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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.

We see this phenomenon 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 in "nomenklatura" in large organizations and states 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).

So power in large organizations based on democratic principle, including the lection of the leadership, such as parties, trade unions gradually tend to concentrated at the top. 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, 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. 

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.

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). 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". 

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 quality.

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

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

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".

The same trend up to the total betrayal of the interests of rant and file members is observable in the US trade union movement.

And the most radical example is the compete betrayal of "Communist ideals" by the USSR elite (nomenklatura), who from radical left wing sect in 70 years turned into 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 ganister-style capitalists in no time (Khodorkovsky)

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 "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 "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 the best, but it turned out like always.”
―  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.

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


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[Nov 12, 2018] The Democratic Party long ago earned the designation graveyard of social protest movements, and for good reason

Highly recommended!
The Democrats are politically responsible for the rise of Trump.
Notable quotes:
"... As Obama said following Trump's election, the Democrats and Republicans are "on the same team" and their differences amount to an "intramural scrimmage." They are on the team of, and owned lock stock and barrel by, the American corporate-financial oligarchy, personified by Trump. ..."
"... The Democrats are, moreover, politically responsible for the rise of Trump. The Obama administration paved the way for Trump by implementing the pro-corporate (Wall Street bailout), pro-war (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, drone killings) and anti-democratic (mass surveillance, persecution of Snowden, Assange, Manning) policies that Trump is continuing and intensifying. And by breaking all his election promises and carrying out austerity policies against the working class, Obama enabled the billionaire gangster Trump to make an appeal to sections of workers devastated by deindustrialization, presenting himself as the anti-establishment spokesman for the "forgotten man." ..."
"... This was compounded by the right-wing Clinton candidacy, which exuded contempt for the working class and appealed for support to the military and CIA and wealthy middle-class layers obsessed with identity politics. Sanders' endorsement of Clinton gave Trump an open field to exploit discontent among impoverished social layers. ..."
Nov 02, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Pelosi's deputy in the House, Steny Hoyer, sums up the right-wing policies of the Democrats, declaring: "His [Trump's] objectives are objectives that we share. If he really means that, then there is an opening for us to work together."

So much for the moral imperative of voting for the Democrats to stop Trump! As Obama said following Trump's election, the Democrats and Republicans are "on the same team" and their differences amount to an "intramural scrimmage." They are on the team of, and owned lock stock and barrel by, the American corporate-financial oligarchy, personified by Trump.

The Democrats are, moreover, politically responsible for the rise of Trump. The Obama administration paved the way for Trump by implementing the pro-corporate (Wall Street bailout), pro-war (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, drone killings) and anti-democratic (mass surveillance, persecution of Snowden, Assange, Manning) policies that Trump is continuing and intensifying. And by breaking all his election promises and carrying out austerity policies against the working class, Obama enabled the billionaire gangster Trump to make an appeal to sections of workers devastated by deindustrialization, presenting himself as the anti-establishment spokesman for the "forgotten man."

This was compounded by the right-wing Clinton candidacy, which exuded contempt for the working class and appealed for support to the military and CIA and wealthy middle-class layers obsessed with identity politics. Sanders' endorsement of Clinton gave Trump an open field to exploit discontent among impoverished social layers.

The same process is taking place internationally. While strikes and other expressions of working class opposition are growing and broad masses are moving to the left, the right-wing policies of supposedly "left" establishment parties are enabling far-right and neo-fascist forces to gain influence and power in countries ranging from Germany, Italy, Hungary and Poland to Brazil.

As for Gay's injunction to vote "pragmatically," this is a crude promotion of the bankrupt politics that are brought forward in every election to keep workers tied to the capitalist two-party system. "You have only two choices. That is the reality, whether you like it or not." And again and again, in the name of "practicality," the most unrealistic and impractical policy is promoted -- supporting a party that represents the class that is oppressing and exploiting you! The result is precisely the disastrous situation working people and youth face today -- falling wages, no job security, growing repression and the mounting threat of world war.

The Democratic Party long ago earned the designation "graveyard of social protest movements," and for good reason. From the Populist movement of the late 19th century, to the semi-insurrectional industrial union movement of the 1930s, to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, to the mass anti-war protest movements of the 1960s and the eruption of international protests against the Iraq War in the early 2000s -- every movement against the depredations of American capitalism has been aborted and strangled by being channeled behind the Democratic Party.

[Nov 02, 2018] Even Hans Christian Andersen couldn't invent Fairy Tales like that.

Nov 02, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Terry Lawrence michaelroloff8 months ago

"The perpetrators and their conspiracy is not a theory since it has been proved."

By "proved" I assume you are referring to "proofs" such as the fantastical claim that Mohammed Atta's passport was allegedly and fortuitously "found" when it supposedly survived the 600 mph impact of the 767 he was supposedly piloting with a huge steel and concrete building, survived the huge fireball it was supposedly in the middle of unscorched, and conveniently fluttered to the ground intact to land at the feet of an FBI agent who immediately realized it must have belonged to one of the hijackers!

Even Hans Christian Andersen couldn't invent Fairy Tales like that.

[Oct 08, 2018] The common folk never had control of the Federal Government.

Notable quotes:
"... At the time the eligible voters were males of European descent (MOED), and while not highly educated they were relatively free of propaganda and IQ's were higher than today. After giving women the right to vote and with other minorities voting the MOED became a minority voter. ..."
"... So today with propaganda and education being what it is, not to mention campaign financing laws especially post Citizen United, and MSM under control of 6 companies, the entire voting class is miseducated and easily influenced to vote for candidates chosen by the elites ..."
"... The founders who incited the revolution against British rule were the American Elites (also British citizens) who wanted more. The elites today got everything they want. They have no need for revolution. The common folk are divided, misinformed, unorganized, leaderless and males are emasculated. Incapable of taking control peacefully or otherwise. ..."
"... This was the high-tariff-era and the budget surplus was an issue all through the balance of the 19th Century. So what were the politics about? 1. Stirring stump (Trump) speeches were all about "waving the bloody shirt" ..."
"... In my view of the fundamental dynamic - namely that of history being one unbroken story of the rich exploiting the poor - representative government is one of the greatest achievements of the poor. If we could only get it to work honestly, and protect it from the predations of the rich. This is a work in progress. It forms just one aspect of millennia of struggle. To give up now would be madness. ..."
Oct 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Oct 8, 2018 12:11:11 AM | 43 k

The constitution was a creation of the elite at the time, the property class. Its mission was to prevent the common folk from having control. Democracy=mob rule= Bad.

The common folk only had the ability to elect representatives in the house, who in turn would elect Senators. Electors voted for President and they were appointed by a means chosen by the state legislature , which only in modern times has come to mean by the popular vote of the common folk. Starting from 1913 it was decided to let the common folk vote for Senator and give the commonfolk the illusion of Democracy confident they could be controlled with propaganda and taxes (also adopted in 1913 with the Fed)

At the time the eligible voters were males of European descent (MOED), and while not highly educated they were relatively free of propaganda and IQ's were higher than today. After giving women the right to vote and with other minorities voting the MOED became a minority voter.

Bernays science of propaganda took off during WWI, Since MOED's made up the most educated class (relative to minorities and women) up to the 70's this was a big deal for almost 60 years , although not today when miseducation is equal among the different races, sexes and ethnicities.

So today with propaganda and education being what it is, not to mention campaign financing laws especially post Citizen United, and MSM under control of 6 companies, the entire voting class is miseducated and easily influenced to vote for candidates chosen by the elites

So how do the common folk get control over the federal government? That is a pipe dream and will never happen. The founders who incited the revolution against British rule were the American Elites (also British citizens) who wanted more. The elites today got everything they want. They have no need for revolution. The common folk are divided, misinformed, unorganized, leaderless and males are emasculated. Incapable of taking control peacefully or otherwise.

Thats just my opinion

Guerrero , Oct 8, 2018 1:03:57 AM | link

Pft has a point. If there was ever a time for the people to take the republic into its hands, it may have been just after the Civil War when the Dems were discredited and the Repubs had a total control of Congress.

This was the high-tariff-era and the budget surplus was an issue all through the balance of the 19th Century. So what were the politics about? 1. Stirring stump (Trump) speeches were all about "waving the bloody shirt"

All manner of political office-seekers devoted themselves to getting on the government gravy train, somehow. The selling of political offices was notorious and the newspaper editors of the time were ashamed of this.

Then there was the Whiskey Ring. The New York Customs House was a major source of corruption lucre. Then there was vote selling in blocks of as many as 10,000 and the cost of paying those who could do this. Then there were the kickbacks from the awards of railroad concessions which included large parcels of land. If there ever was a Golden Age of the United States it must have been when Franklin Roosevelt was President.

ben , Oct 8, 2018 1:13:04 AM | link

karlof1 @ 34 asked:"My question for several years now: What are us Commonfolk going to do to regain control of the federal government?"

The only thing us "common folk" can do is work within our personal sphere of influence, and engage who you can, when you can, and support with any $ you can spare, to support the sites and any local radio stations that broadcast independent thought. ( if you can find any). Pacifica radio, KPFK in LA is a good example. KPFA in the bay area.

Other than another economic crash, I don't believe anything can rouse the pathetic bovine public. Bread and circuses work...

Grieved , Oct 8, 2018 1:13:32 AM | link
@38 Pft

The division of representative power and stake in the political process back at the birth of the US Constitution was as you say it was. But this wasn't because any existing power had been taken away from anyone. It was simply the state of play back then.

Since that time, we common people have developed a more egalitarian sense of how the representation should be apportioned. We include former slaves, all ethnic groups and both genders. We exclude animals thus far, although we do have some - very modest - protections in place.

I think it has been the rise of the socialist impulse among workers that has expanded this egalitarian view, with trade unions and anti-imperialist revolutions and national struggles. But I'm not a scholar or a historian so I can't add details to my impression.

My point is that since the Framers met, there has been a progressive elevation of our requirements of representative government. I think some of this also came from the Constitution itself, with its embedded Bill of Rights.

I can't say if this expansion has continued to this day or not. History may show there was a pinnacle that we have now passed, and entered a decline. I don't know - it's hard to say how we score the Internet in this balance. It's always hard to score the present age along its timeline. And the future is never here yet, in the present, and can only ever be guessed.

In my view, the dream of popular control of representative government remains entirely possible. I call it an aspiration rather than a pipe dream, and one worth taking up and handing on through the generations. Current global society may survive in relatively unbroken line for millennia to come. There's simply no percentage in calling failure at this time.

It may be that better government comes to the United States from the example of the world nations, over the decades and centuries to come. Maybe the demonstration effect will work on us even when we cannot work on ourselves. We are not the only society of poor people who want a fair life.

In my view of the fundamental dynamic - namely that of history being one unbroken story of the rich exploiting the poor - representative government is one of the greatest achievements of the poor. If we could only get it to work honestly, and protect it from the predations of the rich. This is a work in progress. It forms just one aspect of millennia of struggle. To give up now would be madness.

In my opinion.

dh-mtl , Oct 8, 2018 2:34:39 AM | link
Grieved @42 said:

"representative government is one of the greatest achievements of the poor. If we could only get it to work honestly, and protect it from the predations of the rich. This is a work in progress. It forms just one aspect of millennia of struggle. To give up now would be madness."

Here, here! I fully agree with you.

In my opinion, representative government was stronger in the U.S. from the 1930's to the 1970's and Europe after WW2. And as a result the western world achieved unprecedented prosperity. Since 1980, the U.S. government has been captured by trans-national elites, who, since the 1990's have also captured much of the political power in the EU.

Both Europe and the U.S. are now effectively dictatorships, run by a trans-national elite. The crumbling of both is the result of this dictatorship.

Prosperity, and peace, will only return when the dictators are removed and representative government is returned.

Krollchem , Oct 8, 2018 2:42:16 AM | link
dh-mtl@44

"Both Europe and the U.S. are now effectively dictatorships, run by a trans-national elite. The crumbling of both is the result of this dictatorship."

Exactly!! I feel like the Swedish knight Antonius Block in the movie the 7th Seal. There does not seem any way out of this evil game by the death dealing rulers.

Anton Worter , Oct 8, 2018 3:06:04 AM | link
@24

Love it. But you fad3d at the end. It was Gingrich, not Rodham, who was behind Contract on America, and GHWBush's Fed Bank group wrote the legislation that would have been Bush's second term 'kinder, gentler' Gramm-Leach-Bliley bayonet up the azs of the American Dream, as passed by a majority of Congress, and by that point Tripp and Lewinski had already pull-dated Wild Bill. God, can you imagine being married to that hag Rodham? The purple people-eating lizards of Georgetown and Alexandria. Uurk.

Anton Worter , Oct 8, 2018 3:34:05 AM | link
40

¿Que tal?

I'm reading a great FDR book, 'Roosevelt and Hopkins', a signed 1st Ed copy by Robert Sherwood, and the only book extant from my late father's excellent political and war library, after his trophy wife dumped the rest of his library off at Goodwill, lol. They could have paid for her next booblift, ha, ha, ha.

Anyway, FDR, in my mind, only passed the populist laws that he did because he needed cannon fodder in good fighting shape for Rothschild's Wars ("3/4ths of WW2 conscripts were medically unfit for duty," the book reports), and because Rothschild's and Queens Bank of London needed the whole sh*taco bailed out afterward, by creating SS wage-withholding 'Trust Fund' (sic) the Fed then tapped into, and creating Lend-Lease which let Rothschilds float credit-debt to even a higher level and across the globe. Has it all been paid off by Germany and Japan yet?

Even Lincoln, jeez, Civil War was never about slavery, it was about finance and taxation and the illegitimate Federal supremacy over the Republic of States, not unlike the EU today. Lincoln only freed the slaves to use them as cannon fodder and as a fifth column.

All of these politicians were purple people-eating lizards, except maybe the Kennedy's, and they got ground and pounded like Conor McGregor, meh?

Guerrero | Oct 8, 2018 10:22:34 AM | 61

@BM | Oct 8, 2018 10:03:12 AM | 60

"representative government is one of the greatest achievements of the poor. If we could only get it to work honestly, and protect it from the predations of the rich. This is a work in progress. It forms just one aspect of millennia of struggle. To give up now would be madness."

Compare to: Sentiments of the Nation:

12º That as the good Law is superior to every man, those dictated by our Congress must be such, that they force constancy and patriotism, moderate opulence and indigence; and in such a way increase the wages of the poor, improve their habits, moving away from ignorance, rapine and theft.

13º That the general laws include everyone, without exception of privileged bodies; and that these are only in the use of the ministry..

14º That in order to dictate a Law, the Meeting of Sages is made, in the possible number, so that it may proceed with more success and exonerate of some charges that may result.

15. That slavery be banished forever, and the distinction of castes, leaving all the same, and only distinguish one American from another by vice and virtue.

16º That our Ports be open to friendly foreign nations, but that they do not enter the nation, no matter how friendly they may be, and there will only be Ports designated for that purpose, prohibiting disembarkation in all others, indicating ten percent.

17º That each one be kept his property, and respect in his House as in a sacred asylum, pointing out penalties to the offenders.

18º That the new legislation does not admit torture.

19º That the Constitutional Law establishes the celebration of December 12th in all Peoples, dedicated to the Patroness of our Liberty, Most Holy Mary of Guadalupe, entrusting to all Peoples the monthly devotion.

20º That the foreign troops, or of another Kingdom, do not step on our soil, and if it were in aid, they will not without the Supreme Junta approval.

21º That expeditions are not made outside the limits of the Kingdom, especially overseas, that they are not of this kind yet rather to spread the faith to our brothers and sisters of the land inside.

22º That the infinity of tributes, breasts and impositions that overwhelm us be removed, and each individual be pointed out a five percent of seeds and other effects or other equally light weight, that does not oppress so much, as the alcabala, the Tobacconist, the Tribute and others; because with this slight contribution, and the good administration of the confiscated goods of the enemy, will be able to take the weight of the War, and pay the fees of employees.

Temple of the Virgen of the Ascencion
Chilpancingo, September 14, 1813.
José Mª Morelos.

23º That also be solemnized on September 16, every year, as the Anniversary day on which the Voice of Independence was raised, and our Holy Freedom began, because on that day it was in which the lips of the Nation were deployed to claim their rights with Sword in hand to be heard: always remembering the merit of the great Hero Mr. Don Miguel Hidalgo and his companion Don Ignacio Allende.

Answers on November 21, 1813. And therefore, these are abolished, always being subject to the opinion of S. [u] A. [alteza] S. [very eminent]

[Sep 29, 2018] Trump Surrenders to the Iron Law of Oligarchy by Dan Sanchez

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's nationalist fans are sick of the globalist wars that America never seems to win. They are hardly against war per se. They are perfectly fine with bombing radical Islamists, even if it means mass innocent casualties. But they have had enough of expending American blood and treasure to overthrow secular Arab dictators to the benefit of Islamists; so, it seemed, was Trump. They also saw no nationalist advantage in the globalists' renewed Cold War against Assad's ally Russian president Vladimir Putin, another enemy of Islamists. ..."
"... The Syrian pivot also seemed to fulfill the hopes and dreams of some antiwar libertarians who had pragmatically supported Trump. For them, acquiescing to the unwelcome planks of Trump's platform was a price worth paying for overthrowing the establishment policies of regime change in the Middle East and hostility toward nuclear Russia. While populism wasn't an unalloyed friend of liberty, these libertarians thought, at least it could be harnessed to sweep away the war-engineering elites. And since war is the health of the state, that could redirect history's momentum in favor of liberty. ..."
"... But then it all evaporated. Shortly after Bannon's ouster from the NSC, in response to an alleged, unverified chemical attack on civilians, Trump bombed one of Assad's airbases (something even globalist Obama had balked at doing when offered the exact same excuse), and regime change in Syria was top priority once again. The establishment media swooned over Trump's newfound willingness to be "presidential." ..."
"... Since then, Trump has reneged on one campaign promise after another. He dropped any principled repeal of Obamacare. He threw cold water on expectations for prompt fulfillment of his signature promise: the construction of a Mexico border wall. And he announced an imminent withdrawal from NAFTA, only to walk that announcement back the very next day. ..."
"... Poor white people, "the forgotten men and women of our country," have been forgotten once again. Their "tribune" seems to be turning out to be just another agent of the power elite. ..."
"... Who yanked his chain? Was there a palace coup? Was the CIA involved? Has Trump been threatened? ..."
"... Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy ..."
"... Even in a political system based on popular sovereignty, Michels pointed out that, "the sovereign masses are altogether incapable of undertaking the most necessary resolutions." This is true for simple, unavoidable technical reasons: "such a gigantic number of persons belonging to a unitary organization cannot do any practical work upon a system of direct discussion." ..."
"... " while Trump might be able to seize the presidency in spite of establishment opposition, he will never be able to wield it without establishment support." ..."
May 02, 2017 | original.antiwar.com
Did the Deep State deep-six Trump's populist revolution?

Many observers, especially among his fans, suspect that the seemingly untamable Trump has already been housebroken by the Washington, "globalist" establishment. If true, the downfall of Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn less than a month into the new presidency may have been a warning sign. And the turning point would have been the removal of Steven K. Bannon from the National Security Council on April 5.

Until then, the presidency's early policies had a recognizably populist-nationalist orientation. During his administration's first weeks, Trump's biggest supporters frequently tweeted the hashtag #winning and exulted that he was decisively doing exactly what, on the campaign trail, he said he would do.

In a flurry of executive orders and other unilateral actions bearing Bannon's fingerprints, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, declared a sweeping travel ban, instituted harsher deportation policies, and more.

These policies seemed to fit Trump's reputation as the " tribune of poor white people ," as he has been called; above all, Trump's base calls for protectionism and immigration restrictions. Trump seemed to be delivering on the populist promise of his inauguration speech (thought to be written by Bannon), in which he said:

"Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now." [Emphasis added.]

After a populist insurgency stormed social media and the voting booths, American democracy, it seemed, had been wrenched from the hands of the Washington elite and restored to "the people," or at least a large, discontented subset of "the people." And this happened in spite of the establishment, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and "polite opinion" throwing everything it had at Trump.

The Betrayal

But for the past month, the administration's axis seems to have shifted. This shift was especially abrupt in Trump's Syria policy.

Days before Bannon's fall from grace, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley declared that forcing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad from power was no longer top priority. This too was pursuant of Trump's populist promises.

Trump's nationalist fans are sick of the globalist wars that America never seems to win. They are hardly against war per se. They are perfectly fine with bombing radical Islamists, even if it means mass innocent casualties. But they have had enough of expending American blood and treasure to overthrow secular Arab dictators to the benefit of Islamists; so, it seemed, was Trump. They also saw no nationalist advantage in the globalists' renewed Cold War against Assad's ally Russian president Vladimir Putin, another enemy of Islamists.

The Syrian pivot also seemed to fulfill the hopes and dreams of some antiwar libertarians who had pragmatically supported Trump. For them, acquiescing to the unwelcome planks of Trump's platform was a price worth paying for overthrowing the establishment policies of regime change in the Middle East and hostility toward nuclear Russia. While populism wasn't an unalloyed friend of liberty, these libertarians thought, at least it could be harnessed to sweep away the war-engineering elites. And since war is the health of the state, that could redirect history's momentum in favor of liberty.

But then it all evaporated. Shortly after Bannon's ouster from the NSC, in response to an alleged, unverified chemical attack on civilians, Trump bombed one of Assad's airbases (something even globalist Obama had balked at doing when offered the exact same excuse), and regime change in Syria was top priority once again. The establishment media swooned over Trump's newfound willingness to be "presidential."

Since then, Trump has reneged on one campaign promise after another. He dropped any principled repeal of Obamacare. He threw cold water on expectations for prompt fulfillment of his signature promise: the construction of a Mexico border wall. And he announced an imminent withdrawal from NAFTA, only to walk that announcement back the very next day.

Here I make no claim as to whether any of these policy reversals are good or bad. I only point out that they run counter to the populist promises he had given to his core constituents.

Poor white people, "the forgotten men and women of our country," have been forgotten once again. Their "tribune" seems to be turning out to be just another agent of the power elite.

Who yanked his chain? Was there a palace coup? Was the CIA involved? Has Trump been threatened? Or, after constant obstruction, has he simply concluded that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

The Iron Law of Oligarchy

Regardless of how it came about, it seems clear that whatever prospect there was for a truly populist Trump presidency is gone with the wind. Was it inevitable that this would happen, one way or another?

One person who might have thought so was German sociologist Robert Michels, who posited the "iron law of oligarchy" in his 1911 work Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy .

Michels argued that political organizations, no matter how democratically structured, rarely remain truly populist, but inexorably succumb to oligarchic control.

Even in a political system based on popular sovereignty, Michels pointed out that, "the sovereign masses are altogether incapable of undertaking the most necessary resolutions." This is true for simple, unavoidable technical reasons: "such a gigantic number of persons belonging to a unitary organization cannot do any practical work upon a system of direct discussion."

This practical limitation necessitates delegation of decision-making to officeholders. These delegates may at first be considered servants of the masses:

"All the offices are filled by election. The officials, executive organs of the general will, play a merely subordinate part, are always dependent upon the collectivity, and can be deprived of their office at any moment. The mass of the party is omnipotent."

But these delegates will inevitably become specialists in the exercise and consolidation of power, which they gradually wrest away from the "sovereign people":

"The technical specialization that inevitably results from all extensive organization renders necessary what is called expert leadership. Consequently the power of determination comes to be considered one of the specific attributes of leadership, and is gradually withdrawn from the masses to be concentrated in the hands of the leaders alone. Thus the leaders, who were at first no more than the executive organs of the collective will, soon emancipate themselves from the mass and become independent of its control.

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."

Trumped by the Deep State

Thus elected, populist "tribunes" like Trump are ultimately no match for entrenched technocrats nestled in permanent bureaucracy. Especially invincible are technocrats who specialize in political force and intrigue, i.e., the National Security State (military, NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.). And these elite functionaries don't serve "the people" or any large subpopulation. They only serve their own careers, and by extension, big-money special interest groups that make it worth their while: especially big business and foreign lobbies. The nexus of all these powers is what is known as the Deep State.

Trump's more sophisticated champions were aware of these dynamics, but held out hope nonetheless. They thought that Trump would be an exception, because his large personal fortune would grant him immunity from elite influence. That factor did contribute to the independent, untamable spirit of his campaign. But as I predicted during the Republican primaries:

" while Trump might be able to seize the presidency in spite of establishment opposition, he will never be able to wield it without establishment support."

No matter how popular, rich, and bombastic, a populist president simply cannot rule without access to the levers of power. And that access is under the unshakable control of the Deep State. If Trump wants to play president, he has to play ball.

On these grounds, I advised his fans over a year ago, " don't hold out hope that Trump will make good on his isolationist rhetoric " and anticipated, "a complete rapprochement between the populist rebel and the Republican establishment." I also warned that, far from truly threatening the establishment and the warfare state, Trump's populist insurgency would only invigorate them:

"Such phony establishment "deaths" at the hands of "grassroots" outsiders followed by "rebirths" (rebranding) are an excellent way for moribund oligarchies to renew themselves without actually meaningfully changing. Each "populist" reincarnation of the power elite is draped with a freshly-laundered mantle of popular legitimacy, bestowing on it greater license to do as it pleases. And nothing pleases the State more than war."

Politics, even populist politics, is the oligarchy's game. And the house always wins.

Dan Sanchez is the Digital Content Manager at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), developing educational and inspiring content for FEE.org , including articles and courses. The originally appeared on the FEE website and is reprinted with the author's permission.

[Sep 21, 2018] Fact free propaganda

Sep 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Sep 20, 2018 3:43:13 PM | link

The whole nonsense about Russian interference, which was obviously nonsense from Day One and has never, for a moment looked like anything but nonsense, seems to indicate that we have entered a post political era in which policy discussions and debates are forgotten and smears and false accusations take their place.
Currently in the US the Kavanaugh nomination which ought to be about the meaning of the law and the consequences of having a Supreme Court which will make Judge Taney look like Solomon at his most impressive. Instead it is about an alleged teenage incident in which the nominee is said to have caressed a girls breasts at a drunken party when all involved were at High School. Before that we had a Senatorial election in Alabama in which the Republican candidate was charged with having shown a sexual interest in teenage girls- whether this was a 'first' in Alabama is unknown but it is believed to have happened elsewhere, in the unenlightened past.
Then we have the matter of whether Jeremy Corbyn is such a danger to Jews that they will all leave the country if he is ever elected to power. This long campaign, completely devoid of evidence, like 'Russiagate' has the potential of going on forever, simply because there being no evidence it cannot be refuted.
Which is also the case with the Skripal affair, because of which even as we speak, massive trade and financial sanctions are being imposed against Russia and its enormous, innocent and plundered population.
In none of these cases has any real evidence, of the minimal quality that might justify the hanging of a dog, ever advanced. But that doesn't matter, the important thing is to choose a side and if it is Hillary Clinton's to believe or to pretend to believe and to convince others to believe (as Marcy at Emptywheel has been doing for close to three years now) in the incredible.
Who says that we no longer live in a Christian society in which faith is everything?

[Sep 16, 2018] Neoliberal nomenklatura

Sep 16, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

Stephen 09.16.18 at 4:11 pm

Peter T: contrariwise, if it is that as you say "There's surely a reasoned case to be made that hierarchies are essential to complex societies" and "someone has to be at the top and therefore someone else at the bottom", is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?

See nomenklatura, etc.


Sebastian H 09.16.18 at 5:27 pm ( 83 )

"is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?"

Usually yes, but they will be benevolent so we don't have to worry about them. That is why there are a lot of naïve progressive rule proposals that make me want to scream "what if someone less pure than the purest person you ever met gets a hold of it"? Though I usually just say "what if Ralph Nader were in charge ?", but that is admittedly trolling. For the most current example see the EU copyright rules. The same people who complain about conservative twitter mobs think that telling facebook, twitter, and google to automatically screen out copyright violations and somehow automatically allow fair use of copyright is going to work out well.
I suck at guessing at malignant uses of technology and I can already see the Russian copyright upload experts getting prominent left wing voices tied up in interminable litigation over political speeches. Or some troll reporting the entire internet as copyrighted in one paragraph increments. Or the speech censorship discussions. Dissolving free speech norms is 1000% more likely to be used against left wing voices than right wing ones if they get mainstreamed.

likbez 09.16.18 at 9:16 pm ( 84 )
@Lee A. Arnold 09.15.18 at 12:14 pm (66)

In our present moment, the "protection of aristocracy against the agency of the subordinate classes" has transmuted to "protection of the free market as a way for any subordinate person to ascend by personal effort into the modern open aristocracy."

That is a very deep observation. Thank you!

Protection of inequality as a "natural human condition" is the key to understanding both conservatism and neoliberalism. The corresponding myth of social mobility based on person's abilities under neoliberalism (as Napoleon Bonaparte observed "Ability is of little account without opportunity" and the opportunity is lacking under neoliberal stagnation -- the current state of neoliberalism ) is just icing on the cake.

As soon as you accept Hayek sophistry that the term "freedom" means "the freedom from coercion" you are both a neoliberal and a conservative. And if you belong to Democratic Party, you are a Vichy democrat ;-)

likbez 09.16.18 at 9:50 pm ( 85 )
@Stephen 09.16.18 at 4:11 pm (82)

"is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?"

In a way yes ;-)

Neoliberalism/conservatism means that the state enforces the existing hierarchy and supports existing aristocracy ("socialism for rich"). If you deny the existence of a flavor of the Soviet nomenklatura (aristocracy in which position in social hierarchy mainly depends on their role in the top management of government or corporations, not so much personal fortune) in the USA, you deny the reality.

So the question is not about hierarchy per se, but about the acceptable level of "corporate socialism" and inequality in the society.

The progressive change means the creation of the system of government which serves as a countervailing force to the private capital owners, curbing their excesses. I would say that financial oligarchy generally should be treated as a district flavor of organized crime.

The key issue is how to allow a decent level of protection of the bottom 90% of the population from excesses of unfettered capitalism and "market forces" and at the same time not to slide into excessive bureaucracy and regulation ("state capitalism" model).

For a short period after WWII the alliance of a part of state apparatus, upper-level management, and trade unions against owners of capital did exist in the USA (New Deal Capitalism). In an imperfect form with multiple betrayals and quick deterioration, but still existed for some time due to the danger from the USSR

Around 80th the threat from USSR dissipate, and the upper-level management betrayed their former allies and switched sides which signified the victory of neoliberalism and dismantling of the New Deal Capitalism.

After the USSR collapse (when Soviet nomenklatura switched to neoliberalism) the financial oligarchy staged coup d'état in the USA (aka "Quiet Coup") and came to the top.

We need depose this semi-criminal gang. Of course, the end of "cheap oil" will probably help.

Peter T 09.16.18 at 11:40 pm ( 86 )
Stephen

Some, but a "fair proportion"? Probably not. Advocacy of progressive causes usually involves punching up – an inherently more dangerous occupation than punching down. People forget that the older nomenklatura won their positions in World War II, when being a commissar meant leading from the front, being shot out of hand by the Germans, rallying the partisans in mountain villages to another desperate defence and similar. Survivor bias – we don't see the dead.

In more genteel times, the outspoken progressive will often face social ostracism, lack of promotion, attacks in the conservative press

Human motives are complex – no doubt there were confederates who genuinely believed the fight was for states rights, and no doubt there are libertarians who genuinely believe that the poor will have it much better in a free market utopia. I doubt the proportion, either counting individuals or in the swirl inside minds, is very large, but there's always some.

Faustusnotes 09.16.18 at 11:45 pm ( 87 )
Now we're making progress Thomas. The Berkowitz definition is sleazy, and sets up anyone not conservative as an amoral lump in need of guidance, or worse still as dangerous to society. Perhaps that's why Hayek (a supposedly type b conservative) had his opponents thrown out of helicopters. Or was that Friedman?

The appeal of conservatism and it's electoral success is easily explained. Because their real ideology is just treachery, theft and rape they need to hide these ideas from normal people, who already in general support the moral ideas fundamental to civilized society regardless of their politics. So they hide their true agenda through appeals to racism, or by cloaking themselves in the type b definition (isn't this robins point?!) In doing this they benefit from the work of yeomen like you, who insist that conservatism is a real moral project rather than banditry. In most countries they also only win when the left is divided, and only when their elite friends are pouring money into corrupt media. If they didn't have these advantages, these lies, and help from people like you they would never succeed.

I focus on Trump et Al because they are the leaders of your sect,the people who sell your ideas (manafort was a campaign manager ffs), and the people who turn the ideology into action. Didn't you learn in primary school to judge people by their actions, not their words? And why would I ignore these particular conservatives because they're "vulgar clowns"? You're all dangerous, vulgar clowns.

[Sep 12, 2018] If You Read This Book, It'll Make You a Radical A Conversation with Thomas Frank by John Siman

Notable quotes:
"... "Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps ..."
"... And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory. ..."
Sep 11, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Thomas Frank's new collection of essays: Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society (Metropolitan Books 2018) and Listen, Liberal; or,Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? (ibid. 2016)

To hang out with Thomas Frank for a couple of hours is to be reminded that, going back to 1607, say, or to 1620, for a period of about three hundred and fifty years, the most archetypal of American characters was, arguably, the hard-working, earnest, self-controlled, dependable white Protestant guy, last presented without irony a generation or two -- or three -- ago in the television personas of men like Ward Cleaver and Mister Rogers.

Thomas Frank, who grew up in Kansas and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, who at age 53 has the vibe of a happy eager college nerd, not only glows with authentic Midwestern Nice (and sometimes his face turns red when he laughs, which is often), he actually lives in suburbia, just outside of D.C., in Bethesda, where, he told me, he takes pleasure in mowing the lawn and doing some auto repair and fixing dinner for his wife and two children. (Until I met him, I had always assumed it was impossible for a serious intellectual to live in suburbia and stay sane, but Thomas Frank has proven me quite wrong on this.)

Frank is sincerely worried about the possibility of offending friends and acquaintances by the topics he chooses to write about. He told me that he was a B oy Scout back in Kansas, but didn't make Eagle. He told me that he was perhaps a little too harsh on Hillary Clinton in his brilliantly perspicacious "Liberal Gilt [ sic ]" chapter at the end of Listen, Liberal . His piercing insight into and fascination with the moral rot and the hypocrisy that lies in the American soul brings, well, Nathaniel Hawthorne to mind, yet he refuses to say anything (and I tried so hard to bait him!) mean about anyone, no matter how culpable he or she is in the ongoing dissolving and crumbling and sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" ( Thomas Frank in NYC on book tour https://youtu.be/DBNthCKtc1Y ).

And I believe that Frank's self-restraint, his refusal to indulge in bitter satire even as he parses our every national lie, makes him unique as social critic. "You will notice," he writes in the introduction to Rendezvous with Oblivion, "that I describe [these disasters] with a certain amount of levity. I do that because that's the only way to confront the issues of our time without sinking into debilitating gloom" (p. 8). And so rather than succumbing to an existential nausea, Frank descends into the abyss with a dependable flashlight and a ca. 1956 sitcom-dad chuckle.

"Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps " (p. 178).

And it is his analysis of this "Creative Class" -- he usually refers to it as the "Liberal Class" and sometimes as the "Meritocratic Class" in Listen, Liberal (while Barbara Ehrenreich uses the term " Professional Managerial Class ,"and Matthew Stewart recently published an article entitled "The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy" in the Atlantic ) -- that makes it clear that Frank's work is a continuation of the profound sociological critique that goes back to Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) and, more recently, to Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites (1994).

Unlike Veblen and Lasch, however, Frank is able to deliver the harshest news without any hauteur or irascibility, but rather with a deftness and tranquillity of mind, for he is both in and of the Creative Class; he abides among those afflicted by the epidemic which he diagnoses: "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education. They are a 'creative class' that naturally rebels against fakeness and conformity. They are an ' innovation class ' that just can't stop coming up with awesome new stuff" ( Listen, Liberal , pp. 27-29).

And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory.

The class that now runs the so-called Party of the People is impoverishing the people; the genius value-creators at Amazon and Google and Uber are Robber Barons, although, one must grant, hipper, cooler, and oh so much more innovative than their historical predecessors. "In reality," Frank writes in Listen, Liberal ,

.there is little new about this stuff except the software, the convenience, and the spying. Each of the innovations I have mentioned merely updates or digitizes some business strategy that Americans learned long ago to be wary of. Amazon updates the practices of Wal-Mart, for example, while Google has dusted off corporate behavior from the days of the Robber Barons. What Uber does has been compared to the every-man-for-himself hiring procedures of the pre-union shipping docks . Together, as Robert Reich has written, all these developments are 'the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants.' This is atavism, not innovation . And if we keep going in this direction, it will one day reduce all of us to day laborers, standing around like the guys outside the local hardware store, hoping for work. (p. 215).

And who gets this message? The YouTube patriot/comedian Jimmy Dore, Chicago-born, ex-Catholic, son of a cop, does for one. "If you read this b ook, " Dore said while interviewing Frank back in January of 2017, "it'll make y ou a radical" (Frank Interview Part 4 https://youtu.be/JONbGkQaq8Q ).

But to what extent, on the other hand, is Frank being actively excluded from our elite media outlets? He's certainly not on TV or radio or in print as much as he used to be. So is he a prophet without honor in his own country? Frank, of course, is too self-restrained to speculate about the motives of these Creative Class decision-makers and influencers. "But it is ironic and worth mentioning," he told me, "that most of my writing for the last few years has been in a British publication, The Guardian and (in translation) in Le Monde Diplomatique . The way to put it, I think, is to describe me as an ex-pundit."

Frank was, nevertheless, happy to tell me in vivid detail about how his most fundamental observation about America, viz. that the Party of the People has become hostile to the people , was for years effectively discredited in the Creative Class media -- among the bien-pensants , that is -- and about what he learned from their denialism.

JS: Going all the way back to your 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? -- I just looked at Larry Bartels's attack on it, "What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- and I saw that his first objection to your book was, Well, Thomas Frank says the working class is alienated from the Democrats, but I have the math to show that that's false. How out of touch does that sound now?

TCF: [laughs merrily] I know.

JS: I remember at the time that was considered a serious objection to your thesis.

TCF: Yeah. Well, he was a professor at Princeton. And he had numbers. So it looked real. And I actually wrote a response to that in which I pointed out that there were other statistical ways of looking at it, and he had chosen the one that makes his point.

JS: Well, what did Mark Twain say?

TCF: Mark Twain?

JS: There are lies, damned lies --

TCF: [laughs merrily] -- and statistics! Yeah. Well, anyhow, Bartels's take became the common sense of the highly educated -- there needs to be a term for these people by the way, in France they're called the bien-pensants -- the "right-thinking," the people who read The Atlantic, The New York Times op-ed page, The Washington Post op-ed page, and who all agree with each other on everything -- there's this tight little circle of unanimity. And they all agreed that Bartels was right about that, and that was a costly mistake. For example, Paul Krugman, a guy whom I admire in a lot of ways, he referenced this four or five times. He agreed with it . No, the Democrats are not losing the white working class outside the South -- they were not going over to the Republicans. The suggestion was that there is nothing to worry about. Yes. And there were people saying this right up to the 2016 election. But it was a mistake.

JS: I remember being perplexed at the time. I had thought you had written this brilliant book, and you weren't being taken seriously -- because somebody at Princeton had run some software -- as if that had proven you wrong.

TCF: Yeah, that's correct . That was a very widespread take on it. And Bartels was incorrect, and I am right, and [laughs merrily] that's that.

JS: So do you think Russiagate is a way of saying, Oh no no no no, Hillary didn't really lose?

TCF: Well, she did win the popular vote -- but there's a whole set of pathologies out there right now that all stem from Hillary Denialism. And I don't want to say that Russiagate is one of them, because we don't know the answer to that yet.

JS: Um, ok.

TCF: Well, there are all kinds of questionable reactions to 2016 out there, and what they all have in common is the faith that Democrats did nothing wrong. For example, this same circle of the bien-pensants have decided that the only acceptable explanation for Trump's victory is the racism of his supporters. Racism can be the only explanation for the behavior of Trump voters. But that just seems odd to me because, while it's true of course that there's lots of racism in this country, and while Trump is clearly a bigot and clearly won the bigot vote, racism is just one of several factors that went into what happened in 2016. Those who focus on this as the only possible answer are implying that all Trump voters are irredeemable, lost forever.

And it comes back to the same point that was made by all those people who denied what was happening with the white working class, which is: The Democratic Party needs to do nothing differently . All the post-election arguments come back to this same point. So a couple years ago they were saying about the white working class -- we don't have to worry about them -- they're not leaving the Democratic Party, they're totally loyal, especially in the northern states, or whatever the hell it was. And now they say, well, Those people are racists, and therefore they're lost to us forever. What is the common theme of these two arguments? It's always that there's nothing the Democratic Party needs to do differently. First, you haven't lost them; now you have lost them and they're irretrievable: Either way -- you see what I'm getting at? -- you don't have to do anything differently to win them.

JS: Yes, I do.

TCF: The argument in What's the Matter with Kansas? was that this is a long-term process, the movement of the white working class away from the Democratic Party. This has been going on for a long time. It begins in the '60s, and the response of the Democrats by and large has been to mock those people, deride those people, and to move away from organized labor, to move away from class issues -- working class issues -- and so their response has been to make this situation worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse! And there's really no excuse for them not seeing it. But they say, believe, rationalize, you know, come up with anything that gets then off the hook for this, that allows them to ignore this change. Anything. They will say or believe whatever it takes.

JS: Yes.

TCF: By the way, these are the smartest people! These are tenured professors at Ivy League institutions, these are people with Nobel Prizes, people with foundation grants, people with, you know, chairs at prestigious universities, people who work at our most prestigious media outlets -- that's who's wrong about all this stuff.

JS: [quoting the title of David Halberstam's 1972 book, an excerpt from which Frank uses as an epigraph for Listen, Liberal ] The best and the brightest!

TCF: [laughing merrily] Exactly. Isn't it fascinating?

JS: But this gets to the irony of the thing. [locates highlighted passage in book] I'm going to ask you one of the questions you ask in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "Why are worshippers of competence so often incompetent?" (p. 165). That's a huge question.

TCF: That's one of the big mysteries. Look. Take a step back. I had met Barack Obama. He was a professor at the University of Chicago, and I'd been a student there. And he was super smart. Anyhow, I met him and was really impressed by him. All the liberals in Hyde Park -- that's the neighborhood we lived in -- loved him, and I was one of them, and I loved him too. And I was so happy when he got elected.

Anyhow, I knew one thing he would do for sure, and that is he would end the reign of cronyism and incompetence that marked the Bush administration and before them the Reagan administration. These were administrations that actively promoted incompetent people. And I knew Obama wouldn't do that, and I knew Obama would bring in the smartest people, and he'd get the best economists. Remember, when he got elected we were in the pit of the crisis -- we were at this terrible moment -- and here comes exactly the right man to solve the problem. He did exactly what I just described: He brought in [pause] Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard, considered the greatest economist of his generation -- and, you know, go down the list: He had Nobel Prize winners, he had people who'd won genius grants, he had The Best and the Brightest . And they didn't really deal with the problem. They let the Wall Street perpetrators off the hook -- in a catastrophic way, I would argue. They come up with a health care system that was half-baked. Anyhow, the question becomes -- after watching the great disappointments of the Obama years -- the question becomes: Why did government-by-expert fail?

JS: So how did this happen? Why?

TCF: The answer is understanding experts not as individual geniuses but as members of a class . This is the great missing link in all of our talk about expertise. Experts aren't just experts: They are members of a class. And they act like a class. They have loyalty to one another; they have a disdain for others, people who aren't like them, who they perceive as being lower than them, and there's this whole hierarchy of status that they are at the pinnacle of.

And once you understand this, then everything falls into place! So why did they let the Wall Street bankers off the hook? Because these people were them. These people are their peers. Why did they refuse to do what obviously needed to be done with the health care system? Because they didn't want to do that to their friends in Big Pharma. Why didn't Obama get tough with Google and Facebook? They obviously have this kind of scary monopoly power that we haven't seen in a long time. Instead, he brought them into the White House, he identified with them. Again, it's the same thing. Once you understand this, you say: Wait a minute -- so the Democratic Party is a vehicle of this particular social class! It all makes sense. And all of a sudden all of these screw-ups make sense. And, you know, all of their rhetoric makes sense. And the way they treat working class people makes sense. And they way they treat so many other demographic groups makes sense -- all of the old-time elements of the Democratic Party: unions, minorities, et cetera. They all get to ride in back. It's the professionals -- you know, the professional class -- that sits up front and has its hands on the steering wheel.

* * *

It is, given Frank's persona, not surprising that he is able to conclude Listen, Liberal with a certain hopefulness, and so let me end by quoting some of his final words:

What I saw in Kansas eleven years ago is now everywhere . It is time to face the obvious: that the direction the Democrats have chosen to follow for the last few decades has been a failure for both the nation and for their own partisan health . The Democrats posture as the 'party of the people' even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning . The Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way . What we can do is strip away the Democrats' precious sense of their own moral probity -- to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side . Once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible. (pp. 256-257).

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

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

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

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

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

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

10:38 AM - Aug 28, 2018

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

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

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

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 5:19 pm

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

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

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

Won't happen, not even close.

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm

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

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

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

Or, What's Wrong with Russian Collusion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia is an adversary.

Russia is an adversary.

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Kuzali , 4 months ago

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

Off Grid Nation , 4 months ago

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

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

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

shaughn fourie , 4 months ago

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

James Australian , 4 months ago (edited)

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

zac anthony , 4 months ago

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

Luboš Lier , 4 months ago

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

haithem ali , 4 months ago

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

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

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

Gary Weglarz August 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm

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

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

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

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

Reply

GM , August 14, 2018 at 4:51 pm

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

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

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

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

Please don't give Rachel Maddow any more ideas.

michael , August 15, 2018 at 6:06 am

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

ToivoS , August 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm

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

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

GM , August 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

This kind of partisan religiosity is not new.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JLF August 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who stands accused? Trump? Russia? Both?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

How small we have become.

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

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

Regime change begins at home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grassroots and/or AstroTurf?

Our Famously Free Press

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

Class Warfare

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

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

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

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


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

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

sierra7 , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

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

nippersdad , August 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

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

Integrity has been in short supply ever since.

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

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

cm , August 6, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu

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

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Tomasky at NYT:

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

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

pretzelattack , August 6, 2018 at 3:23 pm

I would say it is required.

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 5:07 pm

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

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

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

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

Class class class

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

Truth Decay

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

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

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

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

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

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

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

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

Synapsid , August 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm

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

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

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

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

Carey , August 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm

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

jsn , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

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

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Re: Mastodon

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

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

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

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

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

Lee , August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Re Sarah Jeong

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

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

Lee
August 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

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

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

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

curlydan , August 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

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

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:59 pm

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

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

sleepy , August 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

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

Good list to which I would add the Katrina debacle.

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

One for the thumb!

jonhoops , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

flora , August 6, 2018 at 3:56 pm

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

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

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

knowbuddhau , August 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

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

zagonostra , August 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Russia,Russia,Russia.

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

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

Montanamaven , August 6, 2018 at 5:02 pm

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

Richard , August 6, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Hilarious and mind-blowing.

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

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

diptherio , August 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

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

Synoia , August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

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

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

Hiding , August 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

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

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

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

>An overtaxed educational system

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

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

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

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

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm

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

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

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:42 pm

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

David , August 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

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

From the USDA's Export Sales Query System

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

Country – 2018 Exports / 2017 Exports

China – 186 / 73,314

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

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

JTMcPhee , August 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

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

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

"Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods
May 2014

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

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

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , August 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm

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

And growth hormone beef that's another.

JohnnyGL , August 6, 2018 at 5:22 pm

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

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

Tectonic plates of politics are shifting.

Randy , August 6, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Salmonella in chickens.

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

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

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

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

Or quit eating meat.

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

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

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

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

WobblyTelomeres , August 6, 2018 at 6:40 pm

More likely a dollar sliding down the sidewalk

Glen , August 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

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

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

Bernie would have won.

anon , August 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Daryl , August 6, 2018 at 6:08 pm

> Mastodon users?

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

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

How does Mastodon work?

By rocking until you can't take it anymore.

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

And their drummer is a monster!

Or did you mean the Mastodon platform ?

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

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

Fun tutorial, lyman!

ChrisPacific , August 6, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Re: Indivisible

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

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

This would be well off message for establishment Democrats.

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

Pat , August 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm

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

Summer , August 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

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

More like an "Appartment"?

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

Sarah Jeong . . . hmmm . . .

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

So I will try again with indirect spelling.

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

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

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

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

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

Disrupt the disrupters.

Disruptive law-enforcement.

beth , August 6, 2018 at 8:05 pm

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

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

CalypsoFacto , August 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

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

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

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

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

ewmayer , August 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

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

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

[Aug 05, 2018] How identity politics makes the Left lose its collective identity by Tomasz Pierscionek

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The identity politics phenomenon sweeping across the Western world is a divide and conquer strategy that prevents the emergence of a genuine resistance to the elites. ..."
"... Each subgroup, increasingly alienated from all others, focuses on the shared identity and unique experiences of its members and prioritises its own empowerment. Anyone outside this subgroup is demoted to the rank of ally, at best. ..."
"... Precious time is spent fighting against those deemed less oppressed and telling them to 'check their privilege' as the ever-changing pecking order of the 'Oppression Olympics' plays out. The rules to this sport are as fluid as the identities taking part. One of the latest dilemmas affecting the identity politics movement is the issue of whether men transitioning to women deserve recognition and acceptance or 'whether trans women aren't women and are apparently " raping ..."
"... It is much easier to 'struggle' against an equally or slightly less oppressed group than to take the time and effort to unite with them against the common enemy - capitalism. ..."
"... There is a carefully crafted misconception that identity politics derives from Marxist thought and the meaningless phrase 'cultural Marxism', which has more to do with liberal culture than Marxism, is used to sell this line of thinking. Not only does identity politics have nothing in common with Marxism, socialism or any other strand of traditional left-wing thought, it is anathema to the very concept. ..."
"... 'An injury to one is an injury to all' has been replaced with something like 'An injury to me is all that matters'. No socialist country, whether in practice or in name only, promoted identity politics. Neither the African and Asian nations that liberated themselves from colonialist oppression nor the USSR and Eastern Bloc states nor the left-wing movements that sprung up across Latin America in the early 21st century had any time to play identity politics. ..."
"... The idea that identity politics is part of traditional left-wing thought is promoted by the right who seek to demonise left wing-movements, liberals who seek to infiltrate, backstab and destroy said left-wing movements, and misguided young radicals who know nothing about political theory and have neither the patience nor discipline to learn. The last group seek a cheap thrill that makes them feel as if they have shaken the foundations of the establishment when in reality they strengthen it. ..."
"... Identity politics is typically a modern middle-class led phenomenon that helps those in charge keep the masses divided and distracted. ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
"... Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT's Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen's Kalima Horra. ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | www.rt.com
The identity politics phenomenon sweeping across the Western world is a divide and conquer strategy that prevents the emergence of a genuine resistance to the elites. A core principle of socialism is the idea of an overarching supra-national solidarity that unites the international working class and overrides any factor that might divide it, such as nation, race, or gender. Workers of all nations are partners, having equal worth and responsibility in a struggle against those who profit from their brain and muscle.

Capitalism, especially in its most evolved, exploitative and heartless form - imperialism - has wronged certain groups of people more than others. Colonial empires tended to reserve their greatest brutality for subjugated peoples whilst the working class of these imperialist nations fared better in comparison, being closer to the crumbs that fell from the table of empire. The international class struggle aims to liberate all people everywhere from the drudgery of capitalism regardless of their past or present degree of oppression. The phrase 'an injury to one is an injury to all' encapsulates this mindset and conflicts with the idea of prioritising the interests of one faction of the working class over the entire collective.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, a liberally-inspired tendency has taken root amongst the Left (in the West at least) that encourages departure from a single identity based on class in favour of multiple identities based upon one's gender, sexuality, race or any other dividing factor. Each subgroup, increasingly alienated from all others, focuses on the shared identity and unique experiences of its members and prioritises its own empowerment. Anyone outside this subgroup is demoted to the rank of ally, at best.

At the time of writing there are apparently over 70 different gender options in the West, not to mention numerous sexualities - the traditional LGBT acronym has thus far grown to LGBTQQIP2SAA . Adding race to the mix results in an even greater number of possible permutations or identities. Each subgroup has its own ideology. Precious time is spent fighting against those deemed less oppressed and telling them to 'check their privilege' as the ever-changing pecking order of the 'Oppression Olympics' plays out. The rules to this sport are as fluid as the identities taking part. One of the latest dilemmas affecting the identity politics movement is the issue of whether men transitioning to women deserve recognition and acceptance or 'whether trans women aren't women and are apparently " raping " lesbians'.

The ideology of identity politics asserts that the straight white male is at the apex of the privilege pyramid, responsible for the oppression of all other groups. His original sin condemns him to everlasting shame. While it is true that straight white men (as a group) have faced less obstacles than females, non-straight men or ethnic minorities, the majority of straight white men, past and present, also struggle to survive from paycheck to paycheck and are not personally involved in the oppression of any other group. While most of the world's wealthiest individuals are Caucasian males, millions of white men exist who are both poor and powerless. The idea of 'whiteness' is itself an ambiguous concept involving racial profiling. For example, the Irish, Slavs and Ashkenazi Jews may look white yet have suffered more than their fair share of famines, occupations and genocides throughout the centuries. The idea of tying an individual's privilege to their appearance is itself a form of racism dreamed up by woolly minded, liberal (some might say privileged) 'intellectuals' who would be superfluous in any socialist society.

Is the middle-class ethnic minority lesbian living in Western Europe more oppressed than the whitish looking Syrian residing under ISIS occupation? Is the British white working class male really more privileged than a middle class woman from the same society? Stereotyping based on race, gender or any other factor only leads to alienation and animosity. How can there be unity amongst the Left if we are only loyal to ourselves and those most like us? Some 'white' men who feel the Left has nothing to offer them have decided to play the identity politics game in their search of salvation and have drifted towards supporting Trump (a billionaire with whom they have nothing in common) or far-right movements, resulting in further alienation, animosity and powerlessness which in turn only strengthens the position of the top 1%. People around the world are more divided by class than any other factor.

It is much easier to 'struggle' against an equally or slightly less oppressed group than to take the time and effort to unite with them against the common enemy - capitalism. Fighting oppression through identity politics is at best a lazy, perverse and fetishistic form of the class struggle led by mostly liberal, middle class and tertiary-educated activists who understand little of left-wing political theory. At worst it is yet another tool used by the top 1% to divide the other 99% into 99 or 999 different competing groups who are too preoccupied with fighting their own little corner to challenge the status quo. It is ironic that one of the major donors to the faux-left identity politics movement is the privileged white cisgender male billionaire George Soros , whose NGOs helped orchestrate the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine that gave way to the emergence of far right and neo-nazi movements: the kind of people who believe in racial superiority and do not look kindly on diversity.

There is a carefully crafted misconception that identity politics derives from Marxist thought and the meaningless phrase 'cultural Marxism', which has more to do with liberal culture than Marxism, is used to sell this line of thinking. Not only does identity politics have nothing in common with Marxism, socialism or any other strand of traditional left-wing thought, it is anathema to the very concept.

'An injury to one is an injury to all' has been replaced with something like 'An injury to me is all that matters'. No socialist country, whether in practice or in name only, promoted identity politics. Neither the African and Asian nations that liberated themselves from colonialist oppression nor the USSR and Eastern Bloc states nor the left-wing movements that sprung up across Latin America in the early 21st century had any time to play identity politics.

The idea that identity politics is part of traditional left-wing thought is promoted by the right who seek to demonise left wing-movements, liberals who seek to infiltrate, backstab and destroy said left-wing movements, and misguided young radicals who know nothing about political theory and have neither the patience nor discipline to learn. The last group seek a cheap thrill that makes them feel as if they have shaken the foundations of the establishment when in reality they strengthen it.

Identity politics is typically a modern middle-class led phenomenon that helps those in charge keep the masses divided and distracted. In the West you are free to choose any gender or sexuality, transition between these at whim, or perhaps create your own, but you are not allowed to question the foundations of capitalism or liberalism. Identity politics is the new opiate of the masses and prevents organised resistance against the system. Segments of the Western Left even believe such aforementioned 'freedoms' are a bellwether of progress and an indicator of its cultural superiority, one that warrants export abroad be it softly via NGOs or more bluntly through colour revolutions and regime change.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT's Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen's Kalima Horra.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. Read more

Soros & the £400k Question: What constitutes 'foreign interference' in democracy? UK Labour cruising towards split over Israel-Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But who cares? Who even notices?

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

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

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

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

Why? Why? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

IT'S TIME FOR THE TRUTH TO COME OUT!

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

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

This is written on the book's back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: Chuck Baldwin LIVE

[Jul 31, 2018] Trump Has a Grand Strategy, He Wants to Do a 'Reverse Nixon' -- Partner Russia for an Alliance against China

Jul 31, 2018 | russia-insider.com

In a conversation with the Financial Times last week, Henry Kissinger made a highly significant remark about President Donald Trump's attempt to improve the United States' relations with Russia. The conversation took place in the backdrop of the Helsinki summit on July 16. Kissinger said: "I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences. It doesn't necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident."

Kissinger did not elaborate, but the drift of his thought is consistent with opinions he has voiced in the past – the US' steady loss of influence on global arena, rise of China and resurgence of Russia necessitating a new global balance .

As far back as 1972 in a discussion with Richard Nixon on his upcoming trip to China, signifying the historic opening to Beijing, Kissinger could visualize such a rebalancing becoming necessary in future. He expressed the view that compared with the Soviets (Russians), the Chinese were "just as dangerous. In fact, they're more dangerous over a historical period." Kissinger added, "in 20 years your (Nixon's) successor, if he's as wise as you, will wind up leaning towards the Russians against the Chinese."

Kissinger argued that the United States, which sought to profit from the enmity between Moscow and Beijing in the Cold War era, would therefore need "to play this balance-of-power game totally unemotionally. Right now, we need the Chinese to correct the Russians and to discipline the Russians." But in the future, it would be the other way around.

Of course, Kissinger is not the pioneer of US-Russia-China 'triangular diplomacy'. It is no secret that in the 1950s, the US did all it could to drive a wedge between Mao Zedong and Nikita Khrushchev. The accent was on isolating "communist China". Khrushchev's passion for 'peaceful co-existence' following his summit with Dwight Eisenhower in 1959 at Camp David became a defining moment in Sino-Soviet schism.

But even as Sino-Soviet schism deepened (culminating in the bloody conflict in Ussuri River in 1969), Nixon reversed the policy of Eisenhower and opened the line to Beijing, prioritizing the US' global competition with the Soviet Union. The de-classified Cold-War archival materials show that Washington seriously pondered over the possibility of a wider Sino-Soviet war. One particular memorandum of the US State Department recounts an incredible moment in Cold War history – a KGB officer querying about American reaction to a hypothetical Soviet attack on Chinese nuclear weapons facilities.

Then there is a memo written for Kissinger's attention by then influential China watcher Allen S. Whiting warning of the danger of a Soviet attack on China. Clearly, 1969 was a pivotal year when the US calculus was reset based on estimation that Sino-Soviet tensions provided a basis for Sino-American rapprochement. It led to the dramatic overture by Nixon and Kissinger to open secret communications with China through Pakistan and Romania.

Now, this recapitulation is useful today, because Trump's moves so far are indicative of an agenda to revert to the Eisenhower era – containment of China by forging an alliance with Russia .

Will Putin fall for Trump's bait? Well, it depends. To my mind, there is no question Putin will see a great opening here for Russia. But it will depend on what's on offer from the US. Putin's fulsome praise for Trump on North Korean issue and the latter's warm response was a meaningful exchange at Helsinki, has been a good beginning to underscore Moscow's keenness to play a broader role in the Asia-Pacific.

Beijing must be watching the 'thaw' at Helsinki with some unease. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson welcomed the Helsinki summit. But the mainstream assessment by Chinese analysts is that nothing much is going to happen since the contradictions in the US-Russia relations are fundamental and Russophobia is all too pervasive within the US establishment.

The government-owned China Daily carried an editorial – Has the meeting in Helsinki reset US-Russia relations? – where it estimates that at best, " Helsinki summit represents a good beginning for better relations between the US and Russia." Notably, however, the editorial is pessimistic about any real US-Russia breakthrough, including on Syria, the topic that Putin singled out as a test case of the efficacy of Russian-American cooperation.

On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times featured an editorial giving a stunning analysis of what has prompted Trump to pay such attention ("respect") to Russia -- China can learn from Trump's respect for Russia . It concludes that the only conceivable reason could be that although Russia is not an economic power, it has retained influence on the global stage due to military power:

Trump has repeatedly stressed that Russia and the US are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world, with their combined nuclear arsenal accounting for 90 percent of world's total, and thus the US must live in peace with Russia. On US-Russia relations, Trump is clearheaded.

On the contrary, if the US is piling pressure on China today, it is because China, although an economic giant, is still a weak military power. Therefore:

China's nuclear weapons have to not only secure a second strike but also play the role of cornerstone in forming a strong deterrence so that outside powers dare not intimidate China militarily Part of the US' strategic arrogance may come from its absolute nuclear advantage China must speed up its process of developing strategic nuclear power Not only should we possess a strong nuclear arsenal, but we must also let the outside world know that China is determined to defend its core national interests with nuclear power.

Indeed, if the crunch time comes, China will be on its own within the Kissingerian triangle. And China needs to prepare for such an eventuality. On the other hand, China's surge to create a vast nuclear arsenal could make a mockery of the grand notions in Moscow and Washington that they are the only adults in the room in keeping the global strategic balance.


Source: Indian Punchline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

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

― Vladimir Lenin

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

Orwell's point :

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

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

Yet, we have to mark the words and wisdom of those of us who have been marking this empire's crimes, both internal and external, for years. Here, Paul Edwards over at Counterpunch hits a bulls-eye on the heart of the matter:

After decades of proven bald-faced crime, deceit and the dirtiest pool at home and abroad, the CIA, FBI, NSA, the Justice Department and the whole fetid nomenklatura of sociopathic rats, are portrayed as white knights of virtue dispensing verity as holy writ. And "progressives" buy it.

These are the vermin that gave us Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, Chile, the Contras, Iraq's WMD, and along the way managed to miss the falls of the Shah and Communism.

Truly an Orwellian clusterfuck, this. War Party Dems misleading naive liberal souls sickened by Trump into embracing the dirty, vicious lunacy Hillary peddled to her fans, the bankers, brokers, and CEOs of the War Machine.

Trump is a fool who may yet blunder us into war; the Dems and the Deep State cabal would give us war by design.

... ... ...

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber , looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice , and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive . Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

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

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jul 23, 2018] Chickens with Their Heads Cut Off, Coming Home to Roost. The "Treason Narrative" by Helen Buyniski

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker. ..."
"... The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

... ... ...

The Helsinki hysteria shone a spotlight on the utter impotence of the establishment media and their Deep State controllers to make their delusions reality. Never before has there been such a gaping chasm visible between the media's "truth" and the facts on the ground. Pundits compared the summit to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 , with some even reaching for the brass ring of the Holocaust by likening it to Kristallnacht , while polls revealed the American people really didn't care .

Worse, it laid bare the collusion between the media and their Deep State handlers – the central dissemination point for the headlines, down to the same phrases, that led to every outlet claiming Trump had "thrown the Intelligence Community under the bus" by refusing to embrace the Russia-hacked-our-democracy narrative during his press conference with Putin. Leaving aside the sudden ubiquity of "Intelligence Community" in our national discourse – as if this network of spies and murderous thugs is Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood – no one seriously believes every pundit came up with "throws under the bus" as the proper way of describing that press conference.

The same central control was apparent in the unanimous condemnations of Putin – that he murders journalists , breaks international agreements , uses banned chemical weapons , kills women and children in Syria , and, of course, meddles in elections . For every single establishment pundit to exhibit such a breathtaking lack of insight into their own government's misdeeds is highly unlikely. Many of these same talking heads remarked in horror on Sinclair Broadcasting's Orwellian "prepared statement" issuing forth from the mouths of hundreds of stations' anchors at once. Et tu, Anderson Cooper?

Helsinki – Trump and Putin – a Showdown for Summer Doldrums or a Genuine Attempt Towards Peace?

The media frenzy was geared toward sparking a popular revolt, with tensions already running high from the previous media frenzy about family separation at the border (though only one MSNBC segment seemed to recall that they should still care about that, and belatedly included some footage of kids behind a fence wrapped in Mylar blankets). Rachel Maddow , armed with the crocodile tears that served her so well during the family-separation fracas, exhorted her faithful cultists to do something . Meanwhile, national-security neanderthal John Brennan all but called for a coup, condemning the president for the unspeakable "high crimes and misdemeanors" of seeking to improve relations with the world's second-largest nuclear power. He called on Pompeo and Bolton, the two biggest warmongers in a Trump administration bristling with warmongers, to resign in protest. This would have been a grand slam for world peace, but alas, it was not to be. Even those two realize what a has-been Brennan is.

Congress wasted no time jumping on the Treason bandwagon, led by Chuck Schumer conjuring the spectre of the KGB, Marco Rubio as neocon point-man (one imagines Barbara Bush rolling in her grave at his usurpation of Jeb's rightful role) proposing locked-and-loaded sanctions in case of future "meddling," and John McCain , still desperate to take the rest of the world with him before he finally kicks a long-overdue bucket, condemning the "disgraceful" display of two heads of state trying to come to an agreement about matters of mutual interest. The Pentagon has invested a lot of time and money in positioning Russia as Public Enemy #1, and for Trump to put his foot in it by making nice with Putin might diminish the size of their weapons contracts – or the willingness of the American people to tolerate more than half of every tax dollar disappearing down an unaccountable hole . Peace? Eh, who needs it. Cash , motherfucker.

Trump's grip on his long-elusive spine was only temporary, and he held another press conference upon returning home to reiterate his trust in the intelligence agencies that have made no secret of their utter loathing for him since day one. When the lights went out at the climactic moment, it became clear for anyone who still hadn't gotten the message who was running the show here (and Trump, to his credit, actually joked about it). The Intelligence Community believes it is God, and it hath smote Trump good. Smelling blood in the water, the media redoubled their shrieking for several days, and crickets. On to the Playmates .

Sacha Baron Cohen 's latest series, "Who is America," targeted Ted Koppel for one segment. Koppel cut the interview short after smelling a rat and expressed his high-minded concern that Cohen's antics would hurt Americans' trust in reporters. But after a week of the entire media establishment screaming that the sky is falling while the heavens remain firmly in place, Cohen is clearly the least of their problems. At least he's funny.

*

Helen Buyniski is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. She covers politics, sociology, and other anthropological/cultural phenomena. Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski .

[Jul 22, 2018] Crooked Timber -- Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made

Notable quotes:
"... The Origins of Totalitarianism ..."
"... By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday. ..."
"... Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed. ..."
"... Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore. ..."
"... Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? ..."
"... Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you. ..."
"... I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion. ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism , "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule ... [are] people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist."

By the way, I should note the date of that exchange with Jay: October 2008. We were still in the Bush era. The entire discussion -- of lies and facts, the disregard for facts, and such -- was framed by the Iraq War and the epic untruths that were told in the run-up to the war. It should give you a sense that the world of fake news that so many pundits seem to have suddenly awakened to as a newborn threat has been with us for a long time. The Bush era may seem like ancient history to some, but in the vast, and even not so vast, scheme of things, it was just yesterday.


Ray Vinmad 07.16.18 at 8:11 am (no link)

"Should enough people come to believe the liar's claim, the facts about which he lies could be lost from the world forever. "

This isn't what happens, usually. When the interests connected to the lies change, then the truth is usually admitted. In the US, the truth often becomes irrelevant, even if real horrors are admitted to. Americans are fairly disinterested in the dirty particles of most of the nation's past.

Once the facts aren't a threat to power, they can generally be revealed.

That's not to say that certain false narratives won't be retained, but the revival of these is generally shaped to current interests, and even if lies are borrowed from the past, the main way they get a hold on the present is because they serve certain interests.

Bush appeared confident the facts won't matter, after the invasion. They did matter–if you're just talking about the truth. The non-existence of the WMDs wasn't widely denied (though a few in the administration would try) –the fact was simply swept away because they weren't politically relevant anymore.

In these cases, it seems that salience or irrelevance is a better way to understand what's driving the weak practical impact of the facts rather than truth or falsity.

Isn't that why everyone is saying we're in a 'post-truth' moment? Trump's trick is to make his story the salient story, and his denials have a way of disabling or thwarting action, even when people are fully aware of the truth. Except for the total fanatics, Trump's enablers are vaguely or even completely aware they are operating on a lie. What matters isn't that the claims are factual disprovable but that they drive action toward the pursuit of particular interests, and disable action that harms those interests.

Prior to this, an unsavory or humiliating or shameful or dangerous truth was extremely salient, and would be fuel for a response. It's partly the power of gaslighting – denying the obvious creates a sufficient level of confusion to let you keep going when normally others would stop you.

Faustusnotes 07.16.18 at 1:57 pm (no link)
There's something odious and misleading in the way you distinguish between types of truth and their role in politics, though I can't put my finger on it, and perhaps whatever error I can't quite describe might explain why you fell for Trump so neatly, but perhaps part of it can be easily seen here:

Having staked his presidency on the claim that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, he's going to have to wage war against Iraq in order to eliminate those weapons.

This gets the nature of Bush's lies completely wrong. He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it because of the way American politics rewards muscular action and militarism, and because of the recklessness of his political supporters. He didn't stake his presidency on a lie, he staked his presidency on a war and lied his way into it. In 2008 did you really believe bush had been sincere about his belief in wmds?

This definition of lies here seems weird and unnecessary.

Donald 07.16.18 at 4:18 pm (no link)
I understand the difference between the two types of truth, truths of logic vs empirical facts that are contingent, but I think the difference between the liar and the sophist is mostly nonexistent. People who lie about empirical facts are also unwilling to follow chains of logic if they don't want to accept the necessary conclusion.

That aside, I think politics is full of lies because the system collapses otherwise. I think this ties in with the endless debate people have here about Trump and Trump's opposition. Like Hidari in the other thread, I think Trump's war crimes ( listed below) are far more significant morally speaking than Russiagate, but in our political system collusion with a foreign power in dirty tricks during a political campaign is much easier to attack than war crimes and US complicity in genocide. Both political parties would collapse if we started holding politicians of both parties along with various government officials accountable. We have a functioning democracy by some definition of " functioning" precisely because we allow the biggest crimes to be treated as policy choices and not crimes, while pretending that the worst crime an American politician has or could commit would be to collude with a foreign power in stealing some emails to embarrass the other party.

For those curious, Trump's biggest war crimes are the bombing of civilians in Iraq and Syria and the assistance to the Saudi assault on Yemen. According to the Airwars site the killing of civilians by our bombs increased dramatically under Trump, probably because of loosened restrictions. The policy in Yemen continues what Obama did. In both cases it isn't just the President who is guilty, unless Obama and Trump singkehandedly carry out all functions of our government in the Mideast. Holding them accountable would mean holding a lot of other people accountable.

michael 07.16.18 at 6:06 pm (no link)
This is the first intelligent thing Robin has written, in my view. It also helps me formulate more explicitly some of my longstanding discomfort with Arendt, which is rooted in the way her predilection for natality leads her to posit a rather simplistic political ontology. After all, we do not enter politics with a given floor and horizon; politics is about which floor and which horizon does and should exist. This is what makes factual truth coercive: not its validity, but its tendency to impose rather than set out from a set of political givens. Which is to say, natality is always already operating within the status quo; it is not introduced there by "politics."
Orange Watch 07.16.18 at 6:17 pm ( 9 )
Anarcissie@5

Relatedly, I see striking similarities between an awful lot of public/political morality and virtue ethics, particularly agent-based formulations.

Hidari 07.16.18 at 6:41 pm ( 11 )
I know I have in the past quoted from Twitter (which would seem to be where the most interesting conversations are nowadays, as opposed to the blogosphere) but Branko Milanovic has some interesting insights (he also has the inestimable advantage of not coming from the UK/US/Australasia AKA the 'Anglosphere': he has more of a cosmopolitan sensibility).

https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1018218532994207746

His basic point is that you really can't understand Trump unless you look at what came before his (Frederic Jameson: 'Always historicise!'). Since Thatcher/Reagan (and Clinton and Blair were not really much different) we have been taught to look up to 'entrepreneurs' as 'wealth creators'. Or, to put it another way, to obsequiously grovel to semi-earned wealth and power. But politics, we were told, floated above the grubby world of 'material interests' like a soap bubble.

Trump tears the veil aside. He doesn't govern on behalf of capitalists as Thatcher/Blair and the rest did. He IS a capitalist. And he self-evidently became President to help his business interests (including, yes, those in Russia. But that's probably as far as the Russia thing goes). This is terribly disturbing for liberals, who have been taught to see 'capitalist' ('liberal' is normally the euphemism) 'democracy' as being merely a neutral description of the 'mode of production' of our current set up, as opposed to being a harsh description of political realities: politicians are allowed to govern insofar as their policies benefit capitalists.

Hence to talk about Trump lying is like talking about an advert 'lying'. Do adverts 'lie'? Of course to a certain extent. But then they were never supposed to tell the truth. Their purpose is to sell a product. Truth is irrelevant.

Every word that comes out of Trump's mouth is to help Trump PLC. It's true (sic) that some of his statements are false. But to assess it in these terms is like to point out that Heineken is not, in fact, probably the best lager in the world, or that one should not, in fact, necessarily Drinka Pinta Milka day.

Again, I think this is what disturbs people. Bush et al, consciously lied. Trump I don't think he knows what truth is, and I don't think he cares. What boosts profits that's what's good and true.What doesn't isn't good (or true).

But these are the value of capitalism, and Trump is, in this sense, the logical end product of where Western society has been heading since 1979 (1981 in the 'States).

Faustusnotes 07.17.18 at 12:21 am ( 12 )
Orange watch, the order of the claim seems important to me. Stumbling into a war because you told a lie about a possible cause of a war ends all the other options to deal with it dried up is one thing; setting up a war and lying your way into it is a different thing. Eg you decide to cheat on your wife and set up an incredibly thin lie to do it, versus you have a habit of lying to your wife that ultimately ends with you having a chance at an affair.

Also the empirical difference between these types of liar seems irrelevant. Everyone who lied about the true cause of the war also lied about basic facts like global warming. As the commitment to one kind of lie has grown so has the magnitude oft he other kind. Why waste time distinguishing? And why did Arendt? The liars of her time lied in both ways as well.

nastywoman 07.17.18 at 10:04 am ( 15 )
AND somebody -(even if it is "not actually being a U.S. citizen) needed to point to "the truth" of this:

"He wanted to invade Iraq and he knew he could lie his way into it" – as lying in politics is (sadly) nothing but "another tool" or "another strategy" to get what any -"political actor" (even some of the lesser evil) – want.

And the Sawyer-Bush example is about the best example for this fact:

"Sawyer: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons.
Bush: So what's the difference?"

For somebody who wants to start a war – or wants to become US President? – and who realizes that the best "strategy" in ending up with "a war" or "becoming US President" -is lying -(day and night) – lying becomes just a a very "practical solution" – (especially if the liar is dealing with a bunch of people who might believe that "France isn't France anymore" – if just a Clownsticks tells them)

And I fear that by conflating the above described type of liar with "the type of liars described in the OP – WE may have allowed the virtues – or at least the charms – of the ones to obscure the vices of the others.

michael 07.17.18 at 7:56 pm ( 16 )
@ john c. halasz

In "Lying in Politics," Arendt writes:
A characteristic of human action is that it always begins something new, but this does not mean that it is ever permitted to start ab ovo, to create ex nihilo. In order to make room for one's own action, something that was there before must be removed or destroyed, and things as they were before are changed. Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination."

So she directly links lying to natality. And this paragraph, like much of her work, describes what she takes to be the ontological conditions of politics. That is what she is doing when she invokes "something that was there before," furnishing the ground for action. And this in turn commits her to a view of the "already there" which is not itself political, as she herself defines the term.

Alan White 07.17.18 at 9:12 pm ( 17 )
JCH @ 13–

I completely agree that Stevenson likely has it all wrong meta-ethically. But my point was that I was offering an explanation to describe what Trump, Giuliani, etc. are engaging in, even if they don't know they're doing it. Emotivism is an attempt to explain what we usually denote as moral language and behavior. It maintains that moral language and action amount to the expression of emotional attitudes and nothing more. Therefore, beyond the fact that an individual or group has some attitudes, there is nothing left for morality to do but for individuals and groups to try and influence one another in attitude–to achieve agreement in attitude. Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude. Just listen to Trump's crowds. They don't care what he says, or what he does, they just feel that he "gets" how they feel–shared attitudes. If that's the case, then the Trump phenomenon might be best explained as reflecting a practical embrace of such expressivism. Again, I have no claim to anything approaching political expertise here–I'm just advancing a way of looking at the Trump phenomenon conceptually to see if it's at all helpful.

TM 07.19.18 at 9:24 am ( 18 )
16: "Such change would be impossible if we could not mentally remove ourselves from where we are physically located and imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. In other words, the ability to lie, the deliberate denial of factual truth, and the capacity to change facts, the ability to act, are interconnected; they owe their existence to the same source, imagination.""

This reminds me a lot of modern management speak: "Everybody said it was impossible until someone came along who didn´t know that .. and just did it!"

To me, Arendt's claim makes no sense. Yes, mentally removing oneself from reality to imagine a different one is difficult but it's not lying, it's not denial of reality. Imagination isn't synonymous with delusion. I'll counter this weird idealistic view with Rosa Luxemburg's materialism (quoting Ferdinand Lassalle):
"Wie Lassalle sagte, ist und bleibt es immer die revolutionärste Tat: "laut zu sagen, was ist"".

The most revolutionary act is to say loudly what is (what is true).

Btw Michael what do you mean by "natality"? It literally means birth rate, no?

J-D 07.19.18 at 11:52 am ( 19 )
Alan White

Any means to do so–lies and bullshit–are legitimate to try and achieve agreement in attitude.

It is empirically obvious that people use lies and bullshit in attempts to try and achieve agreement in attitude; but the statement quoted is made different from that empirical observation by the introduction of the word 'legitimate', which in this context is moral language. Those who affirm that it is legitimate to use lies and bullshit to achieve agreement in attitude reveal their moral bankruptcy. On an emotivist theory, that statement expresses my moral attitude; what I have to say about that is that yes, it does express my moral attitude, and if your moral attitude differs from mine on that point, what do you suggest we do about it?

alfredlordbleep 07.19.18 at 3:21 pm ( 20 )
Dominoes

Arendt's NYRB piece, kindly linked @13, holds this very interesting nugget [for footnoting -- see original]:
As regards the domino theory, first enunciated in 1950 and permitted to survive, as it has been said, the "most momentous events": To the question of President Johnson in 1964, "Would the rest of Southeast Asia necessarily fall if Laos and South Vietnam came under North Vietnam control?" the CIA's answer was, "With the possible exception of Cambodia, it is likely that no nation in the area would quickly succumb to Communism as a result of the fall of Laos and South Vietnam." When five years later the Nixon Administration raised the same question, it "was advised by the Central Intelligence Agency that [the United States] could immediately withdraw from South Vietnam and 'all of Southeast Asia would remain just as it is for at least another generation.' "According to the study, "only the Joint Chiefs, Mr. Rostow and General Taylor appear to have accepted the domino theory in its literal sense,"and the point here is that those who did not accept it still used it not merely for public statements but as part of their own premises as well.

[Jul 21, 2018] Iron law of oligarchy sociological thesis

Jul 21, 2018 | www.britannica.com

The iron law became a central theme in the study of organized labour , political parties , and pluralist democracy in the postwar era. Although much of this scholarship basically confirmed Michels's arguments, a number of prominent works began to identify important anomalies and limitations to the iron law framework. Seymour Lipset , Martin Trow, and James Coleman 's analysis of the International Typographical Union (ITU), for example, showed that sustained union democracy was possible given printers' relative equality of income and status, mastery of communication skills, and generalized political competence, which underpinned the ITU's unusual history of enduring two-party competition (Independents and Progressives), which mirrored the American two-party system . In the party literature, Samuel Eldersveld argued that the power of organizational elites in Detroit was not nearly as concentrated as the iron law would suggest. He found party power relatively dispersed among different sectors and levels, in a "stratarchy" of shifting coalitions among component groups representing different social strata.

[Jul 19, 2018] The Russian US Election Meddling Big Lie Won't Die by Stephen Lendman

Notable quotes:
"... Propaganda works, proved effective time and again – why it's a key tool in America's deep state playbook. ..."
"... Virtually anything repeated enough, especially through the major media megaphone, gets most people to believe it – no matter how preposterous the claim. ..."
"... Normalized relations with Russia and world peace are anathema notions in Washington. Bipartisan neocons infesting the US political establishment want none of it. America's hegemonic aims matter most – wanting dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations. Endless wars of aggression, color revolutions, and other unlawful practices harmful to human rights and welfare are its favored strategies. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Propaganda works, proved effective time and again – why it's a key tool in America's deep state playbook.

Virtually anything repeated enough, especially through the major media megaphone, gets most people to believe it – no matter how preposterous the claim.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia meddled in America's political process – nothing.

Yet an earlier NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed most Americans believe the Russia did it Big Lie. A months earlier Gallup poll showed three-fourths of Americans view Vladimir Putin unfavorably.

Americans are easy marks to be fooled. No matter how many times they were deceived before, they're easily manipulated to believe most anything drummed into their minds by the power of repetitious propaganda – fed them through through the major media megaphone – in lockstep with the official falsified narrative.

America's dominant media serve as a propaganda platform for US imperial and monied interests – acting as agents of deception, betraying their readers and viewers time and again instead of informing them responsibly.

CNN presstitute Poppy Harlow played a clip on air of Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asking Putin in Helsinki the following question:

"Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

Putin said: "Yes," he wanted Trump to win "because he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal," as translated from his Russian language response.

Here's the precise translation of his remark:

"Yes, I wanted him to win, because he talked about the need to normalize US-Russia relations," adding:

"Isn't it natural to have sympathy towards a man who wants to restore relations with your country? That's normal."

Putin did not address the fabricated official narrative notion that he directed his officials to help Trump win. Yet CNN's Harlow claimed otherwise, falsely claiming he ordered Kremlin officials to help Trump triumph over Hillary.

He did nothing of the kind or say it, nor did any other Kremlin officials. No evidence proves otherwise – nothing but baseless accusations supported only by the power of deceptive propaganda.

Time and again, CNN, the NYT, and rest of America's dominant media prove themselves untrustworthy.

They consistently abandon journalism the way it's supposed to be, notably on geopolitical issues, especially on war and peace and anything about Russia.

After rejecting, or at least doubting, the official narrative about alleged Russian meddling in the US political process to aid his election, Trump backtracked post-Helsinki – capitulating to deep state power.

First in the White House, he said he misspoke abroad – then on CBS News Wednesday night, saying it's "true," deplorably adding:

Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and he "would" hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for the interference – that didn't occur, he failed to stress.

Here's his verbatim exchange with CBS anchor Jeff Glor :

GLOR: "You say you agree with US intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016."

TRUMP: "Yeah and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true, yeah."

GLOR: "But you haven't condemned Putin, specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?"

TRUMP: "Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes."

GLOR: "What did you say to him?"

TRUMP: "Very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling. We can't have any of that – now look. We're also living in a grown-up world."

"Will a strong statement – you know – President Obama supposedly made a strong statement. Nobody heard it."

"What they did hear is a statement he made to Putin's very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable."

"But I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it, and that's the way it's going to be."

There you have it – Trump capitulating to America's deep state over Russia on national television.

From day one in power, he caved to the national security state, Wall Street, and other monied interests over popular ones.

The sole redeeming part of his agenda was wanting improved relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin personally – preferring peace over possible confrontation, wanting the threat of nuclear war defused.

Despite tweeting post-Helsinki that he and Putin "got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match," his remarks on CBS News showed he'll continue dirty US business as usual toward Russia.

Anything positive from summit talks appears abandoned by capitulating to deep state power controlling him and his agenda.

Normalized relations with Russia and world peace are anathema notions in Washington. Bipartisan neocons infesting the US political establishment want none of it. America's hegemonic aims matter most – wanting dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations. Endless wars of aggression, color revolutions, and other unlawful practices harmful to human rights and welfare are its favored strategies.

Will Americans go along with sacrificing vital freedoms for greater security from invented enemies – losing both? Will US belligerent confrontation with Russia inevitably follow? Will mushroom-shaped denouement eventually kill us all?

*

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org ( Home – Stephen Lendman ). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net .

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html "

[Jul 19, 2018] Strzokgate is a documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the US democratic process

Probably not so much to short-circuit democratic process that was short-circuited long before them, but clearly they acted as the guardians of the neoliberal state.
Which confirm the iron law of oligarchy in the most direct way: not only the elite gradually escapes all the democratic control, they use their power as oranized minority to defend the status quo, not stopping at the most dirty dirty methods.
Jan 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Extracted from: The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate, by Ray McGovern - The Unz Review by Ray McGovern

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI's counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through "Surity 101." Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

... ... ...

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for "evidence" of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call "means, motive and opportunity."

[Jul 19, 2018] A Failing Nation by Dan Corjescu

Notable quotes:
"... Why Nations Fail ..."
"... Both cases, the inclusive and the extractive, tend to reinforce themselves through time by a process known as institutional drift. This is an historical tendency for institutions to maintain, strengthen, and reproduce themselves over time similar to the biological processes involved in genetic drift. ..."
"... Importantly the authors also take the time to mention Robert Michel's seminal idea concerning the iron law of oligarchy ..."
"... Neo-Paternalism ..."
"... The Origins of Political Order. ..."
"... In short, much like the earlier Michel, Fukuyama sees present day democracies drifting towards ever more nepotistic patterns of behavior where elites seize power and reward and distribute the fruits of that power to their close associates within their networks of influence. ..."
"... In effect, both men, see, as did Marx before them, the "constitutional democracies" as a sham as a kind of theater behind which the levers of power are exercised authoritatively with little regard to the true interests of the masses below them. ..."
"... In such an environment of centralized elite control, "media openness" can do little to rout out the opaque workings of carefully, surreptitiously orchestrated power. ..."
Jun 28, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

What are the necessary elements for the success of a modern nation state?

According to one justifiably popular and well-written book, Why Nations Fail , it all has to do with inclusive political and economic institutions which foster technological change which in turn leads to increasing prosperity for the many.

Two key aspects upholding such institutions are a strong centralized state and the rule of law. Without these two, a nation cannot hope to advance socially, politically, or economically. The negative of this rosy picture are nations which maintain and promote extractive political and economic institutions which serve the interests of a narrow elite.

Both cases, the inclusive and the extractive, tend to reinforce themselves through time by a process known as institutional drift. This is an historical tendency for institutions to maintain, strengthen, and reproduce themselves over time similar to the biological processes involved in genetic drift.

Importantly the authors also take the time to mention Robert Michel's seminal idea concerning the iron law of oligarchy which explains the historically documented tendency that large, complex organizations of any kind (democratic, socialist, conservative) fall under the sway of a small elite exercising absolute if cosmetically hidden power.

Our authors optimistically suggest that this law is not destiny and can be sufficiently controlled by ever expanding democratic institutions in civil society.

Opposed to this buoyant idea of increasing mass prosperity and political participation is Francis Fukuyama's discussion of Neo-Paternalism in his thought provoking magnum opus The Origins of Political Order.

In short, much like the earlier Michel, Fukuyama sees present day democracies drifting towards ever more nepotistic patterns of behavior where elites seize power and reward and distribute the fruits of that power to their close associates within their networks of influence.

In effect, both men, see, as did Marx before them, the "constitutional democracies" as a sham as a kind of theater behind which the levers of power are exercised authoritatively with little regard to the true interests of the masses below them.

In such an environment of centralized elite control, "media openness" can do little to rout out the opaque workings of carefully, surreptitiously orchestrated power.

Thus, a superficial reading of history might lead us to believe that we live in an increasingly "inclusive" society reflecting a rising tide of technological progress and economic prosperity. However, a closer look, might reveal a modicum of beneficence bestowed upon the many; while the Machiavellian few have managed behind a facade of democracy and nationalism to achieve unheard of sums of wealth, power, and influence once only dreamed of by despots, dictators, and demagogues of the past.

[Jul 17, 2018] All the post WWII wars were done in the same way: demonizing leaders, defending democracy , false flag ops.

Jul 17, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

silver140 -> Free This Tue, 07/17/2018 - 13:59 Permalink

Within minutes MSM had the theme to broadcast. It was from their puppet masters in the FBI/CIA. They're told what to say. There's no doubt about that now.

Also, there's no doubt that they are pushing for war with Russia, within months or a few years, depending on what happens to Trump.

The Russians will know this now. All the post WWII wars were done in the same way: demonizing leaders, "defending democracy", false flag ops. But this present push is for the end game of killing the host; which is the life strategy of the parasitoid. The complete destruction of humanity and total ecocide.

The parasitoid corporate fascists are now in full control of the media and their disease vector politicians/bureaucrats, not just in the US but the EU/NATO as well.

A parasitoid is an organism that lives in close association with its host and at the host's expense, and which sooner or later kills it. Parasitoidism is one of six major evolutionary strategies within parasitism . Parasitoidism is distinguished by the fatal prognosis for the host, which makes the strategy close to predation .

In epidemiology , a disease vector is any agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism; [1] [2]

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends

Highly recommended!
Neoliberals are a flavor of Trotskyites and they will reach any depths to hang on to power.
Notable quotes:
"... Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends. ..."
"... Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
meticulousdoc , 3 Jun 2018 16:16

Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends.

And when the conservative "Christians" form a neoliberal government, the results are toxic for all, except themselves and their coterie.

Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us.

An excellent article, we need more of them.

[Jun 06, 2018] The other great con is convincing the public that voting for anyone but the two major parties is "wasting your vote".

Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Purge, 3 Jun 2018 17:46

The other great con is convincing the public that voting for anyone but the two major parties is "wasting your vote". This political duopoly means only those interests are ever represented and that has also led to Australia's systematic decline. Yes it's true that the majors hold majority in parliament but we've already seen that voting below the line can work- Labour had to take notes from the Greens last time they held power. Despite how hopeless it all seems we do still have the power to affect change as long as we- all of us- stop swallowing the lies.
BobsWorth2 , 3 Jun 2018 17:35
The current two party system is like a coin. On one side we have the head of Malcolm Turnbull and on the other Bill Shorten. When it comes to the toss up the corporations and wealthy get to call heads.
BelindaJonas -> Tom Dalyell , 3 Jun 2018 17:30
There is perhaps more honour amongst thieves? Hard to imagine there being less.
B.J.

[Jun 05, 2018] Some people think that they are prisoners of neoliberal democracy.

Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Stephen J. June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm

I believe we are prisoners of so-called "democracy"
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

Screwing the masses was the forte of the political establishment. It did not really matter which political party was in power, or what name it went under, they all had one ruling instinct, tax, tax, and more taxes. These rapacious politicians had an endless appetite for taxes, and also an appetite for giving themselves huge raises, pension plans, expenses, and all kinds of entitlements. In fact one of them famously said, "He was entitled to his entitlements." Public office was a path to more, and more largesse all paid for by the compulsory taxes of the masses that were the prisoners of "democracy."
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

[Jun 05, 2018] Is Democracy to Blame for Our Present Crisis by Alexander William Salter

Notable quotes:
"... Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering. ..."
"... John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." ..."
"... James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." ..."
"... Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred ..."
"... What we've got now is the tyranny of the ..."
"... minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy. ..."
"... If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp. ..."
"... One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering.

Something has gone wrong with America's political institutions. While the United States is, on the whole, competently governed, there are massive problems lurking just beneath the surface. This became obvious during the 2016 presidential election. Each party's nominee was odious to a large segment of the public; the only difference seemed to be whether it was an odious insurgent or an odious careerist. Almost two years on, things show little signs of improving.

What's to blame? One promising, though unpopular, answer is: democracy itself. When individuals act collectively in large groups and are not held responsible for the consequences of their behavior, decisions are unlikely to be reasonable or prudent. This design flaw in popular government was recognized by several Founding Fathers. John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred : "It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evil of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure," Washington wrote. "It is to be lamented, nevertheless, that the remedies are so slow, and that those, who may wish to apply them seasonably are not attended to before they suffer in person, in interest and in reputation."

Is Democracy in a Death Spiral? Is Democracy to Blame for the Loneliness Epidemic?

Given these opinions, it is unsurprising that the U.S. Constitution contains so many other mechanisms for ensuring responsible government. Separation of powers and checks and balances are necessary to protect the people from themselves. To the extent our political institutions are deteriorating, the Founders' first instinct would be to look for constitutional changes, whether formal or informal, that have expanded the scope of democracy and entrusted to the electorate greater power than they can safely wield, and reverse them.

This theory is simple, elegant, and appealing. But it's missing a crucial detail.

American government is largely insulated from the tyranny of the majority. But at least since the New Deal, we've gone too far in the opposite direction. What we've got now is the tyranny of the minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy.

But now we confront a puzzle: the rise of the permanent government did coincide with increased democratization. The administrative-managerial state, and its enablers in Congress, followed from creative reinterpretations of the Constitution that allowed voters to make decisions that the Ninth and Tenth amendments -- far and away the most ignored portion of the Bill of Rights -- should have forestalled. As it turns out, not only are both of these observations correct, they are causally related . Increasing the scope of popular government results in the loss of popular control.

If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp.

The larger the electorate, and the more questions the electorate is asked to decide, the more important it is for the people who actually govern to take advantage of economies of scale in government. If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians.

One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. This is why an upsurge of populism won't cure what ails the body politic. It will either provoke the permanent and unaccountable government into tightening its grip, or those who actually hold the power will fan the flames of popular discontent, channeling that energy towards their continued growth and entrenchment. We have enough knowledge to make the diagnosis, but not to prescribe the treatment. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing what political health looks like. G.K. Chesterton said it best in his insight about the relationship between democracy and self-governance:

The democratic contention is that government is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly . In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves

The first step towards renewed self-governance must be to reject the false dichotomy between populism and oligarchy. A sober assessment shows that they are one in the same.

Alexander William Salter is an assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He is also the Comparative Economics Research Fellow at TTU's Free Market Institute. See more at his website: www.awsalter.com .



Steve Miller June 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

This was going fine until the author decided to blame civil servants for our nation's problems. How about an electoral system that denies majority rule? A Congress that routinely votes against things the vast majority want? A system that vastly overpriveleges corporations and hands them billions while inequality grows to the point where the UN warns that our country resembles a third world kleptocracy? Nope, sez this guy. It's just because there are too many bureaucrats.
tz , , June 5, 2018 at 12:37 am
He avoids the 17th amendment which was one of the barriers to the mob, and the 19th that removed the power of individual states to set the terms of suffrage.
Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Katy Stanton could simply have moved to Wyoming.
It might be useful to only have property taxpayers vote.
And the problem is the left. When voters rejected Gay Marriage (57% in California!) or benefits for illegals, unelected and unaccountable judges reversed the popular will.
S , , June 5, 2018 at 3:38 am
I find your use of the word populism interesting. Inasmuch the word is generally used when the decisions of the populace is different from that which the technocrats or oligarchs would have made for them. The author being part of the technocratic elite thinks that he and his ilk know best. This entire article is just a lot of arguments in support of this false and self serving idea.
Realist , , June 5, 2018 at 5:11 am
When a populous isn't controlled by the electorate democracy is dead.
Rotunda , , June 5, 2018 at 5:47 am
The libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan made small waves with his book "Against Democracy", published last year.
Voltaire's Ghost , , June 5, 2018 at 6:03 am
Making the federal government "small" will not solve the problems the author describes or really alludes to. The power vacum left by a receding federal government will just be occupied by an unaccountable corporate sector. The recent dismantling of Toys R Us by a spawn of Bain Capital is the most recent manifestation of the twisted and pathological thought process that calls itself "free market capitalism." A small federal government did not end child labor, fight the Depression, win WW II or pioneer space exploration. Conservatives love the mythology of a government "beast" that must be decapitated so that "Liberty" may reign. There are far more dangerous forces at work in American society that inhibit liberty and tax our personal treasuries than the federal government.
TJ Martin , , June 5, 2018 at 9:23 am
1) The US is not and never has been a ' democracy ' It is a Democratic Republic ' which is not the same as a ' democracy ' ( one person -- one vote period ) of which there is only one in the entire world . Switzerland

2) A large part of what has brought us to this point is the worn out well past its sell by Electoral College which not only no longer serves its intended purpose .

3) But the major reason why we're here to put it bluntly is the ' Collective Stupidity of America ' we've volitionally become : addled by celebrity , addicted to entertainment and consumed by conspiracy theory rather than researching the facts

cj , , June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
The US has a democracy? Were'nt two of the last 3 presidents placed into office via a minority of the vote?

We have instead what Sheldon Wolin called a 'managed democracy'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_democracy

It's time to end the pretension that we live in a democracy. It maybe useful to claim so when the US is trying to open markets or control resources in 3rd world countries. It's at that time that we're 'spreading democracy'. Instead it's like spreading manure.

Jon , , June 5, 2018 at 9:43 am
The managerial state arose to quell the threat of class warfare. Ironically those who sought to organize the proletariat under a vision of class-based empowerment clamored for the same. The response over time was fighting fire with fire as the cliche goes becoming what the opposition has sought but only in a modified form.

If we were able to devise a way for distributive justice apart from building a bloated bureaucracy then perhaps this emergence of oligarchy could have been averted. What alternative(s) exist for an equitable distribution of wealth and income to ameliorate poverty? Openly competitive (so-called) markets? And the charity of faith-based communities? I think not.

Youknowho , , June 5, 2018 at 10:39 am
Democracy, like all systems requires maintenace. Bernard Shaw said that the flaw of pragmatism is that any system that is not completely idiotic will work PROVIDED THAT SOMEONE PUT EFFORT IN MAKING IT WORK.

We have come to think that Democracy is in automatic pilot, and does not require effort of our part See how many do not bother to vote or to inform themselves.

Democracy is a fine, shiny package with two caveats in it "Batteries not included" And "Some assembly required" FAilure to heed those leads to disaster.

TG , , June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm
I see where you are coming from, but I must disagree. We don't have a democracy in any real way, so how can it have failed?

Despite massive propaganda of commission and omission, the majority of the American people don't want to waste trillions of dollars on endless pointless oversees wars. The public be damned: Trump was quickly beaten into submission and we are back to the status quo. The public doesn't want to give trillions of dollars to Wall Street while starving Main Street of capital. The public doesn't want an abusively high rate of immigration whose sole purpose is to flood the market for labor, driving wages down and profits up. And so on.

Oswald Spengler was right. " in actuality the freedom of public opinion involves the preparation of public opinion, which costs money; and the freedom of the press brings with it the question of possession of the press, which again is a matter of money; and with the franchise comes electioneering, in which he who pays the piper calls the tune."

JJ , , June 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm
"If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians."

True, but this implies retarding government power as is will lead to an ultimate solution. It will not. The sober truth is that a massive centralized national government has been inevitable since the onset of the second world war or even beforehand with American intervention in the colonoal Phillippines and the Great War. Becoming an empire requires extensive power grabbing and becoming and maintaining a position as a world power requires constant flexing of that power. Maintaining such a large population, military, and foreign corps requires the massive public-works projects you speak of in order to keep the population content and foreign powers in check. Failure to do so leads to chaos and tragic disaster that would lead to such a nation a collapse in all existing institutions due to overcumbersome responsibilities. These cannot be left to the provinces/states due to the massive amounts of resources required to maintain such imperial ambitions along with the cold reality of state infighting and possible seperatist leanings.

If one wishes to end the power of the federal government as is, the goal is not to merely seek reform. The goal is to dismantle the empire; destroy the military might, isolate certain diplomatic relations, reduce rates of overseas trade and reduce the economy as a whole, and then finally disband and/or drastically reduce public security institutions such as the FBI, CIA, and their affiliates. As you well know, elites and the greater public alike consider these anathema.

However, if you wish to rush to this goal, keep in mind that dismantling the American empire will not necessarily lead to the end of oppression and world peace even in the short term. A power vacuum will open that the other world powers such as the Russian Federation and the PRC will rush to fill up. As long as the world remains so interconnected and imperialist ambitions are maintained by old and new world powers, even the smallest and most directly democratic states will not be able to become self-governing for long.

Chris in Appalachia , , June 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Well, when, statistically speaking, half of the population has an IQ of less than 100 (probably more than half now that USA has been invaded by the Third World) then a great number of people are uninformed and easily manipulated voters. That is one of the great fallacies of democracy.
Robert Charron , , June 5, 2018 at 2:38 pm
In an era when the word "democracy" is regarded as one of our deities to worship, this article is a breath of fresh air. Notice how we accuse the Russians of trying to undermine our hallowed "democracy." We really don't know what we mean when we use the term democracy, but it is a shibboleth that has a good, comforting sound. And this idea that we could extend our "democracy" by increasing the number of voters shows that we don't understand much at all. Brilliant insights.
Stephen J. , , June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I believe we are prisoners of so-called "democracy"
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

Screwing the masses was the forte of the political establishment. It did not really matter which political party was in power, or what name it went under, they all had one ruling instinct, tax, tax, and more taxes. These rapacious politicians had an endless appetite for taxes, and also an appetite for giving themselves huge raises, pension plans, expenses, and all kinds of entitlements. In fact one of them famously said, "He was entitled to his entitlements." Public office was a path to more, and more largesse all paid for by the compulsory taxes of the masses that were the prisoners of "democracy."
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

[May 04, 2018] Sic Semper Tyrannis The Skripals survived, but their cat and rodents ... not so much.

Notable quotes:
"... I am reading Taleb's recent book "Skin in the game" which has interesting material about the disconnection between risky behaviors and their consequences in modern USA. He also has a chapter about the mechanics involved in why minority viewpoints in our culture become dominant. It's an interesting read. ..."
"... Finally, the Police partially acknowledged their mistake and accused the Russians of not having been completely fair play. Indeed, these thuriferous bastards of Vlad the Impaler had put poison on the OUTDOOR handle of the front door of the house. It's infinitely subtle of these savages. The Brit Police did not suspect what strong part it had to make, the unexpected thwarting its learned calculations. Presumption, again and again. Nevertheless, the detectives are formal: the Russians did the trick well. The evidence is obvious. In this dramatic case, we are not going to make a comparison between insular and continental logic. The hour is too serious for these trifles. Lots of laughter. ..."
"... It's very difficult in any case to believe that such a notice could have been issued. Can't see why it would be needed. The scripting of the official story on such matters as this seems to be a joint enterprise between the media and the press officers. That's a time-honoured consensus so why would the media need bullying to stay in line? ..."
"... My personal view on all this is that the No. 10 press officers aren't that good at this new-fangled information stuff. They don't seem to have their hearts in it somehow. Time for them to go back to counting paperclips and for information campaigns to be handled by the experts. The BBC have a proven track record in this field and it's time that was officially recognised. ..."
May 03, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Sir Mark, bless him, has told an MP during a committee meeting, that the armed forces, MI-5, MI-6 and GCHQ do not know who or indeed what sickened the Skripals, pere et fille , in Salisbury. He doesn't seem to have mentioned the police. So, basically, pilgrims, Teresa May, the queen's first minister has insistently and incessantly accused the Russians of a crime of which our British cousins know precious little. In a closely related development, it is now revealed that the Britishers sealed up Skripal's house after the poisoning event leaving the black Persian shown above and two guinea pigs to die of thirst and hunger within. It would seem likely that they knew they were doing this since they would have searched the house first. No? Perhaps they thought that the cat might be a threat as a being of possible Iranian descent. This is impressive stuff. pl https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-05-01/uk-has-not-yet-identified-skripal-poisoning-suspects


Eric Newhill , 11 hours ago

These false flag ops are all so shabby in their execution. The lack of thoroughness and imagination on the part of the governments running them is really disappointing. For example, if I was running an investigation into the Skripal incident, I would have captured the cat and rodents and run pathology tests on them to see what bio/chem agents might be in their systems. Also, because they might escape and become a vector of further infection. That seems like it would be SOP. So I'd do it even if I knew the story was BS to create the appearance of reality. Then, I could always state that the pets should signs of Russian engineered bio/chem agents. Could even create a video of the pets dying some horrible death due to the agents. That's more better BS.
Threadzilla , 11 hours ago
And yet, this appears to be a lie as well. An earlier piece in the British news claims the pets were taken to Porton Down for examination and testing soon after the incident. Seems more likely they eliminated evidence and then came up with the cover story about how the animals were "forgotten about" and locked in the house for a month, implying totally unimportant for the investigation. http://metro.co.uk/2018/03/...
JohnA , 12 hours ago
I am truly dis-May-ed!

I hope she and Johnson pay the price for this folly. May it be steep! Very. very steep.

How these two suckered so many nations foolishly into sending diplomats home reflected respect for UK policy toward Russia. These nations will need to think long and hard about following any such UK lead in future.

This week, the US took down the Russian flag flying over Russian real estate in Seattle. Shameful!

Sid Finster -> JohnA , 9 hours ago
Sociopaths care nothing for law and everything for enforcement.
Jack , 4 hours ago
I don't know much about the dynamics of British politics but as a light observer of British news I wonder why Theresa May remains prime minister? She became prime minister after the historic Brexit vote. Promptly takes the country to an election and botches it for the Tories. Then bungles the Brexit negotiations. Runs a floundering government. Now comes up with accusations against the Russians in the Skripal affair with no evidence presented but looking more foolish as her story comes under scrutiny.
DH , 11 hours ago
Thirst, yes, hunger, not so much.
Tony , 11 hours ago
I am reading Taleb's recent book "Skin in the game" which has interesting material about the disconnection between risky behaviors and their consequences in modern USA. He also has a chapter about the mechanics involved in why minority viewpoints in our culture become dominant. It's an interesting read.
Sid Finster , 10 hours ago
http://www.theblogmire.com/...
France74 , 10 hours ago
A french view and laughter.

2 cats and 2 guinea pigs were locked up for 9 days in Skipal's house, in the hope of proving that the Russians are guilty.
When the police reopened the house, they found four bodies. the veterinary faculty is positive, both cats died of starvation. Guinea pigs, some say, began to be worked by hungry cats, accelerating their deaths. Unspeakable bloodshed. In this whole case, it's THE revolting detail, among many others. Poor beasts.

Finally, the Police partially acknowledged their mistake and accused the Russians of not having been completely fair play. Indeed, these thuriferous bastards of Vlad the Impaler had put poison on the OUTDOOR handle of the front door of the house. It's infinitely subtle of these savages. The Brit Police did not suspect what strong part it had to make, the unexpected thwarting its learned calculations. Presumption, again and again. Nevertheless, the detectives are formal: the Russians did the trick well. The evidence is obvious. In this dramatic case, we are not going to make a comparison between insular and continental logic. The hour is too serious for these trifles.
Lots of laughter.

kao_hsien_chih , 11 hours ago
Great. There was once a war for Jenkins' ear. I guess we should now have a nuclear war for Skripals' cat.
English Outsider -> kao_hsien_chih , 9 hours ago
Colonel,

There's talk of a D-Notice covering the Skripal affair. Seems unlikely. All concerned were being sat on quite satisfactorily anyway.

I Looked up D-notices on WIKI -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

Presumably there are bigger guns in the background if information that would really threaten national security or the lives of serving officers is in danger of being released. The D-Notice system itself seems to be a more or less voluntary affair -

https://www.theguardian.com...

It's very difficult in any case to believe that such a notice could have been issued. Can't see why it would be needed. The scripting of the official story on such matters as this seems to be a joint enterprise between the media and the press officers. That's a time-honoured consensus so why would the media need bullying to stay in line?

My personal view on all this is that the No. 10 press officers aren't that good at this new-fangled information stuff. They don't seem to have their hearts in it somehow. Time for them to go back to counting paperclips and for information campaigns to be handled by the experts. The BBC have a proven track record in this field and it's time that was officially recognised.

[May 04, 2018] Media Use Disinformation To Accuse Russia Of Spreading Such by b

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A McClatchy journalist investigated further and came to the same conclusion as I did. The 'leak' to the New York Times was disinformation. ..."
"... Russia has not pinned the Novichok to Sweden or the Czech Republic. It said, correctly, that several countries produced Novichok. Russia did not blame the UK for the 'nerve gas attack' in Syria. Russia says that there was no gas attack in Douma. ..."
"... The claims of Russian disinformation these authors make to not hold up to scrutiny. Meanwhile there pieces themselves are full of lies, distortions and, yes, disinformation. ..."
"... Wait for an outbreak of hostilities on the Ukraine-Donbass front shortly before the beginning of the World Cup competition which is as internationally important as the Olympic Games -- as they did in 2014 with Maidan and 2016 with the Sochi Winter Olympics drug uproar, the CIA will create chaos that will take the emphasis off any Russian success, since as to them, anything negative regarding Russia is a positive for them. ..."
"... No traces of chemical weapons have been found in Douma. This means that not only the US/UK/French airstrikes were illegal under international law but even their political justification was inherently flawed. Similarly, in the Salisbury affair, no evidence of Russian involvement has been presented, while the two myths on which the British case was built (the Russian origin of the chemical substance used and the existence of proof of Russian responsibility) have been shattered. ..."
"... Given the lack of facts, the Tory leadership seems to be adopting a truly Orwellian logic: that the main proof of Russian responsibility are the Russian denials! It is hard to see how they will be able to sell this to their international partners. Self-respecting countries of G20 would not be willing to risk their reputation. ..."
"... The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote." ..."
"... Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows: "Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?" ..."
"... Whataboutism seems to deny that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth. ..."
"... 1984, anyone? ..."
"... The absurd story that the OPCW says there was a 100gm/100mg who knows which on the door and other sites is just so stupid its painful. ..."
"... Presumably the Skripals touch the cutlery, plates and wine glasses in the restaurant, so why weren't the staff there infected as they must have had to pick up the plates etc after the meal. Even the door to the entrance of the restaurant should be affected as they would have to push it open, thus leaving the chemical for other people to touch. Nope, nothing in this stupid story adds up and the OPCW can't even get the amounts of the chemical right. ..."
"... Biggest problem with the world today is lazy insouciant citizens. ..."
"... One very important point Lavrov made was the anti-Russian group consists of a very small number of nations representing a small fraction of humanity; ..."
"... while they have some economic and military clout, it's possible for the rest of the world's nations to sideline them and get on with the important business of forming a genuine Multipolar World Order, which is what the UN and its Charter envisioned. ..."
"... Anything that may not confirm to the 'truth' as prescribed from above must be overwhelmed with an onslaught of more lies or, if that does not work, be discredited as 'enemy' disinformation. ..."
"... Yes, exactly. The Western hegemony, i.e. the true "Axis of Evil" led by the US, and including the EU and non-Western allies, have invented the Perpetual Big Lie™. ..."
"... Witnesses? They're either confederates, dupes, or terrified by coercion. Evidence and/or technical analysis? All faked! A nominally reliable party, e.g. the president of the Czech Republic, makes statements that undermine the Big Lie Nexus? Again-- he's either been bought off or frightened into making such inconvenient claims. Or he's just a mischievous liar. ..."
"... And, as I seemingly never get tired of pointing out, the Perpetual Big Lie™ strategy arose, and succeeds, because the "natural enemies" of authoritarian government overreach have been coerced or co-opted to a fare-thee-well. So mass-media venues, and even supposedly independent technical and scientific organizations, are part of the Perpetual Big Lie™ apparatus. ..."
"... Putting Kudrin -- an opponent of de-dollarization and an upholder of the Washington Consensus -- in charge of Russia's international outreach would be equal to putting Bill Clinton in charge of a girls' school. ..."
"... In the Guardian I only read the comments, never the article. Here, I read both. That is the difference between propaganda and good reporting. ..."
May 04, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The Grauniad is slipping deeper into the disinformation business: Revealed: UK's push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance is the headline of a page one piece which reveals exactly nothing. There is no secret lifted and no one was discomforted by a questioning journalist.

Like other such pieces it uses disinformation to accuse Russia of spreading such.

The main 'revelation' is stenographed from a British government official. Some quotes from the usual anti-Russian propagandists were added. Dubious or false 'western' government claims are held up as truth. That Russia does not endorse them is proof for Russian mischievousness and its 'disinformation'.

The opener:

The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin's aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.
...
"The foreign secretary regards Russia's response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more," a Whitehall official said. "The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons."

There is a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons. It is the Chemical Weapon Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It was the British government which at first rejected the use of these instruments during the Skripal incident:

Early involvement of the OPCW, as demanded by Russia, was resisted by the British government. Only on March 14, ten days after the incident happened and two days after Prime Minister Theresa may had made accusations against Russia, did the British government invite the OPCW. Only on March 19, 15 days after the incident happen did the OPCW technical team arrive and took blood samples.

Now back to the Guardian disinformation:

In making its case to foreign ministries, the UK is arguing that Russian denials over Salisbury and Douma reveal a state uninterested in cooperating to reach a common understanding of the truth , but instead using both episodes to try systematically to divide western electorates and sow doubt.

A 'common understanding of the truth' is an interesting term. What is the truth? Whatever the British government claims? It accused Russia of the Skripal incident a mere eight days after it happened. Now, two month later, it admits that it does not know who poisoned the Skripals:

Police and intelligence agencies have failed so far to identify the individual or individuals who carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, the UK's national security adviser has disclosed.

Do the Brits know where the alleged Novichok poison came from? Unless they produced it themselves they likely have no idea. The Czech Republic just admitted that it made small doses of a Novichok nerve agent for testing purposes. Others did too.

Back to the Guardian :

British politicians are not alone in claiming Russia's record of mendacity is not a personal trait of Putin's, but a government-wide strategy that makes traditional diplomacy ineffective.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, famously came off one lengthy phone call with Putin – she had more than 40 in a year – to say he lived in a different world.

No, Merkel never said that. An Obama administration flunky planted that in the New York Times :

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. "In another world," she said.

When that claim was made in March 2014 we were immediately suspicious of it:

This does not sound like typically Merkel but rather strange for her. I doubt that she said that the way the "people briefed on the call" told it to the Times stenographer. It is rather an attempt to discredit Merkel and to make it more difficult for her to find a solution with Russia outside of U.S. control.

A day later the German government denied (ger) that Merkel ever said such (my translation):

The chancellery is unhappy about the report in the New York Times. Merkel by no means meant to express that Putin behaved irrational. In fact she told Obama that Putin has a different perspective about the Crimea [than Obama has].

A McClatchy journalist investigated further and came to the same conclusion as I did. The 'leak' to the New York Times was disinformation.

That disinformation, spread by the Obama administration but immediately exposed as false, is now held up as proof by Patrick Wintour, the Diplomatic editor of the Guardian , that Russia uses disinformation and that Putin is a naughty man.

The British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson wants journalists to enter the UK reserve forces to help with the creation of propaganda:

He said army recruitment should be about "looking to different people who maybe think, as a journalist: 'What are my skills in terms of how are they relevant to the armed forces?'

Patrick Wintour seems to be a qualified candidate.

Or maybe he should join the NATO for Information Warfare the Atlantic Council wants to create to further disinform about those damned Russkies:

What we need now is a cross-border defense alliance against disinformation -- call it Communications NATO. Such an alliance is, in fact, nearly as important as its military counterpart.

Like the Guardian piece above writer of the NATO propaganda lobby Atlantic Council makes claims of Russian disinformation that do not hold up to the slightest test:

By pinning the Novichok nerve agent on Sweden or the Czech Republic, or blaming the UK for the nerve gas attack in Syria, the Kremlin sows confusion among our populations and makes us lose trust in our institutions.

Russia has not pinned the Novichok to Sweden or the Czech Republic. It said, correctly, that several countries produced Novichok. Russia did not blame the UK for the 'nerve gas attack' in Syria. Russia says that there was no gas attack in Douma.

The claims of Russian disinformation these authors make to not hold up to scrutiny. Meanwhile there pieces themselves are full of lies, distortions and, yes, disinformation.

The bigger aim behind all these activities, demanding a myriad of new organizations to propagandize against Russia, is to introduce a strict control over information within 'western' societies.

Anything that may not confirm to the 'truth' as prescribed from above must be overwhelmed with an onslaught of more lies or, if that does not work, be discredited as 'enemy' disinformation.

That scheme will be used against anyone who deviates from the ordered norm. You dislike that pipeline in your backyard? You must be falling for Russian trolls or maybe you yourself are an agent of a foreign power. Social Security? The Russians like that. It is a disinformation thing. You better forget about it.


c1ue , May 4, 2018 2:27:27 PM | 1

Excellent article, in an ongoing run of great journalism.
I am curious - have you read this? https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/ST/
It purports to be a book by an American military man intimately familiar with the covert ops portion of the US government. The internal Kafka-esque dynamics described certainly feel true.
Mike Maloney , May 4, 2018 2:44:12 PM | 3
One of the reasons newspapers are getting worse is the economics. They aren't really viable anymore. Their future is as some form of government sanctioned oligopoly. Two national papers -- a "left" and a "right" -- and then a handful of regional papers. All spouting the same neoliberal, neoconservative chicanery.
CD Waller , May 4, 2018 2:57:20 PM | 4
Genuine journalist Matt Taibbi warned of this sort of branding of disparate views as enemy a month ago. He was also correct. Evil and insidious. The enemy of a free society.
chet380 , May 4, 2018 2:58:22 PM | 5
Wait for an outbreak of hostilities on the Ukraine-Donbass front shortly before the beginning of the World Cup competition which is as internationally important as the Olympic Games -- as they did in 2014 with Maidan and 2016 with the Sochi Winter Olympics drug uproar, the CIA will create chaos that will take the emphasis off any Russian success, since as to them, anything negative regarding Russia is a positive for them.
WJ , May 4, 2018 3:02:57 PM | 6
The later history of the 20th century will one day be read as the triumph and normalization of the Nazi state through liberal democratic capitalism.
Laguerre , May 4, 2018 3:07:19 PM | 7
I agree that it's difficult to see how the drive to renew the Cold War is going to be stopped. I presume that, with the exception of certain NeoCon circles, there isn't a desire for Hot War. Certainly not in the British sources you quote. Britain wouldn't want Hot War with Russia. It's all a question of going to the limit for internal consumption. Do a 1984, in order to keep the population in-line.
james , May 4, 2018 3:11:05 PM | 8
thanks b... i can't understand how any intelligent thinking person would read the guardian, let alone something like the huff post, and etc. etc... why? the propaganda money that pays for the white helmets, certainly goes to these outlets as well..

the uk have gone completely nuts! i guess it comes with reading the guardian, although, in fairness, all british media seems very skewed - sky news, bbc, and etc. etc.

it does appear as though Patrick Wintour is on Gavin Williamson's propaganda bandwagon/payroll already... in reading the comments and articles at craig murrays site, i have become more familiar with just how crazy things are in the uk.. his latest article freedom no more sums it up well... throw the uk msm in the trash can... it is for all intensive purposes, done..

mk , May 4, 2018 3:31:41 PM | 9
Meanwhile, OPCW chief Uzumcu seems to have been pranked again, this time by his own staff (this is how I interpret it):

He claimed that the amount of Novichok found was about 100 g and therefore more than research laboratories would produce, i.e. this was weaponized Novichok.

http://www.startribune.com/large-dose-of-nerve-agent-was-used-in-spy-s-poisoning-watchdog-says/481687061/

However, the story is being retracted right now because OPCW staff says it was only 100 mg .

Uzumcu looks like a fool.

b , May 4, 2018 3:49:03 PM | 10
The Russian embassy in the UK must be reading MoA. It just now tweeted this press release: Embassy press officer comments on the Guardian article concerning a new British anti-Russian strategy
Q: What is our reaction to the Guardian article on a "comprehensive strategy" to "deepen the alliance against Russia" to be pursued by the UK Government at international forums?

A: Judging by the publication, the main current challenge for Whitehall is to preserve the anti-Russian coalition that the Conservatives tried to build after the Salisbury incident. This task is challenging indeed. The "fusion doctrine" promoted by the national security apparatus has led to the Western bloc taking hasty decisions that, as life has shown, were not based on any facts.

No traces of chemical weapons have been found in Douma. This means that not only the US/UK/French airstrikes were illegal under international law but even their political justification was inherently flawed. Similarly, in the Salisbury affair, no evidence of Russian involvement has been presented, while the two myths on which the British case was built (the Russian origin of the chemical substance used and the existence of proof of Russian responsibility) have been shattered.

Given the lack of facts, the Tory leadership seems to be adopting a truly Orwellian logic: that the main proof of Russian responsibility are the Russian denials! It is hard to see how they will be able to sell this to their international partners. Self-respecting countries of G20 would not be willing to risk their reputation.

karlof1 , May 4, 2018 3:52:31 PM | 11
Hmmm... My reply to c1ue went sideways it seems. Yes, The late Mr. Prouty's book's the real deal and the website hosting his very rare book is a rare gem itself. Click the JFK at page top left to be transported to that sites archive of writings about his murder. The very important essay by Prouty's there too.
WJ , May 4, 2018 3:53:30 PM | 12
The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote."

This one detail tells us so much about how propaganda works, and about how it can be defeated. Successful propaganda both depends upon and seeks to accelerate the erasure of historical memory. This is because its truths are always changing to suit the immediate needs of the state. None of its truths can be understood historically. b makes the connection between the documented but forgotten past "truth" of Merkel's quote and its present reincarnation in the Guardian, and this is really all he *needs* to do. What b points out is something quite simple; yet the ability to do this very simple thing is becoming increasingly rare and its exercise increasingly difficult to achieve. It is for me the virtue that makes b's analysis uniquely indispensable.

Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows: "Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?"

Whataboutism seems to deny that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth.

Jose Garcia , May 4, 2018 3:56:03 PM | 13
1984, anyone?
john wilson , May 4, 2018 4:03:04 PM | 14
The absurd story that the OPCW says there was a 100gm/100mg who knows which on the door and other sites is just so stupid its painful. This implies that the Skripals both closed the door together and then went off on their day spreading the stuff everywhere, yet no one else was contaminated (apart from the fantasy policeman).

Presumably the Skripals touch the cutlery, plates and wine glasses in the restaurant, so why weren't the staff there infected as they must have had to pick up the plates etc after the meal. Even the door to the entrance of the restaurant should be affected as they would have to push it open, thus leaving the chemical for other people to touch. Nope, nothing in this stupid story adds up and the OPCW can't even get the amounts of the chemical right.

ken , May 4, 2018 4:03:13 PM | 15
The problem is,,, most know it's all BS but find it 'easier' to believe or at most ignore, as then there is no responsibility to 'do something'. Biggest problem with the world today is lazy insouciant citizens. (Yes,,, I'm a PCR reader) :))
karlof1 , May 4, 2018 4:05:15 PM | 16
b @10--

Did you catch the Lavrov interview I linked to on previous Yemen thread? As you might imagine, the verbiage used is quite similar. One very important point Lavrov made was the anti-Russian group consists of a very small number of nations representing a small fraction of humanity; and that while they have some economic and military clout, it's possible for the rest of the world's nations to sideline them and get on with the important business of forming a genuine Multipolar World Order, which is what the UN and its Charter envisioned.

I won't omit linking to Craig Murray's conclusion :

"I cannot sufficiently express my outrage that Leeds City Council feels it is right to ban a meeting with very distinguished speakers, because it is questioning the government and establishment line on Syria. Freedom of speech really is dead."

Ort , May 4, 2018 4:22:35 PM | 17
Anything that may not confirm to the 'truth' as prescribed from above must be overwhelmed with an onslaught of more lies or, if that does not work, be discredited as 'enemy' disinformation.
_______________________________________

Yes, exactly. The Western hegemony, i.e. the true "Axis of Evil" led by the US, and including the EU and non-Western allies, have invented the Perpetual Big Lie™.

This isn't a new insight, but it's worth repeating. It struck me anew while I was listening to a couple of UK "journalists" hectoring OPCW Representative Shulgin, and directing scurrilous and provocative innuendo disguised as "questions" to Mr. Shulgin and the Syrian witnesses testifying during his presentation.

It flashed upon me that there is no longer a reasonable expectation that the Perpetual Big Liars must eventually abandon, much less confess, their heinous mendacity. Just as B points out, there are no countervailing facts, evidence, rebuttals, theories, or explanations that can't be countered with further iterations of Big Lies, however offensively incredible and absurd.

Witnesses? They're either confederates, dupes, or terrified by coercion. Evidence and/or technical analysis? All faked! A nominally reliable party, e.g. the president of the Czech Republic, makes statements that undermine the Big Lie Nexus? Again-- he's either been bought off or frightened into making such inconvenient claims. Or he's just a mischievous liar.

And, as I seemingly never get tired of pointing out, the Perpetual Big Lie™ strategy arose, and succeeds, because the "natural enemies" of authoritarian government overreach have been coerced or co-opted to a fare-thee-well. So mass-media venues, and even supposedly independent technical and scientific organizations, are part of the Perpetual Big Lie™ apparatus.

Even as the Big Liars reach a point of diminishing returns, they respond with more of the same. I wish I were more confident that this reprehensible practice will eventually fail due to the excess of malignant hubris; I'm not holding my breath.

Passer by , May 4, 2018 4:24:44 PM | 18

Is Putin capitulating? Pro US Alexei Kudrin could join new government to negotiate "end of sanctions" with the West.

Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin will be brought back to "mend fences with the West" in order to revive Russia's economy. Kudrin has repeatedly said that unless Russia makes her political system more democratic and ends its confrontation with Europe and the United States, she will not be able to achieve economic growth. Russia's fifth-columnists were exalted: "If Kudrin joined the administration or government, it would indicate that they have agreed on a certain agenda of change, including in foreign policy, because without change in foreign policy, reforms are simply impossible in Russia," said Yevgeny Gontmakher . . . who works with a civil society organization set up by Mr. Kudrin. "It would be a powerful message, because Kudrin is the only one in the top echelons with whom they will talk in the west and towards whom there is a certain trust."

Putting Kudrin -- an opponent of de-dollarization and an upholder of the Washington Consensus -- in charge of Russia's international outreach would be equal to putting Bill Clinton in charge of a girls' school.

It would mark Putin's de facto collapse as a leader. We shall know very soon. Either way, if anyone wondered what the approach to Russia would be from Bolton and Pompeo, we now know: they will play very hard ball with Putin, regardless of what he does (or doesn't do), and with carefree readiness to risk an eventual snap.

https://archive.is/1Ynms#selection-1641.0-1641.66

Formerly T-Bear , May 4, 2018 4:57:25 PM | 21
@ 20 Laguerre

Certainly looks like @ 18 is a fine example of what b is presenting.

A good way to extract one's self from the propaganda is to refuse using whatever meme the disinformation uses, e.g. that Sergei Skripal was a double agent -- that is not a known, only a convenient suggestion.

Military intelligence is far better described as military information needed for some project or mission. Not surreptitious cloak and dagger spying. This is not to say Sergei Scripal was a British spy for which he was convicted, stripped of rank and career and exiled through a spy swap. To continue using Sergei Scripal was a double agent only repeats and verifies the disinformation meme and all the framing that goes with it. Find some alternative to what MSM produces that does not embed truthiness to their efforts.

Peter Schmidt , May 4, 2018 5:08:52 PM | 23
In the Guardian I only read the comments, never the article. Here, I read both. That is the difference between propaganda and good reporting.
Emily Dickinson , May 4, 2018 5:09:00 PM | 24
@Michael Weddington 19

I realize it's from one of the biggest propaganda organs in the world... take this New York Times report of the OPCW's retraction with a 100 grams -- 100mg? -- of salt:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/world/europe/opcw-skripal-attack.html

karlof1 , May 4, 2018 5:12:57 PM | 25
Passer by @18--

This same narrative was put forth in 2016 and is just as false now as then. As I posted on Yemen thread earlier, Putin on 5 May is likely to announce the formation of a Stavka.

Kudrin is a neoliberal and as such is an enemy of humanity and will never again be allowed to hold a position of power within Russia's government. Let him emigrate to the West like his fellow parasites and teach junk economics at some likeminded university.

jalp , May 4, 2018 5:30:35 PM | 26
Anyone seen this reported elsewhere? https://www.rt.com/news/425810-white-helmets-us-funding-freeze/

[Apr 24, 2018] Constant and persistent nudging generally results in an angry backlash. Somewhere around when a person realizes "This is not where I wanted to be." That's now very true for neoclassic economy courses. Many students understand the game and hate it

Notable quotes:
"... cognitive infiltration ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves Smith, April 21, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Nudge was the title of a book by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein on how to manipulate people in their supposed best interest, like in cafeteria lines, to put whole fruit before desserts made with sugar.

See here for more detail:

blennylips , April 21, 2018 at 1:49 pm

If you liked Nudge , you'll love " cognitive infiltration ":

Conspiracy Theories
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03

Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.
Keywords: conspiracy theories, social networks, informational cascades, group polarization
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

Is not this what discerning MIC's all do these days, via FBI FB?

Synoia , April 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

A nudge too far?

Constant and persistent nudging generally results in an angry backlash. Somewhere around when a person realizes "This is not where I wanted to be."

JTMcPhee , April 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm

And of course we mopes have been "nudged" into pretty much that blind serfdom alluded to. Back in the Cave, with not much chance of dispelling the belief in and subjection to the shadows projected on the wall we are forced to face

oaf , April 21, 2018 at 1:52 pm

manipulation is the sowing of a Karmic garden

Tom_Doak , April 21, 2018 at 6:09 pm

The classic nudge example is opting you into a 401(k) unless you opt out.

That's supposedly better for you but it is DEFINITELY better for the brokerage handling your account.

none , April 21, 2018 at 10:01 pm

I had to look it up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_theory

I hadn't heard of it before.

Tyronius , April 22, 2018 at 12:21 am

I rather detest the notion of someone or entity 'nudging' me in the direction of some behavior, especially in a paternalistic mode where the assumption is that they know better than I what I 'should' be doing or thinking.

On one level, isn't that a working definition of advertising? On another, it smacks of authoritarianism. Don't we have enough of this kind of thing already? Worse, what's the first reaction one naturally has when they realize they're being manipulated? Seems to be a strategy fraught with risk of getting exactly the wrong response.

If I'm to be encouraged to behave in a given way, show me the respect of offering a conscious, intelligent argument to do so on the merits, or kindly go (family blog) yourself!

Anti-Schmoo , April 23, 2018 at 4:18 am

In economics, the single most important thing to understand is debt.
If you understand debt; you won't have any debt.
Debt and freedom are the antithisis of each other.
Without debt; nudges have no influence.

Anti-Schmoo , April 23, 2018 at 4:24 am

A follow up:
https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/money/a19181300/nassim-nicholas-taleb-money-advice/
A very frank discussion of debt and freedom.

[Apr 22, 2018] The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite

Highly recommended!
The quotes are from A Conversation on Race, by Paul Craig Roberts - The Unz Review
Notable quotes:
"... The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite. With blacks screaming at whites, women screaming at men, and homosexuals screaming at heterosexuals, there is no one left to scream at the rulers. ..."
"... Consequently, the ruling elite have funded "black history," "women's studies," and "transgender dialogues," in universities as a way to institutionalize the divisiveness that protects them. These "studies" have replaced real history with fake history. ..."
Apr 22, 2018 | www.unz.com

Steve Gittelson , April 19, 2018 at 2:43 am GMT

PCR's latest is really good. I love it when he gets to ripping, and doesn't stop for 2000+ words or so. It reads a lot better than Toynbee, fersher.

The working class, designated by Hillary Clinton as "the Trump deplorables," is now the victimizer, not the victim. Marxism has been stood on its head.

The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite. With blacks screaming at whites, women screaming at men, and homosexuals screaming at heterosexuals, there is no one left to scream at the rulers.

The ruling elite favors a "conversation on race," because the ruling elite know it can only result in accusations that will further divide society. Consequently, the ruling elite have funded "black history," "women's studies," and "transgender dialogues," in universities as a way to institutionalize the divisiveness that protects them. These "studies" have replaced real history with fake history.

Steve Gittelson , April 19, 2018 at 3:59 pm GMT

Just a bit more real truth from PCR. Carry on

All of America, indeed of the entire West, lives in The Matrix, a concocted [and false] reality. Western peoples are so propagandized, so brainwashed, that they have no understanding that their disunity was created in order to make them impotent in the face of a rapacious ruling class, a class whose arrogance and hubris has the world on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

History as it actually happened is disappearing as those who tell the truth are dismissed as misogynists, racists, homophobes, Putin agents, terrorist sympathizers, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists. Liberals who complained mightily of McCarthyism now practice it ten-fold.

The United States with its brainwashed and incompetent population -- indeed, the entirety of the Western populations are incompetent -- and with its absence of intelligent leadership has no chance against Russia and China, two massive countries arising from their overthrow of police states as the West descends into a gestapo state. The West is over and done with. Nothing remains of the West but the lies used to control the people. All hope is elsewhere.

[Apr 18, 2018] Obama vs Trump: That is how the political mechanism of faux populism works.

Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit | Apr 18, 2018 11:42:04 AM | 142

Don Bacon

Trump's actions have not matched his election rhetoric. Just like faux populist Obama. Obama also "caved" to pressure, and even set himself up for failure by emphasing "bipartisanship".

That is how the political mechanism of faux populism works.

Obama: Change you can believe in
Trump: Make America Great Again

Obama: Most transparent administration ever
Trump: Drain the Swamp

Obama: Deceiver: "Man of Peace" engaging in covert ops
Trump: Distractor: twitter, personal vendettas

Weakened by claims of unpatriotic inclinations:
Obama: Birthers (led by Trump who was close to Clinton's) - "Muslim socialist"!
Trump: Russia influence (pushed by 'NeverTrump' Clinton loyalists) - Putin's bitch!

There's more but I won't belabor the point.

[Apr 11, 2018] It's surreal to watch such staggering levels of dishonest incompetence among our globalist "elites".

Apr 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [280] Disclaimer , April 10, 2018 at 5:33 am GMT

It's surreal to watch such staggering levels of dishonest incompetence among our globalist "elites".

This is worrying. Nobody is that stupid so it's more like they don't care about credibility going forward. Like it won't matter.

Kiza , April 10, 2018 at 5:40 am GMT
We have moved way beyond the Skripals case now. Simply put, if US shoots in Syria, Russia will shoot back this time, yes back at US. USS Donald Duck has been placed as a bait to be sent to the bottom of Mediterrenain sea by the Russians, similar to Arizona et al at Pearl Harbour.

Many dissenter websites are currently under attack by the cyber forces of the Western regimes and Israel, one of them being this one. Another site under attack is my favorite johnhelmer.com. In addition to saying that he is under attack, the current message from John is:
WHEN THE RULE OF LAW WAS DESTROYED IN SALISBURY, LONDON AND THE HAGUE, AND THE RULE OF FRAUD DECLARED IN WASHINGTON, THAT LEAVES ONLY THE RULE OF FORCE IN THE WORLD. THE STAVKA MET IN MOSCOW ON GOOD FRIDAY AND IS READY. THE FOREIGN MINISTRY ANNOUNCED ON SUNDAY "THE GRAVEST CONSEQUENCES". THIS MEANS ONE AMERICAN SHOT AT A RUSSIAN SOLDIER, THEN WE ARE AT WAR. NOT INFOWAR, NOT CYBERWAR, NOT ECONOMIC WAR, NOT PROXY WAR. WORLD WAR.

The West is utterly bankrupt, morally as well as financially and we are experiencing the Western remedial plan and actions – war!

annamaria , April 10, 2018 at 5:52 am GMT
"In 2016 an official British government inquiry determined that Bush and Blair had indeed together rushed to war. The Global Establishment has nevertheless rewarded Tony Blair for his loyalty with Clintonesque generosity. He has enjoyed a number of well-paid sinecures and is now worth in excess of $100 million."

– The character of Blair and the Establishment is well established: Blair is a major war criminal supported by the major war profiteers. His children and grandchildren are a progeny of a horrible criminal.

What is truly amazing is the complacency of the Roman Catholic Church that still has not excommunicated and anathematized the mass murderer. Blair should be haunted and hunted for his crimes against humanity.

With age, Blair's face has become expressively evil. His wife Theresa Cara "Cherie" Blair shows the same acute ugliness coming from her rotten soul of a war profiteer.

Blanco Watts , April 10, 2018 at 6:34 am GMT
The UK is governed by the same Neo-liberal psychotic cabal that runs the US, Israel and France.
JR , April 10, 2018 at 7:06 am GMT
Keep in mind how long ago all this is:
Skripal was recruited around 1990 and arrested in 2004. Guess that the Russian attitude towards Skripal took the chaos of the 90′s as mitigating circumstances into account.
Skripal served his sentence of only 13 years till 2010 when he was pardoned and given the option to leave. Russia did not revoke Skripal's citizenship. The UK issued Skripal a passport too. On arrival in the UK Skripak was extensively debriefed by UK intelligence services. Skripal has lived for 8 years in the UK now.

And now out of the blue this incident nicely dovetailing with May ratcheted up anti Russia language only a few months before this false flag incident and the rapidly failing traction of the Steele/Orbis/MI6 instigated Russia collusion story on the basis of that fake Trump Dossier. By the way Orbis affiliated Steele and Miller have been among Skripal's handlers.

Ronald Thomas West , Website April 10, 2018 at 8:43 am GMT
From the Steele dossier lies falling apart to the Skripal lies falling apart to the 'Assad did it' lies falling apart:

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2018/04/08/open-letter-to-die-linke/

^

Paul Craig Roberts is correct when quoting The Saker:

"The Russian view is simple: the West is ruled by a gang of thugs supported by an infinitely lying and hypocritical media while the general public in the West has been hopelessly zombified." -- The Saker

I expect that makes the Russians right

[Apr 09, 2018] In my opinion, the forces that push for war know they are lying and don't care if a small percentage are on to them. They have the microphone and we do not.

Notable quotes:
"... Without sufficient domain knowledge, you have no immunity from MSM narratives. And, to acquire that knowledge you need to read non-MSM sources (or know people with first-hand experience). ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Babak Makkinejad -> Prince Monolulu , 4 hours ago

Reasonably intelligent people? Like this Iranian woman (in US) whose postings during the war for Aleppo was full of righteous indignation for the rebels. when I told her that the people whose fate she was bemoaning would do many evil things to her as a Shia Iranian woman; she would not hear of it.
ceasley7 -> Babak Makkinejad , 2 hours ago
Couldn't agree with you more Babak. My dad is a 78 year old Orthopedic physician here in the US. He would be considered intelligent by most people. And he is. Except when it comes to Geopolitics. He believes everything the MSM parrots and I gave up long ago in voicing my opinion to him. It's hopeless. And consider the vast majority of the citizens of my country are far less intelligent than him. In my opinion, the forces that push for war know they are lying and don't care if a small percentage are on to them. They have the microphone and we do not.
Prince Monolulu -> Babak Makkinejad , 4 hours ago
Yes, people like that. Without sufficient domain knowledge, you have no immunity from MSM narratives. And, to acquire that knowledge you need to read non-MSM sources (or know people with first-hand experience).

[Apr 09, 2018] Hi, I am from the government. I am here to lie to you

The Brits blinked and did not punish the criminal liar Blair. Since then, the war profiteering based on false flag operations has become a national British pastime.
Notable quotes:
"... The problem for governments using false flag operations like this is many more people are no longer trusting their own governments and quite rightly so. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

are we there yet -> DuneCreature Sun, 04/08/2018 - 17:56 Permalink

Hi, I am from the government. I am here to lie to you. I have so many lies on top of other lies that sometimes they are true. Even the government has lost track. I am not sure if even MIC or Israel knows anymore.

GreatUncle Sun, 04/08/2018 - 10:51 Permalink

The problem for governments using false flag operations like this is many more people are no longer trusting their own governments and quite rightly so. Human minds are reinforcing the concept of untrustworthy governments that actually lasts far longer than the elected period of time of those who purport to represent the population we now know to be a deceit.

As example, take Blair ex-UK prime minister who concocted the whole Iraq dodgy dossier in the UK who most people I know now call him a war criminal but nobody will put on trial in the Hague. He has not been PM since 2007 but nobody forgets the criminal acts he instigated and supported and will be remembered for a long time for this. So how do you make Blair appear human again to the population?

You can apply this concept to so many elected criminals in the west ... join it up those that rule us are in fact criminals not ordinary people. The psychos rule over us and to them we are no more than dead meat.

[Apr 08, 2018] Do brighter minds incline to honesty by James Thompson

Apr 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Simon Gächter & Jonathan F. Schulz. Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies. Nature, Letter doi:10.1038/nature17160

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3c4TxciNeJZS0JfOGZQNnBhVkE/view?usp=sharing

The authors argued thus:

Good institutions that limit cheating and rule violations, such as corruption, tax evasion and political fraud are crucial for prosperity and development. Yet, even very strong institutions cannot control all situations that may allow for cheating. Well-functioning societies also require the intrinsic honesty of citizens. Cultural characteristics, such as whether people see themselves as independent or part of a larger collective, that is, how individualist or collectivist a society is, might also influence the prevalence of rule violations due to differences in the perceived scope of moral responsibilities, which is larger in more individualist cultures.

If cheating is pervasive in society and goes often unpunished, then people might view dishonesty in certain everyday affairs as justifiable without jeopardising their self-concept of being honest. Experiencing frequent unfairness, an inevitable by-product of cheating, can also increase dishonesty. Economic systems, institutions and business cultures shape people's ethical values, and can likewise impact individual honesty.

I described Gachter and Schultz's work in April 2016, and thought I could immediately see a problem with the interpretation that the authors placed on the results. Putting forward a different perspective took a few days. Getting that new approach published has taken 2 years. For how long will researchers put up with these absurd delays which impede the prompt assessment of arguments?

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/honestly

The authors of this very interesting study, having revealed the cheats, interpreted the national differences as being due to cultural factors, particularly whether there were institutions in each society which encouraged honesty. Of course, this leaves open why one society would have such institutions and another would not. Culture must come from somewhere. A reasonable hypothesis is that the institutions of a county are built by the people who live there. Here is our reply:

Honesty, rule violation and cognitive ability: A reply to Gächter and Schulz
Heiner Rindermann, David Becker, James Thompson.
Intelligence, Volume 68, May–June 2018, Pages 66–69.

https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1Wl5h_3fG8aUwo

Our argument is that both institutions and honesty are determined by the intelligence of people, and that bright people can see the long-term benefits of honesty and of institutions that support honest behaviour. Any institution with a code of conduct leads its members toward probity, and shows prospective applicants what standards are expected of them. However, those institution do not arise randomnly.

Gächter & Schulz assumed that institutional rules affect individual honesty.
We added cognitive ability as further factor explaining national differences.
Stronger effect of IQ (total 0.55) than of rule violation (total −0.34) on honesty.
Stronger effect of IQ (total −0.68) than of honesty (total −0.26) on rule violation.
________________________________________
Abstract
Gächter and Schulz (2016) assumed an effect of institutional rule violation on individual honesty within societies. In this reply we challenge this approach by including a nation's cognitive ability as a further factor for cross-national variations in the prevalence of rule violations and intrinsic honesty. Theoretical considerations, correlational and path analyses show that a nation's cognitive ability level (on average β = |.62|) better explains and predicts honesty and rule violation. While institutional and cultural factors are not unimportant, cognitive factors are more relevant.

The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others.

Cognitive ability seems to have the strongest causal effect on the honesty of a society:

The same pattern holds true if you assume that social levels of honesty intermediate individual levels of honesty as shown by rule violation.

Either way, it seems that intelligence explains whether some societies cheat at games and cheat in real life.


KA , March 23, 2018 at 2:15 pm GMT

Society rots from top and doesn't matter who is at the top. It still remains valid even when the so called least intellectually developed honest poor people get shafted for hundred of years by so called high IQ nations who bring cheating,dishonesty,and violations of existing laws and destruction of existing institutions without replacing them nationwide. Often these newly created institutions are nothing but vehicle to whitewash the corrupting and corrupted new system.

Public moral status has a lot to do with corruption at the top -both local and international in these days of neoliberalism and post -colonization. It sounds painful and hurtful though.

res , March 23, 2018 at 3:18 pm GMT
Interesting work! I am amazed academics have the patience to deal with such a long lag time for letting arguments play out.

Is there any chance of you publishing a scatter plot matrix of the variables you used and/or the data itself?

Do you have the correlation matrix for your variables? By any chance did you try single and multiple variable models to try to predict rule violation from the other variables? It would be interesting to see how much variance an assortment of those models explained.

Has anyone explored the idea of "cheater fraction" (analogous to smart fraction) to explain dishonesty in societies?

James Thompson , Website March 23, 2018 at 5:28 pm GMT
@res

Cheater fraction sounds interesting. I assume that if it is higher than 16% then the society in question is worth avoiding, if at all possible.

Santoculto , March 23, 2018 at 8:17 pm GMT
Honesty can be anything, it's look like obedience to authority instead true or pure honesty
Santoculto , March 23, 2018 at 8:34 pm GMT
@Santoculto

I mean, based on proto-concept used.

Santoculto , March 23, 2018 at 8:37 pm GMT
So ashekl jews [on very avg or not] are the exception in collective terms **
Miro23 , March 23, 2018 at 11:59 pm GMT
It's an interesting question. Some years ago The Economist did a "European Honest Test " leaving a wallet with a fair amount of cash in it (but also including clear contact details of the owner), in capital cities around Europe.

The test was to see how many wallets were returned – and they found that the Scandinavians returned almost all of them, and the Italians returned almost none – with a clear North/South gradient in the results.

By coincidence, at about the same time, I found a wallet beside some rubbish bins with € 400 in it and some credit cards (one from my own bank). So on my next visit, I told them about it and soon got a call from the owner ( a Spanish carpenter working in Germany). His reaction was 1) to check that the money was still in the wallet 2) say that not many people would return a wallet with € 400 in it 3) leave 2 bottles of wine at my front gate.

I checked this reaction with my secretary at the time, and asked her what she would have done, with the answer that it would be a "Regalo de Dios" (Gift of God), i.e. it was not going to be returned to the owner, so there seems to be some anecdotal evidence for the result.

Godfree Roberts , Website March 24, 2018 at 12:31 am GMT
China's position on the Intrinsic Honesty chart is puzzling both at the macro level (remarkably honest, competent policy-makers) and at the individual level (above average IQ).

The Edelman Corporation, which has a lock on international surveys of personal and institutional honesty has consistently found the Chinese to be among the most trusting people on earth, as have World Values Surveys in their own, independent polls of the Chinese.

The source of the discrepancy appears to be the source of the data: "a n indicator of political rights by Freedom House that measures the democratic quality of a country's political practices; the size of a country's shadow economy as a proxy for tax evasion; and corruption as measured by the World Bank's Control of Corruption Index (Supplementary Methods)".

Relying on George Soros' Freedom House for information about China is akin to relying on the neighborhood fox to keep an eye on your chickens while you go on vacation. Garbage in, garbage out

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSwBCAPkkvGYMGa-7qn79nTF-eX-EnPauQYK8a_NqIAxY7nO7gwjp-m4u9BpRpcOOGZXnkrfe65MOaz/pub .

James Thompson , Website March 24, 2018 at 8:19 am GMT
@Miro23

Regalado.

Anonymous [388] Disclaimer , March 24, 2018 at 10:30 am GMT
I would rate Japan pretty high for getting things returned, but this ethic has eroded over the past three or four decades.

Also, in the past you'd see adult males scolding unrelated misbehaving teens in public, who'd slink away with their tails between their legs. This you do not currently see: men are less masculine and assertive and some teens at least are more beligerant.

Dieter Kief , March 24, 2018 at 11:38 am GMT
I think, David Perkins' findings about high IQ-people being also very tribal would make for a nice addendum here, to better understand how IQ and honesty are related.

I refer to Jonathan Haidt's argument, that he bases explicitly on Perkins' findings, that because of the tendency of high IQ-people to be even more tribal than the lower IQ ranks, ist is so crucial, to understand with J. S. Mill's On Liberty (and I add: with Kant and – – the Kantian Habermas' "Theory of Communicative Action"), that the core achievement of modernity is the institutionalization of disconformation in the democratic/liberal rational discourse and liberal public sphere (universities, the media, etc.).

Here's Jonathan Haidt, referring to Perkins and Mill to make clear, how important the institutionalization of disconformation actually is:

Ilya G Poimandres , March 24, 2018 at 12:12 pm GMT
Correlation≠causation. Maybe honesty leads to brighter minds. Is it your knowing the right answer that makes you follow it, or is it you looking at the situation, as it is, considering evidence and proof, and getting the right answer through correct deductive reasoning, which is then to be followed? You can't be honest and act ideologically, because by definition you follow your observations of the world, not your ideas of the world. An honest person is bound to direct observation, an intelligent person is not. Honesty is probably primary to an accurate understanding of the world.
Wizard of Oz , March 24, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMT
@James Thompson

I think that 16 per cent is a bit arbitrary. In a class or caste dominated society you might, if of a class which can choose to avoid countries, decide that it really doesn't matter if your butler and housekeeper have to terrify the lower orders to stop them ripping you off (and the butler and housekeeper have enough relations they want to place in employment to keep them to the rules as to how much they cheat you).

Wizard of Oz , March 24, 2018 at 2:12 pm GMT
@Miro23

I recently lost my wallet for a short time in a supermarket-plus-other-shops complex as I wheeled my trolley to the car park. I thought my pocket had been picked so went to a nearby poluce station to see if they could accelerate access to CCTV. Mr Plod was useless and unhelpful. (Fortunately I didn't start cancelling credit cards immediately as he pretty well demanded). Back in the shopping centre I was directed to a caretaker's office where a 30 ish man of Pakistani origin had my wallet that had fallen out of my pocket as I went up a ramp. He had taken the trouble to count the cash and wrap it separately with a note on it that the amount was $915 or whatever. I never bothered to count it myself or even unwrap it for several days. What does that say about the standard of civilisation in one of Australia's biggest cities?

Wizard of Oz , March 24, 2018 at 2:41 pm GMT
As anyone who has seen how inadequate religion is today to form moral young people may have thought, the obvious starting point is to ask oneself how I bring up my children and what moral rules I rub in (preferably by example as well as preaching). One knows children are not going to be cunning ruthless sophisticates by nature – unless psychopaths – and will not benefit from being taught to think immediately how they can get away with some theft or lie. So you bring them up with rules which will help to make sure they are both trusted and trustworthy – seeing you return the small amount of change over paid for exsmple to rub in the message about rules they should still be obeying without thought when they have children. Morality is about the customs of the tribe, its mores, and children are rarely done any sort of favour by not being trained to be strictly moral (even if taught Christian forgiveness, especially for the "poor in spirit"). However ..

It occurs to me that the place of intelligence in this may extend to what hss been called Divergent Thinking (does this overlap with Lateral Thinking? Or imagination?)
A quick imaginative laterally thinking brain may think of several ways some dishonest subterfuge may go wrong almost st the moment temptation arises. So honesty for him he quickly concludes is the best policy. And so down the speculative path on which little evidence is to be found. After all what is one to make of the arrogant lawyer that one reads about in the big tax case who thought arrogantly he could get away with something and the Mr Plods of the tax office would never sus him out and prove his wrongdoing to a court?

James Thompson , Website March 24, 2018 at 4:19 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz

I was guided by my recollection of the modelling of neighbourhood crime risk, but it is a sliding scale, I agree. I assumed, years ago, that at the 16-20% level one would begin to notice a difference from base rate. See, in this particular example, Fig 2 and Fig 3

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/hood.htm

Miro23 , March 24, 2018 at 8:06 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz

What does that say about the standard of civilization in one of Australia's biggest cities?

It doesn't really say anything. You need some standardized parameters and a reasonable sample size. Then you can draw some conclusions and assess the level of accuracy – like The Economist did with their wallet test – quite a good experiment.

However , at the individual level, a continuing positive outcome would be the wallet owner saying thank you, and being more inclined to return the favor one day.

Wizard of Oz , March 25, 2018 at 1:52 am GMT
Yep. Fair enough. (All of it).
Wizard of Oz , March 25, 2018 at 2:08 am GMT
@James Thompson

It occurs to me that 5 per cent might be a horrible worrying prospect if you, as a lawyer or doctor, thought it applied to the five or ten thousand you might come across as fellow professionals in your city or state. But then it could be that you rarely gossip about others and only regard as liars and cheats those who have done it to you (apart from the few who have been busted for insurance fraud). Maybe 16 per cent sometimes fudge or fiddle something but you don't know so you remain happily (and honestly) complacent, and proud of your profession.

Jonathan Mason , March 25, 2018 at 3:24 am GMT
More intelligent people may be more adept at calculating the possible negative consequences of personal dishonesty and they are likely to have more to lose. However, put them in a corporate situation and no doubt they will be as gung-ho as anyone to figure out ways to rip off customers.
Drapetomaniac , March 25, 2018 at 4:13 am GMT
@Miro23

I only look at the lost wallet in one light: it's not my property.

One of the factors I consider when looking at whether a person is a member of mankind or humankind – property.

szopen , March 25, 2018 at 8:57 am GMT
@Miro23

I've lost a wallet once and then I was visited home by shop owner, who carefuly tracked where I could live by using data from the wallet. She wanted nothing in exchange.

On university, I also was also given back a wallet once; I got back also a cellphone (which was quite expansive at the time) I left somewhere few years ago.

OTOH once I left a wallet with cash at university and it was not returned.

So, here you are my anecdotal evidence from Poland: three wallets and one cellphone, one time not returned, two plus one times returned.

szopen , March 25, 2018 at 9:07 am GMT
@James Thompson

"my recollection", " _I_ assumed, years ago" ??? Does that mean La Griffe du Lion is you?!?

Svigor , March 25, 2018 at 9:28 am GMT

More intelligent people may be more adept at calculating the possible negative consequences of personal dishonesty and they are likely to have more to lose. However, put them in a corporate situation and no doubt they will be as gung-ho as anyone to figure out ways to rip off customers.

The purpose of the institution in question is to "figure out ways to rip off customers." It's neither dishonesty nor cheating. The trick is not to have a culture that puts corporate/employer concerns first.

Obviously smarter people are going to tend to be more moral; you need to know what the fuck morality and ethics even are, and assess the circumstances, before you can make your decisions. Retards can't even get to the point of making a decision. Stupid people are great at missing the moral implications of their behavior. Smart people are the ones who need to come up with rationalizations.

animalogic , March 25, 2018 at 9:54 am GMT
All "honesty" begins with the self. Lying to your self, about your self is the basis of delusion and
in-authenticity. How can you know reality when reality is constantly reinterpreted to fit the needs of a run-away ego ?
The general point, that intelligence is linked to long term thinking seems sound to me. Dishonestly is often about immediate gratification: a question of gaining or avoiding immediate pleasure/displeasure. Honesty is a strategy that "pays off" over the long term.
Honesty, or truth telling (in so far as one can) is also a factor in an Honour culture. The liar is a "base" person, a person who has no sense (or no care about) their own social (self conscious) standing. Honesty also has a close correlation with such things as "loyalty", "promising" etc.
animalogic , March 25, 2018 at 10:02 am GMT
@Jonathan Mason

Oh yes !
That's the joy of the corporate structure: no one is responsible. EVERYONE acts because they "owe" obligations to another. (Executives to higher executives; Higher executives to the Board; the Board to Shareholders) Personal, moral responsibility becomes entirely lost in this deliberately confected ethical melange. The Large organisation is the perfect environment for crafting crimes safe from individual consequence.

animalogic , March 25, 2018 at 10:06 am GMT
@Wizard of Oz

It says you are damn lucky. If I had $ 915 in my wallet I'd super-glue the damn thing to my chest. Rather lose a couple layers of skin than that kind of dosh.

animalogic , March 25, 2018 at 10:25 am GMT
@Ilya G Poimandres

Self honesty is a long tortuous process.
Ideology is a relief: it removes the constant anxiety of needing to "question".
Science is -- should be -- the strictest form of public honesty.
Its frightening how many reports we so often get now about the systemic "dishonesty" in the scientific realm. (Dishonesty driven usually (not exclusively) by the demands of corporate profits)

m___ , March 25, 2018 at 10:46 am GMT
Sublime opportunism, entwined inside collective incentives, converges into supreme ethics, moral behaviour.
Sadly, the convergence is beyond the gradients of our elites.
The why of hard-wired human elites as are, cannot transcend to long term survival strategies, and society resembles a chicken coop.

To add another factor randomly, embedded into the above, it does not matter, how intelligence plays out between individuals, because individual opportunity feeds back into a pool of extended family, group, tribe, waves of culture and ad-hocs, lastingly and durably not encased in cognitive ambition, itself a consequence of cognitive genetic effort. Colleges and universities worldwide are a better example of petty games.

The "truth" and other concepts of "honesty" are a psychological, relative variant, depending on context. The agnostic concept of real and it's pursuit is unknown to our archaic, analogue brain without the preposition of a limited context, opportune in the now.

EliteCommInc. , March 25, 2018 at 1:35 pm GMT
I would be interested in how honesty was explicated. And the valuation of cross cultural rules that note the value of said rule equally across cultures. Now perhaps, these are fully layed out in the study, but I was unable to access the sight provided.

I would also be interested how the study rated honesty as a national value. Thus far the model looks to be applied by survey data. As I was reading I kept thinking of the multiple national scandals in which dishonesty played a central role. Once one figures out the definition and meaning of what constitutes honesty among individuals and or societal groups as agreed upon by those groups, then a model of measuring said honesty is built. This is essential because the article indicates that the difference in variable is largely cultural. So I have to conclude that a standard was established that recognizes what honesty is across cultures.

Because even withing culture, honesty varies. If intelligence is the key demarcation than one would expect those groupings with supposedly higher intelligence to have a higher degree of honesty. But again, even withing culture an agreed upon understanding of honesty is required.
Assuming intelligence matters to some set post of morality, in this case honesty -- could the model replicate supposed intelligence to honesty withing a given system in which the rules are more readily identifiable and agreed upon. Assuming that the students at the US military academies rank higher in intelligence than say the students at any comparable sized university would the students among the military academies rank higher or lower as to the being or practicing honesty. Considering the value placed on meritocratic institutions such as Harvard when measuring that intelligence grouping demonstrate a higher degree of honesty than a comparable public university.

Assuming we agree what the rules are,

"The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others"

it could be interesting whether said tested data is measuring awareness verses adherence.

Here are a bare list of some developed nation's honesty issues regarding rule adherence.

http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Scientific-misconduct

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheating (rare use of Wikipedia)

https://phys.org/news/2014-11-business-culture-banking-industry-favors.html

Again assuming that the players agree on what the rules are across countries or cultures a comparison of honesty across varying fields as to scandals and or practices might tell us something regarding the impact of intelligence to honesty across said cultures.

Found the article interesting and just expressed to thoughts on the read.

James Thompson , Website March 25, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMT
@szopen

No, someone else.

ThreeCranes , March 26, 2018 at 1:25 am GMT
Well, I'll speak (honestly) from the other perspective.

I used to ride my bike of a Sunday morning on a scenic route that boasted a few first class restaurants. Twice I found wallets lying on the pavement just downstream from these establishments. Apparently, the owners, a little tipsy, had set their wallets on top of their cars while they fumbled for their keys and then drove off.

The first I took to the local police station. The second I took home and called the owner (who lived in Canada) using their credit card number to pay for the call and left a message reassuring her that her wallet (and money) was safe and sound, not to worry (because I knew she would, having lost it outside her home country). I didn't want to take it to the police because I figured they'd begin to suspect me of stealing the wallets if I kept showing up with them.

She and her husband drove down to a prearranged place to meet me for the return. She was very grateful.

The owner of the first lost wallet called me and asked if they could donate $100 in my name to my favorite charity.

Another time I found a perfectly nice fleece-lined, leather aviation jacket lying in the road just outside a golf course. Luckily there was a receipt from his fee for 18 holes in the pocket. I called him and arranged to return the coat. We met. He treated me as though I had stolen the jacket from his car. Not so much as a thank you.

I don't know if I'm inclined to honesty because I'm bright, it's just that I've lost my wallet in the past and it's such a pain in the butt that I feel sorry for anyone who shares that fate. Credit cards, ID etc. the money is the least of it.

Mishra , March 26, 2018 at 7:14 am GMT
Honesty and trust are just two more archaic notions to be discarded along the way toward our new third-world future.
The Alarmist , March 26, 2018 at 11:08 am GMT

"Good institutions that limit cheating and rule violations, such as corruption, tax evasion and political fraud are crucial for prosperity and development."

I'd argue that these institutions derive from a well-functioning, high-trust society and are rarely a catalyst for more honesty in other societies.

As for the connection to intelligence, look at India and China to test your hypothesis.

JackOH , March 26, 2018 at 12:20 pm GMT
@ThreeCranes

"Another time I found a perfectly nice fleece-lined, leather aviation jacket lying in the road just outside a golf course. Luckily there was a receipt from his fee for 18 holes in the pocket. I called him and arranged to return the coat. We met. He treated me as though I had stolen the jacket from his car. Not so much as a thank you."

TC, yep. I found a wallet stuffed with cash and credit cards on the campus of our local state university. A campus policeman was nearby so I turned the wallet over to him. He cautioned me that people who recover lost or abandoned property are sometimes blamed by the owners of that property for any real or imagined loss, damage, or inconvenience to the owners.

My rough rule of thumb is that if the property can be readily linked to an owner, I return it. If not, and the property has trivial value, say under USD $100, it's a judgment call. Found a few bottles of liquor, seals unbroken, in a trash can. Kept them. Found an untagged but well-kept dog once, which I judged to have strong sentimental value to its owner, so I placed an ad in a local newspaper, got a response, and returned the dog. His children were very grateful.

Santoculto , March 26, 2018 at 10:53 pm GMT
@Mishra

Most of corruption in third world countries came back from the top of social hierarchy, i mean, higher IQ.

dux.ie , March 27, 2018 at 7:38 am GMT
The Gachter experiment on rule violation is based on die throwing in sterile experimental conditions where the financial incentives are trivial and more seriously there are no competition between the participants and there are no mechanism to identify specific individual cheating and no resulting blemish to ones' reputation. So how much of that are relevant to real life situations?

Real life cheating data where there are great advantage to be gained and also with consequences that might affect ones future are more appropriate to be studied. One aspect of the OECD TALIS project dealt with real life cheating in 8645 schools and over 100K? teachers globally,

"TALIS 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning – © OECD 2014″

http://www.oecd.org/education/talis/

Table 2.20.Web. School climate – Frequency of student-related factors (cheating)
Percentage of lower secondary education teachers whose school principal reports that the following student behaviours occurred 1 Never, 2 Rarely, 3 Monthly, 4 Weekly, 5 Daily in their schools.

Answers 3, 4 and 5 are considered to be serious indicator of cheating in schools. With the intention to mash the TALIS data with the PISA 2012 data, the primary school data were excluded.

Many popular pre-conceived ideas about cheating in schools were not proven by the data. In fact considerable efforts were needed to find any significant statistical trend. For example at the national levels cheating were not correlated to the average PISA scores, fraction of top or bottom PISA scores, teachers' practice of spliting the class to teach and to test part of the class differently, etc.

The factor that show statistical significance is the proxy factor for competition or meritocracy. Countries have adopted various shades of "no child left behind" policy and that is reflected in the age profile of the class. In country that practice strict "no child left behind", the students are automatically promoted to the next grade in the next academic year regardless of the ability of the students with the results that the student will be exclusive of the same 'academic age'. When meritocracy is practiced, poorly performing students might have to repeat the same grade one or more times resulting in 'academic age' distribution in class. Since the PISA project has data of percentage of 15 yo for that grade, the idea can be tested. To be polite, the marked datapoints are not labelled. Two countries separated by a narrow channel can have drastically different cheating levels.

Q32CheatRpt = -0.404*PctGrade +56.76; #n=32; Rsq=0.1891; p=0.01287 *

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=axb52h&s=9

The school cheating levels is statistically significant to be linearly dependent on the percent of the 15 yo in class. The levels of cheating is dependent on the level of meritocracy practiced. With automatic promotion to the next academic grade there is little need for the students to cheat. The governments are doing the cheating instead. The out-criers of cheating in other countries do not realized that they are in countries with lesser meritocracy.

Peter Frost , Website March 27, 2018 at 1:37 pm GMT
The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others.

This is what Jean Piaget concluded from his studies of Swiss children. He believed that empathy was an integral part of a child's intellectual development. It doesn't follow, however, that there is some kind of genetic linkage between intellectual capacity and the capacity for empathy. These are two different mental traits. It's more likely that the same selection pressure that favored an increase in intellectual capacity also favored an increase in the capacity for empathy.

It's impossible to build an advanced society unless most of its members have a high capacity for both intelligence and empathy. On an individual level, however, high intelligence can co-exist with low empathy. There have been many cases of ruthless sociopaths who are very intelligent and yet totally self-centered. Such people can be very successful as long as they aren't too numerous. Otherwise, they'll destroy the very society that makes their existence possible.

An advanced society requires a combination of high intelligence and high empathy, although this may come about in different ways. In northwest Europeans, a high intellectual capacity co-exists with high capacities for guilt proneness and affective empathy. In East Asians, a high intellectual capacity co-exists with high capacities for cognitive empathy and pro-social behavior. In other words, there is more emphasis in East Asian societies on learning correct moral rules.

J.Ross , Website March 27, 2018 at 11:48 pm GMT
@Peter Frost

I am not following the credit gift of empathy to East Asians, or the connection of morality and intelligence to the obeying of complex rules, because of the stolen oranges in the Book of Rites and the counterfeit antiques that impressed the Emperor. The Chinese literally explain how to lie in their moral teachings. "Lying" is right there among the morality-guaranteeing complex rules. There are examples in the Talmud I will not specify, or regard as unreasonable, but I will note that nobody saw the Talmud as less than a downright complex system of rules. Some African tribes have rules so stringent (eg, no wet dreams) that nobody could possibly obey them. If anything I would expect that systems of compelled obedience to complex rules guarantee dishonesty. The only alternative is Billy Budd getting the captain to take his side.
What I would start with is power. In China, even in periods of decay or civil war, power is always centralized to a degree only approached in Europe by a few temporarily competent monarchs, and with an effectiveness that has never been accomplished in Europe. I think this and not math scores or cheap shoes is the basis of the elite adoration of the Han. The man who observes that a cow is not a nightingale, or that two and two are four, when the opposite is being claimed by an officer of the government (be it communist, imperial, or partisan) is an idiot. He, and probably his family, maybe his hamlet, will be exterminated with efficiency the European Enlightened Despots could only dream of. Truth, insofar as it is objective, is the hair of Liberty. It cannot exist at all except in the empty space left by the rolling back of power. The trick here is embracing negativism instead of falling into the positivistic trap. We in the West accidentally stumbled across Liberty and Truth and Science, not because we are good, objectively not because we are smarter, but because we just couldn't get that mandate of heaven thing together, despite the unambiguous desires of numerous monarchs. I predict that this will be an unpopular answer but it will not go away.
(but the Japanese are massively more ethical than the Chinese. Yeah. And they are also all but European, especially in a lot of their political history. They dreamed of imitating Chinese centralization but never came close.)
Also, how soon can we expect an update to that graph, now plotting IQ (or PISA, or tetris scores, etc) against something like the Transparency Index? Apologies if this has already been done and I missed it.

James Thompson , Website March 28, 2018 at 9:27 am GMT
@dux.ie

thanks for this interesting additional measure of cheating.

Steve Sailer , Website March 30, 2018 at 6:27 am GMT
Personally, I have a hard time understanding scams. I would make a terrible white collar criminal.
Wally , March 30, 2018 at 7:03 am GMT
@Jonathan Mason

Got examples?

Biff , March 30, 2018 at 7:31 am GMT
Those studies are bunk because everybody lies:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/09/everybody-lies-how-google-reveals-darkest-secrets-seth-stephens-davidowitz

What can we learn about ourselves from the things we ask online? US data scientist Seth Stephens‑Davidowitz analysed anonymous Google search results, uncovering disturbing truths about our desires, beliefs and prejudices

Tbbh , March 30, 2018 at 8:19 am GMT
@Santoculto

I almost thought I had found a thread on unz where somebody didn't mention joos. Thanks for not disappointing me.

jilles dykstra , March 30, 2018 at 11:47 am GMT
Have no idea where the data come from, but scandals with Dutch politicians seem to increase all the time, most with Rutte's VVD.

Condemned politicians for fraud etc., a novelty.
But until now just one behind bars.

But about honesty, our prime minister Rutte is nicknamed Pinocchio for his lies.
The VVD quickly rid itself of the chairman Keiser, who manipulated himself into possession of the crematoria of the organisation he advised.
The Dutch tax authority presented him with a claim of € 12 million, our FIOD, the authority for fiscal crimes is investigating him.

Condemned business men for fraud, more than we like.
Even the former Philips CEO Boonstra was condemned for trade with foreknowledge.
Solicitors also are not above suspicion any more.

At the recent municipality elections measures were applied to prevent criminals being elected.

Unreliable policemen, also a novelty, the first serious conviction was a short time ago, he sold information from police data bases to criminals.
How he was not discovered earlier, unbelievable, police salaries are insufficient for driving Porsches.

Wizard of Oz , March 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm GMT
Your last paragraph is ill timed and at best insensitive in the opinion of this Australian who once got some pleasure from the game of cricket
anarchyst , March 30, 2018 at 12:48 pm GMT
Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen said it best: "It is much easier for an educated person to rationalize evil".
All one has to do is look at abortion supporters who insist that abortion merely removes "a clump of cells", when they damn well know better, that it is HUMAN LIFE that they are destroying.
The old "ends justifies the means" excuse also comes into play, which is used by communist societies to purge millions of those who oppose them, not unlike the purges in the old Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other communist "paradises".
I would state that it is easier for an educated person to rationalize evil–this including dishonesty
ANON [436] Disclaimer , March 30, 2018 at 1:01 pm GMT
@ThreeCranes

Do I detect a matter of class? The golfer seems not to have been a gentleman belonging to a golf club where proper behaviour was de rigeur, very likely passed from father, uncle and club pro to son. The sort of chap who pays green fees could be a wannabe upwardly mobile agent for subdivided swamp land

ANON [436] Disclaimer , March 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm GMT
@ThreeCranes

PS I gave up golf after my father died 20+ years ago. Not so much that I couldn't match his ethical standards but that after two heart attacks and hip replacements he was still a scratch golfer and all I could do was occasionally outdrive him if my slice or pull allowed.

TG , March 30, 2018 at 1:12 pm GMT
Interesting post. Some additional thoughts.

1. Perhaps smart people are just better at not getting caught?

2. Overall, there is one major factor in the honesty of a society, and that is poverty. When an overpopulated third-world society is crushed into misery, when people cannot earn a half-way decent living – or indeed, any living – through honest effort, eventually they come to cheat. This has been demonstrated in all cultures and all races.

Does integrity promote prosperity? Surely. But the reverse is if anything more powerful: poverty promotes corruption and nepotism. For people to behave honorably, yes there must be a culture of this, but it must also be the case that behaving honorably is not cutting your own throat. Because few people are saints.

Cindy , March 30, 2018 at 2:37 pm GMT
@JackOH

"Found a few bottles of liquor, seals unbroken, in a trash can. "

Dumpster-diving is a different thing than keeping lost goods. I think you're *morally* in the clear, there, even if sorely lacking in judgement. This doesn't seem very wise. Did it not occur to you that they were probably in the TRASH for a reason? Probably not poisonous or anything, since the seals were on. Probably some alcoholic decided to quit drinking. But do you want to take the chance that this wasn't a bootleg batch full of lead? Obviously the answer was yes. Your butt, I reckon

Anonymous [739] Disclaimer , March 30, 2018 at 3:13 pm GMT
We have been flooded here at the University of Chicago by Mainland/Communist Chinese students. There are lots of accusations that the Chinese Communist government assists these students by cheating, getting other English language proficient students to take the English part of the SAT tests.

There appear to be lots and lots of Mainland Chinese/Communist China students here who supposedly aced the English SAT test but can't seem to speak English.

Twodees Partain , March 30, 2018 at 3:23 pm GMT
@Miro23

"like The Economist did with their wallet test – quite a good experiment."

But, The Economist is hardly a bastion of truth. I would tend to dismiss their entire story of the wallet experiment as a fabrication, having caught their writers in so many lies.

Willem , March 30, 2018 at 4:06 pm GMT
I interpreted the Simon Gächter graph as follows: the more money a country has, the more honest the citizens are.

Perhaps one should do an experiment and make countries like Tanzania as rich as e.g. The Netherlands, and then do the comparisons.

Same applies to IQ.

jacques sheete , March 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm GMT

Do Brighter Minds Incline to Honesty?

Possibly.

But certainly that accounts for the fact that politicians are dull, ignorant, dissemblers at best.

In many governments the candidates for the highest stations are above the law; and, if they can attain the object of their ambition, they have no fear of being called to account for the means by which they acquired it. They often endeavour, therefore, not only by fraud and falsehood, the ordinary and vulgar arts of intrigue and cabal; but sometimes by the perpetration of the most enormous crimes, by murder and assassination, by rebellion and civil war, to supplant and destroy those who oppose or stand in the way of their greatness.

Adam Smith, Essays Pt I, Sec III, Chap III. ed. Joseph Black and James Hutton (London: Alex. Murray & Son, 1869). 3/30/2018. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2721#Smith_Essays1649_206

denk , March 30, 2018 at 5:36 pm GMT
Uk, the perpetrator of Iraq WMD and the current Russiagate, a more 'ethical' country than China ?

What a joke !

jilles dykstra , March 30, 2018 at 5:50 pm GMT
@Willem

Honesty to me seems a cultural phenomenon.
Once people get away with dishonesty, others think 'why not me ?'.

The Dutch erosion, in my recollection, already began in the seventies, with leftist people, at the time social democrats.
It was said then 'thinking left, filling pockets at the right'.
People as my father, life long socialists, left the party in great numbers.
It took a long time for THE socialist party, PvdA, to disappear, until the last parliamentary elections.
The self destruction had much to do with EU support, socialism is at odds with globalisation, even within the EU.

Few in the USA will have followed all the French scandals before the last presidential elections.
Even Macron was accused of not declaring all his possessions.
And indeed, I also cannot understand how he spent or lost the millions he got while working for the Rothschild bank.

Another well known politician, presidential candidate, cannot now remember the name, disappeared after gifts for suits for some € 50.000 were published, there was also a very expensive watch, the job his wife had, what she in fact did, nobody understands, and the temporary jobs for his children.
When one sees the small castle where the family lives one understands that he could not buy his suits himself.

Now at last there seems to be sufficient proof against Sarkozy.

Now many French presidents were persecuted after their immunity ended, when they no longer were president.
But the frauds etc. they seem to have perpetrated seem worse and worse, in the Sarko case, intimidating a judge, among other things.
When Hollande will be persecuted, I wonder.
He had a reputation for sacking editors in chief.

jilles dykstra , March 30, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT
@denk

Ask Ghandi, alas he does not live, when Britain was an ethical country.
Just a few years ago, in BBCW Hard Talk, I saw an Indian minister getting quite angry 'the British did not have to teach the Indians anything'.

JackOH , March 30, 2018 at 6:01 pm GMT
@Cindy

Cindy, both gut and butt survived my "rescue" hooch. I did some due diligence: examined the bottles, carefully tasted the contents, etc. My guess was a domestic quarrel in the parking garage over the high-end vodka and liqueurs, perhaps over someone's drinking problem, and the quarrel was settled by chucking the booze.

" . . . [S]orely lacking in judgment." Not really. My judgment turned out to be okay, because I was informed by the totality of the circumstances and then made my call. Had the booze been low-end stuff found in an unfamiliar location, etc., I might have judged differently.

BTW-I didn't dumpster-dive. The booze was clearly visible at the top of the trash can.

denk , March 30, 2018 at 6:19 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

How did they measure such 'honesty index' ?
Placing 100 wallets in a park and observe how many are returned to the owners ?

But when the anglos lie, they always lie big time !

Goebel famously oberved .

The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous

Waging wars by false pretexts surely is the highest form of duplicity ?
They dont call them perfidious albions for nuthin you know !

Another Realist , March 30, 2018 at 6:24 pm GMT
How does the author explain the link between the supposed highest IQ group – the Jews, and their reputation for utmost dishonesty, greed and lust throughout history? Same goes for the Chinese.

Propensity for Honesty is the biggest reason why we need to restrict immigration from low trust cultures, i.e. all 3rd world countries. It's why they're 3rd world, because they are low trust, everyone is dishonest from the top down, the few honest ones are called "stupid" and get ripped off left and right. The more we import from these cultures, the more dishonest our society will become, this includes all of Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Southern & Eastern Europe esp. Russia. The only truly honest people in the world are Northwestern Protestant Europeans, and maybe the Japanese. All other groups are dishonest.

Joe Wong , March 30, 2018 at 8:18 pm GMT
@res

Interesting work? This article is a pure misuse of statistics, a fabrication and a classic work of evil minded Eurocentrist attempting to give a new lease of life to their declining rotten Eurocentrism in facing of the rising progressive, peaceful, and pragmatic East.

Look at the graph, its racist Eurocentrism is glaring, all the Western nations are on the good side while rest of the world on the bad side. History has shown all those on the good side are liars, cheaters, murderers, bandits, and pirates, while those on the bad side are the victims of those perpetrators on the good side. The missing of the USA in the chart makes this article an unapologetic white supremacy lie.

To study the link between brightness and honesty, it should pull data from the same pool of population who are in the same environment, i.e. within a nation, then we even can study whether cognitive ability, intellectual development, moral awareness, culture factor, and institutions have any effect on honesty and their relationships.

Besides in spite of being bright, and having cognitive ability, intellectual development, moral awareness, culture factor and strong institutions, the West still bombs, kills and waterboards others on the fabricated phantom allegations as humanitarian intervention without showing remorse; and recently the West lied about the poisoning episode in UK, and brought the world to the edge of anther world war crisis, those evidences prove the Western societies are not honest despite the qualities they processed as prerequisite for honesty, it seems it proves the West is either hypocritical or innate psychopathic.

jacques sheete , March 30, 2018 at 9:18 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

Ask Ghandi, alas he does not live, when Britain was an ethical country.

Exactly. What a pack of criminals. They were much worse and for a longer period of time, than what they accused the Nazis of doing.

Churchill refused to divert supplies away from already well-supplied British troops at the same time he allegedly blocked American and Canadian ships from delivering aid to India either. Nor would he allow the Indians to help themselves: the colonial government forbade the country from using its own ships or currency reserves to help the starving masses. Meanwhile, London pushed up the price of grain with hugely inflated purchases, making it unaffordable for the dying and destitute. Most-chillingly of all, when the government of Delhi telegrammed to tell him people were dying, Churchill allegedly only replied to ask why Gandhi hadn't died yet.

If all this is true -- and documents support it -- then Winston Churchill may well have starved to death as many innocent people as Stalin did in the Ukrainian genocide. Could the man who held out against Hitler really be capable of such an atrocity? Judging by the rest of this list, it wouldn't be surprising.

https://listverse.com/2014/02/04/10-evil-crimes-of-the-british-empire/

jacques sheete , March 30, 2018 at 9:39 pm GMT
The honest and bright Brits are responsible for starvation in prison camps decades before the Nazis were supposed to have done their thing.:

Picture of Brit camp victim (Boer War) according to the article linked above.:

lavoisier , Website March 30, 2018 at 9:56 pm GMT
@ANON

I cannot play golf without committing a certain amount of larceny. In my mind a mulligan is a reasonable option to excuse a particularly poorly played shot. And I have been known to sweeten my lie on the not rare occasion, which, of course, is a form of lying.

I have often wondered if my ease at dishonesty on the links might suggest a propensity towards darker deeds?

And don't even ask me about gimme putts. That for sure must reflect a lower intelligence!

Joe Wong , March 30, 2018 at 10:33 pm GMT
@James Thompson

Who decides who cheats or being dishonesty? Is misleading advertising cheating? Is empty campaign promises cheating? Is abusing legal loopholes cheating? Is putting one's self-interest ahead of the ones they supposed to serve cheating? Is price fixing cheating? Are cartels of all kind cheating? Are selective reporting, wrongful labelling, and spreading ideology cheating? . . .

Mind you, the people involved in the above activities are all bright, well educated, intelligent, having strong institutions, within well-functioning societies, and a sense of moral responsibilities too, would they be more than 16% in the western societes?

Sollipsist , March 30, 2018 at 11:08 pm GMT
The assumptions behind this are so fragile and unsupportable.

Honesty, as with most of the Judeo-Christian values, largely serves to keep the compliant majority self-correcting while the predatory and parasitic top and bottom of society maintain a more productive relativistic approach – long term dishonesty for the elites, short term dishonesty for the undesirables. In-group honesty is always far more valued than universal honesty – whether you're talking about stockbrokers or Romani.

The most intelligent in any class or group are far more likely to utilize dishonesty when it best serves their needs. To do otherwise would be a clear sign of lack of intelligence.

The idea that intelligent people are more likely to see the purpose of honesty in the long term is not only an unsupportable assumption, it's also ignoring the countless undeniable historical instances of intelligent leaders deploying adaptive fictions to achieve positive social goals (anything from religion to the concept of inalienable rights).

Anyone who uses the phrase "speaking truth to power" can absolutely be counted upon to be utterly dishonest when that power comes knocking.

Art , March 30, 2018 at 11:48 pm GMT
As a boy I had the privilege to attend a Catholic grade school. Part of the education was to go to confession. Admitting to a third party your wrongs, is very powerful. Forgiving the past frees one. Being truthful builds character, and getting over the past is a blessing. It was a struggle to be totally truthful all the time. As a mid to late teen, I fell away from Catholicism.

In my early twenties I came back to believing that truthfulness is the best policy. I attribute that to the Catholic culture and the confessional. I would not say that it was my intelligence that led me.

Think Peace -- Art

Joe Wong , March 31, 2018 at 1:17 am GMT
@Art

Confession has nothing to do with honesty; it breeds psychopath, unrepentance, irresponsibility and repeat offending. The churches use confession to cleanse perpetrators' sins, so the perpetrators can repeat their crimes without moral burden; this is not hypothesis, history bear witness of such fact. This is the trait of the Western culture, it reflects in all aspects of the westerners' behaviour. Most common expression of such morally defunct mentality is that the western governments and officials have no trouble to apologize the wrongs they have done, but they keep on doing the same wrong over and over again after apologizing. The Native Americans are the most abused victim of such morally defunct practice.

The churches use confession to recruit and dominate its members (mentally colonized serfs), expand their domains. Confession is one of the most effective mechanisms that corrupt the basic decency of humanity.

denk , March 31, 2018 at 1:39 am GMT
@jacques sheete

Here's another ROFLLMAO,

China much more aggressive than UK ,
WTF !

How did they deduce that ,
Comparing how many people jump queue in UK and China ?

Lies, damn lies and statistics

Coming from those who hog the top 100 hoax of the century chart.

hehehhehe

utu , March 31, 2018 at 2:13 am GMT
@Joe Wong

Perhaps going to confession or a dose of Christianity would be good for Chinese.

Twodees Partain , March 31, 2018 at 2:20 am GMT
@jacques sheete

Adam Smith apparently had their number when he was alive. It seems that little has changed in the quality of politicians between the 19th and 21st centuries. If anything, today's politicians are even more dimwitted and venal. The average Congress member is a moron, and nearly inarticulate in unscripted speaking.

I really enjoyed reading Henry Mencken's observations on political campaigns of the early 20th century. He also seemed to enjoy making those observations as well. It comes through in the way he describes the candidates.

Twodees Partain , March 31, 2018 at 2:26 am GMT
@denk

The government of the UK seems completely unconcerned with ethics, in the same way the US government is. Most members of both governments seem, to me, to be morally retarded.

Malcolm Y , March 31, 2018 at 2:54 am GMT
Since this is statistics there are no counterexamples. But there is one giant "counterexample"
denk , March 31, 2018 at 3:27 am GMT
@Twodees Partain

which begs the question .

How did these two 'ethical' countries keep churning out world class psychopaths as leaders .since 1600 ?

dux.ie , March 31, 2018 at 5:45 am GMT
Flash! Flash! Flash! Stop the press. This is not yet 1st April.

Currently there are a lot of news about cheating in sports, e.g. cricket. Out of a whim the relationship of sports with academic cheating is tested. The OECD PISA project has data on the percentage of students who exercise before or after school PctExercise, and

PctCheatRpt=+1.044*PctExercise-46.25; #n=29; Rsq=0.234; p=0.007889 ** (V Sig)

It is very statistically significant that PctExercise is positively highly correlated to academic cheating. The effect is more than double that for the other percentage variables whether they are statistically significant or not. If students spend too much time on tracks and fields and little time at home studying the results can easily be inferred. Now you know those loud mouths screaming about cheating in another countries and that the students there spend too much time studying, they are on average themselves doing most of the academic cheatings and they might be trying to divert attention away from them.

To be fair, the situation for the nerds should also be checked. The OECD PISA has data on the percentage of students who have more than 4 hours per week of off-school maths tuition PctMathTuitGt4hr,

PctCheatRpt=-0.835*PctMathTuitGt4hr+31.81; #n=28; Rsq=0.0552; p=0.2287 (NotSig)

It is statisticaly not significant. What about those academically very competitive, the percentage who wanted to be the best PctWantBest,

PctCheatRpt=-0.445*PctWantBest+54.07; #n=29; Rsq=0.222; p=0.009944 ** (V Sig)

It is statistically very significant that PctWantBest negatively correlated with cheating, i.e, on average the more academically competitive they are the lesser they will cheat.

It is intuitively that most self-confident students will not cheat. The OECD data can be transformed and normalized into confident quotient CQ similar to the IQ scale where CQ ≥ 115 is considered to be over-confident. However,

PctCheatRpt = -0.362*ConfidantQuotient +61.62; #n=29; Rsq=0.1289; p=0.05581 (NotSig)

Two datapoints are far from the rest and are on opposite sides of the regression line, by excluding them,

PctCheatRpt = -0.473*ConfidentQuotient2 +73.25; #n=27; Rsq=0.1653; p=0.03535 * (SIg)

CQ is negatively correlated to cheating rate as expected.

The summary of the results,

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=10pvbyt&s=9

jacques sheete , March 31, 2018 at 10:42 am GMT
@Joe Wong

Most common expression of such morally defunct mentality is that the western governments and officials have no trouble to apologize the wrongs they have done, but they keep on doing the same wrong over and over again after apologizing.

Amen!

What's even worse is the goofy idea that one is automatically "forgiven" if s/he's a "believer." It's the works vs faith idea. Some of those people feel free to break every rule in the book (even the 10 supposedly written in stone) with complete impunity.

Those people routinely engage in behavior that's as disgusting as those from the the tribe who think they're "chosen."

G-wd's special ones, goy and non-goy, are forgiven in advance I guess.

jacques sheete , March 31, 2018 at 11:05 am GMT
@Twodees Partain

If anything, today's politicians are even more dimwitted and venal. The average Congress member is a moron, and nearly inarticulate in unscripted speaking.

True.

I think much the same could be said for all hierarchical systems and that includes religious as well as academic ones. I've always been as much amused as amazed at how dimwitted and venal priests and professors usually are.

Frauds-R-Us.

jilles dykstra , March 31, 2018 at 11:19 am GMT
@Joe Wong

Rereading this reaction comes to mind
Edward W. Said & Christopher Hitchens, ed., Blaming the Victims, Spurious scholarship and the Palestinian question', 1988, London

Anonymous [184] Disclaimer , March 31, 2018 at 11:29 am GMT
@JackOH

"[S]orely lacking in judgment." Not really. My judgment turned out to be okay"

No, it was a bad call regardless of how it turned out. The risk-reward ratio was off the chart.

jacques sheete , March 31, 2018 at 11:30 am GMT
@denk

which begs the question .

How did these two 'ethical' countries keep churning out world class psychopaths as leaders .since 1600 ?

Beg no longer, fine sir! This dude may have an answer.

Henceforth, Britain will do the bidding of her real masters ; she has
become the tool of the schemers against all she holds dear, namely, her
faith, her patriotism, traditions, civilisation. She grants the " returned "
aliens equality of civil rights ; they may and do become mayors over
Christian population, and within a short time Britain is ruled by a
Jewish Prime Minister, Disraeli, first and foremost a Jew and the
flunkey of the powerful Rothschild financiers.

One of the consequences of this disastrous political mistake is the
transformation of the national attitude of Great Britain and her
colonies into that of the British Empire. Disraeli who inspired it
knew what he was scheming for, the British people did not. But with
him, Zionism is carried up to the very heights of the British Throne, a
Zionist World Empire is on the high road to realisation.

-Leslie Fry, "the Jews and the British Empire," 1935

https://archive.org/stream/FryLeslieTheJewsAndTheBritishEmpire/Fry_Leslie_-_The_jews_and_the_British_Empire_djvu.txt

He musta been a kunspirasee theerist er an antee-Semite er sumpin. Prolly lo IQ and jellis too.

Dieter Kief , March 31, 2018 at 11:37 am GMT
@Dieter Kief

In the light of what Jonathan Haidt in the above linked video says with regards to David Perkin's findings, I tend to say this question of yours

Do Brighter Minds Incline to Honesty?

has to be answered: "Yes. But ."

The But has to do with the the history of the term "honesty".

People might say wrong things, while being (and feeling!) honest, because honesty is not necessarily rooted in speaking the truth.

Honesty is a social category alltogether (with close ties to knighthood, chivalry and the like). It therefor is a category, which in it's very core hints at obedience and fellowship, and that's at times what keeps people away from speaking the truth – cf. David Perkins and Jonathan Haidt above (ok – full circle).

Joe Wong , March 31, 2018 at 12:42 pm GMT
@utu

Hit-and-run is common all over the world not just in China, it is a sign of moral decay, confusion, and irresponsibility. Those perpetrators must be denounced.

But if one follows the West or the unrepentant war criminal Japanese, it is easy to white wash those hit-and-run crimes by saying the percentage of such crime in China is way lower than in the US though the absolute number might be higher, so Chinese is more honest than average in the world.

On the other hand killing people with car faces less consequences in the West, most perpetrators in the West get slap on the wrist for such crime, such as suspension of driving license, insurance company paid compensation, short term imprisonment, or get way free by claiming medical conditions, but in China the perpetrators may have to pay their lives for their crimes. It seems the West does not have a balanced morality, harsh on the victims and lenient on the criminals.

denk , March 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

In the honesty index graph,
Germany is higher than China, OK, thats fair.

As for the five eyes lies , their rightful place is right at the bottom.

UK [half of fukus] the ethical country ?
hehehehhe

Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy
by Mark Curtis

In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain's role in the world since 1945 and in the 'war against terrorism' by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government's foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an 'outlaw state', often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain's foreign policies are generally unethical but that they are also making the world more dangerous and unequal.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1128541.Web_Of_Deceit

denk , March 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm GMT
@utu

kid,

You believe in gawd ?
I pray to the all mighty every day to stop the great satan,
a fat lot of good it does tho !

so how ?

denk , March 31, 2018 at 2:30 pm GMT
@Joe Wong

that utu kid oughtta go out more .

He spend all day in the basement and he thought he knows the world by watching some dubious youtube videos, forchrissake !

hehehhe

Anonymous [184] Disclaimer , March 31, 2018 at 2:59 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

Interesting. Reverse Midas Touch can be a very real phenomenon, apparently.

So who chose them and what were they chosen for?

Anon [436] Disclaimer , March 31, 2018 at 5:03 pm GMT
@anarchyst

Why do you condemn over 100,000 years of homo sapiens behaviour. Destroying human lives has been continuously the most effective natural way to achieve important utilitarian ends tight up to today. And given the ancient Hebrew enthusiasm for genocide is it surprising that God's Ten Commandments not only said nothing about abortion but assumed that limiting killing was about the best that could be hoped for.

utu , March 31, 2018 at 6:16 pm GMT
@denk

Quality is also an aspect of honesty: both individual and institutional.

denk , March 31, 2018 at 6:54 pm GMT
Did I mention the top 100 hoaxes of the century chart, kid ?

Here's a partial list,

Iraq WMD
IRAQ babies incubators
Racak 'massacre'
RUSSIAGATE,
Chinagate,
Indo./China war 1962
Indon genocide 1965
GCHQ fake foto
Tibet fake foto,
Tibet genocide,
Libya
Syria
Sinking of the Maine,
Gulf of Tonkin,
911
War OF terror,
R2p[lunder]
TAM 'massacre'
Tibet 2008
Xinjiang 2009

100 reasons why fukus should be at the bottom of the 'honesty' chart !

utu , March 31, 2018 at 8:13 pm GMT
Chinese the most dishonest, Japanese and British the least, study finds

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/article/1879850/chinese-most-dishonest-japanese-and-british-least-study-finds

Why do Chinese students think it's OK to cheat?

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1974986/why-do-chinese-students-think-its-ok-cheat

99% OF PUBG'S BANNED CHEATERS ARE FROM CHINA

http://www.ign.com/articles/2018/02/16/99-of-pubgs-banned-cheaters-are-from-china

utu , March 31, 2018 at 8:19 pm GMT
@Joe Wong

those hit-and-run crimes

These are not just hit and run. In China you do not run until you make sure the victim is dead. And if the victim is not dead you hit them second time to make sure he/she is dead and then you run. This is very pragmatic and congruent with all Chinese philosophical systems. That's why I suggested to your compatriot (denk) here that a bit of Christian mercy and compassion would do Chinese some good.

Philip Owen , March 31, 2018 at 8:22 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

As Amryata Sen has pointed out. The problem in Bengal was not a lack of food but the lack of purchasing power by the poorest peasants. Hoarding by merchants is a traditional driver of famine in India. The Punjab actually had a good harvest but Bengal ate rice. Churchill's nvolvement was ncidental. India was governed com India, often by Indians. Churchill was an outrageous racist but by no means representative of the British of the time. He lost the post war election.

Philip Owen , March 31, 2018 at 8:24 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

WYes. Grotesque incompetence rather than the intended result but morally wrong just the same.

Wizard of Oz , April 1, 2018 at 1:39 am GMT
@utu

I am surprised that you posted that first link. Its 1500 tested people (selected how?) from 15 countries simply reminded me that the "Climategate" emails also belonged to the University of East Anglia.

I didn't take the time to understand WTF PUBG was all about (third link).

As to the second link it is indeed interesting to learn of what appears to be a formal recognition by the Chinese Communist Party that part of what contributed to the earlier economic success of the West was trust and comparative honesty (as Amy Wax might point out).

Joe Wong , April 1, 2018 at 1:58 am GMT
@utu

First of all Christians have no mercy, and they only have crusade and conversion. Christians are cult. The Christians have been committing crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes using evil and sadist inquisition methods for a very very long time. Their forte is racial and culture genocide. Before Columbus time they only did their carnage between themselves and Muslims within the European continent and ME. After Columbus they spread their plague all over the world.

The most unfortunate victims are the Americans (from North to South). Christian not only took the American's land, and killed them into nearly extinct, they also burnt all books of South Americans, so that there is no indigenous South American civilization left to tell their history and to refute what the Christian casted them as savages.

In China during the late Qing time, the Christians treated Chinese culture and traditions as witchcraft, backed by their governments' guns they used extraterritorial right to expand their control of people and land with organized violence and insidious crimes. Their unscrupulous activities forced Chinese to resist thru Boxer movement because Qing Court was incompetent. The West labelled Boxer as terrorists and crashed them with Eight Nations Alliance armed intervention, Christian was a major force that caused China Century Humiliation.

Since WWII all wars were led by the Christians, their false Christian mercy calls paved the way for the Western governments and war mongers to bomb, kill and waterboard on moral high ground just like their barbaric Christian forebears who have done to the native South Americans and rest of the world.

That kind of morally defunct drivers are not unique to China, they appeare in the West too. In some incidences the driver in the West made sure nobody survives in the other car by pushing the car over the road side, so they have better chance not to be convicted due to no witness.

While guys using assault rifles mowing down tens of school kids for no reasons and claim it is their constitution rights to do so, and tens of millions of killed, tortured and maimed by the NATO false flag wars, why don't you suggest your compatriots in the USA and other NATO nations that a bit of Christian mercy and compassion would do their souls some good? Is it because Christian mercy is myth, fantasy and snakeoil?

Joe Wong , April 1, 2018 at 2:37 am GMT
@utu

You are being racist, propagating the pink skin pigs' trashes in HK irresponsibly. You should know those noxious racist trolls in the SCMP are posted by the pink skin pigs and their mentally colonized wannabes in HK out of resentment and frustration, because they lost their colonial privileges in HK and they are being rejected as uneducated unscrupulous colonials back home. They fell from master caste to the bottom of the society and become worthless trash.

Japanese are unrepentant war criminals, their whole society are liars and they have been lying since WWII about their war crimes, their past, their present and their future, they even are lying about the massive toxic nuclear leaking in the Fukushima cripple nuclear power plants that are causing millions of people died of cancer and extinction of marine creatures. While the British is the mentor of the Japanese.

Britain was a ruthless global tyrant and liar, but you seem to believe that all the crimes against humanity and peace and war crimes British committed around the world can be forgiven and glossed over by claiming Britain a democracy; what a lie and morally defunct double think evil psychopathic expression. People said British imitates the Romans and the American is born out of the British, no wonder the American is adopting the same double think logic to white wash and gloss over the war crimes, crimes against humanity and peace they have been committing around the world.

Winston Churchill was a classic imperialist with no moral bearing, he believed for the empire everything goes. WWII is nothing but a dog-eat-dog play rough over the monopoly to plunder the rest of the world; they squandered all the wealth they obtained thru stealing, looting and murdering hundreds of millions of people all over the world in that scrabbling.

About cheating in the exams you must have never seen what the Greeks and Indian are capable of. PUBG is sour grape, they cannot beat the Chinese so they banned Chinese on the fabricated allegation, just like the Opium Wars, the British could not beat Chinese manufactured goods, so they used Opium and wars to steal and cheat Chinese wealth.

lavoisier , Website April 1, 2018 at 2:44 am GMT
@denk

Death should be knocking on Iran's door and wearing a Star of David effacing the American flag.

Wizard of Oz , April 1, 2018 at 2:50 am GMT
@denk

Why do you waste time displaying your prejudices without even acknowledging what question was asked? Your English is up to it – just – so you have no excuse.

lavoisier , Website April 1, 2018 at 2:57 am GMT
@Joe Wong

Your diatribe is a bit on the simplistic side.

All Utu was pointing out is that deliberately killing someone with a car to escape prosecution is pretty heinous behavior and does suggest something really wrong with the Chinese culture at a fundamental level.

And the treatment of animals in China is generally deplorable compared with Western standards with little concern for their well being. How does this obvious cruelty fit on the ethical plane?

Ethical behavior among human beings is probably more unusual than we would like to believe and we can all be better people. The Chinese are no exception to that rule. If Christian ethics or Buddhist ethics can advance that cause, I support this.

Wizard of Oz , April 1, 2018 at 2:57 am GMT
@jacques sheete

I was intrigued to find on the listverse.com site some readable and/or intriguing stuff, e.g. on Charles Darwin, but your particular, well debunked, choice of anachronistic and inaccurate story to believe and post suggests to me that anyone whose intellectual standards allow them to rely on one of those list (usually of 10) sites should not pollute UR. Are you aware that people are paid $100 (with possibility of bonuses) for those lists?

Joe Wong , April 1, 2018 at 2:57 am GMT
@utu

You are wrong, not everybody demands the same quality, and Chinese provides different quality for different needs in the market. Besides you get what you paid for, it is fundamental principle of capitalism if you don't count the first principle of capitalism which is monopoly which is charge as much as you can bear and cost is irrelevant, that is not only cheating and it is also blackmailing and looting.

The video just claims but shows no proof what the guy claims. Chinese machinery and parts are taking more markets around the world, this simply fact proves the video is made out of bad faith, and pure propaganda.

Coins can stand up on Chinese High Speed Rail running more than 300km/hr, no German, Japanese or any other nation can do that, it proves the bearing quality in China HSR is unprecedented, it further proves the guys in the video is a troll out of jealous, resentful and fear Chinese achievements.

denk , April 1, 2018 at 3:33 am GMT
@utu

hey kiddie,

Spare me all those China videos' [1]

In case you still havent noticed,
Im not here to defend China.
I allow its position below Germany is quite fair.

But,
Can you give me one good reason why UK , that agent provocateur extraordinaire , is so high up that honesty chart ?

denk , April 1, 2018 at 3:41 am GMT
@utu

In China you do not run until you make sure the victim is dead.

cuz you watch some videos from youtube,
forchrissake !

Can you give me some credible statistics , the percentage of such alleged crimes in China ?

How does such alleged crimes stack up against fukus state terrorism like double tapping , sniping at women and chidlren, obliterating the whole neighborhood of a suspect hideout just to make sure, ?

And .
How does this elevate fukus from its rightful position at the bottom of that honesty chart,
thats all I wanna know ?

denk , April 1, 2018 at 3:44 am GMT
@Wizard of Oz

To think that I recently commended you for some improvement on your comprehension !
, now you go back to my bozo file,

Anonymous [216] Disclaimer , April 1, 2018 at 8:03 am GMT
@Joe Wong

It is propaganda. People tell me that the same stories were circulated when Japan was becoming a tech powerhouse. It will probably take another 5-10 years before it dissipates.

Wizard of Oz , April 1, 2018 at 10:01 am GMT
@denk

Don't avoid the issue. How do you justify your use of the word "aggressive"?

Joe Wong , April 1, 2018 at 11:42 am GMT
@lavoisier

I merely point out the misconception about Christians supported by historical facts. Indian treats animals even worse while China has humane protection laws, it seems you are as impartial as utu.

Joe Wong , April 1, 2018 at 11:58 am GMT
@Anonymous

Chinese is not Japanese. Japanese only steals, their forte is made refinement on the stolen.

A lot of the American and British have been saying China will collapse 30 years already, you are one of them.

Wizard of Oz , April 1, 2018 at 2:52 pm GMT
Your first paragraph comes over as so silly that perhaps it shouldn't surprise that your second paragraph is, to say the least, extremely puzzling. Where did Anonymous [216] say or suggest that China eould collapse? The post you are replying to implies no such thing.
utu , April 1, 2018 at 3:32 pm GMT
@Joe Wong

After every of your visit by you at unz.com I keep wondering to what degree your primitive chauvinism is representative of China. How many millions primitive and hateful Joe Wongs are there? Then I wonder that perhaps you are not Chinese. That you are employed by enemies of China. That Chinese are too smart to show their cards that early in the game. If they really hate they would not show it because only fools show hate.

You, see I carry a positive stereotype of Chinese which is supported by my personal experience with them but you and your sidekick deng do everything possible to undermine it and change it into: Yes, Chinese can be really stupid and thus more dangerous than we thought. Watch, out for stupid and dangerous Chinese. Go to the Plan B: Poke NK and the Rocket Man more to the point that Japan get so paranoid that it starts arming itself with nukes. If there is to be a war let it start with the yellow races killing each other. They hate each other anyway. Ask Joe Wong if you have any doubts.

So what is it? Are you Chinese or an agent of revanchist militarist unreformed Chinese hating interests of Japanese imperialism? And then, if you are Chinese, how many more stupid ones like you are there?

denk , April 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm GMT
@utu

I carry a positive stereotype of Chinese which is supported by my personal experience

sic !

your sidekick deng

Ad hominem is the last resort of the scoundrel.

Why dont you try answering my questions kid ?

*How do you propose to get rid of that plague of the 21C ?

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/do-brighter-minds-incline-to-honesty/#comment-2267831

Why are you evading the issue but indulge in China bashing ?
Are you a diversion agent ?

*Do you agree that UK should be right at the bottom of that honesty chart ?

lavoisier , Website April 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm GMT
@Joe Wong

No. I am unimpressed with the morality of most humans and suspicious of attempts to paint ourselves as more virtuous than we are.

But there are certainly aspects of Christian morality that can serve as a framework to guide human behavior–wherever one lives or whoever you are.

Your diatribe blaming Christians for all the evil of the world is incredibly dishonest and naive.

Anonymous [442] Disclaimer , Website April 1, 2018 at 6:14 pm GMT
What is the difference in per capita income between southern europeans and scandinavians? I think this also plays a role.
Joe Wong , April 2, 2018 at 1:25 am GMT
@lavoisier

It seems your only defense for the Christians is denying historical facts, and stating something that Christians are not.

Naïve? Are you saying the crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes committed by the Christians were carefully planned, deeply thought through, determined and maturely decided like holocaust?

Bible is zero-sum based narrative, the fundamental dogma of Christianity is "you are either with us or you are with the devil" therefore all Christians have a mission to convert everyone else into "one of us" on the moral high ground with whatever means necessary, Christians believe whatever the Christians do it is necessary with good intention, even bombing, killing and waterboarding on the fabricated allegations is humanitarian intervention.

Christianity assumes humans are primitive and born evil, they need divine force to threaten (go to hell) them not to do harm, and it is tribal. While some other civilizations believe humans are sane, rational, intelligent and compassionate, humans do not need divine force to tell them how to behave properly in order to achieve peace, harmony, cooperation, development and mutual benefits, just logical explanation and some directions will be suffice.

If the past can be any reference, the crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of Christianity, it is doubtful that Christians have any morality, mind you it does not mean the Bible does not have good points in it, there are other way better ways and means to serve as a framework to guide human behaviour for the good.

Joe Wong , April 2, 2018 at 2:25 am GMT
@utu

Chauvinism is someone claims what he is not and based that false claim to demonize others what they are not on the moral high ground, this is what the West has been doing since 1492.

Stating facts does not involve emotion, so please refrain yourself from sensationalize any topic unnecessary that makes dialog on difficult issues impossible, Theresa May and Nikki Haley are not your role model to follow.

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources.

Before WWII, the American is just one of the Western imperialists ravaged and wreaked havoc of Asia with barbaric wars, illicit drugs like Opium, slavery, stealing, robbing, looting, plundering, murdering, torturing, exploiting, polluting, culture genocide, 'pious' fanaticism, unmatchable greed and extreme brutality. In fact it is hard to tell the difference between the American and the unrepentant war criminal Japanese who is more lethal and barbaric to Asians until the Pearl Harbour incident.

James Thompson , Website April 2, 2018 at 11:27 am GMT
@utu

instructive comparison

lavoisier , Website April 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm GMT
@Joe Wong

If the past can be any reference, the crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of Christianity, it is doubtful that Christians have any morality

Do you really believe this???? No morality in any Christians?

You are even more locked into hate and racism than I thought possible.

Have you attended any of the lectures by the anti-racist Tim Wise??

You might get some talking points from him that can help you in your future postings.

And keep up the good work, you have a bright future in any number of our MSM outlets.

Daniel Chieh , April 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm GMT
@utu

And you have not even met the hardcore commies, who would like to explain that the only thing that Mao did wrong, terribly wrong was that he did not kill nearly enough people.

And the answer to your question is that there are idiots in every country and race, though in China they are mostly excluded from political positions(because insanity is not welcome), so they troll online message boards within and without China.

Like various other fanatics and crazies, they can be entertaining in the appropriate context. If you've been to Finland, he's the equivalent of the old drunk men yelling propositions at girls in some train stations of the small towns. Entertaining in small doses.

utu , April 2, 2018 at 7:57 pm GMT
@Daniel Chieh

Entertaining in small doses.

I think I reached my limit dose of Joe Wong and deng already.

denk , April 3, 2018 at 4:46 am GMT
@utu

So you couldnt even give one good reason why UK should be on top of that 'honesty chart' eh ?

well I can give you 100 why UK should be right at the bottom,

Perfidious albions
exhibit one

How to ethnic cleanse an entire island ?
Declare the residents as tresspassers !

'What the files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality. In August 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks that will remain ours.

There will be no indigenous population except seagulls." At the end of this is a handwritten note by DH Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill:

"Along with the Birds go some Tarzans or Men Fridays " Under the heading, "Maintaining the fiction", another official urges his colleagues to reclassify the islanders as "a floating population" and to "make up the rules as we go along".

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/oct/02/foreignpolicy.comment

Perfidious albions at its best !

heheheheheh

I think I reached my limit dose of Joe Wong and deng already.

yEAH,
Scurry away with tail between your legs and declare victory,

that'd be
perfidious albions exhibit 2

hehehhehe

Chris2345 , April 3, 2018 at 7:16 pm GMT
@joe Wong You are a foolish, ignorant person. At least in regard to Christianity. The perpetrators of the holocaust and genocide are Christians? You absolutely have no clue about Christianity. Yes, they came from a Christian based culture but Nazis (and American war criminals) have nothing in common with Christianity. The best countries in the world are ones based on Protestant Christianity, meaning Christianity that is the closest to the Biblical teachings. I admire Chinese culture and history (especially the technology which benefited the West) but you need the ability to admit the faults of your culture which has some serious problems.
JackOH , April 4, 2018 at 9:53 am GMT
@Anonymous

Thanks for the concern, but the risk of harm to me was near zero. Numeracy and all that.

Vojkan , April 5, 2018 at 6:13 am GMT
Though I am convinced that honesty is more rational in the long term than lying, I definitely don't believe that people with high IQ are more honest than those more modestly gifted with intellectual talent. Smart people just know better to juggle with fallacies so they are more likely to get away with it than dummies, that's all.
Logic does say that truth is lower maintenance, as it exists per se and is always consistent, and lies so they are not exposed need to be cared of constantly, as they are always intrinsically inconsistent with reality, but people are people, driven by the seven sins, of which greed and vanity are possibly the worst, with the former being more evenly distributed while the latter tends to affect the bright rather than the dim.
Logic and ethics are different categories. Equating them is a sign of, well, vanity.
TT , April 7, 2018 at 2:57 pm GMT
@utu

Only a moron equate honesty = quality using ball bearing as example. There are countries may be very honest like Bhutan, yet they don't produce high quality product.

The US top elites are very intelligent, are producing lots of quality products like Boeing plane & precision weapons for murdering everywhere, yet their politicians & bankers are known habitual liars, with British & French close behind, and Germans reluctantly.

Japanese is producing high quality products, look how frequently their politicians are caught outright lying, corrupted & nepotism, and researchers are now caught recently in their published papers using fake data, with big corporates like Toshiba, Nissan, Steel factories caught cheating systematically for long period.

Its true Germany make top notch quality, undisputed, better than Japan imo.

But look at the chart, beside Germany, who else is producing better ball bearings than China, or precision tools that run aerospace, manned space craft, rockets, 5th gen J20, satellites, nuclear plants(light water pebble), nuclear sub, FSR, a long list to go yet they are rated more honest than China.

Fyi, only 2 countries are able to produce precision steel ball bearings for tiny ball point pen tip, Germany & Japan. So China is importing billion of them for its ball point pen production annually.

Why can't China factory produce it? There was some uproar in China media over this last year. Guess what? Within a mth, some factory is churning out perfect ball bearings, but in better material – ceramic that is cheaper & longer lasting. And the producer explained, its not economical worth the effort & machining to produce those bearings as they cost only $200K p. a. to import. But for national pride, they do it.

And i highly suspect you are either from HK or Taiwan with some bad memory of old China that you simply like to smear China without taking a fairer stand that, out of 1.4B Chinese how many % is doing those crimes, vs 400M murkans more serious crimes.

The new generation Chinese should not be continuously viewed through old communist color lens & West propaganda, they are not responsible for the history but the future. Pres Xi is a good example, he is leading China to their peaceful rise now. He suffered in culture revolution, do you want to blame him for those history?

TT , April 7, 2018 at 4:15 pm GMT
This chart simply look so questionable. Why not include US, France, Oz, Canada, Bhutan, India, Brazil, Agentina, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, HK, Japan, Korea, HK, Taiwan, to give a wider comparison. And how the author do his samplings to derive this graph is very much questionable.

And to say brighter mind = honesty, just look at how honest are most world politicians that are generally top intellectuals of their cohort. I would say more wise = more honesty.

To use wallets returning as a test of honesty is also overly simplified. When a country is poor, these are godsend present unless they are true perfect communist.

As a country get wealthier, their people generally get better education & well off, become indoctrine with social norm of what is so called good behavior(persuaded by praise & blame). They are more inclined to return a wallet found with money that aren't so attractive to them compare to poor. But that can never be equate to genuine honest, im sure most US Pres & UK PM will return wallets.

Take UK as the most glaring example, with its brightest in parliament are consistently been outright shameless liars, such as Blairs lies for Iraq WMD war, and now May's lies of Skripal case, which all getting near unanimous support from their parliament members speak great volumes.

There is a Unz article written on how UK has been the mecca of paedophiles, global capital in grooming children for sexual exploitation, with systematic covered up over decades by their politicians because they & those powerful elites were all involved.

http://www.unz.com/jderbyshire/the-telford-child-sex-scandal-and-the-end-of-england/

Their police chief even suggested not to criminalize Britons watching/owned child porno as so high a proportion of their nation are doing will overwhelm their prisons & judicial system.

So what honesty are we talking about here, UK as over 60% honest? Even their moral value is highly questionable if you ask most UK white people.

And Malaysia getting 3rd highest honesty of near 80% is a great joke just shy from UK. Its one of well known highest crimes & corruption that the West themselves criticized much, even Spore ex-PM LKY openly condemn as violent crime infested. I never know violent criminal is honest, may be yes for the author country when compared to their politicians.

[Mar 27, 2018] Integrity Has Vanished From The West by Paul Craig Roberts,

Mar 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored Among Western political leaders there is not an ounce of integrity or morality . The Western print and TV media is dishonest and corrupt beyond repair. Yet the Russian government persists in its fantasy of "working with Russia's Western partners." The only way Russia can work with crooks is to become a crook. Is that what the Russian government wants?

Finian Cunningham notes the absurdity in the political and media uproar over Trump (belatedly) telephoning Putin to congratulate him on his reelection with 77 percent of the vote, a show of public approval that no Western political leader could possibly attain. The crazed US senator from Arizona called the person with the largest majority vote of our time "a dictator." Yet a real blood-soaked dictator from Saudi Arabia is feted at the White House and fawned over by the president of the United States.

The Western politicians and presstitutes are morally outraged over an alleged poisoning, unsupported by any evidence, of a former spy of no consequence on orders by the president of Russia himself. These kind of insane insults thrown at the leader of the world's most powerful military nation -- and Russia is a nation, unlike the mongrel Western countries -- raise the chances of nuclear Armageddon beyond the risks during the 20th century's Cold War. The insane fools making these unsupported accusations show total disregard for all life on earth. Yet they regard themselves as the salt of the earth and as "exceptional, indispensable" people.

Think about the alleged poisoning of Skirpal by Russia. What can this be other than an orchestrated effort to demonize the president of Russia? How can the West be so outraged over the death of a former double-agent, that is, a deceptive person, and completely indifferent to the millions of peoples destroyed by the West in the 21st century alone. Where is the outrage among Western peoples over the massive deaths for which the West, acting through its Saudi agent, is responsible in Yemen? Where is the Western outrage among Western peoples over the deaths in Syria? The deaths in Libya, in Somalia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Afghanistan? Where is the outrage in the West over the constant Western interference in the internal affairs of other countries? How many times has Washington overthrown a democratically-elected government in Honduras and reinstalled a Washington puppet?

The corruption in the West extends beyond politicians, presstitutes, and an insouciant public to experts. When the ridiculous Condi Rice, national security adviser to president George W. Bush, spoke of Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction sending up a nuclear cloud over an American city, experts did not laugh her out of court. The chance of any such event was precisely zero and every expert knew it, but the corrupt experts held their tongues. If they spoke the truth, they knew that they would not get on TV, would not get a government grant, would be out of the running for a government appointment. So they accepted the absurd lie designed to justify an American invasion that destroyed a country.

This is the West. There is nothing but lies and indifference to the deaths of others. The only outrage is orchestrated and directed against a target: the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Iran, Assad, Russia and Putin, and against reformist leaders in Latin America. The targets for Western outrage are always those who act independently of Washington or who are no longer useful to Washington's purposes.

The quality of people in Western governments has collapsed to the very bottom of the barrel. The British actually have a person, Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, who is so low-down that a former British ambassador has no compunction in calling him a categorical liar. The British lab Porton Down, contrary to Johnson's claim, has not identified the agent associated with the attack on Skirpal as a Russian novichok agent. Note also that if the British lab is able to identify a novichok agent, it also has the capability of producing it, a capability that many countries have as the formulas were published years ago in a book.

That the novichok poisoning of Skirpal is an orchestration is obvious. The minute the event occurred the story was ready. With no evidence in hand, the British government and presstitute media were screaming "the Russians did it." Not content with that, Boris Johnson screamed "Putin did it." In order to institutionalize fear and hatred of Russia into British consciousness, British school children are being taught that Putin is like Hitler.

Orchestrations this blatant demonstrate that Western governments have no respect for the intelligence of their peoples. That Western governments get away with these fantastic lies indicates that the governments are immune to accountability. Even if accountability were possible, there is no sign that Western peoples are capable of holding their governments accountable. As Washington drives the world to nuclear war, where are the protests? The only protest is brainwashed school children protesting the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment.

Western democracy is a hoax. Consider Catalonia. The people voted for independence and were denounced for doing so by European politicians. The Spanish government invaded Catalonia alleging that the popular referendum, in which people expressed their opinion about their own future, was illegal. Catalonian leaders are in prison awaiting trial, except for Carles Puigdemont who escaped to Belgium. Now Germany has captured him on his return to Belgium from Finland where he lectured at the University of Hesinki and is holding him in jail for a Spanish government that bears more resemblance to Francisco Franco than to democracy. The European Union itself is a conspiracy against democracy.

The success of Western propaganda in creating non-existent virtues for itself is the greatest public relations success in history. Tags Politics

[Mar 16, 2018] Does Western civilization now reject real, objective truth emulating the USSR

Mar 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Liza , March 16, 2018 at 2:56 pm GMT

With "principles" such as the end justifies the means and the wholesale violation of the Ten Commandants all "for the greater glory of God" the western civilization got cozy with the idea that there was no real, objective truth

Excuse me? What about western civilization before the ten commandments? Was it better or worse in your eyes? What's so damn special about your ten commandments that their (forced) acceptance by westerners should mark some sort of magical beginning of the true western civilization? So we had no morality of any kind before this?

I can think of other civilizations that have nothing – and I mean nothing – to be proud of. They make us look like amateurs in the rejection of real, objective truth.

[Mar 16, 2018] George Orwell sure can write this quote

Notable quotes:
"... the fact that freedom of speech is under threat shows that the rise of mere emotive speech is still a long way from dominant. Facts and logic can still be heard and make a difference. This is why the political media elite cannot tolerate reasoned evidenced argument and is so concerned to censor dissenting voices. ..."
Mar 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Art , March 16, 2018 at 6:51 am GMT

George Orwell sure can write beautiful words.

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it ( )

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality"

Think Peace -- Art

Steve Hayes , March 16, 2018 at 12:15 pm GMT
Whilst there is much to be said in favour of the argument, the fact that freedom of speech is under threat shows that the rise of mere emotive speech is still a long way from dominant. Facts and logic can still be heard and make a difference. This is why the political media elite cannot tolerate reasoned evidenced argument and is so concerned to censor dissenting voices.

http://viewsandstories.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/knowing-without-finding-out.html

[Mar 16, 2018] Truth vs half-truth vs lie

Mar 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

VICB3 , March 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm GMT

@yurivku

Respectfully, I think what he means is something that I've learned to do in the last few years in a rather automatic fashion. Namely, it's to realise that, in the immediate aftermath of any event, it's best to just sit back and wait a bit before you come to any sort of conclusion about blame. In the very short term, the water, the stream is very muddy and clouded as anybody and everybody who has – or think that they have – an interest in the event du jour tries to spin it to their own advantage.

The truth will reveal itself inasmuch as the Internet is the World's best fact checker. The initial story will *always* be shown to have a good deal of exaggerations, contradictions, anomalies and omissions. But those revelations take a (usually relatively short) bit of time. So better to look at whatever the immediate story might be with a good deal of patient skepticism and not immediately fly off the rails in a fit of hand-waving, eye-rolling and pearl-clutching hysterics.

Do this consistently, and I think you'll discover that:

-The truth of the matter is usually gray, with plenty of blame to go around.

-And/or you're being fed a line of pandering BS by people who think that you're a naive and trusting idiot.

In short, act like an adult and not a dimwitted child. Use your brain and not your emotions.

Hope this helps.

Just a thought.

VicB3

P.S. A pithy thought from Mike Rivero:

If it doesn't affect you directly, then it's either advertising or propaganda.

Anders , March 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm GMT
Re: "Almost from day one, the early western civilization began by, shall we say, taking liberties with the truth, which it could bend, adapt, massage and repackage to serve the ideological agenda of the day. It was not quite the full-blown and unapologetic relativism of the 19th century yet, but it was an important first step. With "principles" such as the end justifies the means and the wholesale violation of the Ten Commandants all "for the greater glory of God" the western civilization got cozy with the idea that there was no real, objective truth, only the subjective perception or even representation each person might have thereof."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
Saker is a good military analyst, but as a historian he is a laughable dilettante. He is a very self-righteous, touchy Orthodox Christian ideologue and moralist.

[Mar 15, 2018] All those elaborate deception schemes and false flags that we now know of are just another set of deceptive methods of Socializing The Costs, while Privatizing The Profits.

Notable quotes:
"... nd, on June 26, 2006, The Washington Post reported that "the CIA acknowledged that Curveball was a con artist who drove a taxi in Iraq and spun his engineering knowledge into a fantastic but plausible tale about secret bioweapons factories on wheels." ..."
Mar 15, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

cmp , March 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Venal Visors. And the all too easy convenience of Socializing The Costs, while Privatizing The Profits.

Oliver North, while under oath during the IranContra Hearings: "..We didn't lose the Vietnam war over there, we lost that war, in this city."

(..take your pick..) .. Too BIG to jail?

On April 8, 2005, CIA Director Porter Goss ordered an internal review of the CIA in order to determine why doubts about Curveball's reliability were not forwarded to policy makers. Former CIA Director George Tenet and his former deputy, John E. McLaughlin, announced that they were not aware of doubts about Curveball's veracity before the war. However, Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA's European division, told the Los Angeles Times that "everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening." .. A nd, on June 26, 2006, The Washington Post reported that "the CIA acknowledged that Curveball was a con artist who drove a taxi in Iraq and spun his engineering knowledge into a fantastic but plausible tale about secret bioweapons factories on wheels."

(..take your pick..) .. Too BIG to jail?

While Mueller Was Head Of The FBI -- Hillary's email firm was run from a loft apartment in Denver with its servers in the bathroom, which of course, should raise some questions over security of sensitive messages (the public's property) that she held.

(..take your pick..) .. Too BIG to jail?

And, is there a softer side -- to actively engaging in war?? .. James Le Mesurier, the creator of the White Helmets, who just happens to be a British private security specialist and a former British military intelligence officer, he has said very recently, "who would you trust more than the fire brigade or a first response NGO?" And, as reported by Vanessa Beeley in a recent Corbett Report interview: "James Le Mesurier, he is now recruiting in Brazil. We know that the White Helmets have appeared in Malaysia and in Venezuela, and in the Philippines."

.. Too BIG to jail?

Venal Visors -- gone viral.. ..Socialize. ..Privatize. .. Feed the beast..

~ Rep. Luther Johnson (D.-Texas), in the debate that preceded the Radio Act of 1927
"American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations, for publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a republic. And when such a weapon is placed in the hands of one person, or a single selfish group is permitted to either tacitly or otherwise acquire ownership or dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them. It will be impossible to compete with them in reaching the ears of the American people."

[Mar 08, 2018] The Iron Law of Oligarchy and the Iron Law of Institutions.

Mar 02, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Sid Finster 02 March 2018 at 10:37 AM

The Iron Law of Oligarchy and the Iron Law of Institutions.

All institutions are corruptible and all institutions eventually will be corrupted, because institutions = power and power is to sociopaths what catnip is to cats.

Some corollaries of this are:

  1. The people who want power the most are the most inclined to abuse that power.
  2. The principal function of any institution is to keep sociopaths out of power as much as possible for as long as possible.
  3. There are no political or economic systems that work everywhere or at all times. Rather, a system works in a given time and place, to the extent that they further the above principles.

[Mar 01, 2018] This is why economic policy cannot not be decided by popular opinion. A typical US voter is ignorant about economics and government finance. A typical US voter doesn t want responsibility for these decisions anyway. He would rather let someone else (some authority figure) make these choices for him, no matter how disastrous and against his interest that can be

Notable quotes:
"... In fact not only do most Americans shy away from finding out about the truth in a country that has pushed division of labour to the maximum, they are trigger happy to be totally controlled by corporate media in a repetition of 'Iraq's weapons of mass destruction' to 'Russia and Putin the source of all evil'. ..."
Mar 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Joe Levantine , February 28, 2018 at 6:02 pm GMT

@Felix Keverich

"And this is why economic policy cannot not be decided by popular opinion. A typical Russian is ignorant about economics and government finance. A typical Russian doesn't want responsibility for these decisions anyway. He would rather let someone else (some authority figure) make these choices for him. This is why real democracy cannot work in Russia."

If you had not specified the word 'Russian', I could have guessed you were talking about the USA.

In fact not only do most Americans shy away from finding out about the truth in a country that has pushed division of labour to the maximum, they are trigger happy to be totally controlled by corporate media in a repetition of 'Iraq's weapons of mass destruction' to 'Russia and Putin the source of all evil'.

Beyond some truly enlightened Americans whose opinions I am honoured and glad to read on this site, the black majority of the American public still go about their struggle for survival trusting the American politicians and American military are doing the right thing.

[Feb 26, 2018] State Department Troll Farm Receives Huge Cash Infusion

Notable quotes:
"... "This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight," said Under Secretary Goldstein. "It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive. ..."
"... Israel is long known for such information operations in which its paid trolls not only comment on issues on social media but actively manipulate Wikipedia entries. Such astroturfing has since become a common tool in commercial marketing campaigns. ..."
"... With regard to the larger issue, it seems that the US is getting more and more like its allies Ukraine (drives out any press concerned with printing the truth, relies on a bombastic and entirely false narrative to try and convince its hapless citizens that all is great and everything is Russia's fault) and Israel (an early leader in manipulating online info as b states). ..."
"... If it sounds like a PR monkey banging away on a regurgitated theme, it probably is. For example, the endless repetition in US media about "Syrian chemical weapons attacks" with no on-the-ground supporting evidence is typical of a Rendon Group disinformation campaign; so then they hire a hundred trolls to post outraged comments about 'Syrian chemical weapons use' in comment sections and on twitter; then they hire some State Department intern to write a book about the horrors of the Assad regime, and at the end they collect their $10 million paycheck. ..."
"... The hypocrisy of the U$A continues to be staggering.. If the collective IQ's of the general public approached double digits, the disinformation and propaganda afoot, couldn't gain much traction. As comedian Richard Pryor once said, " Who you gonna' believe, the propagandists, or your lying eyes." ..."
"... money for propaganda... that was back in 1984 - we have progressed from Orwell's version of reality to a new one where reality is what you make of it... meanwhile there will be more dead people that the sponsors of these troll farms, could care less about... although they will frame it - 180% of that... ..."
Feb 26, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The U.S. State Department will increase its online trolling capabilities and up its support for meddling in other countries. The Hill reports :

The State Department is launching a $40 million initiative to crack down on foreign propaganda and disinformation amid widespread concerns about future Russian efforts to interfere in elections.

The department announced Monday that it signed a deal with the Pentagon to transfer $40 million from the Defense Department's coffers to bolster the Global Engagement Center, an office set up at State during the Obama years to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.

The professed reason for the new funding is the alleged but unproven "Russian meddling" in the U.S. election campaign. U.S. Special Counsel Mueller indicted 13 Russians for what is claimed to be interference but which is likely mere commercial activity.

The announcement by the State Department explains that this new money will not only be used for measures against foreign trolling but to actively meddle in countries abroad:

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said the transfer of funds announced today reiterates the United States' commitment to the fight.

"This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight," said Under Secretary Goldstein. "It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive. "

The mentioning of Silicon Valley is of interest. The big Silicon Valley companies Google, Facebook and Twitter were heavily involved in the U.S. election campaign. The companies embedded people within the campaigns to advise them how to reach a maximum trolling effect:

While the companies call it standard practice to work hand-in-hand with high-spending advertisers like political campaigns, the new research details how the staffers assigned to the 2016 candidates frequently acted more like political operatives, doing things like suggesting methods to target difficult-to-reach voters online, helping to tee up responses to likely lines of attack during debates, and scanning candidate calendars to recommend ad pushes around upcoming speeches.

In May 2016 the Hillary Clinton campaign even set up her own troll farm :

Hillary Clinton's well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet's worst instincts. Correct the Record, a super PAC coordinating with Clinton's campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.

In effect, the effort aims to spend a large sum of money to increase the amount of trolling that already exists online.

Clinton is quite experienced in such issues. In 2009, during protests in Iran, then Secretary of State Clinton pushed Twitter to defer maintenance of its system to "help" the protesters. In 2010 USAid, under the State Department set up a Twitter-like service to meddle in Cuba.

The foreign policy advisor of Hillery Clinton's campaign, Laura Rosenberger, initiated and runs the Hamilton68 project which falsely explains any mentioning of issues disliked by its neo-conservative backers as the result of nefarious "Russian meddling".

The State Department can build on that and other experience.

Since at least 2011 the U.S. military is manipulating social media via sock puppets and trolls:

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.
...
The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".

It was then wisely predicted that other countries would follow up:

The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

Israel is long known for such information operations in which its paid trolls not only comment on issues on social media but actively manipulate Wikipedia entries. Such astroturfing has since become a common tool in commercial marketing campaigns.

With the new money the State Department will expand its Global Engagement Center (GEC) which is running "public diplomacy", aka propaganda, abroad:

The Fund will be a key part of the GEC's partnerships with local civil society organizations, NGOs, media providers, and content creators to counter propaganda and disinformation. The Fund will also drive the use of innovative messaging and data science techniques.

Separately, the GEC will initiate a series of pilot projects developed with the Department of Defense that are designed to counter propaganda and disinformation. Those projects will be supported by Department of Defense funding.

This money will be in addition to the large funds the CIA traditionally spends on manipulating foreign media:

"We've been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947," said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. "We've used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners -- you name it. We've planted false information in foreign newspapers. We've used what the British call 'King George's cavalry': suitcases of cash."
...
C.I.A. officials told Mr. Johnson in the late 1980s that "insertions" of information into foreign news media, mostly accurate but sometimes false, were running at 70 to 80 a day.

Part of the new State Department money will be used to provide grants. If online trolling or sock puppetry is your thing, you may want to apply now.

Posted by b on February 26, 2018 at 02:02 PM | Permalink

Comments


nhs , Feb 26, 2018 2:34:39 PM | 1

The US propaganda machine has just confirmed what establishment's worst nightmare would be
Peter AU 1 , Feb 26, 2018 2:40:29 PM | 2
"to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner"

I call these social media watchers rather than trolls. Rather than simply trying to disrupt any and all social media threads they don't like, social media watchers look for comments or comment threads that are disparaging or damaging to their employer.

WorldBLee , Feb 26, 2018 2:49:32 PM | 3
#2 @Peter AU 1 - I would say the language "to find and CONFRONT" sounds pretty much like troll behavior.

With regard to the larger issue, it seems that the US is getting more and more like its allies Ukraine (drives out any press concerned with printing the truth, relies on a bombastic and entirely false narrative to try and convince its hapless citizens that all is great and everything is Russia's fault) and Israel (an early leader in manipulating online info as b states).

Don Bacon , Feb 26, 2018 2:51:50 PM | 4
That $40 million will probably be pissed away on a couple sweetheart contracts to Tillerson friends and nobody will see a difference. US State Department propaganda programs, labeled as "public diplomacy" and other monikers, have been around for a long time but haven't been executed very well.

From the State Dept. historian office, 2013: . .(excerpt):

Public Diplomacy Is Still in Its Adolescent Stage in the State Department , etc.

. . . The process of convergence has been evolutionary. Secretary Powell grasped the power of the information revolution, reallocated positions and resources from traditional diplomatic posting to new areas and recognized the power of satellite television to move publics and constrain governments even in authoritarian regimes. Secretary Rice forwarded this reconceptualization under the rubric of "Transformational Diplomacy," which sought to help people transform their own lives and the relationship between state and society. Secretary Clinton continued the theme under the concept of "Smart Power." "Person-to-person diplomacy in today's work is as important as what we do in official meetings in national capitals across the globe," Clinton said in 2010.The work done by PD officials in Arab Spring countries beginning in 2011 was as much about capacity-building as advocating U.S. policies or directly trying to explain American culture. . . here

notlurking , Feb 26, 2018 2:55:14 PM | 5
I am retired and can use some extra change....just kidding!!!....
nonsense factory , Feb 26, 2018 3:18:15 PM | 6
Prior efforts were targeted more at traditional news outlets, this is just an expansion into social media along the lines of previous work, example A being the Rendon Group in Iraq, etc. https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Rendon_Group

If it sounds like a PR monkey banging away on a regurgitated theme, it probably is. For example, the endless repetition in US media about "Syrian chemical weapons attacks" with no on-the-ground supporting evidence is typical of a Rendon Group disinformation campaign; so then they hire a hundred trolls to post outraged comments about 'Syrian chemical weapons use' in comment sections and on twitter; then they hire some State Department intern to write a book about the horrors of the Assad regime, and at the end they collect their $10 million paycheck.

Tediousness, defined.

Peter AU 1 , Feb 26, 2018 3:19:30 PM | 7
WorldBLee 2

Media watchers target specific comments or comment threads, in the case stated by b, those disparaging or damaging to Clinton.

What I term trolls target blogs or social media accounts that are considered targets, no matter the content of a particular article or comment thread. Social media media watchers are a little more specialized than trolls and look for specific content.

nonsense factory , Feb 26, 2018 3:23:52 PM | 8
P.S. it's funny that you can find out what these clowns are up to by looking for job listings and salary reports:

The Rendon Group Social Media Specialist Salary | Glassdoor

Average [monthly] salaries for The Rendon Group Social Media Specialist: $2,520. The Rendon Group salary trends based on salaries posted anonymously by The Rendon Group employees.

Talk about a soul-destroying job. Right up there with Wikipedia page editor.

Peter AU 1 , Feb 26, 2018 3:27:48 PM | 9
nonsense factory 8. Money looks good. Plenty of people that dont give a shit about their soul will take it up.
la Cariatide , Feb 26, 2018 3:40:19 PM | 11
http://www.voltairenet.org/article194715.html
NemesisCalling , Feb 26, 2018 4:08:38 PM | 12
@7 peter

I see what you are alluding to, but the only problem with it is that, irrespective of the differing definitions, at heart, these infiltrators are a disrupting force on the message boards, whether paid to be or not. Their medium is disruption and obfuscation. I tried to wade into the neoliberal viper's den at slate.com un the past to post "alt-right" stuff and was quickly attacked by multiple avatars.

In essence, one troll disrupts because he has a need for recognition, and the latter disrupts for money. Both are netgain for the troll and loss for the rest of us.

ben , Feb 26, 2018 4:09:30 PM | 13
The hypocrisy of the U$A continues to be staggering.. If the collective IQ's of the general public approached double digits, the disinformation and propaganda afoot, couldn't gain much traction. As comedian Richard Pryor once said, " Who you gonna' believe, the propagandists, or your lying eyes."

Turn off your I phones, and think a little.

james , Feb 26, 2018 4:19:32 PM | 14
thanks b... troll farms looks like a good name for it... farming for the empire.. they could call it that too.. russia as trend setter, lol.. i don't think so!

speaking of troll farms, i see max Blumenthal came out with some 'about time' comments on the sad kettle of fish called 'democracy now'... here is his tweet - "If @democracynow is going to push the neocon project of regime change in Syria so relentlessly and without debate, it should drop the high minded literary NPR aesthetic and just host Nikki Haley for a friendly one-on-one #EstablishmentNow https://twitter.com/democracynow/status/967123918237655041
7:07 AM - Feb 25, 2018 "

money for propaganda... that was back in 1984 - we have progressed from Orwell's version of reality to a new one where reality is what you make of it... meanwhile there will be more dead people that the sponsors of these troll farms, could care less about... although they will frame it - 180% of that...

NemesisCalling , Feb 26, 2018 4:19:33 PM | 15
The silver lining here is that the state dept. is in a sense admitting that there is nothing "in the pipe" relating to outright censorship whether through nefarious agreements between ISP providers and the IC via the repeal of net neutrality.

$40 mil is a lot for liberal college graduates however.

Jen , Feb 26, 2018 4:20:59 PM | 16
Nonsense Factory @ 8, Peter AU 1 @ 9: There are plenty of communities in rural Australia who'd be glad to have troll farms paying that sort of money (even as Australian dollars - 1 Australian dollar being worth about US$0.76 at this time of posting) a month. Real farmers could do trolling on the side during slow seasons of the year and make some money.
karlof1 , Feb 26, 2018 4:26:45 PM | 17
What we need are some Mole Trolls, or maybe that's Troll Moles--double agents if you will that work for 6-12 months recording 100% of all they do then reveal it all in an expose.
Ian , Feb 26, 2018 5:21:58 PM | 18
Getting ready for mid-terms. It's going to be interesting to see if the Democrats get wiped off the map. They should be able to hire quite a few people for $40 million. Don't be surprised if they deploy AI in the first wave, then follow up with a real person.

ben @13:

Turn off your I phones, and think a little.

ROFL After wandering aimlessly in the mall with Her Majesty over the weekend, I'm not sure if that's even possible now.

Piotr Berman , Feb 26, 2018 5:23:20 PM | 19
Hillary Clinton sat on a wall,
Hillary Clinton had a great fall;
All the DNC stooges and all her trolls
Couldn't put her campaign again on the roll.

[department of lame rhymes]

Piotr Berman , Feb 26, 2018 5:29:18 PM | 20
I am retired and can use some extra change....just kidding!!!....

Posted by: notlurking | Feb 26, 2018 2:55:14 PM | 5

Foolish human, who needs the likes of you! Regards, Chief Bot

pantaraxia , Feb 26, 2018 6:42:36 PM | 21
"The big Silicon Valley companies Google, Facebook and Twitter were heavily involved in the U.S. election campaign. The companies embedded people within the campaigns to advise them how to reach a maximum trolling effect:"

It went much further than that . Google actually tweaked its algorithms to alter search recommendations in favor of the Clinton campaign. A comparative analysis of search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo showed that Google differed significantly from the other two in producing search recommendations relevant to Clinton.

Google Manipulates Search Results To Favor Hillary Clinton - Jimmy Dore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MICXf6viakc

But , but, but...Russia!!!

Nothing to see her folks. Carry on.

che , Feb 26, 2018 6:47:53 PM | 22
The entire U.S. MSM is a F'ing troll farm, disinformation, Orwellian world on steroids. The U.S. public is fed a constant never ending stream of complete Bull sh**, self serving crap. How to stop it is the only question, to stop the impunity with which these criminals like Bush and Trump and Obama and Mattis et.al. lie with their pants on fire and .....they all suck .01% dick.
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 8:19:04 PM | 23
@8 Nonsense Factory

Ahmed Nafeez exposed The Rendon Group and the Pentagon's Highlands Forum a few years ago.

And then there's today's nonsense.

Are You a Russian Troll?

Curtis , Feb 26, 2018 8:44:21 PM | 24
It's surprising to see the NYT admit the US does it, too. The alt media has been all over this including Corbett's recent video with the Woolsey interview with Fox News where he laughs it off and then says it was for a good cause.
Curtis , Feb 26, 2018 8:47:09 PM | 25
Hillary's Troll Farm = Lipstick on a pig.
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 8:51:55 PM | 26
From Nafeez Ahmed :
Two days before 9/11, Condoleeza Rice received the draft of a formal National Security Presidential Directive that Bush was expected to sign immediately. The directive contained a comprehensive plan to launch a global war on al-Qaeda , including an "imminent" invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban. The directive was approved by the highest levels of the White House and officials of the National Security Council, including of course Rice and Rumsfeld. The same NSC officials were simultaneously running the Dhabol Working Group to secure the Indian power plant deal for Enron's Trans-Afghan pipeline project. The next day, one day before 9/11, the Bush administration formally agreed on the plan to attack the Taliban.
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 9:01:10 PM | 27
From Nafeez Ahmed :

The Highlands Forum has thus played a leading role in defining the Pentagon's entire conceptualization of the 'war on terror.' Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a retired IMB vice president who co-chaired the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1997 to 2001, described his experience of one 2007 Forum meeting in telling terms:

"Then there is the War on Terror, which DoD has started to refer to as the Long War, a term that I first heard at the Forum. It seems very appropriate to describe the overall conflict in which we now find ourselves. This is a truly global conflict the conflicts we are now in have much more of the feel of a battle of civilizations or cultures trying to destroy our very way of life and impose their own."
Debsisdead , Feb 26, 2018 9:01:42 PM | 28
Posted by: Fec | Feb 26, 2018 8:19:04 PM | 23

Yeah well since the writer of the 'quiz' exposes themself as bein a troll of the worst sort there is nothing to be said. I'm currently attempting to ingest only those newstories where the publisher provides space for feedback from readers since if a story is truthful it should be able to withstand challenge. yeah riight cos that means there's bugger all out there anymore. The biggest 'win' populism has had this far is in driving all feedback off all sites with a readership of more than a few hundred. Many of those that do allow feedback only permit humans with credentialed facebook or google accounts to indulge and the comments are only visible to similarly logged in types. That tells us a lot about the lack of faith the corporate media actually have in the nonsense they publish.

Of course 'trolls' are the ones held to be the guilty for causing this but if you actually watch what happens in a feedback column such as the rare occasions when the graun still permits CIF comments it isn't the deliberately offensive arseholes spouting the usual cliches who get deleted, it is those who put forward a considered argument which details why the original writer has reached a faulty conclusion.

We all know this yet it seems as though none of us are prepared to confront it properly as the censorship it is.
IMO media outlets which continually lie or at least distort the truth to advance a particular agenda need to be called to account.
Massed pickets outside newsrooms would be a good way cos as much as media hate us loudmouths who won't swallow their bromides, they like their competition even less. A decently organised picket of NYT, WaPo or the Graun would be news in every other spineless, propagandising & slug-featured media entity.

Lozion , Feb 26, 2018 9:09:10 PM | 29
Cant wait to see the big new shiny gold GEC logo, AMC & GMC anyone? ;)
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 9:17:57 PM | 30
@ 28 Debsisdead

Said troll was published in Richmond and God only knows who else picked it up. I refuted it in the comments as best I could, also excerpting MOA. Regardless:

From Ahmed Nafeez :

Among Rendon's activities was the creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) on behalf of the CIA, a group of Iraqi exiles tasked with disseminating propaganda, including much of the false intelligence about WMD . That process had begun concertedly under the administration of George H W. Bush, then rumbled along under Clinton with little fanfare, before escalating after 9/11 under George W. Bush. Rendon thus played a large role in the manufacture of inaccurate and false news stories relating to Iraq under lucrative CIA and Pentagon contracts  --  and he did so in the period running up to the 2003 invasion as an advisor to Bush's National Security Council: the same NSC, of course, that planned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, achieved with input from Enron executives who were simultaneously engaging the Pentagon Highlands Forum.

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/why-google-made-the-nsa-2a80584c9c1
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 9:26:22 PM | 31
From Ahmed Nafeez :
Mass surveillance and data-mining also now has a distinctive operational purpose in assisting with the lethal execution of special operations, selecting targets for the CIA's drone strike kill lists via dubious algorithms, for instance, along with providing geospatial and other information for combatant commanders on land, air and sea, among many other functions. A single social media post on Twitter or Facebook is enough to trigger being placed on secret terrorism watch-lists solely due to a vaguely defined hunch or suspicion; and can potentially even land a suspect on a kill list.
Fec , Feb 26, 2018 9:40:37 PM | 32
From Ahmed Nafeez :
In 2011, the Forum hosted two DARPA-funded scientists, Antonio and Hanna Damasio, who are principal investigators in the 'Neurobiology of Narrative Framing' project at the University of Southern California. Evoking Zalman's emphasis on the need for Pentagon psychological operations to deploy "empathetic influence," the new DARPA-backed project aims to investigate how narratives often appeal "to strong, sacred values in order to evoke an emotional response," but in different ways across different cultures

This goes a long way toward explaining what is occurring in Hollywood and Nashville.

[Feb 25, 2018] Democracies are political systems in which the real ruling elites hide behind an utterly fake appearance of people power

Highly recommended!
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

chris , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 10:57 pm GMT

So here is my personal conclusion: democracies are political systems in which the real ruling elites hide behind an utterly fake appearance of people power.

Your point brought this infamous picture to mind!

Jake , Next New Comment February 26, 2018 at 12:50 am GMT
"what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent."

ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

[Feb 08, 2018] We are all victims of the pernicious 24/7 scientifically-designed propaganda apparatus

Notable quotes:
"... We are all victims of the pernicious 24/7 scientifically-designed propaganda apparatus. It has little to do with the victim's intelligence since almost all human opinions are formed by emotional reactions that occur even before the conscious mind registers the input. ..."
Feb 08, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Daniel , February 5, 2018 at 6:57 pm

We are all victims of the pernicious 24/7 scientifically-designed propaganda apparatus. It has little to do with the victim's intelligence since almost all human opinions are formed by emotional reactions that occur even before the conscious mind registers the input.

Through critical thinking, we can overcome these emotional impulses, but only with effort, and a pre-existing skepticism of all information sources. And even still, I have no doubt that all of us who are aware of the propaganda still accept some falsehoods as true.

It could be that having former Intelligence Agency Directors as "news" presenters, and Goldman Sachs alum and Military/Industrial complex CEOs running important government agencies makes clear to some the reality that we live in an oligarchy with near-tyrannical powers. But most people seem too busy surviving and/or being diverted by the circus to notice the depths of the propaganda.

[Feb 03, 2018] Kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as real or true, specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not staged. Kayfabe became a code word for maintaining this reality for the general public.

Feb 03, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

ruffhouse Feb 3, 2018 4:31 PM Permalink

Post-American Politics Is Kayfabe.

KAYFABE: kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true," specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature of any kind.

Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this "reality" within the direct or indirect presence of the general public.

http://www.barnhardt.biz/2016/10/08/post-american-politics-is-kayfabe-the-word-is-kayfabe/

[Feb 03, 2018] But What If He is Not an Idiot by John Atcheson

Notable quotes:
"... Trump inherited great wealth. He learned one big lesson in life early on. Hire competent people and they will save your ass when you make a blunder. Trump's one skill is as a promoter of Trump. ..."
Feb 03, 2018 | www.commondreams.org

36 Comments

Trump could be playing us all. And not considering that is, well, idiotic.

Turns out, the first word a lot of people think of when it comes to President Donald Trump is this one: idiot .

The White House's handling of the Comey firing looks a lot like a clip from The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight . The Press Secretary hiding in the bushes, Trump sending virtually his entire staff under the bus with his various and rapidly shifting versions of his reasons for the firing, and his unhinged Twitter rants at the press for covering the fiasco as a fiasco.

Once again, pundits are talking about impulse control, the ADD Presidency, rank amateurism in the Oval Office, threats to Democracy -- all the stuff that they talked about in the campaign. The stuff that was supposed to doom his bid for the presidency to failure.

"It's worth considering what we are not talking about as we watch this political pornography play out."

All of this is grim stuff. We haven't seen a threat to democracy as serious as this since Watergate, so I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't be addressing it.

But it's worth considering what we are not talking about as we watch this political pornography play out and also, how does the focus on Russia undercut the Democratic Party? In other words, what if this is exactly what Trump intended when he fired Comey? It's worth remembering Trump's mentor was Roy Cohn, who was a master at controlling the narrative and one of his favorite techniques was to change the subject with an in-your-face outrage of one kind or another.

Let's examine what we're not talking about, and then what the effect of the whole Russian narrative is having on the Democratic Party.

What We Aren't Talking About

Shortly before Trump tossed in the Comey Molotov Cocktail into the national living room, here's what was dominating the news:

But none of that is being discussed much any longer. And if you ran as a populist, but all your policies are benefitting the top 1%, that's exactly what you'd hope for. Yes, the few Congressional members who are brave enough to hold town meetings are still getting mugged by outraged constituents, but these meetings are not getting the kind of coverage they would have pre-Comey. And that means the Health Care Bill isn't getting the kind of serious examination it would have if the media weren't doing all Comey, all the time. Again, exactly what you'd want if you knew the guts of the legislation were so bad, that if it got out there, even the Trump bobble heads would be pissed off. So folks aren't talking about the fact that it was rushed to the floor before getting scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), before we knew what its effects were and what its ultimate cost could be, before people caught on to the fact that the state waiver provision stuck in the revised version of the bill turned it from merely a cruel piece of legislation to the cruelest piece in modern history.

Or take the budget "proposal," which was getting panned by the media and even the few Republicans left in the Senate who actually are fiscal conservatives. Hell, even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took issue with some of the cuts. This reprise of "trickle down" and "supply side" chicanery was being almost universally ridiculed by the press and economists, and it was heavily influenced -- if not outsourced to -- the Heritage Foundation, an outfit funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers. Here again, the last thing Trump wants after running as a populist and a fiscal conservative is to get widespread coverage of just how much this plutocrat's budget resembles the stuff he railed against in his campaign.

And speaking of budgets, the media once again ignored the sanest budget proposal in Washington, The Congressional Progressive Caucus's Better Off Budget , which cuts the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years -- Trump's budget would have increased it by at least $1.4 trillion over that time period, by the way -- while creating 8.8 million new jobs. The Better Off Budget uses policies that are wildly popular with the majority of Americans to accomplish this.

Now, it must be said that the press always ignores the CPC's budget proposals, but maybe Trump was taking no chances -- after all, if anyone held them up side-by-side, Trump and the Republicans would have been unmasked as the charlatans they are.

But there's no danger of that when it's all Comey, all the time.

Much is made of the fact that Trump's popularity among those who voted for him hasn't budged, despite the fact that he's screwing them left and right with his policies. Well, these kinds of maneuvers may explain why. Look back. When the Russian stuff was first heating up big time, we suddenly just had to bomb Syria. Wagging the dog is a time-honored way to change the subject. So is firing a controversial senior public servant.

Comey, the Russians, and the Establishment Arm of the Democratic Party

If Trump isn't an idiot, then here's where his tactics are brilliant. The neoliberal elitists who control the Democratic Party have been trying to keep the focus on the Russian intervention in our election as the reason Hillary Clinton lost. The progressives in the Party have been attacking the Party's estrangement from the people and its rejection of the New Deal policies as the reason. In short, there's a battle on for the heart and soul of the Party.

Firing Comey, brings the whole Russian thing to the fore, and works to sidetrack the real debate the Democratic Party needs to have about its future.

"Firing Comey, brings the whole Russian thing to the fore, and works to sidetrack the real debate the Democratic Party needs to have about its future."

Two things were working to undermine the establishment's hold on the Party until Comey's firing. First, Sanders continued to poll as the most popular politician in America. Second, people were beginning to realize that it was the content of Secretary Clinton's emails that hurt her, not the emails per se . And that content revealed the soft underbelly of the Democratic Party. To wit: the neoliberal belief in small government, the power and goodness of the market, free trade, deregulation, and fiscal austerity was simply too close to the Republican dogma to generate enough passion among progressives to get a good turnout, and Democrats need a good turnout to win elections.

But now it's all Comey all the time, and the Democratic establishment is taking full advantage of that to deflect attention from the real reason they're losing at all levels of government. It appears they'd rather risk losing elections than embrace a truly progressive agenda, and Trump just reinforced their self-serving narrative.

Yeah. What if he's not an idiot?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

John Atcheson John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise , and he has just completed a book on the 2016 elections titled, WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track , available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson


notwistalemon May '17

Quote from your article:

"But now it's all Comey all the time, and the Democratic establishment is taking full advantage of that to deflect attention from the real reason they're losing at all levels of government. It appears they'd rather risk losing elections than embrace a truly progressive agenda, and Trump just reinforced their self-serving narrative."

In my opinion you are right on the mark; especially with your last paragraph. Practically all the ultra rich in the world live in the same "gated community". Their goal is to control the world's resources and somehow survive the coming mass die-off due to severe climate disruption. To them their party never ends!

drone1066 May '17
It's possible he's not stupid AND he has zero impulse control. That seems most likely. He's good at subverting the few things he does think out.

But Democrats have quintupled down on Russia. For them, it's a battle for existence. They were completely exposed, and it's going to take a lot of "Russia!" to keep that conversation about their profound corruption from taking place.

And Atcheson is also right that this party much prefers losing than giving up its donorship buffet. That's why they do nothing to correct the course to get more votes. They're relying completely on their corporate media allies to keep the illusion going. So far it's working, to the great shame of rank and file Democrats.

SkepticTank May '17
drone1066 The D-Party would rather stumble back to electoral victory on the anti-Trump effect than offer policy that might clash with the wishes of their corporate donors.

Case in point: Single Payer now back-burnered as a distraction from anti-trump hysteria.

Sad to see so many otherwise intelligent commenters here falling for the usual D-Party parlor tricks.

erisx May '17
Whether Trump's just lucky or know how to work a room is unimportant. Results matter, and the result is that the important stuff's not being discussed, and the Greatest Heist In The World continues. Lest we forget, that Heist is NOT just about the USA. There's a reason they call it 'globalization.'
natureboy May '17
Excellent assessment.

Corporate bribes, big salaries, perks and tv star jobs will have to be torn from Neoliberal Democrats' cold dead hands.

And Don, Rupert and the rest of Mammon's soldiers will soon have to deal with an Artificial Intelligence that learns in one day what it took humans 40,000 years to learn. Interesting times.

Direct Democracy

ontheres May '17
Anyone who carefully followed the primaries knows that the democratic machine used all kinds of corrupt methods to defeat Bernie Sanders. And, anyone who follows the general election knows that the election is easily rigged - especially computer voting that leaves no paper trail and cannot be audited. The hypocrisy of Russians hacking our elections when they are hacked by our own politicians, and Russians interfering with our elections when our corporate elite have no problem interfering with elections in other countries all makes me ill. Don't know how many other voters out there are like me, but sure would like to hear from them.
Somehow almost none of this get mentioned in any press, progressive or otherwise.
BWilliamson May '17
bjoldlygo Trump can't control what he himself thinks. He's been a promoter of the Trump name for 40-50 years. That is a reflex with him. That is the extent of his thinking. There are many others around him, supporting him. Praising his genius, as this article is inclined towards, is their means of exploiting his great weakness.
BWilliamson May '17
wolfess There is nothing behind the scenes. Everything is happening center stage. If you spend your time trying to see behind the scenes you're going to miss the whole show.
Olhippy May '17
ontheres No, the seething undercurrent of the discontented is rarely reported on in the "news". Only when it explodes as in Missouri riots or Occupy Wall Street takeovers, does it get coverage which is put down by government forces, either civilian or feds. The Democratic primaries were changed, back in the 70's I believe, after anti-war candidate McCarthy got the nomination nod. That's when the super delegates came about, so they had more control of things. Expect the GOP too, to change things to keep future Trumps' from getting the nod.
Wereflea May '17 1
I see Atcheson's point but I think he needs to remember that Trump is a Prince of inherited wealth. Trump may be an idiot (he really did seem more intelligent before he got elected and then we had a good look at him and listened to his sometimes unintelligible speech patterns) but he has always been in a position where he delegated authority to people who got paid to be smarter than he was, so his 'idiocy' didn't show as much.

Trump paid high priced lawyers to arrange his deals. He paid expensive consultants and investment managers and on and on and all of those people were exceptionally intelligent. He paid someone to ghost write his book for him. Trump makes the same mistakes as he was always wont to do but back then they were always covered and massaged for him by his staff! After all... he was the Prince!

The Oval Office is not quite the same as a business conference with his lawyers, assistants, bankers and etc. Thus we see Trump blurting out statements that his advisors pull him back from as soon as they get the chance . Being president means everything you say gets publicized and despite all his billions that was not the case for the Prince back when he was just a wheeler and dealer.

Trump runs without a script too often but who in his entourage will dare tell the Prince that when he speaks (without their permission first) he ends up sounding like an idiot! Trump may be feeling constrained by his need to be less reckless and impulsive.

Trump unfiltered? Yeah well maybe he really is an idiot too!

Trumps just wanna have fun!

Lrx May '17 1
Olhippy I think you need to go back and review the history of Democratic primaries. Until 1972 the candidates were largely chosen in smoke-filled back rooms. George McGovern was instrumental in largely turning the Democratic primaries over to the voters. And that is how he got the nomination. Unfortunately he only won a single state but he was the people's choice to run. I wouldn't be concerned about the superdelegates. They always go along with the candidate who got the most pledged delegates. It is unlikely they would ever do otherwise. Unless the people chose a candidate who was really off the charts like Trump. Without superdelegates the Republicans were unable to stop Trump once the RNC backed him. Given what happened to the Republicans a case can be made for the superdelegates. Parties can choose their candidates any way they want. They don't have to let the people vote. Both parties now do and for the first time that turned into a complete disaster.
Godless May '17
The Comey firing also distracted from the Kushner family peddling visas for real estate deals in China; the Pence-Koback Commission to make voter cross-checking a federal law; and Sessions reinvigorating the war on drugs and legal marijuana to strike more minority voters from the rolls. El Presidente Naranja Mentiroso only cares about playing to his base and his base loves watching Democratic heads explode. As long as his base is happy, and they are happy with his performance, the Reptilians in Congress will be afraid to move against him. I thoroughly believe that the voter suppression moves will win the Reptilians the elections in 2018 and 2020. With their control of gerrymandering for another decade and the paid-to-lose Democrats only concerned about donor money, the Reptilians have clear sailing to gain 38 governorships and the ability to rewrite the constitution in their twisted image.
skiendhiu May '17
Wereflea I agree with you on your points of Trump having smart lawyers, assistants,bankers etc. around him doing the "smart" work, I am sure he allso used other tactics, of itimidation of one kind or another , taking it to the courts, threats of financial ruin, he allso wasnt kidding when he said he "knew' the system and how it worked, ..or rather how to work it, but he didnt do that singlehanded either, and i am sure there are more than one or two politicians at different levels from municipalitys on up, in his pocket and or good graces.

But to think him not an idiot is getting to be a bit of a stretch, does he really believe that he actually came up with the phrase "prime the pump"? I knew he was an idiot years before he made fun of the disabled reporter, but that single act confirmed it for me.

Yeah "prime the pump" what is he going to lay claim to next? "four score and seven years ago" " E=mc2" or how about.."and Trump said...let there be light"... I 'll tell you who else the idiots are...and that is any one taking this guy seriouslly any longer at least in a presidentiall sense,... that is just ...idiotic in the extreme.

formerly May '17
What If He's Not an Idiot?
Anyways, most of the American people are idiots .... the dark state and the 0.1% mostly aren't idiots -- just psychopaths.
Michael_Wilk May '17
I think it's more likely that the Democrats are even more moronic than is Drumpf, which is why, as usual, they are serving only to strengthen the GOPhers while pretending they're defenders of the public. Why do you think that hundred or so Democrats are signed onto John Conyers' single-payer bill now that Drumpf is in the Oval office and the Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress, when they could have done so when Obama was the chief executive and their party controlled Congress including a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but instead passed a bill that was modeled on the Heritage Foundation's plan? It's all so much political theater designed to distract the public from the last great plundering of the nation before it collapses in on itself.
cassandra May '17
Lrx The Republicans used rule-changing, altho not superdelegates, to derail Ron Paul. There is never just one way to subvert truth.
cassandra May '17
ontheres I'm with you. The whole Russian thing is ridiculous. And they've never been accused of actually hacking voting machines, just the DNC emails which showed how slimy the DNC is. I have read that Georgia believed someone tried to hack their voting machines and they hired a private firm to investigate. What they found was hacking was attempted the the Dept of Homeland Security.

The simple fact that, after losing in 2000 by voting manipulation and probably via voting machines in 2004, the Dems took over the House in 2007 and 2 years later the Presidency and the Senate, they never, to my knowledge, introduced any legislation to require paper trails in federal elections. As far as I'm concerned that said all one needs to know about the Dems. It would have been a simple one page piece of legislation, Ok, maybe 2 pages.

ToniWintroub May '17
Wereflea Factor in his mafia connections here and abroad. To roll around in that slime at the high level he's in requires cunning to kiss up to the really rich guys who can hurt him and whom, actually, he can hurt. Then he's learned how to survive while he manipulates. Idiot? Define the term.

Cunning. Sociopathic. Narcissistic needing his constant narcissistic supply (adorers). Blackmailer and probably blackmailed. I gotta get Barrett's biography of this POS.

Wereflea May '17
ToniWintroub I wore out years ago but it just goes on and on! Lol

Actually at this point in time I am very much engaged in this garbage since Trump is stunningly entertaining as a rightwing boob out of his element and unraveling as we speak. Trump's adventures in incompetency fascinate me. It is just week after week in a steady progression of mistakes, attempted corrections, attempts at re-correcting those corrections that make them even worse and so forth. It would make for an interesting TV show (sort of like the 'apprentice got himself fired') except that this gross and often crude person can trigger a nuclear war on a whim which puts a damper on the pleasures of watching him deconstruct in front of our eyes.

Nevertheless, it is without doubt the most unexpected presidency of my life. Watergate was a comeuppance but Trump is bizzaro world in action.

Btw... Trump inherited great wealth. He learned one big lesson in life early on. Hire competent people and they will save your ass when you make a blunder. Trump's one skill is as a promoter of Trump. He was never a big brain and up until recently, he never pretended to be.

He is rich and loves being the center of attention. However his being rich is often at the expense of others. You assume that because Trump has long had shady connections that he must be an intellect to survive the association. Not really. Trump makes sure that he is profitable for them and they have no problem with that. It isn't genius on his part. It is always having his projects go way over budget. He guarantees them the cream and they 'have an arrangement'.

Prior to becoming president, Trump's associates, advisors, lawyers and accountants kept Trump making money and that made them money.

Trump is truly like the medieval Prince who lives in a sumptuous palace but who needs his Grand Vizier to actually run things in the country. Keep your eye on Kushner who has become the architect of oligarchy by being the real deal maker (he has the intellect) that Trump only promotes (he has the ego and the big mouth)!

[Jan 09, 2018] Neocon power in Big Government is directly connected to neocon media access and neocon media visibility

Notable quotes:
"... Neocon power in Big Government is directly connected to neocon media access and neocon media visibility. This is why 'experts' such as Boot, Kristol, Weinstein, Cohen, Stephens, Glasser, Podhoretz, Dubowitz, etc., are not only never stepping down from their appointed roles as high media priests–they're actually failing their way into positions of tenure and (undue) respectability. ..."
"... Under any other circumstance, their bulletproof status would defy logic. But because of Israel's unique place in American life, this makes perfect–though astonishing–sense. This above list of scoundrels may resemble the guest list of a Jewish wedding, but this ongoing affair will produce no honeymoon. These operatives function as soft double agents. Their devious mission is to justify US war(s) of aggression that benefit Israel. ..."
"... More subversion and more conflict. This explains why Pres. Trump has reversed course. He's caved. Once elected, Trump decided to would be suicide to try to frustrate the Israeli Lobby. So he cucked his Presidency and dumped several major campaign pledges. ..."
"... Candidate Trump also stated: "I don't want your [Jewish] money" to an auditorium full of wealthy Jews. Well, that's changed too. Pres. Trump is now surrounded by wealthy and powerful Israeli-firsters now, including mega-billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, who ended up feeding the Trump campaign untold millions. Sadly, Trump has totally rolled over for the Israelis. ..."
"... Regarding Israel, Washington will foot their war bill, supply the arms, lend diplomatic cover and even wage war on their behalf. No country in the world receives this kind of treatment. And no country in the world deserves it. ..."
"... Ironically, US security would be improved if we simply minded our own business and did nothing in the Middle East besides pursue normal and peaceful trade policies. But that's not to be. ..."
"... America's 'special relationship' with you-know-who is the quintessential red line that no establishment figure will cross. And those who do cross that line tend to fade rapidly into oblivion. This phenomena has not gone unnoticed. ..."
"... When you control the media, you control the message. That message is that America just has to keep busting up nations for the glory of Apartheid Israel. ..."
"... Much is said about "we dumb Americans." We are not all that dumb – but we are 100% misinformed. Propaganda works. It is a fact that the human mind is susceptible to repeated lies. (It is also true, that people hate being lied too.) ..."
"... The whole US media scene can be summed up as "don't believe their pack of lies. Believe my pack of lies"! ..."
Jan 09, 2018 | www.unz.com
Mark Green , January 9, 2018 at 10:57 am GMT
Neocon power in Big Government is directly connected to neocon media access and neocon media visibility. This is why 'experts' such as Boot, Kristol, Weinstein, Cohen, Stephens, Glasser, Podhoretz, Dubowitz, etc., are not only never stepping down from their appointed roles as high media priests–they're actually failing their way into positions of tenure and (undue) respectability.

Under any other circumstance, their bulletproof status would defy logic. But because of Israel's unique place in American life, this makes perfect–though astonishing–sense. This above list of scoundrels may resemble the guest list of a Jewish wedding, but this ongoing affair will produce no honeymoon. These operatives function as soft double agents. Their devious mission is to justify US war(s) of aggression that benefit Israel.

Being a successful neocon doesn't require being right. Not at all. It's all about sending the right message. Over and over. Evidence be damned. The neocon mission is not about journalism. It's about advancing the cause: Mideast disruption and a secure Jewish state.

More importantly, Washington's impenetrable array of Zio-centric PACs, money-handlers, bundlers, fund-raisers, and billionaires want these crypto-Israeli pundits right where they are–on TV or in the your local newspaper–telling Americans how to feel and what to think. And Big Media–which happens to be in bed with these same powerful forces–needs these Zions in place to not only justify the latest Mideast confrontation, but even ones being planned. It's one big happy effort at group-think, mass deception, and military conquest. Unfortunately, it's not being presented that way.

So what lies ahead?

More subversion and more conflict. This explains why Pres. Trump has reversed course. He's caved. Once elected, Trump decided to would be suicide to try to frustrate the Israeli Lobby. So he cucked his Presidency and dumped several major campaign pledges.

The first to go was his pledge to normalize US-Russian relations ('make peace' with Russia) and after that 2) avoid unnecessary wars abroad. That's was a huge reversal. But Trump did it and few pundits have scolded him for it. The fix is in.

Candidate Trump also stated: "I don't want your [Jewish] money" to an auditorium full of wealthy Jews. Well, that's changed too. Pres. Trump is now surrounded by wealthy and powerful Israeli-firsters now, including mega-billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, who ended up feeding the Trump campaign untold millions. Sadly, Trump has totally rolled over for the Israelis.

So Trump (the President) now sees things differently. Very differently. When it comes to the Middle East, Trump has been Hillary-ized. This means there's no light between what Israel desires and what Washington is willing to deliver. The hyper-wealthy, super cohesive, extraordinarily well-positioned and diabolically cleaver Israeli lobby has Trump over a barrel. Shocking, yes. But true.

So watch Israel's roughshod expansion continue, along with the typically meek and accommodating responses from Washington.

Regarding Israel, Washington will foot their war bill, supply the arms, lend diplomatic cover and even wage war on their behalf. No country in the world receives this kind of treatment. And no country in the world deserves it.

What's worse, our 'independent' MSM will be there to sanitize Washington's pro-Israel shenanigans and basically cheer the whole bloody process on. This is where the Zio-punditry of Kristol, Cohen, Stephens, Dubowitz, and Co. come in. They soothe the nervous nellies as they gently justify the death and destruction that come with these military strikes. Media tactics include:

Don't count enemy war dead. Don't count civilian war dead. Don't count displaced refugees. Don't connect Europe's immigration crisis to Zio-Washington's destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria.

At the same time: Always praise Israeli 'restraint'. Always refer to Israel as a 'democracy'. Sneer and jeer the 'terrorist' Republic of Iran. Treat every Mideast warlord or rebellion as if it threatens the sanctity of Disneyland or even the next Superbowl. Oh my!

It's a slick, highly-coordinated, and very manipulative affair. But the magic is working. Americans are being fooled.

Ironically, US security would be improved if we simply minded our own business and did nothing in the Middle East besides pursue normal and peaceful trade policies. But that's not to be.

The reason for this phenomena is that Washington's major PACs, syndicates, heavy hitters, influence peddlers, oligarchs, and Big Money handlers (and who also have their clutches on our corrupt MSM) want more Mideast disruption.

Why? Israeli 'security'. Israeli 'survival'. Considering Israel's extraordinary military power, this might seem silly. But this is what the entrenched Israeli lobby desires. And both Parties are listening. To make matters worse, how one 'thinks' and 'talks' about Israel has unacknowledged limitations and restrictions in Big Washington as well as Big Media.

Diversity of opinion stops at Israel's doorstep. Like it or not, Zionist Israel is the Third Rail of American discourse. Watch what you say. Even the typically rancorous disputes between Democrats and Republicans gets warm and fuzzy when Israel's 'special place' in American life is raised. America's 'special relationship' with you-know-who is the quintessential red line that no establishment figure will cross. And those who do cross that line tend to fade rapidly into oblivion. This phenomena has not gone unnoticed.

So America is stuck with pro-Israel speech codes and a militantly pro-Zionist foreign policy that has caused immense cost, dislocation, suffering and destruction. It's been designed that way. And 'outsider' Trump is stuck with it. Few dare examine it.

Here's the short list of Israel's primary Enemies. Significantly, these are the countries that also get the worst press in American media:

N. Korea is even a player here. Iran and N. Korea have allegedly shared nuclear technology. This infuriates nuclear Israel.

So the Israel angle in this picture is huge. Overwhelmingly so. This is where the oligarchs, media lords, and corrupt journalists come together.

Thus, Israel's tenured Hasbara brigade in US media will remain firmly in place.

Buck Turgidson , January 9, 2018 at 11:12 am GMT
The local DC 'conservative' radio station has Bolton as a guest all the time. Same old neocon crap that we don't want any more. Bolton had his day 15 years ago and he sucked then; yet, they keep bringing him on, slobbering all over him ("Ambassador Bolton"), and letting him blather about blowing up everyone. I still see a lot of online comments about how people would love to have John Bolton as our ambassador to the UN. Good grief wise up people.
wayfarer , January 9, 2018 at 11:56 am GMT

" Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. " – Buddha

"Israel Lobby Refuses to Register as a Foreign Agent! "

Tom Welsh , January 9, 2018 at 12:08 pm GMT
'Stephens' article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like "Tehran's hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal" and "Real democracies don't live in fear of their own people" and even "it's not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran." Or try "A better way of describing Iran's dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal."'

Hmmmmm . I can immediately think of another nation to which those strictures are far more applicable.

"Hyperaggressive foreign policy"
"Kleptocracy"

Sounds more like the USA, doesn't it?

As for "Real democracies don't live in fear of their own people", that's a real home run.

1. The USA is not, never has been, never will be, and was never meant to be "a real democracy". (Except by unrealistic visionaries like Jefferson).

2. The USA has been, for some decades, a plutocracy – as comprehensively proved by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page. https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

3. "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty". – Thomas Jefferson

No prizes for guessing which of Jefferson's alternatives prevails today.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/14/why-is-department-homeland-security-buying-so-many-bullets.html

Greg Bacon , Website January 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm GMT
When you control the media, you control the message. That message is that America just has to keep busting up nations for the glory of Apartheid Israel.

From an April 2003 Haaretz article:

The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history. Two of them, journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, say it's possible.

This is a war of an elite. [Tom] Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/white-man-s-burden-1.14110

If this insanity keeps up, America will either be destroyed by financial collapse from waging all these wars or we'll stumble into WW III and the last thing we'll see is a mushroom cloud.

Former Brit PM Tony Blair at the Chilcot inquiry:

What role did Israel play in the run-up to the Iraq war?

"As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this."

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2010/02/iraq-war-israel-bush-saddam

annamaria , January 9, 2018 at 12:49 pm GMT
@Mark James

"Whether print, air, or both the Neocons want to be players. They have the friends in high –media– places to do it." – They, neocons, are devoid of dignity. This explains why none of them feels any responsibility for the mass slaughter in the Middle East -- picture Madeleine Albright near thousands of tiny corpses of Iraqi children or the piggish Kristol next to the bloody bags with shredded Syrian children. They are psychopaths, the profiteering psychopaths. There is no other way to deal with neo/ziocons but through long-term incarceration.

DESERT FOX , January 9, 2018 at 1:34 pm GMT
Those Zionist neocons are just a few of the cabal that destroyed the WTC and got away with it and every thinking American knows it.

Zionists are Satanists and are going to destroy America, please read THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION.

Jake , January 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm GMT
My fine tuning of this excellent article begins, and perhaps ends, with this quote: "The fact is that Iran is being targeted because Israel sees it as its prime enemy in the region and has corrupted many "opinion makers" in the U.S., to include Stephens, to hammer home that point."

The 'corruption' is not recent and is not about any one issue or series of issues. It springs from Deep Culture. It is part of the WASP worldview.

WASP culture is the direct product of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism, which was a Judaizing heresy. Judaizing heresy always produces culture and politics that are pro-Jewish, pro-Semitic.

At least by the beginning of the Victorian era, virtually 100% of British Empire Elites were hardcore pro-Semitic. Most were pro-Jewish, but a large and growing minority were pro-Arabic and pro-Islamic.

The Saudis are Arabic. The Iranians are NOT Arabic; Iranians are Indo-European.

Siding with both wings of Semitic culture – Jewish and Arabic/Islamic – against an Indo-European people is exactly what WASP cultural Elites will do. It is roughly analogous to Oliver Cromwell allying with Jews to wage war against the vast majority of natives of the British Isles.

JoaoAlfaiate , January 9, 2018 at 3:03 pm GMT
Excellent piece. I'd just like to add that Stephens' op-ed in the NYT ought to be view like Judith Miller's misleading articles about aluminum-tubes-for-nuclear-centrifuges which appeared in the Times during the run up to the Iraq war: Preparation of the Times' readership for yet another war in the middle east, this time against Iran.
Jake , January 9, 2018 at 3:05 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX

No, Saudis destroyed the World Trade Center.

But the Israelis do see the Saudis as their Middle Eastern BFF, and the US is also tightly allied with the Saudis.

Jake , January 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm GMT
@Bill Jones

You cannot separate that 'error' from the fact that such an act fit perfectly with WASP culture as the product of Judaizing heresy.

That is exactly what WASP culture would do.

Tammy , January 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm GMT
@MEexpert

MEexpert says, "Look again. His has a typical Jewish face.

The score is still 6 to 1. John Bolton may bot be Jewish but he is a venom spewing neocon."

Finally someone with the courage of Justin Raimondo has guts to call spade a spade. He has taken the courage to move from the FAKE NEWS:

Why the Korean 'Crisis' Is Completely Phony

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2018/01/08/korean-crisis-completely-phony/

Ron Unz is another courageous man. I wish and pray to God, that people like Ron Unz, Philip M. Giraldi, Paul Craig Roberts, Saker and their likes to move away from FAKE NEWS too, and tell us the TRUTH.

Evil can be fought only with TRUTH ..

Your idea about an article on political Islam by either Ron Unz or Philip M. Giraldi is an excellent idea, and I am willing to help provided we keep away from sectarianism and stick to TRUTH. The war the First Caliph abu Bakr which he fought with Yemen's Muslims within six months of Prophet's demise is very important to show how the rights given by Prophet Mohammad (saws) were taken away as soon as his demise. Our aim should be to shine the light on the Prophet. This is what Yemen's war did, just to start with:

1. Prophet did away with excommuniting someone from the fold as he saw a very powerful tool in the hands of Rabbis and Preacher. Who gave them the right to remove someone from Synagogue or Church.

2. So abu Bakr came up with much stronger tool, he called all the Yemeni Muslims en masses as apostate.

3. Brought back the slavery.

4. Claimed that he the Caliph abu Bakr was appointed by Will of Allah through predestination.

5. Thus, the ideology of ISIS calling everyone kafir, kafir, kafir .. and chopping their heads.

6. Used Islam as a disguise to bring other countries in to the fold for power and mammon (money), thus bring Islam by Sword.

The list is extensive and I can go on and on. The divide / confuse / rule was used against the Muslims.

The objective of the article should be to bring TRUTH about the Prophet.

for-the-record , January 9, 2018 at 3:26 pm GMT
@Tammy

Anyone who thinks Trump is a fool is an imbecile himself/herself.

Thanks for the compliment!

sarz , January 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm GMT
@Mark Green

Don't lose heart, Mark Green. There is a very good chance that Trump is actually with you, and that he's winning. He cannot afford to be straight at all. His strategy is to take up highly charged strands of the dominant discourse and to short circuit them. A strong play of a weak hand. He's run with the demands of Adelson, Netanyahu and Kushner regarding Jerusalem and other maximal Israeli demands. It's all in response to the worst Jews. The result is that Shias are united with Sunnis, Hamas with PLO, Iran with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The whole world against America, Israel and some specks of guano. The Iran caper is the same. The Pakistan caper even better. Trump gives the military a free hand to show what they can do in Afghanistan. Then he blows his twitter top to insult Pakistan so there will no longer be a land route. He's doing his damndest and always failing. What a clueless asshole. Yet every failure is undoing the empire, and leading to a one-state resolution in Palestine.

That's just the foreign policy part.

By the time he's finished there will be no Democrat party left as we know it, and the GOP will be transformed as well.
There will be no more Fed. No more debt based currency. A paid off national debt.
And there will be single payer medical coverage.
God willing.

Achmed E. Newman , Website January 9, 2018 at 3:35 pm GMT
That was a great summary of our foreign policy situation, Mr. Giraldi. You have a lot of guts to write out all the truth that you see, as you have in all of the articles of yours I've read on unz.

I really liked this line, too:

To be sure, Iran is a very corrupt place run by people who should not be running a hot dog stand, but the same applies to the United States and Israel .

I have one question for you, Phil, and this is not hypothetical or snarky – just looking for your opinion: What do you think the neocons' attitude about the Orient is? I realize that China is on the road to kicking our ass economically , but that's the "war" we need to fight, not a military war. Then, there's N. Korea, which, in my opinion, is none of our business. Rest of the question – Trump seems to get sucked into the standard invade-the-world mode in the Far East also – do you think that is neocon-inspired, and, since that part of the world is no threat to Israel, if so, why? Would they possibly be masking their intentions by expanding the range of their invade-the-world program?

DaveE , January 9, 2018 at 3:35 pm GMT
Another fine essay, Mr. Giraldi. Thanks once again.

This morning we find a very unusual Op Ed in the JYT by David Brooks, "The Decline of Anti-Trump_vs_deep_state".

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/08/opinion/anti-trump-opposition.html

I don't usually read that filthy rag other than to skim the headlines, but this was just so bizarre, I couldn't resist. Brooks seems to admit that they (Jewish neocons/Bolsheviks) are losing the battle to take down Trump. He openly criticizes the media for being so obvious and self-discrediting.

Is this a total retreat for the neocons / Bolsheviks? Or is Brooks merely rallying the troops? Or simply a desperate attempt to regain credibility by telling the truth, for a change?

Or maybe he is preemptively refuting Mr. Giraldi's premise in this piece, a semi-novel tactic one might call Jewish Preemptive Vengeance getting even BEFORE the fact?

Anyway, it was downright WEIRD.

DESERT FOX , January 9, 2018 at 3:40 pm GMT

@Jake

Do some research, Israel and the U.S. deep state blew up 7 buildings at the WTC on 911 and blew up a section of the pentagram, the Saudis were the patsys , and as corrupt and evil as the Saudis are they had on part in it.

The Zionist neocons did 911 to set the Mideast wars in motion, do some research, hell every thinking American knows Israel did it.

c matt , January 9, 2018 at 3:45 pm GMT
@wayfarer

Considering what an absolute stranglehold they have over American politics, they may have an argument.

Art , January 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm GMT
Mr. Giraldi has gone after the real power center in America – the Jew controlled US media. Much is said about "we dumb Americans." We are not all that dumb – but we are 100% misinformed. Propaganda works. It is a fact that the human mind is susceptible to repeated lies. (It is also true, that people hate being lied too.)

Much is said about "Christian Zionists." Why is it, that NO Christian broadcast media tells the truth about Palestinian suffering? Of course, it is because of Jew media control. If Christian stations were to tell the truth, there would be a lot less Christian Zionists – they would be a small segment of Christianity.

Thanks to Mr. Giraldi and others on the internet – more and more people are listening and learning and getting mad. A base is building. Truth will out!

Think Peace -- Art

Joe Hide , January 9, 2018 at 4:03 pm GMT
The more the psychotic control freaks publically expose themselves, what with social media, the internet, and disenchanted leakers in their own group the more of humanity wakes up to a great sense of absolute disgust in them. We, humanity, are gradually winning and the disgusting pyschopaths are losing.
Michael Kenny , January 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm GMT
Does Mr Giraldi really expect us to believe that the US internet is any better than the media outlets he criticizes? The whole US media scene can be summed up as "don't believe their pack of lies. Believe my pack of lies"!

[Jan 06, 2018] Russia-gate Breeds Establishment McCarthyism by Robert Parry

Highly recommended!
I wish Robert Parry quick and full recovery after his minor stoke. He is a magnificent journalist !
Notable quotes:
"... In the past, America has witnessed "McCarthyism" from the Right and even complaints from the Right about "McCarthyism of the Left." But what we are witnessing now amid the Russia-gate frenzy is what might be called "Establishment McCarthyism, " traditional media/political powers demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives. ..."
"... This extraordinary assault on civil liberties is cloaked in fright-filled stories about "Russian propaganda" and wildly exaggerated tales of the Kremlin's "hordes of Twitter bots," but its underlying goal is to enforce Washington's "groupthinks" by creating a permanent system that shuts down or marginalizes dissident opinions and labels contrary information – no matter how reasonable and well-researched – as "disputed" or "rated false" by mainstream "fact-checking" organizations like PolitiFact. ..."
"... For instance, PolitiFact still rates as "true" Hillary Clinton's false claim that "all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies" agreed that Russia was behind the release of Democratic emails last year. Even the Times and The Associated Press belatedly ran corrections after President Obama's intelligence chiefs admitted that the assessment came from what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called "hand-picked" analysts from only three agencies: CIA, FBI and NSA. ..."
"... And, the larger truth was that these "hand-picked" analysts were sequestered away from other analysts even from their own agencies and produced "stove-piped intelligence," i.e., analysis that escapes the back-and-forth that should occur inside the intelligence community. ..."
"... And this was not a stand-alone story. Previously, the Times has run favorable articles about plans to deploy aggressive algorithms to hunt down and then remove or marginalize information that the Times and other mainstream outlets deem false. ..."
"... Congress has authorized $160 million to combat alleged Russian "propaganda and disinformation," a gilded invitation for "scholars" and "experts" to gear up "studies" that will continue to prove what is supposed to be proved – "Russia bad" – with credulous mainstream reporters eagerly gobbling up the latest "evidence" of Russian perfidy. ..."
"... And, given the risk of thermo-nuclear war with Russia, why aren't liberals and progressives demanding at least a critical examination of what's coming from the U.S. intelligence agencies and the mainstream press? ..."
"... So, as we have moved into this dangerous New Cold War, we are living in what could be called "Establishment McCarthyism," a hysterical but methodical strategy for silencing dissent and making sure that future mainstream groupthinks don't get challenged. ..."
Oct 27, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
In the past, America has witnessed "McCarthyism" from the Right and even complaints from the Right about "