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Deep State

News Media-Military-Industrial Complex Recommended Books Recommended Links National Security State / Surveillance State Big Uncle is Watching You  US and British media are servants of security apparatus
 Nation under attack meme Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Trump vs. Deep State Anti Trump Hysteria Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Neoconservatism New American Militarism
Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite American Exceptionalism Corporatism Neo-fascism Inverted Totalitarism Bureaucracies Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  The Pareto Law Amorality of neoliberal elite Casino Capitalism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Pluralism as a myth What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative  Patterns of Propaganda Corruption of Regulators Two Party System as polyarchy Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust
Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton - unsuccessful deep state candidate for presidency US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization Swiftboating Trump: Khan gambit against Trump at the Democratic Convention Obama: a yet another Neocon Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Robert Kagan Paul Wolfowitz
Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Introduction


DEEP STATE n. A hard-to-perceive level of government or super-control that exists regardless of elections and that may thwart popular movements or radical change. Some have said that Egypt is being manipulated by its deep state.

A Wordnado of Words in 2013 - NYTimes.com , Dec 21, 2013

"For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government.... I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations."

President Harry Truman

"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence - on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day.

It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed."

President John_F._Kennedy, speech on April 27, 1961

In a way the concept of  Corporatism and the concept of  "deep state' are very close, almost synonyms. Corporatism presuppose the merger of government and corporations. It can be done openly as was the case in Mussolini Italy or via back door, "revolving door" mechanism as it was done in the USA. In the latter case part of power of 'surface state" is preserved.

But there are agencies that get special status under corporatism. this is so called three-letter agencies (which actually is the backbone of Media-Military-Industrial Complex). Or national security establishment. This is new unelected aristocracy with huge financial resources that stands above law and can't be easily demotes from their positions (J. Edgar Hoover  is an excellent example here).  They now are a new incarnation of "royal court", which can like in old times is able to dismiss a monarch or even kill him.

So in a way the concept of "deep state" -- hypertrophied role of three letter agencies and their brass and certain corporations (aka military industrial complex) in national politics especially in formulating foreign policy is nothing new. But devil is always in details and some features of the USA deep state are different then our analogy predicts.

First of all "surface state" is still keeping some positions and even try to counterattack deep state in certain areas. Second, the merger of interests of three letter agencies like CIA/NSA and Wall Street can never be absolute as they have different worldviews on both the USA foreign policy priorities and methods of achieving them. They only partially coincide.  Also relations between three letter agencies are far from harmonious at all with CIA ('humint") very concerned about recent rise of status and capabilities of NSA ("sigint").  So in certain areas they are more like spiders in the cage with CIA perfectly capable attacking NSA and vise versa, and that gives us some hope. 

Two party system invented by elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes, including the US neoliberalism.  But there is second trend here which increase the elite control of the county:  this is dramatic transfer of power to institutions of "deep state", which in certain sense now like TBTF are beyond civil  control. As well as a secret alliance between Wall Street and CIA and other three letter agencies.

All those factors essentially make Presidential and Congress election in the USA truly optional, serving mostly ceremonial, decorative function. Yes elections still continue to exist and sometime provide good theater, within the strict rules of an emasculated "two parties, winner takes all" system, ehich if you think about it is not that different from one party elections in the USSR.

They still have a role in legitimizing the current rulers, although actual rules are not the same as those who were elected. This is especially true about the two recent US Presidents: George W Bush and Brack Obama.  And that explains why Barack Obama foreign policy is essentially a continuation of policy of George W Bush with minor tweaks.  Just the fact that neocon Victoria Nuland who worked for Cheney was promoted to the key role of the  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs  tells that Obama controls very little in foreign policy area and that 'deep state" is functioning autonomously and without control of "surface state".

The USA political system does not have a single government. It actually has two distinct governments. They are called "surface state" or Madisonians and "deep state" or Trumanites (national security establishment in alliance with selected members of financial oligarchy, media owners and technocrats). The latter term emerged because it was Harry Truman who signed National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA).

Simplifying the complex relation between those two US governments (sometimes Madisonians fight back and have Trumanites to make a temporary retreat) we can say that:

Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" which happened in the USA almost immediately after 1947 essentially made elections optional, but they still continue to exist as a ceremonial function for the sake of providing the legitimacy in an emasculated "two parties system" form.  While relationship is more complex then simple dominance, in essence "deep state" is the tail that wag the dog. And JFK assassination (Nov 22, 1963)  meant first of all the triumph of "deep state" over "surface state". In this sense 9/11 was just the last nail in the coffin of democracy.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey (and actually Wikipedia discusses only it) but it is widespread modern phenomenon which can also be found in most other states. The term means a shadow alliance of elements of government. security services, selected top-level figures of financial oligarchy, media and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process. As any elite dominance project it is deeply anti-democratic although it uses fig leaf of democracy for foreign expansion via color revolutions and wars. 

Like in Third Reich this 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.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

Mike Lofgren: the “deep state” is the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment

Here is how The American Conservative covers this topic:

Steve Sailer links to this unsettling essay by former career Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, who says the “deep state” — the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment — is a far greater threat to liberty than you think. The partisan rancor and gridlock in Washington conceals a more fundamental and pervasive agreement.

Excerpts:

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.
 

More:

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy.

Lofgren goes on to say that Silicon Valley is a node of the Deep State too, and that despite the protestations of its chieftains against NSA spying, it’s a vital part of the Deep State’s apparatus. More:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.”

Read the whole thing.  Steve Sailer says that the Shallow State is a complement to the Deep State. The Shallow State is, I think, another name for what the Neoreactionaries call “The Cathedral,” defined thus:

The Cathedral — The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

You don’t have to agree with the Neoreactionaries on what they condemn — women’s suffrage? desegregation? labor laws? really?? — to acknowledge that they’re onto something about the sacred consensus that all Right-Thinking People share. I would love to see a study comparing the press coverage from 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War with press coverage of the gay marriage issue from about 2006 till today. Specifically, I’d be curious to know about how thoroughly the media covered the cases against the policies that the Deep State and the Shallow State decided should prevail. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here, not at all. I’m only thinking back to how it seemed so obvious to me in 2002 that we should go to war with Iraq, so perfectly clear that the only people who opposed it were fools or villains. The same consensus has emerged around same-sex marriage. I know how overwhelmingly the news media have believed this for some time, such that many American journalists simply cannot conceive that anyone against same-sex marriage is anything other than a fool or a villain. Again, this isn’t a conspiracy; it’s in the nature of the thing. Lofgren:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

When all you know is the people who surround you in your professional class bubble and your social circles, you can think the whole world agrees with you, or should. It’s probably not a coincidence that the American media elite live, work, and socialize in New York and Washington, the two cities that were attacked on 9/11, and whose elites — political, military, financial — were so genuinely traumatized by the events.

Anyway, that’s just a small part of it, about how the elite media manufacture consent. Here’s a final quote, one from the Moyers interview with Lofgren:

BILL MOYERS: If, as you write, the ideology of the Deep State is not democrat or republican, not left or right, what is it?

MIKE LOFGREN: It’s an ideology. I just don’t think we’ve named it. It’s a kind of corporatism. Now, the actors in this drama tend to steer clear of social issues. They pretend to be merrily neutral servants of the state, giving the best advice possible on national security or financial matters. But they hold a very deep ideology of the Washington consensus at home, which is deregulation, outsourcing, de-industrialization and financialization. And they believe in American exceptionalism abroad, which is boots on the ground everywhere, it’s our right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the result of that is perpetual war.

This can’t last. We’d better hope it can’t last. And we’d better hope it unwinds peacefully.

I, for one, remain glad that so many of us Americans are armed. When the Deep State collapses — and it will one day — it’s not going to be a happy time.

Questions to the room: Is a Gorbachev for the Deep State conceivable? That is, could you foresee a political leader emerging who could unwind the ideology and apparatus of the Deep State, and not only survive, but succeed? Or is it impossible for the Deep State to allow such a figure to thrive? Or is the Deep State, like the Soviet system Gorbachev failed to reform, too entrenched and too far gone to reform itself? If so, what then?

Professor Michael J. Glennon   book “National Security and Double Government.”

The second important thinker in this area is  Professor Michael J. Glennon who wrote the book  “National Security and Double Government.”. The strong point of his views on the subject is that he assumes that there is an internal struggle between those two forms of government, not just passive submission one to nother, but in most cases deep state prevails. This move led the USA "beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy."

The "deep state" (call by Professor Michael J. Glennon) The Trumanites, exersize their power due to alliance with Wall Street, almost unlimited funding (with many hidden sources belong US budget),  higher efficiency, abuse of secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and corruption of  the key decision-makers.

Here is how Amazon reviewer Mal Warwick summarized the book in his review written on December 22, 2014

Who makes national security decisions? Not who you think!

Why does Barack Obama's performance on national security issues in the White House contrast so strongly with his announced intentions as a candidate in 2008? After all, not only has Obama continued most of the Bush policies he decried when he ran for the presidency, he has doubled down on government surveillance, drone strikes, and other critical programs.

Michael J. Glennon set out to answer this question in his unsettling new book, National Security and Double Government. And he clearly dislikes what he found.

The answer, Glennon discovered, is that the US government is divided between the three official branches of the government, on the one hand — the "Madisonian" institutions incorporated into the Constitution — and the several hundred unelected officials who do the real work of a constellation of military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand. These officials, called "Trumanites" in Glennon's parlance for having grown out of the national security infrastructure established under Harry Truman, make the real decisions in the area of national security. (To wage the Cold War, Truman created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA, and the National Security Council.) "The United States has, in short," Glennon writes, "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy. . . . The perception of threat, crisis, and emergency has been the seminal phenomenon that has created and nurtures America's double government." If Al Qaeda hadn't existed, the Trumanite network would have had to create it — and, Glennon seems to imply, might well have done so.

The Trumanites wield their power with practiced efficiency, using secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and the ability to mask the identity of the key decision-maker as their principal tools.

Michael J. Glennon comes to this task with unexcelled credentials. A professor of international law at Tufts and former legal counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, he came face to face on a daily basis with the "Trumanites" he writes about. National Security and Double Government is exhaustively researched and documented: notes constitute two-thirds of this deeply disturbing little book.

The more I learn about how politics and government actually work — and I've learned a fair amount in my 73 years — the more pessimistic I become about the prospects for democracy in America. In some ways, this book is the most worrisome I've read over the years, because it implies that there is no reason whatsoever to think that things can ever get better. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the Borg on Star Trek, "resistance is futile." That's a helluva takeaway, isn't it?

On reflection, what comes most vividly to mind is a comment from the late Chalmers Johnson on a conference call in which I participated several years ago. Johnson, formerly a consultant to the CIA and a professor at two campuses of the University of California (Berkeley and later San Diego), was the author of many books, including three that awakened me to many of the issues Michael Glennon examines: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. Johnson, who was then nearly 80 and in declining health, was asked by a student what he would recommend for young Americans who want to combat the menace of the military-industrial complex. "Move to Vancouver," he said.

Another good summary of the book can be found is review by Bruce Morgan (Shadow Government )

October 28, 2014 | Tufts Now

Elected officials are no longer in charge of our national security—and that is undermining our democracy, says the Fletcher School's Michael Glennon

Michael Glennon in his office

"We are clearly on the path to autocracy," says Michael Glennon. "There's no question that if we continue on that path, [the] Congress, the courts and the presidency will ultimately end up . . . as institutional museum pieces." Photo: Kelvin Ma

Michael Glennon knew of the book, and had cited it in his classes many times, but he had never gotten around to reading the thing from cover to cover. Last year he did, jolted page after page with its illuminating message for our time.

The book was The English Constitution, an analysis by 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot that laid bare the dual nature of British governance. It suggested that one part of government was for popular consumption, and another more hidden part was for real, consumed with getting things done in the world. As he read, Glennon, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School, where he also teaches constitutional law, saw distinct parallels with the current American political scene.

He decided to explore the similarities in a 30-page paper that he sent around to a number of his friends, asking them to validate or refute his argument. As it happens, Glennon's friends were an extraordinarily well-informed bunch, mostly seasoned operatives in the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the military. "Look," he told them. "I'm thinking of writing a book. Tell me if this is wrong." Every single one responded, "What you have here is exactly right."

Expanded from that original brief paper, Glennon's book National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press) takes our political system to task, arguing that the people running our government are not our visible elected officials but high-level—and unaccountable—bureaucrats nestled atop government agencies.

Glennon's informed critique of the American political system comes from a place of deep regard. Glennon says he can remember driving into Washington, D.C., in the late spring of 1973, at the time of the Senate Watergate hearings, straight from law school at the University of Minnesota, to take his first job as assistant legislative counsel to the U.S. Senate. Throughout his 20s, he worked in government, culminating in his position as legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. Frank Church from 1977 to 1980. Since entering academic life in the early 1980s, Glennon has been a frequent consultant to government agencies of all stripes, as well as a regular commentator on media outlets such as NPR's All Things Considered, the Today show and Nightline.

In his new book, an inescapable sadness underlies the narrative. "I feel a great sense of loss," Glennon admits. "I devoted my life to these [democratic] institutions, and it's not easy to see how to throw the current trends into reverse." Tufts Now spoke with Glennon recently to learn more of his perspective.

Tufts Now: You've been both an insider and an outsider with regard to government affairs. What led you to write this book?

Michael Glennon: I was struck by the strange continuity in national security policy between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Obama, as a candidate, had been eloquent and forceful in criticizing many aspects of the Bush administration's national security policies, from drone strikes to Guantanamo to surveillance by the National Security Agency—the NSA—to covert operations. Yet as president, it turned out that he made very, very few changes in these policies. So I thought it was useful to explain the reason for that.

Were you surprised by the continuity?

I was surprised by the extent of it. I knew fundamentally from my own experience that changing national policies is like trying to change the course of an aircraft carrier. These policies in many ways were set long ago, and the national security bureaucracy tends to favor the status quo. Still, I thought that a president like Obama would, with the political wind in his sails and with so much public and congressional support for what he was criticizing, be more successful in fulfilling his promises.

You use the phrase "double government," coined by Walter Bagehot in the 1860s. What did he mean by that?

Walter Bagehot was one of the founders of the Economist magazine. He developed the theory of "double government," which in a nutshell is this. He said Britain had developed two sets of institutions. First came "dignified" institutions, the monarchy and the House of Lords, which were for show and which the public believed ran the government. But in fact, he suggested, this was an illusion.

These dignified institutions generate legitimacy, but it was a second set of institutions, which he called Britain's "efficient" institutions, that actually ran the government behind the scenes. These institutions were the House of Commons, the Cabinet and the prime minister. This split allowed Britain to move quietly from a monarchy to what Bagehot called a "concealed republic."

The thesis of my book is that the United States has also drifted into a form of double government, and that we have our own set of "dignified" institutions—Congress, the presidency and the courts. But when it comes to national security policy, these entities have become largely for show. National security policy is now formulated primarily by a second group of officials, namely the several hundred individuals who manage the agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracy responsible for protecting the nation's security.

What are some components of this arrangement?

The NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon and elements of the State Department, certainly; generally speaking, law enforcement, intelligence and the military entities of the government. It's a diverse group, an amorphous group, with no leader and no formal structure, that has come to dominate the formation of American national security policy to the point that Congress, the presidency and the courts all defer to it.

You call this group the "Trumanite network" in your book. What's the link to Harry Truman?

It was in Truman's administration that the National Security Act of 1947 was enacted. This established the CIA and the National Security Council and centralized the command of the U.S. military. It was during the Truman administration as well that the National Security Agency [NSA] was set up, in 1952, although that was a secret and didn't come to light for many years thereafter.

In contrast to the Trumanites you set the "Madisonians." How would you describe them?

The Madisonian institutions are the three constitutionally established branches of the federal government: Congress, the judiciary and the president. They are perceived by the public as the entities responsible for the formulation of national security policy, but that belief is largely mistaken.

The idea is driven by regular exceptions. You can always point to specific instances in which, say, the president personally ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden or Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution. But these are exceptions. The norm is that as a general matter, these three branches defer to the Trumanite network, and that's truer all the time.

So the trend is toward increased power on the Trumanite side of the ledger.

Correct.

If that's true, why has there not been a greater outcry from the public, the media—all the observers we have?

I think the principal reason is that even sophisticated students of government operate under a very serious misunderstanding. They believe that the political system is self-correcting. They believe the framers set up a system of government setting power against power, and ambition against ambition, and that an equilibrium would be reached, and that any abuse of power would be checked, and arbitrary power would be prevented.

That is correct as far as it goes, but the reality is that's only half the picture. The other half is that Madison and his colleagues believed that for equilibrium to occur, we would have an informed and engaged citizenry. Lacking that, the entire system corrupts, because individuals are elected to office who do not resist encroachments on the power of their branches of government, and the whole equilibrium breaks down.

What role, if any, have the media played?

The media have pretty much been enablers. Although there are a handful of investigative journalists who have done a heroic job of uncovering many of the abuses, they are the exception, for a number of reasons. Number one, the media are a business and have a bottom line. It takes a huge amount of money to fund an investigative journalist who goes about finding sources over a period of years. Very few newspapers or television concerns have those sorts of deep pockets.

Second, access for the press is everything. There is huge incentive to pull punches, and you don't get interviews with top-ranking officials at the NSA or CIA if you're going to offer hard-hitting questions. Look, for example, at the infamous 60 Minutes puff piece on the NSA, a really tragic example of how an otherwise respectable institution can sell its soul and act like an annex of the NSA in order to get some people it wants on the TV screen.

What is the role of terror in this environment?

The whole transfer of power from the Madisonian institutions to the Trumanite network has been fueled by a sense of emergency deriving from crisis, deriving from fear. It's fear of terrorism more than anything else that causes the American people to increasingly be willing to dispense with constitutional safeguards to ensure their safety.

Madison believed that government has two great objects. One object of a constitution is to enable the government to protect the people, specifically from external attacks. The other great object of a constitution is to protect the people from the government. The better able the government is to protect the people from external threats, the greater the threat posed by the government to the people.

You've been involved with the U.S. government for 40 years. How has your view of government changed?

Double government was certainly a factor in the 1970s, but it was challenged for the first time thanks to the activism stemming from the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. As a result, there were individuals in Congress—Democrats and Republicans like William Fulbright, Frank Church, Jacob Javits, Charles Mathias and many others—who were willing to stand up and insist upon adherence to constitutionally ordained principles. That led to a wave of activism and to the enactment of a number of pieces of reform legislation.

But there is no final victory in Washington. Those reforms have gradually been eaten away and turned aside. I think today we are in many ways right back where we were in the early 1970s. NSA surveillance is an example of that. The Church Committee uncovered something called Operation Shamrock, in which the NSA had assembled a watch list of antiwar and civil rights activists based upon domestic surveillance. Church warned at the time that NSA capabilities were so awesome that if they were ever turned inward on the American people, this nation would cross an abyss from which there is no return. The question is whether we have recently crossed that abyss.

To what degree are we still a functioning democracy? I'm sure you know that President Jimmy Carter told a German reporter last year that he thought we no longer qualified as a democracy because of our domestic surveillance.

We are clearly on the path to autocracy, and you can argue about how far we are down that path. But there's no question that if we continue on that path, America's constitutionally established institutions—Congress, the courts and the presidency—will ultimately end up like Britain's House of Lords and monarchy, namely as institutional museum pieces.

Bruce Morgan can be reached at bruce.morgan@tufts.ed

Here is how Christopher Bellavita in Homeland Security Watch summarize an interesting discussion at Cato think tank which I highly recommend to watch:

Why has American national security policy changed so little from the Bush administration to the Obama

That’s the question Michael J. Glennon asks in his book “National Security and Double Government.”

His answer: national security policy is determined largely by “the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints.” The president, congress and the courts play largely a symbolic role in national security policy, Glennon claims.

You can read a Harvard National Security Journal article that outlines Glennon’s argument at this link: http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Glennon-Final.pdf.  The paper is not an especially easy read, but I found it to be well researched and – for  me – persuasive.

His book adds more analysis to the argument, using (from Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision) the rational actor model, the government politics model, and the organizational behavior model. Glennon extends that framework by discussing culture, networks, and the myth of alternative competing hypotheses.  The book is richer, in my opinion.  But the core of Glennon’s position is in the paper.

This link takes you to a video of Glennon talking about his book at the Cato Institute: http://www.cato.org/events/national-security-double-government (the talk starts at the 5:20 mark).

From the Cato site:

In National Security and Double Government, Michael Glennon examines the continuity in U.S. national security policy from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Glennon explains the lack of change by pointing to the enervation of America’s “Madisonian institutions,” namely, the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. In Glennon’s view, these institutions have been supplanted by a “Trumanite network” of bureaucrats who make up the permanent national security state. National security policymaking has been removed from public view and largely insulated from law and politics. Glennon warns that leaving security policy in the hands of the Trumanite network threatens Americans’ liberties and the republican form of government.

Some blurb reviews:

I’ve spoken to three people I consider to be members of the “shadow national security state.”   One person said Glennon’s argument is nothing new.  The second told me he’s got it exactly right.  The third said it’s even worse.

Professor Peter Dale Scott book and articles

If Michael Glennon conseed defeat but still has some hope, here we enter perfect Danter hell picture along the lines "Leave all hopes those who dare to enter"

Professor Peter Dale Scott book and article represent probably the most comprehensive coverage, especially his book. But the article in the Asia-Pacific journal represents fair summary of his views on the subject (The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld (Updated March 13, 2014):

In the last decade it has become more and more obvious that we have in America today what the journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin have called

two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.1

And in 2013, particularly after the military return to power in Egypt, more and more authors referred to this second level as America’s “deep state.”2 Here for example is the Republican analyst Mike Lofgren:

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.3

At the end of 2013 a New York Times Op-Ed noted this trend, and even offered a definition of the term that will work for the purposes of this essay:

DEEP STATE n. A hard-to-perceive level of government or super-control that exists regardless of elections and that may thwart popular movements or radical change. Some have said that Egypt is being manipulated by its deep state.4

The political activities of the deep state are the chief source and milieu of what I have elsewhere called “deep politics:” “all those political practices and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged.”5

Others, like Tom Hayden, call the deep state a “state within the state,” and suggest it may be responsible for the failure of the Obama administration to follow the policy guidelines of the president’s speeches:

We have seen evidence of a "state within the state" before, going back as far as the CIA's operations against Cuba. In Obama's time, the president correctly named the 2009 coup in Honduras a "coup", and then seemed powerless to prevent it.6

This development of a two-level or dual state has been paralleled by two other dualities: the increasing resolution of American society into two classes – the “one percent” and the “ninety-nine percent” – and the bifurcation of the U.S. economy into two aspects: the domestic, still subject to some governmental regulation and taxation, and the international, relatively free from governmental controls.7 All three developments have affected and intensified each other – particularly since the Reagan Revolution of 1980, which saw American inequality of wealth cease to diminish and begin to increase.8 Thus for example we shall see how Wall Street – the incarnation of the “one percent” – played a significant role in increasing the deep state after World War Two, and how three decades later the deep state played a significant role in realigning America for the Reagan Revolution.

In earlier books I have given versions of this America-centered account of America’s shift into empire and a deep state. But another factor to be mentioned is the shift of global history towards an increasingly global society dominated by a few emergent superpowers. This trend was accelerated after the Industrial Revolution by new technologies of transport, from the railroad in the 19th century to the jet plane and space travel in the 20th.9

In the fallout from this rearrangement we must include two world wars, as a result of which Britain ceased to act as the dominant superpower it had been since Napoleon. Not surprisingly, the Soviet Union and the United States subsequently competed in a Cold War to fill the gap. It  was not however predetermined that the Cold War would be as thuggish and covertly violent as for decades it continued to be. For that we should look to more contingent causes on both sides of the Iron Curtain – starting with the character of Stalin and his party but also including the partly responsive development of the American deep state.

The Deep State, The Shadow Government and the Wall Street Overworld

The “deep state” was defined by the UK newsletter On Religion as “the embedded anti-democratic power structures within a government, something very few democracies can claim to be free from.”10 The term originated in Turkey in 1996, to refer to U.S.-backed elements, primarily in the intelligence services and military, who had repeatedly used violence to interfere with and realign Turkey’s democratic political process. Sometimes the definition is restricted to elements within the government (or “a state-within-the state”), but more often in Turkey the term is expanded, for historical reasons, to include “members of the Turkish underworld.”11 In this essay I shall use “deep state” in the larger sense, to include both the second level of secret government inside Washington and those outsiders powerful enough, in either the underworld or overworld, to give it direction. In short I shall equate the term “deep state” with what in 1993 I termed a “deep political system:” “ one which habitually resorts to decision-making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those publicly sanctioned by law and society.”12

Like myself, Lofgren suggests an ambiguous symbiosis between two aspects of the American deep state:

1)  the Beltway agencies of the shadow government, like the CIA and NSA, which have been instituted by the public state and now overshadow it, and

2)  the much older power of Wall Street, referring to the powerful banks and law firms located there.

In his words,

It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice - certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee.13

I shall argue that in the 1950s Wall Street was a dominating complex. It included not just banks and oil firms but also the oil majors whose cartel arrangements were successfully defended against the U.S. Government by the Wall Street law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, home to the Dulles brothers. This larger complex is what I mean by the Wall Street overworld.

The Long History of the Wall Street Overworld

Lofgren’s inclusion of Wall Street is in keeping with Franklin Roosevelt’s observation in 1933 to his friend Col. E.M. House that “The real truth … is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.”14

FDR’s insight is well illustrated by the efficiency with which a group of Wall Street bankers (including Nelson Rockefeller’s grandfather Nelson Aldrich and Paul Warburg) were able in a highly secret meeting in 1910 to establish the Federal Reserve System – a system which in effect reserved oversight of the nation’s currency supply and of all America’s banks in the not impartial hands of its largest.15 The political clout of the quasi-governmental Federal Reserve Board (where the federal Treasury is represented but does not dominate) was clearly demonstrated in 2008, when Fed leadership secured instant support from the successive administrations of a Texan Republican president, followed by a Midwest Democratic one, for public money to rescue the reckless management of Wall Street banks: banks Too Big To Fail, and of course far Too Big To Jail, but not Too Big To Bail.16

Wall Street and the Launching of the CIA

Top-level Treasury officials, CIA officers, and Wall Street bankers and lawyers think alike because of the “revolving door” by which they pass easily from private to public service and back. In 1946 General Vandenberg, as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), recruited Allen Dulles, then a Republican lawyer at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, "to draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947." Dulles promptly formed an advisory group of six men, all but one of whom were Wall Street investment bankers or lawyers.17 Dulles and two of the six (William H. Jackson and Frank Wisner) later joined the agency, where Dulles proceeded to orchestrate policies, such as the overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala, that he had previously discussed in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations.18

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director. Although he did not formally join the CIA until November 1950, he was in Berlin before the start of the 1948 Berlin Blockade, “supervising the unleashing of anti-Soviet propaganda across Europe.”19 In the early summer of 1948 he set up the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), in support of what became by the early 1950s “the largest CIA operation in Western Europe.”20

The Deep State and Funds for CIA Covert Operations

Wall Street was also the inspiration for what eventually became the CIA’s first covert operation: the use of “over $10 million in captured Axis funds to influence the [Italian] election [of 1948].”21 (The fundraising had begun at the wealthy Brook Club in New York; but Allen Dulles, still a Wall Street lawyer, persuaded Washington, which at first had preferred a private funding campaign, to authorize the operation through the National Security Council and the CIA.)22

Dulles’s friend Frank Wisner then left Wall Street to oversee an enlarged covert operations program through the newly created Office of Policy Co-ordination (OPC). Dulles, still a lawyer, campaigned successfully to reconstruct Western Europe through what became known as the Marshall Plan.23 Together with George Kennan and James Forrestal, Dulles also “helped devise a secret codicil [to the Marshall Plan] that gave the CIA the capability to conduct political warfare. It let the agency skim millions of dollars from the plan.”24

This created one of the earlier occasions when the CIA, directly or indirectly, recruited local assets involved in drug trafficking. AFL member Irving Brown, the assistant of AFL official Jay Lovestone (a CIA asset), was implicated in drug smuggling activities in Europe, at the same time that he used funds diverted from the Marshall Plan to establish

a "compatible left" labor union in Marseilles with Pierre Ferri-Pisani. On behalf of Brown and the CIA, Ferri-Pisani (a drug smuggler connected with Marseilles crime lord Antoine Guerini), hired goons to shellack striking Communist dock workers.25

An analogous funding source for the CIA developed in the Far East: the so-called

"M-Fund," a secret fund of money of enormous size that has existed in Japan [in 1991] for more than forty years. The Fund was established by the United States in the immediate postwar era for essentially the same reasons that later gave rise to the Marshall Plan of assistance by the U.S. to Western Europe, including the Federal Republic of Germany….. The M-Fund was used not only for the building of a democratic political system in Japan but, in addition, for all of the purposes for which Marshall Plan funds were used in Europe.26

For at least two decades the CIA lavishly subsidized right-wing parties in countries including Japan and Indonesia, possibly still using captured Axis funds.27 (One frequently encounters the claim that the source of the M-fund was gold looted by Japan during World War Two (“Yamashita’s gold”).28

As a general rule the CIA, rather than assimilating these funds into its own budget, appears to have left them off the books in the hands of cooperative allied powers – ranging from other U.S. agencies like the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA. set up in 1948 to administer the Marshall Plan) to oil companies to powerful drug kingpins.29

The CIA never abandoned its dependency on funds from outside its official budget to conduct its clandestine operations. In Southeast Asia, in particular, its proprietary firm Sea Supply Inc., supplied an infrastructure for a drug traffic supporting a CIA-led paramilitary force, PARU.30 The CIA appears also to have acted in coordination with slush funds from various U.S. government contracts, ranging from the Howard Hughes organization to (as we shall see) the foreign arms sales of U.S. defense corporations like Lockheed and Northrop.31

Lockheed Payoffs and CIA Clients: the Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia

 

 

Kodama Yoshio, war criminal, drug trafficker, and purveyor of deep state US funds to Japanese politicians

Through the 1950s payouts from the M-fund were administered by Kodama Yoshio, “probably the CIA's chief asset in Japan;” while ”All accounts say that after the end of the occupation, the fund's American managers came from the CIA.”32  Kodama also received and distributed millions of funds from Lockheed to secure military contracts – an operation the CIA knew about but has never admitted involvement in.33 Lockheed’s system of payoffs was world-wide; and one sees CIA involvement with it in at least four other countries: the Netherlands, Italy, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. (Lockheed, the builder of the U-2, was a major CIA-cleared contractor.)34

The beneficiary in the Netherlands was Prince Bernhard, a close friend of CIA directors Walter Bedell Smith and Allen Dulles, and the organizer of the Bilderberg Group.35 In the case of Italy, payments were handled through a contact (“Antelope Cobbler”) who turned out to be whoever was the Italian Prime Minister of the moment (always from one of the parties subsidized earlier by the CIA).36

In the revealing instance of Indonesia, Lockheed payments were shifted in May 1965, over the legal objections of Lockheed's counsel, to a new contract with a  company set up by the firm's long-time local agent or middleman, August Munir Dasaad.86 This was just six months after a secret U.S. decision to have the CIA covertly assist

“individuals and organizations prepared to take obstructive action against the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party].” Over the longer term this meant identifying and keeping tabs on “anti-regime elements” and other potential leaders of a post-Sukarno regime.37

Although Dasaad had been a long-time supporter of Sukarno, by May 1965 he was already building connections with Sukarno’s eventual successor, Gen. Suharto, via a family relative, General Alamsjah, who knew Suharto and was the beneficiary of the new Lockheed account.38 After Suharto replaced Sukarno, Alamsjah, who controlled certain considerable funds, at once made funds available to Suharto, earning him the gratitude of the new President.39

In July 1965, furthermore, at the alleged nadir of U.S.-Indonesian aid relations, Rockwell-Standard had a contractual agreement to deliver two hundred light aircraft (Aero-Commanders) to the Indonesian Army (not the Air Force) in the next two months. Once again the commission agent on the deal, Bob Hasan or Hassan, was a political associate (and eventual business partner) of Suharto. More specifically, Suharto and Bob Hasan established two shipping companies to be operated by the Central Java army division, Diponegoro. This division, as has long been noticed, supplied the bulk of the personnel on both sides of the Gestapu coup drama in September 1965 -- both those staging the coup attempt, and those putting it down.40

While this was happening, Stanvac (a joint venture of the Standard companies known later as Exxon and Mobil) increased payments to the army's oil company, Permina, headed by an eventual political ally of Suharto, General Ibnu Sutowo. Alamsjah is said to have been allied with Ibnu Sutowo in plotting against Sukarno, along with a well-connected Japanese oilman, Nishijima Shigetada.41 After Suharto's overthrow of Sukarno, Fortune wrote that "Sutowo's still small company played a key part in bankrolling those crucial operations, and the army has never forgotten it."42

We shall deal later with the special case of Lockheed kickbacks to Saudi Arabia, which were far greater than those to Japan. It is important to note, however, the linkage between Middle East oil and arms sales: as U.S. imports of Middle East oil increased, the pressure on the U.S. balance of payments was offset by increased U.S. arms sales to the region. “In the period 1963-1974, arms sales to the Middle East went from 10 per cent of global arms imports to 36 per cent, half of which was supplied by the United States.”43

Iran in 1953: How an Oil Cartel Operation Became a Job for the CIA

The international lawyers of Wall Street did not hide from each other their shared belief that they understood better than Washington the requirements for running the world. As John Foster Dulles wrote in the 1930s to a British colleague,

The word “cartel” has here assumed the stigma of a bogeyman which the politicians are constantly attacking.  The fact of the matter is that most of these politicians are highly insular and nationalistic and because the political organization of the world has under such influence been so backward, business people who have had to cope realistically with international problems have had to find ways for getting through and around stupid political barriers.44

This same mentality also explains why Allen Dulles as an OSS officer in 1945 simply evaded orders from Washington forbidding him to negotiate with SS General Karl Wolff about a conditional surrender of German forces in Italy – an important breach of Roosevelt’s agreement with Stalin at Yalta for unconditional surrender, a breach that is regarded by many as helping lead to the Cold War.45 And it explains why Allen, as CIA Director in 1957, dealt summarily with Eisenhower’s reluctance to authorize more than occasional U-2 overflights of the USSR, by secretly approving a plan with Britain’s MI-6 whereby U-2 flights could be authorized instead by the UK Prime Minister Macmillan.46

This mentality exhibited itself in 1952, when Truman’s Justice Department sought to break up the cartel agreements whereby Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) and four other oil majors controlled global oil distribution. (The other four were Standard Oil Company of New York, Standard Oil of California or Socony, Gulf Oil, and Texaco; together with Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iranian, they comprised the so-called Seven Sisters of the cartel.) Faced with a government order to hand over relevant documents, Exxon’s lawyer Arthur Dean at Sullivan and Cromwell, where Foster was senior partner, refused: “If it were not for the question of national security, we would be perfectly willing to face either a criminal or a civil suit. But this is the kind of information the Kremlin would love to get its hands on.”47

 

 

Wall Street, the former headquarters of both Sullivan and Cromwell and the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation

At this time the oil cartel was working closely with the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC, later BP) to prevent AIOC’s nationalization by Iran’s Premier Mossadeq, by instituting, in May 1951, a successful boycott of Iranian oil exports.

In May 1951 the AIOC secured the backing of the other oil majors, who had every interest in discouraging nationalisation.... None of the large companies would touch Iranian oil; despite one or two picturesque episodes the boycott held.48

As a result Iranian oil production fell from 241 million barrels in 1950 to 10.6 million barrels in 1952.

This was accomplished by denying Iran the ability to export its crude oil. At that time, the Seven Sisters controlled almost 99% of the crude oil tankers in the world for such export, and even more importantly, the markets to which it was going.49

But Truman declined, despite a direct personal appeal from Churchill, to have the CIA participate in efforts to overthrow Mossadeq, and instead dispatched Averell Harriman to Tehran in a failed effort to negotiate a peaceful resolution of Mossadeq’s differences with London.50

 

 

 

Allen and John Foster Dulles, pillars of both the state and the deep state

All this changed with the election of Eisenhower in November 1952, followed by the appointment of the Dulles brothers to be Secretary of State and head of CIA. The Justice Department’s criminal complaint against the oil cartel was swiftly replaced by a civil suit, from which the oil cartel eventually emerged unscathed.51

Eisenhower, an open friend of the oil industry…changed the charges from criminal to civil and transferred responsibility of the case from the Department of Justice to the Department of State – the first time in history that an antitrust case was handed to State for prosecution. Seeing as how the Secretary of State was John Foster Dulles and the defense counsel for the oil cartel was Dulles’ former law firm (Sullivan and Cromwell), the case was soon as good as dead.52

Thereafter

Cooperative control of the world market by the major oil companies remained in effect, with varying degrees of success, until the oil embargo of 1973-74. That the cooperation was more than tacit can be seen by the fact that antitrust regulations were specifically set aside a number of times during the 1950-1973 period, allowing the major companies to negotiate as a group with various Mideastern countries, and after its inception [in 1960], with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC.53

Also in November 1952 CIA officials began planning to involve CIA in the efforts of MI6 and the oil companies in Iran54 -- although its notorious Operation TP/AJAX to overthrow Mossadeq was not finally approved by Eisenhower until July 22, 1953.55

The events of 1953 strengthened the role of the oil cartel as a structural component of the American deep state, drawing on its powerful connections to both Wall Street and the CIA.56  (Another such component was the Arabian-American Oil Company or ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia, which increased oil production in 1951-53 to offset the loss of oil from Iran. Until it was fully nationalized in 1980, ARAMCO maintained undercover CIA personnel like William Eddy among its top advisors.)57 The five American oil majors in particular were also strengthened by the success of AJAX, as Anglo-Iranian (renamed BP) was henceforth forced to share 40 percent of the oil from its Iran refinery with them.

Nearly all recent accounts of Mossadeq’s overthrow treat it as a covert intelligence operation, with the oil cartel (when mentioned at all) playing a subservient role. However the chronology, and above all the belated approval from Eisenhower, suggest that it was CIA that came belatedly in 1953 to assist an earlier oil cartel operation, rather than vice versa. In terms of the deep state, the oil cartel or deep state initiated in 1951 a process that the American public state only authorized two years later. Yet the inevitable bias in academic or archival historiography, working only with those primary sources that are publicly available, is to think of the Mossadeq tragedy as simply a “CIA coup.”

The CIA, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Wall Street Overworld

The “revolving door” also circulates top-level intelligence officials and the chiefs of the cleared contractors referred to by Mike Lofgren as part of the deep state. Tim Shorrock revealed in 2007 that “about 70 percent of the estimated $60 billion the government spends every year on…intelligence” is outsourced to private intelligence contractors like Booz, Allen & Hamilton (now Booz Allen Hamilton) and SAIC.58 For example Mike McConnell “went from being head of the National Security Agency under Bush 41 and Clinton directly to Booz Allen, one of the nation’s largest private intelligence contractors, then became Bush’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI), then went back to Booz Allen, where he is now Executive Vice President.” Intelligence officers in government write the non-competitive contracts for the private corporations that they may have worked for and may work for again.59 And over the years the “revolving door” has also exchanged personnel between Booz Allen and the international oil companies served by the firm.

The original firm of Booz, Allen, & Hamilton split in 2008 into Booz Allen Hamilton, focused on USG business, and Booz & Company in New York, assuming the old company’s commercial and international portfolio. Booz Allen Hamilton is majority owned by the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, noted for its association with political figures like both presidents Bush.60

 

 

 

Booz Allen Hamilton Headquarters

Lofgren points to the deep state importance of Booz Allen Hamilton, 99 percent of whose business dependent on the U.S. government.61 Booz Allen has been linked in the media to NSA ever since its employee Edward Snowden decamped with NSA records. But Booz Allen, one of the oldest and largest of the “cleared contractors,” has been intertwined with the CIA’s covert operations since Allen Dulles became CIA Director in 1953.62 In the same year, Booz Allen began “to take on several overseas assignments…: a land-registration system in the Philippines, a restructuring of Egypt’s customs operations and textile industries, and work for Iran’s national oil company.”63 All three assignments overlapped with CIA covert ops in 1953, including the Philippine land distribution program which Edward Lansdale promoted in order to fight a Huk insurrection, and the CIA’s operation TP/AJAX (with Britain’s MI6) to rescue the Anglo-Iranian oil company (later BP).64

 

 

Miles Copeland, Jr., ex-CIA, ex-Booz Allen & Hamilton, ex-Khashoggi’s private CIA

But the most important CIA-Booz Allen cooperation may have been in Egypt. In March 1953 Miles Copeland, having resigned from the CIA to join Booz-Allen, “returned to Cairo under what was, for all practical purposes, a joint CIA-BA&H mission.”65 In addition to offering management advice to the Egyptian government in general, and to a private textile mill, Miles also gave Nasser advice on establishing his intelligence service (the Mukhabarat), and “soon became his closest Western advisor” (as well as his top channel to the USG, more important than either the local US ambassador or CIA chief)66

Copeland’s role with Nasser did not make him a shaper of U.S. policy; his pro-Nasser views were largely subordinated to the pro-British anti-Nasserism of the Dulles brothers. But they did establish a bond between Copeland and the Eisenhower White House. By 1967, when Nixon was preparing to run for president, Copeland had taken a leave of absence from Booz Allen to become a prestigious and well-paid consultant for oil companies.

The CIA, Miles Copeland, and Adnan Khashoggi

In 1966 Copeland, while technically on leave from Booz Allen, made close contact with Adnan Khashoggi, a young Arab who was in the course of becoming both a “principal foreign agent” of the U.S. and also extremely wealthy on the commissions he earned from Lockheed and other military firms on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.67 (“To give some sense of the size of the business, the company acknowledged in the mid-1970s that it had provided $106 million in commissions to Khashoggi between 1970 and 1975, more than ten times the level of payments made to the next most important connection, Yoshi [sic] Kodama of Japan.”68

 

 

 

Adnan Khashoggi, shadowy backer of politicians (Time, Jan. 19, 1987)

By Copeland’s own account in 1989, this encounter with Khashoggi “put the two of us on a ‘Miles-and-Adnan’ basis that has lasted for more than twenty years of business, parties, and a very special kind of political action.”69 Copeland adds that

Adnan and I, separately had been called on by our respective friends in Langley [i.e., CIA] to… have an official [sic], off-the-record exchange of ideas on the emerging crisis in the Middle East, and come up with suggestions that the tame bureaucrats would like to have made but couldn’t.70

Copeland almost immediately flew to Cairo and immersed himself in a series of high-level but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to forestall what soon became the 1967 Six Day Egyptian-Israeli Six Day War. By his account, his mission, though unsuccessful, gave a “tremendous boost” to his reputation, enabling him “to accelerate the attempt I had already started to establish a ‘private CIA’ by use of confidential arrangements with politically astute members of the client companies.”71

Copeland’s self-promoting claims are controversial, and a number of establishment writers have described his books as “unreliable.”72 But eyewitness Larry Kolb corroborates that Copeland was close to Khashoggi, and that the two of them

had written a white paper… proposing that… rich countries, including not only the United States but also the Arab oil states, should establish a “Marshall Plan” for all the needy countries of the Middle East, including Israel.

Rewritten with Kolb’s assistance after consultation with the Reagan White House, the plan would be backed by a “Mideast Peace Fund” to which “Adnan was pledging a hundred million dollars of his own money.”73

The proposal failed, partly because of the Middle East’s resistance to negotiated solutions, but also partly because by the 1980s Khashoggi was no longer as rich and influential as he had once been. His function as an agent of influence in the Middle East and elsewhere had been sharply limited after the United States, by the Corrupt Federal Practices Act of 1978, outlawed direct payments by US corporations to foreign individuals. Henceforward the function of bestowing money and sexual favors on client politicians passed primarily from Khashoggi to another CIA connection, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).74 A major shareholder in BCCI was Saudi intelligence chief Kamal Adham, Khashoggi’s friend and business partner and (according to the Senate BCCI Report) “the CIA's former principal contact in the Arab Middle East.”75

What the story of the failed “Mideast Peace Fund” reveals is first, that Khashoggi (like BCCI after him) was of interest to Washington because of his ability to negotiate with both Israel and Arab countries; and second, that Copeland and what Copeland called his “private CIA,”76 was in a commanding position as lead adviser to Khashoggi, while still on unpaid leave from Booz Allen Hamilton.

Khashoggi, the CIA’s Asset Edward K. Moss, and Political Corruption

A powerful connection was formed by combining Copeland’s political contacts with Khashoggi’s millions. Copeland may have been responsible for Khashoggi’s inspired choice of the under-recognized Edward K. Moss, another man with CIA connections, as his p.r. agent in Washington.77

Back in November 1962, the CIA, as part of its planning to get rid of Castro, decided  to use Moss for the Political Action Group of the CIA’s Covert Action (CA) staff.78 This was more than a year after the FBI had advised the CIA that Moss’s mistress Julia Cellini and her brother Dino Cellini were alleged to be procurers, while “the Cellini brothers have long been associated with the narcotics and white slavery rackets in Cuba.”79

This FBI report suggests an important shared interest between Moss and Khashoggi: sexual corruption. Just as his uncle Yussuf Yassin had been a procurer of women for King Abdul-Aziz, so Khashoggi himself was said to have “used sex to win over U.S. executives.” The bill for the madam who supplied girls en masse to his yacht in the Mediterranean ran to hundreds of thousands of dollars.80 Khashoggi made a practice of supplying those he wished to influence with dollars as well as sex.

 

 

 

Khashoggi’s Superyacht Kingdom 5KR, now owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal

The CIA of course was forbidden to use sex and money in this way in the United States, or to make in the United States the payments to right-wing politicians that characterized its behavior in the rest of the world. But no such prohibition applied to Khashoggi. According to Anthony Summers,

Khashoggi had courted Nixon in 1967 by putting a plane at his disposal to tour the Middle East after the Six-Day War. Soon afterward, using a proxy, he opened an account at Rebozo’s [Bebe Rebozo, Nixon’s close confidante] in Florida. He did so, he explained to Watergate prosecutors, hoping to “curry favor with Rebozo,” to get an entrée to the man who might become president, and to pursue business deals.81

Khashoggi in effect served as a “cutout,” or representative, in a number of operations forbidden to the CIA and the companies he worked with. Lockheed, for one, was conspicuously absent from the list of military contractors who contributed illicitly to Nixon’s 1972 election campaign. But there was no law prohibiting their official representative, Khashoggi, from cycling $200 million through the bank of Nixon’s friend Bebe Rebozo.82

(Pierre Salinger heard from Khashoggi that in 1972 he had donated $1 million to Nixon, corroborating the often-heard claim that Khashoggi had brought it in a briefcase to Nixon’s western White House in San Clemente, and then “forgotten” to take it away.)83

Khashoggi of course did not introduce such corruption to American politics; he merely joined a milieu where defense companies had used money and girls for years to win defense contracts in Washington and Las Vegas.84 Prominent in this practice was Howard Hughes, whom Khashoggi soon joined in international investments. (After a Senate investigator on Khashoggi’s trail registered at the Hughes-owned Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, a blonde came unexpectedly to his hotel room, and said, “I’m here for your pleasure.”)85

But Khashoggi’s corruption channels and targets overlapped with those of others with CIA connections. In 1972 it was alleged that funds from the Paradise Island casino in the Bahamas were being secretly carried to Nixon and his friend Bebe Rebozo, by a casino employee. This was Seymour (Sy) Alter, who was both “a friend of Nixon and Rebozo since 1962” and also an associate of Edward Moss’s brother-in-law Eddie Cellini, the casino manager at Paradise Island. 86 The funds came from the Paradise Island Bridge Company, a company partly owned by an officer of Benguet International, a firm represented in America by Paul Helliwell.87 It is likely that Nixon himself had a hidden interest in the Bridge Company, which might explain the revelation through Operation Tradewinds that a “Richard M. Nixon” (not otherwise identified) had an account at Helliwell’s Castle Bank.88

Three facts point to a deep state interest in what might otherwise seem a matter of personal corruption. The first is that Paul Helliwell had set up two companies for the CIA  -- CAT Inc. (Later Air America) and SEA Supply Inc. in Bangkok -- that became the infrastructure of the CIA’s covert operations with drug-trafficking armies in Southeast Asia.89 The second is that Paul Helliwell’s banking partner, E.P. Barry, had been the postwar head of OSS Counterintelligence (X-2) in Vienna, which oversaw the recovery of SS gold in Operation Safehaven.90 The third is that for over four decades persons from Booz Allen Hamilton have been among the very small group owning the profitable Paradise Island Bridge Company. (A recent partner in the Paradise Island Bridge Company is Booz Allen Senior Vice-President Robert Riegle.)91

 

 

 

The Safari Club today, now the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club

Moss, Khashoggi, the Safari Club, and the International Overworld

The power exerted by Khashoggi and Moss was not limited to Khashoggi’s access to funds and women. By the 1970s, Moss was chairman of the elite Safari Club in Kenya, where he invited Khashoggi in as majority owner.92 The exclusive property became the venue for an alliance between intelligence agencies that wished to compensate for the CIA’s retrenchment in the wake of President Carter’s election and Senator Church’s post-Watergate reforms.93

As former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal once told Georgetown University alumni,

In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here, your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything. It could not send spies, it could not write reports, and it could not pay money. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran.94

Prince Turki’s candid remarks– “your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. …. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together … and established what was called the Safari Club.” – made it clear that the Safari Club, operating at the level of the deep state, was expressly created to overcome restraints established by political decisions of the public state in Washington.

Obviously the property owned by Khashoggi and Moss in Kenya should not be confused with the intelligence operation of the same name. But it would be wrong also to make a radical separation between the two: the two men Khashoggi and Moss would appear to be part of this supranational intelligence milieu.

Specifically Khashoggi’s activities of corruption by sex and money, after they too were somewhat curtailed by Senator Church’s post-Watergate reforms, appear to have been taken up by the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a bank where Khashoggi’s friend and business partner Kamal Adham, the Saudi intelligence chief and Safari Club member, was a part-owner.95

 

 

 

BCCI on the cover of Time, July 6, 1991.

The Deep State, the Safari Club, and BCCI

The usual account of this super-agency’s origin is that it was

the brainchild of Count Alexandre de Marenches, the debonair and mustachioed chief of France’s CIA. The SDECE (Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage)…. Worried by Soviet and Cuban advances in postcolonial Africa, and by America’s post-Watergate paralysis in the field of undercover activity, the swashbuckling Marenches had come to Turki’s father, King Faisal, with a proposition…. [By 1979] Somali president Siad Barre had been bribed out of Soviet embrace by $75 million worth of Egyptian arms (paid for… by Saudi Arabia)….96

However the well-informed Mahmood Mamdani sees it as the product of Washington’s search for new proxies after the debacle of the U.S.- South African debacle in Angola in the mid-1970s:

Apartheid South Africa was confirmed to be a political liability. The recognition only aggravated the search for proxies. Its first success was a regional alliance called the Safari Club, put together with the blessing of Henry Kissinger.97

As Kissinger was still Secretary of State when the Safari Club was founded, this would suggest that it was an authorized, not a deep state creation. So would the Club’s early successes that Mamdani cites, especially when

it helped bring about the historic rapprochement between two strategic American Allies, Egypt and Israel, laying the ground for Anwar al-Sadat’s pathbreaking November 1977 visit to Jerusalem. The suggestion for the meeting was first made in a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to President Sadat, carried by the Moroccan representative in the club.98

But after Carter was elected, according to Trento, the Safari Club allied itself with Richard Helms and Theodore Shackley against the restrained intelligence policies of Jimmy Carter. In Trento’s account, the dismissal by William Colby in 1974 of CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton,

combined with Watergate, is what prompted the Safari Club to start working with [former DCI Richard] Helms [then U.S. Ambassador to Iran] and his most trusted operatives outside of Congressional and even Agency purview. James Angleton said before his death that “Colby destroyed counterintelligence. But because Colby was seen by Shackley and Helms as having betrayed the CIA to Congress, they simply began working with outsiders like Adham and Saudi Arabia. The traditional CIA answering to the president was an empty vessel having little more than technical capability.”99

Joseph Trento adds that “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations,… With the official blessing of George Bush as the head of the CIA, Adham transformed…  the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a worldwide money-laundering machine.”100

Trento claims also that the Safari Club then was able to work with some of the controversial CIA operators who were then forced out of the CIA by Turner, and that this was coordinated by perhaps the most controversial of them all: Theodore Shackley.

Shackley, who still had ambitions to become DCI, believed that without his many sources and operatives like [Edwin] Wilson, the Safari Club—operating with [former DCI Richard] Helms in charge in Tehran—would be ineffective. …  Unless Shackley took direct action to complete the privatization of intelligence operations soon, the Safari Club would not have a conduit to [CIA] resources. The solution: create a totally private intelligence network using CIA assets until President Carter could be replaced.101

Kevin Phillips has suggested that Bush on leaving the CIA had dealings with the bank most closely allied with Safari Club operations: the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). In Phillips’ words,

After leaving the CIA in January 1977, Bush became chairman of the executive committee of First International Bancshares and its British subsidiary, where, according to journalists Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin in their 1992 book ‘False Profits’ [p. 345], Bush ‘traveled on the bank’s behalf and sometimes marketed to international banks in London, including several Middle Eastern institutions.’102

It is clear moreover that BCCI operations, like Khashoggi’s before them, were marked by the ability to deal behind the scenes with both the Arab countries and also Israel.103

Khashoggi, Copeland, BCCI, and the Iran-Contra Scandal

Joseph Trento adds that through the London branch of this bank, which Bush chaired, “Adham’s petrodollars and BCCI money flowed for a variety of intelligence operations”104 It is clear moreover that BCCI operations, like Khashoggi’s before them, were marked by the ability to deal behind the scenes with both the Arab countries and also Israel.105

Khashoggi and BCCI together, moreover, with the assistance of Miles Copeland, initiated what we remember as the Iran-Contra arms scandal. According to Theodore Draper, in his exhaustive study of Iran-Contra,

A chance encounter between Adnan Khashoggi and Manucher Ghorbanifar effectively set the Iran affair in motion. As Khashoggi told the story to the French writer Michel Clerc, the meeting took place in Hamburg in April 1985.

Draper notes furthermore that the deal soon involved three Israelis, Yaacov Nimrodi, Adolph (Al) Schwimmer, and David Kimche, for whom “Khashoggi was no newcomer.”Together with Israeli Defense Minister Sharon, the three had “met with President Nimeiri of the Sudan [in May 1982] at a safari resort in Kenya owned by Khashoggi”—i.e., the Safari Club.106 But Khashoggi’s connection to Schwimmer went even further back: the two men had been introduced in Las Vegas by Schwimmer’s partner in gun-running to the infant state of Israel, Hank Greenspun.107

Draper’s account of the Hamburg meeting fails however to note that Miles Copeland and his assistant Larry Kolb were (according to their own accounts) also present. Copeland writes that he and Khashoggi met with the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, after which Copeland wrote up an Iran arms sales proposal. Copeland claims this had nothing to do with either Contras or hostages, but was intended as a “second paper to McFarlane…as an appendix to the ‘Marshall Plan’ paper. So far as [Khashoggi} was personally concerned, he was attracted to [Ghorbanifar’s] proposal only to the extent to which it could be tied into plans for over all Middle Eastern peace.”108

Copeland’s aide Larry Kolb agrees that he, Copeland, Khashoggi, and Schwimmer were all present with Ghorbanifar and others at the 1985 Hamburg meeting. There, according to Kolb, Khashoggi

said that in recent meetings in Washington, he’d been told that if the American government was going to participate in this venture…it would have to be structured in such a way that there would be no trail of arms… leading from the United States to Iran. So, Adnan said… it had been arranged that the actual goods could come from the Israeli government… and be transported directly from Israel to Iran….

But arms trading and spare parts and hostages took up very little of the conversation that day. Most of the time was spent thinking, and talking,… about a strategic opening between the United States and Iran – as a means of blunting Soviet attempts to dominate the world’s third largest oil producer.109

Later he and Copeland wrote up the meeting in a paper “titled ‘Adnan Khashoggi’s Views on the Possibilities of a Strategic Initiative Between the United States and Iran’,” that “wasn’t about an arms deal.” They gave it to Khashoggi to present to McFarlane.

We had no idea then that… months later a wild-ass Marine colonel would force the whole thing out into the open by stealing Adnan [Khashoggi]’s fifteen-million-dollar bridge loan which funded the sale and sending the money to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.110

The Congressional investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair agrees with Kolb that “Khashoggi suggested that Ghorbanifar try to develop access to the United States and its arms through Israel.”111 And the Senate investigation of BCCI also reports:

Both Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi and Iranian arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar were central agents of the United States in selling arms to Iran in the Iran/Contra affair. According to the official chronologies of the Iran/Contra committees, Khashoggi acted as the middleman for five Iranian arms deals for the United States, financing a number of them through BCCI …. According to his own and other published accounts, he provided some $30 million in loans altogether…. Both Khashoggi and Ghorbanifar banked at BCCI's offices in Monte Carlo, and for both, BCCI's services were essential.112

Both Ghorbanifar and Khashoggi have been presented as mavericks interested in arms sales for their own individual profit. However the participation of Copeland  suggests that, once again,  what Copeland called “friends in Langley” may have been interested in engaging them in an operation to which both the Secretaries of State and of Defense were resolutely opposed.

The Deep State and the BCCI Cover-Up

It is clear that for years the American deep state in Washington was both involved with and protected BCCI. Acting CIA director Richard Kerr acknowledged to a Senate Committee “that the CIA had also used BCCI for certain intelligence-gathering operations.”113

Later, a congressional inquiry showed that for more than ten years preceding the BCCI collapse in the summer of 1991, the FBI, the DEA, the CIA, the Customs Service, and the Department of Justice all failed to act on hundreds of tips about the illegalities of BCCI’s international activities.114

Far less clear is the attitude taken by Wall Street banks towards the miscreant BCCI. The Senate report on BCCI charged however that the Bank of England “had withheld information about BCCI’s frauds from public knowledge for 15 months before closing the bank.”115

Of course the scope and influence of BCCI reflected changes in the global superstructure of finance since the oil price hikes of the 1970s. A recent study of the dangerously unstable concentration of ownership in the world showed only four recognizable Wall Street institutions among the top twenty: JPMorgan Chase & Co, the Goldman Sachs Group, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, and Merrill Lynch.116 Of these, Bank of New York, the bank heavily involved in the 1990s looting of Russia, interlocked with BCCI through the Swiss banking activities of the international banker Bruce Rappaport, “thought to have ties to US and Israeli intelligence.” (Alfred Hartmann, a board member of BCCI, was both vice-chairman of Rappaport's Swiss bank, Bank of New York-Intermaritime, and also head of BCCI’s Swiss subsidiary, the Banque de Commerce et de Placements).117 The mysterious E.P. Barry, the OSS veteran who had overseen the recovery of SS gold in Operation Safehaven before becoming the banking partner of Paul Helliwell, was also a major stockholder in Rappaport’s Inter Maritime Bank.)118

The collapse of BCCI in 1991 did not see an end to systematic Saudi-financed political corruption in the U.S. and elsewhere. After a proposed major arms sale in the 1980s met enhanced opposition in Congress from the Israeli lobby, Saudi Arabia negotiated a multi-billion pound long-term contract with the United Kingdom – the so-called al-Yamamah deal. It developed much later that overpayments for the purchased weapons were siphoned off into a huge slush fund for political payoffs, including “hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan."119 According to Robert Lacey, the payments to Prince Bandar were said to total one billion pounds over more than a decade, including “a suitcase containing more than $10 million” that went to a Vatican priest for the CIA’s long-time clients, the Christian Democratic Party.120 The money went through a Saudi Embassy account in the Riggs Bank, Washington; according to Trento, the Embassy’s use of the Riggs Bank dated back to the mid-1970s, when, in his words, “the Saudi royal family had taken over intelligence financing for the United States.”121

As we saw earlier. the CIA had “laundered over $10 million in captured Axis funds to influence the [Italian] election [of 1948].”122 These practices, in other words, survived the legal efforts to end them.

Conclusion: A Supranational Deep State

The complex milieu of Khashoggi, the BCCI, and the Safari Club can be characterized as a supranational deep state, whose organic links to the CIA may have helped consolidate it. It is clear however that decisions taken at this level by the Safari Club and BCCI were in no way guided by the political determinations of those elected to power in Washington. On the contrary, Prince Turki’s candid remarks revealed that the Safari Club (with the alleged participation of two former CIA Directors, Bush and Helms) was expressly created to overcome restraints established by political decisions in Washington.

A former Turkish president and prime minister once commented that the Turkish deep state was the real state, and the public state was only a “spare state,” not the real one.123 A better understanding of the American deep state is necessary, if we are to prevent it from assuming permanently the same role.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Recommended Citation: Peter Dale Scott, "The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 12, Issue 10, No. 5, March 10, 2014.

Notes

1 Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little Brown, 2011), 52.

2 E.g. Marc Ambinder and D.G. Grady, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry (New York: Wiley, 2013); cf. John Tirman, “The Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here,” HuffingtonPost, July 9, 2013: “Now we know: the United States of America is partially governed by a deep state, undemocratic, secret, aligned with intelligence agencies, spying on friend and foe, lawless in almost every respect.”

3 Mike Lofgren, “A Shadow Government Controls America,” Reader Supported News, February 22, 2014.

4 Grant Barrett, “A Wordnado of Words in 2013,” New York Times, December 21, 2013.

5 Peter Dale Scott, Deep politics and the death of JFK (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 7.

6Tom Hayden discussing the crisis in Venezuela,” Tikkun, February 25, 2014.

7 To take a single telling example, six of Sam Walton's heirs are now reportedly wealthier than the bottom 30% of Americans, or 94.5 million people (Tim Worstall, “Six Waltons Have More Wealth Than the Bottom 30% of Americans,” Forbes, December 14, 2011). Cf. the devastating picture of a disintegrating America in George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).

8 See Kevin Phillips, The politics of rich and poor: wealth and the American electorate in the Reagan aftermath (New York: HarperCollins, 1991). Cf. John T. Stinson, The Reagan Legacy (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2009), 146; Timothy Noah, The great divergence: America's growing inequality crisis and what we can do about it (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012).

9 For the impact of railroads on expanded social awareness, see Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (London: Verso, 1991).

10What is the Deep State?” On Religion [2013].

11 Gareth Jenkins, “Susurluk and the Legacy of Turkey’s Dirty War,” Terrorism Monitor, May 1, 2008; quoted in Peter Dale Scott, “9/11, Deep State Violence and the Hope of Internet Politics," Global Research, June 11, 2008. For the Susurluk incident, see also Scott, American War Machine, 19-20, etc.

12 Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, xi-xii.

13 Lofgren, “ A Shadow Government Controls America.”

14 Quoted in Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, 1.

15 Forbes magazine founder Bertie Charles Forbes wrote six years later: “Picture a party of the nation's greatest bankers stealing out of New York on a private railroad car under cover of darkness, stealthily riding hundred[s] of miles South, embarking on a mysterious launch, sneaking onto an island [the appropriately named Jekyll Island] deserted by all but a few servants, living there a full week under such rigid secrecy that the names of not one of them was once mentioned, lest the servants learn the identity and disclose to the world this strangest, most secret expedition in the history of American finance. I am not romancing; I am giving to the world, for the first time, the real story of how the famous Aldrich currency report, the foundation of our new currency system, was written (B.C. Forbes, Leslie’s Weekly, October 19, 1916; in T. Cushing Daniel, Real money versus false money-bank credits; the most important factor in civilization and least understood by the people [Washington, D.C., The Monetary educational bureau, 1924], 169; cf. B.C. Forbes, Men who are making America [New York: Forbes Publishing Co., 1922], 398; cf. G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve [Westlake Village, CA: American Media, 1994]). Paul Warburg later wrote that “Though eighteen years have since gone by, I do not feel free to give a description of this most interesting conference, concerning which Senator Aldrich pledged all participants to secrecy” (Paul Warburg, The Federal Reserve System: Its Origin and Growth [New York, Macmillan, 1930], ZZ).

16 Congress was persuaded to provide perfunctory support of the bailout, under an alleged mysterious threat of martial law. See Peter Dale Scott, “Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War,” Global Research, January 8, 2009; reprinted in  Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, eds., The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century (Montreal, Global Research Publishers. Centre for Research on Globalization, 2010), 219-40; Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “Sen. Inhofe: [Henry] Paulsen [Secretary of the Treasury and former Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs] Threatened Martial Law To Pass Bailout,” LewRockwell.com, November 20, 2008.

17 Richard Helms with William Hood A look over my shoulder: a life in the Central Intelligence Agency (New York: Random House, 2003), 82-83. Cf. Scott, American War Machine, 26-28.

18 Laurence H Shoup and William Minter, Imperial brain trust: the Council on Foreign Relations and United States foreign policy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977).

19 Gordon Thomas, Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2009), 98. This may have occurred during Dulles’s visit to Europe in the spring of 1947 (James Srodes, Dulles: Master of Spies [Washington: Henry Regnery, 1999], 392).

20 Richard Aldrich, The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War secret intelligence (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2001), 343. Dulles also chaired the executive committee of the companion National Committee for a Free Europe (behind the Iron Curtain), whose legal affairs were handled by Sullivan and Cromwell (Wilson D. Miscamble, George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947-1950 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 204.

21 Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999), 189; citing Christopher Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 172; see also Church Committee, Final Report, Book 4, 28-29.

22 David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, The Espionage Establishment (New York: Random House, 1967), 166; Scott, Road to 9/11, 13.

23 “In January 1946 Dulles outlined in some detail a reconstruction plan that is one of the earliest notions of what would, a year later, be known as the Marshall Plan” (Srodes, Allen Dulles: Master of Spies, 374).

24 Tim Weiner, Legacy of ashes: the history of the CIA (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 28.

25 Douglas Valentine, “The French Connection Revisited: The CIA, Irving Brown, and Drug Smuggling as Political Warfare,” Covert Action.

26 Norbert Schlei, “Japan's ‘M-Fund’ Memorandum, January 7, 1991,“ JPRI [Japan Policy Research Institute] Working Paper No. 11: July 1995: “Incident to the revision of the Security Treaty [in 1960], Vice President Nixon agreed to turn over exclusive control of the M-Fund to Japan. It has been alleged that this action by Nixon was part of a corrupt political bargain, whereby it was agreed that if Japan would assist him to become President of the United States, Nixon would agree to release control of the Fund to Japan and, if he became President, would return Okinawa to Japan.”

27 "C.I.A. Spent Millions to Support Japanese Right in 50's and 60's," New York Times, October 9, 1994. Cf. Scott, American War Machine, 93-94, 298-99; citing Chalmers Johnson, “The 1955 System and the American Connection: A Bibliographic Introduction,” JPRI [Japan Policy Research Institute] Working Paper No. 11: July 1995.

28 Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, Gold warriors: America's secret recovery of Yamashita's gold (London: Verso, 2003). Cf. Richard Hoyt, Old Soldiers Sometimes Lie (New York: Forge, 2002), 80.

29 Scott, American War Machine, 94, etc.

30 Scott, American War Machine,

31 Norman Mailer, “A Harlot High and Low: Reconnoitering Through the Secret Government,” New York, August 16, 1976 (Hughes); Michael Schaller, Altered states: the United States and Japan since the occupation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 294 (Lockheed).

32 Johnson, “The 1955 System and the American Connection.”

33  David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro, Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 89-90. Cf. Jonathan Marshall, in William O. Walker, III, ed., Drug control policy: essays in historical and comparative perspective (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), 108:

“Yoshio Kodama’s fortune, built of profits from tungsten and opium, established the party that today rules Japan…. Kodama contributed to the pervasive corruption of Japanese politics by steering huge corporate contributions into the coffers of favored LDP members. This pattern culminated in the Lockheed scandal, which revealed that multi-million-dollar payoff by American aerospace firms had swayed key procurement decisions by Japan’s national airline and defense establishment and raised the possibility that the CIA had used Kodama and corporate funds to influence Japanese politics. The money-laundering channel used for Lockheed’s bribes was favored both by the CIA and international drug traffickers.”

34 Thomas Fensch, ed. The C.I.A. and the U-2 Program: 1954-1974 (The Woodlands, TX: New Century Books, 2001).

35 William D. Hartung, Prophets of war: Lockheed Martin and the making of the military-industrial complex (New York: Nation Books, 2011), 121; David Boulton, The Grease Machine (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), 97 (friends).

36 Andrew Feinstein, The shadow world: inside the global arms trade (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 265; Anthony Sampson, The Arms Bazaar (New York: Viking, 1977), 135-36.

37 Bradley R. Simpson, Economists with guns: authoritarian development and U.S.-Indonesian relations, 1960-1968  (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 142;

quoting from CIA, “Political Action Project,”, November 19, 1964; FRUS, 1964-1968, 26:181-84.

38 In addition there was “a US deal to deliver 200 light aircraft to the Indonesian Army in July 1965.” The aircraft went to the army’s Diponegoro division, which “ as well as supplying the bulk of the  [September 30] “coup” personnel in Java, … also provided the bulk of the personnel for its suppression” (Nathaniel Mehr, Constructive bloodbath' in Indonesia: the United States, Britain and the mass killings of 1965-66 [Nottingham: Spokesman Books, 2009], 36).

39 Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967,” Pacific Affairs, 58, Summer 1985; citing

United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations, Multinational corporations and United States foreign policy, hearings before the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1973-1976), Part 12, 937-65.

40 Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno.”

41 Masashi Nishihara, The Japanese and Sukarno's Indonesia: Tokyo-Jakarta relations, 1951-1966 (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1976), 171, 194, 202; Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno.”

42 Fortune, July 1973, 154, cf. Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1967.

43 John Dumbrell and Axel R Schäfer (eds.), America's 'special relationships’: foreign and domestic aspects of the politics of alliance (London: Routledge, 2009), 187.

44 John Foster Dulles to Lord McGowan, Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries; in Nancy Lisagor and Frank Lipsius, A law unto itself: the untold story of the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell (New York: Morrow, 1988), 127.

45 Charles T. O'Reilly, Forgotten Battles: Italy's War of Liberation, 1943-1945 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001), 288; Peter Dale Scott, "How Allen Dulles and the SS Preserved Each Other," Covert Action Information Bulletin, 25 (Winter 1986), 4-14.  Dulles’s plans to use SS resources in post-war Germany cab be seen as part of a successful plan to frustrate the implementation of Roosevelt’s so-called Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize Germany.

46 Stephen Dorril, MI6, 659-660.

47 Ovid Demaris, Dirty Business: The Corporate-Political Money-Power Game (New York: Avon, 1974), 213-14.

48 J.P.D. Dunbabin, International relations since 1945 : a history in two volumes

(London: Longman, 1994), Vol 2, 344. The boycott is denied without argumentation in Exxon’s corporate history (Bennett H. Wall et al., Growth in a changing environment: a history of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), Exxon Corporation, 1950-1975 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988), Vol. 4, 476: “Despite oft-printed statements to the contrary, the oil majors did not conspire to boycott NIOC oil.”

49 Robert Palmer Smith, Darkest truths of black gold: an oil industry executive breaks the industry's code of silence (New York: iUniverse, 2007), 256. In July 1952 Mossadeq attempted to break the embargo by contracting to sell oil to a small private Italian oil firm. The manoeuver was frustrated by the British Royal Navy, which in July 1952 intercepted the Italian tanker Rose Mary and redirected it to Aden. The news dissuaded other tankers from trying to reach Abadan (Mary Ann Heiss, Empire and Nationhood: The United States, Great Britain, and Iranian Oil, 1950-1954 [New York: Columbia University Press, 1997], 130; Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's men: an American coup and the roots of Middle East terror [Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003], 136).

50 Mostafa Elm, Oil, Power, and Principle: Iran's Oil Nationalization and Its Aftermath (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 198-99 (Churchill); Robert Moskin, American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin's Press, 2013), 627-28 (Harriman).

51 Demaris, Dirty Business, 214-25: “The incoming Eisenhower Administration… quickly dropped the criminal case. The civil suit that was instituted alleged that the five American oil companies violated the Sherman Antitrust and the Wilson Tariff Acts by conspiring to divide and control foreign production and distribution…. An inadequate staff was assigned to the case and the action finally petered out a decade later with a couple of meaningless consent decrees.”

52 Robert Sherrill, The oil follies of 1970-1980: how the petroleum industry stole the show (and much more besides) (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1983), 221).

53  William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling,     Oil in troubled waters: perceptions, politics, and the battle over offshore drilling (Albany : State University of New York Press, 1994); 17; citing Shukri Mohammed Ghanem, OPEC, the Rise and Fall of an Exclusive Club (London : KPI, 1986); Mira Wilkins, “The Oil Companies in Perspective,” in Raymond Vernon (ed.), The Oil Crisis (New York: Norton, 1976).

54 William Roger Louis, “Britain and the Overthrow of Mossadeq,” in Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne (eds.), Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 coup in Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004), 168. Cf. William R. Clark, Petrodollar warfare: oil, Iraq and the future of the dollar (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2005), 125: “[T]he Dulles brothers had already conceived a plot when Eisenhower became president in January 1953.”

55 Scot Macdonald, Rolling the iron dice : historical analogies and decisions to use military force in regional contingencies (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000), 98. Cf. Richard H. Immerman, John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 67. Allen Dulles played a personal role in TP/AJAX, by flying to Italy and persuading the frightened Shah to return to Tehran.

56 In the past, wishing to dissociate the term “deep state” from organizational connotations, I have written of the American “deep state” as “a milieu both inside and outside government with the power to steer the history of the public state and sometimes redirect it” (“William Pawley, the Kennedy Assassination, and Watergate,” Global Research, November 29, 2012. But because there are extra-governmental structural components to the deep state, it might be better to think of it as not just a milieu, but more analogous to an oligopolistic market.

57 See Chalmers A Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004), 218-19; Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (New York: Verso Books, 2011), 212.

58 Tim Shorrock, Spies for Hire (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 6.

59 Glenn Greenwald, “Mike McConnell, the WashPost & the dangers of sleazy corporatism,” Salon, March 29, 2010.

60 George H. W. Bush was an adviser to Carlyle, which in its early days “backed a management-led buyout of Caterair and appointed George W Bush to the board” (Jamie Doward, “Bush Sr's Carlyle Group Gets Fat On War And Conflict,” The Observer, March 25, 2003.)

61 Lofgren, “ A Shadow Government Controls America.”

62 Booz Allen Hamilton’s headquarters is now in McLean, Virginia, close to the HQ of the CIA.

63 Art Kleiner, Booz Allen Hamilton: Helping Clients Envision the Future, (Old Saybrook, CT: Greenwich Publishing, 2004), 43.

64 John Prados, Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006.), 139. Cf. Christine N. Halili, Philippine History (Manila: Rex Book Store, 2004), 258 (Philippines land distribution).

65 Miles Copeland, The Game Player: the confessions of the CIA's original political operative (London: Aurum Press, 1989), 158.

66 Ephraim Kahana and Muhammad Suwaed, Historical dictionary of Middle Eastern intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009), 65 {“advisor”); Jack O'Connell, King's Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East, (New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2011), 20 (channel).

67 The BCCI Affair: BCCI, the CIA and Foreign Intelligence, Report to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by John Kerry and Hank Brown, December 1992; 102nd Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Print 102-140 (“agent”).

68 William D. Hartung, Prophets of war: Lockheed Martin and the making of the military-industrial complex (New York: Nation Books, 2011), 126.

69 Copeland, The Game Player, 231.

70 Copeland, The Game Player, 233.

71 Copeland, The Game Player, 239.

72 E.g. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA

 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 380.

73 Larry J. Kolb, Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy [New York: Riverhead/Penguin, 2004], 237-38. Cf. Copeland, The Game Player, 230, 262-63; Ronald Kessler, The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Adnan Khashoggi (New York: Warner Books), 300-01: “[O]n May 17, 1983, [Khashoggi] submitted to President Reagan a confidential ‘yellow paper’ [which] proposed an economic aid program similar to the 1949 Marshall Plan developed by the U.S. for Europe. Called a Peace Fund, it would provide up to $300 billion in regional economic aid from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to Israel and any Arab country that signed a peace treaty with it.”

74 Peter Dale Scott, “Deep Events and the CIA's Global Drug Connection,” 911truth.org, October 12, 2008; American War Machine, 160-65.

75The BCCI Affair.” Khashoggi’s status had declined, but by no means vanished. As late as 2003, Khashoggi was negotiating with Richard Perle, a member of the Cheney-Rumsfeld clique who at the time was still Chairman of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, to invest considerable Saudi money in Perle's company Trireme (Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, 3/17/03).

76 Copeland, Game Player, 239; cf. 2128.

77 Kessler, The Richest Man in the World, 84, 188, etc.; Scott, American War Machine, 158-62.

78 “Moss, Edward K. #172 646,” CIA Memo of 19 April 1967, NARA #104-10122-10006; CIA Inspector General’s Report on CIA-Mafia Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro, NARA # 104-10213-10101, p. 38. Cf. memo of 7 November 1962 in CIA’s Edward K. Moss folder, p. 26, NARA #1994.05.03.10:54:53:780005.

79 “Manuel Antonio Varona,” FBI Memorandum of January 16, 1961 to A. H. Belmont, p. 2, 105-76826-20; NARA #124-90055-10139. Cf. “Moss, Edward K. #172 646,” CIA Memo of 14 May 1973, in Meyer Lansky Security File, p. 9, NARA #1993.08.13.17:42:12:560059; CIA letter of 16 December 1960 to FBI, FBI file 105-76826-18; NARA #124-90055-10133. The CIA itself had notified the FBI on December 16, 1960, that Julia “Cellino” had advised that her brothers “have long been associated in the narcotics and white slavery rackets in Cuba (CIA letter of 16 December 1960 to Director, FBI, FBI File 105-76826-18; NARA #124-90055-10133; apparently no copy of this letter has been released from CIA files).

80 Kessler, Richest Man in the World, 29 (Yassin), 275–78 (Khashoggi). A friend of Khashoggi’s, Larry Kolb, reports that Khashoggi himself essentially corroborated the story that Khashoggi and John Kennedy had a friendship in the 1950s that “evolved primarily out of whoring together” (Larry J. Kolb, Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy [New York: Riverhead/Penguin, 2004], 236). The woman who destroyed the presidential aspirations of Senator Gary Hart in 1987 was one of Khashoggi’s many girls.

81 Anthony Summers with Robbyn Swan, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon (New York: Viking, 2000), 283. Cf. Kessler, The Richest Man in the World, 171: Khashoggi told the prosecutors “that he churned millions through the tiny [Rebozo] bank to win favor with the president.”

82 Investigative reporter Jim Hougan reports the incredulity of congressional investigators that Lockheed was the only large corporation not to have made a contribution to Nixon’s 1972 election campaign (Hougan, Spooks, 457–58.

83 Scott, Road to 9/11, 35; citing Summers, Arrogance of Power, 283; Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil (New York: Crown, 2003), 43. (Baer reports the year of the briefcase as 1968, not 1972.) Kolb (“unequivocally, and from personal experience”) denies the briefcase story (Overworld, 299).

84 Scott, Deep politics and the death of JFK, 234-39.

85 Kessler, Richest Man in the World, 129, 160-61. When Hughes flew from Las Vegas to the Paradise Island casino in the Bahamas (where Edward Moss’s brother-in-law Eddie Cellini was casino manager, he did so on a Khashoggi plane. (Kessler, Richest Man, 149-50).

86 Summers with Swan, The Arrogance of Power, 242, 252; Jim Hougan, Spooks, 398. Cf. Denny Walsh, New York Times, January 21, 1974; Gerth, in Government by Gunplay, 137-39.

87 Block, Masters of Paradise, 94-96; Summers with Swan, The Arrogance of Power, 244-45. Benguet Mines have also been associated with Yamashita’s gold (Seagrave, Gold Warriors, 147; Scott, American War Machine, 322n15).

88 Summers with Swan, The Arrogance of Power, 244-45, 253-54.

89 Scott, American War Machine, 71-72. Cf. Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1980: “In 1951, Mr. Helliwell helped set up and run Sea Supply Corp., a concern controlled by the CIA as a front. For almost 10 years, Sea Supply was used to supply huge amounts of weapons and equipment to 10,000 Nationalist Chinese [KMT] troops in Burma as well as to Thailand’s police.”

90 In the course of Operation Safehaven, the U.S. Third Army took an SS major “on several trips to Italy and Austria, and, as a result of these preliminary trips, over $500,000 in gold, as well as jewels, were recovered” (Anthony Cave Brown, The Secret War Report of the OSS [New York: Berkeley, 1976], 565-66).

91 Who's who in Finance and Industry, Marquis Who's Who, 1979, 568.

92 Kessler, Richest Man in the World, 238-41; Scott, American War Machine, 161-62.

93 The operation kept the name “Safari Club” even after moving from Khashoggi’s Club to a permanent headquarters in Cairo.

94 Ibrahim Warde, The price of fear: the truth behind the financial war on terror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 133. Cf. Lacey, Inside the Kingdom, 66, 72, 76.

95 Christopher Byron, "The Senate look at BCCI,” New York Magazine, October 28, 1991, 20–21.

96 Lacey, Inside the Kingdom, 66. Cf. John Cooley, Unholy Wars (London: Pluto Press, 1999), 24-27.

97 Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, bad Muslim:  America, the Cold War, and the roots of terror (New York: Pantheon Books 2004), 84.

98 Mamdani, Good Muslim, bad Muslim, 85.

99 Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to terror: the rogue CIA and the legacy of America's private intelligence network (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005), 61.

100 Trento, Prelude to terror, 104-05. Kevin Phillips also notes that  “Bush cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence” (Kevin Phillips, “The Barrelling Bushes,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2004).

101 Trento, Prelude to terror, 113-14.

102 Phillips, “The Barrelling Bushes,” Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2004.

103 There is no published evidence that Copeland was involved in the Safari Club covert operations. But it may be significant that Copeland’s activity of advising the Egyptian Army became after the creation of the Safari Club a franchise of a “private” U.S. firm, J.J. Cappucci and Associates, owned by Theodore Shackley (Trento, Prelude to Terror, 150, 247).

104 Trento, Prelude to Terror, 139.

105 There is no published evidence that Copeland was involved in the Safari Club covert operations. But it may be significant that Copeland’s activity of advising the Egyptian Army became after the creation of the Safari Club a franchise of a “private” U.S. firm, J.J. Cappucci and Associates, owned by Theodore Shackley (Trento, Prelude to Terror, 150, 247).

106 Theodore Draper, A Very Thin Line (New York: Hill and Wang, 1991), 129, 131. Cf. Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Every spy a prince: the complete history of Israel's intelligence community (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), 261; Mayn Katz, Song of Spies (Heliographica Press, 2005) 136-37.

107 Samuel Segev ; translated by Haim Watzman, The Iranian triangle : the untold story of Israel's role in the Iran-Contra (New York: The Free Press, 1988), 10. For the collaboration of Greenspun, Schwimmer and Meyer Lansky in gun-running, see Leonard Slater, The Pledge (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1970). Paul Helliwell may have been part of this operation; see Scott, American War Machine, 71, 164.

108 Copeland, The Game Player, 263.

109 Kolb, Overworld, 246.

110 Kolb, Overworld, 247.

111 Iran-Contra Affair, Report of the congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra Affair (U.S. Congress, H. Rept. No. 100-433, S. Rept. No. 100-216), 164.

112 Kerry-Brown Report, Part 11, “BCCI, the CIA and Foreign Intelligence.”

113 Kerry-Brown Report, Part 11, “BCCI, the CIA and Foreign Intelligence.”

114 Dan Bawley, Corporate Governance and Accountability: What Role for the Regulator, Director, and Auditor? (Westport, CT: Quorum, 1999). 37.

115 Bawley, Corporate Governance and Accountability, 37.

116Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world.” New Scientist, October 24, 2011.

117 Scott, American War Conspiracy, 163; quoting from Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, False Profits: The Inside Story of BCCI, the World’s Most Corrupt Financial Empire (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992), 384 (“ties”).

118 Alan A. Block and Constance A. Weaver, All is clouded by desire: global banking, money laundering, and international organized crime (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 36-37.

119Saudi prince 'received arms cash',” BBC, June 7, 2007. It is unclear whether payments continued after 2001, when the UK signed the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention, making such overpayments illegal.

120 Robert Lacey, Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia (New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 108.

121 Trento, Prelude to Terror, 102.

122 Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999), 189; citing Christopher Andrew, For the President’s Eyes Only (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 172; see also Church Committee, Final Report, Book 4, 28-29.

123 Former Turkish President and Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel commented that “In our country… there is one deep state and one other state…. The state that should be real is the spare one, the one that should be spare is the real one” (Jon Gorvett, “Turkey’s ‘Deep State’ Surfaces in Former President’s Words, Deeds in Kurdish Town,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2006); quoted in Scott, American War Machine, 24.


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[Feb 15, 2017] Washington Is Out to Get Steve Bannon

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... Bannon's comments were outrageous, but they are hardly new. In 2009, President Obama's White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News' access to the White House. She even said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent." The media's outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least. ..."
"... America's Bitter Pill ..."
"... - John Fund is NRO's national-affairs correspondent ..."
Feb 15, 2017 | www.unz.com
Bannon is almost universally loathed by the Washington press corps, and not just for his politics. When he was the CEO of the pro-Trump Breitbart website, he competed with traditional media outlets, and he has often mercilessly attacked and ridiculed them.

The animosity towards Bannon reached new heights last month, when he incautiously told the New York Times that "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." He also said the media was "the opposition party" to the Trump administration. To the Washington media, those are truly fighting words.

Joel Simon, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told CNN that "this kind of speech not [only] undermines the work of the media in this country, it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world." Jacob Weisberg, the head of the Slate Group, tweeted that Bannon's comment was terrifying and "tyrannical."

Bannon's comments were outrageous, but they are hardly new. In 2009, President Obama's White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News' access to the White House. She even said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent." The media's outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least.

Ever since Bannon's outburst, you can hear the media gears meshing in the effort to undermine him. In TV green rooms and at Washington parties, I've heard journalists say outright that it's time to get him. Time magazine put a sinister-looking Bannon on its cover, describing him as "The Great Manipulator." Walter Isaacson, a former managing editor of Time , boasted to MSNBC that the image was in keeping with a tradition of controversial covers that put leaders in their place. "Likewise, putting [former White House aide] Mike Deaver on the cover, the brains behind Ronald Reagan, that ended up bringing down Reagan," he told the hosts of Morning Joe . "So you've got to have these checks and balances, whether it's the judiciary or the press."

Reporters and pundits are also stepping up the effort to portray Bannon as the puppet master in the White House. Last week, MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Legitimate media are getting word that Steve Bannon is the last guy in the room, in the evening especially, and he's pulling the strings." Her co-host, Joe Scarborough, agreed that Bannon's role should be "investigated."

I'm all for figuring out who the powers behind the curtain are in the White House, but we saw precious little interest in that during the Obama administration.

I'm all for figuring out who the powers behind the curtain are in the White House, but we saw precious little interest in that during the Obama administration.

It wasn't until four years after the passage of Obamacare that a journalist reported on just how powerful White House counselor Valerie Jarrett had been in its flawed implementation. Liberal writer Steven Brill wrote a 2015 book, America's Bitter Pill , in which he slammed "incompetence in the White House" for the catastrophic launch of Obamacare. "Never [has there] been a group of people who more incompetently launched something," he told NPR's Terry Gross, who interviewed him about the book. He laid much of the blame at Jarrett's doorstep. "The people in the administration who knew it was going wrong went to the president directly with memos, in person, to his chief of staff," he said. "The president was protected, mostly by Valerie Jarrett, from doing anything. . . . He didn't know what was going on in the single most important initiative of his administration." How important was Jarrett inside the Obama White House? Brill interviewed the president about the struggles of Obamacare and reported Obama's conclusion: "At this point, I am not so interested in Monday-morning quarterbacking the past."

Brill then bluntly told the president that five of the highest-ranking Obama officials had told him that "as a practical matter . . . Jarrett was the real chief of staff on any issues that she wanted to weigh in on, and she jealously protected that position by making sure the president never gave anyone else too much power." When Brill asked the president about these aides' assessment of Jarrett, Obama "declined comment," Brill wrote in his book. That, in and of itself, was an answer. Would that Jarrett had received as much media scrutiny of her role in eight years under Obama as Bannon has in less than four weeks.

I've had my disagreements with Bannon, whose apocalyptic views on some issues I don't share. Ronald Reagan once said that if someone in Washington agrees with you 80 percent of the time, he is an ally, not an enemy. I'd guess Bannon wouldn't agree with that sentiment.

But the media's effort to turn Bannon into an enemy of the people is veering into hysterical character assassination. The Sunday print edition of the New York Times ran an astonishing 1,500-word story headlined: "Fascists Too Lax for a Philosopher Cited by Bannon." (The online headline now reads, "Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists.") The Times based this headline on what it admits was "a passing reference" in a speech by Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014 . In that speech, Bannon made a single mention of Julius Evola, an obscure Italian philosopher who opposed modernity and cozied up to Mussolini's Italian Fascists.

- John Fund is NRO's national-affairs correspondent . https://twitter.com/@JohnFund

[Feb 15, 2017] Flynn Resignation Is a Surveillance State Coup Nightmare

The globalist mafia is trying to destroy Trump. There might be the same part of intelligence community which is still loyal to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Still Flynn discussing sanctions, which could have been a violation of an 18th century law, the Logan Act, that bars unauthorized citizens from brokering deals with foreign governments involved in disputes with the United States.
Keith Kellogg links with Oracle my be as asset to Trump team.
Feb 15, 2017 | www.breitbart.com

As far back as the passage of the Patriot Act after 9/11, civil libertarians worried about the surveillance state, the Panopticon, the erosion of privacy rights and due process in the name of national security.

Paranoid fantasies were floated that President George W. Bush was monitoring the library cards of political dissidents. Civil libertarians hailed NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a hero, or at least accepted him as a necessary evil, for exposing the extent of Internet surveillance under President Barack Obama.

Will civil libertarians now speak up for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose career has been destroyed with a barrage of leaked wiretaps? Does anyone care if those leaks were accurate or legal?

Over the weekend, a few honest observers of the Flynn imbroglio noted that none of the strategically leaked intercepts of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak proved he actually did anything wrong .

The media fielded accusations that Flynn discussed lifting the Obama administration's sanctions on Russia – a transgression that would have been a serious violation of pre-inauguration protocol at best, and a prosecutable offense at worst. Flynn ostensibly sealed his fate by falsely assuring Vice President Mike Pence he had no such discussions with Kislyak, prompting Pence to issue a robust defense of Flynn that severely embarrassed Pence in retrospect.

On Tuesday, Eli Lake of Bloomberg News joined the chorus of skeptics who said the hive of anonymous leakers infesting the Trump administration never leaked anything that proved Flynn lied to Pence:

He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions . That's neither illegal nor improper.

Lake also noted that leaks of sensitive national security information, such as the transcripts of Flynn's phone calls to Kislyak, are extremely rare. In their rush to collect a scalp from the Trump administration, the media forgot to tell its readers how unusual and alarming the Flynn-quisition was:

It's very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush's first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

While President Trump contemplated Flynn's fate on Monday evening, the Wall Street Journal suggested: "How about asking if the spooks listening to Mr. Flynn obeyed the law?" Among the questions the WSJ posed was whether intelligence agents secured proper FISA court orders for the surveillance of Flynn.

That s the sort of question that convulsed the entire political spectrum, from liberals to libertarians, after the Snowden revelations. Not long ago, both Democrats and Republicans were deeply concerned about accountability and procedural integrity for the sprawling surveillance apparatus developed by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Those are among the most serious concerns of the Information Age, and they should not be cast aside in a mad dash to draw some partisan blood.

There are several theories as to exactly who brought Flynn down and why. Was it an internal White House power struggle, the work of Obama administration holdovers, or the alligators of the "Deep State" lunging to take a bite from the president who promised to "drain the swamp?"

The Washington Free Beacon has sources who say Flynn's resignation is "the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump's national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran."

Flynn has prominently opposed that deal. According to the Free Beacon, this "small task force of Obama loyalists" are ready to waylay anyone in the Trump administration who threatens the Iran deal, their efforts coordinated by the sleazy Obama adviser who boasted of his ability to manipulate the press by feeding them lies, Ben Rhodes.

Some observers are chucking at the folly of Michael Flynn daring to take on the intelligence community, and paying the price for his reckless impudence. That is not funny – it is terrifying. In fact, it is the nightmare of the rogue NSA come to life, the horror story that kept privacy advocates tossing in their sheets for years.

Michael Flynn was appointed by the duly elected President of the United States. He certainly should not have been insulated from criticism, but if he was brought down by entrenched, unelected agency officials, it is nearly a coup – especially if, as Eli Lake worried on Twitter, Flynn's resignation inspires further attacks with even higher-ranking targets:

This was a major error for @Reince & @mike_pence It's now open season on this administration from without and within. #FlynnResignation

- Eli Lake (@EliLake) February 14, 2017

Lake's article caught the eye of President Trump, who endorsed his point that intelligence and law enforcement agencies should not interfere in U.S. politics:

Thank you to Eli Lake of The Bloomberg View – "The NSA & FBI should not interfere in our politics and is" Very serious situation for USA

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017

On the other hand, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard openly endorsed the Deep State overthrowing the American electorate and overturning the results of the 2016 election:

Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.

- Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 14, 2017

Among the many things hideously wrong with this sentiment is that the American people know absolutely nothing about the leakers who brought Flynn down, and might be lining up their next White House targets at this very moment. We have no way to evaluate their motives or credibility. We didn't vote for them, and we will have no opportunity to vote them out of office if we dissent from their agenda. As mentioned above, we do not know if the material they are leaking is accurate .

Byron York of the Washington Examiner addressed the latter point by calling for full disclosure:

Important that entire transcript of Flynn-Kislyak conversation be released. Leakers have already cherrypicked. Public needs to see it all.

- Byron York (@ByronYork) February 14, 2017

That is no less important with Flynn's resignation in hand. We still need to know the full story of his downfall. The American people deserve to know who is assaulting the government they voted for in 2016. They deserve protection from the next attempt to manipulate our government with cherry picked leaks.

They also deserve some intellectual consistency from those who have long and loudly worried about the emergence of a surveillance state, and from conservatives who claim to value the rule of law. Unknown persons with a mysterious agenda just made strategic use of partial information from a surveillance program of uncertain legality to take out a presidential adviser.

Whether it's an Obama shadow government staging a Beltway insurrection, or Deep State officials protecting their turf, this is the nightmare scenario of the post-Snowden era or are we not having that nightmare anymore, if we take partisan pleasure in the outcome?

[Feb 15, 2017] Its Over Folks The Neocons The Deep State Have Neutered The Trump Presidency

Trump wants to tell Russia to do what? ( https://www.rt.com/usa/377346-spicer-russia-return-crimea/ ) ? To return Crimea? Is this what opposition to neocons means in Trumpspeak ???
Notable quotes:
"... "It's Over Folks" The Neocons & The "Deep State" Have Neutered The Trump Presidency ..."
"... For one thing, Flynn dared the unthinkable: he dared to declare that the bloated US intelligence community had to be reformed. Flynn also tried to subordinate the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to the President via the National Security Council. ..."
"... Put differently, Flynn tried to wrestle the ultimate power and authority from the CIA and the Pentagon and subordinate them back to the White House. ..."
"... Ever since Trump made it to the White House, he has taken blow after blow from the Neocon-run Ziomedia, from Congress, from all the Hollywood doubleplusgoodthinking "stars" and even from European politicians. And Trump took each blow without ever fighting back. Nowhere was his famous "you are fired!" to be seen. But I still had hope. I wanted to hope. I felt that it was my duty to hope. ..."
"... It's over, folks, the deep state has won. From now on, Trump will become the proverbial shabbos-goy , the errand boy of the Israel lobby. Hassan Nasrallah was right when he called him 'an idiot '. ..."
"... The Chinese and Iranian will openly laugh. The Russians won't – they will be polite, they will smile, and try to see if some common sense policies can still be salvaged from this disaster. Some might. But any dream of a partnership between Russia and the United States has died tonight. ..."
"... Trump, for all his faults, did favor the US, as a country, over the global Empire. Trump was also acutely aware that 'more of the same' was not an option. He wanted policies commensurate with the actual capabilities of the USA. With Flynn gone and the Neocons back in full control – this is over. Now we are going to be right back to ideology over reality. ..."
"... I am quite sure that nobody today is celebrating in the Kremlin. Putin, Lavrov and the others surely understand exactly what happened. It is as if Khodorkovsy would have succeeded in breaking Putin in 2003. In fact, I have to credit Russian analysts who for several weeks already have been comparing Trump to Yanukovich, who also was elected by a majority of the people and who failed to show the resolve needed to stop the 'color revolution' started against him. But if Trump is the new Yanukovich, will the US become the next Ukraine? ..."
"... Flynn was very much the cornerstone of the hoped-for Trump foreign policy. There was a real chance that he would reign in the huge, bloated and all-powerful three letter agencies and that he would focus US power against the real enemy of the West: the Wahabis. With Flynn gone, this entire conceptual edifice has now come down. We are going to be left with the likes of Mattis and his anti-Iranian statements. Clowns who only impress other clowns. ..."
Feb 14, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
"It's Over Folks" The Neocons & The "Deep State" Have Neutered The Trump Presidency

Submitted and Authored by The Saker

Less than a month ago I warned that a 'color revolution ' was taking place in the USA . My first element of proof was the so-called "investigation" which the CIA, FBI, NSA and others were conducting against President Trump's candidate to become National Security Advisor, General Flynn. Last night, the plot to get rid of Flynn has finally succeeded and General Flynn had to offer his resignation . Trump accepted it.

Now let's immediately get one thing out of the way: Flynn was hardly a saint or a perfect wise man who would single handedly saved the world. That he was not.

However, what Flynn was is the cornerstone of Trump's national security policy . For one thing, Flynn dared the unthinkable: he dared to declare that the bloated US intelligence community had to be reformed. Flynn also tried to subordinate the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to the President via the National Security Council.

Put differently, Flynn tried to wrestle the ultimate power and authority from the CIA and the Pentagon and subordinate them back to the White House. Flynn also wanted to work with Russia. Not because he was a Russia lover, the notion of a Director of the DIA as a Putin-fan is ridiculous, but Flynn was rational, he understood that Russia was no threat to the USA or to Europe and that Russia had the West had common interests. That is another absolutely unforgivable crimethink in Washington DC.

The Neocon run 'deep state' has now forced Flynn to resign under the idiotic pretext that he had a telephone conversation, on an open, insecure and clearly monitored, line with the Russian ambassador.

And Trump accepted this resignation.

Ever since Trump made it to the White House, he has taken blow after blow from the Neocon-run Ziomedia, from Congress, from all the Hollywood doubleplusgoodthinking "stars" and even from European politicians. And Trump took each blow without ever fighting back. Nowhere was his famous "you are fired!" to be seen. But I still had hope. I wanted to hope. I felt that it was my duty to hope.

But now Trump has betrayed us all.

Remember how Obama showed his true face when he hypocritically denounced his friend and pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. ? Today, Trump has shown us his true face. Instead of refusing Flynn's resignation and instead of firing those who dared cook up these ridiculous accusations against Flynn, Trump accepted the resignation. This is not only an act of abject cowardice, it is also an amazingly stupid and self-defeating betrayal because now Trump will be alone, completely alone, facing the likes of Mattis and Pence – hard Cold Warrior types, ideological to the core, folks who want war and simply don't care about reality.

Again, Flynn was not my hero. But he was, by all accounts, Trump's hero. And Trump betrayed him.

The consequences of this will be immense. For one thing, Trump is now clearly broken. It took the 'deep state' only weeks to castrate Trump and to make him bow to the powers that be . Those who would have stood behind Trump will now feel that he will not stand behind them and they will all move back away from him. The Neocons will feel elated by the elimination of their worst enemy and emboldened by this victory they will push on, doubling-down over and over and over again.

It's over, folks, the deep state has won. From now on, Trump will become the proverbial shabbos-goy , the errand boy of the Israel lobby. Hassan Nasrallah was right when he called him 'an idiot '.

The Chinese and Iranian will openly laugh. The Russians won't – they will be polite, they will smile, and try to see if some common sense policies can still be salvaged from this disaster. Some might. But any dream of a partnership between Russia and the United States has died tonight.

The EU leaders will, of course, celebrate. Trump was nowhere the scary bogeyman they feared. Turns out that he is a doormat – very good for the EU.

Where does all this leave us – the millions of anonymous 'deplorables' who try as best we can to resist imperialism, war, violence and injustice?

I think that we were right in our hopes because that is all we had – hopes. No expectations, just hopes. But now we objectively have very little reasons left to hope. For one thing, the Washington 'swamp' will not be drained. If anything, the swamp has triumphed. We can only find some degree of solace in two undeniable facts:

  1. Hillary would have been far worse than any version of a Trump Presidency.
  2. In order to defeat Trump, the US deep state has had to terribly weaken the US and the AngloZionist Empire. Just like Erdogan' purges have left the Turkish military in shambles, the anti-Trump 'color revolution' has inflicted terrible damage on the reputation, authority and even credibility of the USA.

The first one is obvious. So let me clarify the second one. In their hate-filled rage against Trump and the American people (aka "the basket of deplorables") the Neocons have had to show they true face. By their rejection of the outcome of the elections, by their riots, their demonization of Trump, the Neocons have shown two crucial things: first, that the US democracy is a sad joke and that they, the Neocons, are an occupation regime which rules against the will of the American people. In other words, just like Israel, the USA has no legitimacy left. And since, just like Israel, the USA are unable to frighten their enemies, they are basically left with nothing, no legitimacy, no ability to coerce. So yes, the Neocons have won. But their victory is removes the last chance for the US to avoid a collapse.

Trump, for all his faults, did favor the US, as a country, over the global Empire. Trump was also acutely aware that 'more of the same' was not an option. He wanted policies commensurate with the actual capabilities of the USA. With Flynn gone and the Neocons back in full control – this is over. Now we are going to be right back to ideology over reality.

Trump probably could have made America, well, maybe not "great again", but at least stronger, a major world power which could negotiate and use its leverage to get the best deal possible from the others. That's over now. With Trump broken, Russia and China will go right back to their pre-Trump stance: a firm resistance backed by a willingness and capability to confront and defeat the USA at any level.

I am quite sure that nobody today is celebrating in the Kremlin. Putin, Lavrov and the others surely understand exactly what happened. It is as if Khodorkovsy would have succeeded in breaking Putin in 2003. In fact, I have to credit Russian analysts who for several weeks already have been comparing Trump to Yanukovich, who also was elected by a majority of the people and who failed to show the resolve needed to stop the 'color revolution' started against him. But if Trump is the new Yanukovich, will the US become the next Ukraine?

Flynn was very much the cornerstone of the hoped-for Trump foreign policy. There was a real chance that he would reign in the huge, bloated and all-powerful three letter agencies and that he would focus US power against the real enemy of the West: the Wahabis. With Flynn gone, this entire conceptual edifice has now come down. We are going to be left with the likes of Mattis and his anti-Iranian statements. Clowns who only impress other clowns.

Today's Neocon victory is a huge event and it will probably be completely misrepresented by the official media. Ironically, Trump supporters will also try minimize it all. But the reality is that barring a most unlikely last-minute miracle, it's over for Trump and the hopes of millions of people in the USA and the rest of the world who had hoped that the Neocons could be booted out of power by means of a peaceful election. That is clearly not going to happen.

I see very dark clouds on the horizon.

* * *

  • UPDATE1 : Just to stress an important point: the disaster is not so much that Flynn is out but what Trump's caving in to the Neocon tells us about Trump's character (or lack thereof). Ask yourself – after what happened to Flynn, would you stick your neck out for Trump?
  • UPDATE2 : Just as predicted – the Neocons are celebrating and, of course, doubling-down:
  • Son of Captain Nemo , Feb 14, 2017 10:12 PM

    Trump wants to tell Russia to do what? ( https://www.rt.com/usa/377346-spicer-russia-return-crimea/ )

    Here is the REAL United States of America President ( https://www.israelrising.com/bibi-netanyahu-president-trump-see-eye-eye-... ) Booby!!!

    Smell the fetid gas coming out of this "Gluteal Cleft with horns" that owns the U.S. military!

    [Feb 15, 2017] Google, Youtube and net neutarality

    Feb 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Eureka Springs , February 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Net neutrality has always been confined to the narrowest of meanings to a point of being self-defeating by simply self-kettling ourselves into such limited fights/expectations. I know you coastal and big city elites (that's half snark) will never understand much more empathize or rally with us flyover deplorables who are limited to 10 gigs a month no matter what provider we use, no matter how much we pay. I recently read that most homes with fiber now utilize over a thousand gigs a month that one HD movie can be much more bandwidth than my entire monthly 70 bucks can buy.

    Over twenty years ago the entire U.S. should have established high speed affordable unlimited fiber to every home on the grid and that's where the argument should be today. It covers the neutrality issue and so, so very much more. And it is far more inclusive of many more people who would benefit in so many ways. It's way past time to remove the internet highway system. Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin.

    So yes, point out the most egregious hypocrites in the misleadership class, but don't let them all win by keeping us divided and losing within the extremely limited confines of their argument.

    oh , February 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Among the many promises that Barry broke was the one to provide hi speed internet. One grifter follows another!
    We the people need to set some discrete goals and protest. Calling or writing to the Congress critters will not work. We need to storm their office on behalf each issue.

    Sally , February 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    "Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin."

    That is the key point.

    Trump would be an idiot if he allowed the likes of Google/UTube, Facebook, big tech boys to be able to start rigging the content because his campaign relied hugely on the Internet. A lot of his support by-passed the traditional TV/Newspaper media. I heard that Twitter are apparantly using ways and means to make his Twitter acccount only see hostile responses for the first 100 or so responses. Have no idea if that's true but some of these firms are getting very close to utility status.

    Anti trust laws should be wheeled out. They are already on the books.

    likbez , February 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Companies such as Netflix are essentially subsidized by telecom providers. So this is a model that somewhat reminds me of Uber.

    The same is true for Google (especially YouTube part of it) and Facebook. When somebody tries to download 4.7Gb movie that affects other people on the same subnet,

    On the other hand if, for example, popular blogs are forced to pay per gigabyte of consumed bandwidth, that is as close to censorship as we can get. 1000 gigabytes per month that is consumed by a medium site even at $1 per gigabyte is $1000 per month rent. And guess who will be able to afford it.

    There are a lot complex nuances here. For example, everybody who use wireless at home are not in the same group as who are using landlines (fiber or cable) even if they live in metropolitan areas. They are closer to flyover country residents.

    Also as soon as something is not metered some sophisticated forms of abuse emerge. For example, some corporations are abusing public networks by switching to "home office" model which dramatically cuts the required office and parking space. Several corporations built their new headquarters with the assumption that only half of employees are present at any given day (so called hotel model). When employees view some clueless corporate video conference via VPN that affects their neighborhood the same way as heavy Netflix users. Excessive WebEx videoconferences have a similar effect.

    Quanka , February 15, 2017 at 8:08 am

    +1 to Eureka Springs.

    Go back to Bill Clinton's administration when Verizon was a fledgling company and the government gave massive subsidies to the Telecoms to do exactly what Eureka Springs notes: bring fast, reliable internet service across the country. Fast forward to today - those companies took all the subsidies, didn't build out shit for network capacity, and now spend all their money lobbying to give themselves more power and limit net neutrality.

    If there were a microcosm for this whole problem, this is it. Dems give big subsidies to corporate players, dont track the work/take for granted that they "did something" and then get caught flat footed. Now we are all left to battle it out for the scraps. Exactly where we were 20 years ago.

    Watching the Oroville Dam, juxtaposing with all this "infrastructure spending" talk - everyone should be weary b/c we've been here before with Telecoms.

    cocomaan , February 15, 2017 at 9:12 am

    +1 to both of you!

    It reminds me of the land grant system that enabled the railroad industry to thrive.

    Guess what happened to Southern Pacific Railroad Company, who benefited greatly from this government intervention? Later, they turned into Sprint ( S outhern P acific R ailroad I nternal N etworking T elephony)!

    Scott , February 15, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I really wish I could get more worked up about Net Neutrality, but I can't. I'm deeply concerned about the high prices and lack of availability in much of the country, but I find that much of the debate boils down to conflict between Silicon Valley and the Telcos about who controls the internet. Content providers (Facebook, Google, Netflix) want to use the network effects to manipulate public opinion in their favored version of Net Neutrality, which seems to involve universal unmetered broadband, which ISPs must build out to meet demand, shifting costs from the providers to the ISPs, while profits go the other way. Meanwhile the ISPs do the tricks described in the post and overchange customers for poor service. I have little sympathy for either group.

    My general belief is that broadband should be cheap, universal, regulated, and, yes, metered. The latter would encourage high volume users and content providers to change their behavior and technology to use bandwidth more efficiently, which would reduce the size of the infrastructure needed over the long-term. I would also include search neutrality at the same time, but for some reason that doesn't have the same level of support among the technology industry.

    [Feb 14, 2017] Deep state is way too strong and Trump rebellion , if such existed, can be squashed with the help of big guns of NYT, Wapo and Bloomberg charged with good old compromat

    Trump has no party behind him. And he is no FDR to hit establishment with the full force of Federal Administration
    Notable quotes:
    "... This not about "how easy to convict Trump". This is about who is the real boss in Washington, DC. ..."
    "... Today's Neocon victory might well as huge event as Trump victory. Now it is Trump defeat. I think it's over for Trump... He did not last long, did he ? From now on he might well be just "yet another puppet". Much like Obama, or Bush II, or Clinton. ..."
    "... Neocons are celebrating. That's for sure. Deep state is way too strong and "Trump rebellion", if such existed, in now squashed with the help of big guns of NYT, Wapo and Bloomberg charged with good old "compromat". ..."
    Feb 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    im1dc : February 14, 2017 at 06:56 PM

    Margaret Carlson rips Trump not for lying but for covering up Flynn

    My point confirmed!

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/14/flynn-s-the-first-casualty-of-trump-s-unsustainable-disinformation-campaign.html

    "Flynn's the First Casualty of Trump's Unsustainable Disinformation Campaign"

    'In this White House, honesty is not the best policy but one to be considered among other possibilities"

    by Margaret Carlson...02.14.17...2:06 PM ET

    "General Michael Flynn didn't resign Monday night because he lied about his calls with the Russian ambassador and was vulnerable to blackmail. He resigned because the public found out about the lie and keeping him, at long last, became "unsustainable" for the Trump administration.

    Just a few hours earlier, it was sustainable. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said so. The president, she said Monday afternoon, had "full confidence" in Flynn. Another White House official confirmed this to Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker who reported, also on Monday, that Trump, knowing what he knew, wasn't going to decide about Flynn for a few more days.

    What changed? Throw out the old saw it's the cover-up that gets you. The White House ceded Tuesday that it knew about the cover-up for weeks. It's the dribbling out of the details of Flynn's mission to coddle Russia-in keeping with Trump's policy-that presented a clear and present danger that could only be staunched if Flynn were let go.

    But they want us to believe it was about the lying. At his daily briefing Tuesday, Sean Spicer said it was "plain and simple a matter of trust." But in this whole mess, lying is a lesser included offense, one which this White House is particularly unsuited to cast stones at. Honesty is not the best policy there but one to be considered among other possibilities.

    There would have been no resignation if what Flynn said in the taped calls, and White House knowledge of it, hadn't been exposed late Monday in a Washington Post piece. The White House counsel-and likely others in the Administration-had been told by then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn had actually made multiple calls, during the transition and going back to the campaign, to the ambassador of a sworn adversary of the United States. Flynn's message to the ambassador was that President Vladimir Putin might want to hold off on retaliating for sanctions imposed by then President Barack Obama for hacking the U.S. elections. It wouldn't be that bad under the new president.

    Yates' information was reportedly weeks late getting to the White House because FBI Director James Comey, who seems to be everywhere these days, asked her to hold off because of his ongoing investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia. But after they'd been told, Spicer put out the opposite of what the Justice Department knew to be true: that Flynn had discussed Christmas greetings, among other things, not sanctions in his calls. With that disinformation (Spicer likely didn't know the truth), Comey's request fell by the wayside and Yates, since fired by Trump for not backing him up on his travel ban but perhaps for this, proceeded to inform Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn. (McGhan, Spicer said Tuesday, immediately informed Trump.)

    Whatever Flynn said, we know Putin took his outreach to heart and let the sanctions pass virtually unnoticed. Since the calls, we might ask who has done more to coddle Russia, Flynn or the president. Trump has kept praising Putin to the point of accusing the country he now leads of killing its own people as Putin has done to his internal enemies. The two countries, in Trump's telling, are morally equivalent.

    To the excuses for why Flynn was let go, add "leaks" which Trump blamed in a tweet for all that's wrong in Washington.

    On TV, Trump surrogates including former military officer Carl Higbee, who's been interviewed for a high level White House job, have dressed up the resignation in the usual nothing's-been-proven talk about how Flynn had become a "distraction" and that this is a "rough town for good people." Actually, that's true but not the case here as few people not on Trump's payroll thought Flynn was the right choice.

    The only reason Flynn got appointed to the most sensitive job in the Administration is that he is a crony of Trump who stuck by him during the campaign and who could be trusted to do his bidding without asking too many questions. If National Security Adviser were a post that required Senate confirmation, Republicans, who have acquiesced to about everything else, would have balked. By a margin even wider than those who dare to question the month-old presidency-that is Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake-Flynn wouldn't have made it.

    With Flynn's ouster, the Wall Trump was actually been able to build around himself may crumble. Until now calls for an independent investigation into the Russian hacking have been rejected. Now, that investigation is likely to proceed, along with McCain's effort to codify Russian sanctions. Speaker Paul Ryan may eventually grow a spine. Amid a running joke at his Tuesday press conference wishing wives of the leadership a Happy Valentine's Day, Ryan was pinned down to admitting Flynn was rightly let go. Look for the heat to be turned up on the inquiry into the ties between Russia and Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

    Just maybe there may be less flagrant lying now from this administration. This last weekend, Trump's anointed wunderkind Stephen Miller was sent out on his first Sunday morning talk show appearances. He regurgitated Trump's insistence that there's rampant voter fraud in the country and a costly investigation should ensue. Miller brought up the fact-free claim that hordes of Massachusetts voters drove to New Hampshire to cast illegal ballots in November. Fresh denunciations of that claim came afterwards from former New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen and from current New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a scion of the multigeneration Republican loyalists, who said it was false. Don't think Miller was freelancing.

    The only praise for Miller came from Trump himself who lavished him with it. In this White House, lying is not a firing offense.

    Trump is having a hard time in his public effort to replace Spicer and perhaps his chief of staff in an effort to fine one single person with the experience and maturity to mind the store. That looks easy compared to replacing Flynn. Trump has made it clear he won't hire anyone who's criticized him. In filling the open national security adviser position, that leaves almost no one."

    ilsm -> im1dc... , February 14, 2017 at 07:12 PM
    What "public"? Not the one which elected most of the state governments. Maybe the one which pushed Bernie aside for no convictions Clinton.

    How easy to convict Trump and his while HRC was always innocent and picked upon.....

    ilsm -> im1dc... , February 14, 2017 at 07:12 PM
    What "public"? Not the one which elected most of the state governments. Maybe the one which pushed Bernie aside for no convictions Clinton.

    How easy to convict Trump and his while HRC was always innocent and picked upon.....

    libezkova said in reply to ilsm... , February 14, 2017 at 07:37 PM
    "How easy to convict Trump and his while HRC was always innocent and picked upon....."

    This not about "how easy to convict Trump". This is about who is the real boss in Washington, DC.

    Today's Neocon victory might well as huge event as Trump victory. Now it is Trump defeat. I think it's over for Trump... He did not last long, did he ? From now on he might well be just "yet another puppet". Much like Obama, or Bush II, or Clinton.

    There was a dream that with the election of Trump neocons will be booted from Washington, DC by peaceful means via electoral mechanisms or at least their influence will be cut. It was a high time to do this clean up, anyway. They outlived their usefulness long ago (if they were useful ever). This dream now is probably over. Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen, Robert Kagan and Co are back.

    For nationalists and "nationally oriented part of US capitalists" now the choice is very difficult.

    libezkova -> im1dc...
    Neocons are celebrating. That's for sure. Deep state is way too strong and "Trump rebellion", if such existed, in now squashed with the help of big guns of NYT, Wapo and Bloomberg charged with good old "compromat".

    After losing Flint Trump is done.

    The problem that Trump is facing is that now he does not have any viable support to counterbalance neocon dominated faction of intelligence services.

    Essentially Trump task was impossible from the very beginning. Most of the Washington DC neocon nests needed to be cleaned. And that is much more difficult than Hercules clean up of the Augean Stables

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/stables.html
    == quote ==
    For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas' stables.

    Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules' task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day.

    Now King Augeas owned more cattle than anyone in Greece. Some say that he was a son of one of the great gods, and others that he was a son of a mortal; whosever son he was, Augeas was very rich, and he had many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses.
    ... ... ...

    [Feb 12, 2017] Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations by three Deep State wholly-owned subsidiaries: Bloomberg, NYT and Wapo

    Notable quotes:
    "... Bloomberg, like WaPo and NYT, is "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State" ..."
    "... Thank God they stopped their Putin-did-it nonsense. Now they have found something new along the lines Trump-did-it. Both those attempts to control the narrative are false and dishonest. ..."
    "... I understand that Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations. ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

    im1dc : February 12, 2017 at 07:44 PM

    The Tax stuff is maybe, this is happening now

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-12/america-s-biggest-creditors-dump-treasuries-in-warning-to-trump

    "America's Biggest Creditors Dump Treasuries in Warning to Trump"

    by Brian Chappatta...February 12, 2017...5:00 PM EST

    > Japanese investors cull U.S. government debt by most since '13

    > Currency-hedged returns were worst on record last quarter

    "In the age of Trump, America's biggest foreign creditors are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

    In Japan, the largest holder of Treasuries, investors culled their stakes in December by the most in almost four years, the Ministry of Finance's most recent figures show. What's striking is the selling has persisted at a time when going abroad has rarely been so attractive. And it's not just the Japanese. Across the world, foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before.

    From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear: few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now. Whether it's the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world's safest debt market seems less of a sure thing -- particularly after the upswing in yields since November. And then there is Trump's penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier.

    "It may be more difficult than usual for Japanese to invest in Treasuries and the dollar this year because of political uncertainty," said Kenta Inoue, chief strategist for overseas bond investments at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo. "Treasury yields may rise rapidly again in the near future, which will continue to discourage them from buying aggressively."

    Nobody is saying that foreigners will abandon Treasuries altogether. After all, they still hold $5.94 trillion, or roughly 43 percent of the U.S. government debt market. (Though that's down from 56 percent in 2008.) A significant drawdown can harm major holders like Japan and China as much as it does the U.S.

    And, of course, homegrown demand has of late been able to absorb the pickup in overseas selling..."

    libezkova -> im1dc...
    im1dc,

    Here is the link https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-02-12/america-s-biggest-creditors-dump-treasuries-in-warning-to-trump )

    Bloomberg, like WaPo and NYT, is "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State"

    Thank God they stopped their Putin-did-it nonsense. Now they have found something new along the lines Trump-did-it. Both those attempts to control the narrative are false and dishonest.

    I understand that Trump is now assigned to be as designated scapegoat for all blunders of three previous neoliberal administrations.

    But can you please ask yourself two very simple questions:

    1. Who and how accumulated that much debt?
    2. Who did run the wars of neoliberal empire expansion to the tune of five trillion dollars?

    Was it Trump?

    I would greatly appreciated if you can answer them in the reply to this post. Or, even better, make some pause in posting neoliberal propaganda.

    [Feb 12, 2017] America Versus the Deep State - KUNSTLER

    Notable quotes:
    "... Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page ! ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds ..."
    "... Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was. ..."
    "... The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. ..."
    "... This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic. ..."
    "... Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself. ..."
    "... perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity. ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | kunstler.com

    Support James Howard Kunstler blog by visiting Jim's Patreon Page !

    The bamboozlement of the public is nearly complete. The Deep State has persuaded 80 percent of Americans that all news is propaganda, especially the news emanating from the Deep State's own intel department. They're still shooting for 100 percent. The fakest of all "fake news" stories turns out to be "Russia Hacks Election." It was reported conclusively Saturday on the front page of The New York Times , a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deep State:

    Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds

    WASHINGTON - President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation's top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

    You can be sure that this is now the "official" narrative aimed at the history books, sealing the illegitimacy of Trump's election. It was served up with no direct proof, only the repeated "assertions" that it was so. In fact, it's just this repetition of assertions-without-proof that defines propaganda. It can also be interpreted as a declaration of war against an incoming president. The second civil war now takes shape: It begins inside the groaning overgrown apparatus of the government itself. Perhaps after that it spreads to the WalMart parking lots that have become America's new town square. (WalMart sells pitchforks and patio torches.)

    Did the Russians make Hillary Clinton look bad? Or did Hillary Clinton manage to do that herself? The NSA propaganda was designed as a smokescreen to conceal the veracity of the Wikileaks releases. Whoever actually rooted out the DNC and Podesta emails for Wikileaks ought to get the Pulitizer Prize for the outstanding public service of disclosing exactly how dishonest the Hillary operation was.

    The story may have climaxed with Trump's Friday NSA briefing, the heads of the various top intel agencies all assembled in one room to emphasize the solemn authority of the Deep State's power. Trump worked a nice piece of ju-jitsu afterward, pretending to accept the finding as briefly and hollowly as possible and promising to "look into the matter" after January 20 th - when he can tear a new asshole in the NSA. I hope he does. This hulking security apparatus has become a menace to the Republic.

    Whether Trump himself is a menace to the Republic remains to be seen. Certainly he is the designated bag-holder for all the economic and financial depravity of several preceding administrations. When the markets blow, do you suppose the Russians will be blamed for that? Did Boris Yeltsin repeal the Glass-Steagall Act? Was Ben Bernanke a puppet of Putin? No, these actions and actors were homegrown American. For more than thirty years, we've been borrowing too much money so we can pretend to afford living in a blue-light-special demolition derby. And now we can't do that anymore. The physics of capital will finally assert itself.

    What we're actually seeing in the current ceremonial between the incoming Trump and the outgoing Obama is the smoldering wreckage of the Democratic Party (which I'm still unhappily enrolled in), and flames spreading into the Republican party - as idiots such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain beat their war drums against Russia. The suave Mr. Obama is exiting the scene on a low wave of hysteria and the oafish Trump rolls in on the cloudscape above, tweeting his tweets from on high, and perhaps it's a good thing that the American people for the moment cannot tell exactly what the fuck is going on in this country, because from that dismal place there is nowhere to go but in the direction of clarity.

    ... ... ...

    [Feb 12, 2017] An Alleged Muslim Spy Ring - Is This Why Rex Tillerson Cleaned House

    Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    kavlar , Feb 11, 2017 10:27 PM

    What about this SPY RING?

    "I want Netanyahu to begin telling the truth, what the involvement of Israel was in 9/11. Over 134 Mossad operatives were picked up on 9/11. The FBI picked them up [and] debriefed them." - Dr. Steve Pieczenik, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

    nmewn -> Arnold , Feb 12, 2017 6:00 AM

    As I understand it, these "IT experts" also worked on Debbie Wassername-Schultz's computers. Oh no nmewn, what the hell can you possibly be thinking?! Clearly, beyond any shadow of a doubt... The Russians did it! ;-)

    nmewn -> Arnold , Feb 12, 2017 7:00 AM

    They are definitely trying to quash this one as it goes against most (if not all) false narratives they've created for public consumption.

  • False Narrative: Hillary was the more competent candidate! - No, she purposely setup & ran an unsecured personal network and used it for government business.
  • False Narrative: The Russians hacked the DNC! - No, according to the dims own sources a phishing email was clicked on that could have been sent by anyone.
  • ... ... ...

    WeekendAtBernankes -> ThanksChump , Feb 12, 2017 10:42 AM

    Oldest brother had two years of experience getting paid 157k/yr. Median salary for IT Admin in Congress: 50k. He was highest paid person of all his (Democrat) Rep's staffers, including her Chief of Staff. The question is how and why? Were they all employed as a political favor in return for a large donation from anyone in particular? This should be investigated further.

    http://congressional-staff.insidegov.com/l/43573/Jamal-M-Awan

    Mementoil -> kavlar , Feb 12, 2017 7:07 AM

    So... an Islamic spy ring is allegedly acting at the highest echelons of the federal government, and "American" commentators on ZH are hammering about Israel??? I'm calling bluff on you guys.

    You are not American patriots, and you don't belong to the right.

    You are a bunch of paid shills, working to white wash Islamic Jihad and obfuscate the ongoing war which Islam is waging against the west:

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/132010/arab-nations-hire-10-new-pr-agenc...

    Fathead Slim -> Mementoil , Feb 12, 2017 8:07 AM

    Oy vey, Avi. You came out and blew your cover after only 9 weeks? That was really dumb of you.

    Mementoil -> Fathead Slim , Feb 12, 2017 11:03 AM

    I don't have any "cover". I have already announced openly that I'm an Israeli. So what? I still seem to care about American interests more than most people in this forum.

    Kayman -> finametrics , Feb 12, 2017 10:59 AM

    Today's Israel exists on a foundation of Western guilt about German's murdering Jews in WWII.

    As time has passed Israel has become what the Germans were. And for the most part, they are blind to that fact.

    groaner -> kavlar , Feb 12, 2017 10:04 AM

    I think a lot of stuff on 9/11 towers is misdirection.. This is the best examination of the evidence that disproves and eliminates a lot of what we think we know!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vadSaWyiozg&t=82s

    [Feb 12, 2017] US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016 are close to five trillioins

    Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    ken melvin : , February 10, 2017 at 07:43 AM

    The FBI overheard The over reaction to 9/11, greatly abetted by the media, marked the beginning of this slide into Stasi-land. The associated paranoia has led to the likes of Trump and this goofy arsed Congress. We now have governance based not on reality, but on paranoia; on evidence free facts, on convenient facts, on alternative facts, to each of us our own facts. I've seen no accounting of the economic and social costs of this paranoia, but am certain they exceed the damage of 9/11 by orders of many magnitude.

    Are these symptoms of America's undeniable demise? How do we turn the ship of state around? This precedent set by the election of Trump, how does the nation remove the stain? Can we avoid the continuance into despotism, authoritarianism?

    anne -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 08:29 AM
    http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

    September, 2016

    US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
    Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
    By Neta C. Crawford

    Summary

    Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

    As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion....

    ilsm -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 04:52 PM
    The pentagon and congress are spending the US to disarmament.

    While congress spent $4.8T directly on the wars they spent at least $9T more on the usual stuff for the military industry complex troughers.

    pk's observation about a shoot out with a small PLA Navy unit made me laugh.

    In one of those China would be in complete control!

    anne -> anne... , February 10, 2017 at 08:39 AM
    America has been continually at war since 2001, at war under 2 presidents, at war in a range of countries that were in no way connected to the attack on America and did not threaten America. Tensions were building even with Russia and China. We have now the possibility of ending our warring or working to mutual advantage with China and Russia, which will be to the advantage of many countries.

    China and America have just moved to the forming of a new mutually beneficial partnership. I find reason to be hopeful.

    [Feb 12, 2017] Instead of the endless perception management or strategic communication or psychological operations or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens

    Notable quotes:
    "... This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries. ..."
    "... But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken. ..."
    "... There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures. ..."
    "... But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia. ..."
    "... Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance. ..."
    "... The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them." ..."
    "... What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor. ..."
    "... My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons. ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    RGC : February 10, 2017 at 06:44 AM

    If you wanted to bring sanity to a U.S. foreign policy that has spun crazily out of control, there would be some immediate steps that you – or, say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – could take, starting with a renewed commitment to tell the truth to the American people.

    Instead of the endless "perception management" or "strategic communication" or "psychological operations" or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens – the "We the People" – who are supposed to be America's true sovereigns.

    For instance, you could release what the U.S. government actually knows about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria; what the files show about the origins of the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine; what U.S. intelligence analysts have compiled about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. And those are just three examples of cases where U.S. government propagandists have sold a dubious bill of goods to the American and world publics in the "information warfare" campaign against the Syrian and Russian governments.

    If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they're concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington's political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

    Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn't true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda's military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

    The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called "Shiite crescent" – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks' financial wealth and Israel's political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington's establishment views the Middle East.

    But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

    This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington's "group think" fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

    This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

    But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

    There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures.

    But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

    Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

    The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

    In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

    So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

    What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/09/trumps-foreign-policy-at-a-crossroads/

    Julio -> RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 09:04 AM
    Very good analysis.
    The first and obvious question about the ban is "why isn't Saudi Arabia included"? As the article shows, this question unravels this (Trump's) current version of dysfunctional foreign policy based on misleading the public.
    RGC -> Julio ... , February 10, 2017 at 09:43 AM
    Yes, Trump seems to want to act directly but he also seems to often be off-target.

    My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons.

    sanjait said in reply to RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
    I am all for transparency but very strongly opposed to asinine conspiracy theories.
    RGC -> sanjait... , February 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM
    Why should anyone care? Maybe you should actually learn something about a topic before you comment on it.

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

    [Feb 12, 2017] The neocon godfather Leo Strauss would be proud as king of bait and switch Obama promoting lying to people telling them what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected as an official Democratic Party policy

    Notable quotes:
    "... Obama: "[O]ne of the issues that Democrats have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere, we have to show up everywhere." Throwing Clinton under the bus ..."
    "... I yelled at the radio after hearing this, because he means just showing up, telling people what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected. Not one word about actually meeting peoples needs. EFF OBAMA and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY!! ..."
    "... If you didn't read this (linked yesterday), you should consider both reading and sharing far and wide. The entire system is designed to be anti-representative. Don't just get/stay mad, quit expecting a bunch of gangsters to function democratically. Get out of their box. ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    mk , November 16, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Where the Democrats went wrong CNBC.

    Obama: "[O]ne of the issues that Democrats have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere, we have to show up everywhere." Throwing Clinton under the bus
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I yelled at the radio after hearing this, because he means just showing up, telling people what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected. Not one word about actually meeting peoples needs. EFF OBAMA and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY!!

    Eureka Springs , November 16, 2016 at 8:21 am

    If you didn't read this (linked yesterday), you should consider both reading and sharing far and wide. The entire system is designed to be anti-representative. Don't just get/stay mad, quit expecting a bunch of gangsters to function democratically. Get out of their box.

    [Feb 12, 2017] Reply

    Feb 12, 2017 | onclick="TPConnect.blogside.reply('6a00d83451b33869e201b8d25ed1c1970c'); return false;" href="javascript:void 0">
    Friday, February 10, 2017 at 11:12 AM Peter K. said in reply to sanjait... Many of us were warning that Hillary's $275 billion in infrastructure over 5 years wasn't enough.

    Now we have Trump.

    Thanks a lot.
    Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 12:09 PM pgl said in reply to Peter K.... I'm disappointed that you did not add your insight of the decade - calling him a stupid little troll. For the record - I don't like yuan. He actually writes reasoned comments rather calling people "stupid little trolls". Snicker. T here is no liberals in the USA per se. Most are in reality neoliberals and as such are the part of the right, if we define right as those who want to increase the power of capital vs. labor.

    Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 01:07 PM Yikes said in reply to Peter K.... This is actually a good point. If only Hillary had made extravagant unkeepable promises she could have duped more people like you into voting for her. Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 01:58 PM ilsm said in reply to Yikes... The DNC and HRC thought they had the needed number of dupes, PeterK was not needed! Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 04:55 PM libezkova said in reply to Yikes... No. the train left the station. Obama was a sellout who used to speak right things and did completely opposite to please his sponsors.

    Now the majority of the people do not believe anything coming from two major parties. The proper term is alienated. That's why Trump. Reply Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 06:02 AM libezkova said in reply to sanjait... Sanjait,

    The problem with your views is that there is no liberals in the USA per se. Most are in reality neoliberals and as such are the part of the right, if we define right as those who want to increase the power of capital vs. labor.

    This flavor of democracy for top 1% the they promote (one dollar one vote) should be property called "oligarchy" or at best "polyarchy" (the power of the top 10%).

    The rest (aka "Debt slaves") are second class citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses"). In a way US election is the ultimate form of "bait and switch" maneuvers of the ruling elite.

    The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11. Reply Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 11:30 AM

    [Feb 12, 2017] An Alleged Muslim Spy Ring - Is This Why Rex Tillerson Cleaned House Zero Hedge

    Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    kavlar , Feb 11, 2017 10:27 PM

    What about this SPY RING?

    "I want Netanyahu to begin telling the truth, what the involvement of Israel was in 9/11. Over 134 Mossad operatives were picked up on 9/11. The FBI picked them up [and] debriefed them." - Dr. Steve Pieczenik, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

    nmewn -> Arnold , Feb 12, 2017 6:00 AM

    As I understand it, these "IT experts" also worked on Debbie Wassername-Schultz's computers.

    Oh no nmewn, what the hell can you possibly be thinking?! Clearly, beyond any shadow of a doubt...

    The Russians did it! ;-)

    nmewn -> Arnold , Feb 12, 2017 7:00 AM

    They are definitely trying to quash this one as it goes against most (if not all) false narratives they've created for public consumption.

    False Narrative: Hillary was the more competent candidate! - No, she purposely setup & ran an unsecured personal network and used it for government business.

    False Narrative: The Russians hacked the DNC! - No, according to the dims own sources a phishing email was clicked on that could have been sent by anyone.

    ... ... ...

    WeekendAtBernankes -> ThanksChump , Feb 12, 2017 10:42 AM

    Oldest brother had two years of experience getting paid 157k/yr. Median salary for IT Admin in Congress: 50k. He was highest paid person of all his (Democrat) Rep's staffers, including her Chief of Staff. The question is how and why? Were they all employed as a political favor in return for a large donation from anyone in particular? This should be investigated further.

    http://congressional-staff.insidegov.com/l/43573/Jamal-M-Awan

    [Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

    Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

    On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

    The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

    Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

    U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

    That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

    (bold italics added)

    It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

    One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

    The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

    As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

    Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

    It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

    It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

    Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

    This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

    The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

    As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

    However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

    It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

    This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

    Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
    Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
    Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
    One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
    boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
    " as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

    A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

    HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
    This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
    HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
    The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

    The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

    FAKE NEWS:

    On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

    How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

    shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
    Pissgate II...

    Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

    Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
    Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

    [Feb 12, 2017] Washington Post Caught Spreading More Fake News About Russian Hackers Zero Hedge

    Notable quotes:
    "... Use a linux system Kirk, no need for firewalls, Firefox with duckduckgo search, set options to clear after every session, Adblocker, it's not Tor, but the best open option. ..."
    "... I am using DuckDuckGo.Com for search (and looking at YaCy) ..."
    "... I also use Firefox for my browser, with AdBlockplus, Flasblock, EFF's Privacy Badger, and a password management app called LastPass (which gives me unique, 16-character, random passwords for each of my sites). ..."
    "... Another thing to suggest is to use a private e-mail. ..."
    "... I long ago gave up yahoo and g-mail(never had one) ..."
    Dec 31, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com

    Readers of the Washington Post received some alarming news yesterday when the paper published a story alleging that those pesky "Russian hackers" were up to their no good tricks again and had managed to "penetrate the U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont."

    Kirk2NCC1701, Dec 31, 2016 9:17 PM
    Not surprised. I wonder if ZH users are also under cyber attack. Today I noticed that my desktop browser (Firefox and Chrome) deny me access to any ZH link or pages. I get the "URL does not exist". Have to use Tor browser to get to ZH.

    Anyone know what's going on, and what the RX is? Thanks.

    refill6times Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 9:31 PM
    Use a linux system Kirk, no need for firewalls, Firefox with duckduckgo search, set options to clear after every session, Adblocker, it's not Tor, but the best open option.

    I use cinnimon 17.3, but your flavor may vary.

    Zarbo refill6times , Dec 31, 2016 9:47 PM
    Good R x , however I would use the firewall -- best to not tempt fate. There are rootkits for Linux.

    That said, it is stable and quite usable.

    I am using DuckDuckGo.Com for search (and looking at YaCy), also using TutaNova.Com encrypted email, looking at Frendica to replace Facebook, using http://Gab.ai as a Twitter replacement, Thunderbird (replace Outlook) with Enigmail for encryption and email signing.

    I also use Firefox for my browser, with AdBlockplus, Flasblock, EFF's Privacy Badger, and a password management app called LastPass (which gives me unique, 16-character, random passwords for each of my sites).

    The open, free, reliable solutions are out there.

    Side note: Enable two-factor login for all your accounts, you won't regret it.

    peddling-fiction Zarbo , Dec 31, 2016 10:29 PM
    You always need to enable the Ubuntu uncomplicated firewall, or else. All that is needed is to type the following command:

    > sudo ufw enable

    refill6times Zarbo , Dec 31, 2016 11:36 PM
    Thank you Zarbo, any help and sugestions that don't come from Microsoft are best.

    I saw on another thread a poster who asked how to stop the annoying ads, someone replied to get firefox, and he replied " how do I get that ?"

    I feel bad as I replied to use duckduckgo, I suppose it was sarcasm.

    Another thing to suggest is to use a private e-mail.

    I long ago gave up yahoo and g-mail(never had one)

    Akzed Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 9:35 PM
    No problems detected here. Over.
    rejected Kirk2NCC1701 , Dec 31, 2016 10:06 PM
    Use their IP Addr if you suspect meddling. ZH has 2:

    34.192.18.153
    52.6.109.9

    A nice site to find IP of a Host Name is: http://www.hcidata.info/host2ip.htm

    Be sure to clear history and do that twice. Clear History.... Shut down FF,,, Start FF,,, Clear History.

    Linux is a good system if your not married to MS Windows for some reason.

    Happy New Year to Everyone....

    [Feb 10, 2017] Our neoliberal media and commenters would serve themselves and their Oligarch owners better, if they ignored Trumps tweets, or Ivanka fashion business and focus on what he and his Administration are doing and what consequences that would entail

    Notable quotes:
    "... We also learn from those presstitutes that O'Bomber who killed God know how many innocent brown people at God knows how many weddings, wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So Saint Obama for Times presstitutes is the good experienced killer, while Trump is the bad, inexperienced killer. The irony of their twisted logic escapes them. ..."
    Feb 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    libezkova -> Tom aka Rusty... Thursday, February 09, 2017 at 07:50 PM
    Our neoliberal media and commenters would serve themselves and their Oligarch owners better, if they ignored Trump's tweets, or Ivanka fashion business and focus on what he and his Admin are doing and what consequences that would entail.

    Take Times article about the special ops raid in Yemen. The obama team planned it, but it was Trump (or somebody from hs administration below him) who pulled the trigger.

    Now those suckers claim that Yemen government is against special ops raid. (Yemen has a government? Really ? )

    We also learn from those presstitutes that O'Bomber who killed God know how many innocent brown people at God knows how many weddings, wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So Saint Obama for Times presstitutes is the good experienced killer, while Trump is the bad, inexperienced killer. The irony of their twisted logic escapes them.

    [Feb 10, 2017] General Nicholson the commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan wants a few thousand more troops

    Notable quotes:
    "... Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending. ..."
    "... As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.... ..."
    Feb 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    anne : , February 09, 2017 at 10:52 AM
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/us/politics/us-afghanistan-troops.html

    February 9, 2017

    U.S. General Seeks More Troops in Afghanistan
    By MICHAEL R. GORDON

    Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, said "a few thousand" more troops were needed.

    anne -> anne... , February 09, 2017 at 11:00 AM
    http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

    September, 2016

    US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
    Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
    By Neta C. Crawford

    Summary

    Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

    As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion....

    [Feb 10, 2017] Ilargi The Media – Fake and False and Just Plain Nonsense naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth ..."
    "... British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: "An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor.." It's an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism. ..."
    "... The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless. ..."
    "... my favorite dump on trump was the times article about the special ops raid in yemen. the obama team planned it, trump pulled the trigger. now we learn the yemen government is against special ops raid. (yemen has a government?) we also learn from the times that obama wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So saint obama is the good killer, trump the bad killer. it makes you sympathetic to trump. but i think alot of us thought trump would calm down some once in office. calling judiciary names, saying they can't even understand concepts that a "bad high school student" can, is not, what's the word, adult? and you can't ignore the sinister intent behind the muslim ban–it's based on propaganda and fear–it's provenance is neocon. ..."
    "... In complete agreement with you about the dump trump article praising saint obama to the skies because obama allegedly "refused" to OK the special ops raid on Yemen, but Trump did. LIke, THIS time obama "refused" to do it? Why? Speculation is futile, but my speculation is that Obama held off in order to have it fall on Trump. Then Obama could skippity do dah off into the sunset with his burnished halo in tact. ..."
    "... Following Disturbed Voter's comment above – we can usefully distinguish 3 different levels of dishonesty by how hard they are to detect: ..."
    "... Level 1 – the everyday liar/hypocrite whose dishonesty we notice over time by observing that what they do is not consistent with what they say, ..."
    "... Level 2- the regular criminal who hides his honesty from public view, to profit from it, but can be caught by effective law enforcement, and ..."
    "... Level 3- the State Intelligence agency with extreme levels of funding, novel tech. capabilities, secrecy, & ability to ignore or even control law enforcement and large chunks of the public mass media. ..."
    "... It's the Level 3 category that society has become relatively defenseless against. Alternative media carries report after report on how the Iraq War was phony, how the US created al Qaeda and ISIS, how Cheney planned to invade Iraq and 6 other Middle East nations on Sept. 20, 2 ..."
    "... One word that describes our precious country is incompetence. We have gone from being the 'we-can-do-it' nation that put a man on the Moon to the 'hire a Mexican to do it' nation that cannot find its ass with both hands. The fact of our dysfunction and the country's reliance on migrant labor are what gives form to the efforts of Donald Trump. Yet he acts against himself: he is the lazy-man of American politics who requires others to do his heavy lifting. This does not mean physical labor but instead the struggle to become clear in the mind, to craft out of disparate- and contradictory elements a policy outline or philosophy of governing. This is never attempted, it is too difficult, instead there is the recycling of old, bankrupt memes. The candidate's absence of effort leaves a residue of personality: Trump is a blank page upon which others paint in the sketch, an actor who aims to meet (diminished) public expectations and nothing more, sound and fury significant of nothing in particular. ..."
    "... . But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination ..."
    Feb 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on February 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. In keeping with the spirit of this post, an Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media . And if I interpret him correctly, Ilargi's post has a small off-key note: a tomato is indeed a fruit.

    By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

    Two and a half weeks after the inauguration, and yes it's only been that long, the media still don't seem to have learned a single thing. They help the Trump campaign on an almost hourly basis by parroting whatever things, invariably judged as crazy, he says. One day it's that negative polls are all fake news, the next it's some list of underreported terror events. All of it gets an avalanche of attention provided by the very people who claim to be against Trump, but greatly help his cause by doing so.

    Not a single thing learned. If Trump tweets tomorrow that tomatoes are really fruits and he's going to have someone draw up a law to make them so, or that Lego should be recognized as an official building material in order to have the Danes, too, pay for the wall, it will be on the front page of every paper and the opening item for every TV news show. The crazier he makes them, the more serious they are taken. The echo chamber is so eager to incessantly repeat to itself and all its inhabitants that he's a crazy dude, it's beyond embarrassing.

    And it takes us ever further away, and rapidly too, from any serious discussion about serious issues, the one very thing that the Trump empire desperately calls for. The press should simply ignore the crazy stuff and focus on what's real, but they can't bring themselves to do so for fear of losing ratings and ad revenues. All Trump needs to do, and that's not a joke, is to fart or burp into their echo chamber and they'll all be happy and giddy and all excited and self-satisfied. A spectacle to behold if ever there was one.

    British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: "An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor.." It's an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism.

    The racism part ostensibly is a reaction to Trump's Muslim ban, which, nutty though it is, is not a Muslim ban because most Muslims are not affected by it, and besides, 'Muslim' is not a race. So maybe Bercow would care to explain the 'racism' bit. Has anyone seen the British press pressuring him to do so? Or, alternatively, has anyone seen a thorough analysis of the British role, though its military and its weapons manufacturers, in the premature deaths in the Middle East and North Africa of many thousands of men, women and children belonging to the Muslim 'race'? Not me.

    The 'sexism' accusation refers to Trump's utterances on for instance the Billy Bush tape(s), and by all means let's get the Donald to comment on that. But this comes from a man who speaks as an official representative of the Queen of a country where child sex abuse is a national sport, from politics to churches to football, where literally thousands of children are trying to speak up and testify, after having been silenced, ignored and ridiculed for years, about the unspeakable experiences in their childhood. Surely someone who because of his job description gets to speak in the name of the Queen can be expected to address the behavior of her own subjects before that of strangers.

    Yeah, that Trump guy is a real terrible person. And he should not be allowed to speak to a chamber full of people directly responsible for the death of huge numbers of children in far away sandboxes, for or the abuse of them at home. After all, we're all good Christians and the good book teaches us about "the beam out of thine own eye". So we're good to go.

    What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of 'righteousness' and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

    Child sex abuse has been a staple of British society for a long time, we're talking at least decades. Only now is it starting, but only starting, to be recognized as the vile problem it is. But still many Britons feel entirely justified in demonizing a man who once talked about touching the genitals of grown women. If that did happen against their will, it's repulsive. But still, there's that beam, guys. Read your bible.

    The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless.

    Whether you call the menu the people have been fed, fake or false or just plain nonsense, it makes no difference. The British House of Commons Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside, he's probably just another victim of the falsehoods, denials and deceit spread 24/7. The difference between them and ordinary citizens is that Her Majesty's representatives in the political field MUST know. They get paid good salaries to represent the Queen's subjects, and looking the other way as children get assaulted and raped does not fit their job description.

    That goes for representatives of the church (i.e. Jesus) just as much of course, and for the execs at the BBC, but about as many of those people are behind bars as there are bankers. For anyone at all at any of these institutions to now speak with great indignation about Trump's alleged racism and sexism is the very core of all of their problems, the very reason why so many turn their backs on them. It shows that the very core or our societies is rotten, and the rot is spreading.

    We are facing a lot of problems, all of us, in many different ways, financially, politically, morally. But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination.

    The longer this braindead attitude prevails, the worse things will get, and the more Trumps will surface as leaders of their respective countries. And the longer the attitude prevails, the more anger we will spread in those parts of the world that do not belong to our 'chosen' societies. And for that we will have only ourselves to blame. Not Trump.

    Disturbed Voter , February 9, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Citizens and politicians are in a social compact, so it is said. Both sides may have defaulted on the agreement, something the Enlightenment didn't anticipate. In the modern era of triangulation, opposition parties, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. In the modern era of media consolidation, opposition newspapers, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. Be are being suffocated by de facto bi-partisanship, that is just a shadow play of its former partisanship. The status quo has gone stale.

    geoffrey gray , February 9, 2017 at 3:37 am

    my favorite dump on trump was the times article about the special ops raid in yemen. the obama team planned it, trump pulled the trigger. now we learn the yemen government is against special ops raid. (yemen has a government?) we also learn from the times that obama wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So saint obama is the good killer, trump the bad killer. it makes you sympathetic to trump. but i think alot of us thought trump would calm down some once in office. calling judiciary names, saying they can't even understand concepts that a "bad high school student" can, is not, what's the word, adult? and you can't ignore the sinister intent behind the muslim ban–it's based on propaganda and fear–it's provenance is neocon.

    RUKidding , February 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

    In complete agreement with you about the dump trump article praising saint obama to the skies because obama allegedly "refused" to OK the special ops raid on Yemen, but Trump did. LIke, THIS time obama "refused" to do it? Why? Speculation is futile, but my speculation is that Obama held off in order to have it fall on Trump. Then Obama could skippity do dah off into the sunset with his burnished halo in tact.

    Gah.

    Agree with the second part of your comment, too. I wish Trump would behave differently. The comment about the judiciary was incredibly wrong and also very stupid. His fervent fans may well clap and cheer for that, but Trump is painting himself into some corners by behaving that way. The Judiciary and lawyers – a powerful group in this nation, for better or worse – simply aren't going to take that laying down. Although I'm sure the judiciary will (mostly) strive for objective impartiality.

    The stupid media would serve themselves, their Oligarch owners, and the nation better if they ignored the bulk of Trump's dumb tweets and focus more closely on what he and his Admin are doing.

    Josh Stern , February 9, 2017 at 3:39 am

    Following Disturbed Voter's comment above – we can usefully distinguish 3 different levels of dishonesty by how hard they are to detect:

    • Level 1 – the everyday liar/hypocrite whose dishonesty we notice over time by observing that what they do is not consistent with what they say,
    • Level 2- the regular criminal who hides his honesty from public view, to profit from it, but can be caught by effective law enforcement, and
    • Level 3- the State Intelligence agency with extreme levels of funding, novel tech. capabilities, secrecy, & ability to ignore or even control law enforcement and large chunks of the public mass media.

    It's the Level 3 category that society has become relatively defenseless against. Alternative media carries report after report on how the Iraq War was phony, how the US created al Qaeda and ISIS, how Cheney planned to invade Iraq and 6 other Middle East nations on Sept. 20, 2001 – not because of any links to US created al Qaeda – and a big chunk of that plan is still being carried out today, 4 Presidential terms later.

    Disturbed Voter , February 9, 2017 at 7:10 am

    While we don't know much about what the intelligence agencies do, by design, we do know a few things. That in the conditions of the early Cold War, and given the mandate against all enemies foreign and domestic (the oath the military takes) that narrative control is a vital weapon. We know that journalists, clergy and even rock stars have been actual agents, so the number of fellow travelers must be considerable. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been necessary, so it was thought by some, to manufacture new enemies on a Vietnam scale. And the exercise and paranoia against domestic enemies has returned to 1960s levels as well. For the old men nostalgic for the 60s, from the neocon side, these last few decades have been sweet.

    Moneta , February 9, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Actually it's the level 1 that leads to level 3.

    Materially, all we really need is to cover and protect our body from the elements and food. Everything else is gravy.

    Psychologically, we need a lot more than what North American society offers most of us today but for some reasons we keep on lying to ourselves thinking that if we had a little more stuff we'd be happier.

    We all have to lie to ourselves thousands of times a day to keep our routines and lifestyles and all these lies make society.

    Jos Oskam , February 9, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Hey Yves, the tomato question does seem to have something to it: "Nix v. Hedden (1893) was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that, under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit". From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nix_v._Hedden .

    Note to Ilargi: re tomatoes, somebody got there before Trump :-)

    Gaylord , February 9, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I think a great number of people in the US and in Europe do not trust the MSM any more, even though they may continue to pay attention as a spectator sport (people do enjoy yelling at their TV sets). Activism is another ball game that is still being played, but in the US it has become nearly futile because of the restrictions and police tactics used to squelch them or shut them down. It can also be impossible to distinguish between genuine protesters, paid participants, and shit-disturbers or agents-provocateurs, which dilutes the message (questionable intent by those who want to promote or discredit the demonstration).

    Having read the comments here and on other independent sites for a long time, I've noticed the tremendous increase in articulate and aware commenters that can see through the tissues of lies from the MSM and take even a lot of the "serious" stuff with a grain of salt, knowing that some things don't change much and people tend to overreact based on shock-value news designed to stir resentment and "us vs. them" divisiveness. This is encouraging because it shows people are wising up, thinking more critically about who is really running the show (it is not Trump by-and-large), and not allowing their views to be manipulated.

    european , February 9, 2017 at 4:57 am

    I think Ukraine was a turning point, as the lying of the media was just way too obvious. That opened a lot of eyes. The reporting on Greece and Merkel/Schäuble's austerity terror was equally bad, but not many people understand that.

    Syria: The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time

    KurtisMayfield , February 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I believe it was Iraq. When they named the 2003 invasion Operation Iraqi Liberation, or O.I.L. , all the pretense of it being for any legit reason was gone.

    Arizona Slim , February 9, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Ah, yes. The Iraq invasion. Wasn't it supposed to be about our freedom?

    RUKidding , February 9, 2017 at 10:45 am

    We citizens were also supposed to get our Iraqi oil dividend back, which allegedly would pay for that many trillion dollar exercise in futility.

    Guess that got syphoned right up into Dick Cheney's pockets. Ya snooze, ya lose.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Huh? Iraq? Did I miss something?
    I heard about some thingy where we wasted trillions of dollars and killed millions of people. But all of the people who thought THAT was a good idea are gone now, hiding their heads in shame and hoping they don't get summoned to a war crimes tribunal. Right?

    polecat , February 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    No. They HAVE NO shame !

    BeliTsair , February 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I believe it was the Gnadenhutten massacre. The 96 Moravian Lenape, brained with mallets, by Washington's Virginia Militia were probably too busy clawing through their former frozen fields, looking for corn kernels to feed their children, to pose much of a threat as terrorists?

    VietnamVet , February 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, what got to me was the Western instigated coup in Ukraine. I voted for Barrack Obama twice but could not vote for Hillary Clinton. I rationalized that the Iraq Invasion was an isolated crazy GOP debacle. Denial is powerful defense mechanism. If the media lies, America is a not so innocent killer, and the Cold War 2.0 with Russia has reignited; we are screwed. Austerity, scapegoating Russia and the flood of millions of refugees into Europe are proof that this is the awful truth.

    running dog lackey , February 9, 2017 at 4:31 am

    It's about ratings people. The president of NBC himself said it during the campaign when someone asked why he was televising everything the Insane Clown was saying. You all need to watch Network again. Nothing's changed. Which means they brought him up and now they will take him down.

    Tom , February 9, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Ratings are to broadcast or print media as shareholder value is to corporation - the overriding metric that blots out any reponsibility to the commons.

    Chris G , February 9, 2017 at 5:45 am

    "The Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside". Ah, not so. Check out this Pat Lang post,

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/02/the-mother-of-all-parliaments.html

    and the long trenchant comment by LondonBob including these paras:

    "The Twitter-cheering for John Bercow, the transformation of him into a Love, Actually-style hero of British middle-class probity against a gruff, migrant-banning Yank, could be the most grotesque political spectacle of the year so far. Not because it's virtue-signalling, as claimed by the handful of brave critics who've raised their heads above the online orgy of brown-nosing to wonder if Bercow is really promoting himself rather than parliamentary decency. No, it's worse than that. It's the lowest species of cant, hypocrisy of epic, eye-watering proportions, an effort to erase Bercow's and Parliament's own bloody responsibility for the calamities in the Middle East that Trump is now merely responding to, albeit very badly.

    "Bercow, you see, this supposed hero of the refugees and Middle Eastern migrants temporarily banned from the US, voted for the bombing of Iraq. He green-lighted that horror that did so much to propel the Middle East into the pit of sorrow and savagery it currently finds itself. As his profile on the They Work For You website puts it, 'John Bercow consistently voted for the Iraq War'. On 18 March 2003, he voted against a motion saying the case for war hadn't been made, even though it hadn't. On the same day he voted for the government to 'use all means necessary' to ensure the destruction of Iraq's WMD.

    "As everyone knows now, and as many of us knew back then, Iraq's WMD capacity had been vastly exaggerated by the black propaganda of the New Labour government, by myth and misinformation cynically whipped up to the end of providing Britain's leaders with the thrill of an overseas moral crusade against evil. Bercow voted in favour of these lies. And he voted for the use of 'all means necessary' to tame Saddam's regime. We know what this involved: Britain joined the bombing campaign and courtesy of an ill-thought-through war by Western allies, Iraq was ripped apart and condemned to more than a decade of bloodshed. And refugee crises. Bercow was one of the authors of this calamity, one of the signatories to the Middle East's death warrant, and now we're going to let him posture and preen against Trump's three-month ban on certain Middle Eastern migrants? What is wrong with us?"

    But kudos to kind-hearted Ilargi for willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to one of these preening monsters!

    jackiebass , February 9, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Trump loves any kind of publicity. The media is playing right into his hand by printing all of the garbage he generates.I know many Trump voters and supporters. They all complain that the media is picking on Trump. None of them look seriously at what he says or does. There universal reaction is give him a chance and quit picking on him.The media would be better off focusing on his and congreses policy decisions and how that effect the average person. Turning he's presidency into a big soap opera is actually helping Trump keep his supporters. I have not heard a single Trump voter say they regret voting for Trump.

    Eustache de Saint Pierre , February 9, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Good to see some focus on Britain's version of the Augean stables. In terms of the so called Westminster paedophile ring – the last I heard on this it was that, Ooops .we appear to have lost a substantial amount of vital evidence. I imagine that MI6 have on record most if not all of the disgusting details, which I also imagine are useful assets that can be used to control certain people.

    In my opinion, this is a good explanation from 2015, of the behaviour of the BBC & the Guardian, from journalist Jonathon Cook.

    http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-03-03/hsbc-and-the-sham-of-guardians-scott-trust/

    The Trumpening , February 9, 2017 at 7:54 am

    So far Trump has only really accomplished two things: he shut down the TPP and he inspired Lena Dunham to lose some weight. Everything thing else has been more or less noise.

    I've always thought this first two years of Trump's reign will involve him in bringing to heal the establishment GOP (GOPe) Obviously during the confirmation process, Trump has to be on his best behavior. But I don't like the pattern of Trump issuing useless EO's, and then the Democrats going ballistic, and then Trump supporters being satiated by all the Dem whining. That's a recipe for two years of nothing.

    On the Muslim ban, there are two parts to it. The current NeoCon / NeoLib tag-team play is to kill a million Muslims in their nations and then to offer the survivors the weak reach around of letting a million Muslims emigrate to the West. Trump seems to be offering a different deal. The West stops killing Muslims in Muslim nations and in return Muslims stay in Muslim nations and stop coming to the West. We have yet to see if Trump can hold off the temptation to start slaughtering Muslims in their nations like the NeoCons do.

    I get the feeling from Trump's over-the-top reaction to the courts staying his Muslim ban that he actually doesn't want it reinstated. I read on a pro-Trump legal blog that the Justice Department lawyers were super weak in their arguments before the 9th Circuit court, in what should be a super easy case to argue. Activist judges halting the ban means when the inevitable next terrorist attack comes, Trump can blame it on the judges and make some sort of move to purge their power.

    On Iran, Trump has zero leverage and so I do not see how this is going to end well. The only thing we can hope for is this is a bit of Kabuki being regulated by Putin. In the end a US-Russian alliance, as Trump is proposing, means a closer relationship between the US and Iran. Israel will not be pleased.

    My theory on Trump's relationship to Israel is that he is giving them enough rope for them to hang themselves. In Europe particularly the Israeli brand is getting fatally interwoven with the Trump brand. So far the only thing saving Israel is diaspora Jews being able to shame their local populations away from the BDS movement. But the diaspora is 98% anti-Trump. There is currently a huge increase of oxygen being given to the BDS movement, which means it should soon spring back to life.

    Can Trump be allies with Israel and Russia (and Iran)? The only way I can see this happening is a deal where Iran gets to go nuclear and become fully integrated into the global community in exchange for allowing Hezbollah to be wiped out by Israel.

    Trump is at his anti-NeoLiberal best when he is in deep trouble. I was happy when that Access Hollywood tape came out because I knew he would have to double down on Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and go full-on butch economic nationalist. And it won him the election. Hopefully the seas will get very rough soon and we can all enjoy the spectacle of full combat between Team Trump and the GOPe.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I like the "offer the survivors a weak reacharound". Reminds me of Vietnam, where we would napalm a village and then fall over ourselves making sure the burn victims all got Band-Aids

    Fiver , February 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    The entire Trump military/security team is wildly anti-Muslim, so the thought they are not going to keep on killing Muslims all over the map is just plain silly.

    Bannon is just plain dangerous. Here's a piece on his favorite books. Not surprisingly, he hates Muslims. Also, he appears to imagine himself a brilliant strategist for the ages who just happens to be the right man for 'The Fourth Turning', one of those ideas and books that purports the existence of an historical pattern based on a cycle of generations, each generation of every group of 4 having its own 'character', taken together claiming to explain a long cycle of great crises and/or turning points of US history. He believes we are now in such a critical period. It's one of those notions that has superficial appeal but quickly falls apart when engaged critically:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/02/07/daily-202-five-books-to-understand-stephen-k-bannon/58991fd7e9b69b1406c75c93/

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/William_Strauss_and_Neil_Howe

    Bannon is now running stuff via Briebart's network that will make your hair stand on end:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/02/06/the-left-hates-you-act-accordingly-n2281602?utm_source=TopBreakingNewsCarousel&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=BreakingNewsCarousel

    As for Israel, there is not the remotest chance Trump will do something Israel doesn't like – even if he doesn't appoint Elliot Abrams to #2 at State.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/elliott-abrams-state-department/

    Here's what Ron Paul thought of that idea:

    http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/february/07/elliott-abrams-to-state-dept-you-cant-be-serious/

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/elliott-abrams-state-department/

    Abrams would be an absolute disaster.

    TPP? Globalization? I see no evidence whatever that Trump has any intention of rolling back US-dominated corporate globalization, rather, he wants to create trade flows that are even more wildly skewed in favour of US financial/corporate power internationally even while effectively transferring wealth from the periphery to core of Empire to support some minor job creation – of course in the meantime granting outlandish tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy at large.

    I'm sorry, but Trump et al have played millions and millions of well-meaning Americans like a fiddle.

    UnhingedBecauseLucid , February 9, 2017 at 8:44 am

    The best description of the "Trump Situation" ever written was penned by 'Steve from Virginia' author of the blog Economic Undertow:

    One word that describes our precious country is incompetence. We have gone from being the 'we-can-do-it' nation that put a man on the Moon to the 'hire a Mexican to do it' nation that cannot find its ass with both hands. The fact of our dysfunction and the country's reliance on migrant labor are what gives form to the efforts of Donald Trump. Yet he acts against himself: he is the lazy-man of American politics who requires others to do his heavy lifting. This does not mean physical labor but instead the struggle to become clear in the mind, to craft out of disparate- and contradictory elements a policy outline or philosophy of governing. This is never attempted, it is too difficult, instead there is the recycling of old, bankrupt memes. The candidate's absence of effort leaves a residue of personality: Trump is a blank page upon which others paint in the sketch, an actor who aims to meet (diminished) public expectations and nothing more, sound and fury significant of nothing in particular.

    bbrawley , February 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I'm surprised no one seems to see a serious side to the reporting of Trump's antics. Is it not important to keep hammering home that the man is unhinged and that this is something pulling at the social frabric, something crying out to be dealt with? I seriously doubt that we'll be able to address the "real issues" adequately until we find ways come to terms with him not as a buffoon but as a deeply flawed human being.

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Another false note–"Muslim is not a race." True, but being Jewish is not a racial characteristic and yet it is obvious that antisemitism is very similar to racism in its irrationality and hatred. Antisemites a hundred years ago would in some cases point to radicals who were Jewish as their excuse, just as Islamophobes would point to Islamic extremism as theirs. Racists I grew around would point to Idi Amin's Uganda ( yes, I am old) and other African countries with horrible human rights records as proof that American blacks should be grateful to be here.

    This "Islam is not a race" is mainly a tiresome distraction used by bigots and not a prelude to a deeper discussion on the wide varieties of human bigotries. Bigots can use almost any category they wish and concoct pseudo- rational propositions to buttress their hatred. We even have lefties hating blue collar white males as a group for Trump support. We don't have to join the people who use nitpicking phrases not to analyze, but to justify their hatreds. I don't think the writer intends to do this, but he is using a standard Muslim blame cannon phrase.

    After all this, I actually liked the rest of this piece, but that part was nails on a chalkboard to me. I am glad the liberal mainstream is siding with Muslims against Trump. There are some liberals ( Maher, Sam Harris etc..) who have been pushing a Muslim bashing agenda. And yes, as usual the mainstream which is so solicitous of Muslim rights cared little when Obama bombed Muslim countries. But I would rather that liberals be right if hypocritical then consistently wrong.

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 10:50 am

    As far as the term Racism, i think https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism oretty well captures contemporary common use.

    You forgot to mention Zionist racism directed toward Palestinians. An equally equivalent contemporary application of the term

    On the subject of Trump i believe his executive order is directed toward travelers from seven countries that the previous Potus identified in an anti-terrorist executive order.
    If I have it correctly, Neither Trump or BHO e orders are directed against muslims or any other religion for thats matter.

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 10:56 am

    As well do we need to take a deerpath in the woods debate about the legitimacy of the term race?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with you on Zionist racism towards Palestinians.

    On the deep path on the definition of racism, it depends. Given the prevalence of Islamophobia in the US, some of it on the left ( including the kneejerk supporters of Israel), I don't think it is helpful to use the "Islam is not a race" phrase as some sort of rebuttal. Islamophobia is a form of bigotry– whether one wants to nitpick about exactly what form should depend on the circumstances.

    Yves Smith Post author , February 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I do not believe in the corruption of language. Confucius said that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.

    Are you by the same sloppy logic going to cal bias against women and gays "racism"?

    Islamophobia is indeed not racist. Arabs, many American and African blacks, Persians (who are not Arabians) and Indonesians among others are followers of Islam.

    We already have perfectly good works, like "bigotry," "bias," and "discrimination".

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I probably shouldn't have said anything, since the original poster clearly isn't a bigot, but it set me off because in most cases this "Islam is not a race" phrase is used by Islamophibes and they of course do not follow up by pointing out that it is a form of bigotry, like antisemitism. If the poster here only means we should call it bigotry and not racism, I agree.

    But that meme is used a lot and usually by Islamophobes who won't cop to being bigots either. They aren't trying to have a deep conversation about different forms of bigotry. They are trying to argue that it is rational to fear Muslims because Islam is, in their view, an inherently evil ideology. But in practice Islamophobes are not rational or necessarily even consistent. That's why I wrote my comment, pointing out that bigotry in any form is generally not some carefully thought out logical train of thought, but some pseudo- rational set of propositions often garbled together. This is why a Sikh can get beaten up by Islamophobes. It is also why antisemites are often so confused about whether they hate Jews as a religion, as an alleged race, or as some group of scary communist bankers. It's not like racism itself is usually based on a clear understanding of biology.

    So if we are going to push back on Islamophobia as racism, it should be so people see it as like antisemitism, which is what it most closely resembles.

    I have written enough today, so I am going to stop.

    optimader , February 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Re Confucius, George Orwell had his thoughts along those lines. re: intentional corruption of language.

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

    The reality is language evolves, often for the worse making clarity of message a casualty, unless a tedious definition of terms is invoked which can easily end up being a form of deflection from the original point.. ..
    File under :Liberal/Conservative/Neoliberal/Progressive. I find all these Identity Labels can be very loosely applied for reasons other than clarity.

    In the case of the word Race, it is, some would correctly contend, archaic terminology while simultaneously being convenient shorthand for "red meat" identity invectives.

    River , February 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Muslim isn't a race. If the ban had been about Arabs not being allowed in you'd have a point. However, a person from Indonesia is allowed in and that country is almost entirely Muslim.

    Plus, complaining about the US exercising boarder control is ridiculous. That is one the jobs of a nation. No one bat an eye when Japan stated we're not allowing anyone in wrt to any refugee problem. Yet when any Western nation does it, the sky falls and the charges of bigotry come out.

    No one has the right to move to another country.

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here. Yemen, for instance, is bombed by the US and much more heavily by the Saudis with our help and keeping refugees from Yemen out is an extreme form of ugly Americanism. If we don't want the refugees, then we should stop causing or contributing to the chaos and death in the countries which produce the refugees.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    >People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here.

    And where are these rights enumerated? I don't recognize "moral rights" beyond those associated with copyright (and I am not particularly fond of those, either).

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    So the fact that we are bombing civilians and helping the Saudis plunge Yemen into a famine is something you don't question, just the right of our victims to come here?

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Not fond of herring, either.

    "Our victims"?

    The legacy of Obama's incompetence in foreign policy does not obligate American citizens to accept - or to foist upon their posterity - changes in the demographic make-up of our populace.

    I'm still interested in learning where you discovered this moral right to move here

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Not fond of herring either?

    In other words, morality is a matter of preference and your number one moral value in this context is keeping out refugees, people who suffer precisely because of our foreign policy. Demographic balance is somewhere near the top of your own personal list of flavors. Anyway, my notion of moral right involves the crazy idea that if you help destroy a country you have moral obligations to the victims.

    And by the way, Trump is likely to escalate our support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    LOL it certainly was a matter of preference for our recently departed Drone-Bomber-In-Chief, and for all of the people who (thought/think) he was a really moral and upstanding kind of guy. Just like our former Secretary of State, who threatened to cut off Sweden if they didn't accept Monsanto poison.
    "You're black!" said the pot to the kettle

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    "People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here."

    Bullsht.
    The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a "just war" context if at all

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Meaningless. The US frequently bombs innocent people or helps others like the Saudis or the Israelis do so. You say it is wrong, as do I, but apparently there are no consequences allowed in your moral universe which might inconvenience us. We really have no moral obligations at all– we can bomb people and if the survivors wish to come here to escape then we have the right to keep them out according to you. All this boils down to is that we have the strongest military. Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard. The people who control the military want to use it to bomb other countries, so they do. Might makes Right.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    " Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard."

    "The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a "just war" context if at all"

    Can't read, or don't want to?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway, creating refugees, we have no obligation to help them. It is like saying that it was wrong for some Wall Street guys to steal people's money, but if they do, they have no obligation to give it back.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    "I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway"

    If we go ahead and assume that the earth is flat, why shouldn't "we" all relocate another planet?

    It's just that simple, and your keyboard strawmanning is making all the difference, for "we".

    Ground rules- am I arguing with "Donald" or the Royal We, or a heap of straw that you, pardon We(?), keep producing?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    The US does bomb countries, so your flat earth analogy doesn't really work here. We aren't discussing hypotheticals. There are real refugees from real policies and Trump is likely to continue them or make them worse. We are directly responsible for the misery of vast numbers of people and the numbers are likely to grow. Set aside the internet squabble we are having, because you are so wrapped up in it you are losing touch with what we are arguing about.

    Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    "Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough."

    That we'll agree on. Maybe another day you can elucidate on why you bother writing when you could find an airbase and stand on the runway, to stop the bombing.

    Anon , February 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    No one has the right to move to another country.

    Even after their homeland has been bombed, invaded, population tortured, social structure crushed?

    River , February 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    No they don't have that right. It falls under "that's your problem".

    Now, as harsh as that is I think from a humanitarian view and basic decency another nation should show some compassion and allow them succor. However, nations and the people of those nations are under no obligation to do so.

    Moral rights are meaningless. And yes, I do agree that another nation shouldn't create the refugees to begin with. As I find war to be a tool that is to be used as last resort. What has been occurring in the mid-East has been so far from a last resort that I can't even come up with a decent metaphor or simile.

    But that still doesn't change the fact that people do not have the right to enter another nation if the nation decides to say "No".

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    So if we go ahead and bomb Yemen or help the Saudis bomb Yemen, it really doesn't matter at all. We are responsible for war crimes, but we have zero obligation to help the victims.

    You switch back and forth between talk of morality and the law of the strongest. You say we shouldn't bomb other countries for no good reason, but that is as much a meaningless platitude as you say moral rights are in general. Basically you find it distasteful that we bomb other countries, but what really exercises you is the possibility that some refugees might come here. That will not stand.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Have you ever heard of the Melian Dialogue?

    There is a nice little re-enactment of it over at the Youtubes

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Yep. The strong do what they can and the weak do what they must. Nihilistic, but certainly a viewpoint I expect would be popular with the powerful.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    You miss the point. Realism is not nihilism.

    The Athenians had no good reason to suppose that the Gods would not favor them.

    There was nothing in their laws or beliefs to suggest otherwise.

    Similarly, there is nothing in our laws that requires us to accept population transfers because this or that President drops bombs in a far away country on people of whom we know nothing.

    Yves Smith Post author , February 9, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Anon is correct. We can be obligated to bomb other countries by treaty. For instance, we bombed France to oust the Nazis as a result of treaty obligations. It is also correct to say that the US has been flagrantly ignoring what were considered to be international norms (pretty much no one notices here, but Russia has been making a stink on a regular basis in the UN).

    PKMKII , February 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Any day since 1/20, you could look at the front page of WaPo, NYT, CNN, etc., and see op-eds about how Trump is very very non-professional, sullying the good name of the office of the President. Denigrating the institution and the very very serious role it plays in American society, nay, the world! And yet the same front page will also cover, in-detail, whatever halfbaked Trump tweet or Spicer's performance-art-as-press-conference has been served up that day. They recognize that it's become a farce, but like someone who can't stop poking the tooth that hurts, they present the farce as being very very important news. The establishment press has become too enamored of the pomp and circumstance, the ceremonial of the White House media operation and their visible, although largely pointless, role in the whole thing. They're too scared of giving that up, lest they lose prominence or, le horror, have to do real reporting. So the Washington press corp prop up their end of the ceremony in the vain hopes of a return to the way things were, in denial of how their function is quickly becoming redundant. If all they're going to do is talk about Trump's latest tweet, we might as well just stop reading their sites and just read his tweets ourselves. Social media can just give us the press releases directly, we don't need the press to act as town criers, screeching out Trump's decree in the town squares.

    flora , February 9, 2017 at 10:24 am

    an aside re Yves intro:

    "Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media. "

    The WaPo's attempt to turn readers away from great sites like NC with their "fake news" story has backfired spectacularly. Thanks to NC and others furious initial pushback, including well crafted letters from NC's atty and the recipients responses published on NC, the term "fake news" has become a joke in the court of public opinion. It's become a subject for comedy skits. This is no small thing. Actually, it's a pretty big thing. McCarthist witch hunts live and die in the court of public opinion, imo. See: Joseph Welch, "Have you no sense of decency sir?"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1eA5bUzVjA

    And with that exchange the court of public opinion turned against McCarthy and the witch hunt. Now where was I going with this ?

    john bougearel , February 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Ha! How dare ya attack my favorite cooking shows! LOL

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    >After all, we're all good Christians

    Who's "We" Paleface? Bercow's not a Christian.

    And it looks as though we may finally be seeing the worm turn on the kiddie rape: the Rochdale rape gang is now set to be deported to Pakistan.

    Local MP Simon Danczuk: "Foreign-born criminals should not be able to hide behind human rights laws to avoid deportation."

    I suspect this line of thinking is going to be picked up in other countries on the Continent, and sooner rather than later.

    Once we start seeing child sex investigations target the English ruling class, we will know that we are getting somewhere

    Blurtman , February 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Hispanic isn't a race, nor is Latino, but that has not stopped the MSM, bleeding hearts and SJW's from emoting.

    PKMKII , February 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I was a census worker in 2010, and the forms didn't include Hispanic/Latino as a race; rather, it was put as a separate identity category with sub-answers for specific country of ancestral origin. However, 9 times out of 10 Hispanic responds would have me put "Hispanic" in the write-in box for the "Other" race option (the other 10% would have me write-in their ancestral country). The smarties with the degrees can say it's not a race, but if the people say that's their race, who are we to say otherwise?

    Blurtman , February 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Ask Rachel Dolezal. Or perhaps Elizabeth Warren, an undocumented Native American (i.e., Indian). And yes, Pew Research would agree that folks who consider themselves to be Latino consider Latino to be a race. But most are Native American.

    But not anyone can be recognized as Native American in the USA unless they are on a tribal register, which is odd, as the USG seems to subject Native American citizens to a higher level of proof than Native Americans from south of the border.

    Anon y Mouse , February 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    " . But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination." .

    Dear Raul,

    Yes, the media creates distortions in our perceptions. Yes, the orange one plays that terrain like a pro. Yes the British MP is hypocritical. I am with you there.

    "We are the problem." This kind of reasoning may be correct on a cosmic scale but it always seems to run to one of two conclusions. 1) Become a Buddhist and try to improve yourself. 2) Humans are too dumb to survive; wait until nature takes its course and humans kill themselves off playing Russian Roulette.

    I am not sure what your are recommending here. Do we let the orange sacred clown run this imperialist project into the ground? (To be replaced by what?) Or in opposing Trump do we clarify what we do want = i.e. a government that does not torture, a government that does not protect gotcha game mortgage lenders, a government that does not arm the world, a government that does not subsidize old suicidal fossil fuels, a government that is not run by a hysterical 3 AM tweeting 16 year old Marie Antoinette, your issue here .

    I don't know the answer here. The orange bull in the china shop is useful in so far as he reveals certain truths = ex: waterboarding is torture, congressmen are for sale, America has killed a lot of people, etc. If he stops the NeoCon project of invading other countries he might even be a benefit to world peace. But he's also likely to get people killed with his impulsive decisions and his ginning up the rubes.

    Irrational , February 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Not reporting on tweets would free up a lot of time .

    Jeff N , February 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    a tomato is a fruit, but you can't use it in "fruit salad" :D

    Waking Up , February 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of 'righteousness' and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

    On a recent interview with Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly stated in regards to Vladimir Putin "But he's a killer". Donald Trump responds with a truth rarely heard in the media today, "There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?"

    I may not be a fan of Donald Trumps, but, how can we put down that level of honesty? Imagine if we actually had an honest nationwide discussion on what we are doing in the rest of the world .

    [Feb 09, 2017] How lies work

    Feb 09, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

    Nick Cohen makes a good point : it is not congenital liars that should worry us, but congenital believers – those who fall for the lies of charlatans. We know that many do so: almost half of voters believed the lie that leaving the EU would allow us to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS.

    This poses the question: why do people fall for lies? Here, we can learn from behavioural economics and research (pdf) into criminal fraud. I reckon there are several factors that liars exploit in politics.

    One is wishful thinking. People want to believe there's a simple solution to NHS underfunding (leave the EU!) or to low wages (cut immigration!) just as they want to believe they can get rich quick or make money by taking no risk: Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff play upon that last one. The wish is often the father to the belief.

    Relatedly, perhaps, there are lottery-type preferences. People like long-odds bets and pay too much for them: this is why they back longshots (pdf) too much and pay over the odds for speculative shares . To such people, the fact that an offer seems too good to be true is therefore, paradoxically, tempting. A study of fraud by the OFT found :

    Some people viewed responding to a scam as taking a long-odds gamble: they recognised that there was something wrong with the offer, but the size of the possible prize or reward (relative to the initial outlay) induced them to give it a try on the off-chance that it might be genuine.

    There's a particular type that is especially likely to take a long-odds bet: the desperate. Lonely people are vulnerable to the romance scam; gamblers who have lost take big bets to get even; losing teams try "hail Mary" tactics. In like fashion, people who feel like they have lost out in the era of globalization were tempted to vote for Trump and Brexit.

    There's another mechanism here: people are likely to turn to con-men if the alternatives have failed. Werner Troesken shows (pdf) how snake-oil sellers exploited this. They invested a lot in advertising and in product differentiation and so when other products failed they could claim that theirs would work when the others hadn't. I suspect that fund managers use a similar trick: the failure of many to beat the market leads investors simply to trust others rather than tracker funds. The fact that previous policies had failed working people thus encouraged them to try something different – be it Brexit or Trump.

    Yet another trick here is the affinity fraud. We tend to trust people like ourselves, or who at least who look like ourselves. Farage's endless posturing as a "man of the people" – fag and pint in hand, not caring about "political correctness" – laid the basis for people to trust him, just as Bernie Madoff joined all the right clubs to encourage wealthy (often Jewish) folk to trust him. By contrast, the claims from the Treasury and various think-tanks that Brexit would make us poorer came from metropolitan elites who were so different from poorer working class people that they weren't trusted. And in fact the very talk of "liberal elites" carried the subtext: "don't trust them: they're not like you".

    All of these tendencies have been reinforced by another – the fact that, as David Leiser and Zeev Kril have shown , people are bad at making connections in economics. The idea that Brexit would hurt us rested upon tricky connections: between the terms of Brexit and trade rules; from trade rules to actual trade; and from trade to productivity. By contrast, the idea that leaving the EU would save us money was simple and easy to believe.

    Now, I don't say all this merely to be a Remoaner; complaining about liars is like a fish complaining that the water is wet. Instead, I want to point out that it is not sufficient to blame the BBC for not calling out Brexiters' lies. Yes, the BBC disgraced itself during the plebiscite campaign. But we must also understand how voters fall for such mendacity. As Akerlof and Shiller write:

    Voters are phishable in two major ways. First, they are not fully informed; they are information phools. Second, voters are also psychological phools; for example, because they respond to appeals such as lawnmower ads [a candidate seen mowing his own lawn is regarded as a man of the people] ( Phishing for Phools , p 75)

    All this raises a challenge for liberals. Many used to believe the truth would win out over lies in the marketplace for ideas. This is no longer true, if it ever were. Instead, the questions now are: what can we do about this? And what should we do? The two questions might well have different answers. But we can make a start by understanding how lies are sometimes believed. Keith | February 07, 2017 at 04:47 PM

    The marketplace of ideas assumes that the consumers are able and willing to inform themselves and be rational rather than emotional. Clearly this is not true of a lot of voters when confronted by a manipulative press and Tories like Jim with their right wing agenda slyly hidden for the time being.

    Equally as in other areas such as health care shopping around is impossible to do as the consumers lack expert knowledge. Allowing the profit motive to apply to many areas is sure to be a disaster for human welfare as the profit incentive stops the experts using their knowledge for good. Finance is a classic example of the uninformed being repeatedly duped into unsound investments decade after decade. Benjamin Graham describes how in his first job selling Bonds to grannies he came to realise that he was being asked to steal the life savings of pensioners via commissions designed to get a sale of junk paper. Which is why he moved elsewhere to a more ethical line of work. But I am sure leaving the biggest most integrated market in the world where lots of foreigners have helpfully learned our language will surely increase our prosperity....Nigel says so.

    Matthew Moore | February 07, 2017 at 05:37 PM
    There will always be gullible people (/ people constrained by high opportunity cost of information search, as I prefer to think of them)

    And there will always be liars looking to take advantage of them. Like 99% of politicians ever.

    It's very Marxist to wonder how we might change this basic fact of humanity, when the real solution is clear. Don't set up powerful central institutions that rely on coercion: it attracts liars, rewards them, and makes new liars out of honest people.

    Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 07:47 PM
    Oh, we Leavers are being lectured again by our Remainer betters on our stupidity.

    If the statements of the amount we pay to the EU were lies, how come we owe them €50 billion?

    how come no-one ever asks why we have to implement the four freedoms when Germany gets a free pass on the Free market in Services?

    the government announced house building plans today, and no-one asks whether a cause of high house prices and a housing shortage is too much immigration?

    It's not the lies, it's the questions never asked that stand out.

    Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 08:09 PM
    @ Keith - "Tories like Jim"

    I don't read Jim as a Tory. I read him as someone who was a Labour supporter but now just stares in amazement at a group of people who have become EU Federalist fanatics spouting delusional slogans who can never answer a straight question and refuse to acknowledge the obvious problems of democratic accountability.

    How on earth did that happen? How did apparently intelligent people completely lose their critical faculties and join a quasi-religious cult that chants empty slogans and denounces anyone who questions them?

    But I'm sure Jim can speak for himself.

    Ralph Musgrave | February 07, 2017 at 09:45 PM
    Chris missed out the fact that people tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. I.e. if X tells a monster lie, peoples' immediate reaction is: "X is is a bastard". But then on second thoughts they feel ashamed at accusing someone else of being a bastard, and assume it's they themselves that must be wrong.

    Sotto Voce | February 07, 2017 at 10:45 PM
    There is a bit of a danger here of another comment thread being derailed with Brexit mud-slinging. Chris's post isn't really about the pros and cons of Brexit, it just offers a vivid example of the phenomenon under discussion.

    The point Chris makes in the last paragraph is more general and profound. If any and all data/information/evidence/argument is interpreted in partisan fashion and subject to massive confirmation bias so that debates increasingly polarise - or if different sides in debates proffer their own favoured but incompatible versions of the truth - then meaningful dialogue, deliberation and compromise become near impossible. All we get is intolerance, mistrust and greater partisanship. Clearly these are not entirely new issues, but it seems undeniable that there has been a qualitative shift in 'quality' of public debate.

    We appear to be witnessing the US political system at great risk of imploding, as enlightenment values are abandoned and key tenets of liberal democratic practice are wilfully rejected. This is the route to chaos.

    The questions Chris poses are, to my mind at least, the right ones. The very nature of the problem means that the old/favoured remedies are unlikely to be effective. But what can replace them? Is a violent conflagration the only way of shocking the system out of hyper-partisanship and the rejection of the foundational belief that we live in a shared reality (i.e. for people to 'come to their senses')? Or can we back out of this particular cul-de-sac peacefully? You've got to hope so. But, if so, how?

    e | February 07, 2017 at 10:57 PM
    Our upper echelon, i.e. our long-standing middle of the road Labour MPs and commentators, have long been successful in fighting off calls for left leaning policy/talk of how things work (because who knows where this will end) under a guise of fighting off racism/ a closed shop mentality; the routes of least resistance 50s – 00s which should alert us to the ability of the English working class to embrace immigration and avoid base philosophies. But it seems not. Seems to me our shared interest beyond race creed colour and gender continues to be deliberately and systematically no-platformed. What I fail to understand, given the rise of UKIP, is why this is not glaringly obvious; because if you're one of the majority who live life as best you might with as much consideration and tolerance as you can muster where does credence go when an ordinary workers tendency to sound 'populist' is marked up to racism no matter known history...

    aragon | February 07, 2017 at 11:53 PM
    Not again!
    Phishing for Phools. The Political Brain...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/books/review/Brooks-t.html

    "Serious thinkers set to work, and produced a long shelf of books answering this question. Their answers tended to rely on similar themes. First, Democrats lose because they are too intelligent. Their arguments are too complicated for American voters. Second, Democrats lose because they are too tolerant. They refuse to cater to racism and hatred. Finally, Democrats lose because they are not good at the dark art of politics. Republicans, though they are knuckle-dragging simpletons when it comes to policy, are devilishly clever when it comes to electioneering. They have brilliant political consultants like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, who frame issues so fiendishly, they can fool the American people into voting against their own best interests."

    And immigration is about economics. This is Sweden an immigration superpower.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/755997/Sweden-Malmo-military-intervention-no-go-zone-crime-surge

    "Swedish police last year issued a report where it detailed incidents from more than 55 areas which it branded as "no-go zones" as it detailed brutal attacks on police, sexual assaults, children carrying weapons and general turmoil sweeping across the country."

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

    "A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
    In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
    In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban."

    aragon | February 08, 2017 at 12:29 AM
    Phishing for Phools

    "It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation."

    http://nfs.sparknotes.com/macbeth/page_162.html

    "Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
    Uproar the universal peace, confound
    All unity on earth."

    Human Nature has not changed.

    Guano | February 08, 2017 at 12:42 AM
    The truth is complicated.

    The truth is challenging.

    Tony Holmes | February 08, 2017 at 09:13 AM
    Chris, a bit off the point, but if everyone followed your advice and put money in tracker funds and active funds disappeared, what would happen to the stock market ? Instinct tells me it would become extremely volatile, but instinct is a bad guide...

    gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 09:35 AM
    FFS aragon, that "report" from Sweden is from the Express quoting directly a Swedish fascist.

    reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:29 AM
    Isn't the key point here prospect theory (I've just finished reading Kahneman). People with no good options gamble.

    reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:30 AM
    P.S. The no good options bit is a very good reason for opposing first past the post and the limited options consequence.

    aragon | February 08, 2017 at 11:47 AM
    gasto george

    It is not an extreme story, I don't speak Swedish or have any contact with Sweden. I only read the main stream media which includes the Daily Express.

    As you would expect most of the media does not report on Sweden, unless it has a British angle.
    e.g. Birmingham Boy killed by a hand grenade.
    (I don't know how you can spin Hand Grenade)

    The report originates with the Swedish Police the situation in Malmo is serious and individual police officers like Peter Springare's Facebook post.

    Here is a report from the thelocal.se
    http://www.thelocal.se/20170127/malmo-police-chief-help-us

    "After a wave of violence in Sweden's third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: "Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.""

    Dipper | February 08, 2017 at 12:03 PM
    @ gastro george

    This isn't the first time facists have made inflammatory comments about muslims. Nick Griffin did this and was prosecuted for inciting racial hatred in 2006. The summary of what he said is some way down this article.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tougher-race-laws-likely-after-bnp-pair-cleared-423820.html

    Eleven years later we have this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-38845332

    And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with banning "fake news". You have to be really open, transparent and clear and be absolutely sure you are right, otherwise you end up making heroes of facists and stoking the notion that its all a plot to hide the truth from the people. And that is a really bad outcome.

    MPs wrestling with their consciences, loud debates, arguments about the truth ... this is the sound of a properly functioning parliamentary democracy and long may that noise continue.

    Guano | February 08, 2017 at 02:06 PM
    The first two words of the article: Nick Cohen.

    Nick Cohen does make some good points but he himself has a complicated relationship with the truth in some areas. When he isn't talking about congenital liars and congenital believers, he continues to get into a rage about people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. As far as I can see, the invasion of Iraq has been the disaster that some of us feared (because regime change involves putting in place a new regime change, which is very difficult and for which the USA and UK do not have the skills). And, as far as I can see, some of the assumptions made by Nick Cohen in 2002 and 2003 in supporting the invasion (such as the ability of the Iraqi National Congress to create a new regime) were very dubious and their weakness of these assumptions is why the invasion was a failure and has had created an array of other problems.

    In his campaign to avoid a post-truth future, Nick Cohen claims that people like him "are on their own" and he explicitly rejects working with the kind of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. That's a pity, really, because many people appear to have started their opposition to the invasion because the information provided and the logic used appeared to be dodgy. The period from August 2002 to March 2003 prefigured the Trump/Brexit era for post-truth information and arguments. Nick Cohen would be on stronger ground if he admitted that the invasion of Iraq has not necessarily worked to anyone's advantage.

    I guess that what is going on in Nick Cohen's mind (and I can only guess) is that he has built up a negative image of the type of person who opposed the invasion of Iraq and he has difficulty getting past that image and come to terms with what those people were saying and what has actually happened in Iraq. Thus in between writing articles about the need for truth, Nick Cohen writes expressions of outrage about opponents of the invasion of Iraq as if they had been found to be wrong.

    It seems to be a very extreme example of seeing the messenger and not the message, which is one of the issues with failing to recognise lies.

    gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 02:24 PM
    @aragon

    OK, well I've worked most of my life with Swedes and Norwegians, and have regularly visited Malmo three or four times a year recently, although the last was a bit over a year ago.

    So, yes, immigration is an issue, and the Sweden Democrats (fascists) have been rising in the polls. Malmo itself has some problems in the suburbs.

    But there are no no-go areas. Armed violence has more traditionally been associated with biker-gang turf-related drug wars - otherwise with the far right (see Breivik in Norway) and then, as your last link discusses, lone serial killers.

    Reading anything the Sweden Democrats have to say is the equivalent of believing Wilders in the Netherlands - they are loons.

    Barbara Konstant | February 08, 2017 at 05:36 PM
    Despairing as it seems, our humanity has not reached the necessary level of awareness needed to function peacefully in our world.

    [Feb 08, 2017] The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this eventwere obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself

    Notable quotes:
    "... Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods . ..."
    "... Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization. ..."
    "... It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within. ..."
    "... In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership. ..."
    "... And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables.. ..."
    Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    February 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    An over extended Soviet Empire collapsed in no small part due to its obsession with winning a war, albeit one that thankfully remained 'cold', that it never could.

    A corrupt, nepotistic distant, paranoid elite that instead of dividing its efforts into looking after its own society's well-being, as well a apparently just defending it, opted for near as dammed bankrupting itself attempting to feed an insatiable military machine it could ill afford (and would mostly never use) at its increasingly disaffected, divided, restive people's expense.

    Mind you, they were just dumb Commies.

    JTMcPhee, February 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    First, did the Soviet state "bankrupt itself damm near" mostly by trying to feed an "insatiable military machine," or did the wealth of the Soviets get dissipated into other ratholes as well, alongside various external pressures and effects? And what scale applied to each political-decision "allocation"? One view, among a flood of intersecting and competing interpretations, of course:

    The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this event were obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself. Fiery political speeches and tough diplomatic postures make good theater, but they are ineffective at forcing political transformation in totalitarian nations, as is proven by the persistence of far less powerful Communist regimes in Cuba and east Asia in the face of punishing trade embargos. The key to understanding the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union is to be found not in the speeches or policies of Western politicians, but in internal Soviet history.

    1. Stagnation in the 1970s

    The Soviet Union was already in decline as a world power well before 1980. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. As the Nixon administration improved American relations with an increasingly independent China, the Soviets saw a strategic need to scale down the nuclear arms race, which placed enormous strains on its faltering economy. The threat of a nuclear confrontation was reduced considerably by the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) contracted with the Nixon administration in 1972. This détente, or easing of tensions, allowed Leonid Brezhnev to focus on domestic economic and social development, while boosting his political popularity.

    Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods .

    Foreign trade and mild economic reforms were not enough to overcome the inefficiencies of the Soviet command economy, which remained technologically backward and full of corruption. Economic planners were frequently unable to diagnose and remedy problems, since they were given false reports by officials who only pretended to be productive.

    Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization.

    In his radio broadcasts during the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan complained that the capitalist nations propped up the intrinsically flawed Soviet regime, instead of allowing it to naturally collapse from its own inefficiency and inhumanity.[2] In contrast to his later hagiographers, Reagan did not envision defeating the Soviet Union by forceful action, but instead he perceived that the regime would collapse from its own failings once the West removed its financial life support system. It is this early Reagan, far more thoughtful than he is generally credited, who proved to be most astute in diagnosing the state of the USSR. It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within.
    http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/histpoli/soviet.htm

    And I recall the Soviet military leadership was largely (no, not exclusively of course, humans being what they are) reacting to the clear and present danger that "the West" presented. Among many other considerations, of course. In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership.

    Seems to me that all of us ordinary people, many of whom would gladly take advantage of opportunities to do some looting themselves, to "get ahead" in the "rat race," if only those opportunities were presented, have insufficient collective concern about the many systems, living and political-economy, that apparently are collapsing or running out of control. And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables..

    But yeah, the halls of history are full of echoes and shadows and reflections in a glass darkly And I wonder if London bookies are running a line on when history, as recorded and debated and acted out by humans, will REALLY end, thanks to our wonderful unbridled inventiveness and lack of that genetic predisposition to survive as a species that ants and termites and rats and cats and other "lesser creatures" seem to have

    Anon , February 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Commies? That last paragraph sounds like post-WWII history in the US.

    Gman , February 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    ;-)

    [Feb 07, 2017] How the CIA made Google

    Feb 07, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    Pinto Currency -> J S Bach , Feb 6, 2017 10:47 PM

    How the CIA made Google

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a...

    918pigpen -> buckstopshere , Feb 6, 2017 10:42 PM

    People ask me why I refused to use google many years ago.

    THIS!!!

    Yars Revenge , Feb 6, 2017 10:39 PM

    (((GOOGLE)))

    rlouis , Feb 6, 2017 10:45 PM

    So, the alphabet company, aka CIA is funding this?

    wisefool , Feb 6, 2017 10:45 PM

    Who would have think some kids working on bublesort 2.0 (1980s era search engine tech) could have bootstrapped themselves to the biggest brand in the world. Until facebook came along.

    They did not get a 1 million dollar loan from their dad like donald trump did. They might have got some money from big brother. But we don't talk about that in polite company.

    Neochrome , Feb 6, 2017 10:48 PM

    If you're a thief, it's your "duty" to break the law.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/google-tax-dodge_n_2292077.html

    Google's chairman says he is "proud" of the way his company avoids paying taxes.

    "It's called capitalism," Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg in a Wednesday article. "We are proudly capitalistic. I'm not confused about this."

    Google's effective U.S. tax rate is unclear. Citizens for Tax Justice did not analyze Google in a 2011 study because Google reports most of its profits as foreign, even though that may not be true.

    [Feb 04, 2017] A color revolution is under way in the United States

    Notable quotes:
    "... Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States. ..."
    "... pussyhat revolution ..."
    "... pussyhat revolution ..."
    "... clean hands, a cool head and a burning heart ..."
    "... prohibit the President of the United States from using nuclear weapons without congressional authorization except when the United States is under nuclear attack ..."
    "... will Trump have the intelligence to realize the fact that he is under attack and will he have the courage to strike back hard enough ..."
    Feb 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

    A Russian joke goes like this: " Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States. "

    Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.

    Politico seems to feel the same way. See their recent cover :

    While I did predict that " The USA is about to face the worst crisis of its history " as far back as October of last year, a month before the elections, I have to admit that I am surprised and amazed at the magnitude of the struggle which we see taking place before our eyes. It is now clear that the Neocons did declare war on Trump and some, like Paul Craig Roberts, believe that Trump has now returned them the favor . I sure hope that he is right.

    Let's look at one telling example:

    US intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss! Yes, according to recent reports , the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk.

    According to Wikipedia, General Flynn is the former

    Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Chair of the Military Intelligence Board Assistant Director of National Intelligence Senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command.

    He is also Trump's National Security Advisor. In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the US intelligence services. And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. That is absolutely amazing.

    Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the putatively almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that).

    That roughly means that the top 500 members of the Soviet state could not be investigated by the KGB at all. Furthermore, such was the subordination of the KGB to the Party that for common criminal matters the KGB was barred from investigating any member of the entire Soviet Nomenklatura , roughly 3 million people (and even bigger mistake!).

    But in the case of Flynn, several US security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 US officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President. And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently.

    By the same logic, the three letter agencies might as well investigate Trump for his telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin.

    Which, come to think of it, they might well do it soon

    This is all absolutely crazy because this is evidence that the US intelligence community has gone rogue and is now taking its orders from the Neocons and their deep state and not from the President and that these agencies are now acting against the interests of the new President.

    In the meantime, the Soros crowd has already chosen a color: pink. We now are witnessing the " pussyhat revolution " as explained on this website. And if you think that this is just a small fringe of lunatic feminists, you would be quite wrong. For the truly lunatic feminists the "subtle" hint about their " pussyhat revolution " is too subtle, so they prefer making their statement less ambiguous as the image on the right shows.

    This would all be rather funny, in a nauseating way I suppose, if it wasn't for the fact that the media, Congress and Hollywood are fully behind this "100 days of Resistance to Trump" which began by a, quote, "queer dance party" at Mike Pence's house.

    This would be rather hilarious, if it was not for all gravitas with which the corporate media is treating these otherwise rather pathetic "protests".

    Watch how MCNBS's talking head blissfully reporting this event:

    Listen carefully to what Moore says at 2:00. He says that they will "celebrate the fact that Obama is still the President of the United States" and the presstitute replies to him, "yes he is" not once, but twice.

    What are they talking about?! The fact that Obama is still the President?!

    How is it that Homeland Security and the FBI are not investigating MCNBC and Moore for rebellion and sedition ?

    So far, the protests have not been too large, but they did occur in various US cities and they were well covered by the media:

    Make no mistake, such protests are no more spontaneous than the ones in the Ukraine. Somebody is paying for all this, somebody is organizing it all. And they are using their full bag of tricks. One more example:

    Remember the pretty face of Nayirah , the Kuwaiti nurse who told Congress that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers tossing our babies from Kuwaiti incubators (and who later turned out to be the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States)? Do you remember the pretty face of Neda , who " died on TV " in Iran? Well, let me introduce you to Bana Alabe, who wrote a letter to President Trump and, of course, the media got hold of the latter and now she is the "face of the Syrian children".

    Want even more proof?

    Okay, click here and take a look at a sampling of anti-Trump caricatures and cartoons compiled by the excellent Colonel Cassad. Some of them are quite remarkable. From this nauseating collection, I will select just two:

    The first one clearly accuses Trump of being in the hands of Putin. The second one make Trump the heir to Adolf Hitler and strongly suggests that Trump might want to restart Auschwitz. Translated into plain English this sends a double message: Trump is not the legitimate President of the USA and Trump is the ultimate Evil.

    This goes far beyond the kind of satire previous Presidents have ever been subjected to.

    My purpose in listing all the examples above is to suggest the following: far from having accepted defeat, the Neocons and the US deep state have decided, as they always do, to double-down and they are now embarking on a full-scale "color revolution" which will only end with the impeachment, overthrowal or death of Donald Trump.

    One of the most amazing features of this color revolution against Trump is the fact that those behind it don't give a damn about the damage that their war against Trump does to the institution of the President of the United States and, really, to the United States as a whole. That damage is, indeed, immense and the bottom line is this: President Trump is in immense danger of being overthrown and his only hope for survival is to strike back hard and fast.

    The other amazing thing is the ugly role Britain plays in this process: all the worst filth against Trump is always eventually traced back right to the UK. How come? Simple. Do you recall how, formally at least, the CIA and NSA did not have the right to spy on US nationals and the British MI6 and GCHQ had no right to spy on British nationals. Both sides found an easy way out: they simply traded services: the CIA and NSA spied on Brits, the MI6 and GCHQ spied on Americans, and then they simply traded the data between "partners" (it appears that since Obama came to power all these measures have now become outdated and everybody is free to spy on whomever the hell they want, including their own nationals). The US Neocons and the US deep state are now using the British special services to produce a stream of filth against Trump which they then report as "intelligence" and which then can be used by Congress as a basis for an investigation. Nice, simple and effective.

    The bottom line is this: President Trump is in immense danger of being overthrown and his only hope for survival is to strike back hard and fast.

    Can he do that?

    Until now I have suggested several times that Trump deal with the US Neocons the way Putin dealt with the oligarchs in Russia: get them on charges of tax evasion, corruption, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, etc. All that good stuff which the US deep state has been doing for years. The Pentagon and the Three Letter Agencies are probably the most corrupt entities on the planet and since they have never been challenged, never mind punished, for their corruption, they must have become fantastically complacent about how they were doing things, essentially counting on the White House to bail them out in case of problems. The main weapons used by these circles are the numerous secrecy laws which protect them from public and Congressional scrutiny. But here Trump can use his most powerful card: General Flynn who, as former director of the DIA and current National Security Advisor to the President will have total access. And if he doesn't – he can create it, if needed by sending special forces to ensure "collaboration".

    However, I am now beginning to think that this might not be enough. Trump has a much more powerful weapon he can unleash against the Neocon: 9/11.

    Whether Trump knew about it before or not, he is now advised by people like Flynn who must have known for years that 9/11 was in inside job. And if the actual number of people directly implicated in the 9/11 operation itself was relatively small, the number of people which put their full moral and political credibility behind the 9/11 official narrative is immense. Let me put it this way: while 9/11 was a US "deep state" operation (probably subcontracted for execution to the Israelis), the entire Washington "swamp" has been since "9/11 accomplice after the fact" by helping to maintain the cover-up. If this is brought into light, then thousands of political careers are going to crash and burn into the scandal.

    9/11 was a collective crime par excellence . A few men actually executed it, but then thousands, possibly tens of thousands, have used their position to execute the cover-up and to prevent any real investigation. They are ALL guilty of obstruction of justice. By opening a new investigation into 911, but one run by the Justice Department and NOT by Congress, Trump could literally place a "political handgun" next to the head of each politician and threaten to pull the trigger if he does not immediately give up on trying to overthrow Trump. What Trump needs for that is a 100% trusted and 100% faithful man as the director of the FBI, a man with " clean hands, a cool head and a burning heart " (to use the expression of the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, Felix Dzerzhinsky). This man will immediately find himself in physical danger so he will have to be a man of great personal courage and determination. And, of course, this "man" could be a woman (a US equivalent of the Russian prosecutor, Natalia Poklonskaia).

    I fully understand that danger of what I am suggesting as any use of the "9/11 weapon" will, of course, result in an immense counter-attack by the Neocons and the deep state. But here is the deal: the latter are already dead set in impeaching, overthrowing or murdering Donald Trump. And, as Putin once said in an interview, "if you know that a fight is inevitable, then strike first!".

    You think that all is this over the top? Consider what is at stake.

    First, at the very least, the Trump Presidency itself: the Neocons and the US deep state will not let Trump implement his campaign promises and program. Instead they will sabotage, ridicule and misrepresent everything he does, even if this is a big success.

    Second, it appears that Congress now has the pretext to open several different congressional investigations into Donald Trump. If that is the case, it will be easy for Congress to blackmail Trump and constantly threaten him with political retaliation if he does not "get with the program".

    Third, the rabid persecution of Trump by the Neocons and the deep state is weakening the institution of the Presidency. For example, the latest crazy notion floated by some politicians is to " prohibit the President of the United States from using nuclear weapons without congressional authorization except when the United States is under nuclear attack ." From a technical point of view, this is nonsense, but what it does is send the following signal to the rest of the planet: "we, in Congress, believe that our Commander in Chief cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons." Never mind that they would trust Hillary with the same nukes and never mind that Trump could use only conventional weapons to trigger a global nuclear war anyway (by, for example, a conventional attack on the Kremlin), what they are saying is that the US President is a lunatic that cannot be trusted. How can they then expect him to be take seriously on any topic?

    Fourth, can you just imagine what will happen if the anti-Trump forces are successful?! Not only will democracy be totally and terminally crushed inside the USA, but the risks of war, including nuclear, will simply go through the roof.

    There is much more at stake here than just petty US politics.

    Every time I think of Trump and every time I look at the news I always come back to the same anguished thought: will Trump have the intelligence to realize the fact that he is under attack and will he have the courage to strike back hard enough ?

    I don't know.

    I have a great deal of hopes for General Flynn. I am confident that he understands the picture perfectly and knows exactly what is going on. But I am not sure that he has enough pull with the rest of the armed forces to keep them on the right side should a crisis happen. Generally, "regular" military types don't like intelligence people. My hope is that Flynn has loyal allies at SOCOM and JSOC as, at the end of the day, they will have the last say as to who occupies the White House. The good news here is that unlike regular military types, special forces and intelligence people are usually very close and used to work together (regular military types also dislike special forces). SOCOM and JSOC will also know how to make sure that the CIA doesn't go rogue.

    Last but not least, my biggest hope is that Trump will use the same weapon Putin used against the Russian elites: the support of the people. But for that task, Twitter is simply not good enough. Trump needs to go the "RT route" and open his own TV channel. Of course, this will be very hard and time consuming, and he might have to begin with an Internet-based only channel, but as long as there is enough money there, he can make it happen. And, just like RT, it needs to be multi-national, politically diverse (including anti-Empire figures who do not support Trump) and include celebrities.

    One of the many mistakes made by Yanukovich in the Ukraine was that he did not dare to fully use the legal instruments of power to stop the neo-Nazis. And to the degree that he used them, it was a disaster (like when the riot cops beat up student demonstrators). After listening to a few interviews of Yanukovich and of people near him during those crucial hours, it appears that Yanukovich simply did not feel that he had a moral right to use violence to suppress the street. We will never now if what truly held him back are moral principles of basic cowardice, but what is certain is that he betrayed his people and his country when he refused to defend real democracy and let the "street" take over replacing democracy with ochlocracy (mob rule). Of course, real ochlocracy does not exists, all mobs are always controlled by behind-the-scenes forces who unleash them just long enough to achieve their goals.

    The forces which are currently trying to impeach, overthrow or murder President Trump are a clear and present danger to the United States as a country and to the US Federal Republic. They are, to use a Russian word, a type of "non-system" opposition which does not want to accept the outcome of the elections and which by rejecting this outcome essentially oppose the entire political system.

    I am not a US citizen (I could, but I refuse that citizenship on principle because I refuse to take the required oath of allegiance) and the only loyalty I owe the USA is the one of a guest: never to deliberately harm it in any way and to obey its laws. And yet it turns my stomach to see how easy it has been to turn millions of Americans against their own country. I write a lot about russophobia on this blog, but I also see a deep-seated "Americanophobia" or "USophobia" in the words and actions who today say that Trump is not their President. To them, they micro-identity as a "liberal" or as a "gay" or as "African-American" means more than the very basic fundamental principles upon which this country has been built. When I see these crowds of Trump-bashers I see pure, seething hatred not of the AngloZionist Empire, or of a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy, but a hatred of what I would call the "simple America" or the "daily America" – the simple people amongst whom I have now lived for many years and learned to respect and appreciate and whom the Clinton-bots only think of as "deplorables

    It amazes me to see that the US pseudo-elites have as much hatred, contempt and fear of the American masses as the Russian pseudo-elites have hatred, contempt and fear of the Russian masses (the Russian equivalent or Hillary's "deplorables" would be a hard to pronounce for English speakers word " быдло ", roughly "cattle", "lumpen" or "rabble"). It amazes me to see that the very same people which have demonized Putin for years are now demonizing Trump using exactly the same methods. And if their own country has to go down in their struggle against the common people – so be it! These self-declared elites will have no compunction whatsoever to destroy the nation their have been parasitizing and exploiting for their own class interest. They did just that to Russia exactly 100 years ago, in 1917. I sure hope that they will not get away with that again in 2017.

    [Feb 04, 2017] The Washington Post Has Declared War On Peacemakers; Dennis Kucinich Rages Against The Military-Industrial-Complex

    Feb 04, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    Feb 4, 2017 11:53 AM Via Dennis Kucinich's Facebook page... I have dedicated my life to peace. As a member of Congress I led efforts to avert conflict and end wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran. And yet those of us who work for peace are put under false scrutiny to protect Washington's war machine. Those who undermine our national security by promoting military attacks and destroying other nations are held up as national leaders to admire. Recently Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and I took a Congressional Ethics-approved fact finding trip to Lebanon and Syria, where we visited Aleppo and refugee camps, and met with religious leaders, governmental leaders and people from all sides of the conflict, including political opposition to the Syrian government. Since that time we have been under constant attack on false grounds. The media and the war establishment are desperate to keep hold of their false narrative for world-wide war, interventionism and regime change, which is a profitable business for Washington insiders and which impoverishes our own country. Today, Rep. Gabbard came under attack yet again by the Washington Post's Josh Rogin who has been on a tear trying to ruin the reputations of the people and the organization who sponsored our humanitarian, fact-finding mission of peace to the Middle East. Rogin just claimed in a tweet that as community organization I have been associated with for twenty years does not exist. The organization is in my neighborhood. Here's photos I took yesterday of AACCESS-Ohio's marquee. It clearly exists, despite the base, condescending assertions of Mr. Rogin. Enough of this dangerous pettiness. Let's dig in to what is really going on, inside Syria, in the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon. These leaders of the Christian faith in Aleppo begged for the US to stop funding terrorists in #Syria. They expressed that before international interventions (covert and overt) Syrians lived in peace without concern as to whether they were Christian, Muslim or Jew. In the words of President Eisenhower, let's beware (and scrutinize) the military-industrial-complex. It is time to be vigilant for our democracy.

    Uzda Farce -> Liberal , Feb 4, 2017 4:16 PM

    Janet Yellen, like every other Fed chairman since WW2, is a member of the Rockefeller/CFR. See member lists at cfr dot org.

    John McCain, David Petraeus, Joe Lieberman and Lynn Forester de Rothschild are also CFR members. All of them are trustees at the McCain Institute at U. of Arizona. Does that help?

    https://www.mccaininstitute.org/staff/?filter=board-of-trustees

    Wulfkind -> Looney , Feb 4, 2017 12:12 PM

    Rage all you want peaceniks.

    War is a money making machine. And what makes money....has to abide no matter what.

    So says the banksters.

    And no one is going to corral the banksters because this high tech, utopian just in time Amazon, robot A.I assisted casheless society all comes crumbling down.

    So.....bones will be crushed, blood will be shed because somewhere someone has some natural resource the Elties need to feed the machinery of modern life.

    And the Spice Must Flow at all costs. Including human lives if need be.

    Paul Kersey -> Paul Kersey , Feb 4, 2017 12:43 PM

    The Washington Post is a propaganda machine for the Deep State establishment.

    Uzda Farce -> Paul Kersey , Feb 4, 2017 4:29 PM

    "Operation Mockingbird was established by Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination... Wisner recruited Philip Graham from the Washington Post to run the project within the industry... After 1953, the media network was overseen by CIA Director Allen Dulles, by which time Operation Mockingbird had major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies." -- Wikipedia

    Wisner, Graham and Dulles were also members of the Rockefeller/CFR.

    YHC-FTSE -> Wulfkind , Feb 4, 2017 1:10 PM

    I follow Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard and Ron Paul in my newsfeed to remind myself that there are sane people who dedicate themselves to fight against the MIC and the Fed.

    Unreported here, but this week, Tulsi Gabard made a two-pronged attack on the establishment to curb funding to the terrorists in Syria/Iraq with the self-explanatory bill entitled, "Stop Arming Terrorists Bill" . And at the same time, flanking the banksters to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act . I have never been so impressed by a politician's tactical awareness and passion to fight against the criminals in power.

    She had the foresight and courage to visit Syria to see for herself what is happening on the ground and I reckon she deserves all the help I can muster. I cannot praise her enough and having satisfied myself that the lady is genuine, I think she will be the next primary target of a smear campaign against her. If Trump is at all serious about draining the swamp, he should be giving the Congresswoman a major role in his cabinet.

    We've just handed what Snowden described as a system that was built to be, "turn-key tyrrany", to a political outsider hoping he can take on the establishment. Yet he has surrounded himself with the worst of the establishment bunch, the Israel-first zionists, connected to Wall St., Wahabist nutjobs, the Federal Reserve's zionist owners. What will transpire in the coming months, complicated by yet another set of zionists in the media and civil services who are invested in Hitlery, is the question. War and chaos are what the establishment thrives on - if not with Russia, then Iran or China. A huge drive is going on to slip in a wedge - to divide and conquer - these countries but equally within the USA, wedges are being driven in between people to paint Trump as an incompetent monster. It is the oldest tactic in the book, often practiced by the zionists at home to keep the fear and loathing, stealing and murdering going for decades.

    Quite frankly, I'm fucking sick of those who drive the narrative on both sides of the political spectrum - one side calling the other, "Racists and Nazis" while the other calls them "Pussies and Libtards". It's tiresome and infantile that distracts people from the real problems of the MIC, Banking and media cartels hidden in plain sight, pulling the strings to enrich and protect their homeland: Israel. Look, I don't want to sound like a broken record and god knows I don't ever want to hate people, but whenever I look at every major crime against humanity from 9/11, to Ukraine and Syria, zionists keep popping up at the epicentre and we are led once again to destroy Israel's enemies causing untold misery to innocent people.

    Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 11:57 AM

    Dennis Kucinich was always the real deal. I do not agree with his economics but he was the real version of what Bernie Sanders pretended to be. He voted with Ron Paul all the time.

    BabaLooey -> Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 12:15 PM

    You should have seen what Kucinch did in Cleveland Ms. No....

    I lived there during his tenure as mayor. 1977 to 1979. Jesus did he give the establishment the stink finger.

    The Plain Squealer reported on him like they do Trump today. EVERY day was "Dennis this and Dennis that". His wife at the time, Sandy, was a lunatic, which did not help him. His handling of Muni Light was decades before the time when politicians called out the debt-game. He damn near got whacked for it, and the "boy-mayor" got defeated by Voinovich - seen then as "an adult".

    Dennis is most times whack-o with his fiscal policies, but holy SHIT the entire U.S. Government is also!

    If Tulsi Gabbard likes him, then it shows Dennis is not far off base.

    Kucinch is a different politician - to say the least. He actually needs to get back IN Congress, IMO.

    jonny quest -> BabaLooey , Feb 4, 2017 2:42 PM

    Yeah, I was there too and before. Burn on big river, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtW8RkI3-c4 , Muny Light, etc. We were circling the drain back then. Not so much better now, but god damn, Trump, you gotta keep the EPA! You've got mountaintops blown apart in WV for coal, and eastern NC awash in pigshit. Chemical and radioactive waste aplenty across the rest. There's your infrastructure stimulus right there, Donny J.

    BabaLooey -> jonny quest , Feb 4, 2017 3:23 PM

    Former Brunswick, Middleburg Heights, Parma, Willowick, North Olmstead, Richmond Heights - and then Copley denizen here.

    The Land of the Cleves was a sorry state in the 70's. That black bastard Stokes. Guvnuh Jimmy Rhodes.

    I survived the Blizzard of '77 living at the Islander Apartments.

    Kucinich didn't have a chance. He was surrounded by fat-cat politicians, and I can still remember John Hambrick's arching eyebrow, and Dorothy Fuldheim slaying Dennis at every turn.

    Fuck, even Gib Shanley weighed in on him. Big Chuck & Hoolihan didn't help much either. I fondly remember loitering around with Kid Leo at a Peaches opening the summer of '78, when he said; "Kucinich doesn't stand a chance; the buzzard's are circling - no pun intended".

    jonny quest -> BabaLooey , Feb 4, 2017 3:55 PM

    Gawd, Gib Shanley, John Hambrick, Big Chuck & Hoolihan, and Dorothy Fuldheim. Haven't heard those names mentioned in years. Remember Paige Palmer? My mom's TV workout coach. Dick Goddard finally retired. The Boss was a friend of Kid Leo's. Oh those concerts @ the Agora that segued to Richfield...

    IntTheLight -> Ms No , Feb 4, 2017 1:38 PM

    Bernie is loyal to his tribe. He was the pied piper leading earnest, well meaning people off a cliff. His supporters represented the last gasp of white people in that party. If you recall, Hillarys people repeatedly mocked the berniebots as too white.

    DetectiveStern , Feb 4, 2017 11:58 AM

    Snowflakes are out in Manchester protesting Trump again over refugees, still non of them protesting the actual wars.

    Sad fucks.

    Mustafa Kemal -> DetectiveStern , Feb 4, 2017 12:17 PM

    "protesting Trump again over refugees, still non of them protesting the actual wars."

    In a conversation with a muslim friend of mine the other day, he told me

    1) "I dont give a fuck( he rarely cusses) if they make me leave the US, I want them instead to stop desroying Syrian, Libya, ....."

    2) "dont talk to me about killing babies in Syria. Instead stop destroying Syria"

    It seems we have a meeting of the minds

    Bay of Pigs , Feb 4, 2017 11:58 AM

    The local rag here in Maui was criticizing Gabbard for meeting with Assad.

    This state is full of brainwashed libtards.

    Ignatius -> Bay of Pigs , Feb 4, 2017 12:04 PM

    When it comes to American delusions about the nature and purpose of the national security state, the brainwashing is across the board, left to right. We could wish that it's just liberal idiots.

    BarkingCat , Feb 4, 2017 12:00 PM

    Dennis Kucinich is probably the only truly honest democrat. While I have always disagreed with much of his point of view, I have never doubted his honesty and sincerity.

    HowdyDoody -> BarkingCat , Feb 4, 2017 12:32 PM

    Gabbard is a Democrat too.

    [Feb 01, 2017] Why are we even talking about something so absurdly rare as death by jihadists when over the past decade 5 times more people die from lightning strikes

    Notable quotes:
    "... "...Are we plain and simply insane?" [I am not sure that it is either that plain or simple. Otherwise there might be some hope for a cure.] ..."
    Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    DeDude : February 01, 2017 at 07:16 AM , 2017 at 07:16 AM
    Why are we even talking about something so absurdly rare as death by jihadists when over the past decade 5 times more people die from lightning strikes. More people die due to guns in two days than have died from jihadism in a decade. Are we plain and simply insane?

    https://qz.com/898207/the-psychology-of-why-americans-are-more-scared-of-terrorism-than-guns-though-guns-are-3210-times-likelier-to-kill-them/

    DrDick -> DeDude... , February 01, 2017 at 07:33 AM
    Some of us, the NRA and Republicans, clearly are. Wholesale misinformation and "bothsiderism" in the press also play an important role.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> DeDude... , February 01, 2017 at 07:38 AM
    "...Are we plain and simply insane?" [I am not sure that it is either that plain or simple. Otherwise there might be some hope for a cure.]

    [Feb 01, 2017] How Colonialism Shaped Modern Inequality

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Applied Economics, MIT and James Robinson, Professor, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. Originally published at VoxEU ..."
    "... Editor's note: This column first appeared as a chapter in the Vox eBook, The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History, Volume 1, available to download here . ..."
    "... "The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie." ..."
    "... See original post for references ..."
    Feb 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on February 1, 2017 by Yves Smith By Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Applied Economics, MIT and James Robinson, Professor, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. Originally published at VoxEU

    Editor's note: This column first appeared as a chapter in the Vox eBook, The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History, Volume 1, available to download here .

    The immense economic inequality we observe in the world today didn't happen overnight, or even in the past century. It is the path-dependent outcome of a multitude of historical processes, one of the most important of which has been European colonialism. Retracing our steps 500 years, or back to the verge of this colonial project, we see little inequality and small differences between poor and rich countries (perhaps a factor of four). Now the differences are a factor of more than 40, if we compare the richest to the poorest countries in the world. What role did colonialism play in this?

    In our research with Simon Johnson we have shown that colonialism has shaped modern inequality in several fundamental, but heterogeneous, ways. In Europe the discovery of the Americas and the emergence of a mass colonial project, first in the Americas, and then, subsequently, in Asia and Africa, potentially helped to spur institutional and economic development, thus setting in motion some of the prerequisites for what was to become the industrial revolution (Acemoglu et al. 2005). But the way this worked was conditional on institutional differences within Europe. In places like Britain, where an early struggle against the monarchy had given parliament and society the upper hand, the discovery of the Americas led to the further empowerment of mercantile and industrial groups, who were able to benefit from the new economic opportunities that the Americas, and soon Asia, presented and to push for improved political and economic institutions. The consequence was economic growth. In other places, such as Spain, where the initial political institutions and balance of power were different, the outcome was different. The monarchy dominated society, trade and economic opportunities, and in consequence, political institutions became weaker and the economy declined. As Marx and Engels put it in the Communist Manifesto,

    "The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie."

    It did, but only in some circumstances. In others it led to a retardation of the bourgeoisie. In consequence colonialism drove economic development in some parts of Europe and retarded it in others.

    Colonialism did not, however, merely impact the development of those societies that did the colonising. Most obviously, it also affected the societies that were colonised. In our research (Acemoglu et al. 2001, 2002) we showed that this, again, had heterogeneous effects. This is because colonialism ended up creating very distinct sorts of societies in different places. In particular, colonialism left very different institutional legacies in different parts of the world, with profoundly divergent consequences for economic development.

    The reason for this is not that the various European powers transplanted different sorts of institutions – so that North America succeeded due to an inheritance of British institutions, while Latin America failed because of its Spanish institutions.

    In fact, the evidence suggests that the intentions and strategies of distinct colonial powers were very similar (Acemoglu and Robinson 2012). The outcomes were very different because of variation in initial conditions in the colonies. For example, in Latin America, where there were dense populations of indigenous people, a colonial society could be created based on the exploitation of these people. In North America where no such populations existed, such a society was infeasible, even though the first British settlers tried to set it up. In response, early North American society went in a completely different direction: early colonising ventures, such as the Virginia Company, needed to attract Europeans and stop them running off into the open frontier and they needed to incentivise them to work and invest. The institutions that did this, such as political rights and access to land, were radically different even from the institutions in the colonising country. When British colonisers found Latin-American-like circumstances, for example in South Africa, Kenya or Zimbabwe, they were perfectly capable of and interested in setting up what we have called 'extractive institutions', based on the control of and the extraction of rents from indigenous peoples. In Acemoglu and Robinson (2012) we argue that extractive institutions, which strip the vast mass of the population of incentives or opportunities, are associated with poverty. It is also not a coincidence that such African societies are today as unequal as Latin American countries.

    It wasn't just the density of indigenous peoples that mattered for the type of society that formed. As we showed in Acemoglu et al. (2001), the disease environment facing potential European settlers was also important. Something that encouraged the colonisation of North America was the relatively benign disease environment that facilitated the strategy of creating institutions to guarantee European migration. Something that encouraged the creation of extractive institutions in West Africa was the fact that it was the 'white man's graveyard', discouraging the creation of the type of 'inclusive economic institutions' which encouraged the settlement and development of North America. These inclusive institutions, in contrast to extractive institutions, did create incentives and opportunities for the vast mass of people.

    Our focus on the disease environment as a source of variation in colonial societies was not because we considered this to be the only or even the main source of variation in the nature of such societies. It was for a particular scientific reason: we argued that the historical factors that influenced the disease environment for Europeans and therefore their propensity to migrate to a particular colony are not themselves a significant source of variation in economic development today. More technically, this meant that historical measures of European settler mortality could be used as an instrumental variable to estimate the causal effect of economic institutions on economic development (as measured by income per-capita). The main challenge to this approach is that factors which influenced European mortality historically may be persistent and can influence income today, perhaps via effects on health or contemporary life expectancy. There are several reasons why this is not likely to be true however. First, our measures of European mortality in the colonies are from 200 or so years ago, before the founding of modern medicine or the understanding of tropical diseases. Second, they are measures of mortality faced by Europeans with no immunity to tropical diseases, which is something very different from the mortality faced by indigenous people today, which is presumably what is relevant for current economic development in these countries. Just to check, we also showed that our results are robust to the controlling econometrically of various modern measures of health, such as malaria risk and life expectancy.

    Thus, just as colonialism had heterogeneous effects on development within Europe, promoting it in places like Britain, but retarding it in Spain, so it also had very heterogeneous effects in the colonies. In some places, like North America, it created societies with far more inclusive institutions than in the colonising country itself and planted the seeds for the immense current prosperity of the region. In others, such as Latin America, Africa or South Asia, it created extractive institutions that led to very poor long-run development outcomes.

    The fact that colonialism had positive effects on development in some contexts does not mean that it did not have devastating negative effects on indigenous populations and society. It did.

    That colonialism in the early modern and modern periods had heterogeneous effects is made plausible by many other pieces of evidence. For example, Putnam (1994) proposed that it was the Norman conquest of the South of Italy that created the lack of 'social capital' in the region, the dearth of associational life that led to a society that lacked trust or the ability to cooperate. Yet the Normans also colonised England and that led to a society which gave birth to the industrial revolution. Thus Norman colonisation had heterogeneous effects too.

    Colonialism mattered for development because it shaped the institutions of different societies. But many other things influenced these too, and, at least in the early modern and modern period, there were quite a few places that managed to avoid colonialism. These include China, Iran, Japan, Nepal and Thailand, amongst others, and there is a great deal of variation in development outcomes within these countries, not to mention the great variation within Europe itself. This raises the question of how important, quantitatively, European colonialism was, compared to other factors. Acemoglu et al. (2001) calculate that, according to their estimates, differences in economic institutions account for about two-thirds of the differences in income per-capita in the world. At the same time, Acemoglu et al. (2002) show that, on their own, historical settler mortality and indigenous population density in 1500 explain around 30% of the variation in economic institutions in the world today. If historical urbanisation in 1500, which can also explain variation in the nature of colonial societies, is added, this increases to over 50% of the variation. If this is right, then a third of income inequality in the world today can be explained by the varying impact of European colonialism on different societies. A big deal.

    That colonialism shaped the historical institutions of colonies might be obviously plausible. For example, we know that, in Peru of the 1570s, the Spanish Viceroy Francisco de Toledo set up a huge system of forced labour to mine the silver of Potosí. But this system, the Potosí mita, was abolished in the 1820s, when Peru and Bolivia became independent. To claim that such an institution, or, more broadly, the institutions created by colonial powers all over the world, influence development today, is to make a claim about how colonialism influenced the political economy of these societies in a way which led these institutions to either directly persist, or to leave a path dependent legacy. The coerced labour of indigenous peoples lasted directly up until at least the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, when the system known as pongueaje was abolished. More generally, Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, Chapters 11 and 12) and Dell (2010) discuss many mechanisms via which this could have taken place.

    Finally, it is worth observing that our empirical findings have important implications for alterative theories of comparative development. Some argue that geographical differences are dominant in explaining long-run patterns of development. In contradistinction, we showed that once the role of institutions is accounted for, geographical factors are not correlated with development outcomes. The fact that, for instance, there is a correlation between latitude and geography, is not indicative of a causal relationship. It is simply driven by the fact that European colonialism created a pattern of institutions that is correlated with latitude. Once this is controlled for, geographical variables play no causal role. Others argue that cultural differences are paramount in driving development. We found no role at all for cultural differences measured in several ways. First, the religious composition of different populations. Second, as we have emphasised, the identity of the colonial power. Third, the fraction of the population of a country of European descent. It is true, of course, that the United States and Canada filled up with Europeans, but in our argument this was an outcome of the fact that they had good institutions. It is not the numerical dominance of people of European descent today that drives development.

    See original post for references

    7 0 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Globalization , Guest Post , Income disparity , The dismal science on February 1, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 23 comments Jeff , February 1, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Not that I want to defend colonialism, but growing inequality both in Europe and in the ex-colonies makes it hard to argue that 'colonialism' is a driving force.

    John , February 1, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I think colonialism could be a driving force without necessarily being the sole driving force. Yes, inequality is on the rise in the first world as well, but as of a few years ago the highest Gini bracket in Europe was still the lowest in Central and South America. So there's a difference in scale.

    James McFadden , February 1, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Capitalism, especially neoliberal financial capitalism, is unstable on its own and rapidly produces gross inequality independent of the starting point - just like the game of monopoly. Colonialism, a particular type of theft capitalism, may have created earlier states of inequality, but today's inequality would exist independent of this earlier state. The root cause is compounding growth/profits/ interest as Michael Hudson has explained.

    The Trumpening , February 1, 2017 at 11:33 am

    One can expand this study by overlaying other types of colonialism. For example Spain suffered more than 700 years of Arab colonialism and succeeded in throwing off the Arab yoke just as they started their own colonial project in the Americas. How much of the failure of the institutions the Spanish left in the Americas is the result of faulty institutions the Arabs brought to Spain?

    And how does one study areas the were first colonized by Arabs (North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, India, etc.) Are the problems in Algeria today more the result of Arab colonialism or French colonialism?

    And how many of the problems today in Russia are a result of Mongol colonialism - and for that matter the same question could be asked about the Middle East? That area has suffered so many layers of colonialism (Arab, Mongol, Ottoman, European) that it would take a sort of archaeologist to figure out which problems are a result of which colonialism.

    Hemang , February 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    There were no Arabs in India. Persians and Mongols, yes. Hindu India was the coloniser in the East all the way to Indonesia. Also, both China and Japan have been colonized by Hindu/ Buddhist Institutions whose legacy can be seen even now.

    The Trumpening , February 1, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    You are correct, for India it was more a series of Muslim raids, conquests, and colonial empires and not Arab colonialism per se.

    jsn , February 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    The residue can be traced athousand of years latter:
    http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/the-ghosts-of-empires-past/
    Developing tools will bring sharper focus

    Foppe , February 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Euhm, this isn't personal, but imagine your response if someone took that para of yours and changed Spain to US, Arab Colonialism with Scots/Irish Colonialism, and cheered on their eradication and marginalization at the hands of, say, a realpolitik/nationalist politician, who justifies said actions by talking about how he's "liberating" Appalachia. Problematic, no?

    Arabs had been living in Spain for centuries under thug rule before a bunch of "christian" thugs thought up the idea to "justify" a handily-marketed "re"conquest of areas that had never really belonged to them, and which did not contain "relatives", while the Christianity of the people displaced by the arabs was pretty much equally novel - at best 200yo. Not really sure it's apt to compare that to the western colonization/eradication efforts that started with the expansion of Spain to the south, then west.

    Foppe , February 1, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    (Note that while I wrote 'displaced', apart from the rulers, there was very little displacement, mostly merging.)

    JohnnyGL , February 1, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Good post. However, geography does matter, too.

    It's worth pointing out that in the USA, extractive institutions WERE created in places where tobacco and cotton can be grown. However, the yields aren't great once you get north of Maryland (for tobacco) and I think even further south for cotton. The northeast of the USA didn't really have much that they could export to Britain, profitably.

    It's clear that development is driven by good quality institutions, but the real question is whether geography determined the nature of colonial era institutions that took root.

    But that's not to dispute the argument that colonial institutions created a kind of path dependency that left a lasting legacy that still overshadows present conditions.

    jsn , February 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    And the US has been dealing with a Manichean struggle between these two institutional inheritances ever since. One civil war over it, so far.

    Hemang , February 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I always suspected Social Sciences, especially Economics of being a mumbo jumbo. This article strengthens my belief in that direction. It was not "institutions" but guns and gun powder that created the European colonial empires( though failing in China ). The genocide of native American peoples coupled with slave African labour accelerated economic development and not institutions. The same was the case with India.The article is very high on the unreadability index; mumbo jumbo at least requires a minimum measure of style that the authors lack in the English language.Savagery of Christianity in face of more sophisticated and refined ways of life like those of the Hindus in India is another factor that created inequality and not "institutions" which Indian Hindu States had in enough supplies as even a cursory glance at the history of colonialism in those parts will reveal. And now China has really developed and it is time all European Parliaments must declare their activities on other shores as Genocidal and apologise and pay compensations to those countries where they did their Projects!

    Waldenpond , February 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    This did not make clear to me what colonialism is. A elite group from one society or region moves into another region to exploit people and resources. Tactics are to weaken defenses (war, destroy food supplies) and get buy in from selected groups, yet maintain the majority of the gains for themselves.

    I can't think of societies that haven't had some type of political system nor inequality among individuals and groups so is colonialism referring to inequality between nations (excluding regions) with an specific form of governing (official elections) and distance? I'm thinking of a checkerboard . if the elite from one region move into a neighboring region, install themselves as the ruling class and institute slavery that is not colonialism. If the elite from one region skip a couple of squares, install themselves as the ruling class and institute slavery, that is colonialism.

    Disturbed Voter , February 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Exploitation is universal, because of greed and fear. If you can exploit, you most often do. When exploitation isn't about individuals, or companies but about peoples and nations, that is colonialism. The West is suffering from internal colonialism now as well, as Marx predicted.

    Synoia , February 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Study the Romans, read about Augustus Cesar, reach and understanding Plebs and Patricians. The west "is suffering" from the same rule it modeled itself upon.

    Synoia , February 1, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Their lack of understanding Anglo Saxon and Roman History is breathtaking.

    I suggest they study the Roman Empire for the roots of inequality.

    The British, and Europe (English and Norman) modeled themselves on the Roman Empire.

    Ulysses , February 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    "Their lack of understanding Anglo Saxon and Roman History is breathtaking."

    Yep.

    Watt4Bob , February 1, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Feature, not a bug.

    See my comment below.

    The British, and Europe (English and Norman) modeled themselves on the Roman Empire.

    As did the Mafia.

    DJG , February 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    If this is a foretaste of the rest of the book, it is thin gruel, suffering from the usual Anglo-American myopia. You want to talk about colonialism without talking about the Portuguese and how they differed? Discussion of North and South America with no mention of Brazil?

    I am reminded again that in my advertisements and in many parts of the U S of A, "bilingual" = speaking U.S. English + New World Spanish.

    No wonder we are where we are, Gini-quotient-wise.

    markódochartaigh , February 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    "such as the Virginia Company, needed to attract Europeans and stop them running off into the open frontier"

    "As a part of the early history of Virginia, Jefferson once made reference to "The wild Irish who had gotten possession of the valley between the Blueridge and Northmountain,"

    Ulysses , February 1, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    It is difficult for me to detect any coherent argument in this very poorly informed piece.

    "Colonialism mattered for development because it shaped the institutions of different societies. But many other things influenced these too, and, at least in the early modern and modern period, there were quite a few places that managed to avoid colonialism. These include China, Iran, Japan, Nepal and Thailand, amongst others."

    How does this make any sense at all? Have the authors even heard of the Opium Wars, or Hong Kong? If so, how are they defining "colonialism?"

    The vast slave labor plantations of the antebellum South reflect how the Virginia Company "incentivized" people "to work and invest through "institutions" "such as political rights and access to land."??!!??

    The authors appear to believe that the Norman conquest of 1066 is a "colonizing" event similar to that of the Belgian colonization of the Congo, yet the British rule over Hong Kong isn't "colonialism" at all. Any undergraduate student who proposed such nonsense– in a Western Civ. class– would certainly fail the course!

    Watt4Bob , February 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    History is written by the victors

    Why do we continue to wade about in this trumped-up confusion as concerns a clear understanding of the operations of the European colonial outbreak, and especially Settler Colonialism?

    Wherever possible, and by that I mean wherever there was arable land available, the colonial powers, in particular, Britain, either enticed, or forced a settler population to supplant the indigenous people, and if necessary, kill them.

    The history is confusing only because our masters wish us to remain ignorant of its true nature, and its ramifications concerning modern political reality.

    The Brits colonized Ireland and imposed 'order' by injecting a settler population.

    They colonized South Africa and imposed 'order' by injecting a settler population.

    They colonized North America and imposed 'order' by injecting a settler population.

    They colonized Palastine imposed 'order' by injecting a settler population, which continues to this day.

    The truth about all this was, and is actively suppressed, and obfuscated by the very people who pretend to study, analyze, and explain history, both in academia, and media.

    Please excuse me if I point out my uncomfortable suspicion that articles like this are intended to further cloud our collective ability to understand the deep history of how and why we are 'managed' for profit.

    For instance, does it make our current treatment at the hands of America's elite more understandable if we consider the fact that maybe we've served our 'purpose' and are no longer needed, or appreciated except as a source of end-game extraction?

    David , February 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    At least based on the above, no mention of the Ottoman Empire either, which had (and has) enormous influence on the development of much of the Middle East and the Balkans (and of course the Ottoman Empire is not the same as the Arab conquests). I seriously question, in fact whether "colonialism" is actually a useful concept here or whether it's just too vague to tell us anything.

    [Feb 01, 2017] The Neocon Lament Nobody wants them in Trump's Washington

    Notable quotes:
    "... Washington Post ..."
    "... Washington Post ..."
    Feb 01, 2017 | www.unz.com
    Philip Giraldi January 24, 2017 1,300 Words 151 Comments Reply There is no limit to the hubris driven hypocrisy of America's stalwart neoconservatives. A recent Washington Post front page article entitled "'Never Trump' national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted" shares with the reader the heartbreak of those so-called GOP foreign policy experts who have apparently been ignored by the presidential transition team seeking to staff senior positions in the new administration. Author David Nakamura describes them as "some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administration who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again."

    "But," Nakamura adds, "their phones aren't ringing." And I wept openly as he went on to describe how they sit forlorn in a "state of indefinite limbo" in their law firms, think tanks and university faculty lounges just thinking about all the great things they can do for their country. Yes, "serve their country," indeed. Nothing personal in it for them. Nothing personal when they denounced Trump and called him incompetent, unqualified, a threat to the nation and even joined Democrats in labeling him a racist, misogynist, homophobe, Islamophobe and bigot. And they really got off when they explained in some detail how The Donald was a Russian agent. Nothing personal. It's was only business. So let's let bygones be bygones and, by the way, where are the jobs? Top level Pentagon or National Security Council only, if you please!

    And yes, they did make a mistake about some things in Iraq, but it was Obama who screwed it up by not staying the course. And then there was Libya, the war still going on in Afghanistan, getting rid of Bashar and that funny business in Ukraine. It all could have gone better but, hey, if they had been fully in charge for the past eight years to back up the greatly loved Vicki Nuland at the State Department everything would be hunky dory.

    Oh yeah, some of the more introspective neocons are guessing that the new president just might be holding a grudge about those two "Never Trump" letters that more than 200 of them eventually signed. Many now believe that they are on a blacklist. How unfair! To be sure, some of the language in the letters was a bit intemperate, including assertions about Trump's personality, character and intelligence. One letter claimed that the GOP candidate "lacks self-control and acts impetuously," that he "exhibits erratic behavior," and that he is "fundamentally dishonest." Mitt Romney, who did not sign the letters but was nevertheless extremely outspoken, referred to Trump as a "phony" and a "fraud."

    One of the first anti-Trump letter's organizers, Professor Eliot Cohen described presidential candidate Trump as "a man utterly unfit for the position by temperament, values and policy preferences." After the election, Cohen even continued his scathing attacks on the new president, writing that "The president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities whose chief qualifications seem to be unquestioning loyalty." He goes on to describe them as "second-raters."

    Cohen, who reminds one of fellow Harvard bombast artist Alan Dershowitz, might consider himself as "first rate" but that is a judgment that surely might be challenged. He was a prominent cheerleader for the Iraq War and has been an advocate of overthrowing the Iranian government by force. He opposed the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense because Hagel had "made it clear that he [did] not want to engage in a confrontation with Iran." Cohen, a notable Israel Firster in common with many of his neocon brethren, has aggressively condemned even well-reasoned criticism of the Israel Lobby and of Israel itself as anti-Semitism. Glenn Greenwald has described him as "extremist a neoconservative and warmonger as it gets."

    One has to wonder at the often-professed intelligence and experience of Cohen and his neocon friends if they couldn't figure out in advance that backing the wrong horse in an election might well have consequences. And there is a certain cynicism intrinsic in the neoconservative whine. Many of the dissidents like Cohen, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Eric Edelman, Kori Schake, Reuel Gerecht, Kenneth Adelman and Michael Morell who came out most enthusiastically for Hillary Clinton were undoubtedly trimming their sails to float effortlessly into her anticipated hawkish administration. Gerecht, who has advocated war in Syria, said of the Democratic candidate that "She's not a neoconservative, but Hillary Clinton isn't uncomfortable with American power."

    That the defeat of Hillary was also a defeat of the neoconservatives and their alphabet soup of institutes and think tanks is sometimes overlooked but was a delicious dish served cold for those of us who have been praying for such a result. It was well worth the endless tedium when watching Fox News on election night to see Bill Kristol's face when it became clear that Trump would be victorious. Back to the drawing board, Bill!

    And there may be yet another shocker in store for the neocons thanks to Trump. The fact that the new administration is drawing on the business world for staffing senior positions means that he has been less interested in hiring think tank and revolving door academic products to fill the government bureaucracies. This has led Josh Rogin of the Washington Post to warn that the death of think tanks as we know them could be on the horizon. He quotes one think-tanker as opining that "the people around Trump view think tanks as for sale for the highest bidder. They have empowered other centers of gravity for staffing this administration." Rogin adds "If the Trump team succeeds in diminishing the influence of Washington think tanks and keeping their scholars out of government, policymaking will suffer. Many of these scholars hold the institutional knowledge and deep subject matter expertise the incoming administration needs."

    Rogin, who is himself a neocon who has been an associated "expert" with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), is peddling bullshit. The record of the geniuses who have been guiding U.S. foreign policy ever since the Reagan Administration has not been exactly reassuring and can be considered downright disastrous if one considers Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Think tanks have agendas that in most cases actually work against the public interest. Their designation of staff as "scholars" is a contrivance as their scholarship consists of advocacy for specific causes and ideologies. They should be seen for what they are and what they are is not very pretty as they are into endless self-promotion.

    Fear mongering Danielle Pletka, who is vice president for foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute, has supported every war coming out of the past two Administrations and has called repeatedly for more of the same to close the deal on Syria and Iran. Like Cohen, Rogin, Kagan, Gerecht and many other neocons she is both Jewish and an Israel Firster. And her annual salary is reported to be $275,000.

    It is a pleasure to watch the think tanks begin thinking of their own demises. It is also intriguing to speculate that Trump with his populist message might just take it all one step farther and shut the door on the K Street lobbyists and other special interests, which have symbiotic relationships with the think tanks. The think tanks sit around and come up with formulations that benefit certain groups, individuals and corporate interests and then reap the rewards when the cash is handed out at the end of the year. How fantastic it would be to see lobbies and the parasites who work for them put out of business, particularly if our much beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine. What a wonderful world it would be.

    NoseytheDuke , January 24, 2017 at 5:32 am GMT \n

    Even more wonderful if these psychopaths were held to account and subjected to some solitary space for lengthy contemplation. Manning is due to vacate some digs soon so there is space available.

    Kyle McKenna , January 24, 2017 at 5:37 am GMT \n

    The Neocon Lament
    Nobody wants them in Trump's Washington

    Even allowing that this is a bit of an exaggeration, it's one of the happiest headlines I've read in a long, long time.

    Now maybe we can get to work on convincing the MSM that putting "America First" isn't actually hideously racist and anti-semitic. Well I can dream, can't I?

    Cato , January 24, 2017 at 5:39 am GMT \n
    100 Words

    These losers think they are indispensable. In fact, the talent pool is deep, deep, deep. In my own social sciences department, in a tier-3 university, there are multiple people who speak multiple languages from West Asia, and keep current on what is happening RIGHT NOW. Plug them into the latest info from NSA, and they would be excellent filters–reducing the noise to policy-relevant information. If this is true in my shop, it must be true at the tier-1s and 2s. The President's team can find the talent, if they just look for it.

    Mark Green , January 24, 2017 at 6:00 am GMT \n
    200 Words

    What a delicious take on the demise of the neocons. Unfortunately, these vampires have a way of coming back from the near-dead. They're not going anywhere right away. NY-Washington is their hood.

    True, it's possible that the salaries of a few of these warstars might dip into the low triple-digits, but these rapacious insiders will never leave Washington voluntarily. Parasites tend not wander far from their host.

    Equally worrisome is the fact that Trump is surrounded by a fresh, new cabal of Israel-firsters. And the Prez has already indicated (according to MSM news reports) that he's prepared to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's eternal and 'undivided' capitol.

    Maybe this Jerusalem claim is exaggerated or fake, but even The Donald knows that by pleasing the Jews now he will likely encounter reduced political headwinds later. So like any politician, Trump's doing a balancing act.

    This unspoken truism concerning Jewish power is why the Zions generally emerge victorious in Washington. Fighting them just doesn't pay; even when you're the President of the United States.

    Cloak And Dagger , January 24, 2017 at 7:06 am GMT \n
    200 Words

    Phil,

    if our much-beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine

    From your mouth to Trump's ears! If the lobbies cease to exist, so will the bribes to Israel-firsters in Congress. Their demise would be particularly sweet as they, more than anyone, represent the vilest of 5th columnists in our government, a veritable den of vipers that personifies corruption.

    I can only scoff at the "wisdom" of these think-tank "scholars" to conceive that publicly opposing the election of a victorious president would have no negative consequences. Even the holiest of saints would refuse to turn the other cheek. The denouncements from these charlatans were remarkable. By what possible rationale would they perceive that Trump would welcome them into his government? It boggles the mind!

    I hope that Trump publicly chastises these rogues so that there remains no possibility of them darkening the doorsteps of the Whitehouse under some future sympathetic president. Ah, to see them pelted with rotten tomatoes and shamed for how they have harmed this nation! It would warm the cockles of my heart!

    I am beginning to feel the first twinges of optimism after a long time. I hope nothing happens to piss on this spark before it has had a chance to become a flame.

    Antiwar7 , January 24, 2017 at 7:16 am GMT \n

    Maybe they could organize their own Million Warmonger March?

    exiled off mainstreet , January 24, 2017 at 8:26 am GMT \n
    100 Words

    This would appear to make the Trump presidency worthwhile no matter how bad his domestic policy may end up being, though his elimination of the so-called "trade" pacts is already a positive development which renders many of later negative developments more reversible than the neoliberal trade pacts would have been under the harpy. The bottom line is that no nukes is good news, and that, hopefully, the arrogance and criminality of this crowd of war criminals has sealed their oblivion.

    AmericaFirstNow , Website January 24, 2017 at 8:46 am GMT \n

    ISIS result of Israeli Oded Yinon neocon plan vs Iraq, Syria and beyond :

    http://america-hijacked.com/2014/07/13/the-unfolding-of-yinons-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east-the-crisis-in-iraq-and-the-centrality-of-the-national-interest-of-israel/

    Zionist PNAC Neocon agenda vs Russia to include in Ukraine as well :

    http://america-hijacked.com/2014/02/24/us-has-neocon-agenda-in-ukraine-russia-analyst/

    Let's talk about Russian influence but not Israel's :

    http://america-hijacked.com/2016/08/29/lets-talk-about-russian-influence/

    jacques sheete , January 24, 2017 at 8:52 am GMT \n

    I don't see what they're whining about since most of them probably don't really need the jobs and Trump will most likely implement their most cherished pro-Izzy policies in any case.

    Anyway, the more whining the better. It's music to my ears.

    Haxo Angmark , Website January 24, 2017 at 8:55 am GMT \n
    100 Words

    these Judeo-globalists aren't just warmongers, they're Class A War Criminals: the number of people massacred in the neo-cons' wars of choice – Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Syria – in Syria alone nearly a half-million dead – continues to mount day after bloody day. What's left of Syria – just look at some of the hundreds of youtube videos on that Zionist-induced butchery – is enough to make one weep; and it's only thanks to Russia and Hezbollah that ISIS – Isramerica's pet headchopping terrorists – aren't setting up shop in Damascus right now and heading for Lebanon. I wish I could share Giraldi's confidence that Trump will continue to exclude the Jew neo-cons and their Israel ueber alles machinations from his regime. But, given Trump's own well-known rabid Zionism, I fear he may eventually blunder into a terminal war with Russia over yet another object of neo-con bloodlust: Iran.

    animalogic , January 24, 2017 at 9:01 am GMT \n
    100 Words

    "How fantastic it would be to see lobbies and the parasites who work for them put out of business, particularly if our much beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine. What a wonderful world it would be."
    AMEN!

    AmericaFirstNow , Website January 24, 2017 at 9:01 am GMT \n
    100 Words @AmericaFirstNow CIA's Mike Scheuer on Israel & Iraq war as terrorism motivation :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ncn5Q16N4&list=PL3C32560738EF3C30&feature=plpp

    Israel 1st AIPAC agent Jared Kushner (who is an orthodox Jew too) is senior White House advisor to Donald Trump and is bringing in AIPAC friends as well (Trump has put Kushner in charge of bringing about a 'peace agreement' between Israel and the Palestinians):

    http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/359120/jared-kushners-friend-picked-by-do

    Additional at following URL:

    http://america-hijacked.com/2016/08/01/who-is-running-trumps-campaign/

    AmericaFirstNow , Website January 24, 2017 at 10:49 am GMT \n
    @Mark Green What a delicious take on the demise of the neocons. Unfortunately, these vampires have a way of coming back from the near-dead. They're not going anywhere right away. NY-Washington is their hood.

    True, it's possible that the salaries of a few of these warstars might dip into the low triple-digits, but these rapacious insiders will never leave Washington voluntarily. Parasites tend not wander far from their host.

    Equally worrisome is the fact that Trump is surrounded by a fresh, new cabal of Israel-firsters. And the Prez has already indicated (according to MSM news reports) that he's prepared to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's eternal and 'undivided' capitol.

    Maybe this Jerusalem claim is exaggerated or fake, but even The Donald knows that by pleasing the Jews now he will likely encounter reduced political headwinds later. So like any politician, Trump's doing a balancing act.

    This unspoken truism concerning Jewish power is why the Zions generally emerge victorious in Washington. Fighting them just doesn't pay; even when you're the President of the United States.

    Sharon's infamous comment: We Control America :

    http://rense.com/general45/sharonsinfamouscomment.htm

    Wizard of Oz , January 24, 2017 at 11:26 am GMT \n
    100 Words @Cloak And Dagger Phil,
    if our much-beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine
    From your mouth to Trump's ears! If the lobbies cease to exist, so will the bribes to Israel-firsters in Congress. Their demise would be particularly sweet as they, more than anyone, represent the vilest of 5th columnists in our government, a veritable den of vipers that personifies corruption.

    I can only scoff at the "wisdom" of these think-tank "scholars" to conceive that publicly opposing the election of a victorious president would have no negative consequences. Even the holiest of saints would refuse to turn the other cheek. The denouncements from these charlatans were remarkable. By what possible rationale would they perceive that Trump would welcome them into his government? It boggles the mind!

    I hope that Trump publicly chastises these rogues so that there remains no possibility of them darkening the doorsteps of the Whitehouse under some future sympathetic president. Ah, to see them pelted with rotten tomatoes and shamed for how they have harmed this nation! It would warm the cockles of my heart!

    I am beginning to feel the first twinges of optimism after a long time. I hope nothing happens to piss on this spark before it has had a chance to become a flame.

    "Bribes to Israel firsters in Congress" sounds like wishful thinking (about the end of lobbying for Israel) confusing your understanding of how things work.

    Isreal firsters aren't the ones who need bribing and the effective bribing of Congressmen to vote the way any particular lobby wants is all about money given to or withheld from them or potential opponents so that their campaigns directly or indirectly have the superior funding.

    Lobbies and think tanks may trim their budgets and staff numbers under the Trump presidency. But can you explain how or why the flow of money in support of those who vote the "right way" is going to stop?

    Ram , January 24, 2017 at 11:38 am GMT \n
    100 Words

    We should NOT be too hasty to judge what's happening. Tel Aviv seems more than happy with Trump and Trump's appointments from the very same swamp that he so ridiculed, must be cause for anxiety.

    I have been disappointed that the USA has been unable to liberate itself from the Tel Aviv yoke that has been in place for many decades now.

    annamaria , January 24, 2017 at 1:52 pm GMT \n
    100 Words @Kyle McKenna
    The Neocon Lament
    Nobody wants them in Trump's Washington
    Even allowing that this is a bit of an exaggeration, it's one of the happiest headlines I've read in a long, long time.

    Now maybe we can get to work on convincing the MSM that putting "America First" isn't actually hideously racist and anti-semitic. Well I can dream, can't I?

    Agree.
    "Think tanks have agendas that in most cases actually work against the public interest They should be seen for what they are and what they are is not very pretty as they are into endless self-promotion. Fear mongering Danielle Pletka, who is vice president for foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute, has supported every war coming out of the past two Administrations Like Cohen, Rogin, Kagan, Gerecht and many other neocons she is both Jewish and an Israel Firster. And her annual salary is reported to be $275,000."
    They are covered in blood of the innocent people. The ziocons are modern-day cannibals.

    Tom Welsh , January 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm GMT \n
    100 Words

    "She's not a neoconservative, but Hillary Clinton isn't uncomfortable with American power."

    War crimes. Hillary Clinton isn't uncomfortable with American *war crimes* . Power is fine, as long as it is exercised justly and within the law. Clinton and her tribe have exulted in using power to trample on the law – and everyone else. Remember – "we came, we saw, he died cackle, cackle, cackle"?

    Tom Welsh , January 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm GMT \n
    200 Words

    "If the Trump team succeeds in diminishing the influence of Washington think tanks and keeping their scholars out of government, policymaking will suffer. Many of these scholars hold the institutional knowledge and deep subject matter expertise the incoming administration needs."

    That's a laugh, coming from a colleague of the fellow who told us that:

    " guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality ­ judiciously, as you will ­ we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

    "Scholars"? Pah!

    KA , January 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm GMT \n
    400 Words

    These think tanks are overrated But they are overrated for a purpose – to have reliable ally in media administration defense and foreign policy They ensure a continuity. Think Tank is the one -stop shopping point . It provides ready mix of useful ideas for the imperial adventures and domestic control .
    Neocons have lost the job but doesn't mean the same job wont get done or the jobs be removed from the goals and aims . Neocons are angry mad and fuming ,just like Democrats became when Bush Jr came to power and just like the antiwar ant corporate pro liberal agenda group are getting mad and furious at Trump after remaining brain dead for 8 yrs under Obama . Partisan fights for the spoils and nothing more going on here .

    It is still very good .

    There will be some nice new developments in the process of fight for lost ground,the Neocons will start tearing apart the system They are vicious just like the ISIS is .It's them or none .

    The fight will expose more truth and realities to the American public than any truth commission will ever do . Trump in his few effective and pregnant moments of arrogance and disdain have exposed more about Iraq war, WMD , role of the neocons and issues surrounding 911 than any commission ever did or could have achieved .Those wouldn't have surfaced had the neocons kept quiet and not fought Trump. Those truths were known to millions but Trump gave it the seal of approval and made those truths earn the rightful place in American narrative .

    Neocons may be warmongers Israeli firtsers but they are also self promoting bastards To promote themselves against the stiff resistance from the new elites ,they will harm the objectives of the Thinktank They will blame everybody They have a track record of doing so. They blamed Bush Cheney intelligence and military for each and every failure they they themselves brought upon America from pre 911 to -p0st 2007 . WaPo will not stay passive observer .We will be regaled by the groans and moans of the laments

    woodNfish , January 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm GMT \n
    100 Words

    How fantastic it would be to see lobbies and the parasites who work for them put out of business, particularly if our much beloved neoconservatives are simultaneously no longer calling the shots on national security policy and their think tanks are withering on the vine. What a wonderful world it would be.

    What a beautiful thing it would be! Pass the popcorn!

    [Jan 30, 2017] Former Obama adviser calls Trump decision on Nat Sec panel 'stone cold crazy'

    Notable quotes:
    "... There has been running tension between the Trump administration and the intelligence community ..."
    "... the President had argued that intelligence services were politically partisan, he dismissed their findings that Russia hacked Democratic targets during the campaign and referred slightingly to the intelligence community by tweeting with the word intelligence in quotes. ..."
    "... In setting out the reorganization, Trump said that "security threats facing the United States in the 21st century transcend international boundaries. Accordingly, the United States Government's decision-making structures and processes to address these challenges must remain equally adaptive and transformative." ..."
    Jan 30, 2017 | www.cnn.com

    Former Obama adviser calls Trump decision on Nat Sec panel 'stone cold crazy'

    President Donald Trump's decision to reorganize the National Security Council in a way that removes the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is "stone cold crazy," former National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday.

    Rice retweeted another Twitter user, P.E. Juan, who said: "Trump loves and trusts the military so much he just kicked them out of the National Security Council and put a Nazi in their place."

    Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, was reacting to an executive order signed by Trump that said that the head of DNI and the nation's most senior military officer would be invited to attend the security meetings "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."

    "This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?" Rice tweeted, with DPRK referring to North Korea.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer told ABC News Rice's comments were "clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador."

    DNI James Clapper was always included in Obama administration's NSC principals' meetings, CNN confirmed.

    In contrast, Trump's order makes his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a regular member of the Principals Committee. The committee is Cabinet-level group of agencies that deal with national security that was established by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. Every version of it has included the Joint Chiefs chairman and the director of the CIA or, once it was established, the head of the DNI. The President's chief of staff was typically included as well.

    Bannon's presence reinforces the notion he is, in essence, a co-chief of staff alongside Reince Priebus, and demonstrates the breadth of influence the former head of Breitbart News has in the Trump administration.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, offered praise for the administration's national security team writ large, but expressed concerns about Bannon.

    "I think the national security team around President Trump is very impressive. I don't think you could ask for a better one," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

    "I am worried about the national security council who are the members of it and who are the permanent members of it. The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any national security council in history," he said. "It's of concern this quote reorganization."

    Rice continued her tweetstorm: "Chairman of Joint Chiefs and DNI treated as after thoughts in Cabinet level principals meetings. And where is CIA?? Cut out of everything?"

    And she noted a provision that would allow Vice President Michael Pence to chair NSC meetings if Trump isn't available.

    "Pence may chair NSC mtgs in lieu of POTUS," Rice tweeted. "Never happened w/Obama."

    And she added the observation that Trump's UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was "sidelined from Cabinet and Sub Cab mtgs."

    The NSC is run by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was asked to step down in 2014 by senior intelligence leaders.

    There has been running tension between the Trump administration and the intelligence community , though during a January 22 visit to the CIA Trump declared that "nobody feels stronger about the intelligence community than Donald Trump," adding that "I love you. I respect you."

    Before then, the President had argued that intelligence services were politically partisan, he dismissed their findings that Russia hacked Democratic targets during the campaign and referred slightingly to the intelligence community by tweeting with the word intelligence in quotes.

    In setting out the reorganization, Trump said that "security threats facing the United States in the 21st century transcend international boundaries. Accordingly, the United States Government's decision-making structures and processes to address these challenges must remain equally adaptive and transformative."

    Regular members of the Principals Committee will include the secretary of state, the treasury secretary, the defense secretary, the attorney general, the secretary of Homeland Security, the assistant to the President and chief of staff, the assistant to the President and chief strategist, the national security adviser and the Homeland Security adviser.

    [Jan 30, 2017] Trivializing problems that comfortable people call attention to is just a variation of Be thankful you have anything at all. which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit.

    Notable quotes:
    "... I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what? ..."
    Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Dan Kervick : , January 28, 2017 at 06:38 AM
    Two items for your reading pleasure:
    Chris G -> Dan Kervick... , January 28, 2017 at 07:08 AM
    +1 for Frank's piece. "Meh." to James F's. His crankiness, while justifiable, doesn't go anywhere.

    Also, to say "Obama was defeated in the Massachusetts senatorial campaign [in 2009, the special election to replace Kennedy]." is to fundamentally misunderstand that race.

    Coakley was a decent AG but utterly inept at connecting with voters. Brown couldn't win a battle of wits with a golden retriever but he was perceived as a nice guy. (Whether he actually is a nice guy is open to debate.)

    Brown's victory wasn't a repudiation of Obama; it was a repudiation of Coakley.

    Chris G -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 08:21 AM
    I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what?

    Trivializing problems that "comfortable people" call attention to is just a variation of "Be thankful you have anything at all." which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted but be self-aware enough to realize that whatever your position it is it may change.

    PS James F writes:

    "We [people in flyover country] provide commodities like food and coal and oil and metals."

    Providing coal and oil may be a near-term necessity but it's not doing anyone - "comfortable people", "deplorables" or otherwise - any long-term favors. That you have acute concerns which you need to deal with is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to your impact on the world. It may be a reason but it is not an excuse.

    Julio -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 11:41 PM
    I agree with your take on both articles.

    On the Mass race, i think the failure of Democrats to fight with all their guns for the 60th Senate seat was a major failure. They were not willing to send their big guns to say "we cannot afford a 40th Republican, no matter how nice he is".

    [Jan 29, 2017] How Obama Framed Trump with Faux Mortgage Insurance Rate Decrease

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Naked Capitalism reader aliteralmind, aka Jeff Epstein. Jeff, a progressive activist and journalist, was one of only around forty candidates in the county to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders, and was a pledged delegate for him at the DNC. Jeff is also currently starring in Feel The Bern-The Musical , which will very soon be performed in New York. Originally posted on Citizens' Media TV ..."
    "... "to be in the tank is to be "lovingly enthralled; foolishly enraptured; passionately bedazzled"" ..."
    "... Today, the President announced a major new step that his Administration is taking to make mortgages more affordable and accessible for creditworthy families. ..."
    Jan 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on January 28, 2017 by Yves Smith By Naked Capitalism reader aliteralmind, aka Jeff Epstein. Jeff, a progressive activist and journalist, was one of only around forty candidates in the county to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders, and was a pledged delegate for him at the DNC. Jeff is also currently starring in Feel The Bern-The Musical , which will very soon be performed in New York. Originally posted on Citizens' Media TV

    (This is my first issue-opinion video. With thanks especially to Adryenn Ashley and Jimmy Dore for the inspiration. All sources and supporting evidence is below.) Within hours of becoming the 45th President of the United States , one of Donald Trump's first orders of business was to sign an executive order to " raise mortgage insurance rates " on millions of homeowners , by around $500 a year.

    But while it is technically true that Trump did sign the order reversing the decrease, it is a misleading picture. This story is more a negative reflection on President Obama than it is on Trump.

    A Brief Tutorial From Someone Who Is Learning the Subject Right Along With You

    Generally speaking, if you are a first time homebuyer and purchase a house with a down payment of less than 20% of the home's worth, you are required to purchase mortgage insurance. This insurance is to protect the the lender in case you default on your payments.

    Let's use the example of a $200,000 home with a $10,000 (5%) down payment. So you need to borrow $190,000.

    $200,000 * .05 = $10,000
    
    $200,000 - $10,000 = $190,000
    

    Since January 2015 , the upfront MIP ( mortgage insurance premium ) has been 1.75%, with the annual premium at .8%. So when you sign the mortgage, you pay the upfront premium of $3,325.

    $190,000 * .0175 = $3,325
    

    And then every year, you pay the annual premium of $1,520.

    $190,000 * .008 = $1,520
    

    As you pay off your principal, this number goes down.

    The Obama administration's reduction of the annual premium rate is .25 points (the upfront premium remains unchanged). So with the same loan above, your annual premium would instead be $1,045.

    .008 - .0025 = .0055
    
    $190,000 * .0055 = $1,045
    

    That's a savings of $475 a year, or about $40 a month.

    $1,520 - $1,045 = $475
    
    $475 / 12 months = $39.59
    

    Backlash Against Trump

    The criticism of Trump for this move has been unrelenting and, at least in my internet bubble, unanimous. I have not seen any criticism of the Obama administration at all; including by, disappointingly, one of my primary sources of news, The Young Turks. (Can't find the video at the moment, but they briefly criticized Trump for the move, without looking further into the issue.)

    As reported by USA Today :

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday that Trump's words in his inaugural speech "ring hollow" following the mortgage premium action.

    "In one of his first acts as president, President Trump made it harder for Americans to afford a mortgage," he said. "What a terrible thing to do to homeowners. Actions speak louder than words."

    As reported by Bloomberg :

    "This action is completely out of alignment with President Trump's words about having the government work for the people," said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, through a spokesman. "Exactly how does raising the cost of buying a home help average people?"

    Sarah Edelman, director of housing policy for the left-leaning Center for American Progress, in an e-mail wrote, "On Day 1, the president has turned his back on middle-class families - this decision effectively takes $500 out of the pocketbooks of families that were planning to buy a home in 2017. This is not the way to build a strong economy."

    And one of the many strong criticisms as documented by Common Dreams :

    "Donald Trump's inaugural speech proclaimed he will govern for the people, instead of the political elite," [Liz Ryan Murray, policy director for national grassroots advocacy group People's Action] said. "But minutes after giving this speech, he gave Wall Street a big gift at the expense of everyday people. Trump may talk a populist game, but policies like this make life better for hedge fund managers and big bankers like his nominee for Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, not for everyday people."

    The Full Picture

    To say that Trump took savings away from the neediest of homebuyers is not true, because homebuyers never had the savings to begin with. The rate reduction was not announced until January 9 of this year–11 days before the end of Obama's eight year term–and was not set to take effect until January 27, a full week after Trump was sworn in.

    (Here's the PDF from the FHA, of Trump's suspension announcement .)

    In addition, Obama's reduction decision seems to have been made without any advance notice or even a projection document justifying the decrease. As I understand it , both of these things are unusual with a change of this magnitude.

    Finally, with the announcement made little more than a week before the new administration was to be sworn in, and despite Trump being entirely responsible for implementing this change, the incoming administration was not consulted.

    Now that the timing is clear, Time Magazine's coverage is particularly misleading:

    Trump, who claimed a populist mantle in his first speech as a president, signed the executive order less than an hour after leaving the inaugural stage. It reverses an Obama-era policy.

    "Obama-era policy" implies the reduction was made long ago, and has been in force for much of that time.


    (Rates can't be raised if they were never lowered.)

    Conclusion: It Was a Set Up

    Finally. After eight years of hard work and multiple requests, your boss approaches you on a Monday morning and says, "Good news! Starting in two weeks, I'm giving you a raise. Congratulations."

    Two days later, you find out that he decided to leave the company months ago, and his final day is Friday. Your raise doesn't start until a week after that.

    You ask him about your new boss. "Well, he's a pretty strict guy." He leans in, puts the back of his hand to the side of his mouth, lowers his voice, and continues, "Honesty, I hear he is a bit difficult to work with. Real penny pincher." He sits up, his voice back to its normal cadence, "But don't worry. I'm leaving a note on his desk telling him just how important this raise is to you and your family." He stands up and slaps you on the back as he walks away. "I'm sure he'll keep my word."

    If that were me, I would be upset at my new boss, but I would be furious at my old one. He had eight years to do something.

    This was nothing more than an opportunistic political maneuver by the outgoing president, to set the incoming president up for failure. All while pretending to care about American homeowners. If the President Obama really wanted to help Americans, he would've considered this move–or something similar–long ago. Instead, he told them he was giving them a gift and promised that it would be delivered by Trump, knowing full well that he would never follow through. Lower-income Americans were used as pawns in a cheap political game.

    Further confirming my theory, here is what was said when the reduction was originally announced :

    "The Trump administration would be accused on day one of raising mortgage costs for average Americans if it reverses the FHA move," analyst Jaret Seiberg, managing director at Cowen Group Inc., wrote in a note to clients. "Trump's career has been real estate. It would seem out of character for him to be aggressively negative on real estate in his first week in office." [ ]

    "I have no reason to believe this will be scaled back," [HUD Secretary Julian] Castro told reporters. The premium cut "offers a good benefit to hardworking American families out there at a time when interest rates might well continue to go up."

    It is not Trump's responsibility to keep the promises that Obama makes on his way out the door. It is Obama's responsibility to not promise what is not promiseable.

    There are so many things for progressives to criticize Trump about. This is not one of them.

    So Who Are We Fighting Anyway?

    To paraphrase Jimmy Dore , "The way to oppose Trump is to agree with him when he's right, and to fight him when he's wrong. Anything else delegitimizes you, especially in the eyes of his supporters."

    And again in another of his videos : "We don't need to unite against Trump. We need to unite against corruption and corporatism."

    If Democrats do something wrong, we need to fight them. If Trump does something wrong, we need to fight him. If Trump does something right, we need to stand with him.

    If we can't win with the truth, we don't deserve to win.

    39 0 10 0 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Banking industry , Credit markets , Dubious statistics , Guest Post , Media watch , Real estate , Regulations and regulators on January 28, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 93 comments Lambert Strether , January 28, 2017 at 6:06 am

    "If we can't win with the truth, we don't deserve to win."

    Let's get that tatooed on our foreheads.

    UserFriendly , January 28, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I agree with the sentiment but after watching the D party protest war under Bush, never talk about it under Obama, and then cheerlead for it with Hillary I don't think they actually stand for anything except identity politics.

    jgordon , January 28, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Right, they traded support for real issues for identity politics. Identity politics which is lovingly celebrated on TYT every day by the way. I'm not sure how or why anyone would go to that rancid cesspool of biased disinformation for news, but ok.

    Here is a litmus test: anyone who gave a pro forma endorsement of Hillary OK, understandable, and I can kind of tolerate that. But for the others who were in the tank for Hillary like TYT–all except for Jimmy Dore–those people are persona non grata from here out.

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Totally disagree that TYT was in the tank for Hillary. Have watched these guys every day since around May. They're all pro-Bernie. They clearly wanted Hillary over Trump during the general (and I did too, but that's waaaaaay not to say I'm pro-Hillary), but I don't think "in the tank for Hillary" is a fair characterization for any of them.

    To me, the best evidence is that I have not witnessed Jimmy Dore being forced to tone his admittedly louder and more vehement anti-Hillary ranting down on any show, including the main show. They even gave him his own show around the end of the primaries where he gleefully goes off (Aggressive Progressives).

    As an aside, The Jimmy Dore Show seems fresher than Aggressive Progressives, I believe because he rehearses the bits on own show first. On TJDS, he is frequently good, and consistently on fire.

    Naked Cap, the entire TYT network, Glenn Greenwald, Le Show, and of course, Bernie Sanders, are among my most important truth tellers.

    Jerry Denim , January 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Sorry for being so clueless, but "TYT", "TJDS" ?

    Anyone care to fill me in on this nomenclature?

    Thanks!

    oh , January 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    TYT – The Young Turks
    TJDS – The Jimmy Dore Show

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    The Young Turks and The Jimmy Dore Show. YouTube shows.

    oh , January 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    If you voted for Hillary then you were in the tank for her. There's no such thing as the lesser of the two evils. Sorry! Same goes for TYT.

    dcrane , January 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    A relevant definition of "in the tank" from this NY Times Magazine article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/magazine/20wwln-safire-t.html

    "to be in the tank is to be "lovingly enthralled; foolishly enraptured; passionately bedazzled""

    Yves Smith Post author , January 28, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    It's not that clear cut. For instance, if you are a person of color, there was good reason to be plenty worried about Trump. Violence against immigrants picked up big time in the UK after Brexit, so there's a close parallel. And his appointment of Jeff Sessions as AG is hardly encouraging.

    Brian Daly , January 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    But if you're White, you have no good reason to be worried about Trump? That's a rather shabby way to think about folks of all colors.

    Sorry to be snarky. It's just exasperating reading these attempts to define and claim moral purity. In a complex and compromised world.

    integer , January 28, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Did you see their election day coverage? Here are the highlights: TYT meltdown .
    My favorite part starts at 14m50s, when Kasparian rants about how she has no respect for women who didn't vote for Clinton and calls them "f@#king dumb". Solidarity!

    skippy , January 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    What the – ????? – like the right wing is not all about Identity Politics from an ethnic and religious foundations .. errrrrrr .

    Now that the Democrats embraced free market neoliberalism and went off the reservation with non traditional views wrt whom could join the club, being the only thing separating the two, its a bit wobbly to make out like there is some massive schism between the two.

    Disheveled . you can't have a "dominate" economic purview running the ship for 50ish years and then devolve into polemic political warfare ..

    Teejay , January 28, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    jgordon– Identity politics lovingly celebrated on that rancid cesspool of biased disinformation every day. Wow, takes my breath away. I've watched the TYT evening news for ~10 months virtually ever day and I'd guesstimate that I viewed 60 of their You Tube clips. Seems to me you're projecting. Given your strident certitude you should have no trouble provide any links that convinced you of your opinion, buttress your argument. The daily recurrences of "identity politics" put it out there. What convinced you they were "in the tank for Hillary"? It'd be hard to come up with a more inaccurate phrase. They full throatedly endorsed Sanders in the primaries. Cenk announced on the Monday (IIRC) before that he would be voting for HRC so how do you arrive at using "in the tank"? I found your remarks a "rancid cesspool of biased disinformation" long on emotion and very short on facts and evidence. That's why it seems like projection.

    Donald , January 28, 2017 at 10:00 am

    The US support for the Saudi war in Yemen is the most clearcut example of the moral worthlessness of many liberals. Actually, to their credit many Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress have opposed it, but it isn't a big cause because Obama was the one doing it. I imagine Trump will continue the policy, but don't expect anything to change– Trump can be opposed on other issues, so there will be no incentive to criticize him on an issue when the Trump people can say they are just continuing what Obama started.

    It is infuriating to hear liberals mindlessly repeating how disgraceful it is to see Trump cozying up with a dictator who has blood on his hands. It is the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind with these people.

    integer , January 28, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    This tweet (which I found @ActualFlatticus ) sums up the dynamic you are referring to perfectly imo.

    Jen , January 28, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Hear, hear! Thanks to NC that Common Dreams piece set off my bs detector immediately. There's a larger framing question we can add as well: who benefits from PMI?

    Using the example above, the home buyer pays an upfront premium of $3,300 which gives them no additional equity in their home, and somewhere between $1400 and $1500 a year for their premium, which also doesn't increase their equity. And, they continue to pay PMI until they achieve a loan to value ratio of 80%.

    So you buy your 200K house and dutifully pay your mortgage and PMI, which, btw, is also not tax deductible. You finally get to the point where through a combination of paying down your mortgage and increasing home prices, you have 80% equity in your home. Then the housing market tanks, and your 200K home is worth 170K. Your house is worth less than you paid for it and you're stuck paying $1500 a year in fees that don't reduce the amount of your mortgage, that you can't deduct from your taxes, and that you can't get rid of until you have 80% equity in your house.

    Sign me up!

    So who benefits? Certainly not the middle class would be homeowner, who not only gets screwed on the finances, but thanks to inflation of home prices, is getting screwed on the finances so that they can spend 200K on a crappy little ranch that's a 40 minute commute to their job one way on a good day.

    jgordon , January 28, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I also read about this on the Neocon/Neolib pro-war propaganda and general disinformation site for women and manginas Huffington Post, and I have to say that they were spinning really hard to make this look like something horrible Trump had done. But even in the extremely biased article I read they surreptitiously had to admit that this was a rule the Obama regime had put in place the midnight before Obama departed and that Trump was just reversing it. I read this before I knew anything else about t he subject and already had a pretty good idea of what was going on. But the above post helped a lot.

    Baby Gerald , January 28, 2017 at 8:45 am

    'the Neocon/Neolib pro-war propaganda and general disinformation site for women and manginas '

    Thank you, jgordon, for my first hearty laugh of the morning. I'm going to bookmark HuffPo just so I can re-title it this.

    Thanks again to NC for giving me a good link to use against the uninformed masses with whom I frequently have to deal.

    lyman alpha blob , January 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Finance benefits – they get to keep promoting unaffordable mortgages.

    We refused to pay this BS insurance when purchasing our house, since it wan't insuring us against anything but rather we'd be paying for the bank's insurance against ourselves. Seems a lot more like a scam when you frame it that way, considering that the bank is lending you money they just created in the first place.

    Instead we saved up for another year or two until we had the whole 20% down required to avoid the insurance. I do understand that not everyone can afford 20% down depending on their job and where they live however if enough people refused both PMI and to purchase because they couldn't afford 20% down on an overpriced house (and we are in another bubble already, at least in my area), prices would drop until people could really afford them.

    Finance pretends they are just trying to make the American Dream available to everybody and too many have taken the bait to the point where finance as a percentage of GDP is near or at an all time high. The reality is that it's mostly just a scam to benefit finance and turn the population into debt slaves.

    Marcer69 , January 28, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    The home owner was able to purchase a home with less than 20% down. The PMI protects the lender during default, which is considerably higher when borrower has no skin in the game. Also, there are other options such as lender paid mi.

    Marcer69 , January 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Additionally, most of you are confusing PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance- with FHA Upfront and MIP. With the latter being required regardless of the down payment. Secondly, the author was wrong on his facts. MIP is .85 @ 96.5% and .80 @ 30 years. 15 YR.terns offer reduced

    koki , January 28, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    PMI is another insurance company rip-off. Requiring people to escrow taxes with no interest paid to them by the banks using those funds is another rip-off.

    Roger Smith , January 28, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Agreed! Great article Jeff!

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you, Roger.

    nonsense factory , January 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Trying to condense this whole article into a tweet is a challenge. . .

    "Obama cuts mortg. ins. rate for <20% down by 25 pts ($500 on $200k home) 11days prior to exit in con artist act sure to be dropped by Trump resulting in bogus media claims about Dem support for working class homeowners."

    Sondra , January 28, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I agree. If we Progressives are to make any fwd movement, we can't beat up on DJT on any and everything. I am also cautioning friends & family to do so too. If cry "foul" everyou time he acts, that delegitimizes us.

    One recent example is the Trumps' arrivall @ wh b4 the inauguration. A snapshot shows DJT entering WH before the Obamas and Mrs. DJT. Once posted, goes viral and the talk is how ill-mannered, selfish is and how gracious the Obamas are for escorting the Mrs. after her "oafish" husband

    What is not shown is that DJT stops, comes back, and ushers the trio ahead of him. (which you can see on CSPAN ).
    When I saw the truth of what happened, after reading the negative comments, that worried me.

    We REALLY need to be more dis corning and employ critical thinking.

    Have to be careful not to be swayed by bullshit, no matter where it comes from.

    Quiet , January 28, 2017 at 7:01 am

    This explanation, while nice, only serves to make Trump look dumb. He jumped into an obvious trap. Rather than focus on how Obama tricked him, I'm a bit more concerned with what this portends for the future. See, if the president is unable, either for political or personal reasons, to avoid easy pitfalls like this, the odds of his success aren't very high.

    By the way, this reads like one more zing at Obama after he's already left the building. He earned most of the criticism he got, definitely from this site, but I feel like this is overdoing it. Criticizing him for not doing it sooner? Totally valid. Criticizing him for tripping up his successor? Petty.

    Pointing out the hypocrisy of Schumer and Kaine isn't part of that pettiness, though. That will be useful to remember as they cozy up to the Don and claim they're doing it to "help working families."

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I am admittedly a political newbie (Bernie woke me up never did anything before him but vote), and perhaps I am missing something, but I would be much less upset about it if he didn't screw middle class Americans in the process.

    That this is considered petty, by which I believe you mean normal politics, is exactly the problem.

    JTMcPhee , January 28, 2017 at 11:37 am

    "Screw middle class Americans" exactly how?

    The article makes it pretty clear, if I am reading it and the links and background right, that the screwing is principally in the form of requiring mortgage insurance to insure THE LENDER (or note holder or whoever MERS says gets paid on default). And that the "benefit" you may feel was (according to the spin) "taken away," was not even an "entitlement" because it would not have even been in effect until three weeks AFTER Obama (who has screwed the middle class and everyone else not in the Elite, nine ways from nowhere, for 8 years), and would not change the abuse that is PMI. And would not have "put dollars in the pockets of consumers" anyway for long after that. And how many homeowners are in the category?

    And banksters and mortgage brokers and the rest, gee whiz, we mopes are supposed to be concerned about THEM? About people whose paydays come from commissions on the dollar amount of the loans they write? Where all the "incentives," backed by the Real Economy that undergirds the ability of the US Government to do its fiat money forkovers to lenders that connived to change the policies against prudential lending to inflate the bubble that crashed and burned so many, are all once again being pointed in the direction of making Realtors ™(c)(BS) and lenders even richer on flips and flops and dumb transactions and churning?

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    He screwed the middle class by teasing them with a rate reduction, knowing that Trump was going to never let it happen.

    JTMcPhee , January 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Just to clarify, and please anyone correct me, this was not any kind of "rate reduction." Rate reductions are what is supposed to happen under the various homeowner "they let you live in their house as long as you pay the rent mortgage" relief programs that never happened except to transfer more money to the Banksters. As in "reduce the unaffordable interest rate on oppressive mortgages." And "mark to market." And PRINCIPAL reductions as a result. And I do know the nominal difference between "title" states and "equitable interest" states - in either, the note holder effectively owns the house and property until the last nickel is paid, and as seen in the foreclosure racket, often not even the. And the "homeowner" gets to pay the taxes and maintain and maybe improve the place, to protect the note holder's equity "Fee simple absolute" is a comforting myth.

    As the article points out, the only potential reduction in money from borrower to lender/loan servicer (since the PMI underwriters seem to have such close financial ties to the insured note holder, there's but slim difference between the parts of the racket) might have been that tiny reduction in the insurance PREMIUM.

    Niggling over terms, maybe, but that's what "the law" is made up of.

    And apologies if I mistook the referent of "he" to be "Trump" rather than Obama and his clan - but nonetheless

    hemeantwell , January 28, 2017 at 8:54 am

    This excellent analytic walkthrough is a model for what must be done to ward off any form of "Obama 2!" as a political battle cry. It must be done relentlessly and without any consideration of being fair to that neoliberal schemer. The Clintonites will claw their way back from the edge of their political grave if they can draw on such sentiments.

    nonsense factory , January 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Exactly, what we need is an FDR approach, which Bernie Sanders Democrats are far more likely to deliver. Instead of bailing out AIG and Goldman Sachs, FDR would have set up a Homeonwers Loan Corporation to buy up all the adjustable rate mortgages and convert them to fixed-rate mortgages, and instead of the zero-interest loans going to Wall Street from the Fed, they'd have gone to homeowners facing foreclosure, who could then stay in their homes and pay them off over time.

    But when Obama came in, he brought in Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, who preached about "not returning to the failed policied of FDR." What a pack of con artists. I prefer your honest hustlers to those guys (i.e. Team Trump, American Hustle 2.0 at least you know what to expect.)

    a different chris , January 28, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    >See, if the president is unable, either for political or personal reasons, to avoid easy pitfalls like this

    How is this a pitfall? Trump puts a hold on a "last minute Obama change", lets it sit for awhile, and then reinstates it or maybe even makes it better. Then Trump owns the reduction, not Obama.

    This isn't even one-dimensional chess.

    Jim Haygood , January 28, 2017 at 7:59 am

    This essay focuses on timing and tactics. Not analyzed is the essential question of What is the appropriate premium for mortgage insurance?

    It's an actuarial question based on prior loss experience. Real estate moves in long cycles. Each trough is different in depth.

    Such questions aside, HUD's annual mortgage insurance premium of 0.8% was in the middle of the typical range of 0.5% to 1.0% charged by private mortgage insurers. Obama's short-lived cut to 0.55% would have put HUD's premium at the low end, on what probably are higher-risk loans.

    Obama's action mirrors what's seen in other gov-sponsored insurance programs, such as pension benefit guarantee schemes which are chronically under-reserved. Cheap premiums look like a free benefit, until the guarantee fund goes bust in a down cycle, and taxpayers get hit with a bailout.

    What's so stupendously silly about Obama's diktat is that it was too late to provide any electoral benefit. Whereas if HUD's mortgage insurance pool later went bust, it could have been blamed on Obama for cutting premiums without any actuarial analysis.

    Perhaps HUD secretary Ben Carson will ask a more fundamental question: what is HUD doing in the mortgage insurance business, anyway? Obama's ham-handed tampering with premiums for political purposes shows why government is not well placed to be in the insurance business - it has skewed incentives. Ditch it, Ben!

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 8:49 am

    In researching this story (I have no financial background, and have never owned anything beyond a car), I had a theory that the reduction made no fiscal sense because the Feds raised rates for the first time in 2016, after hovering above near zero for eight years, to .5%. My thinking was that the move was to discourage new borrowers by making loans more expensive, therefore increasing the cost of mortgages and ultimately threatening the solvency of the FHA. I was wrong, which is disappointing because it would have made for a more dramatic ending, in that Trump's revoking the decrease would have been the "correct" thing to do.

    Brian Lindholm , January 28, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Jim,

    Aye. You make an excellent point that essentially everybody in media has ignored. What should the mortgage insurance rate actually be? And the answer is simple: It should be high enough to cover losses incurred by mortgage defaults (plus operating expenses), but no higher.

    I don't know what that rate should have actually been, but if it was 0.55%, then Obama and the FHA should have lowered the rate years ago to avoid overcharging people. And if 0.80% was the right rate, then Obama should never have lowered it at all, given that it would ultimately require a taxpayer bailout. Either way , Obama is incompetent.

    If the only consideration is cost to customers, then the proper rate is 0%. Offer it for free!! But if you want to the program to actually be self-sustaining, so that it doesn't require continuous injection of taxpayer dollars and be a perpetual target for cancellation by Congress, then you have to charge enough to cover losses. Whether the average mortgage rate is 3.5% or 4.0% or 6.2% matters not a whit in this calculation.

    Net conclusion: Obama is either a flaming incompetent who flat-out doesn't understand the concept of insurance, or this was a deliberate attempt to impose a political headache on Trump.

    Jim Haygood , January 28, 2017 at 9:53 am

    An analogy could be made to municipal bond insurance, which like mortgage insurance is intended to protect the lender against loss of principal:

    Municipal bond insurance adds a layer of protection in the rare case of default. However, that protection is dependent on the insurance companies' credit quality.

    Municipal bond insurance used to be commonplace; now it's quite rare. Why is that? As of 2008, nearly half of all newly issued municipal bonds carried some form of insurance. Today, the share is less than 7%.

    The number of municipal bond insurers has also declined and their credit ratings have fallen.

    A number of bond insurers went bust during the Great Recession. Plus, a large default by Puerto Rico has caused many municipal market participants to question the ability of insurance companies to pay on the bonds they insure.

    http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/articles/How-the-Municipal-Bond-Insurance-Market-Has-Changed-Since-the-Great-Recession

    Muni bond insurers were publicly traded, profit seeking companies. But they underpriced their insurance, probably because no one expected a 1930s-style crisis like 2008.

    Obama had no more concept about how to price mortgage insurance than I do about how to perform brain surgery. He was just mindlessly handing out bennies at public expense in the dark of night, before skulking away into well-deserved obscurity.

    shinola , January 28, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I dunno Jim – perhaps Obama DID know (or was advised) that the rate cut was actuarially unsound thus setting up his successor for problems down the road or bad optics upfront if the cut was reversed.

    Cleverly devious?

    Brian Lindholm , January 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Yep. To quote the White House press release, " Today, the President announced a major new step that his Administration is taking to make mortgages more affordable and accessible for creditworthy families. "

    That's not a valid reason to lower PMI rates. PMI rates must cover losses, and higher interest rates on mortgages may very well mean higher default rates. If so, PMI rates would need to go up as well.

    Now if the press release had talked about PMI overcharges by the FHA, then I might have have bought it. But they didn't. There was no mention of actuarial soundness at all .

    Jack , January 28, 2017 at 10:12 am

    For a good explanation of how mortgage insurance works and the impact of the discussed premium increase/decrease, check out David Dayen's (a frequent contributor to NC) article on the Intercept here . David goes more in depth on the actual numbers and what they mean.

    Optic7 , January 28, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I did briefly hear some discussion in the news about the FHA mortgage insurance program having been underfunded in the recent past. This could have given an additional reason for Trump to block the lower rate until the numbers could be analyzed. I did a search and found a couple of articles from before either of these decisions that illustrate different perspectives on this issue:

    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/232492-castro-grilled-over-lowering-mortgage-insurance-premiums

    http://www.fhaloanpros.com/2009/01/is-the-fha-under-funded/

    The latter article is from 2009 but includes some interesting details about significant amounts of money being transferred from the fund to the treasury department.

    Oregoncharles , January 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    From the first link, as of 2015: " his recent decision to lower mortgage insurance premiums despite the FHA falling short of its capital reserve requirement." So the fund was out of compliance with the law, and this was a long-running point of contention between the administration and the Republicans in Congress.

    What we don't know yet is whether the fund reached its goal, which would justify lowing the premium. The Congress members were complaining about being lied to.

    DarkMatters , January 28, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    "What is the appropriate premium for mortgage insurance?"

    "Such questions aside, HUD's annual mortgage insurance premium of 0.8% was in the middle of the typical range of 0.5% to 1.0% charged by private mortgage insurers. Obama's short-lived cut to 0.55% would have put HUD's premium at the low end, on what probably are higher-risk loans."

    The argument here seems to be that what is typical is appropriate. By that argument, 0.55% which falls in that range would be ok. The argument that it's too low assumes that the range as it stands is somehow rationally defined, which is another assumption that itself bears scrutiny. To say that 0.5-1.0% is ok is an assumption, and should be examined in detail right along with the 0.55 and 0.8 HUD figures before firmer conclusions could be drawn. The results would give an informed answer to the rhetorical question " what is HUD doing in the mortgage insurance business, anyway?" Absent that, we're reduced to arguments, tainted on both sides by political inclinations. Jeff Epstein's clarification is exemplary.

    oh , January 28, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    " Whereas if HUD's mortgage insurance pool later went bust, it could have been blamed on Obama for cutting premiums without any actuarial analysis."

    Oh Boy! That would really hurt Obama, when he'd be long gone and dancing with the stars!

    Remember, whatever he did during his term he weighed and measured a thousand times.

    flora , January 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    "Cheap premiums look like a free benefit, until the guarantee fund goes bust in a down cycle, and taxpayers get hit with a bailout."

    +1.

    Domofdoom , January 28, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Well said. What do you think would be more effective: trying to change the dems or giving up on them and setting up another party?

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    option 2

    Vatch , January 28, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    One may be more effective, but if it's not feasible, it doesn't matter how effective it would be in theory. See this comment by Martin from Canada a few days ago:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/01/bernie-sanders-nails-trumps-pick-health-human-services-directly-wall.html#comment-2747290

    Here's the link that Martin pointed to:

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/bernie-sanders-democratic-labor-party-ackerman/

    Maybe a viable new progressive party can be created. But it sure won't be easy. If it weren't extremely difficult, don't you think that the Greens would have done it by now? For now, I think that people need to be actively looking for candidates to run in the 2018 Democratic primaries. In a few places, at the state level, this will be happening in 2017. See:

    https://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_elections,_2017

    "Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia hold elections in odd-numbered years."

    rjs , January 28, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Obama came in off the golf course after Trump was elected and issued dozens of similar diktats i recall wondering at the time that if all those moves were so important, why didn't he make them in the 8 years he had

    oho , January 28, 2017 at 9:39 am

    EZ real issue for Democrats to embrace. Stop the sales tax of food at the state/muni level. Shift that burden (or as much as reasonably possible) to the top income brackets.

    Oh wait, the places where Democrats can do this, always solidly vote D and there's no incentive.

    J.P. Steele , January 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

    There is an art to politics. As anyone who studies the subject knows, one has to be both "Lion & Fox." Lion .for the strength to drive policies, but also a Fox in order to avoid "Snares and Traps." Bannon, who actually has been writing these executive orders, stepped right into this Trap. Rookie mistake. This is what happens when you have ideologues attempting to actually govern. They "step in it." I believe that Jeff is a bit naive and thin skinned here as to "The Game." Obama did indeed set a snare ..but I am a bit more concerned by Steve's arrogance for boldly stepping in it and allowing the opposition a fine platform to grandstand on the issue. Rookie mistake. Arrogance & Stupidity.

    integer , January 28, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Afaics there are two ways in which this game can be played:

    A)
    1: 0bama sets the trap.
    2: Trump nullifies the reduction in rates while simultaneously denouncing 0bama for setting the trap.
    3: MSMedia circus.

    B)
    1: 0bama sets the trap.
    2: Trump nullifies the reduction in rates.
    3: D-party denounces Trump.
    4: MSMedia circus.
    5: Trump/Bannon denounces 0bama for setting the trap.
    6: MSMedia once again loses credibility, at least in the eyes of Trump supporters.

    Why is option A better than B? Am I missing something here?

    Yves Smith Post author , January 29, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Trump and Bannon will never do 5 and 6. They never fight on the level of detail and timetables.

    Horatio Parker , January 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Simple question: why did Trump reverse the cut?

    Craig , January 28, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Excellent question, it has not been answered yet:). Lotsa words tho.

    cm , January 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    1. It raised financial risk to the govt.
    2. As the article pointed out many times, it was a sleazy move on Obama's part

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Same reason Bush 43 reversed the last-minute reductions to water regulations that Bill Clinton passed, and Obama had to deal with

    Clinton to Bush : President Clinton Signs Midnight Regulations

    Bush to Obama : Bush's Final FU: Last-Minute Regulations That Will Screw America for Years to Come

    Obama to Trump: Mortgage rate (non-)"reduction", likely more to come

    Wiki on "Midnight Regulations": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_regulations

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Not a lot of archived stuff from 2001 and before on the nets, oddly. I regret posting the CNN link up there.

    I washed my hands twice afterward.

    ScottW , January 28, 2017 at 10:17 am

    If everyone with less than 20% equity has PMI, why didn't it pay off after the crash and lessen the need for a bailout? Logic would dictate most of the foreclosures were on homes people bought most recently with less than 20% down. Did PMI pay any money during the crash and to whom and for what?

    If it didn't do any good during the last crash to lessen the public bailout, what's the point of requiring it?

    lyman alpha blob , January 28, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    That is a very good question and I don't remember hearing anything about PMI paying out during the crash (but that could just be my memory). In fact it never even crossed my mind but yeah you'd think that should have mitigated some of the losses. Maybe any payout would only benefit the mortgage holder directly and wouldn't carry through to the mortgage-based securities? That seems odd though and if true would be a strong case for severely curtailing if not eliminating at least the more exotic bets.

    Anybody know anything about this?

    oh , January 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I often wondered about the same thing/

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Because it's another BS fee they tack on for no good reason other than greed.

    I was in the mortgage game in 2006-2008. Now matter how many showers I take I still don't feel clean.

    bob , January 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    "Logic would dictate most of the foreclosures were on homes people bought most recently with less than 20% down."

    Not banker logic. They were foreclosing on houses with equity to steal. Those houses that were valued above what was mortgaged.

    Jim F , January 28, 2017 at 10:29 am

    What gets me is people who think "shame on Trump" for not recognizing and avoiding the trap. Every single one of those people I avoid like the plague.

    Joel , January 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Re: The Young Turks

    I watched a few times until what's his name, the main turk, interrupted and talked over the female co-host too many times for my stomach. There are too many good choices to give clicks to that type of behavior. Hey this is the 21st century.

    Oregoncharles , January 28, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Cenk Uygur – the only actual Turk on the show. It IS his show and network, but I see your point.

    jake , January 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

    I don't know . Obama made many policy changes after the election results came.

    It's not as if government is a fast moving engine. This could have been in the works for years and got expedited for obvious reasons. It took years for Obama to start commuting drug sentences, also Chelsea Manning, and there was no political gain in it for him.

    Unless the policy was itself a fraud, it's impossible to know whether it was implemented cynically.

    Oregoncharles , January 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I made this point below, once it escapes moderation, but basically: 1) the article fails to tell us whether the new rate made sense; and 2) Clinton did the same thing – a bunch of last-minute progressive moves, designed to stroke his legacy and punk his Republican successor. Let's hope the clemency actions are less reversible than the policy moves.

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    "It took years for Obama to start commuting drug sentences, also Chelsea Manning, and there was no political gain in it for him."

    It took years for Obama to start commuting drug sentences, also Chelsea Manning,*** BECAUSE*** there was no political gain in it for him.

    There, I fixed it for you.

    John , January 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

    So Trump/Bannon got punked by Obama the first week in office. Looks like to me th e Repubs are realizing Obamacare may be a similar punkjob.

    JamesG , January 28, 2017 at 11:02 am

    "Simple question: why did Trump reverse the cut?"

    To gain time.

    To evaluate the numbers and come up with an accurate rate?

    My simple question: Why did the Ds presume it was simply "to hurt the middle class?"

    Horatio Parker , January 28, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Because it makes buying a house more expensive.

    It seems that Obama's motives may safely assumed to be deceitful and petty, but we can conclude nothing at all about Trump or his motives.

    I don't see how this "truth" advances any agenda.

    DarkMatters , January 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Maybe Mnuchin protecting his faction? Just another hypothesis.

    NotClairVoyant , January 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    The MIP rate reduction was either an ill-advised reaction to the recent spike in mortgage rates or a simple set-up for the incoming administration. I suspect is was a combination of both, and likely designed more for political gain than anything.

    It's hard to take a guy seriously when he professes to be concerned about home affordability when he spent the last 8 years "foaming the runway" for banks as millions of people were foreclosed on their homes, only to watch many of those same homes get gobbled up by Wall Street and rented back out to them.

    Fewer underwater borrowers will at least curtail the path to feudalism in this new echo housing bubble.

    winstonsmith , January 28, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Another issue is who would have actually benefited from the Obama rate cut. We are supposed to believe it would have been home buyers, but a uniform increase in the spending power of home buyers as a group is to a large extent offset by a corresponding increase in home prices. To that extent it would be sellers (including private equity) and not low income buyers who would benefit.

    yan , January 28, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Also, as far as I'm concerned, if Obamamometer was serious about helping homeowners there are many more better ways to do it than "foaming the runway" for banks, or preempting any meaningful action through his statewide get out of jail free card settlement, or actually trying to stop his buddies from blowing asset bubble after asset bubble.
    Moreover, if you can´t put up more than 20% up front to buy a house maybe the problem is that wages are shit compared to property prices and people can´t afford anything more than cheap meth or oxycontin to cope with their sorry lives.

    WheresOurTeddy , January 28, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    +1

    Oregoncharles , January 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Pardon if this is a duplication, but: Isn't there a very large omission here? Was the premium decrease justified, or not? It's supposed to be government insurance, so the premium should cover the costs. Did it? Would the proposed lower premium cover them? (Yeah, I know, MMT. But apparently the idea here was to have a self-supporting program, so it should be self-supporting unless you announce otherwise.)

    That said: this is part of a pattern. Obama made a number of progressive policy moves at the very last minute, most of them reversible. This is nothing but legacy-stroking, as well as setting a trap for the next Pres. Clinton did the same thing, along with some questionable pardons.

    "So why'd you wait so long?"

    Oregoncharles , January 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Well, Haygood was the only one to beat me to it.

    oh , January 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I noticed the false headlines on yahoo news (the bastion of fake and worthless news) and I immediately checked it to find that O'Liar had planted this landmine so that it could blow up in Trump's face. Sure enough, when Trump canceled it, he was the bad guy (even though it had never had gone into effect as this article points out). What a cynical move by O'Liar and how cynical can his sycophants be?

    flora , January 28, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Great post! I saw the headlines when the story came out and instantly thought there was something "off", something a little too pat about the stories. But I wasn't sure what was wrong with the stories, and was left confused. This post of investigative reporting and facts informs me what was actually happening. Thank you.

    aliteralmind , January 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Nice to hear this. Thanks.

    jake , January 28, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    The reaction here puzzles me to the point of confusion. Absent any argument that the policy didn't offer it's claimed benefits (cost savings for the middle-class), is the left so virtuous that it will reject and refuse to fight for any advance which isn't selflessly arrived at?

    Compare this to "conservatives" who successfully campaigned in 2010 against supposed Medicare cuts related to Obamacare implementation, when they'd love nothing more than to kill the program outright.

    We, by contrast, we won't even fight for what we claim to believe in, if it isn't wrapped in virtue.

    Yves Smith Post author , January 28, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    You are missing that this is insurance, and the cost of losses must be paid for somehow. From Bruce's comment above:

    What should the mortgage insurance rate actually be? And the answer is simple: It should be high enough to cover losses incurred by mortgage defaults (plus operating expenses), but no higher.

    I don't know what that rate should have actually been, but if it was 0.55%, then Obama and the FHA should have lowered the rate years ago to avoid overcharging people. And if 0.80% was the right rate, then Obama should never have lowered it at all, given that it would ultimately require a taxpayer bailout. Either way, Obama is incompetent.

    If the only consideration is cost to customers, then the proper rate is 0%. Offer it for free!! But if you want to the program to actually be self-sustaining, so that it doesn't require continuous injection of taxpayer dollars and be a perpetual target for cancellation by Congress, then you have to charge enough to cover losses. Whether the average mortgage rate is 3.5% or 4.0% or 6.2% matters not a whit in this calculation.

    Net conclusion: Obama is either a flaming incompetent who flat-out doesn't understand the concept of insurance, or this was a deliberate attempt to impose a political headache on Trump.

    jake , January 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Granted, but nobody knows the facts. Bruce wants to damn Obama for not doing it before, or damn him now for doing it. But nothing he either did or didn't do will be deemed acceptable at this point, even if the reduction is fully warranted.

    Have we never heard politics? Process? Delay? Your net conclusion may still prove to be the correct one, though I'm not sure that failure to implement change earlier, assuming it was warranted, could be justly laid at the feet of Obama. But we do know?

    flora , January 28, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I'm not sure that failure to implement change earlier, assuming it was warranted, could be justly laid at the feet of Obama. But we do know?"

    A Presidential Directive, aka an executive order or executive action, can be laid at the feet of the President. So, yes, we do know. He could have taken the action anytime in the past 8 years. Note the date on this action – Jan 7th, 2017.
    http://www.housingwire.com/articles/32533-its-official-obama-to-direct-fha-to-cut-mortgage-insurance-premiums

    centaur , January 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    +1000, jake

    witters , January 28, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    So Obama almost nearly did something that might, maybe, have been a tiny bit useful, but then the US Constitution

    [Jan 29, 2017] The Neocons Grand Plan and Obamas Blundering Foreign Policy: An Actor Playing the Role of a President ?

    Notable quotes:
    "... I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions." President Barack Obama, May 29, 2014 commencement speech at West Point ..."
    "... "War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.", President Dwight Eisenhower, 1947 commencement speech at West Point ..."
    "... "Politically speaking, tribal nationalism always insists that its own people is surrounded by "a world of enemies", "one against all", that a fundamental difference exists between this people and all others. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy the humanity of man." Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951 ..."
    "... " An empire is a despotism, and an emperor is a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For, although the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary in an empire." John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President ..."
    "... Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an internationally renowned economist and author, whose last two books are The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. ..."
    Jan 29, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    ilsm : January 26, 2017 at 04:55 PM , 2017 at 04:55 PM
    Daron Acemoglu flowing irony......... missed Egypt where generals couped to keep Camp David aid from Muslims muftis

    only domestic coups listed. missed numerous coups US imposes and the royals' funded jihadis the CIA funds to coup out Assad.

    Trumps main scare is to the CIA

    Glad all the "managers" at state resigned they don't fit a regime that don't fund jihadis neocons okay. Irony!

    libezkova : Reply Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 06:38 PM , January 26, 2017 at 06:38 PM
    A blast from the past

    http://www.thedailysheeple.com/the-neocons-grand-plan-and-obamas-blundering-foreign-policy-an-actor-playing-the-role-of-a-president_072014

    == quote ==

    The Neocons "Grand Plan" and Obama's Blundering Foreign Policy: "An Actor Playing the Role of a President"?

    July 16, 2014 | Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay | The New American Empire | 378 views

    I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions." President Barack Obama, May 29, 2014 commencement speech at West Point

    "War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.", President Dwight Eisenhower, 1947 commencement speech at West Point

    "Politically speaking, tribal nationalism always insists that its own people is surrounded by "a world of enemies", "one against all", that a fundamental difference exists between this people and all others. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy the humanity of man." Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

    " An empire is a despotism, and an emperor is a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For, although the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary in an empire." John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President

    Am I alone in having the uneasy feeling, while listening to Barack Obama's speeches, that we are witnessing an actor playing the role of an American president and carefully reading the script he has been given? As time goes by, indeed, Barack Obama seems to be morphing more and more into a Democratic George W. Bush. Those who write his speeches seem to have the same warmongering mentality as those who wrote George W. Bush's or Dick Cheney's speeches, ten years ago.

    That's probably no accident since Neocons occupy key positions in Barack Obama's administration as they did under George W. Bush when they pushed the United States into the war in Iraq, and as they have also tried to push the United States toward a military showdown with Iran and as they are now attempting to provoke Russia into a military conflict. How Neocons can infiltrate both Republican and Democratic administrations and be trouble-makers in both administrations is the daily wonder of American politics!

    But we know the Neocons' "Grand Plan". They have published it. Indeed, this is a plan that has been outlined in many reports published by the (now defunct) Project for a New American Century (PNAC), an organization created in 1997, and whose many founders became prominent members of the Bush-Cheney administration. They have rebranded themselves as the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and have now succeeded in becoming influential within the Obama-Biden administration, especially at the State Department as leftovers of former Secretary Hillary Clinton. They and their allies are the main force behind the disastrous and incoherent U.S. foreign policies being pursued by the United States government both in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

    Basically, it is a plan that has little to do with the fundamental interests of ordinary Americans, and everything to do with those of some foreign and domestic entities, most prominently the state of Israel because of its influence in American domestic politics and the Sunni state of Saudi Arabia because of its crucial role in influencing the price of oil internationally. It is also a plan that fits in very well with the interests of the military-industrial complex, which needs a permanent war environment to justify huge defense budgets.

    Such a plan is based on the old principle of "Divide and Conquer" (or in Latin, " Divide ut Regnes or "Divide et Impera"). This sometimes requires creating political chaos where stability prevails. And stirring the pot is what the Neocons want to do in order to attain their goals. In the Middle East, they do it by fanning the flames of the old sectarian conflict between Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims in order to overthrow unfriendly established governments and to disintegrate countries into smaller and more easily controlled parts, even though the human costs for the local populations are horrific.

    For example, even though it may seem absurd for the Obama administration to arm and support fanatical Islamist rebels in Syria while fighting them in Iraq with drones and Marines, such a bizarre policy appears rational in the eyes of the Neocons if it results in Sunnis and Shiites killing each other and if the country of Iraq is broken down into parts.

    In Europe, the Neocons have persuaded the clueless Obama administration that provoking a rekindling of the old Cold War and re-igniting tensions between Russia and the West were necessary steps to be taken in order to solidify the U.S.'s influence on the European Union (E.U.) and to establish a reframed and enlarged NATO as an American-controlled offensive military alliance that can sidestep the United Nations, justifying military interventionism abroad.

    But, because the neocon plan is often in conflict with long-term economic and political American interests at home and abroad, the neocon plan to launch a string of American-sponsored wars in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe may explain why Obama's current foreign policy appears to be so incoherent and so inconsistent. Let us elaborate.

    1- First, consider the chaotic situations in Syria, in Libya, and in Iraq, where well-armed Islamic militias are well positioned to destabilize these countries' established governments through civil wars that could easily lead to their political disintegration and economic downfall.

    However, while permanent chaos in that oil-rich part of the world may serve certain political interests, especially those of Israel whose geopolitical advantage is to weaken surrounding Islamic states and even break them up into smaller entities, and those of Sunni and oil-rich Saudi Arabia whose advantage is to profit from higher oil prices and to weaken the Middle East Shiite states (Iran, Iraq and their ally Syria), such permanent military conflicts hardly serve the interests of American consumers and workers and may threaten the business interests of the large American oil companies operating in the region.

    Indeed, higher oil prices are one of the causes behind the current relative economic stagnation in the United States and in Europe, while the possibility that Islamic militias can attack and take control of oil fields in those countries runs counter to the interests of American oil companies.

    This partly explains why there are conflicting demands being made on the Obama administration by different political and economic interests, and it has become increasingly difficult to accommodate them all, notwithstanding how hard President Obama tries to do so. Thus, the apparent incoherence and inconsistency in that foreign policy.

    Sometimes Barack Obama acts as if he accepts the neocon agenda of destabilizing most Middle East Muslim countries for the benefit of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Witness the U.S. government's financial and military support of terrorist organizations to provoke "regime change" in Syria as it has done in Libya. Remember that last September, Obama had acquiesced to his neocon advisers' recommendation to bomb the country of Syria, whose Assad government was deemed too close to Shiite Iran, before realizing that the entire cabal of justifications was a false flag operation.

    Sometimes, however, the economic costs of such instability are considered too high and a timid Obama, to the chagrin of his neocon advisers, hesitates to implement fully the Machiavellian neocon plan. President Obama then becomes the target of the neocon media who picture him as weak, "out of touch", inexperienced and irresolute, thus contributing to his increasing unpopularity.

    2- Secondly, consider the new Cold War that the Neocons have succeeded in rekindling in Europe, with their aggressive policy of encircling Russia with missiles and hostile neighboring countries and of engineering a "regime change" in Ukraine. Who profits from these renewed tensions? Certainly not ordinary Americans and ordinary Europeans. The profiteers are the empire builders and the arms traffickers, and all those who like to fish in troubled waters.

    Conclusion

    It is most unfortunate that President Barack Obama has not been able to establish a coherent and credible American foreign policy of his own, with clear principles and clear objectives, and has had to rely on discredited Neocons for advice. Therefore, he has placed himself and his government at the mercy of various and contradictory influences, sometimes jerking in one direction, sometimes in another direction. That's called a lack of vision and a lack of leadership.

    It may not be too late for Barack Obama to be his own man in his second term and to stop emulating George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. For that, however, he would have to fire all the Neocons in positions of power and policy-making in his administration. If he does not have the guts to do that, he may turn out to be one of the worst American presidents ever, on a par with George W. Bush.

    Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an internationally renowned economist and author, whose last two books are The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003.

    [Jan 28, 2017] Mexico could take an alternative path tand announce that it would no longer enforce U.S. patents and copyrights on its soil. This would be a yuuge deal, as Trump would say.

    Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    anne : January 28, 2017 at 05:38 AM
    http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/a-trade-war-everyone-can-win

    January 27, 2017

    A Trade War Everyone Can Win

    Donald Trump has indicated * that he might slap high tariffs on imports from Mexico as a way to make the country pay for his border wall. While it's not clear this makes sense, since U.S. consumers would bear the bulk of the burden from this tax, it would certainly reduce imports from Mexico. It would also would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization rules, thereby opening the door to a trade war with Mexico and possibly other countries.

    Many have seen this as taking us down a road to ever higher tariffs, leading to a plunge in international trade, which would have substantial economic costs for everyone. However, Mexico could take an alternative path that would provide far more effective retaliation against President Trump, while leading to fewer barriers and more growth.

    The alternative is simple: Mexico could announce that it would no longer enforce U.S. patents and copyrights on its soil. This would be a yuuge deal, as Trump would say.

    To take one prominent example, suppose that Mexico allowed for the free importation of generic drugs from India and elsewhere. The Hepatitis C drug Solvaldi has a list price in the United States of $84,000. A high quality generic is available in India for $200. There are also low cost generic versions available of many other drugs that carry exorbitant prices in the United States, with savings often more than 95 percent.

    Suppose that people suffering from Hepatitis C, cancer, and other devastating and life-threatening diseases could get drugs in Mexico for a few hundreds rather than tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the United States? That would likely lead to lots of business for Mexico's retail drug industry, although it would be pretty bad news for Pfizer and Merck.

    The same would apply to other areas. Medical equipment, like high-end scanning and diagnostic devices, would be very cheap in Mexico if they could be produced without patent protections. This should be great for a medical travel industry in Mexico.

    There would be a similar story on copyright protection. People could get the latest version of Windows and other software for free in Mexico with their new computers. This is bad news for Bill Gates and Microsoft, but good news for U.S. consumers interested in visiting Mexico, along with Mexico's retail sector. Mexico could also make a vast amount of recorded music and video material available without copyright protection. That's great news for consumers everywhere but very bad news for Disney, Time-Warner, and other Hollywood giants.

    Of course the erosion of patent and copyright protection will undermine the system of incentives that now support innovation and creative work. This means that we would have to develop more efficient alternatives to these relics of the feudal guild system. Among other places, folks can read about alternative in my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

    Anyhow, this would be a blueprint for a trade war in which everyone, except a few corporate giants, could be big winners.

    * https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/politics/mexico-wall-tax-trump.html

    ** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

    -- Dean Baker

    anne -> anne... , January 28, 2017 at 05:48 AM
    http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

    October, 2016

    Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
    By Dean Baker

    The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights

    One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.

    Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising - that was the purpose of the policy.

    If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.

    Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.

    The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.

    The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.

    Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.

    People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.

    The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.

    The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....

    [Jan 28, 2017] The US government has been making a mess of the world for decades with its overt and covert wars of aggression

    Notable quotes:
    "... My feel is nyt don't care for détente and prefers something like the stalemate in central Europe of 1983 ..."
    "... 1983 the year I (along with most Germans) realized I could be 'envied by the survivors'. ..."
    "... This neocon is really unrepentant Trotskyite hell bent on world neoliberal revolution and the USA world hegemony. Nothing will change such people. ..."
    "... In a sense they are real "occupiers" of the USA, the sect that keep the country, and especially its foreign policy, hostage. ..."
    "... This represents a continuation of the plan outlined by the neocon think tank known as the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). It was the PNAC that plotted to deceive the US into invading Iraq for the benefit of Israel. (Do some Googling and reading if none of this sounds familiar.) ..."
    "... The US government has been making a mess of the world for decades with its overt and covert wars of aggression. Maybe we should insist that "our" government quit dancing to the tune of the special interests who profit from endless war and conflict (the "defense" industry, the Israel lobby, etc.) and try minding our own business in the world for a change? ..."
    "... Mc Cain and Portman are of the hillary/nuland/kagan neocon branch of the GOP. Why Jeb! was dumped. Mc Cain just came out for a nearly 50% increase in weapons buying funds! ..."
    "... US intelligence officials before the inauguration pandered to Obama about hacking! ..."
    Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... January 28, 2017 at 07:13 AM , 2017 at 07:13 AM
    How much does Trump love Putin? And how worried should we be?
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/01/28/how-much-does-trump-love-putin-and-how-worried-should/ogb4ZD4DyCyKlQyX3knqkJ/story.html?event=event25
    via @BostonGlobe - Alan Berger - January 28, 2017

    In a notorious interview with the Times of London and the German paper Bild, America's new president, Donald Trump, opined that NATO is obsolete, that disintegration of the European Union would make no difference to the United States, and that he will start off trusting Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel equally. It should come as no surprise that Trump's airing of such views provoked anxiety on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Speaking in his characteristic scattershot style, however, Trump also said he respected Merkel, he appreciated NATO, and his trust of either Putin or Merkel could dissipate rapidly. Thus it was that Trump raised vexing questions about himself.

    Is he really in thrall to Putin the war criminal? Does Trump have some sinister reason for praising Putin as a strong leader and passing over in silence Putin's propensity for having meddlesome journalists, dissidents, and turncoat spooks gunned down or poisoned with potions prepared by his special services?

    Or does Trump's praise of Putin reflect a neophyte's susceptibility to the views of courtiers such as his strategic adviser Steve Bannon, promoter of alt-right nationalism, or national security advisor, Mike Flynn, who took money from Putin's TV propaganda arm, Russia Today, and was seated next to Putin at a banquet celebrating the success of that international enterprise?

    To frame the question in a cruder way: Should we look on Trump as Putin's puppet or merely as a feckless con man from Queens who is woefully out of his depth on the great stage of history?

    Concern about a suspect relationship between Trump and Putin's regime cannot be dismissed as pure paranoia - even if there is no compromising video of Trump cavorting in a Moscow hotel with sex workers employed by Putin's security services. The FBI and US intelligence agencies had been looking into transactions between Trump associates and Putin's people well before receiving the dossier on Trump's Kremlin ties assembled by a retired officer of Britain's foreign intelligence service, MI6.

    And there is something yet more worrisome. The Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, noted for his exceptional sources in Israel's intelligence services, reported in the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth that in a recent meeting between American and Israeli intelligence officers, the Americans warned their Israeli counterparts not to disclose sensitive sources and methods to the Trump White House or security council. The Israelis were told there is a danger Trump's people might pass such items to Russia's security services, and the Russians, wishing to make Iran as dependent on Moscow as Syria has become, would deliver Israel's most closely guarded secrets to Iran.

    Nevertheless, Trump's ignorance represents a greater danger than any covert obligation to the Kremlin.

    There is, after all, a rational case to be made that presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush indulged in geopolitical hubris when, disregarding Russian anxieties about a vulnerable periphery as well as verbal assurances originally offered by George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, they permitted NATO to expand from Germany's eastern to Russia's western border. At the end of the Cold War, Russia should have been brought into a Eurasian partnership with the NATO allies.

    Hence it makes sense for a new US president to seek to resolve dangerous tensions with a nuclear-armed Russia. But there is no justification for Trump's denigration of NATO and America's allies.

    Someone, perhaps Defense Secretary James Mattis, ought to explain to Trump what has made Article 5 of the NATO treaty - the pledge that an attack on one alliance member will be considered an attack on all - the key to keeping the peace in Europe. Stalin and his successors understood that Article 5 was an absolute commitment; that once Warsaw Pact troops marched westward, there would be no parliamentary debates in Western capitols, no dithering by presidents or prime ministers; there would be immediate military retaliation.

    This has been the secret of Western solidarity and the primary reason Mattis could say in his confirmation hearing that NATO might be the most successful military alliance in history. Success meant never having to use NATO armed forces in Europe.

    When Trump mindlessly hints that he might refuse to defend NATO allies who don't meet a voluntary pledge to spend 2 percent of their budgets on their militaries, he undermines Article 5. If he were sitting on Putin's lap and mouthing words from the Kremlin Godfather, his performance might be understandable. But if these impulses are his own, they suggest a perverse worldview that endangers America, its allies, and world peace.

    Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 07:20 AM
    'It should come as no surprise that Trump's airing of such views provoked anxiety on both sides of the Atlantic':

    Trump's barbs aimed at Germany's
    Merkel seen boosting her election pitch
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/01/17/trump-barbs-aimed-germany-merkel-seen-boosting-her-election-pitch/8vG3sSSaUOq2EUZSdKGcmK/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
    Arne Delfs and Patrick Donahue - Bloomberg News - January 17, 2017

    Angela Merkel's advisers see a chance that Donald Trump's swipes against the chancellor could work in her favor as she seeks a fourth term as German leader. ...

    Polls suggest most Germans were already put off by the U.S. president-elect's rhetoric and policy positions even before his latest volley, published in the country's biggest-selling Bild newspaper. Though he expressed respect for Merkel as Europe's pre-eminent leader, Trump laid out stances on the European Union, NATO and the economy that signal a fundamental clash with the chancellor's defense of free trade, open borders and liberal democracy. ...

    ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 10:29 AM
    Does Merkel really want open borders while US neocons would war over countries kluged after WW II?

    Or is this more yellow journalism from a nyt subsidiary?

    My feel is nyt don't care for détente and prefers something like the stalemate in central Europe of 1983.

    1983 the year I (along with most Germans) realized I could be 'envied by the survivors'........

    libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 04:23 PM
    Compare with his previous article

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/09/20/berger/pT8vfC7EUkHwDRsZo1tPhK/story.html

    This neocon is really unrepentant Trotskyite hell bent on world neoliberal revolution and the USA world hegemony. Nothing will change such people.

    In a sense they are real "occupiers" of the USA, the sect that keep the country, and especially its foreign policy, hostage.

    Here is one interesting comment from
    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/03/11/for-islamic-state-war-hints-look-to-the-bolsheviks/

    == quote ==

    The rise of ISIS was the direct consequence of the neocon-controlled US government's attempts at "regime change" in the Middle East. The CIA and other US government stooges helped provide arms, training, and funding to rebels in Libya and Syria in the hope that fueling those civil conflicts would destabilize the region.

    This represents a continuation of the plan outlined by the neocon think tank known as the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). It was the PNAC that plotted to deceive the US into invading Iraq for the benefit of Israel. (Do some Googling and reading if none of this sounds familiar.)

    The situation with ISIS parallels the rise of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan as a result of covert CIA support for the Islamic mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet occupiers. Most Americans are too ignorant to know that Osama Bin Laden and his comrades were once US allies (just as Saddam Hussein was a US ally until he ceased to be a cooperative puppet). Here's a quote from Reagan himself:

    "To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom."
    - U.S. President Ronald Reagan, March 21, 1983

    Naturally, those freedom fighters magically turned into "terrorists" and "cowards" once they started using those simple hand-held weapons to fight the massive US military that was invading their land, just as the Soviets had done in years past.

    The US government has been making a mess of the world for decades with its overt and covert wars of aggression. Maybe we should insist that "our" government quit dancing to the tune of the special interests who profit from endless war and conflict (the "defense" industry, the Israel lobby, etc.) and try minding our own business in the world for a change?

    Posted by Heretic50 | Report as abusive

    ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 10:25 AM
    Mc Cain and Portman are of the hillary/nuland/kagan neocon branch of the GOP. Why Jeb! was dumped. Mc Cain just came out for a nearly 50% increase in weapons buying funds!

    US intelligence officials before the inauguration pandered to Obama about hacking!

    Why I do not touch nyt, more yellow than wsj!

    [Jan 28, 2017] Obama Bequeaths A More Dangerous World

    Notable quotes:
    "... In the real world of modern Washington, Obama's choice of hawkish Sen. Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State and Republican apparatchik Robert Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense – along with keeping Bush's high command, including neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus – guaranteed that he would achieve little real foreign policy change. ..."
    "... Indeed, in 2009, this triumvirate collaborated to lock Obama into a futile counterinsurgency escalation in Afghanistan that did little more than get another 1,000 or so U.S. soldiers killed along with many more Afghans. In his memoir Duty , Gates said he and Clinton could push their joint views – favoring more militaristic strategies – in the face of White House opposition because "we were both seen as 'un-fireable.'" ..."
    "... So, Obama's rookie management mistake of surrounding himself with seasoned Washington operatives with a hawkish agenda doomed his early presidency to maneuvering at the edges of change rather than engineering a major – and necessary – overhaul of how the United States deals with the world. ..."
    "... Thus, Obama was frequently outmaneuvered. Besides the ill-fated counterinsurgency surge in Afghanistan, there was his attempt in 2009-10 to get Brazil and Turkey to broker a deal with Iran in which it would surrender much of its enriched uranium. But Israel and the neocons wanted a "regime change" bombing strategy against Iran, leading Secretary Clinton to personally torpedo the Brazil-Turkey initiative (with the strong support of The New York Times' editorial page ) as Obama silently acquiesced to her insubordination. ..."
    "... Even after Clinton, Gates and Petraeus were gone by the start of Obama's second term, he continued to acquiesce to most of the demands of the neocons and liberal interventionists. Rather than act as a decisive U.S. president, Obama often behaved more like the sullen teen-ager complaining from the backseat about not wanting to go on a family trip. Obama grumbled about some of the neocon/liberal-hawk policies but he mostly went along, albeit half-heartedly at times. ..."
    Jan 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
    Submitted by Robert Parry via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Any fair judgment about Barack Obama's presidency must start with the recognition that he inherited a dismal situation from George W. Bush : the U.S. economy was in free-fall and U.S. troops were bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly, these intertwined economic and foreign policy crises colored how Obama viewed his options, realizing that one false step could tip the world into the abyss.

    It's also true that his Republican rivals behaved as if they had no responsibility for the messes that Obama had to clean up. From the start, they set out to trip him up rather than lend a hand. Plus, the mainstream media blamed Obama for this failure of bipartisanship, rewarding the Republicans for their nihilistic obstructionism.

    That said, however, it is also true that Obama – an inexperienced manager – made huge mistakes from the outset and failed to rectify them in a timely fashion. For instance, he bought into the romantic notion of a "Team of Rivals" with his White House trumpeting the comparisons to Abraham Lincoln (although some of Lincoln's inclusion of rivals actually resulted from deals made at the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago to gain Lincoln the nomination).

    In the real world of modern Washington, Obama's choice of hawkish Sen. Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State and Republican apparatchik Robert Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense – along with keeping Bush's high command, including neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus – guaranteed that he would achieve little real foreign policy change.

    Indeed, in 2009, this triumvirate collaborated to lock Obama into a futile counterinsurgency escalation in Afghanistan that did little more than get another 1,000 or so U.S. soldiers killed along with many more Afghans. In his memoir Duty , Gates said he and Clinton could push their joint views – favoring more militaristic strategies – in the face of White House opposition because "we were both seen as 'un-fireable.'"

    Seasoned Operatives

    So, Obama's rookie management mistake of surrounding himself with seasoned Washington operatives with a hawkish agenda doomed his early presidency to maneuvering at the edges of change rather than engineering a major – and necessary – overhaul of how the United States deals with the world.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 1, 2011, watching developments in the Special Forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Neither played a particularly prominent role in the operation. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

    Obama may have thought he could persuade these experienced players with his intellect and charm but that is not how power works. At moments when Obama was inclined to move in a less warlike direction, Clinton, Gates and Petraeus could easily leak damaging comments about his "weakness" to friendly journalists at mainstream publications. Obama found himself consistently under pressure and he lacked the backbone to prove Gates wrong by firing Gates and Clinton.

    Thus, Obama was frequently outmaneuvered. Besides the ill-fated counterinsurgency surge in Afghanistan, there was his attempt in 2009-10 to get Brazil and Turkey to broker a deal with Iran in which it would surrender much of its enriched uranium. But Israel and the neocons wanted a "regime change" bombing strategy against Iran, leading Secretary Clinton to personally torpedo the Brazil-Turkey initiative (with the strong support of The New York Times' editorial page ) as Obama silently acquiesced to her insubordination.

    In 2011, Obama also gave in to pressure from Clinton and one of his key advisers, "humanitarian" warmonger Samantha Power, to support another "regime change" in Libya. That U.S.-facilitated air war devastated the Libyan military and ended with Islamic militants sodomizing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with a knife and then murdering him, a grisly outcome that Clinton celebrated with a chirpy rephrase of Julius Caesar's famous boast about a conquest, as she said: "We came, we saw, he died."

    Clinton was less upbeat a year later when Islamic militants in Benghazi, Libya, killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel, launching a scandal that led to the exposure of her private email server and reverberated through to the final days of her failed presidential campaign in 2016.

    Second-Term Indecision

    Even after Clinton, Gates and Petraeus were gone by the start of Obama's second term, he continued to acquiesce to most of the demands of the neocons and liberal interventionists. Rather than act as a decisive U.S. president, Obama often behaved more like the sullen teen-ager complaining from the backseat about not wanting to go on a family trip. Obama grumbled about some of the neocon/liberal-hawk policies but he mostly went along, albeit half-heartedly at times.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House on Nov. 9, 2015. (Photo credit: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

    For instance, although he recognized that the idea of "moderate" Syrian rebels being successful in ousting President Bashar al-Assad was a "fantasy," he nevertheless approved covert shipments of weapons, which often ended up in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists and their allies. But he balked at a full-scale U.S. military intervention.

    Obama's mixed-signal Syrian strategy not only violated international law – by committing aggression against a sovereign state – but also contributed to the horrific bloodshed that ripped apart Syria and created a massive flow of refugees into Turkey and Europe. By the end of his presidency, the United States found itself largely sidelined as Russia and regional powers, Turkey and Iran, took the lead in trying to resolve the conflict.

    But one of the apparent reasons for Obama's susceptibility to such fruitless undertakings was that he seemed terrified of Israel and its pugnacious Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who made clear his disdain for Obama by essentially endorsing Obama's 2012 Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

    Although Obama may have bristled at Netanyahu's arrogance – displayed even during meetings in the Oval Office – the President always sought to mollify the tempestuous Prime Minister. At the peak of Obama's power – after he vanquished Romney despite Netanyahu's electoral interference – Obama chose to grovel before Netanyahu with an obsequious three-day visit to Israel .

    Despite that trip, Netanyahu treated Obama with disdain, setting a new standard for chutzpah by accepting a Republican invitation to appear before a joint session of Congress in 2015 and urge U.S. senators and representatives to side with Israel against their own president over Obama's negotiated agreement to constrain Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu and the neocons wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran.

    However, the Iran nuclear deal, which Netanyahu failed to derail, may have been Obama's most significant diplomatic achievement. (In his passive-aggressive way, Obama gave Netanyahu some measure of payback by abstaining on a December 2016 motion before the United Nations Security Council condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands. Obama neither vetoed it nor voted for it, but let it pass.)

    Obama also defied Washington's hardliners when he moved to normalize relations with Cuba, although – by 2016 – the passionate feelings about the Caribbean island had faded as a geopolitical issue, making the Cuban sanctions more a relic of the old Cold War than a hot-button issue.

    Obama's Dubious Legacy

    Yet, Obama's fear of standing up consistently to Official Washington's neocons and cowering before the Israeli-Saudi tandem in the Middle East did much to define his foreign policy legacy. While Obama did drag his heels on some of their more extreme demands by resisting their calls to bomb the Syrian government in 2013 and by choosing diplomacy over war with Iran in 2014, Obama repeatedly circled back to ingratiating himself to the neocons and America's demanding Israeli-Saudi "allies."

    King Salman greets the President and First Lady during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Instead of getting tough with Israel over its continued abuse of the Palestinians, Obama gave Netanyahu's regime the most sophisticated weapons from the U.S. arsenal. Instead of calling out the Saudis as the principal state sponsor of terrorism – for their support for Al Qaeda and the Islamic State – Obama continued the fiction that Iran was the lead villain on terrorism and cooperated when the Saudis launched a brutal air war against their impoverished neighbors in Yemen .

    Obama personally acknowledged authorizing military strikes in seven countries, mostly through his aggressive use of drones , an approach toward push-button warfare that has spread animosity against the United States to the seven corners of the earth.

    However, perhaps Obama's most dangerous legacy is the New Cold War with Russia, which began in earnest when Washington's neocons struck back against Moscow for its cooperation with Obama in getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons (which short-circuited neocon hopes to bomb the Syrian military) and in persuading Iran to accept tight limits on its nuclear program (another obstacle to a neocon bombing plan).

    In both cases, the neocons were bent on "regime change," or at least a destructive bombing operation in line with Israeli and Saudi hostility toward Syria and Iran. But the biggest challenge to these schemes was the positive relationship that had developed between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, that relationship had to be shattered and the wedge that the neocons found handy was Ukraine.

    By September 2013, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, had identified Ukraine as "the biggest prize" and a steppingstone toward the ultimate goal of ousting Putin. By late fall 2013 and winter 2014, neocons inside the U.S. government, including Sen. John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, were actively agitating for a "regime change" in Ukraine, a putsch against elected President Viktor Yanukovych that was carried out on Feb. 22, 2014.

    This operation on Russia's border provoked an immediate reaction from the Kremlin, which then supported ethnic-Russian Ukrainians who had voted heavily for Yanukovych and who objected to the coup regime in Kiev. The neocon-dominated U.S. mainstream media, of course, portrayed the Ukrainian conflict as a simple case of "Russian aggression," and Obama fell in line with this propaganda narrative.

    After his relationship with Putin had deteriorated over the ensuring two-plus years, Obama chose to escalate the New Cold War in his final weeks in office by having U.S. intelligence agencies leak unsubstantiated claims that Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election by hacking and publicizing Democratic emails that helped Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

    Smearing Trump

    The CIA also put in play salacious rumors about the Kremlin blackmailing Trump over a supposed video of him cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. counterintelligence agents investigated communications between retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, and Russian officials. In the New McCarthyism that now surrounds the New Cold War, any conversation with Russians apparently puts an American under suspicion for treason.

    President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The anti-Russian frenzy also pulled in The New York Times , The Washington Post and virtually the entire mainstream media, which now treat any dissent from the official U.S. narratives condemning Moscow as prima facie evidence that you are part of a Russian propaganda apparatus. Even some "progressive" publications have joined this stampede because they so despise Trump that they will tout any accusation to damage his presidency.

    Besides raising serious concerns about civil liberties and freedom of association, Obama's end-of-term anti-Russian hysteria may be leading the Democratic Party into supplanting the Republicans as America's leading pro-war party allied with neocons, liberal hawks, the CIA and the Military-Industrial Complex – in opposition to President Trump's less belligerent approach toward Russia.

    This "trading places" moment over which party is the bigger warmonger could be another profound part of Obama's legacy, presenting a crisis for pro-peace Democrats as the Trump presidency unfolds.

    The Real Obama

    Yet, one of the mysteries of Obama is whether he was always a closet hawk who just let his true colors show over the course of his eight years in office or whether he was a weak executive who desperately wanted to belong to the Washington establishment and underwent a gradual submission to achieve that acceptance.

    I know some Obama watchers favor the first answer, that he simply bamboozled people into thinking that he was an agent for foreign policy change when he was always a stealth warmonger. But I tend to take the second position. To me, Obama was a person who – despite his intelligence, eloquence and accomplishments – was never accepted by America's predominantly white establishment.

    Because he was a black male raised in a white family and in a white-dominated society, Obama understood that he never really belonged. But Obama desperately wanted to be part of that power structure of well-dressed, well-schooled and well-connected elites who moved with such confidence within the economic-political system.

    An instructive moment came in 2014 when Obama was under sustained criticism for his refusal to bomb the Syrian military after a sarin gas attack outside Damascus that was initially blamed on the government though later evidence suggested that it was a provocation committed by Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

    Despite the uncertainty about who was responsible, the neocons and liberal hawks deemed Obama "weak" for not ordering the bombing strike to enforce his "red line" against chemical weapons use.

    In a 2016 article in The Atlantic, Obama cited his sarin decision as a moment when he resisted the Washington "playbook" that usually favors a military response. The article also reported that Obama had been informed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that there was no "slam dunk" evidence pinning the attack on the Syrian military. Yet, still Obama came under intense pressure to strike.

    A leader of this pressure campaign was neocon ideologue Robert Kagan, an architect of the Iraq War and the husband of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland. Kagan penned a long essay in The New Republic entitled " Superpowers Don't Get to Retire ." A subsequent New York Times article observed that Kagan "depicted President Obama as presiding over an inward turn by the United States that threatened the global order and broke with more than 70 years of American presidents and precedence."

    Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. (Photo credit: Mariusz Kubik, http://www.mariuszkubik.pl )

    Kagan "called for Mr. Obama to resist a popular pull toward making the United States a nation without larger responsibilities, and to reassume the more muscular approach to the world out of vogue in Washington since the war in Iraq drained the country of its appetite for intervention," the Times article read.

    Obama was so sensitive to this criticism that he modified his speech to the West Point graduation and "even invited Mr. Kagan to lunch to compare world views," the Times reported. A source familiar with that conversation described it to me as a "meeting of equals."

    So, Obama's subservience to the neocons and liberal hawks may have begun as a case of an inexperienced president getting outmaneuvered by rivals whom he had foolishly empowered. But Obama's descent into a full-scale New Cold Warrior by the end of his second term suggests that he was no longer an overpowered naïf but someone who had become a committed convert.

    How Obama reached that point may be less significant than the fact that he did. Thus, the world that President Obama bequeaths to President Trump may not have all the same dangers that Bush left to Obama but the post-Obama world has hazards that Obama did more to create than to resolve - and some of the new risks may be even scarier.

    [Jan 28, 2017] Putin said for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism.

    Notable quotes:
    "... "Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilizing and developing Russian-American cooperation," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying Putin and Trump had agreed to work on finding a possible time and place for a meeting. ..."
    "... The Kremlin said the US President asked his Russian counterpart "to wish the Russian people happiness and prosperity" on his behalf, adding Americans "have warm feelings towards Russia and its citizens." Putin said the feeling was "mutual," stressing that historically, the Russians and the Americans were close allies on more than one occasion. ..."
    "... Putin said "for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism." ..."
    "... Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly suggested fostering closer cooperation between the Russian and US Air Forces in Syria, but blamed the previous Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to its entreaties. Relations between the two countries have been marred in recent years over various issues, including divisions on the Syrian crisis and allegations of Russian meddling into the US elections in November of 2016. US sanctions against Russia - imposed over the crisis in Ukraine - was one of the issues expected to be on the agenda of the Trump-Putin exchange. However, the issue was not mentioned in the Kremlin's statement summarizing the conversation. ..."
    "... Russia has been cautious about the prospects for a potential "reset" with the US under the new administration. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the country has no "naive expectations" and is under no "illusions." ..."
    Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Fred C. Dobbs January 28, 2017 at 01:06 PM

    Putin, Trump, in 'Positive' Call, Say Want to Cooperate in Syria: Kremlin https://nyti.ms/2jIzuKa
    NYT - REUTERS - January 28, 2017

    MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump said in a "positive" phone call on Saturday they favored their two countries cooperating in Syria to defeat Islamic State, the Kremlin said in a statement.

    In an eagerly awaited phone call, the first since Trump's inauguration, the two men stressed the importance of restoring economic ties between the two countries and of stabilizing relations, the Kremlin said.

    U.S.-Russia relations had hit a post-Cold War low under Barack Obama and Trump has made clear he wants a rapprochement with Moscow if he can get along with Putin.

    "Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilizing and developing Russian-American cooperation," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying Putin and Trump had agreed to work on finding a possible time and place for a meeting.

    There was no mention in the statement that the possibility of Trump easing sanctions on Moscow imposed over the Ukraine conflict had been mentioned, a subject widely expected to be raised.

    The Kremlin said Trump and Putin had agreed to establish "partner-like cooperation" when it came to global issues such as Ukraine, Iran's nuclear program, tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

    Trump's stance on Russia has been under intense scrutiny from critics who say he was elected with help from Russian intelligence, an allegation he denies. His detractors have also accused him of being too eager to make an ally of Putin.

    For Putin, an easing of Western sanctions would be a major coup ahead of next year's presidential election as it would help the economy recover.

    libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 28, 2017 at 03:58 PM

    Compare the coverage with

    https://www.rt.com/news/375416-putin-trump-telephone-call/

    == quote ==

    In their first phone conversation that lasted nearly an hour, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the new US President Donald Trump have outlined their intent to cooperate on issues ranging from defeating Islamic State to mending bilateral economic ties.

    "Both sides expressed their readiness to make active joint efforts to stabilize and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable and mutually beneficial basis," as well as "build up partner cooperation" on a wide range of international issues, according to a Kremlin statement following their discussion.

    The White House said that the "positive" conversation was "a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair."

    "Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today's call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern," the White House statement added.

    After speaking with Chancellor Merkel for 45 minutes @POTUS is now onto his 3rd of 5 head of government calls, speaking w Russian Pres Putin pic.twitter.com/RPAWIgcO2C
    - Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 28, 2017Q

    "The Presidents have spoken in favor of establishing a real coordination between the US and Russian actions in order to defeat ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria," the Kremlin statement said.

    The two leaders also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Iran's nuclear program. "Major aspects of the Ukrainian crisis have been also touched upon," the Kremlin announced.

    The leaders of Russia and the US have noted a need to restore economic ties "to stimulate" further development of the relationship between the nations. Putin and Trump also agreed to initiate a process to "work out possible dates and venue of their personal meeting."

    Telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump https://t.co/mjp9Tta1sE
    - President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) 28 января 2017 г.Q
    During the conversation the Presidents also expressed their desire to "maintain regular personal contacts," the Kremlin statement said.

    The Kremlin said the US President asked his Russian counterpart "to wish the Russian people happiness and prosperity" on his behalf, adding Americans "have warm feelings towards Russia and its citizens." Putin said the feeling was "mutual," stressing that historically, the Russians and the Americans were close allies on more than one occasion.

    Putin said "for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism."

    U.S. President Donald Trump © Mark MakelaTrump hopes to get along with Russia, 'knock the hell out of ISIS together'

    On Friday, speaking at a joint briefing with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said he hoped he would have a "fantastic relationship" with Russia's president, but understands that might not happen. Trump has said previously that he would welcome Moscow's involvement in a joint effort to battle Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

    "I don't know Putin, but if we can get along with Russia that's a great thing. It's good for Russia; it's good for us; we go out together and knock the hell out of ISIS, because that's a real sickness," he said in an interview with Fox News.

    Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly suggested fostering closer cooperation between the Russian and US Air Forces in Syria, but blamed the previous Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to its entreaties. Relations between the two countries have been marred in recent years over various issues, including divisions on the Syrian crisis and allegations of Russian meddling into the US elections in November of 2016. US sanctions against Russia - imposed over the crisis in Ukraine - was one of the issues expected to be on the agenda of the Trump-Putin exchange. However, the issue was not mentioned in the Kremlin's statement summarizing the conversation.

    Citing an unnamed source in the White House, a researcher at the Atlantic Council analytical center, Fabrice Pothier, wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday that the Trump administration "has an executive order ready" to lift the restrictions on Moscow, but Trump said on Friday that it is "very early to be talking about that."

    U.S. House of Representatives in Washington © Gary Cameron Top Dem to propose bill to hamstring Trump in relaxing sanctions on Russia with GOP wingmen

    However, earlier in January, Trump said that he would consider lifting restrictions if Moscow cooperates with Washington on certain issues, such as nuclear arms reduction.

    "They have sanctions on Russia - let's see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that's part of it," Trump was quoted as saying by the Times.

    Trump also said in one of his Tweets that "having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," warning only "fools" would think otherwise. However, several US Senators proposed a bill last week that would make it impossible for the US President to lift restrictions without congressional approval.

    Russia has been cautious about the prospects for a potential "reset" with the US under the new administration. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the country has no "naive expectations" and is under no "illusions."

    [Jan 27, 2017] How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington – and Launched a War

    Jan 27, 2017 | www.antiwar.com

    America's allies and enemies alike are baffled. What is going on in the United States? Who is making foreign policy? And what are they trying to achieve? Quasi-Marxist explanations involving big oil or American capitalism are mistaken. Yes, American oil companies and contractors will accept the spoils of the kill in Iraq. But the oil business, with its Arabist bias, did not push for this war any more than it supports the Bush administration's close alliance with Ariel Sharon. Further, President Bush and Vice President Cheney are not genuine "Texas oil men" but career politicians who, in between stints in public life, would have used their connections to enrich themselves as figureheads in the wheat business, if they had been residents of Kansas, or in tech companies, had they been Californians.

    Equally wrong is the theory that the American and European civilizations are evolving in opposite directions. The thesis of Robert Kagan, the neoconservative propagandist, that Americans are martial and Europeans pacifist, is complete nonsense. A majority of Americans voted for either Al Gore or Ralph Nader in 2000. Were it not for the overrepresentation of sparsely populated, right-wing states in both the presidential electoral college and the Senate, the White House and the Senate today would be controlled by Democrats, whose views and values, on everything from war to the welfare state, are very close to those of western Europeans.

    Both the economic-determinist theory and the clash-of-cultures theory are reassuring: They assume that the recent revolution in U.S. foreign policy is the result of obscure but understandable forces in an orderly world. The truth is more alarming. As a result of several bizarre and unforeseeable contingencies – such as the selection rather than election of George W. Bush, and Sept. 11 – the foreign policy of the world's only global power is being made by a small clique that is unrepresentative of either the U.S. population or the mainstream foreign policy establishment.

    The core group now in charge consists of neoconservative defense intellectuals. (They are called "neoconservatives" because many of them started off as anti-Stalinist leftists or liberals before moving to the far right.) Inside the government, the chief defense intellectuals include Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense. He is the defense mastermind of the Bush administration; Donald Rumsfeld is an elderly figurehead who holds the position of defense secretary only because Wolfowitz himself is too controversial. Others include Douglas Feith, No. 3 at the Pentagon; Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a Wolfowitz protégé who is Cheney's chief of staff; John R. Bolton, a right-winger assigned to the State Department to keep Colin Powell in check; and Elliott Abrams, recently appointed to head Middle East policy at the National Security Council. On the outside are James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has tried repeatedly to link both 9/11 and the anthrax letters in the U.S. to Saddam Hussein, and Richard Perle, who has just resigned his unpaid chairmanship of a defense department advisory body after a lobbying scandal. Most of these "experts" never served in the military. But their headquarters is now the civilian defense secretary's office, where these Republican political appointees are despised and distrusted by the largely Republican career soldiers.

    Most neoconservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the influential Jewish-American sector of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history. Their admiration for the Israeli Likud party's tactics, including preventive warfare such as Israel's 1981 raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, is mixed with odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for "democracy." They call their revolutionary ideology "Wilsonianism" (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism. Genuine American Wilsonians believe in self-determination for people such as the Palestinians.

    The neocon defense intellectuals, as well as being in or around the actual Pentagon, are at the center of a metaphorical "pentagon" of the Israel lobby and the religious right, plus conservative think tanks, foundations and media empires. Think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) provide homes for neocon "in-and-outers" when they are out of government (Perle is a fellow at AEI). The money comes not so much from corporations as from decades-old conservative foundations, such as the Bradley and Olin foundations, which spend down the estates of long-dead tycoons. Neoconservative foreign policy does not reflect business interests in any direct way. The neocons are ideologues, not opportunists.

    The major link between the conservative think tanks and the Israel lobby is the Washington-based and Likud-supporting Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa), which co-opts many non-Jewish defense experts by sending them on trips to Israel. It flew out the retired general Jay Garner, now slated by Bush to be proconsul of occupied Iraq. In October 2000, he cosigned a Jinsa letter that began: "We ... believe that during the current upheavals in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have exercised remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of [the] Palestinian Authority."

    The Israel lobby itself is divided into Jewish and Christian wings. Wolfowitz and Feith have close ties to the Jewish-American Israel lobby. Wolfowitz, who has relatives in Israel, has served as the Bush administration's liaison to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Feith was given an award by the Zionist Organization of America, citing him as a "pro-Israel activist." While out of power in the Clinton years, Feith collaborated with Perle to coauthor a policy paper for Likud that advised the Israeli government to end the Oslo peace process, reoccupy the territories, and crush Yasser Arafat's government.

    Such experts are not typical of Jewish-Americans, who mostly voted for Gore in 2000. The most fervent supporters of Likud in the Republican electorate are Southern Protestant fundamentalists. The religious right believes that God gave all of Palestine to the Jews, and fundamentalist congregations spend millions to subsidize Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

    The final corner of the neoconservative pentagon is occupied by several right-wing media empires, with roots – odd as it seems – in the British Commonwealth and South Korea. Rupert Murdoch disseminates propaganda through his Fox television network. His magazine, the Weekly Standard – edited by William Kristol, the former chief of staff of Dan Quayle (vice president, 1989-1993) – acts as a mouthpiece for defense intellectuals such as Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith and Woolsey as well as for Sharon's government. The National Interest (of which I was executive editor, 1991-1994) is now funded by Conrad Black, who owns the Jerusalem Post and the Hollinger empire in Britain and Canada.

    Strangest of all is the media network centered on the Washington Times – owned by the South Korean messiah (and ex-convict) the Rev. Sun Myung Moon – which owns the newswire UPI. UPI is now run by John O'Sullivan, the ghostwriter for Margaret Thatcher who once worked as an editor for Conrad Black in Canada. Through such channels, the "gotcha!" style of right-wing British journalism, and its Europhobic substance, have contaminated the US conservative movement.

    The corners of the neoconservative pentagon were linked together in the 1990s by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), run by Kristol out of the Weekly Standard offices. Using a P.R. technique pioneered by their Trotskyist predecessors, the neocons published a series of public letters whose signatories often included Wolfowitz and other future members of the Bush foreign policy team. They called for the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq and to support Israel's campaigns against the Palestinians (dire warnings about China were another favorite). During Clinton's two terms, these fulminations were ignored by the foreign policy establishment and the mainstream media. Now they are frantically being studied.

    How did the neocon defense intellectuals – a small group at odds with most of the U.S. foreign policy elite, Republican as well as Democratic – manage to capture the Bush administration? Few supported Bush during the presidential primaries. They feared that the second Bush would be like the first – a wimp who had failed to occupy Baghdad in the first Gulf War and who had pressured Israel into the Oslo peace process – and that his administration, again like his father's, would be dominated by moderate Republican realists such as Powell, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. They supported the maverick senator John McCain until it became clear that Bush would get the nomination.

    Then they had a stroke of luck – Cheney was put in charge of the presidential transition (the period between the election in November and the accession to office in January). Cheney used this opportunity to stack the administration with his hard-line allies. Instead of becoming the de facto president in foreign policy, as many had expected, Secretary of State Powell found himself boxed in by Cheney's right-wing network, including Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton and Libby.

    The neocons took advantage of Bush's ignorance and inexperience. Unlike his father, a Second World War veteran who had been ambassador to China, director of the CIA, and vice president, George W was a thinly educated playboy who had failed repeatedly in business before becoming the governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial position (the state's lieutenant governor has more power). His father is essentially a northeastern moderate Republican; George W, raised in west Texas, absorbed the Texan cultural combination of machismo, anti-intellectualism and overt religiosity. The son of upper-class Episcopalian parents, he converted to Southern fundamentalism in a midlife crisis. Fervent Christian Zionism, along with an admiration for macho Israeli soldiers that sometimes coexists with hostility to liberal Jewish-American intellectuals, is a feature of the Southern culture.

    The younger Bush was tilting away from Powell and toward Wolfowitz ("Wolfie," as he calls him) even before 9/11 gave him something he had lacked: a mission in life other than following in his dad's footsteps. There are signs of estrangement between the cautious father and the crusading son: Last year, veterans of the first Bush administration, including Baker, Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, warned publicly against an invasion of Iraq without authorization from Congress and the U.N.

    It is not clear that George W fully understands the grand strategy that Wolfowitz and other aides are unfolding. He seems genuinely to believe that there was an imminent threat to the U.S. from Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," something the leading neocons say in public but are far too intelligent to believe themselves. The Project for the New American Century urged an invasion of Iraq throughout the Clinton years, for reasons that had nothing to do with possible links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Public letters signed by Wolfowitz and others called on the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq, to bomb Hezbollah bases in Lebanon, and to threaten states such as Syria and Iran with U.S. attacks if they continued to sponsor terrorism. Claims that the purpose is not to protect the American people but to make the Middle East safe for Israel are dismissed by the neocons as vicious anti-Semitism. Yet Syria, Iran and Iraq are bitter enemies, with their weapons pointed at each other, and the terrorists they sponsor target Israel rather than the U.S. The neocons urge war with Iran next, though by any rational measurement North Korea's new nuclear arsenal is, for the U.S., a far greater problem.

    So that is the bizarre story of how neoconservatives took over Washington and steered the U.S. into a Middle Eastern war unrelated to any plausible threat to the U.S. and opposed by the public of every country in the world except Israel. The frightening thing is the role of happenstance and personality. After the al-Qaida attacks, any U.S. president would likely have gone to war to topple bin Laden's Taliban protectors in Afghanistan. But everything that the U.S. has done since then would have been different had America's 18 th century electoral rules not given Bush the presidency and had Cheney not used the transition period to turn the foreign policy executive into a PNAC reunion.

    For a British equivalent, one would have to imagine a Tory government, with Downing Street and Whitehall controlled by followers of the Rev. Ian Paisley, extreme Euroskeptics, empire loyalists and Blimpish military types – all determined, for a variety of strategic or religious reasons, to invade Egypt. Their aim would be to regain the Suez Canal as the first step in a campaign to restore the British empire. Yes, it really is that weird.

    [Jan 25, 2017] A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA

    Jan 25, 2017 | www.cfr.org

    "A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA" [ Council on Foreign Relations ]. "Joshua Kurlantzick, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Southeast Asia, mines extensive interviews and recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records to give a definitive account of the secret war in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which lasted from 1961 to 1973, and was the largest covert operation in U.S. history. The conflict forever changed the CIA from a relatively small spying agency into an organization with vast paramilitary powers."

    [Jan 24, 2017] The Definitive Demise of the Debunked Dodgy Dossier on The Donald

    Notable quotes:
    "... of Corrente . ..."
    "... Do you see the name of an actual business, owned by Trump? ..."
    "... For Donald Trump, all attempts to gain a foothold in the USSR and then in Russia in 30 years of travel and negotiations failed. Moscow did not have a Trump Tower of its own, although Trump boasted every time that he had met the most important people and was just about to invest hundreds of millions in a project that would undoubtedly be successful. ..."
    "... Trumps' largest business success in Russia was the presentation of a Trump Vodka at the Millionaire Fair 2007 in Moscow. This project was also a cleansing; In 2009 the sale of Trump Vodka was discontinued. ..."
    "... puts his name on stuff ..."
    Jan 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    by Lambert Strether of Corrente .

    In the midst of the hysteria about Russian interference in the 2016 election - 52% of Democrat voters believe it's definitely or probably true that "Russia tampered with vote tallies" , a view for which there is no evidence whatever, and which is a depressing testimony to the power of propaganda to produce epistemic closure in liberals as well as conservatives - came Buzzfeed's 35-page "dodgy dossier" on Donald Trump, oppo that the researcher, Christopher Steele , peddled during the election proper, but was unable to sell, not even to an easy mark like Jebbie. (There's a useful debunking of Steele's report in the New York Review of Books , of all places.) Remember the piss jokes? So two-weeks ago Amazingly, or not, a two-page summary to Steele's product had been included in a briefing given to Trump (and Obama). A weary Obama was no doubt well accustomed to the intelligence community's little ways, but the briefing must have been quite a revelation to Trump. I mean, Trump is a man who knows shoddy when he sees it, right?

    In any case, a link to the following story in Hamburg's ridiculously sober-sided Die Zeit came over the transom: So schockiert von Trump wie alle anderen ("So shocked by Trump like everyone else"). The reporter is Alexej Kowaljow , a Russian journalist based in Moscow. Before anyone goes "ZOMG! The dude is Russian !", everything Kowaljow writes is based on open sources or common-sense information presumably available to citizens of any nation. The bottom line for me is that if the world is coming to believe that Americans are idiots, it's not necessarily because Americans elected Trump as President.

    I'm going to lay out two claims and two questions from Kowaljow's piece. In each case, I'll quote the conventional, Steele and intelligence community-derived wisdom in our famously free press, and then I'll quote Kowaljow. I think Kowaljow wins each time. Easily. I don't think Google Translate handles irony well, but I sense that Kowaljow is deploying it freely.

    (1) Trump's Supposed Business Dealings in Russia Are Commercial Puffery

    Here's the section on Russia in Time's article on Trump's business dealings; it's representative. I'm going to quote it all so you can savor it. Read it carefully.

    Donald Trump's Many, Many Business Dealings in 1 Map

    Russia

    "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia," Trump tweeted in July, one day before he called on the country to "find" a batch of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton's private server. Nonetheless, Russia's extraordinary meddling in the 2016 U.S. election-a declassified report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January disclosed that intercepted conversations captured senior Russian officials celebrating Trump's win-as well as Trump's complimentary remarks about Russian President have stirred widespread questions about the President-elect's pursuit of closer ties with Moscow. Several members of Trump's inner circle have business links to Russia, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who consulted for pro-Russia politicians in the Ukraine. Former foreign policy adviser Carter Page worked in Russia and maintains ties there.

    Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's incoming national security adviser, has been a regular guest on Russia's English-language propaganda network, RT , and even dined with Putin at a banquet.

    During the presidential transition, former Georgia Congressman and Trump campaign surrogate Jack Kingston told a gathering of businessmen in Moscow that the President-elect could lift U.S. sanctions.

    According to his own son, Trump has long relied on Russian customers as a source of income. "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets," Donald Trump Jr. told a Manhattan real estate conference in 2008 , according to an account posted on the website of trade publication eTurboNews. "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." Back to map .

    Read that again, if you can stand it. Do you see the name of an actual business, owned by Trump? Do you see the name of any businessperson who closed a deal with Trump? Do you, in fact, see any reporting at all? At most, you see commercial puffery by Trump the Younger: "Russians [in Russia?] make up a pretty [qualifier] disproportionate [whatever that means] cross-section [whatever that means] of a lot of [qualifier] our assets."

    Now Kowaljow (via Google Translate, so forgive any solecisms):

    For Donald Trump, all attempts to gain a foothold in the USSR and then in Russia in 30 years of travel and negotiations failed. Moscow did not have a Trump Tower of its own, although Trump boasted every time that he had met the most important people and was just about to invest hundreds of millions in a project that would undoubtedly be successful.

    Trumps' largest business success in Russia was the presentation of a Trump Vodka at the Millionaire Fair 2007 in Moscow. This project was also a cleansing; In 2009 the sale of Trump Vodka was discontinued.

    Because think about it: Trump puts his name on stuff . Towers in Manhattan, hotels, casinos, golf courses, steaks. Anything in Russia with Trump's name on it? Besides the failed vodka venture? No? Case closed, then.

    (2) Zhirinovsky Is The Very Last Person Putin Would Use For A Proxy

    From The Hill's summary of Russian "interference" in the 2016 election:

    Five reasons intel community believes Russia interfered in election

    The attacks dovetailed with other Russian disinformation campaigns

    The report covers more than just the hacking effort. It also contains a detailed list account of information warfare against the United States from Russia through other means.

    Political party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who the report lists as a "pro-Kremlin proxy," said before the election that, if Trump won, Russia would 'drink champagne' to celebrate their new ability to advance in Syria and Ukraine.

    Now Kowaljow:

    The report of the American intelligence services on the Russian interference in the US elections, published at the beginning of January, was notoriously neglected by Russians, because the name of Vladimir Zhirinovsky was mentioned among the "propaganda activities of Russia", which had announced that in the event of an election victory of Trump champagne to want to drink.

    Such a delicate plan – to reach the election of a President of the US by means of Zhirinovsky – ensures a skeptical smile for every Russian at best. He is already seventy and has been at the head of a party with a misleading name for nearly thirty years. The Liberal Democratic Party is neither liberal nor democratic. If their policies are somehow characterized, then as right-wing populism. Zhirinovsky is known for shrill statements; He threatened, for example, to destroy the US by means of "gravitational weapons".

    If, therefore, the Kremlin had indeed had the treacherous plan of helping Trump to power, it would scarcely have been made known about Zhirinovsky.

    The American equivalent would be . Give me a moment to think of an American politician who's both so delusional and such a laughingstock that no American President could possibly consider using them as a proxy in a devilishly complex informational warfare campaign Sara Palin? Anthony Weiner? Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Na ga happen.

    And now to the two questions.

    (3) Why Would Russian Intelligence Agencies Sources Have Talked to Steele?

    Kowaljow:

    But the report, published on the BuzzFeed Internet portal, is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. The problem is not even that there are a lot of false facts. Even the assumption that agents of the Russian secret services are discussing the details with a former secretary of a hostile secret service in the midst of a highly secret operation by which a future President of the US is to be discredited appears strange.

    Exactly. For the intelligence community and Democrat reliance on Steele's dossier to be plausible, you have to assume 10-foot tall Russkis (1) with incredibly sophisticated strategic, operational, and technical capabilities, who have (2) performed the greatest intelligence feat of the 21st and 20th centuries, suborning the President of the United States, and whose intelligence agencies are (3) leakly like a sieve. Does that make sense? (Of course, the devilish Russkis could have fed Steele bad data, knowing he'd then feed it to the American intelligence agencies, who would lap it up, but that's another narrative.)

    (4) How Do You Compromise the Uncompromisable?

    Funny how suddenly the word kompromat was everywhere, wasn't it? So sophisticated. Everybody loves to learn a new word! Regarding the "Golden Showers" - more sophistication! - Kowaljow writes:

    But even if such a compromise should exist, what sense should it have, since the most piquant details have long been publicly discussed in public, and had no effect on the votes of the elected president? Like all the other scandals trumps, which passed through the election campaign, they also remained unresolved, including those who were concerned about sex.

    This also includes what is known as a compromise, compromising material, that is, video shots of the unsightly nature, which can destroy both the political career and the life of a person. The word Kompromat shines today – as in the past Perestroika – in all headlines; It was not invented in Russia, of course. But in Russia in the Yeltsin era, when the great clans in the power gave bitter fights and intensively used the media, works of this kind have ended more than just a brilliant career. General Prosecutor Jurij Skuratov was dismissed after a video had been shown in the country-wide television channels: There, a person "who looks like the prosecutor's office" had sex with two prostitutes.

    Donald Trump went on Howard Stern for, like, decades. The stuff that's right out there for whoever wants to roll those tapes is just as "compromising" as anything in the dodgy dossier, or the "grab her by the pussy" tape, for that matter. As Kowaljow points out, none of it was mortally wounding to Trump; after all, if you're a volatility voter who wants to kick over the table in a rigged game, you don't care about the niceties.

    Conclusion

    It would be nice, wouldn't it, if our famously free press was actually covering the Trump transition , instead of acting like their newsrooms are mountain redoubts for an irrendentist Clinton campaign. It would be nice, for example, to know:

    1) The content and impact of Trump's Executive Orders.

    2) Ditto, regulations.

    3) Personnel decisions below the Cabinet level. Who are the Flexians?

    4) Obama policies that will remain in place, because both party establishments support them. Charters, for example.

    5) Republican inroads in Silicon Valley.

    6) The future of the IRS, since Republicans have an axe to grind with it.

    7) Mismatch between State expectations for infrastructure and Trump's implementation

    And that's before we get to ObamaCare, financial regulation, gutting or owning the CIA (which Trump needs to do, and fast), trade policy, NATO, China, and a myriad of other stories, all rich with human interest, powerful narratives, and plenty of potential for scandal. Any one of them worthy of A1 coverage, just like the Inaugural crowd size dogpile that's been going on for days.

    Instead, the press seems to be reproducing the last gasps of the Clinton campaign, which were all about the evils of Trump, the man. That tactic failed the Clinton campaign, again because volatility voters weren't concerned with the niceties. And the same tactic is failing the press now. Failing unless, of course, you're the sort of sleaze merchant who downsizes the newsroom because, hey, it's all about the clicks.