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Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"

Oligarchic "Quiet Coup" in the USA, "Greed is good" slogan and loss of trust in neoliberal governments

News Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Recommended Links Quiet coup The Deep State National Security State / Surveillance State In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Two Party System as polyarchy The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law Media-Military-Industrial Complex Groupthink Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Corporatism Inverted Totalitarism US and British media are servants of security apparatus Casino Capitalism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corruption of Regulators
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative New American Caste System The Essential Rules for Dominating Population What's the Matter with Kansas Big Uncle is Watching You
Nation under attack meme American Exceptionalism Neo-fascism Bureaucracies Military Bureaucracy Military Incompetence Bureaucratic Collectivism
Toxic Managers The psychopath in the corner office Female Sociopaths Office Stockholm Syndrome Quotes about Psychopaths Humor Etc


Introduction


There is an 'audacious oligarchy' of self-defined rulers who move freely between private industry and government, whose primary objective is preserving and furthering their own power and self-interest.

Jesse's Café American, Audacious Oligarchy

Audacious behaviour is often connected with the weakened self-preservation instinct, typical for sociopaths. So their audacity take the form of Chutzpah (shameless audacity; impudence, unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall). It's inherently connected with the lack of empathy, which is a defining feature of sociopaths. The key question here is: to what extent the US elite became infected with substantial or even dominant number of sociopaths? Including female sociopaths as we saw recently in the reaction of behaviour of a wife of former president on killing Gaddafy (Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died ) ?

In fact this process of self-selection of sociopaths into neoliberal elite reached dangerous level was noted be many, including famous remark of Robert Johnson at Culture Project's IMPART 2012 Festival that essentially defined the term ("Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."):

Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate.

"Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."

Robert Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York. Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.

Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin) and of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico). Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As you can see this idea "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." does not differ much with the modus operandi of three-letter agencies, so the terms "audacious oligarchy" and "deep state" are closely related: deep state can be viewed as a social system in this audacious oligarchy rules the population.

We can also think about the term "audacious oligarchy" as the term related to the rise of neo-fascism, (be it neoliberal fascism or Inverted Totalitarism). For some details National Security State / Surveillance State: Review of Literature and a very interesting discussion of Robert Johnson remarks on financial oligarchy at “They’re All Standing on the Deck of the Titanic Looking in Each Other’s Eyes” (naked capitalism, April 21, 2013). That means the key elements of fascist ideology are preserved, with the replacement of Arian Nation for financial oligarchy, but without ruthless physical suppression of opposition which are replaced by financial instruments, blacklisting, economic sanctions and color revolutions in "deviant" countries. Like in Third Reich dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. there is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

One interesting side effect of the dominance of financial oligarchy is loss of trusts in experts, especially economic expects, professors who now are nothing more then a prostitutes at the service of financial capital Ian Klaus in "Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance gives the following definition:

Trust, to be simple with our definition, is an expectation of behavior built upon norms and cultural habits. It is often dependent upon a shared set of ethics or values. It is also a process orchestrated through communities and institutions. In this sense, it is a cultural event and thus a historical phenomenon.

As Robert Johnson noted:

"People don't trust experts. If you saw 'Inside Job', you know why. People do not trust the private markets, and they don't trust government."

See also Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy.

In the case of neoliberal transformation of the USA the state to a large extent seized to defend the population. Instead the state became a predictor, defender of international corporations, as hostile to the US people as Bolshevik rule was to Russians and other nationalities of the USSR. In other word the USA population became hostages of the system much like population of the USSR was. In a way nothing is new in human history.

The most important side effect of neoliberal transformation of the US society is the destruction (or more correctly emasculation) of legal system, which effectively lead to the situation when like in monarchy, some people are above the law. And we can suspect, judging from recent the USSR nomenklatura experience that such a caste might quickly degrades. As Long Aston said "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If you willfully and recklessly tear down the laws in the name of some misbegotten ideology the benefit to "chosen" few, blowback might come sooner or later. even if you successfully hide this in a smokescreen of sophisticated scam ideology (neoliberalism in case of current crony or casino capitalism, which replaced the New Deal "live and giver other chance to live" motto) the blowback eventually might knock the particular country down. In such system nobody trust anybody and the whole society gradually disintegrates becoming just extended version of a mafia clan. With typical for such clans deadly internal fights for power. Mexican drug cartels saying - plomo y plobo ('silver or lead'): either you accept our bribes or accept our bullets is perfectly applicable in this situation. And that's how "audacious oligarchy really operates at least of international scène. But the law of the jungle has one important difference with the regular law system: any more powerful group of states can became both a judge and executioner for less powerful, or competing group of states.

When you take some self-serving fairy tale and take it an extreme by sticking an 'ism' on the end of it, like is the case with neoliberalism, at the beginning everything is fine and population is carries by this lie with ease. But as soon as people discover this despite all the power of propaganda their standard of living is going down, some trouble appear on the horizon and there is no other way then to concert the state into national security state, as proponent of communism have found in the USSR. And under neoliberalism, the essence of which is redistribution of wealth in favor of the top 0.01% of the world population, this disillusionment in inevitable, unless we experience a new technological revolution, similar to computer revolution. it can't be hidden with fairly tales about "undemocratic nature" of poor state or corruption. People can only be suppressed by brute force. and the lead to overextension of the neoliberal empire.

When the financial oligarchy is completely exempt from the law and in this particular area regulation is burned to the ground to serve the interests of financial oligarchy, strange things start to happen. The first glimpse on which we already saw in 2008. There was a demonstration of an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes which might be called financial sector induced systemic instability of economy. The latter which lead to periodic booms and busts with unpredictable timing, severity and consequences for the society at large, but so far all of those crisis work also as mechanism of redistribution of the society wealth toward the top . this time the US oligarchy managed to swipe the dirt under the rug.

This instability happens automatically and does not depend on the presence of "bad apples" in the system, because the financial sector under neoliberalism functions not as the nerve system of the economy of the particular country, but more like an autoimmune disease. In other words financial sector destabilizes the "immune system" of the country by introducing positive feedback look into economic (and not only economic, look at the USA foreign policy since 1991) activities.

What exactly is neoliberal oligarchy ?

When we say audacious oligarchy we essentially mean neoliberal oligarchy, and first of all financial oligarchy. Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by wealth, family ties, commercial, government and/or military positions. The actual literal translation from the Greek is the "rule of the few". The word oligarchy is derived from the Greek words "ὀλίγος" (olígos), "a few"[2] and the verb "ἄρχω" (archo), "to rule, to govern, to command".

Throughout history, most oligarchies have been tyrannical, relying on public servitude to exist, although some have been relatively benign. Plato pioneered the use of the term in Chapter Four, Book Eight of "The Republic" as a society in which wealth is the criterion of merit and the wealthy are in control.

However oligarchy is not always a rule according to the size of the wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be distinguished from plebs by iether personal wealth or bloodlines as in a monarchy. Although often those two types of distinction are present too. For example, in the USSR the oligarchy was represented by special class of government and party servants (nomenklatura). The same is by-and-large true for Communist China. Those types of oligarchy has a lot of features in common with neoliberal oligarchy, although they are national in character. First of all in both system oligarchs are "working oligarchs". They actively participate in the their business or government activities. The second thing is that neoliberal oligarchy has very interesting connection with the idea of Communist International, and can be viewed as an interesting perversion of this concept ("Capitalism International") with some flavor of Trotskyism -- as it strives for and adopts Trotskyism central idea of permanent revolution as the method of reaching of the world dominance (see, neocons and color revolutions)

At the same time starting from 80th in the USA oligarchy by-and-large started to correspond to European aristocracy as vertical mobility became very limited and suppressed in the USA (actually more then in European countries, despite all the hype about the American dream).

The USA oligarchy by-and-large corresponds to European aristocracy, with substantial number of its members being children of oligarchic families. Vertical mobility, despite hype, is very limited and suppressed (actually more then in European countries). In no way the USA con be considered "the county of opportunities" anymore.

Russian oligarchy is very atypical in this sense, and is a pretty interesting case of a very high vertical mobility. As a country Russia is unique that in its history it several times wiped out its entrenched oligarchy. Two last "rotations" happened in 1917 then large part of old oligarchy lost their power and after neoliberal revolution of 1991 which brought into power the corrupt government of Boris Yeltsin. The drunkard, who imitated French proclaiming "enrich yourself" and launches (with gentle support from USA in a form of Harvard mafia) the most corrupt privatization of state wealth in human history.

But most members of the new, Post-Soviet Russian oligarchy did demonstrated tremendous level of upward mobility. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union on 31 December 1991, many directors and sometimes middle managers of state owned Russia-based corporations, especially producers of petroleum, natural gas, and metals managed to privatize their holdings and have become oligarchs. Criminal privatization under Yeltsin regime allowed them to amass phenomenal wealth and power almost overnight. In May 2004, the Russian edition of Forbes identified 36 of these oligarchs as being worth at least US$1 billion. And not of all them came from Nomenklatura. Many members of nomenklatura (even on the level of Politburo) did not fit in the new economic system and stopped being oligarchs.

All modern democracies should be viewed as oligarchies

Robert Michels believed that any political system eventually evolves into an oligarchy. He called this the iron law of oligarchy. According to this school of thought, modern democracies should be considered to be oligarchies. this is what his "iron law of oligarchy" is about. In other word when we speak the word democracy about such regimes as current exist in the USA or Western Europe, it is most self-deception.

That gives a pretty sinister meaning to the "promotion of democracy" and "support of democracy" activities, as in reality it is installation of more favorable to the promoter oligarchic group in power, often via coup d'état (with a specific neoliberal variant, which use developed by Gene Sharp political technology, called Color revolution), as recently happened in Libya and Ukraine.

In "modern democracies", the actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an acceptable and respectable political position, and politicians' careers depend heavily on unelected economic and media elites. Thus the popular phrase: there is always only one political party, the party of oligarchy.

This is especially true for winner takes all election systems, which create two party environment, with both party being a factions of the same elite. See Two Party System as Polyarchy

Quiet coup

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson (born January 16, 1963). Simon Johnson is a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund.

The term was introduced in Simon Johnson article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power:

Becoming a Banana Republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial oligarchy as an key part of modern neoliberal elite

Corporate oligarchy is a form of power, governmental or operational, where such power effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals, sometimes from a small group of educational institutions, or influential economic entities or devices, such as banks, commercial entities that act in complicity with, or at the whim of the oligarchy, often with little or no regard for constitutionally protected prerogative. Monopolies are sometimes granted to state-controlled entities, such as the Royal Charter granted to the East India Company. In this regime people move freely from government posts to private industry and back.

In the USA the most rapidly rising part of national oligarchy is financial oligarchy. As Senator Dick Durbin noted referring to the US Congress Banks Frankly Own The Place. Moreover in many cases it is unclear who owns whom, for example whether Goldman Sachs owns NY FED or NY FED Goldman Sachs ( The Fed Under Goldman's Thumb - Bloomberg )

Senators questioned Dudley, 61, on issues ranging from whether some banks are too big to regulate to the Fed’s role in overseeing their commodities businesses.

Some of the criticism was pointed. Warren, a frequent critic of financial regulators, asked Dudley if he was “holding a mirror to your own behavior.”

Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, complained that bank employees involved in misdeeds haven’t been prosecuted and are “too big to jail.”

Dudley repeatedly disagreed with assertions that the New York Fed wasn’t doing enough to regulate banks and said lenders have become stronger and safer in the past few years.

... ... ...

Today’s Senate hearing follows reports that Goldman Sachs fired two bankers after one of them allegedly shared confidential documents from the New York Fed within the firm.

A junior banker, who had joined the company in July from the New York Fed, was dismissed a week after the discovery in late September, along with another employee who failed to escalate the issue, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Goldman Sachs confirmed the memo’s contents.

As Adair Turner noted in The Consequences of Money Manager Capitalism

In the wake of World War II, much of the western world, particularly the United States, adopted a new form of capitalism called “managerial welfare-state capitalism.”

The system by design constrained financial institutions with significant social welfare reforms and large oligopolistic corporations that financed investment primarily out of retained earnings. Private sector debt was small, but government debt left over from financing the War was large, providing safe assets for households, firms, and banks. The structure of this system was financially robust and unlikely to generate a deep recession. However, the constraints within the system didn’t hold.

The relative stability of the first few decades after WWII encouraged ever-greater risk-taking, and over time the financial system was transformed into our modern overly financialized economy. Today, the dominant financial players are “managed money” — lightly regulated “shadow banks” like pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and university endowments—with huge pools of capital in search of the highest returns. In turn, innovations by financial engineers have encouraged the growth of private debt relative to income and the increased reliance on volatile short-term finance and massive uses of leverage.

What are the implications of this financialization on the modern global economy? According to Adair Lord Turner, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a former head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority, it means that finance has become central to the daily operations of the economic system. More precisely, the private nonfinancial sectors of the economy have become more dependent on the smooth functioning of the financial sector in order to maintain the liquidity and solvency of their balance sheets and to improve and maintain their economic welfare. For example, households have increased their use of debt to fund education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and leisure. And at the same time, they have become more dependent on interest, dividends, and capital gains as a means to maintain and improve their standard of living.

Another major consequence of financialized economies is that they typically generate repeated financial bubbles and major debt overhangs, the aftermath of which tends to exacerbate inequality and retard economic growth. Booms turn to busts, distressed sellers sell their assets to the beneficiaries of the previous bubble, and income inequality expands.

In the view of Lord Turner, currently there is no countervailing power (in John Kenneth Galbraith terms) able to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism, as he calls it "money manager capitalism.” The net result likely will be years more of economic stagnation and deteriorating living standards for many people around the world.

Finance is a form of modern warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and “the miracle of compound interest” that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May’s 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative article, on the collusion between the US’ “financial oligarchy” and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don’t want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs “go off track” (a euphemism) precisely because the government can’t stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program “goes back on track” once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern—and thus win or lose—under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

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

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

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

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson’s predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists—at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy’s favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks’ hands—indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

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

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

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine”.

The predatory nature of financial oligarchy

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government’s capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, corrupt collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in its most modern form -- neoliberalism.

Second probably is that institutions are more powerful them individuals and replacement or even jailing of corrupt current officials while a quite welcome move, can't by itself lead to drastic changes. You need to reinstall the whole system of government controls dismantled by Clinton-Bush regime. Otherwise one set of players will be simply replaced by the other, no less corrupt, hungry and unprincipled. As Daron Acemoglu pointed out recently, we are in a situation that attempt to fix the financial system will have to involve those same bankers (albeit in lower positions at the time of the crisis) that created the mess in the first place. To push the analogy a bit strongly, even in Germany post 1945 and Iraq post 2003 new governments still needed to work with some civil servants in the judicial and educational system from the previous regime as well as with tainted industrialists.

In theory, the best way to diminish the power of financiers is to limit the size (limiting the damage) and let them fail and crash badly. Also introduction of a tax of transactions (Tobin tax) can help to cool the frenzy of derivative trading. But there is nobody in power who can push those changes. That means the "silent coup" in which financial oligarchy got control of the state is complete.

Loss of trust led to conversion of the country into national security state

Paranoya of financial oligarchy after 2008 when most of the country wished them what was reflected in the slogan of the corner of Wallstreet (see the picture), led to speed up of creation of comprehensive network of spying over the citizens.

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Even if we assume that data collection is passive and never used it is like a ticking bomb or "skeleton in the closet" it is a powerful method of control of population, not the different from what was used by KGB in the USSR or STASI in East Germany.

So it does not really matter much what the data are collected for and what if official justification of such a collection. The mere fact of collection changes the situation to the worse, making opposition to the system practically impossible. The net result is what is matter. And the net result definitely resembles a move in the direction of a tyranny. US Senator Frank Church said in 1975:

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.".

Today his words sound even more true then in 1975 when computers were still in their infancy and mainframes dominated the computer landscape. With the proliferation of cheap electronic devices such as PCs and laptops, tablets and cell phones this really became "the abyss from which there is no return".

So the real, the key goal is not what is officially declared. Convenience of access to information has a side effect that it makes collection of information about you trivial and at the same time comprehensive. It is to keep the elite safe from common folks, not all those lies about national security. It is all about the security of the elite.

In other words 1984 dystopia materialized in slightly different, slightly more gentle form. The elite as a whole is not interesting in dismantling the tool that serve its interests so well even if it has some side effects on the elite members themselves. This is another confirmation of The Iron Law of Oligarchy

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism in the USA. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of Stasi in all those activities. As countries of the USSR camp got into similar trap before, nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

Phone hacking and police corruption represent neoliberalism attempt to cling to life even entering in 2008 a zombie status. And we do not know if the change is possible (The zombie of neoliberalism can be beaten)

Poor growth figures put a "new" financial collapse back on the cards. The response from politicians, bankers and business leaders is more of the same – more of the same neoliberal policies that got us into this situation in the first place.

Neoliberalism no longer "makes sense", but its logic keeps stumbling on, without conscious direction, like a zombie: ugly, persistent and dangerous. Such is the "unlife" of a zombie, a body stripped of its goals, unable to adjust itself to the future, unable to make plans. It can only act habitually as it pursues a monomaniacal hunger. Unless there is a dramatic recomposition of society, we face the prospect of decades of drift as the crises we face – economic, social, environmental – remain unresolved. But where will that recomposition come from when we are living in the world of zombie-liberalism?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, however, requires more than the internal realignment of a national ruling class. Every semi-stable form of capitalism also needs some sort of settlement with the wider population, or at least a decisive section of it. While the postwar Keynesian settlement contained an explicit deal linking rising real wages to rising productivity, neoliberalism contained an implicit deal based on access to cheap credit. While real wages have stagnated since the late 1970s, the mechanisms of debt have maintained most people's living standards. An additional part of neoliberalism's tacit deal was the abandonment of any pretence to democratic, collective control over the conditions of life: politics has been reduced to technocratic rule. Instead, individuals accepted the promise that, through hard work, shrewd educational and other "life" choices, and a little luck, they – or their children – would reap the benefits of economic growth.

The financial crisis shattered the central component of this deal: access to cheap credit. Living standards can no longer be supported and, for the first time in a century, there is widespread fear that children will lead poorer lives than their parents.

Conclusions

After 2008 the irresponsibility of the financial elites, the power and proliferation of special interest groups that defend interests of oligarchy, the paralysis of Congress and executive power to deal with challenges the financial oligarchy created have created atmosphere of public cynicism.

This correlated with withdrawal from public activity and elections. voter participation in the 1996 Presidential election reached similar to 1924 figure of 49%, less then half of eligible population. And with electronic surveillance reaching it zenith after 9/11/2001, the country quietly slid in the darkness of Inverted Totalitarism

Disillusionment with government and large corporation is a noticeable feature of contemporary America. There is a the widespread sense that big companies and those who run them are immune from prosecution and can't be held accountable by government for their crimes as that they are ... Too Big To Jail. Part of this leniency is connected with corruption of regulators. Which is an immanent part of neoliberal social order. There is also the issue off gaming the system. For very large and profitable multinationals paying some law firm or accounting firm a couple of million dollars to game the tax system in some sleazy way to park most of the income in tax havens represents a small fraction of their tax savings. So the big boys get away with this and middle market firms are the only ones who really pay corporate taxes.

The fact that no one has been imprisoned for the crime committed before 2008 is seen as outrageous by most Americans and large part of Main Street. At the same time, the multibillion-dollar fines and enforcement actions against financial institutions are providing large TBTF firms such as Goldman Sachs with wrong incentives. Paying with shareholders’ money as the price of protecting themselves is a very attractive trade-off. Punishment of individual executives who committed crimes or who failed in their managerial duty to monitor the behavior of their subordinates is short-changed because the principle that leaders should take responsibility for failure and resign contradicts neoliberal worldview.


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[Sep 15, 2018] Who Speaks For the Suffering Upper Middle Class

Sep 15, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It seems fatuous to argue, especially in a healthy economy, that the upper middle class faces overwhelming financial insecurities. After all, U.S. stocks have entered the longest bull market ever recorded, the labor force has markedly improved, and small business optimism is at a level unseen since the early 1980s. It appears that happy days are here again. But this halcyon period -- marked by invigorating statistics -- still hasn't prevented even upper-middle-class Americans from feeling discontent. For countless families, especially in thriving metro regions, a six-figure salary fails to deliver economic security. Their sense of vulnerability is real, not imagined.

What defines the upper middle class? According to the Pew Research Center, middle-class households, as of 2010, had incomes ranging from $35,294 to $105,881. In 2016, U.S. Census Bureau data showed that the median household income was $59,039. Based on Census findings from that year, the highest earning households -- before the top 5 percent ($224,251 and upward) -- ranged from $74,878 to $121,018. Reviewing these findings, a household income ranging anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000 could fall under the upper-middle class.

A six-figure income should bring long-term stability. But members of the upper-middle class find themselves prisoners of voluntary yet inescapable costs. A multi-generational phenomenon has unfolded, its roots traceable to the economic slowdown of the early 2000s and the subsequent Great Recession. There is a feeling of anxiety among Baby Boomers who cannot retire, Gen. Xers saddled with expensive mortgages and child care costs, and Millennials paralyzed by insurmountable student debt. Data cannot measure emotion. The sense of unease is palpable despite the economy's booming conditions.

A helpful cultural reference point is HBO's Divorce , which concluded its second season earlier this year. The comedy-drama focuses on the angst and dysfunction of a middle-aged divorced couple in Hastings-on-Hudson, an idyllic town in New York's prosperous Westchester County. Frances DuFresne, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, quits her day job in the city to open an art gallery. Her ex-husband, played by Thomas Hayden Church, is a former Wall Street executive now struggling as a contractor. The estranged couple, raising two children, are undeniably upper-middle class. Their professional background, cultural tastes, and suburban lifestyle personify affluence. But their financial insecurity, mainly the result of career choices, remains a theme throughout the series. The DuFresnes' social circles remind them that their economic position, while favorable, is vulnerable compared to the higher earners inhabiting their bucolic suburb.

The characters portrayed in Divorce exemplify a modern reality: many upper-middle-class households are high earning but asset poor. In 2015, Quartz's Allison Schrager illustrated how "America's upper middle class have almost no emergency cushion and are woefully unprepared for retirement." Reviewing Federal Reserve data, Schrager showed the precarious financial position of upper-middle-class individuals aged 40 to 55 with household incomes ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. The data indicated that this income bracket had fewer assets than ever (assets exclude a house, car, or business, but include retirement funds). As Schrager noted, even a high earner who worked for many years typically had only $70,000 in financial assets. Approximately 25 percent of upper-middle-class 40- to 55-year-olds, meanwhile, had less than $17,500 in financial assets.

Such findings suggest that seemingly high earners are living paycheck-to-paycheck. While Federal Reserve data has since found that median family income grew 10 percent between 2013 and 2016, a disproportionate number of upper-income Americans still cannot retire. In addition to their own financial woes, they must support their elderly parents, which involves innumerable costs. Overwhelming debt has become a vicious trap.

In one Brookings Institution study , researchers reported that nearly one quarter of households earning $100,000 to $150,000 a year claim to be unable to pull together $2,000 in a month to pay bills. Sustained economic growth has not repaired this cycle of debt. According to Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok, Americans have more debt than cash than at any time since 1962. The 2018 Northwestern Mutual Planning and Progress Study found that the average American's personal debt (independent of home mortgages) now exceeds $38,000. Stock market growth and rising home prices have not altered this trend.

In a Washington Post report last year, Todd C. Frankel demonstrated how modern life adds up for an upper-middle class family. Frankel reported on a couple in suburban Atlanta with a combined income of $180,000, an indisputably high earning level. But financial uncertainty rises from a mortgage, three children, day care costs, and the prospect of college tuition. "I don't feel wealthy," the wife, a tax manager, told Frankel. "I don't have a bunch of money stashed away anywhere." While the 2017 tax reform bill brought relief for many Americans, limits on state and local tax deductions have further engendered economic unease.

Scrapping Economics and Starting Over Homeownership Does Not Guarantee Middle Class Prosperity

In her new book Squeezed , Alissa Quart captures how middle-class American families are struggling to attain the standard of living once enjoyed by their parents. And in an important chapter on the upper middle class, she profiles "life at the bottom of the top." Quart argues that higher earners, like most Americans, contend with income disparity and the extreme wealth enveloping metro regions. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, upper-middle-class families go broke hiring tutors and maintaining lifestyles that permit their children to compete with their wealthiest peers. The parents, working professionals, are emotionally ravaged by endless costs. They discover few perks in geographical serendipity, graduate degrees, or traditionally high-earning professions like law.

Quart reveals how the legal profession has induced economic stress since the 2008 recession. In the past decade, law firms and corporations have hired fewer lawyers. Yet for lawyers just entering the profession, student debt is a crippling part of their lives. As Quart notes, student debt at the average law school increased from $95,000 to about $112,000 in 2014. It is difficult to fathom how simple steps in life -- getting married, buying a home, starting a family -- are financially possible with such debt levels. But the struggle transcends age. Quart profiles a 59-year-old Mississippi lawyer who, following health setbacks, was ultimately "pushed out" by her employer. Life continued at its indifferent pace. The mother still had to pay for her son's college tuition during her initial medical leave. "This is a vastly different life from what I expected to be having at this age," she told Quart. "The six-figure salaries and benefits are long gone."

The upper middle class's discontent also transcends political ideology. A seemingly high-earning Republican household in suburban Cleveland confronts expenses similar to a high-earning Democratic household in suburban Philadelphia. These are people who tune out the minute-by-minute plot twists of the Trump presidency. If anything, they are streaming Netflix or watching HGTV for a nurturing distraction. Their daily focus is on remaining financially viable.

Aspirations prove costly regardless of geography. A four-year degree at a public college, for example, costs nearly twice as much as it did in 1996. Exorbitant college debt now dictates the financial future of Baby Boomers, Gen. Xers, and Millennials. Boomers, at the peak of their earnings, postpone retirement and support children with student loans. Gen. Xers, nearing the height of their careers, remain broke due to years of paying off higher education debt. Millennials, still young in their professional lives, primarily work to pay off monthly federal and private student loan bills. Credit cards are a necessary prescription for each generation's economic survival. In 2017, the nation's total credit card debt was over $1 trillion.

Economic insecurity is not limited to higher education. The cost of health care has also doubled since the 1990s. Obamacare only accelerated the costs incurred by households. The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported studies suggesting that the consolidation of medical practices actually "drives up costs." Obamacare hastened the swallowing of regional hospitals by larger health care systems. This merger frenzy has empowered hospital systems to negotiate with insurance companies. But the mergers have increased costs, eliminated competition, and created barriers to care. The upper middle class, like so many others, are absorbing the costs of this transformed landscape. Rising premiums only add to their financial burden.

Of course, the upper middle class is in a better position than most Americans. In Dream Hoarders , Richard V. Reeves correctly unveiled how they are collectively removed from the socio-economics of the nation's majority. Their economic outcomes remain favorable compared to the struggles of countless working-class Americans. But a sizable number of higher earning households are not "opportunity hoarding." There is a cost to working parents ensuring their children have better lives than their own. In the booming 2010s, this segment of the population thought they would be in a better place than what they'd anticipated during the booming 1990s. Yet their diplomas did not translate into liquid cash. Upper-middle-class families, while affluent and well connected, have been met with empty pockets and unfulfilled dreams in this brave new economy.

Charles F. McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. He's written for The American Conservative , City Journal, The Atlantic , National Review , and the Weekly Standard , among others.


Intelliwriter September 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm

At the end of the day, it's math. If you spend more than you take in, you'll be broke. I have always thought of myself as "New England Frugal," and I wear it like a badge of honor. We could've sent our kids to private school, but they went to public (as did my husband and I). We could've driven Mercedes, but I like Toyota. We could've lived in a big fancy home, but stayed in our more modest home.

The good news is that we were able to pay our kids' college bills (paying now for our daughter's master's degree). We finally bought a couple of nicer cars. Still in our house though.

We have never really cared what others have. We are both savers and that's what we did. Recent promotions mean more money coming in and we can spend a little more, but if either one of us gets laid off, the other can pay the bills. Math.

Thrice A Viking , says: September 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Law and orderly made the point that they should move out of overpriced cities. I think that rings true. I just read an article – about the number of millionaires in each state – that Manhattan in NYC has a cost-of-living that's 138% above the national average, or 238% of that average. That means that a household has to make $71,400 just to be the same as $30,000 gets them in Everytown, USA. (I believe that the actual median in Manhattan is a bit over $80,000, which puts them at about 34 grand.) That ironically makes this high-rolling borough below average in effective income. I would highly advise many of them to get out, and live with the Apple Knockers or the rest of us hicks.
Lord Karth , says: September 13, 2018 at 6:48 pm
Let's not forget taxes. "Upper middle class" Americans pay far more in taxes than they did in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the self-employed.

FICA can be a stone b!tch.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

Fred Bowman , says: September 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm
The article itself seemed like on big whine. The comment section OTOH seem to have a lot of common sense advice attached to it. I live a more modest lifestyle nowadays and to tell the truth I seem to be happier and less stressed. To tell the truth it took a long time for me to live within my means.

[Sep 10, 2018] The power of Deep State

Notable quotes:
"... General Eisenhower told us to our faces all about the fiction, and yet we as a culture/civilization pretend the president is solely in charge. ..."
Sep 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

arze September 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm

What's truly remarkable .

What's truly remarkable is Gen. Eisenhower told us upon leaving presidency all about who competes with our elected president on what happens.

Those presidents that toe the "military industrial complex" line most closely are seen as the most in charge.

President Kennedy did not, was murdered. President Johnson did, it eventually sickened him, he did not seek reelection. President Nixon was removed from office. President Carter was humiliated. President Reagan's dream of a nuclear free world was vetoed by guess who. President Bush was defeated by the mother of all sycophants to that force. President Clinton was their man. Vice President Cheney was even more so. President Obama tried to hide the fact he was not. President Trump has not tried to hide that fact.

Reporting on the Trump phenomena would benefit by more imagination.

Is it not a public service, irrespective of one's opinions on him, that it should now be clear to all, now via the Trump Phenomena, that what was plainly told us all in the 1950s from a General, is the way it is?

Yet a "criticism" of Trump is his "sin" of taking off the mask.

General Eisenhower told us to our faces all about the fiction, and yet we as a culture/civilization pretend the president is solely in charge.

What is remarkable is the amount of reporting on the current president that lacks imagination, insight, logic, rationality, reason, common sense, and insight.

However, that is not remarkable given that most of the reporters lived all their lives in a culture/civilization that fails to educate us in a meaningful way. Their and our professors, mentors, supervisors, and family, and friends and significant others, also so socialized; however, the road to progress is in front of us if we are curious enough.

Were the goal of contemporary American Politics first and foremost a search for the truth, that would be one thing.

The Shining Star of American Politics, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren perfectly epitomizes that it is not, as she knows better, was seduced by power, and all that that implies. The ends justify the means for the entire lot of them.

Whatever that evil perspective engender, progress is and never shall be one of them.

[Sep 03, 2018] Sic Semper Tyrannis - E Pluribus Unum no more by Col. Lang

Notable quotes:
"... fête de joie. ..."
"... Bill threw away the Deplorables' jobs in NAFTA in search of the Globalist Utopian vision at the heart of the Establishment's indoctrination in the schools. ..."
"... Those who said farewell to Senator John McCain at the National Cathedral did not mentioned that he is as responsible as anyone for the forever wars that are causing the refugee influx that is tearing Europe apart ..."
"... I think it is very important to realize that the current mess in this country is largely a result of not reigning in the investment bankers as well as the country embarking on deadly and abusive wars against a large part of the non-western world. ..."
"... Where you and I differ is over Donald Trump. I do not believe for one minute that he gives a damn about the people that have been screwed so royally over the last thirty to forty years. He is just louder and more obnoxious than most. ..."
"... If there is a way out of this mess, I cannot see it. ..."
"... The banks make everything function. When there is a banking crisis they turn up the screws on the politicians and the politicians respond by bailing the banks out at the expense of the majority of the population. ..."
"... Second, they are pathetically easy for the establishment to manipulate. It is as simple as getting the nominally left faction of the establishment to have a woman stump for a policy using vaguely left wing terms and they will fall over themselves to support it. I've been told by these people that Russia must be violently opposed because Vladimir Putin is a homophobic, islamaphobic (!), racist right-winger. It's kind of amazing to see the political descendants of the hippies cheering on the prospect of a nuclear war because it would be a woman killing everyone in the name of LGBT rights. ..."
"... many of these deplorables embraced Bernie Sanders* (a Neo-Bolshevik?) and would welcome a return to an FDR style democratic party. ..."
"... Like was said 2 yrs ago, the dems would rather lose with Clinton than win with Sanders. And I include Pelosi, Schumer, you name it, in that bunch. ..."
"... As for Trump's base--I have always thought it erroneous to label that base as working men and women of below average education, etc. 90% of Trump voters supported Romney and 60% had a median income above the national average. ..."
"... The military, veterans, and various police agencies. States fail when they will no longer enforce the official line. That's usually happens when their own family members start showing up in the marches, barricades, protests, and such. ..."
Sep 03, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

We Americans were traditionally divided politically and culturally by region. There is still some of that but the major fault lines are more fuzzy now.

1. The Establishment. This group was on parade during the McCain imperial procession across the lands. The sight of the supposedly mutually opposed Republicans and Democrats hobnobbing, backslapping, joking, hugging and passing around the bi-partisan mints while they waited for the stiff to be wheeled in was revealing. The cavernous nave of the pseudo-Gothic church was a perfect venue for this fête de joie. A window depicting Robert Lee looked down on this vast space until recently. That has been taken down to maintain amity between the Yankee and "Southern" wings of the establishment. The Episcopal Church of today has no use for such as he. I wonder if the masses who support "the middle" understand how cruelly they are deceived by the pretended mutual animosity of their "betters." The farce was on display last week.

2. The Neo-Bolsheviks. These people have been gathering their strength in the schools since the '60s. they have indoctrinated the young all this time with a hatred of capitalism, a contempt for American tradition to include the Constitution and a desire to see the country reduced to the status of Cambodia in the Year Zero. The spectacle of the disintegration of Venezuela after decades of socialist tinkering means nothing to them. This time we will get it right! This is their belief. Disillusioned communists told me all across what had been the Warsaw Pact that Communism was never given a fair chance to prove itself. The American Bolsheviki think they will get it right this time if they attain power. The original Bolsheviks seized power with how many members in the vanguard? 20,000? Tell me. The governments of New York, California and New Jersey are all seeking to accommodate the Neo-Bolsheviks. How far will they go? The Soviet Bolsheviks killed millions of Russian Kulaks and political enemies. Remember that!

3. The Deplorables. This is essentially the "country party." They are the people who know they are being dis-possessed. These are the people who know they are despised by both the Establishment and the Neo-Bolsheviks and who are acutely aware that these other groups intend to exterminate them as a group if not as individuals. The Clintons were the ultimate Establishment people. Bill threw away the Deplorables' jobs in NAFTA in search of the Globalist Utopian vision at the heart of the Establishment's indoctrination in the schools.

Ross Perot was an amusing little freak? He spoke of a "great sucking sound" that would be heard as Deplorable jobs followed cheap capital across the southern border?

The Deplorables do not think he was funny at all. They elected Trump to give them hope and he has done that. They do not want to be governed by Establishment figures like HC who detested them as obstacles so much that she could not refrain from treating the miners with contempt to their faces. Bette Midler said this week that the Establishmenters cannot fight the Deplorables because people like her have no weapons but PBS tote bags. An interesting point.

There are a lot of splinter groups and factions. Tell me what they are. pl

blue peacock , 8 hours ago

Col. Lang

Compared to the 60s there is much less social strife today. No riots on the streets, no bombings by radical groups, no live fire shootings to quell protests in universities. So is this the quiet before the storm?

What we see today is much more arm-chair fighting using keyboards on social media. Frothing at the mouth pushing hashtags The extent of action is writing #MeToo and #BringBackOurGirls. Can such somnambulant warriors cause a real war?

My observation is that over the last 30 years, there are a few big trends.

  1. One, is PCness becoming more and more embedded causing increased censorship of speech.
  2. The second is rising "doublethink" and the Establishment melding into a true Ingsoc with increasing governmental interference in all aspects of people's lives to benefit the "party club".
  3. The third, is the growth in "state capitalism", reflected in the increasing financialization of the economy and the substitution of credit for capital. It's no longer what's good for GM but what's good for Goldman Sachs. The Federal Reserve run by the Ph.Ds on the "sophistry" standard as the primary lever.
  4. The fourth trend is a slow moral decay among the elites as the powerful no longer feel a sense of duty and honor. It is more important for them how they are perceived by the "club". Invitations to gatherings such as Davos, Aspen, & the Google "camp".
  5. Fifth, is increasing hopelessness among many segments reflected in the rising deaths to opioids.

https://www.businessinsider...

VietnamVet , 9 hours ago

Colonel,

This post brought a smile of recognition to my face. I agree.

The media desperately ignores this issue. The current Western power structure is in flux and is confusing.

Communism died when the Soviet Union fell. China, Cuba and Vietnam are not workers' paradises. The hard left is impotent and in the lurch. The mild left and liberals sold out to the Plutocrats. Republicans are crazy except for Corporatists who are keeping their mouths shut and passing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

Those who said farewell to Senator John McCain at the National Cathedral did not mentioned that he is as responsible as anyone for the forever wars that are causing the refugee influx that is tearing Europe apart.

Their donors are imposing austerity and poverty on to the people.

There is no one championing the concerns of the Deplorables except the hard right. These Theocrats are most likely to start carting off red shirted teachers, librarians, pot heads, agnostics, unemployed and dissidents to work camps, once things fall apart.

David , 10 hours ago

Colonel Lang,

I think it is very important to realize that the current mess in this country is largely a result of not reigning in the investment bankers as well as the country embarking on deadly and abusive wars against a large part of the non-western world.

As you rightly pointed out, both establishment parties are equally guilty of the worst offensives against those who choose to live outside of the major metropolitan areas.

This country would be much better off if people were taught how the investment banking system works and how it is regularly abused by the rich to make themselves richer. Of course, that is not in the interest of the establishment leaders.

Where you and I differ is over Donald Trump. I do not believe for one minute that he gives a damn about the people that have been screwed so royally over the last thirty to forty years. He is just louder and more obnoxious than most.

If there is a way out of this mess, I cannot see it.

I am like you over seventy. I believe the old should be encouraged to disappear from politics and only the young should be engaged in trying to save this country (as well as themselves).

Regards,

David

Pat Lang Mod -> David , 10 hours ago

Not sure why you single out "investment bankers" from the other Establishment types.

David -> Pat Lang , 9 hours ago

Colonel Lang,

In my varied career I worked twice as an employee and three times as a consultant for Standard & Poors Retail Brokerage Division. I also worked for the Bank of New York, Government Clearance Division and did various consulting stints at Union Bank of Switzerland and Manufacters Hanover.

All of these positions were in the technology field.

You would be amazed at what you can learn from the inside.

The banks make everything function. When there is a banking crisis they turn up the screws on the politicians and the politicians respond by bailing the banks out at the expense of the majority of the population.

Of course, the politicians know that they will be rewarded either directly or indirectly by the bankers. Just think of all those millions they pay for speaking fees.

Regards,

David

Harlan Easley , 7 hours ago

We are as united as Rome was near the end of their Empire when their idiot establishment was convinced they could integrate a massive influx of tribes that loathed their way of life. Same is occurring in Europe. History rhymes.

Rural vs City you touched on, gun owners vs gun banners, gender sanity vs gender insanity, free traders vs keeping what's left of our manufacturing base, stockholders vs deplorable's, open border chaos vs normal immigration patterns to the US, CNN& MSNBC vs Rural, Decent healthcare vs nothing, establishment vs God, Democrat intense hate vs Southern whites. I am a rural southern white who did consider myself independent, however, the intense hate directed toward me and my southerners makes me hate them. So be it.

Grimgrin , 8 hours ago

Using your terminology, the places where I see the most serious factional divisions are the Neo-Bolsheviks. There's a group one might call the "50 Staters" after Howard Dean; they're people who want to re-orient the country in a more socialist direction (Medicare for all, increased minimum wage, expanded union rights, generally expanded intervention in the economy) and believe they can sell this as an electoral platform. They hate the establishment, and are themselves hated like poison by much of the rest of the Neo-Bolsheviks. The term "Bernie Bro" and "Brocialist" were thrown around a lot last election by people who's platform is basically "destroy all power structures" without thinking too hard about what it would mean should they have the power to do it. I've classed them with the Neo-Bolsheviks due to geographic and cultural similarities, though they may also be viewed as the left wing of the Deplorables. Personally, these are the lot I'd say I'm the most similar too.

The remainder of the neo-Bolsheviks can largely be grouped according to what they believe the source of all evil in the world is: Men; white people; the concept of gender itself; and in fringe cases the idea that being overweight is unhealthy or other aspects of reality they find inconvenient. Politically they're hamstrung by three things:

First, they can't really think about anything coherently. The only way they allow themselves to process issues is deciding who the victim of men/white-people/etc... is in a situation and deciding that this person must be in the right. If that leads to an conclusion where the cognitive dissonance is too much to bear (most recently the Siraj Wahhaj case), they then argue that the fact you're talking about it means "you're racist/sexist/transphobic/*-phobic shut up". This naturally leads to things like someone who believes that white-people are the source of all evil talking about how the groping attacks in Germany were just 'white bodies being subjected to what they subject black bodies too' (they love to use the word 'bodies' instead of 'people'). The people who believe men are the source of all evil took some umbrage at this idea. This infighting is constant.

Second, they are pathetically easy for the establishment to manipulate. It is as simple as getting the nominally left faction of the establishment to have a woman stump for a policy using vaguely left wing terms and they will fall over themselves to support it. I've been told by these people that Russia must be violently opposed because Vladimir Putin is a homophobic, islamaphobic (!), racist right-winger. It's kind of amazing to see the political descendants of the hippies cheering on the prospect of a nuclear war because it would be a woman killing everyone in the name of LGBT rights.

Third, every effective organizer and leader they may have just becomes part of the establishment. Since these are typically female, gay, or non-white, they cannot meaningfully be opposed no matter how obviously they betray the goals of the neo-Bolsheviks. This happens to the deplorables as well, but they seem to be far more aggressive in countering it. It's not a coincidence that the neo-Bolsheviks have never really succeeded in any political project that the establishment doesn't find acceptable.

I may well be downplaying their threat, but they do seem to have disadvantages that the original versions lacked.

im cotton , 9 hours ago

"Neo-Bolsheviks"

I'm not sure who you would lump in with the "Neo-Bolsheviks", but as someone living in a semi-rural area of Iowa--deplorable central -- that voted democratic for decades and then voted for Trump, many of these deplorables embraced Bernie Sanders* (a Neo-Bolshevik?) and would welcome a return to an FDR style democratic party.

If for no other reason than to partake of the benefits afforded every other citizenry in the western world such as universal healthcare, free or affordable college, etc.

Establishment Dems:

Imho, far from being supporters of progessive economic policy, most liberal dem politicians defend the status quo as much as anyone and defer to their tech, insurance, arms, and financial donors.

Like was said 2 yrs ago, the dems would rather lose with Clinton than win with Sanders. And I include Pelosi, Schumer, you name it, in that bunch.

Trump's Base/Deplorables:

As you say, there are many more factions. Not all so-called deplorables are the same politically of course.

As for Trump's base--I have always thought it erroneous to label that base as working men and women of below average education, etc. 90% of Trump voters supported Romney and 60% had a median income above the national average.

While he is supported by disparate groups, the largest of Trump's base is the vast suburban gop voters of many large US cities. The Msm just doesn't want to acknowledge that Trump voters are also their well to do neighbors. Trump carried Suffolk County/Hamptons in New York state.

EEngineer , 9 hours ago

The military, veterans, and various police agencies. States fail when they will no longer enforce the official line. That's usually happens when their own family members start showing up in the marches, barricades, protests, and such.

Loads of bright eyed youngsters have joined up over the last few decades thinking they would be like Luke Skywalker only to find out they're being used as Imperial Stormtroopers.

Fred -> EEngineer , 6 hours ago

"thinking they would be like Luke Skywalker..."

Those folks with the starwars bumper stickers you see on the road aren't the ones who signed up for service.

[Sep 02, 2018] Elite [domanance] theory can be viewed as a flavor of Social darvinism

Sep 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Sep 1, 2018 5:03:48 PM | link

To those who say Statements 1 and 3 in B's post reflect or demonstrate reality: don't confuse bullying with strength.

The statements are expressions of Social Darwinism in its various forms. Social Darwinism represents a particular belief system that justifies the existence of an elite dominating society and culture, so as to ensure its (that is, the elite's) continued survival and domination.

Needless to say, Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are under police investigation in Israel for corruption. Sara N apparently is also notorious for ill-treating her staff and throwing her weight around to impress and intimidate others.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/recording-of-sara-netanyahu-screaming-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-1.5769985

Is this sort of behaviour - stealing from the nation, bullying others - the behaviour of those who are strong and secure in their power?

-----

Even the Mongols, though they brought destruction, extermination and ruin everywhere they went, did eventually bring order and stability, and revived trade and civilisation. They themselves became civilised by the peoples they conquered. In the end, they were undone by their own internal family squabbles and competition. They were not so strong as they first seemed.

It's not enough to be "strong" in a military sense - what a nation's leadership does with its power is as important as acquiring and having that power in the first place.

[Aug 31, 2018] Exposing the Giants- The Global Power Elite by Prof. Peter Phillips

Notable quotes:
"... Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital. ..."
Aug 31, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital.

Thus, in his just-released study Giants: The Global Power Elite , Phillips, a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University in the USA, identifies the world's top seventeen asset management firms, such as BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the 'Giants' of world capitalism. The seventeen firms collectively manage more than $US41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe.

This $41 trillion represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. The seventeen Giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are 'the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system'. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from 'agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors' to public assets (such as energy and water utilities) to war.

In addition, Phillips identifies the most important networks of the Global Power Elite and the individuals therein. He names 389 individuals (a small number of whom are women and a token number of whom are from countries other than the United States and the wealthier countries of Western Europe) at the core of the policy planning nongovernmental networks that manage, facilitate and defend the continued concentration of global capital. The Global Power Elite perform two key uniting functions, he argues: they provide ideological justifications for their shared interests (promulgated through their corporate media), and define the parameters of action for transnational governmental organizations and capitalist nation-states.

More precisely, Phillips identifies the 199 directors of the seventeen global financial Giants and offers short biographies and public information on their individual net wealth. These individuals are closely interconnected through numerous networks of association including the World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Conference, university affiliations, various policy councils, social clubs, and cultural enterprises. For a taste of one of these clubs, see this account of The Links in New York. As Phillips observes: 'It is certainly safe to conclude they all know each other personally or know of each other in the shared context of their positions of power.'

The Giants, Phillips documents, invest in each other but also in many hundreds of investment management firms, many of which are near-Giants. This results in tens of trillions of dollars coordinated in a single vast network of global capital controlled by a very small number of people. 'Their constant objective is to find enough safe investment opportunities for a return on capital that allows for continued growth. Inadequate capital-placement opportunities lead to dangerous speculative investments, buying up of public assets, and permanent war spending.'

Because the directors of these seventeen asset management firms represent the central core of international capital, 'Individuals can retire or pass away, and other similar people will move into their place, making the overall structure a self-perpetuating network of global capital control. As such, these 199 people share a common goal of maximum return on investments for themselves and their clients, and they may seek to achieve returns by any means necessary – legal or not . the institutional and structural arrangements within the money management systems of global capital relentlessly seek ways to achieve maximum return on investment, and the conditions for manipulations – legal or not – are always present.'

Like some researchers before him, Phillips identifies the importance of those transnational institutions that serve a unifying function. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF), Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group , Bank for International Settlements, Group of 30 (G30), the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Conference serve as institutional mechanisms for consensus building within the transnational capitalist class, and power elite policy formulation and implementation. 'These international institutions serve the interests of the global financial Giants by supporting policies and regulations that seek to protect the free, unrestricted flow of capital and debt collection worldwide.'

But within this network of transnational institutions, Phillips identifies two very important global elite policy-planning organizations: the Group of Thirty (which has 32 members) and the extended executive committee of the Trilateral Commission (which has 55 members). These nonprofit corporations, which each have a research and support staff, formulate elite policy and issue instructions for their implementation by the transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, IMF, WTO, and World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed. Thus, these 85 members (because two overlap) of the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission comprise a central group of facilitators of global capitalism, ensuring that 'global capital remains safe, secure, and growing'.

So, while many of the major international institutions are controlled by nation-state representatives and central bankers (with proportional power exercised by dominant financial supporters such as the United States and European Union countries), Phillips is more concerned with the transnational policy groups that are nongovernmental because these organizations 'help to unite TCC power elites as a class' and the individuals involved in these organizations facilitate world capitalism. 'They serve as policy elites who seek the continued growth of capital in the world.'

Developing this list of 199 directors of the largest money management firms in the world, Phillips argues, is an important step toward understanding how capitalism works globally today. These global power elite directors make the decisions regarding the investment of trillions of dollars. Supposedly in competition, the concentrated wealth they share requires them to cooperate for their greater good by identifying investment opportunities and shared risk agreements, and working collectively for political arrangements that create advantages for their profit-generating system as a whole.

Their fundamental priority is to secure an average return on investment of 3 to 10 percent, or even more. The nature of any investment is less important than what it yields: continuous returns that support growth in the overall market. Hence, capital investment in tobacco products, weapons of war, toxic chemicals, pollution, and other socially destructive goods and services are judged purely by their profitability. Concern for the social and environmental costs of the investment are non-existent. In other words, inflicting death and destruction are fine because they are profitable.

So what is the global elite's purpose? In a few sentences Phillips characterizes it thus: The elite is largely united in support of the US/NATO military empire that prosecutes a repressive war against resisting groups – typically labeled 'terrorists' – around the world. The real purpose of 'the war on terror' is defense of transnational globalization, the unimpeded flow of financial capital around the world, dollar hegemony and access to oil; it has nothing to do with repressing terrorism which it generates, perpetuates and finances to provide cover for its real agenda. This is why the United States has a long history of CIA and military interventions around the world ostensibly in defense of 'national interests'.

Giants: The Global Power Elite

Wealth and Power

An interesting point that emerges for me from reading Phillips thoughtful analysis is that there is a clear distinction between those individuals and families who have wealth and those individuals who have (sometimes significantly) less wealth (which, nevertheless, is still considerable) but, through their positions and connections, wield a great deal of power. As Phillips explains this distinction, 'the sociology of elites is more important than particular elite individuals and their families'. Just 199 individuals decide how more than $40 trillion will be invested. And this is his central point. Let me briefly elaborate.

There are some really wealthy families in the world, notably including the families Rothschild (France and the United Kingdom), Rockefeller (USA), Goldman-Sachs (USA), Warburgs (Germany), Lehmann (USA), Lazards (France), Kuhn Loebs (USA), Israel Moses Seifs (Italy), Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia), Walton (USA), Koch (USA), Mars (USA), Cargill-MacMillan (USA) and Cox (USA). However, not all of these families overtly seek power to shape the world as they wish.

Similarly, the world's extremely wealthy individuals such as Jeff Bezos (USA), Bill Gates (USA), Warren Buffett (USA), Bernard Arnault (France), Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico) and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (France) are not necessarily connected in such a way that they exercise enormous power. In fact, they may have little interest in power as such, despite their obvious interest in wealth.

In essence, some individuals and families are content to simply take advantage of how capitalism and its ancilliary governmental and transnational instruments function while others are more politically engaged in seeking to manipulate major institutions to achieve outcomes that not only maximize their own profit and hence wealth but also shape the world itself.

So if you look at the list of 199 individuals that Phillips identifies at the centre of global capital, it does not include names such as Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Koch, Walton or even Rothschild, Rockefeller or Windsor (the Queen of England) despite their well-known and extraordinary wealth. As an aside, many of these names are also missing from the lists compiled by groups such as Forbes and Bloomberg , but their absence from these lists is for a very different reason given the penchant for many really wealthy individuals and families to avoid certain types of publicity and their power to ensure that they do.

In contrast to the names just listed, in Phillips' analysis names like Laurence (Larry) Fink (Chairman and CEO of BlackRock), James (Jamie) Dimon (Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase) and John McFarlane (Chairman of Barclays Bank), while not as wealthy as those listed immediately above, wield far more power because of their positions and connections within the global elite network of 199 individuals.

Predictably then, Phillips observes, these three individuals have similar lifestyles and ideological orientations. They believe capitalism is beneficial for the world and while inequality and poverty are important issues, they believe that capital growth will eventually solve these problems. They are relatively non-expressive about environmental issues, but recognize that investment opportunities may change in response to climate 'modifications'. As millionaires they own multiple homes. They attended elite universities and rose quickly in international finance to reach their current status as giants of the global power elite. 'The institutions they manage have been shown to engage in illegal collusions with others, but the regulatory fines by governments are essentially seen as just part of doing business.'

In short, as I would characterize this description: They are devoid of a legal or moral framework to guide their actions, whether in relation to business, fellow human beings, war or the environment and climate. They are obviously typical of the elite.

Any apparent concern for people, such as that expressed by Fink and Dimon in response to the racist violence in Charlottesville, USA in August 2017, is simply designed to promote 'stability' or more precisely, a stable (that is, profitable) investment and consumer climate.

The lack of concern for people and issues that might concern many of us is also evident from a consideration of the agenda at elite gatherings. Consider the International Monetary Conference. Founded in 1956, it is a private yearly meeting of the top few hundred bankers in the world. The American Bankers Association (ABA) serves as the secretariat for the conference. But, as Phillips notes: 'Nothing on the agenda seems to address the socioeconomic consequences of investments to determine the impacts on people and the environment.' A casual perusal of the agenda at any elite gathering reveals that this comment applies equally to any elite forum. See, for example, the agenda of the recent WEF meeting in Davos . Any talk of 'concern' is misleading rhetoric.

Hence, in the words of Phillips: The 199 directors of the global Giants are 'a very select set of people. They all know each other personally or know of each other. At least 69 have attended the annual World Economic Forum, where they often serve on panels or give public presentations. They mostly attended the same elite universities, and interact in upperclass social setting[s] in the major cities of the world. They all are wealthy and have significant stock holdings in one or more of the financial Giants. They are all deeply invested in the importance of maintaining capital growth in the world. Some are sensitive to environmental and social justice issues, but they seem to be unable to link these issues to global capital concentration.'

Of course, the global elite cannot manage the world system alone: the elite requires agents to perform many of the functions necessary to control national societies and the individuals within them. 'The interests of the Global Power Elite and the TCC are fully recognized by major institutions in society. Governments, intelligence services, policymakers, universities, police forces, military, and corporate media all work in support of their vital interests.'

In other words, to elaborate Phillips' point and extend it a little, through their economic power, the Giants control all of the instruments through which their policies are implemented. Whether it be governments, national military forces, 'military contractors' or mercenaries (with at least $200 billion spent on private security globally, the industry currently employs some fifteen million people worldwide) used both in 'foreign' wars but also likely deployed in future for domestic control, key 'intelligence' agencies, legal systems and police forces, major nongovernment organizations, or the academic, educational, 'public relations propaganda', corporate media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries, all instruments are fully responsive to elite control and are designed to misinform, deceive, disempower, intimidate, repress, imprison (in a jail or psychiatric ward), exploit and/or kill (depending on the constituency) the rest of us, as is readily evident.

Defending Elite Power

Phillips observes that the power elite continually worries about rebellion by the 'unruly exploited masses' against their structure of concentrated wealth. This is why the US military empire has long played the role of defender of global capitalism. As a result, the United States has more than 800 military bases (with some scholars suggesting 1,000) in 70 countries and territories. In comparison, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia have about 30 foreign bases. In addition, US military forces are now deployed in 70 percent of the world's nations with US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) having troops in 147 countries, an increase of 80 percent since 2010. These forces conduct counterterrorism strikes regularly, including drone assassinations and kill/capture raids.

'The US military empire stands on hundreds of years of colonial exploitation and continues to support repressive, exploitative governments that cooperate with global capital's imperial agenda. Governments that accept external capital investment, whereby a small segment of a country's elite benefits, do so knowing that capital inevitably requires a return on investment that entails using up resources and people for economic gain. The whole system continues wealth concentration for elites and expanded wretched inequality for the masses .

'Understanding permanent war as an economic relief valve for surplus capital is a vital part of comprehending capitalism in the world today. War provides investment opportunity for the Giants and TCC elites and a guaranteed return on capital. War also serves a repressive function of keeping the suffering masses of humanity afraid and compliant.'

As Phillips elaborates: This is why defense of global capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world's military spending; the United States spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

In essence, 'the Global Power Elite uses NATO and the US military empire for its worldwide security. This is part of an expanding strategy of US military domination around the world, whereby the US/ NATO military empire, advised by the power elite's Atlantic Council , operates in service to the Transnational Corporate Class for the protection of international capital everywhere in the world'.

This entails 'further pauperization of the bottom half of the world's population and an unrelenting downward spiral of wages for 80 percent of the world. The world is facing economic crisis, and the neoliberal solution is to spend less on human needs and more on security. It is a world of financial institutions run amok, where the answer to economic collapse is to print more money through quantitative easing, flooding the population with trillions of new inflation-producing dollars. It is a world of permanent war, whereby spending for destruction requires further spending to rebuild, a cycle that profits the Giants and global networks of economic power. It is a world of drone killings, extrajudicial assassinations, death, and destruction, at home and abroad.'

Where is this all heading?

So what are the implications of this state of affairs? Phillips responds unequivocally: 'This concentration of protected wealth leads to a crisis of humanity, whereby poverty, war, starvation, mass alienation, media propaganda, and environmental devastation are reaching a species-level threat. We realize that humankind is in danger of possible extinction'.

He goes on to state that the Global Power Elite is probably the only entity 'capable of correcting this condition without major civil unrest, war, and chaos' and elaborates an important aim of his book: to raise awareness of the importance of systemic change and the redistribution of wealth among both the book's general readers but also the elite, 'in the hope that they can begin the process of saving humanity.' The book's postscript is a 'A Letter to the Global Power Elite', co-signed by Phillips and 90 others, beseeching the elite to act accordingly.

'It is no longer acceptable for you to believe that you can manage capitalism to grow its way out of the gross inequalities we all now face. The environment cannot accept more pollution and waste, and civil unrest is everywhere inevitable at some point. Humanity needs you to step up and insure that trickle-down becomes a river of resources that reaches every child, every family, and all human beings. We urge you to use your power and make the needed changes for humanity's survival.'

But he also emphasizes that nonviolent social movements, using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a moral code, can accelerate the process of redistributing wealth by pressuring the elite into action.

Conclusion

Peter Phillips has written an important book. For those of us interested in understanding elite control of the world, this book is a vital addition to the bookshelf. And like any good book, as you will see from my comments both above and below, it raised more questions for me even while it answered many.

As I read Phillips' insightful and candid account of elite behavior in this regard, I am reminded, yet again, that the global power elite is extraordinarily violent and utterly insane: content to kill people in vast numbers (whether through starvation or military violence) and destroy the biosphere for profit, with zero sense of humanity's now limited future. See 'The Global Elite is Insane Revisited' and 'Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival' with more detailed explanations for the violence and insanity here: 'Why Violence?' and 'Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice' .

For this reason I do not share his faith in moral appeals to the elite, as articulated in the letter in his postscript. It is fine to make the appeal but history offers no evidence to suggest that there will be any significant response. The death and destruction inflicted by elites is highly profitable, centuries-old and ongoing. It will take powerful, strategically-focused nonviolent campaigns (or societal collapse) to compel the necessary changes in elite behavior. Hence, I fully endorse his call for nonviolent social movements to compel elite action where we cannot make the necessary changes without their involvement. See 'A Nonviolent Strategy to End Violence and Avert Human Extinction' and Nonviolent Campaign Strategy .

I would also encourage independent action, in one or more of several ways, by those individuals and communities powerful enough to do so. This includes nurturing more powerful individuals by making 'My Promise to Children' , participating in 'The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth' and signing the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' .

Fundamentally, Giants: The Global Power Elite is a call to action. Professor Peter Phillips is highly aware of our predicament – politically, socially, economically, environmentally and climatically – and the critical role played by the global power elite in generating that predicament.

If we cannot persuade the global power elite to respond sensibly to that predicament, or nonviolently compel it to do so, humanity's time on Earth is indeed limited.

*

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here . He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Aug 31, 2018] Erasing the Truth and Fabricating Fake Narratives

Notable quotes:
"... Western media monopolies, appendages of the billionaire ruling class, select for narratives which glorify criminal foreign policies. Hence, these monopolies are cheerleaders for uninterrupted wars of aggression. ..."
"... Ruling class policymakers hide their criminality beneath banners of freedom, democracy, and human rights. [1] These lies provide cover for what amounts to a Western- orchestrated and sustained overseas holocaust and the thirdworldization of domestic populations. ..."
"... The lies and misplaced adulation also serve to legitimize the West's proxies, which include al Qaeda [2] in Syria, and neo-Nazis [3] in Kiev. ..."
"... The adulation, then, is part of the apparatus of deception. It brands those who should be facing trials at the Hague as heroes, as it erases the truth, which is a vital component for Peace and International Justice. ..."
Aug 31, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Western media monopolies, appendages of the billionaire ruling class, select for narratives which glorify criminal foreign policies. Hence, these monopolies are cheerleaders for uninterrupted wars of aggression.

Ruling class policymakers hide their criminality beneath banners of freedom, democracy, and human rights. [1] These lies provide cover for what amounts to a Western- orchestrated and sustained overseas holocaust and the thirdworldization of domestic populations.

The lies are further reinforced when those who advance these toxic policies are celebrated as heroes. This misplaced adulation negates the struggle for Peace and the rule of International Law. The lies and misplaced adulation also serve to legitimize the West's proxies, which include al Qaeda [2] in Syria, and neo-Nazis [3] in Kiev.

What's great thing about the pic accompanying this piece in the Washington Post sanctifying McCain as a human rights advocate is that the guy to his left is an actual Nazi. He's Oleh Tyahnybok, a Ukrainian Nazi. Too good!

10:38 AM - Aug 28, 2018

The adulation, then, is part of the apparatus of deception. It brands those who should be facing trials at the Hague as heroes, as it erases the truth, which is a vital component for Peace and International Justice.

[Aug 27, 2018] The Billionaire Class is Not Fit to Rule by Paul Jay

Notable quotes:
"... The elites are no longer capable or willing of dealing with grave systemic threats, even when it is in their own long-term interests to do so. ..."
"... We can't have faith in the political leadership of these elites, that is the current leadership of either the Republican or the Democratic Parties or the billionaires who bankroll them, to face up to this danger. One would think it's in the interest of the elites themselves to deal with this. But the military-industrial complex has far too much invested in a narrative that depends on a major existential rival. They need war and almost war. American capital will not give up it's dominant global commercial position they believe depends on their military might. Oil and guns determines US foreign policy, not national security. On this point alone, one can argue this ruling class is not fit to rule. But of course, there is more. ..."
"... Do you accept the popular initiative "for crisis-safe money: money creation by the National Bank only!" ..."
"... MIT trains AI to be a psychopath by feeding it reddit posts ..."
"... Seeing Past The Meme ..."
Aug 27, 2018 | therealnews.com

While the fight for health care for all, a higher minimum wage, unionization, against systemic racism, mass incarceration and other necessary reforms are just and critical to engaging people in struggle, we also need to tell people the whole truth about just how critical the big picture is.

While the Trump presidency is a cabal of criminals, billionaires and far-right ideologues, it must first of all be seen in the context of the threats to our very existence, not merely reduced to the daily scandals and twitter storms. There is no need to treat working people as infants. The culture is aimed at the infantilization of our political discussion. We can believe that America is already great or that we should Make America Great Again, but it's all the religion of Americanism, and it's meant to make us willing children who will march into battle or just resign ourselves to things the way they are. We are not infants and we must, as best we can, tell people the whole truth.

As catastrophic and savage as capitalism was during the 20th century, continuous wars and genocides, deep economic crisis and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, the system proved to be resilient, the global elites did find a kind of equilibrium. Capitalism did not come to an end and the attempts at socialism failed. While many societies around the world have been destroyed, millions slaughtered in war and many more living in deep poverty, the truth is the majority of the people in the advanced capitalist world are mostly doing ok. In the United States there are as many families earning more than $100,000 a year, as there are earning under $30,000. But as resilient as capitalism has proved to be, I don't think this world order is sustainable. The elites are no longer capable or willing of dealing with grave systemic threats, even when it is in their own long-term interests to do so.

We're in a different kind of moment than we've ever faced before. Of course, nuclear weapons posed an existential threat before, but at least the elites saw that ending human life on earth wasn't in their interests. That is so far that's true. Because as crazy as the prospect of nuclear war is, they have not given up their deteriorating hair triggered nuclear arsenals and they actually contemplate the use of localized nuclear weapons. As you know, first Obama planned for a new wave of nuclear weapons, and now Trump is spending billions expanding America's nuclear capability. While it's unlikely that the elites will deliberately launch a nuclear Armageddon, we are all living in denial if we think that an accidental triggering of such isn't possible. The hair trigger policy means there is around ten minutes to decide if what looks like an attack is one or is a glitch in the software. It's a cold war posture still in place in the United States and Russia, it's Dr. Strange Love's Doomsday machine. We can't have faith in the political leadership of these elites, that is the current leadership of either the Republican or the Democratic Parties or the billionaires who bankroll them, to face up to this danger. One would think it's in the interest of the elites themselves to deal with this. But the military-industrial complex has far too much invested in a narrative that depends on a major existential rival. They need war and almost war. American capital will not give up it's dominant global commercial position they believe depends on their military might. Oil and guns determines US foreign policy, not national security. On this point alone, one can argue this ruling class is not fit to rule. But of course, there is more.

... ... ...

Why can't the ruling elites deal with the systemic threats of climate change, financial crisis, global war, and AI? Threats to the future of their own system? Because they are in the middle of an orgy of profit making. They can't believe their good fortune. If they had any doubts before the election, Wall St. now loves Trump. Even though most of finance knows that unregulated, it's only a matter of time before the crisis of 07/08 repeats itself. But what the hell, no one will go to jail and the public will bail them out again.

Wall St. is euphoric as they swim in an ocean of super wealth. While the financial sector represents about 7 percent of our economy it takes around 25 percent of all corporate profit, with only 4 percent of all jobs. With such concentrated wealth goes a competitive culture that prizes daily returns on capital, above the future of humans on earth. These are the people that control American politics as they throw unlimited funds at political campaigns.

The threat of climate crisis? The elites believe, if they actually think beyond their private jets and yachts, that they will be ok. Their kids will be ok, even their grandkids. And then? Apres Moi le Deluge. After me comes the floods said Louis the XV. In Maryland we just saw much of a city washed away, and it's surely the shape of things to come.

... ... ...

As much as the digital revolution helped create a vile stratum of the ultra-rich, it's also created the conditions for a more democratic economy and politics. The Sanders campaign has shown that the political structures that were built to look democratic because the power of billionaires would always win out, can be challenged with mass fundraising. Online organizing and social media has transformed political campaigning and made it less reliant on funds for TV ads. The internet allowed independent media to challenge the power of concentrated media ownership, it made The Real News possible. We are just seeing the early phase of what's possible.

[Aug 24, 2018] The priorities of the deep state and its public face the MSM

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Here is my take on the priorities of the deep state and its public face – the MSM:

  1. stopping the deplorable rebellion
  2. cutting off the head of the rebellion – perceived as Trump
  3. reinstating the Cold War in an effort to derail Rusisa's recovery and international leadership role
  4. bitch slapping China

The rest involves turning unsustainable debt into establishment of a feudal world comprised of elites living on Mount Olympus, legions of vassals and a vast sea of cerebrally castrated peasants to serve as a reservoir for any imaginable exploitation.

Won't happen, not even close.

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Upon further reflection, Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering.

[Aug 24, 2018] Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee, subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG

Notable quotes:
"... Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee in violation of the Constitution and subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG ..."
"... Congress fears the intelligence agencies and takes orders from them, not the other way around as envisaged in the constitution or spelled out in legislation. ..."
"... Let Trump try to control the agencies by firing all of their top officers, slashing their budgets, freezing their funds or shutting down their operations, even specific projects, and watch congress come to their rescue in a New York minute. ..."
"... Congress will save any significant component of intel or the pentagon before they'd rescue Social Security or any other social program. If pressed for an answer as to which of the "usual suspects" really whacked Kennedy, I suspect most folks would put their money on the CIA, the FBI or some combination of the major intel agencies. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalists, I fear, have taken that phrase "drowning government in the bathtub" all too literally. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

GM August 16, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Brennan was caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Commitee in violation of the Constitution and subsequently lied about it and allegedly directed personnel under his command to lie about to the Senate and the IG

He could easily be brought up on rather serious charges.

Abby , August 18, 2018 at 11:23 pm

He also leaked classified information to the press as did others and they could have been prosecuted under the espionage act. They will be losing their security clearances soon too. The information that they leaked was the NSA information on Flynn to the Washington post. But of course the Obama justice department only prosecuted people who exposed Washington's dirty secrets.

Realist , August 17, 2018 at 1:21 am

Yes, what Kenneth might like to see happen may be admirable but not going to happen in 2018 or 19, which is practically a different universe from 1975 and for exactly the reasons you specify. This country and its self-appointed minders have changed massively in 45 years. Besides, 1975 was a year after Watergate was finally resolved with Nixon and Agnew's resignations and Congress may have been feeling its oats, going so far as to defund the Vietnam war! Imagine defunding ANY of the multiple wars ongoing!

Congress fears the intelligence agencies and takes orders from them, not the other way around as envisaged in the constitution or spelled out in legislation. Schumer let that feline out of the sack when he warned the president not to mess with them.

Let Trump try to control the agencies by firing all of their top officers, slashing their budgets, freezing their funds or shutting down their operations, even specific projects, and watch congress come to their rescue in a New York minute.

We saw how the CIA worked around congressionally-imposed budgetary restraints in Iran-Contra: by secretly running drugs from Columbia to LA, selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to fund death squads in Central America. Congress didn't have the guts to take that investigation to it logical conclusion of impeachments and/or indictments. Why?

Congress will save any significant component of intel or the pentagon before they'd rescue Social Security or any other social program. If pressed for an answer as to which of the "usual suspects" really whacked Kennedy, I suspect most folks would put their money on the CIA, the FBI or some combination of the major intel agencies.

Unfettered Fire , August 17, 2018 at 12:11 pm

The neoliberal globalists, I fear, have taken that phrase "drowning government in the bathtub" all too literally.

Rosa Brooks' book How War Became Everything and Everything Became the Military exposes the vast expansion and added responsibilities of the MIC, as governmental departments continue to be dismantled and privatized.

She even said in a book circuit lecture that she thought the idea of Congress "declaring war" was antiquated and cute. Well, how long will it be when the very hollowed out structures of Capitol Hill and the White House are considered antiquated and cute?

What if the plan all along has been to fold up this whole democratic experiment and move HQ into some new multi-billion dollar Pentagon digs?

Remember the words of Strobe Talbott:

"Within the next hundred years nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all."

This nation had better wake up fast if it wants to salvage the currency authorizing power of government and restore its role in the economy, before it's no longer an option and the private bankers, today's money lenders in the temple, govern for good.

"The bank strategy continues: "If we can privatize the economy, we can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. We can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly. Instead of providing free or subsidized schooling, we can make people pay $50,000 to get a college education, or $50,000 just to get a grade school education if families choose to go to New York private schools. We can turn the roads into toll roads. We can charge people for water, and we can charge for what used to be given for free under the old style of Roosevelt capitalism and social democracy."

This idea that governments should not create money implies that they shouldn't act like governments. Instead, the de facto government should be Wall Street. Instead of governments allocating resources to help the economy grow, Wall Street should be the allocator of resources – and should starve the government to "save taxpayers" (or at least the wealthy). Tea Party promoters want to starve the government to a point where it can be "drowned in the bathtub."

But if you don't have a government that can fund itself, then who is going to govern, and on whose terms? The obvious answer is, the class with the money: Wall Street and the corporate sector. They clamor for a balanced budget, saying, "We don't want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatized in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatized enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for hitherto public services.

You can see how to demoralize a country if you can stop the government from spending money into the economy. That will cause austerity, lower living standards and really put the class war in business. So what Trump is suggesting is to put the class war in business, financially, with an exclamation point."

http://michael-hudson.com/2017/03/why-deficits-hurt-banking-profits/

[Aug 24, 2018] The WaPo op-ed "God Bless the Deep State" can be viewed as a suggestion for a military coup

Notable quotes:
"... Robinson talks like he has given up on impeachment by what he calls a powerless and spineless Congress. Maybe he's thinking of something quicker and cleaner than a coup, something that could be carried out by a small group of conspirators within an agency trained in removing uncooperative heads of state? ..."
"... I'm still looking for an English copy of Journalists for Hire by Udo Ufkotte. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

alley cat August 16, 2018 at 1:58 pm

From the WaPo op-ed "God Bless the Deep State," by Eugene Robinson:

Democrats in Congress are powerless; the Republican leadership, spineless. Experienced government officials know that their job is to serve the president. But what if the president does not serve the best interests of the nation?

In this emergency [emphasis mine], the loyal and honorable deep state has a higher duty. It's called patriotism.

Is Robinson really suggesting a military coup? That would take a lot of planning and organization and would be almost impossible to keep secret. Some honest military officer might find out and put the kibosh on it, like Kirk Douglas did in Frankenheimers's classic political thriller, Seven Days in May .

Robinson talks like he has given up on impeachment by what he calls a powerless and spineless Congress. Maybe he's thinking of something quicker and cleaner than a coup, something that could be carried out by a small group of conspirators within an agency trained in removing uncooperative heads of state?

Since deep state conspirators routinely smear all those who demand evidence as "Russian agents," maybe non-conspirators should use the same tactic on them, e.g.: Is Robinson on the CIA payroll? Because anyone who agrees with anything the CIA says is obviously working for the CIA, right?

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

I'm still looking for an English copy of Journalists for Hire by Udo Ufkotte.


Ltichfield

, August 17, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Re "Thank god for the Deep State."

Amazing, absolutely amazing, statement.
This is, obviously, an admission of the existence of the Deep State -- otherwise generally written off as a "conspiracy theory."

Simultaneously it is a statement that the Deep State "knows better than voters" and also "knows what to do."

This is, actually, a treasonous statement. Why doesn't anyone notice this???

Frederike , August 17, 2018 at 6:34 pm

There is only one article that is translated into English: "The world upside down" 2006,
http://www.ulfkotte.de/18.html
Journalists for Hire is available in German only. (I was able to buy a copy last year.)

Frederike , August 17, 2018 at 6:47 pm

http://it-book.org/pdf/journalists-for-hire
You can download the ebook in English

alley cat , August 16, 2018 at 1:05 am

I've always avoided Eugene Robinson's columns because he seemed like the quintessential, no-think, Borg-assimilated, groupie to me. His column of July 19 entitled "God Bless the Deep State" proves it.

I started highlighting the patent falsehoods in Robinson's column. It didn't take me long to realize that it would be much quicker to highlight the truthful comments. Much, much quicker. I've read the column twice and my copy remains unmarked.

It's a tough call, but probably the most bizarre of Gene's assertions was the following:

"God bless them. With a supine Congress unwilling to play the role it is assigned by the Constitution, the deep state stands between us and the abyss."

Seriously? The deep state stands between us and the abyss? In the real world, where the rest of us live, the deep state is the abyss!

Seems like Washington has been overrun by pod people from an alternate universe, where everything is an inverted, mirror image of reality. Up is down, left is right, etc. Their moral compasses aren't exactly broken, they just point south instead of north.

As for Brennan, he and the president are both zealous advocates of torture. That tells us much about the condition of their moral compasses. A plague on both their houses, with the following reservation: as a certified neocon and Clinton dead-ender, Brennan is even more dangerous to us real-worlders than Trump. He called Trump a traitor for trying to do the right thing. In Brennan's alternate-universe Washington, to do evil is the summum bonum of patriotism.

[Aug 23, 2018] What the Brennan Affair Really Reveals by Stephen Cohen

"My strong suspicion is that 'Russiagate' is a kind of nemesis, arising from the fact that key figures in British and American intelligence have, over a protracted period of time, got involved in intrigues where they are way out of their depth. The unintended consequences of these have meant that people like Brennan and Younger, and also Hannigan, have ended up having to resort to desperate measures to cover their backsides."
Brennan exposed "intelligence community" as a forth branch of government. The branch more powerful that then the other three combined.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that powerful, connected people in the intelligence community and in politics worried that a wildcard Trump presidency, unlike another Clinton or Bush, might expose a decade-plus of questionable practices. Disrupt long-established money channels. Reveal secret machinations that could arguably land some people in prison.
The main suspicion is that Steele's involvement may have been less in crafting the dossier, than making it possible to conceal its actual origins while giving it an appearance of credibility. It could also be the case that Nellie Ohr's sudden interest in radio transmissions had to do with communications inside the United States, rather than with Steele.
Notable quotes:
"... Los Angeles Times ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... It's a misnomer to term these people representatives of a hidden "deep state." In recent years, they have been amply visible on television and newspaper op-ed pages. Instead, they see and present themselves as members of a fully empowered and essential fourth branch of government. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... To be fair, Brennan may only be a symptom of this profound American crisis, some say the worst since the Civil War. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | www.thenation.com

Brennan's allegation was unprecedented. No such high-level intelligence official had ever before accused a sitting president of treason, still more in collusion with the Kremlin. (Impeachment discussions of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, to take recent examples, did not include allegations involving Russia.) Brennan clarified his charge : "Treasonous, which is to betray one's trust and to aid and abet the enemy." Coming from Brennan, a man presumed to be in possession of related dark secrets, as he strongly hinted , the charge was fraught with alarming implications. Brennan made clear he hoped for Trump's impeachment, but in another time, and in many other countries, his charge would suggest that Trump should be removed from the presidency urgently by any means, even a coup. No one, it seems, has even noted this extraordinary implication with its tacit threat to American democracy. (Perhaps because the disloyalty allegation against Trump has been customary ever since mid-2016, even before he became president, when an array of influential publications and writers -- among them a former acting CIA director -- began branding him Putin's "puppet," "agent," "client," and "Manchurian candidate." The Los Angeles Times even saw fit to print an article suggesting that the military might have to remove Trump if he were to be elected, thereby having the very dubious distinction of predating Brennan.)

Why did Brennan, a calculating man, risk leveling such a charge, which might reasonably be characterized as sedition? The most plausible explanation is that he sought to deflect growing attention to his role as the "Godfather" of the entire Russiagate narrative, as Cohen argued back in February. If so, we need to know Brennan's unvarnished views on Russia.

They are set out with astonishing (perhaps unknowing) candor in a New York Times op-ed of August 17. They are those of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover in their prime. Western "politicians, political parties, media outlets, think tanks and influencers are readily manipulated, wittingly and unwittingly, or even bought outright, by Russian operatives not only to collect sensitive information but also to distribute propaganda and disinformation. I was well aware of Russia's ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. These Russian agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found." All this, Brennan assures readers, is based on his "deep insight." All the rest of us, it seems, are constantly susceptible to "Russian puppet masters" under our beds, at work, on our computers. Clearly, there must be no "cooperation" with the Kremlin's grand "Puppet Master," as Trump said he wanted early on. (People who wonder what and when Obama knew about the unfolding Russiagate saga need to ask why he would keep such a person so close for so long.)

And yet, scores of former intelligence and military officials rallied around this unvarnished John Brennan, even though, they said, they did not entirely share his opinions. This too is revealing. They did so, it seems clear enough, out of their professional corporate identity, which Brennan represented and Trump was degrading by challenging the intelligences agencies' (implicitly including his own) Russiagate allegations against him. It's a misnomer to term these people representatives of a hidden "deep state." In recent years, they have been amply visible on television and newspaper op-ed pages. Instead, they see and present themselves as members of a fully empowered and essential fourth branch of government. This too has gone largely undiscussed while nightingales of the fourth branch -- such as David Ignatius and Joe Scarborough in the pages of the The Washington Post -- have been in full voice.

The result is, of course -- and no less ominous -- to criminalize any advocacy of "cooperating with Russia," or détente, as Trump sought to do in Helsinki with Putin. Still more, a full-fledged Russophobic hysteria is sweeping through the American political-media establishment, from Brennan and -- pending actual evidence against her -- those who engineered the arrest of Maria Butina (imagine how this endangers young Americans networking in Russia) to the senators now preparing new "crippling sanctions" against Moscow and the editors and producers at the Times , Post , CNN, and MSNBC. (However powerful, how representative are these elites when surveys indicate that a majority of the American people still prefer good relations with Moscow?)

As the dangers grow of actual war with Russia -- again, from Ukraine and the Baltic region to Syria -- the capacity of US policy-makers, above all the president, are increasingly diminished. To be fair, Brennan may only be a symptom of this profound American crisis, some say the worst since the Civil War.

Finally, there was a time when many Democrats, certainly liberal Democrats, could be counted on to resist this kind of hysteria and, yes, spreading neo-McCarthyism. (Brennan's defenders accuse Trump of McCarthyism, but Brennan's charge of treason without presenting any actual evidence was quintessential McCarthy.) After all, civil liberties, including freedom of speech, are directly involved -- and not only Brennan's and Trump's. But Democratic members of Congress and pro-Democratic media outlets are in the forefront of the new anti-Russian hysteria, with only a few exceptions. Thus a generally liberal historian tells CNN viewers that "Brennan is an American hero. His tenure at the CIA was impeccable. We owe him so much." Elsewhere the same historian assures readers , "There has always been a bipartisan spirit of support since the CIA was created in the Cold War." In the same vein, two Post reporters write of the FBI's " once venerated reputation ."

[Aug 18, 2018] Is Russia an Adversary by Gary Leupp

Notable quotes:
"... The Russians were not pleased by U.S.-NATO involvements in the former Yugoslavia, a traditional Russian ally, in 1995 and 1999, and the expansion of NATO in the latter year (to include Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary) in violation of the agreement between Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for Russia's acceptance of German reunification NATO would not spread "one inch" towards Russia. They protested meekly. But Russia was not an adversary then. ..."
"... Nor was it an adversary when, in 2001, under its new president Vladimir Putin, it offered NATO a route through Russia to provision forces in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The real change only came in 2004, when NATO suddenly expanded to include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. This brought alliances forces right to the Russian border. ..."
"... We are your adversary. ..."
"... Russia is an adversary. ..."
"... Russia is an adversary. ..."
"... He worked with our adversary to undermine our election. ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | dissidentvoice.org

Or, What's Wrong with Russian Collusion?

The question is finally being asked, by the president himself: what's wrong with collusion? Or at least his lawyer asks the question, while Trumps tweets:

Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn't matter because there was No Collusion.

The problem, of course, is that of collusion with an alleged adversary. Russia, we are constantly informed, is one such adversary, indeed the main state adversary, with Putin is its head.

Adversary is a very strong term. The Hebrew word for adversary is Satan. Satan is the ultimate symbol of evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Satan tempted Eve at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, causing her to eat the fruit, and so evil entered the world.

Just like some want you to think that evil entered the (good, pristine) U.S. electoral process due to this Russian adversary in 2016.

(Sometimes listening to TV pundits vilifying Putin I find Luther's famous hymn floating through my head:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Luther's referring to Satan, of course. But the current mythology around Putin -- as someone who still , like Lenin and Stalin before him, and the tsars of old, wishes us harm; is an unbridled dictator with a powerful great nuclear arsenal; is the wealthiest man on earth; and hates democracy -- resembles the mythology around the Adversary in the Bible.)

But let us problematize this vilification. When did Russia become a U.S. adversary? Some might say 1917 when in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution Moscow became the center of the global communist movement. But surely that period ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR.

Throughout the 1990s the U.S. cultivated Boris Yeltsin's Russia as a friend and even aided the drunken buffoon in winning the 1996 election. Bill Clinton and Yeltsin signed the Start II treaty. Harvard professors advised Moscow on economic reform.

The Russians were not pleased by U.S.-NATO involvements in the former Yugoslavia, a traditional Russian ally, in 1995 and 1999, and the expansion of NATO in the latter year (to include Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary) in violation of the agreement between Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for Russia's acceptance of German reunification NATO would not spread "one inch" towards Russia. They protested meekly. But Russia was not an adversary then.

Nor was it an adversary when, in 2001, under its new president Vladimir Putin, it offered NATO a route through Russia to provision forces in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The real change only came in 2004, when NATO suddenly expanded to include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. This brought alliances forces right to the Russian border.

It was a clear statement by the U.S. to a friendly country: We are your adversary. But, of course, the Pentagon and State Department always pooh-poohed Russian concerns, denying that NATO targeted any particular country.

Four years later (2008) NATO announced intentions to draw Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance. Meanwhile the U.S. recognized Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo, the historical heart of Serbian civilization, had been wrenched from Serbia in 1999 under the pretext of a "humanitarian" intervention that included the first bombing (by NATO) of a European capital city since 1945. The province had been converted into a vast NATO base.

Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, emboldened by the prospect of NATO membership and western backing, attacked the capital of the separatist republic of South Ossetia, provoking (as the Russians explain it) a proper punitive response: the Russo-Georgian War of August 7-16 . After this Moscow recognized South Ossetia and a second breakaway republic, Abkhazia, in a tit-for-tat response to Washington's recognition of Kosovo.

Now Russia was labelled an aggressive power -- by the power that had carved up Yugoslavia, and invaded and occupied Iraq on the basis of lies and killed half a million in the process. Plans to include Georgia in NATO had to be put on hold, in large part due to European allies' opposition (why provoke Russia?) but the U.S. intensified efforts to draw in Ukraine. That meant toppling the anti-NATO elected president Viktor Yanukovych.

The U.S. State Department devoted enormous resources to the Maidan coup in Kiev on February 23, 2014. Its agents helped topple the government, ostensibly for its failure to negotiate an agreement for Ukrainian associate membership in the EU, but really to bring pro-NATO forces to power and expel the Russian Fleet from the Crimean Peninsula where it has been based since 1783. Moscow's limited support for the Donbass ethnic-Russian separatists and re-annexation of Crimea were, of course, depicted by the U.S. as more aggression, more mischievous opposition to "U.S. global interests."

But from Moscow's point of view these moves have surely been defensive. The main problem is (obviously) NATO and its dangerous, unnecessary and provocative expansion. Throughout his presidential campaign Trump questioned the continued "relevance" of NATO. Characteristically he focused on budget issues and allies' failure to meet the goal figure of 2% if GDP for military expenses (misleadingly depicting investment shortfalls as a betrayal and rip-off of the victimized U.S.). But he did -- to the alarm of many, and probably to Moscow's delight -- express little enthusiasm for the alliance's historical purpose.

The most rational proposition Trump voiced before his election that the U.S. should "get along" with Russia. That is, get along with the so-called adversary. Trump as we all know had been in Russia on business, hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, and maintains interest in building a Trump Tower in the city. He has met and befriended Russian oligarchs. He quite possibly sees Russia as just another country, like Germany or France.

If "the French" had had dirt on Hillary, would it have been okay to "collude" with them to influence the election result? France is, of course, a NATO ally. Would that make it different? Now that the president and his layers are openly questioning whether "collusion", per se, is even illegal, the specific nature of the colluder becomes more relevant.

Russia is an adversary.

Russia is an adversary.

Putin in Helsinki acknowledged to a reporter that he had hoped Trump could win, because he had expressed hope for better relations. He might have added that he dreaded the prospect of a Hillary victory because of her warmongering and characterization of him as a Hitler. Naturally the Russian media favored Trump over Clinton at a certain point when he emerged as a credible candidate. So when Trump on July 27, 2016 called on Russia to release Hillary's missing emails ("if you've got 'em") the Russians probably felt invited to make contact through channels. And when informed that they had dirt, Don Jr. wrote: "If that's what you say, I love it." (Who can blame him?)

Let's say there was some collusion after the June 6 Trump Tower meeting. Trump has suddenly acknowledged that the meeting with the Russians was indeed to "seek political dirt." He adds that this is "totally legal," and this may be true. Some are now saying that Don Jr. may have violated a federal statute (52 USC 30121, 36 USC 5210) forbidding any foreign person to "make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.' and for anyone to knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by [this law]." But the language is vague. If a Canadian speechwriter works gratis for a U.S. political candidate, in order to help him or her win, is this not "a thing of value" intended to affect an election?

If Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner had met with Canadian agents in Trump Tower I doubt there would have been any controversy. The fact is, Trump won the election and many of those stunned by that wish to undermine him using revived Cold War-type Russophobia. They insist: He worked with our adversary to undermine our election. And now they hope they've got him on this charge.

*****

Five years ago a young man named Edward Snowden (now living in forced exile in Russia) revealed to the world the extent of the U.S.'s global surveillance. He showed us how the NSA wiretaps EU meetings, popes' conversations, Angela Merkel's cell phone and maintains metadata on virtually all U.S. residents. He showed us what the contemporary advanced state can do in this respect. We should suppose that Moscow has, if not similar capacity, at least enough expertise to hack into the DNC emails or John Podesta's g-mail account. Is that surprising?

What none of the TV anchors is allowed to say needs to be said again: The U.S. interferes in foreign elections all the time, including Russian ones. It should surprise no one if Russian intelligence responds in kind. The point is not the provenance of the leaked emails but their content.

Those horrified by the leaked material complain that their release was designed to "undermine faith in our democratic system." Really? Don't the workings of the system itself undermine one's faith in it, once they are exposed? Was it adversarial of the leaker to inform us that the DNC had no intention of allowing Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, and thus that the process was rigged? Was it unfriendly to reveal that Podesta was hoping the media would hype Trump, as an easy target for his candidate?

The question that will no doubt be debated in the coming days is whether seeking dirt on a political opponent from any foreigner is indeed illegal, or whether there are specific legal ramifications of meeting with someone from an "adversary" country. But it seems to me that Russia has not been defined as such officially. So we may have a discussion less about legality than the politics of Russophobia.

I am happy to see Trump besieged, rattled, possibly facing impeachment. But to bring him down on the basis of "Russian collusion," on the assumption that Russia is an adversary, would only advantage the warmongers who want no-fly zones over Syria and military support for the Kiev regime against the Donbas separatists. Vice President Pence I believe favors both.

Trump has said that he cannot host Putin in Washington this year, or until the Russian Hoax witch hunt is over. But Putin has invited him to Moscow. One senses he wants some agreements with Trump before he is ousted by his gathering adversaries, including the press, courts, Democrats, select Republicans, turncoat aides and he himself sometimes in his unguarded tweets.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu . Read other articles by Gary .

This article was posted on Monday, August 13th, 2018 at 10:30pm and is filed under (Ex-)Yugoslavia , Chancellor Angela Merkel , Donald Trump , Elections , Espionage/"Intelligence" , Hillary Clinton , Kosovo , Mike Pence , President Vladimir Putin , Russia , Serbia , Ukraine , United States , US Hypocrisy , US Lies .

[Aug 17, 2018] Lavrov Brilliantly Dissects Western Lies And Manipulations On The False Flag And Skripals

Lavrov suggests that Skripals were intentionally poisoned by BZ which temporary disable a person (for approx 4 days) and Novichok was injected in samples to implicate Russia. He impliedly suggests that this was a false flag operation.
Notable quotes:
"... First, US sanctions against Russia, then the Skripals mystery, and last the Attack at Syria....What the masters of the world trying do??? ..."
"... I'm an American. I'm disgusted with the mafia cartel bankrupt corporation that masquerades as the government. I don't like or trust any government but after listening to this guy, he certainly comes across as way more trustworthy than anyone puppet we have in the Trump regime. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Maria Kuzali , 4 months ago

First, US sanctions against Russia, then the Skripals mystery, and last the Attack at Syria....What the masters of the world trying do???

Off Grid Nation , 4 months ago

I'm an American. I'm disgusted with the mafia cartel bankrupt corporation that masquerades as the government. I don't like or trust any government but after listening to this guy, he certainly comes across as way more trustworthy than anyone puppet we have in the Trump regime. #IDONOTCONSENT

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

THANK YOU RUSSIA IN PARTICULAR PRESIDENT PUTIN AND LAVROV BOTH GOOD INTELLIGENT AND DECENT MEN

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

MACRON TRUMP AND MAY ARE MURDERERS......THANK YOU ASSAD AND RUSSIA AND KURDISH PEOPLE FOR TRULY STANDING UP FOR CIVILISED VALUES

James Australian , 4 months ago (edited)

need to stop the tyrants to prevent the fall of Damascus.. Must not let them kill Mr Assad.

zac anthony , 4 months ago

I believe in Russia more than our gov we are being led

Luboš Lier , 4 months ago

Russia just needs to give Syria couple of tactical nukes. And the peace in Syria is assured...

haithem ali , 4 months ago

Sometimes he continues talking without look at paper..... bcs he say true.... and USA, BRITAIN and France cant do that bcs they are lying and scared if they will say something wrong.

[Aug 17, 2018] It is quite interesting how many uninformed posters and/or trolls would love to find a way to show the Russiagate nonsense is somehow plausible in spite of the evidence

Notable quotes:
"... They're kind of like a five year old child who desperately wants to keep believing in Santa Claus, even though he just found dad's Santa costume in the closet and he's holding it in his own hands. ..."
"... Sorry, but two years into this we should be way beyond this kind of – "I can't believe Santa's not real"- denying, dissembling, rationalizing nonsense. Then again, this is America. ..."
"... America is after all a country in which half the population believe in the creation myth. ..."
"... "Two years after the Iraq War began, 70 per cent of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks, according to a Washington Post survey." The Big Lie works, and since Obama gutted Smith-Mundt, the CIA/ State Department can legally keep Americans tracking on their propaganda narratives. ..."
"... I agree with Lawrences point that this is an issue of social psychology. Rational argument over the facts is simply over taken by some kind of mass hysteria. There certainly precedent for this kind of behavior. Indeed this was described in 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' 180 years ago. In my lifetime I have witnessed two episodes of this kind of mass hysteria. The first was the red scare of the early 1950's (I not so much witnessed that as experienced it) and the second was the day care hysteria of satanic cults abusing our children that flared between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now this is a third manifestation of mass hysteria. ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Gary Weglarz August 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm

It is quite interesting how many uninformed posters and/or trolls would love to find a way to show the "Russiagate" nonsense is somehow plausible in spite of the evidence. They're kind of like a five year old child who desperately wants to keep believing in Santa Claus, even though he just found dad's Santa costume in the closet and he's holding it in his own hands.

I will say that the amount of mental gymnastics required to continue not believing evidence that is right in front of one's eyes is quite impressive – but I'd never underestimate the American people's creativity when they want to maintain their illusions/delusions. And I'd certainly never underestimate the Russiagate troll army's persistence.

At this rate I expect to soon encounter some version of the following "observation" in the comments section for this article: – "maybe space aliens hired by the Russians downloaded the files to a to a new fangled thig-a-ma-jig and then shape-shifted so Craig Murray would be fooled into thinking a real-like-human insider provided him the files on a flash drive." – "oh, oh, wait, maybe the aliens abducted Murray too, and then just made him "think" a fellow human gave him the drive in person." "yeah, yeah, and maybe Assange just says he didn't get the files from the Russians because "he's a space alien too." "Yeah, prove to me that it didn't happen this way – you can't – ha! there! I win!"

Sorry, but two years into this we should be way beyond this kind of – "I can't believe Santa's not real"- denying, dissembling, rationalizing nonsense. Then again, this is America.

Reply

GM , August 14, 2018 at 4:51 pm

America is after all a country in which half the population believe in the creation myth.

jeff montanye , August 17, 2018 at 7:11 am

but if i had to bet, the creationists are less likely to believe in Russiagate than the evolutionists.

Just Plain Scott , August 14, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Please don't give Rachel Maddow any more ideas.

michael , August 15, 2018 at 6:06 am

"Two years after the Iraq War began, 70 per cent of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks, according to a Washington Post survey." The Big Lie works, and since Obama gutted Smith-Mundt, the CIA/ State Department can legally keep Americans tracking on their propaganda narratives.

ToivoS , August 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm

I agree with Lawrences point that this is an issue of social psychology. Rational argument over the facts is simply over taken by some kind of mass hysteria. There certainly precedent for this kind of behavior. Indeed this was described in 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' 180 years ago. In my lifetime I have witnessed two episodes of this kind of mass hysteria. The first was the red scare of the early 1950's (I not so much witnessed that as experienced it) and the second was the day care hysteria of satanic cults abusing our children that flared between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now this is a third manifestation of mass hysteria.

It all began with Hillary's shocking defeat. Many millions of her supporters knew that she was so good that she had to win. But then she lost. Those millions of Democrats could not accept that in fact their assessment of her talents were totally wrong and that she lost because she has to be one of the worst candidates in American history. That is a reality those people refused to accept. Instead they had to concoct some crazy conspiracy to explain their break with reality. This is a classic case of cognitive dissonance which often leads to mass hysteria.

GM , August 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

People choose to believe what they feel that they most need to believe to assuage their insecurities fostered by what they perceive to be the dangerous and scary world in which they exist. The simple fact that we know that life is finite by the time we're three years old fosters the creation of such constructs as that of the myth of everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven complete with a mortgage-free condo and an extra parking space for all repentant sinners are mainstream beliefs.

Rob Roy , August 14, 2018 at 11:07 pm

ToivoS, you are right about Hillary. She simply couldn't accept her defeat. She was the one who began Russiagate by the lie, "17 intelligence agencies" said the Russians hacked the emails.
As for times of mass-swallowing of a lie in the 1930s every German thought that Poland was about to invade Germany and they were scared so much that they believed their leaders who "false flagged" them into invading Poland "first." Of course, Poland had no intention of invading Germany.
Notice every time the US attacks another sovereign country, there's a false flag waved for the citizens to follow?
Don't you appreciate that we have consortiumnews?

[Aug 17, 2018] What if Russiagate is the New WMDs

In both cases CIA and neocons run the show. But there is new powerful factor: emergence of CIA democrats like Brennan and the conversion of intelligence agencies into political tool, the Cerberus that safeguard the castle of neoliberalism in the USA. The USA people (bottom 90%) be damned.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's guilt in " Russiagate " is now assumed by much of the American left, and reaches greater levels of fervor with every passing day. ..."
"... Coulter was confident and she wasn't alone. Virtually the entire mainstream American right -- from pundits like Coulter and Sean Hannity to President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress -- was deeply invested in the notion that Hussein possessed WMDs and that the Iraq war was justified based on that unshakeable premise. This belief was so ingrained for so long that many excitedly rushed to pretend that chemical weapons discovered in Iraq as reported by the New York Times ..."
"... Now, "Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs. ..."
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
Aug 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
declared liberal celebrity activist Rosie O'Donnell at a protest in front of the White House last week. "We see it, he can't lie about it," she added. "He is going down and so will all of his administration." "The charge is treason," O'Donnell declared. Protesters held held large letters that spelled it out: " T-R-E-A-S-O-N ."

O'Donnell is by no means alone in her sentiments. Trump's guilt in " Russiagate " is now assumed by much of the American left, and reaches greater levels of fervor with every passing day.

This kind of partisan religiosity is not new.

In the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, conservative pundit Ann Coulter accused war opponents of " treason " and insisted of Saddam Hussein, "We know he had weapons of mass destruction."

Coulter was confident and she wasn't alone. Virtually the entire mainstream American right -- from pundits like Coulter and Sean Hannity to President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress -- was deeply invested in the notion that Hussein possessed WMDs and that the Iraq war was justified based on that unshakeable premise. This belief was so ingrained for so long that many excitedly rushed to pretend that chemical weapons discovered in Iraq as reported by the New York Times in 2014 were somehow the same thing as the " mushroom cloud " the Bush administration said Saddam was capable of.

Unfortunately for the right (and America, and the world), that premise turned out to be false. There were no WMDs. Today, only a minority of delusional, face-saving hawks and unreconstructed neoconservatives still parrot that lie .

And far from being "traitors," Iraq war opponents today are considered to have been on the right side of history .

John Brennan: Melting Down and Covering Up The Iraq War's Age of Madness

Now, "Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs.

The post-2016 left's most dominant narrative is arguably their deeply held belief -- with all the ferocity and piety of yesterday's pro-war conservatives -- that Russia colluded with Trump's campaign to undermine the presidential election. Many believe that the president and anyone who supports his diplomatic efforts like Senator Rand Paul are in the pocket of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I will meet not just with our friends, but with our enemies," said Barack Obama in 2008, and he did just that with Putin, as has every other president in recent times .

But Trump-Russia relations have been spun into far-fetched conspiracy theories on the left. New York Magazine 's Jonathan Chait recently went so far as to speculate that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987 , a cockamamie idea on par with the Weekly Standard 's Stephen Hayes' discredited conspiracy theory that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots .

It really was plausible that Iraq had WMDs in 2003 based on what our intelligence agencies knew, or purported to know. Today, it is feasible that American democracy really has Putin's fingerprints on it based on things revealed by U.S. intelligence.

But isn't it also possible that the left is reading far too much into Russiagate?

The Nation 's Aaron Maté believes liberals are overreaching, and that's putting it mildly:

From the outset, Russiagate proponents have exhibited a blind faith in the unverified claims of US government officials and other sources, most of them unnamed. The reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller's recent indictment of 12 Russian military-intelligence officers for hacking of Democratic party servers and voter databases is no exception. Mueller's indictment is certainly detailed. Most significantly, it marks the first time anyone has been charged for offenses related to Russiagate's underlying crime.

But while it is a major step forward in the investigation, we have yet to see the basis for the allegations that Mueller has lodged. As with any criminal case, from a petty offense to a cybercrime charge against a foreign government, a verdict cannot be formed in the absence of this evidence.

Then the irony kicks in. Maté continues, "The record of US intelligence, replete with lies and errors, underscores the need for caution. Mueller was a player in one of this century's most disastrous follies when, in congressional testimony, he endorsed claims about Iraqi WMDs and warned that Saddam Hussein 'may supply' chemical and biological material to 'terrorists.'"

Noting Mueller's 2003 WMD testimony is not an attempt to undermine him or his investigation, something Maté also makes clear. But it does serve as an important reminder that "intelligence" can be flat-out wrong. It reminds us how these scenarios, which so much of Washington and the elite class fully endorse, can be looked back on as lapses of reason years later.

Mass psychology is real. Political classes and parties are not immune.

"Suppose, however, that all of the claims about Russian meddling turn out to be true," Maté asks. "Hacking e-mails and voter databases is certainly a crime, and seeking to influence another country's election can never be justified."

He continues, "But the procession of elite voices falling over themselves to declare that stealing e-mails and running juvenile social-media ads amount to an 'attack,' even an 'act of war,' are escalating a panic when a sober assessment is what is most needed."

The U.S. could have certainly used less hyperbole and more sobriety in 2002 and 2003.

And there's good chance that when the history books are written about American politics circa 2018, much of Russiagate will be dismissed as more Red Scare than Red Dawn .

With Russia, as with WMDs, left and right have elevated slivers of legitimate security concerns to the level of existential threat based mostly on their own partisanship. That kind of thinking has already proven to be dangerous.

We don't know what evidence of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia might yet come forth, but it's easy to see how, even if this narrative eventually falls flat, 15 years from now some liberals will still be clinging to Russiagate not as a matter of fact, but political identity. Russia-obsessed liberals, too, could end up on the wrong side of history.

No one can know the future. Republicans would be wise to prepare for new, potentially damaging information about Trump and Russia that may yet emerge.

Democrats should consider that Russiagate may be just as imaginary as Republicans' Iraq fantasy.

Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.

JLF August 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm

All this may be as Hunter would have it. Yet there is the nagging doubt that Trump, who could only find major financing for his enterprises following his last bankruptcy through Putin-controlled banks, could be free of any entangling ties or obligations. And if those doubts prove true, what then?
MM , , August 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm
From the Nation: "From the outset, Russiagate proponents have exhibited a blind faith in the unverified claims of U.S. government officials and other sources, most of them unnamed."

This is a key point, because now Democrats and the most of the Left are ready to embrace a guy like Brennan a.k.a. Mr. Torture, merely because they hate Trump.

I'll also admit to not knowing what's coming in the future, but as of now there's a strong circumstantial case to be made that this reactions to Russian election meddling, which when all was said and done amounted to providing the voting public with the truth about the DNC and its own election-fixing operation, that this reaction is only about losing the 2016 presidential election to a guy who was only given a 1% chance of winning by almost everyone.

Clyde Schechter , , August 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm
This is the most sensible commentary on "Russiagate" I have seen anywhere in a long time.

At present, there is some suggestive evidence in the public arena, but nothing conclusive.

What we probably need, actually, is a moratorium on commentary about this until the investigation reaches its conclusion. That can take a long time. But until then, the endless partisanship-motivated speculation we hear daily is, frankly tiresome.

Thank you, Mr. Hunter, for your temperate perspective on this. I wish this would be the last word on the subject until the investigation ends.

b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:01 pm
'"Russian collusion" could be becoming the new WMDs.'

I suspect I agree with the author's sentiment, but it is not easy to tell.

Who stands accused? Trump? Russia? Both?

The claim that Trump is colluding with Russia is not the same as the claim that Iraq War opponents were colluding with Saddam Hussein.

The manufactured "Russia!" hysteria campaign orchestrated by the Obama/Clinton Democratic Party leadership, as deplorable and dubious as it might be, has nothing in common with the "5th column" smears Sullivan et.al. were peddling in 2002-2003 and beyond.

The claim that Trump committed "treason" would be legally incorrect on the worst case. Without a formal Congressional declaration of war, we are not at war with Russia, and Russia is not the enemy, no matter how much irresponsible mouthbreathing is broadcast from the biparty Congress members. However corrupt and corrupted Trump may be, corruption does not qualify as treason. If corruption were treason, Congress, in support of Israel and Saudi Arabia at the expense of the US (and certainly not in support of Russia) would be a house of traitors.

In comparison, the claim that opponents of the Iraq war were traitors was not just idiotic, but morally inexcusable. If anybody violated their oath, it was Bush himself, his appointees, and the ranking officers of the US military, for issuing illegal orders and/or following them.

"Russian election meddling" is the new WMD only the extent it is used as a pretext for war against Russia. It is the new "stained dress" in the attempt to challenge the ballot and paralyze an inconvenient President. I have no doubt that the Clintons are corrupt, and the GOP has engaged in many a Congressional effort to "investigate". The Clinton campaign adopted this playbook, and the damage to the Republic done by all is growing every day.

The real corruption here is the pretense that Congress is any better than Trump, that Russian oligarchs have more impact on the eroding Republic than Israeli-American, Saudi and UAE oligarchs, and that the biggest threat to the integrity of our elections and the franchise is Russia, and not the Roberts Court, Democrat apparatchiks like Sunstein, or Republican frauds like Kobach. Both parties are actively conspiring and plotting to make sure our votes are meaningless and cannot harm incumbents and the war profiteering classes, and where there used to be an opposition to illegal war and to oligarchs and plutocrats, there is now willing participation in manufactured hysteria to extend the 2016 campaign indefinitely.

WMDs? The very concept is a scam -- there is nukes, and nothing else. Nuclear arsenals outsized to end us all, and trillion dollar waste to expand them, are the tie that binds the US and Russia, and I suspect that Russia would be a lot more rational about reducing those arsenals than the US. If the author wants to worry about ending up on the wrong side of history, he should stop worrying about partisan points and focus. Politics is not a team sports, and anybody who picks a favorite is a failure as a citizen. Nobody who wants power is suitable for it.

b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Ask yourself, if Saddam Hussein had had "WMD" -- say, some of those chemical and biological stocks Reagan envoy Rumsfeld helpfully provided to Saddam Hussein -- would that have made the Iraq invasion legal, right just, necessary, successful? Or if Powell's little phials and mobile weapons labs actually existed?

Heck, let's say Saddam managed to make actual nukes out of tubes that weren't and yellowcake that wasn't. North Korea has nukes. Does that make invasion and aggressive war legal, right, just necessary, successful?

WMD or not was a lie wrapped within a deception inside a fraud. That's the one thing that it has in common with "Russiagate". Every layer, every aspect of it is a lie, a distraction, and everybody -- Trump included -- is perpetuating the hysteria for their own benefit. The stupidity of it is only barely rivaled by the mendacity.

Stavros , , August 16, 2018 at 3:17 pm
Trump is proving to be the Republican Alger Hiss. The partisanship of 1948 quickly crystallized into pro- and anti-Hiss camps in which the then limited evidence was trumped by ideology. It was not until the Verona tapes were released in the early 1990s that Hiss was proven to be guilty. Had Nixon and his allies called for a special prosecutor in 1948 and the facts both open and classified been examined intensely, Hiss would never have become the progressive Victim that he was to be for over thirty years. Ditto with Trump. Absent Mueller's investigation, these accusations against Trump (and I believe them to have serious weight and substance as well as potential for policy changes to prevent election fraud) would be mere ideological shrapnel to be argued over for another thirty years. Let the investigations proceed unimpeded and a final accounting be published at the very least for the sanity and integrity of the Republic. Don't let Trump become the Right's Alger Hiss.
b. , , August 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm
In other words, let's imagine that Putin has really tried to change election results. Let's imagine that Trump really has been bribed by Russian oligarchs.

Is that why we are at this juncture? Is that why Congress has not served the People and upheld the Constitution in decades? Is that why citizens and voters lose trust in our institutions, and doubt election results?

Really?

We cannot even own up to our own mistakes, our own greed, our own malignancy. We have to blame it not on our "business partners" and "allies" and their hundreds of billions of dollars of arms purchases, we will blame it on Russia.

How small we have become.

It is not just Trump, it is Congress. It is not just this administration and this Congress, it is the previous ones, and the ones before it, and so on.

The point is not whether or not the "Russia!" hysteria and the allegations against Trump are accurate or not. The point is that, in comparison to everything else, it would just be more of the same, and we brought it upon ourselves.

Regime change begins at home.

Sisera , , August 16, 2018 at 3:44 pm
@Collin-
Isn't it extremely Orwellian to say that 'information isn't really information/should be censored or disregarded if it comes from a subversive (Russia) source'?

Naturally, it allows for a very easy way to control and censor information.

Now, as far as pure security threats, aside from information that should've been public anyway, experts deem that the DNC information came from on site:

https://www.thenation.com/article/a-new-report-raises-big-questions-about-last-years-dnc-hack/

Now this is also an appeal to authority, but VIPs has a better track record and I've seen them actually elaborate on their claims, not just assert them.

[Aug 14, 2018] Technocrats Rule Democracy Is 'OK' As Long As The People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike.

We are in a very peculiar ideological and political place in which Democracy (oh sainted Democracy) is a very good thing, unless the voters reject the technocrat class's leadership. Then the velvet gloves come off. From the perspective of the elites and their technocrat apparatchiks, elections have only one purpose: to rubberstamp their leadership.

As a general rule, this is easily managed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and bribes to the cartels and insider fiefdoms who pony up most of the cash.

This is why incumbents win the vast majority of elections. Once in power, they issue the bribes and payoffs needed to guarantee funding next election cycle.

The occasional incumbent who is voted out of office made one of two mistakes:

1. He/she showed a very troubling bit of independence from the technocrat status quo, so a more orthodox candidate is selected to eliminate him/her.

2. The incumbent forgot to put on a charade of "listening to my constituency" etc.

If restive voters can't be bamboozled into passively supporting the technocrat status quo with the usual propaganda, divide and conquer is the preferred strategy. Only voting for the technocrat class (of any party, it doesn't really matter) will save us from the evil Other : Deplorables, socialists, commies, fascists, etc.

In extreme cases where the masses confound the status quo by voting against the technocrat class (i.e. against globalization, financialization, Empire), then the elites/technocrats will punish them with austerity or a managed recession. The technocrat's core ideology boils down to this:

1. The masses are dangerously incapable of making wise decisions about anything, so we have to persuade them to do our bidding. Any dissent will be punished, marginalized, censored or shut down under some pretext of "protecting the public" or violation of some open-ended statute.

2. To insure this happy outcome, we must use all the powers of propaganda, up to and including rigged statistics, bogus "facts" (official fake news can't be fake news, etc.), divide and conquer, fear-mongering, misdirection and so on.

3. We must relentlessly centralize all power, wealth and authority so the masses have no escape or independence left to threaten us. We must control everything, for their own good of course.

4. Globalization must be presented not as a gargantuan fraud that has stripmined the planet and its inhabitants, but as the sole wellspring of endless, permanent prosperity.

5. If the masses refuse to rubberstamp our leadership, they will be punished and told the source of their punishment is their rejection of globalization, financialization and Empire.

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike. My two favorite charts of the outcome of technocrats running things to suit their elite masters are:

The state-cartel-crony-capitalist version: the top .1% skim the vast majority of the gains in income and wealth. Globalization, financialization and Empire sure do rack up impressive gains. Too bad they're concentrated in the top 1.%.

The state-crony-socialist version: the currency is destroyed, impoverishing everyone but the top .1% who transferred their wealth to Miami, London and Zurich long ago. Hmm, do you discern a pattern here in the elite-technocrat regime?

Ideology is just a cover you slip over the machine to mask what's really going on.

* * *

My new book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com .

[Aug 14, 2018] US Intelligence Community is Tearing the Country Apart from the Inside by Dmitry Orlov

Highly recommended!
This is an interesting analysis shedding some light on how the US intelligence services have gone rogue...
Notable quotes:
"... Most recently, British "special services," which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence. ..."
"... the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough. ..."
"... That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn't have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment. ..."
"... He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where's the gratitude? Where's the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail? ..."
"... The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage -- "intelligence" in US parlance -- which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US "intelligence" is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply "make shit up." ..."
"... The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: "moderate" terrorists and so on. ..."
"... "What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven't lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task." ..."
"... "The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact." ..."
"... But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts. ..."
"... Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS -- an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria. ..."
"... Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts -- the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of "intelligence," I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of "treason": something better than "a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars. ..."
Jul 28, 2018 | russia-insider.com
In today's United States, the term "espionage" doesn't get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans' own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term "intelligence." This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things.

First of all, US "intelligence" is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.

In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps.

In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as "Al Qaeda." There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.

Most recently, British "special services," which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence.

There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their "secret" lab in Porton Down doesn't work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).

There is another unwritten, commonsense rule about spying in general: whatever happens, it needs to be kept out of the courts, because the discovery process of any trial would force the prosecution to divulge sources and methods, making them part of the public record. An alternative is to hold secret tribunals, but since these cannot be independently verified to be following due process and rules of evidence, they don't add much value.

A different standard applies to traitors; here, sending them through the courts is acceptable and serves a high moral purpose, since here the source is the person on trial and the method -- treason -- can be divulged without harm. But this logic does not apply to proper, professional spies who are simply doing their jobs, even if they turn out to be double agents. In fact, when counterintelligence discovers a spy, the professional thing to do is to try to recruit him as a double agent or, failing that, to try to use the spy as a channel for injecting disinformation.

Americans have been doing their best to break this rule. Recently, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian operatives working in Russia for hacking into the DNC mail server and sending the emails to Wikileaks. Meanwhile, said server is nowhere to be found (it's been misplaced) while the time stamps on the files that were published on Wikileaks show that they were obtained by copying to a thumb drive rather than sending them over the internet. Thus, this was a leak, not a hack, and couldn't have been done by anyone working remotely from Russia.

Furthermore, it is an exercise in futility for a US official to indict Russian citizens in Russia. They will never stand trial in a US court because of the following clause in the Russian Constitution: "61.1 A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state."

Mueller may summon a panel of constitutional scholars to interpret this sentence, or he can just read it and weep. Yes, the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough.

That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn't have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment.

He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where's the gratitude? Where's the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail?

Since there exists an agreement between the US and Russia to cooperate on criminal investigations, Putin offered to question the spies indicted by Mueller. He even offered to have Mueller sit in on the proceedings. But in return he wanted to question US officials who may have aided and abetted a convicted felon by the name of William Browder, who is due to begin serving a nine-year sentence in Russia any time now and who, by the way, donated copious amounts of his ill-gotten money to the Hillary Clinton election campaign.

In response, the US Senate passed a resolution to forbid Russians from questioning US officials. And instead of issuing a valid request to have the twelve Russian spies interviewed, at least one US official made the startlingly inane request to have them come to the US instead. Again, which part of 61.1 don't they understand?

The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage -- "intelligence" in US parlance -- which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US "intelligence" is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply "make shit up."

The "intelligence" the US intelligence agencies provide can be anything but; in fact, the stupider it is the better, because its purpose is allow unintelligent people to make unintelligent decisions. In fact, they consider facts harmful -- be they about Syrian chemical weapons, or conspiring to steal the primary from Bernie Sanders, or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden -- because facts require accuracy and rigor while they prefer to dwell in the realm of pure fantasy and whimsy. In this, their actual objective is easily discernible.

The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: "moderate" terrorists and so on.

One major advancement in their state of the art has been in moving from real false flag operations, à la 9/11, to fake false flag operations, à la fake East Gouta chemical attack in Syria (since fully discredited). The Russian election meddling story is perhaps the final step in this evolution: no New York skyscrapers or Syrian children were harmed in the process of concocting this fake narrative, and it can be kept alive seemingly forever purely through the furious effort of numerous flapping lips. It is now a pure confidence scam. If you are less then impressed with their invented narratives, then you are a conspiracy theorist or, in the latest revision, a traitor.

Trump was recently questioned as to whether he trusted US intelligence. He waffled. A light-hearted answer would have been:

"What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven't lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task."

A more serious, matter-of-fact answer would have been:

"The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact."

And a hardcore, deadpan answer would have been:

"The US intelligence services swore an oath to uphold the US Constitution, according to which I am their Commander in Chief. They report to me, not I to them. They must be loyal to me, not I to them. If they are disloyal to me, then that is sufficient reason for their dismissal."

But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts.

Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS -- an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The total cost of wars so far this century for the US is reported to be $4,575,610,429,593. Divided by the 138,313,155 Americans who file tax returns (whether they actually pay any tax is too subtle a question), it works out to just over $33,000 per taxpayer. If you pay taxes in the US, that's your bill so far for the various US intelligence "oopsies."

The 16 US intelligence agencies have a combined budget of $66.8 billion, and that seems like a lot until you realize how supremely efficient they are: their "mistakes" have cost the country close to 70 times their budget. At a staffing level of over 200,000 employees, each of them has cost the US taxpayer close to $23 million, on average. That number is totally out of the ballpark! The energy sector has the highest earnings per employee, at around $1.8 million per. Valero Energy stands out at $7.6 million per. At $23 million per, the US intelligence community has been doing three times better than Valero. Hats off! This makes the US intelligence community by far the best, most efficient collapse driver imaginable.

There are two possible hypotheses for why this is so.

First, we might venture to guess that these 200,000 people are grossly incompetent and that the fiascos they precipitate are accidental. But it is hard to imagine a situation where grossly incompetent people nevertheless manage to funnel $23 million apiece, on average, toward an assortment of futile undertakings of their choosing. It is even harder to imagine that such incompetents would be allowed to blunder along decade after decade without being called out for their mistakes.

Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts -- the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of "intelligence," I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of "treason": something better than "a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars."

[Aug 11, 2018] Major color revolutions sponsor is in decline, but still show his teeth and his methods did not become less dangerius for Eastern Europe, xUSSR space and developing countries

It is not only George Soros is losing. Neoliberalism is losing some of its fights too, despite recent revenge in sev eral Latin American countries. Deep state was always an alliance of Wall Street sharks with intelligence agencies and Soros is a true representative of this breed. He is connected and acted in sync with them in xUSSR space. In this sense he can be viewed as a part of Harvard Mafia which economically raped Russia in 1990th...
Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, correctly called Soros and other speculators "unscrupulous profiteers" whose immoral work served no social value. That actually aptly characterize all members of Harvard mafia not just George Soros.
BTW, if Victoria Nuland (of EuroMaydan putch fame) praises a particular person, you can be sure that his person serves US imperial interests...
Notable quotes:
"... ...In the 1990s, he was portrayed by the far left as an agent of American imperialism, helping to foist the so-called neoliberal agenda (mass privatization, for example) on Eastern Europe. For some critics, Soros's Wall Street background has always been a mark against him. ..."
"... In one campaign rally in Budapest, Orban referred to Soros as "Uncle George," telling tens of thousands of supporters that "we are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the world." ..."
"... I always thought George Soros was a dangerous [neo]liberal but after reading this article and seeing the damage he has created around the world it has been confirmed. ..."
"... Mr. Soros fights for all the [neo]liberal causes no matter the consequences. ..."
"... I am glad that the conservatives and others are finally seeing his true colors and are trying to subdue him the best they can. He must be called out on this negative behavior before it is too late. It is reassuring that many of the European nations are implementing policies that are favorable to their countries and looking out for their people. Europeans must be protected and George Soros stopped. I am glad they see him for what he truly is which is frightening. ..."
"... As Mr. Soros said of himself, "I am a confirmed egoist." He has used his money to make the world as he thinks is best. But having money does not give you a better moral view of how the world should be governed nor make you a god to decide for the rest of us. ..."
"... I think this kind of undue influence (money in politics) is what is driving some of the back-lash against [neo]liberal democracy. So many of the "[neo]liberal" proponents of an open society, like George Soros and Bill Gates, seem to have an inordinate power to effect political outcomes because of their money. ..."
"... Soros is an enemy of the middle and working classes in America. ..."
"... Now, more than ever, American politics is defined by money, so it's important to understand how it is used in that context by those who have it. ..."
"... What about the devastating effects that free trade and globalization have had on the spread of inequality throughout the world... Huge corporations consistently use "free trade" or globalization as an excuse to offer the lowest possible wages, and move manufacturing to places with the least environmental protections and human rights. ..."
"... Soros didn't bet on Democracy, he bet on his version of it which he tried to buy through individual politicians on the take and the Democratic Party. Better he quit manipulating pols and gave his money to charity. ..."
"... Soros is a criminal by any other name. He hedged against the UK Pound 20 years ago, and earned $1B. He earned billions by manipulating the market. With his profits he wanted to create his own society where his money could be used to buy politicians and pass legislation according to his one man agenda. He's selfish, an egomaniac, and dangerous. ..."
"... George Soros is the epitome of corruption – penetration and distortion of political process by obscene wealth. It does not matter what his true intentions are – he can say whatever he wants but we will never know for sure. And stop calling that "philanthropy". ..."
"... What Soros is doing is imposing his personal political beliefs and ideas on everybody by buying political influence with his money - that is called "corruption" pure and simple. ..."
"... What he does is not democracy promotion - it is the exact opposite – democracy destruction. It is good to know that he is failing in that effort. ..."
"... Neoliberalism has failed to improve democratic governance and reduced distribution of wealth ..."
"... What pharaonic globalist plutocrats like him mean by "Liberal Democracy" encompasses a sinister set of objectives. Prominent among which are these two: ..."
"... Full support for neocon/neoliberal destabilization, confrontation, and military interventionism. ..."
"... The destruction of borders, nations, and cultures -- particularly Western Culture here and in Europe. ..."
"... Soros and his peers want unhindered unlimited access to cheap Third World labor as well as to have complete control over the entire global economy. To his class nationalism and culture are speed bumps on the way to those self-serving goals. ..."
Aug 11, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Yet the political realm is where Soros has made his most audacious wager. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the former Soviet-bloc countries to promote civil society and [neo]liberal democracy. It was a one-man Marshall Plan for Eastern Europe, a private initiative without historical precedent. It was also a gamble that a part of the world that had mostly known tyranny would embrace ideas like government accountability and ethnic tolerance. In London in the 1950s, Soros was a student of the expatriated Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, who championed the notion of an "open society," in which individual liberty, pluralism and free inquiry prevailed. Popper's concept became Soros's cause.

... ... ...

...In the 1990s, he was portrayed by the far left as an agent of American imperialism, helping to foist the so-called neoliberal agenda (mass privatization, for example) on Eastern Europe. For some critics, Soros's Wall Street background has always been a mark against him.

Last autumn, he signaled that same sense of defiance when he announced that he was in the process of transferring the bulk of his remaining wealth, $18 billion in total at the time, to the O.S.F. That will potentially make it the second-largest philanthropic organization in the United States, in assets, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is already a sprawling entity, with some 1,800 employees in 35 countries, a global advisory board, eight regional boards and 17 issue-oriented boards. Its annual budget of around $1 billion finances projects in education, public health, independent media, immigration and criminal-justice reform and other areas

... ... ...

He decided that his goal would be opening closed societies. He created a philanthropic organization, then called the Open Society Fund, in 1979 and began sponsoring college scholarships for black South African students. But he soon turned his attention to Eastern Europe, where he started financing dissident groups. He funneled money to the Solidarity strikers in Poland in 1981 and to Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. In one especially ingenious move, he sent hundreds of Xerox copiers to Hungary to make it easier for underground publications to disseminate their newsletters. In the late 1980s, he provided dozens of Eastern European students with scholarships to study in the West, with the aim of fostering a generation of [neo]liberal democratic leaders. One of those students was Viktor Orban, who studied civil society at Oxford. From his Manhattan trading desk, Soros became a strange sort of expat anticommunist revolutionary.

... ... ...

In one campaign rally in Budapest, Orban referred to Soros as "Uncle George," telling tens of thousands of supporters that "we are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the world." Along with the fiery speeches, there were the billboards, which featured a picture of a smiling Soros and the message, "Let's not let George Soros have the last laugh."

... ... ...

Orban's coalition won 49 percent of the vote, enough to give it a supermajority in Parliament. But the anti-Soros campaign didn't end with the election. Days after the vote, a magazine owned by a pro-Orban businesswoman published the names of more than 200 people in Hungary that it claimed were Soros "mercenaries."

... ... ...

There have been mistakes; by his own admission, Soros erred in championing Mikheil Saakashvili, the mercurial former president of Georgia, and also became too directly involved in the country's politics in the early 2000s. He clearly misjudged Orban. But as Victoria Nuland, a former American diplomat who worked for both Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton, put it when I spoke to her recently, "George is a freedom fighter."


alexander hamilton new york July 17

"Billionaire philanthropist?" Really? Does that make the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelstein "philanthropists" too, or does that label apply only to left-leaning individuals seeking political leverage many times that of the average citizen?

One citizen, 1 vote. ALL citizens should be limited to $100 contributions for their senators, representatives and the President. NO citizen should be able to contribute to a campaign in a state where he/she is not a full-time permanent resident.

And NO citizen should be able to contribute more than $100 to his/her own campaign. We don't need more Kennedys, Clintons, Bloombergs, Trumps, Perots or Forbes buying (or trying to buy) their way into public office, using their millions.

Of the people, by the people, for the people. That's the model, folks. Depart from it at your peril.

Conservative Democrat WV July 17

For a man that purportedly promotes democracy, Mr. Soros conveniently overlooked public opinion when it came to promoting open borders.

In its essence, democracy is all about the wisdom and will of those governed, and not about what a billionaire thinks is best for them.

Maqroll North Florida July 17 Times Pick

Soros--a "European at heart." Must have brought some much-needed smiles to the UK following the recent Trump Tour of Destruction. How soon we forget--in the 90s, Soros broke the pound as the Brits were trying to unify European currencies--with unfortunate conditions that weakened the effort and Soros smartly exploited.

Who can blame a globalist from crashing a poorly devised govt scheme and walking away with a cool $1B--back when a billion dollars was a lot of money? I am not the person to say whether Soros may qualify as an honest proponent of democracy, but I strongly suspect that he is a poster boy of the ultra-nationalists as they battle globalization.

In a way, Soros epitomizes the failure of globalization, which may or may not benefit the classic, labor-intensive industries of manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and mining, but always benefits, sometimes wildly, the financial "industry."

As far as I'm concerned, Soros is merely making reparations. And, sorry to say, George, it's prob too little, too late.

WPLMMT New York City July 17 Times Pick

I always thought George Soros was a dangerous [neo]liberal but after reading this article and seeing the damage he has created around the world it has been confirmed. Nigel Farage, the British politician, recently said on television that Mr. Soros is out to destroy the world. It certainly appears to be the case when you see what he did to the British and Thai economies. He was so concerned with helping immigrants and refugees that he had little regard for the citizens that actually lived in those countries that are being affected. People lost their livelihoods but that did not matter to him.

Mr. Soros fights for all the [neo]liberal causes no matter the consequences. He ... does not care who he hurts as long as he promotes his progressive agenda. He wants to allow as many immigrants to enter a nation as possible even if it adversely affects that country while he lives in luxury and is not inconvenienced by this invasion. He has billions and will probably never be touched by massive immigration.

I am glad that the conservatives and others are finally seeing his true colors and are trying to subdue him the best they can. He must be called out on this negative behavior before it is too late. It is reassuring that many of the European nations are implementing policies that are favorable to their countries and looking out for their people. Europeans must be protected and George Soros stopped. I am glad they see him for what he truly is which is frightening.

gpickard Luxembourg July 17 Times Pick

As Mr. Soros said of himself, "I am a confirmed egoist." He has used his money to make the world as he thinks is best. But having money does not give you a better moral view of how the world should be governed nor make you a god to decide for the rest of us.

I think this kind of undue influence (money in politics) is what is driving some of the back-lash against [neo]liberal democracy. So many of the "[neo]liberal" proponents of an open society, like George Soros and Bill Gates, seem to have an inordinate power to effect political outcomes because of their money.

The making of such huge amounts of money is not done with any charitable purpose. Only later, does charity come to mind.

c smith Pittsburgh July 17

Soros is an enemy of the middle and working classes in America. Yes, a billion people around the world are better off because of the forces of "globalization" (this total most definitely includes Soros himself), but millions of Americans have suffered economically as a result. GATT, NAFTA and the entire alphabet soup of trade deals have lined the pockets of the globalists, while grinding the fortunes of U.S. working and middle class laborers into dust.

Karekin USA July 17

Great article. Now, more than ever, American politics is defined by money, so it's important to understand how it is used in that context by those who have it. At this juncture, I think the American people deserve to see an expose of all those millionaires and billionaires who have and continue to support Trump. It's only fair, to lay the money trail on the table, on all sides, for everyone to see.

Tim DC area July 17 Times Pick

What about the devastating effects that free trade and globalization have had on the spread of inequality throughout the world... Huge corporations consistently use "free trade" or globalization as an excuse to offer the lowest possible wages, and move manufacturing to places with the least environmental protections and human rights.

Immigration policies are also sometimes used in ways to suppress wages, and even more worse, enacted with very little thought given to assimilation. Most of the poorer areas, or ghettoes surrounding Paris for example are populated with huge numbers of Muslim immigrants that face extremely daunting odds of fully assimilating into French culture.

While the wealthier (sometimes elite [neo]liberals) Parisians almost certainly live in gated or posh neighborhoods with hardly any immigrants as their neighbors. Despite the generous financial support Soros (and some other elites) gives to human rights causes, he rarely outright discusses some of these problems associated with free trade, globalization and mass immigration. These seeming hypocrisies and inconsistencies then become much easier fodder for those of Orban's ilk to manipulate and ultimately consolidate power.

Samuel Spade Huntsville, al July 17

Soros didn't bet on Democracy, he bet on his version of it which he tried to buy through individual politicians on the take and the Democratic Party. Better he quit manipulating pols and gave his money to charity.

Ivory Tower Colorado July 17

First, Hungary is not xenophobic, they merely want to protect their culture. Second, George Soros wants plenty of wealth for him and his family, yet he wants those of us in the middle class to dive up our meager assets with the world's poorest. Third, his personal wealth has often been generated by destroying currencies and the middle class who owns those currencies. Fourth, he promotes open borders without consulting the citizenry of said borders as to their opinion regarding their own national sovereignty. Our world would be a much better place without George Soros.

Concerned EU Resident Germany July 17

Soros is a criminal by any other name. He hedged against the UK Pound 20 years ago, and earned $1B. He earned billions by manipulating the market. With his profits he wanted to create his own society where his money could be used to buy politicians and pass legislation according to his one man agenda. He's selfish, an egomaniac, and dangerous.

geezer117 Tennessee July 17

Soros employs his vast wealth to create the society he dreams of, regardless of what the rest of us want. When the democratic process veers away from his vision, he uses the power of his wealth to steer it back.

So he's just another wealthy and powerful elite trying to remake the world as he prefers it. Such arrogance!

Rose Philadelphia July 17

Sucking money out of the world's economies so that he can direct it as HE sees fit does not make a man great. Rather, I would argue that such actions contributed to the rise of both Brexiteers and Trumpsters.

If Soros really wants to contribute to society, he would lobby for financial industry reform - less favorable tax treatment for hedge funds (what value do they really provide to society) and a transaction tax on trades to reduce speculation. Then fight for minimum wage increases.

Jonas Seattle July 17

This is a horrifying interview and does not improve the image of George Soros. "My ideology is nonideological," he says while spending billions on politics, which he defines as "In politics, you are spinning the truth, not discovering it." He describes Obama as his greatest disappointment because Obama "closed the door on me," as in he expected Obama should work with him and take his advice. Soros uses his billions to fund politicians and meddle in elections... this is a man who enjoys influencing and manipulating politics and becomes frustrated when his efforts backfire or are not successful.

Peter Albany. NY July 17

This man is the absolute worst! His no borders policy has done more to hurt Europe then Russia ever could. The Soros gang has zero respect and tolerance for nation-state sovereignty and local governance. Talk about a global elite! He and his gang epitomize that arrogance.

Marian Maryland July 17

George Soros bet big on open borders,one world governance and destroying the working class through unfair trade agreements. Yes he appears to be losing. Thank God for small favors.

Al Nino Hyde Park NY July 17

It cracks me up to read these type of article in the NYT and then read another story in the NYT about how if you can pay the money you can have yourself a private waiting area in a major airport to separate yourself from the chaos of the masses in the public waiting areas. Maybe democracy wouldn't be in trouble around the world if it worked as well for the "slobs" in the public waiting areas as it did for those in the exclusive waiting rooms. This is globalization in a nutshell. It works great for the rich, not so well for the rest of us slobs. This is a government of the rich people, by the rich people, for the rich people. The slobs realise their government doesn't really care that their jobs are disapearing and their standard of living is going down.

Charles Becker Sonoma State University July 17

I am not interested in windfall investing profits. Soros is *not* my hero: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-george-soros-broke-the-bank-of-thaila... . Wretched.

John Medina Holt July 17

To say that George Soros is funding [neo]liberal democracy is a misnomer. What Soros is funding is open borders. Where national interests are set aside, global interests prevail. This is precisely what George Soros is advocating. Tired of having to face multitude regulatory systems in his effort to build a global financial empire, Soros is quite right in discerning that a borderless, global regulatory system would increase his financial power exponentially. Nations are right to resist the encroachment of Soros because global interests, by definition, are not local interests. Nationalism, so loathed by Soros and his open border lackeys, serves as a check and balance on men like Soros who would be god and would dictate to the world from some point of central governance what their truth and value should be. George Soros and his globalist kin should be resisted. The true threat to global interests is not nationalism, it is globalism.

Richard L. Wilson Moscow, Russia July 17

Soros, and American [neo]liberalism, economic and social [neo]liberalism championed by Soros and the NYT, is in its death throes. Call us fascists, totalitarians, racists--- understand clearly: we do not care. Europe is waking up. [neo]liberalism is close to being dead. No spectres or phantoms are haunting Europe. Blood is standing up and answering our ancestors.We are not commodoties, consumers, meat for your wars. You have attacked us, belittled us, turned our queen of continents into latrines of filth. You, American [neo]liberalism, have destroyed us.Now, we take our nations back.

elizabeth renant new mexico July 17

It's amusing to read phrases like "nationalism and tribalism are resurgent". It never does to underestimate tribalism; as long as groups feel safe they are tolerant. But when groups feel threatened, tribalism rears up in what is not so much a resurgence but more like an awakening from a nap.

The older cultures of Europe are waking up from a nap and realizing that unless they reassess a few long-held assumptions, they will eventually be ethnically diminished and culturally pressured.

Denmark has banned the burka and legislated some of the harshest migration, immigration, asylum, and naturalization laws in Europe. It is implementing laws to ensure integration, including stopping benefits to families whose children are not integrating. Do the author and Mr. Soros think that Denmark exercising control over its future demographics and preserving its culture are malign?

The Danes some years ago elected the Danish People's Party to significant power; the DPP is often referred to as a far right party, but is a typical left-wing party in everything except pushing Denmark toward "multiculturalism".

Sweden's centre-left government, on the other hand, brought in hundreds of thousands of Third World immigrants and then refused even to admit, let alone discuss, the glaring problems with integration within its immigrant community.

Result: the Sweden Democrats, a bona fide neo-Nazi party, are set to do extremely and alarmingly well in Sweden's September elections.

Yes - in Sweden.

Larry Left Chicago's High Taxes July 17

This super-rich elitist from Hungary is trying to buy American democracy and reshape it in his image regardless of what We The People want. And the Democrats are on his payroll and totally owned by this foreign agent!

Burton Austin, Texas July 17

Soros' flaw is that he only tolerates centralized socialist democracy. He cannot stand the idea of democracy in the form of a federal republic with a weak central government. Interestingly, he made his billions as a predatory capitalist now he turns on capitalism. He also exhibits a particularly vicious elitism: No one should be allowed to own guns except his private security guards. He knows that umarmed men are always someone's slaves.

Ned Flarbus Berkeley July 17

Soros is a hypocrite who did one thing and is now out to create a legacy. All is shows is he is driven by both greed and ego. His blatant hypocrisy probably did more harm than good - common denominator, it's always about him. Hey Soros, don't do us plebes any more favors, ok?

Philly Expat July 17

Democracy is alive and well, regardless of what Soros thinks. He does not represent democracy, he was never been elected to any public office. He represents open borders mass migration, as the name of one of his NGOs implies, Open Society Foundation. Brexit voters, and other voters across the west are increasingly voting against his philosophy. Voters in the US, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, etc, have democratically chosen as their leaders conservative controlled borders leaders, and to underscore, all were elected via the democratic process.

Open Borders and globalism that Soros is pushing is increasingly being rejected in voting booths in the EU and the US.

It is hardly undemocratic to increasingly vote against what Soros is selling – chaotic mass migration made possible by open borders.

He represents [neo]liberal democracy, and voters increasingly favor conservative democracy.

David Brisbane July 17

George Soros is the epitome of corruption – penetration and distortion of political process by obscene wealth. It does not matter what his true intentions are – he can say whatever he wants but we will never know for sure. And stop calling that "philanthropy".

Red Cross and Salvation Army is philanthropy. What Soros is doing is imposing his personal political beliefs and ideas on everybody by buying political influence with his money - that is called "corruption" pure and simple.

Sure, he is not the only one doing that, but he is the one doing that most overtly and blatantly. He seems to relish being the face of the elitist disregard for the masses. What he does is not democracy promotion - it is the exact opposite – democracy destruction. It is good to know that he is failing in that effort.

idimalink usa July 17

Neoliberalism has failed to improve democratic governance and reduced distribution of wealth, just as leftists predicted. Soros benefitted financially, which has increased his privilege to participate in governance voters cannot achieve. Despite Soros' wealth, successfully manipulating currency markets does not easily transfer to manipulating electorates. Even if Soros believes his projects would produce good governance, he lacks the ability to convince voters what is in their best interests.

Jose Pardinas Collegeville, PA July 18

I am elated to hear that George Soros might be losing.

What pharaonic globalist plutocrats like him mean by "Liberal Democracy" encompasses a sinister set of objectives. Prominent among which are these two:

1). Full support for neocon/neoliberal destabilization, confrontation, and military interventionism.
2). The destruction of borders, nations, and cultures -- particularly Western Culture here and in Europe.

Soros and his peers want unhindered unlimited access to cheap Third World labor as well as to have complete control over the entire global economy. To his class nationalism and culture are speed bumps on the way to those self-serving goals.

[Aug 07, 2018] Truth Decay: Living in the Age of the Big Lie

Notable quotes:
"... constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment. ..."
"... Genetically Modified Canola 'Escapes' Farm Fields, August 6, 2010 ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"Living in the Age of the Big Lie" [Stephen Gold, Industry Week ]. Gold is President and Chief Executive Officer, Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI):

All this has created the potential for an American cultural crisis of distrust, authoritatively captured in two recently published analyses.

In "Truth Decay," [cute! –lambert] the RAND Corporation lays the blame for the deteriorating role of facts and data in public life on four primary causes:

1. The rise of social media
2. An overtaxed educational system that cannot keep up with changes in the "information ecosystem"
3. Political and social polarization
4. And -- perhaps due to all of these factors -- the increasing tendency of individuals to create their own subjective social reality, otherwise known as "cognitive bias."

"The Death of Truth" by Pulitzer-Prize winning book critic Michiko Kakutani explores the waning of integrity in American society, particularly since the 2016 elections. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts," is more timely than ever, Kakutani says: "polarization has grown so extreme that voters have a hard time even agreeing on the same facts." And no wonder: Two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news through social media -- a platform that has been overwhelmed by trolls and bots, and which uses algorithms to decide what each of us gets to see.

Executives ignore the cultural shift away from honesty at their peril.

Social media has its own problems, gawd knows -- break them up and outlaw the algos, and they'd be a lot more like the public utilities they should really be -- but it's amazing how vague hand-wringing pieces like this ignore at least four seismic events since 2000, all of which involve perceived legitimacy and the nature of truth: (1) Bush v. Gore, (2) Iraq WMDs, (3) Obama's "hope and change" campaign, followed by (4) the crash, the bailouts, the free passes for bankers, and a brutal recession. The official narrative and its maintainers didn't lose credibility because of trolls and bots, who might be regarded as opportunistic infections overwhelming an already weakened immnune system.

Grassroots and/or AstroTurf?

Our Famously Free Press

"The Press Doesn't Cause Wars -- Presidents Do" [ The Atlantic ] • One of a ginormous steaming load of revisionist and defensive articles prompted by Trump's tweet that the press can "causes War." Anyone who was present for the build up to the Iraq War knows that Trump's claim is true; in fact, the "media critique" that began then was prompted by the Iraq WMDs scam, in which the press -- *** cough *** Judy Miller ***cough*** -- was not merely compliant or complicitous, but active and vociferous, especially in shunning and shaming skeptics. Of course, everybody who was wrong about Iraq was wrong in the right way, so they all still have jobs (David Frum, Bush speechwriter and Hero of the Resistance, at the Atlantic, among hundreds of others). So revisionist history is very easy for them to write.

Class Warfare

"The New Class-Blindness" [ Law and Political Economy ]. "It is true that class-based discrimination does not trigger heightened scrutiny under equal protection in the way that race-based and sex-based discrimination do . Some judges -- even some Supreme Court Justices -- have begun to argue that it is constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit reached this conclusion a few years ago in the Whole Woman's Health case, in which it asserted that judges could consider only obstacles created by "the law itself" when determining whether a law unduly burdens the right to abortion -- a category that excluded obstacles such as lack of transportation, childcare, days off from work, and money for overnight stays. When Whole Woman's Health reached the Supreme Court, some of the Justices (in dissent) expressed support for this approach."

"Vermont's Striking Nurses Want A Raise for Nonunion Workers Too" [ Labor Notes ]. "Yet when 1,800 nurses and technical staff struck for better wages July 12-13 at the state's second-largest employer, the University of Vermont Medical Center, the people of Burlington came out in force to back them up. 'We had policemen and firefighters and UPS drivers pulling over and shaking our hands' on the picket line, said neurology nurse Maggie Belensz. 'We had pizza places dropping off dozens of pizzas, giving out free ice cream.' And when a thousand people marched from the hospital through Burlington's downtown, 'we had standing ovations from people eating their dinners,' she said. 'It was a moving experience.' One reason for such wide support: these hospital workers aren't just demanding a raise themselves. They're also calling for a $15 minimum wage for their nonunion co-workers, such as those who answer the phones, mop the floors, cook the food, and help patients to the bathroom."

"What Are Capitalists Thinking?" [Michael Tomaskey, New York Times ]. "I write today with some friendly advice for the capitalist class about said socialists. You want fewer socialists? Easy. Stop creating them . I understand completely why it's happening. Given what's been going on in this country, it couldn't not have happened. And if you're a capitalist, you'd better try to understand it, too -- and do something to address the very legitimate grievances that propelled it." • Finally, reality begins to penetrate the thickened craniums of the better sort of liberal

"In 2008, America Stopped Believing in the American Dream" [Frank Rich, New York Magazine ]. (The "American Dream" being one of the official narratives.) "It's not hard to pinpoint the dawn of this deep gloom: It arrived in September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers kicked off the Great Recession that proved to be a more lasting existential threat to America than the terrorist attack of seven Septembers earlier. The shadow it would cast is so dark that a decade later, even our current run of ostensible prosperity and peace does not mitigate the one conviction that still unites all Americans: Everything in the country is broken. Not just Washington, which failed to prevent the financial catastrophe and has done little to protect us from the next, but also race relations, health care, education, institutional religion, law enforcement, the physical infrastructure, the news media, the bedrock virtues of civility and community. Nearly everything has turned to crap, it seems ." • Ditto


Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Computer glitch? Well, who programmed the computer and who paid 'em? Follow the money, and you'll find that it leads back to Wells Fargo.

sierra7 , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

"We ("They") Were Doing God's Work" LLoyd Blankfein then head of Goldman Sachs in his testimony to Congress on " .what went wrong".

nippersdad , August 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I think I would put it much earlier than that. Anyone who watched Newt Gingrich during his Contract on America days, who watched Max Cleland be attacked by Saxby Chambliss, who watched as Clinton deregulated the media in favor of Rupert Murdoch even as they slagged him, knew something was afoot.

Integrity has been in short supply ever since.

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:18 pm

How about going back a bit further,
Carter, put a sweater on.
Reagan, put it on the credit card.

cm , August 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu

informative post spelling out that China is still a repressive government in ways that Americans often cannot relate.

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Tomasky at NYT:

"I have mixed feelings about this socialism boomlet. It has yet to prove itself politically viable in general elections outside a handful of areas, and by 2021 we could wake up and see that it's been a disaster for Democrats."

What is a Democrat? Are they inherently good? Is failing the Democrats OK, if doing so improves the lives of the 90%?

pretzelattack , August 6, 2018 at 3:23 pm

I would say it is required.

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Mr. Tomasky seems to have missed that Democrats throwing out the concerns of the working class to court wealthy donors for its Clintonian politics boomlet has been distinctly, well not all that long term politically viable. It has been a disaster for the Democrats. There were signs prior to 2000, but it took starting an unpopular and largely unsuccessful war and attempting to undermine Social Security for the Democrats to make a come back. That their success was pretty much over by 2010, with the exception of the Presidency is very clear in the massive loss of Governorships, State Houses and yes Congress leading up to the 2016 debacle when they foolishly nominated the Grand Dame of that 'can't give me lots of money – suck on it' political position to be their Presidential nominee.

But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative meant to convince the rubes to continue voting for polticians who have no interest in their concerns because of the right pronouns and Russia!

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

All well said. I wonder also about who is included in Tomasky's "we".

Class class class

nothing but the truth , August 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Truth Decay

The biggest cause is spin , that has become an art form, a business and career path.

Telling the truth in public is an invitation to cut short your career. The only time when officials tell the truth is when they are comfortably retired.

Especially with economists and journalists (the conscience keepers), it is not so important what they are saying, but why they are saying it (basically lack of trust in the narrator).

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

I can't remember who it was, someone like Art Buchwald or Molly Ivins way back, who said "a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth."

Craig H. , August 6, 2018 at 5:15 pm

I personally blame Bill Clinton. The turning point was the report that he told Lewinsky "deny deny deny there's nothing they can do."

Which is true but that was the point in the timeline when a critical mass of people began to live like that. Or when it became obvious to me. Perhaps it was exactly like that for a long time before and it is not BC's fault.

Synapsid , August 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm

It's cheering that coal shipment and use in the US has declined. The good news for our coal industry is that coal exports January to June 2018 have risen, in particular to Africa, Asia (largely to India which is voracious) and South America.

The current Administration can thank the previous one for increasing our capacity to export coal, I believe.

Tom Stone , August 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Sarah Jeong is a piece of work, is her desk next to Judy Miller's?
Good grief, the cultural differences between different parts of SE Asian Countries can be profound let alone the cultural differences between countries.
I'm reminded of a boss who told me that monopolies increase competition, with a straight face.

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm

My impression is that Ms. Jeong's job is and will be to start plenty of cultural "fires", so
that while the citizenry is distracted with them, the looting and pillaging of the many by the few can continue.

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

" the significant benefits that Federal Reserve independence brings." For whom?

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Re: Mastodon

You can simply "unpin" the columns you don't want to see.

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

But to answer the question you actually asked the Federated timeline includes your local timeline, which itself includes your home timeline. So if you want to see it all, just use the federated timeline. If you only want to see people you follow, use the home timeline, etc.

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

How do you start? What "instances" would be a good fit?

Lee , August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Re Sarah Jeong

What's an Asian woman doing criticizing a white guy for commenting on a predominantly, but not exclusively, black art form? I mean, why is she even speaking English and how about that name Sarah for an egregious example of cultural appropriation? And, as I have previously queried on this site: how is it even permissible for Yo-Yo Ma to play Bach on the cello? And in case you ask: yes, identity politics has finally driven me insane. Or is it they who are mad?

fresno dan , August 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Lee
August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Actually, after I read the below, I'm kinda warming to her ..

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/welcome-to-bad-faith/

She (Sarah Jeong) wrote: "After a bad day, some people come home and kick the furniture. I get on the Internet and make fun of The New York Times." "I don't feel safe in a country that is led by someone who takes Thomas Friedman seriously." "Hannah Rosin shatters ceiling by proving women writers can be as hackish as Tom Friedman, too." "[David] Brooks is an absolute nitwit tho." "Notajoke: I'm being forced to read Nicholas Kristof. This is the worst." "if I had a bajillion dollars, I'd buy the New York Times, just for the pleasure of firing Tom Friedman ."

curlydan , August 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

combining the articles, it sounds like she's got a lot of opinions. Good for an aspiring pundit but also opening herself up for a greater possibility of errors.

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:59 pm

I'd buy the New York Times, just for the pleasure of firing Tom Friedman ."

Ah, but you"ll have to scheme to have a cabbie deliver the news. Otherwise, he wouldn't believe it.

sleepy , August 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

it's amazing how vague hand-wringing pieces like this ignore at least four seismic events since 2000, all of which involve perceived legitimacy and the nature of truth: (1) Bush v. Gore, (2) Iraq WMDs, (3) Obama's "hope and change" campaign, followed by (4) the crash, the bailouts, the free passes for bankers, and a brutal recession.

Good list to which I would add the Katrina debacle.

Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm

One for the thumb!

jonhoops , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

9-11 anyone? Of course we should probably go back to at least Nov. 1963

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:28 pm

We probably should, but then you're just a conspiracy theorist.
Ya big dummy.

foghorn longhorn , August 6, 2018 at 8:48 pm

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DXY02Qkuc_f8&ved=2ahUKEwj61Jru2tncAhUJLKwKHYx6CZYQwqsBMAZ6BAgKEBE&usg=AOvVaw3Qc0sJeXBikn0l5vC9T388

Unless of course all the SS guys are riding on the VP limo.

fresno dan , August 6, 2018 at 3:55 pm

The New Class-Blindness" [Law and Political Economy]. "It is true that class-based discrimination does not trigger heightened scrutiny under equal protection in the way that race-based and sex-based discrimination do . Some judges -- even some Supreme Court Justices -- have begun to argue that it is constitutionally impermissible for courts to take class into account under the Fourteenth Amendment.
================
In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread. Anatole France

flora , August 6, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Note to Frank Rich: Read Simon Johnson's 2009 Atlantic Magazine essay 'The Quiet Coup'.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/

He saw what would happen if the US govt didn't clean up the TBTF banks, Wall St., and other financial perps. This still needs to happen.

knowbuddhau , August 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Huh, you say that as if USG, TBTF, Wall St, other fin perps weren't all the same. /s

zagonostra , August 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Russia,Russia,Russia.

Not much concern over the disconnect between voter preference and policy outcome which was documented in the 2014 Gilens/Benjamin study or Jimmy Carter statement that the U.S. is a defacto oligarchy, or the massive voter fraud that is part and parcel of our voting system (see https://www.gregpalast.com/ ), or the disclosure of HRC/DNC collusion documented in wiki leaks and Donna Brasil's "tell all book", not much concern their at all.

Do you find it curious this obsession of the MSM with Russia meddling in our elections?

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 5:02 pm

A compilation on Rachel Maddow and how many times she mentions Russia in ONE show on March 9 Russia, Russia, Russia

Richard , August 6, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Hilarious and mind-blowing.

Hameloose Cannon , August 6, 2018 at 8:34 pm

"Do you find it curious this obsession [ ] w/ Russia meddling [ ]?" The Russian meddling isn't the curious part; Russia tries it in every election west of the river Pina. The abnormal part is a sitting US President, on Twitter, accused his son of a felony aka violating 52 U.S. Code § 30121 (a)(2), soliciting contributions [things of value] from a foreign national. Talk about "Blue on Blue" fire. Nothing "friendly" about that. Especially given the prima facie evidence of violating 18 U.S. Code § 3, accessory after the fact, by dictating Don the Younger's response to the story.

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

I read the book Q a couple of years ago. It's real good. Especially if you're into the gory details of European religious history. There's a lot of things they didn't mention in my confirmation classes

Synoia , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Social media has its own problems, gawd knows The official narrative and its maintainers didn't lose credibility because of trolls and bots, who might be regarded as opportunistic infections overwhelming an already weakened immnune system

Well said. The official narrative, the swamp, is very good at blaming effects and ignoring causes.

Hiding , August 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Qanon seems like a honeypot site(s) for retribution futures. Read anything, go into a database for future reference. Unz and others have likely multiple uses and followers, NOC/NotForAttribution and other.

a different chris , August 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Agree with the disagreement over the list. However, this underlies so many, maybe all problems and nobody is seemingly going to clean it up:

>An overtaxed educational system

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

On decline in coal shipments: look what is happening elsewhere! "Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity!", https://qz.com/680661/germany-had-so-much-renewable-energy-on-sunday-that-it-had-to-pay-people-to-use-electricity/ "Power too cheap to meter," just like nuclear was promised to be! And that is an old 2016 article. I saw another piece, I believe in Business Insider or Bloomberg, complaining that the big energy companies are facing "profit stress" because of grid-ties from solar and wind requiring them to pay people for energy in excess of the load. And having, gasp! to shut down coal fired plants, each closure being a pretty expensive anti-profit center! I would tend to think of it being a re-internalization of costs that the power companies have dumped on us (health effects from heavy metal and carcinogen emissions, smog, CO2/climate interruption. Too bad the paybacks won't come from clawbacks of CEO paydays or any of the lobbying money spent to bribe legislatures, deceive the public/consumers, spent on getting legislative approval for nuclear power plants that WILL NEVER BE BUILT like Duke Energy has done (and besides, they get to cllect a billion or more from customers to "pay for" those plants that will never be built. Kind of like an ISDS "judgment" in favor of a megacorporation because 'regulation and market conditions' impaired said corporations' "expectations of profit "

Of course, windmills built to a price are not infallible, either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ

I have to add, adding it all up and looking around, "Effing stupid humans," to get to this point

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm

And beyond this point, more ***ing stupid humans thanks to, well, population growth.

That would be a problem in any system – capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Well, that green-energy surfeit may have something to do with the combination of a record-smashing heat wave in a country where A/C systems have not been needed at scale, historically speaking. But good on them if they are in fact doing it sustainably.

David , August 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

. and could provide some relief to North American farmers just as Chinese tariffs are sapping demand for soybeans and other crops.

From the USDA's Export Sales Query System

Soybeans (in Metric Tons) for the week of 7/26/2018,

Country – 2018 Exports / 2017 Exports

China – 186 / 73,314

Korea – 59,999 / 0
Japan – 72,120 / 7,758
Taiwan – 86,441 / 3,853

Grand Total for the week – 856,438 / 637,737

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Of course, a good bit of that "trade" includes genetically modified soybeans. Monsanto is happy to sell their "intellectual property," immune from consequence of course, pure profit all the way down.

And of course there are NO POSSIBLE RISKS OR CONCERNS about the propagation of gene-fiddled stuff like soybeans and canola, " Genetically Modified Canola 'Escapes' Farm Fields,
August 6, 2010
, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129010499 , just for example, I mean it's not like the World Health Organization has not kind of flagged some things that "policymakers" might want to keep in mind when confronted by the Cropporate Corrupters wanting to peddle their 'risk free innovations:'

"Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods
May 2014

These questions and answers have been prepared by WHO in response to questions and concerns from WHO Member State Governments with regard to the nature and safety of genetically modified food." http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/

"Do not worry, meine liebchen -- we do this for your own good "

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm

That's one more thing to ban – GM soybeans.

And growth hormone beef that's another.

JohnnyGL , August 6, 2018 at 5:22 pm

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/medicare-save-businesses-trillions-dollars-190500400.html

Posting this because sometimes it's more about WHO is saying it, rather than what is being said. It's not often I look at a Rick Newman column and say, 'wow, he's really making a strong case'.

Tectonic plates of politics are shifting.

Randy , August 6, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Salmonella in chickens.

The chickens are raised covered in their own filth and along with the filth comes salmonella. They attempt to contain the infection with antibiotics.

And if the conditions in the "chicken factory" aren't filthy enough the slaughterhouse ensures that the end product comes with salmonella by running the line speed so fast that punctured intestines insure that the end product comes out covered in salmonella-containing fecal matter. Which they try to contain with a chlorine bath.

If you like eating chicken shite eat store chicken. If you don't, and if you can, raise your own. Raising chickens for meat is a lot of work but they taste better and you won't be eating chicken shite.

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

Or quit eating meat.

Polar Donkey , August 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Jeez, Frank Rich needs to get out of New York City more. Everything has been completely broke around Memphis since 2006. It just mostly broke before that.

Polar Donkey , August 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Was it Trump's election, the rise of Bernie/AOC, Obama's $32 million worth of post-presidency houses, 60,000 people dying from opiods, or the broken subways in NYC that caused Frank Rich's awakening?

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:40 pm

More likely a dollar sliding down the sidewalk

Glen , August 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

"Obama didn't cause that broken spirit any more than Trump did."

Obama made it perfectly clear that the Democratic party was going to do nothing to correct 2008. Instead he put the very same people that wrecked the world economy back in charge. I will no longer vote for the "have no alternative" Democrat. I will vote for those that are going to enact the polices that will fix this mess. If that means we get twenty Trumps a row – so be it.

Bernie would have won.

anon , August 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Re: On average for the year-ended this May, 58.5 percent of the job gains were in counties that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 , and this excerpt from that Associated Press link:

The jobs data shows an economy that is as fractured as the political landscape ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. As more money pools in corporate hubs such as Houston, San Francisco or Seattle , prosperity spills over less and less to smaller towns and cities in America's interior. That would seem to undercut what Trump sees as a central accomplishment of his administration – job creation for middle class and blue-collar workers in towns far removed from glitzy urban centers.

Looking at those cities noted, especially Seattle and San Francisco – both of which now have an inhuman level of inequality and homelessness -- a further dive into the details is necessary.

Specifically, are those job gains ™ out of state imported employees from: Ivy League Schools (predominately under 26, mostly white males from elite families); along with H-1B, and Opt Program imported employees (predominately under 26, mostly males from mostly upper middle class Asian families, paid far, far less than those Ivy Leaguers) [1]; while the displaced unemployed -- yet, highly qualified for employment -- residents in those cities are continually being forced out (if they can afford the move and have somewhere they are able to move to), or made homeless.

[1] Admittedly, I'm not sure whether they are included in those job gains, but if the job gains are based on ADP reports, it might well be likely that they are; of course a search on two search sites brought up no answer to my query.

Daryl , August 6, 2018 at 6:08 pm

> Mastodon users?

I find Mastodon's user interface to be fairly unintuitive myself. Presumably it would be possible to make your own "mixed" view as it's open source and based on open protocols, but not sure if Mastodon supports it out of the box.

lyman alpha blob , August 6, 2018 at 6:22 pm

How does Mastodon work?

By rocking until you can't take it anymore.

Instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFop1gTbaj8

And their drummer is a monster!

Or did you mean the Mastodon platform ?

Sorry Lambert, couldn't help myself Just saw this band recently and they are tremendous.

Arizona Slim , August 6, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Fun tutorial, lyman!

ChrisPacific , August 6, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Re: Indivisible

AOC is one of their candidates, as are Cynthia Nixon, Ayana Pressley etc. There is a prevalence of Democrat buzzwords, but I think they are aiming to be agnostic regarding left factions:

We're excited to make gains in 2018, but Indivisible 435 isn't just about notching wins. Our organization is not a wing of the Democratic party. While we care deeply about electing officials to oppose the Trump agenda, we care just as much building a strong progressive community nationwide and pushing the conversation back to the interests of the people.

This would be well off message for establishment Democrats.

I'd be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, but still watch what they do.

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm

I would posit that most of the job gains in the last decade maybe even two were probably in areas that voted for Clinton. That the Texas boom and the oil boom in the Dakota's were exceptions not the rule. I would also posit that the few Trump areas that did see job growth in that decade saw that growth in minimum wage low to no benefit jobs. (That last one wasn't much of a stretch since that has been the majority of jobs created during both the Bush 2 and Obama administration.)

Summer , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Maybe They Could Invent Houses" [Eschaton]. • After having invented the bodega, the bus

More like an "Appartment"?

drumlin woodchuckles , August 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Sarah Jeong . . . hmmm . . .

Things like this have led me to comment in the past and every comment on this particular subject has failed to print. I figure I am tripping some kind of auto-filter.

So I will try again with indirect spelling.

We need a new word for this sort of thing. It would emerge from the new acronym we need.
The letters would be . . . arrr peee ohhh ceee
that stands for . . . rayciss purrsuns ovv cuhluhr.

The Rev Kev , August 6, 2018 at 7:36 pm

"Dockless bike, scooter firms clash with U.S. cities over regulations"

I have a solution to these tech-companies which strew towns and cities with their bikes without coordinating or even asking to enter such a town and let the town try to adapt to their needs. It is called an impound lot. You have city workers pick them up and cart them there. If that company wants their bikes back again, they will have to pay to spring them from the lot. Rinse and repeat until that tech company gets the message. If that tech company doubles down, announce a $5 bounty for any bike driven to the impound lot till the company is ready to negotiate.

drumlin woodchuckles , August 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Disrupt the disrupters.

Disruptive law-enforcement.

beth , August 6, 2018 at 8:05 pm

"How a Pair of Kentucky Pols Are About to Legalize Hemp"

Please help me here. Hemp can be sold in all 50 states. The 2014 Farm bill allowed each state to decide whether hemp oil could be sold for medicinal purposes w/i that year. My first package sent to me was from a reputable company and was mailed through Amazon from Kentucky. I was experiencing severe pain and now have a better alternative.

CalypsoFacto , August 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

I am also hoping for this bill so I can get into hemp processing for fibers into fabric!

The Rev Kev , August 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

"How to keep young people from fleeing small towns for big cities"

Not so hard. See that there are jobs for them. You cannot do much in modern society without money and a job provides this. A job provides dignity, discipline and the money it provides lets a young person to satisfy not only their needs but many of their wants as well. It is hard for a young guy to take a girl out but having no money to do so and a job's money will help a couple set up a household and marry and have children. The drop in marriage rates as well as the birthrate speaks volumes of the lack of decent paying jobs for young people, even those that have achieved credentials. Supply good paying jobs and most kids will stay put. Not so hard to work out.

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Re. "Trump v. Fed" [Money and Banking], bolds mine: "Last month, interrupting decades of presidential self-restraint, President Trump openly criticized the Federal Reserve. Given the President's penchant for dismissing valuable institutions, it is hard to be surprised investors are reasonably focused on the selection of qualified academics and individuals with valuable policy and business experience the President's comments are seriously disturbing and -- were they to become routine -- risk undermining the significant benefits that Federal Reserve independence brings."

As Lambert would say, for some definition of 'valuable', 'benefits' and 'independence'.

[Aug 05, 2018] What If Everything We've Been Told About Recent History Is a Lie

Notable quotes:
"... The author is a prominent American Christian conservative who was a presidential candidate for the paleoconservative Constitution Party in 2008, when he was endorsed by Ron Paul. ..."
"... He is the pastor of Liberty Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Montana, and he is a popular radio host and columnist . His weekly sermons are available on his YouTube channel. ..."
"... He is a relentless foe of neoconservatism and frequently criticizes the neocon hostility towards Russia. His views are representative of an influential and substantial part of Trump's popular support. ..."
"... Here is an archive of his excellent articles which we have published on Russia Insider , when they were relevant to the debate over Russia. ..."
"... The War on Terror ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
"... The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | russia-insider.com

"Behind the War on Terror is a strategic plan crafted decades in advance to redraw the map of the Middle East. 9/11 was a false-flag operation blamed on Muslims ..." Chuck Baldwin Wed, Aug 1, 2018 | 14,261 389 MORE: History Revisionist History The author is a prominent American Christian conservative who was a presidential candidate for the paleoconservative Constitution Party in 2008, when he was endorsed by Ron Paul.

He is the pastor of Liberty Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Montana, and he is a popular radio host and columnist . His weekly sermons are available on his YouTube channel.

He is a relentless foe of neoconservatism and frequently criticizes the neocon hostility towards Russia. His views are representative of an influential and substantial part of Trump's popular support.

Here is an archive of his excellent articles which we have published on Russia Insider , when they were relevant to the debate over Russia.


What if everything we've been told about 9/11 is a lie? What if it wasn't 19 Muslim terrorist hijackers that flew those planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon? What if the Muslims had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks on 9/11? What if everything we've been told about the reasons we invaded two sovereign nations (Afghanistan and Iraq) is a lie?

What if the 17-year-old, never-ending "War on Terror" in the Middle East is a lie? What if our young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given their lives in America's "War on Terror" died for a lie? What if G.W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been nothing but controlled toadies for an international global conspiracy that hatched the attacks of 9/11 as nothing more than a means to institute a perpetual "War on Terror" for purposes that have nothing to do with America's national security? Would the American people want to know? Would the truth even matter to them?

The sad reality is that the vast majority of Americans who would read the above paragraph would totally dismiss every question I raised as being unrealistic and impossible -- or even nutty. Why is that? Have they studied and researched the questions? No. Have they given any serious thought to the questions? No. They have simply swallowed the government/mainstream media version of these events hook, line and sinker.

It is totally amazing to me that the same people who say they don't believe the mainstream media (MSM) and government (Deep State) versions of current events -- which is why they voted for and love Donald Trump -- have absolutely no reservations about accepting the official story that the 9/11 attacks were the work of jihadist Muslims and that America's "War on Terror" is completely legitimate.

These "always Trumpers" are dead set in their minds that America is at war with Islam; that Trump's bombings of Syria were because President Assad is an evil, maniacal monster who gassed his own people; and that Trump's expansion of the war in Afghanistan is totally in the interests of America's national security.

BUT WHAT IF ALL OF IT IS A BIG, FAT LIE?

What if the Muslims had NOTHING to do with 9/11?

What if Bashar al-Assad did NOT gas his own people?

What if America's "War on Terror" is a completely false, manufactured, made-up deception?

What if America's military forces are mostly fighting for foreign agendas and NOT for America's national security or even our national interests?

What if America's war in Afghanistan is a fraud?

What if the entire "War on Terror" is a fraud?

The Trump robots have bought into America's "War on Terror" as much as Obama's robots and Bush's robots did. Bush was elected twice, largely on the basis of America's "War on Terror." Obama campaigned against the "War on Terror" and then expanded it during his two terms in office. Trump campaigned against the "War on Terror" and then immediately expanded it beyond what Obama had done. In fact, Trump is on a pace to expand the "War on Terror" beyond the combined military aggressions of both Bush and Obama.

But who cares? Who even notices?

America is engaged in a global "War on Terror." Just ask G.W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News, The Washington Post, the New York Times and the vast majority of America's pastors and preachers. They all tell us the same thing seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Liberals scream against Trump, and conservatives scream against Maxine Waters; but both sides come together to support America's never-ending "War on Terror."

But what if it's ALL a lie? What if Obama and Trump, the right and the left, the MSM and the conservative media are all reading from the same script? What if they are all (wittingly or unwittingly) in cahoots in perpetuating the biggest scam in world history? And why is almost everyone afraid to even broach the question?

Left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, secular or Christian, no one dares to question the official story about the 9/11 attacks or the "War on Terror."

And those who do question it are themselves attacked unmercifully by the right and the left, conservatives and liberals, Christians and secularists, Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews. Why is that? Why is it that FOX News and CNN, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz equally promote the same cockamamie story about 9/11 and the "War on Terror?"

Why? Why? Why?

Tell me again how Donald Trump is so different from Barack Obama. Tell me again how Ted Cruz is so different from Chuck Schumer. They all continue to perpetuate the lies about 9/11. They all continue to escalate America's never-ending "War on Terror." They are all puppets of a global conspiracy to advance the agenda of war profiteers and nation builders.

The left-right, conservative-liberal, Trump-Obama paradigm is one big giant SCAM. At the end of the day, the "War on Terror" goes on, bombs keep falling on people in the Middle East who had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9/11 and the money keeps flowing into the coffers of the international bankers and war merchants.

All of the above is why I am enthusiastically promoting Christopher Bollyn's new blockbuster book The War on Terror .

Of course, Bollyn is one of the world's foremost researchers and investigators into the attacks on 9/11. He has written extensively on the subject. But unlike most other 9/11 investigators, Bollyn continued to trace the tracks of the attacks on 9/11. And those tracks led him to discover that the 9/11 attacks were NOT "the event" but that they were merely the trigger for "the event." "What was the event?" you ask. America's perpetual "War on Terror."

As a result, Mr. Bollyn published his findings that the attacks on 9/11 were NOT perpetrated by Muslim extremists but by a very elaborate and well financed international conspiracy that had been in the planning for several decades. Bollyn's research names names, places and dates and exposes the truth behind not just 9/11 (many have done that) but behind America's "War on Terror" that resulted from the attacks on 9/11.

IT'S TIME FOR THE TRUTH TO COME OUT!

And Christopher Bollyn's investigative research brings out the truth like nothing I've read to date. His research connects the dots and destroys the myths.

Mr. Bollyn's research is published in a book entitled (full title): The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East . I mean it when I say that if enough people read this book, it could change the course of history and save our republic.

This is written on the book's back cover:

The government and media have misled us about 9/11 in order to compel public opinion to support the War on Terror.

Why have we gone along with it? Do we accept endless war as normal? Are we numb to the suffering caused by our military interventions?

No. We have simply been propagandized into submission. We have been deceived into thinking that the War on Terror is a good thing, a valiant struggle against terrorists who intend to attack us as we were on 9/11.

Behind the War on Terror is a strategic plan crafted decades in advance to redraw the map of the Middle East. 9/11 was a false-flag operation blamed on Muslims in order to start the military operations for that strategic plan. Recognizing the origin of the plan is crucial to understanding the deception that has changed our world.

Folks, 9/11 was a deception. The "War on Terror" is a deception. The phony left-right paradigm is a deception. FOX News is as much a deception as CNN. The "always Trump" group is as much a deception as the "never Trump" group. America has been in the throes of a great deception since September 11, 2001. And this deception is being perpetrated by Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals alike.

I do not know Christopher Bollyn. I've never met him. But I thank God he had the intellectual honesty and moral courage to write this book. I urge readers to get this explosive new book. If you don't read any other book this year, read Mr. Bollyn's investigative masterpiece: The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East .

Again, I am enthusiastically recommending this book to my readers, and I make no apologies for doing so. The truth contained in this research MUST get out, and I am determined to do all I can to help make that possible.

Order Christopher Bollyn's blockbuster book The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East here:

The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East

I am confident that after you read this book, you will want to buy copies for your friends and relatives. The book is under 200 pages long and is not difficult reading. However, the facts and details Bollyn covers are profound and powerful. I have read the book three times so far and I'm not finished.

Frankly, Bollyn's book made so many things make sense for me. His book dovetails and tracks with much of my research on other topics. Truly, his book helped me get a much fuller understanding of the "big picture."

What if everything we've been told about 9/11 and the "War on Terror" is a lie? Well, Bollyn's book proves that indeed it is.

Again, here is where to find Christopher Bollyn's phenomenal new book The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East :

The War On Terror: The Plot To Rule The Middle East


Source: Chuck Baldwin LIVE

[Aug 03, 2018] Donald Trump might be a symptom that neoliberal system is about to collapse

Amazing interview.
We are in the point when capitalist system (which presented itself as asocial system that created a large middle class) converted into it opposite: it is social system that could not deliver that it promised and now want to distract people from this sad fact.
The Trump adopted tax code is a huge excess: we have 40 year when corporation paid less taxes. This is last moment when they need another gift. To give them tax is crazy excess that reminding Louis XV of France. Those gains are going in buying of socks. And real growth is happening elsewhere in the world.
After WW2 there were a couple of decades of "golden age" of US capitalism when in the USA middle class increased considerably. That was result of pressure of working class devastated by Great Depression. Roosevelt decided that risk is too great and he introduced social security net. But capitalist class was so enraged that they started fighting it almost immediately after the New Deal was introduced. Business class was enrages with the level of taxes and counterattacked. Tarp act and McCarthyism were two successful counterattacks. McCarthyism converting communists and socialists into agents of foreign power.
The quality of jobs are going down. That's why Trump was elected... Which is sad. Giving your finger to the neoliberal elite does not solve their problem
Notable quotes:
"... Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction. ..."
"... When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. ..."
"... Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade. ..."
"... The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears. ..."
Jul 10, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

In another interesting interview with Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff explains why the Trump presidency is the last resort of a system that is about to collapse:

Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction.

So, absent that counter force we are going to see this system spinning out of control and destroying itself in the very way its critics have for so long foreseen it well might.

When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. If we hadn't been a country with two or three decades of a middle class - working class paid really well - maybe we could have gotten away with this. But in a society that has celebrated its capacity to do what it now fails to do, you have an explosive situation.

Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade.

The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears.

In France, it was said 'Après moi, le déluge' (after me the catastrophe). The storm will break.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/60FrsWm9OAc

[Aug 02, 2018] Most poverty is in female-headed households

What about part-times who are are exploited to the mex and paied very little... This is sophistry to assume that everybody has full time job in compemporary America.
Aug 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

...A single person taking a minimum wage job would earn an annual income of $15,080. A married couple would earn $30,160. By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 4 percent of hourly workers in 2016 were paid the minimum wage. That means that over 96 percent of workers earned more than the minimum wage. Not surprising is the fact that among both black and white married couples, the poverty rate is in the single digits. Most poverty is in female-headed households.

[Jul 30, 2018] Jeff Bezos Paper Tells You Not To Worry About Those Billionaires

Looks like a lot of people now have doubts about the legitimacy of neoliberal social system.
Jul 30, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

buzzsaw99 Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:04 Permalink

The fact that Mark Zuckerberg is so rich is annoying, and his separateness from Main Street may not be a great thing socially, but in an economic sense, his fortune did not "come from" the paychecks of ordinary workers...

It damn sure did. It came straight out of their pension funds. Thousands of pension funds across the world bought faang stocks and those workers will be getting fucked in the end while while zuck heads back to hawaii with their money. look at elon, his company hasn't made dime one in profit but he is a billionaire. amzn, with a p/e of 228. they didn't get that p/e without millions of ordinary folk buying their overpriced stock. it is pure ponzi-nomics with fascist overtones and the maggots are cashing out big time.

divingengineer -> buzzsaw99 Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:14 Permalink

The greatest fortunes in history have been built in the last 10 years with 0% interest rates. You were spot on about pensions, they were the casualties, almost every private pension in the country bankrupted by 0% rates so that these fucks could amass unimaginable wealth.

Now the filthy commoner scum have the audacity to suggest that they should pay taxes on it. Where will the madness end?

cankles' server -> divingengineer Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:24 Permalink

Very soon.

A big reveal of corruption is happening before the end of the month.

The didn't do a half billion dollar renovation on Gitmo for nothing. It's for the treasonous scum that will be on trial in military tribunals.

same2u -> divingengineer Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:35 Permalink

All my friends Jews knew this was going to happen. They were buying stocks like crazy when I was telling them to buy gold and get ready for a big reset that never happened. Ten years later they are all multimillionaires and I lost half of my money buying gold...

buzzsaw99 -> divingengineer Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:42 Permalink

institutions bought their shares with real earned money. bezos did not. as far as i'm concerned being a ceo is a license to steal. bezos damn sure didn't earn that money because he is smarter or works harder than anyone else. look at how he treats his workers. what an asshole.

james diamond squid -> buzzsaw99 Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:48 Permalink

everyone wants to have an IPO or be in on an IPO, so they can dump their shares on a patsy at a later date

Zorba's idea -> divingengineer Sun, 07/29/2018 - 14:09 Permalink

True! The Elites have rigged the system...natural for them to rape our ASSets.

SocratesSolutions -> buzzsaw99 Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:43 Permalink

It's even worse than that. So much worse. Facebook was stolen by the Satanic Judaic Zionist crowd. Research it. Another gentleman invented it. The Jews stole it, like they've stolen pretty much everything else. No wonder Napoleon said that "The Jews are the master robbers of the modern age". And beyond the criminal vile theft, you have what they are using it for. And that is?

Using it for the 911'd cows in America. And that is you. The Satanic Jews are murdering you and robbing you blind. They 911'd you physically with the Twin Towers. Now they're doing it mentally and financially with Facebook, a control system grid -- a gate to herd cattle which they view you as. They are herding you. You'll be 911'd again in larger and larger numbers until the Satanic Judaic is removed from the World Stage.

Here is the real creator of Facebook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ4KRts8RFc

Zuckerberg is a planted punk Zionist spook. You're going to have to clear the world of all of these Satanic Judaic ladies and gentlemen. First the idea needs to come in to show how and why. This is underway.

divingengineer Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:08 Permalink

Sickening wealth and sickening poverty, all on display only feet apart on the West Coast.

I don't know the answer, neither do they, but they better figure something out and quick if they know what's good for them.

FORCE Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:10 Permalink

Amerikan pauper-proles;let them eat cake-apps

same2u Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:12 Permalink

Ever since the housing crisis I been waiting for the world to become a better place. I see now that I been fooling myself into believing that we live in a civilized and honest world. Nobody gives a shit about anyone nor anything, people only care about themselves...

divingengineer -> same2u Sun, 07/29/2018 - 13:17 Permalink

How do we turn these viscous billionaire dogs on each other rather than on us?

We need to figure out how to play the game like they play it on us.

[Jul 30, 2018] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for an American to understand the truth by Paul Haeder

Notable quotes:
"... It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda. ..."
"... Blowback , Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire ..."
"... The Common Good ..."
"... Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber ..."
"... Dissident Voice ..."
"... LA Progressive ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | dissidentvoice.org

In a sense, blowback is simply another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows. Although people usually know what they have sown, our national experience of blowback is seldom imagined in such terms because so much of what the managers of the American empire have sown has been kept secret.

It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda.

― Chalmers Johnson, Blowback , Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

There are no more leaps of faith, or get out of jail cards left anymore. The first casualty of war is truth.

Lofty heights of defining the first amendment are just overlooks onto the crumbling mythology of a democracy, where the people – citizens -- vote for laws directly. We have a republic, a faulty one, the source of which is the power derived from billionaires, financiers, arms merchants, K-Streeters and the attendant moles allowing the government to break every charter of human concern. So, in that regard, we in this corptocracy have the right to be fooled every minute, suckered to not know a goddamned thing about democracy in big quotes.

The very concept of manufactured consent and a controlled opposition destroys much of the power of agency and so-called freedom of assembly, association and travel.

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.

― Vladimir Lenin

But, alas, we have blokes who see the world not as a black and white dichotomous illusion of the for v. against bifurcation, but a world of flowing back to what words should mean, a world that allows the filters to be smashed like high polished glass and instead deploying a magnifying glass to point toward the very source of the blasphemies and strong arm robberies that have been occurring in the Republic the very first moment the beaver hat was put on and the first treaty scripted by the powdered wigs of Washingtonian Fathers and broken, ripped to shreds, seeded with the dark force that is the white race.

Here comes Tools for Transparency into the mix of triage to uphold the declaration of independence, and the few tenets of the constitution that are supremely directed to we-by-for-because of the people, AND not the corporation, monopoly, Military-Retail-Finance-Ag-Energy-Pharma-Prison-Medical-Toxins-IT-Surveillance-Legal Complex. This project is the brainchild of a former Marine who "came to life late in the world" of pure skepticism about the powers that be and his own questioning of the motivations and machinations of his government and political representatives.

... ... ...

...we talked about Mad Men , the Edward Bernays and Milton Friedman schools of propaganda, framing stories (lies) and setting out to paint good people as bad, heroic politicians like Salvador Allende of Chile as Commie Baby Killers. Even now, Bush, the instigator of chaos in the Middle East, with all the cooked up lies and distractions of his own stupidity (like Trump), and, bam, W is reclaimed (in the mainstream mush media) as something of a good president, and especially by the likes of the Democratic Party misleadership .

... ... ...

His Tools for Transparency cuts through the opinion, and as he proposes, makes the world news and the even more Byzantine and elaborate proposed legislation and lobbying groups behind "the news" approachable, again, consumable.

He taps into his college days taking courses in industrial organizational psychology, seemingly benign when the American Psychological Association gets to mash the term into a three-fold brochure by defining it for prospective students as business as usual for corporations, and humanity is better because of this sort of manipulative psychology, but . . .

In reality, it's the science of behavior in the workplace, organizational development, attitudes, career development, decision theory, human performance, human factors, consumer behavior, small group theory and process, criterion theory and development and job and task analysis and individual assessment. It's a set of tools to keep workers down spiritually and organizationally, disconnected, fearful, confused and ineffectual as thinkers and resisters, and inept at countering the abuse of power companies or bureaucracies wield over a misinformed workforce.

The shape of corporations' unethical behavior, their sociopathic and the draconian workplace conditions today are largely sculpted and defined by these behavior shapers to include the marketers and the Edward Bernays-inspired manipulators of facts and brain functioning. This begs the question for Hanson, just what are today's hierarchy of needs for the average American? Physiological; Safety; Love/Belonging; Esteem; Self-Actualization.

... ... ...

Brian believes there is an awakening today in this country, and that the examples of movements such as those in Portland where youth are out yelling against the police state, and then how we are seeing individual officers returning firing with violence against those youth:

The viral video of an officer drawing his pistol on a group of school age children is terrifying.

We talk a lot about the devaluing of language and intentional discourse which includes the abilities of a society to engage in lively and cogent debate. For me, I know the forces of propaganda are multi-headed, multi-variant, with so much of American life seeded with lies, half-truths, duplicitous and twisted concepts, as well as inaccurate and spin-doctored history, which has contaminated a large portion of our society, up and down the economic ladder, with mind control.

Unfortunately, our language now is inextricably tied to emotions, as we see leftists (what's that?) and so-called progressives screaming at the top of their lungs how Trump is the worst president ever. Black so-called activists , journalists, stating how the empire (sky) is falling because Trump talked with Putin . Imagine, imagine, all those millions upon millions of people killed because of all the other presidents' and their thugs' policies eviscerating societies, all those elections smeared, all those democracies mauled, all those citizens in the other part of the world hobbled by America's policies, read "wars, occupations, embargoes, structural violence." It is a daily reminder for us all that today, as was true yesterday, that we are ruled by masters of self-deception and our collective society having a feel good party every day while we plunder the world. Doublethink. Here:

Orwell's point :

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Herein lies the problem – vaunting past presidents on pedestals while attacking this current deplorable, Donald Trump. The reality is the US has been run by an elite group of militarists, and by no means is Trump the worst of the worst, which is both illogical and unsupported by facts:

Yet, we have to mark the words and wisdom of those of us who have been marking this empire's crimes, both internal and external, for years. Here, Paul Edwards over at Counterpunch hits a bulls-eye on the heart of the matter:

After decades of proven bald-faced crime, deceit and the dirtiest pool at home and abroad, the CIA, FBI, NSA, the Justice Department and the whole fetid nomenklatura of sociopathic rats, are portrayed as white knights of virtue dispensing verity as holy writ. And "progressives" buy it.

These are the vermin that gave us Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, Chile, the Contras, Iraq's WMD, and along the way managed to miss the falls of the Shah and Communism.

Truly an Orwellian clusterfuck, this. War Party Dems misleading naive liberal souls sickened by Trump into embracing the dirty, vicious lunacy Hillary peddled to her fans, the bankers, brokers, and CEOs of the War Machine.

Trump is a fool who may yet blunder us into war; the Dems and the Deep State cabal would give us war by design.

... ... ...

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber , looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice , and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive . Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jul 28, 2018] American Society Would Collapse If It Were not For These 8 Myths by Lee Camp

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Well, it comes down to the myths we've been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned. ..."
"... Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can't get anything resembling hard news because it's funded by dicks.) The corporate media's jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It's their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I'm telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they're standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat. ..."
"... The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted , "The most basic constitutional rights have been erased for many. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security." ..."
"... This myth (Buying will make you happy) is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious). ..."
"... According to Deloitte's Shift Index survey : "80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs" and "[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime." That's about one-seventh of your life -- and most of it is during your most productive years. ..."
"... Try maintaining your privacy for a week without a single email, web search or location data set collected by the NSA and the telecoms. ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Lee Camp via TruthDig.com,

Our society should've collapsed by now. You know that, right?

No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a "Star Wars" movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can't afford a $500 emergency . Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion . He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.

Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years . (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.

So shouldn't there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn't it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren't on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone's going to work at gunpoint? No. We're all choosing to continue on like this.

Why?

Well, it comes down to the myths we've been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned.

I'm going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I'm going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled "Hundreds of Myths of American Society," (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other shit to do.

Myth No. 8 -- We have a democracy.

If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? You probably can't do it. It's like trying to think of something that rhymes with "orange." You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn't. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy : A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we're a democracy to give us the illusion of control.

Myth No. 7 -- We have an accountable and legitimate voting system.

Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap!

What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system?

No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world . Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he's driving the car? That's what our election system is -- a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, "I'm steeeeering !"

And I know it's counterintuitive, but that's why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what's stolen through our ridiculous rigged system.

Myth No. 6 -- We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable.

Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can't get anything resembling hard news because it's funded by dicks.) The corporate media's jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It's their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I'm telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they're standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat.

Myth No. 5 -- We have an independent judiciary.

The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted , "The most basic constitutional rights have been erased for many. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security."

If you're not part of the monied class, you're pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times , "97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence."

That's the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don't have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn't advertise on beer coasters.)

Myth No. 4 -- The police are here to protect you. They're your friends .

That's funny. I don't recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states .)

The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs -- which by definition is a war on our own people .

We lock up more people than any other country on earth . Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea -- none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty's skirt.

Myth No. 3 -- Buying will make you happy.

This myth (Buying will make you happy) is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious).

If we're lucky, we'll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn't truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you'll feel alive !

The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won't keep running around the wheel. And if we aren't running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us.

Myth No. 2 -- If you work hard, things will get better.

According to Deloitte's Shift Index survey : "80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs" and "[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime." That's about one-seventh of your life -- and most of it is during your most productive years.

Ask yourself what we're working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to:

I plant the food -- >I eat the food -- >If I don't plant food = I die.

But nowadays, if you work at a café -- will someone die if they don't get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-piss-latte? I kinda doubt they'll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency.

If you work at Macy's, will customers perish if they don't get those boxer briefs with the sweat-absorbent-ass fabric? I doubt it. And if they do die from that, then their problems were far greater than you could've known. So that means we're all working to make other people rich because we have a society in which we have to work. Technological advancements can do most everything that truly must get done.

So if we wanted to, we could get rid of most work and have tens of thousands of more hours to enjoy our lives. But we're not doing that at all. And no one's allowed to ask these questions -- not on your mainstream airwaves at least. Even a half-step like universal basic income is barely discussed because it doesn't compute with our cultural programming.

Scientists say it's quite possible artificial intelligence will take away all human jobs in 120 years . I think they know that will happen because bots will take the jobs and then realize that 80 percent of them don't need to be done! The bots will take over and then say, "Stop it. Stop spending a seventh of your life folding shirts at Banana Republic."

One day, we will build monuments to the bot that told us to enjoy our lives and leave the shirts wrinkly.

And this leads me to the largest myth of our American society.

Myth No. 1 -- You are free.

... ... ...

Try sleeping in your car for more than a few hours without being harassed by police.

Try maintaining your privacy for a week without a single email, web search or location data set collected by the NSA and the telecoms.

Try signing up for the military because you need college money and then one day just walking off the base, going, "Yeah, I was bored. Thought I would just not do this anymore."

Try explaining to Kentucky Fried Chicken that while you don't have the green pieces of paper they want in exchange for the mashed potatoes, you do have some pictures you've drawn on a napkin to give them instead.

Try running for president as a third-party candidate. (Jill Stein was shackled and chained to a chair by police during one of the debates.)

Try using the restroom at Starbucks without buying something while black.

We are less free than a dog on a leash. We live in one of the hardest-working, most unequal societies on the planet with more billionaires than ever .

Meanwhile, Americans supply 94 percent of the paid blood used worldwide. And it's almost exclusively coming from very poor people. This abusive vampire system is literally sucking the blood from the poor. Does that sound like a free decision they made? Or does that sound like something people do after immense economic force crushes down around them? (One could argue that sperm donation takes a little less convincing.)

Point is, in order to enforce this illogical, immoral system, the corrupt rulers -- most of the time -- don't need guns and tear gas to keep the exploitation mechanisms humming along. All they need are some good, solid bullshit myths for us all to buy into, hook, line and sinker. Some fairy tales for adults.

It's time to wake up.


bobcatz -> powow Fri, 07/27/2018 - 16:43 Permalink

Myth #9: America is not an Israeli colony

DingleBarryObummer -> bobcatz Fri, 07/27/2018 - 16:49 Permalink

#10: Muh 6 Gorillion

#11: Building 7

bfellow -> DingleBarryObummer Fri, 07/27/2018 - 16:55 Permalink

815M people chronically malnourished according to the UN. Bezos is worth $141B.

$141B / 815M people = $173 per person. That would definitely not feed them for "multiple years". And that's only if Bezos could fully liquidate the stock without it dropping a penny.

Author lost me right there.

Oldguy05 -> Oldguy05 Fri, 07/27/2018 - 22:25 Permalink

" Point is, in order to enforce this illogical, immoral system, the corrupt rulers -- most of the time -- don't need guns and tear gas to keep the exploitation mechanisms humming along. All they need are some good, solid bullshit myths for us all to buy into, hook, line and sinker. Some fairy tales for adults. "

Seems like there's tear gas in the air and guns are going to be used soon. The myths are dying on the tongues of the liars. Molon Labe!....and I'm usually a pacifist.

BennyBoy -> Nunny Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:51 Permalink

"American Society Would Collapse If It Weren't For Invasions Of Foreign Countries, Murdering Their People, Stealing Their Oil Then Blaming Them For Making The US Do It."

Oldguy05 -> Nunny Fri, 07/27/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

Eisenhower's speeches were awesome and true. But he was right there doing the same shit. Was he feeling guilty in the end?

Proofreder -> vato poco Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:39 Permalink

Freedom - just another word for nothing left to lose ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7hk-hI0JKw&list=RDEMoIkwgyb6gDyuA-bFyR

east of eden -> vato poco Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

Well, in a world driven by oil, it is entirely bogus to suggest that citizens have to work their asses off. That was the whole point of the bill of goods that was sold to us in the late 70's and early 80'. More leisure time, more time for your family and personal interests.

Except! It never happened. All they fucking did was reduce real wages and force everyone from the upper middle class down, into a shit hole.

But, they will pay for their folly. Guaran-fucking-teed.

TheEndIsNear -> HopefulCynical Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:33 Permalink

As one who has hoed many rows of cotton in 115F temperatures as well as picking cotton during my childhood and early adolescence during weekends and school holidays, I concur. It was a very powerful inducement to get a good education back when schools actually taught things and did not tolerate backtalk or guff from students instead of babysitting them. It worked, and I ended up writing computer software for spacecraft, which was much fun than working in the fields.

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink . For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jul 23, 2018] Report Former FBI Lawyer Lisa Page Revealed Under Oath That There Was No Basis for Mueller's Appointment

Notable quotes:
"... The Mueller special counsel investigation was launched to probe charges that the key FBI officials developing evidence in the case thought were baseless. That's a bombshell accusation that appears to have been confirmed by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page , according to John Solomon . It tends to confirm the suspicion that the Mueller probe is a cover-up operation to obscure the criminal use of counterintelligence capabilities to spy on a rival presidential campaign and then sabotage the presidency that resulted. ..."
"... she offered a bombshell confirmation of the meaning of one of the most enigmatic text messages that the public has seen (keep in mind that there are many yet to be released). ..."
"... The truth behind the Mueller probe is looking uglier and uglier. Pursuing bogus accusations without foundation is the very definition of a witch hunt – President Trump's term for Mueller's team of Hillary-supporters. ..."
"... We don't know anything at all about the activities of Utah U.S. attorney Peter Huber , who is investigating the potential abuse of U.S. intelligence apparatus for political purposes. That is the proper procedure for grand jury probes. But if Lisa Page is honestly answering questions under oath for a congressional committee, she probably is doing so in grand jury sessions, if summoned. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

By Thomas Lifson Global Research, July 23, 2018 American Thinker 20 July 2018

The Mueller special counsel investigation was launched to probe charges that the key FBI officials developing evidence in the case thought were baseless. That's a bombshell accusation that appears to have been confirmed by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page , according to John Solomon . It tends to confirm the suspicion that the Mueller probe is a cover-up operation to obscure the criminal use of counterintelligence capabilities to spy on a rival presidential campaign and then sabotage the presidency that resulted.

Earlier reports indicated that Page has been answering questions from the House Judiciary Committee quite frankly and may even have cut a deal selling out her ex-lover Peter Strzok over their professional misbehavior (and quite possibly worse) in targeting the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump with the intelligence-gathering tools of the FBI.

Last night, John Solomon of The Hill revealed that he has obtained information from sources who heard Page's testimony in two days of sworn depositions behind closed doors that she offered a bombshell confirmation of the meaning of one of the most enigmatic text messages that the public has seen (keep in mind that there are many yet to be released).

Writing in The Hill , Solomon explains :

[T]here are just five words, among the thousands of suggestive texts Page and Strzok exchanged, that you should read.

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say – but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

The truth behind the Mueller probe is looking uglier and uglier. Pursuing bogus accusations without foundation is the very definition of a witch hunt – President Trump's term for Mueller's team of Hillary-supporters.

We don't know anything at all about the activities of Utah U.S. attorney Peter Huber , who is investigating the potential abuse of U.S. intelligence apparatus for political purposes. That is the proper procedure for grand jury probes. But if Lisa Page is honestly answering questions under oath for a congressional committee, she probably is doing so in grand jury sessions, if summoned.

The glacial pace of this probe is frustrating for Trump-supporters. But doing it right and observing the ethical and legal constraints takes time and does not generate leaks. Nevertheless, I am deeply encouraged by this leak to Solomon, as it seems to indicate that the truth will come out.

Appearing on Hannity last night, Solomon elaborated: watch video here .

[Jul 23, 2018] Chickens with Their Heads Cut Off, Coming Home to Roost. The "Treason Narrative" by Helen Buyniski

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker. ..."
"... The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

... ... ...

The Helsinki hysteria shone a spotlight on the utter impotence of the establishment media and their Deep State controllers to make their delusions reality. Never before has there been such a gaping chasm visible between the media's "truth" and the facts on the ground. Pundits compared the summit to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 , with some even reaching for the brass ring of the Holocaust by likening it to Kristallnacht , while polls revealed the American people really didn't care .

Worse, it laid bare the collusion between the media and their Deep State handlers – the central dissemination point for the headlines, down to the same phrases, that led to every outlet claiming Trump had "thrown the Intelligence Community under the bus" by refusing to embrace the Russia-hacked-our-democracy narrative during his press conference with Putin. Leaving aside the sudden ubiquity of "Intelligence Community" in our national discourse – as if this network of spies and murderous thugs is Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood – no one seriously believes every pundit came up with "throws under the bus" as the proper way of describing that press conference.

The same central control was apparent in the unanimous condemnations of Putin – that he murders journalists , breaks international agreements , uses banned chemical weapons , kills women and children in Syria , and, of course, meddles in elections . For every single establishment pundit to exhibit such a breathtaking lack of insight into their own government's misdeeds is highly unlikely. Many of these same talking heads remarked in horror on Sinclair Broadcasting's Orwellian "prepared statement" issuing forth from the mouths of hundreds of stations' anchors at once. Et tu, Anderson Cooper?

Helsinki – Trump and Putin – a Showdown for Summer Doldrums or a Genuine Attempt Towards Peace?

The media frenzy was geared toward sparking a popular revolt, with tensions already running high from the previous media frenzy about family separation at the border (though only one MSNBC segment seemed to recall that they should still care about that, and belatedly included some footage of kids behind a fence wrapped in Mylar blankets). Rachel Maddow , armed with the crocodile tears that served her so well during the family-separation fracas, exhorted her faithful cultists to do something . Meanwhile, national-security neanderthal John Brennan all but called for a coup, condemning the president for the unspeakable "high crimes and misdemeanors" of seeking to improve relations with the world's second-largest nuclear power. He called on Pompeo and Bolton, the two biggest warmongers in a Trump administration bristling with warmongers, to resign in protest. This would have been a grand slam for world peace, but alas, it was not to be. Even those two realize what a has-been Brennan is.

Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker.

Trump's grip on his long-elusive spine was only temporary, and he held another press conference upon returning home to reiterate his trust in the intelligence agencies that have made no secret of their utter loathing for him since day one. When the lights went out at the climactic moment, it became clear for anyone who still hadn't gotten the message who was running the show here (and Trump, to his credit, actually joked about it). The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. On to the Playmates .

Sacha Baron Cohen 's latest series, "Who is America," targeted Ted Koppel for one segment. Koppel cut the interview short after smelling a rat and expressed his high-minded concern that Cohen's antics would hurt Americans' trust in reporters. But after a week of the entire media establishment screaming that the sky is falling while the heavens remain firmly in place, Cohen is clearly the least of their problems. At least he's funny.

*

Helen Buyniski is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. She covers politics, sociology, and other anthropological/cultural phenomena. Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski .

[Jul 23, 2018] Neoliberalism glorifies inequality

Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

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.

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.

[Jul 22, 2018] The Schizophrenic Deep State Is A Symptom, Not The Disease

Jul 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

If we consider the state of the nation from 40,000 feet, several key indicators of profound political disunity within the elites pop out:

1. The overt politicization of the central state's law enforcement and intelligence agencies: it is now commonplace to find former top officials of the CIA et al. accusing a sitting president of treason in the mainstream media. What was supposed to be above politics is now nothing but politics.

2. The overt politicization of the centralized (corporate) media: evidence that would stand up in a court of law is essentially non-existent but the interpretations and exaggerations that fit the chosen narrative are ceaselessly promoted--the classic definition of desperate propaganda by those who have lost the consent of the governed.

... ... ...

The divided Deep State is a symptom of this larger systemic political disunity. I have characterized the divide as between the Wall Street-Neocon-Globalist Neoliberal camp--currently the dominant public face of the Deep State, the one desperately attempting to exploit the "Russia hacked our elections and is trying to destroy us" narrative--and a much less public, less organized "rogue Progressive" camp, largely based in the military services and fringes of the Deep State, that sees the dangers of a runaway expansionist Empire and the resulting decay of the nation's moral/political center.

[Jul 22, 2018] Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

They fight like real Mafiosi clans. Time to want godfather again...
Jul 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Quoted from: This One FBI Text In The Russia Probe Should Alarm Every American Zero Hedge

Authored by John Solomon, op-ed via TheHill.com,

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say -- but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

By the time of the text and Mueller's appointment, the FBI's best counterintelligence agents had had plenty of time to dig. They knowingly used a dossier funded by Hillary Clinton 's campaign -- which contained uncorroborated allegations -- to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to issue a warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page (no relation to Lisa Page).

They sat on Carter Page's phones and emails for nearly six months without getting evidence that would warrant prosecuting him. The evidence they had gathered was deemed so weak that their boss, then-FBI Director James Comey , was forced to admit to Congress after being fired by Trump that the core allegation remained substantially uncorroborated.

In other words, they had a big nothing burger. And, based on that empty-calorie dish, Rosenstein authorized the buffet menu of a special prosecutor that has cost America millions of dollars and months of political strife.

The work product Strzok created to justify the collusion probe now has been shown to be inferior : A Clinton-hired contractor produced multiple documents accusing Trump of wrongdoing during the election; each was routed to the FBI through a different source or was used to seed news articles with similar allegations that further built an uncorroborated public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Most troubling, the FBI relied on at least one of those news stories to justify the FISA warrant against Carter Page.

That sort of multifaceted allegation machine, which can be traced back to a single source, is known in spy craft as "circular intelligence reporting," and it's the sort of bad product that professional spooks are trained to spot and reject.

But Team Strzok kept pushing it through the system, causing a major escalation of a probe for which, by his own words, he knew had "no big there there."

The answer as to why a pro such as Strzok would take such action has become clearer, at least to congressional investigators. That clarity comes from the context of the other emails and text messages that surrounded the May 19, 2017, declaration.

It turns out that what Strzok and Lisa Page were really doing that day was debating whether they should stay with the FBI and try to rise through the ranks to the level of an assistant director (AD) or join Mueller's special counsel team.

"Who gives a f*ck, one more AD like [redacted] or whoever?" Strzok wrote, weighing the merits of promotion, before apparently suggesting what would be a more attractive role: "An investigation leading to impeachment?"

Lisa Page apparently realized the conversation had gone too far and tried to reel it in. "We should stop having this conversation here," she texted back, adding later it was important to examine "the different realistic outcomes of this case."

A few minutes later Strzok texted his own handicap of the Russia evidence: "You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there."

So the FBI agents who helped drive the Russia collusion narrative -- as well as Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller -- apparently knew all along that the evidence was going to lead to "nothing" and, yet, they proceeded because they thought there was still a possibility of impeachment.

Impeachment is a political outcome. The only logical conclusion, then, that congressional investigators can make is that political bias led these agents to press an investigation forward to achieve the political outcome of impeachment, even though their professional training told them it had "no big there there."

And that, by definition, is political bias in action.

How concerned you are by this conduct is almost certainly affected by your love or hatred for Trump. But put yourself for a second in the hot seat of an investigation by the same FBI cast of characters: You are under investigation for a crime the agents don't think occurred, but the investigation still advances because the desired outcome is to get you fired from your job.


two hoots -> FactDog Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:39 Permalink

Who directed, encouraged Rosenstein to authorize the probe? Did he do it on his own accord based on previous investigations, was he pushed by Comey? Just where did the idea come from and based upon what? (I forgot or never really knew)

Not Too Important -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:12 Permalink

It all starts with Brennan, and the people he answers to.

Then there's this:

'Intel Operative who Altered Obama's Passport Records Turned FBI Informant on Boss John Brennan, Then Turned Up Murdered in D.C.'

"A key witness in a federal probe into Barack Obama's passport information stolen and altered from the State Department was gunned down and killed in front of a District church in D.C.

Lt. Quarles Harris Jr., 24, who had been cooperating with a federal investigators, was found late at night slumped dead inside a car. He was reportedly waiting to meet with FBI agents about his boss John Brennan."

https://truepundit.com/intel-operative-who-altered-obamas-passport-reco

Seth Rich was also on his way to meet with FBI agents. Something about meeting with FBI agents is lethal.

nmewn -> Not Too Important Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:35 Permalink

The other fascinating thing is, Strzoks dad , who he was, where he has been and doing in the past.

He was in Iran when the revolution happened working for, ahem, Bell Helicopter. He was also in Burkina Faso doing "charity work" just as he was the Director later on for Catholic Relief Services in...now wait for it...Haiti....lol.

In the infamous words of Tom Brokaw & Charlie Rose "We really don't know who he is or what he believes." ;-)

Big Creek Rising -> Richard Chesler Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:05 Permalink

Y' all have good comments as usual and you're generally right, but there's a big problem in that almost 60% of 'murica is not paying attention. Half of those are airheads more worried about the minivan having enough gas to get to all the soccer games tomorrow and which McDonald's is closer to the fields. They have four buttons on the radio set to NPR and thus the resultant brain rot. The other half are libtards with no brains to rot. They could find Hillary with a bloody knife in her hand standing over five dead children and convict her of nothing more than having strange ideas about breakfast.

MoreFreedom -> beemasters Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:53 Permalink

Brennan is pushing back for one reason - he's guilty as sin and doesn't want what he's done found out. Trying to setup Trump with spies, spying on Trump's campaign, and covering up for the hacking of Hillary's server, acts of treason, are likely his lesser sins.

asiafinancenews -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:30 Permalink

If Strozk and Rosenstein had a shred of personal honor and decency, they would have resigned by now.

Jim in MN -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:09 Permalink

Watergate times a billion: The use of a fully weaponized police state against a domestic political opponent. They committed numerous serious crimes in the process, and being arrogant pricks, left a wide paper trail....a trail that leads to the White House as well as Her Fury, Hillary Clinton.

We need the meeting notes. Brennan ran the thing out of Langley. I'm sure they kept as many notes as the Stasi did.

Jarrett and Rice, the most likely conduits to Obama and Biden.

Don't forget John Kerry.

insanelysane Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:29 Permalink

The real question now is, Did Mueller get rid of the lovebirds because of their texts or because they didn't think there was any there there and he need people that would be willing to find a there where there was no there there?

slightlyskeptical Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

Think two friends anywhere else in the USA discussed a Trump impeachment when news came out on an investigation? Think they came to the conclusion there is nothing there and impeachment wouldn't happen? I can testify it happened in my simple household.

Strozk's comment " If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question." infers that he wasn't "there". This conversation points to nothing except their personal distaste for Trump which we already knew. I still see nothing showing any wrong doing. Think Elliot Ness was happy whenever they got evidence on Capone? Think they never talked about getting him over lunch with fellow agents? Prosecutors and investigators don't have to like the people they are looking at and usually probably don't. It is only a problem if it caused them to be impartial in the investigation which the IG says there is no evidence of in this case.

The bottom line i get from your side is that no one who is partisan should have any role in investigating someone on the other side. Should we just limit it to people who support that side? if we can find intelligent, fair people who are not partisan shouldn't we make them our leaders and just let them decide everything?

Who should be able to investigate something like the NRA using a spy to funnel money to someones campaign? Rudy?

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

enough of this Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:18 Permalink

The Praetorians at the FBI and DOJ believe they are invulnerable but their time is running out.

http://www.investmentwatchblog.com/the-fbi-and-doj-praetorian-guard-the

knightowl77 -> YourAverageJoe Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:55 Permalink

The entire Colorado delegation is pushing to have "Russia declared a State Sponsor of Terrorism"....I have ZERO representation

earleflorida Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

the FBI has been incorporated into the CIA, [and] the CIA nominates its agents as candidates for congress...

look at G H W Bush & Jr. and the Strozk/Page BS!!!

the country is infested with traitors.... @ Total Eclipse by Andy Giardino ****Great Site

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxHEa99DJIk

Reaper Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

The FBI M.O. is the use of Form 302 interrogations to entrap suspects. Using the threat of prosecution to compel auxiliary parties to become witnesses for the DOJ. It's very simple: interview several people about what was said or transpired at an earlier time. If there are any disagreements you could prosecute any of them for lying to the FBI. Worse, as was seen with McCabe/Flynn, the FBI will claim you said something, which you might deny at trial, but the jury will believe the two FBI lying FBI agents who questioned you without a recording.

https://boingboing.net/2013/05/07/dont-ever-speak-to-the-fbi-w.html

Would you lie in court to avoid a federal prosecution for lying to the FBI?

MACAULAY Fri, 07/20/2018 - 23:28 Permalink

This article omits one important point.

Struck had been on the Trump Collusion Case for about a year before he said "there is no there there."

About a year earlier (2016), he had just finished up clearing Hillary and was headed off to London to start trying to hang Trump---probably to meet Steele, or maybe the fat turd professor they hired to hustle the Trump hangers-on.

Then, he was excited then to be going after Trump. He texted Page then that "THIS MATTERS"!

What did he find in that first year? NOTHING.

Same thing Mueller has found in the second year and into the third. NOTHING.

How long should the American people tolerate it?

[Jul 22, 2018] Crooked Timber -- Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made

Notable quotes:
"... The Origins of Totalitarianism ..."
"... By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday. ..."
"... Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed. ..."
"... Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore. ..."
"... Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? ..."
"... Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you. ..."
"... I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion. ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism , "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule ... [are] people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist."

By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday.


Ray Vinmad 07.16.18 at 8:11 am (no link)

"Should enough people come to believe the liar's claim, the facts about which he lies could be lost from the world forever. "

This isn't what happens, usually. When the interests connected to the lies change, then the truth is usually admitted. In the US, the truth often becomes irrelevant, even if real horrors are admitted to. Americans are fairly disinterested in the dirty particles of most of the nation's past.

Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed.

That's not to say that certain false narratives won't be retained, but the revival of these is generally shaped to current interests, and even if lies are borrowed from the past, the main way they get a hold on the present is because they serve certain interests.

Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore.

In these cases, it seems that salience or irrelevance is a better way to understand what's driving the weak practical impact of the facts rather than truth or falsity.

Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? Trump's trick is to make his story the salient story, and his denials have a way of disabling or thwarting action, even when people are fully aware of the truth. Except for the total fanatics, Trump's enablers are vaguely or even completely aware they are operating on a lie. What matters isn't that the claims are factual disprovable but that they drive action toward the pursuit of particular interests, and disable action that harms those interests.

Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you.

Faustusnotes 07.16.18 at 1:57 pm (no link)
There's something odious and misleading in the way you distinguish between types of truth and their role in politics, though I can't put my finger on it, and perhaps whatever error I can't quite describe might explain why you fell for Trump so neatly, but perhaps part of it can be easily seen here:

Having staked his presidency on the claim that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, he's going to have to wage war against Iraq in order to eliminate those weapons.

This gets the nature of Bush's lies completely wrong. He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it because of the way American politics rewards muscular action and militarism, and because of the recklessness of his political supporters. He didn't stake his presidency on a lie, he staked his presidency on a war and lied his way into it. In 2008 did you really believe bush had been sincere about his belief in wmds?

This definition of lies here seems weird and unnecessary.

Donald 07.16.18 at 4:18 pm (no link)
I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion.

That aside, I think politics is full of lies because the system collapses otherwise. I think this ties in with the endless debate people have here about Trump and Trump's opposition. Like Hidari in the other thread, I think Trump's war crimes ( listed below) are far more significant morally speaking than Russiagate, but in our political system collusion with a foreign power in dirty tricks during a political campaign is much easier to attack than war crimes and US complicity in genocide. Both political parties would collapse if we started holding politicians of both parties along with various government officials accountable. We have a functioning democracy by some definition of " functioning" precisely because we allow the biggest crimes to be treated as policy choices and not crimes, while pretending that the worst crime an American politician has or could commit would be to collude with a foreign power in stealing some emails to embarrass the other party.

For those curious, Trump's biggest war crimes are the bombing of civilians in Iraq and Syria and the assistance to the Saudi assault on Yemen. According to the Airwars site the killing of civilians by our bombs increased dramatically under Trump, probably because of loosened restrictions. The policy in Yemen continues what Obama did. In both cases it isn't just the President who is guilty, unless Obama and Trump singkehandedly carry out all functions of our government in the Mideast. Holding them accountable would mean holding a lot of other people accountable.

michael 07.16.18 at 6:06 pm (no link)
This is the first intelligent thing Robin has written, in my view. It also helps me formulate more explicitly some of my longstanding discomfort with Arendt, which is rooted in the way her predilection for natality leads her to posit a rather simplistic political ontology. After all, we do not enter politics with a given floor and horizon; politics is about which floor and which horizon does and should exist. This is what makes factual truth coercive: not its validity, but its tendency to impose rather than set out from a set of political givens. Which is to say, natality is always already operating within the status quo; it is not introduced there by "politics."
Orange Watch 07.16.18 at 6:17 pm ( 9 )
Anarcissie@5

Relatedly, I see striking similarities between an awful lot of public/political morality and virtue ethics, particularly agent-based formulations.

Hidari 07.16.18 at 6:41 pm ( 11 )
I know I have in the past quoted from Twitter (which would seem to be where the most interesting conversations are nowadays, as opposed to the blogosphere) but Branko Milanovic has some interesting insights (he also has the inestimable advantage of not coming from the UK/US/Australasia AKA the 'Anglosphere': he has more of a cosmopolitan sensibility).

https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1018218532994207746

His basic point is that you really can't understand Trump unless you look at what came before his (Frederic Jameson: 'Always historicise!'). Since Thatcher/Reagan (and Clinton and Blair were not really much different) we have been taught to look up to 'entrepreneurs' as 'wealth creators'. Or, to put it another way, to obsequiously grovel to semi-earned wealth and power. But politics, we were told, floated above the grubby world of 'material interests' like a soap bubble.

Trump tears the veil aside. He doesn't govern on behalf of capitalists as Thatcher/Blair and the rest did. He IS a capitalist. And he self-evidently became President to help his business interests (including, yes, those in Russia. But that's probably as far as the Russia thing goes). This is terribly disturbing for liberals, who have been taught to see 'capitalist' ('liberal' is normally the euphemism) 'democracy' as being merely a neutral description of the 'mode of production' of our current set up, as opposed to being a harsh description of political realities: politicians are allowed to govern insofar as their policies benefit capitalists.

Hence to talk about Trump lying is like talking about an advert 'lying'. Do adverts 'lie'? Of course to a certain extent. But then they were never supposed to tell the truth. Their purpose is to sell a product. Truth is irrelevant.

Every word that comes out of Trump's mouth is to help Trump PLC. It's true (sic) that some of his statements are false. But to assess it in these terms is like to point out that Heineken is not, in fact, probably the best lager in the world, or that one should not, in fact, necessarily Drinka Pinta Milka day.

Again, I think this is what disturbs people. Bush et al, consciously lied. Trump I don't think he knows what truth is, and I don't think he cares. What boosts profits that's what's good and true.What doesn't isn't good (or true).

But these are the value of capitalism, and Trump is, in this sense, the logical end product of where Western society has been heading since 1979 (1981 in the 'States).

Faustusnotes 07.17.18 at 12:21 am ( 12 )
Orange watch, the order of the claim seems important to me. Stumbling into a war because you told a lie about a possible cause of a war ends all the other options to deal with it dried up is one thing; setting up a war and lying your way into it is a different thing. Eg you decide to cheat on your wife and set up an incredibly thin lie to do it, versus you have a habit of lying to your wife that ultimately ends with you having a chance at an affair.

Also the empirical difference between these types of liar seems irrelevant. Everyone who lied about the true cause of the war also lied about basic facts like global warming. As the commitment to one kind of lie has grown so has the magnitude oft he other kind. Why waste time distinguishing? And why did Arendt? The liars of her time lied in both ways as well.

nastywoman 07.17.18 at 10:04 am ( 15 )
AND somebody -(even if it is "not actually being a U.S. citizen) needed to point to "the truth" of this:

"He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it" – as lying in politics is (sadly) nothing but "another tool" or "another strategy" to get what any -"political actor" (even some of the lesser evil) – want.

And the Sawyer-Bush example is about the best example for this fact:

"Sawyer: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons.
Bush: So what's the difference?"

For somebody who wants to start a war – or wants to become US President? – and who realizes that the best "strategy" in ending up with "a war" or "becoming US President" -is lying -(day and night) – lying becomes just a a very "practical solution" – (especially if the liar is dealing with a bunch of people who might believe that "France isn't France anymore" – if just a Clownsticks tells them)

And I fear that by conflating the above described type of liar with "the type of liars described in the OP – WE may have allowed the virtues – or at least the charms – of the ones to obscure the vices of the others.

michael 07.17.18 at 7:56 pm ( 16 )
@ john c. halasz

In "Lying in Politics," Arendt writes:
A characteristic of human action is that it always begins something new, but this does not mean that it is ever permitted to start ab ovo, to create ex nihilo. In order to make room for one's own action, something that was there before must be removed or destroyed, and things as they were before are changed. Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination."

So she directly links lying to natality. And this paragraph, like much of her work, describes what she takes to be the ontological conditions of politics. That is what she is doing when she invokes "something that was there before," furnishing the ground for action. And this in turn commits her to a view of the "already there" which is not itself political, as she herself defines the term.

Alan White 07.17.18 at 9:12 pm ( 17 )
JCH @ 13–

I completely agree that Stevenson likely has it all wrong meta-ethically. But my point was that I was offering an explanation to describe what Trump, Giuliani, etc. are engaging in, even if they don't know they're doing it. Emotivism is an attempt to explain what we usually denote as moral language and behavior. It maintains that moral language and action amount to the expression of emotional attitudes and nothing more. Therefore, beyond the fact that an individual or group has some attitudes, there is nothing left for morality to do but for individuals and groups to try and influence one another in attitude–to achieve agreement in attitude. Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude. Just listen to Trump's crowds. They don't care what he says, or what he does, they just feel that he "gets" how they feel–shared attitudes. If that's the case, then the Trump phenomenon might be best explained as reflecting a practical embrace of such expressivism. Again, I have no claim to anything approaching political expertise here–I'm just advancing a way of looking at the Trump phenomenon conceptually to see if it's at all helpful.

TM 07.19.18 at 9:24 am ( 18 )
16: "Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination.""

This reminds me a lot of modern management speak: "Everybody said it was impossible until someone came along who didn´t know that .. and just did it!"

To me, Arendt's claim makes no sense. Yes, mentally removing oneself from reality to imagine a different one is difficult but it's not lying, it's not denial of reality. Imagination isn't synonymous with delusion. I'll counter this weird idealistic view with Rosa Luxemburg's materialism (quoting Ferdinand Lassalle):
"Wie Lassalle sagte, ist und bleibt es immer die revolutionärste Tat: "laut zu sagen, was ist"".

The most revolutionary act is to say loudly what is (what is true).

Btw Michael what do you mean by "natality"? It literally means birth rate, no?

J-D 07.19.18 at 11:52 am ( 19 )
Alan White

Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude.

It is empirically obvious that people use lies and bullshit in attempts to try and achieve agreement in attitude; but the statement quoted is made different from that empirical observation by the introduction of the word 'legitimate', which in this context is moral language. Those who affirm that it is legitimate to use lies and bullshit to achieve agreement in attitude reveal their moral bankruptcy. On an emotivist theory, that statement expresses my moral attitude; what I have to say about that is that yes, it does express my moral attitude, and if your moral attitude differs from mine on that point, what do you suggest we do about it?

alfredlordbleep 07.19.18 at 3:21 pm ( 20 )
Dominoes

Arendt's NYRB piece, kindly linked @13, holds this very interesting nugget [for footnoting -- see original]:
As regards the domino theory, first enunciated in 1950 and permitted to survive, as it has been said, the "most momentous events": To the question of President Johnson in 1964, "Would the rest of Southeast Asia necessarily fall if Laos and South Vietnam came under North Vietnam control?" the CIA's answer was, "With the possible exception of Cambodia, it is likely that no nation in the area would quickly succumb to Communism as a result of the fall of Laos and South Vietnam." When five years later the Nixon Administration raised the same question, it "was advised by the Central Intelligence Agency that [the United States] could immediately withdraw from South Vietnam and 'all of Southeast Asia would remain just as it is for at least another generation.' "According to the study, "only the Joint Chiefs, Mr. Rostow and General Taylor appear to have accepted the domino theory in its literal sense,"and the point here is that those who did not accept it still used it not merely for public statements but as part of their own premises as well.

[Jul 21, 2018] Either Trump Fires These People Or The Borg Will Have Won

Notable quotes:
"... The borg, financed and sworn to the agenda of globalists and the military-industrial-media complex, has its orders and is acting on them. The globalists want more free trade agreements, no tariffs and more immigration to prevent higher wages. Capital does not have a national attachment. It does not care about the 'deplorables' who support Trump and his policies: ..."
"... Nearly three-fourths, or 73 percent, of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who responded to a Pew Research survey out this week said they felt increased tariffs would benefit the country. ..."
"... Donald Trump is, indeed, a kind of traitor to the Washington Consensus, a hyper-militarized capitalist utopia of corporate dominated global supply chains that doubled the international wage-slave workforce in the last two decades of the 20th century and herded these desperate billions into a race to the bottom. The leadership of both corporate parties conspired to force U.S. workers into the global meat-grinder. ..."
"... The weapon industry and the military recognize that the 'war of terror' is nearing its end. To sell more they need to create an new 'enemy' that looks big enough to justify large and long-term spending. Russia, the most capable opponent the U.S. could have, is the designated target. A new Cold War will give justification for all kinds of fantastic and useless weapons. ..."
"... Trump grand foreign policy is following a realist assessment . He sees that previous administrations pushed Russia into the Chinese camp by aggressive anti-Russian policies in Europe and the Middle East. He wants to pull Russia out of the alliance with China, neutralize it in a political sense, to then be able to better tackle China which is the real thread to the American (economic) supremacy. ..."
Jul 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

President's Trump successful summit with President Putin was used by the 'resistance' and the deep state to launch a coup-attempt against Trump. Their minimum aim is to put Trump into a (virtual) political cage where he can no longer pursue his foreign policy agenda.

One does not have to be a fan of Trump's policies and still see the potential danger. A situation where he can no longer act freely will likely be worse. What Trump has done so far still does not add up to the disastrous policies and crimes his predecessor committed.

The borg, financed and sworn to the agenda of globalists and the military-industrial-media complex, has its orders and is acting on them. The globalists want more free trade agreements, no tariffs and more immigration to prevent higher wages. Capital does not have a national attachment. It does not care about the 'deplorables' who support Trump and his policies:

[P]olls show that Trump appears to still have the support of the bulk of Republican voters when it comes to tariffs. Nearly three-fourths, or 73 percent, of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who responded to a Pew Research survey out this week said they felt increased tariffs would benefit the country.

His 'isolationist' economic policies make Trump an enemy of the globalists :

Donald Trump is, indeed, a kind of traitor to the Washington Consensus, a hyper-militarized capitalist utopia of corporate dominated global supply chains that doubled the international wage-slave workforce in the last two decades of the 20th century and herded these desperate billions into a race to the bottom. The leadership of both corporate parties conspired to force U.S. workers into the global meat-grinder.

The weapon industry and the military recognize that the 'war of terror' is nearing its end. To sell more they need to create an new 'enemy' that looks big enough to justify large and long-term spending. Russia, the most capable opponent the U.S. could have, is the designated target. A new Cold War will give justification for all kinds of fantastic and useless weapons.

Trump does not buy the nonsense claims of 'Russian meddling' in the U.S. elections and openly says so. He does not believe that Russia wants to attack anyone. To him Russia is not an enemy.

Trump grand foreign policy is following a realist assessment . He sees that previous administrations pushed Russia into the Chinese camp by aggressive anti-Russian policies in Europe and the Middle East. He wants to pull Russia out of the alliance with China, neutralize it in a political sense, to then be able to better tackle China which is the real thread to the American (economic) supremacy.

This week was a prelude to the coup against Trump :

Former CIA chief John Brennan denounced Trump as a "traitor" who had "committed high crimes" in holding a friendly summit with Putin.

It can't get more seditious than that. Trump is being denigrated by almost the entire political and media establishment in the US as a "treasonous" enemy of the state.

Following this logic, there is only one thing for it: the US establishment is calling for a coup to depose the 45th president. One Washington Post oped out of a total of five assailing the president gave the following stark ultimatum: "If you work for Trump, quit now".

Some high ranking people working for Trump followed that advice. His chief of staff John Kelly rallied others against him:

According to three sources familiar with the situation, Kelly called around to Republicans on Capitol Hill and gave them the go-ahead to speak out against Trump. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan held televised press conferences to assert that Russia did meddle in the election.

Others who attacked Trump over his diplomatic efforts with Russia included the Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats who used an widely distributed interview for that:

The White House had little visibility into what Coats might say. The intelligence director's team had turned down at least one offer from a senior White House official to help prepare him for the long-scheduled interview, pointing out that he had known Mitchell for years and was comfortable talking with her.

Coats was extraordinarily candid in the interview, at times questioning Trump's judgment -- such as the president's decision to meet with Putin for two hours without any aides present beyond interpreters -- and revealing the rift between the president and the intelligence community.

FBI Director Wray also undermined his boss' position:

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday defended Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a "straight shooter," and said the Russia investigation is no "witch hunt."

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, Wray said he stood by his view that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in some capacity and that the threat remained active.

A day latter Secretary of Defense Mattis also issued a statement that contradicted his president's policy:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis took his turn doing the implicit disavowing in a statement about new military aid to Ukraine:

"Russia should suffer consequences for its aggressive, destabilizing behavior and its illegal occupation of Ukraine. The fundamental question we must ask ourselves is do we wish to strengthen our partners in key regions or leave them with no other options than to turn to Russia, thereby undermining a once in a generation opportunity to more closely align nations with the U.S. vision for global security and stability."

Pat Lang thinks that Trump should fire Coats, Wary and Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General who is overseeing the Mueller investigation.

My advice is to spare Rosenstein, for now, as firing him would lead to a great uproar in Congress. The Mueller investigation has not brought up anything which is dangerous to Trump and is unlikely to do so in the immediate future. He and Rosenstein can be fired at a latter stage.

But Wray and Coats do deserve a pink slip and so do Kelly and Mattis. They are political appointees who work 'at the pleasure of the President'.

The U.S. has the legislative and the judicative as a counterweight to the president who leads the executive. The 'deep state' and its moles within the executive should have no role in that balance. The elected president can and must demand loyalty from those who work for him.

Those who sabotage him should be fired, not in a Saturday night massacre but publicly, with a given reason and all at the same time. They do not deserve any warning. Their rolling heads will get the attention of others who are tempted by the borg to act against the lawful policy directives of their higher up.

All this is not a defense of Trump. I for one despise his antics and most of his policies. But having a bad president of the United States implementing the policies he campaigned on, and doing so within the proper process, is way better than having unaccountable forces dictating their policies to him.

It will be impossible for Trump to get anything done if his direct subordinates, who work 'at his pleasure', publicly sabotage the implementation of his policies. Either he fires these people or the borg will have won.

[Jul 21, 2018] Iron law of oligarchy sociological thesis

Jul 21, 2018 | www.britannica.com

The iron law became a central theme in the study of organized labour , political parties , and pluralist democracy in the postwar era. Although much of this scholarship basically confirmed Michels's arguments, a number of prominent works began to identify important anomalies and limitations to the iron law framework. Seymour Lipset , Martin Trow, and James Coleman 's analysis of the International Typographical Union (ITU), for example, showed that sustained union democracy was possible given printers' relative equality of income and status, mastery of communication skills, and generalized political competence, which underpinned the ITU's unusual history of enduring two-party competition (Independents and Progressives), which mirrored the American two-party system . In the party literature, Samuel Eldersveld argued that the power of organizational elites in Detroit was not nearly as concentrated as the iron law would suggest. He found party power relatively dispersed among different sectors and levels, in a "stratarchy" of shifting coalitions among component groups representing different social strata.

[Jul 21, 2018] The Intelligence Community , in particular CIA, is a central executive force in the circus, in collaboration with MI6 and the obedient assets in the NATO sphere, but they have grown so incompetent due to incessant politicizing and sycophantism that they are perhaps little more a paper tiger by now?

Notable quotes:
"... Was it Rosenstein who ordered the arrest of the Russian gun lobbyist woman the day after the summit? ..."
"... There is much to suggest that Special Counsel Mueller takes his orders from Rosenstein, but who does Rosenstein answer to, and is he untouchable within the USA legal system? How much cognitive dissonance is the public supposed to handle in relation to Rosenstein not being held accountable for his crimes, including high treason? ..."
Jul 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

veto , Jul 21, 2018 6:14:27 PM | 35

Who is actually in charge over there, among the Borg? And how much in charge? They cannot function yet as the collective electronic mind of science fiction, can they?

Was it Rosenstein who ordered the arrest of the Russian gun lobbyist woman the day after the summit? That looks very much like an act of desperation. There is much to suggest that Special Counsel Mueller takes his orders from Rosenstein, but who does Rosenstein answer to, and is he untouchable within the USA legal system? How much cognitive dissonance is the public supposed to handle in relation to Rosenstein not being held accountable for his crimes, including high treason?

Who are the 'globalists' actually and which is their chain of command? Which positions do Soros, Bezos, CIA-MI6 have? What is the role of Mossad?

As it appears, after the ascendance of Trump, the actors are not sure themselves anymore about any of this, that is about who is in charge, or in particular about how much authority and insurance their actual real-life handlers do possess and vouch for. They waver, in the case of media hysterically so.

"The Intelligence Community", in particular CIA, is a central executive force in the circus, in collaboration with MI6 and the obedient assets in the NATO sphere, but they have grown so incompetent due to incessant politicizing and sycophantism that they are perhaps little more a paper tiger by now? If this fact, with the help of Trump and allies, would be perceived clearer by the political classes of the USA, much good would be the result.

[Jul 21, 2018] Migrants, Pro-Globalization Leftists, and the Suffocating Middle Class by Outis Philalithopoulos

Notable quotes:
"... By Enrico Verga, a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Milan. As a consultant, he concentrates on firms interested in opportunities in international and digital markets. His articles have appeared in Il Sole 24 Ore, Capo Horn, Longitude, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and many other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @enricoverga . ..."
"... Continuing flows of low-cost labor can be useful for cutting costs. West Germany successfully absorbed East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the dirty secret of this achievement is the exploitation of workers from the former East, as Reuters reports . ..."
"... The expansion of the EU to Poland (and the failed attempt to incorporate the Ukraine) has allowed many European businesses to shift local production to nations where the average cost of a blue or white collar worker is much lower ( by 60-70% on average ) than in Western European countries. ..."
"... The middle class is a silent mass that for many years has painfully digested globalization, while believing in the promises of globalist politicians," explains Luciano Ghelfi, a journalist of international affairs who has followed Lega from its beginnings. Ghelfi continues: ..."
"... I think unrestrained globalization has taken a hit. In Italy as well, as we have seen recently, businesses are relocating abroad. And the impoverished middle class finds itself forced to compete for state resources (subsidies) and jobs which can be threatened by an influx of economic migrants towards which enormous resources have been dedicated – just think of the 4.3 billion Euros that the last government allocated toward economic migrants. ..."
"... In all of this, migrants are more victims than willing actors, and they become an object on which the fatigue, fear, and in the most extreme cases, hatred of the middle class can easily focus. ..."
"... If for the last twenty years, with only occasional oscillation, the pro-globalization side has been dominant in the West, elections are starting to swing the balance in a new direction. ..."
"... "Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force." ..."
"... never export their way out of poverty and misery ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Enrico Verga, a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Milan. As a consultant, he concentrates on firms interested in opportunities in international and digital markets. His articles have appeared in Il Sole 24 Ore, Capo Horn, Longitude, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and many other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @enricoverga .

International commerce, jobs, and economic migrants are propelled by a common force: profit.

In recent times, the Western middle class (by which I mean in particular industrial workers and office employees) has lost a large number of jobs and has seen its buying power fall. It isn't true that migrants are the source of all evil in the world. However, under current conditions, they become a locus for the exasperation of the population at twenty years of pro-globalization politics. They are tragically placed in the role of the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Western businesses have slipped jobs overseas to countries with low labor costs, while the middle class has been pushed into debt in order to try to keep up. The Glass-Steagall law and other brakes on American banks were abolished by a cheerleader for globalization, Bill Clinton, and these banks subsequently lost all restraints in their enthusiasm to lend. The cherry on top of the sundae was the real estate bubble and ensuing crash of 2008.

A damning picture of the results of 20 years of globalization is provided by Forbes , capitalism's magazine par excellence. Already in 2016, the surprise victory of Trump led to questions about whether the blond candidate's win was due in part to the straits of the American middle class, impoverished as a result of the pro-globalization politics of figures like Clinton and Obama.

Further support for this thesis is furnished by the New York Times , describing the collapse of the stars-and-stripes middle class. Its analysis is buttressed by lengthy research from the very mainstream Pew Center , which agrees that the American middle class is vanishing.

And Europe? Although the European middle class has been squeezed less than its American counterpart, for us as well the picture doesn't look good. See for example the analysis of the Brookings Institute , which discusses not only the flagging economic fortunes of the European middle class, but also the fear of prosperity collapsing that currently grips Europe.

Migrants and the Shock Doctrine

What do economic migrants have to do with any of this?

Far be it from me to criticize large corporations, but clearly they – and their managers and stockholders – benefit from higher margins. Profits (revenue minus costs and expenses) can be maximized by reducing expenses. To this end, the costs of acquiring goods (metals, agricultural products, energy, etc.) and services (labor) need to fall steadily.

In the quest to lower the cost of labor, the most desirable scenario is a sort of blank slate: to erase ongoing arrangements with workers and start over from zero, building a new "happy and productive" economy. This operation can be understood as a sort of "shock doctrine."

The term "economic shock therapy" is based on an analogy with electroshock therapy for mental patients. One important analysis of it comes from Naomi Klein , who became famous explaining in 2000 the system of fashion production through subsidiaries that don't adhere to the safety rules taken so seriously in Western countries (some of you may recall the scandal of Benetton and Rana Plaza , where more than a thousand workers at a Bangladesh factory producing Benetton (and other) clothes were crushed under a collapsing building).

Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force. Sometimes relocating from one nation to another is not possible, but if you can bring the job market of other countries here in the form of a low-cost mass of people competing for employment, then why bother?

The Doctrine in Practice

Continuing flows of low-cost labor can be useful for cutting costs. West Germany successfully absorbed East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the dirty secret of this achievement is the exploitation of workers from the former East, as Reuters reports .

The expansion of the EU to Poland (and the failed attempt to incorporate the Ukraine) has allowed many European businesses to shift local production to nations where the average cost of a blue or white collar worker is much lower ( by 60-70% on average ) than in Western European countries.

We see further evidence of damage to the European middle class daily, from France where the (at least verbally) pro-globalization Macron is cutting social welfare to attract foreign investment , to Germany where many ordinary workers are seriously exploited . And so on through the UK and Italy.

Political Reactions

The migrant phenomenon is a perfect counterpoint to a threadbare middle class, given its role as a success story within the narrative of globalization.

Economic migrants are eager to obtain wealth on the level of the Western middle class – and this is of course a legitimate desire. However, to climb the social ladder, they are willing to do anything: from accepting low albeit legal salaries to picking tomatoes illegally ( as Alessandro Gassman, son of the famous actor, reminded us ).

The middle class is a silent mass that for many years has painfully digested globalization, while believing in the promises of globalist politicians," explains Luciano Ghelfi, a journalist of international affairs who has followed Lega from its beginnings. Ghelfi continues:

This mirage has fallen under the blows it has received from the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War. Foreign trade, easy credit (with the American real estate bubble of 2008 as a direct consequence), peace missions in Libya (carried out by pro-globalization French and English actors, with one motive being in my opinion the diversion of energy resources away from [the Italian] ENI) were supposed to have created a miracle; they have in reality created a climate of global instability.

Italy is of course not untouched by this phenomenon. It's easy enough to give an explanation for the Five Stars getting votes from part of the southern electorate that is financially in trouble and might hope for some sort of subsidy, but the North? The choice of voting center right (with a majority leaning toward Lega) can be explained in only one way – the herd (the middle class) has tried to rise up.

I asked him, "So in your opinion, is globalization in stasis? Or is it radically changing?" He replied:

I think unrestrained globalization has taken a hit. In Italy as well, as we have seen recently, businesses are relocating abroad. And the impoverished middle class finds itself forced to compete for state resources (subsidies) and jobs which can be threatened by an influx of economic migrants towards which enormous resources have been dedicated – just think of the 4.3 billion Euros that the last government allocated toward economic migrants.

This is an important element in the success of Lega: it is a force that has managed to understand clearly the exhaustion of the impoverished middle class, and that has proposed a way out, or has at least elaborated a vision opposing the rose-colored glasses of globalization.

In all of this, migrants are more victims than willing actors, and they become an object on which the fatigue, fear, and in the most extreme cases, hatred of the middle class can easily focus.

What Conflicts Are Most Relevant Today?

At the same time, if we observe, for example in Italy, the positions taken by the (pro-globalization?) Left, it becomes easier to understand why the middle class and also many blue collar workers are abandoning it. Examples range from the unfortunate declarations of deputy Lia Quartapelle on the need to support the Muslim Brotherhood to the explanations of the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, on how the status of economic migrant should be seen as a model for the lifestyle of all Italians . These remarks were perhaps uttered lightly (Quartapelle subsequently took her post down and explained that she had made a mistake), but they are symptomatic of a certain sort of pro-globalization cultural "Left" that finds talking to potential voters less interesting than other matters.

From Italy to America (where Hillary Clinton was rejected after promoting major international trade arrangements that she claimed would benefit middle-class American workers) to the UK (where Brexit has been taken as a sort of exhaust valve), the middle class no longer seems to be snoring.

We are currently seeing a political conflict between globalist and nationalist forces. Globalists want more open borders and freer international trade. Nationalists want protection for work and workers, a clamping down on economic migrants, and rules with teeth aimed at controlling international trade.

If for the last twenty years, with only occasional oscillation, the pro-globalization side has been dominant in the West, elections are starting to swing the balance in a new direction.

Meanwhile, many who self-identify as on the Left seem utterly uninterested in the concerns of ordinary people, at least in cases where these would conflict with the commitment to globalization.

If the distinction between globalism and nationalism is in practice trumping other differences, then we should not let ourselves be distracted by bright and shiny objects, and keep our focus on what really matters.


fresno dan , July 20, 2018 at 7:06 am

From the Forbes link:
"The first downside of international trade that even proponents of freer trade must acknowledge is that while the country as a whole gains some people do lose."
More accurate to say a tiny, tiny, TINY percentage gain.

Nice how they use the euphemism "country as a whole" for GDP. Yes, GDP goes up – but that word that can never be uttered by American corporate media – DISTRIBUTION – that essentially ALL gains in GDP have gone to the very top. AND THAT THIS IS A POLITICAL DECISION, not like the waves of the ocean or natural selection. There is plenty that could be done about it – BUT it STARTS with WANTING to do something effective about it .

And of course, the bizarre idea that inflation helps. Well, like trade, it helps .the very, very rich
https://www.themaven.net/mishtalk/economics/real-hourly-earnings-decline-yoy-for-production-workers-flat-for-all-employees-W4eRI5nksU2lsrOR9Z01WQ/

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

im used to use reliable link ( on forbes it's not Pew but i quoted also Pew) :)

Off The Street , July 20, 2018 at 9:43 am

Nice how they use the euphemism "country as a whole" for GDP.

Fresno Dan,
You have identified one of my pet peeves about economists and their fellow traveler politicians. They hide behind platitudes, and the former are more obnoxious about that. Economists will tell people that they just don't understand all that complexity, and that in the name of efficiency, etc, free trade and the long slide toward neo-liberal hell must continue.

Heraclitus , July 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

I think the assertion that all economic gains have gone to the very top is not accurate. According to 'Unintended Consequences' by Ed Conard, the 'composition of the work force has shifted to demographics with lower incomes' between 1980 and 2005. If you held the workforce of 1980 steady through 2005, wages would be up 30% in real terms, not including benefits.

It's amazing that critics miss this.

Jean , July 20, 2018 at 12:21 pm

But you are ignoring immigrant based population increases which dilutes your frozen population number. How convenient for argument's sake.

Not mentioned in the article are rent increases caused by more competition for scarcer housing.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 7:12 am

I think the author has highlighted some home truths in the article. I once remember several years ago just trying to raise the issue of immigration* and its impact on workers on an Irish so-called socialist forum. Either I met silence or received a reply along the lines: 'that when socialists rule the EU we'll establish continental wide standards that will ensure fairness for everyone'. Fairy dust stuff. I'm not anti immigrant in any degree but it seems unwise not to understand and mitigate the negative aspects of policies on all workers. Those chickens are coming home to roost by creating the type of political parties (new or established) that now control the EU and many world economies.

During the same period many younger middle and upper middle class Irish extolled the virtues, quite openly, of immigration as way of lowering the power and wages of existing Irish workers so that the costs of building homes, labour intensive services and the like would be concretely reduced; and that was supposed to be a good thing for the material well being of these middle and upper middle classes. Sod manual labour.

One part of the working class was quite happy to thrown another part of the working class under the bus and the Left**, such as it was and is, was content to let it happen. Then established Leftist parties often facilitated the rightward economic process via a host of policies, often against their own stated policies in election manifestos. The Left appeared deceitful. The Irish Labour party is barely alive and subsisting on die-hard traditionalists for their support by those who can somehow ignore the deceit of their party. Surreaslist stuff from so-called working class parties,

And now the middle-middle classes are ailing and we're supposed to take notice. Hmmm. Yet, as a Leftist, myself, it is incumbent upon us to address the situation and assist all workers, whatever their own perceived status.

*I'm an immigrant in the UK currently, though that is about to change next year.

** Whether the "Left", such as the Irish Labour Party, was just confused or bamboozled matters not a jot. After the financial crises that became an economic crisis, they zealously implemented austerity policies that predominantly cleared the way for a right wing political landscape to dominate throughout Europe. One could be forgiven for thinking that those who called themselves Leftists secretly believed that only right wing, neo-liberal economic policies were correct. And I suppose, being a bit cynical, that a few politicos were paid handsomely for their services.

PlutoniumKun , July 20, 2018 at 8:30 am

I think its easy to see why the more middle class elements of the left wing parties never saw immigration as a problem – but harder to see why the Trade Unions also bought into this. Partly I think it was a laudable and genuine attempt to ensure they didn't buy into racism – when you look at much trade union history, its not always pleasant reading when you see how nakedly racist some early trade union activists were, especially in the US. But I think there was also a process whereby Unions increasingly represented relatively protected trades and professions, while they lost ground in more vulnerable sectors, such as in construction.

I think there was also an underestimation of the 'balancing' effect within Europe. I think a lot of activists understimated the poverty in parts of Europe, and so didn't see the expansion of the EU into eastern Europe as resulting in the same sort of labour arbitrage thats occurred between the west and Asia. I remember the discussions over the enlargement of the EU to cover eastern Europe and I recall that there seemed to be an inbuilt assumption (certainly in the left), that rising general prosperity would ensure there would be no real migration impact on local jobs. This proved to be entirely untrue.

Incidentally, in my constituency (Dublin Central) in past elections the local Labour party was as guilty as any of pandering to the frequent racism encountered on the doorsteps in working class areas. But it didn't do them much good. Interestingly, SF was the only party who would consistently refuse to pander (At least in Dublin), making the distinction between nationalist and internationalist minded left wingers even more confusing.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 10:17 am

Yes, one has to praise the fact that the Unions didn't pander to racism – but that's about all the (insert expletive of choice) did correctly.

Your other points, as ever, are relevant and valid but (and I must but) I tend to think that parties like Labour were too far "breezy" about the repercussions about labour arbitrage. But that's water under the bridge now.

Speaking about SF and the North West in general, they have aggressively canvassed recent immigrants and have not tolerated racism among their ranks. Their simple reasoning was that is unthinkable that SF could tolerate such behaviour amongst themselves when they has waged a campaign against such attitudes and practices in the six counties. (SF are no saints, often fumble the ball badly, and are certainly not the end-all-be-all, but this is something they get right).

Glen , July 20, 2018 at 8:56 am

It has to be understood that much of immigration is occurring because of war, famine, collapsing societies (mostly due to massive wealth inequality and corrupt governments). Immigration is not the cause of the economic issues in the EU, it's a symptom (or a feature if you're on top). If you don't correct the causes – neo-liberalism, kleptocracy, rigged game – what ever you want to call it, then you too will become an immigrant in your own country (and it will be a third world country by the time the crooks on top are done).

Don't get caught up in the blame the other poor people game. It's a means to get the powerless to fight among themselves. They are not in charge, they are victims just like you.

Felix_47 , July 20, 2018 at 9:18 am

Having spent a lot of time in the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan and Iraq I have to say that rampant overpopulation plays a big part. Anyone who can get out is getting out. It makes sense. And with modern communications they all know how life is in Europe or the US in contrast to the grinding horror that surrounds them.

Louis Fyne , July 20, 2018 at 11:45 am

But Conan tells me that Haiti is a tropical paradise! (my brother too spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Iraq working with the locals during his deployments)

"Twitter liberalism" is doing itself by not recognizing that much of the developing world IS a corrupt cesspool.

Instead of railing against Trump, the Twitter-sphere needs to rail against the bipartisan policies that drive corruption, and economic dislocations and political dislocations. and rail against religious fundamentalism that hinders family planning.

But that can't fit onto a bumper sticker.

Calling Trump names is easier.

redleg , July 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm

But if you actually do that, rail against bipartisan neoliberal policies on social media and IRL, the conservatives are far less hostile than the die-hard Dems. This is especially true now, with all the frothing at the mouth and bloodlust about Russia. Its raised their "it's ALL *YOUR* FAULT"-ism by at least an order of magnitude.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Actually, that's been true since the 18th C., at least for the US. TV may make it more vivid, and Europe has changed places, but most Americans have immigrant ancestors, most often from Europe.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 10:04 am

Very good points, and I agree with all of them.

However, it does seem that the policy of the EU, especially under the influence of Mutti Merkel, signalled a free-for-all immigration stance over the last several years, completely ignoring the plight of existing workers (many of whom would be recent immigrants themselves and the children of immigrants). That the so-called Left either sat idly by or jumped on Mutti's band wagon didn't do them any favours with working people. Every country or customs union has and needs to regulate its borders. It also makes some sense to monitor labour markets when unfavourable conditions appear.

It appears that only the wealthy are largely reaping the rewards of the globalist direction trade has taken. These issues need to be addressed by the emerging Left political parties in the West. Failure to address these issues must, I would contend, play into the hands of the more right wing parties whose job is to often enrich the local rich.

But, bottom line, your are correct workers do not come out well when blaming other workers for economies that have been intentionally created to produce favourable conditions for the few over the many.

nervos belli , July 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

It's a blade with two sides.
There are push factors like the wars and poor countries. However neither of these causes can be fixed. Not possible. Europe can gnash their teeth all they want, not even when they did the unthinkable and put the US under sanctions for their warcrimes would the US ever stop. First there would be color revolutions in western europe.

As important as the push factors are the pull ones. 90% or so of all refugees 2015 went to Germany. Some were sent to other countries by the EU, these too immediately moved to Germany and didn't stay where they were assigned. So the EU has to clean up their act and would need to put the last 10 or so US presidents and administrations before a judge in Den Haag for continued war crimes and crimes against humanity (please let me my dreams). The EU would also need to clean up their one sided trade treaties with Africa and generally reign in their own corporations. All that is however not enough by far and at most only half the battle. Even when the EU itself all did these things, the poverty would remain and therefore the biggest push factor. Humans always migrate to the place where the economy is better.

The pull factors is however at least as big. The first thing to do is for Germany to fix their laws to be in sync with the other EU countries. At this point, Germany is utterly alone, at most some countries simply don't speak out against german policy since they want concessions in other areas. Main one here is France with their proposed EU and Euro reforms but not alone by far.

Ben Wolf , July 20, 2018 at 7:36 am

Nationalists want protection for work and workers, a clamping down on economic migrants, and rules with teeth aimed at controlling international trade.

Socialism in one country is a Stalinist theory, and falling back upon it in fear of international capital is not only regressive but (assuming we aren't intentionally ignoring history) relective of a defensive mentality.

In other words, this kind of thinking is the thinking of the whipped dog cringing before the next blow.

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:31 am

Am i a dog? :)

Andrew Watts , July 20, 2018 at 11:28 am

Or perhaps they want to regulate and control the power of capital in their country. Which is an entirely impossible proposition considering that capital can flee any jurisdiction and cross any border. After all, transnational capital flows which were leveraged to the hilt in speculative assets played an oversized role in generating the financial crisis and subsequent crash.

It wouldn't be the first time I've been called a Stalinist though.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 1:47 pm

And why would we care whether it's a "Stalinist" theory? For that matter, although worker ownership would solve some of these problems, we needn't be talking about socialism, but rather about more functional capitalism.

Quite a leap in that last sentence; you haven't actually established anything of the sort.

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm

but rather about a more functional capitalism.

Personally, I believe capitalism needs to go away, but for it, or any other economic system, to work, we would need a fair, equal, just, enforced rule of law that everyone would be under, wouldn't we?

Right now the blessed of our various nations do not want this, so they make so that one set is unfair, unequal, unjust, harshly enforced on most of their country's population while they get the gentle rules.

For a society to function long term, it needs to have a fair and just set of rules that everyone understands and follow, although the rules don't have to equal; people will tolerate different levels of punishments and strictness of the rules. The less that is the case the more dysfunctional, and usually the more repressive it is. See the Western Roman Empire, the fall of just about every Chinese dynasty, the Russian Empire, heck even the American War of Independence, and the American Civil War. In example, people either actively worked to destroy the system or did not care to support it.

disc_writes , July 20, 2018 at 8:10 am

Thank you for the article, a pretty lucid analysis of the recent electoral results in Italy and trends elsewhere. Although I would have liked to read something about people voting the way they do because they are xenophobe fascist baby-eating pedophile racist Putin friends. Just for fun.

Funny how the author's company promotes "Daily international job vacancies in UNDP, FAO, UN, UNCTAD, UNIDO and the other Governative Organization, Non Governative Organization, Multinationals Corporations. Public Relations, Marketing, Business Development."

Precisely the sort of jobs that infuriates the impoverishing middle classes.

Lambert Strether , July 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Class traitors are important and to be encouraged (though a phrase with a more positive tone would be helpful).

Felix_47 , July 20, 2018 at 9:16 am

As recently as 2015, Bernie Sanders defended not only border security, but also national sovereignty. Asked about expanded immigration, Sanders flipped the question into a critique of open-borders libertarianism: "That's a Koch brothers proposal which says essentially there is no United States."
Unfortunately the ethnic division of the campaign and Hillary's attack seems to have led him to change his mind.

Andrew Watts , July 20, 2018 at 11:34 am

That's probably due to the fact that just about everybody can't seem to differentiate between immigration and mass migration. The latter issue is a matter of distributing the pain of a collapsing order. state failure, and climate change while the former is simply engaging in the comfortable rhetoric of politics dominated by the American middle class.

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:36 am

Ciao .

Oki lemme see.

1 people vote they like. im not updated if the voters eat babies but i'll check and let u know.
2 My company is not dream job. It is a for free ( and not making a penny) daily bulleting that using a fre soft (paper.li) collect international qualified job offers for whoever is willing to work in these sector.
i'm not pro or contro migrants. i actually only reported simple fact collating differents point :)

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , July 20, 2018 at 9:40 am

Economic migrants seek prosperity and are justified in doing so, yet they can also be seen as pawns in an international strategy that destroys the negotiating leverage of workers. The resulting contradictions potentially render conventional political classifications obsolete.

This appears on the homepage, but not here.

In any case, the 10% also seek prosperity. They are said to be the enablers of the 1%.

Perhaps pawns too.

Are economic migrants both pawns and enablers?

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Yes. The economic migrants are both pawns and enablers as well as victims.

Newton Finn , July 20, 2018 at 10:02 am

Until the left alters its thinking to reflect the crucial information presented in this video, information more clearly and comprehensively spelled out in "Reclaiming the State" by Mitchell and Fazi, resurgent rightwing nationalism will be the only outlet for those who reject global neoliberalism's race to the bottom. It's that simple and sad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IynNfA1Ohao

ROB , July 20, 2018 at 10:11 am

To paint this as two pro-globalisation (within which you place the left) and pro-nationalism is simplistic and repositions the false dichotomy of left vs right with something just as useless. We should instead seek to speak to the complexities of the modern political spectrum. This is an example of poor journalism and analysis and shouldn't have been posted here, sorry Yves.

John Wright , July 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

By "false dichotomy of left vs right" are you implying there is little difference between left and right?

Is that not one of the themes of the article?

Please speak to the complexities of the modern political spectrum and give some examples of better and more useful journalism and analysis.

JTMcPhee , July 20, 2018 at 11:17 am

Thanks for your opinion. Check the format of this place: articles selected for information or provoking thoughts, in support of a general position of driving toward betterment of the general welfare, writ large.

The political economy is at least as complex as the Krebs or citric acid cycle that biology students and scientists try to master. There are so many moving parts and intersecting and competing interests that in the few words that the format can accommodate, regarding each link, it's a little unkind to expect some master work of explication and rhetorical closure every time.

The Krebs cycle is basically driven by the homeostatic thrust, bred of billions of years of refinement, to maintain the healthy functioning and prolong life of the organism. There's a perceivable axis to all the many parts of respiration, digestion, energy flows and such, all inter-related with a clear organizing principle at the level of the organism. On the record, it's hardly clear that at the level of the political economy, and all the many parts that make it up, there is sufficient cohesion around a set of organizing principles that parallel the drive, at the society and species level, to regulate and promote the energy flows and interactions that would keep things healthy and prolong the life of the larger entity. Or that their is not maybe a death wish built into the "cultural DNA" of most of the human population.

Looks a lot to me that we actually have been invested (in both the financial and military senses of the word) by a bunch of different cancer processes, wild and unregulated proliferation of ecnomic and political tumor tissues that have invaded and undermined the healthy organs of the body politic. Not so clear what the treatments might be, or the prognosis. It is a little hopeful, continuing the biological analogy, that the equivalents of inflammation and immune system processes appear to be overcoming the sneaky tricks that cancer genes and cells employ to evade being identified and rendered innocuous.

John , July 20, 2018 at 11:44 am

Yes, "invested in a bunch of cancer processes" is a good description of allowing excessive levels of predatory wealth. Thus you end up with a bunch of Jay Gould hyper capitalists whose guiding principle is: I can always pay one half of the working class to kill the other half. Divide and conquer rules.

jrs , July 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm

It's mostly simply wrong. This doesn't describe the political views of almost anyone near power anywhere as far as I can tell:

"Globalists want more open borders and freer international trade. Nationalists want protection for work and workers, "

Most of the nationalist forces are on the right and give @#$# all for workers rights. Really they may be anti-immigrant but they are absolutely anti-worker.

JimmyV , July 20, 2018 at 12:04 pm

The middle class does not really exist, it was a concept invented by capitalists to distract the workers from their essential unity as fellow wage slaves. Some make more wages, some make less wages but they all have their surplus value, the money left over after they have enough to take care of themselves, taken by the capitalist and used for his ends even though he may not have worked in the value creation process at all.

Economic migrants are members of the working class who have been driven from their home country to somewhere else by the capitalist system. While the article does mention capitalist shock doctrine methods for establishing imperialism and correctly notes that economic migrants are victims, it then goes on to try to lay a weak and insidious argument against them. The author goes on citing multiple different cases of worker wages being driven lower or stagnating, many of these cases have differing and sometimes complex reasons for why this happened. But migrants and globalization are to blame he says and that our struggle is nationalism vs globalism. He refuses to see what is staring him in the face, workers produce surplus value for society, more workers produce more surplus value. If society finds itself wealthier with more workers then why do workers wage fall or stagnate? He does note correctly that this is due to the workers now having a weaker bargaining position with the capitalist, but he seems to conclude from this without stating outrightly that we should then reject the economic migrants because of this.

However, we could instead conclude that if more workers produce more surplus value but yet their wages fall because the capitalist takes a larger share of the overall pot, that the problem is not more workers but instead the capitalist system itself which was rigged to exploit workers everywhere. Plus the workers bargaining position only weakens with a greater number of them if they are all just bargaining for themselves, but if they were to bargain togather collectively then there bargaining position has actually only grown even stronger.

Also he falsly equates democratic party policies with leftists, instead of correctly noting that the democratic party represents capitalist interests from a centrist position and not the left. The strength of global capitalism can only be fought by a global coalition of the working class. The struggle of Mexican and American workers are interrelated to each other and the same goes for that of European and Middle Eastern workers. The time has come for the left to raise the rallying cry of its great and glorious past.

That workers of the world must unite!

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm

You claim, as if it were obvious, that "economic migrants are members of the working class who have been driven from their home country to somewhere else by the capitalist system."

Are all economic migrants therefore bereft of agency?

If the borders of the US were abruptly left completely open, a huge number of people would enter the country tomorrow, for economic reasons. Would they all have been "driven" here, or would they have some choice in the matter?

When you say, "he refuses to say what is staring him in the face, that [ ] more workers produce more surplus value," you are not only taking a gratuitously pedantic tone, you are actually not making a coherent critique. If economic migrants move from one country to another, the total pool of workers in the world has not increased; while according to your logic, if all the workers in the world were to move to Rhode Island, Rhode Island would suddenly be swimming in the richness of surplus value.

When you say, "we could instead conclude that [..] the problem is not more workers but instead the capitalist system itself which was rigged to exploit workers everywhere," you are straw-manning the author but also making a purely rhetorical argument. If you think the capitalist system can be replaced with a better one within the near future, then you can work toward that; but in the meanwhile, nations, assuming that they will continue to exist, will either have open borders or something short of that, and these decisions do affect the lives of workers.

When you say he "falsly equates democratic party policies with leftists," the false equivalence is coming from you. The article barely touches on the Democratic Party, and instead draws most of its examples from Europe, especially Italy. In Italy, the public figures he mentions call themselves part of the sinistra and are generally referred to that way. You might perhaps feel that they are not entitled to that name (and in fact, the article sometimes places "left" in quotation marks), but you should at least read the article and look them up before discussing the matter.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 1:56 pm

From the article: "Meanwhile, many who self-identify as on the Left seem utterly uninterested in the concerns of ordinary people, at least in cases where these would conflict with the commitment to globalization."

To Be Fair, Verga clearly is skeptical about those claims to be "on the Left," as he should be. Nonetheless, his initial mention of Democratic exemplars of globalization triggers American reflexes.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Something before this failed to post; was rejected as a double post.

In brief: corporate globalization is a conservative, Republican policy that Bill Clinton imposed on the Dems, where it has since become doctrine, since it pays. It's ultimately the reason I'm a Green, not a Democrat, and in a sense the reason there IS a Green Party in the US.

Lambert Strether , July 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

> The middle class does not really exist, it was a concept invented by capitalists

Let's not be simplistic. They have people for that.

Eduardo Pinha , July 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm

The author points to stagnant middle class income in USA and Western Europe but fail to look the big picture. Middle class income has increased sharply in the past decades in Asia and Eastern Europe. Overall the gain huge, even though life is tougher in richer countries.

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Overall the gain huge, even thought life is tougher in richer countries.

Please accept my apologies for saying this. I don't mean to offend. I just have to point out something.

Many in the Democratic Party, as well as the left, are pointing to other countries and peoples as well as the American 9.9% and saying things are great, why are you complaining? With the not so hidden implications, sometimes openly stated that those who do are losers and deplorables.

Saying that middle class incomes are merely stagnant is a sick, sick joke as well as an untruth. As an American, I do not really care about the middle classes in Asia and Eastern Europe. Bleep the big picture. The huge gains comes with a commensurate increase in homeless in the United States, and a falling standard of living for most the of the population, especially in the "wealthy" states, like my state of California. Most of us are using fingernails to stay alive and homed. If those gains had not been caused by the losses, I would be very please to see them. As it is, I have to live under President Trump and worry about surviving. Heck, worry about the rest of my family doing so.

jrs , July 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

"Saying that middle class incomes are merely stagnant is a sick, sick joke as well as an untruth."

+10,000

I mean I actually do care somewhat about the people of the world, but we here in "rich countries" are being driven to homelessness at this point and told the goddamn lie that we live in a rich country, rather than the truth that we live in a plutocracy with levels of inequality approaching truly 3rd world. We are literally killing ourselves because we have to live in this plutocracy and our one existence itself is not even worth it anymore in this economic system (and we are lacking even a few of the positives of many other 3rd world countries). And those that aren't killing ourselves still can't find work, and even if we do, it doesn't pay enough to meet the most basic necessities.

David in Santa Cruz , July 20, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Thought-provoking post.

1. It is unfortunate that Verga raises the rising cost of material inputs but fails to meaningfully address the issue. One of the drivers of migration, as mentioned in Comments above, is the population volcano currently erupting. Labor is cheap and globalization possible in large part because the world population has grown from 2 Billion to over 7 Billion in the past 60-odd years. This slow-growing mountain of human beings has created stresses on material inputs which are having a negative impact on the benefits derived from declining labor costs. This becomes a death-spiral as capital seeks to balance the rising cost of raw materials and agricultural products by driving down the cost of labor ever further.

2. Verga touches on the interplay of Nationalism and Racism in the responses of political parties and institutions in Italy and elsewhere. Voters appear to be abandoning Left and left-ish parties because the Left have been unable to come up with a definintion of national sovereignty that protects worker rights largely due to the importance of anti-racism in current Left-wing thought. Working people were briefly bought-off with cheap consumer goods and easy credit, but they now realize that low-wage migrant and off-shore workers mean that even these goodies are now out of reach. The only political alternative currently on offer is a brand of Nationalism defined by Racism -- which becomes acceptable to voters when the alternative is Third-World levels of poverty for those outside the 1% and their 9% enablers.

I don't see any simple solutions. Things may get very ugly.

redleg , July 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

The "left" abandoned the working class. Denied a political champion, the right offered the working class scapegoats.

PKMKII , July 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I certainly see that policies tampering down free trade, both of capital and labor, can benefit workers within a particular country. However, especially in the context of said policies in "Western" countries, this can tend towards a, protect the working class within the borders, leave those outside of it in impoverished squalor. Which doesn't mesh well with the leftist goal of global class consciousness. Much like the racially segregated labor policies of yesteryear, it's playing a zero-sum game with the working class while the ownership class gets the "rising tide lifts all boats" treatment.

So how do we protect workers within the sovereign, while not doing so at the cost of the workers outside of it? Schwieckart has an interesting idea, that tariffs on imports are used to fund non-profits/higher education/cooperatives in the country of export. However, I think we'd need something a bit more fine-tuned than that.

Tomonthebeach , July 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

It has always baffled me that governments enable this global musical chairs game with the labor market. Nearly all Western governments allow tax dodging by those who benefit the most from their Navies, Armies, Patents, and Customs enforcement systems. However, it is the working class that carries the brunt of that cost while corporations off-shore their profits.

A simple-minded fix might be to start taxing foreign profits commensurate with the cost of enabling those overseas profits.

whine country , July 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Interesting that a corporation is a person just like us mortals when it is to their advantage, but unlike us humans, they can legally escape taxation on much of their income whereas a human being who is a US citizen cannot. A human citizen is generally taxed by the US on all income regardless of its source. OTOH, corporations (among other means) routinely transfer intellectual property to a non tax jurisdiction and then pay artificial payments to that entity for the rights to use such property. It is a scam akin to a human creating a tax deduction by transferring money from one pocket to another. Yes, proper taxation of corporations is a simple-minded fix which is absolutely not simple to legislate. Nice try though. Something else to ponder: Taxation without representation was said to be a major factor in our war of independence from Britain. Today no one seems to be concerned that we have evolved into representation without taxation. Doesn't see right to me.

ChrisAtRU , July 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm

"Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force."

Indeed:

Our Industry Follows Poverty

FWIW I don't think it's productive to talk about things like immigration in (or to) the US in terms of just the here – as in what should/could we be doing here to fix the problem. It's just as much if not more about the there . If we view the global economic order as an enriched center feeding off a developing periphery, then fixing the periphery should be first aim. #Wall or #NoBorders are largely incendiary extremes. Ending Original Sin and creating some sort of supranational IOU/credit system (not controlled by World Bank or IMF!) will end the economic imbalance and allow countries who will never export their way out of poverty and misery a way to become equal first world nation states. With this equality, there will be less economic migration, less peripheral poverty and potentially less political unrest. It's a gargantuan task to be sure, but with rising Socialist sentiment here and abroad, I'd like to think we are at least moving in the right direction.

Anonymous2 , July 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

No mention of tax policy?

If the rich were properly taxed then social tensions would be greatly reduced and if the revenue raised were used to help the poorest in society much distress could be alleviated.

I worry that debate on migration/globalisation is being encouraged to distract attention from this issue.

JimmyV , July 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm

I may indeed have taken a gratuitously pedantic tone and could have chosen a better one, for that i apologise. I do however believe that much of my critique still stands, I will try to go through your points one by one.

"Are all economic migrants therefore bereft of agency?"

Not all but many are, especially the ones that most people are complaining about. Many of them are being driven from their home countries not simply for a better life but so they can have something approaching a life at all. While to fully prove this point would require an analysis of all the different migrants and their home country conditions, I do feel that if we are talking about Syrian refugees, migrants from Africa risking their lives crossing the Mediteranian sea, or CentralAmerican refugees than yes i do think these people to an extent have had their agency taken from them by global events. For Syrians, by being caught in an imperialist power struggle which while the civil war may not have been caused by it, it certainly has been prolonged because of it. Not too mention America played a very significant role in creating the conditions for ISIS, and western European powers don't have completely clean hands either due to their long history of brutal imperialism in the mideast. Africa of course also has an extensive past of colonization and suffers from a present of colonization and exploitation as well. For Central Americans there is of course the voracious american drug market as well as our politicians consistent appetite for its criminalisation to blame. There is also of course global climate change. Many of these contributing conditions are not being dealt with and so i believe that the migrations we have witnessed these last few years are only the first ining of perhaps even greater migrations to come. How we deal with it now, could determine whether our era is defined by mass deaths or something better. So to the extent that i believe many of these migrants have agency is similiar to how a person climbing onto the roof of there house to escape a flood does.

If the borders of the US were left completely open then, yes, there would most likely be a rush of people at first but over time they would migrate back and forth according to their needs, through the opening of the border they would gain agency. People often think that a country not permitting its citizens to leave is wrong and immoral, but if most countries close their borders to the people of a country going through great suffering, then it seems to me that is essentially the same even if the rhetoric may be different. The likeliness of this is high if the rich countries close there borders, since if the rich countries like the US and Italy feel they can not take them in, then its doubtful countries on the way that are much poorer will be able to either.

At the begining of your article you stated that "International commerce, jobs, and economic migrants are propelled by a common force: profit." This is the capitalist system, which is a system built upon the accumulation of capital, which are profits invested in instruments of labor, aka machines and various labor enhancements. Now Rhode island is quite small so there are geographical limitations of course, but if that was not an issue then yes. Wage workers in the capitalist system produce more value than they consume, if this was not the case they would not be hired or be hired for long. So if Rhode Island did not have the geographical limitations that it does, then with more workers the overall pot of valuable products and services would increase per capita in relation to the population. If the workers are divided and not unified into cohesive and responsive institutions to fight for there right share of the overall pie, which I believe should be all of it, then most of the gain to society will go to the capitalist as increased profits. So it is not the migrant workers who take from the native but instead actually the capitalist who exploits and trys to magnify there difference. So if the capitalist system through imperialism helped to contribute to the underlying conditions driving mass migration, and then it exploits there gratitude and willingness to work for less than native workers, than I believe it follows that they will wish to drive native anger towards the migrants with the ultimate goal of allowing them to exploit the migrant workers at an even more severe level. This could be true within the country, such as the US right now where the overarching result of anti-immigrant policies has been to not get rid of them but to drive there exploitation more into the shadows, or through mass deportations back to their home country followed by investments to exploit their desperation at super low wages that will then compete with the rich country workers, it is also possible they will all just die and everyone will look away. Either way the result will still be lower wages for rich country workers, it seems to me the only way out of the impass is for the native workers to realize their unity with migrant workers as exploited workers and instead of directing that energy of hostility at each other instead focus it upon the real root which is the capitalists themselves. Without the capitalists, more workers, held withing certain geographic limitations of course, would in fact only enrich each other.

So while nations may indeed continue to exist for awhile, the long term benefit of native workers is better served by making common cause with migrants against their mutual oppressors then allowing themselves to be stirred up against them. Making this argument to workers is much harder, but its the most beneficial if it can be made successfully.

This last point i do agree i may have been unfair to you, historically I believe the left generally referred to anarchists, socialists and communists. So I often dislike the way modern commentators use the left to refer to anything from a center right democrat like Hillary Clinton all the way to the most hard core communist, it can make understanding political subtleties difficult since anarchists, socialists and communists have radically different politics than liberals, much more so than can be expressed along a linear line. But as you point out you used quotes which i admit i did not notice, and of course one must generally use the jargon of the times in order to be understood.

Overall i think my main critique was that it seemed that throughout your article you were referencing different negative symptoms of capitalism but was instead taking that evidence for the negatives of globalism. I may come from a more radical tradition than you may be used to, but i would consider globalism to be an inherent aspect of capitalism. Capitalism in its algorithmic quest for ever increasing profits generally will not allow its self to be bound for long by people, nations, or even the physical and environmental limitations of the earth. While one country may be able to restrict it for a time unless it is overcome completely it will eventually reach out globally again. The only way to stop it is a prolonged struggle of the international working class cooperating with each other against capitalism in all its exploitive forms. I would also say that what we are seeing is not so much globalism vs nationalism but instead a rearrangement of the competing imperial powers, Russia, China, US, Germany and perhaps the evolution of multiple competing imperialisms similiar in nature to pre- world war times but that may have to wait for later.

A great deal of your article did indeed deal with Italy which I did not address but I felt that your arguments surrounding migrants was essentially of a subtle right wing nature and it needed to be balanced by a socialist counter narrative. I am very glad that you took the time to respond to my critique I know that putting analysis out there can be very difficult and i am thankful for your response which has allowed me to better express and understand my viewpoint. Once again I apoligise if I used some overly aggressive language and i hope your able to get something out of my response as well.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm

I appreciate the more reflective tone of this reply. I believe there are still some misreadings of the article, which I will try to clarify.

For one thing, I am not the author of the article! Enrico Verga is the author. I merely translated the article. Enrico is Italian, however, and so for time zone reasons will be unable to respond to your comments for a while. I am happy to write a bit on this in the meantime.

You make two arguments.

The first is that many or most migrants are fleeing desperate circumstances. The article speaks however consistently of "economic migrants" – there are some overlapping issues with refugees, but also significant differences. Clearly there are many people who are economically comfortable in their home countries and who would still jump at a chance to get US citizenship if they could (look up EB-5 fraud for one example). Saying this does not imply some sort of subtle critique of such people, but they are not a myth.

I actually found your second argument more thought-provoking. As I understand you, you are suggesting something like the following. You support completely open borders. You acknowledge that this would lead at first to massive shifts in population, but in the long run you say things would stabilize. You acknowledge that this will lead to "lower wages for rich country workers," but say that we should focus on the fact that it is only within the capitalist system that this causality holds. You also suggest that it would probably lead, under current conditions, to workers having their anger misdirected at migrants and therefore supporting more reactionary policies.

Given that the shift to immediate open borders would, by this analysis, be highly detrimental to causes you support, why do you favor it? Your reasons appear to be (1) it's the right thing to do and we should just do it, (2) yes, workers might react in the way described, but they should not feel that way, and maybe we can convince them not to feel that way, (3) things will work themselves out in the long run.

I am a bit surprised at the straightforwardly idealistic tone of (1) and (2). As for (3), as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead. He meant by this that phenomena that might in theory equilibrate over a very long time can lead to significant chaos in the short run; this chaos can meanwhile disrupt calculations about the "long term" and spawn other significant negative consequences.

Anyone who is open to the idea of radically new economic arrangements faces the question of how best to get there. You are perhaps suggesting that letting global capital reign supreme, unhindered by the rules and restrictions of nation-states, will in the long run allow workers to understand their oppression more clearly and so increase their openness to uniting against it. If so, I am skeptical.

I will finally point out that a part of the tone of your response seems directed at the impression that Enrico dislikes migrants, or wants other people to resent them. I see nothing in the article that would suggest this, and there are on the other hand several passages in which Enrico encourages the reader to empathize with migrants. When you suggest that his arguments are "essentially of a subtle right wing nature," you are maybe reacting to this misreading; in any case, I'm not really sure what you are getting at, since this phrase is so analytically imprecise that it could mean all sorts of things. Please try to engage with the article with arguments, not with vague epithets.

Raulb , July 20, 2018 at 8:57 pm

There is a bit of a dissonance here. Human rights has been persistently used by neoliberals to destabilize other regions for their own ends for decades now with little protest. And when the standard playbook of coups and stirring up trouble does not work its war and total destruction as we have seen recently in Iraq, Libya and Syria for completely fabricated reasons.

Since increased migration is the obvious first consequence when entire countries are decimated and in disarray one would expect the countries doing the destruction to accept the consequences of their actions but instead we have the same political forces who advocate intervention on 'human rights grounds' now demonizing migrants and advocating openly racist policies.

One can understand one mistake but 3 mistakes in a row! And apparently we are not capable of learning. The bloodlust continues unabated for Iran. This will destabilize an already destabilized region and cause even more migration to Europe. There seems to be a fundamental contradiction here, that the citizens of countries that execute these actions and who who protest about migrants must confront.

Maybe they should pay trillions of dollars of reparations for these intervention so these countries can be rebuilt and made secure again so migrants can return to their homes. Maybe the UN can introduce a new fund with any country considering destabilizing another country, for instance Iran, to first deposit a trillion dollars upfront to deal with the human fallout. Or maybe casually destabilizing and devastating entire countries, killing millions of people and putting millions more in disarray should be considered crimes against humanity and prosecuted so they are not repeated.

[Jul 20, 2018] Doubting The Intelligence Of The Intelligence Community by Ilana Mercer

Intelligence community is a new Praetorian guard which since JFK murder can decide the fate of presidents.
Notable quotes:
"... Peter Strzok, the disgraced and disgraceful Federal Bureau of Investigation official, is the very definition of a slimy swamp creature. Strzok twitched, grimaced and ranted his way to infamy during a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, on July 12. ..."
"... Strzok is the youthful face of the venerated "Intelligence Community," itself part of the sprawling political machine that makes up the D.C. comitatus ..."
"... Smug, self-satisfied, cheating creature that he is, Strzok can't take responsibility for his own misconduct, and blames Russia for dividing America. In the largely progressive bureau, moreover, Agent Strzok is neither underling nor outlier, for that matter. ..."
"... A "blind bootlicking faith in spooks" is certainly unwarranted and may even be foolish. What of odious individuals like former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and his predecessor, James Comey, now openly campaigning for the Democrats? Are these leaders outliers in the "Intelligence Community"? ..."
"... Similarly, it's hard to think of a more partisan operator than John O. Brennan -- he ran the CIA under President Obama. True to type, he cast a vote for Communist Party USA, back in 1976, when the current Russia monomania would have been justified. Brennan has dubbed President Trump a traitor for having dared to doubt people like himself. ..."
"... The very embodiment of the Surveillance State at its worst is Michael V. Hayden. Hayden has moved seamlessly from the National Security Agency and the CIA to CNN where he beats up on Trump. The former Bush employee hollered treason: "One of the most disgraceful performances of an American president in front of a Russian leader," Hayden inveighed. Not only had POTUS dared to explore the possibility of a truce with Russia, which is a formidable nuclear power; but the president had the temerity to express a smidgen of skepticism about a community littered with spooks like Mr. Hayden. ..."
"... Pray tell, since when does the Deep State -- FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, DNI, (Director of National Intelligence), on and on -- represent, or stand for, the American People? The president, conversely, actually got the support of at least 60 million Americans. ..."
"... Outside the Beltway, ordinary folks -- Deplorables, if you will -- have to sympathize with the president's initial and honest appraisal of the Intelligence Community's collective intelligence. This is the community that has sent us into quite a few recreational, hobby wars. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

Peter Strzok, the disgraced and disgraceful Federal Bureau of Investigation official, is the very definition of a slimy swamp creature. Strzok twitched, grimaced and ranted his way to infamy during a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, on July 12.

In no way had he failed to discharge his professional unbiased obligation to the public, asserted Strzok. He had merely expressed the hope that "the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating such horrible, disgusting behavior."

But we did not elect YOU, Mr. Strzok. We elected Mr. Trump.

Strzok is the youthful face of the venerated "Intelligence Community," itself part of the sprawling political machine that makes up the D.C. comitatus , now writhing like a fire breathing mythical monster against President Donald Trump.

Smug, self-satisfied, cheating creature that he is, Strzok can't take responsibility for his own misconduct, and blames Russia for dividing America. In the largely progressive bureau, moreover, Agent Strzok is neither underling nor outlier, for that matter. He's an overlord, having risen "to become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division."

As Ann Coulter observed, the FBI is not the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover. Neither is the Intelligence Community Philip Haney's IC any longer. Haney was a heroic, soft-spoken, demure employee at the Department of Homeland Security. Agents like him are often fired if they don't get with the program. He didn't. Haney's method and the authentic intelligence he mined and developed might have stopped the likes of the San Bernardino mass murderers and many others. Instead, his higher-ups in the "Intelligence Community" made Haney and his data disappear.

Post Haney, the FBI failed to adequately screen and stop Syed Farook and blushing bride Tashfeen Malik.

A "blind bootlicking faith in spooks" is certainly unwarranted and may even be foolish. What of odious individuals like former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and his predecessor, James Comey, now openly campaigning for the Democrats? Are these leaders outliers in the "Intelligence Community"?

As Peter Strzok might say to his paramour in a private tweet, "Who ya gonna believe, the Intelligence Community or your own lying eyes?" The Bureau in particular and the IC cabal, in general, appear to be dominated by the likes of the dull-witted Mr. Strzok.

Similarly, it's hard to think of a more partisan operator than John O. Brennan -- he ran the CIA under President Obama. True to type, he cast a vote for Communist Party USA, back in 1976, when the current Russia monomania would have been justified. Brennan has dubbed President Trump a traitor for having dared to doubt people like himself.

The very embodiment of the Surveillance State at its worst is Michael V. Hayden. Hayden has moved seamlessly from the National Security Agency and the CIA to CNN where he beats up on Trump. The former Bush employee hollered treason: "One of the most disgraceful performances of an American president in front of a Russian leader," Hayden inveighed. Not only had POTUS dared to explore the possibility of a truce with Russia, which is a formidable nuclear power; but the president had the temerity to express a smidgen of skepticism about a community littered with spooks like Mr. Hayden.

As one wag noted , not unreasonably, ours is "a highly-politicized intelligence community, infiltrated over decades by cadres of Deep State operatives and sleeper agents, whose goal is to bring down this presidency."

The latest pillorying heaped upon the president by the permanent establishment has it that, "Trump chose to stand with Vladimir Putin, instead of the American People." Trump, to be precise, had the temerity to "openly question his own intelligence agencies' firm finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S."

Pray tell, since when does the Deep State -- FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, DNI, (Director of National Intelligence), on and on -- represent, or stand for, the American People? The president, conversely, actually got the support of at least 60 million Americans.

That's a LOT of support. Outside the Beltway, ordinary folks -- Deplorables, if you will -- have to sympathize with the president's initial and honest appraisal of the Intelligence Community's collective intelligence. This is the community that has sent us into quite a few recreational, hobby wars.

And this is the community that regularly intercepts but fails to surveys and stop the likes of mass murderers Syed Farook and bride Tashfeen Malik. Or, Orlando nightclub killer Omar Mateen, whose father the Bureau saw fit to hire as an informant. The same "community" has invited the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Arab-American Institute to help shape FBI counterterrorism training.

The FBI might not be very intelligent at all. About the quality of that intelligence, consider: On August 3, 2016, as the mad media were amping up their Russia monomania, a frenzied BuzzFeed -- it calls itself a news org -- reported that "the Russian foreign ministry had wired nearly $30,000 through a Kremlin-backed bank to its embassy in Washington, DC."

Intercepted by American intelligence, the Russian wire stipulated that the funds were meant "to finance the election campaign of 2016." Was this not "meddling in our election" or what? Did we finally have irrefutable evidence of Kremlin culpability? The FBI certainly thought so. "Worse still, this was only one of 60 transfers that were being scrutinized by the FBI," wrote the Economist, in November of 2017. "Similar transfers were made to other countries." As it transpired, the money was wired from the Kremlin to embassies the world over. Its purpose? Russia was preparing to hold parliamentary elections in 2016 and had sent funds to Russian embassies "to organize the polling for expatriates."

While it did update its Fake News factoids, Buzzfeed felt no compunction whatsoever to remove the erroneous item or publicly question their sources in the unimpeachable "Intelligence Community."

Most news media are just not as inquisitive as President Trump.

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of " Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa " (2011) & " The Trump Revolution: The Donald's Creative Destruction Deconstructed " (June, 2016). She's on Twitter , Facebook , Gab & YouTube

[Jul 19, 2018] The Russian US Election Meddling Big Lie Won't Die by Stephen Lendman

Notable quotes:
"... Propaganda works, proved effective time and again – why it's a key tool in America's deep state playbook. ..."
"... Virtually anything repeated enough, especially through the major media megaphone, gets most people to believe it – no matter how preposterous the claim. ..."
"... Normalized relations with Russia and world peace are anathema notions in Washington. Bipartisan neocons infesting the US political establishment want none of it. America's hegemonic aims matter most – wanting dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations. Endless wars of aggression, color revolutions, and other unlawful practices harmful to human rights and welfare are its favored strategies. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Propaganda works, proved effective time and again – why it's a key tool in America's deep state playbook.

Virtually anything repeated enough, especially through the major media megaphone, gets most people to believe it – no matter how preposterous the claim.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia meddled in America's political process – nothing.

Yet an earlier NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed most Americans believe the Russia did it Big Lie. A months earlier Gallup poll showed three-fourths of Americans view Vladimir Putin unfavorably.

Americans are easy marks to be fooled. No matter how many times they were deceived before, they're easily manipulated to believe most anything drummed into their minds by the power of repetitious propaganda – fed them through through the major media megaphone – in lockstep with the official falsified narrative.

America's dominant media serve as a propaganda platform for US imperial and monied interests – acting as agents of deception, betraying their readers and viewers time and again instead of informing them responsibly.

CNN presstitute Poppy Harlow played a clip on air of Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asking Putin in Helsinki the following question:

"Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

Putin said: "Yes," he wanted Trump to win "because he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal," as translated from his Russian language response.

Here's the precise translation of his remark:

"Yes, I wanted him to win, because he talked about the need to normalize US-Russia relations," adding:

"Isn't it natural to have sympathy towards a man who wants to restore relations with your country? That's normal."

Putin did not address the fabricated official narrative notion that he directed his officials to help Trump win. Yet CNN's Harlow claimed otherwise, falsely claiming he ordered Kremlin officials to help Trump triumph over Hillary.

He did nothing of the kind or say it, nor did any other Kremlin officials. No evidence proves otherwise – nothing but baseless accusations supported only by the power of deceptive propaganda.

Time and again, CNN, the NYT, and rest of America's dominant media prove themselves untrustworthy.

They consistently abandon journalism the way it's supposed to be, notably on geopolitical issues, especially on war and peace and anything about Russia.

After rejecting, or at least doubting, the official narrative about alleged Russian meddling in the US political process to aid his election, Trump backtracked post-Helsinki – capitulating to deep state power.

First in the White House, he said he misspoke abroad – then on CBS News Wednesday night, saying it's "true," deplorably adding:

Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and he "would" hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for the interference – that didn't occur, he failed to stress.

Here's his verbatim exchange with CBS anchor Jeff Glor :

GLOR: "You say you agree with US intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016."

TRUMP: "Yeah and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true, yeah."

GLOR: "But you haven't condemned Putin, specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?"

TRUMP: "Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes."

GLOR: "What did you say to him?"

TRUMP: "Very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling. We can't have any of that – now look. We're also living in a grown-up world."

"Will a strong statement – you know – President Obama supposedly made a strong statement. Nobody heard it."

"What they did hear is a statement he made to Putin's very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable."

"But I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it, and that's the way it's going to be."

There you have it – Trump capitulating to America's deep state over Russia on national television.

From day one in power, he caved to the national security state, Wall Street, and other monied interests over popular ones.

The sole redeeming part of his agenda was wanting improved relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin personally – preferring peace over possible confrontation, wanting the threat of nuclear war defused.

Despite tweeting post-Helsinki that he and Putin "got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match," his remarks on CBS News showed he'll continue dirty US business as usual toward Russia.

Anything positive from summit talks appears abandoned by capitulating to deep state power controlling him and his agenda.

Normalized relations with Russia and world peace are anathema notions in Washington. Bipartisan neocons infesting the US political establishment want none of it. America's hegemonic aims matter most – wanting dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations. Endless wars of aggression, color revolutions, and other unlawful practices harmful to human rights and welfare are its favored strategies.

Will Americans go along with sacrificing vital freedoms for greater security from invented enemies – losing both? Will US belligerent confrontation with Russia inevitably follow? Will mushroom-shaped denouement eventually kill us all?

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org ( Home – Stephen Lendman ). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net .

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html "

[Jul 19, 2018] Strzokgate is a documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the US democratic process

Probably not so much to short-circuit democratic process that was short-circuited long before them, but clearly they acted as the guardians of the neoliberal state.
Which confirm the iron law of oligarchy in the most direct way: not only the elite gradually escapes all the democratic control, they use their power as oranized minority to defend the status quo, not stopping at the most dirty dirty methods.
Jan 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Extracted from: The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate, by Ray McGovern - The Unz Review by Ray McGovern

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI's counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through "Surity 101." Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

... ... ...

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for "evidence" of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call "means, motive and opportunity."

[Jul 19, 2018] A Failing Nation by Dan Corjescu

Notable quotes:
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Both cases, the inclusive and the extractive, tend to reinforce themselves through time by a process known as institutional drift. This is an historical tendency for institutions to maintain, strengthen, and reproduce themselves over time similar to the biological processes involved in genetic drift. ..."
"... Importantly the authors also take the time to mention Robert Michel's seminal idea concerning the iron law of oligarchy ..."
"... Neo-Paternalism ..."
"... The Origins of Political Order. ..."
"... In short, much like the earlier Michel, Fukuyama sees present day democracies drifting towards ever more nepotistic patterns of behavior where elites seize power and reward and distribute the fruits of that power to their close associates within their networks of influence. ..."
"... In effect, both men, see, as did Marx before them, the "constitutional democracies" as a sham as a kind of theater behind which the levers of power are exercised authoritatively with little regard to the true interests of the masses below them. ..."
"... In such an environment of centralized elite control, "media openness" can do little to rout out the opaque workings of carefully, surreptitiously orchestrated power. ..."
Jun 28, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

What are the necessary elements for the success of a modern nation state?

According to one justifiably popular and well-written book, Why Nations Fail , it all has to do with inclusive political and economic institutions which foster technological change which in turn leads to increasing prosperity for the many.

Two key aspects upholding such institutions are a strong centralized state and the rule of law. Without these two, a nation cannot hope to advance socially, politically, or economically. The negative of this rosy picture are nations which maintain and promote extractive political and economic institutions which serve the interests of a narrow elite.

Both cases, the inclusive and the extractive, tend to reinforce themselves through time by a process known as institutional drift. This is an historical tendency for institutions to maintain, strengthen, and reproduce themselves over time similar to the biological processes involved in genetic drift.

Importantly the authors also take the time to mention Robert Michel's seminal idea concerning the iron law of oligarchy which explains the historically documented tendency that large, complex organizations of any kind (democratic, socialist, conservative) fall under the sway of a small elite exercising absolute if cosmetically hidden power.

Our authors optimistically suggest that this law is not destiny and can be sufficiently controlled by ever expanding democratic institutions in civil society.

Opposed to this buoyant idea of increasing mass prosperity and political participation is Francis Fukuyama's discussion of Neo-Paternalism in his thought provoking magnum opus The Origins of Political Order.

In short, much like the earlier Michel, Fukuyama sees present day democracies drifting towards ever more nepotistic patterns of behavior where elites seize power and reward and distribute the fruits of that power to their close associates within their networks of influence.

In effect, both men, see, as did Marx before them, the "constitutional democracies" as a sham as a kind of theater behind which the levers of power are exercised authoritatively with little regard to the true interests of the masses below them.

In such an environment of centralized elite control, "media openness" can do little to rout out the opaque workings of carefully, surreptitiously orchestrated power.

Thus, a superficial reading of history might lead us to believe that we live in an increasingly "inclusive" society reflecting a rising tide of technological progress and economic prosperity. However, a closer look, might reveal a modicum of beneficence bestowed upon the many; while the Machiavellian few have managed behind a facade of democracy and nationalism to achieve unheard of sums of wealth, power, and influence once only dreamed of by despots, dictators, and demagogues of the past.