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Elite [Dominance] Theory and the Revolt of the Elite (Silent Coup or Revolt of the Rich)

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Books Recommended Links Two Party System as polyarchy Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Media-Military-Industrial Complex
The Deep State The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law  New American Caste System New American Militarism Inverted Totalitarism American Exceptionalism
Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Corporatism Neo-fascism National Security State Inverted Totalitarism Big Uncle is Watching You Pluralism as a myth
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Casino Capitalism Amorality of neoliberal elite Predator state Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism 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 US and British media are servants of security apparatus Media as a weapon of mass deception Real war on reality
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


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.

Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

In political science and sociology, elite [dominance] theory is a theory of the state which seeks to describe the power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite, policy-planning networks (which include not only think tanks, but also part of academia, see Econned) and selected members of "professional class", holds the most political power and that they acquire this power bypassing the democratic elections process and are able to hold into it for a long time (see Two Party System as polyarchy).

This, in a way, is close to position of "classic" or paleo conservatives (not to mix them with neocons). Their position has never been simply that a hierarchical society is better than an egalitarian one; it always has been that an egalitarian, genuinely democratic  society is impossible. That every society includes rulers and ruled, and it is rulers(the elite) who make critical decisions, no matter under which sauce: democratic republic, communist dictatorship, authoritarism  or some other variant.  The central question of politics, therefore is how to select the rulers in an optimal way so that those at the bottom of food chain were not mercilessly wiped out. Extremes meet and in fact Bolsheviks were other early adopters of the same "elite dominance" vision. Lenin’s classic  question “who, whom?” is an essence of Bolshevism. While Bolsheviks promised that a classless society would one day emerge as a variant of Christ Second Coming, in the meantime, however, they were open and enthusiastic practitioners of brutal power politics which they shrewdly called "dictatorship of proletariat", while in reality it was a dictatorship of the Party elite and state bureaucrats (so called "nomenklatura")

Under neoliberalism any democracy even theoretically is impossible and to claim otherwise is to engage in open propaganda. Even revolt of people, which is the past was a powerful control mechanism of the elite,  now is very unlikely due to the power and sophistication of repressive apparatus, power at which functionless of Stasi could only dream.. Through positions in corporations and corporate boards, as well as the influence over the policy-planning networks through financial support of foundations`` or positions with think tanks or policy-discussion groups, members of the "elite" are able to exert dominant power over the policy decisions of the corporations in their own favor (outsized bonuses is just one example here) and subdue the national governments to the interests of those corporations due to financial levers that corporate wealth provides.

A recent example of this can be found in the Forbes Magazine article [1] (published in December 2009) entitled The World's Most Powerful People, in which Forbes lists the 67 people, which the editors consider to be the most powerful people in the world (assigning one "slot" for each hundred million of humans).

The initial variant of this theory was proposed In 1956, C Wright Mills. In his book The Power Elite he described how political, corporate and military leaders in the US made policy with minimal, if al all, control, or even just consideration of preferences or concerns of ordinary citizens.

The majority of Americans now feel they are ruled by a remote, detached from their needs elite class.  As Robert Johnson noted "Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. Their slogan is: "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."  That creates  as Christopher Hayes  noted "national mood of exhaustion, frustration and betrayal" at the "near total failure of each pillar institution of our society."

As soon as we understand the dominance of elite is inevitable several fundamental questions arise:

Elite dominance theory postulates that there are powerful barriers that exist for citizens  participation of the citizens in the control of government. In less "politically correct" terms "rank-and-file" citizens are politically powerless. Still the stability of the society depends on the ability of the most capable members of the society, no matter in what strata they were born, to rise to the top.  Equal opportunities in education in this sense are of paramount importance and represent a real "safety valve" in the society. 

As for the question whether the elite is interested in stability and well-being of the given society, the key problem is to determine about which society we are talking. Elite low operates in transnational categories and can value stability of "transnational world" higher then stability and well-being of a given society. The idea that the national elite acts in the interest of the nation is now under review. Dissolution of the USSR, when the elite (aka nomenklatura)  singlehandingly decimated and "privatized" the whole country to get their "fair share" of wealth is a telling example, a textbook example of self-centered and destructive behavior of  new "transnational" elites.

It has shown that modern elites are not anymore connected with their country of origin and social background and roots. Paradoxically, the KGB elite actively participated in dismantling of the USSR, and Gorbachov was put in power mostly by efforts of Andropov, the guy who was the head of KGB.  Here is one telling comment:

IHaveLittleToAdd, Aug 28, 2014 9:03:13 AM

Considering the non-elite citizens of the US have effectively no say in policy, what would happen if all of a sudden our government and media began shooting straight? Seems to me, pretty much nothing. It's not that most of the people I know don't realize we are being deceived to advance an altogether hidden agenda, it's that they simply don't care and are unaware of even the fabricated story.

In other words, the world's ruling elites are abandoning their host countries. They have a global vision and ambitions, their families often live in countries other are then their native country (and the country of main business), and they do not accept any constraints (such as level of taxation) and limits (such as local laws) in the pursuance of their egotistical interests, which are basically money oriented.

They move their money to offshore zones to avoid taxation. They break with impunity local laws to increase profits. It is now common for the leaders and members of the ruling elite to base self esteem upon material success, accumulation of raw wealth, emphasize Randian positivist philosophy and downplay humanistic ideals such as respect and tolerance. They no longer feel in the same boat as the rest of the society and openly worship on the altar of unlimited, pathological greed. This is especially noticeable among the US and GB financial elite.  In the USA they also morphed both Republican party and Democratic party into a single party of  rent-seekers on behalf of the wealthier members of society.

Marx would turn in his grave, if he saw how his idea of international unity of workers mutated into the actual international unity of elites. And how elites instead of workers implement a version of socialism, "socialism for rich", or "corporate welfare society". And they do it much more effectively then communists ever managed to implement "socialism for working class" (which actually was never a real goal, just a convenient slogan).  And like Bolsheviks they also practice redistribution of profits. In the same direction toward "nomenklatura", but much more effectively (also under Stalin regime position in nomenklatura was a precarious, as Stalin practiced "purges" as a method for rotation of the elite)

With NAFTA as a prominent example, Jeff Faux had shown how national elites are morphing into a global governing class ('The Party of Davos') and are shaping the new global economy alongside the lines of their neoliberal gospel. Their long arms are the IMF, the WTO, transnational corporations and transnational economic agreements. Being transnational the US elite does not care that the technological engine of the 20th century, the USA, is fatally wounded. That its high-tech industry, which was envy of the whole world is now outsourced, education way too expensive and outside several top universities is quite mediocre, and its scientific power is waning.

In other words they no longer believe in a Benjamin Franklin's dictum: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Classic Elite theory

  “Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.”

-- George Gavlin

Classic Elite [Dominance] Theory is based on several ideas:

  1. Power lies in the positions of authority in key economic and political institutions.  
  2. The Iron Law of Oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. Michels was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Law. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy. The simplest formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy': "Who says organization, says oligarchy." In essence Iron law of oligarchy postulate that any complex organization self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization and is pretty autonomous from "rank-and-file" members and is little affected by elections. As such Iron law of oligarchy stands in stark opposition to pluralism and suggests that "participatory democracy" is a utopian ideal and that democracy is always limited to very narrow strata of existing oligarchy (top 0.01% in the USA). It also stands in opposition to state autonomy theory. 
  3. Pareto principle is related to the original observation was in connection concentration of the wealth in top 20% of the population. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied. Due to the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Carlos Slim Helú, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together. A chart that gave the inequality a very visible and comprehensible form, the so-called 'champagne glass' effect, was contained in the 1992 United Nations Development Program Report, which showed the distribution of global income to be very uneven, with the richest 20% of the world's population controlling 82.7% of the world's income.
    Distribution of world GDP, 1989[8]
    Quintile of population Income
    Richest 20% 82.70%
    Second 20% 11.75%
    Third 20% 2.30%
    Fourth 20% 1.85%
    Poorest 20% 1.40%

    The Pareto principle has also been used to attribute the widening economic inequality in the United States to 'skill-biased technical change'—i.e. income growth accrues to those with the education and skills required to take advantage of new technology and globalization. 

  4. The psychological difference that sets elites apart is that they have personal resources, for instance intelligence and skills, money, and a vested interest in the government; while the rest are relatively incompetent and do not have the capabilities of governing themselves and are deprived of money. That means that once in power the elite are resourceful and will strive to sustain its rule. 
  5. The elite have the most to lose if government or state failed as Russian elite discovered twice in the last century. So there are some natural limits of plundering of the state by the elite. 
  6. The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called  winner-takes-all or  first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose. Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system  That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

The top twelve classical elite theorists include

  1. Karl Marx  is typically cited, along with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science. Although the key postulate of Marxism about liberating role of proletariat proved wrong, Marxism made a tremendous contribution into understanding of power structure of the society, pointing that all power is concentrated directly or indirectly in owners of capital hands: a sociological theory of class domination. Marxism teaches that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for goods. He called the current socio-economic form of society (capitalism) "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" that is run by the wealthy elite purely for own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions within different faction of the elite. He first understood that political class represents a powerful force that is somewhat independent from economic foundations, especially if it is organized as a political party (and state can even be dominated by a fervent ideological network like USSR, China, Saudi Arabia,  Iran since 1979).  and that the current political elite is vary to redistribute this power with other factions of the elite even if relative balance of power within various factions changed.  What Marx give to the world is the understanding is that of Western history from the disintegration of Roman Empire was about the deadly conflict between rising factions of economic elite (industrial, landed, banking, etc) and existing political elite, with an occasional and temporary coalitions with peasants or artisans who tried to take advantage of the divisions in elite circles. So what Marx incorrectly called class struggle was actually a deadly struggle between economic and political elites within a society. In the 17th and 18th centuries it begins to make sense to describe the state -- paraphrasing Marx -- as an executive committee for managing the common affairs of the elite.  Generally speaking, Marx overstated the importance of industrial capitalists as compared to landed elites within the ruling circles of the 19th century, and of urban workers as compared to other urban dwellers and peasants (Hamilton, 1991). 
  2. Thorstein Veblen combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) where he argued that there was a basic distinction between the productiveness of "industry", run by engineers manufacturing goods, vis-à-vis the parasitism of "business" that exists only to make profits for elite that he called  a leisure class. The chief activity of the elite was "conspicuous consumption", and their economic contribution is "waste," activity that contributes nothing to productivity. The American economy was thereby made inefficient and corrupt though Veblen never made that claim explicit. He believed that technological advances were the driving force behind cultural change, but, unlike many contemporaries, refused to connect change with progress. Although Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry, he had a low opinion of workers and the labor movement. He pointed out that the new industrial processes created a conflict between businessmen and engineers, with businessmen representing the older order and engineers as the innovators of new ways of doing things. In combination with the tendencies described in The Theory of the Leisure Class, this conflict resulted in waste and “predation” that served to enhance the social status of those who could benefit from predatory claims to goods and services. 
  3. Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto emphasized the psychological and intellectual superiority that the Elites obtained, he believed that the elites were the highest accomplishers in any field and he discussed how there were two types of Elites
    1. governing elites
    2. non-governing elites

    He also extended on the idea that a whole elite can be replaced by a new one and how one can circulate from being elite to non-elite. 

  4. Gaetano Mosca. Mosca emphasized the sociological and personal characteristics of elites. He said elites are an organized minority and that the masses are an unorganized majority. The ruling class is composed of the ruling elite and the sub-elites. He divides the world into two groups:
    1. ruling class
    2. class that is ruled

    Mosca asserts that elites have intellectual, moral, and material superiority and/or other qualities that is highly esteemed and influential. 

  5. Robert Michels.  German sociologist Robert Michels developed The Iron Law of Oligarchy in his book  Political Parties published in 1915.  The Iron Law of Oligarchy  asserts that social and political organizations are run by few individuals, and social organization and labor division are the key. He believed that all organizations are elitist and that existence of elites is based on several factors that come into play in the bureaucratic structure of any large political organization:
    1. Need for leaders, as well as for specialized staff and facilities.
    2. The relative scarcity of the people with the psychological attributes of the leaders
    3. Natural monopolization of the their position by elected leaders within any sizable organization and related subversion of the democratic process even in organizations devoted to the promotion of democracy.

    Michels stressed several factors that underlie the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy'.

    In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization and society as a whole because both  "tactical and technical necessities".  As Michels stated:

    "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy".

     He went on to state that "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy." That means that the official goal of democracy of eliminating elite rule is impossible, and any "democracy" is always just a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite. What is important is the level of mobility of "non-elite" to the elite and the rotation of the elite.  

  6. C. Wright Mills. Mills published his book The Power Elite in 1956, which provided a new sociological perspective on structure of power in the United States. He identified a triumvirate of power groups - political, economic and military - which form a distinguishable, although not unified, power-wielding body in the United States. This theory later was enhanced by Michael Mann who proposed that the power structures within Western civilization, and probably other civilizations, too, are best understood by determining the intertwining and relative importance at any given time of the organizations based in four "overlapping and intersecting sociospatial networks of power" (Mann, 1986, p. 1). These networks are ideological, economic, military, and political. This view is called "The IEMP model".  Simultaneous crisis in several of those networks, the phenomenon we observe now in the USA and previously in the USSR represent a social crisis.

    Mills proposed that those groups emerged through a process of rationalization at work that occurs in all advanced industrial societies. And in all of them power became concentrated at the very top (0.01%), funneling overall control into the hands of a very small, somewhat corrupt group.  This tendency is reflected in a decline of politics as an arena for debate about social change and relegation it to a merely formal level of discourse about non-essential issues, a smokescreen for backroom dealings of the oligarchy,

    This macro-scale analysis sought to point out that the degradation of democracy in "advanced" societies in not accidental. It reflects the fact that real power generally lies outside  of the elected representatives. A main influence on the emergence of this views on politics was Franz Leopold Neumann's book, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944 , a study of how Nazism came to power in the German democratic state.

    It provided the tools to analyze the structure of a political system and served as a warning of what could happen in a modern capitalistic democracy. 

  7. Floyd Hunter. The elite theory analysis of power was also applied on the micro scale in community power studies such as that by Floyd Hunter (1953). Hunter examined in detail the power relationships evident in his "Regional City" looking for the "real" holders of power rather than those in obvious official positions. He posited a structural-functional approach which mapped the hierarchies and webs of interconnection operating within the city – mapping relationships of power between businessmen, politicians, clergy etc.

    The study debunks current mythology about the level of ‘democracy’ is present within urban politics.

    This type of analysis was also used in later, larger scale, studies such as that carried out by M. Schwartz examining the power structures within the corporate elite in the USA. 

  8. G. William Domhoff. In his book Who Rules America?, G. William Domhoff researched local and national decision making process networks in order to illustrate the power structure in the United States. He asserts, much like Hunter, that an elite class that owns and manages large income-producing properties (like banks and corporations) dominate the American power structure politically and economically.  
  9. James Burnham. Burnham’s early work The Managerial Revolution sought to express the movement of all functional power into the hands of appointed managers rather than the owners – separating ownership and control. Many of these ideas were adapted by paleoconservatives Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried in their theories of the managerial state. Burnham's thoughts on Elite Theory were elucidated more specifically in his book The Machiavellians which discusses the thoughts of, among others, Pareto, Mosca, and Michels; in it he attempts to analyze of both elites and politics generally from his background as a former Trotskyite. 
  10. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) proposed the term technostructure in his book "The New Industrial State" (1967) to describe the group of managers within an enterprise (or an administrative body) with considerable political influence (especially true for financial brass) and the level of control on nation's economy. It usually refers to so called managerial capitalism where top managers, scientists, or lawyers acquire more power and influence than the shareholders in the corporation. They are the de-facto the owners of the corporation, while shareholders (outside a few large one) are generally powerless to influence the way the corporation develops and do business. 
  11. Robert D. Putnam

    Putnam saw the development of technical and exclusive knowledge among administrators and other specialist groups as a mechanism by which power is stripped from the democratic process and slipped sideways to the advisors and specialists influencing the decision making process.[7]

    "If the dominant figures of the past hundred years have been the entrepreneur, the businessman, and the industrial executive, the ‘new men’ are the scientists, the mathematicians, the economists, and the engineers of the new intellectual technology."

  12. Thomas R. Dye. Dye in his book Top Down Policymaking, argues that U.S. public policy does not result from the "demands of the people," but from quite opposite phenomenon -- the Elite consensus found in Washington. It is a consensus between key non-profit foundations, think tanks, special-interest groups, and prominent lobbyists and law firms. Dye's thesis is further expanded upon in his works: The Irony of Democracy, Politics in America, Understanding Public Policy, and Who's Running America?

The idea of "The Revolt of the Elites" and "The Quiet Coup" by Financial Oligarchy

Previous consensus was that elite generally shares the idea that the society in which they live works best when all members of society can engage in upward mobility and improve their status via education and entrepreneurship. If there is significant upward mobility channels then members of society perceive themselves as belonging to the same team and care about ensuring that that team succeeds.

But in new" internationalized" world dominated by transnational corporations, the notion that a company or corporate executive of transnational corporation or professional (for example, IT professional) working is such a corporation is bound by an allegiance to their country of origin and work for its benefit is passé. The elites  of today are bound to their corporations, one another, not to the countries. And their greed is just overwhelming and decimates all other considerations such as patriotism and moral obligations. Amorality became a norm. 

People outside the elite became just tools, not compatriots and their standard of living means nothing.  This new generation of transnational elite are running the country like a regular for profit corporation in which they are both the members of the board and the controlling shareholders.

Not all elites are created equal. In the last half-century we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of American corporate power into every corner of the world, accompanied by an equally awesome growth in U.S. military power. The means the US elite is higher on pecking order then elites of other countries. That does not make it less transnational.  And this new power of the USA as a sole superpower state  is not used in traditional way to conquer and plunder the countries (like the USA did in Philippines, Mexico and other countries in the past). Instead it is used to support subservient regimes that favor business interests of transnational companies, putting those interests above interest of the country and its people. And if necessity remove non-complaint regimes by force The USA foreign policy now is essentially based on the coercive use of economic, political, and military power to expropriate other nations land, labor, capital, natural resources, commerce, and markets in the interests of transnational corporation, not in the interest of the American people. Now the decisive factor in the selection of allies and foes is the respective actors' position on "free market policies" like trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation, that favor international corporations and related transnational part of elite. In fact, the USA recent "patterns of intervention" reveal no or little correlation between democratic ideals and the role the US plays in the affairs of other nations. Globalization that is very successfully enforced by the USA foreign policy establishment (which contrary to its critics proved to be very apt and competent in achieving its goals) amounts to a Quiet coup d'état by transnational capital over the peoples of the world, subverting democracy and national autonomy everywhere including the USA itself, while ushering in a new stage of international expropriation of resources in the interest of elite and sending the US citizens to die for the benefit of transnational corporations. the blowback for the US people includes a national security state, an inviolable Pentagon budget, and rampant PTSD among military personnel.  From this point of view the popular but simplistic notion that a neoconservative cabal headed by George W. Bush has somehow 'hijacked' the U.S. government looks extremely naive.

In effect the transnational elite behaves as an occupying  power, although less brutal, toward the US population as well.  In a way America  is just another casualty of the new transnational elite. Cutbacks in social programs, decaying infrastructure, declining wages, massive unemployment, and the rise of municipalities facing bankruptcy means not only that a republic in decline, but that unchecked appetites of transnational elite fit classic Marxist scenario -- to expropriate as much above minimum subsistence level as possible. 

An important additional factor is the a new elite despise commoners. As Christoper Lasch pointed out in his groundbreaking book: "The new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension."

Playing with financial flows as if they are computer game lead to high levels of unemployment, which can no longer be regarded as aberrational, but due to labor arbitrage and dramatically improved communications became a necessary part of the working mechanisms of  modern capitalist mode of production.

Oligarchy became really audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." Crass materialism and accumulation of excessive wealth became the primary goal. Privatization and sell of public assets -- the mean to achieve those goals.

They have what Dr. John McMurtry has termed "The Ruling Group Mind"  when reality is warped to  conform to manufactured delusions submerging the group and its members within a set of  hysteria, denials and projections...

The USA still has a privileged position in this "new world order" but no my much. As Napoleon Bonaparte observed

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.

Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." 

"The Revolt of the Elites" by Christoper Lasch

Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was a historian and penetrating social critic. He was the first who promoted the idea  that the values and attitudes of elites and those of the working classes have dramatically diverged to the extent that elite became a natural "fifth column" within the state and generally hostile to the nation-state well-being and especially to the well-being of lower strata of the population. 

In 1994, Lasch had come to believe that the economic and cultural elite of the United States, who historically has insured the continuity of a culture had lost faith in the traditional values (which that organized the country culture since its inception), and replaced then with unrestrained greed . He saw a threat to the continuation of Western civilization was not a mass revolt as envisioned by the pro-communist New Left of the 1960's, but a rejection of its liberal and pluralistic values by the educated elite. (see Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult)

In the process of throwing off  elements of traditional morality, transnational elite adopted Nietzschean "Übermensch" mentality (typically in the form of Objectivism).  They also have mastered the art of the shameless transgression of authority for their own enrichment. This tendency became possible because of computer revolution. Computers dramatically increased the capability of transnational corporation making possible growth far beyond that was possible before them. They also enabled "hacking" on monetary system to the extent that was not possible in 1920, although financial elite were always capable to find a sure way to a huge crash to be bailed out by the state again and again. . 

Here is a couple of insightful reviews from Amazon:

According to Lasch, contrary to the thesis advanced by Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses, the revolt of the masses is over ending in the defeat of communism and is to be followed by a revolt of the cultural elite. Lasch advances arguments showing how we have reached a new stage of political development in America where the elite have become increasingly detached from the concerns of the common man. Unlike the elite of past ages, the former aristocracy of wealth and status, the new elite constitutes an aristocracy of merit. However, unlike in past ages, the new elite have increasingly alienated themselves from the common man. Lasch demonstrates how an increasing division between rich and poor, in which the working class has become alienated from the intellectual class of "symbolic analysts", has led to an utter sense of apathy among the American people.

In addition, the values of the new intellectual class are utterly different from the values of the man in the street. While the working class is fundamentally culturally conservative (a fact which Lasch has certainly latched onto) demanding moral certainties on such issues as homosexual rights, abortion, feminism, patriotism, and religion, the intellectual class demands political correctness advocating affirmative action, feminism, homosexual liberation, and promoting a radical (or rather, pseudo-radical) agenda.

Lasch seems to sympathize with the populists of old, who sought a sort of third way between the horrors of monopoly capitalism and the welfare state. Populists promoted the values of the common man, thus maintaining a cultural conservativism, while at the same time demonstrating an innate fear of bigness and far off bureaucracy. In addition, Lasch sees in communitarianism which seeks to emphasize the role of community, neighborhoods, and organic connectedness (contrary to libertarianism which emphasizes the individual at the whim of market forces and cultural pluralism) a new hope for the working class and cultural conservativism. Those who are opposed to communitarianism argue that based on previous experiments with small close knit communities (particularly emphasizing cases such as Calvin's Geneva and the New England Puritans but also small towns and neighborhoods) that these are oppressive. Obviously a balance needs to be struck; nevertheless, a re-emphasis on community and traditional values is obviously an important way to achieve improvement in human conditions. Unlike many right wing libertarians who may give lip service to "family values" but who then place the family at the whim of unfettered markets and corporate interests, Lasch argues for a restraint in order to facilitate family and community growth. Lasch shows how class remains an important division with equality of opportunity being merely a further means to oppress the working class. In addition, Lasch shows how the left uses the issue of race (extended arbitrarily to include all minorities and underprivileged - as defined by them, particularly so as to include whites) to create further difficulties for the common man, who is utterly alienated by political correctness. Lasch also argues that feminism remains an important force for the new class, because by allowing more women to enter the workforce they have achieved a situation whereby they perpetuate themselves. Lasch also turns his attention to education, showing how the modern system of compulsory education has failed, emphasizing the failures of such individuals as Horace Mann, who sought to eliminate politics from education. In addition, Lasch turns his attention to the university system, a hotbed of political correctness, multiculturalism, and postmodernist philosophies. Lasch shows how these philosophies have totally alienated any contact that universities may have with ordinary citizens, becoming more and more jargon-laden and specialized while at the same time promoting values completely contrary to those of the common man. Lasch refers to this as "academic pseudo-radicalism" to show how it differs distinctly from true radicalism, how it is fundamentally elitist, and how it further denies opportunities to the very minorities that it claims to so valiantly protect. However, unlike many of the other right wing critics of the university system, Lasch argues that corporations have continued to play a large role in the development of departments leading to a weakening of humanities programs. I found Lasch's criticisms of political correctness in the university system to be particularly cogent. While economically Lasch is opposed to unfettered capitalism, nevertheless he finds room to criticize the welfare state and government bureaucracy which promotes dependency and a culture of victimization. Lasch also shows how respect and shame have been misunderstood by the modern age. In addition, Lasch shows how a culture of narcissism has developed in this country, in which individuals have become excessively self interested and rely heavily on psychotherapies which promote self esteem and "happiness" as the highest good. Lasch also argues for a return to traditional religious values as a means for achieving hope and providing an inoculation against otherwise difficult times.

As a cultural conservative, I found Lasch's brand of populism/communitarianism to be particularly interesting. Lasch's analysis of the elites seems to make sense in light of their lack of contact with everyday reality, their lack of respect for common sense and the average person, and their lack of ties to nation and place. Our country is increasingly controlled by political elites in both parties who serve merely as tourists with little interest in America beyond what makes them money. In this respect, I believe Lasch's arguments to be particularly well thought out.

caroline miranda "caroline miranda" (los angeles) -

The aristocratic elitism of modern society's version of royalty--well-educated liberals, university administrators, race and class baiters and political elites who fear accusations of being insufficiently sophisticated and sensitive--are tossed off their thrones by Christopher Lasch. Lasch gives a clear and comprehensive overview of the social and political upheaval of the last 40 years that occurred under the noses of a bland and uncaring populace.

He explains the changes in America that led to morality becoming a code word for judgmentalism, standards becoming a code word for racism, multiculturalism becoming a code word for denigrating an evil European culture, the loss of family and neighborhood hailed as necessary for individual freedom, and the death of social cohesiveness, which never was mourned. "Most of our spiritual energy is devoted precisely to a campaign against shame and guilt, the object of which is to make people 'feel good about themselves.' The churches themselves have enlisted in this therapeutic exercise...," he notes.

Lest one think this is a Bill Bennett-type bromide, Lasch's observations extend far beyond the ain't-divorce-and-latchkey-children-terrible speech and extends to the paradox of modern society in which people have never been better off materially because of capitalism but so in danger of losing the core of their souls and their society's democratic values.

Individuality without community connection and the disintegration of unstated but commonly understood traditional rules and obligations that neighbors and a community once believed they owed other threaten democracy, Lasch believes.

When multiculturalism is seen from a limited tourist-type approach of folk dances and exotic food, when crime and violence in ethnic neighborhoods replace social cohesiveness, when impersonal malls and fast food restaurants displace informal gathering spots where people once discussed ideas and experiences, and when intimidation and name-calling replace reasoned debate, the country is deeply troubled, he notes. Worse yet, no one seems to find these developments alarming, so enmeshed they are in their structured public work worlds and isolated private home worlds.

Lasch pessimistically regrets the faltering of the foundation of a culture lost the very core of its democratic ideals: reasoned governance by an informed populace with a sense of community and ethics. He decries the usurpation of cultural norms instigated by elites, who rarely venture outside their smug circle of we-know-best-for-you compatriots and who refuse to acknowledge a need for individual responsibility and rather see the average, ordinary working person as a spigot for unending social spending and an unsophisticated inferior.

"...Identity politics has come to serve as a substitute for religion--or at least for the feeling of self-righteousness that is so commonly confused with religion," he says, while meanwhile decrying the modern tendency to use religion as a way to achieve personal happiness instead of as a guide to rightful living.

Lasch's clear and flowing writing style and his insights into the disorder and straying of modern society from its historical anchor make the book a timely and informative expose of many of the ills of modern society.

The Quiet Coup of Financial Oligarchy by Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He wrote an influential piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup.  While in reality translation elite is much broader, he concentrated on financial elite (or financial oligarchy) as the dominant player among them and provided an interesting perspective on how they got dominant power position and fully control government of a particular country (in this case the USA was an example):

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

When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

In Russia, for instance, the private sector is now in serious trouble because, over the past five years or so, it borrowed at least $490 billion from global banks and investors on the assumption that the country’s energy sector could support a permanent increase in consumption throughout the economy. As Russia’s oligarchs spent this capital, acquiring other companies and embarking on ambitious investment plans that generated jobs, their importance to the political elite increased. Growing political support meant better access to lucrative contracts, tax breaks, and subsidies. And foreign investors could not have been more pleased; all other things being equal, they prefer to lend money to people who have the implicit backing of their national governments, even if that backing gives off the faint whiff of corruption.

But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships” are relabeled “crony capitalism.” With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse. The government is forced to draw down its foreign-currency reserves to pay for imports, service debt, and cover private losses. But these reserves will eventually run out. If the country cannot right itself before that happens, it will default on its sovereign debt and become an economic pariah. The government, in its race to stop the bleeding, will typically need to wipe out some of the national champions—now hemorrhaging cash—and usually restructure a banking system that’s gone badly out of balance. It will, in other words, need to squeeze at least some of its oligarchs.

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.

Eventually, as the oligarchs in Putin’s Russia now realize, some within the elite have to lose out before recovery can begin. It’s a game of musical chairs: there just aren’t enough currency reserves to take care of everyone, and the government cannot afford to take over private-sector debt completely.

He lays out the threat that the American society faced now -- capture of the government by the finance industry:

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

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

In his NPR interview with Terry Gross he demonstrated that he does not understand the fact that the mousetrap is closed and that financial oligarchy the ruling elite of the country without any significant countervailing forces. So he dispensed a pretty naive advice (Fighting America's 'Financial Oligarchy):

"We face at least two major, interrelated problems," Johnson writes. "The first is a desperately ill banking sector that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate. The second is a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support."

Johnson insists the U.S. must temporarily nationalize banks so the government can "wipe out bank shareholders, replace failed management, clean up the balance sheets, and then sell the banks back to the private sector." But, Johnson adds, the U.S. government is unlikely to take these steps while the financial oligarchy is still in place.

Unless the U.S. breaks up its financial oligarchy, Johnson warns that America could face a crisis that "could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression — because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big."

A good discussion of his key ideas can be found at Jesse's Café Américain Sep 02, 2012 post  Reprise -- Simon Johnson On the Quiet Coup d'Etat in the Anglo-American Financial System

In an interview with MIT economist Simon Johnson which was posted here in February, 2009.

Have we heeded Simon Johnson's warning? Has he proven to be prescient? Is crony capitalism and the kleptocracy becoming bolder, more aggressive, ever more demanding?

"I think I'm signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places.

But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That's not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we've somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs...

But, exactly what you said, it's a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don't necessarily - they're not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots...

...the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.

I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there's a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can't. You're stuck....

The powerful people are the insiders. They're the CEOs of these banks. They're the people who run these banks. They're the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them...

But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing....

...these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies.

This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we're stuck for a long time with this arrangement."

Bill Moyer's Journal - Interview with Simon Johnson, February, 2009.

Johnson also wrote a piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup. It may be worth re-reading.
Here is the introduction to this in The Fall of the American Republic: The Quiet Coup d'Etat in August 2010.
"I am not so optimistic that this reform is possible, because there has in fact been a soft coup d'etat in the US, which now exists in a state of crony corporatism that wields enormous influence over the media and within the government.

Let's be clear about this, the oligarchs are flush with victory, and feel that they are firmly in control, able to subvert and direct any popular movement to the support of their own fascist ends and unshakable will to power.

This is the contempt in which they hold the majority of American people and the political process: the common people are easily led fools, and everyone else who is smart enough to know better has their price. And they would beggar every middle class voter in the US before they will voluntarily give up one dime of their ill gotten gains.

But my model says that the oligarchs will continue to press their advantages, being flushed with victory, until they provoke a strong reaction that frightens everyone, like a wake up call, and the tide then turns to genuine reform."

As far as I can tell, we are right on track for a very bad time of it. And you might be surprised at how far a belief in exceptionalism and arrogant superiority can go before it finally ends, or more likely, falls.

Revolt of the Rich by Mike Lofgren

An interesting variation of the quiet coup theory was advanced by Mike Lofgren in his influence article Revolt of the Rich (TAC, August 27, 2012)

It was 1993, during congressional debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican congressmen who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. To this day, I remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens.”

That was only the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy, and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement.

At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious, or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, the former Czechoslovakia, and Sudan. Others predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of Fourth Generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been numerous books about globalization and how it would eliminate borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state.

I do not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens from time to time—for example, Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

Being in the country but not of it is what gives the contemporary American super-rich their quality of being abstracted and clueless. Perhaps that explains why Mitt Romney’s regular-guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained. I discussed this with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, former secretary of the Treasury as well as an executive at Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup. Rubin was being chauffeured through Manhattan to reach some event whose attendees consisted of the Great and the Good such as himself. Along the way he encountered a traffic jam, and on arriving to his event—late—he complained to a city functionary with the power to look into it. “Where was the jam?” asked the functionary. Rubin, who had lived most of his life in Manhattan, a place of east-west numbered streets and north-south avenues, couldn’t tell him. The super-rich who determine our political arrangements apparently inhabit another, more refined dimension.

To some degree the rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools. But now this habit is exacerbated by the plutocracy’s palpable animosity towards public education and public educators, as Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated. To the extent public education “reform” is popular among billionaires and their tax-exempt foundations, one suspects it is as a lever to divert the more than $500 billion dollars in annual federal, state, and local education funding into private hands — meaning themselves and their friends. What Halliburton did for U.S. Army logistics, school privatizers will do for public education. A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy.

In both world wars, even a Harvard man or a New York socialite might know the weight of an army pack. Now the military is for suckers from the laboring classes whose subprime mortgages you just sliced into CDOs and sold to gullible investors in order to buy your second Bentley or rustle up the cash to get Rod Stewart to perform at your birthday party. The sentiment among the super-rich towards the rest of America is often one of contempt rather than noblesse.

Stephen Schwarzman, the hedge fund billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group who hired Rod Stewart for his $5-million birthday party, believes it is the rabble who are socially irresponsible. Speaking about low-income citizens who pay no income tax, he says: “You have to have skin in the game. I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

But millions of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes do pay federal payroll taxes. These taxes are regressive, and the dirty little secret is that over the last several decades they have made up a greater and greater share of federal revenues. In 1950, payroll and other federal retirement contributions constituted 10.9 percent of all federal revenues. By 2007, the last “normal” economic year before federal revenues began falling, they made up 33.9 percent. By contrast, corporate income taxes were 26.4 percent of federal revenues in 1950. By 2007 they had fallen to 14.4 percent. So who has skin in the game?

... ... ...

Since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below. Beginning with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution, a whole genre of political writings—some classical liberal, some conservative, some reactionary—has propounded this theme. The title of Ortega y Gasset’s most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses, tells us something about the mental atmosphere of this literature.

But in globalized postmodern America, what if this whole vision about where order, stability, and a tolerable framework for governance come from, and who threatens those values, is inverted? What if Christopher Lasch came closer to the truth in The Revolt of the Elites, wherein he wrote, “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses”? Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists — were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility.

Lasch wrote that in 1995. Now, almost two decades later, the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America.

Mike Lofgren also authored the book The Party Is Over How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Here is quote from one of Amazon reviews:

Over time, that sense of entitlement insensibly changed Democrats into what we in the Pentagon would call ENABLERS of Republicans. The Democratic enablers unwittingly played a crucial role in the demolition of the American dream, not unlike that played by infiltration troops in blitzkrieg. Infiltration troops soften up the front by slipping through defenses to find or create holes and weak areas for the tanks to roar thru to reap chaos and destruction deep in the enemy's rear area. Only in this case, the rear area being ruined is the American middle class, and the flood of tanks is taken up by the flood money supplied by the oligarchs who feather their nests by buying Democrats as well as Republicans in one seamless auction.

Put bluntly, to protect a sense of hereditary entitlement to the power that accompanied the coattails of FDR and the New Deal, Democrats abandoned their heritage and moved to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Defense, etc., and in so doing, insensibly mutated into faux Republicans. If you doubt this, look at the enervating, quasi-neoliberal bloviating by the self-inflating Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) or the cynical triangulations and warmongerings of Messrs. Clinton and Obama. The abdication of traditional Democratic principles gave Republican crazies more room to get even crazier, and together the faux Republicans and the real crazy Republicans reinforced each other to create a rightward shift in the American political dynamic that unleashed the emergence of a new gilded age, together with the emergence of a legalized plutocracy that criminal Russian oligarchs would envy. And this mutation came about in a remarkably short time of 30 to 40 years.

In so doing, the Democrats sold out their most important constituency, i.e., John Q. Average American, and colluded in the historic swindle that brought the great American middle class to the brink of impoverishment and debt peonage, a condition some times referred to chillingly in the tone-deaf salons of Versailles on the Potomac as the "new normal."

If you think collusion is too strong a term, I would urge you to think about Bill Clinton's (the DLC's choice for president in the 1992 election) collusion with Republicans in 1999 to nullify of the Depression era Glass-Steagle Act -- one of monuments of reform in the New Deal. This nullification was one of the main deregulatory "initiatives" that unleashed the greedy excesses that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. When he left office, Bill Clinton, by the way, did not pick up his grips and retire to a modest house in Independence Missouri like Harry Truman; he chose instead to join the plutocratic elite, where he is now well on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of the one-tenth of one-percent club of the mega rich. The bottom line: the Democrats' sense of entitlement and the consequent corruption of their principles have been a necessary, if not sufficient, condition in the emergence of the current political-economy that is destroying what is left of the middle class in our good ole USA. The reader would make a great mistake if he or she allowed the hilariously disgusting Republican hijinks described by Lofgren to brand his book as an anti-Republican polemic written by a convert, and miss his main message.

Mike, of course, states clearly in his title that his subject is how the madness of the Republicans and the uselessness of the Democrats reinforced each other over the last 30 to 40 years to hose the American People. It is the degenerate nature of their symbiotic relationship that is his thesis and should be the Left's call to arms.

I do not count on this happening, however. The faux Republicans are far more likely to try to exploit the embarrassment of riches in Mike's book for their narrow short-term political advantage, in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy and opportunism that are central pillars propping up their losing mentality.

Neo-classical economics smoke screen in Yves Smith’s Econned

Chicago neoclassical economics school is a well known pseudo-science school, one of the pillars of Economic Lysenkoism (along with  Supply Side Economics).  This is an economic cult, an ideology of financial oligarchy. So it is more proper to it not neoclassical, but as aptly suggested by Bill Black “theoclassical”   or  Chicago Ponzinomics.  It is a neoliberal phenomenon, not neoclassical. Like in Lysenkoism, and high demand sects anybody who strays from the cult is in danger of being ostracized. As Mark Thoma observed:

Some years ago, when I first presented an empirical paper questioning some of the conventional views on trade to a high profile economics conference, a member of the audience (a very prominent economist and a former co-author of mine) shocked me with the question "why are you doing this?

There is a useful part of neoclassical economy related to thinking about an aggregate social phenomena in terms of costs and benefits of individual participants, and that can be sometimes (but not always) as a useful supplementary approach. Bastartized version of this notion which tries to imply cost-benefit motives in all human interactions is called Freakonomics. Still you can view some choices people make as tradeoffs between desired goals and social constraints (which can interpreted as costs). 

Still neoclassical economics as practiced by Chicago school  is driven by ideology and financed by financial oligarchy.

And like Trofim Lysenko and his followers those people are as close to criminals as one can get.  Like Rabbies and Catolic Priests can be criminals, the same is true about people in academic mantles. Corruption of academics is nothing new, but corruption of economists is a very dangerous mass form of  white-collar crime as close to Madoff  and his associates as one can get. This is the way we should look at the Chicago schools: kind of incarnation of Lysenko henchmen or, if you wish, Chicago mafia in a university environment. Actually similar way of thinking can be applied to Harvard (see Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia ).

Is neoclassical economics a mafia? Sort of, says Christopher Hayes in a very well-written and very interesting piece in The Nation. He says orthodox economists are a close-knit group and are quick to penalize those among them or from outside who overstep the boundaries. Here is an excerpt:

So extreme is the marginalization of heterodox economists, most people don't even know they exist. Despite the fact that as many as one in five professional economists belongs to a professional association that might be described as heterodox, the phrase "heterodox economics" has appeared exactly once in the New York Times since 1981. During that same period "intelligent design," a theory endorsed by not a single published, peer-reviewed piece of scholarship, has appeared 367 times.

It doesn't take much to call forth an impressive amount of bile from heterodox economists toward their mainstream brethren. John Tiemstra, president of the Association for Social Economics and a professor at Calvin College, summed up his feelings this way: "I go to the cocktail parties for my old schools, MIT and Oberlin, and people are all excited about Freakonomics. I kind of wince and go off to another corner or have another drink." After the EPI gathering, Peter Dorman, an economist at Evergreen State College with a gentle, bearded air, related an e-mail exchange he once had with Hal Varian, a well-respected Berkeley economist who's moderately liberal but firmly committed to the neoclassical approach. Varian wrote to Dorman that there was no point in presenting "both sides" of the debate about trade, because one side--the view that benefits from unfettered trade are absolute--was like astronomy, while any other view was like astrology. "So I told him I didn't buy the traditional trade theory," Dorman said. "'Was I an astrologer?' And he said yes!"

Please note that some of the most close to Lysenkoism figures at Chicago, such as Cochrane and Fama, are in the business school rather than the econ department.   And they were key enablers of  Goldman Sacks and Co. looters. Deregulation wave was promoted by right wing extremists who recruited corrupted academicians like Milton Friedman to perform specific role of Trojan horse to undermine New Deal.  He managed to made the "invisible hand" a prefect pocket picker!  And the method of spreading influence was essentially borrowed from the Lysenko book: control the economic department and those who went to college and studied those theories in the 70’s and 80’s would then go to Wall St and Government and enact them. Control the key academic magazines and conferences and any aspiring economists need either to conform or leave the field.

Here is one telling comment about corruption of those modern day Lysenkoists in the blog Crooked Timber

ogmb 09.18.09 at 12:01 pm

...Cochrane is the AQR Capital Management Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth [formerly Graduate] School of Business. Which incidentally also makes his whining that Krugman ‘accuses us literally of adopting ideas for pay, selling out for “sabbaticals at the Hoover institution” and fat “Wall street paychecks”’ a bit malnourished in the introspection department, coming from someone who holds a chair sponsored by a quantitative trading firm at a school sponsored by the founder of an EMH investment firm. (Nevermind that Krugman never, literally or otherwise, accused Cochrane and his peers of selling out to Wall Street…)

In this ideology Milton Friedman is playing the role of false prophet and lesser "giants" producing continued steam of detached from reality papers and speeches. It also includes several clown who as Krugman noted have some qualities of irritable adolescents, but actually are proper heirs of Academician Trofim Lysenko:

And that same adolescent quality was evident in the reactions to the Obama administration’s attempts to deal with the crisis — as Brad DeLong points out, people like Robert Lucas and John Cochrane (not to mention Richard Posner, who isn’t a macroeconomist but gets his take from his colleagues) didn’t say that when serious scholars like Christina Romer based policy recommendations on Keynesian economics, they were wrong; the freshwater crowd declared that anyone with Keynesian views was, by definition, either a fool or intellectually dishonest. So the freshwater outrage over finding their own point of view criticized is, you might think, a classic case of people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

But it’s actually even worse than that.

When freshwater macro came in, there was an active purge of competing views: students were not exposed, at all, to any alternatives. People like Prescott boasted that Keynes was never mentioned in their graduate programs. And what has become clear in the recent debate — for example, in the assertion that Ricardian equivalence rules out any effect from government spending changes, which is just wrong — is that the freshwater side not only turned Keynes into an unperson, but systematically ignored the work being done in the New Keynesian vein. Nobody who had read, say, Obstfeld and Rogoff would have been as clueless about the logic of temporary fiscal expansion as these guys have been. Freshwater macro became totally insular. And hence the most surprising thing in the debate over fiscal stimulus: the raw ignorance that has characterized so many of the freshwater comments. Above all, we’ve seen the phenomenon of well-known economists “rediscovering” Say’s Law and the Treasury view (the view that government cannot affect the overall level of demand), not because they’ve transcended the Keynesian refutation of these views, but because they were unaware that there had ever been such a debate. It's a sad story. And the even sadder thing is that it’s very unlikely that anything will change: freshwater macro will get even more insular, and its devotees will wonder why nobody in the real world of policy and action pays any attention to what they say.

The proper label for neo-classical economics might be "theological voluntarism", the term which has some academic aura... There are several issues here:

  1. Excessive dependence or even open prostitution to the financial oligarchy. It's deplorable but probably unavoidable as the grip of financial community of economic profession does not requires any additional commentary. Also there are always exceptions to the rule.
  2. Mathematical masturbation instead of science. When, for example, a paper that propose even a linear equation (or God forbid differential equation) does not provide any estimate of errors of input data such a paper in a narrow sense can be called mathematical masturbation. Classic example here would be any paper that has inflation as an input variable. In a more broad sense this occurs when research paper contains results or mathematical model which rely on idealized, with little connections to reality postulates about the structure of economic activities. Many supply/demand models belong to this category as they rely on existence of equilibrium between supply and demand and/or are ignoring Minsky instability hypothesis. Most neo-classical economics can be called a theory in a desperate search for suitable reality.
  3. Relying on discredited and openly anti-scientific assumptions or hypothesis. Examples include, but not limited to "supply side voodoo", "monetarism", "Taylor rule", "permanent equilibrium fallacy", "invisible hand" (both as a postulate about absence of manipulation of the markets and the idea that "free markets lead to efficient outcomes" disregarding the role of government and almost permanent government intervention as well as issues of economic rent and taxation of participants to support an aristocracy or oligarchy).

Chicago (or as some called it freshwater) school specializes in deification of the market (often in the form of "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com). 

Econned

Yves Smith’s in her book Econned, How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism discussed the role of corrupted economics professor in establishing and supporting the rule of financial oligarchy. Here is one Amazon review

kievite:

 Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy, September 25, 2010

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments ("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Sheller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'état was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolsheviks rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, albeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies

It might well be that for certain part of this new transnational elite with their "cult of greed" can be characterized by a callous disregard for other people feelings typical for psychopaths. Moreover for new, first generation members of this elite those psychopathic tendencies (which does not mean that the person is an outright psychopath, or sociopath)  might be a powerful engine in climb to the top and can play a important, if not decisive role in their success. They look more like "well compensated" sociopaths. See Authoritarians and Corporate Psychopaths as Toxic Managers for more information about typical traits that define this condition.

 There’s a section in the book The Psychopath Test, in which British journalist Jon Ronson  does the psychopath test on "Chainsaw Al" Dunlop, the former CEO of Sunbeam who was notorious for gleefully laying off thousands of workers to make more money.  And he redefines a great number of the items on the checklist as business positives. He turned the psychopath test into “Who Moved My Cheese?” The thing that’s so startling about his story is that the more ruthlessly and remorselessly psychopathically he behaved when he was heading up Sunbeam and the company before Sunbeam — Scott — the more he was rewarded. As Times reported on 2011/09/20:

One in 25 bosses may be psychopaths — a rate that’s four times greater than in the general population — according to research by psychologist and executive coach Paul Babiak.

Babiak studied 203 American corporate professionals who had been chosen by their companies to participate in a management training program. He evaluated their psychopathic traits using a version of the standard psychopathy checklist developed by Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Psychopaths, who are characterized by being completely amoral and concerned only with their own power and selfish pleasures, may be overrepresented in the business environment because it plays to their strengths. Where greed is considered good and profitmaking is the most important value, psychopaths can thrive.

Just look at the at their grandiosity, their pathological lying, their lack of empathy, their lack of remorse of the financial elite demonstrated during the crisis of 2008.  I know there’s a danger in seeing psychopaths everywhere, but sometimes in this case it’s just impossible not to see some alarming correlations. Look at the apostils of deregulation in the USA such as:

Shaming the poor as a new sport for the transnational elites and subservient politicians

Amorality and psychopathic tendencies of new transnational elite and a special breed of corrupted politicians who serve them are perfectly demonstrated in the new sport for crooked politicians, especially from the part of the US Republican Party which can be called neo-confederates.

Barbara Ellen in her Guardian column (Guardian March 2, 2013) pointed out that the Methodists, the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland and the Baptist Union have joined forces to publish a study called The Lies We Tell Ourselves. It highlights myths surrounding people and poverty, including Iain Duncan Smith's much trumpeted "families out of work for three generations" line (which, it turns out, has never been backed up by data).

The report argues that the government is "deliberately misrepresenting" the poor, blaming them for their circumstances while ignoring more complex reasons, including policy deficiencies. Moreover, they feel that this scapegoating is the result of collusion between politicians, the media and the public.

Increasingly, the shame is being taken out of poor-shaming. It didn't seem so long ago that most people would think twice about denigrating fellow citizens who were having a hard time. These days, it appears to have been sanctioned as a new sport for the elites. A politician is one thing but these attitudes are spreading and hardening among ordinary people too. Indeed, poverty seems a trigger to inspire hate speech that would be quickly denounced if it related to race or gender.

Is this our new default setting – that the needy are greedy? This chimes with a slew of government policies that appear to be founded on notions of bulletproof self-reliance, making no allowances for circumstances or sheer bad luck, and which many would require huge amounts of help to put into practice, never mind sustain. Meanwhile, the more fortunate are invited to pour scorn upon anyone who fails.

While there are people whose problem are self-inflicted for many this is not true. In reality substantial number of poor are former people of modest means hit by a serious disease and who run out of options.

And shaming poor is a pretty safe sport. The poor are poor. They have no money, no voice, no representatives, and no means to defend their interests. Poverty is a like collapse of domino – once the first domino falls, all others follow the suit. In such circumstances, if a group of people are "deliberately misrepresents" the real situation with the poor, then there's precious little they can do about it. The churches got it right – if anything, the truth seems so much worse that it must surely be time to put the shame back into poor-shaming.

Poor-shamers are bullies, and right now they're getting away with it.

To what extent new transnational elite is monolithic ?

State interests and interest of large social groups are "projected" on the elite making is less monolithic then otherwise it might be. Here is come to a complex question of "national elite" vs. "transnational elite". This question is often discussed under the banner of  "Fifth column".  In this sense   Color revolutions  can be viewed as attempts to "harmonize" elite with the requirements of international corporations plus geostrategic interests of the counties which "home" those corporations.  See for example Russian experience in "white Revolution" of 2011-2012

In this sense Civil war can be viewed as a condition in which two parts of the elite in the same country can't reconcile their differences with peaceful means. That's definitely true about the US Civil War. 

Existence of "ideologically charged" and openly nationalistic parties which periodically come to power in various countries somewhat undermines the thesis about international elite dominance, unless you assume that such parties represent "blowback" of internationalization of capital and come to power to protect the interest of some parts of the national elite threatened by "more international" (aka comprador) part of the elite. Which is historically  true for NDSP (with military-industrial complex as the main supported of them as a tool against communists as well as against Jewish financial oligarchy) as well as for Bolsheviks in Russia (if we assume the theory that the initial core of Bolsheviks movement before Stalin purges was Russian Jewish intelligencia supported by the USA (via Trotsky connections) and some other countries (paradoxically Germany during the period of WWI; it was Germany that "delivered" to Russia by via a special train  Bolshevik leaders caught at the beginning of WWI in various European countries including Germany, in violation of the their status as "interned" nationals for the duration of the First World War )).

"Resource nationalism" is another close, but more modern phenomenon

Nationalism is probably the most potent force for undermining the unity of international elite.

The problem of degeneration of elite

The elite in most European countries and the USA consists not of the "best of the breed". It became more like the result of adverse selection.  Conversion to neoliberalism just made this problems more acute. At this point the problem of degeneration of elite comes to the forefront. George Bush II was clear a warning in the respect. Obama might well be the second bell. In criticizing the degeneration of the current US or GB elite, we should not forget that such processes are not new and in the past were the cause of several revolutions. Financial oligarchy of the neoliberal society is only a new name for aristocrats. And in the past the self-serving, decadent and corrupted upper class was the important source of instability in the society.  level of degeneration  of European elite which clearly demonstrated the fact the Cameron managed to came to power in GB in many respects makes the situation even more fragile than in the USA. Here is one telling quote (The EU's ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns):

It is generally accepted that "politics is the art of the possible" and yet the EU leaders are clearly engaged in the art of the absolutely impossible. The fact that they are all pretending like this is going to have some useful impact is truly a sign of how much the EU leadership has degenerated over the years. Can you imagine Helmut Schmidt, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand or Francisco Franco engaging in that kind of infantile nonsense? All these leaders had their bad aspects, but at least none of them were clowns, whereas when I look at the current EU leadership, especially Van Rumpey, Adners Fogh Rasmussen or José Manuel Barroso I get the feeling that I am looking at some ugly kindergarten of intellectually challenged clowns and, frankly, I can understand Mrs Nuland's feelings.

Degeneration of elites lead the denunciation of the elites, when to a large body of civil population became clear that the upper class is no longer fulfill their function, do not care about the people, and, in case of neoliberal elite, is not even the part of the same society -- it acquired features of a foreign, parasitizing on the national body occupation force.

If the elite is not regenerates itself, catastrophic crisis in Society became more likely.  The state itself became a “quasi-state”: endowed with juridical statehood, yet lacking the political will, institutional capacity, and organized authority to protect human rights and provide socioeconomic welfare for the population. In this case a parallel political authority -- a shadow state replaces the "regular" stat – whose defining characteristic is the change of the role of security services in the governance of the state. See National Security State. Dissolution of the USSR was particularly connected with such a level of degeneration of the elite as well as betrayal of security services with KGB brass changing sides and adopting neoliberalism as a new ideology. 

At the same time while people like Obama and Cameron are merely instruments of  neoliberalism and financial capital.  So one explanation of the degradation of elite is the current crisis of neoliberalism. This is somewhat similar to the degradation of  Politburo in last years of the USSR.  They all however fit the definition of idiocy, repeating the same mistakes that prove so unfailingly disastrous, over and over, the inability to learn from their mistakes.

Here is one telling comment from Moon of Alabama discussion:

jayc | Aug 29, 2014 3:12:01 PM | 13

When Cameron started taking selfies at Mandela's funeral it undermined any remaining notion that he was some kind of leader, he was rather revealed as a mediocre middle-management suckup.

Western political leadership is chock full of these types. Policy is being developed at another level than elected representatives and middle-management is there to sell the policy.

I'm not sure NATO wants a full shooting proxy war - they don't care much about Ukraine or its people and would be content with new bases and new weapons programs.

The intent, it seems, is to isolate Russia from Europe and hope that the effects from sanctions could produce some sort of regime change or fracture the country into territories It seems that the Kiev regime has done just about everything possible to provoke a Russian invasion.

Western politicians and media, by their open hysteria and constant insistence that Russia has "invaded" and shot down a passenger plane, are invoking a sort of nostalgia for the Afghanistan invasion of 1978 or the KAL007 shoot down, when the evil empire stood revealed and the brave middle managers could rush to the barricades.

Unfortunately for them, Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next.

Crest | Aug 29, 2014 6:26:49 PM | 47 

@jayc 13
"Russia hasn't played that game and because they are mediocre the West's political leadership cannot summon the imagination for what to do next."

This is a great line. Western elites have no imagination, because of a generation of brutally purging all dissent from the neoliberalism/financialist imperalism paradigm.

If you don't believe in the Washington consensus, you don't exist.

They simply can't think of anything better, and they won't allow themselves to try.


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[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] 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 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.

[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 24, 2017] One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings

Notable quotes:
"... People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded. ..."
"... As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface. ..."
Jan 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> jonny bakho... January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM , 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow.

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 23, 2017] This is our neoliberal nightmare Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time - Salon.com

Notable quotes:
"... everything ..."
"... loves ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.salon.com
Neoliberalism has been more successful than most past ideologies in redefining subjectivity, in making people alter their sense of themselves, their personhood, their identities, their hopes and expectations and dreams and idealizations. Classical liberalism was successful too, for two and a half centuries, in people's self-definition, although communism and fascism succeeded less well in realizing the "new man."

It cannot be emphasized enough that neoliberalism is not classical liberalism, or a return to a purer version of it, as is commonly misunderstood; it is a new thing, because the market, for one thing, is not at all free and untethered and dynamic in the sense that classical liberalism idealized it. Neoliberalism presumes a strong state, working only for the benefit of the wealthy, and as such it has little pretence to neutrality and universality, unlike the classical liberal state.

I would go so far as to say that neoliberalism is the final completion of capitalism's long-nascent project, in that the desire to transform everything -every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet-in its image had not been realized to the same extent by any preceding ideology. Neoliberalism happens to be the ideology-unlike the three major forerunners in the last 250 years-that has the fortune of coinciding with technological change on a scale that makes its complete penetration into every realm of being a possibility for the first time in human history.

From the early 1930s, when the Great Depression threatened the classical liberal consensus (the idea that markets were self-regulating, and the state should play no more than a night-watchman role), until the early 1970s, when global instability including currency chaos unraveled it, the democratic world lived under the Keynesian paradigm : markets were understood to be inherently unstable, and the interventionist hand of government, in the form of countercyclical policy, was necessary to make capitalism work, otherwise the economy had a tendency to get out of whack and crash.

It's an interesting question if it was the stagflation of the 1970s, following the unhitching of the United States from the gold standard and the arrival of the oil embargo, that brought on the neoliberal revolution, with Milton Friedman discrediting fiscal policy and advocating a by-the-numbers monetarist policy , or if it was neoliberalism itself, in the form of Friedmanite ideas that the Nixon administration was already pursuing, that made stagflation and the end of Keynesianism inevitable.

It should be said that neoliberalism thrives on prompting crisis after crisis, and has proven more adept than previous ideologies at exploiting these crises to its benefit, which then makes the situation worse, so that each succeeding crisis only erodes the power of the working class and makes the wealthy wealthier. There is a certain self-fulfilling aura to neoliberalism, couched in the jargon of economic orthodoxy, that has remained immune from political criticism, because of the dogma that was perpetuated- by Margaret Thatcher and her acolytes-that There Is No Alternative (TINA) .

Neoliberalism is excused for the crises it repeatedly brings on-one can think of a regular cycle of debt and speculation-fueled emergencies in the last forty years, such as the developing country debt overhang of the 1970s , the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s , the Asian currency crisis of the 1990s , and the subprime mortgage crisis of the 2000s-better than any ideology I know of. This is partly because its very existence as ruling ideology is not even noted by the population at large, which continues to derive some residual benefits from the welfare state inaugurated by Keynesianism but has been led to believe by neoliberal ideologues to think of their reliance on government as worthy of provoking guilt, shame, and melancholy, rather than something to which they have legitimate claim.

It is not surprising to find neoliberal multiculturalists- comfortably established in the academy -likewise demonizing, or othering, not Muslims, Mexicans, or African Americans, but working-class whites (the quintessential Trump proletariat) who have a difficult time accepting the fluidity of self-definition that goes well with neoliberalism, something that we might call the market capitalization of the self.

George W. Bush's useful function was to introduce necessary crisis into a system that had grown too stable for its own good; he injected desirable panic, which served as fuel to the fire of the neoliberal revolution. Trump is an apostate-at least until now-in desiring chaos on terms that do not sound neoliberal, which is unacceptable; hence Jeb Bush's characterization of him as the "candidate of chaos. " Neoliberalism loves chaos, that has been its modus operandi since the early 1970s, but only the kind of chaos it can direct and control.

To go back to origins, the Great Depression only ended conclusively with the onset of the second world war, after which Keynesianism had the upper hand for thirty-five years. But just as the global institutions of Keynesianism, specifically the IMF and the World Bank, were being founded at the New Hampshire resort of Bretton Woods in 1944, the founders of the neoliberal revolution, namely Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and others were forming the Mount Pelerin Society (MPS) at the eponymous Swiss resort in 1947 , creating the ideology which eventually defeated Keynesianism and gained the upper hand during the 1970s.

So what exactly is neoliberalism, and how is it different from classical liberalism, whose final manifestation came under Keynesianism?

Neoliberalism believes that markets are self-sufficient unto themselves, that they do not need regulation, and that they are the best guarantors of human welfare. Everything that promotes the market, i.e., privatization, deregulation, mobility of finance and capital, abandonment of government-provided social welfare, and the reconception of human beings as human capital, needs to be encouraged, while everything that supposedly diminishes the market, i.e., government services, regulation, restrictions on finance and capital, and conceptualization of human beings in transcendent terms, is to be discouraged.

[Jan 23, 2017] January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM

Notable quotes:
"... People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
, 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow.

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 23, 2017] Give Trump a Chance

From amazon review of his book In the Jaws of the Dragon "Anyone who has read "The World is Flat" should also read "In The Jaws Of The Dragon" to understand both sides of the issues involved in offshoring. Eamon Fingleton clearly defines the differences between the economic systems in play in China and Japan and the United States and how those differences have damaged the United States economy. The naive position taken by both the Republicans and the Democrats that offshoring is good for America is shown to be wrong because of a fundamental lack of knowledge about who we are dealing with. Every member of Congress and the executive branch should read this book before ratifying any more trade agreements. The old saying of the marketplace applies: Take advantage of me once, shame on you. Take advantage of me twice, shame on me."
Notable quotes:
"... Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press. ..."
"... That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003. ..."
"... Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism. ..."
"... In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. ..."
"... As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. ..."
"... So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability. ..."
"... In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." ..."
"... other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans. ..."
"... In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Battlefield communications in World War I sometimes left something to be desired. Hence a famous British anecdote of a garbled word-of-mouth message. As transmitted, the message ran, "Send reinforcements, we are going to advance." Superior officers at the other end, however, were puzzled to be told: "Send three and four-pence [three shillings and four-pence], we are going to a dance!"

Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press.

That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003.

Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism.

Now as Trump embarks on office, his true attitudes are becoming obvious – and they hardly lean towards neo-Nazism.

In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. Trump even wants to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This position is a favourite of the most ardently pro-Israel section of the American Jewish community but is otherwise disavowed as insensitive to Palestinians by most American policy analysts.

Many other examples could be cited of how the press has distorted the truth. It is interesting to revisit in particular the allegation that Trump mocked a disabled man's disability. It is an allegation which has received particular prominence in the press in Europe. But is Trump really such a heartless ogre? Hardly.

As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. The disabled-man episode began when, in defending an erstwhile widely ridiculed contention that Arabs in New Jersey had publicly celebrated the Twin Towers attacks, Trump unearthed a 2001 newspaper account broadly backed him up. But the report's author, Serge Kovaleski, demurred. Trump's talk of "thousands" of Arabs, he wrote, was an exaggeration.

Trump fired back. Flailing his arms wildly in an impersonation of an embarrassed, backtracking reporter, he implied that Kovaleski had succumbed to political correctness.

So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability.

Trump's plea that he hadn't known that Kovaleski was handicapped was undermined when it emerged that in the 1980s the two had not only met but Kovaleski had even interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. That is an experience I know something about. I, like Kovaleski, once interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. The occasion was an article I wrote for Forbes magazine in 1982. If Trump saw my by-line today, would he remember that occasion 35 years ago? Probably not. The truth is that Trump, who has been a celebrity since his early twenties, has been interviewed by thousands of journalists over the years. A journalist would have to be seriously conceited – or be driven by a hidden agenda – to assume that a VIP as busy as Trump would remember an occasion half a lifetime ago.

In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." Setting aside point one (although to the press's chagrin, many of Trump's acquaintances have testified that a streak of considerable private generosity underlies his tough-guy exterior), it is hard to see how anyone can question point two. In effect Trump is saying he had a strong self-interest in not offending the disabled lobby let alone their millions of sympathisers.

After all it was not as if there were votes in dissing the disabled. This stands in marked contrast to other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans.

In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair.

For a start Trump's frenetic performance bore no resemblance to arthrogryposis. Far from frantically flailing their arms, arthrogryposis victims are uncommonly motionlessness. This is because relevant bones are fused together. As Catholics 4 Trump pointed out, the media should have been expected to have been chomping at the bit to interview Kovaleski and thus clinch the point about how ruthlessly Trump had ridiculed a disabled man's disability.

The website added: "If the media had a legitimate story, that is exactly what they would have done and we all know it. But the media couldn't put Kovaleski in front of a camera or they'd have no story."

Catholics 4 Trump added that, in the same speech in which Trump did his Kovaleski impression, he offered an almost identical performance to illustrate the embarrassment of a U.S. general with whom he had clashed. In particular Trump had the general wildly flailing his arms. It goes without saying that this general does not suffer from arthogryposis or any other disability. The common thread in each case was merely an embarrassed, backtracking person. To say the least, commentators in Europe who have portrayed Trump as having mocked Kovaleski's disability stand accused of superficial, slanted reporting.

All this is not to suggest that Trump does not come to the presidency unencumbered with baggage. He is exceptionally crude – at least he is in his latter-day reality TV manifestation (the Trump I remember from my interview in 1982 was a model of restraint by comparison and in particular never used any expletives). Moreover the latter-day Trump habit of picking Twitter fights with those who criticize him tends merely to confirm a widespread belief that he is petty and thin-skinned.

Many of his pronouncements moreover have been disturbing and his abrasive manner will clearly prove on balance a liability in the White House. That said, the press has never worked harder or more dishonestly to destroy a modern American leader.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, therefore, as he sets out to make America great again. The truth is that American decline has gone much further than almost anyone outside American industry understands. Trump's task is a daunting one.

Eamonn Fingleton is an expert on America's trade problems and is the author of In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity (Houghton Mifflin, Boston). A version of this article appeared in the Dublin Ireland Sunday Business Post.

America's fate looks dicey in the showdown with the Chinese juggernaut, warns this vigorous jeremiad. Fingleton (In Praise of Hard Industries) argues that China's "East Asian" development model of aggressive mercantilism and a state-directed economy "effortlessly outperforms" America's fecklessly individualistic capitalism

[Jan 22, 2017] Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit

Neoliberals seem very concerned not to have a label. I posit this is because the founders of the malign ideology didn't want their victims be able to reliably identify them. The deliberately and misleadingly promote the view of the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. Neoclassic economists consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. "I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. "
Notable quotes:
"... when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit. ..."
"... Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment. ..."
"... It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

William Meyer, Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 12:49 PM

What Wren-Lewis misses, I think, is that something I've noticed in my roughly a decade of reading economic blogs on the Internet. Economists have blinkers on. They want to view the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. It seems fairly clear to me that the two elements--politics and the economy--are obviously continuously co-mingled, and have all sorts of feedback loops running between them.

The discipline really consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. Wren-Lewis admits that macroeconomists "missed" the impacts of very high financial sector leverage, but finds that now that economists have noticed it, and suggested remedies, that the power of bank lobby prevents those remedies from being enacted. But shouldn't the political power of the finance lobby been a part of economic analysis of the world along with the dangers of the financial sector's use of extreme leverage? Does he think the two phenomena are unrelated?

Shouldn't economics pay more attention to the ongoing attempts of various groups to orient government policy in their favor, just like they pay attention to the trade deficit and GDP numbers?

I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. Its like economists obsessively focus on the part that can be studied via numbers (money) and don't' want to think about the part that is harder to look quantify (political policy). And there is a political issue there, which Mr. Wren-Lewis, keeps ignoring in his defense of "mainstream economics."

The neoclassical economics tendency of not looking at power relationships makes power imbalances and their great influence on economics seem like "givens" or "natural endowments", which is clearly an intellectual sin of omission.

Many people, even within the halls of mainstream economics, note economists are "uncomfortable" with distributional issues.

Whether they like the implication or not, economists need to acknowledge that this discomfort has a profoundly conservative intellectual bias, in the sense that it make the status quo arrangement of society seem "natural" and "normal", when it is obviously humanly constructed and not in any sense "natural." So when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships.

Mr. Wren-Lewis seems like a nice guy, but he needs to take that simple home truth in. I'm not sure why he seems to struggle so with acknowledging it.

KPl, January 21, 2017 at 11:37 PM

"...but failing to ignore their successes,..."

Oh you mean the success of being able to raise asset prices without the growth in wages, make education costly and unaffordable without student loans, not chargeable under bankruptcy, spruce up employment figures by not counting the people who have stopped look for jobs because they cannot find one, make people debt serfs, make savers miserable by keeping interest rates at zero and making them take risks that they may not want to take though it is picking pennies in front of a steamroller, keeping wages stagnant for decades and thus impoverishing people.

The list of successes is endless and you should be glad we are NOT talking about them. Because if we do, the clan called economists might well be torched.

cm -> cm... , January 22, 2017 at 08:40 AM
Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit.

Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment.

A large part is probably the idea that "markets" are "objective" or at least "impartial" in bringing out and rewarding merit - also technology and "data driven" technocratic management, which are attributed "objectivity". All in the explicitly stated or implied service of impartially recognizing merit and its lack.

It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized.

libezkova : , January 22, 2017 at 07:11 PM
"Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit."

A very important observation. Thank you !

[Jan 21, 2017] NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

Jan 20, 2017 | cepr.net

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

http://www.unz.com/article/political-sciences-theory-of-everything-on-the-2016-us-election/

== quote ==

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/nyt-says-davos-elite-are-concerned-because-public-doesn-t-buy-their-lies-anymore

Jan 21, 2017 | cepr.net

January 20, 2017

NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] Political sciences Theory of Everything on the 2016 US Election - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America." ..."
"... He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today." ..."
"... During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. ..."
"... At the time this was the highest level internal US intelligence confirmation of the theory that western governments fundamentally see the Islamic State as their own tool for regime change in Syria. The military faction began a steady stream of "one-sided" leaks to Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh who published one article after another that undermined the political (Obama administration) and corporate (CIA and intelligence) factions of the power elite, while painting the military faction in a positive light. ..."
"... The first article entitled Whose Sarin? was published on 19 December, 2013 and concerned the East Ghouta sarin gas attack of August 21, 2013. Hersh documents a clear campaign within the power elite's military faction to "foot-drag" and hopefully block the planned US retaliation for crossing President Obama's "red line": "[S]ome members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama's professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that 'thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces' would be needed to seize Syria's widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with 'hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers'." ..."
"... A cornered Obama welcomed a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. The political faction's step-down pleased many senior military officers, explains Hersh: "One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been 'like providing close air support for al-Nusra'." ..."
"... General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. The military faction also had the advantage of a British intelligence report of a sample of sarin, recovered by Russian military intelligence operatives, proving it was not from the Syrian army. Further suspicions were aroused within the military faction when more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with two kilograms of sarin. Hersh quotes his internal military source: "'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'" ..."
"... Further revelations included how the Obama administration, through the CIA, had by early 2012 created a "rat line", a back channel highway into Syria, used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to jihadists, some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda. ..."
"... Hersh's source explains how a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the assault by a local militia on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others in September 2012, revealed a secret agreement for the "rat line" reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations: "By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria." ..."
"... After Washington abruptly ended the CIA's role in the transfer of arms from Libya the "rat line" continued and became more ominous: "'The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,' the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels." ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.unz.com

The corporate-deep-state theory

In a recent UNZ article titled: Political science's "theory of everything" a concise map of the US establishment, both the visible and invisible government was mapped. Based on this map a theory emerged that showed how the visible government has been subverted by an invisible unelected government that was described as a corporate-deep-state. The levels of the US establishment were identified as a power elite conspiratorial leadership overseeing a corporatocracy and directing a deep state that has gradually subverted the visible US government and taken over the "levers of power."

The power elite

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

The covert invasion of Syria

A US Pentagon, DIA report, formerly classified "SECRET//NOFORN" and dated August 12, 2012, was circulated widely among various government agencies, including CENTCOM, the CIA, FBI, DHS, NGA, State Dept., and many others.

Astoundingly, the declassified report states that for "THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME ".

The document shows that as early as 2012, US intelligence predicted the rise of the Salafist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.

At the time this was the highest level internal US intelligence confirmation of the theory that western governments fundamentally see the Islamic State as their own tool for regime change in Syria. The military faction began a steady stream of "one-sided" leaks to Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh who published one article after another that undermined the political (Obama administration) and corporate (CIA and intelligence) factions of the power elite, while painting the military faction in a positive light.

Whose sarin?

The first article entitled Whose Sarin? was published on 19 December, 2013 and concerned the East Ghouta sarin gas attack of August 21, 2013. Hersh documents a clear campaign within the power elite's military faction to "foot-drag" and hopefully block the planned US retaliation for crossing President Obama's "red line": "[S]ome members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama's professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that 'thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces' would be needed to seize Syria's widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with 'hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers'."

A cornered Obama welcomed a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. The political faction's step-down pleased many senior military officers, explains Hersh: "One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been 'like providing close air support for al-Nusra'."

The Red Line and the Rat Line

The second article titled The Red Line and the Rat Line was published on 17 April, 2014 and explains why Obama delayed and then relented on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya: "The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration (political faction) who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous."

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. The military faction also had the advantage of a British intelligence report of a sample of sarin, recovered by Russian military intelligence operatives, proving it was not from the Syrian army. Further suspicions were aroused within the military faction when more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with two kilograms of sarin. Hersh quotes his internal military source: "'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'"

Further revelations included how the Obama administration, through the CIA, had by early 2012 created a "rat line", a back channel highway into Syria, used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to jihadists, some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Hersh's source explains how a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the assault by a local militia on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others in September 2012, revealed a secret agreement for the "rat line" reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations: "By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria."

After Washington abruptly ended the CIA's role in the transfer of arms from Libya the "rat line" continued and became more ominous: "'The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,' the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels."

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

The third article titled The Killing of Osama bin Laden was published on 17 April, 2014. The Obama administration needed a public relations win on the eve of his second term election and according to Hersh's military source: "'the killing of bin Laden was political theatre designed to burnish Obama's military credentials.'"

Hersh's article goes on to systematically debunk the Obama administration's entire clumsy cover story while implicating the Saudis and Pakistanis who financed and protected Osama bin Laden. He goes on to reveal that once he had outlived his usefulness, to the Pakistanis, he was traded to the Americans who murdered him in cold blood and tossed his mutilated body parts over the Hindu Kish mountains.

The article further reveals how the Senate Intelligence Committee's long-delayed report on CIA torture, released in December 2013 concluded that the CIA lied systematically about the effectiveness of its torture programme in gaining intelligence that would stop future terrorist attacks in the US.

Military to Military

Hersh's fourth article titled Military to Military was published on 7 January 2016, and details how an exasperated military faction continued to repeat warnings that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to Libyan style chaos and, potentially, to Syria's takeover by jihadi extremists. They were continuously ignored by both the political faction and the intelligence services: "[A]lthough many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. 'Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,' said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. 'He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn't shut up.' Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. 'I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I'm OK with that.'"

Hersh's paper further highlights a rebellion under the leadership of Joint Chiefs of Staff that was then led by General Martin Dempsey. He began to send a flow of US intelligence through allied militaries to the Syrian Arab Army and he orchestrated a deliberate plan to downgrade the quality of the arms being supplied to the rebels by the CIA. The military's indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey's retirement in September 2015. The political faction then replaced Dempsey, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with General Joseph Dunford who advocated a "hard line" on Russia.

The power elite's military faction realised that radical reform could not begin until the military faction had full political support behind them.

Rise of the Generals

In the 2016 US election Trump with the full weight of the military faction behind him pulled off a stunning victory against the entire political faction – defeating both the Democratic and Republican Party machines – and the corporate media.

The cornerstone of the corporatocracy, the Wall Street lobby, due to the sheer amount of fiat petrodollar based money it generates, and the influence it has over the US establishment was officially dethroned. The locus of power within the power elite had suddenly and dramatically shifted from Wall St to the Pentagon.

Although the situation is very fluid on the eve of the Trump presidency a map highlighting the US establishment entities supporting either Trump or his defeated opponent Clinton can be arguably mapped below.

Trump quickly named security hardliners including past and present generals and FBI officials, to key security and intelligence positions while the corporate media accused Trump of having a starry-eyed fascination with the brass of America's losing wars.

Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was forced from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, will be President-elect Donald Trump's national security adviser. Army retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg will be serving in a supporting capacity to Flynn as chief of staff of the National Security Council (NSC).

Trump selected retired General James Mattis to lead the Department of Defense. Mattis, a documented war criminal , had helped cover up the 2005 Haditha massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians by US soldiers. His soldiers also directly committed war crimes in the US sieges of Fallujah in 2004, when his forces not only used white phosphorus but fired on and killed up to 5,000 innocent civilians. General Mattis has called for a "new security architecture for the Mideast built on sound policy Iran is a special case that must be dealt with as a threat to regional stability, nuclear and otherwise." On a positive Mattis also got Trump to reconsider his stance on torture stating, "'I've never found it to be useful."

General John Kelly, another long-serving Marine with a reputation for bluntness, has been picked to head the Department of Homeland Security. He is the most senior US officer to have lost a child in the "war on terror". His son Robert, a first lieutenant in the marines, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010. He therefore strongly opposed efforts by the Obama administration to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, claiming that the remaining detainees were "all bad boys," both guilty and dangerous.

And in selecting career military men like Flynn, Mattis and Kelly as his senior civilian advisers on military matters, Trump is in essence strengthening defense while creating rival intelligence entities that will remain loyal to his military faction.

Meanwhile Big Oil's Rex Tillerson - the former CEO of world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil - is to be Secretary of State. He has a two-decade relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship in 2013.

Mindful of others who defied the US establishment, Trump's supporters delivered an ominous warning to rival power elite factions that should Trump be assassinated then a civil war would follow. In reality an assassination in today's climate, without the support of the corporatocracy's now discredited media, would usher in martial law and further ensconce the military faction within their seat of power.

Playing chess like Putin

Trump and his military faction appear to greatly admire Putin personally, and in September 2016 during the NBC Commander-in-Chief Forum Trump stated: "I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he's getting an 'A' and our president is not doing so well." Trump's military faction, unlike the other two factions sees Russia as more of a partner than an adversary and he is deeply committed to reorienting American foreign policy in a pro-Russian direction.

Trump knows Putin's history well and appears intent on following in his footsteps. Putin took office by striking a deal with Russia's political elite to protect former Russian President Yeltsin and his family from prosecution in exchange for Putin becoming Prime Minister and later President.

Then on July 28, 2000, after they had funded his election campaign, Vladimir Putin gathered the 18 most powerful businessmen (corporatocracy) in Russia and denounced the corporate elite as creators of a corrupt state. During the transition from Communism in the 1990s these oligarchs – the majority Jewish – had taken control of every single lever of power in Russia including the central bank, the mass media and even the Kremlin.

In a second meeting on January 24, 2001, Vladimir Putin met with 21 leading oligarchs and stressed that the Russian state had no plans to re-nationalize the economy, but added that they should have "a feeling of responsibility [to] the people and the country" and asked them to donate $2.6 million to a fund he was setting up to help families of soldiers wounded or killed in action.

True to his word the oligarchs that complied were allowed to keep the money they had looted from the Russian people. Those that didn't comply, like Berezovsky and Gusinsky, Russia's two most infamous and hated oligarchs, were gradually pushed out, and in some cases even imprisoned.

After defeating the oligarchs and gaining control of their media Putin then began to methodically cleanse the Russian government and the Kremlin of corporate influence.

Corporatocracy

Professor Jeffry Sachs calls the US corporate conspiracy The Rigged Game in which the political system has come to be controlled by powerful corporate interest groups – the "corporatocracy" – who dominate the policy agenda. Sachs explains how "[a] healthy economy is a mixed economy, in which government and the marketplace both play their role. Yet the federal government has neglected its role for three decades."

President Trump appears to have taken a page from Sach's book and, even before taking office, is signalling that his government will not neglect its role.

During an interview with Fortune on April 19, 2016, Donald Trump explicitly explained how he planned on taking back the economic "levers of power" from Wall Street's Federal Reserve by supporting: "proposals that would take power away from the Fed, and allow Congress to audit the U.S. central bank's decision making."

On December, 6, 2016 it was the military industrial complex's Boeing that felt the brunt of his attack when President-elect Donald Trump called for the scrapping of multi-billion dollar plans for Boeing to build a new Air Force One, calling the costs "ridiculous and totally out of control." He then followed this up on December 12, 2016, when he took on the Lockheed Martin by attacking the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on Twitter, saying the cost of the next-generation stealth plane is "out of control," stating: "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."

In an early December interview with TIME ahead of his selection as TIME's Person of the Year, Trump railed against the Healthcare lobby when he stated that he doesn't "like what's happened with drug prices" and that he will "bring down" the cost of prescription medication.

Even earlier, on January 2016, at Liberty University, Trump had startled Silicon Valley when he promised to punish companies that offshore production by placing tariffs on their imports coming back to the US: "We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries."

The Big Oil lobby, initially ambivalent, now appears to have put its weight behind Trump. There are signs that the Big Oil lobby may have fallen out with the corporatocracy over the economic sanctions on Russia and access to its vast untapped oil fields, as well as Saudi Arabia's two years of flooding the global market with cheap crude in order to drive oil prices down and economically damage the Russian economy. This policy had made both US shale oil and US energy independence unsustainable.

While the corporatocracy will survive, the days of crony capitalism appear to be coming to an end.

The death of neoliberalism

The Trump election, much like Brexit before it, signals an entirely new development not witnessed since the shift towards neoliberalism under President Reagan over 40 years ago. Trump has promised to end the neoliberal, hyper-globalisation ideology in which the interests of the working class have been sacrificed in favour of the corporatocracy that has been encouraged to invest around the world depriving Americans of their jobs.

The global financial crisis of 2008, the worst since the great depression of 1931, saw Wall Street bailed out by the taxpayers while the responsible bankers were not prosecuted for their crimes. Under the Obama administration this was further compounded by rejecting bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality, militarisation, covert operations and the facilitating of overseas war crimes.

Meanwhile, nine years on, the neoliberal practice of quantitative easing has failed to revive the economic patient who remains on "life support." This after effect of the global financial crisis has served to undermine the peoples' faith and trust in the competence of the power elite's political faction and the corporate media. Trump's ascendency thus signals the beginning of the end of the neoliberal era.

Trumps promise to, "Put America first," pulls the plug on neoliberalism's economic life support and imposes a new era of economic nationalism. The military faction will abandon unfettered capitalism, free trade agreements and globalisation in favour of de-globalisation, economic nationalism, rebuilding of infrastructure, the middle class and manufacturing.

The table below is fluid but is based on current policy details, revealed by Trump, and details how the current neoliberal policies may gradually shift to policies of economic nationalism.

Government departments Masses' Policies Neo-Liberal Policies Economic nationalism Policies Corporatocracy lobbies
Dept. of State Establishment of friendly relations with other nations. Maintenance of the petrodollar through the support of compliant authoritarian nations or covert funding of unstable extremists to overthrow non-compliant nations Maintenance of the petrodollar through the support of compliant authoritarian nations. Multilateral approach of working with Russia while continuing to isolate China and Iran Wall Street-Washington complex
Dept. of the Treasury Lower and fairer tax system that incentivises workers and savers Financialisation, corporate subsidies, tax loopholes and overseas tax havens. nationalisation, cutting of corporate subsidies, closing of tax loopholes and overseas tax havens.
Dept. of Commerce Open trade and protection of key industries "Free" trade Agreements (Inc. TTP & TTIP), Economic sanctions protectionism, tariffs, economic sanctions
Dept. of Justice Universal human rights, equal justice and fair trials Non-prosecution of criminal bank leaders, with prosecution of deep state whistle blowers. Prosecution of corporate crime, Non-prosecution of military and police crimes, continued prosecution of deep state whistle blowers.
Dept. of Housing & Urban Development Affordable and easily accessible housing. Financialisation, housing speculation and homelessness. Removal of "red tape", opening up of land for building
Dept. of Defense Security and Defense of citizens against foreign enemies Maintenance of the petrodollar, full spectrum dominance, exceptionalism, war on terrorism and the militarization of foreign policy . Maintenance of the petrodollar, full spectrum dominance, multi-polarity, war on terrorism military-industrial complex
Dept. of Veterans Affairs Support and subsidies for veterans Cheap outsourced care facilities and abandoned veterans. Renationalisation of care facilities and housing, medical and mental care for war veterans.
Dept. of Transport Electric vehicles, subsidised transport and easily accessible transportation grid. Subsidised car-centric policies and urban planning. Subsidised car-centric policies and urban planning. Big Oil-transport-military complex
Dept. of Energy Environmental protection, reliable and nationalised mostly renewable energy supply. Subsidised fossil fuel energy dependence and debunking of climate change. Subsidised fossil fuel energy dependence and debunking of climate change.
Dept. of the Interior Management and conservation federal land and natural resources. Waiving of environmental protection, access for sea lanes, pipelines, mining and resource extraction. Waiving of environmental protection, access for sea lanes, pipelines, mining and resource extraction.
Dept. of Health & Human Services Subsidised and universal Healthcare. mandatory healthcare and privatisation. privatised healthcare Healthcare industry
Dept. of Homeland Security Security and Privacy. Mass Surveillance and copyright enforcement. Mass Surveillance Silicon Valley
Dept. of Agriculture Healthy, nutritious and affordable food. Food monopolisation and dependence through patented GMOs. Breaking up of monopolies, increased competition. Big Ag (Monsanto)
Dept. of Education Subsidised and universal education. Class-based privatisation and outsourcing. Increased investment in education. Organised Labor
Dept. of Labor Jobs and decent wages. Outsourcing, mass immigration to lower wages, commodification of Labor, deregulation, deindustrialisation, under employment and unemployment. Reshoring, border controls to boost wages, return of skilled labor, reregulation, reindustrialisation, full employment, lower taxes All lobbies

Monetary hegemony strategy

The power elite's monetary hegemony petrodollar strategy will remain unchanged under Trumps' military faction. However, Trump's foreign policy signals the end of America's unipolar moment, the period that was called the "new world order" by George Bush after the collapse of the former USSR and the US's 1991 Gulf War victory.

It took the actions of former rogue CIA operatives, called Al Qaeda, to give the US an excuse to invade and conquer key economic chokepoints and geopolitical pivot nations, in the heart of the world's oil reserves that would give the power elite global economic and military dominance. These power elite plans were given to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the time, and documented in a memo that a puzzled senior staff officer showed to General Wesley Clark:"[W]e're going to take out seven countries in five years , starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."

The Republican-led neoconservative "war on terror" phase, that took place from 2001 to 2011, symbolised the overt US invasion, occupation and destruction of primarily Afghanistan and Iraq. When worldwide condemnation combined with Iraqi military resistance proved too great, the power elite were forced to switch to more covert means.

Under the new Obama administration, a Democratic-led, CIA-orchestrated "Arab Spring" took place from 2011-2016 and symbolised the covert invasion of Libya and Syria using reconstituted terrorist death squads. The power elite had not only used the 9/11 attack conducted by elements of their rogue terrorist death squads to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were now going to reconstitute a compliant group of the same terrorists and use them to covertly invade Libya and Syria.

With the Syrian government's capture of Aleppo in late 2016, it became apparent to all observers that both the overt and covert US invasions were soundly defeated primarily by heroic resistance forces in Iraq and Syria, respectively.

With the barbaric US invasions blunted, the Trump administration now represents a rear-guard attempting to hold onto key nations in the heart of the world's global energy reserves and maintain the US's petrodollar monetary hegemony backing, while Trump transitions his economy from a financial to an industrial economy. Trump will thus continue to secure the GCC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, provided they reign in their terrorist death squads, plaguing the Middle East. Israel will also be fully supported and used to maintain the current Middle Eastern stalemate against Iran.

It is however Trump's détente with Russia that is truly significant as it signals the end of the unipolar "new world order." Russia will once again be allowed its own "sphere of influence." This will most likely see Crimean reunification accepted the return of economically plundered Ukraine to Russian influence and the Russian presence in Syria acknowledged.

In return the military faction wants to desperately break up the tripartite strategic Eurasian team of Russia-China-Iran. The military faction wants Russia to help block China's rise in the South China Sea and to contain Iran. The military faction appears to have been inspired by documented war criminal, Henry Kissinger, who at the Primakov lecture in February 2016 stated: "The long-term interests of both countries call for a world that transforms the contemporary turbulence and flux into a new equilibrium which is increasingly multipolar and globalized ..Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States." Draining the swamp?

For the first time in memory the US establishment, consisting of the visible US Government and the invisible corporate-deep-state that has subverted it, have had a dramatic schism. Contrary to corporate media hand-wringing, the 2016 US election for the masses was never about a choice for Trump over Clinton, it was in reality a choice of, the same united power elite maintaining the same US establishment under President select Clinton, versus a divided power elite led by Trump's military faction.

This seminal moment represents a change of both US strategy and tactics that have been used to maintain the US's economic and military power.

Strategically, while the power elite have finally abandoned America's unipolar moment, they will now maintain the US as a multipolar global hegemon receiving its petrodollar tribute. Their plans are to finally grant Russia, but not China, its own "sphere of influence" and to cleave it away from its Eurasian and Middle Eastern allies.

Economically and tactically neoliberalism, as an ideology, is now officially dead. The power elite's corporatocracy (corporate faction) will be tamed and replaced by a protectionist, localised, rebuilding of America's manufacturing base.

While not exactly "draining the swamp," the new Trump administration plans on "fencing off some of the alligators" that have devoured so many innocents during 40 years of neoliberalism at home and militarism abroad.

To listen to a podcast by the author explaining how the political science's "theory of everything" may help to predict the new Trump administration select the following link:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/around-empire-5-7795251?utm_campaign=postshare&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

[Jan 21, 2017] Disillusioned in Davos

Jan 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Larry Summers:
Disillusioned in Davos : Edmund Burke famously cautioned that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I have been reminded of Burke's words as I have observed the behavior of US business leaders in Davos over the last few days. They know better but in their public rhetoric they have embraced and enabled our new President and his policies.

I understand and sympathize with the pressures they feel. ... Businesses who get on the wrong side of the new President have lost billions of dollars of value in sixty seconds because of a tweet. ...

Yet I am disturbed by (i) the spectacle of financiers who three months ago were telling anyone who would listen that they would never do business with a Trump company rushing to praise the new Administration (ii) the unwillingness of business leaders who rightly take pride in their corporate efforts to promote women and minorities to say anything about Presidentially sanctioned intolerance (iii) the failure of the leaders of global companies to say a critical word about US efforts to encourage the breakup of European unity and more generally to step away from underwriting an open global system (iv) the reluctance of business leaders who have a huge stake in the current global order to criticize provocative rhetoric with regard to China, Mexico or the Middle East (v) the willingness of too many to praise Trump nominees who advocate blatant protection merely because they have a business background.

I have my differences with the new Administration's economic policies and suspect the recent market rally and run of economic statistics is a sugar high. Reasonable people who I respect differ and time will tell. My objection is not to disagreements over economic policy. It is to enabling if not encouraging immoral and reckless policies in other spheres that ultimately bear on our prosperity. Burke was right. It is a lesson of human experience whether the issue is playground bullying, Enron or Europe in the 1930s that the worst outcomes occur when good people find reasons to accommodate themselves to what they know is wrong. That is what I think happened much too often in Davos this week.

JohnH -> Peter K....
, January 20, 2017 at 03:24 PM
Larry Summers lecturing us about bullies! Precious!

"Larry Summers Is An Unrepentant Bully"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-s-goodman/larry-summers-bully-fed_b_3653387.html

Like so much of the tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans, what's OK for to do is NOT OK for you to do!!!

anne : , January 20, 2017 at 12:24 PM
https://books.google.com/books?id=SFNADAAAQBAJ&pg=PT951&lpg=PT951&dq=%22No+man,+who+is+not+inflamed+by+vainglory+into+enthusiasm%22&source=bl&ots=ufx9GiMtls&sig=jJgSGfaCuCQFzBa9KiNBKCoaYgQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjE7YCOxtHRAhWjLMAKHVmSDFAQ6AEIHDAB#v=onepage&q=%22No%20man%2C%20who%20is%20not%20inflamed%20by%20vainglory%20into%20enthusiasm%22&f=false

1770

Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents

No man, who is not inflamed by vainglory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

-- Edmund Burke

anne -> anne... , -1
Edmund Burke famously cautioned that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

-- Lawrence Summers

[ Edmund Burke never cautioned this. ]

anne -> Chris G ... , January 20, 2017 at 06:42 PM
Notice the fear of association or community of Milton Friedman:

http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html

September 13, 1970

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits
By Milton Friedman - New York Times

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the "social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system," I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned "merely" with profit but also with promoting desirable "social" ends; that business has a "social conscience" and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades....

Gibbon1 -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 07:37 PM
When I used to read Delong's blog before Delong went off on Sanders because Delong thought that Hillary Clinton would give Delongs son a job...

There was economics student that penned a response where he mentioned that the economics profession generally dislikes models with negative externalities. But truly loath models that incorporate positive externalities.

A positive externality is where some action on your part benefits you _and_ benefits some third party.

One can assume Milton Friedman and his followers find that concept revolting indeed.

anne -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 12:52 PM
While I was not in Davos, I read about the proceedings and meeting in the Western European and Chinese press and was impressed by the community emphasis placed on social justice. Possibly there was considerable individual resistance to the public theme, and Lawrence Summers would readily sense such resistance, but the public theme from the speech by Xi Jinping on was encouraging and portrayed in Western Europe and China as encouraging.
kthomas -> anne... , January 20, 2017 at 02:19 PM
The headline of his post is somewhat misleading. He was not really talking about Davos.
Chris G -> kthomas... , January 20, 2017 at 05:53 PM
Let me rephrase: Name me some Fortune 500 companies who consider potential societal impacts of their actions and, as a result, sometimes make decisions which don't maximize their profits but are the "right" thing to do for the community/their workers/the environment/etc.? What Fortune 500 companies are motivated by things beyond maximizing profits for shareholders?

My point is that corporate leaders who are charged to act to maximize profits will always be cowards when it comes to moral and ethical issues. If their job is to maximize profits. If they don't want to lose their job then that's what they'll do - act to maximize profits. Where would Summers get the idea that they would act any differently? Do the people he's referring to have a track record of choosing the moral high ground over profits? If they do then I could understand surprise and disappointment that they're folding. But they've never had to face that choice before let alone chosen moral high ground over money, have they?

anne -> Chris G ... , January 20, 2017 at 05:55 PM
My point is that corporate leaders who are charged to act to maximize profits will always be cowards when it comes to moral and ethical issues. If their job is to maximize profits. If they don't want to lose their job then that's what they'll do - act to maximize profits. Where would Summers get the idea that they would act any differently? Do the people he's referring to have a track record of choosing the moral high ground over profits? ...

[ Properly argued, sadly. ]

Winslow R. : , January 20, 2017 at 02:02 PM
I recall Summers/Romer with both houses and Obama blowing their chances to do something for the middle/working class.

Summers/Delong said if the stimulus was too small we could always get another later, yet that chance to do something never came and he did nothing.....

I'd like Larry to ponder whether it was he who did nothing.

[Jan 20, 2017] What is Economism and why it is so damaging

Notable quotes:
"... For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for. ..."
"... But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework. ..."
"... An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme. ..."
"... Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes. ..."
"... It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists. ..."
"... And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers. ..."
Jan 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 20, 2017 at 04:35 AM

Noah Smith: The Ways That Pop Economics Hurt America - Noah Smith

"So I wonder if economism was really as unrealistic and useless as Kwak seems to imply. Did countries that resisted economism -- Japan, for example, or France [Germany?] -- do better for their poor and middle classes than the U.S.? Wages have stagnated in those countries, and inequality has increased, even as those countries remain poorer than the U.S. Did the U.S.'s problems really all come from economism, or did forces such as globalization and technological change play a part? Cross-country comparisons suggest that the deregulation and tax cuts of the 1980s and 1990s, although ultimately excessive, probably increased economic output somewhat."

Ugh what an awful display of pop economism. Globalization and technology are "impersonal forces." No mention of the rise of inequality or the SecStags. No mention of monetary policy fail in Europe. The biggest lies of economism are the lies of omission.

libezkova -> Peter K.... , -1
Thank you !

Looks like this concept of "Economism" introduced by James Kwak in his book Economism is very important conceptual tool for understanding the tremendous effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda.

I think it is proper to view Economism as a flavor of Lysenkoism. As such it is not very effective in acquiring the dominant position and suppressing of dissent, but it also can be very damaging.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-19/the-ways-that-pop-economics-hurt-america

== quote ==

...When competitive free markets and rational well-informed actors are the baseline assumption, the burden of proof shifts unfairly onto anyone proposing a government policy. For far too many years, free-marketers have gotten away with winning debates by just sitting back and saying "Oh yeah? Show me the market failure!" That deck-stacking has long forced public intellectuals on the left have to work twice as hard as those safely ensconced in think tanks on the free-market right, and given the latter a louder voice in public life than their ideas warrant.

It's also true that simple theories, especially those we learn in our formative years, can maintain an almost unshakeable grip on our thinking.

For example, the basic Econ 101 theory of supply and demand is fine for some products, but it doesn't work very well for labor markets. It is incapable of simultaneously explaining both the small effect of minimum wage increases and the small impact of low-skilled immigration. Some more complicated, advanced theory is called for.

But no matter how much evidence piles up, people keep talking about "the labor supply curve" and "the labor demand curve" as if these are real objects, and to analyze policies -- for example, overtime rules -- using the same old framework.

An idea that we believe in despite all evidence to the contrary isn't a scientific theory -- it's an infectious meme.

Academic economists are unsure about how to respond to the abuse of simplistic econ theories for political ends. On one hand, it gives them enormous prestige. The popularity of simplistic econ ideas has made economists the toast of America's intellectual classes.

It has sustained enormous demand for the undergraduate econ major, which serves, in the words of writer Michael Lewis, as a "standardized test of general intelligence" for future businesspeople. But as Kwak points out, the simple theories promulgated by politicians and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page often bear little resemblance to the sophisticated theories used by real economists.

And when things go wrong -- when the financial system crashes, or millions of workers displaced by Chinese imports fail to find new careers -- it's academic economists who often get blamed, not the blasé and misleading popularizers.

... ... ...

Russia and China have given up communism not because they stopped having working classes, but because it became obvious that their communist systems were keeping them in poverty. And Americans are now starting to question economism because of declining median income, spiraling inequality and a huge financial and economic crisis.

[Jan 19, 2017] Davos without Donald Trump is like Hamlet without the prince

From comments: "Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction." "The biggest cabal of sociopathic criminals the world has ever known."
Notable quotes:
"... This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said. ..."
"... Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos. ..."
"... It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings. ..."
"... 'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.' ..."
"... Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks. ..."
"... Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable! ..."
"... Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction. ..."
"... Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid. ..."
"... What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor? ..."
"... One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question. ..."
"... Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens. ..."
"... Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works. ..."
"... Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones. ..."
"... My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception. ..."
"... This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."! ..."
"... I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures. ..."
Jan 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Trump's influence can also be felt in other ways. The manner in which he won the US election, tapping in to deep-seated anger about the unfair distribution of the spoils of economic growth, has been noted. There is talk in Davos of the need to ensure that globalisation works for everyone.

This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said.

Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos.

It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings.

In Trump's absence, it has been left to two senior members of the outgoing Obama administration – his vice-president, Joe Biden, and secretary of state John Kerry – to fly the US flag.

Just as significantly, Xi Jinping is the first Chinese premier to attend Davos and has made it clear that, unlike Trump, he has no plans to resile from international obligations. The sense of a changing of the guard is palpable.

missuswatanabe

It's the way globalisation has been managed for the benefit of the richest in the developed world that has been bad for the masses rather than globalisation itself.

I thought this was an interesting, if US-centric, perspective on things:

'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.'

http://bostonreview.net/forum/dean-baker-globalization-blame

Sunny Reneick -> missuswatanabe

Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks.

Paul Paterson -> ConBrio

Decent, hardworking Americans facing social and economic insecurity, whether on the right or left, ought to be the focus. We need to deal with the concerns of the average citizen, however it is they vote. Fringe groups don't serve our attention given tbe very real problems the country faces.

Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable!

What we should concern ourselves with is the very real social and economic insecurity felt by many in red states and blue states alike. Those decent and hardworking Americans, regardless of party, are joined in much. Deplorables aren't the average Republican voter and didn't win Trump an election - they are too few to win much of anything.

What you keep referring to as Deplorables are decent Americans seeking change and socioeconomic justice. You are mixing up citizens who happen to vote for the GOP withbwhite nationalist scum. How dare you tar all conservatives with the hate monger brush!

Spunky325 -> Paul Paterson

Actually, before taking office, Trump strong-armed Ford and GM into putting more money in their American plants, instead of moving more production to Mexico. He's also questioned cost-overruns on Air Force One and several military projects which is causing companies to back off. I can't think of another American president who has felt it was important to keep jobs in America or who has questioned military spending. Good for him!

Paul Paterson -> Spunky325

You've made it quite clear "you can't think" as you've bought into the ruse. The question is why are you so boastful about it? Trump's policies are even seen by economists on the right as creating staggering levels of debt, creating more economic inequality and unlikely to increase jobs.

Among many flaws, they point out tax proposals that hurt the poor and middle class to such a degree it almost seems targeted. This is the same economic plot that has failed working Americans repeatedly. You folks are getting caught up in a time share pitch and embracing policy that has little chance to help the average American - however it is they vote. It isn't supposed to but y'all are asleep at the wheel.

DrBlamm0

Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction.

johhnybgood

Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid.

bilyou

What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor?

Maybe Trump just decided to trough it at his tower and avoid hanging out with a grotesque bunch of insufferable see you next Tuesdays.

Ricardo_K

One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question.

Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens.

James Patterson

Xi's statements on a trade war are completely self serving. But his assertions that he is against protectionism and unfair trading practices is laughably hypocritical. China refuses to let any Silicon Valley Internet company one inch past the Great Firewall. Under his direction the CCP has imposed draconian regulations, which change by the week, on American Companies operating in China making fair competition with local Chinese companies impossible.

The business climate in China is reprehensible. The CCP has resorted to extortion, requiring that U.S. tech companies share their most sensitive trade secrets and IP with Chinese state enterprises or get barred from conducting business there. Sadly, U.S. companies entered China with high expectations and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in factories, labs and equipment. This threat has caused many CEO's to sacrifice their company's long term viability by transferring their most closely guarded technological advances to China or face the loss their entire investment in China. Even so, multinationals are beginning the Chinese exodus led by those with less financial exposure soon to be followed by companies like Apple despite significant economic ties.

True, most people believe a 'trade war' with China means America is the defacto loser because of dishonest reporting. The truth is that America's economic exposure to China is extremely limited. U.S. exports to China represent only 7% of America's total exports worldwide; which in turn accounts for less than 1% of total U.S. GDP (Wells Fargo Economics Group 2015). Most of America's exports to China are raw materials, which can be redirected to other markets with some effort. So even if China blocked all U.S. exports tomorrow, America's economy could absorb the blow with minimal damage. This presents the U.S. government with a wide range of options to deal with China's many trade infractions and unfair practices as aggressively or punitively as it wishes.

europeangrayling

Poor Davos attendees. You feel for them at their fancy alpine Bilderberg. It's like the meeting of the mafia organizations, if the mafia became legal and respected now and ran the world economy. And I don't think those economic royalists at Davos miss Trump, Trump was a small fish compared to the Davos people. They make Trump look like a dishwasher.

They are just pissed Trump came out against the TPP and those globalist 'free trade' deals, and doesn't want more regime change maybe. They like everything else about Trump's policies, the big tax cuts, environmental and banking deregulations galore, it's like Reagan 2.0, without the 'free trade'. But they really want that 'free trade' though, those guys are used to getting everything. Imagine if Bernie won, they would really hate that guy, he is also against the TPPs and trade, and for less war, and against everything else they are used to. And that's good, if those honorable brilliant Davos gentleman don't like you, that's not a bad thing.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs

With secular stagnation we should all be asking why is economics so bad?

Keynesian redistributive capitalism went out with Margaret Thatcher and inequality has been rising ever since (there is a clue there for the economists amongst us).

How did these new ideas rise to prominence?

"There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics

It's awarded by Sweden's central bank, foisted among the five real prizewinners, often to economists for the 1% -- and the surviving Nobel family is strongly against it."

"The award for economics came almost 70 years later-bootstrapped to the Nobel in 1968 as a bit of a marketing ploy to celebrate the Bank of Sweden's 300th anniversary." Yes, you read that right: "a marketing ploy."

Today's economics rose to prominence by awarding its economists Nobel Prizes that weren't Nobel Prizes.

No wonder it's so bad.

Global elites can use all sorts of trickery to put their ideas in place, but economics is economics and if doesn't reflect how the economy operates it won't work.

Secular stagnation – what more evidence do we need?

HauptmannGurski -> bcarey

Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works.

Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones.

Meanwhile, alibaba's Jack Ma said in Davos that the US had spent many trillions on wars in the last 30 years and neglected their own infrastructure. Money is for people, or some such like, he said. Just mentioning it here, because the MSM tend to dislike running this kind of remark.

Rajanvn -> HauptmannGurski

My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception.

Did it, in any way, with all the stars in the financial galaxy gathered in one place, warn against the 2008 global financial meltdown? The real reason why so many moneybags congregate at a place which would be shunned by all who have no affinity for snow sports may be, according to my own reckoning, may not be that innocent and may even be quite sinister.

This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."!

Roland33

I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures.

If everyone drives Toyota and everyone drinks Starbucks we lose the diversity of culture that people claim they find so valuable. And replaces it with a mono-culture of Levi jeans and McDonalds. Wealth inequality is really something that can be reduced if you look various countries score higher in this regard than others while still being highly successful market economies but I think money is secondary to the displacement and alienation that come with the first two aspects of globalisation. I find it strange that it is now the right that advocates reversing these neoliberal trends and the left that seems to champion it. I was conscious during the 90's and anti-globalisation was clearly a left wing issue. For whatever reason the left just leaves room for the right to harvest the grapes of wrath they warned about many years ago. Don't blame the "populist" right ask why the left left them the space.

[Jan 18, 2017] Marcy Wheeler On Fake News

Notable quotes:
"... By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel ..."
"... The Count of Monte-Cristo ..."
"... I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else. ..."
"... As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told. ..."
"... If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform. ..."
"... The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later. ..."
"... Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Marcy points out how what is considered to be "news" has changed greatly over time, and that the requirement that news be objective is recent and marketing-driven.

This essay covers a great deal of important ground. I'd like to add one topic, which is the role of propaganda. Even though organizations have done all sorts of evangelizing, the use of the media and social networks of the day for that purpose is relatively recent. Alex Carey in his book Taking the Risk Out of Democracy dates it to the early 1900s. One early, successful campaign led by the National Association of Manufacturers, already a leader in campaigning against organized labor, was to counter the backlash against immigration, which was then seen as a threat to American values and communities. One of their initiatives was institutionalizing "Americanization Day," later rebranded as "Independence Day."

As we've discussed before, the first full-bore government-sponsored propaganda campaign took place in World War I. The Creel Committee, an agency of the Federal government officially called the Committee on Public Information used all the communication vehicles of its day, not just newspapers. An overview from Wikipedia:

The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people in 5,200 communities. They were advised to keep their message positive, always use their own words and avoid "hymns of hate." For ten days in May 1917, the Four Minute Men were expected to promote "Universal Service by Selective Draft" in advance of national draft registration on June 5, 1917.

The CPI staged events designed for specific ethnic groups. For instance, Irish-American tenor John McCormack sang at Mount Vernon before an audience representing Irish-American organizations. The Committee also targeted the American worker and, endorsed by Samuel Gompers, filled factories and offices with posters designed to promote the critical role of American labor in the success of the war effort.

The CPI's activities were so thorough that historians later stated, using the example of a typical midwestern American farm family, that

Every item of war news they saw-in the country weekly, in magazines, or in the city daily picked up occasionally in the general store-was not merely officially approved information but precisely the same kind that millions of their fellow citizens were getting at the same moment. Every war story had been censored somewhere along the line- at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with 'voluntary' rules established by the CPI.

The Creel Committee was able to turn America from being firmly pacifist to being eager to fight the evil Germans in a mere 18 months. In Serbia, a concerted propaganda campaign was able to turn public polls radically in a mere six weeks.

In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion. This may seem obvious but surprisingly few people are willing to say that in simple terms. The reflex of government opinion managers and their media allies is to shut down or delegitimate offending outlets. But there are too many, not just in the US but overseas, for them to do that other than by severely curtailing Internet publication. Are they prepared to go the route of the Chinese government in terms of restricting foreign access and censoring domestic writers? That's the end game if they are serious about stopping what TPTB deems to be "fake news".

By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel

I've been getting into multiple Twitter fights about the term "fake news" of late, a topic about which I feel strongly but which I don't have time to reargue over and over. So here are the reasons I find the term "fake news" to be counterproductive, even aside from the way Washington Post magnified it with the PropOrNot campaign amidst a series of badly reported articles on Russia that failed WaPo's own standards of "fake news."

Most people who use the term "fake news" seem to be fetishizing something they call "news." By that, they usually mean the pursuit of "the truth" within an editor-and-reporter system of "professional" news reporting. Even in 2017, they treat that term "news" as if it escapes all biases, with some still endorsing the idea that "objectivity" is the best route to "truth," even in spite of the way "objectivity" has increasingly imposed a kind of both-sides false equivalence that the right has used to move the Overton window in recent years.

I've got news (heh) for you America. What we call "news" is one temporally and geographically contingent genre of what gets packaged as "news." Much of the world doesn't produce the kind of news we do, and for good parts of our own history, we didn't either. Objectivity was invented as a marketing ploy. It is true that during a period of elite consensus, news that we treated as objective succeeded in creating a unifying national narrative of what most white people believed to be true, and that narrative was tremendously valuable to ensure the working of our democracy. But even there, "objectivity" had a way of enforcing centrism. It excluded most women and people of color and often excluded working class people. It excluded the "truth" of what the US did overseas. It thrived in a world of limited broadcast news outlets. In that sense, the golden age of objective news depended on a great deal of limits to the marketplace of ideas, largely chosen by the gatekeeping function of white male elitism.

And, probably starting at the moment Walter Cronkite figured out the Vietnam War was a big myth, that elite narrative started developing cracks.

But several things have disrupted what we fetishize as news since them. Importantly, news outlets started demanding major profits, which changed both the emphasis on reporting and the measure of success. Cable news, starting especially with Fox but definitely extending to MSNBC, aspired to achieve buzz, and even explicitly political outcomes, bringing US news much closer to what a lot of advanced democracies have - politicized news.

And all that's before 2002, what I regard as a key year in this history. Not only was traditional news struggling in the face of heightened profit expectations even as the Internet undercut the press' traditional revenue model. But at a time of crisis in the financial model of the "news," the press catastrophically blew the Iraq War, and did so at a time when people like me were able to write "news" outside of the strictures of the reporter-and-editor arrangement.

I actually think, in an earlier era, the government would have been able to get away with its Iraq War lies, because there wouldn't be outlets documenting the errors, and there wouldn't have been ready alternatives to a model that proved susceptible to manipulation. There might eventually have been a Cronkite moment in the Iraq War, too, but it would have been about the conduct of the war, not also about the gaming of the "news" process to create the war. But because there was competition, we saw the Iraq War as a journalistic failure when we didn't see earlier journalistic complicity in American foreign policy as such.

Since then, of course, the underlying market has continued to change. Optimistically, new outlets have arisen. Some of them - perhaps most notably HuffPo and BuzzFeed and Gawker before Peter Thiel killed it - have catered to the financial opportunities of the Internet, paying for real journalism in part with clickbait stories that draw traffic (which is just a different kind of subsidy than the family-owned project that traditional newspapers often relied on, and these outlets also rely on other subsidies). I'm pretty excited by some of the journalism BuzzFeed is doing right now, but it's worth reflecting their very name nods to clickbait.

More importantly, the "center" of our national - indeed, global - discourse shifted from elite reporter-and-editor newspapers to social media, and various companies - almost entirely American - came to occupy dominant positions in that economy. That comes with the good and the bad. It permits the formulation of broader networks; it permits crisis on the other side of the globe to become news over here, in some but not all spaces, it permits women and people of color to engage on an equal footing with people previously deemed the elite (though very urgent digital divide issues still leave billions outside this discussion). It allows our spooks to access information that Russia needs to hack to get with a few clicks of a button. It also means the former elite narrative has to compete with other bubbles, most of which are not healthy and many of which are downright destructive. It fosters abuse.

But the really important thing is that the elite reporter-and-editor oligopoly was replaced with a marketplace driven by a perverse marriage of our human psychology and data manipulation (and often, secret algorithms). Even assuming net neutrality, most existing discourse exists in that marketplace. That reality has negative effects on everything, from financially strapped reporter-and-editor outlets increasingly chasing clicks to Macedonian teenagers inventing stories to make money to attention spans that no longer get trained for long reads and critical thinking.

The other thing to remember about this historical narrative is that there have always been stories pretending to present the real world that were not in fact the real world. Always. Always always always. Indeed, there are academic arguments that our concept of "fiction" actually arises out of a necessary legal classification for what gets published in the newspaper. "Facts" were insults of the king you could go to prison for. "Fiction" was stories about kings that weren't true and therefore wouldn't get you prison time (obviously, really authoritarian regimes don't honor this distinction, which is an important lesson in their contingency). I have been told that fact/fiction moment didn't happen in all countries, and it happened at different times in different countries (roughly tied, in my opinion, to the moment when the government had to sustain legitimacy via the press).

But even after that fact/fiction moment, you would always see factual stories intermingling with stuff so sensational that we would never regard it as true. But such sensational not-true stories definitely helped to sell newspapers. Most people don't know this because we generally learn a story via which our fetishized objective news is the end result of a process of earlier news, but news outlets - at least in the absence of heavy state censorship - have always been very heterogeneous.

As many of you know, a big part of my dissertation covered actual fiction in newspapers. The Count of Monte-Cristo , for example, was published in France's then equivalent of the WSJ. It wasn't the only story about an all powerful figure with ties to Napoleon Bonaparte that delivered justice that appeared in newspapers of the day. Every newspaper offered competing versions, and those sold newspapers at a moment of increasing industrialization of the press in France. But even at a time when the "news" section of the newspaper presented largely curations of parliamentary debates, everything else ran the gamut from "fiction," to sensational stuff (often reporting on technology or colonies), to columns to advertisements pretending to be news.

After 1848 and 1851, the literary establishment put out alarmed calls to discipline the literary sphere, which led to changes that made such narratives less accessible to the kind of people who might overthrow a king. That was the "fictional narrative" panic of the time, one justified by events of 1848.

Anyway, if you don't believe me that there has always been fake news, just go to a checkout line and read the National Enquirer, which sometimes does cover people like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel. "But people know that's fake news!" people say. Not all, and not all care. It turns out, some people like to consume fictional narratives (I have actually yet to see analysis of how many people don't realize or care that today's Internet fake news is not true). In fact, everyone likes to consume fictional narratives - it's a fundamental part of what makes us human - but some of us believe there are norms about whether fictional narratives should be allowed to influence how we engage in politics.

Not that that has ever stopped people from letting religion - a largely fictional narrative - dictate political decisions.

So to sum up this part of my argument: First, the history of journalism is about the history of certain market conditions, conditions which always get at least influenced by the state, but which in so-called capitalist countries also tend to produce bottle necks of power. In the 50s, it was the elite. Now it's Silicon Valley. And that's true not just here! The bottle-neck of power for much of the world is Silicon Valley. To understand what dictates the kinds of stories you get from a particular media environment, you need to understand where the bottle-necks are. Today's bottle-neck has created both what people like to call "fake news" and a whole bunch of other toxins.

But also, there has never been a time in media where not-true stories didn't comingle with true stories, and at many times in history the lines between them were not clear to many consumers. Plus, not-true stories, of a variety of types, can often have a more powerful influence than true ones (think about how much our national security state likes series like 24). Humans are wired for narrative, not for true or false narrative.

Which brings us to what some people are calling "fake news" - as if both "fake" and "news" aren't just contingent terms across the span of media - and insisting it has never existed before. These people suggest the advent of deliberately false narratives, produced both by partisans, entrepreneurs gaming ad networks, as well as state actors trying to influence our politics, narratives that feed on human proclivity for sensationalism (though stories from this year showed Trump supporters had more of this than Hillary supporters) served via the Internet, are a new and unique threat, and possibly the biggest threat in our media environment right now.

Let me make clear: I do think it's a threat, especially in an era where local trusted news is largely defunct. I think it is especially concerning because powers of the far right are using it to great effect. But I think pretending this is a unique moment in history - aside from the characteristics of the marketplace - obscures the areas (aside from funding basic education and otherwise fostering critical thinking) that can most effectively combat it. I especially encourage doing what we can to disrupt the bottle-neck - one that happens to be in Silicon Valley - that plays on human nature. Google, Facebook, and Germany have all taken initial steps which may limit the toxins that get spread via a very American bottle-neck.

I'm actually more worried about the manipulation of which stories get fed by big data. Trump claims to have used it to drive down turnout; and the first he worked with is part of a larger information management company. The far right is probably achieving more with these tailored messages than Vladimir Putin is with his paid trolls.

The thing is: the antidote to both of these problems are to fix the bottle-neck.

But I also think that the most damaging non-true news story of the year was Bret Baier's claim that Hillary was going to be indicted, as even after it was retracted it magnified the damage of Jim Comey's interventions. I always raise that in Twitter debates, and people tell me oh that's just bad journalism not fake news. It was a deliberate manipulation of the news delivery system (presumably by FBI Agents) in the same way the manipulation of Facebooks algorithms feeds so-called fake news. But it had more impact because more people saw it and people may retain news delivered as news more. It remains a cinch to manipulate the reporter-and-editor news process (particularly in an era driven by clicks and sensationalism and scoops), and that is at least as major a threat to democracy as non-elites consuming made up stories about the Pope.

I'll add that there are special categories of non-factual news that deserve notice. Much stock reporting, especially in the age of financialization, is just made up hocus pocus designed to keep the schlubs whom the elite profit off of in the market. And much reporting on our secret foreign policy deliberately reports stuff the reporter knows not to be true. David Sanger's recent amnesia of his own reporting on StuxNet is a hilarious example of this, as is all the Syria reporting that pretends we haven't intervened there. Frankly, even aside from the more famous failures, a lot of Russian coverage obscures reality, which discredits reports on what is a serious issue. I raise these special categories because they are the kind of non-true news that elites endorse, and as such don't raise the alarm that Macedonian teenagers making a buck do.

The latest panic about "fake news" - Trump's labeling of CNN and Buzzfeed as such for disseminating the dossier that media outlets chose not to disseminate during the election - suffers from some of the same characteristics, largely because parts of it remain shrouded in clandestine networks (and because the provenance remains unclear). If American power relies (as it increasingly does) on secrets and even outright lies, who's to blame the proles for inventing their own narratives, just like the elite do?

Two final points.

First, underlying most of this argument is an argument about what happens when you subject the telling of true stories to certain conditions of capitalism. There is often a tension in this process, as capitalism may make "news" (and therefore full participation in democracy) available to more people, but to popularize that news, businesses do things that taint the elite's idealized notion of what true story telling in a democracy should be. Furthermore, at no moment in history I'm aware of has there been a true "open" market for news. It is always limited by the scarcity of outlets and bandwidth, by laws, by media ownership patterns, and by the historically contingent bottle-necks that dictate what kind of news may be delivered most profitably. One reason I loathe the term "fake news" is because its users think the answer lies in non-elite consumers or in producers and not in the marketplace itself, a marketplace created in and largely still benefitting the US. If "fake news" is a problem, then it's a condemnation of the marketplace of ideas largely created by the US and elites in the US need to attend to that.

Finally, one reason there is such a panic about "fake news" is because the western ideology of neoliberalism has failed. It has led to increased authoritarianism, decreased qualify of life in developed countries (but not parts of Africa and other developing nations), and it has led to serial destabilizing wars along with the refugee crises that further destabilize Europe. It has failed in the same way that communism failed before it, but the elites backing it haven't figured this out yet. I'll write more on this (Ian Walsh has been doing good work here ). All details of the media environment aside, this has disrupted the value-laden system in which "truth" exists, creating a great deal of panic and confusion among the elite that expects itself to lead the way out of this morass. Part of what we're seeing in "fake news" panic stems from that, as well as a continued disinterest in accountability for the underlying policies - the Iraq War and the Wall Street crash and aftermath especially - enabled by failures in our elite media environment. But our media environment is likely to be contested until such time as a viable ideology forms to replace failed neoliberalism. Sadly, that ideology will be Trumpism unless the elite starts making the world a better place for average folks. Instead, the elite is policing discourse-making by claiming other things - the bad true and false narratives it, itself, doesn't propagate - as illegitimate.

"Fake news" is a problem. But it is a minor problem compared to our other discursive problems.

0 0 8 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Guest Post , Media watch , New McCarthyism , Politics , Social values , Surveillance state on January 16, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 19 comments epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:51 am

Saw some fake TV today.

Episode 2 of the new gameshow "The Wall", which features up to ~$12 Million in possible prizes, they cheat the very first question.

Confirm it for yourself. The 'couple' (the game is for 'couples) is a military family. The hot-shot helo-pilot doesn't know who won the tortise and the hare.

He screams, the hare! And presses the button in plain sight.

Never-the-less he is rewarded a win. His wife later cannot tell the nicknames of the F-16 and the F-18 apart for 100% sure.

https://www.ohow.co/secret-%C9%A2oogle-com-trump-spam-google-analytics/

Also, a link which I can only guess details spammers who spam and then offer a solution to their spamming.

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:53 am

Once upon a time, the search string "I have a secret fake" in Google would return lone string of a book where a lone voice in the wilderness put in print that the whole show was 'managed.'

A sophisticated re-viewing shows it to have been 'faked' this is all back in the 50's. It's coming back, but two years after my last research on this, the same search string only gave me the above link to . what?

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:51 am

The tortise wins. Correction: The show's later episodes (just watched) reveal that answers in transit can be changed. So this is no repeat of 'Card Sharks' (Time magazine complicity included.)

It's awkward when nobody quite knows what exactly the rules are and the prize is so high.

It's going to be a weird week.

JTMcPhee , January 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

Let us remember Charles "The Genius Of All Time" Van Doren, and his skyrocket fame (what's the end point of a skyrocket's trajectory, again?) in the Great Quiz Show Manipulation of the '50s and early '60s, this story link from the NYT in 2008 kind of lifts some of the corners of the curtain that the Bernaysian manipulators hide behind, "After 49 years, Charles Van Doren talks," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/opinion/21iht-edbeam.1.14660467.html

"For evil to triumph, all that is required is for a few good people to remain silent," or some such sh!t.

And there's this, on another YUUUGE cultural phenom, "The $64,000 Question," which was one of those "quiz" game shows my parents and us kids sat mesmerized watching, with visions of "free money" dancing in our peabrains, and which "program" (what a wonderful meme-name for what "media" does to us mopes) pure deceit and buzz-building on a par with state Lotteries: "The American Experience: The $64,000 Question," http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/quizshow/peopleevents/pande06.html (note that this was from PBS, in 1999, before the Reagan Rot had really gained a full head of steam).

Once again, the popular interpretation and infusion and internalization of "information" displaying and relating, "those who have eyes, let them see," the unhappy sicknesses of a pleasure-and-greed-driven human infestation gets it all wrong, finds no wisdom leading out of the cave, turns possible insights into just more grist for the Bernaysian mills to roll out

"Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y!" "And in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo "

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:06 am

Just because I'm really on a tear, has anyone seen the Late Show where Colbert spends 12 minutes on Trump 'Golden Shower' rumors?

The piece even runs mainstream TV headlines about a "rift" between Trump and the intelligence agencies while never explaining a thing.

The inside angle on such 'rumors' (Russian rumors, I presume looking at you DNC ) is fit to be reported as fact in this case.

jabawocky , January 16, 2017 at 7:49 am

'In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion.'

Bang on Yves. And I would add that if you run a propaganda machine, and are a little paranoid, any 'unauthorised' story on the web looks like someone else's propaganda.

Its wrong to put all this down to internet news however. Adam Curtis' 'Bitter Lake' is a must-see on this topic. Just like in 1980s Soviet Union where the stories of Russian greatness were so obviously contradicted by the experience of ordinary Russians of a failing state, the fakery of the war on terror propaganda has worn away our trust in the Mighty Wurlitzer. Curtis linked the cultural collapse of the Soviet Union intrinsically to the failure of the war in Afghanistan and the mirror it held up to the supposed values of Soviet Society, as trumpeted by their version of the Mighty Wurlitzer. And maybe he's right.

1933 Germany, 1989 Sovient Union, 2016 USA. All three stemmed from failures of the Mighty Wurlitzer. The big question is whether we will long for it back.

Clive , January 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

One for Curtis hardcore fans only (he really stretched his already tenuous hold on the conventions of documentary making in this one) but his latest, HyperNormalisation , takes the themes you refer to in your comment above and expands on them to explain how we got to Fake News.

Well worth a watch, if you can access it.

lyman alpha blob , January 16, 2017 at 8:23 am

Same as it ever was.

To go a little farther back, this book Infamous Scribblers about what passed as journalism back in the 18th century is a good read.

equote , January 16, 2017 at 8:38 am

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/stock-market/2017/01/16/will-public-company-go-way-dodo-bird

This doesn't read like fake news, but I would like to read nakedcapitalism's views on the trend, if it exists, and the implications for society etc.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

The last CEO of the company, a publicly traded company, where my dad worked before the sale to GE told my dad that in the future companies can't go public if they don't want to work for Wall Street wolves. This was around '95. Dad still goes to company reunions. Those weirdos liked their jobs.

Of course, the longer trend is business formation related. The Internet and social media booms are over, and those were the new IPOs of the last 20 years. The ends of growth are the real issues.

David , January 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

I don't think anybody is "fetishizing news," but whilst its true that there's a far greater variety of information sources today, and many of them are not subject to the pressures of conventional media, the implication that somehow the overall level of "truth" has gone up is not sustainable. If anything it's probably gone down. Those of us of a certain age remember a time when there were far more newspapers than today, when ownership was spread much more widely, and where newspapers had a lot more staff and were under a lot less commercial pressure than is the case now. You could, and did, allow for political bias, and it was possible, though not common, for blatant untruths to be published. But that was more difficult than it is today, because the barriers to entry were much higher, and the total media space was much smaller.
I also think its unfair to blame the problem solely on the effects of neoliberalism, damaging as those have been. Journalists themselves have to bear some of the blame. In the 1990s, it became fashionable to deride objectivity (mere "objectivity, a white, patriarchal western concept) as an objective of journalism. Because total objectivity was impossible, it was said, you shouldn't even try. And as a number of journalists at the time argued "you can't be objective between good and evil." The same people who lied about WMD in Iraq in 2002 had already lied about Bosnia a decade before, were to lie about Darfur a few years later and are busy lying about Syria, the Ukraine and "free trade" today. In each case, the argument is the same: the service of a higher moral principle. I've even heard it argued that Trump is such a terrible human being that journalists have not only a right but an actual duty to print anything that might cause him harm. To the extent that you abandon the demand that journalists should do their professional best to be as accurate as possible, and you see "news" itself as a contested, contingent term, it's hard to rationally criticise the actors in any of these episodes.

Vatch , January 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

What were the lies about Bosnia and Darfur?

dontknowitall , January 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

Interesting essay I am not mollified by reading that Google, Facebook and Germany are uniting to defeat 'fake news' and then remembering the recent rumors (fake news?) that Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, is considering running for President so what happens when the bottle-neck king also runs the nation, or is even just thinking of it (Zuckerberg finding God recently comes to mind), when most voters are getting their news from their Facebook news feeds ? Would something mildly critical of Mark Zuckerberg survive 'fake' news review ?

Also, just because China has a walled garden doesn't save them from a torrent of local fake news. In the US the current business model of the internet news is actually a greater danger to democracy and that is the automated binning of consumers into narrow categories (right, left, techie etc) from which they find it hard to stray, if they even think of it, and so it makes it hard for a reader to see in his newsfeed countervailing news or analysis, people thus get polarized. The effort to find different/opposing opinions is not painless and quite by design. This trap has to be broken.

Quality education of the population and freer access to information are greater defenses of democracy and freedom the any Facebook designed filter.

susan the other , January 16, 2017 at 9:42 am

great essay. Makes me think there is some bedrock reality beneath all the noise that keeps us rational enough to survive. All forms of life display good judgment; practicality. So do we. So I'm not very concerned that we might be pants-less without an ideology to shroud all the embarrassing craziness. I'm encouraged by that prospect.

Disturbed Voter , January 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

Sheep get slaughtered I choose not to be a sheep. I had no choice in the 60s, when I had three oligopoly networks to choose from. With the Internet, I am my own reporter. This is more like how the printing press destroyed the Catholic Church. I make my own narrative, I don't let anyone else do it for me. Facts are few and far between, but they are just signposts on my own superhighway which I build myself. Are my beliefs factual? Are they for anyone? That was a rhetorical question. People who think their beliefs are The Truth are maniacs.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

This whole "fake news" business is all about suppressing dissent, as others have noted.

The media tried to coronate Clinton. With falling advertising revenues in some cases, and decreasing trust in the mainstream media, they have begun to panic. They know that the people realize that they are the Pravda of plutocracy.

At the same time, the alternative media has grown with the Internet. It has reached growing members and allowed people to see the truth.

Counterpunch had a good article on this one:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

The reason why propaganda like "fake news" exists is to create a false narrative that can be repeated that people can believe in. The other of course is to force people to comply or face professional and financial consequences.

The thing is, I think that we've reached the limits of propaganda. Inequality has reached an extent that the myth that America is a meritocracy has failed, while efforts to force the American people to accept war have been faced with opposition.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

One more point I should repeat. Perhaps a blatant example: Fox News has been making fake news for years and yet nobody called it out.

That's because it served the interests of the very rich. That's what this is all about.

John Wright , January 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

What is unsurprising is that the media does signal what the insiders want/plan to do.

I was in a library that had some old bound Life Magazines and decided to see what the Life covered just prior to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was an article about a Midwest congressmen who was visiting his district, who knew his constituents did not want to go to war, but seemed to see the US entry into war likely.

Even Hollywood got into the act, as the Sergeant York (American WWI hero) 1941 movie was released on July 2, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor.

There seems to be little penalty for journalists getting it wrong, for example Tom Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Michael Gordon of the Times still have jobs after their "let's promote the Iraq War effort".

Judith Miller was the lone sacrificial lamb.

Some of them even re-write history, as sanctimonious Nicholas Kristof, while recently pimping for the USA's involvement in Syria (on humanitarian grounds, of course), pushed a "trust me on Syria" story by asserting his prior wisdom in his alleged strong opposition to the Iraq war.

Yet I archived an August 27, 2002 column in which he wrote:

"Iraq may well be different. President Bush has convinced me that there is no philosophical reason we should not overthrow the Iraqi government, given that Iraqis themselves would be better off, along with the rest of the world. But Mr. Bush has not overcome some practical concerns about an invasion."

What about ethical concerns, Kristof?

I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else.

As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told.

If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform.

The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later.

Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria.

The Times recently had an "Obama regrets Libya" retrospective, what other "we got it wrong" retrospectives will occur in the future?

Jamie , January 16, 2017 at 10:20 am

In the third paragraph Marcy begins talking about objectivity and then shifts to denigrating "objectivity" without a word about what the scare quotes mean to her. Now I understand that the language used by an oppressive system can itself be oppressive. But if "objectivity" omitted women and people of color, well, clearly that's bad, but what does that have to do with objectivity?

Maybe I'm just too old and out of touch to get the post modern project to dismantle objectivity and replace it with self-centered wishful thinking. But without objectivity, we would never have seen the civil rights movement or the rise of feminism in the sixties.

I was still very young during the civil rights movement so I won't talk about what I don't really know first hand, but the rise of feminism took place in the prime of my passionate youth. What many middle class women were experiencing in the '50s was a complete isolation in the suburbs and a feeling (due largely to rampant blaming the victim) that all the problems of their lives were their own personal problems. It was not until politically active women began to share their experiences in consciousness raising groups that they discovered that they were not alone in their experiences i.e. that many of their so-called personal problems were objectively imposed upon the entire group of women by the oppressive society. That is, these were not personal problems at all, they were socially constructed problems that effected all women to some degree. Without objectivity there could be no oppression theory, consciousness raising groups are transformed into support groups, oppression theory becomes psychology, and the oppression of women is dissolved into nothing more than the personal problems of individual women. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

[Jan 16, 2017] Bloomberg -- eminent fake news producer

Jan 16, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby comment about the media - YouTube
Church Committee Hearings CIA William Colby 1975 - YouTube
A History of CIA Media Manipulation - YouTube

Here is what Bloomberg peddled for news yesterday.

Donald Trump's advisers have told U.K. officials that the incoming president's first foreign trip will be a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin , potentially in Reykjavik within weeks of taking office, the Sunday Times reported. Trump plans to begin working on a deal to limit nuclear weapons, the newspaper said, without providing details. It cited an unidentified source for the summit plans, and added that Moscow is ready to agree to the meeting , based on comments from officials at the Russian embassy in London. The paper, citing an unidentified adviser to Trump, told the Times that the president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, will meet with Putin at a neutral venue "very soon." In eyeing Iceland's capital, Trump's team may be hoping to recreate the optics of a Reagan-era nuclear agreement. Former President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party, held a two-day summit in Reykjavik in October 1986 to work on what eventually became a major nuclear disarmament treaty between the two superpowers in 1987. Trump's transition team didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR. This story was likely leaked by team Trump on purpose, in order to make the media look like jackass fools. By leaking falsehoods to an ornery and invective media, Trump keeps them on their toes and makes them second guess anything they hear coming out of his quarters, an effective disinformation strategy used to fool an enemy during a time of war.

Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com

espirit -> pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:59 PM

Strange feeling that pressure put on Trump to divest association with Putin / Russia by U.S. intelligence community / MSM, is moar than meets the eye fact sheet. Threats, veiled or otherwise appear to be perceived deterrents by those in D.C. who would shun any illumination into their illegal and corrupt activities, thus a Trump / Putin alliance could very well expose many conspiritors.

Vlad the Impaler is coming to town.

I imagine Putin has some dirt on a lot of DC SwampCreatures©. (Marvel issue #27)

Be very afraid of the light, mofo's.

pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:45 PM

Brilliant. This guy is good. All that will be left of the talking parrots and pretend news media empires will be 18 year old interns translating his tweets and asking John Lewis for comments to go with Obama's daily preaching to the flock. The leftover time will be filled with protesters burning tires and viagra commercials.

Hollywood screen writers take note.

TeethVillage88s -> dexter_morgan , Jan 15, 2017 6:19 PM

Timely work by the fly. Guy is on top of it.

-

"Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR."

- Hope there are forensics on this work of fiction

rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 12:55 PM

Too bad the reported visit is fake.

As I had posted, it would be a good idea to defuse the situation O-Bomb-A and his NATO

underlings have made in Europe. The danger of a sudden escalated military conflict is real

(deliberate, inadvertant, or contrived).

So now, I guess, Trump will meet first with the bosses of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the 'City of London'.

TeethVillage88s -> rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 6:29 PM

Since 1989 the Political Elite and Corporate Elite don't care who the enemy is as long as there is an Enemy.

- Except hands off Israel, and don't support Palestine - And Except for Saudi Arabia - And Except for UK, Canada, Mexico, Aus, EU... but we don't mind fucking with NATO Countries Politics using Operation Gladio type Strategy of Tension or shipping in Millions of Refugees from M.E. - And well there are 7-8 countries we want to collapse and maybe Venezuela and Argentina and Brazil

Yup, this is foreign policy and your foreign policy tax dollars at work.

rudyspeaks , Jan 15, 2017 12:06 PM

The MSM is not now, and has never been, "liberal" let alone,"left wing". It's owned by 5 groups of right-wing billionaires (4 families, Murdochs, Luces, Disneys and Redstones, and Comcast). When Georgie W was lying us into the Iraq war-crime they supported the war push with a full-blown media "narrative" of its inevidebility plus a 4-to1 ratio of rightwing liars (Bush, Rice, Cheney, etc) to people telling the truth. Still, as my conservative friends noted, foreign interventions and "nation-building" are anathema to the conservative cause. Thus, rather than tar them with Bush's failures, I realized that W's administration was simply a group of hypocrites, rich thugs, intent on serving their wealthy patrons. May I suggest, after 8 years of the same hypocracy from the Obama administration, the same dynamic holds. "Liberals", real "left wing people" (I include myself) would never call for martial law (thanks, Rosy!), any more than they'd support war-crime invasions (see "Libya", "Ukraine", "Syria") or right-wing coups (see "Honduras"). Let's let up on the labels, folks. We're all up against a force that has demonstrated NO IDEOLOGY above and beyond enriching their own tiny, wealthy cabal. WE is all we got.

TeethVillage88s -> heuvosYbacon , Jan 15, 2017 6:49 PM

I'm not sure barfinmymouth has got it, but you do get it.

Corruption has peaked and we have to start disassembly.

- Time to destroy powerful political aparati. - Time to reform, Term Limits, money in politics, unlimited money in politic, Lobbying, Foreign Lobbying, Foreign Agents in the USA, PACs, Think Tanks, Foundations,... the Very Heart of English Corruption which it's adherents run around supporting... Money is not free speech... Corruption of Media and Oligopolies in General are not Freedom, Liberty or Free Speech

Reorganization in the USA is now required,... organizations have to be down-sized

jeff montanye -> The Management , Jan 15, 2017 2:13 PM

my favorite phrase was "left wing militarist war mongers."

the snowflakes can't take much heat themselves, and go into teary rages at the insults halloween costumes visit on various underclass ethnic groups, but are only too ready to send a hail of explosive death on poor, brown people defending their lands from the empire.

one million dead? three? not enough apparently.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-...

El Oregonian -> WhyDoesItHurtWhen iPee , Jan 15, 2017 7:17 PM

"In a time of universal deceit; tellng the truth is a revolutionary act" -George Orwell

[Jan 14, 2017] Neocon chickenhawks as closet Napoleons with huge sense of inferiority

Notable quotes:
"... Those chickenhawk neocons like Hillary, Kagan or Michael Leeden do not want to die, they want that somebody else died for them implementing their crazy imperial ambitions. ..."
"... The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative. ..."
Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> New Deal democrat... January 14, 2017 at 08:16 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/books/review/napoleon-a-life-by-andrew-roberts.html

November 16, 2014

'Napoleon: A Life,' by Andrew Roberts

By DUNCAN KELLY

On July 22, 1789, a week after the storming of the Bastille in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote to his older brother, Joseph, that there was nothing much to worry about. "Calm will return. In a month." His timing was off, but perhaps he took the misjudgment to heart because he spent the rest of his life trying to bring glory and order to France by building a new sort of empire. By the time he was crowned emperor on Dec. 2, 1804, he could say, "I am the Revolution." It was, according to the historian Andrew Roberts's epically scaled new biography, "Napoleon: A Life," both the ultimate triumph of the self-made man, an outsider from Corsica who rose to the apex of French political life, and simultaneously a "defining moment of the Enlightenment," fixing the "best" of the French Revolution through his legal, educational and administrative reforms. Such broad contours get at what Napoleon meant by saying to his literary hero Goethe at a meeting in Erfurt, "Politics is fate."

Napoleon didn't mean fatalism by this, rather that political action is unavoidable if you want personal and national glory. It requires a mastery of fortune, and a willingness to be ruthless when necessary. If this sounds Machiavellian, that's because it is - Machiavelli's arguments about politics informed Napoleon's self-consciousness, whether in appraising fortune as a woman or a river to be tamed and harnessed, or assuming that in politics it is better to be feared than loved. Such views went hand in hand with the grand visions of politics outlined in the ancient histories and biographies Napoleon revered as a young man. "Bloodletting is among the ingredients of political medicine" was Napoleon's cool if brutal reminder of an ever-present item on his exhausting schedule.

His strategy always included dashing off thousands of letters and plans, in a personal regime calling for little sleep, much haste and a penchant for being read to while taking baths so as not to waste even a minute. He compartmentalized ruthlessly, changing tack between lobbying for more shoes and brandy for the army at one minute, to directing the personal lives of his siblings or writing love letters to the notorious Josephine at another; here ensuring extravagant financial "contributions" from those whom he had vanquished, there discussing the booty to send back to Paris, particularly from the extraordinary expedition in Egypt where his "savants had missed nothing." The personal and the political ran alongside each other in his mind.

Yet when his longtime collaborator but fair-weather political friend, the diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, suggested that Napoleon try to make those he conquered learn to love France, Napoleon replied that this was an irrelevance. "Aimer: I don't really know what this means when applied to politics," he said. Still, if grand strategy and national interest lay behind foreign affairs, there were nevertheless personal rules of conduct to uphold. Talleyrand was a party to Napoleon's strategy since supporting his coup d'état against the French Directory in 1799. That was O.K. And by short-selling securities he made millions for himself. But he was called out by Napoleon and dismissed as vice grand elector when found facing both ways politically at a crucial moment.

Napoleon understood those temptations because he was also flexible enough to tilt toward the winning side, regularly supporting any form of local religion that could help him militarily. Nonetheless, Roberts's Napoleon is a soldier, statesman and "bona fide intellectual," who rode his luck for longer than most intellectuals in politics ever do....

Duncan Kelly teaches political thought at the University of Cambridge.

libezkova -> anne... , January 14, 2017 at 10:25 AM
" "Bloodletting is among the ingredients of political medicine" "

Those chickenhawk neocons like Hillary, Kagan or Michael Leeden do not want to die, they want that somebody else died for them implementing their crazy imperial ambitions.

kthomas -> libezkova... , January 14, 2017 at 11:48 AM
Russian troll?
libezkova -> kthomas... , -1
I like the way you are thinking about this issue my totally brainwashed friend (sorry Anne ;-)

Your remark just confirms the power of official propaganda machine

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works

== quote ==

The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative.

The current "Russian hacking" hysteria is a perfect example of how this works. No one aside from total morons actually believes this official narrative (the substance of which is beyond ridiculous), not even the stooges selling it to us. This, however, is not a problem, because it isn't intended to be believed it is intended to be accepted and repeated, more or less like religious dogma.

ilsm -> libezkova...
US press is a propaganda mill.

The DNC is not the "US election", therefore how can hacking the DNC be a serious issue?

Then they give front page to Mr. Lewis who says a deceitful line that 'Russians made Clinton lose'. Nothing in the hack changed my observation that she is a war monger in wall st's employ.

They print and broadcast the lines fed. Lines which have no basis in truth.

If you think of what is said you have to conclude that criminals should have privacy and those digging perpetrate harm when the "leaks" exposed truths the public is not supposed to know.

If the average American could think and get a few facts they would conclude there is no democracy because the things they know are not true.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 05:11 PM
libezkova -> ilsm...

MSM is an executive arm of "deep state" propaganda machine.

http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

== quote ==

During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency's involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff.

...Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the journalistic community, there is ample evidence that America's leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. "Let's not pick on some poor reporters, for God's sake," William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee's investigators. "Let's go to the managements. They were witting." In all, about twenty‑five news organizations including those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the Agency.

== end of quote ==

This is not about DNC hacking. Hacking is just a smokescreen. The real game is to prevent any change in the USA foreign policy, especially in Syria and toward Russia. That's why they tried this "soft coup" against Trump. That's why NYT, CNN, etc published all those dirty stories.

Also many CIA bureaucrats do not want to be sent from bloated Washington headquarters to distant lands to do what they are supposed to do -- collect intelligence, not to engage is domestic politics (and they were fully engaged on the side of Hillary).

ilsm -> kthomas..., January 14, 2017 at 03:30 PM

Preparation and objects make one lucky.

Americans are remiss in ignoring Napoleon, many of his students, etc.

libezkova is worth reading.

The problem with HRC, Kagan or Leeden is they thought a new American century was strategy, then silled a lot of snake oil.

ilsm said... , January 14, 2017 at 06:08 AM
The past year we have had two war parties tilt for the White House. Neither has strategy, both morally bankrupt!

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/pacificaviet/riversidetranscript.html

Rev Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in NYC Apr 1967.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , January 14, 2017 at 01:03 PM
[Awesome, Dude. THX. Should be mandatory reading for everyone that votes or expresses political opinion in the US. As inappropriate as it is to cherry pick anything from this marvelous speech/sermon out of context to its entirety, this one tidbit really stood out:] "... There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!..."
ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 14, 2017 at 03:34 PM

I wonder had I read it as a young man would I have the courage to accept it the way I do now after I have made all the wrong decisions.

He opened my eyes nearly as much as my friend Bob who had been an SF advisor at the province level and confirmed everything written about the corruption and plundering of the RVN government.

MLK was incredibly aware of the truth on the ground in Vietnam.

[Jan 14, 2017] The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy Christopher Lasch

Jan 14, 2017 | www.amazon.com
William H. Panning on December 6, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A tour de force that helps readers understand their country, and culture and how they evolved

" Readers of Chris Hayes' "Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy" may recognize some common themes here. But Lasch presented his far more complete and prescient descriptions of our situation some eighteen years earlier. When I read Hayes' book, some months before Trump's nomination, I immediately recommended to all my liberal friends that they read it. But now, after reading Lasch's even more nuanced critique, I see the work of an incredibly perceptive intellectual whose perceptions and analyses are far more nuanced and comprehensive. This is the kind of work that we once expected the best academics to produce, intended for a broad audience.

Tidewater on March 13, 2016 Format: Paperback

Not exactly a "revolt"

" This is a good, not great, book. It covers a lot of fascinating territory, including extended treatment of Orestes Brownson's critiques of Horace Mann on universal education, and Walter Lippman's disputes with John Dewey on "public opinion." Esoteric, to say the least.

Rather than a review, I offer as a counterweght Walter A. McDougall's weighty history, "Throes of Democracy." A heck of a lot was going on in the 19th century American political scene, and McDougall fills in a lot of the blanks, including the significance of Herman Melville's "Confidence Man," and the utter callousness and greed exhibited by the founders of many of the various "western" states.

I found Lasch, even with his often admirable critical analyses, a bit too comfortable in his academic perch dealing with the mixed legacies of the 19th and early 20th century. Note also: his use of the word "democracy" badly needed defining, as did "revolt," more like an unfriendly takeover IMHO.

[Jan 13, 2017] Communitarianism or Populism The Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Respect

Notable quotes:
"... Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value. ..."
"... Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul. ..."
"... Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market. ..."
"... The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image. ..."
"... In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering. ..."
"... "The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction. ..."
"... The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.theworkingcentre.org

If terms like "populism" and "community" figure prominently in political discourse today, it is because the ideology of the Enlightenment, having come under attack from a variety of sources, has lost much of its appeal. The claims of universal reason are universally suspect. Hopes for a system of values that would transcend the particularism of class, nationality, religion, and race no longer carry much conviction. The Enlightenment's reason and morality are increasingly seen as a cover for power, and the prospect that the world can he governed by reason seems more remote than at any time since the eighteenth century. The citizen of the world-the prototype of mankind in the future, according to the Enlightenment philosophers-is not much in evidence. We have a universal market, but it does not carry with it the civilizing effects that were so confidently expected by Hume and Voltaire. Instead of generating a new appreciation of common interests and inclinations-if the essential sameness of human beings everywhere-the global market seems to intensify the awareness of ethnic and national differences. The unification of the market goes hand in hand with the fragmentation of culture.

The waning of the Enlightenment manifests itself politically in the waning of liberalism, in many ways the most attractive product of the Enlightenment and the carrier of its best hopes. Through all the permutations and transformations of liberal ideology, two of its central features have persisted over the years: its commitment to progress and its belief that a liberal state could dispense with civic virtue. The two ideas were linked in a chain of reasoning having as its premise that capitalism had made it reason able for everyone to aspire to a level of comfort formerly accessible only to the rich. Henceforth men would devote themselves to their private business, reducing the need for government, which could more or less take care of itself. It was the idea of progress that made it possible to believe that societies blessed with material abundance could dispense with the active participation of ordinary citizens in government.

After the American Revolution liberals began to argue-in opposition to the older view that "public virtue is the only foundation of republics," in the words of John Adams -- that proper constitutional checks and balances would make it advantageous even for bad men to act for the public good," as James Wilson put it. According to John Taylor, "an avaricious society can form a government able to defend itself against the avarice of its members" by enlisting the "interest of vice ...on the side of virtue." Virtue lay in the "principles of government," Taylor argued, not in the "evanescent qualities of individuals." The institutions and "principles of a society may be virtuous, though the individuals composing it are vicious."

Meeting minimal conditions

The paradox of a virtuous society based on vicious individuals, however agree able in theory, was never adhered to very consistently. Liberals took for granted a good deal more in the way of private virtue than they were willing to acknowledge. Even to day liberals who adhere to this minimal view of citizenship smuggle a certain amount of citizenship between the cracks of their free- market ideology. Milton Friedman himself admits that a liberal society requires a "minimum degree of literacy and knowledge" along with a "widespread acceptance of some common set of values." It is not clear that our society can meet even these minimal conditions, as things stand today, but it has always been clear, in any case, that a liberal society needs more virtue than Friedman allows for.

A system that relies so heavily on the concept of rights presupposes individuals who respect the rights of others, if only because they expect others to respect their own rights in return. The market itself, the central institution of a liberal society, presupposes, at the very least, sharp-eyed, calculating, and clearheaded individuals-paragons of rational choice. It presupposes not just self interest but enlightened self-interest. It was for this reason that nineteenth-century liberals attached so much importance to the family. The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism and transform the potential gambler, speculator, dandy, or confidence man into a conscientious provider. Having abandoned the old republican ideal of citizenship along with the republican indictment of luxury, liberals lacked any grounds on which to appeal to individuals to subordinate private interest to the public good.

But at least they could appeal to the higher selfishness of marriage and parenthood. They could ask, if not for the suspension of self-interest, for its elevation and refinement. The hope that rising expectations would lead men and women to invest their ambitions in their offspring was destined to be disappointed in the long run. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. The rising divorce rate, already a source of alarm in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, seemed to reflect a growing impatience with the constraints imposed by long responsibilities and commitments.

The passion to get ahead had begun to imply the right to make a fresh start whenever earlier commitments became unduly burden some. Material abundance weakened the economic as well as the moral foundations of the "well-'ordered family state" admired by nineteenth-century liberals. The family business gave way to the corporation, the family farm (more slowly and painfully) to a collectivized agriculture ultimately controlled by the same banking houses that had engineered the consolidation of industry. The agrarian uprising of the 1870s, 1880s, and l890s proved to be the first round in a long, losing struggle to save the family farm, enshrined in American mythology, even today, as the sine qua non of a good society but subjected into practice to a ruinous cycle of mechanization, indebtedness, and overproduction.

The family invaded

Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value.

In the long run women were forced into the workplace not only because their families needed extra income but because paid labour seemed to represent their only hope of gaining equality with men. In our time it is increasingly clear that children pay the price for this invasion of the family by the market. With both parents in the workplace and grandparents conspicuous by their absence, the family is no longer capable of sheltering children from the market. The television set becomes the principal baby-sitter by default. Its invasive presence deals the final blow to any lingering hope that the family can provide a sheltered space for children to grow up in.

Children are now exposed to the out side world from the time they are old enough to be left unattended in front of the tube. They are exposed to it, moreover, in a brutal yet seductive form that reduces the values of the marketplace to their simplest terms. Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul.

Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market.

The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.

Weakening social trust

In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering.

The main thrust of social policy, ever since the first crusades against child labour, has been to transfer the care of children from informal settings to institutions designed specifically for pedagogical and custodial purposes. Today this trend continues in the movement for daycare, often justified on the undeniable grounds that working mothers need it but also on the grounds that daycare centers can take advantage of the latest innovations in pedagogy and child psychology. This policy of segregating children in age-graded institutions under professional supervision has been a massive failure, for reasons suggested some time ago by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an attack on city planning that applies to social planning in general.

"The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction.

What the child learns is that adults unrelated to one another except by the accident of propinquity uphold certain standards and assume responsibility for the neighbourhood. With good reason, Jacobs calls this the "first fundamental of successful city life," one that "people hired to look after children cannot teach because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired."

Neighbourhoods encourage "casual public trust," according to Jacobs. In its absence the everyday maintenance of life has to be turned over to professional bureaucrats. The atrophy of informal controls leads irresistibly to the expansion of bureaucratic controls. This development threatens to extinguish the very privacy liberals have always set such store by. It also loads the organizational sector with burdens it cannot support. The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control.

The taxpayers' revolt, although itself informed by an ideology of privatism resistant to any kind of civic appeals, at the same time grows out of a well-founded suspicion that tax money merely sustains bureaucratic self-aggrandizement

The lost habit of self-help

As formal organizations break down, people will have to improvise ways of meeting their immediate needs: patrolling their own neighbourhoods, withdrawing their children from public schools in order to educate them at home. The default of the state will thus contribute in its own right to the restoration of informal mechanisms of self-help. But it is hard to see how the foundations of civic life can be restored unless this work becomes an overriding goal of public policy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the repair of our material infrastructure, but our cultural infrastructure needs attention too, and more than just the rhetorical attention of politicians who praise "family values" while pursuing economic policies that undermine them. It is either naive or cynical to lead the public to think that dismantling the welfare state is enough to ensure a revival of informal cooperation-"a thousand points of light." People who have lost the habit of self-help, who live in cities and suburbs where shopping malls have replaced neighbourhoods, and who prefer the company of close friends (or simply the company of television) to the informal sociability of the street, the coffee shop, and the tavern are not likely to reinvent communities just because the state has proved such an unsatisfactory substitute. Market mechanisms will not repair the fabric of public trust. On the contrary the market's effect on the cultural infrastructure is just as corrosive as that of the state.

A third way

We can now begin to appreciate the appeal of populism and communitarianism. They reject both the market and the welfare state in pursuit of a third way. This is why they are so difficult to classify on the conventional spectrum of political opinion. Their opposition to free-market ideologies seems to align them with the left, but 'their criticism of the welfare state (whenever this criticism becomes open and explicit) makes them sound right-wing. In fact, these positions belong to neither the left nor the right, and for that very reason they seem to many people to hold out the best hope of breaking the deadlock of current debate, which has been institutionalized in the two major parties and their divided control of the federal government. At a time when political debate consists of largely of ideological slogans endlessly repeated to audiences composed mainly of the party faithful, fresh thinking is desperately needed. It is not likely to emerge, however, from those with a vested interest in 'the old orthodoxies. We need a "third way of thinking about moral obligation," as Alan Wolfe puts it, one that locates moral obligation neither in the state nor in the market but "in common sense, ordinary emotions, and everyday life."

Wolfe's plea for a political program designed to strengthen civil society, which closely resembles the ideas advanced in The Good Society by Robert Bellah and his collaborators, should be welcomed by the growing numbers of people who find themselves dissatisfied with the alternatives defined by conventional debate. These authors illustrate the strengths of the communitarian position along with some of its characteristic weaknesses. They make it clear that both the market and the state presuppose the strength of "non-economic ties of trust and solidarity" as Wolfe puts it. Yet the expansion of these institutions weakens ties of trust and thus undermines the preconditions for their own success. The market and the "job culture," Bellah writes, are "invading our private lives," eroding our "moral infrastructure" of "social trust." Nor does the welfare state repair the damage. "The example of more successful welfare states ... suggests that money and bureaucratic assistance alone do not halt the decline of the family" or strengthen any of the other "sustaining institutions that make interdependence morally significant." None of this means that a politics that really mattered-a politics rooted in popular common sense instead of the ideologies that appeal to elites-would painlessly resolve all the conflicts that threaten to tear the country apart. Communitarians underestimate the difficulty of finding an approach to family issues, say, that is both profamily and profeminist.

That may be what the public wants in theory. In practice, however, it requires a restructuring of the workplace designed to make work schedules far more flexible, career patterns less rigid and predictable, and criteria for advancement less destructive to family and community obligations. Such reforms imply interference with the market and a redefinition of success, neither of which will be achieved without a great deal of controversy.

Back to Course Content

[Jan 13, 2017] Making America Great Again Isnt Just About Money and Power

Notable quotes:
"... Excellent article by an economist who understands that economic extends beyond markets and intersects with political enlightenment. Were more economists that inclusive and divorced from self promotion the study would have more effective application. ..."
"... For many today, greatness is simply a government in the business of actively governing, as opposed to shying away from it under one excuse or the other. One example: the meteoric rise of incomes for the wealthy, which is a direct result of less financial regulation. First discovered by Reagan, then perfected by Clinton, the method involves highlighting regulation as a dirty word and overstating its link to American Capitalism, and in the bargain achieving less work for government, plus bag brownie points for patriotism. ..."
"... But what it really was, was a reluctance to govern for almost thirty years. Thank goodness Trump called it out for the fraud it was, and Obama decided he would spend his last month making a show of "governing". ..."
"... So that's what greatness means to most today: Government, please show up for work every day and just do your job. Not draw lines in sand and unlock every bathroom in sight and let illegals in. Just your job please, that's all. Yes? Grrreaat, thank you Donald. ..."
"... I doubt many think that the greatness of America is just about money and power. But many corporations are run on exactly this limited idea of the greatness of corporations. ..."
"... And, unfortunately, these same misguided bottom-line corporations now control Congress and the GOP. Corporate control of Congress should not be primarily for increasing corporate profits. Part of the profits stemming from automation should be used to mitigate the tremendous disappearance of jobs that corporations are causing by introducing AI and automation. ..."
"... I have traveled overseas enough to have an idea of life in other countries. My father shared something with other veterans--a sense of belonging to something bigger than them based on being "in the service." ..."
"... That comradeship, born of intense experience while young, is rare. In terms of the sense of belonging to a city or state, the most successful of us move around and cities have lost most of what made them unique. ..."
"... there is no central cultural core to being American--as compared to being French or British--other than technology and the meritocracy of money, a personal sense of ownership in America on the part of a majority of Americans runs contrary to contemporary experience. ..."
"... The first step on this path is real social & economic justice for all in our wonderful country. The current economic inequality in the U.S. is a disgrace to any just & civil society. We must figure out a way to fairly deal with that & our other inequalities of education, opportunity & racial injustices, if we are to achieve our potential of being that 'shining city on the hill' that the rest of the world will want to follow. ..."
"... A Great Society cannot be great in any meaningful sense unless it is determinedly honest -- not just self-relievingly frank. Thus, although I was happy to see this article, which I judge to be 'exemplarily' honest, I had disappointment that, in an age when the term post-truth is being used to describe conversation in English-speaking society, it neglects to emphasize the essentiality of honesty in any debate about what being a great society entails. Adam Smith did his best to point that out, but the rich and powerful and especially those in public office and those of capitalistic ideological bent appear these days to be letting us all down in this respect. ..."
"... This article is long overdue. Mr Trump has never explained is what MADE America great in the past. If questioned, he demurred. His shallow approach to policy and his poor understanding of American history and civics makes any answer from him questionable. ..."
"... Our current Free Trade pacts make it too easy for employers to shift jobs abroad. Other countries protect their industries. We should do the same, by again placing tariffs on any goods which have been manufactured abroad which could be made here. This would not be "forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs". It would be saying that if you want to sell your products here, then you will either make them here or pay tariffs on them. ..."
"... The Free Trade pacts have an additional problem. They allow international corporations to sue us if they think that one of our laws or regulations is keeping them from making as much money as they otherwise could. These lawsuits are conducted in special courts whose decisions cannot be appealed. This allows international corporations to interfere with our democracy. They should not be allowed to sue us for enforcing our own laws. ..."
"... The issue isn't what the definition of "great" is. It's who America is great *for.* America is outstandingly great for a very slim slice at the tip-top of the economy. ..."
"... The GOP are now proving that they are traitors to the general welfare. They are determined to make this nation's chief goal be to protect the welfare of the wealthiest and best-connected. If we are depending on a free press or the voting booth to protect us, we are fooling ourselves. The forces that have seized our democracy are going to gut both the press, and our civil liberties, so that this country can never again be "of, for and by the people." It will henceforth be for the plutocrats. ..."
"... The rest of us should just go quietly, and die on our own. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

"Make America Great Again," the slogan of President-elect Donald J. Trump 's successful election campaign, has been etched in the national consciousness. But it is hard to know what to make of those vague words.

We don't have a clear definition of "great," for example, or of the historical moment when, presumably, America was truly great. From an economic standpoint, we can't be talking about national wealth, because the country is wealthier than it has ever been: Real per capita household net worth has reached a record high, as Federal Reserve Board data shows.

But the distribution of wealth has certainly changed: Inequality has widened significantly. Including the effects of taxes and government transfer payments, real incomes for the bottom half of the population increased only 21 percent from 1980 to 2014. That compares with a 194 percent increase for the richest 1 percent, according to a new study by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

That's why it makes sense that Mr. Trump's call for a return to greatness resonated especially well among non-college-educated workers in Rust Belt states - people who have been hurt as good jobs in their region disappeared. But forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs isn't reasonable, and creating sustainable new jobs is a complex endeavor.

Difficult as job creation may be, making America great surely entails more than that, and it's worth considering just what we should be trying to accomplish. Fortunately, political leaders and scholars have been thinking about national greatness for a very long time, and the answer clearly goes beyond achieving high levels of wealth.

Adam Smith, perhaps the first true economist, gave some answers in " An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ." That treatise is sometimes thought of as a capitalist bible. It is at least partly about the achieving of greatness through the pursuit of wealth in free markets. But Smith didn't believe that money alone assured national stature. He also wrote disapprovingly of the single-minded impulse to secure wealth, saying it was "the most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments." Instead, he emphasized that decent people should seek real achievement - "not only praise, but praiseworthiness."

Strikingly, national greatness was a central issue in a previous presidential election campaign: Lyndon B. Johnson , in 1964, called for the creation of a Great Society, not merely a rich society or a powerful society. Instead, he spoke of achieving equal opportunity and fulfillment. "The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents," he said. "It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness."

President Johnson's words still ring true. Opportunity is not equal for everyone in America. Enforced leisure has indeed become a feared cause of boredom and restlessness for those who have lost jobs, who have lost overtime work, who hold part-time jobs when they desire full-time employment, or who were pushed into unwanted early retirement.

But there are limits to what government can do. Jane Jacobs , the great urbanist, wrote that great nations need great cities, yet they cannot easily create them. "The great capitals of modern Europe did not become great cities because they were the capitals," Ms. Jacobs said. "Cause and effect ran the other way. Paris was at first no more the seat of French kings than were the sites of half a dozen other royal residences."

Cities grow organically, she said, capturing a certain dynamic, a virtuous circle, a specialized culture of expertise, with one industry leading to another, and with a reputation that attracts motivated and capable immigrants.

America still has cities like this, but a fact not widely remembered is that Detroit used to be one of them. Its rise to greatness was gradual. As Ms. Jacobs wrote, milled flour in the 1820s and 1830s required boats to ship the flour on the Great Lakes, which led to steamboats, marine engines and a proliferation of other industries, which set the stage for automobiles, which made Detroit a global center for anyone interested in that technology.

I experienced the beauty and excitement of Detroit as a child there among relatives who had ties to the auto industry. Today, residents of Detroit and other fading metropolises want their old cities back, but generations of people must create the fresh ideas and industries that spawn great cities, and they can't do it by fiat from Washington.

All of which is to say that government intervention to enhance greatness will not be a simple matter. There is a risk that well-meaning change may make matters worse. Protectionist policies and penalties for exporters of jobs may not increase long-term opportunities for Americans who have been left behind. Large-scale reduction of environmental or social regulations or in health care benefits, or in America's involvement in the wider world may increase our consumption, yet leave all of us with a sense of deeper loss.

Greatness reflects not only prosperity, but it is also linked with an atmosphere, a social environment that makes life meaningful. In President Johnson's words, greatness requires meeting not just "the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community."

sufferingsuccatash ohio 3 hours ago

Excellent article by an economist who understands that economic extends beyond markets and intersects with political enlightenment. Were more economists that inclusive and divorced from self promotion the study would have more effective application.

TMK New York, NY 5 hours ago

For many today, greatness is simply a government in the business of actively governing, as opposed to shying away from it under one excuse or the other. One example: the meteoric rise of incomes for the wealthy, which is a direct result of less financial regulation. First discovered by Reagan, then perfected by Clinton, the method involves highlighting regulation as a dirty word and overstating its link to American Capitalism, and in the bargain achieving less work for government, plus bag brownie points for patriotism.

But what it really was, was a reluctance to govern for almost thirty years. Thank goodness Trump called it out for the fraud it was, and Obama decided he would spend his last month making a show of "governing".

But Reagan did not hesitate to govern on the international stage. That credit goes solely to Obama, a president who's turned non-governance into something of an art. From refusing to regulate bathroom etiquette, to egging people to have more casual sex (condoms on government, no worries, go at it all you want), to unleashing 5 million illegals on domestic soil with a stroke of the pen, this President has been the most ungoverning president in US history.

So that's what greatness means to most today: Government, please show up for work every day and just do your job. Not draw lines in sand and unlock every bathroom in sight and let illegals in. Just your job please, that's all. Yes? Grrreaat, thank you Donald.

John Brews Reno, NV 6 hours ago

I doubt many think that the greatness of America is just about money and power. But many corporations are run on exactly this limited idea of the greatness of corporations.

And, unfortunately, these same misguided bottom-line corporations now control Congress and the GOP. Corporate control of Congress should not be primarily for increasing corporate profits. Part of the profits stemming from automation should be used to mitigate the tremendous disappearance of jobs that corporations are causing by introducing AI and automation.

Duane Coyle Wichita, Kansas 7 hours ago

I was born in America in 1956 to native-born Americans. My father served starting right after the Berlin Blockade, up through the Korean Conflict. My political consciousness was formed by Vietnam, Kent State, the COINTELPRO Papers, the Pentagon Papers, the Church Committee reports.

My father had trust in the federal government, whereas I have none. I became a lawyer, and married a lawyer. My brothers and my wife's sisters are all college-educated professionals.

Financially speaking, America has been very good to me. But as far as having any intellectual or visceral concept of what America is, or what being an American means, I couldn't tell you.

I have traveled overseas enough to have an idea of life in other countries. My father shared something with other veterans--a sense of belonging to something bigger than them based on being "in the service."

That comradeship, born of intense experience while young, is rare. In terms of the sense of belonging to a city or state, the most successful of us move around and cities have lost most of what made them unique.

Given how very little we are expected to contribute to our city, state or country, or even our neighbors, and as there is no central cultural core to being American--as compared to being French or British--other than technology and the meritocracy of money, a personal sense of ownership in America on the part of a majority of Americans runs contrary to contemporary experience.

Wayne Hild Nevada City, CA 9 hours ago

I think this article touches on not only what will make America great, but also on how we should act in order to show the rest of the world why liberal democracies are truly the path to prosperity & peace in this oh so imperfect world.

How do we go about defeating ISIL & winning the smoldering economic/military contest with Russia & China & other authoritarian regimes? By living righteously & daily demonstrating that treating the planet & each other justly & humanely is the way to real happiness on Earth. & that we can at the same time create plenty of wealth & life-fulfilling opportunities for all our citizens.

The first step on this path is real social & economic justice for all in our wonderful country. The current economic inequality in the U.S. is a disgrace to any just & civil society. We must figure out a way to fairly deal with that & our other inequalities of education, opportunity & racial injustices, if we are to achieve our potential of being that 'shining city on the hill' that the rest of the world will want to follow.

If the great liberal democracies of Europe & North America & the southern pacific region can reinvigorate our optimism & our commitment to the communal values that have driven the world's prosperity since WWII, we can surely convince the rest of the world through the awesome leverage of 'social media' that our liberal values of education, fairness, & love for all of our fellow humans is the true path to happiness & peace on Earth.

Angus Cunningham Toronto 9 hours ago

As a Britisher, educated at Wharton by the grace of an American-owned company, I feel gratitude for American generosity; yet I am now a Canadian citizen, having decided that the US in the time of Nixon could never be a place where my family could be happy. So I write this with mixed feelings.

A Great Society cannot be great in any meaningful sense unless it is determinedly honest -- not just self-relievingly frank. Thus, although I was happy to see this article, which I judge to be 'exemplarily' honest, I had disappointment that, in an age when the term post-truth is being used to describe conversation in English-speaking society, it neglects to emphasize the essentiality of honesty in any debate about what being a great society entails. Adam Smith did his best to point that out, but the rich and powerful and especially those in public office and those of capitalistic ideological bent appear these days to be letting us all down in this respect.

Having made a modest livelihood as an executive coach, I do not pretend that being honest (without being self-relievingly so) is easy in high-level negotiations. Indeed it requires enormous courage, intellect, empathy, and articulation skills. So I have enormous grief and considerable anxiety for the state of US society today. But efforts like this one by the New York Times are certain to be helpful. Thank you. I hope my contribution will be valuable to this fine newspaper and its readers alike.

R Charlotte 9 hours ago

This article is long overdue. Mr Trump has never explained is what MADE America great in the past. If questioned, he demurred. His shallow approach to policy and his poor understanding of American history and civics makes any answer from him questionable.

FreedomAndJusticeForAll United States 9 hours ago

Hope and Change.

Tom is a trusted commenter Midwest 9 hours ago

Yet almost every policy and piece of legislation by Republicans seems aimed at making more money for business. They assume it will trickle down to the workers (and we have seen over 30 years of how good that is working). So Republicans will ignore your plea or denigrate it. Doing anything close to what you suggest gets in the way of making money.

ann Seattle 10 hours ago

"But forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs isn't reasonable, "

Our current Free Trade pacts make it too easy for employers to shift jobs abroad. Other countries protect their industries. We should do the same, by again placing tariffs on any goods which have been manufactured abroad which could be made here. This would not be "forcing employers to restore or maintain jobs". It would be saying that if you want to sell your products here, then you will either make them here or pay tariffs on them.

The Free Trade pacts have an additional problem. They allow international corporations to sue us if they think that one of our laws or regulations is keeping them from making as much money as they otherwise could. These lawsuits are conducted in special courts whose decisions cannot be appealed. This allows international corporations to interfere with our democracy. They should not be allowed to sue us for enforcing our own laws.

Let's restore our sovereignty.

Jack and Louise North Brunswick NJ, USA 10 hours ago

The issue isn't what the definition of "great" is. It's who America is great *for.* America is outstandingly great for a very slim slice at the tip-top of the economy.

It's great for the Trumps and his cabinet members. These people have so much wealth that they have bought our government. The gleeful look on McConnell's face last night after the GOP moved to get rid of health care for millions, and to turn it back to the whim of the insurance companies, said it all: America is great again for him. It's great for his owners.

The GOP are now proving that they are traitors to the general welfare. They are determined to make this nation's chief goal be to protect the welfare of the wealthiest and best-connected. If we are depending on a free press or the voting booth to protect us, we are fooling ourselves. The forces that have seized our democracy are going to gut both the press, and our civil liberties, so that this country can never again be "of, for and by the people." It will henceforth be for the plutocrats.

The rest of us should just go quietly, and die on our own.

[Jan 13, 2017] They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them.

Notable quotes:
"... For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

" In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak. He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse". This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people. The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project. The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed. The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective. I wish Alexei Yurchak would explore more implications of Roman Jacobson's "poetic function of language" and its connection to Russian experiment in communism. It seems to me, as a Russian native speaker, that Russians put stress on form, sound, and poetics. The English-language tradition prioritizes content and meaning. Can we speak of "Hermeneutics" of the West versus "Poetics" of Russia? Perhaps the tragedy of Russia was under-development of Hermeneutics? How does one explain the feeble attempts to throw a light of reason into the loopy texts and theories of Marks, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin? Perhaps the Russians read it as a kind of magical text, a poetry, a bad poetry -- not Pasternak or Blok -- but kind of poetry nevertheless?

Nils Gilman on April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures. Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

[Jan 13, 2017] Hypernormalisation

Notable quotes:
"... Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits. ..."
"... Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them. ..."
"... By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working. ..."
"... Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing. ..."
"... The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth. ..."
"... Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't. ..."
"... The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.) ..."
"... I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin. ..."
"... I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him. ..."
"... Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House. ..."
"... Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose. ..."
"... The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. ..."
"... Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens. ..."
"... The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders. ..."
"... In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. ..."
"... This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election ..."
"... I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics. ..."
"... We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality ..."
"... It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE .. ..."
"... "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief." ..."
"... During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else. ..."
"... to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already) ..."
"... But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Bryce McBride via Mises Canada,

This past November, the filmmaker Adam Curtis released the documentary Hypernormalisation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-fny99f8amM

The term comes from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. The book argues that over the last 20 years of the Soviet Union, everyone knew the system wasn't working, but as no one could imagine any alternative, politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that it was. Eventually this pretending was accepted as normal and the fake reality thus created was accepted as real, an effect which Yurchak termed "hypernormalisation."

Looking at events over the past few years, one wonders if our own society is experiencing the same phenomenon. A contrast with what economic policy-makers term "normalisation" is instructive.

Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits.

Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them.

In the normalisation which follows (usually held during 'special' bank holidays) auditors and accountants go through financial records and decide which companies and individuals are insolvent (and should therefore go bankrupt) and which are merely illiquid (and therefore eligible for additional loans, pledged against good collateral). In a similar fashion, central bank officials decide which banks are to close and which are to remain open. Lenders made freshly aware of bankruptcy risk raise (or normalise) interest rates and in so doing complete the process of clearing bad debt out of the system. Overall, reality replaces wishful thinking.

While this process is by no means pleasant for the people involved, from a societal standpoint bankruptcy and higher interest rates are necessary to keep businesses focused on profitable investment, banks focused on prudent lending and overall debt levels manageable.

By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working.

To understand why our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions such as interest rate normalization and banking reform one only needs to understand that while such policies would lay the groundwork for a sustained recovery, they would also expose many of the world's biggest banks as insolvent. As the financial sector is a powerful constituency (and a generous donor to political campaigns) the banks get the free money they need, even if such policies harm society as a whole.

As we live in a democratic society, it is necessary for our leaders to convince us that there are no other solutions and that the monetary policy fixes of the past 8 years have been effective and have done no harm.

Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing.

Looking at unemployment figures first, while the unemployment rate is currently very low, the number of Americans of working age not in the labour force is currently at an all-time high of over 95 million people. Discouraged workers who stop looking for work are no longer classified as unemployed but instead become economically inactive, but clearly many of these people really should be counted as unemployed. Similarly, while government statistical agencies record inflation rates of between one and two percent, measures that use methodologies used in the past (such as John Williams' Shadowstats measures) show consumer prices rising at annual rates of 6 to 8 percent. In addition, many people have noticed what has been termed 'shrinkflation', where prices remain the same even as package sizes shrink. A common example is bacon, which used to be sold by the pound but which is now commonly sold in 12 ounce slabs.

Meanwhile central banks have coordinated their money printing to ensure that no major currency (the dollar, the yen, the euro or the Chinese renminbi) depreciates noticeably against the others for a sustained period of time. Further, since gold hit a peak of over $1900 per ounce in 2011, central banks have worked hard to keep the gold price suppressed through the futures market. On more than a few occasions, contracts for many months worth of global gold production have been sold in a matter of a few minutes, with predictable consequences for the gold price. At all costs, people's confidence in and acceptance of the paper (or, more commonly, electronic) money issued by central banks must be maintained.

Despite these efforts people nonetheless sense that something is wrong. The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump to the White House represent to a large degree a rejection of the fake reality propagated by the policymaking elite. Increasingly, people recognize that a financial system dependent upon zero percent interest rates is not sustainable and are responding by taking their money out of the banks in favour of holding cash or other forms of wealth. In the face of such understanding and resistance, governments are showing themselves willing to use coercion to enforce acceptance of their fake reality.

The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth.

Meanwhile, in India last month, people were told that the highest denomination bills in common circulation would be 'demonetized' or made worthless as of December 30th. People were allowed to deposit or exchange a certain quantity of the demonetized bills in banks but many people who had accumulated their savings in rupee notes (often the poor who did not have bank accounts) have been ruined. Ostensibly, this demonetization policy was aimed at curbing corruption and terrorism, but it is fairly obvious that its real objective was to force people into the banking system and electronic money. Unsurprisingly, the demonetization drive was accompanied by limits on the quantity of gold people are allowed to hold.

Despite such attempts to influence our thinking and our behaviour, we don't need to resign ourselves to pretending that our system is working when it so clearly isn't. Looking at the eventual fate of the Soviet Union, it should be clear that the sooner we abandon the drift towards hypernormalisation and start on the path to normalisation the better off we will be.

DontGive Jan 7, 2017 9:03 PM

CB's printing is not a bug. It's a feature.

Long debt bitches.

Doña K TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:05 AM

I did not learn anything from that movie. One man's collage of events.

We just take revenge on the system by living well.

Luc X. Ifer TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:06 AM

Correct. I seen with sufficient level of comprehending consciousness the last 5 years of it - copy-cat perfection with the current times in US(S)A, terrifying how similar the times are as it is a clear indication of the times to come.

HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 9:06 PM

Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't.

malek HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 11:40 PM

The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.)

navy62802 Jan 7, 2017 9:14 PM

I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin.

christiangustafson Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Great piece!

I was just thinking that the whole economic world sees us in a sort of equilibrium at the moment. There will be some adjustments under Trump, but nothing serious. We shall see ..

Eeyores Enigma Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Repeat something often enough and it becomes hypernormalised. With that in mind the number of eyes/minds/hits is all that matters. This has been known and exploited for hundreds of years.

That a handful of individuals can have a monopoly over the single most important aspect of whether you live or die is the ultimate success of hypernormalisation. CENTRAL BANKING.

Manipuflation Jan 7, 2017 9:22 PM

Mrs.M is of the last Soviet generation. Her .gov papers say so. There is never a day when I don't hear something soviet. She still has a her red pioneer ribbon. I have tried to encourage her to write about it on ZH so that we know. Do you think she will? No. She's says that we can't understand what it was like no matter what she says.

Mrs.M was born in 1981 so she has lived an interesting life. I married her in 2004 after much paperwork and $15000. I wanted that female because we got along quite well. She is who I needed with me this and I would do it all over again.

Needless to say, I do not support any aggression towards Russia. And to my fellow Americans, I advise caution because the half you are broke ass fucks and are already ropes with me.

That is the only news anyone needs to know.

wisebastard Jan 7, 2017 9:25 PM

the monkeys made me think ZH should make a post with monkeys evolving into humans that then de-evolve into Paul Krugman

GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 9:34 PM

I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him.

BabaLooey GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:05 PM

Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/01/07/stars-obamas-white-hou...

Fucks. ALL of them.

max_leering GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:35 PM

Geezer, I'd change only one thing... I believe libtards bought Barry's bullshit hook, line and sinker... it was the rest of us who not-so-subtly were saying WTF!!!

Salzburg1756 Jan 7, 2017 9:35 PM

White Nationalists have lived in the real world for decades; the rest of you need to catch up.

JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:06 PM

Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose.

evokanivo JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

what noose? you think joe 6p is going to identify the culprits? i think not. "no one saw this coming!!!" is still ringing in my ears from the last time.

jm Jan 7, 2017 10:14 PM

I really don't know how people can keep on getting clicks with this tired crap. It didn't happen in 2008 just get over it. The delusional people are the people that think the world is going to end tomorrow.

wwxx jm Jan 8, 2017 6:08 AM

Maybe the world has ended, for 95 million? I haven't paid a single Fed income tax dollar in over 8 yrs., for a specific reason, I refuse to support the new normal circus, and quite frankly I would have gotten out during the GWBush regime, but I couldn't afford to at the time.

wwxx

EndOfDayExit Jan 7, 2017 10:17 PM

The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. Same with the USSA. No one really knows what to do. Feudalism would probably work, but it is not possible to go back to it. My bet is that we will end up with some form of socialism, universal income and whatever else, just because there is no good alternative for dealing with lots and lots of people who are not needed anymore.

BingoBoggins EndOfDayExit Jan 8, 2017 6:15 AM

Do you mean useless eaters or fuckers deserving the guillotine? Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens.

NAV Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

The Soviet Union pushed its old culture to near destruction but failed to establish a new and better culture to replace it, writes Angelo M. Codevilla in "The Rise of Political Correctness," and as a result the U.S.S.R fell, just as America's current "politically correct" and dysfunctional "progressive utopia" will implode.

As such, Codevilla would agree that the US population " is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is."

As for the U.S.S.R., "this step turned out instead to destroy the very basis of Soviet power," writes Codevilla. "[C]ontinued efforts to force people to celebrate the party's ersatz reality, to affirm things that they know are not true and to deny others they know to be true – to live by lies – requires breaking them , reducing them to a sense of fearful isolation, destroying their self-esteem and their capacity to trust others. George Orwell's novel 1984 dramatized this culture war's ends and means : nothing less than the substitution of the party's authority for the reality conveyed by human senses and reason. Big Brother's agent, having berated the hapless Winston for preferring his own views to society's dictates, finished breaking his spirit by holding up four fingers and demanding that Winston acknowledge seeing five.

"Thus did the Soviet regime create dysfunctional, cynical, and resentful subjects. Because Communism confused destruction of 'bourgeois culture' with cultural conquest, it won all the cultural battles while losing its culture war long before it collapsed politically. As Communists identified themselves in people's minds with falsehood and fraud, people came to identify truth with anything other than the officials and their doctrines. Inevitably, they also identified them with corruption and privation. A nd so it was that, whenever the authorities announced that the harvest had been good, the people hoarded potatoes; and that more and more people who knew nothing of Christianity except that the authorities had anathematized it, started wearing crosses."

And if you want to see the ruling class's culture war in action today in America, pick up the latest issues of Vogue Magazine or O, The Oprah Magazine with their multitude of role reversals between whites and minorities. Or check out the latest decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court forcing people to acknowledge that America is not a Christian nation, or making it "more difficult for men, women and children to exist as a family" or demanding via law "that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity."

As to just how far the ruling class has gone to serve the interests and proclivities of its leaders and to reject the majority's demand for representation, Codevilla notes, "In 2012 no one would have thought that defining marriage between one man and one woman, as enshrined in U.S. law, would brand those who do so as motivated by a culpable psychopathology called 'homophobia,' subject to fines and near-outlaw status. Not until 2015-16 did it occur to anyone that requiring persons with male personal plumbing to use public bathrooms reserved for men was a sign of the same pathology

"On the wholesale level, it is a war on civilization waged to indulge identity politics."

http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-rise-of-political-correctness/

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:11 PM

This article is so flawed! People[impoverished] aren't trying to jump over a wall patrolled by guards into Mexico -YET. Tyler, why do you repost shit like this?

daveO Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 12:56 AM

That's because the Yankees, fleeing high taxes, can move to the sunbelt states w/o freezing. The USA went broke in 2008. Mexico got a head start by 22 years when oil prices collapsed in '86.

MASTER OF UNIVERSE Jan 7, 2017 11:28 PM

The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders.

In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. 08 was proof that America is not equipped to participate in a Multinational & Multipolar world of business & investment in business. America can't get along in business in this world anymore. Greed has rendered America unemployable as a major market participant in a Globally run network of businesses.

America is the odd man out these days even though the next POTUS promises better management from a business perspective. Whilst the Mafia Cartel bosses trust TrumpO's business savvy the rest of the planet Earth does not.

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:53 PM

Are you kidding me??? >

Hypernormalisation I think we need a few MOAR syllables connected by fake verb/adjective < reverse /destruction- of the English language.

Manipuflation Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 1:23 AM

Yen, I have a bottle of Bacardi rum here. It was on sale. Should I open it up? We could become experts....well at least I could.:-)

BingoBoggins Jan 8, 2017 8:12 AM

A liberal friend laid this movie on me to show me why he supported Hillary. A smart cookie, a PHd teaching English in Japan. A Khazarnazi Jew, he even spent time in Kyiv, Ukraine pre-coup, only mingling with "poets and writers". He went out of his way to tell me how bad the Russians were, informed as he was prior to the rejection of the EU's usurious offer.

He even quite dramatically pulled out the Anti-Semite card. I had to throw Banderas in his face and the US sponsored regime. I had respect for this guy and his knowledge but he just - could - not - let - go the cult assumptions. I finally came to believe Liberal Arts educators are victims of inbred conditioning. In retaliation, he wanted to somehow prove Putin a charlatan or villian and Trump his proxie.

This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election. Excerpts from a correspondence wherein I go full asshole on the guy follow. Try and make sense of it if you watch this trash:

HyperNormalization 50:29 Not Ronald Rayguns, or Quadaffi plays along. Say what? They're, i.e. Curtis, assuming what Q thought?

1:15 USSR collapses. No shit. Cronyism in a centralized organization grown too large is inevitable it seems. So the premise has evolved to cultural/societal "management". Right. USSR collapses but let's repeat the same mistakes 'cause "it's different this time". We got us a computer!

Then Fink the failed Squid (how do Squids climb the corporate ladder?) builds one and programs historical data to,,,, forecast? I heard a' this. Let me guess. He couldn't avoid bias, making his models fallacious. Whoops. Well, he does intend to manipulate society, or was that not the goal? Come again? Some authority ran with it and ... captured an entire nation's media, conspired with other like-minded sycophants and their mysterious masters to capture an election by ... I may be getting ahead of myself.

Oh, boy, I have an inkling of where this is going. Perceptions modified by the word, advanced by the herd, in order to capture a vulnerable society under duress, who then pick sides, fool themselves in the process, miss the three hour tour never to live happily ever after on a deserted isle because they eschew (pick a bias here from the list provided). The one you think the "others" have, 'cause, shit, we're above it all, right? " Are we not entertained" is probably not the most appropriate question here.

Point being, Curtis, the BBC documentarian, totally negates the reality of pathological Imperialism as has been practiced by the West over the last half century, causing so many of the effects he so casually eludes to in the Arab Spring, Libya, Syria, Russia, the US and elsewhere. Perhaps the most blatant is this; Curtis asserts that Trump "defeated journalism" by rendering its fact-checking abilities irrelevant. Wikipedia He Hypernormalizes the very audience that believes itself to be enlightened. As for my erstwhile friend, the fucker never once admitted all the people *killed* for the ideals he supported. I finally blew him off for good.

To Hell In A Ha... Jan 8, 2017 7:06 AM

I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics.

We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality...

jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 7:44 AM

It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE ..

Allow me to quote something here ..

Enter Operation Stillpoint: William Colby, William Casey and Leo Emil Wanta.

At the time it started, President Reagan wanted to get a better handle on ways to keep the Soviets from expansionary tactics used to spread Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin's philosophy of communism around the world. He looked to his Special Task Force to provide a means of doing so. One thing was certain: The economy of the Soviets had never been strong and corruption, always present in government and always growing at least as fast as a government grows, made the USSR vulnerable to outside interference just as the United States is today.

According to Gorbachev's Prime Minister, Nikolai Ryzhkov, the "moral [nravstennoe] state of the society" in 1985 was its "most terrifying" feature: "[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this – from top to bottom and from bottom to top."

Again, it sounds like today's America, doesn't it?

Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze made equally painful comments about the lawlessness and corruption dominating the Soviet Union. During the winter months of 1984-85, he told Gorbachev that "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed."

"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong," Frantz Fanon said in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks (originally published in French as Peau Noire, Masques Blancs). "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief."

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else.

On one day we have 50 state attorneys general suing Bank of America for making fraudulent mortgages, and on the next we have M.F. Global losing billions upon billions of customer dollars because they got mixed with the firm's funds – which is against the law – or we have J.P. Morgan Chase losing $2 billion (or is it $5 billion?) in bad investments. As Eduard Shevardnadze said, "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed." As I would say it, "There is no Rule of Law in America today. There has been no real Rule of Law since George Herbert Walker Bush took office."

No one listened then; no one is listening in America now. The primary reason? Cognitive dissonance. -- Chapter 2, "Wanta! Black Swan, White Hat" (2013)

Okay then, forget what was said in 1985, that was later reported in 2013 ..

Let's fast forward to Oct. 30, 2016 ..

Shall we? I mean, it is a bit MOAR -- relevant!

https://youtu.be/8tYTSR9gheQ

And, for those that must have further amplification .. (And, some .......... fun!)

https://www.youtube.com/user/fooser77/playlists

BingoBoggins jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 8:20 AM

You reminded me I bookmarked this on Chrome, so I dared to venture there to retrieve it;

https://books.google.com/books?id=cbC_AwAAQBAJ&pg=PP21&lpg=PP21&dq=crony...

Vageling jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 9:16 AM

Lee Wanta. I've heard of him before. He was screwed over for some bullshit charges. And the CIA made a firm warning... How long did that dude spent in jail?

Just looked up his story as it was blurry. Cronyism at its finest. So now that I got my refreshing course. Trump stole/adopted (however you want to look at that) his plan and the project the gov (DOT) proposes sucks donkey balls compared to Wanta's.

So where are all the climate hoaxers now by the way? You'd figure they'd be all over this.

American Gorbachev Jan 8, 2017 10:10 AM

to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already)

But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. They will Japan as long as they can (so it will be difficult to forecast any crackup anymore than six months beforehand). Hope they have a Gorbachev lined up, to limit the bloodshed

[Jan 12, 2017] Kahn is completely clueless as for origin of rumors

What a completely naive, completely pseudoscientific nonsense. The guy is completely clueless about driving forces of rumors.: it is the distrust to the official channels that drives them
Notable quotes:
"... Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news. ..."
"... "Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues. ..."
"... What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected? ..."
"... Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive. ..."
"... I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors? ..."
"... Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence. ..."
"... For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. ..."
"... Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking." ..."
"... However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony. ..."
"... "Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS? ..."
"... Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it? ..."
"... Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels. Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top. And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth. libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations. His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487 It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic. You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree. ilsm -> libezkova... Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination. ..."
"... The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations. ..."
"... Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal. ..."
"... "Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix. ..."
"... Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. ..."
"... This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit. ..."
"... The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. ..."
"... These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. ..."
"... Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. ..."
"... his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." ..."
"... People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29) ..."
"... The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. ..."
"... All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse. ..."
"... "And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace." ..."
"... Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back. ..."
"... Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize. ..."
"... Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

The Economics of Fake News Environmental and Urban Economics

I see that Paul Krugman is talking abou t the consequences of Fake News so I will enter this market and supply some thoughts. I will define fake news as stories that are "juicy" but not true.

Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news.

... ... ...

There are four cases to consider.

"Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues.

I believe that Dr. K is mainly concerned with Case #2. What % of all suspect stories fall into this category? Dr. K has a cynical model in mind in which sophisticated agents (think of Trump and Putin) manipulate the gullible public with messages and then the Facebook and Internet accelerate this information throughout the system as it infects billions and influences real events.

Case #2 raises some deep issues, I will state them as questions;

1. What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected?

2. In public health, we quarantine those who may spread contagion. Is Dr. K. calling for a messaging quarantine of the "susceptible people" or is he proposing ending free speech for those who spread the contagion?

3. If there is objective reality, do those who are susceptible to "fake news" update their beliefs as this reality changes over time?

4. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and profit maximizing news sellers what are pareto improving government interventions? When I taught at the Fletcher School, one student suggested that there should be a constitutional amendment requiring people to watch the PBS News Hour each night.

5. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and Russian propagandist news suppliers, what are pareto improving government interventions for the nations that Russia is targeting with this news? So, the U.S is fighting a war on terror ---- will we now open up a "second front" as we start a "war on foreign propaganda"?

6. Why has "fake news" become an issue now? What is it about 2016? Has Facebook made communication "too cheap"? Has Russia recognized this opportunity and increased its supply of fake news? In the old days, Pravda was filled with such news.

... ... ...

ilsm : January 08, 2017 at 04:30 AM

On Kahn's analysis of fake news.

Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive.

ilsm -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 04:54 AM
On Assange:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/wikileaks-criticizes-obama-administration-in-rather-ironic-way-173523707.html

The guys who leak documents for a living pointing out the establish leaks them to sway opinion!

I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors?

RGC -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:03 AM
US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia 'Hack' , January 7, 2017
................
Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence.

For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking."

There is also the fact that both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied that the purloined emails came from the Russian government. Going further, Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.

In response, Clapper and other U.S. government officials have sought to disparage Assange's credibility, including Clapper's Senate testimony on Thursday gratuitously alluding to sexual assault allegations against Assange in Sweden.

However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony.
....................
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/07/us-report-still-lacks-proof-on-russia-hack/

JohnH -> RGC...
"Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS?

Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it?

libezkova -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:20 AM

Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels.

Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top.

And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth.

libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM

Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations.

His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487

It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic.

You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree.

ilsm -> libezkova...
Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination.

Peace and freedom are not valued in the US or many other places.

yuan -> ilsm.. .
The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations.

Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal.

libezkova -> ilsm... January 08, 2017 at 11:09 AM
"It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination."

Exactly. That's why those people who question MSM coverage, and who try to get the "second opinion" on the current events from blogs, and other alternative channels are considered to be traitors.

Neoliberal MSMs are major producer of fake news as in foreign coverage they are guided by State Department talking points. What they are adamantly against is "somebody else" fake news. They want full monopoly on coverage.

What they trying to tell us during this McCarthyism compaign is the following: "Unapproved, rogue fake news of questionable origin are evil, only State Department approved fakes are OK".

This is another, slightly more interesting, variant of "political correctness" enforcement in a given society.

"Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix.

There is a special term for the psychological condition of the large part of the USSR population who adapted to live such an "artificial, fake reality" and even may protest if they are provided with a more objective picture as this created a cognitive dissonance. It is Stockholm Syndrome. The condition common among the members of "high demand" cults.

The same happened in the USA. This neoliberal ideological captivity with its own set of myths and falsehood reminds me USSR Bolshevism ideology, which was an official, dominant ideology for Soviet people. Indoctrination was obligatory.

The net results was the same as now in the USA -- the dead ideology burdens, like a nightmare, the minds of the living.

As Marx noted: "history repeats itself, the first as tragedy, then as farce"

Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book "Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation" called this condition of ideological Stockholm syndrome "hypernormalization"

https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Forever-Until-More-Formation/dp/0691121176

He argues that during the last 20 or so years of the Soviet Union, everyone in the USSR knew the system wasn't working, but as no one has real alternative and both politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that the can should be kicked down the road. A typical attitude of Hillary supporters.

This "constant pretending" was accepted as normal behavior and the fake reality thus created was accepted as necessary evil, nessesary for normal functining of the society. The whole society reminded me large "high demand" cult from which members can't escape.

While Yurchak called this effect "hypernormalisation." in reality this probably should be called "ideological Stockholm syndrome". Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity.

Looking at events over the past few years, one would notice that the neoliberal society is experiencing the same psychological condition.

Here are a couple of insightful reviews of the book

== quote ==

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak.

He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together.

According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse".

This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people.

The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project.

The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives.

These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important.

For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed.

The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective.

... ... ...

Nils Gilmanon April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures.

Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population.

While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them."

Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning.

Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

ilsm -> libezkova ... Sunday, January 08, 2017 at 12:20 PM

You should read the whole of Obama's Nobel peace prize lecture:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-acceptance-nobel-peace-prize

"And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back.

JohnH -> yuan... January 08, 2017 at 12:08 PM

yuan never had the pleasure of watching the mainstream media promote the official Kool-Aid during the Vietnam War...until the lies finally became untenable.

DeDude -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 11:38 AM

"the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised"

Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize.

Being a knowledgeable person who spend half a lifetime studying a subject, seems to be worse than being a regular ignorant guy confidently pulling stuff out of his ass. We are living in interesting times.

JohnH -> DeDude...

"As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse." Wow! Trying to judge the more credible liar.

Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior.

[Jan 04, 2017] Murdochs courtship of Blair finally pays off

Notable quotes:
"... IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully." ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , January 04, 2017 at 11:20 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/murdochs-courtship-of-blair-finally-pays-off-1144087.html

February 10, 1998

Murdoch's courtship of Blair finally pays off
By Fran Abrams and Anthony Bevins

IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully."

For Mr Blair, the relationship bore fruit when he was elected with the key support of the Sun. But Mr Murdoch had to wait until yesterday for full satisfaction when No 10 launched a passionate attack on his critics after the Lords passed an anti-Murdoch amendment to the Competition Bill.

A year earlier, few Labour MPs would have believed such a scene was possible....

[Jan 03, 2017] Republicans in House Vote to Curtail Power of Ethics Office

Jan 03, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : , January 02, 2017 at 06:54 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/us/politics/with-no-warning-house-republicans-vote-to-hobble-independent-ethics-office.html

Januaty 2, 2017

Republicans in House Vote to Curtail Power of Ethics Office
By ERIC LIPTON

The vote came as a surprise and apparently without the support of the House speaker or the majority leader. The full House is scheduled to vote Tuesday.

The move would take away power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

anne -> anne... , January 02, 2017 at 06:57 PM
Brazil, the current Brazil, may unfortunately be a closer analogy than I had imagined.
anne -> anne... , -1
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/brazil-clamps-down-on-civil-rights-doubles-down-on-failed-economics

December 22, 2016

Institutions, Rule of Law, and Civil Rights Deteriorate in Brazil as Government Doubles Down on Failed Economic Policies
By Mark Weisbrot

When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in May and removed from office in August, many called it a coup.

The president was not charged with anything that could legitimately be called a crime, and the leaders of the impeachment appeared, in taped conversations, to be getting rid of her in order to cut off a corruption investigation in which they and their political allies were implicated.

Others warned that once starting down this road, further degradation of state institutions and the rule of law would follow. And that's just what has happened, along with some of the political repression that generally accompanies this type of regime change.

On November 4, police raided a school run by the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), in Guararema, São Paulo. They fired live (not rubber bullet) ammunition and made a number of arrests, bringing international condemnation. There had previously been eight arrests of MST organizers in the state of Paraná. The MST is a powerful social movement that has won land rights for hundreds of thousands of rural Brazilians over the past three decades, and has also been a prominent opponent of the August coup.

The politicization of the judiciary was already a major problem in the run-up to Rousseff's removal. Now we have seen further corrosion of institutions when a justice of the Supreme Court issued an injunction removing Senate President Renan Calheiros because he had been indicted for embezzlement.

Calheiros defied the order, whereupon the sitting president of the republic, Michel Temer, negotiated with the rest of the Supreme Court to keep Calheiros in place. The great fear of Temer and his allies was that Calheiros's removal could have derailed an outrageous constitutional amendment that would freeze real (inflation-adjusted) government spending for the next 20 years, which has now been passed by the Congress.

Given that Brazil's population is projected to grow by about 12 percent over the next 20 years, and the population will also be aging, the amendment is an unprecedented long-term commitment to worsening poverty. It will "place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own," noted Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, describing the measure as an attack on the poor.

The government's proposed public pension cuts would hit working and poor people the hardest....

[Dec 27, 2016] Wielding Claims of Fake News, Conservatives Take Aim at Mainstream Media

Notable quotes:
"... "Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together." ..."
"... "What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy," ..."
"... The market in these divided times is undeniably ripe. "We now live in this fragmented media world where you can block people you disagree with. You can only be exposed to stories that make you feel good about what you want to believe," Mr. Ziegler, the radio host, said. "Unfortunately, the truth is unpopular a lot. And a good fairy tale beats a harsh truth every time." ..."
Dec 25, 2016 | www.nytimes.com
... ... ...

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem . "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

.... As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of "Fake news!"

Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

"Over the years, we've effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it's gone too far," said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. "Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don't see how you reverse it."

Journalists who work to separate fact from fiction see a dangerous conflation of stories that turn out to be wrong because of a legitimate misunderstanding with those whose clear intention is to deceive. A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it "fake news" to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency? Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions?

"Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together."

The right's labeling of "fake news" evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as "fair and balanced." Traditionally, mainstream media outlets had thought of their own approach in those terms, viewing their coverage as strictly down the middle. Republicans often found that laughable. As with Fox's ubiquitous promotion of its slogan, conservatives' appropriation of the "fake news" label is an effort to further erode the mainstream media's claim to be a reliable and accurate source.

"What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy," said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, a liberal group that polices the news media for bias. "Therefore, by applying that term to credible outlets, it becomes much more believable."

.... ... ...

Mr. Trump has used the term to deny news reports, as he did on Twitter recently after various outlets said he would stay on as the executive producer of "The New Celebrity Apprentice" after taking office in January. "Ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!" he wrote. (He will be credited as executive producer, a spokesman for the show's creator, Mark Burnett, has said. But it is unclear what work, if any, he will do on the show.)

Many conservatives are pushing back at the outrage over fake news because they believe that liberals, unwilling to accept Mr. Trump's victory, are attributing his triumph to nefarious external factors.

"The left refuses to admit that the fundamental problem isn't the Russians or Jim Comey or 'fake news' or the Electoral College," said Laura Ingraham, the author and radio host. "'Fake news' is just another fake excuse for their failed agenda."

Others see a larger effort to slander the basic journalistic function of fact-checking. Nonpartisan websites like Snopes and Factcheck.org have found themselves maligned when they have disproved stories that had been flattering to conservatives.

When Snopes wrote about a State Farm insurance agent in Louisiana who had posted a sign outside his office that likened taxpayers who voted for President Obama to chickens supporting Colonel Sanders, Mr. Mikkelson, the site's founder, was smeared as a partisan Democrat who had never bothered to reach out to the agent for comment. Neither is true.

"They're trying to float anything they can find out there to discredit fact-checking," he said.

There are already efforts by highly partisan conservatives to claim that their fact-checking efforts are the same as those of independent outlets like Snopes, which employ research teams to dig into seemingly dubious claims.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, has aired "fact-checking" segments on his program. Michelle Malkin, the conservative columnist, has a web program, "Michelle Malkin Investigates," in which she conducts her own investigative reporting.

The market in these divided times is undeniably ripe. "We now live in this fragmented media world where you can block people you disagree with. You can only be exposed to stories that make you feel good about what you want to believe," Mr. Ziegler, the radio host, said. "Unfortunately, the truth is unpopular a lot. And a good fairy tale beats a harsh truth every time."

[Dec 27, 2016] The fake news is the everyday news in MSM. They just make it up.

Dec 27, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : December 27, 2016 at 05:06 AM , 2016 at 05:06 AM
(Does this have something to do
with Jon Stewart's retirement &
Stephen Colbert 'going legit'?)

Wielding Claims of 'Fake News,' Conservatives

Take Aim at Mainstream Media http://nyti.ms/2iuFxRx
NYT - JEREMY W. PETERS - December 25, 2016

WASHINGTON - The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as "left-wing fake news."

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of "Fake news!"

Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

"Over the years, we've effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it's gone too far," said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. "Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don't see how you reverse it."

Journalists who work to separate fact from fiction see a dangerous conflation of stories that turn out to be wrong because of a legitimate misunderstanding with those whose clear intention is to deceive. A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it "fake news" to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency? Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions?

"Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue," said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. "Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we're doing a disservice to lump all those things together."

The right's labeling of "fake news" evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as "fair and balanced." Traditionally, mainstream media outlets had thought of their own approach in those terms, viewing their coverage as strictly down the middle. Republicans often found that laughable.

As with Fox's ubiquitous promotion of its slogan, conservatives' appropriation of the "fake news" label is an effort to further erode the mainstream media's claim to be a reliable and accurate source. ...

[Dec 26, 2016] In most of the privatisations undertaken after 1980, assets were underpriced

Notable quotes:
"... A UN report in 2014 noted that privatisation of education had harmed educational opportunities for women and girls . ..."
"... On the other hand, privatisation has proved a highly reliable method of enriching those who have managed to secure control of the process. Many of the great fortunes that symbolise the rise of the global "1 per cent", from those of Russian oligarchs to the world's richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim, have been derived from privatisation. ..."
"... In the end, the choice between public ownership and regulated private monopoly involves the need to strike a balance between different opportunity costs. That balance has shifted over time, partly in response to technological changes and partly as a result of ideological shifts in thinking. Since the 1970s, excessive faith in Lesson 1 has led to a sharp movement away from public ownership, without any clear attempt to assess the balance of costs and benefits. Such a reassessment is long overdue. ..."
"... I'd like this to be more critical. Not because I'm against public ownership – I am and always have been* strongly in favour of it – but because opposition to public ownership is orthodox across a lot of the political spectrum, including (as you say) highly influential actors like the World Bank, and I've never understood why. ..."
"... You didn't mention that many of these markets require significant infrastructure investment, and in many of the privatisation cases, not only did they not pay the cost of the investment, they don't invest in an ongoing fashion – they'll get bailed out eventually. Privatise the profits, socialise the costs – privatisation is only worth it if we have some guarantee that this pattern won't be followed. I don't think so ..."
"... Despite the benefits of public ownership, the history of privatisation has permanently lowered the viability of investing in public assets. Because we know that eventually the Tories will get back in and flog them off cheaply, as above. ..."
"... I have also watched private Internet providers offer ridiculously poor (and slow) service for highly elevated prices, while fighting municipalities that want to invest in better connectivity tooth and nail politically. ..."
"... The effective exploitation of corrupt public/private relations is the foundation of many great fortunes, including Carnegie's and Ross Perot's. ..."
"... "The cost savings from firing large numbers of technical workers were partially or completely offset by the expansion of marketing and finance divisions, and by an explosion in the salaries and bonuses paid to a growing number of senior managers," ..."
"... Sounds a bit like the ever-expanding class of university administrators, with meetings to discuss the scheduling of meetings, etc. ..."
"... State owned monopolies have the same basic problems as other monopolies. Facing no competition they don't care much about their customers. So you get things like poor customer service and a structure that is designed for the convenience of the business rather than the consumer. It really depends on whether you prioritise the consumer interest or the producer interest. ..."
"... You should mention status quo bias somewhere. There have been impassioned defenses of keeping public assets public, which don't mention that the arguments also work for nationalising every equivalent private asset. This also applies the other way around. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | environment.gov.au

However, public enterprises were subject to two significant criticisms. First, they were seen as overstaffed and inefficient. Second, although they generated sufficient revenue to cover the opportunity costs of production in aggregate, the prices charged for particular services did not necessarily reflect the opportunity cost of providing those services. There were extensive cross-subsidies, for example between rural and urban users and between households and business.

These criticisms emerged gradually over the post war decades. However, as long as Keynesian macroeconomic policies delivered full employment and continued economic growth, faith in the ability of governments to manage the economy extended to a judgement that the benefits of public enterprise outweighed the costs. Although there were shifts back and forth, with enterprises being nationalised for various reasons, and others privatised (fn: this term was not much used; the prevailing term denationalised reflected the fact that such movements were counter to the general trend) the general trend was towards greater public ownership.

The economic crises of the 1970s, and the failure of Keynesian policies to control them put an end to this. From the 1980s onwards, the trend towards greater public ownership was reversed. Beginning with the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom, public enterprises of all kinds were privatised.

Much of the political appeal of privatisation arose from the appearance of a 'free lunch' for governments selling assets. The proceeds of the asset sales could be used to finance current government expenditure, or new investments in desirable infrastructure, without the need to raise taxes or issue debt.

As is usually the case, the appearance of a free lunch was illusory. The opportunity cost of privatising a public asset is the loss of the income flowing to the government from ownership of the asset (dividends or earnings retained and reinvested).

In most of the privatisations undertaken after 1980, assets were underpriced, so that the value realised in the sale was less than the opportunity cost associated with lower future income. Once the sale proceeds were spent, governments were permanently poorer because of the loss of earnings flowing from the now-private enterprises.

Although free-market economists who advocated privatisation were mostly happy to let governments chase the free lunch of revenue from asset sales, their real hope was that, with government enterprisess out of the way, competitive markets would emerge, and that Lesson 1 would once gain be relevant.

Advocates of privatisation produced a range of studies suggesting that the problems of natural monopoly had been overstated and was easily soluble (fn contestability). As a result, they largely ignored the earlier failures of regulation, assuming that regulation would be needed only for a transitional period, until a fully competitive market emerged.

They disregarded concerns about the distribution of income and wealth, believing that the efficiency benefits associated with privatisation would be sufficient to provide lower prices for consumers, higher returns for investors and even some kind of compensation for displaced workers.

Initial evaluations of privatisation were highly positive. The World Bank, in particular, was an influential booster, and continues to promote the idea, though with an increasingly defensive tone.

Over time, however, problems became more evident. The cost savings from firing large numbers of technical workers were partially or completely offset by the expansion of marketing and finance divisions, and by an explosion in the salaries and bonuses paid to a growing number of senior managers, who also required support staff.

Moreover, the promised benefits to consumers often did not arise. Sometimes prices rose instead of falling. In other cases, lower prices were accompanied by reduced quality of services. Other costs have been slower to become apparent. A UN report in 2014 noted that privatisation of education had harmed educational opportunities for women and girls .

On the other hand, privatisation has proved a highly reliable method of enriching those who have managed to secure control of the process. Many of the great fortunes that symbolise the rise of the global "1 per cent", from those of Russian oligarchs to the world's richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim, have been derived from privatisation.

These failures have led to a slowing down in the push to privatisation, and even to some reversals. Examples include the renationalisation of the British railway track system and of the entire New Zealand rail network and Australia's creation of a publicly owned National Broadband Network following the failure of its privatised telecom company to create such a network.

In the end, the choice between public ownership and regulated private monopoly involves the need to strike a balance between different opportunity costs. That balance has shifted over time, partly in response to technological changes and partly as a result of ideological shifts in thinking. Since the 1970s, excessive faith in Lesson 1 has led to a sharp movement away from public ownership, without any clear attempt to assess the balance of costs and benefits. Such a reassessment is long overdue.

Brett 12.24.16 at 9:06 am

I'd be curious to see a list of privatizations generally considered successful. They do exist (the Shinkansen privatization is one IIRC), but the many, many failures of privatization seem to outshine them.

In any case, public ownership can work very well as long as the organization is responsive to outside pressure and accountability (be it from democratically elected oversight, responses to usage by customers, or both). It can be a lot harder to keep that up for a long time, though, because it depends so much on politicians who might have other priorities than running an efficient organization.

Phil 12.24.16 at 9:15 am 2

I'd like this to be more critical. Not because I'm against public ownership – I am and always have been* strongly in favour of it – but because opposition to public ownership is orthodox across a lot of the political spectrum, including (as you say) highly influential actors like the World Bank, and I've never understood why.

Or rather, I can see lots of arguments for privatisation, but they're all bad and partisan arguments which ultimately boil down to making shareholders richer and working people poorer**. I don't believe the World Bank is dedicated to immiserating the working class, so I genuinely think I must be missing something. What are the good arguments against public ownership?

*Going back to when it was the norm.
**It can take a fair bit of boiling
It's flexibility, isn't it?
– Meaning?
Well, a private company can react quicker to changing circumstances.
– How?
They can concentrate resources in particular areas much more easily, they don't have the same kind of bureaucracy
– Bureaucracy?
You know, consulting the unions all the time, giving people a job for life

Some sequences have been shortened.

Just an australian 12.24.16 at 10:22 am 3

You didn't mention that many of these markets require significant infrastructure investment, and in many of the privatisation cases, not only did they not pay the cost of the investment, they don't invest in an ongoing fashion – they'll get bailed out eventually. Privatise the profits, socialise the costs – privatisation is only worth it if we have some guarantee that this pattern won't be followed. I don't think so

Alex B 12.24.16 at 10:23 am 4

Despite the benefits of public ownership, the history of privatisation has permanently lowered the viability of investing in public assets. Because we know that eventually the Tories will get back in and flog them off cheaply, as above.
Mike Huben 12.24.16 at 12:52 pm 5
I really like the introduction of inequality here. I don't recall too much from the other chapters, but you may want to start the "lesson" with themes of goals of economic systems, such as less inequality, and keep referring to them throughout each chapter.

"privatisation has proved a highly reliable method of enriching those who have managed to secure control of the process": that's another example of a rather passive observation. Instead, you may consider the idea that people eye government resources that can be "privatized" as wealth ready to be plundered by political insiders. There's a well-known cognitive bonus when you can explain problems as cheating. (That's why "taxtion is theft" is such a strong meme.) Indeed, the social security system in the USA is the biggest pot of money in the world, and the Republican idea of privatizing it is just a way of stealing much of that pot of money.

I love the point that many of the largest fortunes in the world are a result of privatization.

You might also mention Pinochet's privatization of the copper industry in Chile, which has since been re-nationalized.

Collin Street 12.24.16 at 1:49 pm 6

(the Shinkansen privatization is one IIRC)

You can actually see what made the JR sale work:

+ they sold it into an environment that already had large and extremely sophisticated private rail operators

+ they sold the entire business. Not just the profitable bits, but all of it, as geographically-integrated wholes. Not just the rail bits either; JR had some hefty non-rail businesses that were also sold off.

+ the third-sector railway concept meant that the cross-subsidy to the more intractably unprofitable lines could be maintained, but made explicit and under local control.

Only things I can think of that come close are the Commonwealth and state bank sales in Australia, which could reasonably be argued were decent successes.

hix 12.24.16 at 2:49 pm 7

"I'd be curious to see a list of privatizations generally considered successful. They do exist (the Shinkansen privatization is one IIRC),"

Is it really? Or does this one just look decent compared to the typical rail privatication diasester? Sucessfull would require significant improvements over public ownership, no?

William Meyer 12.24.16 at 3:04 pm 8

I used to be a standard right-wing believer in the notion that publicly-owned infrastructure was guaranteed to be inefficient and poorly administered. However, because of my work, I've been involved with the electric power industry for 25 years now, and seen a number of examples where public power has delivered the goods absolutely as well or better as privately-owned companies. As a customer, I've moved between the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison with no obvious change in the quality or reliability of service–except that SCE charges a good bit more.

In many cases, such as the adoption of energy storage technology, public power agencies are out ahead of investor-owned utilities.

I have also watched private Internet providers offer ridiculously poor (and slow) service for highly elevated prices, while fighting municipalities that want to invest in better connectivity tooth and nail politically.

I've also noticed the extreme difficulty we've seen in getting transportation infrastructure bills out of the U.S. Congress for the past 15 years or so. I know (because I've worked with many infrastructure funds) that Wall Street would love to invest heavily in transport infrastructure but is frustrated by trying to compete with "free" public money. I've wondered many times how much lobbying the finance industry has done to slow down public infrastructure funding, with the goal of forcing municipalities and states to accept privately owned infrastructure investment and ownership. Another area seeing a similar trend is smart cities, where a number of municipalities are turning to private players to provide upgrades that the local governments think they cannot afford. All in all, in many spheres public provision of services is a much cleaner way of addressing "natural utility" needs than when private companies are involved. Private investment looks cheaper in the short term–governments don't have to take on debt and then tax citizens to service it–but in the long term the public will probably pay more and have far less control over the service if it outsources the job to a private company. Think about the decision by U.S. cities to get cable TV installed "cheaply" 40-50 years ago without taking on municipal debt by providing private companies with monopoly franchises (and no rate regulation), a decision many consumers have paid for over and over again for decades and will continue doing so, quite possibly forever.

EB 12.24.16 at 3:10 pm 9

Public ownership would not be nearly so vulnerable if it (we) could figure out ways to avoid the (political and moral) need to keep people employed even when their work is not productive or breaking even (cf. UK coal mines). The obvious solution would be to find or create other good employment in the same regions where jobs are lost due to the making of those hard decisions, so far not something that has happened.

H Horan 12.24.16 at 3:24 pm 10

While alluded to (..there were extensive cross subsidies between rural and urban users and between households and businesses..) I think greater attention needs to be given to the issue of whether an industry under private ownership (whether competitive or monopoly) would produce a socially optimal level of output and prices.

This allows you to closely tie "privatisation" to "deregulation" since a key motive of public ownership and regulation was to ensure that pricing, output and investment decisions were aligned with maximizing overall economic welfare, recognizing issues such as universal access to essential services, the equity issues you raise, and limiting the exploitation of artificial market power. Both public ownership and regulation created the risks of "capture" by inside interests that could harm welfare maximization (overstaffing) by preventing ongoing transparent reconsideration of the cost/benefit tradeoffs that are critical. Privatisation and deregulation were originally positioned as (and in a few cases legitimately were) attempts to some of this cost/benefit realignment, but quickly became a more extreme case of "capture" designed to ensure corporate activity strictly served the objectives of capital accumulators, and to eliminate any notion that overall welfare maximization should influence price/output/investment decisions

Kiwanda 12.24.16 at 3:49 pm 11

"once gain be" –> "once again be"

"On the other hand, privatisation has proved a highly reliable method of enriching those who have managed to secure control of the process. "

There may be some analogy to private equity, where a company's management is bribed to give the company's assets to the equity operators, by way of "leveraged buyouts", "management fees", and stockholder swindling.

The effective exploitation of corrupt public/private relations is the foundation of many great fortunes, including Carnegie's and Ross Perot's.

"The cost savings from firing large numbers of technical workers were partially or completely offset by the expansion of marketing and finance divisions, and by an explosion in the salaries and bonuses paid to a growing number of senior managers,"

Sounds a bit like the ever-expanding class of university administrators, with meetings to discuss the scheduling of meetings, etc.

A lesson from the Microsoft era is the importance of shared software and public ownership of standards. The web may be on its way to being a collection of facebook pages, and retail a service of amazon, so there's probably more lessons to learn.

Brett Dunbar 12.24.16 at 5:53 pm 12

State owned monopolies have the same basic problems as other monopolies. Facing no competition they don't care much about their customers. So you get things like poor customer service and a structure that is designed for the convenience of the business rather than the consumer. It really depends on whether you prioritise the consumer interest or the producer interest.

For an example of why state ownership is disliked look at the history of the communist states failure to produce consumer goods in the quantities and quality desired by the public. For example Lada making licensed versions of the Fiat 124 with limited options. Consumers faced a long waiting list to get a car that probably didn't meet their needs that well. While in capitalist states the privately owned car makers produced a wide range of different models which were constantly updated and had a fairly extensive range of options. You could both actually buy one and could usually find something close to what you wanted.

Gareth Wilson 12.24.16 at 8:09 pm 13

You should mention status quo bias somewhere. There have been impassioned defenses of keeping public assets public, which don't mention that the arguments also work for nationalising every equivalent private asset. This also applies the other way around.

fledermaus 12.24.16 at 9:29 pm 14

"their real hope was that, with government enterprises out of the way, competitive markets would emerge, and that Lesson 1 would once gain be relevant."

Objection, facts not in evidence. This was the excuse economists used to convince governments that it will be no big deal to have a state-granted private monopoly. I really doubt that there is a company planning on competing in the Chicago parking meter business. Privatized utilities have all the same problems/issues as state utilities, just with a profit incentive layered on top.

Brett Dunbar 12.24.16 at 10:37 pm 15

Another point is that the state enterprises quite often failed to provide any service at all. Mains water is a notable example. In countries like Pakistan politically well connected neighbourhoods got mains water as they could lobby politicians while poorer areas and those that supported opposition politicians were left on the waiting list for decades. Privatising even what is a natural monopoly often worked better. A private water company that had a franchise or reasonable duration could borrow in order to pay the substantial capital costs of installing the pipes in the knowledge that they would then have a long period to pay off the debt. This does require that the state is trusted not to use grumbling about prices and profit margins to simply seize the water company. The private business is making a large operating profit but unlike the state enterprise it replaced is actually providing the service.

The World Bank has, for pretty good reasons, developed a high degree of scepticism about the competence, honesty and intentions of third world governments. While greed is a pretty good motivator for the private sector to actually provide services.

Kevin Cox 12.25.16 at 5:22 am 16

This chapter asks the wrong questions. Efficiencies arise when we decentralise and distribute control. Distributed systems of communicating autonomous agents addressing a given issue are always lower effort and lower cost in a connected world. The reason is that we eliminate the need for costly intermediaries. It has reached obscene levels with the inefficient, featherbedded, dysfunctional financial sector that supplies capital for infrastructure. It costs at least 100 times too much to provide funds to build infrastructure whether the infrastructure is privately owned or publicly owned.

Asteele 12.25.16 at 7:53 am 17

While you do bring up the corruption issue, I think this would be stronger with an example or 2

JohnT 12.25.16 at 10:10 am 18

The one additional point I would make is an expansion of the point EB makes above. Companies in public ownership typically become much more responsive to a much wider range of stakeholders. That may seem like a good thing but the average management faced with a need to genuinely please the unions, workers, customers, regulators and 3 separate government ministries often collapses into a near catatonic state of indecisiveness. The variables become too numerous. Private sector entities are focused solely on owners and customers – in that order – which may seem bad but does allow for meaningful and reasonably brisk comparison. In my working life I have several times worked with public sector enterprises at the highest level and this was a near-terminal problem. In principle it should be possible to give, say, the water company, a tight mandate and independence to deliver cost-effective and high quality water service, and i would expect such a company to outperform its private sector brethren. However in democratic governments lots of additional mandates slowly tend to get tacked on. (In non-democratic countries a bunch of mechanisms to rob the public, like nepotistic hiring and straight corruption tend to get tacked on).

Brett Dunbar 12.25.16 at 11:05 am 19

Provision of car parks is quite capable of being competitive. Anyone who has some vacant land in an area where there is demand for car parking can do so. Either on a permanent basis or a temporary basis. Say a farmer using a field as a temporary car park during a rock festival.

ZM 12.25.16 at 12:25 pm 20

I think the privatisation of electricity and gas in Australia is probably beneficial for moving to a renewable energy system with householders and businesses having solar panels etc. I also have the idea that distributed energy in France has been driven by private companies working with neighoughoods, and I would guess private companies or community cooperatives are more likely to be a good fit for this, due to the transformation of households and businesses into producers of energy as well as consumers, and the complexity and local specificity this adds to the energy system.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the problems inherent of having the State responsible both for governance of the assets and provision if the assets. While this means the State can decide to provide something and there's not many regulatory obstacles unless someone takes it to court or something, the decisions are not necessarily the best, and they might not be what the public want, or they can be politically motivated, or increase disadvantage. Examples are slum demolition and public housing which had some successes but also saw protests, transport decision making which in many cases has privileged cars and freeways and can damage amenity of affected areas and decisions might be in part politically motivated, environment justice issues like locating power stations and waste landfill and sewerage in poorer areas with less organised opposition from residents who are already in many cases disadvantaged, etc.

In terms of the NBN I think it was necessary because of Australia being sparsely populated apart from major urban centres. I would think in more populated countries private telecom companies could deliver something like the NBN and make a profit ?

dbk 12.25.16 at 12:30 pm 21

Very nice draft.

I'd like to see additional examples of privatizations of public goods/ services, in order to understand better in which sectors/under what conditions privately-held public service/goods provision offers a better alternative – recalling that public goods and services are not very subject to elasticity in demand, and that (as you noted, but perhaps didn't emphasize strongly enough for my own tastes)

ALL users are entitled to equal access to such services/goods, which in turn involves latent cross-subsidies/re-distribution (urban of rural, individual subscribers of businesses).

Thoughts:

(1) In major privatizations, how was the maintenance/ periodic replacement of infrastructure foreseen? I've always thought that there would be a conflict of interest between a private firm's requirement to maximize profits and minimize costs and the periodic requirement to rebuild infrastructure.

(2) Some comparative examples of services deemed public in some (or most) countries, and private in (a few) others. How has "market choice" worked out for those in privatized markets, particularly in rural and under-served networks? Thinking here mostly of health care, but also of internet /mobile coverage in low-density population areas (in the U.S.). My impression has been that rather than resulting in a truly competitive market of providers, what you eventually see is a very small number of providers providing sub-optimal service and charging high rates. It's almost like a quasi-monopoly/ de facto monopoly by private enterprises of the public sphere.

(3) What other areas of the public sphere remain ripe for privatization? I would suggest that in the U.S., the next target for privatization will be the public school system, both primary and secondary, under the new Secretary of Education, who has proven herself a devout (in more than one meaning) supporter of for-profit charter schools and vouchers for use at private religious schools.

Petter Sjölund 12.25.16 at 5:01 pm 22

The Lada-Fiat comparison is interesting in other ways. I theory, I'd rather have a car-maker that churns out cheap but serviceable cars that last than one that makes lots of "fashion-statement" models to impress the ladies and make the neighbors envious, and encourages people to buy a new model every year. A pity it didn't turn out that way.

[Dec 22, 2016] Deep State Desperation

Notable quotes:
"... Only John F. Kennedy directly challenged it, firing CIA Director Allen Dulles after the Bay of Pigs disaster. He was assassinated, and whether or not CIA involvement is ever conclusively proven, the allegations have been useful to the agency, keeping politicians in line. The Deep State also co-opted the media, keeping it in line with a combination of fear and favor. ..."
"... Why has the US been involved in long, costly, bloody, and inconclusive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? ..."
"... Why should the US get involved in similar conflicts in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and other Middle Eastern and Northern African hotspots? ..."
"... Isn't such involvement responsible for blowback terrorism and refugee flows in both Europe and the US? ..."
"... Have "free trade" agreements and porous borders been a net benefit or detriment to the US? Why is the banking industry set up for periodic crises that inevitably require government bail-outs? ..."
"... How has encouraging debt and speculation at the expense of savings and investment helped the US economy? ..."
"... The shenanigans in the US after Trump's election-violent protests, hysterical outbursts, the vote recount effort, the proof-free Russian hacking allegations, "fake news," and the attempt to sway electoral college electors-are the desperate screams of those trapped inside. ..."
"... Regrettably, the building analogy is imperfect, because it implies that those inside are helpless and that the collapse will only harm them. In its desperation, incompetence, and corrupt nihilism, the Deep State can wreak all sorts of havoc, up to and including the destruction of humanity. Trump represents an opportunity to strike a blow against the Deep State, but the chances it will be lethal are minimal and the dangers obvious. ..."
"... "War on Terror" + "Refugee Humanitarian Crisis" =European Clusterfuck ..."
"... "War on Drugs" + "Afghan Opium/Nicaraguan Cocaine" =Police State America ..."
Dec 22, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Robert Gore via StraightLineLogic.com,

The pathetic attempts to undo Donald Trump's victory are signs of desperation, not strength, in the Deep State.

The post World War II consensus held that the USSR's long-term goal was world domination. That assessment solidified after the Soviets detonated an atomic bomb in 1949. A nuclear arms race, a space race, maintenance of a globe-spanning military, political, and economic confederation, and a huge expansion of the size and power of the military and intelligence complex were justified by the Soviet, and later, the Red Chinese threats. Countering those threats led the US to use many of the same amoral tactics that it deplored when used by its enemies: espionage, subversion, bribery, repression, assassination, regime change, and direct and proxy warfare.

Scorning principles of limited government, non-intervention in other nations' affairs, and individual rights, the Deep State embraced the anti-freedom mindset of its purported enemies, not just towards those enemies, but toward allies and the American people. The Deep State gradually assumed control of the government and elected officials were expected to adhere to its policies and promote its propaganda. Only John F. Kennedy directly challenged it, firing CIA Director Allen Dulles after the Bay of Pigs disaster. He was assassinated, and whether or not CIA involvement is ever conclusively proven, the allegations have been useful to the agency, keeping politicians in line. The Deep State also co-opted the media, keeping it in line with a combination of fear and favor.

Since its ascension in the 1950s, the biggest threat to the Deep State has not been its many and manifest failures, but rather what the naive would regard as its biggest success: the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Much of the military-industrial complex was suddenly deprived of its reason for existence-the threat was gone. However, a more subtle point was lost.

The Soviet Union has been the largest of statism's many failures to date. Because of the Deep State's philosophical blinders, that outcome was generally unforeseen. The command and control philosophy at the heart of Soviet communism was merely a variant on the same philosophy espoused and practiced by the Deep State. Like the commissars, its members believe that "ordinary" people are unable to handle freedom, and that their generalized superiority entitles them to wield the coercive power of government.

With "irresponsible" elements talking of peace dividends and scaling back the military and the intelligence agencies, the complex was sorely in need of a new enemy . Islam suffers the same critical flaw as communism-command and control-and has numerous other deficiencies, including intolerance, repression, and the legal subjugation of half its adherents. The Deep State had to focus on the world conquest ideology of some Muslims to even conjure Islam as a plausible foe. However, unlike the USSR, they couldn't claim that sect and faction-ridden Islam posed a monolithic threat, that the Islamic nations were an empire or a federation united towards a common goal, or that their armaments (there are under thirty nuclear weapons in the one Islamic nation, Pakistan, that has them) could destroy the US or the entire planet.

There was too much money and power at stake for the complex to shrink. While on paper Islam appeared far weaker than communism, the complex had one factor in their favor: terrorism is terrifying. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Americans surrendered liberties and gave the Deep State carte blanche to fight a war on terrorism that would span the globe, target all those whom the government identified as terrorists, and never be conclusively won or lost. Funding for the complex ballooned, the military was deployed on multiple fronts, and the surveillance state blossomed. Most of those who might have objected were bought off with expanded welfare state funding and programs (e.g. George W. Bush's prescription drug benefit, Obamacare).

What would prove to be the biggest challenge to the centralization and the power of the Deep State came, unheralded, with the invention of the microchip in the late 1950s. The Deep State could not have exercised the power it has without a powerful grip on information flow and popular perception. The microchip led to widespread distribution of cheap computing power and dissemination of information over the decentralized Internet. This dynamic, organically adaptive decentralization has been the antithesis of the command-and-control Deep State, which now realizes the gravity of the threat. Fortunately, countering these technologies has been like trying to eradicate hordes of locusts.

The gravest threat, however, to the Deep State is self-imposed: it's own incompetence. Even the technologically illiterate can ask questions for which it has no answers.

  1. Why has the US been involved in long, costly, bloody, and inconclusive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
  2. Why should the US get involved in similar conflicts in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and other Middle Eastern and Northern African hotspots?
  3. Isn't such involvement responsible for blowback terrorism and refugee flows in both Europe and the US?
  4. Have "free trade" agreements and porous borders been a net benefit or detriment to the US? Why is the banking industry set up for periodic crises that inevitably require government bail-outs? (SLL claims no special insight into the nexus between the banking-financial sector and the Deep State, other than to note that there is one.) Why does every debt crisis result in more debt?
  5. How has encouraging debt and speculation at the expense of savings and investment helped the US economy?

The Deep State can't answer or even acknowledge these questions because they all touch on its failures.

Brexit, Donald Trump, other populist, nationalist movements catching fire, and the rise of the alternative media are wrecking balls aimed at an already structurally unsound and teetering building that would eventually collapse on its own. The shenanigans in the US after Trump's election-violent protests, hysterical outbursts, the vote recount effort, the proof-free Russian hacking allegations, "fake news," and the attempt to sway electoral college electors-are the desperate screams of those trapped inside.

Regrettably, the building analogy is imperfect, because it implies that those inside are helpless and that the collapse will only harm them. In its desperation, incompetence, and corrupt nihilism, the Deep State can wreak all sorts of havoc, up to and including the destruction of humanity. Trump represents an opportunity to strike a blow against the Deep State, but the chances it will be lethal are minimal and the dangers obvious.

The euphoria over his victory cannot obscure a potential consequence: it may hasten and amplify the destruction and resultant chaos when the Deep State finally topples . Anyone who thinks Trump's victory sounds an all clear is allowing hope to triumph over experience and what should have been hard-won wisdom.

Cheka_Mate -> unrulian •Dec 22, 2016 8:52 PM

Deep State Playback:

Hegelian Dialectics: Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis

Example

"War on Terror" + "Refugee Humanitarian Crisis" =European Clusterfuck

Or

"War on Drugs" + "Afghan Opium/Nicaraguan Cocaine" =Police State America

Both hands (Left/Right) to crush Liberty

Mano-A-Mano -> Cheka_Mate •Dec 22, 2016 8:54 PM

The DEEP STATE pretends they hate Trump, gets him in office, hoodwinks the sheeple into believing they voted for him, while they still retain control.

Voila!

TeamDepends -> unrulian •Dec 22, 2016 8:55 PM

Remember the Maine! Remember the Lusitania! Remember the USS Liberty! Remember the Gulf of Tonkin! Never forget.

Withdrawn Sanction •Dec 22, 2016 8:52 PM

"In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Americans surrendered liberties and gave the Deep State carte blanche..."

What a load of crap. The Deep State CAUSED 9/11 and then STOLE Americans' liberties.

StraightLineLogic: Linear thinker, indeed.

WTFUD •Dec 22, 2016 8:56 PM

Shakespeare would have had a field-day with this Material; Comic Tragedy!

BadDog •Dec 22, 2016 9:00 PM

Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

red1chief •Dec 22, 2016 9:09 PM

Funny how a guy loading up his administration with Vampire Squids is thought to be disliked by the Deep State. Deep State psy ops never ceases to amaze.

[Dec 21, 2016] The widespread belief of neoliberals that they are entitled to a good hand in the market economy casino. This is reflected in the more or less universal belief of the affluent that

Krugman is a neoliberal stooge. Since when Social Security is an entitlement program. If you start contributing at 25 and retire at 67 (40 years of monthly contributions), you actually get less then you contribute, unless you live more then 80 years. It just protects you from "free market casino".
Notable quotes:
"... A "contribution" theory of what a proper distribution of income might be can only be made coherent if there are constant returns to scale in the scarce, priced, owned factors of production. Only then can you divide the pile of resources by giving to each the marginal societal product of their work and of the resources that they own. ..."
"... n a world--like the one we live in--of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are those who are lucky -- as Carrier's workers in Indiana have been lucky in living near Carrier's initial location. It's not that their contribution to society is large or that their luck is replicable: if it were, they would not care (much) about the departure of Carrier because there would be another productive network that they could fit into a slot in. ..."
"... If not about people, what is an economy about? ..."
"... I hadn't realized that Democrats now view Social Security and Medicare as "government handouts". ..."
"... Some Democrats like Krugman are Social Darwinists. ..."
"... PK is an ignorant vicious SOB. Many of those "dependent hillbillies" PK despises paid SS and Medicare taxes for many decades, most I know have never been on foos stamps, and if they are on disability it is because they did honest hard work, something PK knows nothing about. What an ignorant jerk. ..."
"... What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Delong and Krugman? Higher education. Damn welfare queens! :) ..."
"... No Krugman is echoing the tribalism of Johnny Bakho. These people won't move or educate themselves or "skill up" so they deserve what they get. Social darwinism. ..."
"... People like Bakho are probably anti-union as well. They're seen as relics of an earlier age and economically "uncompetitve." See Fred Dobbs below. That's the dog whistle about the "rust belt." ..."
"... Paul Krugman's reputation, formerly that of a a noted economic, succumbed after a brief struggle to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Friends said Mr Krugman's condition had been further aggravated by cognitive dissonance from a severely challenged worldview. ..."
"... He is survived by the New York Times, also said to be in failing health. ..."
"... For a long time DeLong was mocking the notion of "economic anxiety" amongst the voters. Does this blog post mean he's rethinking that idea? ..."
"... The GOP has a long history of benefitting from the disconnect where a lot of their voters are convinced that when government money goes to others (sometimes even within their own white congregations), then it is not deserved. ..."
Dec 21, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne : December 18, 2016 at 05:13 AM , 2016 at 05:13 AM

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/12/17/what-do-trump-voters-want/

December 17, 2016

What Do Trump Voters Want?
By Paul Krugman

Brad DeLong has an interesting meditation * on markets and political demands - inspired by a note from Noah Smith ** - that offers food for thought. I wonder, however, if Brad's discussion is too abstract; and I also wonder whether it fully recognizes the disconnect between what Trump voters think they want and reality. So, an entry of my own.

What Brad is getting at is the widespread belief by, well, almost everyone that they are entitled to - have earned - whatever good hand they have been dealt by the market economy. This is reflected in the more or less universal belief of the affluent that they deserve what they have; you could see this in the rage of rentiers at low interest rates, because it's the Federal Reserve's job to reward savers, right? In this terrible political year, the story was in part one of people in Appalachia angrily demanding a return of the good jobs they used to have mining coal - even though the world doesn't want more coal given fracking, and it can get the coal it still wants from strip mines and mountaintop removal, which don't employ many people.

And what Brad is saying, I think, is that what those longing for the return to coal want is those jobs they deserve, where they earn their money - not government handouts, no sir.

A fact-constrained candidate wouldn't have been able to promise such people what they want; Trump, of course, had no problem.

But is that really all there is? Working-class Trump voters do, in fact, receive a lot of government handouts - they're almost totally dependent on Social Security for retirement, Medicare for health care when old, are quite dependent on food stamps, and many have recently received coverage from Obamacare. Quite a few receive disability payments too. They don't want those benefits to go away. But they managed to convince themselves (with a lot of help from Fox News etc) that they aren't really beneficiaries of government programs, or that they're not getting the "good welfare", which only goes to Those People.

And you can really see this in the regional patterns. California is an affluent state, a heavy net contributor to the federal budget; it went 2-1 Clinton. West Virginia is poor and a huge net recipient of federal aid; it went 2 1/2-1 Trump.

I don't think any kind of economic analysis can explain this. It has to be about culture and, as always, race.

* http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/12/is-the-problem-one-of-insufficient-market-wages-inadequate-social-insurance-polanyian-disruption-of-patterns-of-life-.html

** https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-16/four-ways-to-help-the-midwest

anne -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:18 AM
http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/12/is-the-problem-one-of-insufficient-market-wages-inadequate-social-insurance-polanyian-disruption-of-patterns-of-life-.html

December 17, 2016

Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge- and Network-Based Increasing Returns

Pascal Lamy: "When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger..."

Perhaps in the end the problem is that people want to pretend that they are filling a valuable role in the societal division of labor, and are receiving no more than they earn--than they contribute.

But that is not the case. The value--the societal dividend--is in the accumulated knowledge of humanity and in the painfully constructed networks that make up our value chains.

A "contribution" theory of what a proper distribution of income might be can only be made coherent if there are constant returns to scale in the scarce, priced, owned factors of production. Only then can you divide the pile of resources by giving to each the marginal societal product of their work and of the resources that they own.

That, however, is not the world we live in.

In a world--like the one we live in--of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are those who are lucky -- as Carrier's workers in Indiana have been lucky in living near Carrier's initial location. It's not that their contribution to society is large or that their luck is replicable: if it were, they would not care (much) about the departure of Carrier because there would be another productive network that they could fit into a slot in.

All of this "what you deserve" language is tied up with some vague idea that you deserve what you contribute--that what your work adds to the pool of society's resources is what you deserve.

This illusion is punctured by any recognition that there is a large societal dividend to be distributed, and that the government can distribute it by supplementing (inadequate) market wages determined by your (low) societal marginal product, or by explicitly providing income support or services unconnected with work via social insurance. Instead, the government is supposed to, somehow, via clever redistribution, rearrange the pattern of market power in the economy so that the increasing-returns knowledge- and network-based societal dividend is predistributed in a relatively egalitarian way so that everybody can pretend that their income is just "to each according to his work", and that they are not heirs and heiresses coupon clipping off of the societal capital of our predecessors' accumulated knowledge and networks.

On top of this we add: Polanyian disruption of patterns of life--local communities, income levels, industrial specialization--that you believed you had a right to obtain or maintain, and a right to believe that you deserve. But in a market capitalist society, nobody has a right to the preservation of their local communities, to their income levels, or to an occupation in their industrial specialization. In a market capitalist society, those survive only if they pass a market profitability test. And so the only rights that matter are those property rights that at the moment carry with them market power--the combination of the (almost inevitably low) marginal societal products of your skills and the resources you own, plus the (sometimes high) market power that those resources grant to you.

This wish to believe that you are not a moocher is what keeps people from seeing issues of distribution and allocation clearly--and generates hostility to social insurance and to wage supplement policies, for they rip the veil off of the idea that you deserve to be highly paid because you are worth it. You aren't.

And this ties itself up with regional issues: regional decline can come very quickly whenever a region finds that its key industries have, for whatever reason, lost the market power that diverted its previously substantial share of the knowledge- and network-based societal dividend into the coffers of its firms. The resources cannot be simply redeployed in other industries unless those two have market power to control the direction of a share of the knowledge- and network-based societal dividend. And so communities decline and die. And the social contract--which was supposed to have given you a right to a healthy community--is broken.

As I have said before, humans are, at a very deep and basic level, gift-exchange animals. We create and reinforce our social bonds by establishing patterns of "owing" other people and by "being owed". We want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships. We create and reinforce social bonds by giving each other presents. We like to give. We like to receive. We like neither to feel like cheaters nor to feel cheated. We like, instead, to feel embedded in networks of mutual reciprocal obligation. We don't like being too much on the downside of the gift exchange: to have received much more than we have given in return makes us feel very small. We don't like being too much on the upside of the gift exchange either: to give and give and give and never receive makes us feel like suckers.

We want to be neither cheaters nor saps....

ken melvin -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:32 AM
If not about people, what is an economy about?
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 05:59 AM
I hadn't realized that Democrats now view Social Security and Medicare as "government handouts".
Peter K. -> Observer... , December 18, 2016 at 09:25 AM
Some Democrats like Krugman are Social Darwinists. They're the "center-left" versus Bernie Sanders's leftwing supporters.
Tom aka Rusty -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:06 AM
PK is an ignorant vicious SOB. Many of those "dependent hillbillies" PK despises paid SS and Medicare taxes for many decades, most I know have never been on foos stamps, and if they are on disability it is because they did honest hard work, something PK knows nothing about. What an ignorant jerk.
Tom aka Rusty -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:31 AM
What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Delong and Krugman? Higher education. Damn welfare queens! :)
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:37 AM
Not LOL worthy, but still a good solid :<)
anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:53 AM

Education from elementary through college and professional levels is of course publicly supported in every reasonably advanced country in the world.

EMichael -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 07:18 AM
What is a very highly subsidized industry that benefits Rusty?

Healthcare.

Damn welfare queen!

Peter K. -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 09:33 AM
Or Krugman's textbook industry.
BenIsNotYoda -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 10:49 AM
PK's rhetoric, together with shills like pgl and emichael, has deteriorated quite a bit. Nicely done Rusty.
anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 06:34 AM
"dependent hillbillies"

[ This is a false quote. A writer should never be falsely quoted. There is no such expression used in this or any other essay by Paul Krugman. ]

pgl -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 09:34 AM
It must be really cold where Rusty lives and he woke up in one foul mood.
DeDude -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 08:58 AM
Exactly the same could be said about many of those inner city minorities that the "dependent hillbillies" look down on as "welfare queens". That may be one of the reasons they take special issues with "food stamps", because in contrast to the hillbillies, inner city poor people cannot grow their own food. What Krugman is pointing out is the hypocrisy of their tribalism - and also the idiocy, because the dismantling of society would ultimately hurt the morons that voted GOP into power this round.
Peter K. -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 09:31 AM
"What Krugman is pointing out is the hypocrisy of their tribalism "

No Krugman is echoing the tribalism of Johnny Bakho. These people won't move or educate themselves or "skill up" so they deserve what they get. Social darwinism.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:58 AM
People like Bakho are probably anti-union as well. They're seen as relics of an earlier age and economically "uncompetitve." See Fred Dobbs below. That's the dog whistle about the "rust belt."
Julio -> Tom aka Rusty... , December 18, 2016 at 10:53 AM
His tone is supercilious and offensive. But your argument is that they are not "dependent" because they earned every benefit they get from the government. I think his point is that "dependent" is not offensive -- the term jus reflects how we all depend on government services. DeLong makes the point much better in the article quoted by anne above.
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:07 AM
In Memorium

Paul Krugman's reputation, formerly that of a a noted economic, succumbed after a brief struggle to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Friends said Mr Krugman's condition had been further aggravated by cognitive dissonance from a severely challenged worldview.

He is survived by the New York Times, also said to be in failing health.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Observer... , December 18, 2016 at 06:38 AM
:<)
kthomas -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:52 AM
Judith Miller. Dowd. Doh!at. Broder. Brooks.

BS

anne -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 06:55 AM
The New York Times is easily the finest newspaper in the world, is broadly recognized as such and is of course flourishing. Such an institution will always have sections or editors and writers of relative strength but these relative strengths change over time as the newspaper continually changes.
Observer -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 07:36 AM
Flourishing?

NYT Co. to revamp HQ, vacate eight floors in consolidation

"In an SEC filing, New York Times Co. discloses a staff communication it provided today to employees about a revamp of its headquarters -- including consolidating floors.

The company will vacate at least eight floors, consolidating workspaces and allowing for "significant" rental income, the memo says."

http://seekingalpha.com/news/3231232-nyt-co-revamp-hq-vacate-eight-floors-consolidation

anne -> Dan Kervick... , December 18, 2016 at 07:17 AM
Brad DeLong's piece was thoughtful.

[ Importantly so, worth a couple of close readings. ]

Peter K. -> Dan Kervick... , December 18, 2016 at 09:30 AM
For a long time DeLong was mocking the notion of "economic anxiety" amongst the voters. Does this blog post mean he's rethinking that idea?
Peter K. -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:57 AM
Technocratic Democrats like DeLong and Krugman (or neoliberal centrists) are notoriously against economic democracy and unions and the like.

Maybe that's a factor here.

Dan Kervick -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 01:13 PM
I think he and others have finally reached a point where denial is not an option.
DeDude -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 08:37 AM
The GOP has a long history of benefitting from the disconnect where a lot of their voters are convinced that when government money goes to others (sometimes even within their own white congregations), then it is not deserved. But if that same government money goes to themselves (or their real close relatives), then it is a hard earned and well-deserved payback for their sacrifices and tax payments. So the GOP leadership has always called it "saving social security" and "cracking down on fraud" rather than admitting to their attempts to dismantle those programs. The Dems better be on the ball and call it what it is. If you want to save those programs you just have to prevent rich people from wiggling out of paying for them (don't repeal the Obamacare medicare taxes on the rich).
rjs -> anne... , December 18, 2016 at 10:12 AM
What Do Trump Voters Want? for starters, they'd probably want people like Krugman to stop looking down their noses at them like they're lepers..
DeDude -> rjs ... , December 18, 2016 at 01:49 PM
Can we at least call those with the pointy white hats, despicable?
rjs -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 02:29 PM

depends on how many of those people who voted for Obama in 2012 you figure to have joined the pointy white hat club since...


http://peakwatch.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452403c69e201bb0960723f970d-pi

DeDude -> rjs ... , December 18, 2016 at 03:45 PM
Would they not be despicable regardless of what kind of wood they previously enjoyed burning?
RC AKA Darryl, Ron : , December 18, 2016 at 06:15 AM
Excellent post election commentary from Bloom County (comic).

http://www.gocomics.com/bloom-county/2016/11/27

David : , December 18, 2016 at 07:16 AM
On the Pk piece. I think it is really about human dignity, and the need for it. There were a lot of factors in this horrific election, but just as urban blacks need to be spared police brutality, rural whites need a dignified path in their lives. Everyone, united, deserves such a path.

This is a real challenge for economists; how do we rebuild the rust belt (which applies to areas beyond the literal rust belt).

If we do not, we risk Trump 2.0, which could be very scary indeed.

EMichael -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 07:36 AM
I agree to a point, but what the piece is about is that in search of a solution to the problems of the rustbelt (whatever the definition is),people voted for Trump who had absolutely no plan to solve such a problem, other than going back to the future and redoing Nafta and getting rid of regulations.

Meanwhile, that vote also meant that the safety net that helps all Americans in trouble was being placed in severe risk.

Those voters were fixed on his rhetoric and right arm extended while his left hand was grabbing them by the (in deference to Anne I will not say the words, but Trump himself has said one of them and the other is the male version).

Peter K. -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 08:48 AM
"I agree to a point,"

Really?

You didn't seem to before. You'd say what Duy or Noah Smith or DeLong were mulling about was off-limits. You'd ban them from the comment section if you could.

"This is a real challenge for economists; how do we rebuild the rust belt (which applies to areas beyond the literal rust belt).

If we do not, we risk Trump 2.0, which could be very scary indeed."

I don't see why this is such a controversial point for centrist like Krugman.

How do we appeal to the white working class without contradicting our principles?

By promoting policies that raise living standards. By delivering, which mean left-wing policies not centrist tinkering.

It's the Clinton vs. Sanders primary.

Hillary could have nominated Elizabeth Warren as her VP candidate but her corporate masters wouldn't let her.

sglover -> EMichael... , December 18, 2016 at 06:08 PM
"Meanwhile, that vote also meant that the safety net that helps all Americans in trouble was being placed in severe risk."

That safety net is an improvement over 1930. But it's been fraying so badly over the last 20-30 years that it's almost lost all meaning. It's something people turn to before total destitution, but for rebuilding a life? A sick joke, filled with petty hassles and frustrations.

And the fraying has been a solidly bipartisan project. Who can forget welfare "reform"?

So maybe the yokels you're blaming for the 10,000-th time might not buy your logic or your intentions.

Fred C. Dobbs -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 08:07 AM
In the rustbelt, Dems are accustomed to
dealing with their supporters who are
union members. (Why the auto industry
was bailed out, dontchaknow.)

That obviously doesn't work so well
any more. In that region, recovery
was 'less than robust', no?

In New England, where unions are much
less of a factor, recovery has been
relatively successful. Dems remain
pretty strong here.

Why can't the rustbelt be more
like the northeast?

The ongoing new industrial revolution
would seem to have much to do
with such matters.

Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 08:49 AM
"In New England, where unions are much less of a factor, recovery has been relatively successful. Dems remain pretty strong here."

Is that accurate?

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:30 AM
unions don't have much to celebrate (in MA) http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/29/labor-day-but-there-little-for-labor-celebrate/e4MOhMsc5lf6rJkZdCPbKM/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - August 2014

... At the height of their influence in the 1950s, labor unions could claim to represent about 1 of every 3 American workers. Today, it's 1 in 9 - and falling.

Some have seen the shrinking size and waning influence of labor unions as a sign that the US economy is growing more flexible and dynamic, but there's mounting evidence that it is also contributing to slow wage growth and the rise in inequality. ...


(Union membership) NY 24.7%, MA 12.4%, SC 2.1%

... Are unions faring any better here in Massachusetts?

While Massachusetts's unions are stronger than average, it's not among the most heavily unionized states. That honor goes to New York, where 1 in every 4 workers belongs to a union. After New York, there are 11 other states with higher union membership rates then Massachusetts.

Here too, though, the decline in union membership over time has been steep.

(From 1983 to 2013) US -42%, MA -44%

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 09:44 AM
Union Members Summary - BLS - Jan 2016 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

... In 2015, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below
that of the U.S. average, 11.1 percent, and 20 states had rates above it. All states
in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates
below the national average, and all states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions
had rates above it. Union membership rates increased over the year in 24 states and
the District of Columbia, declined in 23 states, and were unchanged in 3 states.
(See table 5.)

Five states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2015: South Carolina
(2.1 percent), North Carolina (3.0 percent), Utah (3.9 percent), Georgia (4.0 percent),
and Texas (4.5 percent).

Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in
2015: New York (24.7 percent) and Hawaii (20.4 percent).

State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and the union
membership rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million)
and New York (2.0 million).

Roughly half of the 14.8 million union members in the
U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.0 million;
Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey,
0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and
salary employment nationally.

(It appears that New England union participation
lags in the northeast, and also in the rest of
the US not in the Red Zone.)

Table 5. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state https://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t05.htm

Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 09:56 AM
"In New England, where unions are much
less of a factor, recovery has been
relatively successful. Dems remain
pretty strong here."

I'm questionning the causation. B/c New England has fewer unions, they're doing better?

My bet is that most of these centrists like Krugman don't like unions and think they're ancient relics which hurt the economies "competitiveness."

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 10:12 AM
I have noted before that New England
is doing better 'than average' (IMO)
because of high-tech industry & education.

Not necessarily because of a lack of
unionization, which is prevalent here
in public education & among service
workers. Note that in higher ed,
much here is private.

Private industry here traditionally
is not heavily unionized, although
that is probably not the case
among defense corps.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Peter K.... , December 18, 2016 at 10:21 AM
As to causation, I think the
implication is that 'Dems dealing
with unions' has not been working
all that well, recovery-wise,
particularly in the rust belt.

That must have as much to do with
industrial management as it does
with labor, and the ubiquitous
on-going industrial revolution.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 10:24 AM
It may well be that in the
rust belt, corps are doing
reasonably well, but not as
much with labor. That is an
industrial revolution problem.
sglover -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 18, 2016 at 06:10 PM
"In the rustbelt, Dems are accustomed to dealing with their supporters who are union members. (Why the auto industry was bailed out, dontchaknow.)"

Uh huh. Sure.

Know how many times HRC visited UAW groups during her "campaign" in Michigan?

Zero.

Those autoworkers are real ingrates.

DeDude -> David... , December 18, 2016 at 09:35 AM
Everybody needs, and desperately crave, self-confidence and dignity. In white rural culture that has always been connected to the old settler mentality and values of personal "freedom" and "independence". It is unfortunate that this freedom/independence mythology has been what attracted all the immigrants from Europe over here. So it is as strongly engrained (both in culture and individual values) as it is outdated and counterproductive in the world of the future. I am not sure that society can help a community where people find themselves humiliated by being helped (especially by bad government). Maybe somehow try to get them to think of the government help as an earned benefit?
Fred C. Dobbs -> DeDude... , December 18, 2016 at 10:22 AM
Ok, that seems very quaint.

[Dec 15, 2016] The Elite Coup Of 2016

Notable quotes:
"... Many people who have voted for Trump would be disgusted and outraged if or when Trump will be denied his office. Many of them are armed and would protest. Violence is ensured should the coup succeed. ..."
"... Anyone see Trumps reception at Army-Navy? A civil war of CIA versus the rest of America will be interesting. The think-tankers and general officers might be on the side of the globalists, but the rank and file will not support a globalist coup. Who can CIA bring to bear locally? BLM? Refu-jihadis? Drug gangs? ..."
"... If Trump is ousted before he starts, he still has his movement of approximately 1 in 4 US persons. That's a lot of people to do a lot of things with, but I don't expect violence so much as a huge counter-propaganda swell to occur at the grass-roots level. In other words, if Trump doesn't get in, the war against MSM is still not won. I conjecture that Trump might fight that war to the end, and he doesn't need to be President to do that. ..."
"... I believe the author forgot another important group who drool at the prospect of either President Hillary or President Pence. That's the people who benefit from open borders, and those who desperately want the TPP and associated treaties. ..."
"... I'm just saying that Trump has even more deadly enemies than the CIA and the Israel-First neocons. ..."
"... We cannot expect much from the grinning Oblambam. He hasn't yet been given his lines. ..."
"... Nah, I don't believe even these idiots are hopefully changing the election results. This is about controlling the narrative in the media, and through that the agenda for the Trump administration, especially when it comes to Congress. ..."
"... There will be no coup in this country. As was correctly pointed out, Trump has four top military generals in his cabinet including Mattis who is highly revered by the armed forces. Should such a scenario by the pathetic liberals try to play out, the military will absolutely revolt as would the people who voted for him. ..."
"... A poll taken today by Fox News showed that 85% of the American people do not buy the ridiculous line that Russia hacked the election. No one cares who really hacked/leaked John Podestas emails except for the unhinged left. American has had enough of the games ..."
"... The CIA as a whole has no motive, except to pacify lame duck Obama until he's gone. ..."
"... Third bullet point says Trump isn't a Zionist supporter. There isn't a shred of evidence he isn't. Adelson, Netanyahu, AIPAC, none of those are shy about fighting their enemies. Nor is Trump. He's an opponent of China, not Israel. Wishful thinking doesn't count. ..."
"... Fourth bullet point says Trump isn't a warhawk. Trump never said that he was against wars. In fact, when he said he would win the wars he was saying he was a militarist. The number of generals he's hired on confirms it. The only way this isn't nuts is if Trump is playing twelve dimensional chess...but that idea is nuts too. ..."
"... while i don't put a coup past these people (they've engineered them in so many countries already, why not here) i also have to agree with another commenter that the CIA and pentagon aren't always the best of friends. syria is one example... ..."
"... as for the media and their role, remember these are the same geniuses who said trump had a 10% chance of winning the election. stein recalls have produced nothing and in fact have netted trump a few extra votes here and there. ..."
"... it is hilarious to hear hillarytards whine about "suppression" after the DWS hit job on sanders and his supporters. also funny that they think she'd be substantively different than him on many issues...everyone soiling their diapers over the taiwan call seems to have forgotten the "pivot to asia" clinton was pushing along with the TPP. ..."
"... depleted resources change the cost curve for endless war and rapaciousness changing rewards for the elites. ..."
"... One thing for sure, this ain't about personalities kiddies. And Trump did not win without significant backing, even if the MSM was too stupid to look, Trump has big players on his side, so it's kind of coup versus coup in a way. Pass the popcorn. ..."
Dec 15, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org

The above theses are thus far only a general outlay. No general plan has been published. The scheme though is pretty obvious by now.

The priority aim is to deny Trump the presidency. He is too independent and a danger for several power centers within the ruling U.S. power circles. These are:

The current CIA director Brennan, a leading figure of the CIA torture program and Obama consigliere, is in the Clinton/anti-Trump camp. The former CIA heads Hayden and Panetta are public Clinton supporters ...

... ... ... It is thereby no wonder that the CIA is leading the anti-Russian campaign. Its task now is to implant the idea in the U.S. public that Russian intervention skewed the U.S. election towards Trump. The purpose is the delegitimization of the Trump victory in the eyes of the media and public but even more so in the eyes of the electors within the electoral college.

The CIA is heavily supported by the same mainstream media that pushed for Clinton during the election. (These are, not by chance, also the same media that pushed the CIA's earlier "Saddam's Weapon of Mass Destruction" campaign.)

The Democratic partisan and Harvard law Professor Lawrence Lessig is pushing the electors and offers them free personal legal support. He says the electoral college vote is now close.

Could 37 Republican electors, put there by voters in their states to vote for Trump, be convinced to move from electing Trump to abstain or vote for someone else, Trump would miss the needed 270 votes. The whole election of the president would then by kicked over to the House of Representatives. Here are the detailed general proceedings and specifics for the electoral college as explained by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Though neoconservatives have no genuine support within the U.S. electorate they have a strong hold on significant parts of Congress and the relevant MSM commentariat. Many leading neoconservatives and war hawks like Robert Kagan, Max Boot and the Washington Post editorial board came out for Clinton during the campaign. Clinton even ran campaign advertisements with Republican Congress luminaries like Lindsay Graham, Sasse and Flake.

The House and the Senate majority may well be on the anti-Trump side if push comes to shove. But whatever the outcome there surely would be intense legal challenges and I expect the case to go up to the Supreme Court.

As an alternative to legal shenanigans Trump's inauguration could be delayed by Obama's order to the intelligence community to create a formal review of Russian intervention in the election by January 20. That is not by chance the official inauguration date! The selling point :

By ordering a "full review" of allegations of Russian into the 2016 election process, President Barack Obama is essentially asking the IC to make an analytical judgment about the validity of the election that will place Trump in the Oval Office.

A "compromise" in Congress could be to wait for the Intelligence Community's analysis and then discuss it before certifying Trump as president. That would end up with no result as National Intelligence Estimates are notoriously vague. Meanwhile the Vice President-elect would sit in as acting President :

If the President-elect fails to qualify before inauguration , Section 3 of the 20th Amendment states that the Vice President-elect will act as President until such a time as a President has qualified.

If the congressional or legal process around the Trump election gets delayed, that may be a state for a long time. The ruling Washington blob or borg could well live with an acting President Pence while Trump would have no official say in any government business. (Could Clinton then become acting VP or qualify as the new president?)

The media intervention on the anti-Trump side is heavy.

But first keep in mind that there is no public evidence, ZERO, that Russia indeed had anything to do with the DNC or Podesta or other leaks and the publication of emails by various outlets like Wikileaks.

Craig Murray assures us that he knows that these were not hacks but insider leaks and that he knows the leaker(s). Indeed he now tells us that the emails were handed over to him during a visits in Washington . Former intelligence officials including the technically very knowledgeable former NSA official William Binney concur that the hacking story is false.

All we have heard or seen so far are hearsay rumors and allegations of evidence. To me as experienced IT professional the case is technically laughable just as Murray explains here . If the claimed hacks occurred at all the alleged methods were so common that anybody could have done these. There is not even one claimed fact yet that is technically halfway acceptable as evidence that "Russia did it".

But still the NYT runs a big package of pieces telling us that "Russia did it" based on the non-factual CIA rumors and unprofessional IT assertions by Crowdstrike, the self-promoting IT security company the DNC hired and paid. Before that the Washington Post published major claims of Russian interference by anonymous officials. NBC News now tops that with "intelligence officials" saying Putin himself ran the hacking campaign. Authors of the story are the long time insider hacks Bill Arkin and Ken Dilanian known for clearing his stories with the CIA before publishing. The next story will tells us that Vladimir Valdimirovich himself was punching the keyboard.

Many news outlets and editorials follow these "leads".

Part of the scheme the Clinton campaign has worked out was explained by a former opposition research consultant to the Democratic National Council, the Ukrainian-American Alexandra (aka Andrea) Chalupa, in this thread :

Andrea Chalupa ‏@AndreaChalupa Dec 11

1.) Electoral College meets Dec. 19. If Electors ignore #StateOfEmergency we're in, & Trump gets elected, we can stop him Jan. 6 in Congress

2.) If any objections to Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing, signed by at least 1 House member & 1 Senator

3.) If objections are presented, House & Senate withdraw to their chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.
...

Editorials and op-eds in the major papers are pushing the scheme along. Just for example from a long list A.J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

The CIA's finding that Russia actively intervened in our election to make Trump president is an excellent reason for the electors to consider whether they should exercise their independent power. At the very least, they should be briefed on what the CIA knows, and in particular on whether there is any evidence that Trump or his lieutenants were engaged with Russia during the campaign.

The New York Times editorial laments about Trump ridiculing the CIA fairy tales it promotes.

Many people who have voted for Trump would be disgusted and outraged if or when Trump will be denied his office. Many of them are armed and would protest. Violence is ensured should the coup succeed.

Trump selected four former generals to joins his cabinet and staff. Should the troubles escalate we might be roughly in for a scenario as laid out in the 1992 military paper: The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 (pdf) by Charles J. Dunlap. shargash | Dec 15, 2016 2:01:15 PM | 1

From the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution: The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.

The House can only vote for for someone among the top 3 finishers in the electoral college vote. That pretty much rules out anyone but Trump or Clinton, unless an elector sneaks in a vote for a 3rd party.

Formerly T-Bear | Dec 15, 2016 2:29:07 PM | 4
Has anybody noticed how utterly silent our Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Occupant of the People's House, the boyo splendour from Harvard's yards, vaunted professor of Constitutional Law, remains stubbornly silent on the question of Electoral College process. Is that water too profound for the fraud to enter?
phodges | Dec 15, 2016 2:30:04 PM | 5
You will not see Trump supporters in the streets. The counter coup will bubble slowly out of the bowels of the deep state, and as the struggle comes to the surface you will then see the public come out in support.

Anyone see Trumps reception at Army-Navy? A civil war of CIA versus the rest of America will be interesting. The think-tankers and general officers might be on the side of the globalists, but the rank and file will not support a globalist coup. Who can CIA bring to bear locally? BLM? Refu-jihadis? Drug gangs?

I did not think this was on the Elite's agenda but I don't know, they seem to be pushing electoral "soft coup" pretty hard.

Grieved | Dec 15, 2016 2:43:31 PM | 8
I've been looking for a way to judge the relative strengths of the MSM and the alt media, so called. I guess this is one way, although bigger than I needed. If Trump makes it to inauguration then MSM has passed its tipping point and has lost its war forever. The White House will work to expose its lies on a daily basis and with formal, actionable, litigable evidence.

But currently this is still only a battle within a war. The war itself is to gut the CIA, as John Kennedy intended once. Lots of theories out there that soldiers would help in this effort. Since the US is a banana republic now, it makes sense for order to be restored through the military. But there's a lot of black income riding on the CIA's continued operation, so god alone knows what dynamics are involved here.

If Trump is ousted before he starts, he still has his movement of approximately 1 in 4 US persons. That's a lot of people to do a lot of things with, but I don't expect violence so much as a huge counter-propaganda swell to occur at the grass-roots level. In other words, if Trump doesn't get in, the war against MSM is still not won. I conjecture that Trump might fight that war to the end, and he doesn't need to be President to do that.

Lots of conjecture. Interesting times. One wonders, How strong are the bones of the Republic?

lemur | Dec 15, 2016 2:58:52 PM | 12
WEll i for one am ready for the ROAD WAR

I doubt Trump will be stumped, however.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/there-wont-be-a-rebellion-inside-the-electoral-college/article/2609484

Zachary Smith | Dec 15, 2016 3:01:20 PM | 13
Excellent summation, but I believe the author forgot another important group who drool at the prospect of either President Hillary or President Pence. That's the people who benefit from open borders, and those who desperately want the TPP and associated treaties.

I'm just saying that Trump has even more deadly enemies than the CIA and the Israel-First neocons.

Mina | Dec 15, 2016 3:11:21 PM | 17

Another result of the "Russia did it" 24/7 news is that it prevents Russia to publish another big leak out of its sleeve. Or does it?

fastfreddy | Dec 15, 2016 3:12:04 PM | 19
All of the above notwithstanding, Trump has apparently been attempting to appease the Neocon Warmongers in his cabinet appointments of Crazy Warmonger Generals. This in and of itself is apparently insufficiently pleasing to Kissinger, the Zionists, the War profiteers the CIA and the other powers that be.

We cannot expect much from the grinning Oblambam. He hasn't yet been given his lines.

WorldBLee | Dec 15, 2016 3:32:03 PM | 22
Nah, I don't believe even these idiots are hopefully changing the election results. This is about controlling the narrative in the media, and through that the agenda for the Trump administration, especially when it comes to Congress.

The Washington elites still think that what the NYT/Washington Post publishes matters to most Americans. It's true, it does control the thinking process of loyal Clintonite voters who are trapped in the mental swamp of the DNC/Clinton/MSNBC/CNN messaging--but as the election showed, there are lots of Americans who want to think the opposite of whatever those outlets say.

Unfortunately for America, these people just bounce over to whatever party doesn't currently hold the presidency rather than trying to build any third party alternatives for the common good. However, you can hardly blame them as the barriers to allowing any third parties into the game are immense in this country.

GoraDiva | Dec 15, 2016 3:34:29 PM | 24
oh, and that bit about cia as assassination agency - that happened long time ago, under Allen Dulles. Truman came to regret the creation of CIA - at least what it had turned into (ironically, in a Wa-po (or wa-poo) editorial ( http://www.maebrussell.com/Prouty/Harry%20Truman%27s%20CIA%20article.html).
Danny801 | Dec 15, 2016 3:38:45 PM | 25
There will be no coup in this country. As was correctly pointed out, Trump has four top military generals in his cabinet including Mattis who is highly revered by the armed forces. Should such a scenario by the pathetic liberals try to play out, the military will absolutely revolt as would the people who voted for him. Most of those are 2nd amendment supporters.

A poll taken today by Fox News showed that 85% of the American people do not buy the ridiculous line that Russia hacked the election. No one cares who really hacked/leaked John Podestas emails except for the unhinged left. American has had enough of the games

s | Dec 15, 2016 3:42:44 PM | 26
First bullet point on motives says CIA assassination programs will be cut by Trump fails because one, no one knows this, two, there's always somebody in the CIA who'll do what the President wants because it pays and three, Trump is apt to find different targets for the CIA. Duterte if he's a problem for the anti-China campaign, for one. They can overbill for spying on China. The CIA as a whole has no motive, except to pacify lame duck Obama until he's gone.

Second bullet point says military sales to ME will be cut. Irrelevant as Trump plans to increase military purchases by US. Nobody has a motive here.

Third bullet point says Trump isn't a Zionist supporter. There isn't a shred of evidence he isn't. Adelson, Netanyahu, AIPAC, none of those are shy about fighting their enemies. Nor is Trump. He's an opponent of China, not Israel. Wishful thinking doesn't count.

Fourth bullet point says Trump isn't a warhawk. Trump never said that he was against wars. In fact, when he said he would win the wars he was saying he was a militarist. The number of generals he's hired on confirms it. The only way this isn't nuts is if Trump is playing twelve dimensional chess...but that idea is nuts too.

DOA this post, riddled with with its own bullet points.

the pair | Dec 15, 2016 3:43:58 PM | 27
while i don't put a coup past these people (they've engineered them in so many countries already, why not here) i also have to agree with another commenter that the CIA and pentagon aren't always the best of friends. syria is one example...though ostensibly there to "get ISIS", it turned into gang warfare with the occasional spook-funded crips shooting at the DoD-funded bloods. plus maybe they (CIA/DoD) each figure with the other one cut down they'll get the leftover funding.

as for the media and their role, remember these are the same geniuses who said trump had a 10% chance of winning the election. stein recalls have produced nothing and in fact have netted trump a few extra votes here and there.

it is hilarious to hear hillarytards whine about "suppression" after the DWS hit job on sanders and his supporters. also funny that they think she'd be substantively different than him on many issues...everyone soiling their diapers over the taiwan call seems to have forgotten the "pivot to asia" clinton was pushing along with the TPP.

Shh | Dec 15, 2016 3:45:08 PM | 28
soft coup it certainly is. The outcomes you layout entirely reasonable.

The question centers around the balance of forces. What countervails the fracturing of our conflicted elite? What reinforces the stressors? Have we factored in all relevant considerations?

My belief is that the fundamental battle is one of resources, as it has always been. There are so many converging vectors: collapsing ecosystems, final depletion of readily extractable raw commodities, unprecedented levels of migration, austerity, erosion of intellectual property, agricultural, and real property rights. All in addition the the industry of death America presides over.

Countervailing: increasing awareness and resistance from all quarters as the risks escalate,putative technological advances confound efforts at uniform data collection and parsing, depleted resources change the cost curve for endless war and rapaciousness changing rewards for the elites.

One thing for sure, this ain't about personalities kiddies. And Trump did not win without significant backing, even if the MSM was too stupid to look, Trump has big players on his side, so it's kind of coup versus coup in a way. Pass the popcorn.

All in all, I'm thinking we're in a for a grim period.

[Dec 10, 2016] Shiny object distruction from the real issues

Short-termism is a real problem for the US politicians. It is only now the "teeth of dragon" sowed during domination of neoliberalism since 80th start to show up in unexpected places. And reaction is pretty predictable. As one commenter said: "Looks like the CIA's latest candidate for regime change is the USA."
Notable quotes:
"... Divide and Control is being brilliantly employed once again against 'us'. The same tactics used against foreign countries are being used here at home on 'us'. ..."
"... Divide and Conquer, yes indeed, watch McCain and Graham push this Russian hacking angle hard. ..."
"... i regard this 'secret' CIA report, following on from the 'fake news' meme, to be another of what will become a never-ending series of attempts to deligitemize Trump, so that later on this year the coming economic collapse (and shootings, street violence, markets etc) can be more successfully blamed not only on Trump and his policies, but by extension, on the Russians. (a two-fer for the globalist statists) ..."
"... Nevermind that many states voting machines are on private networks and are not even connected to the internet. ..."
"... The Russians 'might' have influenced the election..... The American Government DID subvert and remove a democratically elected leader (Ukraine).Anyone see the difference there? ..."
"... Voted for Trump, but the Oligarcy picked him too. Check the connection between Ross and Trump and Wilburs former employer. TPTB laughs at all of us ..."
"... The sad facts are the CIA itself and it's massive propaganda arm has its gummy fingers all over this election and elections all over the planet. ..."
"... The Russians, my ass. ................. The CIA are famous for doing nefarious crap and blaming their handy work on someone else. Crap that usually causes thousands of deaths. ... Even in the KGB days the CIA was the king of causing chaos. ..... the KGB would kill a dissident or spy or two and the CIA in the same time frame would start a couple of wars killing thousands or millions. ..."
"... What makes people think the Post is believable? The truth has been hijacked by their self annihilating ideology. Honestly one would have to be dumb as a fence 'Post' (pun intended) to believe ANYTHING coming from this rag and the rest of these 'Fake News' MSM propaganda machines, good lord! ..."
"... As for the CIA, it was reported at the time to be largely purged under the Dubya administration, of consitutionalists and other dissidents to the 9-11 -->> total-war program. Stacked to the brim with with neocon cadres. ..."
"... Out of the 3,153 counties in this country, Hillary Clinton won only 480. A dismal and pathetic 15% of this country. The worst showing EVER for a presidential candidate. ..."
"... The much vaunted 2 million vote lead in the popular vote can be attributed to exactly 4 boroughs in NYC; Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, & Brooklyn ..."
"... 96 MILLION Americans were either too disgusted, too lazy, or too apathetic to even bother to go out and cast a vote for ANYONE in this election. ..."
"... Looks like the CIA's latest candidate for regime change is the USA. ..."
"... Clapper sat in front of congress and perjured himself. When confronted with his perjury he defended himself saying he told them the "least untruthful thing" he could - admitting he had not problem whatsoever about lying to Congress. ..."
"... There certainly is foreign meddling in US government policy but it is not coming from Russia. The countries that have much greater influence than Russia on 'our' government are the Sunni-dominated Persian Gulf oil states including the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and, of course, that bastion of human rights, Saudi Arabia. ..."
"... Oil money from these states has found its way into influentual think tanks including the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, the Middle East Institute and the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies and others. ..."
"... And also, there are arms sales. Arm sales to Saudi/Gulf States come with training. With training comes military ties, foreign policy ties and even intelligence ties. Saudi Arabia, with other Gulf oil states as partners, practically owns the CIA now. ..."
"... Reverse Blockade: emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person's mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the "golden mean" between truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method. ..."
"... I recall lots of "consensus views" that were outright lies, bullshit and/or stupidity: "The Sun circles the Earth. The Earth is flat. Global cooling / next ice age (1970s). Global warming (no polar ice) 1990s-00's. Weapons of mass destruction." You can keep your doctor. ..."
"... The CIA, Pentagon and "intelligence" agencies need both a cleaning and culling ..."
"... Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying. ..."
"... This whopper of a story from the CIA makes the one fabricated about WMD's in Iraq that fooled Bush Jr. and convinced him to almost take this country down by violating the sage advice on war strategy from Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz and opening up a second front in Iraq almost child's play. ..."
"... At least with the WMD story they had false witnesses and some made up evidence! With this story, there is no "HUMINT (human intelligence) sources" and no physical evidence, just some alleged traces that could have been actually produced from the ether or if they knew ahead of time of Trump's possible win sent someone to Russia and had them actually run the IP routes for show. ..."
"... Bush was misled because the CIA management was scared of some of his budgetary saber rattles and his chasing after some CIA management. In this case, someone is really scared of what the people will find when the swam gets drained, if ever it gets done. This includes so-called "false flag conservatives" like Lindsey Graham and top Democrats "Cambridge 5 Admirers" salted in over the years into the CIA. ..."
"... Trump has already signaled he is going hand them nearly unlimited power by appointing Pompeo in the first place. I would think they would be very happy to welcome the incoming administration with open arms. ..."
"... I could see it if they were really that pissed about Trumps proposed Russian re-set and maybe they are but even that has to be in doubt because of the rate at which Trump is militarizing his cabinet. ..."
"... In all reality Trump is a MIC, intelligence cabal dream come true, so why would they even consider biting the hand that feeds so well? Perhaps their is more going on here under the surface, maybe all the various agencies and bureaucracies are not playing nice, or together for that matter. ..."
"... after all the CIA and the Pentagon's proxy armies are already killing each other in Syria so one has to wonder in what other arenas are they clashing? ..."
"... The neocons are desperate. Their war monger Hitlery lost by a landslide now they fabricate all sorts of irrational BS. ..."
"... 'CIA Team B' ..."
"... 'Committee on the Present Danger' ..."
"... 'Office of Special Plans' ..."
"... Trump is a curious fellow. I've thought about this quite a bit and tried to put myself in his shoes. He has no friends in .gov, no real close "mates" he can depend on, especially in his own party, so he had to start from scratch to put his cabinet together. ..."
"... It could very well be that this was Trump & the establishment plan to con the American public from the start of course. I kind of doubt it, since the efforts of the establishment to destroy Trump was genuinely full retard from the outset and still continues. ..."
"... He would have done better to ignore the political divide to choose those who have spent their lives challenging the Deep State. My ignorance of US politics does not supply me with a complete picture, but Ron Paul, David Kucinich, Trey Gowdy, Tulsi Gabard and even turncoat Bernie Sanders would have been better to drain the swamp than the neocon zionists he has installed in power. ..."
www.zerohedge.com

MEFOBILLS -> Keyser , Dec 10, 2016 1:01 PM

It is worse than "shiny object." Human brains have a latency issue - the first time they hear something, it sticks. To unstick something, takes a lot of counter evidence.

So, a Goebbels-like big lie, or shiny object can be told, and then it can take on a life of its own. False flags operate under this premise. There is an action (false flag), and then false narrative is issued into press mouthpieces immediately. This then plants a shiny object in sheeple brains. It then takes too much mental effort for average sheeple to undo this narrative, so "crowds" can be herded.

Six million dead is a good example of this technique.

Fortunately, with the internet, "supposed fake news sites like ZH" are spreading truth so fast - that shiny stories issued by our Oligarch overlords are being shot down quickly.

Bezo's, who owns Washington Post, is taking rents by avoiding sales taxes; not that I'm a fan of sales taxes. But, ultimately, Bezos is taking rental thefts, and he is afraid of Trump - who may change the law, hence collapse the profit scheme of Amazon.

Cognitive Dissonance -> Oldwood •Dec 10, 2016 10:49 AM

Oldwood. I have a great deal of respect for you and your intelligent opinions.

My only concern is our constant and directed attention towards the 'liberals' and 'progressives'. When we do so we are thinking it is 'them' that are the problem.

In fact it is the force behind 'them' that is the problem. If we oppose 'them', we are wasting our energy upon ghosts and boogeymen.

Divide and Control is being brilliantly employed once again against 'us'. The same tactics used against foreign countries are being used here at home on 'us'.

chunga -> Cognitive Dissonance •Dec 10, 2016 11:33 AM

I've been reading what the blue-teamers are saying over on the "Democratic Underground" site and for a while they've been expressing it's their "duty" to disrupt this thing. They are now calling Trump a "Puppet Regime".

Divide and Conquer, yes indeed, watch McCain and Graham push this Russian hacking angle hard. Also watch for moar of the Suprun elector frauds pop out of the woodwork. The Russian people must be absolutely galvanized by what's happening, USSA...torn into many opposing directions.

dark pools of soros -> chunga •Dec 10, 2016 1:38 PM
First tell them to change their name to the Progressive Party of Globalists. Then remind them that many democrats left them and voted for Trump.. Remind them again and again that if they really want to see blue states again, they have to actually act like democrats again

I assure you that you'll be banned within an hour from any of their sites

American Gorbachev -> Oldwood •Dec 10, 2016 10:12 AM

not an argument to the contrary, but one of elongating the timing

i regard this 'secret' CIA report, following on from the 'fake news' meme, to be another of what will become a never-ending series of attempts to deligitemize Trump, so that later on this year the coming economic collapse (and shootings, street violence, markets etc) can be more successfully blamed not only on Trump and his policies, but by extension, on the Russians. (a two-fer for the globalist statists)

with a political timetable operative as well, whereby some (pardon the pun :) trumped up excuse for impeachment investigations/proceedings can consume the daily news during the run-up to the mid-term elections (with the intent of flipping the Senate and possibly House)

these are very powerful, patient, and deliberate bastards (globalist statists) who may very well have engineered Trump's election for the very purpose of marginalizing, near the point of eliminating, the rural, christian, middle-class, nationalist voices from subsequent public debate

Oldwood -> American Gorbachev •Dec 10, 2016 10:21 AM

The problem is that once Trump becomes president, he will have much more power to direct the message as well as the many factions of government agencies that would otherwise be used to substantiate so called Trump failures. This is a calculated risk scenario for them, but to deny Trump the presidency by far produces more positives for them than any other.

They will have control of the message and will likely shut down much of alternate media news. It is imperative that Trump be stopped BEFORE taking the presidency.

sleigher -> overbet •Dec 10, 2016 10:00 AM

"I read one morons comment that the IP address was traced back to a Russian IP. Are people really that dumb? I can post this comment from dozens of country IPs right now."

Nevermind that many states voting machines are on private networks and are not even connected to the internet. IP addresses from Russia mean nothing.

kellys_eye -> Nemontel •Dec 10, 2016 9:40 AM

The Russians 'might' have influenced the election..... The American Government DID subvert and remove a democratically elected leader (Ukraine).Anyone see the difference there?

Paul Kersey -> Nemontel •Dec 10, 2016 9:40 AM

"Most of our politicians are chosen by the Oligarchy."

And most of our politicians choose the Oligarchy. Trump's choices:

Wilbur Ross, Rothschild, Inc

The working man's choices.....very limited.

Paul Kersey -> Paul Kersey •Dec 10, 2016 10:27 AM

"Barack Obama received more money from Goldman Sachs employees than any other corporation. Tim Geithner, Obama's first treasury secretary, was the protege of one-time Goldman CEO Robert Rubin. "

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Nameshavebeench... -> Nemontel •Dec 10, 2016 11:53 AM

If Trump gets hit, the 'official story' of who did it will be a lie.

There needs to be a lot of online discussion about this ahead of time in preparation. If/when the incident happens, there needs to be a successful counter-offensive that puts an end to the Deep State. (take from that what you will)

We've seen the MO many times now;

The patterns are well established & if Trump gets hit it should be no surprise, now the 'jackals' need to be exterminated.

Also, keep in mind that everything we're hearing in all media just might be psyops/counter-intel/planted 'news' etc.

sgt_doom -> Nemontel •Dec 10, 2016 1:25 PM

Although I have little hope for this happening, ideally Trump should initiate full forensic audits of the CIA, NSA, DIA and FBI. The last time a sitting president undertook an actual audit of the CIA, he had his brains blown out (President John F. Kennedy) and the Fake News (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) reported that a fellow who couldn't even qualify as marksman, the lowest category (he was pencilled in) was the sniper.

Then, on the 50th anniversary of that horrible coup d'etat, another Fake News show (NPR) claimed that a woman in the military who worked at the rifle range at Atsuga saw Oswald practicing weekly - - absurd on the fact of it, since women weren't allowed at military rifle ranges until the late 1970s or 1980s (and I doublechecked and there was never a woman assigned there in the late 1950s).

Just be sure he has trustworthy bodyguards, unlike the last batch of phony Secret Service agents (and never employ anyone named Elmer Moore).

2rigged2fail -> Nemontel •Dec 10, 2016 4:04 PM

Voted for Trump, but the Oligarcy picked him too. Check the connection between Ross and Trump and Wilburs former employer. TPTB laughs at all of us

Arnold -> Arnold •Dec 10, 2016 9:15 AM

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

jmack -> boattrash •Dec 10, 2016 11:08 AM

All these Russian interference claims require one to believe that the MSM and democrat machine got out played and out cheated by a bunch of ruskies. This is the level of desperation the democrats have fallen too. To pretend to be so incompetent that the Russians outplayed and overpowered their machine. But I guess they have to fall on that narrative vs the fact that a "crazy" real estate billionaire with a twitter account whipped their asses.

Democrats, you are morally and credulously bankrupt. all your schemes, agenda's and machinations cannot put humpty dumpty back together again. So now it is another period of scorched earth. The Federal Bureaucracy will fight Trump tooth and nail, joined by the democrats in the judiciary, and probably not a few rino's too.

It is going to get ugly, like a machete fight. W. got a taste of it with his Plame affair, the brouhaha over the AGA firings, the regime of Porter Goss as DCI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porter_Goss

DuneCreature -> cherry picker •Dec 10, 2016 10:30 AM

The sad facts are the CIA itself and it's massive propaganda arm has its gummy fingers all over this election and elections all over the planet.

The Russians, my ass. ................. The CIA are famous for doing nefarious crap and blaming their handy work on someone else. Crap that usually causes thousands of deaths. ... Even in the KGB days the CIA was the king of causing chaos. ..... the KGB would kill a dissident or spy or two and the CIA in the same time frame would start a couple of wars killing thousands or millions.

You said a mouth full, cherry picker. ..... Until the US Intel community goes 'bye bye' the world will HATE the US. ... People aren't stupid. They know who is behind the evil shit.

... ... ..

G-R-U-N-T •Dec 10, 2016 9:39 AM

What makes people think the Post is believable? The truth has been hijacked by their self annihilating ideology. Honestly one would have to be dumb as a fence 'Post' (pun intended) to believe ANYTHING coming from this rag and the rest of these 'Fake News' MSM propaganda machines, good lord!

Colborne •Dec 10, 2016 9:37 AM

As for the CIA, it was reported at the time to be largely purged under the Dubya administration, of consitutionalists and other dissidents to the 9-11 -->> total-war program. Stacked to the brim with with neocon cadres. So, that's the lay of the terrain there now, that's who's running the place. And they aren't going without a fight apparently.

Interesting times , more and more so.

66Mustanggirl •Dec 10, 2016 9:40 AM

For those of us who still have a grip on reality, here are the facts of this election:

But given this is a story from WaPo, I think will just give a few days until it is thoroughly discredited.

max2205 -> 66Mustanggirl •Dec 10, 2016 11:04 AM

And she won CA by 4 million. She hates she only gets a limited amount of electoral votes.. tough shit rules are rules bitch. Suck it

HalEPeno •Dec 10, 2016 9:43 AM

Looks like the CIA's latest candidate for regime change is the USA.

Clara Tardis •Dec 10, 2016 9:45 AM

This is a vid from the 1950's, "How to spot a Communist" all you have to do is swap out commie for: liberal, neocon, SJW and democrat and figure out they've about won....

https://youtu.be/w86QhV7whjs

dogismycopilot •Dec 10, 2016 9:51 AM

This is the same CIA that let Pakistan build up the Taliban in Afganistan during the 1990s and gave Pakistan ISI (Pakistan spy agency) hundreds of millions of USD which the ISI channeled to the Taliban and Arab freedom fighters including a very charming chap named Usama Bin Laden.

The CIA is as worthless as HRC.

Fuck them and their failed intelligence. I hope Trump guts the CIA like a fish. They need a reboot.

Yes We Can. But... -> venturen •Dec 10, 2016 10:08 AM

Why might the Russians want Trump? If there is anything to the stuff I've been reading about the Clintons, they are like cornered animals. Putin just may think the world is a safer, more stable place w/o the Clintons in power.

TRM -> atthelake •Dec 10, 2016 10:44 AM

If it is "on" then those doing the "collections" should be aware that a lot of people they will be "collecting" have read Solzhenitsyn.

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?"

Those doing the "collections" will have to choose and choose wisely the side they are on. How much easier would it be for them to report back "Sorry, couldn't find them" than to face the wrath of a well armed population?

Abaco •Dec 10, 2016 9:53 AM

The clowns running the intelligence agencies for the US have ZERO credibility. Clapper sat in front of congress and perjured himself. When confronted with his perjury he defended himself saying he told them the "least untruthful thing" he could - admitting he had not problem whatsoever about lying to Congress. He was not fired or reprimanded in any way. He retired with a generous pension. He is a treasonous basrtard who should be swinging from a lamppost. These people serve their political masters - not the people - and deserve nothing but mockery and and a noose.

mendigo •Dec 10, 2016 9:56 AM

As reported on infowars:
On Dec 9 0bomber issued executive order providing exemption to Arms Export Control Act to permit supplying weapons (ie sams etc) to rebel groups in Syria as a matter "essential to national security "interests"".

Be careful in viewing this report as is posted from RT - perhaps best to wait for corraboaration on front page of rededicated nyt to be sure and avoid fratrenizing with Vlad.

Separately Gabard has introduced bill : Stop Arming Terrorists Act.

David Wooten •Dec 10, 2016 9:56 AM

There certainly is foreign meddling in US government policy but it is not coming from Russia. The countries that have much greater influence than Russia on 'our' government are the Sunni-dominated Persian Gulf oil states including the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and, of course, that bastion of human rights, Saudi Arabia.

Oil money from these states has found its way into influentual think tanks including the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, the Middle East Institute and the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies and others. All of these institutions should be registered as foriegn agents and any cleared US citizen should have his or her clearance revoked if they do any work for these organizations, either as a contractor or employee. And these Gulf states have all been donating oil money to UK and US universities so lets include the foreign studies branches of universities in the registry of foreign agents, too.

And also, there are arms sales. Arm sales to Saudi/Gulf States come with training. With training comes military ties, foreign policy ties and even intelligence ties. Saudi Arabia, with other Gulf oil states as partners, practically owns the CIA now. Arms companies who sell deadly weapons to the Gulf States, in turn, donate money to Congressmen and now own politicians such as Senators Graham and McCain. It's no wonder Graham wants to help his pals - er owners. So what we have here ('our' government) is institutionalized influence, if not outright control, of US foreign policy by some of the most vicious states on the planet,
especially Saudi Arabia - whose religious police have been known to beat school girls fleeing from burning buildings because they didn't have their headscarves on.

As Hillary's 2014 emails have revealed, Qatar and Saudi Arabia support ISIS and were doing so about the same time as ISIS was sweeping through Syria and Iraq, cutting off the heads of Christians, non-Sunnis and just about anyone else they thought was in the way. The Saudi/Gulf States are the driving force to get rid of Assad and that is dangerous as nuclear-armed Russia protects him. If something isn't done about this, the Gulf oil states may get US into a nuclear war with Russia - and won't care in the least.

Richard Whitney •Dec 10, 2016 10:10 AM

So...somehow, Putin was able to affect the election one way, and the endorsements for HRC and the slander of Trump by and from Washington Post, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, practically every big-city newspaper, practically every newspaper in Europe, every EU mandarin, B Streisand, Keith Olberman, Comedy Central, MSNBC, CNN, Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham and a wad of other media outlets and PR-driven-celebs couldn't affect that election the other way.

Sounds unlikely on the face of it, but hats off to Vlad. U.S. print and broadcast media, Hollywood, Europe...you lost.

seataka •Dec 10, 2016 10:11 AM

The Reverse Blockade

"Reverse Blockade: emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person's mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the "golden mean" between truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method. " page 104, Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski more

just the tip -> northern vigor •Dec 10, 2016 11:51 AM

that car ride for the WH to the capital is going to be fun.

Arnold -> just the tip •Dec 10, 2016 12:12 PM

Your comment ticked one of my remaining Brain Cells.

The final scene of "The Gauntlet".

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076070/

Pigeon •Dec 10, 2016 10:29 AM

I recall lots of "consensus views" that were outright lies, bullshit and/or stupidity: "The Sun circles the Earth. The Earth is flat. Global cooling / next ice age (1970s). Global warming (no polar ice) 1990s-00's. Weapons of mass destruction." You can keep your doctor.

The CIA, Pentagon and "intelligence" agencies need both a cleaning and culling. 50% of the Federal govt needs to go.....now.

What is BEYOND my comprehension is how anyone would think that in Putin's mind, Trump would be preferable to Hillary. She and her cronies are so corrupt, he would either be able to blackmail or destroy her (through espionage and REAL leaks) any time he wanted to during her presidency.

Do TPTB think we are this fucking stupid?

madashellron •Dec 10, 2016 10:31 AM

Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46006.htm

jfb •Dec 10, 2016 10:31 AM

I love this. Trump is not eager to "drain the swamp" and to collide with the establishment, anyway he has no viable economic plan and promised way too much. However if they want to lead a coup for Hilary with the full backing of most republican and democrat politicians just to get their war against Russia, something tells me that the swamp will be drained for real when the country falls apart in chaos.

northern vigor •Dec 10, 2016 10:36 AM

Fuckin' Obama interfered in the Canadian election last year by sending advisers up north to corrupt our laws. He has a lot of nerve pointing fingers at the Russians.

I notice liberals love to point fingers at others, when they are the guilty ones. It must be in the Alinsky handbook.

Pigeon -> northern vigor •Dec 10, 2016 10:38 AM

Called "projection". Everything they accuse others of doing badly, illegally, immorally, etc. - means that is EXACTLY what they are up to.

just the tip -> northern vigor •Dec 10, 2016 11:35 AM

It is in the Alinsky handbook.

Arnold -> just the tip •Dec 10, 2016 4:41 PM

http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2012/04/13/12_ways_to_use_sau...

jerry_theking_lawler •Dec 10, 2016 10:45 AM

CIA = Deep State.

Trump should not only 'defund' them but should end all other 'programs' that are providing funds to them. Drug trade, bribery, embezzelment, etc. End the CIA terror organization.

Skiprrrdog •Dec 10, 2016 10:49 AM

Putin for Secretary of State... :-)

brianshell •Dec 10, 2016 10:50 AM

Section 8, The congress shall have the power to...declare war...raise armies...navies...militia.
The National Security Act charged the CIA with coordinating the nation's intelligence activities and correlating, evaluating and disseminating intelligence affecting national security.

Rogue members of the executive branch have overstepped their authority by ordering the CIA to make war without congressional approval or oversight.

A good deal of the problems created by the United States, including repercussions such as terrorism have been initiated by the CIA

Under "make America great", include demanding congress assume their responsibility regarding war.

Rein in the executive and the CIA.

DarthVaderMentor •Dec 10, 2016 10:59 AM

This whopper of a story from the CIA makes the one fabricated about WMD's in Iraq that fooled Bush Jr. and convinced him to almost take this country down by violating the sage advice on war strategy from Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz and opening up a second front in Iraq almost child's play.

At least with the WMD story they had false witnesses and some made up evidence! With this story, there is no "HUMINT (human intelligence) sources" and no physical evidence, just some alleged traces that could have been actually produced from the ether or if they knew ahead of time of Trump's possible win sent someone to Russia and had them actually run the IP routes for show.

Bush was misled because the CIA management was scared of some of his budgetary saber rattles and his chasing after some CIA management. In this case, someone is really scared of what the people will find when the swam gets drained, if ever it gets done. This includes so-called "false flag conservatives" like Lindsey Graham and top Democrats "Cambridge 5 Admirers" salted in over the years into the CIA.

The fact that's forgotten about this is that if the story was even slightly true, it shows how incompetent the Democrats are in running a country, how Barak Obama was an intentional incompetent trying to drive the country into the ground and hurting its people, how even with top technologies, coerced corrupted vendors and trillions in funding the NSA, CIA and FBI they were outflanked by the FSB and others and why Hillary's server was more incompetent and dangerous a decision than we think.

Maybe Hillary and Bill had their server not to hide information from the people, but maybe to actually promote the Russian hacking?

Why should Trump believe the CIA? What kind of record and leadership do they have that anyone other than a fool should listen to them?

small axe •Dec 10, 2016 10:55 AM

At some point Americans will need to wake up to the fact that the CIA has and does interfere in domestic affairs, just as it has long sought to counter "subversion" overseas. The agency is very likely completely outside the control of any administration at this point and is probably best seen as the enforcement arm of the Deep State.

As the US loses its empire and gains Third World status, it is (sadly) fitting that the CIA war to maintain docile populations becomes more apparent domestically.

Welcome to Zimbabwe USA.

marcusfenix •Dec 10, 2016 11:10 AM

what I don't understand is why the CIA is even getting tangled up in this three ring circus freak show.

Trump has already signaled he is going hand them nearly unlimited power by appointing Pompeo in the first place. I would think they would be very happy to welcome the incoming administration with open arms.

I could see it if they were really that pissed about Trumps proposed Russian re-set and maybe they are but even that has to be in doubt because of the rate at which Trump is militarizing his cabinet. All these stars are not exactly going to support their president going belly up to the bar with Putin. and since Trump has no military or civilian leadership experience (which is why I believe he has loaded up on so much brass in the first place, to compensate) I have no doubt they will have tremendous influence on policy.

In all reality Trump is a MIC, intelligence cabal dream come true, so why would they even consider biting the hand that feeds so well? Perhaps their is more going on here under the surface, maybe all the various agencies and bureaucracies are not playing nice, or together for that matter. perhaps some have grown so large and so powerful that they have their own agendas? it's not as if our federal government has ever really been one big happy family there have been many times when the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. and congress is week so oversight of this monolithic military and intelligence entities may not be as extensive as we would like to think.

after all the CIA and the Pentagon's proxy armies are already killing each other in Syria so one has to wonder in what other arenas are they clashing?

and is this really all just a small glimpse of some secret war within, which every once in a while bubbles up to the surface?

CheapBastard •Dec 10, 2016 11:34 AM

The neocons are desperate. Their war monger Hitlery lost by a landslide now they fabricate all sorts of irrational BS.

However, there is no doubt the Russians stole my TV remote last week.

Kagemusho Dec 10, 2016 11:38 AM

The Intel agencies have been politicized since the late 1970's; look up 'CIA Team B' and the 'Committee on the Present Danger' and their BS 'minority report' used by the original NeoCons to sway public opinion in favor of Ronald Reagan and the arms buildup of the 1980's, which led to the first sky-high deficits. It also led to a confrontational stance against the Soviet Union which almost led to nuclear war in 1983: The 1983 War Scare Declassified and For Real http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb533-The-Able-Archer-War-Scare-Decl...

The honest spook analysts were forced out, then as now, in favor of NeoCons with political agendas that were dangerously myopic to say the least. The 'Office of Special Plans' in the Pentagon cherry-picked or outright fabricated intel in order to justify the NeoCon/Israeli wet-dream of total control of oil and the 'Securing the (Israeli) Realm' courtesy of invading parts of the Middle East and destabilizing the rest, with the present mess as the wholly predictable outcome. The honest analysts told them it would happen, and now they're gone.

This kind of organizational warping caused by agency politicization is producing the piss-poor intel leading to asinine decisions creating untold tragedy; that the WaPo is depending upon this intel from historically-proven tainted sources is just one more example of the incestuous nature of the relations between Traditional Media and its handlers in the intel community.

YHC-FTSE •Dec 10, 2016 11:54 AM

This isn't a "Soft Coup". It's the groundwork necessary for a rock hard, go-for-broke, above the barricade, tanks in the street coup d'etat. You do not get such a blatant accusation from the CIA and establishment echo vendor, unless they are ready to back it up to the hilt with action. The accusations are serious - treason and election fraud.

Trump is a curious fellow. I've thought about this quite a bit and tried to put myself in his shoes. He has no friends in .gov, no real close "mates" he can depend on, especially in his own party, so he had to start from scratch to put his cabinet together. His natural "Mistake" is seeking people at his level of business acumen - his version of real, ordinary people - when billionaires/multimillionaires are actually Type A personalities, usually predatory and addicted to money. In his world, and in America in general, money equates to good social standing more than any other facet of personal achievements. It is natural for an American to equate "Good" with money. I'm a Brit and foreigners like me (I have American cousins I've visited since I was a kid) who visit the States are often surprised by the shallow materialism that equates to culture.

So we have a bunch of dubious Alpha types addicted to money in transition to take charge of government who know little or nothing about the principle of public service. Put them in a room together and without projects they can focus on, they are going to turn on each other for supremacy. I would not be surprised if Trump's own cabinet destroys him or uses leverage from their own power bases to manipulate him.

Mike Pompeo, for example, is the most fucked up pick as CIA director I could have envisaged. He is establishment to his core, a neocon torture advocate who will defend the worst excesses of the intelligence arm of the MIC no matter what. One word from his mouth could have stopped this bullshit about Russia helping Trump win the election. Nobody in the CIA was going to argue with the new boss. Yet here we are, on the cusp of another attack on mulitple fronts. This is how you manipulate an incumbent president to dial up his paranoia to the max and failing that, launch a coup d'etat.

It could very well be that this was Trump & the establishment plan to con the American public from the start of course. I kind of doubt it, since the efforts of the establishment to destroy Trump was genuinely full retard from the outset and still continues. I think he was his own man until paranoia and the enormity of his position got the better of him and he chose his cabinet from the establishment swamp dwellers to best protect him from his enemies. Wrong choices, granted, but understandable.

He would have done better to ignore the political divide to choose those who have spent their lives challenging the Deep State. My ignorance of US politics does not supply me with a complete picture, but Ron Paul, David Kucinich, Trey Gowdy, Tulsi Gabard and even turncoat Bernie Sanders would have been better to drain the swamp than the neocon zionists he has installed in power.

flaminratzazz ->YHC-FTSE •Dec 10, 2016 12:03 PM
I think he was his own man until paranoia and the enormity of his position got the better of him,,
+1 I think he was just dickin around with throwin his hat in the ring, was going to go have fun calling everyone names with outlandish attacks and lo and behold he won.. NOW he is shitting himself on the enormity of his GREATEST fvkup in his life.
jomama ->YHC-FTSE •Dec 10, 2016 12:16 PM
Unless you can show how Trump's close ties to Wall St. (owes banks there around 350M currently
YHC-FTSE ->jomama •Dec 10, 2016 12:59 PM
My post is conjecture, obviously. The basis of my musings, as stated above, is the fact that the establishment has tried to destroy Trump from the outset using all of their assets in his own party, the msm, Hollyweird, intelligence and politics. A full retard attack is being perpetrated against him as I type.

There is some merit to dividing the establishment, the Deep State, into two opposing sides. One that lost power, priestige and funds backing Hillary and one that did not, which would make Trump an alternative establishment candidate. But there is no proof that any establishment (MIC+Banking) entity even likes Trump, let alone supports him. As for Israel, Hillary was their candidate of choice, but their MO is they will always infiltrate and back both sides to ensure compliance.

blindfaith ->YHC-FTSE •Dec 10, 2016 12:36 PM
Do not underestimate Trump. I will grant that some of these picks are concerning. However, think in terms of business, AND government is a business from top to bottom. It has been run as a dog and pony show for years and look where we are. To me, I think his picks are strating to look like a very efficient team to get the government efficient again. That alone must make D.C. shake in thier boots.
YHC-FTSE ->blindfaith •Dec 10, 2016 1:08 PM
Underestimating Trump is the last thing I would do. I'm just trying to understand his motives in my own clumsy way. Besides, he promised to "Drain the swamp", not run the swamp more efficiently.
ducksinarow •Dec 10, 2016 12:04 PM
From a non political angle, this is a divorce in the making. Then democrats have been rejected in totallity but instead of blaming themselves for not being good enough, they are blaming a third party which is the Russians. They are now engaging the Republican Party in a custody battle for the "children". There are lies flying around and the older children know exactly what is going on and sadly the younger children are confused, bewildered, angry and getting angrier by the minute. Soon Papa(Obama) will be leaving which is symbolic of the male father figure in the African American community. The new Papa is a white guy who is going to change the narrative, the rules of engagement and the financial picture. The ones who were the heroes in the Obama narrative are not going to be heroes anymore. New heroes will be formed and revered and during this process some will die for their beliefs.

Back to reality, Trump needs to cleanse the CIA of the ones who would sell our nation to the highest bidder. If the CIA is not on the side of America the CIA should be abolished. In a world where mercenaries are employed all over the world, bringing together a culturally mixed agency does not make for a very honest agency. It makes for a bunch of self involved countries trying to influence the power of individuals. The reason Castro was never taken down is because it was not in the interest of the CIA to do so. That is why there were some pretty hilarious non-attempts on Castro's life over the years. It is not in the best interest of the CIA that Trump be president. It is in the best interest of America that Trump is our President.

brane pilot •Dec 10, 2016 12:22 PM

Even the idea that people would rely on foreign governments for critical information during an election indicates the bankruptcy of the corrupt US media establishment. So now they resort to open sedition and defamation in the absence of factual information. The mainstream media in the USA has become a Fifth Column against America, no different than the so-called 'social science' departments on college campuses. Trump was America's last chance and we took it and no one is going to take it away.

[Dec 05, 2016] The most powerful force in Presidential election 2016 is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics, especially among Democratic electorate

Notable quotes:
"... if neo-liberalism is partly defined by the free flow of goods, labor and capital - and that has been the Republican agenda since at least Reagan - how is Trump a continuation of the same tradition?" ..."
"... Trump is a conservative (or right populist, or whatever), and draws on that tradition. He's not a neoliberal. ..."
"... Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view. He's consistent w/the trade and immigration views but (assuming you can actually figure him out) wrong on banks, taxes, etc. ..."
"... But the next populists we see might be more full bore. When that happens, you'll see much more overlap w/Sanders economic plans for the middle class. ..."
"... There's always tension along the lead running between the politician and his constituents. The thing that seems most salient to me at the present moment is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics. At least since the GFC of 2008, it has been hard to deny that the two Parties worked together to set up an economic betrayal. And, the long-running saga of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also speak to elite failure, as well as betrayal. ..."
"... Trump is a novelty act. He represents a chance for people who feel resentful without knowing much of anything about anything to cast a middle-finger vote. They wouldn't be willing to do that, if times were really bad, instead of just disappointing and distressing. ..."
"... There's also the fact Reagan tapped a fair number of Nixon people, as did W years later. Reagan went after Nixon in the sense of running against him, and taking the party in a much more hard-right direction, sure. But he was repudiated largely because he got caught doing dirty tricks with his pants down. ..."
"... From what I can tell - the 1972 election gave the centrists in the democratic party power to discredit and marginalize the anti-war left, and with it, the left in general. ..."
"... Ready even now to whine that she's a victim and that the whole community is at fault and that people are picking on her because she's a woman, rather than because she has a habit of making accusations like this every time she comments. ..."
"... That is a perfect example of predatory "solidarity". Val is looking for dupes to support her ..."
Aug 12, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Rich Puchalsky 08.12.16 at 4:15 pm 683
"Once again, if neo-liberalism is partly defined by the free flow of goods, labor and capital - and that has been the Republican agenda since at least Reagan - how is Trump a continuation of the same tradition?"

You have to be willing to see neoliberalism as something different from conservatism to have the answer make any sense. John Quiggin has written a good deal here about a model of U.S. politics as being divided into left, neoliberal, and conservative. Trump is a conservative (or right populist, or whatever), and draws on that tradition. He's not a neoliberal.

... ... ...

T 08.12.16 at 5:52 pm

RP @683

That's a bit of my point. I think Corey has defined the Republican tradition solely in response to the Southern Strategy that sees a line from Nixon (or Goldwater) to Trump. But that gets the economics wrong and the foreign policy too - the repub foreign policy view has not been consistent across administrations and Trump's economic pans (to the extent he has a plan) are antithetical to the Nixon – W tradition. I have viewed post-80 Dem administrations as neoliberals w/transfers and Repub as neoliberals w/o transfers.

Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view. He's consistent w/the trade and immigration views but (assuming you can actually figure him out) wrong on banks, taxes, etc.

But the next populists we see might be more full bore. When that happens, you'll see much more overlap w/Sanders economic plans for the middle class. Populists have nothing against gov't programs like SS and Medicare and were always for things like the TVA and infrastructure spending. Policies aimed at the poor and minorities not so much.

bruce wilder 08.12.16 at 7:47 pm 689

T @ 685: Trump is too incoherent to really represent the populist view.

There's always tension along the lead running between the politician and his constituents. The thing that seems most salient to me at the present moment is the sense of betrayal pervading our politics. At least since the GFC of 2008, it has been hard to deny that the two Parties worked together to set up an economic betrayal. And, the long-running saga of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also speak to elite failure, as well as betrayal.

These are the two most unpopular candidates in living memory. That is different.

I am not a believer in "the fire next time". Trump is a novelty act. He represents a chance for people who feel resentful without knowing much of anything about anything to cast a middle-finger vote. They wouldn't be willing to do that, if times were really bad, instead of just disappointing and distressing.

Nor will Sanders be back. His was a last New Deal coda. There may be second acts in American life, but there aren't 7th acts.

If there's a populist politics in our future, it will have to have a much sharper edge. It can talk about growth, but it has to mean smashing the rich and taking their stuff. There's very rapidly going to come a point where there's no other option, other than just accepting cramdown by the authoritarian surveillance state built by the neoliberals. that's a much taller order than Sanders or Trump have been offering.<

Michael Sullivan 08.12.16 at 8:06 pm 690

Corey, you write: "It's not just that the Dems went after Nixon, it's also that Nixon had so few allies. People on the right were furious with him because they felt after this huge ratification that the country had moved to the right, Nixon was still governing as if the New Deal were the consensus. So when the time came, he had very few defenders, except for loyalists like Leonard Garment and G. Gordon Liddy. And Al Haig, God bless him."

You've studied this more than I have, but this is at least somewhat at odds with my memory. I recall some prominent attackers of Nixon from the Republican party that were moderates, at least one of whom was essentially kicked out of the party for being too liberal in later years. There's also the fact Reagan tapped a fair number of Nixon people, as did W years later. Reagan went after Nixon in the sense of running against him, and taking the party in a much more hard-right direction, sure. But he was repudiated largely because he got caught doing dirty tricks with his pants down.

To think that something similar would happen to Clinton (watergate like scandal) that would actually have a large portion of the left in support of impeachment, she would have to be as dirty as Nixon was, *and* the evidence to really put the screws to her would have to be out, as it was against Nixon during watergate.

OTOH, my actual *hope* would be that a similar left-liberal sea change comparable to 1980 from the right would be plausible. I don't think a 1976-like interlude is plausible though, that would require the existence of a moderate republican with enough support within their own party to win the nomination. I suppose its possible that such a beast could come to exist if Trump loses a landslide, but most of the plausible candidates have already left or been kicked out of the party.

From what I can tell - the 1972 election gave the centrists in the democratic party power to discredit and marginalize the anti-war left, and with it, the left in general. A comparable election from the other side would give republican centrists/moderates the ability to discredit and marginalize the right wing base. But unlike Democrats in 1972, there aren't any moderates left in the Republican party by my lights. I'm much more concerned that this will simply re-empower the hard-core conservatives with plausbly-deniable dog-whistle racism who are now the "moderates", and enable them to whitewash their history.

Unfortunately, unlike you, I'm not convinced that a landslide is possible without an appeal to Reagan/Bush republicans. I don't think we're going to see a meaningful turn toward a real left until Democrats can win a majority of statehouses and clean up the ridiculous gerrymandering.

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.16 at 9:18 pm

Val: "Similarly with your comments on "identity politics" where you could almost be seen by MRAs and white supremacists as an ally, from the tone of your rhetoric."

That is 100% perfect Val. Insinuates that BW is a sort-of-ally of white supremacists - an infuriating insinuation. Does this insinuation based on a misreading of what he wrote. Completely resistant to any sort of suggestion that what she dishes out so expansively to others had better be something she should be willing to accept herself, or that she shouldn't do it. Ready even now to whine that she's a victim and that the whole community is at fault and that people are picking on her because she's a woman, rather than because she has a habit of making accusations like this every time she comments.

That is a perfect example of predatory "solidarity". Val is looking for dupes to support her - for people to jump in saying "Why are you being hostile to women?" in response to people's response to her comment.

[Nov 30, 2016] How the Global Left Destroyed Itself

Notable quotes:
"... Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of "discourse", as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all ..."
"... When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed. ..."
"... With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. ..."
"... But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!? ..."
"... Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let's face it, he had other priorities. ..."
"... This comment is a perfect example of the author's (and Adolf Reed's) point: that the so-called "Left" is so bogged down in issues of language that it has completely lost sight of class politics. ..."
"... It's why Trump won. He was a Viking swinging an ax at nuanced hair-splitters. It was inelegant and ugly, but effective. We will find out if the hair-splitters win again in their inner circle with the Democratic Minority Leader vote. I suspect they missed the point of the election and will vote Pelosi back in, thereby missing the chance for significant gains in the mid-term elections. ..."
"... One of the great triumphs of Those Who Continue To Be Our Rulers has been the infiltration and cooptation of 'the left', hand in hand with the 'dumbing down' of the last 30+ years so few people really understand what is going on. ..."
"... That the Global Left appears to be intellectually weak regarding identity politics and "political correctness" vs. class politics, there is no doubt. But to skim over Global Corporate leverage of this attitude seems wrong to me. The right has also embraced identity politics in order to keep the 90% fully divided in order to justify it's continual economic rape of both human and physical ecology. ..."
"... Every "identity politics" charge starts here, with one group wanting a more equitable social order and the other group defending the existing power structure. Identity politics is adjusting the social order and rattling the power structure, which is why it is so effective. ..."
"... I think it can be effectively argued that Trump voters in PA, WI, OH, MI chose to rattle the power structure and you could think of that as identity politics as well. ..."
"... On the contrary, the (Neo-)Liberal establishment uses identity politics to co-opt and neutralise the left. It keeps them occupied without threatening the real power structure in the least. ..."
"... Hillary (Neoliberal establishment) has many supporters who think of themselves as 'left' or 'liberal'. The Democratic Party leadership is neither 'left' nor 'liberal'. It keeps the votes and the love of the 'liberals' by talking up harmless 'liberal' identity politics and soft peddling the Liberal power politics which they are really about. ..."
"... Just from historical perspective, the right wing had more money to forward its agenda and an OCD like affliction [biblical] to drive simple memes relentlessly via its increasing private ownership of education and media. Thereby creating an institutional network over time to gain dominate market share in crafting the social narrative. Bloodly hell anyone remember Bush Jr Christian crusade after politicizing religion to get elected and the ramifications – neocon – R2P thingy . ..."
"... Its not hard once neoliberalism became dominate in the 70s [wages and productivity diverged] the proceeds have gone to the top and everyone else got credit IOUs based mostly on asset inflation via the Casino or RE [home and IP]. ..."
"... Foucault in particular advanced a greatly expanded wariness regarding the use of power. It was not just that left politics could only lead to ossified Soviet Marxism or the dogmatic petty despotism of the left splinters. Institutions in general mapped out social practices and attendant identities to impose on the individual. His position tended to promote a distrust not only of "grand narratives" but of organizational bonds as such. As far as I can tell, the idea of people joining together to form an institution that would enhance their social power as well as allow them to become personally empowered/enhanced was something of a categorial impossibility. ..."
"... There is no global left. We have only global state capitalists and global social democrats – a pseudo left. The countries where Marxist class analysis was supposedly adopted were not industrial countries where "alienation" had brought the "proletariat" to an inevitable communal mentality. The largest of these countries killed millions in order to industrialize rapidly – pretending the goal was to get to that state. ..."
"... Bigotry. Identity centered thinking. Neither serves egalitarianism. But people cling to them. "I gotta look out for myself first." And so called left thinkers constantly pontificate about "benefits" and "privileges" that some class, sex, and race confer. Hmmm. The logic is that many of us struggling daily to keep our jobs and pay the bills must give up something in order to be fair, in order to build a better society. Given this thinking it is no surprise that so many have retreated into the illusion of safety offered by identity based thinking. ..."
"... "Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket." ..."
"... But why does the Dem estab embrace the conservative neoliberal agenda? The Dem estab are smart people, can think on multiple levels, are not limited in scope, are not racist. So, why then does the Dem estab accept and promote the conservative GOP neoliberal economic agenda? ..."
"... Because the Dem estab isn't very smart. ..."
"... Conservative is: private property, capitalism, limited taxes and transfer payments plus national security and religion. ..."
"... Liberalism is not in opposition to any of that. Identity politics arose at the same time the Ds were purging the reds (socialists and communists) from their party. Liberalism/progressivism is an ameliorating position of conservatism (progressive support of labor unions to work within a private property/corporatist structure not to eliminate the system and replace it with public/employee ownership) Not too far, too fast, maybe toss out a few more crumbs. ..."
"... There is a foundation for identity politics on the liberal-left (see what I did there?) – it rests in the sense of moral superiority of just this liberal-left, which superiority is then patronisingly spread all over the social world – until it meets those who deny the moral superiority claim, whereupon it becomes murderous (in, of course, the name of humanity and humanitarianism). ..."
"... This is why the 1% continue to prevail over the 99%. If the 1% wasn't so incompetent this would continue forever. They know how to divide, conquer and rule the 99%, however they don't know how to run a society in a sustainable way. ..."
"... But I will say one thing for the Right over the Left: they have taken the initiative and are now the sole force for change. Granted, supporting a carnival barker for president is an act of desperation. Nevertheless he was the only option for change and the Right took it. Perhaps the Left offering little to nothing in the way of change reflects its lack of desperation. ..."
"... Excellent comment, EoinW! You just summed up years of content and commentary on this site. Obviously as the "Left" continues to defend the status quo as you describe it stops being "Left" in any meaningful way anymore. ..."
"... The Koch brothers are economically to the very right. They are socially to the left, perhaps even more socially liberal than many of your liberal friends. No joke. There's a point here, if I can figure out what it is. ..."
"... Trump isn't Right or Left. Trump is a can of gasoline and a match. His voters weren't voting for a Left or Right agenda. They were voting for a battering ram. That is why he got a pass on racist, misogynist, fascist statements that would have killed any other candidate. ..."
"... PC is a parody of the 20th Century reform movements. ..."
"... In the 70's the feminists worked against legal disabilities written into law. Since the Depression, the unions fought corporate management create a livable relationship between management and labor. Real struggles, real problems, real people. ..."
"... What's interesting is that in an article pushing class over identity. he never tried to set his class ethos in order to convince working class people or the bourgeoisie why they should listen to him. ..."
"... "This site, along with the MSM, has flown way off the handle since the election loss." ..."
"... "Our nation's problems can be remedied with one dramatic change" ..."
"... Bringing C level pay packages at major corporations in line with the real contributions of the recipients would be great. How would we