Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

The Iron Law of Oligarchy

"Who says organization, says oligarchy"

Version 1.4 (July 19, 2018)

News Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Recommended Books Recommended Links Two Party System as polyarchy The Deep State Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura
Bureaucracies Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Corporatism The Pareto Law  Audacious Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Inverted Totalitarism
New American Caste System  American Exceptionalism Amorality of neoliberal elite Neo-fascism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Pluralism as a myth What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump The importance of controlling the narrative Do the US intelligence agencies influence the US Presidential elections? US and British media are servants of security apparatus National Security State / Surveillance State Big Uncle is Watching You
The Power Elite Machiavellism In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Introduction

The Iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his book 1915 Political Parties. The book is now freely available as copyright expired,  and is well worth reading:

Robert Michels was a Professor of Political Economy and Statistics, University of Basle. He was an anarcho-syndicalist at the time he formulated the Iron Law of Oligarchy. He later became an important ideologue of Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy.

Drawing on his own disillusioning as a member and supporter of a social democratic party in early 20th century Germany, Michels described an interesting and convincing dynamics of large organizations such as political parties: as organization grows and get older there is a strong trend toward crystallization its own "party nomenklatura"  -- unaccountable to rank-and-file members party elite. He called this unaccountable part of political party leadership an oligarchy.   The current term "nomenklatura" is derived from the USSR  history. If was actual, semi-official term used to define unaccountable party elite.

The importance of the Iron Law of Oligarchy is that this law was the major continuing factor to the collapse of the USSR. While founded under noble slogans by a radical party it quickly degraded into oligarchic republic (not plutocratic like the USA, but oligarchic) in which Nomenklatura -- the ruling class consisting of high ranking members of the Communist party (and their extended families), high level managers in various enterprises (and their extended families ) and high level brass in military. After the death of Stalin, who tried to maintain the vitality of crated system with ruthless terror and performed periodic  "purges",  which provided the rotation of Nomenklatura they gradually started "enjoying their position" more. While their salaries were not much higher than ordinary workers (with few exceptions, the ratio in the USSR probably was below 1:10), they created the society within the society to service their needs (special vacations places, special shops, special everything), started sending  their children to Western universities, their wifes can shop in Paris, so they were behaving like mini oligarchs, without formally owning anything. In 1980th considerable faction of this class decided that  the the level of inequality m that resulted from their dominance name this social system unsustainable and is doomed to stagnation and technological backwardness (in condition of strict embargo of export of technologies imposed by the USA and its allies). And they can preserve their position by switching to neoliberalism. Which they did in a decade -- Dissolution of the USSR was driven by, as paradoxically as it sounds, KGB apparatus (starting from Andropov -- the major architect of conversion of the USSR into neoliberal society)  and  "renegade" tiny, but dedicated (and  supported by the West) faction of Politburo consisting of such people as Gorbachov (protégé of Andropov, nicknames for his mediocre political abilities  "combiner driver" as he started his career from this position), Alexander Yakovlev (the "godfather of glasnost"[, former ambassador in Canada, a Fulbright exchange student at Columbia University for one year ), Yegor Gaidar  (the victim of nepotism, being a child of prominent  revolutionary, the person educated in the USA)  and Eduard Shevardnadze (hand picked Gorbachov minister of Foreign Affairs) and several highly ranked academics such as Georgy Arbatov from Institute for US and Canadian Studies (actually the role of academic turncoats in the collapse of the USSR is similar to the role of neoliberal turncoats such as Milton Friedman in the USA in converting the country to neoliberalism.)  Their initial plan was just transition to neoliberal economy of the whole USSR (perestroika), but being mediocre politicians (actually Gorbachov was below the level of mediocre) they rocked the boat too much and it sunk -- the USSR dissolved. Perestroika and created by its structural elements of capitalism have been cited as major catalysts leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Not without major help of friendly intelligence agencies from the USA, GB and several other countries, and financial injection to help this transition happen ;-)

We also see this phenomenon, when a tiny faction dominated the whole party,  quite clearly in DNC and Podesta emails leaks.  In essence Sanders was illegitimately deprives of the possibility to represent Democratic Party in the most recent Presidential elections by the oligarchy of the Democratic Party (party Nomenklatura.)  Color revolution against Trump is another, but more modern and subtle, demonstration of the validity of the Iron Law of Oligarchy.  Here we see slow motion coup d'état against the leader that does nor "fit" onto ruling neoliberal elite (we leave the judgment or whether Trump should or should not be removed to the readers).   In other words, on state level the term "Deep State" describes essentially the same phenomenon as the "Iron rule of oligarchy." The only (and important) difference is that includes members of intelligence services into it.

Although Trump won election and being a billionaire belongs to the ruling class, he was not accepted by neoliberal oligarchy as a legitimate POTUS because he strayed during the election from fundamental postulates of neoliberalism (such a neoliberal globalization, offshoring of manufacturing and dropping of standard living of common Americans, permanent war for expansion and maintaining global neoliberal empire led from Washington, etc). That's why a color revolution (Russiagate, or Purple revolution)  was launched to depose him. It took just three months -- till April-May, 2017 for plotters to emasculate him. This is yet another demonstration of power of the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

The process of "crystallization" of  "Nomenklatura" in large organizations, parties and government agencies (such as the State Department, CIA, etc) is an objective self-reinforcing process. It inevitably starts even within the most democratically-oriented leadership of the political organizations. As the party grows, members very soon  become divided into an elite (or more correctly a set of elites, or party oligarchs, with their own set of distinctive and private interests) and the rank and file members, whose labor and resources are exploited by the elite. 

The process of "crystallization" of  "Nomenklatura" in large organizations, parties and government agencies (such as the State Department, CIA, etc) is an objective self-reinforcing process. It inevitably starts even within the most democratically-oriented leadership of the political organizations. As the party grows, members very soon  become divided into an elite (or more correctly a set of elites, or party oligarchs, with their own set of distinctive and private interests) and the rank and file members, whose labor and resources are exploited by the elite. 

That does mean that rank-and-file members can't revolt against Party elite as we saw with Sanders followers within the Democratic Party and Trump followers within the Republican Party in 2016 presidential elections. But such revolts are rare and usually successfully squashed.  Even if successful, the deviation from the law is temporary in nature, and  the process just repeats itself on a new level as new elite becomes more and more detached from rank-and-file members  who secured its ascendance to political Olymp.

The first condition precipitating the drift to such an oligarchical system is, ironically, success in recruiting new members to the organization’s cause. As organizations grow, the ability of members to participate equally in organizational decisions decline, both because it is hard to find a place and time for all members to assemble and because decision-making is significantly slowed -- not infrequently to a standstill -- as the number of decision-makers increases. The usual response is to such problems is creation of "leadership"  -- delegation of responsibility to a relatively small subset of members for formulating and recommending lines of action and policies. This is the first and enviable step of creation "native" oligarchy within the political organization.  The second step is "bureaucratization" of the organization.  At this point leadership no longer represents the interests of the rank-and-file party members. 

Although some members can see the writing on the wall and may attempt to maintain democratic control (for example, via limits on the terms in the office), a number of forces weaken any attempts to reverse this process. For example, effective administration requires both hard-to-gain, specialized knowledge of these aspects of the organization (Michels referred to this as “administrative secrets”), as well as scarce organizing talents, such as the ability to manage interpersonal relations, suppress dissent,  and to conduct logistical planning. Those talents provide leverage, which limits the ability of rank-and-file members to challenge leaders’ recommendations or decisions, and to replace the current leadership. Who gradually escape the control of rank-and-file members and start controlling them (tail is wagging the dog).

Effective administration requires both hard-to-gain, specialized knowledge of well hidden aspects of the organization (Michels referred to this as “administrative secrets”), as well as scarce organizing talents, such as the ability to manage interpersonal relations, suppress dissent,  and to conduct logistical planning. Only few people naturally have (or can acquire) such capabilities, and some of them happen to be in a right time at the right place to be promoted to the top

So power in large organizations based on democratic principle, and that are ruled by the elected leadership, such as parties, trade unions gradually tend to concentrated at the top with the same leaders elected again and again.  Moreover, once elected leaders are likely to acquire vested interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, especially due to the fact that with growing number of members the complexity leads to the creation of full-time administrative positions.  But as times passes the current elite ages, stagnate, lost the grip with reality,  and other faction of the party elite can depose them and seize the power.  Nothing is permanent under the Sun.  In any case the rue of single person is limited by human longevity and rarely exceed 40 years (assuming that a particular person came to power at 35 and lasted till 75.)

Crystallization of organization bureaucracy and emergence of hierarchical structure

Organization arise from the need of weak to fight the strong, to fight for their  right. And there is strength in numbers.  But the mere growth of organization changes organizational dynamics and requires new method of governance. That creates need for "management professionals" who devote all their time to solving organizational problems. Those people no matter how idealistic in the beginning by the weight of their position and acquired power gradually start abusing it detaching from the need of rank-and-file members. If organization survives and prosper they later inevitably turn into organizational oligarchy. As Michels noted

" ...Be the claims economic or be they political, organization appears the only means for the creation of a collective will. Organization, based as it is upon the principle of least effort, that is to say, upon the greatest possible economy of energy, is the weapon of the weak in their struggle with the strong.

The chances of success in any struggle will depend upon the degree to which this struggle is carried out upon a basis of solidarity between individuals whose interests are identical. In objecting, therefore, to the theories of the individualist anarchists that nothing could please the employers better than the dispersion and disaggregation of the forces of the workers, the socialists, the most fanatical of all 'the partisans of the idea of organization, enunciate an argument which harmonizes well with the results of scientific study of the nature of parties.'

Iron law postulates that the process of "crystallization" of large organization bureaucracy starts spontaneously and at the end lead to uncontrolled oligarchy at the top of the organization. Such bureaucracy initially consists only of elected members, but later it is enhanced by unelected members. On state level the most important unelected members proved to be members of intelligence agencies.

Such members can and often do ally with the "elected oligarchy" and form a clique to protect their interests.  And this often happens: for this "newly minted" elite holding the office becomes the way of making living,  which makes it likely that the leaders recognize their common interests in maintaining their positions within the organization, and develop a sense of solidarity with one another (becoming, in Marxist terminology, something like a privileged class, a local aristocracy).

As such, they are inclined to act cohesively in fending off criticisms and warding off displacement efforts by the membership. If serious challenges are not readily suppressed, the leaders may resort to cooptation of individual rank-and-file members who challenge the status quo, thus effectively hobbling lower-level resistance.

In other words growth of the organization alone tend to lead to crystallization of oligarchy with this it. That means that the simplest (and oversimplified) formulation of the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' can be slogan-like: "Who says organization, says oligarchy."  The inevitability of oligarchy in political parties, trade unions, and other "democratic" organizations impose severe limited in the realization of democratic principles with in the organization,/ Essentially democracy is gradually suppresses and subverted, only illusion of it is preserved (as, for example in any two party system of governance) and serves to legitimize the ruling oligarchy.

This idea of Michel has been strikingly confirmed since the publication of the book.  So now the "iron law of oligarchy" is as close to a social law as one can get. 

Iron law of oligarchy simply postulate that growth of any political (or simply complex) organization requires creation of hierarchy which in turn self-generate its own elite

In essence, Iron law of oligarchy simply postulate that growth of any political (or simply complex) organization requires creation of hierarchy which in turn  self-generate its own elite, an oligarchy that has a disproportional influence on the decisions made in the organization. Once created, such an elite becomes  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 the "ideal of  Liberal democracy". It 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.

At the very basic level strength (both physical and the character), intellect and cunning are three qualities which typically set leaders apart from the masses of the led. Authority -- the right to lead -- is always gained through some type of intra-party/intra-group competition that implicitly or explicitly tests these qualities. In small groups in the past (and in high school even today) its can be even an actual fight. The desire to dominate, and the expectation of the rewards that accompany domination, presumably are what motivate certain individuals to enter this competition and fight to win.

The suggested mechanism of self-selection of  the elite  has something in common with the neoliberal doctrine (which we all know now is a false social doctrine, similar to Trotskyism), which also claims that the competition for preeminence is the primary characteristic of human societies. It extrapolates the concept of alpha male in primates to human societies.

Neoliberalism extrapolates the concept of alpha male in primates to human societies.

Still on  the level of particular political organization, it is probably undisputable, that the possession of some characteristic highly valued in political sphere, can, with some luck, elevate an individual to the elite status. We saw such upward mobility in the USA in the past: several US Presidents were from low middle class (for example Harry Truman, Bill Clinton, Barak Obama; in the two last cases the role CIA in their elevation is unclear and might well be decisive).

That means that those individual that have the most of the qualities we would like to have ourselves can advance into elite, given persistence  and luck or initial affiliation with the "Deep State". 

Iron law of oligarchy sees the elite as a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized quality

So we can assume ( nepotism notwithstanding) that political elites are those who are able to discern political trends better then other and as a result are able to accumulate by various means political power. This is essentially Gaetano Mosca's definition of the elite -- a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized qualities.

The elite -- a minority set off from the masses by the possession of some prized qualities.

Although leadership by elites and the moral justification for it no doubt predated written human history, the philosophical origins of the Western tradition of elitism lies with the Greeks, ironically also the authors of democracy. For example, Plato put forth an unabashed apology for political rule by intellectual elites.

Speaking still of elites in general, rather than political elites specifically, we can point out three main characteristics of elites: exclusivity, superiority, and domination.

Suzanne Keller also pointed out that while there is a ruling class, at least in industrial societies, it is not homogenous like Marxists assume.  Industrial societies are so differentiated, and there are so many areas of human activity, that no one particular social group can dominate every aspect. So different parts of the "elite" exist is different "pockets", which might overlap. There is also hierarchy within the elites with the political and financial elites (aka financial oligarchy) being at the top of the pecking order.  Especially under  neoliberalism, which, in a way, was the counter-revolution of financial elite -- a successful attempt of restoration of the power that financial elite has had before the New Deal.

Of cause with highly compartmentalized life typical for modern societies and advances in technology,  the new "sub-élites" are formed in in places that iether did not exist before or were not that important. For example military industrial complex now represent a formidable political force (as President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address to he nation) , as are some other  "strategically placed" strata of elites (Silicon Valley billionaires from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, CISCO and similar tech giants; Hollywood and  media elite;  etc) that dominate different areas of life in modern societies and delegate their members into upper level of elite hierarchy. 

A political elite, then, is a group that dominates the political life of a society (and that means the society as a whole), which at least in the past (degeneration of elite is a real problem) was superior in political skills (keeping in mind that the types of skills valuable for politics vary and can include duplicity and murderousness as well as rhetorical skill and persuasiveness).

According to iron law of oligarchy they are by-and-large insulated from everyday contact with the larger society (including their electorate; as in "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go" ) and are unaccountable to voters.

A considerable literature exists around the problem of defining the boundaries of the political elite, how it is composed within a given society (C. Wright Mills classic The Power Elite was written in 1956), drawing the line between the elite and sub-elites, as well as social mobility issues.

Moderating influence of forming of the oligarchy on radical organization

Because the elite continued existence is linked to the survival of the organizations, leaders of initially radical organizations with time tend to adopt more conservative, conciliatory positions in order to minimize chances of suppression of the organization by the state (digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu).  For example, the leaders of large gangs try to establish links with law enforcement and bribe politicians to ensure their survival.

This is the second important effect observed in the context of the "iron law": not only hieratical structure spontaneously emerges, the elite itself gradually, with time became more moderate and more corrupt.  As Britannica article of the subject states (Britannica.com):

Michels insisted that the chasm separating elite leaders from rank-and-file members would also steer organizations toward strategic moderation, as key organizational decisions would ultimately be taken more in accordance with leaders’ self-serving priorities of organizational survival and stability than with members’ preferences and demands.

As it became entranced in power, the elite or any large organization has things to lose and thus tend to avoid excessive risks, especially risks that put in danger the existence of the organization. Do no matter how radical the organization is, as some as it is "oligarchazed" it becomes much less radical. This trend was reflected in the old European saying "Social democrat who became a minister is  not a social-democratic minister".

Not only hieratical structure spontaneously emerges in large organizations, the elite itself gradually, with time became more moderate and more corrupt.  As it became entranced in power, the elite or any large organization has things to lose and thus tend to avoid excessive risks, especially risks that put in danger the existence of the organization. Do no matter how radical the organization is, as some as it is "oligarchazed" it becomes much less radical. This trend was reflected in the old European saying "Social democrat who became a minister is  not a social-democratic minister".

The same sad trend, up to and including the total betrayal of the interests of rank-and-file members, is observable in the US trade union movement.

Still, as we mentioned before, the most drastic example is the compete betrayal of the rank-and-file members was the betrayal of the USSR Nomenklatura of the "Communist ideals" by members of the Politburo, KGB brass,  administrative and academic elite in the USSR. In 70 years they went from from radical left wing sect into a bunch of corrupt neoliberals (essentially turncoats)  ready to fleece the country and sell its industry, natural resources and infrastructure for pennies on the dollar as long as at least one penny ends in their own pocket. 

With some leaders of Young Communist League turned into gangster-style capitalists in no time (Khodorkovsky). The level of corruption of academics was also very notable and not less staggering (Arbatov, Berezovsky, etc) and also proved its share of gangster-style capitalists (Berezovsky)

Iron law of oligarchy as a powerful argument
against the possibility of  "permanent stability"  in human societies

"Iron law of oligarchy" represents a powerful argument against possibility of  "permanent stability"  in human societies. As Minsky told us "stability is destabilizing" and that observation  looks even more pertinent in view of the existence of the  "Iron law of oligarchy".  As the elite which got power degrades and becomes more corrupt, newcomers want to displace it. But due to entrenchment of existing elite (which, of cause, tried to make their rule permanent and practices nepotism) such a "regime change" often is possible only by violent means. That's why the institutionalized mechanisms for the "rotation of elite" are so important. 

Every solidly constructed organization, whether it be a democratic state, a political party, or a league of proletarians for the resistance of economic oppression, presents a soil eminently favorable for the differentiation of organs and of functions. The more extended and the more ramified the official apparatus of the organization, the greater the number of its members, the fuller its treasury, and the more widely circulated its press, the less efficient becomes the direct control exercised by the rank and file, and the more is this control replaced by the increasing
power of committees.

Into all parties there insinuates itself that indirect electoral system which in public life the democratic parties fight against with all possible vigor. Yet in party life the influence of this system must be more disastrous than in the far more extensive life of the state. Even in the party congresses, which represent the party-life seven times sifted, we find that it becomes more and more general to refer all important questions to committees which debate in camera.

At the same time any revolution, at the end, is just a change on the top layer of elite. Which means that they seldom achieve stated goals, especially if such goals include equality and social justice. The fundamental distinction between the elite and rank-and-file members is always preserved and, paradoxically, often enhanced.  So the net result is in unforgettable words of Russian Prime minister Chernomyrdin  "“Everybody wanted improvements, but the net result we got is the same old, the same old..."  (in the Economist translation “We wanted to do our best, but got the usual crappy results.” ―  Viktor Chernomyrdin - Wikiquote)

As Michels noted in his book Political Parties

...society cannot exist without a …dominant… or… political class, and that the ruling class, while its elements are subject to frequent partial renewal, nevertheless constitutes the only factor of sufficiently durable efficacy in the history of human development. [The government, or, … the state, cannot be anything other than the organization of a minority. It is the aim of this minority to impose upon the rest of society a “legal order” which is the outcome of the exigencies of dominion and of the exploitation of the mass …

Even when the discontent of the masses culminates in a successful attempt to deprive the bourgeoisie of power, this is … effected only in appearance; always and necessarily there springs from the masses a new organized minority which raises itself to the rank of a governing class…” (pp. 353-354).

Elite is an organized minority, which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file members

The key here is that elite (oligarchy) on any complex organization always holds the lion share of  political power and that this power is independent of any democratic elections, or revolutions:

The practical ideal of democracy consists in the self-government of the masses in conformity with the decisions of popular assemblies. But while this system limits the extension of the principle of delegation, it fails to provide any guarantee against the formation of an oligarchical camarilla. Undoubtedly it deprives the natural leaders of their quality as functionaries, for this quality is transferred to the people themselves. The crowd, however, is always subject to suggestion, being readily influenced by the eloquence of great popular orators ; moreover, direct government by the people, admitting of no serious discussions or thoughtful deliberations, greatly facilitates coups de main of all kinds by men who are exceptionally bold, energetic, and adroit;

It is easier to dominate a large crowd than a small audience. The adhesion of the crowd is tumultuous, summary, and unconditional. Once the suggestions have taken effect, the crowd does not readily tolerate contradiction from a small minority, and still less from isolated individuals. A great multitude assembled within a small area is unquestionably more accessible to panic

... ... ...

The sovereign masses are altogether incapable of undertaking the most necessary resolutions. The impotence of direct democracy, like the power of indirect democracy, is a direct outcome of the influence of number. In a polemic against Proudhon (1849), Louis Blanc asks whether it is possible for thirty-four millions of human beings (the population of France at that time) to carry on their affairs without accepting what the pettiest man of business finds necessary, the intermediation of representatives.

... ... ...

Organization implies the tendency to oligarchy. In every organization, whether it be a political party, a professional union, or any other association of the kind, the aristocratic tendency manifests itself very clearly. The mechanism of the organization, while conferring a solidity of structure, induces serious changes in the organized mass, completely inverting the respective position of the leaders and the led. As a result of organization, every party or professional union becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of directed.

...It has been remarked that in the lower stages of civilization tyranny is dominant. Democracy cannot come into existence until there is attained a subsequent and more highly developed stage of social life. Freedoms and privileges, and among these latter the privilege of taking part in the direction of public a change in the relationship between the leaders and the mass. For the comradely leadership of local committees with all its undeniable defects there is substituted the professional leadership of the trade-union officials.

Initiative and capacity for decision thus become what may be called a professional speciality, whilst for the rank and file is left the passive virtue of discipline. There can be no doubt that this seamy side of officialism involves serious dangers for the party. The latest innovation in this direction, in the German social democratic party, is the appointment of salaried secretaries to the local branches. Unless the rank and file of the party keep very much on the alert, unless they are careful that these secretaries shall be restricted to purely executive functions, the secretaries will come to be regarded as the natural and sole depositaries of all power of initiative, and  as the exclusive leaders of local party life.

In the socialist party, however, by the nature of things, by the very character of the political struggle, narrower limits are imposed upon bureaucracy than in the case of the trade unions. In these latter, the technical specialization of the wage-struggle (the need, for example, for the drafting of complicated sliding scales and  the like) often leads the chiefs to deny that the mass of organized workers can possess "a general view of the economic life of the country as a whole," and to deny, therefore, their capacity of judgment in such matters.

The most typical outcome of this conception is afforded by the argument  with which the leaders are accustomed to forbid all theoretical criticism of the prospects and possibilities of practical trade-unionism, asserting that such criticism involves a danger for the spirit of organization. This reasoning starts from the assumption that the workers can be won for organization  and can be induced to remain faithful to their trade-unions only by a blind and artless belief in the saving efficacy of the trade-union struggle ' ' (Rosa Luxemburg, Massenstreih, Partei u. GewerTcschaften, Erdmann Dubber,  Hamburg, 1906, p. 61).

Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").

 Elite is an organized minority which always outmaneuver and outsmart the rank-and-file of the particular organization ("unorganized majority").

It is important to understand that there is a hierarchy within the elites too: it is composed of the "the top guns"  and the sub-elites. and this there is an internal struggle within the elite (see Russiagate and Ukrainegate). It also can take the violent forms (JFK assassination by CIA brass) 

Robert Michels observations were based on the fact that the socialist parties of Europe, despite their democratic ideology and provisions for mass participation, were completely and irrevocably dominated by their leaders (often with the elements of the "cult of personality"), just as the traditional conservative parties. Generalizing this phenomena he stated that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably evolve into oligarchies.

It is indisputable that the oligarchical and bureaucratic tendency of party organization is a matter of technical and practical necessity. It is the inevitable product of the very principle of organization.

For technical and administrative reasons, no less than for tactical reasons, a strong organization needs an equally strong leadership.

... ... ...

To represent, in this sense, comes to mean that the purely individual desire masquerades and is accepted as the will of the mass. In certain isolated cases, where the questions involved are extremely simple, and where the delegated authority is of brief duration, representation is possible. But permanent representation will always be tantamount to the exercise of dominion by the representatives over the represented.

... ... ....

Louis XIV understood the art of government as have few princes either before or since, and this was the case above all in the first half of his reign, when his spirit was still young and fresh. In his memoirs of the year 1666, he lays down for every branch of the administration, and more especially for the conduct of military affairs, the following essential rules: "que les resolutions doivent etre promptes, la discipline exact, les commandements absolus, I'obeissance ponctuelle."^ The essentials thus enumerated by Lous (promptness of decision, unity of command, and strictness of discipline) are equally applicable, mutaiis mutandis, to the various aggregates of modern political life, for these are in a perpetual condition of latent warfare.

The modern party is a fighting organization in the political sense of the term, and must as such conform to the laws of tactics. Now the first article of these laws is facility of mobilization. Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of a revolutionary labour party, recognized this long ago, contending that the dictatorship which existed in fact in the society over which he presided was as thoroughly justified in theory as it was indispensable in practice. The rank and file, he said, must follow their chief blindly, and the whole organization must be like a hammer in the hands of its president.

... ... ...

In the daily struggle, nothing but a certain degree of csesarism will ensure the rapid transmission and the precise execution of orders. The Dutch socialist. Van Kol, frankly declares that true democracy cannot be installed until the fight is over.

The elite can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force

The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the  "best representatives".  This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.  

The detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society

In this sense the "iron law of oligarchy" can be viewed as a "backdoor" way of introduction of the idea of class society, where upper class suppress and exploit lower classes creating instability that lead to social cataclysms such as social revolutions, uprising and such. 

It is especially noticeable on the level of countries not on the level of single political parties or other organization.  Iron law of oligarchy, in a way, can be viewed as a "backdoor" way of introduction of the idea of class society, where upper class suppress and exploit lower classes.

Prominent examples here are Bolsheviks, national socialists as well as neoliberal elite, especially neocons. The latter should be understood as lobbyists of military industrial complex and the level of detachment of the USA foreign policy from the need of the USA lower 90% of population is staggering  and in the past was achieved only in some absolutists regimes.

The elite actually can be quite hostile to the society (or organization) at large and behave more like an occupation force then the "best representatives". This detachment of elite from the interests of underling organization or society and  the immanent tendency to pursue their own, narrowly understood political and economic interests is the major source of instability in the society.

This gap between policies of the elite and desire of "masses" is not always negative. But it can be like in case of, say, US neocons, who from the very beginning was a reactionary, destructive force in the US society, driving up the influence of military industrial complex and serving as MIC lobbyists par excellence.  But typically the dynamics is more complex and the changes hatched by  elite can sometimes improve the life of "masses", while initially those "masses" oppose them.

Common people, "masses" should not be idealized iether

Such an idealization, in the form of uncritical idealization of workers (the proletariat") is an immanent part of Marxism, which make it somewhat similar to a secular religion.

In reality, common people, "masses" should not be idealized iether. There is the whole set of issues with mass psychology including but not limited to of issues related to ConformismGroupthink and the psychology of crowds. Typically "organizational rank and file" display high level of "groupthink", which makes possible such  phenomenon as McCarthyism -- a witch hunt unleashed the the elite which desire to increase the cohesion of the organization and eliminate any and all opposition.  

Not only they tend to create the "cult of personality" within the particular organization. They often do not understand and resent the ideas/policies of the leaders which at the end are the most beneficiary for them personally and adhere to supporting self-destructing policies (this effect is called "What's the matter with Kansas" as it was describes in the book with the same title)

 Most people are altogether devoid of understanding of the actions and reactions between that organism we call the state and their private interests, their prosperity, and their life. As de Tocqueville expresses it, they regard it as far more important to consider "s'il faut faire passer un chemin au bout de leur domaine"^ than to interest themselves in the general work of public administration. The majority is content, with Stirner, to call out to the state, "Get away from between me and the sun!"

Stirner makes fun of all those who, in accordance vsdth the views of Kant, preach it to humanity as a  ' sacred duty ' ' to take an interest in public affairs. ' ' Let those persons who have a personal interest in political changes concern themselves with these. Neither now nor at any future time will 'sacred duty' lead people to trouble themselves about the
 

Key Findings

By studying the political parties of his time Michels came to the conclusion that the problem is connected with the very nature of organizations. Development of the modern democracy allowed the formation of organization like political parties. Paradoxically, any such organization, when growing in complexity, gradually become  less and less democratic. And this process is immanent, objective and does not depend  of quality of leaders or nature of the organization. Michels outlines several important factors which serve as a foundation of the "Iron Law of Oligarchy":

In other words rule by an elite (aka "oligarchy") is inevitable within any large organization because the set of  objectively existing  "tactical and technical necessities" immanent to complex organizations.  Moreover, intellectuals within such political organizations tend to become oligarchs. The history of the USSR is a very  sobering example of this trend. Michels particularly addressed the interaction of this law with the idea of  democracy and found the latter illusionary. He 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."

The organizational characteristics that promote oligarchy are reinforced by certain characteristics of both leaders and members of organizations. People achieve leadership positions precisely because they have political talent; they are adept at getting their way and persuading others of the correctness of their views.

Once they hold high office, their power and prestige is further increased and "lock-in" quickly happens.  Leaders have access to, and control over, information and facilities that are not available to the rank-and-file. They control the information that flows down the channels of communication. Leaders are also strongly motivated to persuade the organization of the rightness of their views, and they use all of their skills, power and authority to do so.[3]

By design of any complex organization as a hierarchical structure, rank and file are less informed than their "superiors." Finally, from birth, people are taught to obey those in positions of authority. Therefore the rank and file tend to look to leaders for policy directives and are generally prepared to allow leaders to exercise their judgment on most matters even to detriment of their own interests.

Leaders also control and have the ability to apply very powerful negative and positive sanctions to promote the behavior of rank-and-file members that they desire. Classic example is patriotic fervor during wars even if the was in clearly has offensive nor defensive character like it was with the Iraq was. 

The leaders have the power to control communication,  grant or deny raises, assign workloads, fire, demote and — that most gratifying of all sanctions — the power to promote. There is now  doubt that they tend to promote junior officials who share their opinions and can be counted on being loyal, with the result that the oligarchy becomes more and more entrenched and self-perpetuating. Therefore the very nature of large-scale organization makes oligarchy within these organizations inevitable. Bureaucracy, by design, promotes the centralization of power and concentration it at the very top of the organization.

Democratic Parties typically are not that democratic

While the US Democratic Party now is glaring example of internal (clan) wars (with Clinton clan clinging for power after humiliating defeat), this is is not a new phenomenon. As Robert Michels observed (p 50)

In the life of modern democratic parties we may observe signs of similar indifference. It is only a minority which participates in party decisions, and sometimes that minority is ludicrously small. The most important resolutions taken by the most democratic of all parties, the socialist party, always emanate from a handful of the members. It is true that the renouncement of  the exercise of democratic rights is voluntary; except in those cases, which are common enough, where the active participation of the organized mass in party life is prevented by geographical or topographical conditions.

Speaking generally, it is the urban part of the organization which decides everything; the duties of the members living in country districts and in remote provincial towns are greatly restricted ; they are expected to pay their subscriptions and to vote during elections in favour of the candidates selected by the organization of the great town.

There is here at work the influence of tactical considerations as well as that of local conditions. The preponderance of the townsmen over the scattered country members corresponds to the necessity of promptness in decision and speed in action to which allusion was made in an earlier chapter.

... ... ...

It may be added that the regular attendants at public meetings and committees are by no means always proletarians — especially where the smaller centres are concerned. When his work is finished, the proletarian can think only of rest, and of getting to bed in good time. His place at meetings is taken by petty bourgeois, by those who come to sell newspapers and picture-postcards, by clerks, by young intellectuals who have not yet got a position in their own circle, people who are all glad to hear themselves spoken of as authentic proletarians and to be glorified as the class of the future.*

The same thing happens in party life as happens in the state. In both, the demand for monetary supplies is upon a coercive foundation, but the electoral system has no established sanction. An electoral right exists, but no electoral duty. Until this duty is superimposed upon the right, it appears probable that a small minority only will continue to avail itself of the right which the majority voluntarily renounces, and that the minority will always dictate laws for the indifferent and apathetic mass.

New view on the modern history

From this point of view the XXth century revolutions in Russia and China, it was not "workers and peasants" revolutions, as Marxists try to present. They were coups d'état of a narrow circle of intellectuals representing interests of lower middle class and organized as a radical political party with the explicit goal to depose existing elite and became a new elite themselves:

In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that "[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder."

Those revolutions gave the birth of the world first totalitarian regimes which raised the level of detachment and hostility of the elite to the rank-and-file members of society to a new historical level (now dutifully reproduced by the US neoliberal elite)

Similarly, the disintegration of the USSR was not so much due to the growth of democratic tendencies of the population. Even such factors as  inefficiency of the socialist mode of production and PC computers and Internet revolution that made state control of information more difficult, were not decisive.  All those factors were present, but the key factor was that the growth of globalism,  increased neoliberal tendencies of the USSR elite (including first of all KGB elite, which produced several high raking defectors to the USA including at least one general).

The latter decided to privatize the country and join the club or Western neoliberal elites in short and swift neoliberal Coup d'état, essentially structured as a color revolution.  This integration of the new xUSSR elite with Western Elites for which Soviet nomenklarura stived so hard, did happened, but on West (aka vassal) terms, as nobody eliminated hierarchy with in the global elite. So this romance, which flourished during Yeltsin years (which were years of economic rape of Russia by he West and local, mostly Jewish oligarchs) partially came to an end with the election of President Putin. Some "neoliberal oligarchs", who resisted the change ended in exile, and one even managed to get into jail.  

In general any successful national-liberation and socialist movement which run under populist and democratic slogans in reality tend to have the same "elite displacement" property, when old elite is replaced or supplemented by a new one. Which can be more cruel toward population then the previous one. 

In this sense Machiavelli idea that there is nothing more dangerous then to institute a social change has new, pretty  menacing meaning.  Please look at EuroMaidan at the most recent example of the elite change and what it brought to rank-and-file Ukrainians.  The standard of living dropped at least by half from 2014 to 2016.

Democracy as a utopian ideal

The Iron law of oligarchy is generally recognized to be one of the most devastating propositions in all social sciences as it undermines a cornerstone both liberal-democratic and Marxist theories -- the viability of democracy as direct rule of people.

The Iron law of oligarchy also suggests that competition for power in "Western democracies" is far from "perfect" and is limited to competition with the elite (approximately top 0.01% of the population). Institutions which provide for minority rights, checks and balances are just sweet political coatings over bitter socio-economic pills. 

They also serve as the pressure valves for channeling discontent into more palatable forms, but are little more then that.  Looks like Marxists were right that without greater economic equality democracy is completely impossible (but economic equality is impossible in its own right, at least within current civilizational framework -- oil age). But, at the same time,  they were wrong that an economically egalitarian society is viable, as self-generation of elites in any society and elite grabbing the society resources  can't be stopped.  The history of the USSR is an interesting demonstration of a viability of iron law of oligarchy even in the context of  by-and-large theocratic society.  At the end Bolsheviks elite changed (paradoxically with KGB elite in the forefront of this betrayal)  sides and adopted neoliberal model plunging the population into chaos and several times lowering achieved (not that high) standard of living of Soviet people. Including confiscation of all saving and devaluing of currency, which put pensioners on real starvation/survival mode.

In the USSR oligarchy (aka nomenklatura) self-emerged in less then 10 years from the  revolution and ruled for all the short USSR history. It is well described in Michael Voslensky book Nomenklatura The Soviet Ruling Class . Actually Politburo of CPSU became a gravitational center of the new "soviet" oligarchy (which like old aristocracy was hereditary) . In comparison with the USSR with its rigid one-party system, the USA employs more sophisticated system  of two party rule, which actually proved to be less brutal, but, at the same time, more efficient in sustaining of the rule of oligarchy (Two Party System as Polyarchy).

Recently this system started to advance "false flag candidates" (Obama, Trump, candidates specifically selected due to lack of their political experince and as such capable to promise "change we can believe in", performing brutal "bait and  switch" maneuver after the election.

Indirectly the "iron rule of oligarchy" also badly reflects on the US foreign policy, making "promotion of democracy" to look like a smoke screen behind which naked economic and imperial interests hide. For example, the recent Hillary Clinton stance of Libya and Syria looks like hypocritical nonsense that masks geopolitical and economic energy security considerations. It is just a  "regime change" in which a different, more friendly to US interests part of national oligarchy, comes to power.  

The Iron Law of Oligarchy also makes clear that the current ruling regime in the USA has very little to do with the democracy and a lot with the defense of the interests of top one (or more correctly 0.01%) of population.  

Still, improvement in socio-economic welfare matters as it does increase economic sovereignty of individuals and limit the number of degrees of freedom that oligarchy enjoys. The poorer (and less economically secure) are the people, the easier they are manipulated. So egalitarian ideal still has distinct democratic and general social value. 

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.

According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organizations are incompatible. In this sense democracy is and always will be a utopian ideal. 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.  But the "degree of separation" and attachment of the elite to larger society goals can vary greatly. For example during the period of existence of the USSR, the US elite was forced to hide their cannibalistic tendencies and produced the period in the US history that was truly "gold age" for the US middle class.  This period ended with the accent of neoliberalism in 1970th and culminated with the election of President Reagan. 

Iron law of oligarchy and the process of stratification of society

The degree of inequality in a given asset (e. g., income) depends, of course, on its dispersion or concentration of wealth across the individuals in the population. Although many scholars seek to characterize the overall level of societal inequality with a single parameter, such attempts will obviously be compromised insofar as some types of assets are distributed more equally than others.

This complexity clearly arises in the case of modern stratification systems, for instance, the recent emergence of "social rights" suggests that civil goods are now more equally dispersed across all citizens, whereas economic and political goods continue to be disproportionately controlled by a relatively small elite -- financial oligarchy.  And under neoliberalism this level of concentration of ownership of economic assets  and corresponding level of inequality gradually rises puting the stability of the society at risk.  From the point of view of iron law if oligarchy neoliberalism is inherently unstable, doomed social system.

In nearly all models of advanced industrial society, education is the principal mechanism by which individuals are sorted into such classes; in a way educational institutions serve to "license" human capital (if we use this neoliberal term) and convert it to cultural currency.

Emergence of global elite, financial oligarchy

One of the most recent social phenomenon is the emergence of global elite. It is represented by-and-large by parts of nations financial oligarchy with some additions of employees of international organization (World Bank, IMF, etc), high-tech companies and transnational corporations.  Here the iron law of oligarchy which previously was limited to state borders started to operate on new transnational level with the  self-organizing Politburo world (with membership concentrated on top echelons of elites of  G7 countries) and vassals, subservient elites which in effect are not so different from a regular party members on the international scheme.  In other words some parts of the elite and first of all financial oligarchy concentrated at the West converted themselves into super elite.

Financial oligarchy proved to be different from other types of oligarchy: from the very beginning it is transnational and as such is inclined to the betray the interests of home country population.  Also unlike other parts of oligarchy in the particular county, financial elite it is more parasitic and exists mainly as additional tax layer for the population. Despite the claims made by paid cheerleaders of megabanks, too big to fail banks extract huge taxpayer subsidies. This capture of the countries by a parasitic transnational financial elite is a new development and it changes the applicability of the law of oligarchy in a very unexpected way: the emerging clique of super-rich financial moguls are practically becoming their own nation, buying houses and keeping assets outside their country of primary residence. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s this transnational oligarchy is increasingly looks like a virtual "super nation".  Those “Supercitizens” are by-and-large above law,  unless the crime is committed against another supercitizen.

Also within a single country we are now seeing  not a single economy, but rather two fundamentally different and separate types of economy. This growing gap between the rich and non-rich has been evident for years. In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest”:

In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

Unlike previous oligarchies, members of the global elite generally stick to a globalist perspective and do not contribute to the economic growth of their home countries. They are becoming a transnational community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen. Ordinary people find themselves living in a globalized plutocracy, in which the superrich display acute indifference to the interest of "natives", and openly pursue narrow self-interest with callous indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic kingdom.

Financial elite of international financial organization such as IMF and World Bank is an interesting special case: 

"Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged.

As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.

The former French finance minister took over as managing director of the IMF last year when she succeeded her disgraced compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign after he faced charges – later dropped – of sexually attacking a New York hotel maid.

Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it.

The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees – article 34 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961, which has been signed by 187 states, declares: "A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal."

According to Lagarde's contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract.

Base salaries range from $46,000 to $80,521. Senior salaries range between $95,394 and $123,033 but these are topped up with adjustments for the cost of living in different countries. A UN worker based in Geneva, for example, will see their base salary increased by 106%, in Bonn by 50.6%, Paris 62% and Peshawar 38.6%. Even in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, one of the poorest areas of the world, a UN employee's salary will be increased by 53.2%.

Other benefits include rent subsidies, dependency allowances for spouses and children, education grants for school-age children and travel and shipping expenses, as well as subsidized medical insurance.

For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers' expense.

During the 1944 economic conference at Bretton Woods, where the IMF was created, American and British politicians disagreed over salaries for the bureaucrats. British delegates, including the economist John Maynard Keynes, considered the American proposals for salaries to be "monstrous", but lost the argument.

Officials from the various organizations have long maintained that the high salaries are a way of attracting talent from the private sector. In fact, most senior employees are recruited from government posts."

As Jesse wrote in his blog Jesse's Café Américain

Politicians from both sides of the aisle will swear pious oaths to protect and foster the well being of the middle class. They will say that their policies and proposals are all designed for its betterment. And yet the state of the middle class continues to dwindle into despair and disrepair. Why is this?

It is not because of the predominance of a right or left ideology, of taxation and deficits and austerity. It is not because of the re-emergence of a perversion of the gospel, in the predestination of prosperity. We have seen all this before. It is not because in our comfort we have lost the sense of the imperative of common cause.

It is because of the overwhelming corruption of power, and of the cynical amorality of thoroughly modern political managers who worship power and personal wealth as ends unto themselves. They distract the people with artificially divisive social issues and crises, while robbing them blind.

It is driven by the allure of the cartels, monopolies, and monied interests, and their corrupt political bargains. It is a child of the subornation of perjury on a massive scale. It is the unscrupulous servility to power of those who have sworn to uphold and protect the law. What is truth? Whatever suits us, whatever we say it is, by whoever has the power and the craft to define 'we.' It is not the triumph of evil so much as the absence of any sense of the good, of honor, honesty, and of simple common decency.

And it is marked by the daily subverting of the law as a matter of convenience and comfort to the insatiable few, and the cravenness of their enablers, driven by personal ambition, ignorance, and fear. It is the will to power, the elevation of the ascendant self and the system that supports it, above all else. Greed is good. Whatever works. And the enemy is all that is not the self, which is the other.

And where there is nothing sacred, the people perish.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Aug 23, 2020] Unconstrained Economic-Elite Domination under neoliberalism

Aug 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

james charles , says: Next New Comment August 23, 2020 at 11:12 am GMT

Hands up those who think the election will only have a 'marginal' effect?

"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics -- which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism -- offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented. A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. "

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

[Aug 19, 2020] People vs money: oligarchy almost always wins

Notable quotes:
"... Are you arguing that sociopaths have an inalienable right to hold office, even though they will inevitably use that office to aggrandize themselves at the expense of everyone else, and could spark a general war just for their own enjoyment and to gather yet more power to themselves? ..."
"... How do people who don't share your beliefs get represented if you rig the system to exclude them? People unlike you are sociopaths? It isn't even tempting. Your cost benefit study benefits you. The world is destabilized if your guys don't get in? No surprise. ..."
"... The under-employment rate is also very informative. People working less hours or in lower positions than their investment in education should have returned to them. They are working, but not enough to be able to independently sustain themselves, which makes them insecure in variety of ways. ..."
"... It all depends on what the penalties are. Confiscation of hidden assets would chill that behavior, strike one. Loss of the privilege to conduct business with federal and state entities would also chill such behavior, strike two. Finally, for persistent violations of the cap, loss of citizenship and expulsion form the country, three strikes and you are literally out, would be the ultimate penalty. ..."
"... The United States is actually both a federation (hardly unique by the way) and a representative democracy. Whether you call them members of Parliament or members of Congress, their representatives are elected by the people. ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

apacheman -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 23:32

Excuse me?

Huge numbers of people who disagree with me and don't share my particular beliefs are not sociopaths, nothing would stop them from running or holding office, and I've no problem with that.

Are you arguing that sociopaths have an inalienable right to hold office, even though they will inevitably use that office to aggrandize themselves at the expense of everyone else, and could spark a general war just for their own enjoyment and to gather yet more power to themselves?

THAT I'm not ok with, are you?

DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> apacheman , 7 Jul 2018 21:12
How do people who don't share your beliefs get represented if you rig the system to exclude them? People unlike you are sociopaths? It isn't even tempting. Your cost benefit study benefits you. The world is destabilized if your guys don't get in? No surprise.
HauptmannGurski -> Aseoria , 7 Jul 2018 20:26
I know, and Bush I was head of the CIA. Strange that one matters and the other does not.
Sisyphus2 -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 20:05
Love this line: "the gig economy combined with record debt and astronomically high rent prices cancel out any potential economic stability for millions of people."

The under-employment rate is also very informative. People working less hours or in lower positions than their investment in education should have returned to them. They are working, but not enough to be able to independently sustain themselves, which makes them insecure in variety of ways.

Aseoria -> ildfluer , 7 Jul 2018 19:52
Do you think the interpreters might turn out to be agents, or perhaps even assassins, from other governments? Or maybe everybody will be knocked out with fentanyl gas at dinner. In the dining room.
Aseoria -> consumerx , 7 Jul 2018 19:47
Typical Good-Cop Bad-Cop from here in the vaunted "Two-Party" system of the USA gov
Janaka77 -> petersview , 7 Jul 2018 19:05
I like the way the Republic of Ireland puts strict restrictions on political spending for their elections - including their presidential elections.
apacheman -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 19:02
1. It all depends on what the penalties are. Confiscation of hidden assets would chill that behavior, strike one. Loss of the privilege to conduct business with federal and state entities would also chill such behavior, strike two. Finally, for persistent violations of the cap, loss of citizenship and expulsion form the country, three strikes and you are literally out, would be the ultimate penalty.

The alternative, continuing to allow unlimited wealth accumulation will ultimately destroy democracy and end in a dictatorship nearly impossible to remove without massive casualties. Is that preferable to trying to control the behavior of wealth addicts? Make no mistake: billionaires are addicts, their uncontrollable addiction to more is an extreme form of hoarding dysfunction, one that, like all uncontrolled addictions, has had disastrous consequences for everyone but them.

3. Fewer Representatives means you are concentrating power rather than dispersing it. More means smaller districts, which in turn means more accountability, not less. As it stands now, Congresscritters can safely ignore the wishes of the public, because when someone "represents" nearly a million citizens, it means they actually represent only themselves. If taken in conjunction with item #2, more citizens would be invested in the political process and far more likely to pay attention.

4. The Hare test is a standard written exam that is difficult to cheat. Getting caught at cheating or attempting to cheat would mark one automatically as a sociopath. The latest studies of brain structures show that sociopaths have physically different brains, and those physical differences are detectable. Brain activity as shown by fMRI also clearly marks a sociopath from a normal, since while they can fake emotional responses very well, their brain activity shows their true lack of response to emotionally charged images, words, etc. Using a three-layer test, written>fMRI>genetic should be robust enough to correctly identify most. The stakes are too huge to risk a set of sociopaths and their lackeys control of the machinery of government. The genetic test is the most likely to give problematic results, but if the written is failed, the fMRI would then be done to confirm or reject the written results, while the genetics would be a supplementary confirmation. Widespread genetic testing of politicians and would-bes would undoubtedly advance research and understanding dramatically.

When you do even a casual cost-benefit study, the answer is clear: test them. Ask yourself: is the thwarting of an individual's potential career in politics really that great a cost compared to preventing unknowingly electing a sociopath who could destabilize the entire world?

Janaka77 -> scotti dodson , 7 Jul 2018 18:55

Another big difference of course is a little thing called the law.

Are you under the impression the British don't have rule of law? Their elected representatives make their laws, not their ceremonial royal family. Their royal family's job is to abide by the same laws as every other UK citizen, stay out of politics and promote British tourism and gossip magazines.

Janaka77 -> Ben Groetsch , 7 Jul 2018 18:15

The United States is actually a federal republic, not a democracy.

The United States is actually both a federation (hardly unique by the way) and a representative democracy. Whether you call them members of Parliament or members of Congress, their representatives are elected by the people.

WillisFitnurbut -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 17:57

If we move the cheap manufacturing to the US, and wages are lower due to a depression, people will take the jobs, and the job numbers will improve. And China will be toast.


We will never beat China at manufacturing cheap and efficient products using human labor. Robotic labor maybe, but that might not happen for a decade or more at least--if they or another country doesn't beat us to retooling our factories.
Labor and manufacturing will never return in the US--unless we have another world war we win, in which all global production is again concentrated in the US because the rest of the worlds factories are bombed to rubble. Besides, they have the most central location for manufacturing in the world and a cheap source of endless labor.

What they don't have is innovation, tech and freedom to try products out on a free market. We are squandering those advantages in the US when we cut education and limit college education to the masses.

memo10 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:48

The system is not crooked,

Are Americans the most immoral people on earth? I don't think so. Do we have the strictest code of laws on earth? I don't think so either. Yet we have the highest incarceration rate on earth. Higher than authoritarian countries like China & Russia.

This alone should tell you something is wrong with our system. Never mind the stats about differing average sentences depending on race & wealth.

WillisFitnurbut -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:42
Doubt implies a reason behind the wrong, where uncertainty implies an unknowing trait--a mystery behind the wrong.

The right, what with all its fake news scams, deep state BS and witch hunt propaganda, is uncertainty at best, a mystery of sorts--it provides us with a conspiracy that can neither be proved or unproven--an enigma.

Doubt, about if Russia meddled in the US election in collusion with the president or at the least his advisors, surely implies something is wrong, especially in the face of criminal charges, doubt is inherent and well intentioned, but not always true and can be proven false in the face of doubt.

Byron Delaney -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:00
At one time the US was agrarian and one could subsist via bartering. Consider reliance on for-profit healthcare, transportation systems, debt, credit cards, landlords, grocery stores, and the lack of any ability to subsist without statewide and nationwide infrastructure. Right now, people in the US already die prematurely if they can't afford healthcare. Many are homeless. And this is when things are better than ever? What will happen here is what happened in Europe during WWII. People will suffer, and they will be forced to adopt socialist practices (like the EU does today). People in Europe really did starve to death, and people in India, Africa, and other countries are starving and dying today. China doles out food rations because they practice communism. That's why they have cheap, efficient labor that serves to manufacture products for US consumers. Communism and socialism help American corporations big time.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> kmacafee , 7 Jul 2018 16:51
Citizens United is a First Amendment decision. Which part of the First Amendment do you want moot? What gives any government the right to decide which assemblies of citizens have no free speech rights?
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:47
Doubt is everybody's political currency.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 16:46
You are aware, I imagine, that the US can adjust its money supply to adapt to circumstances? We can feed ourselves. We have our own power sources. We can improvise, adapt, and overcome. Prices go up and down. No big deal. Scaring people for political gain doesn't have the clout it onvce did.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> tjt77 , 7 Jul 2018 16:40
Are you opposed to people deciding who moves across their nation's borders?
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> Elephantmoth , 7 Jul 2018 16:38
Open Secrets Top Donors, Organizations.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 16:35
Too many virtue signalers seem to think that only the innocent are ever convicted.
The system is not crooked, but if you can set up a better one that doesn't bankrupt every community, have at it.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:29
You really, really, really like screaming racist, don't you? And slide in a Godwin. Wow. The concept that black pastors would be negatively impacted by financial attacks on their churches never ever occurred to you, did it? You get off on pretending to care about people that you have no direct, routine connection to. How virtuous of you. Wouldn't deliberately harming black churches make you the racist storm trooper?
Byron Delaney -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:08
Violence will break out when credit cards stop working. Can't even imagine what will happen if people are starving. No problem in a socialistic country like Finland, but a big problem here. My guess is that Trump knows the economy is hanging by a thread, so needs to create an alternate reason (trade wars). Or he figures he might as well have a trade war if it's all going to pieces anyway. Of course China manufactures just about everything for the US. If we move the cheap manufacturing to the US, and wages are lower due to a depression, people will take the jobs, and the job numbers will improve. And China will be toast.
WillisFitnurbut -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 15:49
Don't forget as the Trump trade war heats up and China decides to sell off US bonds en-masse (they own 1.17 trillion in US debt). That's gonna put a hurt on the already low US dollar and could send inflation soaring. China could also devalue its currency and increase the trade deficit. Combine those with all the things you've pointed out and you've got financial troubles the likes of which no large government has ever dealt with in human history.
Starving people--China can handle in droves; not so much the US. We're talking nasty violence if that kinda stuff happens here.
Melty Clock -> happylittledebunkera , 7 Jul 2018 15:43
True, but the POTUS is a head of state and the PM is not, so there's a limit to how far we should take comparisons.
WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 15:05
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 15:02
Occupy Wall Street began due to income inequality when the worst effects of the Great Recession were being felt by the population. Wealth inequality has only increased since then.


Right now, the population is held at bay because the media and politicians claim that the economy is so incredibly hot it's overheating. But we know that's a lie. For one, the gig economy combined with record debt and astronomically high rent prices cancel out any potential economic stability for millions of people. This year, 401(k) plans have returned almost nothing (or are going negative). This was also the case in 2016. Savings accounts have returned almost nothing for the last decade (they should be providing approximately 5% interest).

The worker participation rate today is 3.2% below what it was in 2008 (during the Great Recession). The US population, meanwhile, has increased by approximately 24,321,000. That's a 7.68% increase. The labor force has increased by 5% during this time (unemployment rate was relatively similar, 5.6% vs 4%). From June 2008 to June 2018, the labor force increased by approximately 8 million. However, if the worker participation rate was the same now as it was then, there would be approximately 8 million more people in the labor force. If you add 8 million people to the current number of people who are counted as unemployed by the BLS, the unemployment rate is approximately 9%. This is about as high as the unemployment rate got during the depths of the Great Recession, right when Occupy Wall Street was born.

Now, OK, sure, the economy has REPLACED lost jobs, but it has not ADDED jobs for the last decade. The unemployment rate is false. It should be at least 8%. There's many millions of Americans who do not have steady, gainful employment - or any employment - and they are not counted.
The billionaires and their bought politicians are responsible for fixing this. They can fix it and should fix it. Otherwise, the economy and their profits are going to fall off a giant cliff any day now. The next recession has basically already begun, but it can still be alleviated. If things continue as they are, unemployment could be 16% by 2020, with the U6 measure approaching or exceeding 25%. If stocks drop enough, people may starve to death.

kmacafee , 7 Jul 2018 14:11
Who supported Citizen's United? All cons and republicans

Who supports campaign finance reform and legislation that would make Cititzen's United moot? Democrats and progressives

Really tired of the false equivalencies. Republicans are now the polar opposite of Democrats in policy and principles. Vote Blue this November and get rid of the republicans; every single one of them. It can be done if people get out and vote.

memo10 -> apacheman , 7 Jul 2018 14:10
1. Anything is possible but I don't think this is practical. The rich can just cheat on the definition of ownership, pass it around between family members, offshore it, sink it into their businesses in token ways, etc. When you try to take wealth (power) away from the most powerful people in the country they will start devoting SERIOUS resources to getting around it.

3. I'm not saying we need fewer people doing congress's job in total. But we should be electing fewer of them, and letting those fewer people do more hiring/delegating. The way things are now, most of the public only knows much about the president. Everyone else is mostly just a vote for a party. But if the country only voted for 50 Congressmen in total - or even fewer - then we would all have a more careful eye on them. We would know them better and see them more individually. They would have less pressure to toe the party line all the time.

4. As long as there's a written test then it will get cheated. Right now the testing is rarely given and the specific consequences don't determine powerful people's careers. Make it a widespread & important thing and people will learn to cheat it.
The genetic + fMRI research is interesting but the whole thing opens up serious cans of worms. We're talking about DQ'ing somebody from an important career based partially on the results of a genetic screening for a character trait. That's a dangerous business for our whole society to get into. Although I do realize the payoff for this specific instance would be very big.

apacheman -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 13:34
1. Why do you think that? Using teams of forensic accountants and outlawing secret accounts would go a long way towards increasing enforceability. But you are viewing it as a legal problem rather than a cultural problem. If an effective propaganda campaign aimed on one level at the public and another level at the billionaires, it could work. Many billionaires are already committed to returning their fortunes to the economy (mostly after they are dead, true). Convince a few and the rest will follow. Give them the lure of claiming the title of the richest who ever were and some would be eager for that place in history.

Anything can be done if the will is there.

2. Income taxes are just a portion of the federal revenues, ~47%. Corporate taxes, parkland fees, excise taxes, ~18% taken together and Social Security make up the rest. Revenues would increase as taxpayers topped off step amounts to keep control. The beauty of it is that Congress would see very clearly where the nation's priorities were. Any politician trying to raise fines so that they had more money under their control would soon find themselves out of office. Unpopular programs would have to be financed out of the 18%, and that would likely make them increase corporate taxes. But most importantly, it would cut the power of politicians and decrease the effectiveness of lobbyists.

3. Actually, we have too few, not too many. The work of governance suffers because there is too much to be done and too few to do it. Spreading the workload and assigning responsibility areas would increase efficiency. Most importantly though, it would break up the oligarchic duopoly that keeps a stranglehold on the nation's politics, and bring more third party candidates into office giving Congress a more diverse culture by adding viewpoints based on other things than business interests.

4. Actually, advances in fMRI equipment and procedures, along with genetics and written testing can prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not someone is a sociopath, do some research and you'l see it is true. False positives in any testing regime are always an issue, but tens of millions of workers submit to drug tests to qualify for their jobs, and their jobs don't usually run the risk of plunging the world into war, economic or environmental disasters. False positives are common in the workplace and cost many thousands their jobs.

And there's an easy way to prove you aren't really a sociopath: be honest, don't lie, and genuinely care about people...things sociopaths cannot do over time.

Seriously, it is a societal safety issue that demands to be done, protecting the few against false positives means opening the floodgates for the many sociopaths who seek power over others.

WillisFitnurbut -> ConBrio , 7 Jul 2018 13:25
Not just eliminate--alter and add to it, but since it takes 2/3 majority of the house and senate to amend the constitution--it's not an easy feat--that's why there has only been 17 amendments altogether and two of them are there to cancel each other out!
You see, the beauty behind the National Popular Vote Bill is that it's done on a state by state basis and will only work when the required 270 electoral votes are gained with the bill--this means all voters would have their votes tallied in a presidential election and it eliminates swing states with a winner takes all approach. The electoral college and state control of elections are preserved and every one is happy.
I feel like you've not read up on any of this even though I provide a link. 12 of these bills have been enacted into state law already, comprising of 172 electoral votes and 3,112 legislative sponsors. That's more than halfway there.
To continue to say that changing the way we vote by altering the EC is a fantasy is in itself a fantasy because obviously it is gaining traction across the country.
tjt77 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 12:51
Which 'side' do you imagine I'm on Mike ? FYI.. Im not a member of any tribe especially regarding the republican or democrat parties... you may have noticed that as part of the progress towards a globalized economy, 'Money' now has open borders...but the restrictions of movement for people are growing as nationalism rises and wealth and the power it yields, becomes ever more concentrated in fewer hands...this is a dangerous precedent and history repeats if lessons of the past are not learned.
I can well recall when humanity and the ability of the individual to attain freedom and liberty based upon the merit of the individual was once celebrated.
What really irks me and causes me to voice my opinion on this forum, ( thank you Guardian for your continued efforts at informing us all and especially for promoting participation) is how easily people are duped .. when 'others' can easily see that they are being lied to. My parents fought for freedom and liberty against vicious tyranny in Europe and paid a HUGE price..by the time the scales had tipped the balance towards fascism, it was far too late for anything other than all out war... the fact that they survived the required sacrifice to pitch in to protect democracy, and the freedom and liberty which comes with it, still seems miraculous..
Gary Daily , 7 Jul 2018 12:20
Billionaires on the left should put some of that money into paying for and distributing subscriptions to newspapers and magazines which live up to the standards of professional journalism. These papers should be made available, free, at high schools, colleges, libraries, and commercial centers of loitering and "neighborly" discussions. May I suggest the NYT, WP, The Guardian, and The Economist.
ConBrio -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 12:16
The "fact" that there have been 700 attempts to eliminate it should tell you that in all likelihood the The Electoral College will continue.

Whether or not a group of states can effectively circumvent the Constitution is an open question.

aquacalc -> ghstwrtrx7 , 7 Jul 2018 12:01
"What the country sorely needs is a new constitution."

No thanks! The Founders were quite a bit more intelligent than the current national 'brain trust' -- on the both sides of the Aisle -- that would be charged with writing a new Constitution.

memo10 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:48

A defense attorney once told me that his job was one of the toughest out there because an astonishing percentage of defendants are guilty as charged.

That's true. But it doesn't excuse the crooked system whatsoever. It doesn't make the innocent poor people any less innocent.

Dorthy Boatman -> scotti dodson , 7 Jul 2018 11:36
Since when have politicians and rich people ever followed the law? And what recourse would that be exactly?
WillisFitnurbut -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:17
I like how you immediately expose your racism, right out of the gate. Haven't you got a storm trooper meeting to head out to soon?
Elephantmoth -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:14
Sorry I forgot the link: http://www.http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/318177-lobbyings-top-50-whos-spending-big
Sisyphus2 -> NYbill13 , 7 Jul 2018 10:41
Back to the days of Dickens, workhouses, indentured slaves, etc.

[Aug 19, 2020] People who strive for "democracy" have two choice and that most common is "managed democracy" on behalf of neoliberal financial oligarchy, which strip mining your "resources"

Dec 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

G. Poulin , says: December 11, 2019 at 9:37 pm GMT

So if propaganda is so easy and effective, remind me again why democracy is such a great idea?
El Dato , says: December 12, 2019 at 6:00 am GMT
@G. Poulin You have two choices:

1) Democracy with a population that is at least minimally engaged and angrily stays that way (including removing powerful special interests from premises with pitchforks)
2) Being "managed" on behalf of various power centers. This can be liveable or can turn into strip mining of your "resources".

Sadly, there is no algorithm that allows you to detect whether your are engaged or are being engaged on behalf of others. That would be easy. But one should start with a minimal state, hard money and the sons of the upper crust on the front lines and forbidden from taking office in government.

That being said, this article is a bit meandering. Came for Bellingcat but was confused.

Who presented the Emmy Award to the film makers, but none other than the rebel journalist Chris Hedges.

Maximum Clown World.

Johan , says: December 12, 2019 at 11:49 pm GMT
@El Dato "1) Democracy with a population that is at least minimally engaged and angrily stays that way (including removing powerful special interests from premises with pitchforks)"

There are no revolutions by means of pitchforks in a democracy, everything is weakened by compromise, false promises, infiltration, manipulation, etc. You cannot stay angry all the time too, it is very bad for your health, it needs to be short and intense to be effective, which is exactly what democracy prevents.
Democracy turns you into a petted animal.

[Aug 19, 2020] GOP Donors Vs. GOP Voters

Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

From J.D. Vance's appearance last night on Tucker Carlson Tonight Vance has just said that the donor elites of the GOP are out of touch with the party's base. More:

CARLSON: But more broadly, what you are saying, I think is, that the Democratic Party understands what it is and who it represents and affirmatively represents them. They do things for their voters, but the Republican Party doesn't actually represent its own voters very well.

VANCE: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, look at who the Democratic Party is and look, I don't like the Democratic Party's policies.

CARLSON: Yes.

VANCE: Most of the times, I disagree with them. But I at least admire that they recognize who their voters are and they actually just as raw cynical politics do a lot of things to serve those voters.

Now, look at who Republican voters increasingly are. They are people who disproportionately serve in the military, but Republican foreign policy has been a disaster for a lot of veterans. They are disproportionately folks who want to have more children. They are people who want to have more single earner families. They are people who don't necessarily want to go to college but they want to work in an economy where if you play by the rules, you can you actually support a family on one income.

CARLSON: Yes.

VANCE: Have Republicans done anything for those people really in the last 15 or 20 years? I think can you point to some policies of the Trump administration. Certainly, instinctively, I think the President gets who his voters are and what he has to do to service those folks. But at the end of the day, the broad elite of the party, the folks who really call the shots, the think tank intellectuals, the people who write the policy, I just don't think they realize who their own voters are.

Now, the slightly more worrying implication is that maybe some of them do realize who their voters are, they just don't actually like those voters much.

CARLSON: Well, that's it. So I watch the Democratic Party and I notice that if there is a substantial block within it, it's this unstable coalition, all of these groups have nothing in common, but the one thing they have in common is the Democratic Party will protect them.

VANCE: Yes.

CARLSON: You criticize a block of Democratic Voters and they are on you like a wounded wombat. They will bite you. The Republicans, watch their voters come under attack and sort of nod in agreement, "Yes, these people should be attacked."

VANCE: Yes, that's absolutely right. I mean, if you talk to people who spent their lives in D.C. I know you live in D.C.

CARLSON: Yes.

VANCE: I've spent a lot of my life here. The people who spend their time in D.C. who work on Republican campaigns, who work at conservative think tanks, now this isn't true of everybody, but a lot of them actually don't like the people who are voting for Republican candidates these days.

[Aug 19, 2020] Some Shocking Facts on the Concentration of Ownership of the US Economy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction. ..."
"... In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). ..."
"... In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies. ..."
"... A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2). ..."
"... Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4). ..."
May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com

A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels

Starting with Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.

Today's level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.

In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership.

Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.

In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.

We use the words 'monopoly,' 'monopolies,' and 'monopolization' in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term 'monopolization' to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote 'monopoly companies' two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.

Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy

One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding . (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.

A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).

Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).

Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.

From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity .

The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).

As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).

The Oligarch owners assert their control

Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8). Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.

In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West. In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly.

The investor will eventually review the management's strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.

The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:

"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company's operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients' long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."

Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.

Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here's the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.

Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations

To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11). In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.

One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page : "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders -- including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor." At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).

Now, let's see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors

In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.

We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed

[Aug 19, 2020] Smash the Oligarchy by JOSIAH LIPPINCOTT

Oligarchy owns the USA political system and tune it to their needs. Proliferation of NGO is one such trick that favor oligarchy.
That kind of influence over expert opinion is immense—and it yields results. In April, Gates called for a nationwide total lockdown for 10 weeks. America didn’t quite sink to that level of draconian control, but the shutdowns we did get absolutely crushed small businesses. Massive tech firms, however, made out like bandits. Microsoft stock is at an all-time high.
Notable quotes:
"... Non-profit activity lets super-elites broker political power tax-free, reshaping the world according to their designs. ..."
"... The American tax code makes all of this possible. It greases the skids for the wealthy to use their fortunes to augment their political power. The 501(c)(3) designation makes all donations, of whatever size, to charitable nonprofits immune from taxation. ..."
"... For the super-wealthy, political power comes tax-free. ..."
"... No one ever elected Bill Gates to anything. His wealth, and not the democratic process, is the only reason he has an outsized voice in shaping coronavirus policy. The man who couldn't keep viruses out of Windows now wants to vaccinate the planet. That isn't an unreasonable goal for a man of his wealth, either. Gates's foundation is the second largest donor to the World Health Organization, providing some 10 percent of its funds . That kind of influence over expert opinion is immense -- and it yields results. In April , Gates called for a nationwide total lockdown for 10 weeks. America didn't quite sink to that level of draconian control, but the shutdowns we did get absolutely crushed small businesses. Massive tech firms, however, made out like bandits. Microsoft stock is at an all-time high . ..."
"... Eliminating the tax exemption for charitable giving would make it simple to heavily tax the capital gains that drive the wealth of America's richest one thousand people. One could also leave the exemption in place for most Americans (those with a net worth under $100 million), while making larger gifts, especially those over a billion dollars, taxable at extremely high rates close to 100%. Bill Gates wants to give a billion dollars to his foundation? Great. But he should pay a steep fee to the American people to purchase that kind of power. ..."
"... There is nothing socialist in these or similar tax proposals. We are not making an abstract commentary on whether having a billion dollars is "moral." These are simply prudential measures to put the people back in charge of their own country. Reining in billionaires and monopolists is a conservative free market strategy. ..."
"... An America governed by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and George Soros will be -- arguably, already is -- a disaster for the middle class and everyday Americans. Cracking down on their "selfless" philanthropy, combined with antitrust enforcement and higher progressive tax rates, is a key way for Americans to leverage the power of the ballot box against the power of the banker's vault. ..."
"... The rotting edifice that is the United States is coming down one way or another. Just accept it. ..."
"... I would end tax exempt status for organizations. When everyone pays taxes we all become better stewards of how that money is used. ..."
"... To think both Mr. Dreher and Mr. Van Buren just recently posted about the superwealthy leaving the big cities, citing as the main reasons the Covid thing on the one hand, and "excessively high" income taxes on the other. Most comments that followed were in the line of "that's what happens when you let socialists run things" and "stop giving money to the poor, then they'll work and get rich." And here we have someone proposing more and higher taxes on the wealthy to bust their political nuts. ..."
"... It's an interesting proposal, but it seems that if you're worried about super-elites brokering political power tax-free, you might focus on direct brokering of political power. For example, we could pass a law requiring full disclosure of all sources of funding for any political advertising. ..."
Aug 19, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Non-profit activity lets super-elites broker political power tax-free, reshaping the world according to their designs.

America's super-wealthy have too much power. A republican regime based on the consent of the governed cannot survive when a few hands control too large a sum of money and too much human capital. A dominion of monopolists spells ruin for the common man.

The Federal Reserve calculates that, at present, America's total household wealth equals $104 trillion . Of that, $3.4 trillion belongs to America's 600 billionaires alone. Put another way, 3% of the nation's wealth belongs to 0.0002% of the population. Those 600 names control twice as much wealth as the least wealthy 170 million Americans combined . This is a problem. Economic power means political power. In an era of mass media, it has never been easier to manufacture public opinion and to manipulate the citizenry.

Look no further than the consensus view of Fortune 500 companies as to the virtues of Black Lives Matter. That movement's incredible cultural reach is, in large part, a function of its cachet among American elites. In 2016, the Ford Foundation began a Black-Led Movement Fund to funnel $100 million into racial and social justice causes. George Soros' Open Society Foundation immediately poured in $33 million in grants.

Soros and company received a massive return on investment. The shift leftward on issues of racial and social justice in the last four years has been nothing short of remarkable. Net public support for BLM , at minus 5 percent in 2018, has surged to plus 28 percent in 2020. The New York Times estimates that some 15 to 26 million Americans participated in recent protests over George Floyd's death.

And the money keeps flowing. In the last three months, hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into social and racial justice causes. Sony Music Group , the NFL , Warner Music Group , and Comcast all have promised gifts in excess of $100 million. MacKenzie Bezos has promised more than a billion dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as other racial and social justice organizations. Yet, as scholars like Heather MacDonald have pointed out -- America's justice system is not racist. Disquieting anecdotes and wrenching videos blasted across cyberspace are not the whole of, or even representative of, our reality. But well-heeled media and activism campaigns can change the perception. That's what matters.

The American tax code makes all of this possible. It greases the skids for the wealthy to use their fortunes to augment their political power. The 501(c)(3) designation makes all donations, of whatever size, to charitable nonprofits immune from taxation.

A man can only eat so much filet mignon in one lifetime. He can only drive so many Lamborghinis and vacation in so many French chalets. At a certain point, the longing for material pleasures gives way to a longing for honor and power. What a super-elite really wants is to be remembered for "changing the world." The tax code makes the purchasing of such honors even easier than buying fast cars and luxury homes.

For the super-wealthy, political power comes tax-free.

No one ever elected Bill Gates to anything. His wealth, and not the democratic process, is the only reason he has an outsized voice in shaping coronavirus policy. The man who couldn't keep viruses out of Windows now wants to vaccinate the planet. That isn't an unreasonable goal for a man of his wealth, either. Gates's foundation is the second largest donor to the World Health Organization, providing some 10 percent of its funds . That kind of influence over expert opinion is immense -- and it yields results. In April , Gates called for a nationwide total lockdown for 10 weeks. America didn't quite sink to that level of draconian control, but the shutdowns we did get absolutely crushed small businesses. Massive tech firms, however, made out like bandits. Microsoft stock is at an all-time high .

No one ever voted on those lockdowns, either. Like the mask-wearing mandates, they were instituted by executive fiat. The experts , many of them funded through donations given by tech billionaires like Gates , campaigned for policies that radically altered the basic structure of society. Here lies the danger of billionaire power. Without adequate checks and balances, the super-wealthy can skirt the normal political process, working behind the scenes to make policies that the people never even have a chance to debate or vote on.

A republic cannot be governed this way. America needs to bring its current crop of oligarchs to heel. That starts with constraining their ability to commandeer their massive personal fortunes to shape policy. Technically, the 501(c)(3) designation prevents political activities by tax-exempt charities. Those rules apply only to political campaigning and lobbying, however. They say nothing about funding legal battles or shaping specific policies indirectly through research and grants. America's universities, think tanks, and advocacy organizations are nearly universally considered tax-exempt nonprofits. Only a fool would believe they are not political.

One solution to the nonprofit problem to simply get rid of the charitable exemption all together. If there is no loophole, it can't be exploited by the mega-wealthy. Most Americans' charitable giving wouldn't be affected. The average American gives between $2,000 and $3,000 per year . That is well under the $24,800 standard tax deduction for married couples. Ninety percent of taxpayers have no reason to use a line-item deduction. Such a change likely wouldn't affect wealthy givers either. In 2014 , the average high-income American (defined as making more than $200,000 per year or having a million dollars in assets) gave an average of $68,000 to charity, and in 2018 93 percent said their giving had nothing to do with tax breaks.

Eliminating the tax exemption for charitable giving would make it simple to heavily tax the capital gains that drive the wealth of America's richest one thousand people. One could also leave the exemption in place for most Americans (those with a net worth under $100 million), while making larger gifts, especially those over a billion dollars, taxable at extremely high rates close to 100%. Bill Gates wants to give a billion dollars to his foundation? Great. But he should pay a steep fee to the American people to purchase that kind of power.

There is nothing socialist in these or similar tax proposals. We are not making an abstract commentary on whether having a billion dollars is "moral." These are simply prudential measures to put the people back in charge of their own country. Reining in billionaires and monopolists is a conservative free market strategy.

Incentives to make more money are generally good. The libertarians are mostly right -- people are usually better judges of how to spend and use their resources than the government.

But not always. The libertarian account does not adequately recognize man's political nature. We need law and order. We need a regime where elections matter and the opinions of the people actually shape policy. Contract law, borders, and taxes are all necessary to human flourishing, but all impede the total and unrestricted movement of labor and money. At the very top of the wealth pyramid, concentrated economic power always turns into political power. An economic policy that doesn't recognize that fact will create an untouchable class that controls both the market and the regime. There's nothing freeing about that outcome.

An America governed by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and George Soros will be -- arguably, already is -- a disaster for the middle class and everyday Americans. Cracking down on their "selfless" philanthropy, combined with antitrust enforcement and higher progressive tax rates, is a key way for Americans to leverage the power of the ballot box against the power of the banker's vault.

Josiah Lippincott is a former Marine officer and current Master's student at the Van Andel School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College.


Kent13 hours ago

I'd like to thank the author for actually discussing policy proposals that actually make sense. That's a rarity on TAC. However, he needs to keep a couple of things in mind:

1. You can't just say something isn't socialist on a conservative website. Conservatives have been conditioned for decades to believe that anything the GOP considers to be bad is called by the name "socialism". And taxes are bad. Therefore socialist. To bring any nuance to that word will be devastating to long-term conservative ability to argue points.

2. This proposal won't just hurt the ability of left-leaning tech giants, but also right-leaning oil and defense industry barons. A double-edged sword.

AlexanderHistory X12 hours ago

This is an interesting idea that might have had a shot, big maybe, 50 plus years ago. America is too far gone to fix with political changes, not that you could make any major changes like this in the current political environment.

The rotting edifice that is the United States is coming down one way or another. Just accept it.

joeo12 hours ago

I would end tax exempt status for organizations. When everyone pays taxes we all become better stewards of how that money is used.

bumbershoot joeo10 hours ago

Certainly! Just so long as the word "organizations" encompasses churches as well, I think lots of people on all sides of the political spectrum would agree.

Ted joeo10 hours ago

Starting with the Roman Catholic Church.

YT14 joeo7 hours ago • edited

Complicated argument. Basically, charitable people will always give charity, even from taxed income. However, if people give charity from taxed income, the state can no longer control what the institutions given money do with that money as long as salaries and surplus are taxed.

YT1412 hours ago • edited

Interesting proposal. Removing tax deduction should of course throw IRS out of monitoring charitable giving. So less power to Lois Lerner and colleagues.

Woland11 hours ago

To think both Mr. Dreher and Mr. Van Buren just recently posted about the superwealthy leaving the big cities, citing as the main reasons the Covid thing on the one hand, and "excessively high" income taxes on the other. Most comments that followed were in the line of "that's what happens when you let socialists run things" and "stop giving money to the poor, then they'll work and get rich." And here we have someone proposing more and higher taxes on the wealthy to bust their political nuts.

Note that the author carefully left out any mention of conservative megadonors shaping public policy. Must be the quiet part, to avoid tarring and feathering by his own side.

bumbershoot10 hours ago
Reining in billionaires and monopolists is a conservative free market strategy.

It certainly never has been one before, but we on the left welcome this new appreciation of the perils of growing inequality.

Now all you have to do is convince the entire Republican Party that this isn't "socialism." Good luck!

AdmBenson10 hours ago

Say you like the game of Monopoly so much that you want it to last longer than the few hours it takes for one player to dominate and beat the others. Well, you could replace $200 as you pass Go with progessive taxation on income, assets, or a combination thereof. If you do it right, you can make the game last into perpetuity by ensuring that the dominance of any one player is only temporary.

gnt8 hours ago • edited

It's an interesting proposal, but it seems that if you're worried about super-elites brokering political power tax-free, you might focus on direct brokering of political power. For example, we could pass a law requiring full disclosure of all sources of funding for any political advertising.

If we wanted to be aggressive, we could even pass a constitutional amendment to specify that corporations are not people. It seems odd to worry about the political power exercised by institutions with no direct control over politics, and ignore the institution whose purpose is politics.

Another approach to deal with the direct influence of the super-elite would be to make lobbying expenses no longer tax deductible. I'm sure you could find support for that.

YT14 gnt7 hours ago

You are aware that this way IRS will lose control? Lois Lerner will be able no more to go after conservative non-profits?

Pete Barbeaux4 hours ago

This is the 5th TAC article since May to take something word-for-word from a Bernie Sanders-esque Leftist platform and call it something "Conservatives" want. GTFOOH.

GeorgeMarshall653 hours ago

Mr. Lippincott: That kind of influence over expert opinion is immense -- and it yields results. In April, Gates called for a nationwide total lockdown for 10 weeks. America didn't quite sink to that level of draconian control, but the shutdowns we did get absolutely crushed small businesses. Massive tech firms, however, made out like bandits. Microsoft stock is at an all-time high.

So the argument here is that the experts were not going to call for a lockdown, but Mr. Gates' outsized influence made them do it? The experts weren't going to do it anyway? Did that outsized influence extend to every other country in the world which imposed lockdowns? Was there a secret communique between Mr. Gates and the NBA so they suspended their season in mid-March? In the US, CA, Clark Cty in NV, Illinois, Kansas City, MA, MI, NY, OR, and WI all began lockdowns in March. Around the world, 80 countries began lockdowns in March. No matter what Mr. Gates said, lockdowns were deemed to be appropriate. Plus, Mr. Lippincott admits that Mr. Gates' proposal was not followed. In terms of "massive tech firms making out like bandits" v small businesses, might that have anything to do with their value?

L RNY2 hours ago

I very much agree with this article and I think we need another Teddy Roosevelt Monopoly (oligarchy) buster but much has changed in the 100 years since Teddy Roosevelt was President. The first thing that comes to mind is that the aristocracy was mostly protestant and the business class was mostly domestic with high tariffs keeping foreign competitors out so we could break up these companies without a foreign country purchasing them and possibly creating a national security risk.

Today's aristocracy is much more diverse. Its more Jewish and it has much more minority representation from African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, etc so that creates the first problem in breaking up a monopoly or an oligarchy which would be the accusation of targeting minorities for discrimination. The second problem is that many of the aristocratic class in the US consider themselves global citizens and have dual citizenship. They can live anywhere anytime they choose so if you target them the way say Cuomo and DiBlasio and Newsom do then they will leave. Third problem is our global society particularly the digital / virtual society. If you break that up without safeguards then you will only be inviting foreign ownership then you will have a national security issue and even less influence.

The biggest problem is the NGOs, nonprofits that the rich set up to usurp the government on various issues from immigration to gender identity to politics. These NGO nonprofits arent your harmless community soup kitchen doing good works. The anarchy, arson, looting, rioting in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, NYC, Baltimore these are paid for by NGO nonprofits and they have the money to threaten local government, state government and federal government. Trump was 100% correct when he started to tax college endowments but he didnt go far enough. The tax laws have to be rewritten with a very strict and narrow interpretation of what exactly constitutes the public good and is deserving on non-profit status. If you say education then I will say you are correct but endowments are an investment vehicle under the umbrella of an educational nonprofit. Thats like a nonprofit hospital buying a mutual fund company or a mine or a manufacturing plan and claiming its non-profit. For me its relatively simple unless someone has a some other way. If you look at the non-profit community good...what are the budgets for say hospitals, schools, orphanages, retirement homes, etc. Put monetary limits on nonprofits which can vary depending on industry and the rest is taxed at a high rate. We simply cannot have NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) using a nonprofit status to bring down a country's financial system, over-throwing a country, financing civil strife and civil war, usurping the government on things like immigration, etc.

[Aug 19, 2020] Why the Superrich Keep Getting Richer by Grace Blakeley

Aug 19, 2020 | www.defenddemocracy.press

July 25, 2020

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos aren't obscenely wealthy because they work harder than everyone else or they're more innovative. They're obscenely wealthy because their corporate empires drain society's resources -- and we'd all be better off without them.

This week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw the largest single-day increase in wealth ever recorded for any individual. In just one day, his fortune increased by $13 billion. On current trends, he is on track to become the world's first trillionaire by 2026.Those on the right wing of politics argue that extreme wealth is a function of hard work, creativity, and innovation that benefits society. But wealth and income inequality have increased dramatically in most advanced economies in recent years. The richest of the rich are much wealthier today than they were several decades ago, but it is not clear that they are working any harder.

Mainstream economists make a more nuanced version of this argument. They claim that the dramatic increase in income inequality has been driven by the dynamics of globalization and the rise of "superstars." Firms and corporate executives are now competing in a global market for capital and talent, so the rewards at the top are much higher -- even as competition also constrains wages for many toward the bottom end of the distribution.

According to this view, high levels of inequality are a reward for high productivity. The most productive firms will attract more investment than their less productive counterparts, and their managers, who are performing a much more complex job than those managing smaller firms, will be rewarded accordingly.

Read also: Sat. Jan. 25 Global Day of Protest - The People of the World Say: No War With Iran!

But here again the narrative runs aground on contact with reality. Productivity has not risen alongside inequality in recent years. In fact, in the United States and the UK productivity has flatlined since the financial crisis -- and in the United States, it has been declining since the turn of the century.

There is another explanation for the huge profits of the world's largest corporations and the huge fortunes of the superrich. Not higher productivity. Not simply globalization. But rising global market power.

Many of the world's largest tech companies have become global oligopolies and domestic monopolies. Globalization has played a role here, of course -- many domestic firms simply can't compete with global multinationals. But these firms also use their relative size to push down wages, avoid taxes, and gouge their suppliers, as well as lobbying governments to provide them with preferential treatment.

Jeff Bezos and Amazon are a case in point. Amazon has become America's largest company through anticompetitive practices that have landed it in trouble with the European Union's competition authorities. The working practices in its warehouses are notoriously appalling . And a study from last year revealed Amazon to be one of the world's most "aggressive tax avoiders."

Part of the reason Amazon has to work so hard to maintain its monopoly position is that its business model relies on network effects that only obtain at a certain scale. Tech companies like Amazon make money by monopolizing and then selling the data generated from the transactions on their sites.

The more people who sign up, the more data is generated; and the more data generated, the more useful this data is for those analyzing it. The monetization of this data is what generates most of Amazon's returns: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most profitable part of the business by some distance.

Read also: What Really Worries South Koreans: Trump

Far from representing its social utility, Amazon's market value -- and Bezos' personal wealth -- reflects its market power. And the rising market power of a small number of larger firms has actually reduced productivity. This concentration has also constrained investment and wage growth as these firms simply don't have to compete for labor, nor are they forced to innovate in order to outcompete their rivals.

In fact, they're much more likely to use their profits to buy back their own shares, or to acquire other firms that will increase their market share and give them access to more data. Amazon's recent acquisition of grocery store Whole Foods is likely to be the first of many such moves by tech companies. Rather than the Darwinian logic of compete or die, the tech companies face a different imperative: expand or die.

States are supporting this logic with exceptionally loose monetary policy. Low interest rates make it very easy for large companies to borrow to fund mergers and acquisitions. And quantitative easing -- unleashed on an unprecedented scale to tackle the pandemic -- has simply served to raise equity prices, especially for the big tech companies.

As more areas of our lives become subject to the power of big tech, the fortunes of people like Bezos will continue to mount. Their rising wealth will not represent a reward for innovation or job creation, but for their market power, which has allowed them to increase the exploitation of their workforces, gouge suppliers, and avoid taxes.

The only real way to tackle these inequities is to democratize the ownership of the means of production, and begin to hand the key decisions in our economy back to the people. But you would expect that even social democrats, who won't pursue transformative policies, could get behind measures such as a wealth tax.

Read also: L'Eurogroupe maintient la Grèce sous le joug de la dette illégitime

"Building back better" after the pandemic will be impossible without such a tax -- and the vast majority of both Labour and Conservative voters support such an approach, according to a recent poll. And yet it appears that Labour's leadership are retreating from the idea.

In an interview the other day, I was asked why we should care about Jeff Bezos's wealth if it makes everyone else better off. But the extreme inequalities generated by modern capitalism are making obvious something that Marxists have known for decades: the superrich generate their wealth at the expense of workers, the planet, and society as a whole.

In a rational and fair society, the vast resources of a tiny elite would be put to use solving our social problems.

[Aug 19, 2020] The pendulum swings back to sensible taxation rates for the ultra wealthy

Wishful thinking. The neoliberal oligarchy is in conrol of all political power centers. Looks like neoliberal ideas became completely discredited. Even Krugman abandoned them.
Notable quotes:
"... In the age of AI the US needs a grand rebuilding of our infrastructure including electrical grids, bridges, highways, mass transit systems, and conversion to renewable energy. ..."
"... Elizabeth Warren showed her chops years ago when she was a guest on Bill Moyer's PBS show, and I've been a fan ever since. But - we don't just need more of Teddy Roosevelt - we need a good dose of Franklin Roosevelt, too ..."
"... In Senator Warren we finally have a politician who understands the difference between wealth and income and is willing to start taxing wealth. This is especially important as the truly wealthy receive very little of their money in the form of income and are therefore taxed on far less than they are actually worth. This only serves to exacerbate our inequality problem. ..."
"... Extreme income inequality is damaging to social capital and to public health - and thus in the long run to sustainable prosperity. The American epidemic of depression, opioid abuse and suicide is is correlated with the acceleration of income inequality. ..."
"... Finally, Senator Warren's proposal seems like an acceleration of the estate tax. ..."
"... Having worked in trusts and estates law for decades, I suspect that this proposal will invite use of the same techniques used by estate planners, lawyers, and accountants to drive down the fair market value of assets. Her proposal may work, if it is ever enacted, but the devil, as usual, will be in the details. This is a very complex concept, simple as it may seem at first blush. That is not an argument for not trying, but for being very careful in the implementation, beginning with the statutory language. ..."
"... This tax will require staffing up the IRS and that will require dems control over both houses of Congress as the GOPers have defunded the IRS. ..."
"... Pretax income concentration at the top increased starting in the 1980s as a direct result of the large reductions in the top marginal income tax rates. ..."
"... Even if a 70% top marginal tax rate did not raise a penny more in tax revenue it would still be justified on the grounds of preventing extreme concentration of wealth and income. Recent economic research has shown that in a purely capitalistic society in which there is no taxation nor redistribution all wealth in the whole society will ultimately be owned by a single household. https://voxeu.org/article/what-would-wealth-distribution-look-without-redistribution ..."
"... I applaud Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for espousing Teddy an Franklin Roosevelt's ideas about reducing the concentration of 90% of wealth in the upper 1/10th of 1 per cent (0.1%). That is the situation which can lead to major social unrest, widespread crime, and ultimately, civil war as happened in England in the 17th century, in Russia in 1917, and in the French Revolution that beheaded Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - along with thousands of other members of the nobility. ..."
"... "wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans almost equal to that of the bottom 90 percent combined." The corrupt neoliberalism of the 1% is unsustainable but is reflective of a downward spiral of decline. While we experience continuous political campaigning the U.S. is, in reality, a criminal and corrupt corporate state enriching the 1% and masquerading as a democracy, an Inverted Totalitarianism. ..."
"... Great. The pendulum swings back to sensible taxation rates for the ultra wealthy. Hard to feel sorry for hedge fund managers. I can just see Sean Hannity railing against it now. He would have to cough up. ..."
"... Fascinating article. Thanks for sharing. Her Accountable Capitalism Act also addresses the root causes of inequality, although some critics have stated that it would lead to the semi-nationalization of business. ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
Grindelwald Boston Mass Jan. 29

@Horsepower the tax bill has, as predicted by almost everyone but the GOP lawmakers, caused the deficit to balloon. Currently, the resulting debt must be paid by the descendents of all of us but the ultra-wealthy. The alternative to that approach, openly proposed by the GOP, was to take away vital services from most of us, like medical care, public education, and retirement support. I'm surprised that you don't find those things "consequential to the life of most Americans".

Doug Johnston Chapel Hill, NC Jan. 29

There is no reason -- economic, social or moral -- why anyone needs a personal fortune above $500 million dollars.

Eddie Cohen M.D ecohen2 . com Poway, California Jan. 29

In the age of AI the US needs a grand rebuilding of our infrastructure including electrical grids, bridges, highways, mass transit systems, and conversion to renewable energy.

It also needs a medical care system that provides a high level of to all of our citizens including the poor and those with pre-existing conditions. What better down payment on these costly necessities than a tax on the ultra rich.

Mary Ann Seattle, WA Jan. 29

Elizabeth Warren showed her chops years ago when she was a guest on Bill Moyer's PBS show, and I've been a fan ever since. But - we don't just need more of Teddy Roosevelt - we need a good dose of Franklin Roosevelt, too.

Given where this country is at, taxing the uber-rich alone isn't going to be enough to solve our problems. We need a jobs program - good, family wage jobs - that have been chipped away at for decades by both automation and off-shoring.

Taxing will help fund much needed gov't infrastructure problems, but it's purchasing power that drives the economy - and we can't have one without a vibrant middle class that's actually making and doing stuff. Since the Clinton years, the USA has spawned a bloated investor class, making a lot of money shuffling paper, but what do they produce that drives this country forward? Our infrastructure is fast becoming 3rd world.

John Murphysboro, IL Jan. 29

In Senator Warren we finally have a politician who understands the difference between wealth and income and is willing to start taxing wealth. This is especially important as the truly wealthy receive very little of their money in the form of income and are therefore taxed on far less than they are actually worth. This only serves to exacerbate our inequality problem. The big banks, in particular, are very worried about what would happen should Warren become president. Like that other Roosevelt - Franklin - she welcomes their hatred. Good for her.

Barry Fogel Lexington, MA Jan. 28

Extreme income inequality is damaging to social capital and to public health - and thus in the long run to sustainable prosperity. The American epidemic of depression, opioid abuse and suicide is is correlated with the acceleration of income inequality.

Worldwide, countries with high income inequality have more depression, more suicide and less happiness, even when their per capita GNP is higher than their neighbors'. The toxic effects of inequality are especially great in a nation like the US where children are taught that anyone can make it if they work hard enough. In fact, there's a lot more upward mobility in those awful socialist Nordic countries, where teaching public school is a prestigious and well-paid job, college and vocational training are taxpayer-funded (not 'free'), and no one goes bankrupt from a serious illness or injury.

Steve Tripoli Hull, MA Jan. 29

Without endorsing anyone's proposals here, a couple of examples from recent history on what's actually possible, despite what people may think: -- Six weeks before the Berlin Wall fell and reunited Germany, the then-West German government issued a report projecting that German reunification was at least 20 years away. -- Japan went from a highly-nuclear power dependent country, with no prospect of changing, to one that drastically cut its dependence on nuclear in just one year after the Fukushima disaster. -- One of my favorites: FDR sits down with the leaders of General Motors at the dawn of WWII and says I need so many tanks, so many trucks etc etc for the war effort. A GM exec responds on these lines: "Mr. President, we can't fulfill those needs and still produce X-hundred-thousand cars a year." FDR: "You don't understand. You're no longer a car company." So the lesson is, no one knows what's possible in a society till you try.

Silas Greenback Guilford, CT Jan. 28

Eliminating carried interest seems perfectly rational. Compensation by any other name is compensation and taxable as ordinary income as it is for everyone else in this country. Once upon a time, capital gains were taxed at 15% and ordinary income at rates as high as 91%. That led to all sorts of devices to game the system, including the infamous collapsible corporation.

But with the difference down to around 10-15%, we may as well bite the bullet and tax income from capital at the same rate we tax income from work. I doubt this will hurt savings, investment, or capital formation.

It is still nice to have money, and owning capital assets will still beat the alternative.

Finally, Senator Warren's proposal seems like an acceleration of the estate tax.

Having worked in trusts and estates law for decades, I suspect that this proposal will invite use of the same techniques used by estate planners, lawyers, and accountants to drive down the fair market value of assets. Her proposal may work, if it is ever enacted, but the devil, as usual, will be in the details. This is a very complex concept, simple as it may seem at first blush. That is not an argument for not trying, but for being very careful in the implementation, beginning with the statutory language.

Lisa Bay Area Jan. 28

@Taz Bernie talks in bumper-sticker slogans; Elizabeth talks substance.

Tom New Jersey Jan. 28

@Steve B People receiving Social Security only pay taxes on the benefits if their income exceeds the same thresholds that apply to people who go out and work for a living, and pay Social Security taxes that go to the elderly. Ellen, stop treating Social Security like it's a savings bank.

Your Social Security taxes paid for the generation before you, and the Social Security taxes raised now are paying for you. The average Social Security recipient today will receive twice as much as they paid into the system during their earning years.

So please give the "I'm just getting back the money I paid into the system" routine a rest. It's a fiction. The wealth of the over 65s is growing faster than any other age group in our society, and the fraction of government spending on over-65s is the only part of government that has grown in decades.

If you're making enough to pay income taxes, pay your taxes and stop complaining. That means you're doing OK. You'd better hope young people don't wake up and realize just how much of their hard-earned pay is going to pay for retirees.

Kodali VA Jan. 29

The seriousness in her policies is in her work ethics and brilliance. She means what she says and works her heart out to achieve those goals. There isn't anyone out there that matches those qualities.

RobertF Acton Ma Jan. 28

This tax will require staffing up the IRS and that will require dems control over both houses of Congress as the GOPers have defunded the IRS.

The ultra right, ultra rich will be paying more and more of their fortunes to their already privately-owned senators to defeat this and any other progressive tax proposals. We need more, more and more people to get into the democratic process and VOTE to recapture the nation's leadership in 2020!

Doug Rife Sarasota, FL Jan. 28

Pretax income concentration at the top increased starting in the 1980s as a direct result of the large reductions in the top marginal income tax rates. Those who complain that a 70% top marginal tax rate is confiscatory need to understand that's the whole point.

When top marginal tax rates are confiscatory that leads to lower pre-tax income inequality because tax aversion of the wealthy leads they to pay themselves less income to avoid paying the government so much in taxes.

Unlike most workers, corporate executives can easily arrange for their boards to pay them far more than their marginal product would justify.

Furthermore, wealth tends to concentrate automatically when top marginal tax rates are low. This is simply due to the math of compound interest. When investment returns are not taxed sufficiently by the estate tax or by capital gains taxes, they will be reinvested leading to extreme wealth accumulation over generations that is automatic and not the result of any kind of investing skill.

Even if a 70% top marginal tax rate did not raise a penny more in tax revenue it would still be justified on the grounds of preventing extreme concentration of wealth and income. Recent economic research has shown that in a purely capitalistic society in which there is no taxation nor redistribution all wealth in the whole society will ultimately be owned by a single household. https://voxeu.org/article/what-would-wealth-distribution-look-without-redistribution

Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Baldwin Actually, it's 2% on what is on top of those 50M, so 2% on 100M, if you have a net worth of $150M. That being said, nobody with $150M net worth just "sits" on his money for 35 years. To get there in the first place, in the 21st century you usually have to pay an expert and engage in financial speculation (= speculation about financial transactions, not an investment in the "real" economy), and of course you won't stop paying that expert once you reach $150M, so you continue to add millions to your wealth anyhow. On the other hand, if you belong to the middle class, you easily pay $30,000 taxes a year.

After ten years, that's $300,000, and after 33 years that's a million dollars paid in taxes. Seen in this way, even having the middle class paying taxes seems "unfair", because when they only earn $75,000 a year, why should they pay a million in taxes over 33 years ... ?

Conclusion: taxes are paid year after year not in function of how many you will have paid in total at the end of your career, but in function of what we collectively need to run this country smoothly (military, government, education, roads and bridges, EPA, ...).

A "fair" tax code is a tax code that allows anyone who works hard to live comfortably, weather your a hedge fund manager or teacher. And in order to get there, we can't continue the GOP's constantly lowering taxes for the wealthiest all while cutting services to the 99%. NO one with $150M will suffer by paying $2M in taxes a year ...

San Francisco Voter San Framcoscp Jan. 28

I applaud Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for espousing Teddy an Franklin Roosevelt's ideas about reducing the concentration of 90% of wealth in the upper 1/10th of 1 per cent (0.1%). That is the situation which can lead to major social unrest, widespread crime, and ultimately, civil war as happened in England in the 17th century, in Russia in 1917, and in the French Revolution that beheaded Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - along with thousands of other members of the nobility.

We see this anger and violence today in the United States - in mass shootings, in failing public schools (the salaries are not sufficient to attract qualified teachers who instead will work in more remunerative fields, like law and computer technology. What works better is to reduce the concentration of wealth so people in the lower 90% can have more prosperity and social stability in their lives.

All people need a reliable source of food, healthcare, and a place for them and their families to live. All people need access to good education, family planning, and higher education sufficient to alllow them to work. With so much reliance on mechanical work, we also need for all people to have a minimum income - something that no one talks abou yet - but enough to live safely.

There is support for this not only among Democrats but also among Republicans. The help should be for everyone, not based on need (Marxism). This is common sense not socialism.

Dadof2 NJ Jan. 29

It was hilarious to read that Rush Limbaugh is SO terrified of AOC and Liz Warren that he, the grandmaster of Goebbels-like mis-information, is calling them "hitlerian" as he and Hannity push Trump every day to emulate Mussolini! But why is simple: I read that Limbaugh makes about $100 million a year, which puts him in the super-rich category. I doubt highly that he's paying the maximum 37(?)% on his income and if he is he needs better accountants and tax lawyers! But AOC's proposal means that $90 million of his $100 million would be taxed at 70%, leaving him "only" a measly $27 million a year to try not to starve on. Along with whatever millions are left after taxes on the first $10 million, say, $5 million (again, needs better tax advice). So he's stuck trying to survive on $32 million! (BTW, Hannity only makes about $29 million before taxes, Oh! The Humanity!--Or is it "Oh! The Hannity"?) That's really why they are vitriolic. Taxes are for the "little people", the suckers who call in and rant, who watch Fox and believe, no matter how illogical their logic. Rush and Sean see a REAL movement to tax their excessive income and will fight it tooth and nail, with fact and fiction (mostly fiction) to protect themselves and their wealth.

Mike L NY Jan. 29

Interesting how it is almost exactly a hundred years since this problem was dealt with in the last Gilded Age. Enough time so that the generations that remember are long gone and so the problem came back.

The Uber rich did this to themselves with their complete disconnect from the economic realities facing the 99%. TARP was the kicker - we gave a trillion dollars to the 1% while the 99% were left to fend for themselves. Despite the protestations of the 99%. Now that's political power in the hands of the few for the benefit of the few. Time to stop it now.

Ken McBride Lynchburg, VA Jan. 29

"wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans almost equal to that of the bottom 90 percent combined." The corrupt neoliberalism of the 1% is unsustainable but is reflective of a downward spiral of decline. While we experience continuous political campaigning the U.S. is, in reality, a criminal and corrupt corporate state enriching the 1% and masquerading as a democracy, an Inverted Totalitarianism.

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis D. Brandeis

6 Recommend
Henry's boy Ottawa, Canada Jan. 29

Great. The pendulum swings back to sensible taxation rates for the ultra wealthy. Hard to feel sorry for hedge fund managers. I can just see Sean Hannity railing against it now. He would have to cough up.

6 Recommend
Fran B. Kent, CT Jan. 29

This column makes a good case for Elizabeth Warren as Secretary of the Treasury, or head of the Consumer Protection Bureau which she invented following Dodd Frank legislation. But the best way to reach the widest audience is a Presidential campaign. Most of the responses here focus on enough wealth, extreme wealth and self-interest. Beyond their tax liabilities is the reality of the power the the rich wield through lobbyists, campaign contributions, corporate takeovers, and tax dodges over our politics, governments, and over us, the people. It's a pity that any proposed tax fairness adjustments are reduced to epithets against socialism.

6 Recommend
David Dyte Brooklyn Jan. 28

The problem is that the big money against this will say (ie: fund ads saying) anything (true or false) about any other subject to swing votes against any candidate who's a serious chance of pushing such a tax increase. One can only hope I am wrong.

6 Recommend
Seabiscute MA Jan. 29

@Socrates, another trenchant and witty comment! Thank you.

6 Recommend
Cindy California Jan. 29

Fascinating article. Thanks for sharing. Her Accountable Capitalism Act also addresses the root causes of inequality, although some critics have stated that it would lead to the semi-nationalization of business. I think its effect would be commonsense regulation of the economic playing field so that excesses do not occur in how rewards are distributed. It has the potential to address issues early enough to prevent problems.

6 Recommend
Steve Scaramouche Saint Paul Jan. 29

@George Thanks to the Republican budget busting tax holiday for rich folks we will need every penny of revenue just to keep our fiscal boat afloat. We should add AOC's 70% rate just to patch our leaks in infrastructure, healthcare, education and social security for the retirees who were gutted by the 2008 Republican Great Recession.

6 Recommend
cslaftery NY, NY Jan. 29

Since the super-rich are already paying 2+20 for their wealth management, paying another 2 to the government hardly seems like it would kill incentive...

6 Recommend
Gary Upper West Side Jan. 28

Throughout most of the history of civilizations, governments have been funded by a wealth tax. This was in the form of property tax, as that was the only wealth there was. Somehow when financial wealth started to build, it was made largely exempt. Proposals to close this loophole are well overdue. It's not so radical as it is just restoring traditional funding methods.

6 Recommend
texsun usa Jan. 29

A sure sign of health when Warren, a veteran politician and Ocasio-Cortez, a first term member of Congress publish ideas early in the election cycle. The next steps are laws that dismantle Citizens United and protect voting rights.

6 Recommend
Wayne Campbell Ottawa, Canada Jan. 28

Elizabeth Warren had better take care. If she doesn't tread softly on these plans to progressively tax the rich and make them spread the wealth to all those millions of people out there who have had a hand in generating their economic success, she'll be called something equally invidious to a 'socialist' -- a 'Canadian'.

6 Recommend
stu freeman brooklyn Jan. 29

Prof. Krugman is speaking truth to power but power tends to speak back, telling our citizens that progressives like Sen. Warren are aiming to increase taxes across the board. Never EVER do they narrow the stated target of such projected increases to the uppermost economic stratum. And progressives always manage to let them get away with this. Democratic candidates for political office need to assign members of their campaign staffs to Republican events and arm them with bullhorns for the expressed purpose of shouting out the words "for the rich" every time a typically disingenuous Republican opponent announces that a specific Democrat has a plan to raise Americans' taxes.

6 Recommend
Andrew Michigan Jan. 29

"More important, my sense is that a lot of conventional political wisdom still assumes that proposals to sharply raise taxes on the wealthy are too left-wing for American voters." It's just shocking to me that conservative voters supposedly hate liberal elites, yet refuse continuously to tax the mega rich and/or ignore the tax cuts for those households. Do they not see the hypocrisy they're being fed by Fox News?

6 Recommend
Tom Pauloski Highland Park, IL Jan. 29

I know that it's inconvenient, but the US Constituion prohibits a direct tax that is not apportioned among the states on the basis of population. Hard to see how Ms. Warren's "plan" meets this standard. Serious presidential candidates need to propose plans that actually have a chance to work. After what we're experiencing now, we don't need four additional years of bombast.

6 Recommend
Kem Phillips Vermont Jan. 29

@Mkm Can you give any arguments as to why this is unconstitutional, or a source as to when it was declared so? Note that once (ie, just a few generations ago) abhorrent laws concerning voting rights and segregation were considered just fine.

6 Recommend
Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Paul Wortman We indeed tend to believe that the poor and lower middle class must be (more) ignorant, and as such easier victims of the GOP's massive fake news campaigns. Studies show however that a majority of those earning less than $100,000 a year voted for Hillary, whereas a small majority of those earning more than that voted for Trump. That's because her platform included VERY clear and urgent, fact-based measures that would have helped the poor and middle class, after Obama already made serious progress on these issues (a public option added to Obamacare, and many other things). So imho the only ones risking "forgetting" about the needs of the 99% when it comes to voting, are those who don't carefully fact-check politicians' achievements and campaign agenda, before voting (or deciding not to vote) ...

6 Recommend
CA CA Jan. 29

@BC The current standard deduction of $12K for single people means that the first $12K is not taxed ($24K joint) which means that your wish has already come true.

6 Recommend
Paul Rogers Montreal Jan. 29

@Socrates Please run for office.

6 Recommend
boourns Nyc Jan. 29

Fundamentally, a fallacy of modern American society is a perversion of the golden rule. Let's call it "tax not lest ye be taxed." Even though the electorate will never in their wildest dreams make this kind of income, their wildest dreams persist. And thus they will not permit the thought of "unfair" taxation on the ultra-rich, using all the talking points the richest 1% have lobbied deep into our political system at every level.

6 Recommend
Doug Lowenthal Nevada Jan. 29

At this stage in our history when wealth hasn't been more concentrated, raising taxes on the ultra-rich is exactly what populism is about. Think TR and FDR, not DJT.

6 Recommend
pjahwah Iowa Jan. 29

@Socrates Oh Socrates, you do have a way with words! Your first and second paragraphs are lol gems! I hope you keep coming back.

6 Recommend
michaeltide Bothell, WA Jan. 29

@Ronald B. Duke, I think I remember people saying that during the civil rights movement too. Be patient. You'll get what you want by'n'by. Waiting for dynastic fortunes trickle away is sort of like waiting for the mountain to be worn away by the wind. It's not gonna happen in our lifetime. There's always a reason for not depriving the wealthy of any part of their fortunes. Each time we fail to do that, the need to do it becomes more dire. Things just don't get better by waiting for someone to voluntarily or even accidentally, divest themselves of money or power. It can be done by legislation, and that's better than by revolution. And, you know, the wealth accumulation has already begun. What has to happen now is to keep it from falling over and crushing all of us (Make that almost all of us).

6 Recommend
Tom Maguire Darien CT Jan. 28

@Rockets Pual Krugman is almost surely right about incentives on the individual level since few of us will hold off just because the second $50 MM is slightly less lucrative. Buts its funny how he ignores the macroeconomic effect. If the Bezos tax bill was $1 billion, I think we agree it would come exclusively out of savings. *IF* the government simply used the proceeds to reduce spending (below some credible prior baseline) then the net effect on national savings is zero; interest rates unchanged, economic activity unaffected, and so on. But if the government spends the money (as seems likely under President Warren) then national savings is reduced and the fed will (in the current environment) probably feel obliged to push back against a stimulative fiscal policy with a restrictive monetary policy: higher rates, less investment, less consumer spending, etc. So Bezos has no incentive to invest less but as a nation we will do just that. Is that good? Maybe - it would have been great in 2009. Seems to merit a discussion.

6 Recommend
Harold Winter Park, Fl Jan. 29

The 2020 campaign for POTUS is shaping up to be very interesting. That is, if Trump makes it. Combine Warren and Harris we would have a great team. Warren adds specifics with intellectual heft and Harris inspires us with her open, honest and intelligent persona. Just need to find room for Amy K. on that team.

6 Recommend
DJS New York Jan. 29

@FunkyIrishman Your "radical plan " has been tried, and has failed.

6 Recommend
Native Tarheel Durham, NC Jan. 29

This is far better than changing the rate on capital gains, which would tend to punish middle class retirees for having invested over the years (Mr. Rattner's proposal today) and, I think, would be difficult for the uber-wealthy to avoid. I'm not sure that $50 million is the correct starting point (perhaps a meager $25 million of net worth should be taxed) but this is a brilliant new concept that offers promise of slowing wealth inequality while not terribly constraining the wealthy.

6 Recommend
Henry Crawford Silver Spring, Md Jan. 29

"We seem to be heading toward a society dominated by vast, often inherited fortunes." Welcome to kingship, 21st Century style.

6 Recommend
Mathman314 Los Angeles Jan. 29

In reading this column and the associated comments, there seems to be one glaring omission: the necessity of overturning the Citizens United decision which provides the ultra-rich avenues to continually push their lower taxes agenda by hiring hoards of lobbyists, by "buying" politicians with campaign contributions, by funding misleading and excessive political advertising, and by controlling various media outlets that are little more than propaganda mills. Until Citizens United is overturned much-needed, rational progressive taxation reforms have little chance of becoming reality, and with the current composition of the Supreme Court overturning this decision is unfortunately extremely unlikely.

6 Recommend
stan continople brooklyn Jan. 29

@Yabasta Yeah, Dr. Krugman must have sustained a hit to the head since 2016 and would not recognize a photo of Hillary Clinton if it was flashed before him. His incessant savaging of Bernie was positively embarrassing to witness and never adequately explained. Only goes to show you that our much vaunted reason is designed to justify our emotions and that even Nobel laureates have deep subconscious axes to grind.

6 Recommend
Rosebud NYS Jan. 29

Under Eisenhower marginal tax rates were approximately 90%. This "Greatest Generation" built the interstate system. We can't even maintain the interstate system we have let alone build a new one. Our national-level political system is dominated by the rich. Our economic policies are totally skewed towards the rich. Our educational system is biased towards the rich. We've let capitalism trump democracy. If making America Great Again means taxing the rich back into reality, I have no problem with that. My only annoyance with Mr. Krugman's essay is his monomaniacal avoidance of saying the word, "Sanders." What's that about?

6 Recommend
Steve NJ Jan. 29

This makes perfect sense to me. Under Senator Warren's plan households with more than $50 million of annual income would pay a 2% wealth surcharge. I can't imagine this would have any significant effect on any of the 75,000 wealthiest U.S. households. I'd much rather see Michael Bloomberg and his financial peers support broader efforts to make college free or reduce student debt levels than make more lavish gifts to elite institutions like John Hopkins.

6 Recommend
Rima Regas Southern California Jan. 28

cks, broken promises, scandal. and a presidency in trouble – all pushed Bill Clinton into taking a brand new tack: triangulation. In addition to the definition of triangulation offered by Dick Morris in his Frontline appearance on PBS, here is a quote from his book: "The idea behind triangulation is to work hard to solve the problems that motivate the other party's voters, so as to defang them politically The essence of triangulation is to use your party's solutions to solve the other side's problems. Use your tools to fix their car." The problem with that is that triangulation has not quite worked out that way. "Their car" wasn't what was actually being fixed. What the "tools" did address, however, were the goals of the Republican party. https://www.rimaregas.com/2017/09/04/triangulation-when-neoliberalism-is-at-its-most-dangerous-to-voters-updated-dem-politics-on-blog42 /

6 Recommend
Schrodinger Northern California Jan. 28

@Jonathan....Current S+P 500 dividend yield is 2.02%. That would provide cash to cover most of the wealth tax. A wealth tax might impact the market for high end art and collectibles, but that is probably a very small fraction of total wealth.

6 Recommend
Peter Wolf New York City Jan. 29

@Duane McPherson I realize Warren may have some limitations re emotional appeal (also re men not wanting to vote for a woman), which is why I said I put her "at the top of my list for Dems, SO FAR." I'll see how this plays out on the campaign trail. Someone else may emerge who has both the smarts and the charisma- or Warren may find an emotional niche. Time will tell.

6 Recommend
skier 6 Vermont Jan. 29

@George Warren Buffet has said, "There's class warfare all right. But it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

6 Recommend
mrpoizun hot springs Jan. 28

@Phyliss Dalmatian I'm afraid Sherrod is not liberal enough. Nowadays, if you talk about bi-partisanship and reaching across the aisle, you're talking about making a deal with the devil.

5 Recommend
faivel1 NY Jan. 29

@Yuri Asian Very passionate and authentic comment!

5 Recommend
UtahSteve 1953 Gardiner, NY Jan. 29

This is a pie pie-in-the-sky comment, but I'll stand by the overall premise based on our history. It's all about the velocity of money and resources. You have to spend it to grow it. Infrastructure also includes 100% healthcare cradle to grave, baseline living standards, Social Security clean water, clean air, clean power, full education, etc. Infrastructure is the key to everything throughout history, period. Close all tax loop holes. Reduce all business taxes by at least half or more. Create a progressive tax rate starting at 0% raised all the way to 80% up the ladder. If you don't like it, renounce your citizenship with all of what that entails and leave. Completely get rid of the cap on Social Security. Everyone except those at the 0% tax rate pays in 7%. That is fair. Make the business contribution 3% of the first $100,000 Reinstate a stronger set of anti-trust guard rails. Re-instate a stronger form of Glass/Steagle. Reinstate a stronger Fairness Doctrine Realize that a corporation is NOT a person and if we think they are, subject them to the 13th amendment regarding one person owning another. They also are not allowed participate in anything of a political nature, in any way shape or form. Period. Full stop. Invest in the poor and middle classes in all ways. Raising standards from the bottom up raises all boats. It's not "trickle down" it's "trickle up". It's all about the velocity of money. You have to spend it to grow it. We can do this in this country.

5 Recommend
James Ricciardi Panama, Panama Jan. 28

Why do by indirection what is better done directly? Income tax rates should be adjusted to push the marginal rate to a percentage needed to produce the estimated revenue from Warren's proposal. This would (1) not require creation of a new beauracracy and a new wealth tax code to administer the new wealth tax, (2) not create incentives for lawyers and accounts to redefine net worth and would (3) not change incentives for investments by wealthy individuals, with unknown and unknowable side effects. If we also want to reduce fortunes directly, enact a truly functional estate tax, not the joke which we have now.

5 Recommend
Truthbeknown Texas Jan. 29

One other thought, the high tax rates of the 1950s and 1960s carried with them many, many deductions which are no longer available -- -which were surrendered politically in exchange for lower overall ages. Maybe something additionally to be considered would be combing through the tax code and addressing the special interest provisions which conflate social policy about certain companies/products/goals with tax policy.

5 Recommend
Tom Maguire Darien CT Jan. 28

@A P As you note, simply giving the money to their foundation can spare them the tax bill. They don't actually need to have the foundation disburse that much of it. And my casual impression is that Bill Gates' ability to direct billions through his foundation has preserved his "social capital" - he is still invited to Davos, can tour Africa with Bono or the Pope, get his phone calls returned by Important People, get his kids into whatever college he chooses to endow, hop on private jets to wherever, and so on. As punishments go forcing him to chair a major foundation is not much.

5 Recommend
John Coctosin Florida Jan. 29

The government has never proven itself to be a good steward of capital. They will tax and spend, tax and reallocate, tax and waste. No thanks. Would rather the incentives remain and America push back against socialist notions. So expected from Krugman.

5 Recommend
Jonathan Lincoln Jan. 28

@CDN Eh? Real estate is already valued every year and taxed accordingly, it's called property taxes. Art and antiquities are already valued for insurance purposes. It's not difficulty at all.

5 Recommend
b fagan chicago Jan. 28

@Shiv "I'm completely unable to determine how Jeff Bezos's work building Amazon has caused me or anyone else to be worse off. In fact, we're all better off." So you know nobody who had been making a decent living with a bookstore - or in publishing - or in many other small businesses that have been priced into oblivion by Amazon if they'd been lucky enough to survive the WalMart effect that came before. Robert Reich in "Supercapitalism" was right. The consumer side of a person can so easily derange the thinking of the rest of the person. Not following me? Than picture the dream world of big tech companies with their dreams of stupendous individual wealth by "disrupting" something where people have been making their livings. Each wave of disruption leaves people without their jobs. And these days, the chance of getting into a better-paying job after being disruptive aren't all that terrific if you look at the statistical outcomes. So is your view of morality served by the relentless push to undercut older businesses that provided employment, simply because the disrupting model is "more efficient"? Reconsider what "efficiency" is supposed to accomplish in the bigger picture of society rather than just shareholder (and top executive) financial reward.

5 Recommend
usa999 Portland, OR Jan. 29

As an authentic Republican, not one of the brigands who hijacked the party as a means to plunder and pillage, I heartily endorse the Warren proposal. To make it somewhat more palatable for voters I would suggest it earmark 50% of the revenue generated go to starting to pay down the national debt. That would mean, using the 2.75 trillion estimate, that in the first decade we would reclaim from the wealthiest approximately what Republicans gave away in the deficit-financed tax cuts of 2017. In effect having had an interest-free loan from us for a decade they would return the cash we have been paying interest on. Would be quite big of them, actually.

5 Recommend
WAXwing01 EveryWhere Jan. 30

Excellent!

5 Recommend
Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Alice It's not as if we ignore which tax loopholes for the wealthiest have to be closed and how to do so, you know. Democrats have been trying to do this for quite some time already, but the GOP blocks it. And Obamacare already includes a tax increase for the wealthiest - that's one of the reasons why it cuts the deficit by $100 billion, rather than adding to it. That proves that the wealthiest DNC donors and Democrats (such as Obama himself, and Pelosi) FULLY agree to increase their own taxes. Conclusion: cynicism never helped us move forward, fact-checking does ... ;-)

5 Recommend
stan continople brooklyn Jan. 29

@Vink Why do you think they all own a dozen sprawling properties scattered around the globe? They are all Bond villain wannabes never far from a secret citadel. I hope they've got plenty of toilet paper on hand for the siege.

5 Recommend
Jeoffrey Arlington, MA Jan. 28

@Michael Blazin You think that... why? It's not at all clear. But it is clear that the law could be written so that any transaction could be taxed. So unless the billionaires want to hide their money under their mattresses.....

5 Recommend
Joe Sneed Bedminister PA Jan. 29

A progressive wealth tax is an"idea whose time has come". See Piketty, Thomas. Capital in the Twenty-First Century . Harvard University Press. Use the revenue generated for infrastructure repair.

5 Recommend
Jim Gordon So Orange,nj Jan. 29

@carl bumba You'll need to visit those other countries to see how wrong you are and how right Socrates is.

5 Recommend
John Homan Yeppoon - Australia Jan. 29

@Rajiv The discussion is not about 'attacking' income, but taxing wealth.

5 Recommend
mrpoizun hot springs Jan. 28

@Blue Moon As far as Social Security and Medicare, all we have to do to fix that is tax the millionaires' income the same as we do the peon- every dime that goes in their overseas accounts should be taxed, same as the rest of us.

5 Recommend
Zdebman Central US Jan. 29

There are numerous holes in this proposal, none of which have anything to do with "greed". 1. What Krugman, Saez and Zucman fail to mention is that Denmark repealed its wealth tax in 1996 and Sweden repealed its wealth tax more than a decade ago. Not hard to understand why -- it is ultimately a self-defeating tax policy that just drives wealth out of your economy. Krugman doesn't mention that Saez and Zucman's basic premise is that every country has to implement a wealth tax for it to work, which is never going to happen. 2. Warren's proposal is blatantly unconstitutional as a direct tax, so she would need to garner the political support not just to pass the tax but amend the constitution similar to what was done for the income tax. Highly unlikely. The bottom line is that the only way to actually pay for all of the middle-class goodies that Democrats want to be provided by the Federal government (free college, Medicare for all, free daycare, paid leave) is to tax the middle-class like what they do in Sweden and Denmark through VAT and much lower income tax thresholds. Of course, once everyone figures that out, those proposals won't poll nearly as well, which is why AOC is now claiming that it will be magically paid for through the hocus-pocus of Modern Monetary Theory.

5 Recommend
PV Wisconsin Jan. 29

For Warren's tax proposal that "wouldn't lead to large-scale evasion if the tax applied to all assets and was adequately enforced ..." the IRS needs more staff and a bigger budget. Past Republican congresses have purposely gutted the agency's audit and enforcement capabilities at the direction of the very interests Warren's proposal targets.

5 Recommend
Charlesbalpha Atlanta Jan. 29

"Would such a plan be feasible? Wouldn't the rich just find ways around it?" The most likely way around it would be to bribe Congress not to vote for it. Isn't that why they

[Aug 19, 2020] Here's a short video explaining how the Democratic Party nomination process works

See the original for video https://twitter.com/i/status/1295905252386861056
Aug 19, 2020 | twitter.com

Brianna Westbrook @BWestbrookAZ8

Brianna Westbrook @BWestbrookAZ8 Yes, @AOC seconded the nomination for Bernie Sanders for President.

Here's a short video explaining how the Democratic Party nomination process works. #DemConvention 10:07 PM · Aug 18, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone 492 Retweets and comments

[Aug 03, 2020] How The Billionaires Control American Elections by Eric Zuesse

Notable quotes:
"... Greenwald went on, after that, to discuss other key appointees by Nancy Pelosi who are almost as important as Adam Smith is, in shaping the Government's military budget. They're all corrupt. ..."
"... Numerous polls (for examples, this and this ) show that American voters, except for the minority of them that are Republican, want "bipartisan" government; but the reality in America is that this country actually already does have that: the U.S. Government is actually bipartisanly corrupt, and bipartisan evil. In fact, it's almost unanimous, it is so bipartisan, in reality. ..."
"... That's the way America's Government actually functions, especially in the congressional votes that the 'news'-media don't publicize. However, since it lies so much, and its media (controlled also by its billionaires) do likewise, and since they cover-up instead of expose the deepest rot, the public don't even know this. They don't know the reality. They don't know how corrupt and evil their Government actually is. They just vote and pay taxes. That's the extent to which they actually 'participate' in 'their' Government. They tragically don't know the reality. It's hidden from them. It is censored-out, by the editors, producers, and other management, of the billionaires' 'news'-media. These are the truths that can't pass through those executives' filters. These are the truths that get filtered-out, instead of reported. No democracy can function this way -- and, of course, none does. ..."
"... The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society , and we are as a people, inherently and historically, opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings . ..."
"... But we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding it's fear of influence, on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections , on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations. It's preparations are concealed, not published. It's mistakes are buried, not headlined. It's dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned. No rumor is printed. No secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War in short with a wartime discipline, no democracy would ever hope or wish to match. ..."
Aug 03, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

How The Billionaires Control American Elections


by Tyler Durden Sun, 08/02/2020 - 23:40 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The great investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald gave an hour-long lecture on how America's billionaires control the U.S. Government, and here is an edited summary of its opening twenty minutes, with key quotations and assertions from its opening -- and then its broader context will be discussed briefly:

"How Congress Maintains Endless War – System Update with Glenn Greenwald" - The Intercept, 9 July 2020

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ejqYrzEX14E

2:45 : There is "this huge cleavage between how members of Congress present themselves, their imagery and rhetoric and branding, what they present to the voters, on the one hand, and the reality of what they do in the bowels of Congress and the underbelly of Congressional proceedings, on the other. Most of the constituents back in their home districts have no idea what it is that the people they've voted for have been doing, and this gap between belief and reality is enormous."

Four crucial military-budget amendments were debated in the House just now, as follows:

  1. to block Trump from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

  2. to block Trump from withdrawing 10,000 troops from Germany

  3. to limit U.S. assistance to the Sauds' bombing of Yemen

  4. to require Trump to explain why he wants to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty

On all four issues, the pro-imperialist position prevailed in nearly unanimous votes - overwhelming in both Parties. Dick Cheney's daughter, Republican Liz Cheney, dominated the debates, though the House of Representatives is now led by Democrats, not Republicans.

Greenwald (citing other investigators) documents that the U.S. news-media are in the business of deceiving the voters to believe that there are fundamental differences between the Parties. "The extent to which they clash is wildly exaggerated" by the press (in order to pump up the percentages of Americans who vote, so as to maintain, both domestically and internationally, the lie that America is a democracy -- actually represents the interests of the voters).

16:00 : The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- which writes the nearly $750B annual Pentagon budget -- is the veteran (23 years) House Democrat Adam Smith of Boeing's Washington State.

"The majority of his district are people of color." He's "clearly a pro-war hawk" a consistent neoconservative, voted to invade Iraq and all the rest.

"This is whom Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have chosen to head the House Armed Services Committee -- someone with this record."

He is "the single most influential member of Congress when it comes to shaping military spending."

He was primaried by a progressive Democrat, and the "defense industry opened up their coffers" and enabled Adam Smith to defeat the challenger.

That's the opening.

Greenwald went on, after that, to discuss other key appointees by Nancy Pelosi who are almost as important as Adam Smith is, in shaping the Government's military budget. They're all corrupt. And then he went, at further length, to describe the methods of deceiving the voters, such as how these very same Democrats who are actually agents of the billionaires who own the 'defense' contractors and the 'news' media etc., campaign for Democrats' votes by emphasizing how evil the Republican Party is on the issues that Democratic Party voters care far more about than they do about America's destructions of Iraq and Syria and Libya and Honduras and Ukraine, and imposing crushing economic blockades (sanctions) against the residents in Iran, Venezuela and many other lands. Democratic Party voters care lots about the injustices and the sufferings of American Blacks and other minorities, and of poor American women, etc., but are satisfied to vote for Senators and Representatives who actually represent 'defense' contractors and other profoundly corrupt corporations, instead of represent their own voters. This is how the most corrupt people in politics become re-elected, time and again -- by deceived voters. And -- as those nearly unanimous committee votes display -- almost every member of the U.S. Congress is profoundly corrupt.

Furthermore: Adam Smith's opponent in the 2018 Democratic Party primary was Sarah Smith (no relation) and she tried to argue against Adam Smith's neoconservative voting-record, but the press-coverage she received in her congressional district ignored that, in order to keep those voters in the dark about the key reality. Whereas Sarah Smith received some coverage from Greenwald and other reporters at The Intercept who mentioned that "Sarah Smith mounted her challenge largely in opposition to what she cast as his hawkish foreign policy approach," and that she "routinely brought up his hawkish foreign policy views and campaign donations from defense contractors as central issues in the campaign," only very few of the voters in that district followed such national news-media, far less knew that Adam Smith was in the pocket of 'defense' billionaires. And, so, the Pentagon's big weapons-making firms defeated a progressive who would, if elected, have helped to re-orient federal spending away from selling bombs to be used by the Sauds to destroy Yemen, and instead toward providing better education and employment-prospects to Black, brown and other people, and to the poor, and everybody, in that congressional district, and all others. Moreover, since Adam Smith had a fairly good voting-record on the types of issues that Blacks and other minorities consider more important and more relevant than such things as his having voted for Bush to invade Iraq, Sarah Smith really had no other practical option than to criticize him regarding his hawkish voting-record, which that district's voters barely even cared about. The billionaires actually had Sarah Smith trapped (just like, on a national level, they had Bernie Sanders trapped).

Of course, Greenwald's audience is clearly Democratic Party voters, in order to inform them of how deceitful their Party is. However, the Republican Party operates in exactly the same way, though using different deceptions, because Republican Party voters have very different priorities than Democratic Party voters do, and so they ignore other types of deceptions and atrocities.

Numerous polls (for examples, this and this ) show that American voters, except for the minority of them that are Republican, want "bipartisan" government; but the reality in America is that this country actually already does have that: the U.S. Government is actually bipartisanly corrupt, and bipartisan evil. In fact, it's almost unanimous, it is so bipartisan, in reality.

That's the way America's Government actually functions, especially in the congressional votes that the 'news'-media don't publicize. However, since it lies so much, and its media (controlled also by its billionaires) do likewise, and since they cover-up instead of expose the deepest rot, the public don't even know this. They don't know the reality. They don't know how corrupt and evil their Government actually is. They just vote and pay taxes. That's the extent to which they actually 'participate' in 'their' Government. They tragically don't know the reality. It's hidden from them. It is censored-out, by the editors, producers, and other management, of the billionaires' 'news'-media. These are the truths that can't pass through those executives' filters. These are the truths that get filtered-out, instead of reported. No democracy can function this way -- and, of course, none does.

Patmos , 8 hours ago

Eisenhower originally called it the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.

Was probably still when Congress maybe had a few slivers of integrity though.

As McCain's wife said, they all knew about Epstein.

Alice-the-dog , 2 hours ago

And now we suffer the Medical Industrial Complex on top of it.

Question_Mark , 1 hour ago

Klaus Schwab, UN/World Economic Forum - power plant "cyberattack" (advance video to 6:42 to skip intro):
please watch video at least from minute 6:42 at least for a few minutes to get context, consider its contents, and comment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOvz1Flfrfw


source for UN/WEF partnership:
https://www.weforum.org/press/2019/06/world-economic-forum-and-un-sign-strategic-partnership-framework/

EngageTheRage , 9 hours ago

How jewish billionaires control America.

NewDarwin , 9 hours ago

Vot3 for trump but don't waste too much energy on the elections. All Trump can do is buy us time.

Their plan has been in the works for over a century.

1) financial collapse with central banking.

2) social collapse with cultural marxism

3) government collapse with corrupt pedophile politicians.

EndOfDayExit , 7 hours ago

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." -Thomas Jefferson

Humans are just not wired for eternal vigilance. Sheeple want to graze and don't want to think.

JGResearch , 8 hours ago

Money is just the tool, it goes much deeper:

The Truth, when you finally chase it down, is almost always far
worse than your darkest visions and fears.'

– Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear
'The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes' *

- Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

This information helps understand the shift to the bias we are witnessing at The PBS Newshour and the MSM. PBS has always taken their marching orders from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Some of the mebers of the CFR:

Joe Biden (47th Vice President of the United States )

Judy Woodruff, and Jim Lehrer (journalist, former anchor for PBS ) is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. John McCain (United States Republican Senator from Arizona , 2008 Republican Party nominee for the Presidency), William F. Buckley, Jr (commentator, publisher, founder of the National Review ), Jeffery E Epstein (financier)

https://www.cfr.org/membership/roster

The Council on Foreign Relations has historical control both the Democratic establishment and the Republican establishment until President Trump came along.

Until then they did not care who won the presidency because they control both parties at the top.

FYI: Hardly one person in 1000 ever heard of the Council on Foreign Relations ( CFR ). Until Trump both Republicans and Democrats control by the Eastern Establishment.There operational front was the Council on Foreign Relations. Historically they did not care who one the election since they controlled both parties from the top.

The CFR has only 3000 members yet they control over three-quarters of the nation's wealth. The CFR runs the State Department and the CIA. The CFR has placed 100 CFR members in every Presidential Administration and cabinet since Woodrow Wilson. They work together to misinform the President to act in the best interest of the CFR not the best interest of the American People.

At least five Presidents (Eisenhower, Ford, Carter, Bush, and Clinton) have been members of the CFR. The CFR has packed every Supreme court with CFR insiders.

Three CFR members (Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Sandra Day O'Connor) sit on the supreme court. The CFR's British Counterpart is the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The members of these groups profit by creating tension and hate. Their targets include British and American citizens.

The CFR/RIIA method of operation is simple -- they control public opinion. They keep the identity of their group secret. They learn the likes and dislikes of influential people. They surround and manipulate them into acting in the best interest of the CFR/RIIA.

KuriousKat , 8 hours ago

there are 550 of them in the US..just boggles the mind they have us at each others throat instead of theirs.

jmNZ , 3 hours ago

This is why America's only hope is to vote for Ron Paul.

x_Maurizio , 2 hours ago

Let me understand how a system, which is already proven being disfunctional, should suddenly produce a positive result. That's craziness: to repeate the same action, with the conviction it will give a different result.

If you would say: "The only hope is NOT TO TAKE PART TO THE FARCE" (so not to vote) I'd understand.
But vot for that, instead of this.... what didn't you understand?

Voice-of-Reason , 6 hours ago

The very fact that we have billionaires who amass so much wealth that they can own our Republic is the problem.

Eastern Whale , 8 hours ago

all the names mentioned in this article is rotten to the core

MartinG , 5 hours ago

Tell me again how democracy is the greatest form of government. What other profession lets clueless idiots decide who runs the business.

Xena fobe , 4 hours ago

It isn't the fault of democracy. It's more the fault of voters.

quikwit , 3 hours ago

I'd pick the "clueless idiots" over an iron-fisted evil genius every time.

_triplesix_ , 8 hours ago

Am I the only one who noticed that Eric Zuesse capitalized the word "black" every time he used it?

F**k you, Eric, you Marxist trash.

BTCtroll , 7 hours ago

Confirmed. Blacks are apparently a proper noun despite being referred to as simply a color. In reality, no one cares. Ask anyone, they don't care expert black lies matter.

freedommusic , 4 hours ago

The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society , and we are as a people, inherently and historically, opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings .

And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

Our way of life is under attack.

But we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding it's fear of influence, on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections , on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations. It's preparations are concealed, not published. It's mistakes are buried, not headlined. It's dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned. No rumor is printed. No secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War in short with a wartime discipline, no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.

...I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to re-examine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self restraint, which that danger imposes upon us all.

It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation and obligation which I share, and that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people, to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need and understand them as well, the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program, and the choices that we face.

I am not asking your newspapers to support an administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people, for I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens, whenever they are fully informed.

... that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment. The only business in America specifically protected by the constitution, not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply give the public what it wants, but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises, and our choices, to lead, mold, educate, and sometimes even anger, public opinion.

-- JFK

[Jul 27, 2020] Why it is so difficult to understand what's going on in the world

Jul 27, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

It's difficult to understand what's going on in the world because powerful people actively manipulate public understanding of what's going on in the world.

Powerful people actively manipulate public understanding of what's going on in the world because if the public understood what's going on in the world, they would rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful.

The public would rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful if they understood what's going on in their world because then they would understand that the powerful have been exploiting, oppressing, robbing, cheating and deceiving them while destroying the ecosystem, stockpiling weapons of Armageddon and waging endless wars, for no other reason than so that they can maintain and expand their power.

The public do not rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful because they have been successfully manipulated into not wanting to.

[Jun 23, 2020] Identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ( soft neoliberals ) to counter the defection of trade union members from the party

Highly recommended!
divide and conquer 1. To gain or maintain power by generating tension among others, especially those less powerful, so that they cannot unite in opposition.
Notable quotes:
"... In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity. ..."
"... If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear. Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump. ..."
Dec 28, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.27.19 at 10:21 pm

John,

I've been thinking about the various versions of and critiques of identity politics that are around at the moment. In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new.

You missed one important line of critique -- identity politics as a dirty political strategy of soft neoliberals.

See discussion of this issue by Professor Ganesh Sitaraman in his recent article (based on his excellent book The Great Democracy ) https://newrepublic.com/article/155970/collapse-neoliberalism

To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals -- likbez] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.

If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear. Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit, compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

So in addition to issues that you mention we also need to view the role of identity politics as the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of nationalism.

The resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Jun 16, 2020] The American elites wanted and, after the revolution got, the power to enrich themselves. Hence the birth of lobbyists simultaneous with the birth of the American nation state. IMO the constitution was about as meaningful to the leaders of the revolution as campaign promises are to contemporary politicians

Notable quotes:
"... The objective of the elites was to wrest control of resources eg land and/or timber plus so-called royal warrants that controlled who was allowed to produce, sell export products to who, grab allocation out of the control of the mobs of greedy royal favorites, then into the hands of the new American elites. ..."
"... The bagmen & courtiers grew fat at the expense of the colonists and generally the bagman, who also spied on the locals for obvious reasons, would go back to England once he had made his stash. ..."
"... The American elites wanted and, after the revolution got, the power to control economic development for themselves.Hence the birth of lobbyists simultaneous with the birth of the American nation state. ..."
"... IMO the constitution was about as meaningful to the leaders of the revolution as campaign promises are to contemporary politicians.That is, something to be used as self protection without ever implementing. ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

A User , Jun 16 2020 3:36 utc | 87

I'm always amused, nah that is a little harsh - dumbfounded is more reasonable, when Americans express dismay that 'their' constitution is not being adhered to by the elites.

The minutiae of American political history hasn't greatly concerned me after a superficial study at high school, when I realized that the political structure is corrupt and was designed to facilitate corruption.

The seeming caring & sharing soundbites pushed out by the 'framers' scum such as Thomas Jefferson was purely for show, an attempt to gather the cannon fodder to one side. This was simple as the colonial media had been harping on about 'taxation without representation' for decades.

It wasn't just taxes, in fact for the American based elites that was likely the least of it. The objective of the elites was to wrest control of resources eg land and/or timber plus so-called royal warrants that controlled who was allowed to produce, sell export products to who, grab allocation out of the control of the mobs of greedy royal favorites, then into the hands of the new American elites.

A well placed courtier would put a bagman into the regional center of a particular colony (each colony becoming a 'state' post revolution), so that if someone wanted to, I dunno, say export huge quantities of cotton, the courtier would charge that 'colonial' for getting the initial warrant, then take a hefty % of the return on the product - all collected by the on-site bagman then divvied up.

The bagmen & courtiers grew fat at the expense of the colonists and generally the bagman, who also spied on the locals for obvious reasons, would go back to England once he had made his stash.

The system was ponderous inaccurate & very expensive. Something had to be done, but selling revolutionary change to the masses on the basis of the need to enrich the already wealthy was not likely to be a winner. Consequently the high faulting blather.

The American elites wanted and, after the revolution got, the power to control economic development for themselves.Hence the birth of lobbyists simultaneous with the birth of the American nation state.

IMO the constitution was about as meaningful to the leaders of the revolution as campaign promises are to contemporary politicians.That is, something to be used as self protection without ever implementing.

[Jun 16, 2020] Isn't that how it was always done throughout history? The rich control the less-rich who control the less-rich - using his matryoshka example

Jun 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jun 16 2020 1:11 utc | 73

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 15 2020 17:36 utc | 24

This happened prior to Crooke writing his current article

Just read that piece. I was fascinated to see him referencing an article by "Walrus" over at SST (which was a particularly BS article in my view.) However, he referenced the concept of Walrus' article about a "billionaire network" controlling everything by corrupting people over 40.

My reaction to that is: Isn't that how it was always done throughout history? The rich control the less-rich who control the less-rich - using his matryoshka example.

His main thesis is that younger ideologist are setting up a more serious divide in US society than the old "Liberal vs Conservative" or "North vs South" division, and that this is putting pressure on the "billionaires network."

I'm not sure how to regard that concept yet. On the one hand, I know that the old "young vs old" dynamic is always at work - and generally irrelevant since it is the old that controls the money and the military power. OTOH, there is a new phenomenon in the last decades, starting with the availability of networks, and then growing with the availability of affordable personal computers, and now exploding with the presence of the Internet. That phenomenon is hacking. And it is the youth that control that technology.

I referenced the "cyberpunk" sci-fi genre a few threads back. If one is familiar with the hacker community and the infosec profession, ne if struck by the massive disparity between the capabilities of the attackers and that of the defenders of networks. No matter what the defenders do, there is no stopping an adversary which has motivation, resources and time. The defender has to always be right, the attacker only has to be right once.

This translates to the current situation socially - but only to a limited degree. Hackers are a particular breed intellectually and emotionally. Their attitudes and abilities do not translate to the rest of people their age. Their political and social attitudes *may*, to some degree, depending on the hacker.

But most hackers have a decidedly anti-authoritarian, if not libertarian, or dare I say anarchist, attitude. They can join with others, but that tends to be at arm's length. So I don't see the majority of them empowering a "youth collectivism" or whatever one wants to call the general social and political attitude of the young today.

I *do* see them being willing to take on political and social power. That was the entire reference point of the cyberpunk genre: technically proficient iconoclasts marginalized as criminals taking on (and frequently losing) TPTB depicted as corporations and the state.

I see the rise of hacking as a direct threat to the "billionaires network" (if such a thing actually exists as a coordinated entity.) The only question is whether the hackers have a coherent view of their potential. I suspect they don't, much like the "Woke" (see below). But they could - and if they did, they'd be very dangerous since there is no real way to stop them, and their numbers are growing worldwide as more Third World societies develop middle classes that can afford to own computers while still not providing an adequate economy for their people (places like India, Malaysia and Indonesia.)

"One aspect he apparently overlooks is the very poor understanding of history and contemporary events exhibited on all sides--the "woke" are asleep as they know nothing of Anti-Federalism or of the Class-based rationale related to the genesis of Police, although they seem to be aware of the social control goals of that Genesis in both North and South as we examined last week."

Agreed. That's my problem with the "Woke" - they're even more ignorant than their parents were, even if they're more socially conscious. They believe things that aren't correct just as much as their parents did - they just believe different incorrect things.

"The Class War is also sidelined despite the reality of it being the most important factor in the equation--The .1% being the genuine looters..."

Agreed.

"IMO, there's no discernable ideological direction aside from some basic demands related to policing and the racism connected to it because those in the streets lack the tools to articulate a complete vision--something that's very difficult to do when you don't know where you've actually been and the happenings over the past 75 years that have shaped the current landscape"

Indeed. One has to burrow rather deeply into first principles to formulate a coherent philosophy - and I don't see anyone doing that. I had nine years in a Federal prison to re-orient myself and I benefited from having a previous forty years of exposure to concepts outside the mainstream "left vs right" dichotomy. I doubt many of these people on the streets have a clue as to what should be done either on their personal level or a social level.

[Jun 11, 2020] The nearly complete corruption of the U.S. republican form of government has largely come about due to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in January 2010 that basically permitted unlimited donor-spending on political campaigns based on the principle that providing money, normally through a political action committee (PAC), is a form of free speech

Notable quotes:
"... No one has benefited from the new rules more than the state of Israel, whose hundreds of support organizations and principal billionaire funders euphemized as the "Israel Lobby" have entrenched pro-Israel donors as the principal financial resources of both major political parties. ..."
Jun 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Jun 11 2020 10:10 utc | 100

The nearly complete corruption of the U.S. republican form of government has largely come about due to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in January 2010 that basically permitted unlimited donor-spending on political campaigns based on the principle that providing money, normally through a political action committee (PAC), is a form of free speech. The decision paved the way for agenda-driven plutocrats and corporations to largely seize control of the formulation process for certain policies being promoted by the two national parties.

No one has benefited from the new rules more than the state of Israel, whose hundreds of support organizations and principal billionaire funders euphemized as the "Israel Lobby" have entrenched pro-Israel donors as the principal financial resources of both major political parties.

https://ahtribune.com/us/israelgate/4206-ilhan-omar-surrenders.html

[Jun 10, 2020] The ruling class only needs one tactic: divide and rule. and blacks against whites is a perfect for them outcome of the Floygate

Notable quotes:
"... the media deserve no pity, they made their allegiances clear (for the millionth time) with Assange. ..."
Jun 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Rae , Jun 10 2020 20:48 utc | 28

The ruling class only needs one tactic: divide and rule.

But how do I try to explain that to a black 16 year old math student who has recently started looking at me with murder in his eyes? Everything i can think of just sounds like a cliche.

Also... the media deserve no pity, they made their allegiances clear (for the millionth time) with Assange.

[Jun 09, 2020] Without proper Debate system there can be no democracy

But how it can be any, when big money controls everything ?
Jun 09, 2020 | www.unz.com

Robjil , says: June 8, 2020 at 12:03 pm GMT

The western world's biggest problem is the lack and the fear of Athenian Debate.

The west touts the word "Democracy" like crazy. It came from the ancient Greeks.

Yet, the west forgets the biggest part of Athenian Democracy. It is Athenian Debate.

Without Athenian Debate in the west, there are no Democracies in the west.

anonymous coward , says: June 8, 2020 at 1:03 pm GMT
@Robjil

The western world's biggest problem is the lack and the fear of Athenian Debate.

Pretty sure there's quite a few ones bigger.

[Jun 08, 2020] Why do the empires or at least very successful countries collapse? The answer is actually very simple. Because the elites of such successful entities lose touch with reality.

Jun 08, 2020 | www.unz.com

Cyrano , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 2:53 am GMT

Why (Oh, why) do the empires – or at least very successful countries collapse? The answer is actually very simple. Because the elites of such successful entities lose touch with reality.

The elites in every country, even the worst s ** tholes on the planet earth are always going to be OK, better than the ordinary citizens – that's the whole point of being an elite – to avoid the suffering of the common people.

And because there is no mechanism to increase the suffering of the elites in tandem with the suffering of the ordinary population – when the times are tough – the elites fail to respond to the difficulties that ordinary citizens face.

The elites start living in a fantasy world where they believe that as long as they are OK, the country is OK. But the elites are going to be OK right up to the moment the country collapses, so that's not an accurate measure of how the country is doing. The country can be in the doldrums and the elites will still be OK.

That disconnect from reality is what prevents them to undertake measures that will alleviate the plight of the majority of the population.

To make the things even worse, the elites of the enlightened west (that's how you call countries that are struck by lightning) seems to have found a way to progressively increase the benefits for themselves proportionately to the decrease of good fortunes coming the way of the common citizens, thus further removing any incentive to act on behalf of the majority of the population and further increasing the chasm that separates the haves from the have nots.

animalogic , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 8:01 am GMT
@Cyrano Really good comment Cyrano.
1.
"Because the elites of such successful entities lose touch with reality."
2.
Elites have "found a way to progressively increase the benefits for themselves proportionately to the decrease of good fortunes coming the way of the common citizens, thus further removing any incentive to act on behalf of the majority of the population and further increasing the chasm that separates the haves from the have nots."
In fact, the wealthier Elites become, the greater the chasm between them & the 99.9% becomes, the more desperate Elites come to feel about their situation. Call it subconscious guilt or conscious fear & insecurity but the richer & more powerful they feel, the more they demand -- more .
The idea that they could at least fore-stall problems by a few reforms that would cost them little (ie, a "people's QE") is unthinkable. "If we give 'em an inch, they'll demand a mile"
Such acts of sensible benevolence are felt to be demeaning & dangerous.
And further, they've spent 40 years restructuring society & economy to serve their interests, any reform now, however trivial, could undermine that structure. Reform itself is an act of self contradiction to a class that has never missed a chance to take-take-take for 40 years.
US Elites are not a tree that can bend in the wind. They are completely rigid. Only events of god-almighty significance will break them.
The current shenanigans will not do that. But, given rates of unemployment, & contraction of GDP, given the distinct possibility of vast future immiseration, current events may be the first breathe of a god almighty wind set to blow the whole shithouse down.
Unfortunately, current events are politically vacuous & offer no sign of real political conscious.
Lack of political direction can only lead to anarchy -- & anarchy is just as likely to strengthen the Elite hand as anything else.
St-Germain , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 11:18 am GMT

Irrespective of whether either faction will succeed in instrumentalizing the riots, what we are seeing today is a systemic collapse of the US society.

Amen. The collapse is systemic , it is social , and it has been gathering momentum for decades. Thank you, Saker, for pointing that out. It's about time someone above the battle invested serious thought in what's really going on in the hearts, minds and streets. Your analysis is head and shoulders above the rabble-rousing we get from parochial home-grown U.S. pundits, who deal only in labelling their personal heroes or villains du jour (Blacks, Cops, White Supremacists, Jews, Climate Change, Empire, Bat viruses, Trump, and so forth).

Those who agree with Saker's brilliant analysis and seek a deeper understanding of mechanism at work may want to consult Joseph A. Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge 1988). He invokes archaeological case studies to prove that what we are seeing is actually a function of the law of diminishing returns (which is way broader than economics). Complexity advances to a point at which the rulers' latest fixes for arising problems do more harm than good since all these separate "solutions" invariably have an unforeseen systemic effect.

At that point a system's traditional cheer-leading investment to engender social esprit and voluntary compliance for a common good is no longer credible and the ruling elite is then forced to resort to raw repression of dissent, which is much more costly than just benign propaganda. All key institutions collapse not in isolation but systemically, and chunks of a fragmenting society must spall off in order to save themselves from ruin. The inevitable systemic collapse runs its course.

Current History , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 11:53 am GMT
@Cyrano Excellent post Cyrano:

"And because there is no mechanism to increase the suffering of the elites in tandem with the suffering of the ordinary population – when the times are tough – the elites fail to respond to the difficulties that ordinary citizens face."

As you said: That's what makes them an elite.

"The elites start living in a fantasy world where they believe that as long as they are OK, the country is OK. But the elites are going to be OK right up to the moment the country collapses, so that's not an accurate measure of how the country is doing."

And when America finally does collapse, and their "fantasy world" ends, they'll fly off in their private jet to one of their homes in New Zealand, Australia, or Switzerland.

Simpleguest , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 12:55 pm GMT
@Cyrano

The elites start living in a fantasy world where they believe that as long as they are OK, the country is OK. But the elites are going to be OK right up to the moment the country collapses, so that's not an accurate measure of how the country is doing. The country can be in the doldrums and the elites will still be OK.
That disconnect from reality is what prevents them to undertake measures that will alleviate the plight of the majority of the population.

I beg to differ a bit. This is true only as far elites are of capitalist and/or aristocratic kind. You probably draw your conclusions from the French and Russian revolutions.

However, I would argue that political elites in the former communist countries did try to reform the system for the benefit of the citizens and, after seeing their efforts fail, had the integrity to step down peacefully. The only possible exception being China where reforms were fruitfull.

Unironically, one could argue that communist elites, having no personal wealth and stakes, remained honest and true to their essential creed of serving the greater common good. When the deep crisis of socialism in 1980s seemed to require that they step down and contries abandon socialist order, they indeed steped down in the interest of the common good as it was perceived at the time.

Now we see that we may have to reconsider the whole "fall of communism" thing again, but, this theme is, off course, tangential to this article's topic.

[Jun 03, 2020] The first rule of political hypocrisy: Justify your actions by the need to protect the weak and vulnerable

Highly recommended!
Jun 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

...If you bomb Syria, do not admit you did it to install your puppet regime or to lay a pipeline. Say you did it to save the Aleppo kids gassed by Assad the Butcher. If you occupy Afghanistan, do not admit you make a handsome profit smuggling heroin; say you came to protect the women. If you want to put your people under total surveillance, say you did it to prevent hate groups target the powerless and diverse.

Remember: you do not need to ask children, women or immigrants whether they want your protection. If pushed, you can always find a few suitable profiles to look at the cameras and repeat a short text. With all my dislike for R2P (Responsibility to Protect) hypocrisy, I can't possibly blame the allegedly protected for the disaster caused by the unwanted protectors.

[Jun 03, 2020] The difference between old and new schools of jounalism: old-school journalism was like being assigned the task of finding out what "1+1 =?" and the task was to report the answer was "1." Now the task would be to report that "Some say it is 1, some say it is 2, some say it is 3."

Highly recommended!
Jun 20, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

A way to capture this change was thinking in terms of the traditional task of journalists to interview or consult a variety of sources to determine was is truth or true. The shift gradually became one of now interviewing or consulting various sources and reporting those opinions.

Old-school journalism was like being assigned the task of finding out what "1+1 =?" and the task was to report the answer was "1."

Now the task would be to report that "Some say it is 1, some say it is 2, some say it is 3."

[Jun 03, 2020] Justice under neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option. ..."
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

Daniel Rich , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT

@annamaria

Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option.

[Jun 02, 2020] As elections come and go, it is simply about one group of elites replacing the other. The intertwined interests between the two groups are much greater than those between the victorious one and the electorate who vote for them

Notable quotes:
"... The media would sensationalize any act of violence involving white on black and brown. They ignored all the violence of black and brown on white. This uneven media reporting was based on their desire to reinforce the mantra of "white people are evil racists, black and brown people are victims and good." ..."
"... Because it would paint themselves as supporters of "social justice" they created a false version of reality where everything bad in society was because of white people being racist. Never mind the actual causes of societal discontent being the exploitation by the elite. Because the media is the elite they don't want you to hate them. So they created a false victimizer they could blame for all the problems of society. ..."
Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 1 2020 17:58 utc | 26

This one better pierces the veil:

"Partisan politics has created severe divisions in society. Such divisions restrict and disturb people's thinking. People's support for a particular party is only a matter of stance, which provides a shelter to politicians who violate people's interests.

"As elections come and go, it is simply about one group of elites replacing the other. The intertwined interests between the two groups are much greater than those between the victorious one and the electorate who vote for them.

"To cover such deception, the key agenda in the US is either a partisan fight or a conflict with foreign countries. The severe racial discrimination and wealth disparities are marginalized topics."

I wonder if the writer would like to see his conclusion proven wrong:

"Judging from the superficial comments and statements from US politicians on the protests, the outsiders can easily draw the conclusion that solving problems is not on the minds of the country, and elites are just fearlessly waiting for this wave of demonstrations to die out."

In order to solve problems, one must know their components and roots, and that demands honesty in making the assessment. Looking back at the assessments of Cornel West and the producers of the Four Horsemen documentary, the main culprit is the broken political system/failed social experiment, which are essentially one in the same as the flawed system produced the failure. Most of us have determined that changing the system via the system will never work because the system has empowered a Class that has no intentions on allowing its power to be diminished, and that Class is currently using the system to further impoverish and enslave the citizenry into Debt Peonage while increasing its own power. The #1 problem is removing the Financial Parasite Class from power. Yes, at the moment that seems as difficult as destroying the Death Star's reactor before it blows up Yavin 4, but the stakes involved are every bit as high as those portrayed in Lucas's Star Wars , as the Evil of the Empire and that of the Parasite Class are the same Evil.


H.Schmatz , Jun 1 2020 18:09 utc | 27

What political demand could one possibly make by now, and of whom would you make it? Reform is impossible, and there's no legitimate authority left (if there ever was in the first place).

Posted by: Russ | Jun 1 2020 17:49 utc | 23

Indeed, apart from the shock of witnessing one of them murderd in plain daylight as if he were a vermin, I think that the people, especially young, reacted that anarchic way because they really see no future. They see how their country functions at steering wheel blows especially through the pandemic, preview they will e in the need soon, even that they will be murdered without contemeplation,and go out there to grab whatever they could...

We forget that they are under Trump regime and Trump has supported always their foes, witnessing such assassination in plain daylight, without any officila doing nothing, not even charging the obvious culprits was felt by tese people as if the hunting season on nigers and lefties" had been declared. No other way yo ucan explain the sudden union of such ammount of black and white young people. Thye felt all targets of the ops or of Trump´s white supreamcist militias after four years of being dgreaded as subhumans. In fact, were not for the riots to turn so violent, I fear carnages of all these peoples would have started.

The people, brainwashed or not, at least when they are young, still conserve some survival instincts and some common sense too.

vk , Jun 1 2020 18:27 utc | 31
@ Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 1 2020 17:58 utc | 26

Yes, the republican model of organization is naturally unstable and doomed to collapse. Everybody knows what happened to the Roman Republic: tendency to polarization, civil war and collapse.

However, the reverse is also true: when the economy is flying high, every political system works. Everybody is happy when there's wealth for everybody.

The present problem, therefore, is inherent to the capitalist system, not with the republican system per se.

Kali , Jun 1 2020 18:52 utc | 35
A Story: How The Chickens Came Home To Roost

The media and politicians have repeated a mantra for years n order to gain power by exploiting social and racial faultlines. They didn't want to deal with the actual cause of societal discontent which is their own support of an exploitative economic system which disempowers and pushed down everyone but the 1%. So they invented a false cause of discontent in order to appear as saviors who are bringing a message of Hope and Change

White people are racist. White people are inherently evil and greedy. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Black and Brown people are good, Black and Brown people are victims of the racist greedy evil white people.

White people are racist. White people are inherently evil and greedy. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Black and Brown people are good, Black and Brown people are victims of the racist greedy evil white people.

After enough time has gone by, we have a generation of young people of all colors who believe the above mantra with all their heart because of hearing that mantra every day in the media, in schools, in movies, from leaders. The media knowing that, would then look for ways to exploit their hatred of "white racism against black and brown people."

The media would sensationalize any act of violence involving white on black and brown. They ignored all the violence of black and brown on white. This uneven media reporting was based on their desire to reinforce the mantra of "white people are evil racists, black and brown people are victims and good."

Because it would paint themselves as supporters of "social justice" they created a false version of reality where everything bad in society was because of white people being racist. Never mind the actual causes of societal discontent being the exploitation by the elite. Because the media is the elite they don't want you to hate them. So they created a false victimizer they could blame for all the problems of society.

Because violence from black and brown on white was never reported by the media except in local news, people only heard from the national narrative of white violence of black and brown because people don't pay attention to local news. They grew up believing the police only abused black and brown people, they grew up believing that random street violence was only from white people against black and brown. None of which is true.

This was bound to end up with a generation of people who believed the false narrative where America is a nation where black and brown people are always the victims, and white people are always the victimizers. And as you can see in the riots, the rioters are almost all under 30. A generation has grown up being brainwashed by the mantra:

White people are racist. White people are inherently evil and greedy. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Black and Brown people are good, Black and Brown people are victims of the racist greedy evil white people.

That is why so many people are perfectly fine with the violence and looting based on a few recent incidents of white on black violence. During the same time period there was plenty of black on black violence, plenty of brown on brown violence, and plenty of black and brown on white violence. But the national media never highlights any violence but white on black and brown. That is what has led to the new normal where any violence involving white on black or brown will be blown up WAY out of proportion to the reality of violence in America. Which is an equal opportunity game. A generation of people has grown up to believe that white racism is the cause of all the problems.

Meanwhile the elites sit in their yachts and laugh. The rabble are busy fighting over race when the real issue is ignored. The media has done their job admirably. Their job is to deflect rage from the elite to racism. From wealthy exploitation of the commons, to racism. As long as the underclasses are busy blaming racism then the politicians, business leaders, and media are satisfied because they are the actual ones to blame. They are the enemy. They blame racism for all the problems as a way to hide that truth of their own culpability for the problems in society. THEIR OWN GREED AND CONTEMPT FOR THE UNDERCLASS.

[Apr 19, 2020] Plutocratic Primary Challenger

Apr 19, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

shinola , April 16, 2020 at 3:34 pm

From The Intercept article "Wall Street Titans Finance Democratic Primary Challenger To Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez"

"Freedom and democracy are best secured when banking secrecy and tax havens exist," Caruso-Cabrera wrote.

"Plutocratic Primary Challenger" would be more apropos.

edmondo , April 16, 2020 at 7:23 pm

MCC is married to a VC multi-millionaire. To have hubby's business friends throw a couple hundred grand at her is unsurprising. It's kind of like when your kid has to sell chocolate bars so the marching band to go to the Thanksgiving Day parade. I doubt she'll get a thousand votes. It's a lark and great fun to talk about over cocktails with the other Masters of the Universe.

But then again Claire Booth Luce was a Congressperson but she had the good taste to run in Connecticut not the Bronx.

[Apr 17, 2020] "Neofeudalism by design" is what I call the Money Power which the Central Bank and the Princely Class of banksters

Notable quotes:
"... the Money Power, which is the collective term for the Central Bank and the "Princely Class" within the Outlaw US Empire. And their critique about Sanders, Biden and "Progressives" I agree with 100%. ..."
Apr 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Apr 15 2020 23:23 utc | 76

teatree @71--

I see you're busy spreading BigLies. Please, jump out of your tree onto your head. Thanks.

"Neofeudalism by design" is today's Keiser Report Mantra --Max and Stacy present an excellent argument that tries to inform people about what I call the Money Power, which is the collective term for the Central Bank and the "Princely Class" within the Outlaw US Empire. And their critique about Sanders, Biden and "Progressives" I agree with 100%.

Become enlightened and watch at the link.

[Mar 29, 2020] Its somewhat bemusing that we discuss American politics ad nauseam, when it's been amply demonstrated that voters in the USA cannot make changes to government policy through their electoral process.

Notable quotes:
"... Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence . ..."
"... The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism." [Emphasis mine] ..."
Mar 29, 2020 | www.unz.com

PTG Mann , says: Show Comment March 28, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT

"The historical unity of the ruling classes is realized in the State." – Antonio Gramsci

Its somewhat bemusing that we discuss American politics ad nauseam, when it's been amply demonstrated that voters in the USA cannot make changes to government policy through their electoral process.

In fact, I would contend that American democracy has been non-existant since the JFK assassination (57 years after the event with no charges having been laid) which was essentially a coup d'état

Don't believe me? Read it and weep

A 2014 study from Princeton University spells bad news for American democracy – namely, that it no longer exists:

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens – Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page

"Each of 4 theoretical traditions in the study of American politics -- which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and 2 types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism -- offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set which includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence .

The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism." [Emphasis mine]

Ref: https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-

Cyrano , says: Show Comment March 29, 2020 at 4:48 am GMT
@PTG Mann This is my attempt to shed some light on the "democracy" reality show. In grade 11 I had a subject called Marxism. Yes, I did study Marxism for 1 year only – in high school. One of the benefits of living in a "communist" country, I guess.

My Marxism professor, when he talked about capitalism, always used USA as an example. Not because he was impressed with them, but because he believed that it was a common knowledge that US was running the most austere form of capitalism possible. It's still like that today, they are just using multiculturalism as a smoke screen to cover up the fact that their capitalism is the most severe that they could get away with. And the stupid Europeans copy them, believing that multiculturalism is what makes a country truly liberal. Sure.

Another interesting thing that I remember from my high school Marxism classes is that they taught us that US has 2 types of elites. 1.Regular elites 2. Political elites. The regular elites are the real elites, the economic ones, the real movers and shakers. The political elites are just domestic help, a hired nobodies who do the rich men's bidding. The lines between these 2 are almost never crossed. As many perks as there are to becoming political elite, the benefits that you can milk from this new-found bonanza can never amount to the point of making you qualified to join the real – economic elites. And it goes vice versa as well. Economic elites usually don't have the interest (unless you are senile old guy like Bloomberg) to waste time on personally participating in politics – it just doesn't pay well enough by their standards. Of course, there are always exceptions – Donald Trump. That's why the real elites hate him so much. Because he wants to sit on 2 chairs, to belong to both the real elites and the political ones as well. The idea behind the political elites is to pay them so you can influence them and tell them what to do. How do you influence someone who doesn't really qualify as a hired help, who is one of you? It makes it more difficult to boss around. I am not saying that Trump is unbossable, the problem is that the real elites can't stomach the fact that Trump wants to boss THEM. Unforgivable.

The "democracy" has always been a pipe-dream, designed to prevent the rich f ** ks getting at each other throats, more than anything else. That's why voting and elections are just a mirage, political elites are not elected by voters, they are elected by the real (economic) elites. That's why they throw millions of dollars on campaigns and lobbies and so on. So they can have the final say about how things should be done, and not leave it to the political "elites" initiatives.

Trump proved that the move from the economic elites into political elites is feasible, even though it can be very unpopular with the economic elites, but the move from political elites into real elites is almost impossible – despite occasional valiant efforts – like Joe Biden and his son. The political elites simply lack any real cashable skills that are required in order to make tons of money and qualify for the prestigious club of real (economic) elites.

Sure the political elites can make a lot of money, but only from the perspective of the poor. The money that the political elites make compared to the economic ones – is pocket change. This is actually one of the positives of the American system, people who are interested in making really big money, don't usually go into politics, because there are much more and better ways to make more money. This is actually a feature of most of the developing countries – where there is almost no distinction between real elites and political elites and the only way to make money is to go into politics, and use corruption as a driving force for becoming rich.

Sure the political elites can accomplish relative financial successes as well, and sometimes this can get to their heads, making them delusional, like when Hillary – white trash herself– called her own people – deplorables. The "democracy" pipe dream serves another purpose – to create the illusion that the real elites (the rich) and the poor are in the same predicament together – suffering under the unscrupulous political elites. Yeah, right.

The other thing that people talk a lot about is communist propaganda. Sure there was some of it. Having experienced living in both systems – capitalism and "communism" – I can say that there is a big difference between capitalist and communist propaganda. Communist propaganda was more of the wishful thinking type, trying to cover up reality because they wished things could be better. Capitalist propaganda is much more sinister. The sole purpose of existence of capitalist propaganda is not because they want things to be different and better, but because they want things to stay the same as long as possible. The purpose of the capitalist propaganda is to impede progress. Communists at least felt bad that their system wasn't good enough to satisfy all the needs of the people. Capitalists have no such qualms. The message that they convey through their "democracy" is that this is as good as it's going to get, so you better get used to it. No regrets, no attempts to make things better.

It's funny that they bothered to teach us about different kinds of American elites way back in high school, like that was going to have any practical application in our lives. It's also unusual that I remember it, because I wasn't a particularly good student in any subject, including Marxism. Maybe the reason why I remember it, is because after all these years it still rings true.

Hans Vogel , says: Show Comment March 29, 2020 at 8:41 am GMT
Most discussions about and references to the US two-party system presidential elections remain oblivious to the fact that for all practical purposes the US has only one political party.

The US has the exact same political system that Mexico had for decades under the PRI: the party elite decided on who was going to be the next president and then organized elections. The US is essentially a none-party state (just read or reread Michael Parenti's Democracy for the Few ).

The fact that the American voter can choose between a psychopath like Mrs. Clinton and a guy like Trump, or between Trump and a senile moron like Biden (as may be the case this year), merely serves to prove that the real political decisions are not made by the president and that he is just a figurehead.

How can it be that a country with 330 million people cannot select even moderately intelligent, decent, capable candidates for the highest office?

It is a good sign that most Americans understand this and don't bother to vote. Democracy is a fake anyway, because if our votes would really count, we wouldn't have the right to vote.

[Mar 16, 2020] Half Of Young American Democrats Believe Billionaires Do More Harm Than Good

Notable quotes:
"... Wealth concentration is extreme to say the least... ..."
"... "The billionaire class is 'up there' because they are standing on our backs pinning us down." ..."
Mar 16, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Half Of Young American Democrats Believe Billionaires Do More Harm Than Good by Tyler Durden Sun, 03/15/2020 - 21:25 With income inequality the political hot potato du-jour and wealth concentration at its most extreme since the roaring twenties, is it any wonder that even Americans' view of what used to be called 'success' is now tainted with the ugly taste of partisan 'not-fair'-ism.

Income inequality is roaring...

Wealth concentration is extreme to say the least...

But still, according to Pew Research's latest survey , when asked about the impact of billionaires on the country, nearly four-in-ten adults under age 30 (39%) say the fact that some have fortunes of a billion dollars or more is a bad thing...

...with 50% of young Democrats.

"The recent reigning conventional wisdom over the last several decades of what I call the 'Age of Capital' is that [billionaires] are 'up there' because they are smarter than us," said Anand Giridharadas, author of "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World."

But the Pew data, he says, suggest that young Americans are concluding that billionaires have amassed their wealth "through their rigging of the tax code, through legal political bribery, through their tax avoidance in shelters like the Cayman Islands, and through lobbying for public policy that benefits them privately. "

"Bernie Sanders taught a lot of people [about wealth inequality], including people who did not vote for him," Giridharadas said.

"The billionaire class is 'up there' because they are standing on our backs pinning us down."

The good news - for the rest of America's "capitalists" - is that a majority (58%) say the impact of billionaires on America is neither bad nor good.

Finally, one quick question - where were all these under-30s when Bernie needed them the most in the Primaries? Was it all just virtue-signaling pro-socialist bullshit after all?

[Mar 12, 2020] How 'Bernie Bros' Were Invented, Then Smeared as Sexist, Racist and unAmerican as Borscht by Jonathan Cook

Looks like DNC run a pretty sophisticated smear campaign against Sanders ...
Notable quotes:
"... It really isn't about who the candidates are – hurtful as that may sound to some in our identity-saturated times. It is about what the candidate might try to do once in office. In truth, the very fact that nowadays we are allowed to focus on identity to our heart's content should be warning enough that the establishment is only too keen for us to exhaust our energies in promoting divisions based on those identities ..."
"... The Republican and Democratic leaderships are there to ensure that, before a candidate gets selected to compete in the parties' name, he or she has proven they are power-friendly. Two candidates, each vetted for obedience to power. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

The Democratic presidential nomination race is a fascinating case study in how power works – not least, because the Democratic party leaders are visibly contriving to impose one candidate, Joe Biden, as the party's nominee, even as it becomes clear that he is no longer mentally equipped to run a local table tennis club let alone the world's most powerful nation.

Biden's campaign is a reminder that power is indivisible. Donald Trump or Joe Biden for president – it doesn't matter to the power-establishment. An egomaniacal man-child (Trump), representing the billionaires, or an elder suffering rapid neurological degeneration (Biden), representing the billionaires, are equally useful to power. A woman will do too, or a person of colour. The establishment is no longer worried about who stands on stage – so long as that person is not a Bernie Sanders in the US, or a Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.

It really isn't about who the candidates are – hurtful as that may sound to some in our identity-saturated times. It is about what the candidate might try to do once in office. In truth, the very fact that nowadays we are allowed to focus on identity to our heart's content should be warning enough that the establishment is only too keen for us to exhaust our energies in promoting divisions based on those identities. What concerns it far more is that we might overcome those divisions and unify against it, withdrawing our consent from an establishment committed to endless asset-stripping of our societies and the planet.

Neither Biden nor Trump will obstruct the establishment, because they are at its very heart. The Republican and Democratic leaderships are there to ensure that, before a candidate gets selected to compete in the parties' name, he or she has proven they are power-friendly. Two candidates, each vetted for obedience to power.

Although a pretty face or a way with words are desirable, incapacity and incompetence are no barrier to qualifying, as the two white men groomed by their respective parties demonstrate. Both have proved they will favour the establishment, both will pursue near-enough the same policies , both are committed to the status quo, both have demonstrated their indifference to the future of life on Earth. What separates the candidates is not real substance, but presentation styles – the creation of the appearance of difference, of choice.

Policing the debate

The subtle dynamics of how the Democratic nomination race is being rigged are interesting. Especially revealing are the ways the Democratic leadership protects establishment power by policing the terms of debate: what can be said, and what can be thought; who gets to speak and whose voices are misrepresented or demonised. Manipulation of language is key.

As I pointed out in my previous post , the establishment's power derives from its invisibility. Scrutiny is kryptonite to power.

The only way we can interrogate power is through language, and the only way we can communicate our conclusions to others is through words – as I am doing right now. And therefore our strength – our ability to awaken ourselves from the trance of power – must be subverted by the establishment, transformed into our Achilles' heel, a weakness.

The treatment of Bernie Sanders and his supporters by the Democratic establishment – and those who eagerly repeat its talking points – neatly illustrates how this can be done in manifold ways.

Remember this all started back in 2016, when Sanders committed the unforgivable sin of challenging the Democratic leadership's right simply to anoint Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential candidate. In those days, the fault line was obvious and neat: Bernie was a man, Clinton a woman. She would be the first woman president. The only party members who might wish to deny her that historic moment, and back Sanders instead, had to be misogynist men. They were supposedly venting their anti-women grudge against Clinton, who in turn was presented to women as a symbol of their oppression by men.

And so was born a meme: the "Bernie Bros". It rapidly became shorthand for suggesting – contrary to all evidence – that Sanders' candidacy appealed chiefly to angry, entitled white men. In fact, as Sanders' 2020 run has amply demonstrated, support for him has been more diverse than for the many other Democratic candidates who sought the nomination.

So important what @ewarren is saying to @maddow about the dangerous, threatening, ugly faction among the Bernie supporters. Sanders either cannot or will not control them. pic.twitter.com/LYDXlLJ7bi

-- Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 6, 2020

How contrived the 2016 identity-fuelled contest was should have been clear, had anyone been allowed to point that fact out. This wasn't really about the Democratic leadership respecting Clinton's identity as a woman. It was about them paying lip service to her identity as a woman, while actually promoting her because she was a reliable warmonger and Wall Street functionary . She was useful to power.

If the debate had really been driven by identity politics, Sanders had a winning card too: he is Jewish. That meant he could be the United States' first Jewish president. In a fair identity fight, it would have been a draw between the two. The decision about who should represent the Democratic party would then have had to be decided based on policies, not identity. But party leaders did not want Clinton's actual policies, or her political history, being put under the microscope for very obvious reasons.

Weaponisation of identity

The weaponisation of identity politics is even more transparent in 2020. Sanders is still Jewish, but his main opponent, Joe Biden, really is simply a privileged white man. Were the Clinton format to be followed again by Democratic officials, Sanders would enjoy an identity politics trump card. And yet Sanders is still being presented as just another white male candidate , no different from Biden.

(We could take this argument even further and note that the other candidate who no one, least of all the Democratic leadership, ever mentions as still in the race is Tulsi Gabbard, a woman of colour. The Democratic party has worked hard to make her as invisible as possible in the primaries because, of all the candidates, she is the most vocal and articulate opponent of foreign wars. That has deprived her of the chance to raise funds and win delegates.)

. @DanaPerino I'm not quite sure why you're telling FOX viewers that Elizabeth Warren is the last female candidate in the Dem primary. Is it because you believe a fake indigenous woman of color is "real" and the real indigenous woman of color in this race is fake? pic.twitter.com/VKCxy2JzFe

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 3, 2020

Sanders' Jewish identity isn't celebrated because he isn't useful to the power-establishment. What's far more important to them – and should be to us too – are his policies, which might limit their power to wage war, exploit workers and trash the planet.

But it is not just that Democratic Party leaders are ignoring Sanders' Jewish identity. They are also again actively using identity politics against him, and in many different ways.

The 'black' establishment?

Bernie Sanders' supporters have been complaining for some time – based on mounting evidence – that the Democratic leadership is far from neutral between Sanders and Biden. Because it has a vested interest in the outcome, and because it is the part of the power-establishment, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is exercising its influence in favour of Biden. And because power prefers darkness, the DNC is doing its best to exercise that power behind the scenes, out of sight – at least, unseen by those who still rely on the "mainstream" corporate media, which is also part of the power-establishment. As should be clear to anyone watching, the nomination proceedings are being controlled to give Biden every advantage and to obstruct Sanders.

But the Democratic leadership is not only dismissing out of hand these very justified complaints from Bernie Sanders' supporters but also turning these complaints against them, as further evidence of their – and his – illegitimacy. A new way of doing this emerged in the immediate wake of Biden winning South Carolina on the back of strong support from older black voters – Biden's first state win and a launchpad for his Super Tuesday bid a few days later.

It was given perfect expression from Symone Sanders, who despite her surname is actually a senior adviser to Biden's campaign. She is also black. This is what she wrote: "People who keep referring to Black voters as 'the establishment' are tone deaf and have obviously learned nothing."

People who keep referring to Black voters as "the establishment" are tone deaf and have obviously learned nothing.

-- Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) March 3, 2020

Her reference to generic "people" was understood precisely by both sides of the debate as code for those "Bernie Bros". Now, it seems, Bernie Sanders' supporters are not simply misogynists, they are potential recruits to the Ku Klux Klan.

The tweet went viral, even though in the fiercely contested back-and-forth below her tweet no one could produce a single example of anyone actually saying anything like the sentiment ascribed by Symone Sanders to "Bernie Bros". But then, tackling bigotry was not her real goal. This wasn't meant to be a reflection on a real-world talking-point by Bernie supporters. It was high-level gaslighting by a senior Democratic party official of the party's own voters.

Survival of the fittest smear

What Symone Sanders was really trying to do was conceal power – the fact that the DNC is seeking to impose its chosen candidate on party members. As occurred during the confected women-men, Clinton vs "Bernie Bros" confrontation, Symone Sanders was field-testing a similar narrative management tool as part of the establishment's efforts to hone it for improved effect. The establishment has learnt – through a kind of survival of the fittest smear – that divide-and-rule identity politics is the perfect way to shield its influence as it favours a status-quo candidate (Biden or Clinton) over a candidate seen as a threat to its power (Sanders).

In her tweet, Symone Sanders showed exactly how the power elite seeks to obscure its toxic role in our societies. She neatly conflated "the establishment" – of which she is a very small, but well-paid component – with ordinary "black voters". Her message is this: should you try to criticise the establishment (which has inordinate power to damage lives and destroy the planet) we will demonise you, making it seem that you are really attacking black people (who in the vast majority of cases – though Symone Sanders is a notable exception – wield no power at all).

Symone Sanders has recruited her own blackness and South Carolina's "black voters" as a ring of steel to protect the establishment. Cynically, she has turned poor black people, as well as the tens of thousands of people (presumably black and white) who liked her tweet, into human shields for the establishment.

It sounds a lot uglier put like that. But it has rapidly become a Biden talking-point, as we can see here:

NEW: @JoeBiden responds to @berniesanders saying the "establishment" is trying to defeat him.

"The establishment are all those hardworking, middle class people, those African Americans they are the establishment!" @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/43Q2Nci5sS

-- Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) March 4, 2020

The DNC's wider strategy is to confer on Biden exclusive rights to speak for black voters (despite his inglorious record on civil rights issues) and, further, to strip Sanders and his senior black advisers of any right to do so. When Sanders protests about this, or about racist behaviour from the Biden camp, Biden's supporters come out in force and often abusively, though of course no one is upbraiding them for their ugly, violent language. Here is the famous former tennis player Martina Navratilova showing that maybe we should be talking about "Biden Bros":

Sanders is starting to really piss me off. Just shut this kind of crap down and debate the issues. This is not it.

-- Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 6, 2020

Being unkind to billionaires

This kind of special pleading by the establishment for the establishment – using those sections of it, such as Symone Sanders, that can tap into the identity politics zeitgeist – is far more common than you might imagine. The approach is being constantly refined, often using social media as the ultimate focus group. Symone Sanders' successful conflation of the establishment with "black voters" follows earlier, clumsier efforts by the establishment to protect its interests against Sanders that proved far less effective.

Billionaires should not exist. https://t.co/hgR6CeFvLa

-- Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 24, 2019

Remember how last autumn the billionaire-owned corporate media tried to tell us that it was unkind to criticise billionaires – that they had feelings too and that speaking harshly about them was "dehumanising". Again it was aimed at Sanders, who had just commented that in a properly ordered world billionaires simply wouldn't exist. It was an obvious point: allowing a handful of people to control almost all the planet's wealth was not only depriving the rest of us of that wealth (and harming the planet) but it gave those few billionaires way too much power. They could buy all the media, our channels of communication, and most of the politicians to ringfence their financial interests, gradually eroding even the most minimal democratic protections.

That campaign died a quick death because few of us are actually brainwashed enough to accept the idea that a handful of billionaires share an identity that needs protecting – from us! Most of us are still connected enough to the real world to understand that billionaires are more than capable of looking out for their own interests, without our helping them by imposing on ourselves a vow of silence.

But one cannot fault the power-establishment for being constantly inventive in the search for new ways to stifle our criticisms of the way it unilaterally exercises its power. The Democratic nomination race is testing such ingenuity to the limits. Here's a new rule against "hateful conduct" on Twitter, where Biden's neurological deficit is being subjected to much critical scrutiny through the sharing of dozens of videos of embarrassing Biden "senior moments".

Twitter expanding its hateful conduct rules "to include language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability or disease." https://t.co/KmWGaNAG9Z

-- Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 5, 2020

Yes, disability and age are identities too. And so, on the pretext of protecting and respecting those identities, social media can now be scrubbed of anything and anyone trying to highlight the mental deficiencies of an old man who might soon be given the nuclear codes and would be responsible for waging wars in the name of Americans. Twitter is full of comments denouncing as "ableist" anyone who tries to highlight how the Democratic leadership is foisting a cognitively challenged Biden on to the party.

Maybe the Dem insiders are all wrong, but it's true that they are saying it. Some are saying it out loud, including Castro at the debate and Booker here: https://t.co/0lbi7RFRqG

-- Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) March 6, 2020

Russian 'agents' and 'assets'

None of this is to overlook the fact that another variation of identity politics has been weaponised against Sanders: that of failing to be an "American" patriot. Again illustrating how closely the Democratic and Republican leaderships' interests align, the question of who is a patriot – and who is really working for the "Russians" – has been at the heart of both parties' campaigns, though for different reasons.

Trump has been subjected to endless, evidence-free claims that he is a secret "Russian agent" in a concerted effort to control his original isolationist foreign policy impulses that might have stripped the establishment – and its military-industrial wing – of the right to wage wars of aggression, and revive the Cold War, wherever it believes a profit can be made under cover of "humanitarian intervention". Trump partly inoculated himself against these criticisms, at least among supporters, with his "Make America Great Again" slogan, and partly by learning – painfully for such an egotist – that his presidential role was to rubber-stamp decisions made elsewhere about waging wars and projecting US power.

I'm just amazed by this tweet, which has been tweeted plenty. Did @_nalexander and all the people liking this not know that Mueller laid out in the indictments of a number of Russians and in his report their help on social media to Sanders and Trump. Help Sanders has acknowledged https://t.co/vuc0lmvvKP

-- Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) December 8, 2019

Bernie Sanders has faced similar smear efforts by the establishment, including by the DNC's last failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – in his case, painting him as a "Russian asset". ("Asset" is a way to suggest collusion with the Kremlin based on even more flimsy evidence than is needed to accuse someone of being an agent.) In fact, in a world where identity politics wasn't simply a tool to be weaponised by the establishment, there would be real trepidation about engaging in this kind of invective against a Jewish socialist.

One of the far-right's favourite antisemitic tropes – promoted ever since the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion more than 100 years ago – is that Jewish "Bolsheviks" are involved in an international conspiracy to subvert the countries they live in. We have reached the point now that the corporate media are happy to recycle evidence-free claims, cited by the Washington Post, from anonymous "US officials" and US intelligence agencies reinventing a US version of the Protocols against Sanders. And these smears have elicited not a word of criticism from the Democratic leadership nor from the usual antisemitism watchdogs that are so ready to let rip over the slightest signs of what they claim to be antisemitism on the left.

But the urgency of dealing with Sanders may be the reason normal conventions have been discarded. Sanders isn't a loud-mouth egotist like Trump. A vote for Trump is a vote for the establishment, if for one of its number who pretends to be against the establishment. Trump has been largely tamed in time for a second term. By contrast, Sanders, like Corbyn in the UK, is more dangerous because he may resist the efforts to domesticate him, and because if he is allowed any significant measure of political success – such as becoming a candidate for president – it may inspire others to follow in his footsteps. The system might start to throw up more anomalies, more AOCs and more Ilhan Omars.

So Sanders is now being cast, like Trump, as a puppet of the Kremlin, not a true American. And because he made the serious mistake of indulging the "Russiagate" smears when they were used against Trump, Sanders now has little defence against their redeployment against him. And given that, by the impoverished standards of US political culture, he is considered an extreme leftist, it has been easy to conflate his democratic socialism with Communism, and then conflate his supposed Communism with acting on behalf of the Kremlin (which, of course, ignores the fact that Russia long ago abandoned Communism).

Sen. Bernie Sanders: "Let me tell this to Putin -- the American people, whether Republicans, Democrats, independents are sick and tired of seeing Russia and other countries interfering in our elections." pic.twitter.com/ejcP7YVFlt

-- The Hill (@thehill) February 21, 2020

Antisemitism smear at the ready

There is a final use of weaponised identity politics that the Democratic establishment would dearly love to use against Sanders, if they need to and can get away with it. It is the most toxic brand – and therefore the most effective – of the identity-based smears, and it has been extensively field-tested in the UK against Jeremy Corbyn to great success. The DNC would like to denounce Sanders as an antisemite.

In fact, only one thing has held them back till now: the fact that Sanders is Jewish. That may not prove an insuperable obstacle, but it does make it much harder to make the accusation look credible. The other identity-based smears had been a second-best, a make-do until a way could be found to unleash the antisemitism smear.

The establishment has been testing the waters with implied accusations of antisemitism against Sanders for a while, but their chances were given a fillip recently when Sanders refused to participate in the annual jamboree of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent lobby group whose primary mission is to ringfence Israel from criticism in the US. Both the Republican and Democratic establishments turn out in force to the AIPAC conference, and in the past the event has attracted keynote speeches from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But Sanders has refused to attend for decades and maintained that stance this month, even though he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination. In the last primaries debate, Sanders justified his decision by rightly calling Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "racist" and by describing AIPAC as providing a platform "for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights".

Trump's Vice-President, Mike Pence, responded that Sanders supported "Israel's enemies" and, if elected, would be the "most anti-Israel president in the history of this nation" – all coded suggestions that Sanders is antisemitic.

But that's Mike Pence. More useful criticism came from billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who is himself Jewish and was until last week posing as a Democrat to try to win the party's nomination. Bloomberg accused Sanders of using dehumanising language against a bunch of inclusive identities that, he improbably suggested, AIPAC represents. He claimed :

"This is a gathering of 20,000 Israel supporters of every religious denomination, ethnicity, faith, color, sexual identity and political party. Calling it a racist platform is an attempt to discredit those voices, intimidate people from coming here, and weaken the US-Israel relationship."

Where might this head? At the AIPAC conference last week we were given a foretaste. Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the UK and a friend to Conservative government leader Boris Johnson, was warmly greeted by delegates, including leading members of the Democratic establishment. He boasted that he and other Jewish leaders in the UK had managed to damage Jeremy Corbyn's electoral chances by suggesting that he was an antisemite over his support, like Sanders, for Palestinian rights.

His own treatment of Corbyn, he argued, offered a model for US Jewish organisations to replicate against any leadership contender who might pose similar trouble for Israel, leaving it for his audience to pick up the not-so-subtle hint about who needed to be subjected to character assassination.

WATCH: "Today I issue a call to the Jews of America, please take a leaf out of our book and please speak with one voice."

The Chief Rabbi speaking to the 18,000 delegates gathered at the @AIPAC General Session at their Policy Conference in Washington DC pic.twitter.com/BOkan9RA2O

-- Chief Rabbi Mirvis (@chiefrabbi) March 3, 2020

Establishment playbook

For anyone who isn't wilfully blind, the last few months have exposed the establishment playbook: it will use identity politics to divide those who might otherwise find a united voice and a common cause.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating one's identity, especially if it is under threat, maligned or marginalised. But having an attachment to an identity is no excuse for allowing it to be coopted by billionaires, by the powerful, by nuclear-armed states oppressing other people, by political parties or by the corporate media, so that they can weaponise it to prevent the weak, the poor, the marginalised from being represented.

It is time for us to wake up to the tricks, the deceptions, the manipulations of the strong that exploit our weaknesses – and make us yet weaker still. It's time to stop being a patsy for the establishment. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are " Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and " Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair " (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

[Mar 04, 2020] Trump Slams 'SPOILER' Elizabeth Warren For Sinking Sanders

A pretty sharp political thinking from the President
Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

20 minutes later, Trump tweeted that it was " So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race ," as she has "Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly."

"So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!"

So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race. She has Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly. So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

Three hours later, Trump tweeted: " Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas , not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER! "

Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

[Mar 01, 2020] Countering Nationalist Oligarchy by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
The article is mostly junk. But it contains some important insights into the rise of Trympism (aka "national neoliberalism") -- nationalist oligarchy. Including the following " the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist."
The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change. The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change.
Notable quotes:
"... Fascism: A Warning ..."
"... Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America ..."
"... the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist. ..."
"... The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy ..."
"... Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them. ..."
"... Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. ..."
"... Classical Greek Oligarchy ..."
"... Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." ..."
"... We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. ..."
"... The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship. ..."
"... The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars ..."
"... The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic ..."
Dec 31, 2019 | democracyjournal.org
from Winter 2019, No. 51 – 31 MIN READ

Tagged Authoritarianism Democracy Foreign Policy Government nationalism oligarchy

Ever since the 2016 election, foreign policy commentators and practitioners have been engaged in a series of soul-searching exercises to understand the great transformations taking place in the world -- and to articulate a framework appropriate to the challenges of our time. Some have looked backwards, arguing that the liberal international order is collapsing, while others question whether it ever existed. Another group seems to hope the current messiness is simply a blip and that foreign policy will return to normalcy after it passes. Perhaps the most prominent group has identified today's great threat as the rise of authoritarianism, autocracy, and illiberal democracy. They fear that constitutional democracy is receding as norms are broken and institutions are under siege.

Unfortunately, this approach misunderstands the nature of the current crisis. The challenge we face today is not one of authoritarianism, as so many seem inclined to believe, but of nationalist oligarchy. This form of government feeds populism to the people, delivers special privileges to the rich and well-connected, and rigs politics to sustain its regime.

... ... ..

Authoritarianism or What?

Across the political spectrum, commentators and scholars have identified -- and warned of -- the global rise of autocracies and authoritarian governments. They cite Russia, Hungary, the Philippines, and Turkey, among others. Distinguished commentators are increasingly worried. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently published a book called Fascism: A Warning . Cass Sunstein gathered a variety of scholars for a collection titled, Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America .

The authoritarian lens is familiar from the heroic narrative of democracy defeating autocracies in the twentieth century. But as a framework for understanding today's central geopolitical challenges, it is far too narrow. This is mainly because those who are worried about the rise of authoritarianism and the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics. Their emphasis is almost exclusively political and constitutional -- free speech, voting rights, equal treatment for minorities, independent courts, and the like. But politics and economics cannot be dissociated from each other, and neither are autonomous from social and cultural factors. Statesmen and philosophers used to call this "political economy." Political economy looks at economic and political relationships in concert, and it is attentive to how power is exercised. If authoritarianism is the future, there must be a story of its political economy -- how it uses politics and economics to gain and hold power. Yet the rise-of-authoritarianism theorists have less to say about these dynamics.

To be sure, many commentators have discussed populist movements throughout Europe and America, and there has been no shortage of debate on the extent to which a generation of widening economic inequality has been a contributing factor in their rise. But whatever the causes of popular discontent, the policy preferences of the people, and the bloviating rhetoric of leaders, the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist.

The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy , Jeffrey Winters calls it "wealth defense." Elites engage in "property defense," protecting what they already have, and "income defense," preserving and extending their ability to hoard more. Importantly, oligarchy as a governing strategy accounts for both politics and economics. Oligarchs use economic power to gain and hold political power and, in turn, use politics to expand their economic power.

Those who worry about the rise of authoritarianism and fear the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics.

The trouble for oligarchs is that their regime involves rule by a small number of wealthy elites. In even a nominally democratic society, and most countries around the world today are at least that, it should be possible for the much larger majority to overthrow the oligarchy with either the ballot or the bullet. So how can oligarchy persist? This is where both nationalism and authoritarianism come into play. Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them.

The divide-and-conquer strategy is an old one, and it works through a combination of coercion and co-optation. Nationalism -- whether statist, ethnic, religious, or racial -- serves both functions. It aligns a portion of ordinary people with the ruling oligarchy, mobilizing them to support the regime and sacrifice for it. At the same time, it divides society, ensuring that the nationalism-inspired will not join forces with everyone else to overthrow the oligarchs. We thus see fearmongering about minorities and immigrants, and claims that the country belongs only to its "true" people, whom the leaders represent. Activating these emotional, cultural, and political identities makes it harder for citizens in the country to unite across these divides and challenge the regime.

Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. Tactics like these are not new. They have existed, as Matthew Simonton shows in his book Classical Greek Oligarchy , since at least the time of Pericles and Plato. The consequence, then as now, is that nationalist oligarchies can continue to deliver economic policies to benefit the wealthy and well-connected.

It is worth noting that even the generation that waged war against fascism in Europe understood that the challenge to democracy in their time was not just political, but economic and social as well. They believed that the rise of Nazism was tied to the concentration of economic power in Germany, and that cartels and monopolies not only cooperated with and served the Nazi state, but helped its rise and later sustained it. As New York Congressman Emanuel Celler, one of the authors of the Anti-Merger Act of 1950, said, quoting a report filed by Secretary of War Kenneth Royall, "Germany under the Nazi set-up built up a great series of industrial monopolies in steel, rubber, coal and other materials. The monopolies soon got control of Germany, brought Hitler to power, and forced virtually the whole world into war." After World War II, Marshall Plan experts not only rebuilt Europe but also exported aggressive American antitrust and competition laws to the continent because they believed political democracy was impossible without economic democracy.

Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. Electoral losers in places like North Carolina seek to entrench their power rather than accept defeat. The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship.

Addressing our domestic economic and social crises is critical to defending democracy, and a grand strategy for America's future must incorporate both domestic and foreign policy. But while many have recognized that reviving America's middle class and re-stitching our social fabric are essential to saving democracy, less attention has been paid to how American foreign policy should be reformed in order to defend democracy from the threat of nationalist oligarchy.

The Varieties of Nationalist Oligarchy

Just as there are many variations on liberal democracy -- the Swedish model, the French model, the American model -- there are many varieties of nationalist oligarchy. The story is different in every country, but the elements of nationalist oligarchy are trending all over the world.

... ... ...

... the European Union funds Hungary's oligarchy, as Orbán draws on EU money to fund about 60 percent of the state projects that support "the new Fidesz-linked business elite." Nor do Orbán and his allies do much to hide the country's crony capitalist model. András Lánczi, president of a Fidesz-affiliated think tank, has boldly stated that "if something is done in the national interest, then it is not corruption." "The new capitalist ruling class," one Hungarian banker comments, "make their money from the government."

The commentator Jan-Werner Müller captures Orbán's Hungary this way: "Power is secured through wide-ranging control of the judiciary and the media; behind much talk of protecting hard-pressed families from multinational corporations, there is crony capitalism, in which one has to be on the right side politically to get ahead economically."

Crony capitalism, coupled with resurgent nationalism and central government control, is also an issue in China. While some commentators have emphasized "state capitalism" -- when government has a significant ownership stake in companies -- this phenomenon is not to be confused with crony capitalism. Some countries with state capitalism, like Norway, are widely seen as extremely non-corrupt and, indeed, are often held up as models of democracy. State capitalism itself is thus not necessarily a problem. Crony capitalism, in contrast, is an "instrumental union between capitalists and politicians designed to allow the former to acquire wealth, legally or otherwise, and the latter to seek and retain power." This is the key difference between state capitalism and oligarchy.

... ... ...

Ganesh Sitaraman is a professor of law and Chancellor's faculty fellow at Vanderbilt Law School, and the author of The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic .

[Feb 26, 2020] Ranked votingas an alternative of "first after the post"

Feb 26, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

blues , Feb 26 2020 19:08 utc | 41

I have spent 16 years (since 2004) trying to figure out how deal with the spoiler effect -- or put much more relevantly, 'elite fronted party lock-in'. Understand that you may have a government comprised of 100 parties, but there will nonetheless be no democracy at all if they are all 'elite fronted' and ultimately controlled, no matter what policies they superficially promote. This is the nature of the lock-in effect.

Right now, thousands of intellectually sophisticated fools are trying to promote totally lock-in prone election systems such as ranked choice voting (RCV/IRV). These system will leave the voters just as party locked-in as they are with the choose-one system they have now. This is largely due to their requirement for extreme tabulationary opacity, and also extremely high information traffic.

Presently, the best cure for this is 'simple positional voting', which I promote as 'ranked simple voting' (which sophisticated fools often confuse with the quite similar, yet far more unobviously complicated 'Borda method'). It uses precisely the same ballot design as RCV, so voters can simply check-off a box to indicate by which method they prefer their ballot to be tabulated.

The ranked ballots reflect the pattern: =/ 10 > 9 > 8 > ... 1 > 0 /=. There are ten ranked 'places', and voters can assign one candidate to each place, and each candidate assigned to a 'place' will be granted a corresponding number of 'points' (and they can also leave places blank if they prefer). Putting it very simplistically, the candidate with the largest total of points wins. And it turns out that it is quite easy to fairly combine the results of this ranked simple voting (RSV) with those of ranked choice voting. Eventually all the voters will abandon RCV and all its unobvious complexity.

This is what people need to support!

As for poor Circe and dear Bernie, the poor chap has no chance. The best way to support Bernie is to buy one of those billion dollar lottery tickets at the corner market, and contribute the proceeds to the Bernie campaign. I am totally serious. This morning I received my third expensive, super-glossy mailing from the Michael Bloomberg campaign (Money raised: $200.4 million -- from himself!). Very sorry to bear such grim tidings! But you could still direct your support to ranked simple voting. If we had that, somebody even better than Bernie would run, and win. Think about it.

Ranked Simple Voting Is The Answer


blues , Feb 26 2020 21:33 utc | 52

To blues @41 (2020/02/26 19:08 UTC):

Technically, what you're proposing appears to be a form of positional voting -- with the ballots marked from the top score down rather than from the lowest-numbered (highest-preference) rank up, and with the option of not filling in all possible scores.

If it were possible for someone with two top favorites in your example field of ten to give both of them a 10, or do the like at the bottom of the ranking range (or anywhere in the middle), then you'd be closer to score voting (a/k/a range voting).

In the US non-political world, you're pretty much talking about a sports poll. But some places have adopted positional voting for their government elections, too.

(Of course, no voting system -- ordinal or cardinal -- can meet all desirable criteria. It's up to each voting population to decide what it cares most about.)

Posted by: jalp | F

@ jalp | Feb 26 2020 20:11 utc | 47

=/ Technically, what you're proposing appears to be a form of positional voting... /= -- above

Yeah but I already stated that didn't I? And where does this "Technically" come from? That is so often just an opening phrase for intellectually sophisticated fools. Forget the CIA owned and operated 'Wikipedia'. Of course I know all about that 'score/range' voting. And also about all the alchemy of election methods 'criteria', and the irrelevant 'Condorcet' criterion, etc. It all means nothing in the real world.

There is one and only one criterion that makes any real difference: Does the system provide escape from elite fronted party lock-in? That, truly, is all that matters. All the rest of it is just intellectual masturbation of the most sordid kind.

Just allow ranked simple voting, and the psychopathy of elite fronted party lock-in will fade away.

/div>

eb 26 2020 20:11 utc , 47

eb 26 2020 20:11 utc | 47

[Feb 22, 2020] I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and is under complete control by big brother: you can become a non-person at any moment.

Feb 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Feb 22 2020 19:12 utc | 66

Posted by: Bemildred | Feb 22 2020 13:41 utc | 20
The "social" is "social media" is in contrast to "professional" or "business" or "commercial" media, i.e. the MSM and other commercial media.

I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and under complete control by big brother, you can become a non-person at any moment.

[Feb 19, 2020] During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d' tat) changed sides and betrayed the working class

Highly recommended!
This was an outright declaration of "class war" against working-class voters by a "university-credentialed overclass" -- "managerial elite" which changed sides and allied with financial oligrchy. See "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind
Notable quotes:
"... By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI. ..."
Feb 19, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 19, 2020 12:31 pm

Does not matter.

It looks like Bloomberg is finished. He just committed political suicide with his comments about farmers and metal workers.

BTW Bloomberg's plan is highly hypocritical -- like is Bloomberg himself.

During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d'état) changed sides and betrayed the working class.

So those neoliberal scoundrels reversed the class compromise embodied in the New Deal.

The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the neoliberal managerial class and financial oligarchy who got to power via the "Quiet Coup" was the global labor arbitrage in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations.

So all those "improving education" plans are, to a large extent, the smoke screen over the fact that the US workers now need to compete against highly qualified and lower cost immigrants and outsourced workforce.

The fact is that it is very difficult to find for US graduates in STEM disciplines a decent job, and this is by design.

Also, after the "Reagan neoliberal revolution" ( actually a coup d'état ), profits were maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of the immigrant workforce (the collapse of the USSR helped greatly ). They push down wages and compete for jobs with their domestic counterparts, including the recent graduates. So the situation since 1991 was never too bright for STEM graduates.

By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI.

See also recently published "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind.

One of his quotes:

The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.

[Feb 07, 2020] It should be clear on what the fight is really about in the US. It's about stopping the rise of socialism. Regardless of party affiliation, the elites know what the populace wants and are desperately trying to stop it. I refuse to accept that the Democrats have no idea what they're doing.

Feb 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ian2 , Feb 6 2020 20:02 utc | 65

It should be clear on what the fight is really about in the US. It's about stopping the rise of socialism. Regardless of party affiliation, the elites know what the populace wants and are desperately trying to stop it. I refuse to accept that the Democrats have no idea what they're doing.

I honestly can't see Sanders getting the nomination with all the corruption openly being displayed. I would be pleasantly surprised if Sanders did manage to get it, but he still have to deal with the ELECTORAL COLLEGE (EC). The Electors have the final say. Yes, one can point out that some States have laws forcing Electors to vote what the populace wants, but that is being challenged in court. The debate on whether such laws are unconstitutional or not, remains to be seen. It's too late now to deal with the EC for this election, but people need to be more active in politics at the State level as that's where Electors are (s)elected.

IF Sanders is genuine then he should prepare to run as an independent just to get the EC attention.

ben , Feb 6 2020 22:01 utc | 79

RR @ 14;
Everything in the U$A today, is driven by the unofficial Party of $, and it's reach transcends both Dems & repubs. It's cadre is the majority of the D.C. "rule makers", so we get what they want, not what "we the people" want or need.

They own the banks, MSM media, and even our voting systems.

IMO, to assume one party is to blame for conditions in the U$A is a bit naive.

Question is, can anything the masses do, change the system? Or is rank and file America just along for the ride?

I'm assuming us peons will get what the party of $ wants this November also.

P.S. If any blame is given, it needs to go to the American public, because " you get the kind of Gov. you deserve" through your inactions...

It's a lot like living, death is certain, but until that occurs, I'll move forward trying to mitigate current paradigms.

[Jan 30, 2020] There is no shortage of people with Visions. I am keeping an eye on this bunch:

Notable quotes:
"... It was no accident that Davos, the promoter of globalization, is so strongly behind the Climate Change agenda. Davos WEF has a board of appointed trustees. Among them is the early backer of Greta Thunberg, climate multi-millionaire, Al Gore, chairman of the Climate Reality Project. WEF Trustees also include former IMF head, now European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde whose first words as ECB chief were that central banks had to make climate change a priority. Another Davos trustee is outgoing Bank of England head Mark Carney, who was just named Boris Johnson's climate change advisor and who warns that pension funds that ignore climate change risk bankruptcy (sic). ..."
"... Of note: Mark Carney upon leaving his position of Governor Bank of England will serve as global warming adviser to Boris Johnson. Who knew Carney was a scientist? ..."
Jan 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 30 2020 15:21 utc | 24

There is no shortage of people with Visions.

'Greta, bonnie Prince Charles and the pirate billionaires and trillionaires'- In another post I queried how did Greta go to Davos? Silly me; Greta was invited the keynote speaker. "Stop Climate change" was this year's theme: the Vision - 'stop the natural cycle of the universe' -
Now she intends to Trademark 'How Dare You' and set up a Foundation Indeed, Greta found her sugar daddies. Adults who encourage truancy.

my grandpa was a wise bloke and admonished "when politicians and do gooders are in the same room, keep an eye on your money."

William F. Engdahl names the pirates in the "Stop Climate" (cycles) Money Trail.
Follow the "Real Money" Behind the "New Green Agenda"

[.] Davos trustees

It was no accident that Davos, the promoter of globalization, is so strongly behind the Climate Change agenda. Davos WEF has a board of appointed trustees. Among them is the early backer of Greta Thunberg, climate multi-millionaire, Al Gore, chairman of the Climate Reality Project. WEF Trustees also include former IMF head, now European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde whose first words as ECB chief were that central banks had to make climate change a priority. Another Davos trustee is outgoing Bank of England head Mark Carney, who was just named Boris Johnson's climate change advisor and who warns that pension funds that ignore climate change risk bankruptcy (sic).

The board also includes the influential founder of Carlyle Group, David M. Rubenstein. It includes Feike Sybesma of the agribusiness giant, Unilever, who is also Chair of the High Level Leadership Forum on Competitiveness and Carbon Pricing of the World Bank Group. And perhaps the most interesting in terms of pushing the new green agenda is Larry Fink, founder and CEO of the investment group BlackRock.[.]

TCFD and SASB Look Closely

As part of his claim to virtue on the new green investing, Fink states that BlackRock was a founding member of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). He claims, "For evaluating and reporting climate-related risks, as well as the related governance issues that are essential to managing them, the TCFD provides a valuable framework."[.]

TCFD was created in 2015 by the Bank for International Settlements, chaired by fellow Davos board member and Bank of England head Mark Carney. In 2016 the TCFD along with the City of London Corporation and the UK Government created the Green Finance Initiative, aiming to channel trillions of dollars to "green" investments. The central bankers of the FSB nominated 31 people to form the TCFD. Chaired by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, it includes in addition to BlackRock, JP MorganChase; Barclays Bank; HSBC; Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurance; China's ICBC bank; Tata Steel, ENI oil, Dow Chemical, mining giant BHP and David Blood of Al Gore's Generation Investment LLC. Note the crucial role of the central banks here.[.]

Of note: Mark Carney upon leaving his position of Governor Bank of England will serve as global warming adviser to Boris Johnson. Who knew Carney was a scientist?

Pre-alert:

Tax on Excessive garbage output is coming to your town. You will be restricted to xxxKGs/LBS annually. Your garbage will be weighed and at December 31st any excess above the permissible will attract additional tax.
Anyone see the unintended consequences?

[Jan 21, 2020] Money Talks, Bullshit Walks on Cable News by Paul Street

Notable quotes:
"... they promote the nauseating center-right candidacies of the bewildered racist and corporatist Joe Biden, the sinister neoliberal corporate-militarist Pete Butiggieg and even the marginal Wall Street "moderates" Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris? ..."
"... "Follow the money" is the longstanding mantra in campaign finance research and criminal prosecution. ..."
"... At the same time, both U.S. corporate media managers and the advertisers who supply revenue for their salaries are hesitant to produce content that might alienate affluent folks – the people who hire pricey investment advisors, go to Caribbean resorts and buy Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes and count for an ever-rising share of U.S. consumer purchases. It is those with the most purchasing power who are naturally most targeted by advertisers. ..."
Oct 30, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Is it any wonder that the nation's "liberal" cable news stations CNN and MSNBC can barely contain their disdain for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign and even (to a lesser degree) for that of Elizabeth Warren while they promote the nauseating center-right candidacies of the bewildered racist and corporatist Joe Biden, the sinister neoliberal corporate-militarist Pete Butiggieg and even the marginal Wall Street "moderates" Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris?

Next time you click on these stations, keep a pen and paper handy to write down the names of the corporations that pay for their broadcast content with big money commercial purchases.

I did that at various times of day on three separate occasions last week. Here are the companies I found buying ads at CNN and MSDNC:

American Advisors Group (AAG), the top lender the American reverse mortgage industry (with Tom Selleck telling seniors to trust him that reverse mortgages are not a rip off)

United Health Care, for-profit "managed health care company" with 300,000 employers and an annual revenue of $226 billion, ranked sixth on the 2019 Fortune 500.

Menards, the nation's third largest home improvement chain, with revenue over $10 billion in 2017.

CHANITX, a drug to get off cigarettes ("slow Turkey") sold by the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, 65th on the Fortune 500.

Tom Steyer (billionaire for president)

Lincoln Financial, 187 th on the Fortune 500, an American holding company that controls multiple insurance and investment management businesses.

Liberty Mutual, an insurance company with more than 50,000 employees in more than 900 locations and ranked 68 th on the Fortune 500 two years ago.

Allstate Insurance: 79 th on the Fortune 500, with more than 45,000 employees.

INFINITI Suburban Utility Vehicle (new price ranging from 37K to 60K), produced by Nissan, the sixth largest auto-making corporation in the world.

RCN (annual revenue of $636 million) WiFi for business

Jaguar Elite luxury autos.

Porsche luxury autos, selling new models priced at $115,000, $145,000, and $163,00, and $294,000.

Mercedes Benz luxury auto, including an SRL-Class model that starts at $498,000

Capital Group, one of the world's oldest and biggest investment management firms, with $1.87 trillion in assets under its control.

Otezla, a plaque psoriasis drug, developed by the New Jersey drug company Celgene and owned by Amgene, a leading California-based biotechnology firm with total assets of $78 billion.

Trelegy, a CPD drug produced by the British company GSK, the world's seventh leading pharmaceutical corporation, with the fourth largest capitalization of any company on the London Stock Exchange.

HunterDouglass – elite windows made by a Dutch multinational corporation with more than 23,000 employees and locations in more than 70 countries.

Humira – drug for Crohn's disease and other ailments, manufactured by Abbvie, with 28,000 global employees and total assets of $59 billion.

Primateme Mist – for breathing, produced by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals.

Glucerna – drug for diabetes, produced by Abbot Laboratories, an American medical company with more than 100,00 employees and total assets of $67 billion.

Prevagen – a controversial drug for brain health produced by Quincy Bioscience

DISCOVER Credit Card, the third largest credit card brand in the U.S., with total assets of $92 billion.

Fidelity Investments, an American multinational financial services corporation with more than 50,000 employees and an operating income of $5.3 billion.

Cadillac XT-6 high-end SUV, starting at $53K, made by General Motors (no. 10 on the Fortune 500 for total revenue), which makes automobiles in 37 countries, employees 173,000 persons, and has total assets $227 billion.

Comfort Inn, owned by Choice Hotels, one of the largest hotel chains in the world, franchising 7,005 properties in 41 countries and territories.

Audible/Amazon – books on tape from the world's biggest mega-corporation Amazon, ranked fifth on the Fortune 500, with 647,000 employees and total assets of $163 billion.

Ring Home Security, owned by Amazon

Coventry Health Insurance, no. 168 on the Fortune 500

SANDALS Resorts International, with 16 elite resort properties in the Caribbean.

Cigna Medicare Advantage, owned by the national health insurer Cigna, no. 229 on the Fortune 500

SoFi Finance, an online personal finance company that provides student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans.

Ameriprise Finance, an investment services firm, no. 240 on F500.

It's not for nothing that bit Fortune 500 firms are represented in my anecdotal sponsor list above. Last summer, SQAD MediaCosts reported that a 30-second commercial during CNN's prime-time lineup (Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon), cost between $7,000 and $12,000. The price has certainly gone up significantly now that Trumpeachment is bringing in new eyeballs.

The three most prominent and recurrent advertising streams appear (anecdotally) to come from Big Pharma (the leading drug companies), insurance (health insurance above all), and finance (investment services/wealth management). These giant concentrated corporate and industry sectors are naturally opposed to the financial regulation and anti-trust policy that Senator Warren says she wants to advance. Amazon can hardly be expected to back the big-tech break-up that Warren advocates.

Big corporate lenders certainly have no interest in making college tuition free, a Sanders promise that would slash a major profit source for finance capital.

The big health insurance firms are naturally opposed both to the Single Payer national health insurance plan that Sanders puts at the top of his platform and to the milder version of Medicare for All that Warren says she backs. Warren and especially Sanders pledge to remove the parasitic, highly expensive profit motive from health insurance and to make publicly funded quality and affordable health care a human right in the U.S. The corporate insurance mafia is existentially opposed to such human decency.

Both of the "progressive Democratic candidates" (a description that fits Sanders far better than it does Warren) loudly promise to slash drug costs, something Pfizer, Abbvie, Amgene, Amphastar, and Abbot Labs can hardly be expected to relish.

None of the big companies buying advertising time on CNN and MSNBC have any interest in the progressive taxation and restored union organizing and collective bargaining rights that Sanders advocates.

The big financial services firms paying for media content on "liberal" cable news stations primarily serve affluent clients, many if not most of whom are likely to oppose increased taxes on the well off.

The resort, tourism, luxury car, and business travel firms that buy commercials on these networks are hardly about to back policies leading to the real or potential reduction of discretionary income enjoyed by upper middle class and rich people.

So, gosh, who do these corporate and financial interests favor in the 2020 presidential election? Neoliberal Corporatists like Joe Biden, Pete Butiggieg, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, of course. Dutifully obedient to the preferences and commands of the nation's unelected dictatorship of money, these insipid corporate Democrats loyally claim that Sanders and Warren want to viciously "tax the middle class" to pay for supposedly unaffordable excesses like Medicare for All and the existentially necessary Green New Deal.

In reality, Single Payer and giant green jobs programs and more that We the People need and want are eminently affordable if the United States follows Sanders' counsel by adequately and progressively taxing its absurdly wealthy over-class (the top tenth of the upper 1% than owns more than 90% of U.S. wealth) and its giant, surplus-saturated corporations and financial institutions. At the same time, as Warren keeps trying to explain, the cost savings for ordinary Americans will be enormous with the profits system taken out of health insurance.

Sanders reminds voters that there's no way to calculate the cost savings of keeping livable ecology alive for future generations. The climate catastrophe is a grave existential threat to the whole species.

These are basic arguments of elementary social, environmental, and democratic decency that the investors and managers behind and atop big corporations buying commercials on CNN and MSNBC don't want heard. As a result, CNN and MSDNC "debate" moderators and talking heads persist in purveying the, well, fake news, that Sanders doesn't know how to pay Single Payer, free public college, and a Green New Deal.

It's not for nothing that CNN and MSNBC have promoted the hapless Biden over and above Sanders and Warren – this notwithstanding the former Vice President's ever more obvious and embarrassing inadequacy as a candidate.

It's not for nothing that MSNBC and CNN have habitually warned against the supposed "socialist" menace posed by the highly popular Sanders (a New Deal progressive at leftmost) while refusing to properly describe Trump's White House and his dedicated base as pro-fascists. MSDNC has even get a weekly segment to the silver-spooned multi-millionaire advertising executive Donny Deutsch after he said the following on the network last winter:

"I find Donald Trump reprehensible as a human being, but a socialist candidate is more dangerous to this company, country, as far as the strength and well-being of the country, than Donald Trump. I would vote for Donald Trump, a despicable human being I will be so distraught to the point that that could even come out of my mouth, if we have a socialist [Democratic presidential candidate or president] because that will take our country so down, and we are not Denmark. I love Denmark, but that's not who we are. And if you love who we are and all the great things that still have to have binders put on the side. Please step away from the socialism."

It's not for nothing that the liberal cable networks go out of their way to deny Sanders remotely appropriate broadcast time. Or that they habitually and absurdly frame Single Payer health insurance not as the great civilizing social and human rights victory it would be (the long-overdue cost-slashing de-commodification of health care coverage combined with the provision of health care for all regardless of social status and class) but rather as a dangerous and authoritarian assault on Americans' existing (and unmentionably inadequate and over-expensive) health insurance.

Dare we mention that the lords of capital who pay for cable news salaries and content are heavily invested in the fossil fuels and in the relentless economic growth that are pushing the planet rapidly towards environmental tipping points that gravely endanger prospects for a decent and organized human existence in coming decades?

It's not for nothing that the progressive measures advanced by Sanders and supported by most Americans are regularly treated as "unrealistic," "irresponsible," "too radical," "too idealistic," "impractical," and "too expensive."

It's for nothing that Sanders is commonly left out of the liberal cable networks' campaign coverage and "horse race" discussions even as he enjoys the highest approval rating among all the candidates in the running.

With their preferred centrist candidate Joe Biden having performed in a predictably poor and buffoonish fashion (Biden was a terrible, gaffe-prone politician well before his brains started coming out of his ears) falling back into something like a three-way tie with the liberal Warren and the populist progressive Sanders, the liberal cable talking heads and debate moderators have naturally tried to boost "moderate" neoliberal-corporatist "second" and "third tier" Democratic presidential candidates like Butiggieg, Klobuchar and the surprisingly weak Kamala Harris. It's not for nothing that these and other marginal corporate candidates (e.g. Beto O'Rourke) get outsized attention on "liberal" cable stations regardless of their tiny support bases. Even if they can't win, these small-time contenders take constant neoliberal jabs at Sanders and even at the more clearly corporate-co-optable Warren (who proudly describes herself as "capitalist in my bones").

Thanks to Harris's curiously weak showing, Biden's dotard-like absurdity, and the likely non-viability of Butiggieg (the U.S. is not yet primed for two men and a baby in the White House), the not-so liberal cable channels are now joining the New Yok Times and Washington Post in gently floating the possibility of a dark-horse neoliberal Democratic Party newcomer (Michael Bloomberg, John Kerry, Michelle Obama, Sherrod Brown, and maybe even Hillary Clinton herself) to fill Joke Biden's Goldman-and Citigroup-approved shoes in the coming primary and Caucus battles with "radical socialist" Bernie and (not-so) "left" Warren.

So what if running an establishment Obama-Clinton-Citigroup-Council on Foreign Relations Democrat in 2020 will de-mobilize much of the nation's progressive electoral base, helping the malignant white nationalist monster Donald Trump get a second term?

As the old working-class slogan says, "money talks and bullshit walks."

"Follow the money" is the longstanding mantra in campaign finance research and criminal prosecution. It should also apply to our understanding of the dominant media's political news content. U.S. media managers are employed by giant corporations (MSNBC is a division of Comcast NBC Universal, no. 71 on the Fortune 500 and CNN is owned by Turner Broadcasting, no, 68 on the Fortune 500) that are naturally reluctant to publish or broadcast material that might offend the wealthy capitalist interests that pay for broadcasting by purchasing advertisements. As Noam Chomsky has noted, large corporations are not only the major producers of the United States' mass commercial media. They are also that media's top market, something that deepens the captivity of nation's supposedly democratic and independent media to big capital:

"The reliance of a journal on advertisers shapes and controls and substantially determines what is presented to the public the very idea of advertiser reliance radically distorts the concept of free media. If you think about what the commercial media are, no matter what, they are businesses. And a business produces something for a market. The producers in this case, almost without exception, are major corporations. The market is other businesses – advertisers. The product that is presented to the market is readers (or viewers), so these are basically major corporations providing audiences to other businesses, and that significantly shapes the nature of the institution."

At the same time, both U.S. corporate media managers and the advertisers who supply revenue for their salaries are hesitant to produce content that might alienate affluent folks – the people who hire pricey investment advisors, go to Caribbean resorts and buy Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes and count for an ever-rising share of U.S. consumer purchases. It is those with the most purchasing power who are naturally most targeted by advertisers.

Money talks, bullshit talks on "liberal" cable news, as in the legal and party and elections systems and indeed across all of society.

Watch the wannabe fascist strongman Trump walk to a second term with no small help from a "liberal" corporate media whose primary goal is serving corporate sponsors and its own bottom line, not serving social justice, environmental sanity, and democracy – or even helping Democrats win elections.

[Jan 21, 2020] Bernie Sanders Walks Straight Into the Russiagate Trap

Jan 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Daniel Lazare January 20, 2020 © Photo: Wikimedia The New York Times caused a mini-commotion last week with a front-page story suggesting that Russian intelligence had hacked a Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings in order to get dirt on Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win re-election.

But the article was flimsy even by Russiagate standards, and so certain questions inevitably arise. What was it really about? Who's behind it? Who's the real target?

Here's a quick answer. It was about boosting Joe Biden, and its real target was his chief rival, Bernie Sanders. And poor, inept Bernie walked straight into the trap.

The article was flimsy because rather than saying straight out that Russian intelligence hacked Burisma, the company notorious for hiring Biden's son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month job, reporters Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had to rely on unnamed "security experts" to say it for them. While suggesting that the hackers were looking for dirt, they didn't quite say that as well. Instead, they admitted that "it is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for."

So we have no idea what they were up to, if anything at all. But the Times then quoted "experts" to the effect that "the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens – the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment." Since Trump and the Russians are seeking the same information, they must be in cahoots, which is what Democrats have been saying from the moment Trump took office. Given the lack of evidence, this was meaningless as well.

But then came the kicker: two full paragraphs in which a Biden campaign spokesman was permitted to expound on the notion that the Russians hacked Burisma because Biden is the candidate that they and Trump fear the most.

"Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can't beat the vice president," the spokesman, Andrew Bates, said. "Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections."

If Biden is the number-one threat, then Sanders is not, presumably because the Times sees him as soft on Moscow. If so, it means that he could be in for the same neo-McCarthyism that antiwar candidate Tulsi Gabbard encountered last October when Hillary Clinton blasted her as "the favorite of the Russians." Gabbard had the good sense to blast her right back.

"Thank you @Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know – it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine ."

If only Sanders did the same. But instead he put out a statement filled with the usual anti-Russian clichés:

"The 2020 election is likely to be the most consequential election in modern American history, and I am alarmed by new reports that Russia recently hacked into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment trial, as well as Russia's plans to once again meddle in our elections and in our democracy. After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddle in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn [sic] by Donald Trump ."

And so on for another 250 words. Not only did the statement put him in bed with the intelligence agencies, but it makes him party to the big lie that the Kremlin was responsible for putting Trump over the top in 2016.

Let's get one thing straight. Yes, Russian intelligence may have hacked the Democratic National Committee. But cybersecurity was so lax that others may have been rummaging about as well. (CrowdStrike, the company called in to investigate the hack, says it found not one but two cyber-intruders.) Notwithstanding the Mueller report, all the available evidence indicates that Russia did not then pass along thousands of DNC emails that Wikileaks published in July 2016. (Julian Assange's statement six months later that "our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party" remains uncontroverted.) Similarly, there's no evidence that the Kremlin had anything to do with the $45,000 worth of Facebook ads purchased by a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency – Robert Mueller's 2018 indictment of the IRA was completely silent on the subject of a Kremlin connection – and no evidence that the ads, which were politically all over the map, had a remotely significant impact on the 2016 election.

All the rest is a classic CIA disinformation campaign aimed at drumming up anti-Russian hysteria and delegitimizing anyone who fails to go along. And now Bernie Sanders is trying to cover his derrière by hopping on board.

It won't work. Sanders will find himself having to take one loyalty oath after another as the anti-Russia campaign flares anew. But it will never be enough, and he'll only wind up looking tired and weak. Voters will opt for the supposedly more formidable Biden, who will end up as a bug splat on the windshield of Donald Trump's speeding election campaign. With impeachment no longer an issue, he'll be free to behave as dictatorially as he wishes as he settles into his second term.

After inveighing against billionaire's wars, he'll find himself ensnared by the same billionaire war machine. The trouble with Sanders is that he thinks he can win by playing by the rules. But he can't because the rules are stacked against him. He'd know that if his outlook was more radical. His problem is not that he's too much of a socialist. Rather, it's that he's not enough.

[Jan 04, 2020] I believe is most depressing is how dumb people are

Jan 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

oldhippie , Jan 4 2020 18:11 utc | 13

Sitting in coffee shop in Chicago listening to Americans. The general sentiment is they had it coming and Iran should be nuked.
Glass parking lot is the desired end.

This sentiment is bottom to top in America. Measured response? No way can Iran 'measure' a response.

More generally the sentiment is that a little war in Iran, a few nukes, is not even a big thing. Football scores more important.

Isabella , Jan 4 2020 18:22 utc | 16

"Sitting in coffee shop in Chicago listening to Americans. The general sentiment is they had it coming and Iran should be nuked.
Glass parking lot is the desired end."

That's pretty much the picture i get from reading responses in UK MSM, not only from English, but many giving American addresses. They are all pretty much thoroughly brainwashed, believing as gospel the lies they've told, and still think that they are the "White hatted, good guys, who do good things for the places they bomb and invade".

it seems they will be supportive of an attack on Iran, and if their maniac "leaders", the basement crazies who got out of the basement, realise this, it increases substantially the chances of a "hot" war. In that case, should it escalate out of control, your Chicago coffee deadheads will get the Glass parking lot they want. It just wont be in the ME. Or Russia. They can have their very own, in their own back yard.

Zanon , Jan 4 2020 21:09 utc | 76
Information_Agent

Yes I also noticed this, what I believe is most depressing is how dumb people are. Trump/White house tell alot of lies which then become the truth for alot of his supporters and he also manage to get MSM where he wants, because MSM do not seems to care either, they are on-board when it comes to war.
And yes additional to that, a clear psychological operation going on to get the propaganda out.
I try to counter it on social media, I hope everyone here also do the same.

Pft , Jan 4 2020 21:48 utc | 79
Patroklos @77

Its about conditioning people that its the new normal. Anything goes, "do as thou wilt". So long as it serves the interests of our masters. With no fear that MSM or alt media can or will provide sustained or effective criticism, and the corruption of religious or secular morals among the population thanks to hollywoods cultural marxism/propaganda and corruption of christianity , they can get support among the people for just about anything. People can be made to believe anything. The past 100 years has proven that beyond all doubt. With all doubt now removed they can show their true colors and this will be accepted as the new normal.

Dick , Jan 4 2020 22:13 utc | 83
The problem with the US is most everyone in the US military, US citizenry, and US government believe their own Exceptionalism propaganda and act accordingly. Attacking the PMU units of the Iraqi army was certainly an unwise decision, but killing Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is an act of complete moronic insanity!
Robert Snefjella , Jan 5 2020 0:22 utc | 121
The United States launched a war of aggression, the supreme crime, upon Iraq in 2003, based on blatant lies, and are still there. Prior to that, they helped foment the war between Iraq and Iran, then attacked Iraq in 1991, and on top of the overt warfare there was the economic sanctions warfare. The death and maiming and poisoning of millions of Iraqis has been the American contribution to Iraq, over the last several decades. What for? How has this helped the United States? Or Europe? The main advocates for this supreme criminality has been the Israel lobby, Israel, and the supporters of Israel.

The American Apache helicopters are still buzzing around over Baghdad, dealing out terror and intimidation and death. The murder by the United States of yet more Iraqi soldiers and officials recently has been largely absent from the propaganda narratives. But could those be 'the final straw'?

As far as Trump's 52 target threat, this comes after the apparent please don't escalate and we'll make a deal - good cop-bad cop routine.

The 52 number was used to remind mind-controlled Americans that the evil Iranians outrageously took 52 Americans hostage. American's don't just take people hostage; they give them orange suits and torture them, unless they kill them. Apart from murdering and maiming by the millions, they even stage fictional killings, like Osama bin laden, to entertain the zombies, and stick out their chests, hand out medals and the like.

[Jan 01, 2020] Individuals and groups evolved a bias to maximize fitness by maximizing power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of natural resources (overshoot), whenever systemic constraints allow it. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.

Jan 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tim E. , Dec 29 2019 4:45 utc | 59

"I don't think there's any actual material reason that there should be any material wants anywhere on this planet, instead "only" political and managerial ones but that's because I believe (and I'm not an expert) one can add additional levels of safeguards -- both physical and administrative -- to existing or new nuclear power-plants and "burn" most of the byproducts into essentially new fuel thus buying humanity at least several thousands of years of time instead of for example chopping up large volumes of air and everything in it be it insects or birds.

We should already be in a post-scarcity world, no -isms required, only kindness and applied knowledge. So to me that will be our death sentence if that is the final outcome; too little kindness (towards all life), too little application and sharing of knowledge.

I don't know if that is inspiring or depressing or both :)"

I always find those thoughts scary - since you and I are both NOT Farmers - and depend upon those little people to supply us with the foodstuffs we need to survive.

It's GREAT to be a rocket scientist - but before a rocket scientist can exist - ya need Farmers.

Jay Hanson and Richard Duncan said it best:

http://www.dieoff.com/

Here is a synopsis of the behavioral loop described above:

Step 1. Individuals and groups evolved a bias to maximize fitness by maximizing power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of natural resources (overshoot), whenever systemic constraints allow it. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.

Step 2. Energy is always limited, and overshoot eventually leads to decreasing power available to some members of the group, with lower-ranking members suffering first.

Step 3. Diminishing power availability creates divisive subgroups within the original group. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals, who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain power.

Step 4. Violent social strife eventually occurs among subgroups who demand a greater share of the remaining power.

Step 5. The weakest subgroups (high or low rank) are either forced to disperse to a new territory, are killed, enslaved, or imprisoned.

Step 6. Go back to step 1.

The above loop was repeated countless thousands of times during the millions of years that we were evolving[9]. This behavior is inherent in the architecture of our minds -- is entrained in our biological material -- and will be repeated until we go extinct. Carrying capacity will decline[10] with each future iteration of the overshoot loop, and this will cause human numbers to decline until they reach levels not seen since the Pleistocene.

Current models used to predict the end of the biosphere suggest that sometime between 0.5 billion to 1.5 billion years from now, land life as we know it will end on Earth due to the combination of CO2 starvation and increasing heat. It is this decisive end that biologists and planetary geologists have targeted for attention. However, all of their graphs reveal an equally disturbing finding: that global productivity will plummet from our time onward, and indeed, it already has been doing so for the last 300 million years.[11]

It's impossible to know the details of how our rush to extinction will play itself out, but we do know that it is going to be hell for those who are unlucky to be alive at the time.

And:

The Olduvai theory is defined by the ratio of world energy production and population. It states that the life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930-2030. After more than a century of strong growth -- energy production per capita peaked in 1979. The Olduvai theory explains the 1979 peak and the subsequent decline. Moreover, it says that energy production per capita will fall to its 1930 value by 2030, thus giving Industrial Civilization a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years. This analysis predicts that the collapse will be strongly correlated with an 'epidemic' of permanent blackouts of high-voltage electric power networks -- worldwide.

http://dieoff.com/page234.pdf


Will Humans reach the Stars? I believe NOT - and that extinction is but a heart beat away. We are not a Peaceful species - amongst many others - but the Universe lives in Harmony.

See: https://etheric.com/om-the-cosmic-vibration/

and:

https://etheric.com/continuous-creation-cosmology/

[Dec 24, 2019] It is trie that Hierarchy class society but the problem (for the lower classes) is that by inequality rises to unacceptable level and becomes evident to all, mechanisms of 'law' and power (plus bread and circuses) have been set in place to prevent or repress the necessary changes from happening from below

Dec 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Gruff , Dec 24 2019 14:13 utc | 97

Hierarchy ≠ class society.

There is nothing wrong with hierarchy in and of itself. After all, is seniority to mean nothing? Is demonstrated competence meaningless? Should an individual's efforts to build skill sets be treated as equivalent to the couch potato's efforts to build up an epic Body Mass Index (BMI)? Should notions of winners and losers be banned from athletic competitions and sporting events, along with any associated prizes? Everybody gets a trophy whether they run the race or not?

As I understand it there were plenty of routes through life in the Soviet Union in which people could distinguish themselves, perhaps more than in the West. There were plenty of ways to rise in society's hierarchy. None of those routes resulted in fabulous and opulent wealth, but if some did then the society would necessarily be able to afford fewer such routes.

The only problems with hierarchy in society is if the process of rising in it is corrupt (being born into wealth, for instance) or if the span between the bottom and the top of that hierarchy is larger than what the population considers fair.

juliania , Dec 24 2019 18:35 utc | 108

William Gruff @ 97

"...The only problems with hierarchy in society is if the process of rising in it is corrupt (being born into wealth, for instance) or if the span between the bottom and the top of that hierarchy is larger than what the population considers fair."

That is true, the only problem being (for the lower classes) that by the time the gap becomes evident to all, mechanisms of 'law' and power (plus bread and circuses) have been set in place to prevent or repress the necessary changes from happening from below. This is evident to the US populace as the few who saw it coming and protested could not rouse enough support when it could have mattered. We looked and still look for helpers among the children of the hierarchs because those are the only ones who can work within the current system. So far, such are few, if they exist at all. But we saw with FDR it only takes one or two. (I don't know if you saw my previous post that finance was not the governmental powerhouse it has become in FDR's time. First they came for the legislators!!)

I still have hope that the system in the US will of its own weight become unweildly. There are already signs of that happening in the increasing inability of US powermongers to have their way on the world stage, and in their search for ephemeral 'boltholes'. And while they are still able to inflict harm on others and do so with reckless abandon, I do not believe they are ready to risk their own skins or those of their near and dear - or the fortunes they have staked everything to gain. My hope is that even that damaging ability will peter out as climate change necessities force a refocus on what actually threatens said skins and fortunes.

[Dec 22, 2019] At what point up the socio-economic ladder do these sorts of concerns become manifest?

Dec 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Robert Valiant , December 21, 2019 at 10:49 am

Despite the handwringing otherwise, there are quite a few well-off people outside the coast who like decorating in gold and even being so tacky as to have cars that match.

At what point up the socio-economic ladder do these sorts of concerns become manifest? And how does one know? I'm an upper lower-class "coastal," and I'm mostly concerned with eating properly and keeping my dilapidated 50s rambler from leaking. Years ago, when my children were at home, and our family was solidly upper middle-class (at least that's what I thought), I still didn't consider what other people thought of my cars, nor did I think much about decorating colors.

Honestly, I think I find simple survival more interesting.

Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 10:56 am

All of my life, those with immense, some might claim obscene amounts of wealth have been celebrated in these United States, but you can sense a backlash is coming to them & showy displays that come with the territory.

ambrit , December 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm

To expand on your viticulture themed comments elsewhere; these people fit the description of "Teriorists." They have a penchant for "Le Grand Crude."

Carolinian , December 21, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Well there was that period–late 60s, early 70s–when people like Leonard Bernstein dressed in jeans and conspicuous wealth was very un-hip. Tom Wolfe wrote an article about it,

Then came Reagan–and Nancy.

Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 4:19 pm

I really think the turning point came around 1975 when the first pro athletes got million a year contracts, and you can just imagine the jealousy of Ivy League types on Wall*Street as the pros started making moon money.

By the time we got around to Reagan, high finance figured out how to hit the long ball via Milken, etc.

I mentioned a week or 2 ago in regards to a pitcher who inked a nearly 1/3rd of a Billion $ contract, contrast that with the $125k 1 year deal that Sandy Koufax signed in 1966.

Anon , December 21, 2019 at 10:10 pm

Well, the actual details are a bit different.

Koufax and Don Drysdale (1965 World Series heroes) asked, together, for a $1 million, 3 year deal. That equated to a yearly salary of $166,000 for each of them for 3 years. (The highest paid player in MLB at the time was Willie Mays at $105,000.) The Dodgers, with by far the highest game attendance in baseball, offered Koufax $120k and Drysdale $105k. I believe that was the salary that they accepted.

Much has changed since then. TV has made MLB a 7-8 $Billion a year enterprise. The LA Dodgers as a team are now worth billion$. Marvin Miller wrenched union power for the players. And remember, players have a very short earning window; Koufax retired at the age of 30 due to an elbow worn out from throwing curve balls. (Sandy was a condo neighbor of mine when I lived in Sun Valley, ID. A very special man.)

And pitching is everything in the big leagues.

Yves Smith Post author , December 21, 2019 at 9:42 pm

That sounds right.

I graduated from college in 1979. Women wore (depending on the season), T-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans. Only the women from the the colleges that were seen as matrimonial in orientation (one was called "Pine Mattress") wore makeup.

2 years after that, I was part of the group that did campus recruiting. Just walking around, you could see a significant % of women wearing makeup, skirts, and hose, just to go to class. Gah.

Yves Smith Post author , December 21, 2019 at 4:15 pm

I think you are missing the point of my comment, that of all the things to get upset about re Trump, it's his taste? Really? IMHO this is another manifestation of the fact that a significant amount of the upset about him is his being so flagrantly nouveau riche and not caring.

And you managed to miss the status signaling from the bourgeois on up? Women who color their hair feel unkept if their roots grow in. Cars are huge status symbols, up and down the line. Try driving an early 2000s car, even if in fine shape, and watch the reactions if someone you've first met walks you to it. People look at the quality of leather in shoes, tailoring and fabric as other status markers. Being thin is another status marker, as are teeth ..

If you are really rich, the signals include flying on private jets, what charities you support, what art you collect, if you own a vineyard (or have your name on a hospital wing or building at a school .)

Bugs Bunny , December 21, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Exactly what Epstein understood and exploited. Codes of status.

Frankly the Clintons didn't fit in either but they were somehow more acceptable than Trump.

Nixon hated those people and who knows, maybe it contributed to his downfall.

I won't venture to speculate on what the wealthy thought of the Obamas. Perhaps Elizabeth Windsor could answer that.

Craig H. , December 21, 2019 at 10:08 pm

I read that Nixon acquired his hatred step by step and it was only really baked in after about the 20000th time he got snubbed. For a long time he wanted to be one of them and he could hardly believe it that it wasn't ever going to happen.

Check this out which completely blew my mind:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/nixon-predicted-trump-success/

flora , December 21, 2019 at 7:26 pm

That was my take as well.
Snobbery is snobbery, and I thought Yves was pointing that out in a forceful manner, not criticizing R.V.'s comment.
In any event, I find R.V.'s comments a welcome point of view adding depth to the larger economic picture and its effects.

Massinissa , December 21, 2019 at 7:32 pm

"because the bourgeois flavor of this corner of the Internet just doesn't suit my proletariat tastes"

I think you completely misunderstood her point. She wasn't defending Trump's tastes in any way, but pointing out that ALL the wealthy share similar tastes and singling Trump out as some kind of singular aberration leaves out that this is standard of our ruling class.

None of us here support this kind status consumerism, and many of us likely share your 'proletarian tastes', its just that around here notions that Trump is some unique monster different from the rest of his class hold little water.

Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 7:38 pm

I can't relate to a world where what you wear, what you drive and what you drink and the conveyance which moves you around, really means anything.

That said, it's all part of the pecking order on high, and I get it. If Trump was seen in a 2007 Toyota Matrix with 136k miles, his world would come undone.

ambrit , December 22, 2019 at 12:19 am

Added to what the others have said; don't cut off your nose to spite your face. It takes a thick skin to comment anywhere on the internet.
Also, so what if this blog commenteriat skews a bit bourgeois? Do you want to lock yourself in an echo chamber? What good would that do for your understanding of the 'reality' on the ground? I and others admit to frequenting conservative blogs. It doesn't mean we fully agree with the reigning philosophies on those blogs, but we do tend to learn much of a substantive nature that is not displayed on the "standard" MSM 'news' sources.
The entire lesson of the internet is that "Knowledge Is Power." Control the 'knowledge' or it's accessibility, and you "rule" the society. Thus, a wide range of sources of information is required. Locking yourself away in the anarchist sphere of the internet is going to stunt your knowledge set, and limit your range of options for action. To effectively fight one's enemies, one must understand them. So, to discommode the bourgeois, you first must get to know them.
Finally, class has always been "..an unbridgeable chasm in western society." Else why all the revolts and movements on the part of the working classes?
Anyway, don't leave in a huff. You are better than that.

Darthbobber , December 21, 2019 at 4:44 pm

This particular line of attack on Trump is exactly the line that used to be taken by the old rich and New England rich against the new rich. (And the ethnic rich)

[Dec 13, 2019] Are voted destined to be duped?

Dec 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

,

Kratoklastes , says: December 12, 2019 at 3:42 am GMT

started by an unemployed Englishman named Eliot Higgins

Good on him – being able to create a thing that rises to such prominence in such a short space of time speaks volumes about this Higgins guy's entrepreneurial ability. And if he wasn't mobbed-up to begin with, he sure as fuck is now – which is a double- mitzvah (for him).

If he did so starting from being unemployed, then anybody who turned down a job application from the guy must be kicking themselves. (' Unemployed ' is obviously used pejoratively in the blockquote; 'Englishman' is purely-descriptive).

.

Also, the entire article accepts Bernays' conclusion, but disagrees as to which objectives should be pursued.

Bernays' conclusions are hardly controversial: most people are gullible imbeciles . It's not clear to me how much more empirical evidence we need before that becomes just a thing that everyone with an IQ above 115 accepts.

So the question then becomes " OK, now what? ".

As usual, the right answer is " Depends " – and not just for those with bladder control problems.

If you want to do things that are just , exploiting gullible imbeciles would appear to violate the playing conditions. It would be hors jeu ; not done; just not cricket .

As the Laconian famously said . " IF ."

For those for whom the 'if' condition returns 'false', it does very little to bleat about how awful they are. You're not going to cause a little switch in their brain to flick on (or off?), whereupon they realise the error of their ways and make a conscious decision to leave the gullible imbeciles unexploited.

It's even unlikely to affect their victims (remember, they're imbeciles) – because otherwise some infra-marginal imbeciles would have to process their way through quite a bit of cognitive dissonance, and they're not wired for introspection (or processing).

So the sole real purpose (apart from κάθαρσις catharsis ) is prophylaxis (προ + φύλαξις – guarding ). Both good enough aims obviously the writer is the one who gets the cathartic benefit, but who is going to be on heightened alert as a result of this Cassandra -ish jeremiad -ing?

Non-imbeciles don't need it; imbeciles won't benefit.

Here's the thing: the gullible imbeciles are going to be exploited by someone .

.

This is something that people of my persuasion struggle with. It boils down to the following:

Let's assume that a reprehensible thing exists already, and is unlikely to be overthrown by my opposition to it. Should I just participate and line my pockets?

The resources used are going to be used whether I participate or not, so it may as well be me who gets them. After all, I will put them to moral uses – and while inside, I can do things that are contrary to the interests of the reprehensible thing.

There is no satisfactory counter-argument to that line of reasoning, and yet I reject it.

Then again: I was dropped on my head as an infant, so YMMV.

HAIL KEK

[Dec 06, 2019] The top .01 percent of all income earners in the United States accounted for 29 percent of all political committee fundraising.

Dec 06, 2019 | www.nbcnews.com

It has long required the support of the wealthy -- and a certain level of personal wealth -- to run for president of the United States. In 2016, billions of dollars were raised by Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns. But the rich control much of this cash flow . In 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top .01 percent of all income earners in the United States accounted for 29 percent of all political committee fundraising.

There are many reasons why this is a dangerous thing. But a big one is accountability.

[Nov 30, 2019] We can all agree that humans have had a devastating impact on every corner the environment, every ecosystem. However, it is a leap of manufactured faith (manipulation) to claim that humans are responsible for climate change

Nov 30, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

How about the hysteria that led to the Spanish War? "Remember the Maine," The ship was supposedly sunk in Havana Harbor by Spanish perfidy. In fact the Maine blew up because a coal bunker fire burned through a bulkhead and set off something or other. That was the US Navy's investigative finding after the war. Don't tell me about Hearst. Hearst was just selling newspapers. The American people went into a hysteric rage against Spain and that was the cause of war. Hearst just wanted to find "Rosebud." Figure it out.

And now we have the approaching end of the world through man made climate change. It would be funny if there were not so many who believe it.

Science? Hah! For every study you can produce in support of this fantasy I will find you one to rebut it. All you ecofreaks! Don't send me material about this. I will not help you support the hysteric fantasy. Send money to the Democratic Party. They believe this crap. pl.


Bandit , 29 November 2019 at 10:29 PM

Now this is a post I can get behind. For me it has been the hysteria and the ease with which people are manipulated through propaganda that has astonished me, because that is what the climate change agenda is all about. We can all agree that humans have had a devastating impact on every corner the environment, every ecosystem. However, it is a leap of manufactured faith (manipulation) to claim that humans are responsible for climate change.

To support this bogus hypothesis, scientists strangle and manipulate data in an effort to justify draconian laws and policies that can only line the pockets of the very rich at the expense of the rest of the tax paying population. Carbon tax is the real aim here, a totally bullshit pretext to suck more trillions of dollars from the economies of the world. Self-selecting "experts" join the chorus because of fear of censorship and loss of status while the brave ones are called, as always, climate change denialists, and thus denigrated.

Mr Zarate , 29 November 2019 at 10:41 PM
The hysteria that erupts when anyone questions climate change says pretty much all you need to know about it.
ambrit , 29 November 2019 at 10:41 PM
Oh man! Even most of the lefties I associate with believe it. They are supposed to, through the tenets of their secular 'religion,' use solid evidence as their guides. The evidence is not persuasive. The Earth has gone through fluctuations in climate for ever. The dinosaurs made do in a much hotter earth, if the geologic evidence be true. It took a cosmic strike to do them in.
Humans are the top predators here because they can adapt to change much quicker than any other animal. Modern human civilization may not be recognizable to any of us in two hundred years. That would be true with or without "climate change." We will carry on, one way or another.
Similarly to what Bandit wrote above, I see various 'elites' angling to make book on whatever does happen. The Science Fiction writer William Gibson has proposed in his book "The Peripheral," a near future based on a massive world population die back that he calls "The Jackpot."
Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peripheral
All in all, we live in 'Interesting Times.'
Thank you for your indulgence.

[Nov 28, 2019] What is 'Iron Law of Oligarchy'

Notable quotes:
"... The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to "social viscosity" in a large-scale organization. According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible ..."
Nov 28, 2019 | www.preservearticles.com

The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties.

The "iron law of oligarchy" states that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organizations.

The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to "social viscosity" in a large-scale organization. According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible.

[Nov 28, 2019] Civil Service is a self-perpetuating oligarchy

Notable quotes:
"... Iron Law of Oligarchy refers to the inherent tendency of all complex organizations to develop a ruling clique of leaders with interests in the organization itself rather than in its official aims. ..."
"... It became difficult for the mass membership to provide any effective counterweight to this professional, entrenched, leadership, the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Aristotle used the term oligarchy as a synonym for rule by the rich. Oligarchy is not always a rule by wealthy people, for which the term is plutocracy . Oligarchy means "the rule of the few" and monarchy means "the rule of the one" ..."
"... Oligarchy can also be compared with aristocracy . In an aristocracy, a small group of wealthy or socially prominent citizens control the government. Members of this high social class claim to be, or are considered by others to be, superior to the other people because of family ties, social rank, wealth, or religious affiliation. ..."
Nov 28, 2019 | www.sociologyindex.com

IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY

Civil Service is a self-perpetuating oligarchy, the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Many writers believe that any political system eventually evolves into iron law of oligarchy. James Madison, the fourth President of the United States said: "Never fear. The iron law of oligarchy always obtains." In iron law of oligarchy, actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an 'acceptable' and 'respectable' political position. Iron Law of Oligarchy was first defined by German sociologists like Robert Michels (1876-1936).

According to writers, Zulma Riley, Keith Riley, and Robert Michels, modern Democracy should be considered as elected Oligarchy . They called this theory the iron law of oligarchy. Michels discovered that in the Iron Law of Oligarchy, even in the most egalatarian movements, elites will call most of the shots.

Iron Law of Oligarchy refers to the inherent tendency of all complex organizations to develop a ruling clique of leaders with interests in the organization itself rather than in its official aims.

It became difficult for the mass membership to provide any effective counterweight to this professional, entrenched, leadership, the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Aristotle used the term oligarchy as a synonym for rule by the rich. Oligarchy is not always a rule by wealthy people, for which the term is plutocracy . Oligarchy means "the rule of the few" and monarchy means "the rule of the one".

Such power-sharing from one person to a larger group of persons happened when English nobles got together in 1215 to force King John of England to sign the Magna Carta, a recognition of failure of oligarchy. Magna Carta guaranteed greater rights to greater numbers of people, thus setting the stage for English constitutional monarchy .

Oligarchy can also be compared with aristocracy . In an aristocracy, a small group of wealthy or socially prominent citizens control the government. Members of this high social class claim to be, or are considered by others to be, superior to the other people because of family ties, social rank, wealth, or religious affiliation.

Breaking the iron law of oligarchy: union revitalization in the American labor movement. Voss, Kim and Sherman, Rachel - The American Journal of Sociology [AJS], 106(2), 303 - 49.

ABSTRACT: This article addresses the question of how social movement organizations are able to break out of bureaucratic conservatism. The article concludes by drawing out the theoretical implications of the finding that bureaucratic conservatism can sometimes be overcome in mature social movements .

[Nov 14, 2019] Fake news content seems very close to what a lynch party seeking to get up the never to hang an innocent slave for a criminal act "done by one of their kind" would do.

Oct 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

I am sorry but I c/n remember if was the guy at the far end of the bar down near to the bathroom in the boots, bathing suit, and top hat, or the guy at the seat nearest to the front door, in the grey flannel suit with polished boots, but it was one of them who gave the bar, a few evenings back, much of what it needs to be coherent. It was hierarchy of elements that propagandist use to install and support false narratives in their written and spoken words. It was system of analysis, given to us here at the bar, to establish the gosh awful truth hidden within an intentionally wrong narrative.

That evening I had too much bar juice, so this all I can recall, 8 elements could be applied to the propaganda to diagnose and debunk and discover the false in wrongful, misleading propaganda.. see the following.

1. EN always the propagandist must establish the general narrative God turned the blue sky, red.
2. WR the propagandist must make great wrongs into powerful strong rights.. The devil made him do it.
3. PE profession propagandists cherry pick the facts; include in the narrative only those facts that support the proposition.
The devil was seen talking to God on more than one occasion.
4. IS ignore damning or off point stuff that challenge or defeat the narrative or transform it into a positive
The fact that God had killed the devil two years before is ignored.
5. BV blame the victim.. don't give the victim a chance to speak.. The victim (God) did it..
6. MU make stuff up to support the narrative. A person on Jupitor saw God practising every evening He watched as God turned blue seas red and red seas blue
7. AC Attack all challengers allow no one to intercede in the attack. The Pope said God could not show him that he could turn Blue seas to red, or vice a versa
8. RL Repeat, and repeat and repeat the lie.. until it becomes embedded in the mind of the innocent. We are all tired of hearing this story..

After sobering up and thinking about this list, I realized its content seems very close to what a lynch party seeking to get up the never to hang an innocent slave for a criminal act "done by one of their kind" would do. The party would pretty much go through the 8 things, attempting to convince itself that the slave was guilty, until finally one of the members of the lynching party would swat the horse and the party would watch the victim swing..

We must develop a technology suitable to encoding these things, and to find other such things to add to this debunk the propaganda list of 8 items; so that no one can pass off on us wrongful narrative?

Its ok to be innocently wrong, in fact, we all learn when we discover a wrong, but intentional wrong should be against the rules of the bar.

We should adopt these 8 things and use them in our analysis..

[Nov 07, 2019] Rigged Again Dems, Russia, The Delegitimization Of America s Democratic Process by Elizabeth Vos

Highly recommended!
Images removed.
Notable quotes:
"... The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign. ..."
"... In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted. ..."
"... In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates. ..."
"... The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . ..."
"... The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race, ..."
"... f Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent. ..."
"... Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time: ..."
"... Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms. ..."
"... Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet. ..."
"... Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Elizabeth Vos via ConsortiumNews.com,

Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public's doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party's subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment's willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained.

The Democratic Party's bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC , as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment. Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020.

The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred " pied-piper candidate ." One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.

Social Media Meddling

Election meddling via social media did take place in 2016, though in a different guise and for a different cause from that which are best remembered. Twitter would eventually admit to actively suppressing hashtags referencing the DNC and Podesta emails in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Additional reports indicated that tech giant Google also showed measurable "pro-Hillary Clinton bias" in search results during 2016, resulting in the alleged swaying of between 2 and 10 millions voters in favor of Clinton.

On the Republican side, a recent episode of CNLive! featured discussion of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which undecided voters were micro-targeted with tailored advertising narrowed with the combined use of big data and artificial intelligence known collectively as "dark strategy." CNLive! Executive Producer Cathy Vogan noted that SCL, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations "worldwide," specializing in behavior modification. Though Cambridge Analytica shut down in 2018, related companies remain.

The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign.

In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted.

Though the purge was not explicitly found to have benefitted Clinton, the admission falls in line with allegations across the country that the Democratic primary was interfered with to the benefit of the former secretary of state. These claims were further bolstered by reports indicating that voting results from the 2016 Democratic primary showed evidence of fraud.

DNC Fraud Lawsuit

The proceedings of the DNC fraud lawsuit provide the most damning evidence of the failure of the U.S. election process, especially within the Democratic Party. DNC defense lawyers argued in open court for the party's right to appoint candidates at its own discretion, while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the impression that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates.

The Observer noted the sentiments of Jared Beck, the attorney representing the plaintiffs of the lawsuit:

"People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee -- nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial, and that's not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that's what the Democratic National Committee's own charter says. It says it in black and white."

The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . The DNC's lawyers wrote:

"To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office ." [Emphasis added]

The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race,

Tim Canova's Allegations

If Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent.

Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time:

"[Canova] sought to look at the paper ballots in March 2017 and took Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to court three months later when her office hadn't fulfilled his request. Snipes approved the destruction of the ballots in September, signing a certification that said no court cases involving the ballots were pending."

Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms.

Republicans appear no more motivated to protect voting integrity than the Democrats, with The Nation reporting that the GOP-controlled Senate blocked a bill this week that would have "mandated paper-ballot backups in case of election machine malfunctions."

Study of Corporate Power

A 2014 study published by Princeton University found that corporate power had usurped the voting rights of the public: "Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In reviewing this sordid history, we see that the Democratic Party establishment has done everything in its power to disrespect voters and outright overrule them in the democratic primary process, defending their right to do so in the DNC fraud lawsuit. We've noted that interests transcending the DNC also represent escalating threats to election integrity as demonstrated in 2016.

Despite this, establishment Democrats and those who echo their views in the legacy press continue to deflect from their own wrongdoing and real threats to the election process by suggesting that mere discussion of it represents a campaign by Russia to attempt to malign the perception of the legitimacy of the U.S. democratic process.

Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet.

Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," Jamali argued :

"Moscow will use its skillful propaganda machine to prop up Gabbard and use her as a tool to delegitimize the democratic process. " [Emphasis added]

Jamali surmises that Russia intends to "attack" our democracy by undermining the domestic perception of its legitimacy. This thesis is repeated later in the piece when Jamali opines : "They want to see a retreat of American influence. What better way to accomplish that than to attack our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections." [Emphasis added]

The only thing worth protecting, according to Jamali and those who amplify his work (including former Clinton aide and establishment Democrat Neera Tanden), is the perception of the democratic process, not the actual functioning vitality of it. Such deflective tactics ensure that Russia will continue to be used as a convenient international pretext for silencing domestic dissent as we move into 2020.

Given all this, how can one expect the outcome of a 2020 Democratic Primary -- or even the general election – to be any fairer or transparent than 2016?

* * *

Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News. If you value this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Nov 07, 2019] Rigged Again Dems, Russia, The Delegitimization Of America s Democratic Process by Elizabeth Vos

Images removed.
Notable quotes:
"... In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates. ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Elizabeth Vos via ConsortiumNews.com,

Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public's doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party's subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment's willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained.

The Democratic Party's bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC , as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment. Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020.

The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred " pied-piper candidate ." One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.

Social Media Meddling

Election meddling via social media did take place in 2016, though in a different guise and for a different cause from that which are best remembered. Twitter would eventually admit to actively suppressing hashtags referencing the DNC and Podesta emails in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Additional reports indicated that tech giant Google also showed measurable "pro-Hillary Clinton bias" in search results during 2016, resulting in the alleged swaying of between 2 and 10 millions voters in favor of Clinton.

On the Republican side, a recent episode of CNLive! featured discussion of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which undecided voters were micro-targeted with tailored advertising narrowed with the combined use of big data and artificial intelligence known collectively as "dark strategy." CNLive! Executive Producer Cathy Vogan noted that SCL, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations "worldwide," specializing in behavior modification. Though Cambridge Analytica shut down in 2018, related companies remain.

The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign.

In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted.

Though the purge was not explicitly found to have benefitted Clinton, the admission falls in line with allegations across the country that the Democratic primary was interfered with to the benefit of the former secretary of state. These claims were further bolstered by reports indicating that voting results from the 2016 Democratic primary showed evidence of fraud.

DNC Fraud Lawsuit

The proceedings of the DNC fraud lawsuit provide the most damning evidence of the failure of the U.S. election process, especially within the Democratic Party. DNC defense lawyers argued in open court for the party's right to appoint candidates at its own discretion, while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the impression that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates.

The Observer noted the sentiments of Jared Beck, the attorney representing the plaintiffs of the lawsuit:

"People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee -- nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial, and that's not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that's what the Democratic National Committee's own charter says. It says it in black and white."

The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . The DNC's lawyers wrote:

"To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office ." [Emphasis added]

The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race,

Tim Canova's Allegations

If Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent.

Tim Canova with supporters, April 2016. (CanovaForCongress, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time:

"[Canova] sought to look at the paper ballots in March 2017 and took Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to court three months later when her office hadn't fulfilled his request. Snipes approved the destruction of the ballots in September, signing a certification that said no court cases involving the ballots were pending."

Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms.

Republicans appear no more motivated to protect voting integrity than the Democrats, with The Nation reporting that the GOP-controlled Senate blocked a bill this week that would have "mandated paper-ballot backups in case of election machine malfunctions."

Study of Corporate Power

A 2014 study published by Princeton University found that corporate power had usurped the voting rights of the public: "Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In reviewing this sordid history, we see that the Democratic Party establishment has done everything in its power to disrespect voters and outright overrule them in the democratic primary process, defending their right to do so in the DNC fraud lawsuit. We've noted that interests transcending the DNC also represent escalating threats to election integrity as demonstrated in 2016.

Despite this, establishment Democrats and those who echo their views in the legacy press continue to deflect from their own wrongdoing and real threats to the election process by suggesting that mere discussion of it represents a campaign by Russia to attempt to malign the perception of the legitimacy of the U.S. democratic process.

Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet.

Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," Jamali argued :

"Moscow will use its skillful propaganda machine to prop up Gabbard and use her as a tool to delegitimize the democratic process. " [Emphasis added]

Jamali surmises that Russia intends to "attack" our democracy by undermining the domestic perception of its legitimacy. This thesis is repeated later in the piece when Jamali opines : "They want to see a retreat of American influence. What better way to accomplish that than to attack our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections." [Emphasis added]

The only thing worth protecting, according to Jamali and those who amplify his work (including former Clinton aide and establishment Democrat Neera Tanden), is the perception of the democratic process, not the actual functioning vitality of it. Such deflective tactics ensure that Russia will continue to be used as a convenient international pretext for silencing domestic dissent as we move into 2020.

Given all this, how can one expect the outcome of a 2020 Democratic Primary -- or even the general election – to be any fairer or transparent than 2016?

* * *

Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News. If you value this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Nov 07, 2019] DNC Lawyers Argue Primary Rigging Is Protected by the First Amendment

Notable quotes:
"... They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory. ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | archive.is

The defense counsel also took issue with Jared Beck for what they termed as: " Repeatedly promoted patently false and deeply offensive conspiracy theories about the deaths of a former DNC staffer and Plaintiffs' process server in an attempt to bolster attention for this lawsuit." This author was shocked to find that despite the characterization of the Becks as peddlers of conspiracy theory, the defense counsel failed to mention the motion for protection filed by the Becks earlier in the litigation process.

They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory.

The DNC defense lawyers then argued:

" There is no legitimate basis for this litigation, which is, at its most basic, an improper attempt to forge the federal courts into a political weapon to be used by individuals who are unhappy with how a political party selected its candidate in a presidential campaign ."

The brief continued:

" To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege based on their animating theory would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office."

It appears that the defendants in the DNC Fraud Lawsuit are attempting to argue that cheating a candidate in the primary process is protected under the first amendment. If all that weren't enough, DNC representatives argued that the Democratic National Committee had no established fiduciary duty "to the Plaintiffs or the classes of donors and registered voters they seek to represent." It seems here that the DNC is arguing for its right to appoint candidates at its own discretion while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the belief that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

Adding to the latest news regarding the DNC Fraud Lawsuit was the recent finding by the UK Supreme Court, which stated that Wikileaks Cables were admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.

If Wikileaks' publication of DNC emails are found to be similarly admissible in a United States court of law, then the contents of the leaked emails could be used to argue that, contrary to the defendant's latest brief, the DNC did in favor the campaign of Hillary Clinton over Senator Sanders and that they acted to sabotage Sanders' campaign.

The outcome of the appeal of the DNC Fraud Lawsuit remains to be seen.

Elizabeth Vos is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief at Disobedient Media .

[Nov 03, 2019] On seeing Astra Taylor's What is Democracy

Notable quotes:
"... At a first approximation, democracy is the alliance of the city dwellers for the power of the city, ignoring tribes and rural aristocrats, carefully contained so the landowners keep their land, and the slaves are kept under control. Or, to update it, the class collaboration of the wealthy (nowadays some sort of capitalist,) the middling strata and the common people for the power of the nation, carefully arranged so the people with great property make the decisions about the economy. ..."
"... As an example, it's only in the last few years I've wakened up to the extraordinary tendency to people to ignore either the progressive content of bourgeois revolutions, such as in pretending that destroying a national secular state in Iraq or Syria and replacing it with a cantonal confederation is a step backward. Or in surreptitiously pretending that democracy has nothing to do with the democratic state needing fighters against other states. Like most people on the internet, i do tend to get a little trendy, and repetitive. But apparently I'm too socially backward to get the memo on the correct trendy, and repetitive. ..."
"... The classic model of course was the Roman Republic. By coincidence I was reading Livy's first five books and the relationship between rights for the plebs and the need for them in war, stands out. Macchiavelli's Discourses on Livy makes this even plainer. In the US much of this was conveyed to the Americans via Algernon Sidney's Discourses on Government as refracted through Cato's Letters. (I hope to live long enough to read Discourses on Davila by John Adams, solely because of the title.) ..."
"... It would seem to me that the answer to the question "what is democracy" is best answered by another question: who gets (and doesn't get) the franchise? ..."
Nov 03, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

I went to see occasional Timberite Astra Taylor's remarkable film What is Democracy? last night. It takes us from Siena, Italy to Florida to Athens and from Ancient Athenian democracy through the renaissance and the beginning of capitalism to the Greek debt crisis, occupy and the limbo life of people who have fled Syria and now find themselves stuck. It combines the voices of Plato and Rousseau with those of ordinary voters from left and right, Greek nationalists and cosmopolitans, ex-prisoners, with trauma surgeons in Miami, Guatemalan migrants in the US, with lawmakers and academics, and with refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. All the while it poses the questions of whether democracy is compatible with inequality and global financial systems and the boundaries of inclusion.


steven t johnson 10.23.19 at 3:05 pm (no link)

At a first approximation, democracy is the alliance of the city dwellers for the power of the city, ignoring tribes and rural aristocrats, carefully contained so the landowners keep their land, and the slaves are kept under control. Or, to update it, the class collaboration of the wealthy (nowadays some sort of capitalist,) the middling strata and the common people for the power of the nation, carefully arranged so the people with great property make the decisions about the economy.

It doesn't sound like this is very informative or useful, so I will wait until I have a cheaper way to see it.

Z 10.23.19 at 8:38 pm (no link)
In my opinion, democracy as an actually existing property of a society is only imperfectly described in terms of institutional arrangements, philosophical constructs, political system or (as steven t johnson would have it) power relations between social groups. In addition to all that, but probably prior to all that, democracy relies on principles which are anthropological in nature, that pertains to the particular way human beings relate to each other on a given territory.

This means that I absolutely believe in the necessity of a "we" to underlie democracy but I doubt that this "we" needs to be (or indeed is ever) constitutive, it exists primarily if not exclusively as a matter of human relations not as a constitutive abstraction. This also means that I'm not surprised by the general absence of convergence in democratic forms around the world (much to the bemusement of English-speaking political philosophers, or in the last 20 years, German and Flemish politicians) and that I believe that global citizenship is under present circumstances a meaningless concept with respect to democracy. Some people understand this to be arguing for a national, ethnic or cultural definition of democracy, in which only people with a specific national identity, or a particular ethnicity, or specific cultural practices or (in the contemporary American libertarian version) specific personality traits may participate, as a matter of normative or positive judgment, depending on various proponents of this theory. This seems to me to be a rather ironic analytical error: if indeed a core property of democracy is rooted in the characteristic ways people relate to each other, it is highly implausible that this could change under the influence of even a substantial minority (in one direction or the other).

Incidentally, the idea that democracy is originally native to North-America is somewhat classical (Voltaire championed it, but as usual with him, it is hard to vouch for his seriousness). Since then it has resurfaced periodically for instance in William James Sidis (disturbed) book The Tribes and the States or in the works of Bruce Johansen. Serious discussions of this question lead, I believe, to the seemingly paradoxical observation that English and Dutch settlers came to adopt the democratic principles of the Haudenosaunee because they were themselves rather primitive (temporally speaking), and hence democratic, in their anthropological values. Suc discussion would also lead to the far more pessimistic conclusion that beyond their political models, native people in North-America facilitated the establishment of a political democracy by providing a large neighboring group to exclude out of humanity.

steven t johnson 10.23.19 at 8:49 pm ( 12 )
LFC@10 uses a reason for waiting as an excuse for a rhetorical question meant as a taunt. The reason I might see it, if it's cheap enough, is because new facts and the (rare) new perspective, if any, would seep into my thinking. The idea that my thinking doesn't change is unfounded. It changes, it just doesn't change by conversion experience. The cogent arguments of the wise on the internet are like Jesus on the road to Damascus, not quite able to be described consistently, but still irrefutable.

But, try as I may, continual reworking of old ideas by new -- to me -- information inevitably leads to the change. The process usually goes A Is that really true? B My old ideas get a parenthesis added. C The parenthesis gets worked into the rest of the paragraph so that I'm more consisten. D I've always believed that. The step where I abjectly plead for forgiveness for being a moron is never there, any more than actually being consistent.

As an example, it's only in the last few years I've wakened up to the extraordinary tendency to people to ignore either the progressive content of bourgeois revolutions, such as in pretending that destroying a national secular state in Iraq or Syria and replacing it with a cantonal confederation is a step backward. Or in surreptitiously pretending that democracy has nothing to do with the democratic state needing fighters against other states. Like most people on the internet, i do tend to get a little trendy, and repetitive. But apparently I'm too socially backward to get the memo on the correct trendy, and repetitive.

For a less contentious example, as part of the process I've realized that ancient Sparta was on the democratic spectrum, not least because of two kings which is definitely not twice the monarchy. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is still true, despite authority. But a true expert who actually cared could revise the elementary insight into a much more sophisticated, much superior way that might not even seem controversial. It might even seem just like the answer to the questions: Why did Sparta ever ally with Athens in the first place? Why did both Athens and Sparta ally (at different times) with Persia?

I will admit to a general prejudice against every historical discovery that a particular place etc. was the birth of virtue.

steven t johnson 10.24.19 at 3:20 pm (no link)
Re the Haudenosaunee as exemplars of democracy, this is as I recall long known to be true of Benjamin Franklin, one of the disreputable founders, nearly as disgraced as Tom Paine. (Indeed, the notion that the revolutionaries weren't the founders, but Philadelphia lawyers' convention was, is remarkable, though unremarked on.) But, what did Franklin admire about the Iroquois League? I think it was the power through unity of different "tribes." The league essentially genocided the Hurons to control the fur trade; launched long distance military expeditions to drive away many other peoples from large areas in the Ohio valley to free up hunting grounds; when it was convenient, they sold their rights, lands, there to the US. (The treaty of Fort Stanwix) was later repudiated, verbally at least, by other.

The classic model of course was the Roman Republic. By coincidence I was reading Livy's first five books and the relationship between rights for the plebs and the need for them in war, stands out. Macchiavelli's Discourses on Livy makes this even plainer. In the US much of this was conveyed to the Americans via Algernon Sidney's Discourses on Government as refracted through Cato's Letters. (I hope to live long enough to read Discourses on Davila by John Adams, solely because of the title.)

eg 10.25.19 at 2:35 am ( 17 )
It would seem to me that the answer to the question "what is democracy" is best answered by another question: who gets (and doesn't get) the franchise?

[Oct 19, 2019] The primary voting system is a huge financial subsidy to the two officially approved parties, which are, of course, merely two branches of the Business Party.

Oct 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , Oct 19 2019 14:42 utc | 11

"Clinton should be suspended from the Democratic Party"

This sparks some interesting questions, such as, exactly who are party members, and how do they become members? The actual structure and functioning of political parties in the US is seldom discussed, and I wonder why that is. "Opaque" seems to be a good description. Even a quick review of the Wikipedia entry reveals little.

As best I can tell, a person is a party member by checking the box on the voter registration form. The few times I have registered, I did not check a box for any party. It is none of the state's business who I associate with or vote for.

It is also not the state's business to supervise and fund the selection of party candidates. But that is what happens in the US. The primary voting system is a huge financial subsidy to the two officially approved parties, which are, of course, merely two branches of the Business Party.

nemo , Oct 19 2019 15:11 utc | 19

The electoral college is neither archaic nor unfair. We were and are a union of States. The electoral college prevented the Executive office from being dominated by voters from heavily populated urban centers at the expense of the rural population. It is more relevant today than ever as the country is even more divided in disposition and ideology. If it were abolished, most of America would be effectively disenfranchised in Presidential elections as California, New York and a handful of other highly urbanized and ultra-liberal population centers would always carry the day. There would be no need to vote anymore. Maybe that is the idea......

[Sep 24, 2019] The greatest single hold of "the interests" is the fact that they are the "campaign contributors"

That's to who political power belongs under late capitalism and neoliberalism: financial oligarchy. He who pays the piper calls the tune: " Do you imagine those who foot those huge bills are fools? Don't you know that they make sure of getting their money back, with interest, compound upon compound? "
Notable quotes:
"... Here we all are, piddling around with why Nancy Pelosi won't release the hounds in the House of Representatives, and waiting for some poor bastard in intelligence to come forward with what he really knows, and with a vulgar talking yam still in office. Meanwhile, Bill Weld has cut right to the heel of the hunt. You think you can't scare this guy? Put the gallows in his eyes. I mean, wow." ..."
"... " The greatest single hold of "the interests" is the fact that they are the "campaign contributors" -- the men who supply the money for "keeping the party together," and for "getting out the vote." Did you ever think where the millions for watchers, spellbinders, halls, processions, posters, pamphlets, that are spent in national, state and local campaigns come from? Who pays the big election expenses of your congressman, of the men you send to the legislature to elect senators? ..."
Sep 24, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

EMichael , September 23, 2019 at 08:55 AM

Kudos to at least one Republican.

"Well, Bill Weld, former governor of the Commonwealth (God save it!), really shot the moon to begin the week. Appearing on MSNBC, Weld made it plain. From the Washington Post:

"Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election," Weld said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"It couldn't be clearer, and that's not just undermining democratic institutions. That is treason. It's treason, pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death. That's the only penalty...The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal.""

Well, all right, then.

Here we all are, piddling around with why Nancy Pelosi won't release the hounds in the House of Representatives, and waiting for some poor bastard in intelligence to come forward with what he really knows, and with a vulgar talking yam still in office. Meanwhile, Bill Weld has cut right to the heel of the hunt. You think you can't scare this guy? Put the gallows in his eyes. I mean, wow."

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a29191267/president-trump-treason-bill-weld/

EMichael -> EMichael... , September 23, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Also from that link:

" The greatest single hold of "the interests" is the fact that they are the "campaign contributors" -- the men who supply the money for "keeping the party together," and for "getting out the vote." Did you ever think where the millions for watchers, spellbinders, halls, processions, posters, pamphlets, that are spent in national, state and local campaigns come from? Who pays the big election expenses of your congressman, of the men you send to the legislature to elect senators?

Do you imagine those who foot those huge bills are fools? Don't you know that they make sure of getting their money back, with interest, compound upon compound? Your candidates get most of the money for their campaigns from the party committees; and the central party committee is the national committee with which congressional and state and local committees are affiliated. The bulk of the money for the "political trust" comes from "the interests." "The interests" will give only to the "political trust."

Our part as citizens of the republic is plain enough. We must stand our ground. We must fight the good fight. Heartsick and depressed as we may be at times because of the spread of graft in high places and its frightfully contaminating influence, we must still hold up our heads. We must never lose an opportunity to show that as private citizens we are opposed to public plunderers."

Written in 1906

[Sep 23, 2019] Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).

Sep 23, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PM

Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).

So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."

It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.

That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from relatively high level positions)

And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.

[Sep 17, 2019] The reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system

Highly recommended!
Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 15, 2019 at 11:33 AM

https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204669356740608

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

Homoploutia, a concept I introduce in "Capitalism, Alone". In today's liberal capitalism, it is common that the same people are rich *both* in terms of capital they own and earnings they receive. This was almost unheard of in classical capitalism where capitalists seldom doubled as wage workers.

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:47 AM
https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204677611196416

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

So here, using @lisdata, you have a nice illustration of advanced capitalist countries where people in the top decile by capital and labor income increasing coincide (right end) and Brazil and Mexico where they do not.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EEgPbuWXsAEays-.jpg:large

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:49 AM
https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204681184751617

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

Note the ambivalence * of homoploutia: in some sense it is desirable (and risk-reducing) that capitalists also work, or that high earners possess capital too. But in another way, it makes inequality-reducing policies more difficult.

* Contradiction

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PM
Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).

So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."

It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.

That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from high level positions)

And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.

[Sep 15, 2019] Politics in America is a function of those who control the public forum via the MSM

Those who control the public forum, as Spengler pointed out, obviously use their control to further their own interests and no others. Why in the world would an American-hating MSM give Americans an equal voice?
Notable quotes:
"... These educated lemmings believe what they're spoon fed by CNN or Fox News. They cannot possibly accept that they're immune to facts and disproof of their cherished assumptions because they've been emotionally conditioned on a subconscious level, after which facts and reasoning are emotionally reacted to like they were personal attacks. ..."
"... A newly scripted financial crisis will complete transfer of much of America's corporate assets to the government when the $7 trillion in private retirement assets is appropriated in emergency legislation, immediately conceded by the Republicans amid the usual handwringing and crocodile tears. In exchange Americans will receive rapidly deflating gov bonds that will be accepted as the new store of wealth, which it will be for the elites who own American as surely as they do in Venezuela. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | www.unz.com

DanFromCT , says: September 14, 2019 at 1:37 pm GMT

Politics in America is a function of those who control the public forum via the msm. Those who control the public forum, as Spengler pointed out, obviously use their control to further their own interests and no others. Why in the world would an American-hating msm give Americans an equal voice?

The msm aren't merely some unfortunate artifact of the First Amendment we have to live. The msm control the formation of men's minds. As Jacques Ellul points out in his masterpiece on propaganda, it's those among us who're most educated and most inclined to closely follow the "news" who are most susceptible to brainwashing. These educated lemmings believe what they're spoon fed by CNN or Fox News. They cannot possibly accept that they're immune to facts and disproof of their cherished assumptions because they've been emotionally conditioned on a subconscious level, after which facts and reasoning are emotionally reacted to like they were personal attacks.

This explains why college educated white women are the Dems' winning edge, trading empty moral posturing for condemning their own children and grandchildren to die hounded and dispossessed in their own land. But there are never any consequences when they insist they have the best of intentions. These women whose thoughts are authored by their own people's enemies will probably put a Warren or one of the other Marxists over the top in 2020.

A newly scripted financial crisis will complete transfer of much of America's corporate assets to the government when the $7 trillion in private retirement assets is appropriated in emergency legislation, immediately conceded by the Republicans amid the usual handwringing and crocodile tears. In exchange Americans will receive rapidly deflating gov bonds that will be accepted as the new store of wealth, which it will be for the elites who own American as surely as they do in Venezuela.

[Sep 04, 2019] A Debauched Culture Leads to a Debauched Foreign Policy

The author should use the word "neoliberal" instead of "debauched"
Notable quotes:
"... When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control. ..."
"... In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power. ..."
"... The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy? ..."
"... Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution. ..."
"... Belligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism ..."
"... I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it. ..."
"... The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out. ..."
"... We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us. ..."
"... It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment. ..."
"... The problem is that we are led by sociopaths. ..."
"... This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted. ..."
"... I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package. ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
TAC are no doubt familiar with the truism that "politics is downstream of culture." This maxim, which is undoubtedly true, should not, however, only be applied to social issues. In fact, culture shapes our public policy very broadly, far more than do dispassionate "policymakers" exercising careful reason and judgment. The nature of our governance tends to reflect the cultural and philosophical orientation of our elites, and this orientation is increasingly debauched.

When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control.

All the great religious and philosophical traditions understood that there is a part of our nature that can get out of control and a divine part that can exert control. A culture thus becomes debauched when elites lose the sense that they need to rein themselves in, that "there is an immortal essence presiding like a king over" their appetites, as Walter Lippmann put it. In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power.

The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy?

Let's start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home? One might surmise, for example, that their lack of self-control might cause them to spend federal money as a means of keeping themselves in power. They might also attempt to bribe their constituents by promising a variety of domestic programs while also pledging that the programs will be funded out of the pockets of others. If they were really debauched, they might even borrow money from future generations to pay for these incumbency protection initiatives. They might run up staggering debt for the sake of their expedient political needs and promise that "the rich" can provide for it all. In short, the hallmark domestic policy of a debauched democracy is, and has always been, class warfare.

It should be pointed out that class warfare is not simply a creation of demagogues on the left. Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution.

While most conservatives might agree about the dangers of class warfare, it is on the foreign policy front where they seem most debauched themselves. They remain stuck in a vortex of GOP clichés, with standard references to Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, leaders who were closer in their time to the American Civil War than we are to them now. For many of these "conservatives," every contemporary authoritarian leader is the progeny of Hitler and any attempt to establish cordial relations is a rerun of Munich 1938.

As with domestic policy, the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others with no particular nexus to the national interest. A debauched foreign policy might just look like the decision to invade Iraq -- a war whose supporters offered numerous justifications, including alleged weapons of mass destruction, democracy promotion, and anti-terrorism. Yet in hindsight, its real cause seems to have been the simple desire by our leaders to impose their will. In a debauched democracy, class warfare is the paradigmatic domestic policy and profligate war making is the paradigmatic foreign policy.

Given that self-control and restraint are the hallmarks of a genuinely conservative foreign policy -- because they remain humble about what human nature can actually achieve -- one should receive the recent conference on national conservatism with some skepticism . The retinue of experts who spoke generally espoused a foreign policy that sought dominion over others -- in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. This may be nationalism, but it seems not to be conservatism.

One hopes that the leaders of this new movement will re-consider their foreign policy orientation as they have increasingly formidable resources to draw upon. The creation of the Quincy Institute and the rise of an intellectually formidable network of foreign policy "restrainers" provide hope.

Given that culture is king, however, these intellectuals may want to keep top of mind that restraint is not simply a policy option but a character trait -- a virtue -- that needs to be developed in leaders who are then elevated. Prudent policies are no doubt essential but the most important challenge in politics is, and always will be, attracting and encouraging the best leaders to rule. Our system often does the opposite. This is at root a cultural problem.

William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America, and author of the new book Democracy and Imperialism .


Chris in Appalachia 21 hours ago

Belligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism. The two opposing teams loathe each other.

Other than that, a good analysis.

Wayne Lusvardi 19 hours ago
I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it.

Moreover, has the author never heard of the concept "reasons of state"?: a purely political reason for action on the part of a ruler or government, especially where a departure from openness, justice, or honesty is involved (e.g. "the king returned that he had reasons of state for all he did"). In an existential emergency, would the leader of a nation be justified in using amoral means to save his nation; but in all other circumstances should rely on conventional Christian morality as the default position? This is what Pres. Truman apparently did when he dropped a-bombs on two Japanese cities. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer was apparently involved with in the assassination attempt on Hitler. What Moses was embroiled with when he slayed 3,000 of his "debauched" followers in the Exodus from Egypt.

The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out.

The opponent who beat her in the election promised the opposite and pretty much has delivered on his promises. Just how is the current administration "unrestrained" other than he has not fulfilled pacifist's fantasies of pulling out of every foreign country and conflict? Such pull outs have to be weighed on a case by case basis to determine the cost to human life and world order. If the current administration has a policy it is that our allies have to fight and fund their own wars and conflicts rather than rely on the U.S. to fight their wars for them.

The article is full of inflationary clichés ('politics is downstream of culture', 'class warfare', etc. And just how does the author connect the dots between pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was elected to nothing and held no power over anyone, and our "debauched' foreign policy? Correlation is not causation but there isn't even a correlation there.

tweets21 12 hours ago
The more one reads opinions of Intellectuals , and as anyone with half a brain knows, to never believe a Politician, I am always reminded, after considerable research why I personally choose Realism . Realism is certainly not new and has some varied forms. Realism re-surfaced leading up to and during WW 2.
chris chuba 11 hours ago
"...the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others"


I love this.

We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us.

This reminds me of a Nick Pemberton article when he wrote ...

"We still play the victim. And amazingly we believe it ... We believe we can take whatever we want. We believe that this world does not contain differences to be negotiated, but foes to be defeated."

I could never get this out of my head.

It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment.

Trump the adulterer was the one who decided against bombing because he did not have a taste for blood while the pious were eager for it.

TruthsRonin 10 hours ago
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth."
-Matthew 5:5

"Meek" is the wrong word/translation. In the original Greek, the word is "preais" and it does not mean docile and submissive. Rather the word means gentleness blended with restrained strength/power.

The passage should read, "Blessed are those who have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed: for they shall inherit the Earth."

Sid Finster 10 hours ago
The problem is that we are led by sociopaths.
fedupindian 10 hours ago
There is a simpler explanation of what has happened to the US. When it comes to human beings, the only thing you need to remember is Lord Acton's dictum: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted.

The same thing is true domestically in the US. A small ethnic minority gave 50% and 25% of the money spent by the Democrats and Republicans in the last presidential election. That gives them huge influence over the foreign policy of the country. Best of all, no one else can question what is going on because classic tropes etc. Give a small group absolute power, get the swamp.

PAX 9 hours ago
I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package.

The destruction of main core Christianity has not helped stem this tide (subtle Happy Holidays, CE, BCE, etc.) . Brave women and men must arise and sewerize (drain the swamp) this mob of miscreants defiling our belief system. .They have a right to exist but not dictate by subterfuge and fake news our values as they have been doing.

NotCatholic 11 hours ago
I find it interesting the author is at Catholic u. I wonder how he feels about the Crusades or the Inquisition as an example of debauchery of power.
Joe R. 8 hours ago
Remove the OP pic of the Marines NOW, and fix the rest of your whine later.

This is America, we have no "betters" and our "gov't" has never, and will never, be comprised of anything other than our idiot ay-whole neighbors who needed a job, whose sole job it is to govern the machinations of gov't and not us, as an un-self-governed Society is otherwise un-governable.

And [due to human nature and physics (of which neither has or will change in the entire history of humanity)] sometimes you have to go to war at the slightest of hints of provocation in order to achieve "illimitably sustainable conflict" of "Society" [J.M. Thomas R., TERMS, 2012] not have to haphazardly fight minute to minute of every day.

If when Political objects are unimportant, motives weak, the excitement of forces small, a cautious commander tries in all kinds of ways, without great crises and bloody solutions, to twist himself skillfully into peace through the characteristic weakness of his enemy in the field and in the cabinet, we have no right to find fault with him, if the premise on which he acts are well founded and justified by success;

still we must require him to remember that he only travels on forbidden tracks, where the God of War may surprise him; that he ought always to keep his eye on the enemy, in order that he may not have to defend himself with a dress rapier if the enemy takes up a sharp sword ”.

(Clausewitz, “On War” pg. 137)

Loosely paraphrased: " peaceable resolution to conflict is only effective, and should only be sought and relied upon, when it is certain that the other party will never resort to arms, with the implication that that is never " [J.M.Thomas R., TERMS, 2012 Pg. 80]

Weakness is provocative don't provoke your enemies. Quit whining.

LFC 8 hours ago
Let’s start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home?

Let's see. They'd likely repeatedly cut taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations and skyrocket deficits. They'd likely increase military spending to insane levels to the benefit of the military industrial complex. They'd likely perform wide scale deregulation on polluting industries. They'd ignore all inconvenient science, especially that which didn't support the fossil fuel industry. They'd likely avoid meaningful action on a healthcare system that is more broken and expensive than any other OECD nation. Then they'd look for targets, the "others", to bash and attack in attempt to hide the real world consequences of what they were doing.

Why would they do this? They do it for campaign contributions, "a means of keeping themselves in power."

Clyde Schechter 6 hours ago
"...in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. "

And the Clinton administration before it, and the Obama and Trump administrations following it.

Stephen J. 5 hours ago
I believe we are in the hands of:
The Demons of “Democracy”

The demons of “democracy” speak of “peace”
While their selling of weapons does not cease
Hypocrites from hell who posture on the world stage
When they should be in a gigantic prison cage

Evil reprobates in positions of power
Anything that’s good they devour
Destroying countries and families too
This is the satanic work they do

Fancy titles are given to their names
Such is the state of a system insane
Madness and filth has become “normal”
Nobody speaks or asks: “Is it moral”?

Principals and ethics, they are of them, devoid
Speaking of decency and truth has them annoyed
Pimping for war is their diabolical expertise
Killing and bombing is the forte of this demonic sleaze

Training and supporting terrorists, they do this as well
Will nobody arrest this treacherous crew from hell?
These people are devils and full of hypocrisy
We need to be freed from these, demons of “democracy”...

[much more info on this at link below]

http://graysinfo.blogspot.c...

[Aug 26, 2019] Past Fashion: A Few Thoughts Sparked by Recent News

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National . ..."
"... One more issue to address; Retailers have to dispose of unsold inventory at a loss. Doesn't fast-fashion mean faster accumulation of un-sellable stuff, so faster losses? What could go wrong? ..."
"... "One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's. " ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on January 30, 2017 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National .

Bloomberg recently reported in Retailers Chasing Fast Fashion Stumble Under Heavy Buyout Debts that ""Euro fast fashion," featuring trendy clothing that can move from catwalks to stores in mere weeks, has taken the U.S. by storm, and distressed specialty apparel retailers are among the biggest casualties."

That's an unfortunate development, since as I've posted before, in The High Hidden Costs of Fast Fashion :

The fashion industry conceals many dirty little secrets. Its labour practices have long been notorious, with many low-cost producers relying on sweatshop production and in some cases, child labor. These and other problems have only worsened with the rise of fast fashion– cheap, shoddy clothes intended not for the long haul, but to be worn for a short while, and then discarded in favour of the next new thing.

The reasons for fast fashion's out-performance in the US market are due in part to missteps by specialty retailers– especially the high levels of debt they've assumed. But there's no doubt that also due to fast fashion appeals to certain consumers, especially younger ones. According to Bloomberg:

Younger shoppers have gravitated to fast fashion brands not only because they're more affordable but also because they're able to quickly capture the latest looks and make them available in a fraction of the time traditional merchants need. Cheaper prices also mean customers of these brands, sometimes referred to as disposable fashion, have come to expect an ever-changing assortment.

And the fast fashion companies comply. A 2016 McKinsey article, Style that's sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula , notes that each year, Zara introduces 24 new clothing collections, compared to H&M's 12 to 16. When all European apparel companies are considered, the average number of clothing collections has more than doubled, from two each year in 2000 to approximately five each year in 2011.

Fast Fashion: Cheap at Whose Expense?

But this appeal brings with it considerable costs, two of which I'll discuss in this post. One necessary condition for the low cost of "fast fashion" production is the poor pay workers receive. Most often, it's people in developing countries who are paid low wages, and subject to appalling working conditions. Yet paltry wages in this sector are not just a problem for developing countries. A (UK) Channel 4's Dispatches program, Undercover: Britain's Cheap Clothes , broadcast earlier this month, revealed that UK fast fashion producers in Leicester were flouting minimum wage laws.

According to The Fashion Law :

Laborers in Britain responsible for making clothes for popular fast fashion retailers like River Island and New Look are being paid less than half the required minimum wage. An investigation by Britain's Channel 4 television has revealed that Leicester-based manufacturers, Fashion Square Ltd and United Creations Ltd, which supply garments and accessories to River Island, New Look, Boohoo, and Missguided, among other retailers, paid their employees between 3 pounds ($3.74) and 3.5 pounds ($4.36) per hour. The hourly rate for the national living wage in Britain is 7.20 pounds ($8.97) for workers 25 years and older.

Channel 4 caught one textile boss on a secret camera admitting that his company is competing directly with Bangladeshi and Chinese companies to fill orders, and so must rein in its costs accordingly:

We don't get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh. They can get it cheap there. How will they get it made cheaper here? If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss.

Burgeoning Environmental Costs

Another consequence of the rise of fast fashion is the considerable environmental costs it has imposed. Some of these occur at the production stage. Cotton– which McKinsey notes accounts for about 30 percent of all textile fiber consumption– typically requires copious amounts of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to produce. Synthetics require extraction and refining of oil– raising another set of concerns, according to Timeout for Fast Fashion , a 2016 Greenpeace report. That report also flags both the problematic use of hazardous chemicals in production processes (including dying) and high energy use (which in the countries with the largest textile sectors, typically comes from fossil fuels).

As I posted yesterday in Waste Not, Want Not: Right to Repair Laws on Agenda in Some States , one consequence of long sojourns spent outside the US is I've realized how wasteful so many basic American systems are. Perhaps I'll express the point somewhat differently here - I mean, how excessive so many basic American systems are, and that excess translates into unnecessary waste. Some obvious examples: the cars (or more often pickup trucks and SUVs) are HUUUGE compared to those in Europe, not to mention India and Asia (where I often find myself using three-wheeler auto rickshaws to get about-many of these powered by CNG or LPG). The food is over-packaged. I could go on.

One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's . In my earlier post, I quoted some statistics from a Newsweek cover story, Fast Fashion is Creating an Environmental Crisis , "In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "

I discuss some of these back-end environmental consequences at greater length in my earlier post . Much of this fashion waste ends up in landfills, 350,000 tonnes each year in the UK alone. Although there have been some efforts made to encourage recycling, this is both difficult and expensive to do at the fiber level (and the quality does not match that of virgin fiber, which is still preferred for quality production). Instead, recycling is done at the garment level, with the end product often being rags or insulation. But there's a limit to how many rags, or units of insulation, are necessary. What about sending garments to developing countries? Their leaders say: Enough! Many fast fashion products are shoddy and not hard-wearing. The volume available has overwhelmed demand, and further, destroyed domestic textile production, so much so that some East African states have called for a ban on second-hand clothing to protect domestic producers.

The environmental problems are only expected to worsen as more residents of developing countries join the middle class. According to McKinsey :

While sales growth has been robust around the world, emerging economies have seen especially large rises in clothing sales, as more people in them have joined the middle class. In five large developing countries-Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia-apparel sales grew eight times faster than in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States [over the 2000-2014 period].

Even after this increase, the average developing-country resident purchases a fraction of the clothing that his or her developed-world counterpart buys each year. Overall clothing sales could rise significantly if developing-country consumers choose to buy more clothing as their purchasing power increases.

Technology Fairy Rides to the Rescue?

There are some new specialty products specifically designed to address the textile waste disposal issue, such as a new Adidas shoe made of biodegradable artificial spider silk that will decompose in the sink once you're finished with it. As reported in a recent Treehugger piece, Adidas' new shoes will dissolve in your sink :

Adidas has invented a running shoe that will decompose in the sink. Once you've worn it out (the company recommends two years of use), you can immerse the shoes in water, add a digestion enzyme called proteinase, and let it work for 36 hours. It will cause the protein-based yarn to break down, and you'll be able to drain the liquefied shoes down the sink – everything except the foam sole, which will still require disposal.

Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed. Bottom line is that it doesn't look to me that massive ramping up of such a product– or its progeny– is going to offset the huge and growing environmental costs of fast fashion anytime soon.

So I return to my starting point: it's sad to see that fast fashion is flourishing in the US, and that in this as in so many other areas, we're hurtling away from thinking about what a sustainable system for textile production, sales, and disposal would look like– one that doesn't rely so heavily on cut-rate labor, nor impose such considerable front-end and back-end environmental costs. PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I know you've quoted this figure before:

"In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "

If true – and I'm sure it is – it truly is astounding. A bit of googling gives the most common figure of 65 lbs per person, apparently based on EPA figures . I can't even imaging buying that many clothes in a year, but I guess i'm not much of a shopper.

One problem of course is the poverty paradox (I've heard it referred to as the poverty tax) – that buying long lasting quality things saves money in the long run – but to buy quality means you have to have available cash to buy it in the first place. So often, when short on money, the disposable fashion alternative is the only one affordable for many people.

For a few years now I've intended to invest in a really good pair of leather shoes – the type my father would have had, and kept for many years, even decades, regularly getting them fixed and resoled in the shoe repairers. But each time I try to find one I find they are very expensive, so I end up getting something that looks identical in the sales, costs about a quarter or less than the high quality ones, but I know from experience will fall apart in 2 years and is unrepairable. In terms of mens clothes, you can apply the same logic to a good jacket, good jeans, a good suit, etc. Quality last for years and pays for itself, but you need to have the money first to buy it.

Portia , January 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm

consignment stores have excellent clothing (even shoes sometimes, I got a great pair of Sorel boots for $5).

Watt4Bob , January 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm

One more issue to address; Retailers have to dispose of unsold inventory at a loss. Doesn't fast-fashion mean faster accumulation of un-sellable stuff, so faster losses? What could go wrong?

flora , January 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm

"One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's. "

That sounds more like short-term renting of clothing instead of ownership. So if I buy a cheap blouse, wear it seven times, discard it and buy another cheap blouse, what is the cost per each wearing of a cheap blouse? I buy, say, a $28 dollar blouse, wear it 7 times, costing $4 per wear. I buy, say, a $40 blouse, wear it 14 times, costing $2.85 per wear.

Fast fashion sounds much more expensive, in the long run, than buying a better quality at higher initial price from which I would get more use. Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.

Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm

For many, it is the notion of having far fewer items of clothing that one wears in more settings. In France, you have a far smaller closet, but it's way nicer. Same for children's clothing.

PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.

More so, the "keeping up with the micro-season's fashion" mentality that the fashion industry is dependent upon. Whole industry would fall apart if there wasn't a large number of people out there who think the difference between this winter's and last winter's fashion is significant (I know he's popular to cite on here, so William Gibson's Zero History deals with this in length).

crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm

One of the issues I understood from the article is that the 'younger set' of customers, especially, would prefer to keep up with the very latest ('fast') fashion, so after wearing the blouse 7 times it doesn't matter to them that the more expensive (on the front end) blouse will last twice as long or more. It would be 'out of fashion' by then so they wouldn't wear it anymore, anyway.

Plus, as pointed out, it's the initial cost they consider, wanting to spend as little as possible to 'stay in style', with styles changing ever more quickly.
Vanity is playing a large part of the fast fashion.
.
As a now a 65 y/o woman I'm most comfortable in boot cut jeans & a top or shirt. However, I still remember a different mindset of my youth. Vanity seems to fade when gravity & stress have taken their toll, tho'.

Portia , January 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I have a lot of very good vintage designer clothes in my closet. I got them at consignment stores for $2 to $20. What does that make me, I wonder, these days? I have not shopped for new duds except for underwear and shoes and socks for about 20 years. I am a bad person.

crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Portia, consider me another who is 'bad to the bone', as I shop thrift stores.
While I often see some cheap 'fast fashion' in them, I've also scored some great upper-end clothing for almost nothing.
A neighbor, for whom money is no problem, dropped her jaw when I showed her a beautiful designer sweater I'd bought–for 50 cents. I'd even found a great pair of cords to match for another 50 cents, also of good quality.

Jeans can be the best find if you're lucky. Nicely broken in & not the $40-50 they now sell for.
Usually $4 or less & better quality.

As a gift, she'd surprised me with an inexpensive (Cosco) pair of suede/shearling snow boots. The side seam pulled out (not sure it was ever secured in the first place) after I'd worn them just 4 brief times.
Now wearing plastic bags in my 'fast fashion' snow boots to stay dry.

Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Here's a local group working to the other side.

Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Whoops, here's the link: http://www.fibershed.com

crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Wow. Thanks for that link.
A clothing designer friend is completely into sustainable clothing, currently using bamboo for her line.

She recently discovered that there was too much pollution in the processing of it from her former supplier, however, so has now found another that is not as harmful to the environment.

I'm passing this link along to her right now, so she can 'think outside the box' even a little more.
Thanks!

Lambert Strether , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Would high tariffs kill fast fashion?

PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm

I think it would depend on the company and where they are sold. The Zara chain is well known for keeping very tight supply chains, with much of their products made as close as possible to their shops (in Europe anyway).

If you've ever seen the excellent Italian film Gomorrah , based on an investigative journalists book, it depicts how many 'Made in Italy' products are made in sweatshops entirely staffed with illegal Chinese immigrants. I suspect that tariffs would have the impact of creating an underground of dubious 'finishing' factories in the US, putting buttons on clothes made elsewhere.

Waldenpond , January 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

It's hard work to escape the US system. I rarely shop aisles and in the year without plastic, there were few goods to be had that aren't in plastic (some glass and cardboard), I'd hit the bulk bins with fabric bags, but that is for dry goods. There is typically only a small section of produce that is not in plastic.

It's difficult to find clothing, shoes etc made in the US. Could someone make their own? What's available for US raw goods?

The instruction to just buy basics is also a challenge. Basics are cheaply made. Thrift stores might be a better option for durables.

My pet peeve is corporations that destroy goods (will literally slice clothing) rather than allow the poor to get their hands on the clothing. We are a landfill society.

Ivy , January 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Adidas shoes dissolving in rainy climates? It may be a matter of time before their 'sink additive' goes native, to the detriment of many runners. Those in the PNW wear rain slickers, 60/40, GoreTex or similar outerwear to squeeze in that run even the most rainy days.
I know, catastrophizing, but somebody has to do it when there are too many Onion-like blurbs in the media.

PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed.

Sounds like they're trying to appeal to the crowd that thinks Tesla cars are going to save the world. Greenish sounding stuff to get the STEM lord money, most who will just dispose of them the same way as any other pair of shoes.

[Aug 25, 2019] Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbolism collective attitudes are amenable to many modes of alteration . intimidation intimidation .economic coercion drill

Aug 25, 2019 | off-guardian.org

TheThinker I've been reading a collection of essays by a Australian guy called Careys – on Democracy and propaganda, fully named, Taking the Risk out of Democracy. He died unpublished but his papers were collated in a book after. Here some bits from my read that were interesting.

In Jan 1994 David Hume reflecting on the consequences of the recent state terrorist projects that Washington had organised and directed in its Central American domains, with the Church a prime target. They took special note of 'what weight' the culture of terror has had in domestically the expectations of the majority vis-a-vis alternatives different for the powerful; the destruction of hope, they recognised, is one of the greatest achievements of the free world doctrine of 'low intensity conflict' what is called 'terror' when conducted by official enemies. Noam Chomsky 1994

Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbolism collective attitudes are amenable to many modes of alteration . intimidation intimidation .economic coercion drill

But their arrangement and rearrangement occurs principally under the importers of significant symbolism and the technique of using significant symbols for this purpose is propaganda. Lasswell, Bardson & Janowitz 1953

Successful use of propaganda as a means of social control requires a number of conditions: The will to use it, the skills to produce the propaganda, the means to disseminate it; and the use of significant symbols with real power over emotional reactions – ideally symbols of the sacred and satanic (Light vs DARK)

A society or culture which is disposed to view the world in Manichean terms will be more vulnerable to control by propaganda. Conversely, a society where propaganda is extensively employed as a means of control, will tend to retain a Manichean world view, a view dominated by symbols and visions of the sacred and satanic.

Manichean – an adherent of the dualistic systems (dual = 2) religious systems of Manes, a combination of Gnostic, Buddiasm, Zoroastrianism and various other elements with a doctrine of a conflict between the Light and Dark, matter being regarded as dark and light / good vs evil – love vs hate

The 'public mind' was recognised long ago by corporate leaders to be 'the only serious danger confronting' their enterprise & major hazards facing industrialists along with the newly realised political power of the masses, which had to be beaten back.

Big Business in the US stated started the Americanise Movement ostensibly to Americanise worker, who was being perceived as being under threat from subversive forces of the Industrial Workers of the world.

what started as a method of controlling the political opinion of immigrant workers quickly turned into a massive program for the thinking of an entire population. One of the most startling examples of the escalation of the whole population in processes of propaganda was how Americanisation Program ( a word which conjures up the 'thought police') came to be transformed into a National Celebration Day for the 4th July, to many of us (Carey's words not mine) it comes as a shock to discover that American Independence Day had it's beginning in a Business led program to control public opinion rather than as a direct expression of a Nation celebrating its historical birth.

[Aug 20, 2019] In this sordid world, people without power have absolutely no value.

Notable quotes:
"... When Trump was first elected, I tried to calm down friends with advanced TDS, who expected Kristallnacht to be directed at their favorite brunch spots, by saying that "This is what empires in decline look like." ..."
"... In this sordid world, girls/women have absolutely no value ..."
"... Don't forget the young boys who get traded around like fudge recipes. Something quick on the Hollywood angle on bent dicks. It applies almost everywhere in America now: https://news.avclub.com/corey-feldman-made-a-documentary-about-sexual-abuse-he-1834310252 ..."
"... My reinterpretation of your comment would be; In this sordid world, people without power have absolutely no value. ..."
"... Epstein's World was tied in with Hollywood and Wall Street. Both are homoerotic paedophile havens. The world of the Vatican is tied in to Wall Street; it has it's own bank, the Instituto per le Opere de Religioni. ..."
"... As is true with the continued withholding of key documents in the JFK assassination, I believe that if the lousy reporting and official screwups in the Epstein case persist, it will be perfectly fine for the public to conclude and believe the absolute worst and act accordingly. ..."
"... Given the spotiness and inadequacy of reporting on the Epstein affair I wonder if an avenue for exploration might be that of a more direct involvement of media moguls and highly placed media staff in being serviced by Epstein i.e., the decision-makers regarding what gets covered and published are themselves subject to exposure, embarrassment, and other things that befall men caught in such matters. ..."
Aug 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Michael Fiorillo , , August 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

I can't add much to Yve's excellent post and the follow-up comments, except to say that the events of recent days and weeks have made Pizzagate (as deranged as it was) into some kind of weird Jungian premonition which is to say, the s&#* is out of control.

When Trump was first elected, I tried to calm down friends with advanced TDS, who expected Kristallnacht to be directed at their favorite brunch spots, by saying that "This is what empires in decline look like."

In regard to this sordid tale, I'm reminded of Robert Graves' (and the superb BBC TV version of) "I, Claudius."

"Don't eat the figs."

adrena , , August 14, 2019 at 11:48 am

In this sordid world, girls/women have absolutely no value.

ambrit , , August 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Don't forget the young boys who get traded around like fudge recipes. Something quick on the Hollywood angle on bent dicks. It applies almost everywhere in America now: https://news.avclub.com/corey-feldman-made-a-documentary-about-sexual-abuse-he-1834310252

My reinterpretation of your comment would be; In this sordid world, people without power have absolutely no value. Otherwise, I'm with you all the way. Abuse is abuse. No other definition is logical.

ambrit , , August 14, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Epstein's World was tied in with Hollywood and Wall Street. Both are homoerotic paedophile havens. The world of the Vatican is tied in to Wall Street; it has it's own bank, the Instituto per le Opere de Religioni.

Who knows? Perhaps there will be some Prelates unearthed from the Lolita Express passenger log.

Pelham , , August 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

As is true with the continued withholding of key documents in the JFK assassination, I believe that if the lousy reporting and official screwups in the Epstein case persist, it will be perfectly fine for the public to conclude and believe the absolute worst and act accordingly.

Actually, we SHOULD believe the worst.

Robin Kash , , August 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Given the spotiness and inadequacy of reporting on the Epstein affair I wonder if an avenue for exploration might be that of a more direct involvement of media moguls and highly placed media staff in being serviced by Epstein i.e., the decision-makers regarding what gets covered and published are themselves subject to exposure, embarrassment, and other things that befall men caught in such matters.

Who covers the press and roots out its secret malefactions? Rogue reporters? And who publishes them? Indeed!

[Aug 18, 2019] IV- MICHELS: THE IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY by Dr. Mustafa Delican

Highly recommended!
Aug 18, 2019 | dergipark.org.tr

To Michels organizations are the only means for the creation of a collective will and they work under the Iron Law of Oligarchy. He explicitly points out the indispensability of oligarchy from the organizations by saying that "It is organization which gives birth to the domination of the elected over electors, of the mandatanes over the mandators, of the delegates over delegators, who says organization, says oligarchy" (Michels 1966, p.365).

Oligarchical tendencies in organizations is not related to ideology or ends of the organizations. Of course, it is evident that any organization which is set up for autocratic aims , it is oligarchic by nature. To Michels, regardless of any ideological concerns, all types of organizations have oligarchic tendencies. It was his major question in political parties that "how can oligarchic tendencies be explained in socialist and democratic parties, which they declared war against it?"( Michels 1966, pp. 50-51).

When he examines this question throughout in his book: Political Parties, he sees organization itself particularly bureaucracy, nature of human being and the phenomenon of leadership as major factors for oligarchical tendencies in organizations. According to Michels' assessments, the crowd is always subject to suggestion and the masses have an apathy for guidance of their need. In contrast the leaders have a natural greed of power ( Michels 1966, pp. 64, 205). To Michels, leadership itself is not compatible with the most essential postulates of democracy, but leadership is a necessary phenomenon in every form of society. He says "At the outset, leaders arise spontaneously, their functions are ACCESSORY and GRATUITOUS. Soon however, they become professional leaders, and in this second stage of development they are stable and irremovable"(

Michels 1966, p. 364).

Leaders also have personal qualities that make them successful as a ruling class. These qualities are , the force of will, knowledge, strength of conviction, self sufficiency, goodness of heart and disinterestedness ( Michels 1966, p. 100 ). Furthermore there is a reciprocal relationship between leadership functions and the organizational structure. Majority of leaders abuse organizational opportunities for their personal aims by using their personal qualities and by creating means, organizational process or principles like party discipline.

As for as organization itself is considered as a source of oligarchy, Michels says that it is generally because of "PSYCHOLOGY OF ORGANIZATION ITSELF, that is to say, upon the tactical and technical necessities which result from the consolidation of every disciplined political aggregate."( Michels 1966, p. 365). Further as a particular type of organization bureaucracy and its features require an oligarchic structure.

At the societal level, although development in the democracy, oligarchy still exists. First of all he says by looking at the state as an organization, which needs a bureaucracy that is the source of enemy of individual freedom, the state represents a single gigantic oligarchy. An attempt to destroy this gigantic* oligarchy in fact brings a number of smaller oligarchies in society but does not eliminate it ( Michels 1966, p. 188,191,202). Secondly he agrees with Jean Jack Rousseau on the idea that "it is always against the natural order of things that the majority rule and the minority ruled." (Michels 1965, p. 106). Along with this idea professional leadership is seen by Michels as an incompatible phenomenon with

democracy, because , although the leaders at once are not more than executive agents off collective will, as soon as they gain the technical specialization, they emancipate themselves form the masses and start to use their power against the majority. ( Michels 1966, p.70). In addition to this, representative political system is not compatible with the ideal democracy, because to Michels, "a mass which delegates its sovereignty, that is to say transfer its sovereignty to the hands of the few individuals, abdicates its sovereign function ( Michels 1966, p. 73).

The third factor is related to level of socio-economic development of societies and experience of democracy in history. To him in this time ideal democracy is impossible due to socio-economic conditions, that further more he says that," The democracy has an inherent preference for the authoritarian solution of the important questions" (Michels 1966, p. 51, 342).

As a logical result of his iron law of oligarchy, he admits there are elites in society but not elite circulation in terms of replacing one another. He does not redefine the concept of elite, he took Pareto's theory of circulation of elites and modified it. To Michels, there is a battle between the old and new elites, leaders.

The end of this war is not an absolute replacement of the old elites by the new elites, but a reunion of elites, a perennial amalgamation. Complete replacement of elites is rare in history. The old elites attract, absorb and assimilate the new ones, and it is a continuous process (Michels 1966, p. 182, 343; Michels 1949, p. 63). Because for Michels, first " old aristocracy does not disappear, does not become proletarian or impoverished ( at least in absolute sense ), does not make way for new group of rulers , but that always remains at the head of nations, which it led over the course of centuries...[and second]...the old aristocracy be it very old rejuvenated, does not exercise the rule alone but is forced to shave it with some kind of new ruler" (Michels 1965, p. 75-76).

Aristocracy for Michels is not homogenous stratum, and consists of nobility and ruling class. Nobility represents a small but strong part of aristocracy. In this sense it seems that nobility represents real oligarchical power in the society. To Michels nobility holds itself at the helm and does not even dream of disappearing from the stage of history. Though not coinciding with aristocracy,

To Michels nobility holds itself at the helm and does not even dream of disappearing from the stage of history. Though not coinciding with aristocracy, and not constituting more than a part of it, nobility generally takes hold of it and makes itself its master. It pervades, conquers, and molds, the high middle class according to its own moral and social essence" ( Michels 1949,p. 77, 80 ). In contrast to nobility aristocracy is heterogeneous and a place where lower classes' members can easily rise and members of aristocracy can be subject to downward social mobility. For his time, he describes elements of aristocracy (1) aristocrats by birth (2) aristocracy of government clerks, (3) aristocracy of money (4) aristocracy of knowledge . All this groups also represent ruling class (Michels 1965, p. 76 ).

Michels does not get in too much special analysis of the relationships between aristocracy, ruling class and majority. I think he doesn't see that there are much differences in oligarchy in organization and oligarchy in society at large.

To me these two must be separated because (1) for individuals society in a sense an unavoidable place to be in contrast to organizations, particularly voluntary organization , (2) while society represent a more natural entity, organizations are more artificial entities and (3) organizations are set to realize certain targets in a certain period of time, in contrast society's targets are relatively unstable, and subject to reconstruction by people. To think of these questions, does not necessarily reject the existence of oligarchical tendencies in societies. In fact as Michels pointed out democracy has a legacy to solve important questions of society, by using oligarchic methods. Furthermore he also points out that at any social organization there is an intermixture of oligarchic and democratic tendencies. He says that"... In modem party life, aristocracy gladly present itself in democratic guise, while the substance of democracy is permeated with aristocratic elements. On the one side we have aristocracy is a democratic form, and on the other hand democracy with an aristocratic context" (Michels 1966, p.50).

... ... ...

In terms of replacement of old elites by new ones, there is a distinction between Pareto and Michels. Michels does not admit replacement of elites, but admits, amalgamation of new and old elites. In fact historically we can see both of them happened. In short term amalgamation of old and new elites, and in long terms replacement of old elites by new ones. This time period depends on changes in society at large. For example, consider socialist revolutions and aftermath of independent movement in developing countries where these two movements took place, old elites were wiped out. This type of changes are rarely in history. In short term, amalgamation of elites takes place and new elites gradually increases its proportion in the elite strata and ruling class. For example as a result of

industrialization in burope, Hughes observes that at the beginning ...upper class oligarchy shared power with the old aristocracy-but with each year that passed the balance seemed to incline more heavily in favor of the former" (Hughes 1965, pp.149-150). It can be concluded that new elites are bom as a result of socio- economic , political, and historical changes in society, and then these new elites via upward mobility, and that in the end the new elites take place the highest position in the society. In this process the adaptation ability of old elites determine their fates.

On democracy, Pareto always separate ideal democracy and democracy applied, and prefers to talk about the subjects of democracy rather than democracy itself. Michels is clearly in favor of democracy, Mosca was previously against democracy but after the experience of Fascism in Italy, he changed his mind.

How elitist theories affected democracy ? Two answers have given for this question. On the negative side, it has been said that these anti-democratic theories helped European ruling classes by restoring their self confidence and by increasing their consciousness about their privileges; therefore, elite theories become a vehicle for ruling classes (Hughes 1965 (b), p. 149), On the positive side, it has said that elitist theories have helped to enhance democratic theories, Michels himself believed that research on oligarchies necessary for development of democracy by saying that "...a serene and frank examination of oligarchical dangers of democracy will enable us to minimize these dangers,...(Michels 1966, p.370).

It can be said that elitist theories extended and increased awareness of masses and scientist against governments and ruling classes. As a result, many researches have been conducted on application of democracy in organizations.

Researches have shown that oligarchical tendencies are dominant in organizations and can not be eliminated totally. Further more, attempts to reduce oligarchic contrgl in organizations with very few exception have failed. In general, in voluntary organizations, the functional requirements of democracy con not be met most of the time (Lipset, Trow, and Coleman 1956, p.4,6,452).

Is democracy still compatible with elite theories? That has been the question that lead to redefine, reconceptualize the democracy. Here we must pay attention that Pareto, Mosca, and Michels worked J.J. Rousseau's definition of democracy: government by the people, but not government for the people (Burnham 1943, pp.156-7).

New democratic theories like political pluralism, theory of the mass society are compatible with elitist theories. Schumpeter was one of the earliest thinker that he redefined democracy considering elitists 1 arguments. To him democracy defined as "...institutional arrangement for arriving the power to decide by means of competitive struggle for the people's vote" (Bottomore 1964, p.10).

In contrast to compatibility of elitist theories with democracy, it can not be compatible with Marxism. Michels pointed out that M [t]he law of circulation of elites destroy the thesis of the possibility of a society without social levels...[and]... destroy equally the supposition of a ruling class that remains closed and inaccessible" (Michels 1965, p. 106). In terms of preference of political systems he clearly says that "the defects inherent in democracy are obvious. It is none the less true that as a form of social life we must choose democracy as the least of evils" (Michels 1966, p.370).

VI- CONCLUSIONS

Elitist theorists not only introduced elites but also contributed on better understanding of social and political life of societies. The key concept is "power" and who has the power she/he is the leader of society. Heredity, wealth, intellect, organizations are the means to get power.

[Aug 16, 2019] This Is How Epstein Manipulated Vulnerable Young Girls (And How You Can Protect Your Children From Predators)

Aug 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

This Is How Epstein Manipulated Vulnerable Young Girls (And How You Can Protect Your Children From Predators)

by Tyler Durden Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:25 0 SHARES

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

This article contains content that some may find distressing.

Jeffrey Epstein "was" apparently a serial molester of children. He had manipulation down to an art form, as many molesters do. He seemed to be an expert at figuring out a girl's weak point, whether it was poverty, a deceased family member, or feeling alienated from her peers.

This is a common ploy. Many molesters seek out children or teens who have lost a parent and use this as a way to build a friendship. Then, because children don't think like adults, they are manipulated, coerced, or threatened into sexual activity.

The story below could be told a hundred thousand times with only tiny changes. The names and the faces would be different. The settings might not be a mansion in Manhattan or in Palm Beach but rather a quiet part of a church, a school, or some kind of activity for teens. The setting could be in the house next door to you, where someone with evil intent befriends a vulnerable young person with the stated goal of helping them, but an end result that couldn't be further from reality.

How 14-year-old Jennifer Araoz met Jeffrey Epstein

Jennifer Araoz was 14 years old when she first met her future rapist, Jeffrey Epstein. She wrote about how she was manipulated, first by his recruiter, then by Epstein himself. There are many powerful lessons that we as parents can learn from her story.

During my freshman year, one of Epstein's recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people. I was attending a performing arts school on the Upper East Side, studying musical theater. I wanted to be an actress and a singer. ( source )

Another report based on court documents says that the recruiter befriended Jennifer, took her out to eat after school a few times, and learned more about her, such as the fact that Jennifer's father had died from an AIDs-related illness and her family could barely scrape by financially.

The recruiter told me about a wealthy man she knew named Jeffrey Epstein. Meeting him would be beneficial, and he could introduce me to the right people for my career, she said. When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, she told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially. ( source )

The recruiter finally got Jennifer to go with her to meet Epstein. Court documents say that they all three met together for the first month or so.

The visits during the first month felt benign, at least at the time. On my second visit, Epstein also gave me a digital camera as a gift. The visits were about one to two hours long and we would spend the time talking. After each visit, he or his secretary would hand me $300 in cash, supposedly to help my family. ( source )

Epstein claimed he was 'a big AIDS activist' which you can imagine would mean a lot to a 14-year-old whose father died of the disease.

Soon the visits would take a dark turn.

By the second month of Jennifer's visits to the mansion, the recruiter no longer attended the visits., the manipulation began in earnest.

But within about a month, he started asking me for massages and instructed me to take my top off. He said he would need to see my body if he was going to help me break into modeling. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated, but I did as he said. The assault escalated when, during these massages, he would flip over and sexually gratify himself and touch me inappropriately. For a little over a year, I went to Epstein's home once or twice a week.

After that day, I never went back. I also quit the performing arts school -- the one I had auditioned for and had wanted so badly to attend. It was too close to his house, the scene of so many crimes. I was too scared I would see him or his recruiter. So I transferred to another school in Queens close to my home. Since I was no longer able to pursue my dream of performing arts I eventually lost interest and dropped out. ( source )

Sure, we can say that she knew things weren't right when he asked her to take her top off. By this point, she was 15 years old. Old enough to know right from wrong. But if she was getting $300 twice a week and helping her family with it, it's pretty easy to see how she would want to continue helping her family despite her discomfort. Epstein knew exactly what he was doing.

Epstein's wealth, power, and connections would have made going against him seem like an insurmountable feat for a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who had recently lost her father. Who would have believed her word against that of this presumed philanthropist?

A few days ago, Jennifer, now 32, filed a massive lawsuit against Epstein's estate, Ghislaine Maxwell, and 3 members of Epstein's household staff. The complaint alleges that Maxwell and the staff "conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff."

Some of Epstein's victims recruited new girls for him.

Epstein's indictment explains how he manipulated some of the girls he sexually abused to bring other girls to him.

Prosecutors say he lured underage girls, some as young as 14, to his residences, promising them a cash payment in exchange for giving him a massage. Instead, he would sexually abuse them -- groping them, making them touch him while he masturbated, and using sex toys on the minors. Then, he would allegedly ask them to recruit other girls. ( source )

A detailed report in the Miami Herald referred to it as a "sexual pyramid scheme." One of Epstein's accusers, Courtney Wild, reiterates the theme of the story told by Jennifer Boaz.

"Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,'' said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein. ( source )

Courtney's time spent with Epstein nearly destroyed her.

Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.

After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle.

Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.

She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. ( source )

She began to recruit other girls for him in Palm Beach.

Wild said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time

"By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years," said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.

The girls -- mostly 13 to 16 -- were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man -- Epstein -- a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald. ( source )

Epstein had it down to an art form.

Palm Beach police detective Joseph Recarey explains how Epstein insinuated himself into the girls' lives.

"The common interview with a girl went like this: 'I was brought there by so and so. I didn't feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn't feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,' '' Recarey said.

During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to find him more girls

Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.

Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein's victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report. ( source )

You may look at these stories and scorn the victims. After all, they kept going back, didn't they? They liked the money, didn't they?

But they were children. Many of them were isolated, vulnerable, and without support systems. Many of them felt ashamed but didn't know how to extricate themselves. They were confused and scared, and Epstein was a pro at taking advantage of these emotions and doubts.

The girls are not to blame here. The adults are.

Epstein is not the only predator out there.

While this article focuses on how Epstein was able to lure so many victims, as Dagny Taggert recently wrote , there are many more people in power out there preying on children. Clergy, priests, teachers, neighbors, musicians, and random people on the internet are out there preying on and trafficking children.

Dagny wrote:

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime , the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.

Statistics below represent some of the research done on child sexual abuse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (page 24).

Studies by David Finkelhor , Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center , show that:

According to Darkness to Light , a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse, only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified, and even fewer are reported .

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates the CyberTipline , a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation.

In 2018 the CyberTipline received more than 18.4 million reports, most of which related to:

Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 48 million reports.

Those statistics are grim. ( source )

How do you keep your children safe?

When my children's father passed away, it wasn't too long afterward that I left my corporate job. I volunteered when the company began layoffs and took a small payment and my retirement fund to start a new life writing freelance. It wasn't long after that when I started this website.

I wanted to be home when they got back from school every day. I didn't want them to seem like prey to those looking for children with weak support systems. My own daughters could so easily have had a story like the one Jennifer has told.

I know that what I did is not possible for every family that suffers a loss. I was pretty fortunate to be able to find work from home that paid enough to allow me to be there.

What you, as a parent, must understand are the things that make your child seem vulnerable.

Some signs that your child could be getting abused or groomed.

Obviously, these lists are not comprehensive, nor are they sure signs of abuse. What teenager doesn't seem angry and withdrawn from time to time? But it's vital, no matter how hard they push you away, to stay involved, particularly after a traumatic event.

Here are some resources you may find helpful.

Teach your kids that some secrets should not be kept.

Predators manipulate children in all sorts of ways. One of the biggest ways is warning them to keep their "relationship" a secret or else.

Or else what?

Predators often put a burden on a child where they feel as though they must stay silent to protect the people they love.

Kids need to know that if anyone threatens them if they tell a secret, then they absolutely must tell that secret. Mom and Dad will be safe and will protect them. People who ask children to keep their presence in their lives a secret are never to be trusted.

And finally, make sure your children know that whatever they tell you, you will believe them and you know it's not their fault.

[Aug 15, 2019] Why the Rich Want to Bury Bernie, the Not-Really-Socialist

Notable quotes:
"... The reason the ruler's have decreed 'anybody but Bernie' is that Sanders' (and to a lesser perceived degree, Warren's) campaign proposals challenge the austerity regime that has been relentlessly erected since the 1970s precisely to set American workers and the whole capitalist world on a Race to the Bottom, in which each year brings lower living standards and more insecurity to the population at large. ..."
"... The obscene increases in wealth inequality are the desired result and true essence of austerity. ..."
"... "the top one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of the population -- households making $2.757 million a year -- now number almost 200,000 families, a cohort big enough to create and inhabit a large and coherent social world of its own. ..."
Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Sanders (D)(1): "Why the Rich Want to Bury Bernie, the Not-Really-Socialist" [Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report (CI)]. Really excellent.

Here's "why":

"The reason the ruler's have decreed 'anybody but Bernie' is that Sanders' (and to a lesser perceived degree, Warren's) campaign proposals challenge the austerity regime that has been relentlessly erected since the 1970s precisely to set American workers and the whole capitalist world on a Race to the Bottom, in which each year brings lower living standards and more insecurity to the population at large.

The obscene increases in wealth inequality are the desired result and true essence of austerity."

There's much more, but this on local oligarchies is important: "the top one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of the population -- households making $2.757 million a year -- now number almost 200,000 families, a cohort big enough to create and inhabit a large and coherent social world of its own.

From their rich enclaves in every state of the country, this formidable "base" of truly wealthy folks effectively dictate the politics of their regions for the benefit of themselves and the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid. "

[Aug 15, 2019] We're just going to vote in two corrupt, out of touch and mentally declining frauds to throw hot garbage at each other, and what is the left supposed to do?

Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com


Grant , , , August 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm

"they = the voters in the Dem primaries?"

Isn't it interesting that the Democrats are only about a third of the country now, but because they and the other rotten party have rigged our political system so no other parties can emerge, that they essentially will determine who will go up against Trump? The Democratic voters are just as lost as the politicians they vote for. Turnout is often low for primaries within that party, in a party that only a third of the country identifies with, and there is little chance that anyone will get a majority of voters. So, it is entirely possible that the person chosen to go against Trump will have support of, what, 4-5% of the US electorate? And if they are stupid enough to choose Biden, and they are, the general election will be Biden vs Trump. The USSR at least ended in interesting ways. We're just going to vote in two corrupt, out of touch and mentally declining frauds to throw hot garbage at each other, and what is the left supposed to do? There will never be a better argument for a third party if those two are the options given to us by the duds in the two major parties. I can't even contemplate who Biden would choose as his VP, and possibly lock us into a decade of hell, and then the environmental crisis hits.

notabanker , , August 15, 2019 at 4:28 pm

If the US electorate allows 4-5% to decide, then they deserve who they get. It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.

Grant , , August 15, 2019 at 5:07 pm

It is not an issue in regards to difficulty, generally, it is the options people are given and how often it is that the options people are given are net negatives regardless as to who wins, and people realizing that what the general public wants is not reflected in policy. Bernie is an exceptuon, and look at all the nonsense thrown at him, and all the undemocratic means those in power use to maintain their power. I am not saying that justifies inactivity, but it does help to explain it. But, lets say Biden or someone similar is chosen by Democrats in the primaries. What percentage of the electorate, given all I mentioned, will have chosen him?

edmondo , , August 15, 2019 at 5:29 pm

If the US electorate allows 4-5% to decide, then they deserve who they get. It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.

Depends where you live. If you live in most states and you want to vote in a Democratic Party presidential primary, you have to be registered as a Democrat. Here in AZ I can vote for every office except president by being a No Party Preference voter registrant. If I want to vote against Joe Biden, I have to change my voter registration to “D”. Not gonna happen.

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F08%2F200pm-water-cooler-8-15-2019.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" />

Grant , August 15, 2019 at 8:07 pm

“Here in California, owned and operated by the Democratic Party, voting for someone other than the approved candidate could quickly get your vote “lost” or “disqualified” and that is not mentioning the rigging of convention delegates.”

This ultimately why Bernie is up against it. I think he has a real shot to win and am not very concerned about the polls, he is doing well despite all that is aligned against him. Palast showed what that rotten party did in 2016 in the primaries (it is entirely possible that Bernie won the state or at least came even closer to winning), and you could include tons since. My favorite was how they used superdelegates at the state level in California to get Bauman to lead the state party, and he had to resign in shame. He was previously a pharma lobbyist that was paid to lobby the state against bargaining down the price of drugs. Then there is stuff like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWi6HS9Wfgw

As the DNC has argued in court though, they don’t have to run a fair primary and can pick whoever those at the top of the party want, right? It would be amazing if someone within the DNC and the state party here (I live in Southern California) would leak what they are doing. Not expecting it, but it would be great.

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F08%2F200pm-water-cooler-8-15-2019.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" />

Carey , August 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm

“It’s not difficult to vote in a primary.”

True. However, if one is voting™ for
a non-corporatist candidate, getting
that vote counted has been problematic,
and I expect it to be more so in 2020:

https://hooktube.com/watch?v=D5ugmNoanx8

Reply

Off The Street , August 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Once people spoke of TINA. Biden’s campaign now gives rise to VANITY.
Viabile
Alternatives
Not
Indicated
This
Year

[Aug 14, 2019] Russiagate as a smoke screen for the struggle between two powerful groups of the US elite

Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Apr 1, 2019 5:14:39 PM | 93 ">link

@ bevin #90

But that doesn't bother Trump, Bolton, Pompeo and their mob. They think quarter by quarter. Immediate gratification is the name of their game. They know that "in the long run we are all dead". And they don't care what happens then.

Your viewpoint is the same as that of Jonathon Cook. He says "Russiagate" was a faction fight between two groups of the Power Elites.

One wanted to keep 'putting the lipstick on the pig' which is predatory Capitalism, and the other wants to let it all hang out and rape the planet NOW.

Just as there was a clueless "liberal" cheering group for Mueller, the Looters have a fan club among the "right". Both sets of the applauding groups are just puppets. And of course neither has recognized their true role in the unfolding dramas.

[Aug 13, 2019] No, technology does not generate inequality. Our policy on technology generates inequality. We have rules (patent and copyright monopolies) that allow people to own technology.

Notable quotes:
"... Bill Gates is incredibly rich because the government will arrest anyone who mass produces copies of Microsoft software without his permission. If anyone could freely reproduce Windows and other software, without even sending a thank you note, Bill Gates would still be working for a living. ..."
"... The same applies to prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other tech sectors where some people are getting very rich. In all of these cases, these items would be cheap without patent, copyrights, or related monopolies, and no one would be getting hugely rich. ..."
"... Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy. ..."
Aug 13, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , August 12, 2019 at 10:57 AM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/yet-another-new-york-times-column-gets-the-story-on-automation-and-inequality-completely-wrong

August 12, 2019

Yet Another New York Times Column Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
By Dean Baker

I am a big fan of expanding the welfare state but I am also a big fan of reality-based analysis. For this reason, it's hard not to be upset over yet another column * telling us that the robots are taking all the jobs and that this will lead to massive inequality.

The first part is more than a little annoying just because it is so completely and unambiguously at odds with reality. Productivity growth, which is the measure of the rate at which robots and other technologies are taking jobs, has been extremely slow in recent years. It has averaged just 1.3 percent annually since 2005. That compares to an annual rate of 3.0 percent from 1995 to 2005 and in the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973.

In addition, all the official projections from places like the Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Administration assume that productivity growth will remain slow. That could prove wrong, but the people projecting a massive pick up of productivity growth are certainly against the tide here.

But the other part of the story is even more annoying. No, technology does not generate inequality. Our policy on technology generates inequality. We have rules (patent and copyright monopolies) that allow people to own technology.

Bill Gates is incredibly rich because the government will arrest anyone who mass produces copies of Microsoft software without his permission. If anyone could freely reproduce Windows and other software, without even sending a thank you note, Bill Gates would still be working for a living.

The same applies to prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other tech sectors where some people are getting very rich. In all of these cases, these items would be cheap without patent, copyrights, or related monopolies, and no one would be getting hugely rich.

At this point, there are undoubtedly people jumping up and down yelling "without patent and copyright monopolies people would have no incentive to innovate." This yelling is very helpful in making the point. If we have structured these incentives in ways that lead to great inequality and not very much innovation (as measured by productivity growth) then we should probably be looking to alter our structure of incentives. (Yes this is the topic of Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer - it's free. * )

In any case, this is the point. The inequality that results from technology is the result of our policies on technology, not the technology itself. Maybe one day the New York Times will allow a columnist to state this obvious truth in its opinion section.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/12/opinion/ubi-automation-ai.html

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

anne , August 12, 2019 at 11:01 AM
http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

October, 2016

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker

The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights

One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.

Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.

If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.

Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.

The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.

The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.

Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.

People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.

The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.

The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....

[Aug 04, 2019] We see that the neoliberal utopia tends imposes itself even upon the rulers.

Highly recommended!
Aug 04, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"Thus we see how the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. Like the Marxism of an earlier time, with which, in this regard, it has much in common, this utopia evokes powerful belief - the free trade faith - not only among those who live off it, such as financiers, the owners and managers of large corporations, etc., but also among those, such as high-level government officials and politicians, who derive their justification for existing from it.

For they sanctify the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, which requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers capable of inconveniencing the owners of capital in their individual quest for the maximisation of individual profit, which has been turned into a model of rationality. They want independent central banks.

And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatisation of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses."

Pierre Bourdieu, L'essence du néolibéralisme

[Aug 02, 2019] Brutus questions whether "democracy" is sensible in a nation of three million!

Aug 02, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jacques Sheete , says: August 2, 2019 at 12:16 pm GMT

@Bert

Democracy was the next step, but it only works in small polities.

And for very short periods of time.

Anyway, yours is a key concept that most 'Merkins are completely ignorant of, yet some of the anti-federalists were aware of it. Here, Brutus questions whether "democracy" is sensible in a nation of three million !

Now, in a large extended country, it is impossible to have a representation, possessing the sentiments, and of integrity, to declare the minds of the people, without having it so numerous and unwieldly, as to be subject in great measure to the inconveniency of a democratic government.

The territory of the United States is of vast extent; it now contains near three millions of souls, and is capable of containing much more than ten times that number. Is it practicable for a country, so large and so numerous as they will soon become, to elect a representation, that will speak their sentiments, without their becoming so numerous as to be incapable of transacting public business?

It certainly is not.

Brutus, (Robert Yates), To the Citizens of the State of New-York, October 18, 1787

[Aug 01, 2019] One advantage of the two party system

Aug 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Plp -> Plp... , July 31, 2019 at 01:48 PM

Even a compulsory choice between two poisons is preferred to being forced to take the designated poison

likbez -> Plp... , August 01, 2019 at 09:40 AM

> Even a compulsory choice between two poisons is preferred to being forced to take the designated poison

Wrong.

It's two batches of the same poison. One is artificially sweetened.

[Aug 01, 2019] The two party system institutionalizes the capture of the political process by special interests, dichotomized into two differently armed powers of equal importance.

Aug 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine ... , July 27, 2019 at 04:41 AM

Not all prayers are answered. The two party system intervened in the US political process to elect its representation and leadership a long time ago. The two party system is not constitutional, but it is not unconstitutional either. It just is. The two party system takes all the air out of the political room. The two party system institutionalizes the capture of the political process by special interests, dichotomized into two differently armed powers of equal importance. The first is the moneyed interests of corporate wealth and power which provide media access and control. The second is the social interests of large voting blocks that are not in certain conflict with corporate money. To get elected politicians must then pander for cheap votes and the money to buy them with. How could Russians possibly compete with that?
ilsm -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 04:49 AM
Two party system!

if you have to ask the FBI who you can talk to (what the democrats call election security).....

you end up with a two sided coin with one face.

fortunately both parties have

the best interest of the Saudi

royal family and the war machine

covered.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to ilsm... , July 27, 2019 at 05:27 AM
Remember that the Bill of Rights was just an afterthought to the US Constitution that was deemed necessary to obtain ratification without further insurrection by the people. The US Constitution itself had not blatantly encompassed the creation of the two party system, but such division of special interests was evident from the participants division of economic interests. First and foremost, the US Constitution was about the preservation of property rights despite the division between what was considered valuable property in the North and what was considered valuable property in the South. A stable, yet plutocratic, republic was necessary for the preservation of all property rights. The US was founded as an ownership state, "for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People," ( John Wycliffe in 1384 subsequently quote by Abe Lincoln) just not for and by all the people.
Joe -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 10:09 AM
Why do I have the larger view here? Well, the Constitution is fairly simple when the two other branches do their job. The other two branches cannot do their job. Obama couldn't do his job without losing four elections. The current Congress cannot do its job, for a variety of reasons. We are in that period when legislation is not working, the money is tied up in interest payments, and the new generation refuses to pay for all the rolled over losses from past Congressional failures. We are sort of stuck with an inoperable Constitution.
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Joe... , July 28, 2019 at 06:27 AM
"Why do I have the larger view here?..."

[ROTFLMAO!

Having some diced chicken in your scrambled eggs? It certainly must be an appealing way to answer the age old question of which came first.]

JohnH -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 27, 2019 at 06:49 AM
A two party system is just one step from a one party system. Tight oligopoly instead of monopoly.

The wealthy have to spread their largesse around a little bit more, but not as much as they would if they had to buy 4-5 parties. Plus, in a two party system, there are always stooges in waiting, eager to serve, in case the incumbent stooges go too far off the rails.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to JohnH... , July 27, 2019 at 07:25 AM
Exactly.

[Jul 22, 2019] Neoliberals cosmopolitans

Jul 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

somebody , Jul 22 2019 7:55 utc | 113

Trumpism turns elitist .
On the final night of this past week's National Conservatism Conference, Senator Josh Hawley -- a graduate of Stanford and Yale and a former instructor at an English private school -- warned the attendees gathered in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Washington, D.C., about the threat of élite cosmopolitanism. "The politics of those left and right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interests not of the American middle but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities," he intoned. "This class lives in the United States, but they identify as citizens of the world. They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community, and they subscribe to a set of values held by similar élites in other places." He went on to name those values: "The importance of global integration and the danger of national loyalties; the priority of social change over tradition, career over community and achievement and merit and progress. Call it the cosmopolitan consensus."
"Let us be candid," she concluded. "Europe and the first world, to which the United States belongs, remain mostly white for now, and the third world, although mixed, contains a lot of nonwhite people. Embracing cultural-distance nationalism means, in effect, taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites. Well, that is the result, anyway. So, even if our immigration philosophy is grounded firmly in cultural concerns, it doesn't rely on race at all. And, no matter how many times we repeat the mantra that correlation is not causation, these racial dimensions are enough to spook conservatives."

[Jul 14, 2019] MODELS OF POWER STRUCTURE IN THE UNITED STATES Political Issues We Concern

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women, they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. They arc in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. ..."
"... Social Register ..."
"... pluralist model ..."
Sep 07, 2011 | politicalissues.blog.com

Posted by Political Issues in Sep 07, 2011, under Issues

Who really holds power in the United States' Do "we the people" genuinely run the country through elected representatives? Or is there small elite of Americans that governs behind the scenes? It is difficult to determine the location of power in a society as complex as the Unite States In exploring this critical question, social scientists have developed two basic views of our nation's power structure the elite and pluralism models.

Elite Model

Karl Marx essentially believed that nineteenth century representative democracy was a shape.

He argued that industrial societies were dominated by relatively small numbers of people who owned factories and controlled natural resources.

In Marx's view, government officials and military leaders were essentially servants of the capitalist class and followed their wishes therefore, any key decisions made by politicians inevitably reflected the interests of the dominant bourgeoisie Like others who hold an elite model of power relations, Marx thus believed that society is ruled by a small group of individuals who share a common set of political and economic interests.

The Power Elite . In his pioneering work. The Power Elite , sociologist C. Wright Mills described the existence of a small ruling elite of military, industrial, and governmental leaders who controlled the fate of the United States. Power rested in the hands of a few, both inside and outside of government -- the power elite . In Mill's words:

The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women, they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. They arc in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society.

In Mills's model, the power structure of the United States can be illustrated by the use of a pyramid. At the top are the corporate rich, leaders of the executive branch of government, and heads of the military (whom Kills called the "warlords"). Below this triumvirate are local opinion leaders, members of the legislative branch of government, and leaders of special-interest groups. Mills contended that such individuals and groups would basically follow the wishes of the dominant power elite. At the bottom of society are the unorganized, exploited masses.

This power elite model is, in many respects, similar to the work of Karl Marx. The most striking difference is that Mills felt that the economically powerful coordinate their maneuvers with the military and political establishments in order to serve their mutual interests. Yet, reminiscent of Marx. Mills argued that the corporate rich were perhaps the most powerful element of the power elite (first among "equals"). And, of course, there is a further dramatic parallel between the work of these conflict theorists The powerless masses at the bottom of Mills's power elite model certainly bring to mind Marx's portrait of the oppressed workers of the world, who have "nothing to lose but their chains".

Mills failed to provide detailed case studies which would substantiate the interrelationship among members of the power elite. Instead, he suggested that such foreign policy decisions as America's entry into the Korean war reflected a determination by business and military leaders that each could benefit from such armed conflict. In Mills s view, such a sharing of perspectives was facilitated by the frequent interchange of commanding roles among the elite. For example, a banker might become the leader of a federal regulatory commission overseeing financial institutions, and a retired general might move to an executive position with a major defense contracting firm.

A fundamental element in Mills's thesis is that the power elite not only has relatively few members but also operates as a self-conscious, cohesive unit. Although not necessarily diabolical or ruthless, the elite comprises similar types of people who regularly interact with one another and have essentially the same political and economic interests. Mills's power elite is not a conspiracy but rather a community of interest and sentiment among a small number of influential Americans.

Admittedly, Mills failed to clarify when the elite acts and when it tolerates protests. Nevertheless, his challenging theories forced scholars to look more critically at the "democratic" political system of the United States.

The Ruling Class

Sociologist G. William Domhoff agreed with Mills that American society is run by a powerful elite. But, rather than fully accepting Mills's power elite model, Domhoff argued that the United States is controlled by a social upper class "that is a ruling class by virtue of its dominant role in the economy and government". This socially cohesive ruling class owns 20 to 25 percent of all privately held wealth and 45 to 50 percent of all privately held common stock.

Unlike Mills, Domhoff was quite specific about who belongs to this social upper class. Membership comes through being pan of a family recognized in The Social Register -- the directory of the social elite in many American cities. Attendance at prestigious private schools and membership in exclusive social clubs are further indications that a person comes from America's social upper class. Domhoff estimates that about 0.5 percent of the American population (or 1 of every 200 people) belongs to this social and political elite.

Of course, this would mean that the ruling class has more than 1 million members and could hardly achieve the cohesiveness that Mills attributed to the power elite. However, Domhoff adds that the social upper class as a whole does not rule the nation. Instead, members of this class who have assumed leadership roles within the corporate community or the nation's policy-planning network join with high-level employees of profit-making and nonprofit institutions controlled by the social upper class to exercise power.

In Domhoff's view, the ruling class should not be seen in a conspiratorial way, as "sinister men lurking behind the throne." On the contrary they tend to hold public positions of authority. Almost all important appointive government posts -- including those of diplomats and cabinet members -- are filled by members of the social upper class. Domhoff contends that members of this class dominate powerful corporations, foundations, universities, and the executive branch of government. They control presidential nominations and the political party process through campaign contributions. In addition, the ruling class exerts a significant (though not absolute) influence within Congress and units of state and local government.

Perhaps the major difference between the elite models of Mills and Domhoff is that Mills insisted on the relative autonomy of the political elite and attached great significance to the independent power of the military. By contrast, Domhoff suggests that high-level government and military leaders serve the interests of the social upper class. Both theorists, in line with a Marxian approach, assume that the rich are interested only in what benefits them financially. Furthermore, as advocates of elite models of power. Mills and Domhoff argue that the masses of American people have no real influence on the decisions of the powerful.

One criticism of the elite model is that its advocates sometimes suggest that elites are always victorious. With this in mind, sociologist J. Alien Whitt (1982) examined the efforts of California's business elites to support urban mass transit. He found that lobbying by these elites was successful in San Francisco but failed in Los Angeles. Whitt points out that opponents of policies backed by elites can mobilize to thwart their implementation.

Domhoff admits that the ruling class does not exercise total control over American society. However, he counters that this elite is able to set political terms under which other groups and classes must operate. Consequently, although the ruling class may lose on a particular issue, it will not allow serious challenges to laws which guarantee its economic privileges and political domination.

Pluralist Model

Several social scientists have questioned the elite models of power relations proposed by Marx, Mills, Domhoff, and other conflict theorists. Quite simply, the critics insist that power in the United States is more widely shared than the elite model indicates. In their view, a pluralist model more accurately describes the American political system. According to the pluralist model , "many conflicting groups within the community have access to government officials and compete with one another in an effort to influence policy decisions".

Veto Groups . David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd suggested that the American political system could best be understood through examination of the power of veto groups. The term veto groups refers to interest groups that have the capacity to prevent the exercise of power by others. Functionally, they serve to increase political participation by preventing the concentration of political power. Examples cited by Riesman include farm groups, labor unions, professional associations, and racial and ethnic groups. Whereas Mills pointed to the dangers of rule by an undemocratic power elite, Riesman insisted that veto groups could effectively paralyze the nation's political processes by blocking anyone from exercising needed leadership functions. In Riesman's words, "The only leaders of national scope left in the United States are those who can placate the veto groups".

Dahl's Study of Pluralism . Community studies of power have also supported the pluralist model. One of the most famous -- an investigation of decision making in New Haven, Connecticut -- was reported by Robert Dahl in his book, Who Governs? (1961). Dahl found that while the number of people involved in any important decision was rather small, community power was nonetheless diffuse. Few political actors exercised decision-making power on all issues. Therefore, one individual or group might be influential in a battle over urban renewal but at the same time might have little impact over educational policy. Several other studies of local politics, in such communities as Chicago and Oberlin, Ohio, further document that monolithic power structures do not operate on the level of local government.

Just as the elite model has been challenged on political and methodological grounds, the pluralist model has been subjected to serious questioning. Domhoff (1978) reexamined Dahl's study of decision making in New Haven and argued that Dahl and other pluralists had failed to trace how local elites prominent in decision making were part of a larger national ruling class. In addition, studies of community power, such as Dahl's work in New Haven, can examine decision making only on issues which become pan of the political agenda. This focus fails to address the possible power of elites to keep certain matters entirely out of the realm of government debate. Conflict theorists contend that these elites will not allow any outcome of the political process which threatens their dominance. Indeed, they may even be strong enough to block discussion of such measures by policymakers.

[Jul 10, 2019] Jeffrey Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot by MICHELLE GOLDBERG

Notable quotes:
"... Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls ..."
"... Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she's started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. "What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it," she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, "all mentioned the girls, as an aside." ..."
"... Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. ..."
"... In the deal he never admitted having actual sex with any of the girls, and he insists he thought they were over 18, so basically all he has ever got a deal on was acts well short of sex with 16-18 years olds who were paid. ..."
"... Some of them named in the old indictment are now saying they were 2 years younger and had sex with all these VIPs. Doubt it. Still, Epstein's previous admissions mean nobody will believe him if a girl says she was 14 not 18, and he is a tempting target tor civil suits which testifying in a criminal case are a basis for. ..."
"... Cernovich and Dershowitz filed their suit on 19 JAN 2017, 10 days after Trump's inauguration. Obama's DoJ screwed up and the judge ruled in their favor 2.5 years later. Then Epstein's immediately arrested. ..."
"... This RT article reminds us the Republicans tried to use Bill's links with Epstein during the 2016 election, while providing other details. ..."
"... Perhaps Trump is the target? Time will tell. ..."
"... If Epstein was Mossad, then what is arch-zio Dershowitz doing in the trap? ..."
"... Mobster jeffrey epstein's wealth didn't come from being a "financier" ( he is a dull wit w/o market knowledge), it came from his fellow co-mobster , steven hoffenberger , swindling over $650 million from gullible goys in Towers Financial. ..."
"... Possible Mossad connection via Ghislaine Maxwell. https://www.unz.com/isteve/jeffrey-epstein-and-foreign-intelligence/ ..."
Jul 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

Originally from THE NEW YORK TIMES • JULY 9, 2019 • 17 COMMENTS

Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls

In 2003, the journalist Vicky Ward profiled Jeffrey Epstein , the financier indicted Monday on charges of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls, for Vanity Fair. Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money. It detailed dubious business dealings and mentioned that Epstein often had lots of beautiful young women around. But it left out Ward's most important finding.

Twelve years later, in The Daily Beast , Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record. But shortly before the story went to press, Ward wrote, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut that section, saying, of Epstein, "He's sensitive about the young women." ( In a statement on Monday , Carter said Ward's reporting hadn't been solid enough.)

Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she's started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. "What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it," she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, "all mentioned the girls, as an aside."

On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein's arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.

Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable, like a season of "True Detective" penned by a doctrinaire Marxist.


Mungerite , says: July 9, 2019 at 8:50 pm GMT

The funny thing about the Trump quote in the original NYMag article on Epstein is that it's probably the most honest description of the guy, with a none-too-subtle nod to the man's predilections.

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

foolisholdman , says: July 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm GMT

"The Ultimate Symbol"? I beg leave to doubt it! I suspect that the plutocratic rot is very wide and very deep and "Kiddy fiddling" which is what Jeffrey Epstein seems to be accused of, is only a small (and not the worst) part of it. If he "sings" I think there is no telling how far it will go, but probably he won't and this whole evil mess will slink back into the shadows and silence, with the active help of the media.
Come to think about it, probably even if he does sing, that too will be supressed.

George , says: July 9, 2019 at 10:29 pm GMT

China feared CIA worked with Sheldon Adelson's Macau casinos to snare officials

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/22/china-cia-sheldon-adelson-macau-casinos

Sean , says: July 10, 2019 at 2:07 am GMT

Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record.

They said they were all over 18 in other words. He certainly had young women about but Michael Wolff said they ones he say on his plane were visibly late teens or twenty.

No way in hell would someone be trusted with billionaire's money who had ovbiously under age girls around him and was heading for a plea deal in which he might be under so much pressure he would reveal his clients' financial crimes . And it is hardly in keeping with the Gatsby image so important to him. I think he had the young but legal girls for show, no one saw the obvious children but him. He kept the criminal conduct away from visitors, especially ones he posed as a philanthropist to. Someone in his position could not afford to get a reputation for having criminal culpability in anything. He was tax scam artist, and secret sex offender.

On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them.

People with his money rarely plead guilty. He admitted guilt to get the deal. The new charges he is arrested on say he was the only customer or client , so "trafficking" is quite deceptive.

In the deal he never admitted having actual sex with any of the girls, and he insists he thought they were over 18, so basically all he has ever got a deal on was acts well short of sex with 16-18 years olds who were paid.

Some of them named in the old indictment are now saying they were 2 years younger and had sex with all these VIPs. Doubt it. Still, Epstein's previous admissions mean nobody will believe him if a girl says she was 14 not 18, and he is a tempting target tor civil suits which testifying in a criminal case are a basis for. I don't see him as being all that powerful because money makes you a continuing target of people wanting financial restitution from people down on their luck and no longer able to make money from their looks.

Getting a sweet plea deal for those things was just storing up trouble for the future for someone as rich as him.

karlof1 , Jul 11 2019 5:28 utc | 130
mrtmbrnmn @127

Cernovich and Dershowitz filed their suit on 19 JAN 2017, 10 days after Trump's inauguration. Obama's DoJ screwed up and the judge ruled in their favor 2.5 years later. Then Epstein's immediately arrested.

This RT article reminds us the Republicans tried to use Bill's links with Epstein during the 2016 election, while providing other details. Maybe the stories used in the Steele Dossier on Trump aren't from Russia at all but were collected through Epstein's operation?

Perhaps Trump is the target? Time will tell.

Shyaku , Jul 11 2019 5:38 utc | 132
Epstein, being richer, gets to act out Weiner's fantasy for approximately the same price as the fantasy. If Epstein was Mossad, then what is arch-zio Dershowitz doing in the trap?

- Shyaku

Krollchem , Jul 11 2019 5:46 utc | 133
"Jeffrey Epstein shipped a shredder from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his Palm Beach home in July 2008, shortly after reaching a non-prosecution agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, maritime records show. Then, in March of this year, shortly after a Florida federal judge invalidated that agreement, Epstein shipped a tile and carpet extractor from the Virgin Islands to his Manhattan townhouse, the records show."

https://theintercept.com/2019/07/09/jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-shredder/

anon , Jul 11 2019 7:19 utc | 135

Mobster jeffrey epstein's wealth didn't come from being a "financier" ( he is a dull wit w/o market knowledge), it came from his fellow co-mobster , steven hoffenberger , swindling over $650 million from gullible goys in Towers Financial.

I believe nearly all of these ((( "financiers" and "hedge fund managers" ))) are just money laundering for the massive Israhell mob. Most are operated from offshore banks, without auditing, I.e. soros' quantum fund.

curious man , Jul 11 2019 8:52 utc | 138
Posted by: asdf | Jul 10 2019 18:13 utc | 1

Possible Mossad connection via Ghislaine Maxwell. https://www.unz.com/isteve/jeffrey-epstein-and-foreign-intelligence/

Spying for Israel Is Consequence Free
http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/spying-for-israel-is-consequence-free/

[Jul 10, 2019] Neoliberal elite suicide rate might increases dramatically over the next six months.

Notable quotes:
"... US gives Israel billions each year. Israel gives some of that money to Epstein for a hedge fund front. Epstein buys island, planes, mansions, power and influence. Hires attractive under age girls for sexual acts with elites. Tapes the sexual acts. Sends tapes back to Mossad. Blackmails elites for money and favors. Sends money and favors back to Mossad. Epstein keeps the vig. Elites just **** their pants. Elites suicide rate increases dramatically over the next six months. ..."
"... Yes, the blackmailing would not just be for money but foreign policy actions too. And it isn't just the US, it's the UK too. Hence both suckers are trying to start a war with Iran. ..."
"... CCI has the goods on a third of congress and the whole msm. ..."
"... I am not holding my breath for your prediction xbkrisback. Appointing Comey's daughter as the chief prosecutor tells a sorry tale. And Comey and Mueller are best buds. ..."
"... Epstein will not give up the big names. Bubba took 26 trips to Pedo Island on the Lolita Express to refresh his tan. ..."
"... The power structure runs on pedophilia. And the horror of it is that pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the abuse of children. Where is Carlos Danger's laptop with Huma's huge "life insurance" file on it? You know, the one that made grizzled NYPD detectives puke when they opened it. ..."
"... Epstein outdoes Berlusconi ..."
"... Have another look at Tony Podesta's art collection. http://ibankcoin.com/zeropointnow/2016/11/26/sick-lets-revisit-the-podesta-penchant-for-pedophilic-cannibalistic-and-satanic-art/#sthash.6jj0GpQo.dpbs ..."
"... I never understood why people claimed Podesta had child abuse links until I read that article. It is enough to make even a hardened Podesta supporter cringe. ..."
"... Coulter's take on this sounds very plausible, because there certainly was evidence gathering by Epstein. ..."
"... By the way, that was the favorite tactic of the old pervert that ran the FBI ... J. Edgar Hoover. He would gather evidence, then have a couple of his agents pay the offender a visit, warning them to be careful, while delivering the clear message that the Director has the goods on you. ..."
"... If Epstein goes to prison (a real prison) for any length of time, that would negate the idea of state sponsorship, would it not? Conversely, if he gets another sweetheart deal, that would confirm it. ..."
Jul 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

xbkrisback , 1 hour ago

I think I figured this scam out. US gives Israel billions each year. Israel gives some of that money to Epstein for a hedge fund front. Epstein buys island, planes, mansions, power and influence. Hires attractive under age girls for sexual acts with elites. Tapes the sexual acts. Sends tapes back to Mossad. Blackmails elites for money and favors. Sends money and favors back to Mossad. Epstein keeps the vig. Elites just **** their pants. Elites suicide rate increases dramatically over the next six months.

smacker , 1 hour ago

Yes, the blackmailing would not just be for money but foreign policy actions too. And it isn't just the US, it's the UK too. Hence both suckers are trying to start a war with Iran.

cayman , 46 minutes ago

CCI has the goods on a third of congress and the whole msm. It's why elections haven't mattered in decades. It's why congress can have a 9% approval rating and yet nothing changes. CIA has so many offshore sources of revenue now, it is sovereign now.

RoyalDraco , 17 minutes ago

I am not holding my breath for your prediction xbkrisback. Appointing Comey's daughter as the chief prosecutor tells a sorry tale. And Comey and Mueller are best buds.

Epstein will not give up the big names. Bubba took 26 trips to Pedo Island on the Lolita Express to refresh his tan.

5 years at Club Fed and a list of names no one ever heard of. The power structure runs on pedophilia. And the horror of it is that pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the abuse of children. Where is Carlos Danger's laptop with Huma's huge "life insurance" file on it? You know, the one that made grizzled NYPD detectives puke when they opened it.

HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago

Epstein outdoes Berlusconi ... Takes bunga bunga parties to the next level - and on the road - in the air - island hopping

Coulter is right ... Nobody in financial circles ever bumped into Epstein. Nobody, nobody knows the guy outside of the teenage ***** connection.

johnwburns , 1 hour ago

Have another look at Tony Podesta's art collection. http://ibankcoin.com/zeropointnow/2016/11/26/sick-lets-revisit-the-podesta-penchant-for-pedophilic-cannibalistic-and-satanic-art/#sthash.6jj0GpQo.dpbs

cat2005 , 21 minutes ago

I never understood why people claimed Podesta had child abuse links until I read that article. It is enough to make even a hardened Podesta supporter cringe.

I need some mind bleach after reading that.

RayUSA , 1 hour ago

Obviously, the more powerful people that are involved, the less chance this has of going anywhere.

Coulter's take on this sounds very plausible, because there certainly was evidence gathering by Epstein.

There would be no reason for that unless it was going to be used in the future for black mail.

By the way, that was the favorite tactic of the old pervert that ran the FBI ... J. Edgar Hoover. He would gather evidence, then have a couple of his agents pay the offender a visit, warning them to be careful, while delivering the clear message that the Director has the goods on you.

herbivore , 2 hours ago

If Epstein goes to prison (a real prison) for any length of time, that would negate the idea of state sponsorship, would it not? Conversely, if he gets another sweetheart deal, that would confirm it.

[Jul 06, 2019] Brave Congressman Blasts 2-Party System as 'Existential Threat to America' then Quits His Party

Notable quotes:
"... In an inspiring op-ed on the 4th of July, the now-former Republican Congressman Justin Amash took to destroying the idea of identity politics, notably the two-party system, which he says is destroying the country. ..."
"... Amash declared that he is no longer going to identify with a party and declared himself an independent. ..."
Jul 04, 2019 | thefreethoughtproject.com

Brian James July 5, 2019 at 11:24

July 4, 2019 Brave Congressman Blasts 2-Party System as 'Existential Threat to America' then Quits His Party

In an inspiring op-ed on the 4th of July, the now-former Republican Congressman Justin Amash took to destroying the idea of identity politics, notably the two-party system, which he says is destroying the country.

Amash declared that he is no longer going to identify with a party and declared himself an independent.

https://thefreethoughtproject.com/congressman-declares-independence-america

[Jul 02, 2019] A lot of wanderers in the US political desert recognize that all the two party duopoly can offer is a choice of mirages

Jan 02, 2019 | caucus99percent.co

--

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages.

Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.

-- lotlizard

[Jun 30, 2019] Aggressive US Lies and Misleads to Justify War on Iran by William Boardman

Notable quotes:
"... The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests. ..."
"... Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown. ..."
"... Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began: ..."
"... He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. ..."
"... Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. ..."
"... There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack ..."
"... Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise: ..."
"... The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

-- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcement , June 13, 2013

The secretary of state delivered this appallingly Orwellian official assessment of the US government within hours of the five explosions on two tankers, well before any credible investigation establishing more than minimal facts could be carried out. As is his habit, Mike Pompeo flatly lied about whatever might be real in the Gulf of Oman, and most American media ran with the lies as if they were or might be true. There is almost no chance that Mike Pompeo and the US government are telling the truth about this event, as widespread domestic and international skepticism attests.

Pompeo's official assessment was false even in its staging. For most of his four-minute appearance, Pompeo stood framed by two pictures behind him, each showing a tanker with a fire amidships. This was a deliberate visual lie. The two pictures showed the same tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair , from different angles. The other tanker, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous , did not catch fire and was not shown.

First, what actually happened, as best we can tell five days later? In the early morning of June 13, two unrelated tankers were heading south out of the Strait of Hormuz, sailing in open water in the Gulf of Oman, roughly 20 miles off the south coast of Iran. The tankers were most likely outside Iran's territorial waters, but within Iran's contiguous zone as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea . At different times, some 30 miles apart, the two tankers were attacked by weapons unknown, launched by parties unknown, for reasons unknown. The first reported distress call was 6:12 a.m. local time. No one has yet claimed responsibility for either attack. The crew of each tanker abandoned ship soon after the explosions and were rescued by ships in the area, including Iranian naval vessels, who took the Front Altair crew to an Iranian port.

Even this much was not certain in the early afternoon of June 13 when Mike Pompeo came to the lectern at the State Department to deliver his verdict:

It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.

Pompeo did not identify the unnamed intelligence entities, if any, within the government who made this assessment. He offered no evidence to support the assessment. He did offer something of an argument that began:

This assessment is based on intelligence .

He didn't say what intelligence. He didn't say whose intelligence. American intelligence assets and technology are all over the region generating reams of intelligence day in, day out. Then there are the intelligence agencies of the Arab police states bordering the Persian Gulf. They, too, are busy collecting intelligence 24/7, although they are sometimes loath to share. Pompeo didn't mention it, but according to CNN an unnamed US official admitted that the US had a Reaper Drone in the air near the two tankers before they were attacked. He also claimed that Iran had fired a missile at the drone, but missed. As CNN inanely spins it, "it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack." As if the US doesn't have information on Iranian movements all the time . More accurately, this is the first admission that the US had operational weaponry in the area prior to the attack. After intelligence, Pompeo continued:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used .

Pompeo did not name a single weapon used. Early reporting claimed the attackers used torpedoes or mines, a claim that became inoperative as it became clear that all the damage to the tankers was well above the waterline. There is little reason to believe Pompeo had any actual knowledge of what weapons were used, unless one was a Reaper Drone. He went on:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation

The "level of expertise needed" to carry out these attacks on a pair of sitting duck tankers does not appear to be that great. Yes, the Iranian military probably has the expertise, as do the militaries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, or others with a stake in provoking a crisis in the region. And those who lack the expertise still have the money with which to hire expert surrogates. The number of credible suspects, known and unknown, with an interest in doing harm to Iran is easily in double figures. Leading any serious list should be the US. That's perfectly logical, so Pompeo tried to divert attention from the obvious:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping .

There are NO confirmed "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," and even if there were, they would prove nothing. Pompeo's embarrassingly irrelevant list that follows includes six examples, only one of which involved a shipping attack. The one example was the May 12, 2019, attack on four ships at anchor in the deep water port of Fujairah. Even the multinational investigation organized by the UAE could not determine who did it. The UAE reported to the UN Security Council that the perpetrator was likely some unnamed "state actor." The logical suspects and their surrogates are the same as those for the most recent attack.

Instead of "recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping," Pompeo offers Iran's decades-old threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (which it's never done), together with three attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, an unattributed rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, and an unattributed car bomb in Afghanistan. Seriously, if that's all he's got, he's got nothing. But he's not done with the disinformation exercise:

This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.

The whole proxy group thing is redundant, covered by "the level of expertise needed" mentioned earlier. Pompeo doesn't name any proxy group here, he doesn't explain how he could know there's no proxy group that could carry out such an attack, and he just throws word garbage at the wall and hopes something sticks that will make you believe – no evidence necessary – that Iran is evil beyond redemption:

Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.

The attacks in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all been provoked by the US and its allies. The US has long been a clear threat to international peace and security, except when the US was actually trashing peace and security, as it did in Iraq, as it seems to want to do in Iran. There is, indeed, "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension," but it's a campaign by the US. The current phase began when the Trump administration pulled out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran. The US wages economic warfare on Iran even though Iran continues to abide by the Trump-trashed treaty. All the other signatories and inspectors confirm that Iran has abided by the agreement. But Iran is approaching a point of violation, which it has been warning about for some time. The other signatories allow the US to bully them into enforcing US sanctions at their own cost against a country in compliance with its promises. China, Russia, France, GB, Germany, and the EU are all craven in the face of US threats. That's what the US wants from Iran.

Lately, Trump and Pompeo and their ilk have been whining about not wanting war and claiming they want to negotiate, while doing nothing to make negotiation more possible. Iran has observed US actions and has rejected negotiating with an imperial power with a decades-long record of bad faith. Lacking any serious act of good faith by the US, does Iran have any other rational choice? Pompeo makes absolutely clear just how irrational, how dishonest, how implacable and untrustworthy the US is when he accuses Iran of:

40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

This is Big Lie country. Forty years ago, the Iranians committed their original sin – they overthrew one of the world's most brutal dictatorships, imposed on them by the US. Then they took Americans hostage, and the US has been playing the victim ever since, out of all proportion to reality or justice. But the Pompeos of this world still milk it for all it's worth. What about "unprovoked aggression," who does that? The US list is long and criminal, including its support of Saddam Hussein's war of aggression against Iran. Iran's list of "unprovoked aggressions" is pretty much zero, unless you go back to the Persian Empire. No wonder Pompeo took no question on his statement. The Big Lie is supposed to be enough.

The US is stumbling down a path toward war with no justification. Democrats should have objected forcefully and continuously long since. Democrats in the House should have put peace with Iran on the table as soon as they came into the majority. They should do it now. Democratic presidential candidates should join Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren in forthrightly opposing war with Iran. Leading a huge public outcry may not keep the president from lying us into war with Iran any more than it kept the president from lying us into war with Iraq. But an absence of outcry will just make it easier for this rogue nation to commit a whole new set of war crimes.

Intellectually, the case for normal relations with Iran is easy. There is literally no good reason to maintain hostility, not even the possibility, remote as it is, of an Iranian nuclear weapon (especially now that Trump is helping the Saudis go nuclear). But politically, the case for normal relations with Iran is hard, especially because forty years of propaganda demonizing Iran has deep roots. To make a sane case on Iran takes real courage: one has to speak truth to a nation that believes its lies to itself.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News . Read other articles by William .

[Jun 27, 2019] Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens

Highly recommended!
Jun 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens JOHN CHUCKMAN , Jun 26, 2019 2:10:12 PM | 23

Yesterday the news agencies Associated Press and Reuters mistranslated a speech by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. They made it sound as if Rouhani insulted U.S. President Donald Trump as 'mentally retarded'. Rouhani never said that.

The agencies previously made a similar 'mistake'.

A 2005 speech by then President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was famously misquoted. Israel should be wiped off map, says Iran's president headlined the Guardian at that time. Others used similar headlines. The New York Times wrote :

Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be "wiped off the map" and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.
...
Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

The statement was used by the G.W. Bush administration and others to whip up hostility against Iran :

Ever since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map." Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of militant Muslim groups are rarely mentioned without reference to the infamous map remark.

Here, for example, is R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, recently: "Given the radical nature of Iran under Ahmadinejad and its stated wish to wipe Israel off the map of the world, it is entirely unconvincing that we could or should live with a nuclear Iran."

However Ahmedinejad never used those words :

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and critic of American policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said in an e-mail exchange, "I smell the whiff of war propaganda."

Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

Despite the above and other explanations the false "wipe Israel off the map" translation never died. Years later it still reappeared in Guardian pieces which required it to issue multiple corrections and clarifications.

Now, as the Trump administration is pushing for war on Iran, a similar mistranslation miraculously happened. It were again 'western' news agencies who lightened the fire:

The Associated Press @AP - 7:52 utc - 25 Jun 2019

BREAKING: Iran's President Rouhani mocks President Trump, says the White House is "afflicted by mental retardation."

Farsi speakers pointed out that the Rouhani never used the Farsi word for "retarded":

Sina Toossi @SinaToossi - 13:49 utc - 25 Jun 2019

A lot of Western media is reporting that Iranian President Rouhani called Trump "mentally retarded." This is inaccurate.
Regarding Trump, he just said "no wise person would take such an action [the new sanctions imposed]."

Reza H. Akbari @rezahakbari - 15:58 utc - 25 Jun 2019

Absolutely incorrect. There is a word for "retarded" in Persian & Rouhani didn't use it. Prior to him saying "mental disability" he even prefaced his comment by saying "mental weakness." Those who speak Persian can listen & judge for themselves. Here is a video clip of Rouhani's comment: link

But the damage was already done:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 14:42 utc - 25 Jun 2019

Iran leadership doesn't understand the words "nice" or "compassion," they never have. Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone..

....The wonderful Iranian people are suffering, and for no reason at all. Their leadership spends all of its money on Terror, and little on anything else. The U.S. has not forgotten Iran's use of IED's & EFP's (bombs), which killed 2000 Americans, and wounded many more...

.... Iran's very ignorant and insulting statement , put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!

Reuters , which also peddled the mistranslation, gleefully connected the dots :

Cont. reading: Western News Agencies Mistranslate Iran's President Speech - It Is Not The First Time Such 'Error' Happens

Excellent summary of how malevolence works in many subtle ways.

Jonathan Gillispie , Jun 26, 2019 1:11:48 PM | 4

Trump was right more than he realizes that the press is the enemy of the people. They goad nations into unnecessary and bloody war.

Don Wiscacho , Jun 26, 2019 1:32:54 PM | 13
This follows in the footsteps of a rich history of mistranslating and obfuscating which is rarely, if ever, corrected by our Guardians of Truth. I will not hold my breath for AP to pull its tweet out issue any sort of correction. The war machine is revving up, truth be damned.

To add a few obfuscations to the list of mistranslations: the Palestinian intifada. Sounds scary, no? Violence against the benevolent Israelis. Because what does intifada actually mean? Uprising, which by its nature suggests oppression, something which just 'can't' be happening in Palestine, hence the need for intifada.
Or take jihad, 'a pillor' of Islam. Again, very scary, as jihad 'means' suicide bombs and killing infidels. What the Guardians of Truth never mention is that jihad in Islam is a very, very broad term that includes such things as helping the poor or less fortunate, educating oneself, quiet reflection, and prayer. Jihad as meaning 'holy war' was a sense meaning derived much later than the founding of the religion, as a reaction to very real threats to believers of the time, the Crusades and Mongol invasions. That this specific sense meaning was essentially confined to history afterward, only to be revived by Wahhabists and takfiris, and one not believed in by the vast majority of Muslims, is never explained. 'Cause all them crazy Muslims believe in jihad!

In all cases where the boogeyman of the day needs concocting, rest assured the 'mainstream' press, with AP in the lead, will be there to build a gleaming edifice mistruths, omissions, and lies.

Uncle Jon , Jun 26, 2019 1:36:27 PM | 14
Ahmadinejad's true and correct translation reads: "Zionism should be wiped from the pages of history."

Now who can argue with that.

jared , Jun 26, 2019 1:43:18 PM | 17
In approximately 17 months, the american public can make strides to fix this mess.
I guess that is a long time for the iranians, but still maybe best option.
dh , Jun 26, 2019 1:51:03 PM | 18
Just in case there is any doubt in American minds here is the Israeli Ambassador to the UN. He thinks the sanctions are working well. Iran is panicking.

Good job guys. Keep squeezing.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/israeli-ambassador-iran-panicking-increased-us-sanctions

wagelaborer , Jun 26, 2019 2:43:01 PM | 31
They mistranslate Trump all the time, or they spin what he says. It is amazing to watch.

For instance, at the Helsinki meeting, where he met with Putin and they discussed multiple topics, but the press ignored any topic but demanding that Trump denounce Putin and "admit" that Putin helped him steal the election, and that he was therefore not the legitimate president.

Obviously, Trump was not going to say that, so he said that he was the legitimate president, and the mockingbird media spun that into "the president is a traitor to America because he said that 17 national intelligence agencies are lying".

michaelj72 , Jun 26, 2019 4:02:36 PM | 40
.....The ministers lie, the professors lie, the television lies,
the priests lie .
These lies mean that the country wants to die.
Lie after lie starts out into the prairie grass,
like enormous caravans of Conestoga wagons .

And a long desire for death flows out, guiding the
enormous caravans from beneath,
stringing together the vague and foolish words.
It is a desire to eat death,
to gobble it down,
to rush on it like a cobra with mouth open
It's a desire to take death inside,
to feel it burning inside, pushing out velvety hairs,
like a clothes brush in the intestines --
This is the thrill that leads the President on to lie....


Robert Bly, The Teeth Mother Naked at Last, originally published by City Lights books 1970

Virgile , Jun 26, 2019 5:10:59 PM | 48
Maybe the translation is inacurate but the message had the expected reaction from Trump: Tweet furor.
It is good that Trump realizes that he does not have the monopole of insulting leaders.
The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war. How could it give a lesson to Iran who won a 8 years war against Iraq despite the support that the USA, the Gulf countries and Western countries gave to Iraq.
Loud noise and indecisive actions: The disaster of the USA foreign policy
Abx , Jun 26, 2019 5:20:42 PM | 49
I remember watching CNN translate Khamenei's "Nuclear Power" to "Nuclear Weapons" right on live TV in 2013. This is not new.
/div> Virgile "The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war". The US won a war against Grenada [population 95,000] I would go so far as to say they whupped ass. True there were only 64 Cuban soldiers there [security guards] All members of the US armed forces were involved and 5,000 medals were given out. Ra Ra USA.

Posted by: Harry Law , Jun 26, 2019 5:29:37 PM | 50

Virgile "The USA is a country that since WWII has never won any war". The US won a war against Grenada [population 95,000] I would go so far as to say they whupped ass. True there were only 64 Cuban soldiers there [security guards] All members of the US armed forces were involved and 5,000 medals were given out. Ra Ra USA.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 26, 2019 5:29:37 PM | 50

Kooshy , Jun 26, 2019 5:45:20 PM | 53
b-
I am a Persian speaker and is true that president Rouhani never said Trump is retarded, we now have way passed the point that insults can matte. Nevertheless it was better if President Rouhani would have called Trump and the rest of the ruling US regime like what the whole world has now come to understand, a true and unique collection of retards on a shining hill.
0use4msm , Jun 26, 2019 6:24:08 PM | 57
Reminds me of when Nikita Khruschev attempted to explain in 1956 his view that that capitalism would destroy itself from within by quoting Marx: "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers." This was notoriously mistranslated into English as "We will bury you", as if the Soviets were out to kill all westerners themselves. Of course this mistranslated was quoted time and time again in western media, fueling Cold War paranoia for years to come.
juandonjuan , Jun 26, 2019 6:31:20 PM | 59
blue @ 19 The news media are wedded to the state which is wedded to the banking system which are all subsidiaries of global capitalism. They don't need to correct themselves. They may have the occasional family feud, but they're all on the same team. They will admit to "mistakes" being made, but only long after it makes no difference.
We have a FREE PRESS in America-Pravda on the Potomac, Izvestia on the Hudson.
Have a look sometime at the Venn Diagrams that portray the overlapping/interlocking memberships of the regulatory/financial/corporate leadership class.
But more than that, whatever the idea of a free press once meant, with the rise of digital corporate networking "platforms", not subject to any accountability, the barriers to entry of any competing narratives to the mainstream discourse are nearly insurmountable. Except maybe through subversion?
What is missing is a true public 'Marketplace of Ideas'
ADKC , Jun 26, 2019 7:00:39 PM | 63
The deliberate mis-translations of non-english speaking "adversaries" of the US is common in the msm. Putin is frequently and deliberately mis-translated to make him appear dictatorial and aggressive.
pj , Jun 26, 2019 7:11:03 PM | 65
I listened to Rohani's speech. He said that if JCPOA is bad, it is bad for all parties; and if it is good, it is good for all parties. They cannot expect for JCPOA to be bad for them and good for us. They withdrew from the JCPOA and expect us to stay with the agreement. This is what he meant when he said: White house has been affected by mental inability and mental disability.
Peter AU 1 , Jun 26, 2019 7:26:38 PM | 72
ADKC
Iran is at war. US and gang are trying to destroy Iran as a nation. The biggest asset in times of war is deception. Used by both the attacker and the attacked.
karlof1 , Jun 26, 2019 7:39:51 PM | 75
Khamenei has Tweeted a series of tweets, and his scribe has posted what he tweeted along with other words at his website in English so there's no mistranslation. Here's one of the series of 6:

"The graceful Iranian nation has been accused & insulted by world's most vicious regime, the U.S., which is a source of wars, conflicts & plunder. Iranian nation won't give up over such insults. Iranians have been wronged by oppressive sanctions but not weakened & remain powerful."

They were made 14+ hours ago, yet I'm the first to post notice of them here?!

goldhoarder , Jun 26, 2019 8:39:33 PM | 80
The USA government excels at propaganda. It always has. Doesn't matter if it babies and incubators, mistranslated leaders of targeted countries, or supposed mass graves. BTW... what ever happened to all those mass graves in Iraq? HRW was going to dig them all up and document them. Hundreds of thousands. Most Americans I talk to still believe in this. Was it true? Saddam himself had claimed it wasn't true. That it was Kurdish propaganda to gain sympathy. He claimed the Anfal campaign was only to push the Kurds off the border so he could control arms smuggling and that casualties were minimal. Looking into the search. They are graves with a few hundred here and there but where are the rest of the bodies? If you google Iraq mass graves there are more articles about ISIS mass graves than the Anfal campaign. There were people killed in the South during the Shia uprising after the first gulf war than there was for the Anfal campaign. Was that a lie too? Nearly every American believes it still.

PM admits graves claim 'untrue'
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor

Sat 17 Jul 2004 19.35 EDT First published on Sat 17 Jul 2004 19.35 EDT
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/jul/18/iraq.iraq1

Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.
The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence, quoted by MPs and widely published, including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet on Iraq's mass graves.

In that publication - Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves produced by USAID, the US government aid distribution agency, Blair is quoted from 20 November last year: 'We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.'

Arata , Jun 26, 2019 10:40:53 PM | 98
Anyone who can undestand Farsi ( Persian language) can litsen Rouhani's speech. He did not name "Trump", he said " White House".
I have been watching CNN news channel who said that Rouhani made a personal attack on Trump! That was not true.

There was no personal attack on Rouhani's speech.
Importantly, the context of the speech and conclusion is diffent from western media reports and western translations.

I would like give few links of some Iranian news agencies, reporting Rouhani's speech for International use, as reference here:

1) FrasNews Agency

Rouhani said:

"These days, we see the White House in confusion and we are witnessing undue and ridiculous words and adoption of a scandalous policy,"

..."The US sanctions are crime against humanity. The US recent measures indicate their ultimate failure. The new US measures are the result of their frustration and confusion over Iran. The White House has mental disability,"


http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980405000859

2) ISNA English

"They are having mental problems and today, the White House has become mentally paralysed and don't know what to do".
https://en.isna.ir/news/98040402431/Sanctioning-Supreme-leader-of-Iran-ridiculous-President-Rouhani

ISAN French

Le président iranien, affirmant que les États-Unis, malgré de nombreuses tentatives de pression exercées par divers leviers sur l'Iran, ont échoué dans leurs objectifs, a poursuivi : "Une étrange frustration et une grande confusion règnent au sein du Corps dirigeant de la Maison Blanche. Ils se sentent déçus car ils n'ont obtenu aucun résultat, ils s'attendaient à voir l'Iran brisé dans l'espace de quelques mois, mais ils ont fini par constater que les Iraniens agissent de plus en plus fermement, de manière plus créative que jamais ".

https://fr.isna.ir/news/98040402385/Les-actions-américaines-sont-inhumaines-Rohani

3) TasnimNews

The president also decried the new US sanctions against Iran, saying the White House has been thrown into confusion as its officials are making "inappropriate and ridiculous" comments and adopting the policy of disgrace.

https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/06/26/2041386/iran-urges-us-europe-to-return-to-jcpoa

Paora , Jun 26, 2019 11:18:41 PM | 101
0use4msm @54

Wow that's amazing! Probably the best known Khrushchev 'quote', presented as evidence of his boorish nature, is an intentional mistranslation. And the Marx quote is not exactly obscure, it's from Chapter 1 of the Communist Manifesto for eff sake! At least it makes a change from the 'lets just make things up' cottage industry of Lenin & Stalin 'quotes'.

Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 26, 2019 11:23:51 PM | 102
"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."
Mark Twain (or some other student of wisdom)
...
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/books/famous-misquotations.html
Apr 26, 2017 - Mark Twain is one of many who gets credit for famous quotations he never wrote or said. ... credited with saying "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes" ... Proverbial wisdom, in which a quotation is elevated to the status of a proverb because its source is unknown;.
Circe , Jun 27, 2019 10:19:52 AM | 136 Noirette , Jun 27, 2019 10:50:17 AM | 137
Mistranslations are a classical cheap n easy way to sway opinion.

Interesting that the examples b quotes, and most of those promoted currently by the US-uk-eu, afaik, understand, are intended to project into the voice of Iranians, Russians, Syrians, utterances, declarations, to be labelled insults, slander, threats, impropriety, even rage, coming from these parties, as

there is nothing much else to display!

(Spanish is too comprehensible > does not apply to Mexico, Cuba, S. America.)

Often cultural matters play a role, but are ignored. Ahmadinejad was endlessly vilified and mocked by the W-MSM for saying what was translated as there are no homosexuals in Iran (no idea what the original formulation was) - which 'obviously' can't be 'true.'

Besides homosexuality being unacceptable in conservative rule-books, Iran is, or was (to 2010) above (or with) Thailand the no. 1. practitioner / destination for sex change operations. Iran had super educated docs, great hospitals, etc.

Ahmadinejad was relying on a kind of fundamentalist principle where the 'soul' or the 'essential quality' of a person is what is tantamount, what counts above all. The physical manifestation, here the human body, can be transformed to be in harmony with the deep-felt or 'innately' ascribed orientation or 'spirit.' So, no homosexuals in Iran, or only a few who are in 'transition.' (Not denying real suffering of gays in Iran, other story.)

The W, in first place the US, is doing precisely the same with its 'gender change' promotion, as applied to children and young teens. Here too, 'feelings' and 'identity' override 'nature' : the physical can be overturned, overcome, fixed.

Such cultural issues play a role in mis-translations, deliberate or not. It may appear that I wandered far off topic, I just picked a topical comprehensible ex. Sharia law is more complex..

[Jun 22, 2019] Use of science by the US politicians: they uses science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance. ..."
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The evidence suggests that foreign policymakers do not seek insight from scholars, but rather support for what they already want to do.

As Desch quotes a World War II U.S. Navy anthropologist, "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance.

[Jun 16, 2019] When false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies.

Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com

Leda Cosmides at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points to her work with her colleague John Tooby on the use of outrage to mobilize people: "The campaign was more about outrage than about policies," she says. And when a politician can create a sense of moral outrage, truth ceases to matter. People will go along with the emotion, support the cause and retrench into their own core group identities. The actual substance stops being of any relevance.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies.

... ... ...

As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible.

[Jun 16, 2019] Cover-Ups and Truth Tellers

Notable quotes:
"... Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national "security." And, of course, everyone wants to be "secure," accepting the notion that "people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." ..."
Jun 16, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

In a May, 22, 2019 appearance in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that "I don't do cover-ups ." Various news outlets immediately started to enumerate a long list of bona fide cover-ups associated with the president.

... ... ...

Unfortunately, Trump's behavior is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups. One can surmise that just by virtue of being the head of the U.S. government, the president -- any president -- must be directly or indirectly associated with hundreds of such evasions. That is because, it can be argued without much paranoia, that every major division of the government is hiding something -- particularly when it comes to foreign activities.

Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national "security." And, of course, everyone wants to be "secure," accepting the notion that "people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

The fact that much of this violence is done to other innocent people trying to get a peaceful night's rest is "classified" information. So woe be it to the truth tellers who defy these rationalizations and sound off. For they shall be cast out of our democratic heaven into one of the pits of hell that pass for a U.S. prison -- or, if they are fleet-footed, chased into exile.

[Jun 16, 2019] Trump s Lies vs. Your Brain by Maria Konnikova

Notable quotes:
"... But Donald Trump is in a different category. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent. ..."
"... Those who have followed Trump's career say his lying isn't just a tactic, but an ingrained habit. ..."
"... Our brains are particularly ill-equipped to deal with lies when they come not singly but in a constant stream ..."
"... In politics, false information has a special power. If false information comports with preexisting beliefs -- something that is often true in partisan arguments -- attempts to refute it can actually backfire , planting it even more firmly in a person's mind. ..."
"... Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies. ..."
Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com

Maria Konnikova is a contributing writer at the New Yorker and author, most recently, of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It Every Time .

All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook, yet he orchestrated the most shamelessly crooked act in the modern presidency. Ronald Reagan said he wasn't aware of the Iran-Contra deal; there's evidence he was. Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman; he did, or close enough. Lying in politics transcends political party and era. It is, in some ways, an inherent part of the profession of politicking.

But Donald Trump is in a different category. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent. Nixon, Reagan and Clinton were protecting their reputations; Trump seems to lie for the pure joy of it. A whopping 70 percent of Trump's statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false, while only 4 percent were completely true, and 11 percent mostly true. (Compare that to the politician Trump dubbed "crooked," Hillary Clinton: Just 26 percent of her statements were deemed false.)

Those who have followed Trump's career say his lying isn't just a tactic, but an ingrained habit. New York tabloid writers who covered Trump as a mogul on the rise in the 1980s and '90s found him categorically different from the other self-promoting celebrities in just how often, and pointlessly, he would lie to them. In his own autobiography, Trump used the phrase "truthful hyperbole," a term coined by his ghostwriter referring to the flagrant truth-stretching that Trump employed, over and over, to help close sales. Trump apparently loved the wording, and went on to adopt it as his own.

On January 20, Trump's truthful hyperboles will no longer be relegated to the world of dealmaking or campaigning. Donald Trump will become the chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, the man charged with representing that nation globally -- and, most importantly, telling the story of America back to Americans. He has the megaphone of the White House press office, his popular Twitter account and a loyal new right-wing media army that will not just parrot his version of the truth but actively argue against attempts to knock it down with verifiable facts. Unless Trump dramatically transforms himself, Americans are going to start living in a new reality, one in which their leader is a manifestly unreliable source.

What does this mean for the country -- and for the Americans on the receiving end of Trump's constantly twisting version of reality? It's both a cultural question and a psychological one. For decades, researchers have been wrestling with the nature of falsehood: How does it arise? How does it affect our brains? Can we choose to combat it? The answers aren't encouraging for those who worry about the national impact of a reign of untruth over the next four, or eight, years. Lies are exhausting to fight, pernicious in their effects and, perhaps worst of all, almost impossible to correct if their content resonates strongly enough with people's sense of themselves, which Trump's clearly do.

***

What happens when a lie hits your brain? The now-standard model was first proposed by Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert more than 20 years ago. Gilbert argues that people see the world in two steps. First, even just briefly, we hold the lie as true: We must accept something in order to understand it. For instance, if someone were to tell us -- hypothetically, of course -- that there had been serious voter fraud in Virginia during the presidential election, we must for a fraction of a second accept that fraud did, in fact, take place. Only then do we take the second step, either completing the mental certification process (yes, fraud!) or rejecting it (what? no way). Unfortunately, while the first step is a natural part of thinking -- it happens automatically and effortlessly -- the second step can be easily disrupted. It takes work: We must actively choose to accept or reject each statement we hear. In certain circumstances, that verification simply fails to take place.

As Gilbert writes, human minds, "when faced with shortages of time, energy, or conclusive evidence, may fail to unaccept the ideas that they involuntarily accept during comprehension."

When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything.

Our brains are particularly ill-equipped to deal with lies when they come not singly but in a constant stream...

... ... ...

In politics, false information has a special power. If false information comports with preexisting beliefs -- something that is often true in partisan arguments -- attempts to refute it can actually backfire , planting it even more firmly in a person's mind. Trump won over Republican voters, as well as alienated Democrats, by declaring himself opposed to "Washington," "the establishment" and "political correctness," and by stoking fears about the Islamic State, immigrants and crime. Leda Cosmides at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points to her work with her colleague John Tooby on the use of outrage to mobilize people:

"The campaign was more about outrage than about policies," she says. And when a politician can create a sense of moral outrage, truth ceases to matter. People will go along with the emotion, support the cause and retrench into their own core group identities. The actual substance stops being of any relevance.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies. When people read an article beginning with George W. Bush's assertion that Iraq may pass weapons to terrorist networks, which later contained the fact that Iraq didn't actually possess any WMDs at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the initial misperception persisted among Republicans -- and, indeed, was frequently strengthened.

In the face of a seeming assault on their identity, they didn't change their minds to conform with the truth: Instead, amazingly, they doubled down on the exact views that were explained to be wrong.

It's easy enough to correct minor false facts if they aren't crucial to your sense of self. Alas, nothing political fits into that bucket.

With regard to Trump specifically, Nyhan points out that claims related to ethno-nationalism -- Trump's declaration early in the campaign that Mexico was sending "rapists" across the border, for instance -- get at the very core of who we are as humans, which "may make people less willing or able to evaluate the statement empirically." If you already believe immigrants put your job at risk, who's to say the chastity of your daughters isn't in danger, too? Or as Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker puts it, once Trump makes that emotional connection, "He could say what he wants, and they'll follow him."

... ... ...

[Jun 16, 2019] Cult of the Irrelevant -- National Security Eggheads Academics

Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support. As Benjamin Friedman and I wrote in a 2015 article on the subject, think tanks undertake research with an operational mindset: that is, "the approach of a passenger riding shotgun who studies the map to find the ideal route, adjusts the engine if need be, and always accepts the destination without protest."

As former senator Olympia Snowe once put it, "you can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report." Or consider the view of Rory Stewart, now a member of parliament in the UK, but once an expert on Afghanistan who was consulted on the Afghan surge but opposed it:

It's like they're coming in and saying to you, "I'm going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?" And you say, "I don't think you should drive your car off the cliff." And they say, "No, no, that bit's already been decided -- the question is whether to wear a seatbelt." And you say, "Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt." And then they say, "We've consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart, and he says "

Or look at how policymakers themselves define relevance. Stephen Krasner, an academic who became a policymaker, lamented the uselessness of much academic security studies literature because "[e]ven the most convincing empirical findings may be of no practical use because they do not include factors that policy makers can manipulate."

The explicit claim here is that for scholarship to be of any practical use, it must include factors that policymakers can manipulate. This reflects a strong bias toward action, even in relatively restrained presidencies.

To take two recent examples, the Obama administration blew past voluminous academic literature suggesting the Libya intervention was likely to disappoint. President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.

♦♦♦

As Desch tracks the influence of scholars on foreign policy across the 20th century, a pattern becomes clear: where scholars agree with policy, they are relevant. Where they do not, they are not.

In several of the cases Desch identifies where scholars disagreed with policy, they were right and the policymakers were tragically, awfully wrong. In the instances where scholars differed with policy at high levels, Desch blames their "unrealistic expectations" for causing "wartime social scientists to overlook the more modest, but real, contribution they actually made" to policy. But why would we want scholars to trim their sails in this way? And why should social scientists want to be junior partners in doomed enterprises?

Social scientists have produced reams of qualitative and historically focused research with direct relevance to policy. They publish blog posts, tweets, excerpts, op-eds, and video encapsulations of their work. The only thing left for them to do is to convey their findings via interpretive dance, and a plan for doing that is probably in the works already. In the meantime, it should be simultaneously heartening and discouraging for policy-inclined scholars to realize that It's Not Us, It's Them.

In a country as powerful and secure as the United States, elites can make policy built on shaky foundations. Eventually, the whole thing may collapse. Scholars should focus on pointing out these fundamental flaws -- and thinking about how they might help rebuild.

Justin Logan is director of programs and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University.


Oleg Gark June 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm

[Karl Rove] said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [ ] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'.

Experts, shmexperts! Who needs realism when you're creating your own reality.

EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:56 am
I was thinking -- the academics involved in policy are in think tanks and then

"It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support."

but what I found intriguing is the assessment concerning most of the research being faulty or dead wrong in various ways.

Given that and the real world success of the think tank players who develop foreign policy Dr. Desch should consider the matter a wash --

Those on the field aren't scoring any big points. in fact they seem intend on handing the ball over to the opposing team repeatedly.

trying to predict and then replicate human behavior is a very dicey proposition.

enjoyed the reference to the ongoing debate quantative analysis verses qualitative.

EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 4:05 am
Sadly when the numbers quantative research ruled they could really be abusive in stating what the data meant.

Nowhere is this more evident than with crime stats.

polistra , says: June 12, 2019 at 8:23 am
Excellent article.

Another question occurs to me: Who are the executives or politicians trying to impress when they bring in captive consultants or scholars? Ordinary people (customers or voters) don't care. Customers just want a good product, and voters just want sane policies.

Competing leaders know the game and don't bother to listen.

So who's the audience for the "thinkers"?

JohnT , says: June 12, 2019 at 9:01 am
In so much of the world's leadership today it is not science that is being ignored and corrupted so much as rational thought and a personal insight mature enough to find indisputable the need for the opinion of others.
But, to this post's point, I once had a statistician with a doctorate in his profession casually state their numbers predicted Stalin would fail. In response, my thought was when in the history of the known galaxy did putting a soulless person in charge ever not fail? Compassion alone would predict that outcome.
Taras 77 , says: June 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm
The absolute most corrupting influence in current foreign policy discussion is the growth of the mis-named growth of "think" tanks. One can discern immediately the message when determining author and organization.

Moar war, russia, iran, et al are threats, moar military spending, support israel at all costs, etc, etc.

These 'think' tanks are extremely well funded by oligarchs and foreign money so the bottom line is directed towards pre-selected objectives. Even the state dept is getting into the act to atk pro-Iran activists.

Where is the level playing field?

Kouros , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm
While the academics might be deemed irrelevant when views differ, the government in-house analysts might even loose their jobs if their positions differ from those of the decision makers. I know I lost mine, and it wasn't even in foreign policy or national security
Christian J Chuba , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:13 am
It's the mentality of forever war that considers diversity subversive.

The purpose of Think Tanks and foreign policy experts (misnamed) is to rally the troops against our enemies list, not to improve our interaction with the rest of the world but to defeat them. To them, it is always WW2. Yemen must die because we can connect them to Iran; they are Dresden.

BTW I know the author was talking about actual experts. They have all been purged and dismissed as Arabist or enemy sympathizers. Track records don't matter, to them we are at war and will always be so.

C. L. H. Daniels , says: June 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm
President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.

*Silently screams in frustration*

And this is why I ended up ultimately disappointed with Obama. The man was utterly incapable of standing up to what passes for conventional wisdom inside the Beltway. "Hope and change," my butt. The hoped for change never did arrive in the end.

Say what you will about Trump, he surely doesn't give a flying fart about wisdom, conventional or otherwise. Instead of driving the car off a cliff, he just sets it on fire from the get go to save on gas.

Dr. Diprospan , says: June 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm
I liked the article.
A good reminder that if people did not heed the divine warning in Paradise,
but chose the disastrous advice of the serpent, then what can we expect
from modern politicians? Wrong, dangerous behavior seems to be inherent
in the human mentality, otherwise who would smelt metals, descend into mines,
discover America, study radiation?
Cult of the Irrelevant reminds me of the 80 and 20 statistical, empirical principle,
where out of 100 things, articles, words, recommendations, 20% are useful,
80% are useless. However for 20 useful percent to form, you need a statistical
pressure of 80 useless.
"Practice is the criterion of truth." Having eaten the forbidden apple, people were driven out of paradise, but instead they learned to distinguish between good and evil.
Without this property, it would be impossible to recognize "the effective treatments"significantly exaggerated by dishonest pharmacologists..

[Jun 07, 2019] The power of neoliberal brainwashing by Jason Holland

Jun 01, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

If man were wise, he would gauge the true worth of anything by its usefulness and appropriateness to his life.

-- Michel de Montaigne, Complete Book of Essays , Book 11, Essay 12, Page 543

For your consideration, the modern idiot in a habitat of prime viral fecundity; after centuries of western civilization spreading toxic oppressive imperialism through contrived financial schemes and brutish warfare the dream of global neoliberalism has come to full fruition where all personal responsibility for actions of selfish business interests has been discretely removed from the profiteers and accountability placed upon all powerful implacable nation states. As a result what has been set into motion is the perfect bewildering breeding ground for the whims of the idiot mind to thrive. Complexity is artificially created in financial systems, legalese, and bureaucratic nomenclature to obfuscate the deceptions and allow the idiots in charge to more deftly carry out their scams on the general public..

What is before us now are the death throes of capitalism, which is oddly enough also capitalism at its apogee with a precipitous descent ahead due to its profound unsustainability. A common analogy of our times is referencing going off a cliff of some kind to describe the present trajectory of this idiot society, e.g. an unstoppable train with no brakes going over a cliff, or Wile E. Coyote having already gone over the cliff and simply hasn't bothered to look down yet to notice he's run out of terra-firma. Whatever variation of the analogy chosen, the point is that we know the cliff is there, but the collective state of our idiocy doesn't seem to care too much. It has other idiot priorities it deems more necessary to care about, so it plows ahead despite knowing it has run out of track.

This state of being has of course been intentionally manufactured by the idiots in charge. The direct derivation of widespread capitalist ideology creates faux democracies run by political stooges who are sycophantic to corporate power amounting to an orchestrated production of bureaucratic theater where everyone affected by the reach of this system catches the virus of idiocy and finds themselves at various stages of recovery. Each person inculcated into the cult of the idiot via institutional systems is ensnared by the traps set by boardroom bandits who conspire to break the will of the people by attempting to normalize that which isn't normal, and comport the natural better intentions of the masses to enrich the loosely formed global capitalist state.

Their scheme is simplistic yet highly effective; engineer a society based on a need for money issued from a central source and then see to it that money is always in scarce supply for all