two near equally (and in some cases superior) military and economic world powers are geopolitically pushed to a limit they will no longer accept. And guess what? That's coming a whole lot sooner than most think.

Element , 3 hours ago link

Too much truth!

You've got the anti-crown shrieking, "The End Is Nigh!".

They'll still be screaming it in 2050, while they themselves are being lowered into a coffin.

Mustafa Kemal , 3 hours ago link

The days of US Military Supremacy are over

https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Military-Supremacy-American-Strategic-ebook/dp/B07DVSM76H/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=martyanov&qid=1579218682&sr=8-2

luffy0212 , 2 hours ago link

Your comparison is retarded. Economically you been overtaken

Chinese and Russians just haven't completely crash JUSA dollar to allow the world to transition away from you parasites without feeling much pain.

we know you dontunderstand the word pragmatism.

Militarily

you can be removed conventionally at any moment and be made to bleed dry

again Pragmatism comes into play

what better way then to allow the war criminals to crumble on their own and left stranded around the world once dollar goes bloop


alternative payment systems are being implemented and put into use

but again a transition must gradually allow for broader use to avoid the pain and aches that come with hastily made moves

again the word pragmatism comes into mind

lastly 80% is no longer the case

And the percentage keeps decreasing day by day

yerfej , 4 hours ago link

EVERY ******* in Washington needs to go and be replace with people who have an interest in the well being of the country rather than their personal power plays. The world HATES the Washington assholes almost as much as the US citizens hate the bastards.

Woodenman , 4 hours ago link

Superbly inteligent coment!

JBL , 1 hour ago link

biden....36 yrs in the senate?

yeah yeah, the woke electorate's gunna clean house n vote in the good guys

ted41776 , 4 hours ago link

you too can have freedom and democracy and live under the threat of losing everything you have if you don't do as you're told

WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

nope-1004 , 4 hours ago link

Sanctions are used to force another nation into compliance.

Bombs are used to force another nation into compliance.

Anyone still think the treasury and Fed aren't the biggest warmongers around? They have to be, otherwise the US dollar would be toast, as there is nothing but a military holding it up. A nation with 5% of the global population, full of fat walmart shoppers, does not have the productive means to force their will without the war machine. Ironically, that same war machine is fully funded by the foreigners the bankers bomb, as using the USD means you must hold dollar reserves. It is a grand racket.

Woodenman , 4 hours ago link

The Russia and Ukraine scandals leading to impeachment are nonsense but Trump should be impeached for hastening the demise of our reserve currency. Weaponizing the dollar was the dumbest strategy he ever came up with. Russia and China are gaining friends and influence every day while the U.S. is becoming an outcast. They are using the Carrot while all Trump knows is the Stick.

ReturnOfDaMac , 4 hours ago link

Bullshyt, it was King Dollar yesterday, it's King Dollar today, and by Gawd, it's King Dollar FOREVER!!

You will use our Dollar and dammit, you WILL like it.

CashMcCall , 2 hours ago link

Sounds like Kudlow has been back into the ding dong daddy white powder... LOL...

Don't forget SARC... some may not have captured your subtle humor.

cogitergosum , 4 hours ago link

The dollar's days as a global reserve currency are numbered because..

TRUMP LOST THE PETRODOLLAR.

The US UK Israel petrodollar system collapsed overnight with the US military having no credible response to having its base bombed. A credible response is for the US to have dealt death from the skies, destroying and severely deteriorating Iran's ballistic launch capabilities or at the least a strike on its major oil refineries. That did not happen. Why?

The US & UK airforce are outdated....in fact any conventional air force that relies on drones or stealth jets to deliver bomb payloads are outdated!

The purpose of an air-force is to bomb targets from the sky. Iranians have shown you can do it with ultra-cheap short medium range ballistic missiles which are nothing more than crap aluminum tubes filled with propellant, a low cost cell phone GPS guidance system and a big payload. You can make millions for the cost of one stealth jet!

IRAN has all US, Israel and Saudi targets mapped and gave a demo of what they can do. By the time the shitty F35s start their engines on a runway of a worthless aircraft carrier, thousands of these missiles will be launched by Iran destroying all targets within minutes of declaration of TOTAL WAR!

THE PURPOSE OF STEALTH has been defeated. There is no deterrence against ballistic missiles which are faster then aircraft! So by the time the first wave of stupid burger planes reach IRAN, all BURGER bases in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel and aircraft carriers will have been destroyed! So the USA cant protect anything without losing everything!

TOTAL WAR even with a weak power like Iran means TOTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE WAR in which case everybody's base gets destroyed and who ever pushes the button fastest gets to destroy the targets fastest and everything is over in less than an hour! Since burgers dont have magic hollywood space lasers, just piece of **** F35s and outdated carriers....burgers cant defend anything! Burgers have no deterrence for TOTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE WARFARE. There is no time to start your engines and take off on a runway, the missiles are already on their way and will hit bases and aircraft carriers within 10 to 20 minutes of declaration of TOTAL WAR.

Trump killed a rook (solemani) in the game of geopolitical chess (which the Persians invented) and the mullahs in Tehran checkmated the USA and Israel by making redundant the view that only very very expensive stealth jets can accurately deliver bombs with precision! No brainer right there...a plane requires life support, complex systems just to support the idiot who is flying it to the target...a missile requires no stealth technology, its fast, accurate and deadly with no deterrent! In one stroke the mullahs revealed that the entire US air-force is obsolete against TOTAL short/ medium range ballistic missile war!

We should have had ballistic missile carriers but we dont because greedy defense contractor boomers think they are the smartest defense planners when in fact they just loved to build planes instead of realizing short range ballistic GPS guided precision missiles can do the same thing! But not much profit in that of course..

US air-force outdated = US ground troops outdated because they rely on US air-force for back up. So you have to withdraw = NO PETRODOLLAR.

As of today the US cannot defend its bases in Iraq, Israel or Saudi Arabia.... US/UK/Israel/Saudis combined cannot protect anything without losing everything!

That is called check-mate my friends. The petrodollar age has ended and the AGE OF THE PETROYUAN has begun. China copies everything the US does, they wanted their Saudi Arabia and they got all of IRAN and IRAQ.

Now Trump has to sign trade deal after trade deal because the world holds a massive amount of US securities and we have to supply real goods and services...opening up oil fields for export, everything. Burgers have to become a land of farmers and oil workers to satisfy all the US dollar holdings out there because TRUMP LOST THE PETRODOLLAR by DESTROYING US CREDIBLE MILITARY DETERRENCE for the whole world to see...the ability to provide 'SEGURIDY' AS HENRY KISSINGER would say.

Everybody now knows the US is just another power only burgers have their head up their asses. A big crash is coming our way and this time we DO NOT HAVE THE PETRODOLLAR FOR RECOVERY LIKE WE HAD IN 2008!

TRUMP LOST THE WESTERN PETRODOLLAR HEGEMON....HE LITERALLY LOST THE WEST!

THE PETRODOLLAR AGE OF PROSPERITY HAS ENDED! BECAUSE DRUMPF, KUSHNER AND NETANYAHU!

The EVANGELICAL BIBLICAL APOCALYPSE has come and gone! The GREAT SATAN as the mullahs would call them have been revealed to have no power to price oil in the middle east anymore! The military humiliation and withdrawal comes next...its a Greek tragedy in modern times...

Paraphrasing Thucydides

"A society that divides its warriors and scholars will have its wars planned by cowards and fought by fools"

That is true and accurate in the case of burgerland and its rulers!
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7881839/New-images-damage-caused-Iranian-missile-strike-Iraqi-base.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7893435/US-military-lost-contact-drones-overhead-Iranian-ballistic-missile-strike.html

DisorderlyConduct , 4 hours ago link

LOL. That's hilarious.

Trump knocked out a rook and a couple bishops, and ignored opportunities on several pawns. By not taking the bait, escalations fall onto Iran's shoulders and will be increasingly hard to justify.

Eventually their retaliation actions blur into the smoke of their terrorist proxies. Then they fulfill the role thst Trump claims they occupy. Then action on them will be easily justified. Even now Iran is shredding the JCPOA, that document that they acted like was so dear to them - thus giving the rest of the world the finger. Hey, you couldn't play their part worse if you tried...

Checkmate.

Woodenman , 4 hours ago link

Trump shredded the JCPOA, not Iran.

DisorderlyConduct , 3 hours ago link

Obama did by not putting it to the Senate for ratification. That is how the US becomes bound by a treaty.

Trump did what he had a right and the mandate to do. The JCPOA has no broad-based support in the US and still doesn't. Should have never existed.

That aside, The US was not the only nation in the agreement. The rest of you are free to work it out.

TBT or not TBT , 2 hours ago link

A U.S. induhvidual signed it. The U.S. declined to.

cogitergosum , 4 hours ago link

okay boomer

enjoy some petrodollar humor

http://boards.4chan.org/pol/thread/239782961/geopolitics-china-trade-deal-edition

DisorderlyConduct , 3 hours ago link

LOL.

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

You're the typical jarhead indispensable fodder dumbass.

no checkmate fool none at all.

close the high school history book.

Element , 3 hours ago link

What a ridiculous argument, the USA has its own oil and gas, more than the Saudis have!

Your version of reality is 40 years out of date.

Element , 3 hours ago link

There is no deterrence against ballistic missiles which are faster then aircraft! So by the time the first wave of stupid burger planes reach IRAN, all BURGER bases in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel and aircraft carriers will have been destroyed! So the USA cant protect anything without losing everything!

That's what Hitler thought, Saddam tried it as well, the theory proved to be wrong.

The purpose of an air-force is to bomb targets from the sky. Iranians have shown you can do it with ultra-cheap short medium range ballistic missiles which are nothing more than crap aluminum tubes filled with propellant, a low cost cell phone GPS guidance system and a big payload. You can make millions for the cost of one stealth jet!

This was particularly hilarious. If that were the case the USA and its allies would be doing that. Do you not realize the US has had rocket artillery for the past 70 years? The larger the rocket, and the longer its range, the larger and heavier the transport TEL vehicle and support base and storage must be. The industrial and technical support base as well. And the crews to man and employ them get larger as well, as does their training equipping and paying of them.

That's in fact very expensive, and you run out of rockets real fast.

But stealth jets come back every day, for months, or years, and drop big-*** bombs on your missile factories, and its industrial support base, it's electricity supply, its fuel supply, its chemical factories, its bases, bunkers, sensors comms, personnel, ports and the entire industrial economic infrastructure of the entire country.

See Japan after WWII - that would occur to Iran.

The End

cogitergosum , 2 hours ago link

then why didnt you boomer? Because Iran's missiles will hit your base anyway..stealth or no stealth that is the point! The US was supposed to wage such a death match war against China or Russia...not a 4th rate shithole like IRAN. You boomers literally have your head up your asses. The 90s is over boomers! The boomer run US armed forces is totally obsolete because we have been humiliated and the boomers are so shameless they are behaving like 'colored peoples of poor upbringing'.

Hold me back or ill......hold me back or ill.... you will do what? Nothing! No one held burger boy trump back. Burger boy held himself back because he and his son in law and the prime brains behind losing the petrodollar, Netanyahu would lose Israel also along with Saudi Arabia and all burger bases!

TBT or not TBT , 2 hours ago link

We thought you didn't like pork. What's your beef with hamburger?

cogitergosum , 2 hours ago link

oh so I must be a muslim if I said Israel lost the petrodollar because the joke is on you clowns. Lose the petrodollar boomers lose their 401k and Israel has to negotiate with Iran to exist...win win if you ask me...cant wait to watch you flip burgers in your 80s.

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

The fact that you want us to use WWII Japan as comparison completely nullifies your rant. Furthermore, revisionism and hyped up ability does no good in the real world. We don't need to ask Hitler or Saddam. Had Saddam moved in on Saudi Arabia rather than allowing forces to amass it's been a different story. Regarding Hitler, you cinta had little to no hand in the matter. Case in point.

[Jan 12, 2020] The founder of TruNews accused PayPal of conducting a financial pogrom hours after the Florida-based Christian broadcaster published a hard-hitting news report that linked the Jeffrey Epstein child sex scandal to Israel s Mossad spy agency

Jan 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Pollygotacracker , 4 minutes ago link

Rick Wiles (TruNews) goes full red pill on Zionist Israel. The U.S. is conquered territory. You will be placed in a digital ghetto if you discuss Israel's crimes, or complain about the Jewish mafia takeover in America. Rabbi Trumpenstein will look the other way to appease his Jewish handlers. These outrageous Jewish actions are becoming more and more outrageous under the Agent Orange administration. Meanwhile, we are distracted by what is going on in the M.E.

Jeffrey Epstein was a Mossad operative who was tasked with blackmailing influential politicians and persons of interest in the West, but in America in particular.

TruNews got dropped by PayPal after this report. The video is an hour long, but the best bit is the opening monologue, which is shorter. Here is the summary.

TruNews :

The founder of TruNews accused PayPal of conducting a "financial pogrom" hours after the Florida-based Christian broadcaster published a hard-hitting news report that linked the Jeffrey Epstein child sex scandal to Israel's Mossad spy agency.

PayPal abruptly terminated the account of TruNews without warning or explanation. The conservative Christian news program has received donations in its PayPal account for more than 16 years without any problems. TruNews is funded by donations from viewers. The weekday Christian news and commentary program started in 1999.

TruNews' founder and host Rick Wiles accused PayPal CEO Daniel Schulman, a progressive leftwing Jewish business executive, of punishing the Christian broadcaster for its hard-hitting reports on Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell:

"PayPal abruptly closed our account on the morning of January 3, 2020. TruNews' report on January 2 was titled 'Ghislaine Maxwell: Which spy agency is hiding her?' Our newscast focused on her father's longtime service to Israel's intelligence agencies, how she was Jeffrey Epstein's handler for Mossad, and how Epstein's team video-recorded influential American men having sex with underage girls who had been recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell."

Wiles said the swiftness of PayPal's action hours after the release of TruNews' report on the Epstein-Maxwell-Mossad child sex blackmail operation was not a coincidence:

"Any American citizen or entity that questions Israeli actions and its influence in America are now marked targets. Israel's blackmail operation in America for over 30 years was so successful that it is now dangerous for any law-abiding American citizen to demand a real investigation into the biggest scandal in American history which resulted in much of America's ruling class being caught in a child-sex blackmail trap."

Damn. When you're right, you're right, Rick.

Rick Wiles even saw through the whole fake "teen sex" angle that the media was pushing and promoting. The real story wasn't some 16-year-old girls, but the children that the Jews were using for blackmail purposes. This is the real kompromat that the Jews have on our politicians.

Wiles accused PayPal of conducting a financial pogrom against opponents of Israeli Zionism.

"TruNews is a victim of a PayPal pogrom. PayPal and the other Techno-Nazis like YouTube and Facebook are pushing American patriots into digital ghettos if they dare to act like free men and women."

Wiles said he is driven by his commitment to justice:

"TruNews is demanding justice for thousands of American girls who were raped in Epstein's fake mansions, and we're demanding a legitimate investigation into Israel's blackmailing of influential American men."

Wiles admitted he has little hope of seeing a real investigation because the FBI and Department of Justice have been corrupted too.

When you understand the Jewish Question, you can just cut through the ******** like a laser. The JQ like nothing else sharpens the minds and hones you in on the truth.

PayPal also abruptly closed on the same day the account of Bless an Orphan; a nonprofit Christian ministry founded by Wiles' daughter Karissa Washburn. The Florida-based organization rescues children in South America who were kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking. Wiles blasted PayPal for punishing his daughter:

"PayPal's action against Bless an Orphan was cruel and vindictive. Daniel Schulman punished my daughter who is saving the

lives of little girls who were sold to sex traffickers. PayPal closed Bless an Orphan's account for one reason. They wanted to intimidate me by targeting my daughter. PayPal is also making me aware that they know what my daughter is doing in South America to rescue children."

TruNews has relentlessly pursued the Jeffrey Epstein child sex scandal. The Christian news organization believes that Ghislaine Maxwell was Epstein's Mossad handler, not his lover. Maxwell is the daughter of the late Robert Maxwell who mysteriously drowned in 1991. Maxwell, whose real name was Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch, was a Jewish billionaire who was suspected of being a Mossad agent. He was given a state funeral in Israel and buried on the Mount of Olives.

TruNews also believes that Epstein was not a billionaire, but an imposter recruited by Mossad to act like a billionaire:

"You cannot convince me that Jeffrey Epstein was a self-made billionaire with only one client who owned mansions throughout America and London and Paris. His mansions were owned by wealthy Jews through trusts."

Absolutely correct.

The outspoken TruNews founder also wants to know who received the video feeds from Epstein's mansions:

"According to anonymous former employees and women who were in those homes as teenagers, we know that cameras were in all bedrooms and bathrooms that fed video to secret media rooms that were staffed with people capturing the child sex acts on video. Who received the video? I believe it was sent to Tel Aviv for blackmail purposes."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKpVZBSStlc&t=1830s

[Jan 08, 2020] I can't quite understand how gratuitous US piracy and adventurism in places on the globe beyond the knowledge and reach of most Americans could possibly be compared to Iranian actions securing their immediate regional borders and interests.

Highly recommended!
Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Patroklos , Jan 6 2020 22:30 utc | 104

@Ian Dobbs and Dan

I can't quite understand how gratuitous US piracy and adventurism in places on the globe beyond the knowledge and reach of most Americans could possibly be compared to Iranian actions securing their immediate regional borders and interests. You can at least understand (even if you critique) a US preoccupation with Cuba over the years, or drug cartels in central America, or economic refugees in Mexico because they are close by and have a more less direct effect on the stability of the US. But they have no authority beyond that other than the ability to project violence and force. That's just simple imperialism. But now the US have whacked a made guy without any real reason (i.e. looking at you the wrong way is not a reason). Any mafia hood knows that, especially a New Yorker like Trump. So the climax of The Godfather comes to mind. It is staggeringly naive and frankly moronic to think that this is about good and evil. I bet Soleimani was no angel, but he wasn't whacked because he was a bad guy, but because he was extraordinarily effective military organizer. Star Wars has a lot to answer for in stunting the historical sensibilities of entire generations, but its underlying narrative is the only MSM playbook now. Even more staggering is the stupendous arrogance of the US belief in its 'rights' (based on thuggery and avarice), as though it were the only power in the world capable of establishing a moral order. The lesson in humility to come will be both long-awaited and go unheeded. Even the mob understand there has to be rules.

Alpi , Jan 6 2020 22:32 utc | 105

After reading Crooke and Federicci's articles, there is only one way to stop this madness blowing into a global conflict. Russia and China need to get involved whether they like it or not. Diplomacy and sideline analysis has run its course. This is their time to stamp their influence in the region and finish off the empire once and for all. Maybe that way, The Europeans will grow some minerals and become sovereign again.

Otherwise, China can kiss its Belt and Road goodbye and go into a recession with the loss of their investments up to this point and become slaves to the Americans again.

And Russia, the enemy du jour of Europe and US will be next and be crushed under economic sanctions and isolation.

This is the moment that stars are aligned . Russia and China should park their battle carriers off the Gulf and gives direct warning to Israel and US that any nuclear threat , tactical or otherwise, against anyone in the region is a non-starter.

I read so much about these two countries and that they will get involved. I have recited those lines myself. But after these events and how things are escalating, I cannot see how they cannot be involved. US is its most vulnerable and weakest with respect to economic, diplomatic and military conditions.

The time of condemnations, letters of objection to the UN and veto votes in UNSC is over. There is only one way to deal with a rogue nation and that is by force.

[Jan 06, 2020] Diplomacy Trump-style. Al Capone probably would be allow himself to fall that low

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Fec , Jan 5 2020 15:23 utc | 3

"We have learned today from #Iraq Prime Minister AdilAbdl Mahdi how @realDonaldTrump uses diplomacy:
#US asked #Iraq to mediate with #Iran. Iraq PM asks #QassemSoleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer of his mediation, Trump &co assassinate an envoy at the airport."

https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213833855754485762

[Jan 06, 2020] Whether he is eating ice cream or not, Trump appears to be on a rampage to recreate the end of The Godfather.

Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

Cloak And Dagger , says: Show Comment January 4, 2020 at 12:16 am GMT

Doubling down on stupid:

Whether he is eating ice cream or not, Trump appears to be on a rampage to recreate the end of The Godfather.

Less than 24 hours after a US drone shockingly killed the top Iranian military leader, Qasem Soleimani, resulting in equity markets groaning around the globe in fear over Iranian reprisals (and potentially, World War III), the US has gone for round two with Reuters and various other social media sources reporting that US air strikes targeting Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units umbrella grouping of Iran-backed Shi'ite militias near camp Taji north of Baghdad, have killed six people and critically wounded three, an Iraqi army source said late on Friday.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/round-two-us-drone-airstrikes-kill-six-pro-iran-militia-commanders

Gleimhart Mantooso , says: Show Comment January 4, 2020 at 12:55 am GMT
Now would be the perfect time for the Mossad to do its false flag shtick. They wouldn't even have to try very hard to pin it on Iran. I'll bet that when the news came out that the Iranian guy had been killed, every neocon on the planet popped a boner that will last for days. Michael Ledeen is probably mazel tov-ing his ass off.

I don't care about the dead Muslim who got killed, since that's the only kind of "good Muslim" you're ever going to find, but I would still prefer for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East altogether. Let those two warring anti-Christ peoples kill each other to their hearts' content.

[Jan 02, 2020] War of the Worlds: The New Class

Jan 02, 2020 | medium.com

"The attempt to isolate the China-Russia-Iran bloc has no way of succeeding and is clearly based on short term profits for the corporations pushing American policy, rather than the health of the economic system as a whole. This is clearly seen in how America is targeting Europe with sanctions over the Nordstream gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany. If you think this is just about the Trump administration you would be wrong, this has bi-partisan support in America and is clearly being pushed by the big banks and corporations with the politicians in both parties being pushed into doing their bidding. This is a huge mistake and like the economic meltdown of 2008 caused by the short-term profiteering of Wall Street greed, we are seeing a far greater mistake being made by the attempt to enforce submission on so many major economic powers. Their obvious reaction is to isolate themselves from American economic reach which means they WILL join the Russia-China-Iran bloc.

Brzezinski's 2016 advice to bring Russia-China-Iran in from out of the cold was the smart path to follow. It still is. It is THE ONLY way to save the world economy from splitting more and more in ways that adversely affects America more and more and by extension the rest of the world whose economies are tied to America.

The current leaders of both establishment cliques need to accept that their continuance of the Grand Chessboard strategy is outdated and self-defeating -- and dangerous. It threatens the lives of so many on a daily basis around the world, including Americans. The rise of China and Russia has made a unipolar world impossible unless the Chinese all of a sudden decide to submit to the LIEO. And that is what the American establishment seems to think they can force on them. They hope to wait out Putin to change Russia when he is gone. While that may be possible, what they hope with China is extremely unlikely. China is aggressively courting other nations for partnerships while America is losing more and more respect among the people and leaders of the world."

Posted by: Kali | Jan 1 2020 19:48 utc | 108

[Dec 31, 2019] The US is now openly dismissive as a matter of law any ally or partner who engages in economic activity it disapproves by Tom Luongo

Dec 26, 2019 | astutenews.com

Europe is willing to defy the U.S. on Nordstream to the point of forcing the U.S. to openly and nakedly destroy its reputation with European contractors and governments to stop one pipeline in a place where multiple gas pipelines will be needed for future growth.

This is the diplomatic equivalent of the nuclear option. And the neocons in the Senate just pushed the button. Europe understands what this is really about, the U.S. retaining its imperial position as the policy setter for all the world. If it can set energy policy for Europe then it can set everything else.

And it's clear that the leadership in Europe is done with that status quo. The Trump administration from the beginning has used NATO as an excuse to mask its real intentions towards Europe, which is continued domination of its policies. Trump complains that the U.S. pays into NATO to protect Europe from Russia but then Europe buys its energy from Russia. That's unfair, Donald complains, like a little bitch, frankly, even though he right on the surface. But if the recent NATO summit is any indication, Europe is no longer interested in NATO performing that function. French President Emmanuel Macron wants NATO re-purposed to fight global terror, a terrible idea. NATO should just be ended.

But you'll notice how Trump doesn't talk about that anymore. He wants more billions pumped into NATO while the U.S. still sets its policies. This is not a boondoggle for the MIC as much as it's a Sword of Damocles to hold over Europe's head. The U.S.'s involvement in should be ended immediately, the troops brought home and the billions of dollars spent here as opposed to occupying most of Europe to point missiles at a Russia wholly uninterested in imperial ambitions no less harboring any of them.

And Trump also knows this but thinks stopping Nordstream 2 is the price Europe has to pay him for this privilege. It's insane. The time has come for Europe to act independently from the U.S. As much as I despise the EU, to untangle it from the U.S. on energy policy is the means by which for it to then deal with its problems internally. It can't do that while the U.S. is threatening it. Circling the wagons against the immediate threat, as it were.

And that means protecting its companies and citizens from the economic depredations of power-mad neoconservatives in the U.S. Senate like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.

Allseas, the Swiss company laying the pipe for Nordstream 2, has halted construction for now , awaiting instructions from the U.S. Gazprom will likely step in to finish the job and Germany will green light any of the necessary permits to get the pipeline done. Those people will be put out of work just in time for Christmas, turning thousands of people against the U.S. Commerce drives people together, politics drives them apart.

But, at the same time, the urgency to finish Nordstream 2 on time is wholly irrelevant now because Ukraine and Russia came to terms on a new five-year gas transit contract. This ensures Gazprom can meet its contractual deliveries to Europe that no one thought could be done on time. But when the Nazi threat to Zelensky meeting with Merkel, Macron and Putin in Paris failed to materialize, a gas deal was on the horizon.

And, guess what? U.S. LNG will still not have the marginal lever over Europe's energy policy because of that. Putin and Zelensky outmaneuvered Cruz, Graham and Trump on this. Because that's what this boils down to. By keeping Russian gas out of Europe, it was supposed to constrain not only Russia's growth but also Europe's. Because then the U.S. government can control who and how much energy can make it into European markets at critical junctures politically.

That was the Bolton Doctrine to National Security. And that doctrine brought nothing but misery to millions.

And if you look back over the past five years of U.S./EU relations you will see this gambit clearly for what it was, a way to continue European vassalage at the hands of the U.S. by forcing market share of U.S. providers into European markets.

Again, it gets back to Trump's ideas about Emergy Dominance and becoming the supplier of the marginal erg of energy to important economies around the world.

The smart play for the EU now that the gas transit deal is in place is to threaten counter-sanctions against the U.S. and bar all LNG shipments into Europe. Gas prices are at historic lows, gas supplies are overflowing thanks to fears of a deal not being in place.

So, a three to six month embargo of U.S. LNG into Europe to bleed off excess supply while Nordstream 2 is completed would be the right play politically.

But, in reality, they won't need to, because the U.S. won't be able to import much into Europe under current prices and market conditions. And once Nordstream 2 is complete, LNG sales to Europe should crater.

In the end, I guess it's too bad for Ted Cruz that economics and basic human ingenuity are more powerful than legislatures. Because Nordstream 2 will be completed. Turkstream's other trains into Europe will be built. Venezuela will continue rebuilding its energy sector with Russian and Chinese help.

There is no place for U.S. LNG in Europe outside of the Poles literally burning money virtue signaling their Russophobia. Nordstream 2 was a response to the revolt in Ukraine, to replace any potential losses in market share to Europe. Now Russia will have what it had before passing through Ukraine along with Nordstream 2. By 2024 there will be at least two trains from Turkstream coming into Europe.

Iran will keep expanding exports, settling its oil and gas trade through Russian banks. And the U.S. will continue to fulminate and make itself even more irrelevant over time. What men like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump refuse to understand is that when you go nuclear you can't ever go back. If you threaten the nuclear option, there's no fall back position.

And when those that you threaten with annihilation survive they are made all the stronger for passing through the eye of the needle. Looking at Gazprom's balance sheet right now, that's my take.


By Tom Luongo. Source: Gold Goats 'n Guns

[Dec 14, 2019] Washington DC is simply rival gangs of crooks: The crookedness is proportional to the count of starched collars

Dec 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Moneycircus , 8 hours ago link

Washington DC is simply rival gangs of crooks. Take your pick.

Amazing Polly links BCCI to The Finders to Ghislaine Maxwell to SRA ( Youth. Sex. Relationships. - We Ascend )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSDWgq2YUos

[Dec 14, 2019] This goes so much deeper, as Whitney Webb points out below, there are much broader implications beyond the depraved pedophile aspect.

Dec 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

zagonostra , December 13, 2019 at 2:37 pm

>Fair:Epstein

This goes so much deeper, as Whitney Webb points out below, there are much broader implications beyond the depraved pedophile aspect.

Epstein's links to intelligence have since been confirmed. The CIA-Mossad links to Epstein were detailed in a recent MintPress investigative series and several mainstream media reports have corroborated Epstein's time as a self-described "financial bounty hunter" who hunted down embezzled funds and also hid stolen money for powerful people and governments.

references allude to Epstein's shady business activities in the New York and Palm Beach real estate markets from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s that were used to launder massive amounts of money for organized crime and intelligence. It is likely for this reason that Epstein's real estate activities during this period have been so deliberately ignored by the U.S. press, even though other aspects of his financial activities were heavily scrutinized in recent months.

Indeed, in examining Epstein's involvement in real estate markets, particularly in New York, it becomes clear that those activities have no shortage of controversial tie-ins to the current U.S. presidential administration as well as major New York power players involved in suspect financial activity immediately prior to the September 11 attacks as well as the 2008 financial crisis.

https://www.mintpressnews.com/category/epstein-investigation/

Pat , December 13, 2019 at 4:02 pm

I would be vastly surprised if Epstein's ties to the NY real estate markets doesn't include most of the major players not just the Trump organization. The outlier real estate moguls would be those without ties to controversial partners and organized crime.

boydownthelane , December 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm

With regard to ""There will come a day where we will realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known.":

The focus is on Epstein, but it doesn't belong there. What about the adolescent females who have been victimized? Does anyone here have a clue or give a damn about what it means psychologically for the rest of their lives? And what about the hundreds or thousands of politicians, judges, media people, cultural leaders, et al who have been intimidated, blackmailed, compromised? What does that mean for politics, the economy, justice, etc.?

" this is how these games are played. If you look carefully, you will see them widely. Inform, enlighten, while throwing in doubletalk and untruths. The small number of people who read such books and articles will come away knowing some history that has no current relevance and being misinformed on other history that does. They will then be in the know, ready to pass their "wisdom" on to those who care to listen. They will not think they are average.

But they will be mind controlled, and the killer cat will roam freely without a bell, ready to devour the unsuspecting mice."

https://www.unz.com/article/the-art-of-doublespeak-bellingcat-and-mind-control/

[Dec 07, 2019] Epstein Was A Mossad Agent Used To Blackmail American Politicians, Former Israeli Spy Claims

Notable quotes:
"... Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli spy and alleged "handler" of Robert Maxwell, told the authors of a new book, Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales , that Epstein ran a "complex intelligence operation" at the behest of Mossad. ..."
"... Believing that Epstein planned to marry his daughter, Maxwell introduced him and Ghislaine Maxwell to Ben-Menashe's Mossad circle. ..."
"... "See, fucking around is not a crime. It could be embarrassing, but it's not a crime. But fucking a fourteen-year-old girl is a crime. And he was taking photos of politicians fucking fourteen-year-old girls -- if you want to get it straight. They would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that." ..."
Dec 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Jeffrey Epstein was a Mossad asset who was used by Israeli intelligence to blackmail American politicians, according to a former Israeli spy.

Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli spy and alleged "handler" of Robert Maxwell, told the authors of a new book, Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales , that Epstein ran a "complex intelligence operation" at the behest of Mossad.

Believing that Epstein planned to marry his daughter, Maxwell introduced him and Ghislaine Maxwell to Ben-Menashe's Mossad circle.

"Maxwell sort of started liking him, and my theory is that Maxwell felt that this guy is going for his daughter," Ben-Menashe said.

"He felt that he could bless him with some work and help him out in like a paternal [way]."

Israeli intelligence bosses gave the green light and Epstein then became a Mossad asset.

"They were agents of the Israeli Intelligence Services," said Ben-Menashe.

When it became clear that Epstein wasn't very competent at doing much else, his primary role became "blackmailing American and other political figures."

"Mr. Epstein was the simple idiot who was going around providing girls to all kinds of politicians in the United States," said Ben-Menashe.

"See, fucking around is not a crime. It could be embarrassing, but it's not a crime. But fucking a fourteen-year-old girl is a crime. And he was taking photos of politicians fucking fourteen-year-old girls -- if you want to get it straight. They would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that."

There's also a Mossad connection to a different kind of sex offender; Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein reportedly hired ex-Mossad agents to suppress allegations against him. Working for an Israeli firm called Black Cube, these agents pressured witnesses and tried to intimidate journalist Ronan Farrow in order to "bury the truth" about Weinstein's activity.


Sgt_Rock_95 , 5 minutes ago link

So to sum it up without even reading the article.

  1. Epstein was a foreign agent sent to entrap and blackmail American Politicians
  2. The carrot, the biggest weakness for Democrat politicians, is the chance to have sex with the under aged?

Got it.

Templar X , 8 minutes ago link

Jeffrey Epstein worked for Mossad, which is blackmailing every politician around the world that it can, but most especially those in the United States of America and Britain.

OPUS 167 Mossad Epstein Connection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6-gUqNPi4I&t=13s

Alison Weir: Findings from the new book "Against Our Better Judgement": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ly75-R5TN8

...

Templar X , 11 minutes ago link

Trump Was 'Only One' To Help Prosecutor In 2009 Epstein Case

And while Democrats have suggested that the new evidence may implicate President Trump - who once called Epstein a "Terrific guy" who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side" (yet reportedly kicked the billionaire pedophile out of his Mar-a-Lago club for trying to recruit an underage girl) others are focusing on the Clintons.

A the NY Post detailed in 2016, Epstein and the Clintons are close .

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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Superdelegate daughter Christine quipped on Twitter "It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may."...

...

And what about Trump?

Following a 2018 financial settlement between Florida attorney Bradley Edwards - who represented one of Epstein's accusers, only to be later sued by Epstein, Edwards claimed that Donald Trump was the 'only person' who provided assistance when Edwards served subpoenas and notices to high-profile individuals connected to Epstein.

Edwards: The only thing that I can say about President Trump is that he is the only person who, in 2009 when I served a lot of subpoenas on a lot of people, or at least gave notice to some pretty connected people, that I want to talk to them, is the only person who picked up the phone and said, let's just talk. I'll give you as much time as you want. I'll tell you what you need to know, and was very helpful , in the information that he gave, and gave no indication whatsoever that he was involved in anything untoward whatsoever, but had good information. That checked out and that helped us and we didn't have to take a deposition of him in 2009...

...In January 2016, Vice.com ran Silverstein's story on Trump's ties to Epstein, which framed them as more social - including dinner parties, two plane trips, and Epstein hanging out at Trump's Mar-a-lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. As Radar reported last April, "According to an investigation by Radar, Trump was among dozens of renowned New Yorkers who knew Epstein socially but ostracized him after Palm Beach police uncovered the financiers sleazy double life, " adding that Trump "once barred child molester Jeffrey Epstein from his famed Mar-a-lago club after the presidential candidate caught him hitting on a young girl."

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-07/trump-was-only-one-help-prosecutor-2009-epstein-case

Templar X , 12 minutes ago link

I posted this days ago in another thread:

Russia, Israel and Saudi Arabia: Jeffrey Epstein 'Found a Niche -- Blackmailing American and Other Political Figures' For Foreign Powers, According to His Ex-Spy Handler

By Dylan Howard

December 5, 2019

Shameless pedophile Jeffrey Epstein inherited his espionage business from ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, whose father British media magnate Robert Maxwell, was a super spy for Israel's Mossad. Here, in another excerpt from the newly released book "Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales," former Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe tells how Epstein ran a complex intelligence operation.

Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli spy and alleged "handler" of Robert Maxwell said of Epstein: "Maxwell introduced him to us, and he wanted us to accept him as part of our group.

Ben-Menashe claimed that Epstein and Ghislaine were already dating in the late 1980s, and that Maxwell Senior grew fond of the young upstart.

"Epstein was hanging around with Robert Maxwell and the daughter was hanging around there too, and that's how they met," he told author James Robertson in an interview from Montreal. "Just two young souls, they met."

"Maxwell sort of started liking him, and my theory is that Maxwell felt that this guy is going for his daughter," Ben-Menashe said. "He felt that he could bless him with some work and help him out in like a paternal [way]."

According to the former spy, the ultimate order to embrace Epstein and involve him in the ongoing arms deals came from "the bosses" at Israeli intelligence headquarters.

"They were agents of the Israeli Intelligence Services," he told James Robertson.

"Later on [Ghislaine] got involved with Israeli intelligence together with him. But not in this arms deal with Iran business," Ben-Menashe also told Zev Shalev , former CBS News executive producer and investigative journalist for the website Narativ.

"These guys were seen as agents. They weren't really competent to do very much. And so they found a niche for themselves -- blackmailing American and other political figures."

He told Robertson, "Mr. Epstein was the simple idiot who was going around providing girls to all kinds of politicians in the United States. See, ******* around is not a crime. It could be embarrassing, but it's not a crime. But ******* a fourteen-year-old girl is a crime. And he was taking photos of politicians ******* fourteen-year-old girls -- if you want to get it straight. They would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that."

Ben-Menashe is a mysterious Iranian-born Israeli businessman who claims to have worked for Mossad from 1977 to 1987, The Sun reported this week. He was arrested in 1989 in the US on arms dealing charges but was acquitted in 1990 after a jury accepted he was acting on behalf of Israel. Israel tried to distance themselves from him, with government sources saying he never had anything to do with intelligence services, although other news reports -- in both the US and Israel -- confirmed he did. He later wrote a book called Profits of War: Inside the US-Israeli Arms Network and in the early 1990s claimed that Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine's dad, worked for Mossad.

But there remains more questions than answers about how Epstein came to be one of the most horrifying villains the modern world has ever known -- a shameless pedophile who built a network of child sex abuse around the globe. But in this case, the rot of evil goes even deeper than that.

How did Epstein pull off his sex trafficking scheme?

Who was a participant, and who might have helped him?

These questions -- and more -- linger still, even after inmate 76318–054 was found dead at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City...

https://medium.com/@dylanhoward/russia-israel-and-saudi-arabia-jeffrey-epstein-found-a-niche-blackmailing-american-and-other-d3499f4f60dd

[Dec 04, 2019] Is Jeffrey Epstein's Boss Ghislaine Maxwell Helping Mossad Run Pedophile Rings for Prince Andrew and the Ruling Elite by Marco

Dec 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Video introduction to this article. (If the video is deleted by Youtube you can find it also here in Bitchute.)

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7iVHTrzAoRQ?feature=oembed

The Epstein Pedoscandal Mossad Timeline shows in detail how Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were working for the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

Link to Unz.com article

The timeline generated many comments at Unz.com but surprisingly most of them dealt whether Epstein was a pedophile or not. This despite the overwhelming evidence of pedophilia.

Many have also totally missed – or are afraid to notice – the big picture: Israeli intelligence agencies and especially Mossad seem to be running pedophile rings that blackmail Western political, business and scientific leaders.

Furthermore, it seems that Ghislaine Maxwell was and still is the master mind behind many of these pedophile rings.

One of the reasons Epstein and Ghislaine were able to continue sex trafficking with impunity for so long was the appearance that Epstein was a victim of jealous people and overzealous police. Many people thought that Epstein had only had sex with a 17-year old girl who had lied about her age.

This excuse worked well because in Florida the age of consent is 18 while in most other American states it is 16.

Link to Wikipedia

Epstein was able to play the martyr by not only claiming that unscrupulous girls had lied their age but also by implying that the age of consent is too high anyway in Florida.

This was also one reason why in New Mexico where Epstein had his Zorro Ranch the officials refused to register him as a sex offender. In New Mexico the age of consent was 16 until in 2018 it was raised to 18.

Furthermore, unlike in many other states, in New Mexico the courts recognize a mistake of age defense.

New Mexico courts recognize a mistake of age defense . The mistake of age defense is basically "I thought she was 17." However, this is no guarantee that this defense will work in court. Moreover, the mistake of age is the creation of judges in the absence of a direct statute addressing the defense. State lawmakers may pass a law overriding the courts on this issue at any time. ( LegalMatch )

In reality the Epstein-Ghislaine case is not whether it is wrong for an adult to have sex with a 17 year old. Instead it is about many other things such as prostitution, grooming, pedophilia and the exploitation of children.

This all is connected to global politics involving sex trafficking, drug and arms trade, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, spy networks and blackmailing for Mossad.

Epstein's victims were caught in a web of international spy network that used them as pawns for blackmail operations. The younger the girls were, the more leverage Israel would have over politicians, billionaires and scientists. Thus Epstein and Ghislaine tried to also recruit girls who were well under the age of 16.

What is more, they personally enjoyed having sex with these very young girls. Both Epstein and Ghislaine seem to have been pedophiles who were attracted to prepubescent girls and boys, i.e. small children.

Pedophilia is defined as:

Pedophilia ( alternatively spelt paedophilia) is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. [1] [2] ( Wikipedia )

Note that in order to be a pedophile it is enough to have merely occasional sexual attraction to prepubescent, i.e. sexually immature children who have not yet developed secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts.

Julie Brown from Miami Herald notes that Courtney Wild was only 14 when she was recruited into Epstein's sex ring.

Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.

She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. (emphasis added. Miami Herald )

Link to Miami Herald

Julie Brown also notes that Epstein preferred girls who were not only white [and non-Jewish] but also appeared prepubescent.

Wild, who later helped recruit other girls, said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time. (Emphasis added. Miami Herald )

For Epstein and Ghislaine it was important that the girls at the very least looked like small children. This is obviously why they preferred girls who were under 16.

Courtney Wild told the police that she brought Epstein over 70 girls and they were all under 16.

By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old (Emphasis added. Miami Herald )

Some girls were even younger. According to the police many were 13 year old.

The girls -- mostly 13 to 16 -- were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man -- Epstein -- a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald. (Emphasis added. Miami Herald )

It is also important to note that even 13 was not the minimum age for Epstein and Ghislaine. In fact, there was no limit to how young the girls could be. Both Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell emphasized that the younger the better.

Eventually, she said Maxwell trained her to recruit new girls for Epstein.

"Jeffrey was very particular in the kind of girls he wanted. First off, the younger the better ."

Epstein said that to her, Giuffre claimed, and " Maxwell said that too . During the training and telling me how to do it, she said 'You always have to go for the youngest-looking ones .'" (Emphasis added. The Daily Beast )

Link to The Daily Beast

It seems the primary purpose was not even blackmail since especially Epstein was having sex with these young girls all the time. On some days Epstein was having sex several times a day.

Sex games were more important for Epstein than work. Obviously, he was extremely attracted to these young girls.

Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls -- with the help of young female recruiters -- to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day , the Town of Palm Beach police found. (Emphasis added. Miami Herald )

In six months, I never saw him do a day's work," Ransome told The Telegraph. "I never saw him work. He was literally sexually abusing us all day long . (Emphasis added. Business Insider )

Link to Business Insider

Ghislaine also seemed to be obsessed with sex. Just like her father, Robert Maxwell she was rumored to be interested in unconventional sex which includes also sex with young children.

As she [Ghislaine] posed for the pics, which ran in a publication meant to promote Sotheby's vintage fashion collection, she allegedly let slip comments that hinted at a twisted double life.

"She didn't talk about Epstein, but during the shoot she did tell a story about how she just hosted a dinner party for a number of young girls, and she put dildos at each place setting," the source said. "Ghislaine then described how during the dinner two guests, who were a couple, began demonstrating how to do the perfect fellatio on a man for all at the table. She was laughing about it."

"A friend of mine has a whole theory about her, that Epstein was like her father Robert Maxwell, who himself is believed to have had some strange sexual practices." ( Page Six )

Link to PageSix

The Epstein Mossad-Timeline shows how Ghislaine was most probably trained by Mossad to use sex to gather information. That training would not have been too difficult for her since she was hypersexual. Many even considered her a nymphomaniac.

In fact, even many Israeli Jews – who usually have much fewer sexual taboos than puritan English and Americans – were shocked by her raunchy sexuality.

Flirtatious indeed: I understand from a mutual friend that after school she travelled to Israel and visited a kibbutz; she was immediately ostracised by the other girls for making a rather-too-obvious beeline for the Adonis-like lifeguard at the kibbutz pool. Very quickly she got her way, as she would with much in her life. ( Tatler . Emphasis added.)

Even Ghislaine's friend were sometimes shocked by her open sexuality that so often contrasted with her otherwise lady-like behavior and position in high society.

Ghislaine was, added Mason, 'fantastically entertaining' and 'saucy' – the paper said that she talked openly about sex .

In fact, said another acquaintance who saw her often at parties, she was 'obsessed by sex . She's Sphinx-like, mysterious. The last time I saw her, five, 10 years ago, I said what are you up to? And she said "I'm selling this product – stainless-steel mini dumb-bells – that you put up your fanny. For exercising your vaginal muscles, exercise your pelvic floor, learn the Singapore Grip. I'm giving seminars in LA and they all turn up and I tell them, this is how you keep your man."' ( Tatler . Emphasis added.)

Epstein and Ghislaine were both hypersexual. All kind of sex interested them. Little girls were just part of the menu. Or more specifically, the best – and most profitable – part.

Epstein and Ghislaine were so attracted to young girls that nothing seemed to satisfy them. Perhaps this is why Epstein and Ghislaine created the highly risky sexual pyramid scheme. The girls were offered two alternatives: Either satisfy Epstein and Ghislaine sexually or get more girls to satisfy them.

In this way Epstein and Ghislaine were able to recruit literally hundreds of young girls. However, some of these girls went to the police and the sexual pyramid scheme collapsed.

When Epstein got out of jail in 2009 he had half-learned his lesson: American girls are too risky.

Now Epstein and Ghislaine would only concentrate on East European girls with the help of their Jewish-Ukrainian friend Peter Listerman.

One of the lesser-known shadowy figures linked to Jeffrey Epstein and his sex ring of teenage girls and young women is Ukrainian-born Peter Listerman, who has worked as a businessman and television presenter but is most known for his "match-making" abilities.

What match-making really means is that Listerman procures women, often underage, for the jet-set society to use for sexual purposes. His "clients" include Russian oligarchs and American businessmen and seems to have also included Jeffrey Epstein. ( Citizen Truth )

Link to the Citizen Truth.org

Listerman has such a bad reputation that he is shunned even in Ukraine!

Tatiana Savchenko, who founded the first modeling school in Odessa, Ukraine explained to the Daily Beast the lengths she had to go to keep Listerman from getting his hands on young women and trafficking them for sex work.

She claimed that he would frequently approach her students and attempt to lure them with promises of a luxurious lifestyle, and that "It took a lot of work to keep him from tricking our teen models in his traps." ( Citizen Truth )

Peter Listerman is the usual suspect. Link to Fishki.net Do you think I am kidding? I am Peter Listerman! Link to Fishki.net

Both Epstein and Listerman were attracted to very young girls. Neither even tried to hide it much. In fact, Epstein was quite open about his attraction to tweens.

Just three months ago, as federal prosecutors were closing in with new charges, Mr. Epstein had a conversation with R. Couri Hay, a publicist, about continuing to improve his reputation. Mr. Epstein asserted that what he was convicted of did not constitute pedophilia, said Mr. Hay, who declined to represent him.

The girls he had sex with were "tweens and teens," Mr. Epstein told him. ( The New York Times )

But what is a tween?

Preadolescent is generally defined as those ranging from age 10 to 13 years. [4] [6] While known as preadolescent in psychology, the terms preteen, preteenager or tween are common in everyday use. ( Wikipedia )

Epstein was right, of course. What he was convicted of in 2007 did not constitute pedophilia. However, that is precisely one reason why people are so outraged!

Epstein and Ghislaine did not see any problem of recruiting, grooming and having sex also with tweens. And apparently neither did the Justice Department and the FBI led by Robert Mueller !

But it gets even worse. As pointed out in the Epstein Pedoscandal Mossad Timeline , it seems that Epstein and Ghislaine were after even younger girls.

In 2003 Epstein financed Jean-Luc Brunell's(?) and Jeff Fuller's(J) new modelling agency MC2 that seemed to have worked with Peter Listerman.

MC2 obviously refers to the famous Einstein equation E = MC2 , the energy-mass equivalence. Equally obviously, E equals Epstein, the energy, whereas the girls equal MC2, the mass energized by Epstein.

Jean-Luc Brunell

Brunell is generally known as the sleaziest man in model business who has long faced accusations that girls were drugged and raped in his employ . Already in the 80s he was the subject of a famous 60 Minutes expose on sexual abuse in the modeling industry

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CH8NAaPUvlo?feature=oembed

Despite all this – or for the very reason – Epstein invested in MC2 and became particularly close to its founders Brunel and Fuller.

The agency operates in New York, Miami and Tel Aviv. It's in practice half-Israeli.

Many call Israel the capital of human trafficking and organ harvesting .

Link to Ynet.com

MC2 concentrates on importing East European girls to Israel and America. The younger the better.

Marina Lynchuk of MC2 Lolita Lvola from MC2 Linta Lapinda from MC2

Brunel seems to have given 12-year old triplets to Epstein as a birthday present.

'Jeffrey bragged after he met them that they were 12-year-olds and flown over from France because they're really poor over there, and their parents needed the money or whatever the case is and they were absolutely free to stay and flew out,' Giuffre said.

She said she saw the three girls with her own eyes and that Epstein had repeatedly described to her how the girls had massaged him and performed oral sex on him. They were flown back to France the next day.

Link to Daily Mail

It seems that even tweens were not young enough for Epstein.

According to court papers in 2005 Brunel called Epstein and left a message that "he is sending him a 16-year-old Russian girl for purposes of sex". However, the written message says something even worse.

The message, filed as an exhibit in the case, was written on an office message pad, partly in code, and read: "He [Brunel] has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak Russian. She is 2×8 years old not blonde. Lessons are free and you can have your 1st today if you call." ( New York Post )

Does it mean that two eight year olds are involved? Or does 2 x 8 mean to sex 8 year old? (2=to, x=sex)

Why would the lessons be free and why is it relevant that the "teacher" is not a blond?

There is no denying that Epstein and Ghislaine sexualised even small children. This became clear in 2005 when police raided Epstein's Palm Peach mansion.

In one photo that was hanging on the wall a small six or seven year old girl was bending over in a tiny dress. Police blurred out the photo in the video taken during the raid.

Link to The Daily Mail

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-KhMIXqZWt8?feature=oembed

Despite all this only the Russian Television was actively trying to expose Epstein and Ghislaine.

RT aired this video already nine years ago!

The description on the video is even more revealing. It even mentions the 12-year old triplets.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0f_Md0yzy4Q?feature=oembed

The American TV networks were actively suppressing the story for years.

The American media has also been trying to cover up the fact that Jeffrey Epstein was most probably murdered in his cell. He had to be silenced.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8non5URYbQs?feature=oembed

But it gets even worse.

This hung on Ghislaine's home wall.

NEW YORK CITY, NY – MARCH 13: Atmosphere at Hamish Bowles, Ghislaine Maxwell and Lillian von Stauffenberg dinner for ALLEGRA HICKS at Home of Ghislaine Maxwell on March 13, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images). Link to Getty Images.

The so called artwork seems to be full of pedophile symbols.

Link to Wikileaks.org

The quality of the photos taken at Ghislaine's home are so good that even more symbols have been found in her artwork.

For some reason the mainstream media has not picked up on this pedophilia angle. No mainstream media journalist has even tried to ask why would Ghislaine have such art and symbols on her home wall.

This despite the fact that Ghislaine is most probably an Israeli superspy just like was her father, Robert Maxwell. She probably has been trained to use sex – including pedophilia – as a tool for blackmail and manipulation.

At the time in Israel females molesting little boys was not even considered rape.

Link to Haaretz.com

Nor have mainstream journalists asked where was Ghislaine when Madeline McCann was abducted.

That would not be an unreasonable question since one of the E-Fit images looks a lot like Ghislaine.

Link to Enchanted Life Path.com

Furthermore, two of the E-Fit images (1A, 1B) look like the Podesta brothers. John Podesta was White House Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton and the Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Ghislaine and Epstein were close to the Clintons and the Podesta brothers have been directly linked also to Pizzagate.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/l5AxV1SrTkE?feature=oembed

Link to Pizzagate Map created by Tuukka Pensala

Was Ghislaine helping to run also Pizzagate and other pedophile rings for Mossad?

At least she seems to be perfectly trained to do just that. First, her own hypersexuality, family background and possible training by Mossad made it easy for her to master mind the pedophilia ring she run with Epstein.

Second, Ghislaine and Epstein had all the apparel to help run also other pedophile rings: Lolita express airplanes and helicopters, Zorro Ranch in New Mexico and luxury mansions in New York, Palm Peach and Paris.

Even more importantly they had their own island in the Virgin Islands.

In the 90s Epstein bought Little St. James island from the Virgin islands. It had a mansion which Epstein expanded.

Soon locals started to call it the Pedophile Island.

Little St. James island. Link to Wall Street Journal article

The island seems to have tunnels with several underground entrances.

Underground entrance Link to Twitter

The island also has a strange temple.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/LNue92Gta3s?feature=oembed

We Are Change's Luke Rudkowski and the Dollar Vigilante's Jeff Berwick secretly visited the island but were soon chased out.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VmgSM7lWRts?feature=oembed

Ghislaine has a Helicopter Pilot License and often transported quests to the island.

On the weekends in the 1990s, Maxwell would have her Rollerblades FedExed to Epstein's island in the Caribbean, and said she got her helicopter's license so she could transport anyone she liked without pilots knowing who they were .

Maxwell also said the island had been completely wired for video; the friend thought that she and Epstein were videotaping everyone on the island as an insurance policy, as blackmail.

A source close to Maxwell says she spoke glibly and confidently about getting girls to sexually service Epstein, saying this was simply what he wanted, and describing the way she'd drive around to spas and trailer parks in Florida to recruit them. She would claim she had a phone job for them, "and you'll make lots of money, meet everyone, and I'll change your life."

Maxwell had one other thing to tell this woman: "When I asked what she thought of the underage girls, she looked at me and said, 'they're nothing, these girls. They are trash .'" (Emphasis added. Vanity Fair )

Ghislaine was naturally using Epstein's helicopters. Some of them shared their FAA tail number with a US contractor, Dyncorp . That would have helped Ghislaine and Epstein to fly drugs and children.

FAA records and Epstein's pilot's flight manifest indicate that Epstein's Bell helicopter used the same tail number of N474AW . This was the same tail number used until 2006 by State Department contractor Dyncorp for counter-insurgency operations in Latin America.

The congruence of Epstein's Bell N474AW and Dincorp's Bronco N474AW is noteworthy. In 2002, the year Epstein's aircraft fleet stands accused of flying underage teen girls, some between the ages of 12 and 15 , coincided with Dyncorp's trafficking in underage females between the ages of 12 and 15 from Kosovo and Bosnia in the Balkans.

One Dyncorp whistleblower reported to The Washington Times's Insight magazine's Kelly O'Meara in 2002 the following on one Dyncorp employee in Bosnia:

[he] owned a girl who couldn't have been more than 14 years old. It's a sick sight anyway to see any grown man [having sex] with a child, but to see some 45-year-old man who weights 400 pounds with a little girl, it just makes you sick."

Tail number N474AW has been shared between Epstein's Bell helicopter like the one in this photo. (Emphasis added. Political Bull Pen )

DynCorp's pedophilia ring became internationally infamous with the release of the movie Whistleblower.

Link to Wikipedia

Helicopters can always be seen. However, Ghislaine also has a license to operate submarines!

In 2012 – three years after Epstein got out of jail – Maxwell founded The TerraMar Project , [51] a nonprofit organization that advocated protecting ocean waters.

She gave a lecture for TerraMar at the University of Texas at Dallas and a TED talk, at TEDx Charlottesville in 2014. [52] Maxwell accompanied Stuart Beck (J), a 2013 TerraMar board member, to two United Nations meetings to discuss the project. [17] ( Wikipedia )

In 2014, a United Nations event featured Maxwell as a speaker. According to her bio in the program, Maxwell's "web-based non-profit" aimed "to protect the Oceans by empowering a global community of ocean citizens ." It further described Maxwell as "a private helicopter pilot and an Emergency Medical Technician and a qualified ROV and Deepworker submarine pilot ."

A former Coast Guard officer, Borgerson was also a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations , which featured Borgerson and Maxwell as speakers during one 2014 talk titled "Governing the Ocean Commons: Growing Challenges, New Approaches." Friends of Maxwell, according to The New York Times , said Borgerson became her boyfriend. Maxwell had allegedly described Borgerson as a " Navy SEAL " to her pals.

Maxwell's dubious charity also roped in the Clinton Global Initiative , the now-defunct networking platform for the Clinton Foundation. In the fall of 2013, CGI named TerraMar as one of the "commitments to action" at their annual meeting. (Emphasis added. Daily Beast )

Did the Pedophile Island have an underground submarine base? Was it a part of global pedophile network?

And was the Ocean Citizens project an attempt to escape national jurisdictions and thus gain at least a partial immunity from police investigations and prosecutions?

Link to TerraMar Project

Interestingly, as late as 2016 Epstein bought also the nearby Great St. James Island. He started to build on the island without permits.

There were rumors that he was building underground. For some reason the mainstream media has had no interest in this second island.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/v1NKk78YQKI?feature=oembed

Why is the mainstream media not interested in Ghislaine's many links to pedophilia?

Perhaps because Ghislaine has so many powerful friends. The photo of the pedophile artwork on Ghislaine's wall was taken 13 March 2007 during a party at Ghislaine's New York townhouse. The guest list included a curious combination of elite Jews, aristocratic Brits and American WASPs.

Atmosphere==
Hamish Bowles, Ghislaine Maxwell and Lillian von Stauffenberg dinner for ALLEGRA HICKS. Home of Ghislaine Maxwell. March 13, 2007©Patrick McMullan. Photo-Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan.com. Link to Quick N Dirty

The party was in Ghislaine's huge 7000-square-foot townhouse. It is located in the most opulent and prestigious neighborhood of America, the Upper East Side , New York on East 65th Street just off Park Avenue. Epstein's townhouse was only 10 blocks away.

Ghislaine's five story townhouse. Link to Street Easy Ghislaine's townhouse floor plan. Link to Street Easy Ghislaine's townhouse 2nd floor gallery. Link to Street Easy

There are reports from reliable sources that the townhouse was sold in 2000 to Ghislaine by Lynn Forester de Rothschild . The very same woman who had introduced Epstein and Ghislaine to Alan Dershowits and the Clintons in the 90s.

The Manhattan property, which is close to Epstein's mansion, is owned by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, wife of British financier Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. (See The Times and the original article .)

According to Business Insider Forester sold the townhouse to Ghislaine for less than half the price.

Forester sold the mansion for about $8.5 million less than its assessed market value, which was more than $13.4 million.

Was this a pay-off to Ghislaine from the King of Jews, the Rothschilds for services rendered?

Hillary Clinton, Evelyn de Rothschild, Bill Clinton and Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Link to Mint Press

It probably is also relevant that at the time of the sale of the townhouse the Prime Minister of Israel was Ehud Barak. In the 80s he had been the head of Aman, the Israeli Military Intelligence Agency. As the Epstein Pedoscandal Mossad Timeline revealed, both Epstein and Ghislaine worked for the Israeli intelligence agencies already in the 80s during the Iran-Contra operation.

Note that it was around year 2000 that Epstein and Ghislaine started the pedophile operation in earnest. In the 80s and 90s blackmail operations were a side show but now it became the main show involving hundreds of young girls.

Sexual blackmail – especially involving little children – can be an extremely efficient way to influence key politicians and even military officials. A successful blackmail operation can achieve more than several army divisions. No wonder Barak was so close to Epstein and Ghislaine.

Furthermore, in 2000 the president of Israel was Moshe Katsev who was sexually harassing and even raping his female subordinates. Later Katsev would be convicted of rape.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Fw9-HUiI9Ak?feature=oembed

It was also in 2000 when the Israeli Vice-Consul of Rio de Janeiro, Arie Scher and Hebrew language Professor George Schteinberg were running a pedophile ring for Israeli tourists. When the Brasilian police started to investigate the Israeli consulate Scher managed to flee back to Israel.

Link to Rodoh.info

In Israel Scher was not prosecuted. Instead in 2005 he was promoted to Consul of Canberra, the capital of Australia. A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Mark Regev explained:

He [Arie Scher] was a young and single man at the time [in Brazil]. Now he is married and he's six years older and there is no reason why he shouldn't make an excellent diplomatic appointment in Australia.

Australia refused to let Scher enter the country.

Link to William Bowles Info

The most shocking part of the Arie/Aryeh Scher story is that the mainstream media was not interested. Either the stories have been scrubbed from the internet or no stories were ever written by mainstream journalists except one short story by BBC in 2000 and one even smaller story by The Sydney Morning Herald in 2005. Even more surprisingly Youtube does not seem to have any videos about the Scher case.

No wonder Barak was absolutely convinced that the Western mainstream media would never dare to criticize Israel and its intelligence agencies. Not even when Mossad was running pedophile rings.

It was probably the Israeli leaders Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Moshe Katsev together with the ultra-Zionist Mega Group who made sure Epstein and especially the Maxwell family had not only immunity from prosecution but also all the blackmail apparel necessary including luxury townhouses, airplanes, yachts, submarines, ranch and a private island. All, of course, bugged to the hilt.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (R) talks to Shimon Peres, Minister of Regional Planning, after Barak's speech at the opening session of parliament in Jerusalem 30 October 2000. AFP PHOTO / SVEN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images) Link to Getty Images

Here the pedophile artwork at Ghislaine's New York townhouse can be seen behind Lillian von Staufenberg who in March 2007 together with Ghislaine and Hamish Bowles organized a dinner party in honor of Allegra Hicks. This at a time when Epstein had already been charged with abusing young girls.

Karen Groos, Allegra Hicks, Lillian von Stauffenberg==
Hamish Bowles, Ghislaine Maxwell and Lillian von Stauffenberg dinner for ALLEGRA HICKS. Home of Ghislaine Maxwell, NYC. March 13, 2007 ©Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan.com. Link to QuickNDirty

Why would Ghislaine have such a suspicious artwork on her wall knowing that it would probably be photographed during the parties?

Why would Ghislaine and her quests take such a huge risk? Or was it a sign meant to be seen? Was Ghislaine flaunting her power?

Ghislaine and her quests seemed to be absolutely sure that the mainstream media would not dare to ask embarrassing questions.

They were right, of course. The mainstream media knows its place.

However, occasionally some courageous mainstream journalist or editor does try to give hints. Some have even reported on Ghislaine's hyper-sexual reputation and her orgies. It is just that the stories have mostly been scrubbed from the internet.

Fortunately, Whitney Webb from Mintpress has found many of the scrubbed stories. Some of them mention the Mossad connection and others note the orgies. For example, in 2003 a British newspaper, The Evening Standard reported a revealing rumor.

Salacious reports have crossed the Atlantic about Ghislaine hosting bizarre parties at her house to which she invites a dozen or so young girls, then brandishes a whip and teaches them how to improve their sexual techniques.

It seems that Ghislaine was not only a madame to Epstein but also to the ruling elite. This would both explain her popularity and the fact that the media – and especially the American media – dares not to criticize her too much. Not even after her boyfriend Epstein was charged with sex trafficking minors!

Ghislaine's friends are just too powerful. After the March 2007 party the British Daily Mail newspaper was amazed how Ghislaine could still have attracted such creme de la creme of the highest elite. Even more amazingly, the elite was practically swooning over her.

The night before the party, the hostess [Ghislaine] had been inundated with calls from disgruntled socialites, irked that they hadn't received an invitation.

The hostess greeted their objections with her customary charm, but remained unmoved. As always, her list had been carefully edited, and she intended it to stay that way.

Among the select few were Hollywood star Matthew Modine, Kennedy family member Mrs Anthony Radziwill, Peggy Siegel, PR consultant to the stars, and Julie Janklow, heir to a literary dynasty.

There was a Rockefeller on the list, as well as the inevitable countesses, billionaires and New York luminaries.

Link to Daily Mail

The guests at the party included also Renee Rockefeller who is married to Mark Rockefeller , the son of ex-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and nephew of David Rockefeller.

Allegra Hicks, Renee Rockefeller==
Hamish Bowles, Ghislaine Maxwell and Lillian von Stauffenberg dinner for ALLEGRA HICKS. Home of Ghislaine Maxwell, NYC. March 13, 2007 ©Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan.com. Link to QuickNDirty

David Rockefeller lived at 146 East on the same 65th Street in the Upper East Side as Ghislaine. They were practically neighbors. Ghislaine would have to walk only two minutes to visit David.

David liked to pose for photos in his Beetle Room next to his favorite Picasso painting depicting a nude child "prostitute".

David Rockefeller. Link to Jeffrey Harris Desing.com

David was often visited by his close friend Jacob Rothschild, the patriarch of the Rothschild family.

The very same family that got Ghislaine her luxury townhouse next door.

The patriarchs, Jacob Rothschild and David Rockefeller. Link to Jeffrey Harris Design.com

As shown by the Epstein Pedoscandal Mossad Timeline both Epstein and Ghislaine continued to move in the highest circles long after Epstein got out of jail. In fact, only last year Ghislaine was invited to a secret writers' retreat hosted by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.

Link to The Daily Mail

Not only billionaires but also royalty kept in close contact with Ghislaine.

Prince Andrew was recently interviewed by the BBC about his relationship with Epstein, Ghislaine and their sex slave Virginia Roberts.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/AKQi3wzNFGQ?feature=oembed

Amazingly, Andrew claimed she has no recollection of Epstein's and Ghislaine's sex slave, Virginia Roberts. This despite the fact that they were photographed together!

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell. Link to Daily Mail Link to The Sun.com

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TVawMbof6sQ?feature=oembed

Hardly anybody believes Andrew. The queen had no choice but to sack his own son.

Link to Daily Mail

Andrew got sacked because he was caught in a lie.

Andrew claimed he could not have had sex with the 17-year old Virginia in 2001 because he had stayed with the British consul general.

The problem is the consul general does not recall Andrew staying with him.

Link to Daily Mail

Curiously, most of the mainstream media has forgotten that it was Ghislaine who recruited and manipulated Virginia Roberts to become a sex slave.

Even the BBC forgot this crucial fact despite Andrew mentioning Ghislaine many times during the interview.

Time and again, the Prince invoked his friendship with Maxwell, 57, daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, as the reason he came into paedophile Epstein's orbit.

Asked when he last saw Maxwell, Andrew said his last contact was 'earlier this year, funnily enough', when she 'was here doing some rally'. ( Daily Mail )

Andrew claimed to have met Ghislaine last spring. In fact, they met in June just after US prosecutors reopened the case against Epstein.

The Duke of York held a meeting with Ghislaine Maxwell in London two weeks after US prosecutors announced they wanted to reopen their investigation into Jeffrey Epstein.

The meeting took place on or about June 5, the day before Ms Maxwell took part in a four-day charity motoring rally from London to Monte Carlo.

Did Ghislaine demand that Andrew help make sure that the her own parallel case would not be reopened?

After meeting Andrew she literally disappeared from the face of the earth.

The ex-socialite has not been seen since although rumours have placed her in Brazil, France, the American mid-West and even the UK.

'No one knows where she is,' a lawyer for one of Epstein's victims said last night. 'She's done the greatest disappearing act known to man – or woman.' ( Daily Mail )

Link to Daily Mail

Shockingly, during the BBC interview Prince Andrew mentioned Ghislaine many times and seemed to be proud of their friendship. Despite this the interviewer did not dare to ask questions about their relationship.

Was this a message to all: Leave Ghislaine alone.

Ghislaine is obviously protected not only by the royal family but also by the whole ruling elite. No wonder that she has the Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card .

Ghislaine also tries to protect other Epstein associates.

Link to Daily Mail

Prince Andrew is now afraid to go to the US.

Five women who accuse Jeffrey Epstein of abusing them say Prince Andrew witnessed how people were given massages at the sex offender's homes.

The lawyer for the women has told BBC Panorama he plans to serve subpoenas to force the Duke of York to testify as a witness in all five cases.

He says the prince could have important information about sex trafficking. ( BBC )

Link to BBC story and video

The BBC has now finally zoomed in on Ghislaine.

Another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome told Panorama Ghislaine Maxwell, one of Prince Andrew's oldest friends, worked hand in hand with Epstein.

"Ghislaine controlled the girls. She was like the Madam," she said.

"She was like the nuts and bolts of the sex trafficking operation and she would always visit Jeffrey on the island to make sure the girls were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

"She knew what Jeffrey liked. She worked and helped maintain Jeffrey's standard by intimidation, by intimidating the girls, so this was very much a joint effort."

Ms Maxwell could not be reached for comment but has previously denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's abuse. ( BBC )

But the American media is still not interested in Ghislaine.

What the American mainstream media always willfully forgets is that Ghislaine Maxwell is the key person and mastermind behind the whole pedo sex trafficking operation.

The key role of Ghislaine is not surprising. After all, her father was an Israeli super spy, Robert Maxwell.

But perhaps this is the very reason why the American media is not interested.

For years Ghislaine has been at the center of a vast pedophile sex trafficking network. But still to this day the American police has never dared to even interview her.

She simply knows too much.


Trinity , says: December 4, 2019 at 5:15 am GMT

I think the answer to the question in the title of this article is pretty damn obvious to anyone and everyone outside of the controlled media. smdh. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn that pervert Jeffrey Epstein is still alive somewhere, not only do I not buy the "suicide story," but I am not buying he was murdered either. Ghislane described the girls involved in this pedophile ring/honey pot as "trash." If these girls are or were "trash" than what in the hell does that this demonic witch named Ghislane Maxwell?

[Dec 01, 2019] How World Bank arbitrators mugged Pakistan By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Dec 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , November 28, 2019 at 12:08 PM

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-11-27/How-World-Bank-arbitrators-mugged-Pakistan-LXocY8vyCY/index.html

November 27, 2019

How World Bank arbitrators mugged Pakistan
By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Wall Street hedge funds and lawyers have turned an arcane procedure of international treaties into a money machine, at the cost of the world's poorest people. The latest shakedown is a 5.9-billion-U.S.-dollars award against Pakistan's government in favor of two global mining companies – Antofagasta PLC of Chile and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada – for a project that was never approved by Pakistan and never carried out.

Here are the facts.

In 1993, a U.S.-incorporated mining company, BHP, entered into a joint venture (JV) with the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA), a public corporation in Pakistan's impoverished Balochistan province. The JV was set up to prospect for gold and copper, and in the event of favorable discoveries, to seek a mining license.

BHP was not optimistic about the project's profitability and dragged its feet on exploration. In the early 2000s, it assigned the prospecting rights to an Australian company, which created Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for the project.

In 2006, Antofagasta acquired TCC for 167 million U.S. dollars, and sold half to Barrick Gold. Soon after the purchase, however, the original JV agreement with BHP was challenged in Pakistan's courts.

In 2013, the Pakistan Supreme Court found that the JV's terms violated Pakistan's mining and contract laws in several ways and declared the agreement – and thus the rights claimed by TCC – to be null and void.

Specifically, the Court ruled that the BDA did not have authority to bind Balochistan to the terms of the JV agreement; that it awarded the contract without competition or transparency; and that it had greatly exceeded its authority and violated the law by promising extensive deviations from the rules normally applicable to mining projects.

Moreover, the JV failed to obtain, and even to pursue, many mandatory approvals from the state and federal governments, and BHP failed to undertake prospecting in a timely manner required under the mining law.

The Supreme Court's decision came after years of public-interest litigation challenging the deal for violations of domestic law and the rights of the public. In the meantime, the BDA's chairman was found to have conflicts of interest and to be living beyond the means afforded by his official salary, which in the Court's words was tantamount to corruption.

In a normal world, the Court's judgment would be respected absent proven evidence of corruption or other wrongdoing against the justices. But in the world we actually inhabit, the so-called international rule of law enables rich companies to exploit poor countries with impunity and disregard their laws and courts.

When TCC lost its case in Pakistan's Supreme Court, it simply turned to the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), in complete disregard of Pakistan's laws and institutions.

A panel of three arbitrators with no expertise in or respect for Pakistan's legal system ruled that TCC deserved compensation for all future profits that it allegedly would have earned if the non-existent project, based on a voided agreement, had gone forward!

Because there was no actual project, and no agreement for one, the arbitrators had no basis to say what terms – royalties, corporate taxes, environmental standards, land area, and other basic provisions – the governments of Balochistan and Pakistan would have set. In fact, disagreement on many of those terms had stalled negotiations for years.

Nonetheless, the ICSID panel arbitrarily decided that TCC would have had the right to mine 1,000 square kilometers, though the mining law forbade licensing such a vast area. The arbitrators ruled that TCC would have received a tax holiday for 15 years, even though there is no evidence that such a tax holiday was in the offing – or even legal. The arbitrators decided that TCC would have benefited from a royalty rate several percentage points below the mandatory statutory rate, though there is no reason why Pakistan would have set such a low rate.

The arbitrators also ruled that TCC would have met all environmental standards, or that the government would have exempted TCC from relevant requirements, though the mining area is in a desert region subject to extreme water stress, and the mining project would have demanded vast amounts of water. And the arbitrators ruled that to obtain the land needed for TCC's pipeline, the government would have taken it from its owners and inhabitants.

The arbitration ruling is utterly capricious. An illegal project, declared null and void by Pakistan's Supreme Court and never pursued, was found by the World Bank's arbitration panel to be worth more than four billion U.S. dollars to TCC's owners, who had paid 167 million U.S. dollars for it in 2006.

Moreover, the tribunal declared that Pakistan must compensate TCC in full, with back interest, and cover its legal fees, raising the bill to 5.9 billion U.S. dollars, or roughly two percent of Pakistan's GDP. It is more than twice Pakistan's entire public spending on health care for 200 million people, in a country where seven percent of children die before their fifth birthday. For many Pakistanis, the World Bank's arbitration ruling is a death sentence.

The ICSID is not an honest broker. One of the tribunal members in the TCC case is using the same expert put forward by TCC for another case in which the arbitrator is acting as counsel! When challenged about this obvious conflict of interest, the arbitrator refused to step down and the ICSID proceeded as if all were normal.

Thanks to the World Bank's arbitrators, the rich are making a fortune at the expense of poor countries. Multinational companies are feasting on unapproved, non-existent projects.

Fixing the broken arbitration system should start with a reversal of the outrageous ruling against Pakistan and a thorough investigation of the flawed and corrupt process that made it possible.


Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, is director of Columbia's Center for Sustainable Development.

[Dec 01, 2019] How globalisation has allowed small states to become major players and big cities to outgrow their nation-state

Dec 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , November 28, 2019 at 12:28 PM

https://www.socialeurope.eu/antifragile-states

November 18, 2019

Antifragile states
Explains how globalisation has allowed small states to become major players and big cities to outgrow their nation-states.
By Branko Milanovic

In a series of books, and especially in Antifragile, Nassim Taleb has introduced an important concept -- that of being antifragile, referring to 'things that gain from disorder'. 'Fragile' is, of course, the opposite: it connotes something that thrives under stable conditions but, being brittle, loses, and at times loses big, amid volatility. In the middle, 'robust' indicates resilience against uncertainty and turmoil, without the capacity to profit from it.

The contrast between antifragile and the two other categories relates to that between centralised, top-down formations (such as unitary states) and decentralised, bottom-up and more flexible, federal structures. As an example of the latter Taleb takes Switzerland, with its decentralised cantonal system and grassroots democracy.

But Switzerland is also antifragile in another sense. It has historically been a country that benefited from turmoil and disorder outside its borders -- from wars, nationalisations, uncertain property rights and outright plunder. In all these cases, whether Jews were trying to save their property from 'Aryanisation', Chinese millionaires feared a revolution or African potentates needed a haven in which to park their loot, Switzerland offered the comfort of safety. It was (and is) the ultimate antifragile state: it thrives on disorder.

Dubious legality

While Switzerland became emblematic of such a safe haven, it is hardly unique nowadays in benefiting from it. Globalisation and worldwide turmoil, combined with openness of capital accounts, have allowed many small economies to specialise in functions which run from asset safety and money-laundering to tax avoidance and evasion. In most cases, the legality of such transactions is dubious; many belong to the grey zone where neither full legality nor full illegality can be attributed.

In western Europe, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Ireland have engaged in stimulating tax evasion, including from neighbouring countries. In his Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens, Gabriel Zucman documents the large outflows from Switzerland and inflows into Luxembourg's banking system which followed the (forced) decision by the Swiss authorities to impose withholding tax on accounts held by foreigners.

Ireland's provision of safe haven from taxes to various large multinational corporations received quite a lot of attention when the European Commission obliged the county to assess these rates, particularly for Apple, at other than zero. In what may well be a singular historical case, the Irish government complained about having to receive billions more taxes!

Elsewhere, as in the Caribbean, small nation-states have specialised in providing the legal framework for shell companies. In Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent, Brooke Harrington describes a single building in the Cayman Islands which houses headquarters for several hundred companies. Shell companies have played an enormous role in the money-laundering which followed privatisations in many east-European countries after 1989, as well as in providing cover for many illegal activities -- from drug and arms sales to people-trafficking.

Cyprus benefited enormously from the Lebanese and Yugoslav civil wars, as well as from the confusion over property rights in Russia and Ukraine. Montenegro, the smallest of the ex-Yugoslav republics, had economically the most successful transition, not least thanks to massive cigarette-smuggling.

Globalisation effect

All such states are antifragile in the sense that Taleb gives to the term. But their success provides us also with a lesson in the effects of globalisation. It shows that the old notion of state 'viability' -- based on a supposed threshold of size -- is now plain wrong.

Under globalisation, the specialisation of small states into niche activities enables them to prosper: they do not need to produce cars or mobile phones to become rich. They do not need even to have a domestic market. It suffices to find an activity which relatively few other countries offer and for which there is an increasing global demand, as the world becomes more volatile, or lawless or corrupt. They become antifragile.

The success of such states is replicated at subnational level. Big cities such as London, New York, Miami and Barcelona offer many of the services and amenities we find in small nation-states (asset protection, expert money-laundering) but in addition provide agglomeration externalities (increasing returns to scale thanks to the physical presence in the same place of many companies) and thriving housing markets. They too are antifragile.

This has implications for the political life of the nation-states where such cities are located. Global cities are increasingly linked to other global cities and other countries, less and less to their own hinterland. They are what Fernand Braudel called villes-monde.

They remind us of medieval cities, which were often more powerful than much larger states. The power of cities such as Venice and Genoa ended with the advent of the nation-states which became political, economic and military behemoths, absorbing city-states or relegating them to oblivion.

Voting differently

Globalisation is bringing them back, however. While nation-states politically and economically fragment, and in some cases (as with climate change) show themselves to be not the right loci to address a problem, the villes-monde thrive. Many already vote very differently from the surrounding areas: London had a solid anti-Brexit majority (60 per cent), Budapest, Istanbul and Moscow voted against their countries' authoritarian leaders and New York is leading the 'rebellion' against its own citizen who is currently the president of the United States.

The important political question in the 21st century will be how a modus vivendi between the globalised large cities, and the elites living there, and the rest of their nations can be achieved. Will there be a redistribution of political power within countries, endless friction between the 'globalists' and 'nativists' or, in extremis, secession by the antifragile villes-monde?


Branko Milanovic is visiting presidential professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY).

[Dec 01, 2019] Will The Epstein Story Ever be Fully Told by Bill Rice

Notable quotes:
"... The list of those who might have some knowledge of Epstein's criminal enterprise includes a sitting president, ex-presidents, ex-prime ministers, Justice Department officials, State Department officials, FBI agents, employees of domestic and international intelligence agencies, state prosecutors, local law enforcement, politicians, ex-politicians, lobbyists, titans of industry and finance, CEOs, attorneys, accountants, banks and bankers, celebrities, academics, scientists, political operatives and executives within the Fourth Estate. ..."
"... For example, how is it possible that Ghislaine Maxwell - the "Bonnie" to Epstein's "Clyde" - has yet to be charged with any crimes? Or, as far as the public knows, even been questioned by authorities. ..."
"... Public skepticism about the "investigation" spiked when, five weeks after his arrest, the FBI finally raided Epstein's "Lolita" Island. Epstein's "ranch" in New Mexico has still not been searched. ..."
"... Every person named in court documents or press reports as allegedly or possibly having sex with an underaged girl or young woman at Epstein's bequest has denied the allegations. Which begs the question: Who's telling the truth and who's lying? ..."
"... True or not, many Americans believe the Department of "Justice" will not prosecute (perhaps even question) scores of individuals who may have broken U.S. laws and who may have been victims of a disturbing blackmail operation. ..."
"... At its core, the Epstein case will reveal whether government prosecutors and investigators possess the courage and integrity to expose sordid truths about some of the wealthiest, most-connected, powerful people in the world, and perhaps reveal embarrassing truths about our government. ..."
"... Bill Rice, Jr. is a freelance writer in Troy, Alabama. He can be reached by email at wjricejunior@gmail.com ..."
Dec 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

More than four months after Jeffrey Epstein's arrest - and three months after his alleged suicide - it requires no opinion poll to know that few Americans believe the story of the international sex trafficking ring orchestrated by Epstein and his alleged "co-accomplices" will ever be fully told.

More specifically, many Americans believe that most (if not all) of the key questions regarding the case will remain unanswered. For example

In short, at least in the opinion of many, the public will never learn how massively corrupt our system of justice may be, and if a privileged class is in fact held to a different standard of justice, and/or is protected by the powers that be. Nor will the public learn how prurient, immoral and brazen a cross-section of the world's elite may be.

Of course, authorities may, in fact, do their jobs and ultimately disclose the entire scale of Epstein's operation. Prosecutions and plea deals to come could include a "Who's Who" of the world, and expose any government agencies that may have "looked the other way."

At least theoretically, our government could expose a decades-long criminal operation, a revelation that very possibly would change the way millions of people view the U.S. government; not to mention how the public views many powerful VIPs who navigate in the orbit of politicians and policy-makers.

Once upon a time, the number Americans who believed justice would ultimately prevail in a case like Epstein's would probably have filled a good-sized nation. Today, the number who posses this conviction might fill a medium-sized city.

Citizens who doubt the full story of the Epstein saga will ever be revealed have little trouble citing stories that explain their metastasizing skepticism.

For example, plenty of people did notice when Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman suffered no adverse consequences following the gruesome murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi , a murder many people believe the prince ordered.

Others remain befuddled as UK authorities continue to insist that the government of Russia commissioned a hit team that used nerve agents in the assassination attempt of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, this despite the copious number of holes that pockmark the "official" story.

Similarly, the narrative that Syria President Bashar al - Assad "gassed his own people" - a highly questionable proposition to many - has nonetheless been widely accepted as truth, at least by intelligence agencies and a press corps that increasingly accepts official pronouncements as incontrovertible.

[ editor's note: see Caitlin Johnstone's latest on two OPCW whistleblowers whose claims effectively dubunk the narrative]

The aggressive prosecution (persecution) of Julian Assange is another story that disturbs at least some citizens. The fact so few members of the mainstream press have rallied to Assange's defense has only deepened the depression of one-time idealists.

And these examples do not include the most dubious government narrative of them all, the assertion Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction , a false predicate that ultimately caused the death and suffering of millions of people.

Cynics could also point to an investigation that, unlike several of the above examples, did receive incessant press coverage - the story that Russia somehow "rigged" or "hacked" a U.S. presidential election, a conclusion accepted as gospel by most in the mainstream press, but viewed as preposterous by millions of Americans.

In these and other cases, a growing number of citizens have come to believe that official "investigations" and "official findings" are either a sham or intentionally omit details which do not support the desired meme.

It's within this context that millions of Americans have latched onto the Epstein story and the growing conviction that our government (and press corp ) have become more interested in concealing truths than exposing them.

The Epstein story is not just the latest scandal of the week. The number of individuals who could have been involved, or who might have worked to cover-up its existence, almost certainly dwarfs the number implicated in Watergate.

The list of those who might have some knowledge of Epstein's criminal enterprise includes a sitting president, ex-presidents, ex-prime ministers, Justice Department officials, State Department officials, FBI agents, employees of domestic and international intelligence agencies, state prosecutors, local law enforcement, politicians, ex-politicians, lobbyists, titans of industry and finance, CEOs, attorneys, accountants, banks and bankers, celebrities, academics, scientists, political operatives and executives within the Fourth Estate.

Almost five months after Epstein's arrest, one is struck by curious events that have already occurred and by developments yet to occur.

For example, how is it possible that Ghislaine Maxwell - the "Bonnie" to Epstein's "Clyde" - has yet to be charged with any crimes? Or, as far as the public knows, even been questioned by authorities.

Public skepticism about the "investigation" spiked when, five weeks after his arrest, the FBI finally raided Epstein's "Lolita" Island. Epstein's "ranch" in New Mexico has still not been searched.

The public has also received no indication that authorities are, in fact, questioning any of Epstein's many "associates," especially those who may have had sexual contact with girls recruited and groomed by Epstein and Maxwell.

Every person named in court documents or press reports as allegedly or possibly having sex with an underaged girl or young woman at Epstein's bequest has denied the allegations. Which begs the question: Who's telling the truth and who's lying? To form an opinion on this central question, authorities would presumably need to interview anyone with possible knowledge of alleged sexual or criminal acts. Investigators could then seek information that either corroborates or impeaches each person's account. However, evidence is growing that the protocol in a typical "he-said, she-said" investigation is not being followed in the Epstein case. Instead, authorities may have simply accepted as truth the statements of denial issued by powerful public figures .

True or not, many Americans believe the Department of "Justice" will not prosecute (perhaps even question) scores of individuals who may have broken U.S. laws and who may have been victims of a disturbing blackmail operation.

Perhaps authorities have concluded it's better to not know . Perhaps they realize if they interview one suspected "John," they'll have to interview every potential "John." if this number ends up being massive, and includes a Who's Who of our society, important illusions about society's leaders and our system of justice could be shattered.

At its core, the Epstein case will reveal whether government prosecutors and investigators possess the courage and integrity to expose sordid truths about some of the wealthiest, most-connected, powerful people in the world, and perhaps reveal embarrassing truths about our government.

Americans might soon learn what objective is more important to Justice Department officials: Protecting the rich and powerful from the consequences of their behavior, or confirming that a system of justice grounded in trust can still be trusted.

Sadly, many Americans are convinced authorities will not do the right thing.

However, in proving skeptics wrong, authorities would accomplish at least four objectives, all noble. They would punish the guilty. They would provide justice to victims too long ignored. They would deter future Epsteins and future "Johns," especially those unaccustomed to being held accountable for their actions. And, perhaps most importantly, they would allow a ray of sunshine to pierce the shadow of cynicism that's spread across our country.

While such a development might not restore all trust in government, it would be an eye-opening start. For those who believe the moral character of a nation is important, it would send a message that all hope is not lost .

****

Bill Rice, Jr. is a freelance writer in Troy, Alabama. He can be reached by email at wjricejunior@gmail.com

[Nov 29, 2019] The only question really is whether he was CIA asset doubling for Mossad, or the other way around.

Epstein murder/suicide was probably the most public elimination of critical witness...
Nov 29, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Matthew Weber , 1 week ago

Read "A Short Course in Secret War"... Epstein was definitely an intelligence asset. Ghislaine Maxwell was obviously his handler. The only question really is whether he was CIA asset doubling for Mossad, or the other way around.

Godwad , 1 week ago

"This Epstein case is probably the most blatant example of a witness being murdered......." Rogan is too high to remember Lee Harvey Oswald.

zack rudinski , 1 week ago

Not reacting to the Epstein case is to give the Government approval for this protocol.

J iKon , 1 week ago

Eddie Bravo puts it the best. "Epstein was suicided."

Salann , 1 week ago

Epstein died to protect Andrew maybe!!??

Ron Heathman , 1 week ago

The Epstein story is all about Robert Maxwell, his daughter and Mossad. It's deep and she is missing.

[Nov 28, 2019] Joe Rogan Experience #1386 - Matt Taibbi

Epstein murder/suicide was probably the most public elimination of critical witness...
Notable quotes:
"... “Biden to me is like having a flashlight with a dying battery and going for a long hike in the woods” - Joe Rogan 😅 1:28:33 ..."
Nov 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

HD , Nov 28 2019 19:45 utc | 38

Apologies if someone already posted this but on Nov 16 Joe Rogan and Matt Taibbi discussed the current state of the MSM in a wide-ranging conversation that I think most Barflies will find very interesting:

Joe Rogan Experience #1386 - Matt Taibbi) , Nov 16, 2019

Jeff phillips , 1 week ago

"Censorship is telling a grown man that he can't eat steak, because the baby can't chew it." - Mark Twain

Savannah Thomas , 1 week ago (edited)

“Biden to me is like having a flashlight with a dying battery and going for a long hike in the woods” - Joe Rogan 😅 1:28:33

T B , 1 week ago (edited)

“When the government's boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence.” - Gary Lloyd. We Americans are willingly blind to truth. It'll be the death of us.

Colin Hay , 1 week ago

George Orwell said it best: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever."

John Merlino , 1 week ago

Matt Taibbi: "they’re trying to sound like legitimate news, but they’re also completely selling out at the same time " perfectly sums up news outlets today, on both sides.

Tenzin Nordron , 11 hours ago (edited)

When I was a kid, i heard, on live radio broadcast, Oswald shot to death in Dallas Police Station - still think that's a more blatant murder of Witness.

Ricky Milano , 1 week ago

"There isn't the shame of screwing something up like there used to be." - Welcome to Hell everyone, we have jackets!!!

Adrienne Marini , 1 week ago

1:15:32 "There's also people that are like wolves trying to take out that baby joke wandering through the woods." So many good quotes in this podcast.

Major Bloodnok , 6 days ago

"We don't have any institutional respect anymore".. When even the broadsheets knowingly sow falsehoods or subtly mislead the public on a regular basis, you'd better be prepared for the harvest. You never win back respect from someone who's sussed out your con.

[Nov 25, 2019] Epstein and his assistants and friends were running a virtual prostitution and sex trafficking operation that sucked in huge numbers of teenaged girls at varying stages of development.

Nov 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Nov 23 2019 19:01 utc | 92

"Epstein's blackmailing operation needed very young women. He wouldn't have used any one of them for more than a few years.!!" Jackrabbit@88

Young nubile women. Which means that to call him a pedophile or a person involved in a pedophile ring is simply demagogy. A lie told to attract attention. If the charges made against Epstein were true he will have been guilty of many things but there is no more evidence of pedophilia on his part than there is of cannibalism.

Jen , Nov 23 2019 19:45 utc | 94

Bevin @ 92:

Please stop the quibbling over Epstein being a literal paedophile or not. You are making yourself look obtuse over the fact that he and his assistants and friends were running a virtual prostitution and sex trafficking operation that sucked in huge numbers of teenaged girls at varying stages of development. No-one here takes you seriously on this issue and you only make yourself look more seedy the more you concentrate on the ages of the victims and trying to prove Epstein is not a paedophile. If you have no compassion for the victims who were lured into his web with false offers of money, work or other financial support, then leave the subject of Epstein alone.

bevin , Nov 23 2019 21:43 utc | 95
You are arguing in favour of lynch mob demagogy, Jen. And there is nothing seedier than that. I have a great deal of sympathy for the victims in question. I also have some sympathy for Epstein who seems to have been murdered while society looked the other way saying "served him right, he was a pedophile."

And he wasn't, so far as we know. He was simply a rich man abusing his power over vulnerable people- needy girls and frustrated guilt ridden old men. A very nasty business indeed, to which we can add his apologies for the terrorist zionist state and his support for the US Empire.

But once it becomes accepted that a man called a pedophile can be killed or tortured with impunity we are half way down the road that led to Auschwitz and leads to Gaza. And we can be assured that it will become a regular smear against dissidents-as it was against Assange- that their sexual habits, tastes or behaviour put them beyond the pale.

Most of your comments are sensible and indicative of decency and thoughtfulness on your part, which is why I urge you to be very careful on this and other matters not to follow the bourgeois herd- Bill Clinton, for example is a war criminal and deserving of punishment. But the only fault the bourgeoisie can find with him is that he is sexually promiscuous.

As to the specific charges made against Epstein, they will never be proved, which is probably why he was killed, which was made very much easier when he had been labelled a 'pedophile' and driven out of 'decent society.' Which is itself, if you think about it, a place so sordid-if you want to talk about trafficking look at a fashion house's sweatshops in Bangladesh- that Epstein fitted right in.

bevin , Nov 23 2019 21:56 utc | 96
Here, Jen, is an example of how the attitudes that you defend, and seem to urge others to adopt towards me, play out in real life'
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/11/23/meto-n23.html
Ort , Nov 23 2019 22:15 utc | 97
@ bevin | Nov 23 2019 21:43 utc | 95
_________________________________

Thanks for this. I share your perspective.

It seems that "celebrity-class" reprehensible creeps are on the ascendancy-- or that may be a perception induced by sensational, febrile Western mass-media coverage of all things reprehensible and creepy. Unfortunately, so is binary thinking.

As it happens, I just watched a recent Rolling Stone "Useful Idiots" video; I'm ambivalent towards hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, but sympathized with Halper's outburst to the effect that she's getting sick and tired of having to bend over backwards to defensively point out that she's not "for" Trump, not a Trump fan, etc. every time she expresses any point that is arguably in Trump's favor.

I can relate. Epstein induces a similar reaction: even attempts to simply be clear or factual in matters relating to such social monsters provokes (self) righteous outrage.

BTW, I'm also ambivalent towards your comments because they reduce me to the status of virtual "dittohead". ;)

Jen , Nov 24 2019 4:11 utc | 98
Bevin @ 95, 96:

Now you're really sinking into a pile of shit of your own making.

I am referring to the way you quibble over the definition of paedophilia, trying to narrow it down to a purely biologically based definition in comments on previous MoA comments forums, and now you accuse me of lynch mob demagoguery and trying to encourage others to do the same.

If you had only said that you had sympathy for the victims, then we might agree to disagree and let the issue go.

I am not happy that Epstein is dead: he is a victim of his own greed and desire to be someone influential, and he ultimately was a plaything of others for whom he was running his blackmailing scheme and the associated sex trafficking.

You continue to damn yourself by suggesting that "frustrated guilt ridden old men" were also vulnerable and as much victims as the teenage girls were. Did any of these "old" men (Prince Andrew in his 40s at the time, old? - maybe in the head but not chronologically) in their frustration realise they were being manipulated by Epstein and contact the authorities, even though they would have risked their careers and reputations? They had a choice in the way that the teenage girls did not have a choice: they could have chosen not to participate in the activities at Epstein's mansions or in Little St James and walked away.

I do not accuse you or other MoA barflies of such attitudes in the way you accuse me @ 96. This is really low behaviour and you ought to be ashamed of that.

[Nov 24, 2019] Exposing Jeffrey Epstein's international sex trafficking ring

Nov 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

60 Minutes Australia

The Jeffrey Epstein scandal – Tara Brown reports how a New York billionaire masterminded an international sex trafficking ring of young women, and why wealthy and powerful men, including HRH Prince Andrew, are now implicated in the saga. Subscribe here: http://9Soci.al/chmP50wA97J Full Episodes here http://9Soci.al/sImy50wNiXL

[Nov 23, 2019] Met faces new questions over 'trafficked' teen in Epstein case UK news by Jamie Doward

Notable quotes:
"... "the Met Police has refused to answer detailed questions about the allegations and whether they ever spoke to Epstein, his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew or anyone from the royal household". ..."
"... The duke's decision to step down from public duties last week came after a raft of companies and charities sought to distance themselves from him following his disastrous interview. It is thought that both the Queen and Prince Charles were instrumental in forcing the duke to stand down. Prince Charles is reportedly returning to the UK on Monday after a royal tour, when he is expected to hold crisis talks with his brother. ..."
Nov 23, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Victims' tsar to query Force's decision not to act over Prince Andrew claims

The Met has said that its investigators reviewed all 'available evidence' in relation to disputed claims that a 17-year-old was 'forced to have sex with Prince Andrew'. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA The Victims' Commissioner is demanding that the Metropolitan Police explain its decision not to pursue a full investigation into claims a teenager was trafficked to the UK to have sex with Prince Andrew .

The Observer understands that Dame Vera Baird QC, a former solicitor general and chair of the Board of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, has taken a close interest in the allegations, first examined by Scotland Yard in 2015.

Baird, who has focused on protecting victims of sexual and domestic abuse throughout her career, is currently observing election purdah and cannot speak to the media.

However, prior to the election she made her views known to a victims' rights campaigner , telling him that she would be requesting a meeting with the Met once purdah was over.

"Before the election was called I spoke at length with the Victims' Commissioner and we both find it extraordinary that this matter was not proceeded with," Harry Fletcher said.

The Met has said that its investigators reviewed all "available evidence" after receiving a complaint relating to claims that were made in court documents. It was alleged that in 2001 a 17-year-old, now known to be Virginia Roberts, was "forced to have sex with Prince Andrew", purportedly at the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the one-time girlfriend of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein . His victims are now bringing claims for damages against his estate.

It is understood that lawyers for Roberts also independently contacted the force in 2016. But the Met chose not to pursue a full investigation.

Channel 4 News reported in August that "the Met Police has refused to answer detailed questions about the allegations and whether they ever spoke to Epstein, his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew or anyone from the royal household".

How seriously the Met took the claims is expected to form a key part of a BBC Panorama investigation into the Epstein scandal which will include an interview with Roberts and is due to be broadcast in December.

The Duke of York denies having sex with Roberts. In his Newsnight television interview he said he did not recall having ever met her.

But a photo of him with his arm around Roberts's waist has been widely circulated. There are claims the photo is fake. The duke says he cannot remember a picture being taken when he was in Maxwell's house.

It is believed that lawyers for Virginia Roberts Giuffre, above, contacted the Metropolitan police in 2016.

"You would expect the Crown Prosecution Service to have provided pre-investigative advice in this matter," said Fletcher, an adviser to Plaid Cymru and several victims' charities. "It needs to be confirmed whether this happened."

A spokeswoman for the CPS said its lawyers have "confirmed that we cannot comment on any input into investigations where persons have not been charged".

In a statement the Met confirmed that it had received an allegation of "non-recent" trafficking for sexual exploitation. "Having closely examined the available evidence, the decision was made that this would not progress to a full investigation," the Met said. Given the heightened interest in the case, the Met confirmed it had revisited the decision and concluded that it was the correct one. "Therefore no further action is being taken," it said.

But speculation about what went on at Maxwell's home is unlikely to die down. Lawyers bringing civil claims against the Epstein estate are looking to subpoena the duke, obliging him to provide testimony under oath as a witness. The duke has confirmed that he would be prepared to help law enforcement agencies but has given no commitment to cooperate with any civil actions.

The duke's decision to step down from public duties last week came after a raft of companies and charities sought to distance themselves from him following his disastrous interview. It is thought that both the Queen and Prince Charles were instrumental in forcing the duke to stand down. Prince Charles is reportedly returning to the UK on Monday after a royal tour, when he is expected to hold crisis talks with his brother.

Prince Andrew UK news The Guardian

[Nov 21, 2019] Assad on recent convenient deaths:

Nov 21, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Nov 14 2019 17:20 utc | 110

Assad on recent convenient deaths :

"The Syrian president said he saw links between the death of Le Mesurier and the deaths of US financier Jeffry Epstein, Al Qaeda chieftain Osama bin Laden and Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 'American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was killed several weeks ago, they said he had committed suicide in jail. However, he was killed because he knew a lot of vital secrets connected with very important people in the British and American regimes, and possibly in other countries as well,' Assad pointed out....

"'Both of us know that they [representatives of the White Helmets] are naturally part of Al Qaeda. I believe that these people, as well as the previously liquidated bin Laden and al-Baghdadi had been killed chiefly because they knew major secrets. They turned into a burden once they had played out their roles. A dire need to do away with them surfaced after they had fulfilled their roles,' Assad explained.

"According to him, the death of Le Mesurier is the work of the CIA that got rid of the founder of the White Helmets independently or through the intelligence services of other countries. 'Of course, this is the work of the secret services. But which secret service? When we talk about Western secret services in general, about Turkish and some other ones in our region, these are not the secret services of sovereign states, rather these are departments of the main intelligence agency - the CIA,' he stressed."

Many will nod their heads in agreement with Assad's hypothesis. Indeed, one of the more amazing happenings related to taking terrorists prisoners is the resulting lack of information related to the NATO-Terrorist bond we know exists but rarely sees the light of day in the form of documents, radio intercept logs and other items, although we're constantly treated to a massive parade of captured arms and munitions including chemical weapon precursors stamped with their NATO country of origin.

[Nov 07, 2019] DNC Lawyers Argue Primary Rigging Is Protected by the First Amendment

Notable quotes:
"... They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory. ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | archive.is

The defense counsel also took issue with Jared Beck for what they termed as: " Repeatedly promoted patently false and deeply offensive conspiracy theories about the deaths of a former DNC staffer and Plaintiffs' process server in an attempt to bolster attention for this lawsuit." This author was shocked to find that despite the characterization of the Becks as peddlers of conspiracy theory, the defense counsel failed to mention the motion for protection filed by the Becks earlier in the litigation process.

They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory.

The DNC defense lawyers then argued:

" There is no legitimate basis for this litigation, which is, at its most basic, an improper attempt to forge the federal courts into a political weapon to be used by individuals who are unhappy with how a political party selected its candidate in a presidential campaign ."

The brief continued:

" To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege based on their animating theory would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office."

It appears that the defendants in the DNC Fraud Lawsuit are attempting to argue that cheating a candidate in the primary process is protected under the first amendment. If all that weren't enough, DNC representatives argued that the Democratic National Committee had no established fiduciary duty "to the Plaintiffs or the classes of donors and registered voters they seek to represent." It seems here that the DNC is arguing for its right to appoint candidates at its own discretion while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the belief that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

Adding to the latest news regarding the DNC Fraud Lawsuit was the recent finding by the UK Supreme Court, which stated that Wikileaks Cables were admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.

If Wikileaks' publication of DNC emails are found to be similarly admissible in a United States court of law, then the contents of the leaked emails could be used to argue that, contrary to the defendant's latest brief, the DNC did in favor the campaign of Hillary Clinton over Senator Sanders and that they acted to sabotage Sanders' campaign.

The outcome of the appeal of the DNC Fraud Lawsuit remains to be seen.

Elizabeth Vos is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief at Disobedient Media .

[Nov 07, 2019] Claims Royals 'pressured' U.S. network to drop Epstein story Nine News Australia - YouTube

Nov 05, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Leaked footage released by conservative web site Project Veritas of U.S. ABC journalist Amy Robach's off-air rant has led to allegations that the Royals pressured the television network to drop a story regarding Jeffrey Epstein. Subscribe: https://bit.ly/2noaGhv Get more breaking news at: https://bit.ly/2nobVgF

[Nov 06, 2019] Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one

Highly recommended!
Nov 06, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 11.06.19 at 4:07 am 47

@Z 11.05.19 at 9:23 am @45

It seems to me an important tenet of the neoliberal ideology is the arbiter (or auctioneer) role it gives the state and other political institutions with respect to markets. Markets are the locus of justice and efficiency, but political institutions have the essential task of organizing them and the competitions that takes place within them, supposedly at least.

In practice, this translated in a central role of political power not only in privatizing and breaking state monopolies, but also in the creation, sometimes ex nihilo, of markets supervised by state or quasi-state agencies (shielded of electoral choices by regulatory or ideally constitutional provisions) whose role was to organize concurrence in domains classical liberal economic theory would consider natural monopolies or natural public properties (education, health service, energy distribution, infrastructure of transportation, telecommunication, postal and banking service etc.)

What an excellent and deep observation ! Thank you ! This is the essence of the compromises with financial oligarchy made by failing social democratic parties. Neoliberalism is kind of Trotskyism for the rich in which the political power is used to shape the society "from above". As Hayek remarked on his visit to Pinochet's Chile – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism".

George Monblot observed that "Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one." ( The Guardian, Apr 15, 2016):

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

The free (as in absence of regulation for FIRE) market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers (10% vs 90%) – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Trump. Now entrenched centers of "resistance" (and first of all CIA, the Justice Department, The Department of State and a part of Pentagon) are trying to reverse the situation. Failing to understand that they created Trump and each time will reproduce it in more and more dangerous variant.

Trumpism is the inevitable result of the gap between the utopian ideal of the free (for the FIRE sector only ) market and the dystopian reality for the majority of the population ("without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")

The situation in which the financial sector generates just 4% of employment, but accounts for more than 25% of corporate profits is unsustainable. It should be reversed and it will be reversed.

[Nov 04, 2019] The core of the neoliberal program is not simply to "remove the state." Rather, neoliberalism aims to promote the capability of capital to range globally and make a profit anywhere it can without such impediments as might be erected by national politicians and populations and neutralizes the governments of nation-states within supranational institutions like the WTO, the IMF, GATT -- and the EU

Nov 04, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Mark Pontin 11.02.19 at 6:46 pm 3

3 )
JQ wrote: 'The EU is inherently social democratic in its structure It is true that the European social democracies have given some ground, notably with respect to privatisation, but no genuinely neoliberal party has arisen or seems likely to.'

Back in the real world, here's a study from the LANCET, the medical journal --

'The burden of disease in Greece, health loss, risk factors, and health financing, 2000–16: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016'
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30130-0/fulltext

To precis it very roughly, 50,000 or so Greeks died because of the EU's imposition of its austerity policies on Greece. In other words, they died because Merkel in Germany and Hollande in France were unwilling to tell their electorates they were bailing out German and French banks, and so the bailout to those banks was carried out through the backdoor of Greece with 92-93 percent of those funds going straight to commercial financial institutions in Northern Europe and never touching the Greek economy.

Moreover, this was done at the same time that Mario Draghi at the ECB was initiating his policy of doing "whatever it takes" in terms of quantitative easing. The entire Greek debt would turn out to be less than a couple months of ECB money printing.

With blazing clarity, then, Greece tells us just what the EU is when the chips aren't even down. Thereby, we come to the question at hand: What is neoliberalism?

The core of the neoliberal program is _not_ simply to "remove the state altogether from 'non-core' functions such as the provision of infrastructure services' and 'minimise the state role in core functions (health, education, income security) through contracting out, voucher schemes and so on'.

Rather, neoliberalism aims to promote the capability of capital to range globally and make a profit anywhere it can without such impediments as might be erected by national politicians and populations -- impediments like policies of redistribution or the (re)nationalization of basic infrastructure. To this end, neoliberalism embeds and neutralizes the governments of nation-states within supranational institutions like the WTO, the IMF, GATT -- and the EU.

_That_ is the core of the neoliberal program. And, again, its very clear that from its beginnings as the European Coal and Steel Community and the EEC, the EU was carefully designed by its founders to be a neoliberal organization -- or an ordoliberal one, if we wish to split hairs, given that many of those responsible subscribed to the German flavor of neoliberalism.

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

'Ordoliberalism is the German variant of social liberalism that emphasizes the need for the state to ensure that the free market produces results close to its theoretical potential. Ordoliberal ideals became the foundation of the creation of the post-World War II German social market economy and its attendant Wirtschaftswunder' .

To conclude: the European Union is arguably _the_ most quintessentially neoliberal organization in the world today. Wolfgang Streek and Quinn Slobodian, among others, give authoritative accounts of all this and how it's played out.

Donald 11.03.19 at 9:01 pm (no link)
Here is a good piece --

https://jacobinmag.com/2019/11/neoliberalism-term-meaning-democratic-party-jonathan-chait

For those of us who can actually remember political arguments made by Democrats in the 80's and 90's, it's ridiculous to say that neoliberalism in the US never existed except as a term of abuse.

People bragged about being a new type of sophisticated market loving Democrat in sharp contrast to old liberal dinosaurs like Tip O'Neill. Cranky Observer mentioned Charles Peters and the Washington Monthly.

There was also The New Republic -- remember the joke " even the liberal New Republic" supports conservative policy X? The point was they took pleasure in being Third Way style neoliberals who were often hawkish on foreign policy and eager to question liberal Democratic pieties, to the point it became a cliche that Republicans would cite them.

The New Republic and The Washington Monthly were neoliberal the way Commentary was neoconservative. ( There was also a period where you weren't supposed to believe there were such people as neocons. It was supposed to be an antisemitic code word.)

I think the idea that neoliberalism never existed in the US except as a term of abuse from leftists first popped up in the 2016 Democratic primaries. I don't have a cite -- it's just my recollection.

[Nov 03, 2019] Jeffrey Epstein's Accused Madam Attended Secretive Jeff Bezos 'Writer's Retreat' Last Year

Nov 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Last year there was a curious attendee at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' annual writer's retreat; Jeffrey Epstein's alleged 'madam,' Ghislaine Maxwell .

The daughter of an accused Mossad agent who died under mysterious circumstances, Maxwell was accused of participating in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual grooming and abuse of underage girls. She was confirmed to have attended at least one (and possibly three) of the secretive Bezos get-togethers, according to VICE .

Two Campfire 2018 attendees independently confirmed to Motherboard that Maxwell attended the exclusive retreat that year. One of the sources maintained that Maxwell had attended three Campfires including 2018 , but that Maxwell was not an attendee at Campfire 2019 held in early October. Campfire 2018 took place shortly before a Miami Herald investigation resurfaced Epstein's crimes and Maxwell's alleged links to them, which eventually led to new charges against Epstein. - VICE

Maxwell was accompanied to Campfire by tech CEO and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member Scott Borgerson - who denied in August that he and Maxwell are romantically linked, or that she was hiding out at his "secluded oceanfront property" in New England - as reported by the Daily Mail .

What is Campfire?

According to the report, it's an " all-expenses-paid retreat courtesy of Bezos and Amazon that is completely off the record for attendees, who often bring their spouses and partners on the free trip." It was started in 2009.

The secretive conclaves have had virtually no press coverage (aside from a 2014 New York Times article), and has "largely remained under the radar ," reports VICE - which notes that Maxwell's attendance "further illustrates the connections that Epstein and Maxwell maintained to the wealthy elite."

Tech moguls , presidents , well-known actors, and Prince Andrew all came into their orbit even after Epstein's misdeeds and Maxwell's alleged role first came to light. In fact, a secretive 2011 dinner in Long Beach, California attended by Bezos and other tech CEOs was also attended by Epstein , less than two years after he served time for underage sex crimes.

Maxwell, who has never been charged or arrested and has only faced allegations in civil lawsuits , has always denied any wrongdoing or involvement with Epstein's crimes and has made few public appearances since they first surfaced in media reports. - VICE

Maxwell is currently missing. Aside from a strange and allegedly photoshopped photo-shoot of her having a burger and milkshake at a California "In-N-Out" (while reading a book about the CIA), her whereabouts are unknown.


wolf pup , 4 hours ago link

Look at her familial background. Her sister, and her career. Her father. Deeply inside CFR territory, as deeply as it gets. Her sister Christine's company (after she'd created and sold Magellan) was Chiliad. You've heard of it? Real time surveillance at epic levels, purchased by governments and Intelligence agencies around the planet and iirc she sold it recently, too. Chiliad was there before most others and this family could swing a deep escape for Everyone. Lol from Eps to Ghislane or anyone.
Inside. Big time inside.

Totally_Disillusioned , 4 hours ago link

Bezos typifies an individual who on their own are weak and usually not very successful in relationships. As a youth was viewed as geeky, strange not fitting in well with other students. We find Bezos who uses his money to become more than life-like with the extreme training and steroids.

He's power hungry and a ruthless doggedness in business that built Amazon. Despite his wealth, his wife couldn't remain in the marriage for reasons undisclosed.

My intuition is that while Bezos may have been weird as a youth and not very popular, his power and wealth gained in later life made the world of global trafficking, illicit drugs and pedophilia a favorite pastime. Just my intuition, but he certainly fits the picture of those elite who have reached the level through their wealth of no rules..

NO rules. There's no surprise for me that Bezos chummed around with Epstein and Maxwell.

Mithera , 3 hours ago link

Behind every great fortune...lies a great crime....

Dragon HAwk , 4 hours ago link

The NSA knows Everything, except of course for High Level Crimes. By Important People.

Dutchdope , 4 hours ago link

She objected to the release of the first batch of court documents shortly before Jeff being broken from jail.

So if her lawyers can write a letter, and she is still a subject in this "so important matter", why can't she be found?

Totally_Disillusioned , 4 hours ago link

She'd "found" and I believe 'kept". The question is by WHOM and WHY?

[Nov 02, 2019] These Scrubbed Reports Reveal New Secrets Into the Prince Andrew-Jeffrey Epstein Relationship by Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... Correction | An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the name of the artist that accompanied Prince Andrew to Los Angeles in 2000 as Bruce, as opposed to Brett, Livingstone Strong. ..."
Oct 21, 2019 | www.unz.com

Several now-censored reports from the 1990s and early 2000s reveal that Prince Andrew’s involvement with the minors exploited by Jeffrey Epstein is greater than previously believed.

While the Jeffrey Epstein scandal has largely faded from media coverage in the United States, it has continued to attract attention abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom in connection with Epstein’s long-standing association with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and the Queen’s son.

The Epstein-Prince Andrew relationship has long been a fascination of the U.K. press, with numerous articles dating back to the early 2000s detailing the most outrageous aspects of their relationship. Prior to that, Epstein had also garnered attention from U.K. newspapers regarding his association with Ghislaine Maxwell, whose reputation in the U.K. is rather notorious, as was that of her father, Robert Maxwell.

Yet, since Epstein’s arrest in July, many of these older articles on Epstein and Maxwell, as well as those focusing on the Epstein-Prince Andrew relationship, have disappeared from the archives of several prominent U.K. media outlets that reported on these relationships years ago.

Several of these articles, though largely scrubbed from the internet, were recently obtained by MintPress and a review of their contents makes the likely motive behind their disappearance clear: several articles not only reference Epstein’s connection to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence years before the first investigation into Epstein’s exploitation of minors had even begun, but also reveal surprising aspects of Prince Andrew’s involvement with Epstein that strongly suggest that the Prince partook in illicit sexual activities with minors to a much greater extent than has previously been reported.

New, disturbing details of Prince Andrew’s early links to Epstein

Since Epstein was arrested the first time in 2006 and even more so after he was arrested again this past July, those named in press reports as his associates have made every effort to distance themselves from the accused pedophile and sex trafficker. For this reason, press reports that discuss Epstein long before there was any hint of the larger scandal are particularly important for understanding the true nature of Epstein’s past associations with the rich and powerful.

In light of what is now known about Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation and sex trafficking activities, several reports from the late 1990s and early 2000s contain details long since forgotten regarding Epstein’s relationship with Prince Andrew.

One particularly censored article that appeared in London’s Evening Standard in January 2001, for instance, gives several indications regarding the apparent entrapment of Prince Andrew as part of Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation, which is now known to have been connected to intelligence — specifically Israeli military intelligence, according to recent revelations in the case.

The article, written by Evening Standard journalist Nigel Rosser, quotes a personal friend of both Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein as saying the following about their friendship with Prince Andrew:

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

Another friend of Maxwell and Epstein made similar claims that appear in the same article:

A screenshot from the same Evening Standard article

A screenshot from the same Evening Standard article

The article further describes Epstein and Prince Andrew as having a “curious symbiotic relationship,” adding that “wherever Ghislaine is seen with Prince Andrew, Epstein isn’t far behind.”

These quotes are particularly telling now that it is a matter of record that Epstein was seeking out rich and powerful individuals and entrapping them with minors for the purpose of blackmail. The fact that personal friends of Epstein and Maxwell at the time openly stated that their “manipulative” relationship with Prince Andrew was “very premeditated” and “probably being done for Epstein” strongly suggests that not only was the Prince entrapped, but that this type of entrapment activity was known to occur among those who were close to Epstein and Maxwell at the time.

Prince Andrew — as a member of the Royal Family, which is very protective of its social reputation, as well as the U.K. envoy for investment and trade — certainly fits into the category of people that Epstein entrapped on behalf of intelligence: rich, politically powerful, wary of damaging their social reputation, and thus susceptible to blackmail.

Notably, the year this article was published (2001), is the same year that Epstein’s most well-known accuser and victim, Virginia Giuffre (then Virginia Roberts), claims that she was introduced to Prince Andrew by Maxwell and Epstein and forced to have sex with the Prince on at least three occasions. She has also claimed that Epstein would subsequently instruct her to describe the encounters in order to learn compromising information about the Prince’s sexual habits and preferences. Her claims regarding Epstein’s trafficking of her, specifically to Prince Andrew, have since been largely corroborated by photographic evidence, flight logs, and public records.

This undated photo released by Virginia Giuffre shows Prince Andrew posing with a young Giuffre, Ghislaine Maxwell is shown standing in the background

This undated photo released by Virginia Giuffre shows Prince Andrew posing with a young Giuffre, Ghislaine Maxwell is shown standing in the background

While it appears that Prince Andrew was deliberately entrapped as part of Epstein’s intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation, the article further suggests that Andrew’s involvement with the minors exploited by Epstein went far beyond his alleged three encounters with Giuffre.

Rosser quotes a friend of Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sara Ferguson as saying that Andrew “used to be smart when he came back from abroad…He’s started having a girl massage him…He even travels abroad with his own massage mattress.”

During this same time period, Epstein and Maxwell also introduced Prince Andrew to “sex aid entrepreneur” Christine Drangsholt during a trip to Mar-a-Lago and describes Andrew traveling to Los Angeles, where he was seen “flirting…with a group of young girls,” and to Phuket, Thailand where he “wandered around the sex bars in the area’s red light district.” The Los Angeles trip saw Andrew accompanied by artist and close friend of Michael Jackson, Brett Livingstone Strong, and Ghislaine Maxwell accompanied Andrew to Thailand.

The mentions of massages from a “girl” and Andrew traveling around with Maxwell and Epstein while bringing along “his own massage mattress,” are particularly striking given what is now known about Epstein’s sex trafficking and sexual blackmail operation. Court documents, police reports, and other evidence have since made it clear that “massage” was the code word Epstein and his co-conspirators used for sex with the minors he exploited and massage tables and sex toys were frequently present together in the rooms of his various residences where he forced underage girls to engage in sexual acts with him and others.

Most notable of all is the fact that claims of Prince Andrew receiving “massages” from girls during his trips with Epstein and Maxwell were published in January 2001, at least two months before Virginia Giuffre states that she was first introduced to and forced to have sex with the Prince in March of 2001. This means that the claims of Epstein- and Maxwell-brokered “massages” refer to at least one other girl, strongly suggesting that Andrew’s involvement with minors exploited by Epstein is greater than has been recently acknowledged.

Other recently reported information has added to the likelihood that Prince Andrew engaged in illicit activities with more minors than Virginia Giuffre. For instance, the FBI recently expanded its probe into Epstein’s sex trafficking network to include a specific focus on the Prince’s role. The FBI has claimed that they are reviewing claims regarding Prince Andrew made by other Epstein victims aside from Giuffre, but did not specify the nature of those claims.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s open secret

Media reports cite Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell as having developed a close relationship at least by February 2000, when Andrew had spent a week at Epstein’s controversial New York penthouse at 9 East 71st Street. One report published in 2000 by London’s Sunday Times claimed that the two were introduced by Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, often referred to as “Fergie” in the press, and further claims that this introduction had taken place several years prior. Epstein is alleged to have first been introduced to Andrew via Maxwell in 1999.

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2000 Sunday Times article

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2000 Sunday Times article

Years after this introduction was made, Jeffrey Epstein would provide financial assistance to Ferguson at Prince Andrew’s behest by paying Ferguson’s former personal assistant £15,000, allegedly in order to allow for “a wider restructuring of Sarah’s £5 million debts to take place,” according to The Telegraph.

Oddly, by April of that year, Maxwell and Prince Andrew were spotted by their fellow diners at a posh New York restaurant holding hands, prompting both the Prince and Maxwell to claim that their relationship was merely “platonic.” However, a separate report from 2007 in the Evening Standard refers to Maxwell as one of Prince Andrew’s former girlfriends.

Within a year of their close relationship having become public, Andrew and Ghislaine were reported to have gone on eight different vacations together, of which Epstein accompanied them for five. Andrew also brought Maxwell and Epstein to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in 2000 as his personal guests.

Several reports from this period also provide interesting insight into Maxwell’s business activities and private life. One article from 2000, published in London’s Sunday Times, states that “for all her high-profile appearances on Manhattan’s A-List merry-go-round, she [Maxwell] is secretive to the point of paranoia and her business affairs are deeply mysterious.” It goes on to say that Maxwell “has been building a business empire as opaque as father’s” — referencing Robert Maxwell’s business empire, which included multiple front companies for Israeli intelligence — and adds that “her office in Manhattan refuses to confirm even the nature or the name of her business.”

On her relationship with Epstein, it states that “he’s always kept her secrets, no one knows what their relationship is really about.” An article from 2001 claims that Maxwell’s Manhattan lifestyle, her New York residence and her vehicles were all purchased by Epstein and that she was employed as his “consultant” while also acting as his social organizer and interior designer.

One report on Maxwell — which was published by the Evening Standard in 2003, years before Epstein was first publicly revealed to be exploiting minors — contains very telling information about Maxwell’s work for Epstein. It states “Ghislaine has risen, largely thanks to property developer Epstein bankrolling her, to become queen of the billionaires’ social circuit,” adding that “Jeffrey only likes billionaires or very young women and uses Ghislaine as his social pimp.” It then discusses “rumors” that Maxwell was hosting “bizarre parties at her house to which she invites a dozen or so young girls, then brandishes a whip and teaches them how to improve their sexual techniques.”

Given what is now known about Maxwell’s role as Epstein’s procurer of underage girls and her role in “training” them in sexual techniques, this passage — again from 2003 — reveals that Epstein’s and Maxwell’s dark acts were pretty much an open secret for years prior to Epstein’s first arrest in 2007.

Jeffrey Epstein, spy and property mogul?

One recurring theme in many of these older reports from the U.K. is their mention of Epstein’s alleged ties to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. For instance, Nigel Rosser’s 2001 article contains the following passage:

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

Another articl e, published in 1992 in the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday, describes “rumors” that linked Epstein to the CIA and the Mossad and claimed that he had worked as “a corporate spy hired by big businesses to uncover money that had been embezzled.” In addition, an article published in 2000 in London’s Sunday Times also states of Epstein that “nobody knows whether he’s a concert pianist, property developer, CIA agent, a math teacher or a member of Mossad.”

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2000 Sunday Times article

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2000 Sunday Times article

Notably, these rumors of Epstein’s links to intelligence have since been confirmed. The CIA-Mossad links to Epstein were detailed in a recent MintPress investigative series and several mainstream media reports have corroborated Epstein’s time as a self-described “financial bounty hunter” who hunted down embezzled funds and also hid stolen money for powerful people and governments.

Another odd commonality among these now-scrubbed articles on Epstein from the 1990s and early 2000s is that the majority of them refer to Epstein not as a “financier” or “hedge fund manager,” as has become common in more recent reports, but as a “New York property developer” and even as a “property mogul.”

For instance, the 2001 Evening Standard article introduces Epstein as an “immensely powerful New York property developer and financier” with an “intensively secret business life” who “owns properties all over the country [the U.S.].” It also states that Epstein had made millions from “his business links with the likes of Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner” during the 1990s and beyond.

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

A screenshot from a now-deleted 2001 Evening Standard article

Wexner, in addition to his other close financial ties to Epstein, was involved in several Manhattan real estate deals with Epstein and Epstein’s brother Mark while Donald Trump was then best known for his career as a New York property developer and real estate mogul. Trump is also cited in a separate article from January 2001 as being good friends with both Prince Andrew and his ex-wife. In addition, this article’s claim regarding Epstein’s most notable “business links” in 2001 contradicts Bill Gates’ recent assertions that he never had any business relationship with Epstein and did not meet with him until 2013. Notably, Gates’ former chief scientific adviser was recently named as an alternate executor for Epstein’s will and Gates appears on the flight logs of Epstein’s now-infamous private plane. Gates, one of the world’s richest men, has since claimed that he only had met with Epstein in order to meet other wealthy people and to discuss “philanthropy.”

Another article in the Evening Standard refers to Epstein as a “property mogul.” Several other articles — such as a 2000 article from Australia’s Sunday Mail, a 1995 article from Australia’s Sun Herald, and a 1995 article from the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday — also refer to Epstein as chiefly a “property developer.” Interestingly, references to Epstein as a property developer continued to occur (though less frequently) after his first arrest in 2007 and then again after his recent arrest this past July, yet oddly only in non-U.S. newspapers. Another article states that Ghislaine Maxwell had sold property on Epstein’s behalf and was also involved in the New York real estate market.

While several articles in the early 2000s describe Epstein as both “property developer” and “financier,” even earlier articles about Epstein refer to him exclusively as a “property developer.” For instance, the 1992 article in the Mail on Sunday cited above referred to Epstein as “a shadowy, almost maverick New York property developer” and noted that, even then, Epstein appeared “to have an inexhaustible supply of money and yet no one seems able to answer the question of precisely what the source.”

As will be revealed in an upcoming MintPress investigative series, these references allude to Epstein’s shady business activities in the New York and Palm Beach real estate markets from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s that were used to launder massive amounts of money for organized crime and intelligence. It is likely for this reason that Epstein’s real estate activities during this period have been so deliberately ignored by the U.S. press, even though other aspects of his financial activities were heavily scrutinized in recent months.

Indeed, in examining Epstein’s involvement in real estate markets, particularly in New York, it becomes clear that those activities have no shortage of controversial tie-ins to the current U.S. presidential administration as well as major New York power players involved in suspect financial activity immediately prior to the September 11 attacks as well as the 2008 financial crisis. All of those connections and more will be explored in MintPress’ upcoming investigative series on the financial crimes of Jeffrey Epstein and their broader implications.

Correction | An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the name of the artist that accompanied Prince Andrew to Los Angeles in 2000 as Bruce, as opposed to Brett, Livingstone Strong.

(Republished from Mint Press News by permission of author or representative)


Curmudgeon , says: October 15, 2019 at 8:28 pm GMT

Given that the thoroughly despicable Alan Dershowitz, who was also accused by Giuffre, had his lawyers combing through emails between Roberts/Giuffre, and found emails in which she stated she didn't know who Dershowitz was, this appears to be little more than another shakedown.

Until someone comes up with a photo of Andrew boinking Roberts, there is no reason to believe her.
This long winded column is not about "reports" its about newspaper article speculation.

Call me naive, but it seems to me that with Andrew's connections, this bimbo would have met with an accident by the time she started in on Maxwell being a procurer.

I've had my picture take with famous people, it doesn't mean any sexual relations occurred.

Rabbitnexus , says: October 16, 2019 at 10:05 am GMT
@Curmudgeon Naive and ostrich like I'd say.

I've been around, travelled a bit and lived on the streets for a few years many years back and even I had met someone who was a victim of Epstein as a young girl.

I did not realise it was him she was talking about until recently but it all falls into place now.

Andrew's association with Epstein in itself and the proven lies being told about it are enough to show his guilt.

You believe whatever makes you feel good but not only was Epstein a pedo blackmailer and well known as such for many years you can use your own eyes to see the body on the Gurney is not Epstein by a wide margin.

Not surprisingly he has been spotted back on his island actually since his alleged suicide.

He is too valuable to the intel agencies which use him to be allowed to die or get locked up.

eah , says: October 16, 2019 at 10:17 am GMT
I found this "LOL" funny:

For instance, the FBI recently expanded its probe into Epstein's sex trafficking network to include a specific focus on the Prince's role.

The FBI has claimed that they are reviewing claims regarding Prince Andrew made by other Epstein victims aside from Giuffre, but did not specify the nature of those claims.

Yes, I'm sure the FBI, the same utterly compromised organization that was so complicit in the Trump/Russia coup/hoax, is working very hard to investigate the Epstein case.

nietzsche1510 , says: October 16, 2019 at 10:58 am GMT
the other chapter of prince Andrew's thing is that he is an MI6 guy: MI6, CIA, Mossad, they are all the same colonized bodies of the "chosen".
Anonymous [648] Disclaimer , says: October 16, 2019 at 11:29 am GMT
@Curmudgeon If the email report is true, it's more likely she didn't know who Dershowitz was at the time she was forced to have sex with him than her making it up.

As one of Epstein's chief advisors going back 25 years, one would assume Dershowitz was intimately aware of if not guiding Epstein's espionage on behalf of Mossad.

Moreover, Fox News continues to rely on Dershowitz for spin and so much so as to presumptively implicate Fox News as a limited hangout for Mega and Israeli intelligence in the ongoing cover up.

Sean , says: October 16, 2019 at 11:38 am GMT
@Curmudgeon Giuffre, said she had sex with Andrew in Britain, but Andy could have easily and perfectly legally had sex with younger (and much better looking) girls than the at least 17 year old Giuffre in Britain.

Andrew does not particularly like young girls, when he was young himself he went for much older women.

His wife Sarah Ferguson and American girlfriend Koo Stark were both older.

Andrew has been tabloid fodder, but he is not and never was a person of influence even by the standards of the almost entirely ceremonial royal family.

I think he was good PR for Epstein.

Andrew being seen with Epstein after his conviction is difficult to explain if Andy was some kind of agent of influence asset for Epstein's putative organisation.

Andy has been discredited by not immediately dropping him.

Jeff Stryker , says: October 16, 2019 at 11:43 am GMT
@Sick of Orcs Where were the underage girl's parents? Do you think Prince Andrew's daughter could be flown off from her high school to some Caribbean Island to be passed around? Or Epstein?

Why is it that these white girls are in a position where they can be exploited like this?

How can some old pervert show up at a public high school and start recruiting white girls for his sexual pyramid/bribery scam?

Why are underage white girls so sexually sophisticated at age 16?

Why are white girls willing to do this?

What backgrounds did they come from?

Sean , says: October 16, 2019 at 11:58 am GMT
@Rabbitnexus Have you been reading Stephen Fry's memoirs? At the kind of small schools the Royals went to there was none of that going on for anyone,certainly not them.

Andy was rumoured in upper class circles to have went gay for a while after his divorce though.

BTW the photo of Andy with Guiffre and Ghislaine Maxwell also in the shot was taken at Maxwell's central London house.

Guiffre was 17 years at least as she now admits, so there was no crime in (16 year old is the age of consent) Britain even if he had been fucking her brains out.
So even i