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May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells
If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.
From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal
Skepticism -> Political Skeptic
|News||Neoliberalism||Recommended books||Recommended Links||Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few||US and British media are servants of security apparatus||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism|
|Libertarian Philosophy||Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism||Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization||Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite||Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia||"Fuck the EU": neocons show EU its real place||The Deep State|
|Corporatism||Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich||Demexit: Abandonment of Democratic party by working class and lower middle class||Globalization of Financial Flows||IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement||Anti-globalization movement||Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization|
|Elite Theory||The Iron Law of Oligarchy||Strzok-gate||Neo-conservatism||National Security State||Hypocrisy of British ruling elite as the template for hypocrisy of neoliberal elite||Two Party System as Polyarchy|
|Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump||Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak||DNC emails leak||Anti Trump Hysteria||Trump vs. Deep State||Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"||Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative|
|Hillary health issues||Demonization of Putin||Media-Military-Industrial Complex||IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement||Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization||Neoliberal corruption||Neoliberalism and Christianity|
|Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA||Pathological Russophobia of the US elite||Disaster capitalism||American Exceptionalism||Predator state||Obama: a yet another Neocon|
|Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime||In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment||Corruption of Regulators||Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult||Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society||American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism||Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition|
|Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism||Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss||Civil war in Ukraine||Syria civil war||Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars||Color revolutions||New American Militarism|
|MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage||Groupthink||Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite||Deception as an art form||Mayberry Machiavellians||Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers||Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17?|
|Compradors vs. national bourgeoisie||Talleyrand quotes||Otto Von Bismarck Quotes||Kurt Vonnegut Quotes||Somerset Maugham Quotes||George Carlin||Propaganda Quotes|
|Overcomplexity of society||Paleoconservatism||Non-Interventionism||Key Myths of Neoliberalism||Skeptic Quotations||Humor||Etc|
|We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking,
class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
FDR. speech after the election (1936)polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later. So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.
▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15
"Neoliberalism -- the current social system in the USA and most European countries, Japan, Russia and China (with some minor variations) -- is a very interesting ideology, one that does not dare to speak its name ;-). After a triumphal march of neoliberalism in late 80th and early 90th (with the collapse of the USSR as the high point).
The crescendo of Triumphal march of neoliberalism which stated in 1980th was the collapse of the USSR, which happened in 1991, when Soviet elite switched sides and preferred to became "entrepreneurs" like their Western counterparts, privatizing and looting their own country. Communists proved to be very corruptible folk, especially at Nomenklatura level and they like dollars more then their country.
But neoliberalism entered the major crisis in 2008. The net result was so called Secular Stagnation. The "end of cheap oil" is another factor that guarantee the continuation of Secular Stagnation. See Peak Cheap Energy.
This site is slightly skeptical as for long-term viability of Neoliberalism as a social system. At the same time as bad as neoliberal as a social system was/is in comparison with New Deal Capitalism, that does not mean the coming successor can't be worse. If there is a way out of this neoliberal mess that was pushed on us since late 70th, I can't see it.
Right now Neoliberalism is seriously sick and remind me Bolshevism after WWII. Bolshevism lasted almost 50 years after 1945, and do not see why neoliberalism can't last even longer then that as currently there is no viable alternatives'. For example, Russia which neocons try to paint as ne "Great Satan" is a yet another neoliberal state. Just with a different flavor of neoliberalism which reminds Trumps "national neoliberalism". After the "triumphal march" of neoliberalism over the globe in the late seventies and 80th with the collapse of the USSR. BTW the collapse of Soviet Union was not what neoliberal propaganda teaches us. In essence Soviet elite (aka nomenklatura) simply changed sides. The collapse of Bolshevism both as an ideology and the society paralleled the collapse of New Deal capitalism in the USA. Like large part of the USA management elite, Soviet nomenklatura became turncoats. And it was the alliance of management elite and trade unions that was at the core of New Deal capitalism. As soon as it collapsed the New Deal capitalism was replaced with neoliberalism.
But neoliberalism proved to be not a sustainable social system. It need countries to loot. From 1991 to 2000 xUSSR area was such a region. And it prospered. It lost traction after 2000 and sled in deep crisis in 2008, the crisis which undermined the neoliberal ideology. That means that after 2008 neoliberalism entered zombie state, much like Soviet communism after WWII.
Due to neoliberalism the USA is no longer a politically stable country. Political animosity after election of Trump reminds a soft civil war, racial hostility is growing, standards of majority of population are either stagnant or fall, neoliberal globalization (with off shoring and outsourcing) as well as automation leave the young unemployed. Epidemic of narco addiction in the USA (which claims 70K victims a year) remind epidemic of alcoholism in the USSR. Both were caused by desperation of people, who can't get a meaningful well paying job and see no future for themselves and their children. Wealth was redistributed to the few and the level of inequality became dangerously high. The working class falls into drugs and anomie. The wars for sustaining and expanding the neoliberal empire and crushing dissenters from neoliberal dogma never end. Meanwhile infrastructure ages and falls behind that of more advanced nations. Anger grows. As the pie shrinks, someone will have to get less pie. And it is not financial oligarchy, or MIC.
Who would thought that 30 years later the winner of the Cold War will enter the phase of decline which in may respects remind many observers the decline of the USSR.
I would like to repeat again that this decline started after the crisis of 2008 (the point at which neoliberal ideology collapsed and was discredited, much like communist ideology was after WWII. Trump election and Brexit were two historical events, after which we can attest that neoliberalism is past its prime and entered the phase of decline. And this decline created polarization of the society in which ruling neoliberal elite lost legitimacy in the eyes of common people. This is the problem which neoliberal elite tried to hide after 2016 Presidential elections under the smoke screen of Russiagate (which is essence is a color revolution with the goal of deposing Trump)
The neoliberal ideology which is, essentially, can be called "market fundamentalism" was discredited earlier, after global financial crisis of 2008. Much like communism was after WWII when it became clear that it can't secure the standard of living for its population superior to the standard of living of common people in Western European countries (and even most of the East European countries), which remained under the capitalism.
Paradoxically golden days of capitalism in Western Europe and the USA (which lasted till 79th) were possible only because communist states such as USSR existed, as it served as a powerful deterrent against the restoration of power of financial oligarchy. So it's not surprising that the New Deal Capitalism was dismantled after the USSR collapse. Moor did its duty, moor can go ;-). In other words, the mere existence of the USSR, while was not threat to the Western countries social system, served as a powerful inhibitor of cannibalistic instincts of the elite in the USA and Western countries. It was communism that helped to secured the dominance of the New Deal capitalism till early 80th.
From this point the standard of living of poor and lower middle class in the West started to slide. The first 20 years, till probably 2000 (dot com crisis) the slide was masked by tremendous technological progress in computers and communications. Still outside top 10-20% of population, the slide of the standard of living and the income is a fact. Outsourcing and offshoring killed many meaningful, well paying jobs. The new level of automation, possible with modern computers, killed some more. The possibility of cheap transcontinental communications also killed IT jobs and helpdesk type which jobs migrated to India and other countries with cheap and qualified labor force. so loss of manufacturing jobs was amplified by loss of some segments of white color jobs as well.
While neoliberal think tanks and powerful MSM propaganda machine (in which the word neoliberalism is still a taboo) now try to contain damage, the fatal flaws of neoliberal ideology after 2008 financial collapse are apparent and can't be hidden. The key neoliberal country and the key enforcer of neoliberalism over the globe -- the USA -- entered "secular stagnation" period in economics. It is also is trying to fend off the challenge that China economic growth presents to its world dominance.
Brexit and the election of Trump mean that the protest against neoliberal globalization entered the political mainstream in the USA in 2016: Hillary Clinton suffered her electoral fiasco because she was the proponent of neoliberal status quo, the proponent of neoliberal globalization and the wars for expansion of neoliberal empire, the candidate who promised to kick the neoliberal can down the road.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in
the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
From the Chance for Peace address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953. (Regarded as one of the finest speeches of Eisenhower's presidency.)
Trump should probably be viewed as a new stage of this decline of American republic (which for a long time is neither democracy not a republic, but a warmongering empire, a new social system of "inverted totalitarism" as Sheldon Wolin called it ). Some trapping of previous "New Deal style" democracy remained, but most of New deal achievement such as using trade unions as countervailing social force to check the greed of capital owners was perverted. During elections Trump used to have anti-globalization inclinations -- anathema to neoliberals -- and that's why he was so viciously attacked after he has won; but those inclinations almost completely disappeared after the election. Trumpism which sometimes is defined as "economic nationalism" (or national neoliberalism, if you wish ;-) includes the following (partially intersecting) elements which are anathema to classic neoliberalism:
Of course, the notion of "Trumpism" is fuzzy and different people might include some additional issues and disagree with some listed here, but the core probably remains. Please note that Trump was emasculated by the "deep state" and turned into neocon in foreign policy just three-four months into his presidency. The only action which is along this lines so far was his decision to withdraw from Syria. Whether it will be implemented remains to be seen. His appointments directly contradict those 14 items. People such as Bolton, Pompeo, Haley are anathema to such a program.
Still the fact remains: in 2016 financial oligarchy not only failed to put the desired puppet into White House, but was forced to unleash a color revolution against new POTUS ( Russiagate witch hunt is only the tip of the iceberg in this sense) to put him into compliance, or depose him. Neoliberals and neocons also failed with their color revolution as Brennan machinations (As Professor Stephen Cohen noted Russiagate should be renamed to Intelgate) with Steele dossier backfired that they got under fire from Trump supporters. And both Brennan and FBI Mayberry Machiavellians suddenly from predators became a pray. Neoliberal Democrats (Clinton wing of Democratic Party, of DemoRats) while managed to preserve political power over the party of suppress Sunders supporters, overplayed their hand with Russiagate and neo-McCarthyism campaign (which was designed to rally nation around the flag) and might face consequences during midterm elections. Their only hope is help from the Grand Inquisitor, appointed as a part of coup d'état against Trump launched by intelligence agencies (the core of the "deep state"), Mr. Mueller.
Neocons are actually a cancel of the US society. May be terminal cancer. In any case they are extremely destructive force, MIC lobbyists without any principles or consciousness. And people without consciousness are called psychopaths.
This is not the first time the "Deep State" (read intelligence agencies+Pentagon+Department of State) in alliance with neocons and "liberal interventionists" tried to depose elected president. JFK was probably the first, Nixon the second and now Trump might be the third. What is new is complete disappearance of anti-war left and the total conversion under Hillary of Democratic Party into another War Party, the party of militant globalists (which can be a perfect new home for neocons). Clinton wing of the Democratic Party doesn't want to admit she lost the election because neoliberalism became unpopular among the US electorate. At the same time "the fifth branch of government" -- the intelligence services proved to be a formidable political force on the US political arena, able to block any attempts to stop feeding and care of military industrial complex. And for this particular reason block any even feeble attempts of rapprochement or cooperation with Russia.
The country now resembles military camp with war propaganda on all major TV channel and newspapers broadcasted 24 x7. But the cost of "guns instead of butter" policies are growing: the cost of post 9/11 War project approaches $5.6 trillion. Stolen from ordinary Americans under false pretences (As President Eisenhower noted "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." If even small part of those funds were invested within the country we would have high speed tail between all major cities, or at lease might not be having such frequent deadly crashes of Amtrak trains. Among other useful things like better roads, bridges and airports.
While I am openly nostalgic for the New Deal capitalism, I understand perfectly well that currently, there is no viable new alternative to neoliberalism. First of all because as in late 70th "managerial class" became yet another turncoat and allied with capital owners, against workers and middle class. That happened not only in the USA, but in the USSR too (that's why the USSR collapsed; in this case USSR "managerial class" (nomenklatura) allied and was partially bought by the USA capital owners)
Still the New Deal remain the most humane form of capitalism invented, and our analysis of neoliberalism has distinct "pro New Deal capitalism" bias. But we need to understand that the restoration of the New Deal capitalism looks impossible because the social base of it -- the alliance of corporate management and trade union leaders, was destroyed due to the defection of corporate managers to the side of capital owners. This realignment of political power made possible the restoration of the rule of the financial oligarchy, which happened in the USA in late 1980th.
The new coalition of anti-globalization forces that emerged during Trump election campaign is still pretty amophic political force and is unable to force changes in the society, as easy emasculation of President Trump by the Deep State proved to all of us. But hopefully it will grow and became better organized politically whether within the Republican Party of outside of it.
And yes, my friends, like Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it, all of us are living under neoliberal regime at least since 1980, most probably without knowing it. Current events are much easier to analyze if you use the framework of analyzing neoliberalism as a social system proposed in those pages. Neoliberalism as a social system replaced the notion of Political party with the collection of neoliberal think tanks, a new class of "professional revolutionaries" who are mercenary political army that fight for the victory of neoliberalism and comprise kind of global Neoliberal International. On interesting nuance is that the idea of "professional revolutionaries" was one of the key innovations of Bolsheviks and Trotskyites. And we can view neoliberalism as some kind of "Trotskyism for rich." In this sense this social system is almost as far from real democracy as the USSR one party system. It is something Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". In certain aspects it is even more anti-democratic than the capitalism of the Gilded Age with which it has some uncanny similarities (enforcement of the "Law of Jungles" in labor market by suppression of trade unions and "atomization" of individuals as agent who sells themselves on some kind of marketplace, not as human being) . As Pope Francis noted neoliberalism in anti-Christian system that despise and demonize poor blaming them as incapable to provide "value" to the marketplace, and ignoring their value as a human beings:
... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
Another interesting aspect of neoliberalism is the existence of so-called "neoliberal rationality" (compare with the "proletarian mindset" of Bolshevism ). As well as the extent of brainwashing of population into this rationality, especially at the university level (via neoclassical economics). As well as the level and the sophistication of the use of propaganda which includes a set of neoliberal myths very similar to what were created by Bolshevism. For example, the neoliberal myths of "Free trade", "free market" (why not "fair" in both cases?) , "labor market", "human capital", etc. In reality, the key idea behind this Potemkin Village-style ideological facade is the redistribution of wealth up toward top 1% (or even more to the top 0.01%). Exactly like was the case with Bolshevism, which while proclaiming the false facade of "dictatorship of proletariat" mercilessly suppressed unions and kept 90% of population at the standard of living much lower than in Western and even Eastern Europe. Although not close to starvation which is the ideal of neoliberal "plantation economy" (implemented, for example, by Wal-Mart, with its below subsistence wages), with atomized and isolated from each other "debt slaves."
In other words, there are some striking similarities between Soviet nomenklatura and neoliberal oligarchy, similarities that no objective scholar studying neoliberalism can ignore. See also Two-Party System as Polyarchy -- "the first after the post system" proved to be ideal for neoliberal regime as it allows financial oligarchy preselect candidates from both Parties. Effectively turning the election into expensive staged event -- a grandiose political spectacle, if you wish. but with predicted outcome as stage directors who perform casting are members of a close circle of neoliberal elite -- mostly financial oligarchy. It could have been adopted by Soviet nomenklatura as well, as it very effectively prevents any real challenges to the existing political regime by pre-selection of two candidates running to the given position and two parties, which are essentially a "soft" and "hard" factions of a single party of financial oligarchy.
The level of "synchronicity" in coverage of foreign events by neoliberal MSM also reminds me the level typical for Soviet Union. With all MSM repeating the State Department talking points and in general going out their skin be politically correct stooges of the neoliberal regime.
Yet another very interesting aspect of neoliberal regime is the level of public apathy, limited public discourse and even vocabulary (try to find the word "neoliberal" in WaPo ;-) as well as epidemic of narco-addition (especially in Rust Belt, which is more severely hit by neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing). Which is not that dissimilar to the epidemic of alcoholism under Bolshevism. When common people see no future for themselves and their children they tend to engage in self-destructing behaviour. Sheldon Wolin called this approach to suppressing of dissent "inverted totalitarism."
What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism" has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-). the intent of this set of pages intent is to fight this trend and present a "slightly skeptical" view of this important social phenomenon.
It is also important to understand that the level of hostility to Trump by the "deep state" is directly connected with three main (and very quickly betrayed) promises that Trump made during elections:
All three were the direct revision of neoliberal ideology postulates, as well as departure from the "neoliberal rationality". That's why the counter-attack of both the "Deep State" and neoliberal MSM on Trump was so vicious, with well coordinated set of leaks, appointment of Special Prosecutor (on fake pretext), re-launch of McCarthyism, and campaign of demonization of Trump and his administration in media. In the level of outrage that writers of Pravda during Stalin "Show Trials" would find completely in line with their own writings -- they so vividly resembles the attacks on "revisionists" in the USSR during Stalinism, that you may wish to revisit books devoted to those trials ;-).
What is new in putsch of intelligence services and neoliberal establishment against Trump is presence of classic elements of color revolutions technology. Which were for the first time used within the USA by "neoliberal nomenklatura" to preserve power. Some people call it Purple revolution. The ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power, and if this is not possible to emasculate his for the next four years. Some elements of this technology were previously used probably to depose Nixon. Watergate also involved intelligence agencies (the core of the Deep State) activities directed at the removal of the sitting President. And going back JFK was probably the first President removed by intelligence services.
Initially color revolution technologies were designed to topple "unfriendly" to neoliberalism regimes in xUSSR space and "resource nationalists" in the Middle East (as well as against China in Hong Cong). That suggests that after the election of 2016 neoliberals felt a real threat from Trump "revisionism".
Deployment of those technologies does not spell well with the social stability because delegitimization of elected government has lasting negative effects. Just look at Ukraine which was the victim of the most recent "color revolution" experiment. They have now two breakaway regions and the drop of the standard of living of population around 200% or more. The country also now is a debt slave. In other words when the gin of color revolution is out of the bottle it is not that easy to put it back and the events can turn in the direction not anticipated by the originators of such a color revolution.
See also Neoliberalism
|It's easy to pretend to be a great strategist,
while sitting on the top of the hill,
at the safe distance from the battle in the valley
-- Shota Rustavelli (1172–1216)
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.caRegion: 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 .
Aug 23, 2011 | Truthout
At the onset of World War II, Walt Disney was not alone in his belief that film should play a dominant role in the teaching process or, as he claimed, in "molding opinion."7 He was, however, at the forefront of a movement to recognize a "new aspect of the use of films in war": training industrial workers and soldiers.8 Some historians try to account for Disney's participation in generating military propaganda by claiming that the studios were "taken over by the military as part of the war effort"9 on December 8, 1941. But Richard Shale has meticulously documented Disney's much earlier attempts to court contracts with the aircraft industry, the U.S. Council of National Defense, and Canadian military supporters.10 Indeed, despite a "popular (and frequently quoted) misconception" that the relationship between Disney Studios and the U.S. military was "unexpected or unsolicited," Shale observes an explicit shift in Disney's focus from "entertainment values to teaching values" that occurred before Disney acquired his first U.S. military contracts in December 1941.11 For instance, in 1940 Disney approached the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation with the idea of generating a training film on flush riveting. And in the spring of 1941, with Canada already engaged in war, Disney convinced the commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada, John Grierson, that animated films were better positioned as teaching tools than documentary films because of their "capacity for simplifying the presentation of pedagogical problems."12 Grierson then bought the Canadian rights to Four Methods of Flush Riveting and commissioned Disney to produce an instructional film that taught soldiers how to use an antitank rifle and four short films that encouraged Canadians to purchase war savings certificates.
Then, in the fall of 1941, Walt Disney toured South America at the bequest of the U.S. Office of Inter-American affairs, which was attempting to establish good relations and "hemispheric unity as explicated in Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy."13 With material collected on the trip, Disney proceeded to generate two feature films, Saludos Amigos (1943) and The Three Caballeros (1945), both intended to celebrate Latin American culture while accentuating its similarities with North American culture (and downplaying or ignoring issues like national politics and poverty).14 Born out of U.S. fear of a Nazi alliance with countries like Argentina, the films aimed to "enhance the Latin American image in the United States," while also "enhanc[ing] America's appreciation of Latin American Everymen."15 Yet, in making The Three Caballeros palatable to white Middle America and American imperialism less threatening to southerners, Disney more often than not caricatures Latin American culture as a voluptuous, exotic female who is fleeing the attentions of a libidinous, but comically ineffectual Donald Duck.16 There is little doubt that a relationship between Disney Studios and the U.S. government had been fully cemented by 1943, when 94 percent of the footage produced by Disney was under government contract.17
From 1941 to 1945, the Disney Studios produced dozens of short educational films, with their subjects ranging from aircraft and warship identification to dental hygiene to the household conservation of cooking oil for the making of military weapons. The studio also produced a number of anti-Nazi short films, including Der Fuehrer's Face (1943), Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi (1943), and Reason and Emotion (1943), two of which were nominated for Academy Awards. In these shorts, Hitler is depicted as waging a mind-control campaign over the German people based on the manipulation of emotions such as anger, love, fear, sympathy, pride, and hate, while also occasionally employing force, regimentation, depravation, and false rewards. Of course, the success of the films' efforts to expose Nazi propaganda overwhelmingly relies on the use of comic devices, caricatures, and stereotypes to make Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito seem irrational and absurd.
Demonizing the enemy, according to Disney historian Leonard Maltin, "relieves aggression."18 This claim, suggesting that the films function to disperse rather than focus emotional energy, clearly sidesteps the multiple ways in which the films, much like the propaganda they critique, attempt to shape their audience's emotional responses, such as when Donald Duck, clad in starred-and-striped pajamas, croons to the Statue of Liberty, "Oh, boy, am I glad to be a citizen of the United States of America!" Most significant about the techniques used by these Disney shorts is how they embody animation's capacity to draw clear, simple lines and present a selective representation of an otherwise complex reality. Through the use of comedy and comedic violence, in particular, Disney films are often released from the expectation that they might be attempting to do more than entertain.
Viewers wooed by animation's unique capacity to create novel images through exaggeration, distortion, and aesthetic style are easily absorbed into an imaginary world that quite deliberately focuses their eyes on a constructed reality to the exclusion of other possibilities. The value of the anti-Nazi short films for today's audiences lies in their obvious attempt to win the hearts and minds of American viewers through clever visual and ideological manipulation, while ironically issuing repeated warnings to viewers not to allow emotion to short-circuit their critical faculties. A historical perspective on the subject matter sets in relief how Disney's critique of propaganda using the medium of animation inevitably ventures into the realm of propaganda itself.
Also Read: Truthout's Book Review of "The Mouse That Roared"
And, Also See: "How Disney Magic and the Corporate Media Shape Youth Identity in the Digital Age"
During the war, a significant number of the studio's resources were devoted to making another feature-length propaganda film, Victory through Air Power (1943). The film, based in part on a book written by Major Alexander P. De Seversky, advocates the development of airplane and weapons technology as the means to win the war against the Axis powers. We are told the airplane will not only "revolutionize warfare" but is "the only weapon of war to develop such usefulness during peacetime." Dramatic music punctuates scenes that explore new models of airplanes with increased bombing potential. The United States as the "arsenal of democracy" is represented as a giant heart comprising factories that pump "war supplies" through "the arteries of our transport lines over distances that actually girdle the globe." This organic, humanizing image of "the great industrial heart of America" contrasts with the mechanical image of a spoked wheel used to represent the Nazi war industries, which are also vividly portrayed in dark reds and blacks suggestive of a hellish inferno. Japan is represented as a deadly, black octopus extending its "greedy tentacles" over its "stolen empire." We are told of the necessity for U.S. long-range bombers to strike at "the heart and vitals of the beast." With the lethal combination of the "superior" American "science of aviation" and "science of demolition," the "enemy lies hopelessly exposed to systematic destruction." At the same time, the film announces that "scientific bombing" will enable a "minimum investment in human lives," an oddly ambiguous use of language suggestive of two possible meanings in the context in which it appears: the assertion that aerial bombing of enemy territories requires a "minimum investment" of American soldiers and, what is both more sinister and perhaps in need of such coded language, the claim that bombing the enemy entails such "total destruction" that no human lives requiring "investment" will be left in its wake. Indeed, the film's climax consists of a montage of exploding bombs among Japanese cities and factories, which begin curiously unpopulated and end utterly annihilated. At the pinnacle of the climactic violence, the screen resolves into an image of a bald eagle descending upon and crushing the land-ridden octopus, which then dissolves into a dark cloud of smoke rising above Japan as "America the Beautiful" plays in the background.
Walt Disney believed that Victory through Air Power convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support to long-range bombing.19 For a contemporary viewer who has the benefit of hindsight, the unquestioned propaganda offered by Victory through Air Power leaves one with the eerie feeling that the perspective being shaped by the film would not only fail to question the use of technology such as the atomic bomb but even wholeheartedly celebrate it as the quickest and most effective way to win the war. Indeed, it is precisely the film's unflinching support of the development of bigger and better bombing technology, from small hand-dropped bombs to ten-ton delayed-action bombs and armor-piercing bomb rockets, that might seem most disturbing given the devastating effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the postwar escalation of arms development during the Cold War and the ongoing expansion of the military-industrial complex in the United States.20 But Walt Disney did not just support the development of larger weapons; he was a firm supporter of what might be called the atomic age and made the classic 1956 propaganda film Our Friend the Atom, which was also produced as a book and appeared as an atomic submarine ride in the Tomorrowland section of Disney's Magic Kingdom. In this instance, as Mark Langer points out, Our Friend the Atom was designed to "counter opposition to the military use of atomic weaponry."21 The Magic Kingdom became an outpost for leading young people and adults to believe that an "Atomic reactor . . . is like a big furnace. An atomic chain reaction is likened to what happens when a stray ping-pong ball is thrown at a mass of mousetraps with ping-pong balls set on each one."22 Disney played a formidable role in convincing every school child that atomic energy was central not merely to winning the Cold War but also to preparing them for a future that would be dominated by the United States and its use of new energy sources, which incidentally could be instrumental in elevating the United States to the position of the world's preeminent military power. Mouse power easily and readily made the shift to celebrating atomic power and militarism while enlarging Disney's role as a major purveyor of propaganda.
The Disney films discussed above alert us to the fact that Disney animators honed their skills and gained widespread popular appeal in the 1940s by first producing propaganda films for the U.S. government. This often neglected reality underlying Disney's origins as a cultural entertainment icon should make us all the more careful to heed Janet Wasko's warning that Disney encodes preferred readings of both its animated films and its own brand image to such an extent that "one of the most amazing aspects of the Disney phenomenon is the consistently uniform understanding of the essence of 'Disney.'"23
Attuned to Disney's willingness to assume an overt pedagogical role during World War II, several critics of a more recent Disney film, Aladdin (1992), noted that the timing of the film's production and release coincided with U.S. military efforts in the Persian Gulf war. According to Christiane Staninger, Aladdin is "a propaganda movie for Western imperialism" that "shows the supposed unworkability of Middle Eastern traditions and the need for American intervention."24 Dianne Sachko Macleod takes this critique a step further, suggesting a link between Disney's "revival of British and French colonial stereotypes of Arab traders, fanatics, and beauties" and the "storehouse of racial and cultural images" used by the Pentagon to justify the war.25 Macleod notes that regardless of the filmmakers' intentions, the film had the general effect of "privileging the American myths of freedom and innocence at a time of nationalist fervor."26 Other connections between the film and the first Iraq war are not especially subtle: in addition to locating Aladdin in the fictional city of "Agrabah," it makes the villainous Grand Vizier Jafar look like a combination of Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khomeini, while the two young heroes, Aladdin and Jasmine, not only look American-Disney animators made it publicly known that Aladdin was modeled after Tom Cruise27-but also, as Brenda Ayres suggests, display their heroism by "contesting (and changing) Arabian law and Islamic religious tradition."28 While it is impossible to discern the actual motives of the Disney animators, it is equally impossible to ignore the cultural context in which the American public viewed Aladdin. At the time of the film's release, the dominant media were aggressively promoting similar images of liberation from barbaric traditions in order to justify the United States' "right to intervene in Middle Eastern politics."29
Disney's Conservative Path
Despite the well-documented history of collaboration between the Walt Disney Company and U.S. military and state institutions, Disney has more recently claimed to have no interest in politics. How Disney's decision in May 2004 to block its Miramax division from distributing Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 might qualify as a nonpolitical gesture is uncertain. At the time, a senior executive stated that "it's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle."30 Not only were a number of Disney's top executives known to be campaign contributors to the George W. Bush administration,31 but then CEO Michael Eisner was reported to have said that any criticism of the Bush administration might "endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."32 Miramax arranged privately to buy Moore's film and distribute it independently, and in 2005, the founders of Miramax, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, did not renew their contracts with Disney.33
As suggested above, the company's alleged desire to remain outside politics contradicts the reality of Disney's historical pattern of intervening in political matters. It is hardly surprising, then, that in the wake of the unprecedented success of Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary, Disney/ABC decided to produce its own account of the events leading up to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A $40 million miniseries titled The Path to 9/11, originally touted as a docudrama "based on the 9/11 Commission Report" and later as the "official true story," constituted a blatant political move on the part of Disney/ABC.34 In addition, Scholastic, Inc., the educational distribution partner for Disney/ABC, sent one hundred thousand letters to high school teachers across the United States encouraging them to use The Path to 9/11 in the classroom curriculum and directing them to online study guides.35
The miniseries was billed by its self-labeled conservative writer Cyrus Nowrasteh as an "objective telling of the events of 9/11"36 but faced severe criticism for its partisan depiction of events and actors. The Path to 9/11, directed by evangelical Christian filmmaker David Cunningham,37 depicted members of the Bill Clinton administration as totally incompetent, having repeatedly ignored opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden and overlooked warnings of an incipient attack before September 11, 2001. When prescreened to a select number of film reviewers before it aired on television, the miniseries was received with skepticism and outrage, not merely from Democrats and Clinton supporters. Robert Cressey, a top counterterrorism official to both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, argued that a scene depicting the Clinton administration's refusal to pursue bin Laden was "something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It's factually wrong. And that's shameful."38 Nearly one hundred thousand readers of the online journal Think Progress sent protest letters to Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, stating that the film inaccurately "places primary responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 on the Clinton administration while whitewashing the failures of the Bush administration."39 According to Tom Shales, writing for the Washington Post, the miniseries qualified as an "assault on truth."40 Shales added, "Blunderingly, ABC executives cast doubt on their own film's veracity when they made advance copies available to such political conservatives as Rush Limbaugh but not to Democrats who reportedly requested the same treatment. . . . Democrats have a right to be suspicious of any product of the conservative-minded Walt Disney Co."41 A group of academic historians led by Arthur M. Schlesinger sent a letter to ABC calling for the network to "halt the show's broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history."42
The film presents a number of clichéd stereotypes of "big government" and bureaucratic incompetence, depicting paper-pushing officials as woefully indecisive at crucial moments, primarily because they are too self-interested to put their necks on the line. Clinton, for example, is represented as not wanting to issue orders for military action against al-Qaeda because he's too worried about the effect such decisions might have on the polls, that is, when he is not caught up in dealing with the fallout from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In one scene, General Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, which waits for U.S. approval to go after bin Laden, asks in a scornful tone, "Are there any men left in Washington?" Individuals working on the ground who buck procedure and orders from their superiors are, by contrast, willing to "take the heat." So, apparently, is George W. Bush, whose decisiveness in giving a strike-down order to the military after the 9/11 attacks really functions as the climax of the whole miniseries. One could imagine Bush political supporters cheering as this scene unfolded: finally, they could rest assured that there was a real man in Washington. Meanwhile, several FBI and U.S. customs agents recognize the nature of the "new kind of war" being waged against America, and their appeals to racial profiling and domestic spying appear justified in the film. For example, in a brief dialogue, one FBI agent states, "Americans have the right to be protected from domestic spying," and the central protagonist of the film, FBI counterterrorism agent John O'Neil (portrayed by Harvey Keitel), replies, "Do they have the right to be killed by terrorists?" Heroic individuals such as O'Neil are willing to bypass "red tape" and stand in stark contrast to (1) politicians who are too worried about public opinion not to bow to the pressures of "political correctness," (2) uncooperative CIA officials who jealously guard intelligence when they are not mindlessly adhering to obsolete federal legislation that protects individuals' rights, and (3) various utterly casual security officials and workers who would rather appease suspicious-looking members of the public than be confronted with a situation that might embroil them in conflict. And that is not all. The film contrasts the coolness of John O'Neil's astute judgments with the irrationality of emotionally overwrought women, such as the ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine (Patricia Heaton), and the fanatic zeal of the terrorists. In fact, many of the characters who represent terrorists such as Mohamed Atta (Martin Brody) and Ramzi Yousef (Nabil Elouahabi) share the same intense stare, bristly mustache, and swarthy skin exhibited by Hitler in Disney's World War II propaganda films. While it might be possible for a viewer to overlook insipid dialogue, fallacious logic, melodrama, and weak narrative structure, it is virtually impossible to ignore the film's use of racist and sexist stereotypes to lend legitimacy to all the standard bogeys of extreme right-wing ideology. And, most importantly, there remains the film's utterly deceptive self-presentation as a historically accurate depiction of events. Even lead actor Harvey Keitel told a CNN interviewer prior to the airing of the miniseries,
I had questions about certain events-material I was given in The Path to 9/11 that I did raise questions about. . . . Not all the facts were correct. . . . You cannot cross the line from a conflation of events to a distortion of the event. No. Where we have distorted something, we made a mistake, and that should be corrected. It can be corrected, by the people getting involved in the story that they are going to see.43
In response to the controversy surrounding The Path to 9/11, Scholastic, Inc., announced that its online study guide did not meet the company's "high standards for dealing with controversial issues" and would be replaced with new materials that would focus more on media literacy and critical thinking.44 ABC also responded to protests by broadcasting disclaimers about the miniseries's "fictionalized" representation while airing a minimally reedited version on September 10 and 11, 2006. But ABC's rather inexplicable decision to air the broadcast without commercials-entailing a loss of $40 million45-fostered an illusion of the film's closer proximity to real life, if not also conveying the impression that it was a public service announcement. Most significantly, the broadcast that aired on the second night was framed by a strategic interruption-George W. Bush's Address to the Nation-prompting one journalist to note the "thematic synchronicity," as the president's speech called for ongoing support for the war on terror.46 It is difficult to deny the political synergy suggested by the combination of the rightwing The Path to 9/11 and Bush's speech-synergy being a profitdriven marketing strategy by no means unfamiliar to a megacorporation like Disney47-as Bush appealed to Americans to recognize the ongoing threat of terrorism and the necessity of preemptive action as the only way to safeguard "advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism."48 When placed in the context of the film, Bush's success could be measured in terms of how the post9/11 decisions made by his government succeeded where Clinton's administration apparently had failed. Furthermore, the timely juxtaposition allowed the film to gain a greater veneer of authenticity from the speech's presentation of topical and really existing political concerns, while the film in turn provided credible images and points of reference for listeners trying to engage the highly rhetorical, often self-referential use of language characteristic of Bush's speech. Additionally, the blurring of fact and fiction embodied by the film lent to the speech the mythic or symbolic power generated by extended narrative, and the grandeur of the presidential address added authority to the film.
As a context for Bush's speech, The Path to 9/11 made an effort to point out some of the problems in law enforcement and governance that preceded the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but the nature of the critique-although presented as objective and all encompassing-never rises above criticizing particular individuals for their character failings. The film was cleverer, however, in the way it indicated the supposed gaps in the system and advocated taking a hard line, but offered no concrete alternatives. In doing so, the film left it to Bush to emerge as the ultimate hero, opening up a space for a timely description of the measures instituted since 9/11:
We've created the Department of Homeland Security. We have torn down the wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence from sharing information. We've tightened security at our airports and seaports and borders, and we've created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst and saved American lives.49
If The Path to 9/11 presented a single narrative perspective (the "path" taken) as the infallible "truth," then Bush's speech, with a similar kind of religious confidence, also took for granted that only one predetermined course could secure the nation from the terrorist threat. At no point did the film or Bush's speech suggest that the situation was complex enough to necessitate the consideration of several possible paths; indeed, both narratives closed off the possibility of questioning the effectiveness of the security measures endorsed and instituted. Difficult questions-such as the extent to which freedom should be limited in order to be secured or the kinds of sacrifices entailed by "national security"-were simply ignored in favor of the message that Americans must do whatever it takes to defeat the "enemy." It is hard to believe that the gross trivializations of the complex issues surrounding terrorism and the war in Iraq in The Path to 9/11 and Bush's address could almost escape public protest only five years after the horrifying events of September 11, 2001.
One notable exception to the general complaisance with which the public received The Path to 9/11 involved a group of students at Ithaca College who protested the college's acceptance of a private donation from Robert Iger on the grounds that The Path to 9/11, touted as a docudrama, was actually an egregious display of media bias. Students argued that "accepting Disney money would send the wrong message about the importance of objectivity to the school's journalism and communications students."50 Although a Disney spokesperson responded to the student protesters by calling them "people who can't distinguish between fact and fiction," Ithaca College president Peggy R. Williams lent credence to the students' concerns by reassuring them that Iger's donation "does not buy Disney any influence on campus. . . . Our curriculum decisions are our own."51 Although certainly admitting no wrongdoing, Disney has uncharacteristically and tellingly opted not to sell The Path to 9/11 on DVD-defying the expectations of both those who assumed the company would try to recover the costs of making the miniseries and vociferous right-wing groups who continue to support the film's representation of the events leading to 9/11.52
The National Security-Family: Meet The Incredibles
As films like Aladdin and The Path to 9/11 suggest, the Walt Disney Company has an impressive ability to revise more or less familiar stories, updating the issues to make them resonate in people's lives at the current moment. It is how Disney offers audiences not simply escape but also a mode of relating to the real conditions of their existence that makes Disney films such a long-lived and potent force in U.S. and global popular culture. As Louis Marin suggests regarding the powerful cultural role of Disney theme parks, Disney represents both "what is estranged and what is familiar: comfort, welfare, consumption, scientific and technological progress, superpower, and morality." Importantly, Marin adds, "These are values obtained by violence and exploitation; [in Disney culture] they are projected under the auspices of law and order."53 Marin's framework is especially useful for understanding a film such as The Incredibles as mediating the "imaginary relationship that the dominant groups of American society maintain with their real conditions of existence, with the real history of the United States, and with the space outside of its border."54 In a post-9/11 world, Academy Award winner The Incredibles brings home the need not only to reclaim "superpower" identity as a quintessential American quality but also to recognize that American soil is not immune to the threat of violent attacks. In response to the forces threatening America-internally, the weakening of superhero resolve in the face of excessive bureaucracy, public cynicism, and unthinking adherence to the law; externally, enemies whose infantile resentment at being "not super" results in a genocidal campaign against everything "super," even to the extent of terrorizing an innocent public-the PG-rated film sanctions violence as a means to establish a new brand of "law and order." Although hearkening back to the nuclear family as the source of America's security and strength, the film diverges from past narratives in its emphasis on a natural order in which authority and power belong in the hands of the few strong leaders left in America, while the rest of us must duly recognize our inevitable "mediocrity." This overall message is especially disturbing in light of the events following 9/11, when the United States witnessed a growing authoritarianism throughout the larger culture.55 Some consequences of the American response to the tragic terrorist attacks have been a general tolerance for the use of preemptive violence and coercion, control of the media, the rise of repressive state power, an expanding militarization, and a thriving surveillance and security industry that is now even welcomed in public schools. And these are only some of the known consequences: many of the effects of the Bush administration's policies are still coming to light. In 2009, President Barack Obama ordered the release of top-secret Bush administration memos that sanctioned the CIA's use of torture on terror suspects. A year previous, New York Times reporter David Barstow wrote an exposé of "independent" military analysts who appeared on television networks to inform the public with their expert and objective impressions of the war in Iraq (many were retired army generals and had direct ties to corporations that were courting government military contracts). It turned out the Pentagon was coaching the military analysts behind the scenes to put a favorable spin on the Bush administration's "wartime performance," with the apparent collusion of U.S. media networks, including ABC, which failed to check for, or simply ignored, evident conflicts of interest.56 In addition to calling into question the journalistic integrity of the media, the scandal made it seem as if the Bush administration's public relations machine was taking its cues from corporations such as Disney by not only launching a marketing campaign carefully tailored to uphold its public image but also secretly controlling access to information and limiting public discourse, all in order to sell a sense of security to the American people.
An emphasis on controlling public speech and public spaces-not to mention autocratic rule, secrecy, and the appeal to security-is nothing new to Disney, whose theme parks, according to Steven Watts, "blur the line between fantasy and reality by immersing visitors in a totally controlled environment."57 Disneyland is a useful space, apparently, to undertake surveillance, and Walt Disney offered the FBI "complete access" to Disneyland facilities in the 1950s for "use in connection with official matters and for recreational purposes."58 Indeed, the development of a cordial relationship between Walt Disney and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is now better understood not only in relation to Walt Disney's fervent anticommunism but also in light of revelations that he may have served as "a secret informer for the Los Angeles office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."59 Certainly, as Watts indicates, it is known that Disney was appointed a special FBI agent in part because of his desire to root out so-called communist agitators from the film industry.60 More recently, Eric Smoodin notes that the Disney corporation remains "interested in constructing surveillance as entertainment," as suggested by the marketing of products such as a Mickey Mouse doll with glow-in-the-dark eyes that illuminate sleeping children for the benefit of parental scrutiny.61
The Incredibles, with its complex appeal to several levels of audience, received overwhelming praise from film critics, who admired not only its retromodern aesthetic and detailed animation but also its "stinging wit."62 However, most reviewers who observed an "edge of intellectual indignation"63 focused on the first thirty minutes of the film in which the main character, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), is forced to conceal his superhero identity as a consequence of public disaffection and a string of lawsuits (he is sued after rescuing a suicidal man named Sansweet who claimed Mr. Incredible had "ruined [his] death"). With "average citizens" now proclaiming they want "average heroes," Mr. Incredible; his superhero wife, Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter); and their children become the middle-of-the-road Parr family, trying to maintain a normal suburban lifestyle by suppressing their superpowers in what one reviewer suggests is a "suspicious society that's decidedly below-Parr."64 As suggested by a Boston Globe film review, Bob Parr's cubicle office job as a claims adjuster at Insuricare is designed to evoke identification with the "middle-age blues felt by audience members."65 But many reviewers, in choosing to highlight the film's critique of suburban conformity and corporate greed, misread or overlook the film's central message, which does not elicit identification on the part of a mere newspaper journalist or academician: in fact, normal people who wrongly identify with superheroes and devalue their worth are society's worst threat. The film's villain, Buddy aka Syndrome (Jason Lee), begins as Mr. Incredible's "number one fan" but then transgresses the boundary between admiration and emulation. Conflict arises when Buddy asserts that his rocket boot technology enables him "to be super" without being born with superpowers. When rejected by Mr. Incredible, who prefers to "work alone," Buddy turns the pathological injury into villainy with an ideological goal: to provide the technology "so that everyone can be superheroes. . . . And when everyone's super, no one will be." The connections between Buddy and the dominant media's portrayal of international terrorists are multiple: his fixation on demolishing a superpower, his development of hightech weaponry, his narcissistic rage, his ideological purpose, and, what resonates most clearly, his plan to gain power over a fearful public by launching a plane at Manhattan. At one point, Buddy even tells Mr. Incredible, "Now you respect me, because I'm a threat. . . . It turns out there's a lot of people, whole countries, who want respect. And they will pay through the nose to get it." Given the film's resounding judgment of Buddy/Syndrome-he is shredded by a jet turbine while attempting to kidnap the Parr baby-it is difficult to understand how the film's message could be interpreted, as one reviewer suggests, as empowering viewers to recognize the "secret identities we all keep tucked away in our hearts."66 Even if one were to extend an allegorical reading of The Incredibles to argue that all Americans are super, it would not be possible to elide the film's clear validation of a social hierarchy along primordial lines.
Throughout the film, the plight of the super family is closely linked to their superiority. The Incredibles' son Dash (Spencer Fox), frustrated by not being able to demonstrate his speed in school sports competi-tions, acts out in his fourth-grade class by playing pranks on his teacher. Dash wins his father's admiration, but the thought of a graduation ceremony for fourth-graders leads Mr. Incredible to burst out, "It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional . . . " Later in the film, Elastigirl reassures daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), "Your identity is your most valuable possession. . . . Doubt is a luxury we can't afford anymore. You have more power than you realize. Don't think. Don't worry. If the time comes, you'll know what to do. It's in your blood." As A. O. Scott astutely recognizes in a New York Times review, the movie argues, "Some people have powers that others do not, and to deny them the right to exercise those powers, or the privileges that accompany them, is misguided, cruel and socially destructive."67 Being "super" in such a framework does not mean being smart or being virtuous; it simply means possessing innate power. The highly advanced modern society produces mediocrity because its ethics (a belief in social justice and equality) counter the effects of natural selection by nullifying Darwinian fitness as the condition for survival.
If the film indeed offers up "the philosophy of Ayn Rand"-who opposed collectivism, altruism, and the welfare state in favor of egoistic individualism-then it turns to violence as the means to achieve supremacy.68 At no point during The Incredibles' "eardrum-bashing, metal-crunching action sludge" and its self-referential mockery of "monologuing" does the film suggest that reasoning, discussion, or any other form of peaceful resolution might be pursued instead of violence. More in keeping, however, with Disney conventions than Rand's philosophy is the film's conflation of the pursuit of individualism with the protection of the nuclear family. One reviewer cleverly summarizes the film's main theme as "the family that slays together stays together."69 In this way, the white, nuclear, middle-class family becomes the ethical referent for a bombproof collectivity: only a muscular protection of one's own will ensure stability, identity, and agency, not to mention consumerism, heterosexuality, clearly defined gender roles, parenthood, and class chivalry. The result is that the film brings "individuals and their families to the centers of national life, offering the audience an image of itself and of the nation as a knowable community, a wider public world beyond the routines of a narrow existence."70 But the American nation drawn by the film is imaged as one that neither shies away from use of force nor requires any justification for its display of blatant chauvinism when confronted by others.
The Incredibles further contrasts the banality of suburban life with the glamour and excitement of "hero work." The elaborate security compounds of Syndrome's island and the home of fashion designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird) are suped up with the latest high-tech gadgetry, the exhilarating navigation of which bears a close resemblance to video game playing, particularly in the medium of computer-generated animation. And even if the filmmakers' intended to parody gated homes à la Hollywood Hills in their representation of Edna Mode's mansion, the cumulative message makes security and surveillance systems seem not only unthreatening but also quite normal-at least as familiar as, say, the presence of gates and cameras at Walt Disney World. In fact, Syndrome's island has a developed monorail system, which implies a double reference both to the James Bond movie Dr. No (1962) and to Disney World itself. Referentiality seems to come full circle as The Incredibles' island imitates Bond films that likely drew on the model of Disney theme parks in portraying the villain's lair. For instance, Bond's antagonist in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) "inhabits a politically autonomous island that features an amusement park funhouse,"71 an allusion that betrays cultural anxiety about a rigidly controlled theme park environment governed by an autocrat who deliberately toys with defenseless people's perceptions and plays upon their fears. The Bond films were tapping into a darker side of the Disney-designed spaces, also noted by M. Keith Booker, who writes, "The fictional utopias portrayed in the [Disney] parks have a definite dystopian side, as anyone who has ever been bothered by the efficiency with which the parks are able to control and manipulate the vast populations who visit them has noticed."72 Yet, the lush tropical island in The Incredibles works less to expose the dark side of a totally regulated world than to associate it with exotic thrills and gamelike suspense as the superheroes infiltrate Syndrome's compound-a brilliant advertisement for a family adventure at Walt Disney World, if there ever was one. More disturbing is the recognition that as dominant culture in the United States accepts the expansion of a security-military-surveillance-intelligence complex, negotiating such altered environments can be reduced to slapstick comedy (when, for instance, Elastigirl finds herself stretched between two security doors and must fight against a number of armed guards). Not rendered entirely harmless, the island environment also represents the ideal locale for the Incredible children to rise to the challenge of a real danger-their mother tells them that unlike "the bad guys" on "Saturday morning cartoons . . . these guys will kill you"-and to engage the enemy in a display of family loyalty and heroic exceptionalism.
Because "calls to action litter the film," critics such as David Hastings Dunn have suggested that The Incredibles is "an allegorical tale justifying U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush."73 Indeed, the only imaginable way the "slightly fascist" Incredibles could be labeled a "family-friendly film,"74 as one critic claims, is if one assumes the "super" refrain throughout the film is an oblique reference to American superiority and supremacy, such that viewers are included as part of one big national family, a family that has recently demonstrated its mettle on the world stage by waging wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, Mr. Incredible repeatedly argues for an ethic of intervention and pushes aside anyone who poses an obstacle to action. Those individuals who wish to prevent superheroes from acting are fundamentally weak: people who claim their right to noninterference, politicians who cravenly seek public approval, lawyers who succumb to financial pressures, teachers who suppress any challenges to their authority, and employers who expect blind obedience to corporate policy. Interventionism is legitimated when Bob/Mr. Incredible helps an elderly woman with her insurance claim, only to face his irate boss, who indicates that Bob's loyalties must be redirected to one specific purpose: "Help our people! Starting with our stockholders." While the diminutive Mr. Huph (Wallace Shawn) launches into a speech about the necessity for the "little cogs" in the company machine to "mesh together," Mr. Incredible is prevented from saving a man in the street who is being mugged. The film deserves credit for extending a clichéd critique of office work as crushing of individual creativity to a representation of greed and corruption plaguing private corporations charged with providing public services. Unfortunately, the only solution to the social ills of exploitation and dehumanization proffered by the film is to put one's faith in the individuals who have the power to subjugate a clear and unambiguous enemy, in other words, a militaristic version of the old adage "Father knows best." Before we join the throngs of enthusiastic reviewers who laud the film for its exposure of corporate abuses of power, it should be understood that the film is as much invested in showing how postindustrial capitalism-and liberal democracy even more so-elevates the weak manipulators above the authentic strongmen. Instead of presenting a viable solution to the ravages of neoliberal economics on social democracy, The Incredibles offers only one reactionary alternative devised in the realm of fantasy: superheroes will save us as long as we recognize our natural inferiority and give them our unqualified vote of confidence. The huge, hard-bodied Mr. Incredible is ready to rescue America from the city slicker, ladies' man softness of the postwar era. (Admittedly, this superhero for a "postfeminist" generation has an exceedingly competent female sidekick/wife, but one who tellingly possesses the complementary superhero power of extreme malleability).
When considered alongside the blockbuster success of The Incredibles and its overarching message in 2004, it probably should not surprise us that George W. Bush was reelected the same year-in part because his public relations team managed to convince voters that, in an insecure world rife with terrorist threats, they should depend on his uncompromising judgments of good and evil, his impervious cowboylike manner, and his "strong, stable personality." What makes The Incredibles appear to be superheroes is the same quality that apparently made George W. Bush seem presidential: the ability to act free from the paralyzing effects of thoughtful consideration. This orientation toward decisive action in the film becomes an end in itself since, as Jeremy Heilman points out, "There are no scenes in which characters learn to use their power responsibly (except for those that extol conformity), and no moments in which loss of life is felt."75
According to George Soros, the events of 9/11 renewed a "distorted view" of American supremacy that "postulates that because we are stronger than others, we must know better and we must have right on our side."76 If American patriotism reached a fever pitch in the aftermath of 9/11, then The Incredibles clearly tapped into a desire to assert U.S. preeminence on the world stage. Indeed, all the superheroes are American, and the only non-American with any power is a villainous French mime named Bomb Voyage. The overall message of the film, as Hastings Dunn points out, is a perennial neoconservative theme: "America's failure to spread its values can lead to 'blowback' from former clients and protégés."77 The only response offered by the film to a society supposedly weakened by a misguided egalitarianism and the post–Cold War softening of American resolve is to minimize in-stitutional and legal controls while letting unrestrained power achieve its deserved place of domination. For "supers" to dictate the common good once again, The Incredibles concludes, "it's up to the politicians." It is difficult to imagine a more resounding dismissal of democratic processes than this final assertion, suggesting less the need for political accountability and public participation than the need for emboldened leaders whose decisive action should be divorced from the values and constraints imposed by the mediocre masses.
Disney and the Rhetoric of Innocence
The bizarre way in which The Incredibles marries two dangerous social ideals-a Darwinist notion of survival of the fittest and a retrograde identity politics based on biological superiority-can verge on acceptability when it is packaged as a Disney animated film that carries the overarching association with childhood innocence. Audiences are meant to appreciate the fact that if in a fit of rage Mr. Incredible destroys a car, or another human being for that matter, then it is simply a natural expression of his innate "super" identity and not something that requires moral assessment. Or, worse yet, it is something that can only be considered as intrinsically good. By appealing to the view that "might is right," the film fails to open up the possibility that values and ethics are constituted by various social mechanisms and material relations of power. Instead, the tautological rationale suggests that being "right" is simply entailed by being "super," such that the imperative to conquer the enemy who threatens one's way of life remains not only above question but also without any negative consequences (after all, the enemy is not "super" like us). The presumption of innate American benevolence is implied by a reading of The Incredibles as a national allegory. At stake in this concept of America as a superpower is the belief that its leaders and the entire populace are incorruptible and therefore exemplify absolute goodness.78
As we have seen in previous chapters, this notion of a benign, incorruptible nature is nothing new to Disney, whose cultural productions rely on innocence as a rhetorical tool to legitimate dominant relations of power. The Incredibles slightly modifies the concept of childhood innocence by linking it to a citizenry in need of a blameless and absolute paternalistic authority to safeguard its interests. The appeal to innocence often enables animated Disney films to fly below a critical radar. The Incredibles probably does so, despite its authoritarian overtones, because of the historical and cultural context in which it was received. After the tragic events of 9/11, Americans sought an opportunity to envision themselves as proactive agents of history rather than its passive victims and as part of a community with strong leadership that could instill hope for security and redemption in a world that seemed hostile to such desires.
However, when politics is cloaked in the guise of innocence, more is at stake than a simple affirmation of desire. At stake is the way in which Disney films garner the cultural power to influence how people think not simply through their particular mode of representation but also through shaping the knowledge and subjectivities of their viewers in order to valorize some identities while disabling others. Film watching involves more than entertainment; it is an experience that reproduces the basic conditions of learning. To understand Disney films, we need to understand how Disney culture influences public understandings of history, national coherence, and popular values in ways that often conceal injustice, dissent, and the possibility of democratic renewal. While the retro style and clever allusiveness of The Incredibles appeal to what is aesthetically pleasing about America's past, there is no acknowledgment of an underlying totalitarian ethos driving, for instance, U.S. military and imperial expansion during the Cold War. Although weakling institutions and individuals hinder all things "super," Mr. Incredible, as an exemplary cultural icon, enables the reconstruction of American history purged of its seamy side, not least of all through an appeal to nostalgia, stylized consumption, and a reinvigorated patriotism. Moreover, The Incredibles' comic representation of 1950s suburban mediocrity does little to challenge the prevailing discourses of patriarchy, class, and sexism. In fact, the film pays tribute to the consumerism, patriarchy, and family values associated with 1950s sitcoms by suggesting that the failing of such a family orientation lies not in its oppressive control but in how settling into a mundane reality and accepting the onset of complacency sap its inherent magisterial vitality. Taking what it considers best from that era, the film revitalizes conservative ideology for a new generation of video-gaming kids, sexing up the suburban doldrums with designer superhero garb and high-tech stunts that substitute spectacle for critical engagement.
The Incredibles and The Path to 9/11 are films produced at a particular historical moment that share the theme of defending U.S. hegemony and values against the insidious forces of a weak-willed political correctness at home and envious terrorists determined to destroy the American way of life abroad. One interesting outcome of the comparison can be seen in the way the different film genres elicited much different responses from the public despite their thematic similarities. The Path to 9/11's claim to portray historical events objectively in the form of a documentary-style ABC miniseries drew some public resistance, whereas the animated Disney film whose very representation defies objectivity drew virtually none. But the messages of The Incredibles are no less persuasive for being more fantastic.
Clearly, The Incredibles' inscription of biological supremacy represents not only an assertion of dominant family values but an ideological justification for genderand race-based conceptions of U.S. global imperialism and national identity. The Path to 9/11 is less clever in concealing its affirmation of racist and sexist attitudes and its legitimation of violence, but The Incredibles is far more dangerous in that it has been viewed in a generally unfiltered manner by millions of children and adults worldwide. Recognizing the conservative influence of Disney films-a conservatism that manifests with unprecedented boldness in The Incredibles-should not entail avoiding them, suppressing them, or complacently accepting their cultural ascendancy. It should involve making explicit how and what we learn from the very political messages being taught by Disney films, rather than accepting them at face value or dismissing their existence altogether.
Consuming culture even as a form of entertainment is fundamentally a pedagogical experience, and the more educators, parents, students, and other cultural workers become active in their attempts to decode the complex representations being offered by Disney, the more rich and rewarding our experiences with popular culture will become. For this reason, a nuanced criticism of Disney films would not assume that they inherently disempower the audience but would instead view such cultural encounters as opportunities that can empower children and adults by creating the conditions that give people control over the production and types of knowledge and values arising from their experiences as cultural consumers. Being resisted here is the attitude that turns Disney's native utopianism into an excuse to adopt a stance that willfully overlooks the risks incurred by allowing a multinational corporation to escape any critical scrutiny as it reproduces dominant forms of identity, authorizes particular forms of history, and validates "hierarchies of value as universally valid, ecumenical, and effectively consensual."79 Nothing could be more dystopian in its consequences than the abdication of our responsibility to be critical and thoughtful of the ways the U.S. media represents America to itself and others. Disney should not be allowed to dictate, limit, and monopolize the only current and future possibilities imaginable for an increasingly global culture that must be able to imagine a better life-a life built upon the precepts of compassion and justice rather than American-centered images of power, nostalgia, insularity, and world domination.
Oct 10, 2014 | The GuardianBradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pmThe American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.
There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.
General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.
Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".
Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.
The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.
Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.
So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.
IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm
The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.
In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.
I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.
Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pmID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.
Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".
But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.
Mar 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will once again become a nemesis for U.S. shale if the U.S. Congress passes a bill dubbed NOPEC, or No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, Bloomberg reported this week , citing sources present at a meeting between a senior OPEC official and U.S. bankers.
The oil minister of the UAE, Suhail al-Mazrouei, reportedly told lenders at the meeting that if the bill was made into law that made OPEC members liable to U.S. anti-cartel legislation, the group, which is to all intents and purposes indeed a cartel, would break up and every member would boost production to its maximum.
This would be a repeat of what happened in 2013 and 2014, and ultimately led to another oil price crash like the one that saw Brent crude and WTI sink below US$30 a barrel. As a result, a lot of U.S. shale-focused, debt-dependent producers would go under.
Bankers who provide the debt financing that shale producers need are the natural target for opponents of the NOPEC bill. Banks got burned during the 2014 crisis and are still recovering and regaining their trust in the industry. Purse strings are being loosened as WTI climbs closer to US$60 a barrel, but lenders are certainly aware that this is to a large extent the result of OPEC action: the cartel is cutting production again and the effect on prices is becoming increasingly visible.
Related: Pakistan Aims To Become A Natural Gas Hotspot
Indeed, if OPEC starts pumping again at maximum capacity, even without Iran and Venezuela, and with continued outages in Libya, it would pressure prices significantly, especially if Russia joins in. After all, its state oil companies have been itching to start pumping more.
The NOPEC legislation has little chance of becoming a law. It is not the first attempt by U.S. legislators to make OPEC liable for its cartel behavior, and none of the others made it to a law. However, Al-Mazrouei's not too subtle threat highlights the weakest point of U.S. shale: the industry's dependence on borrowed money.
The issue was analyzed in depth by energy expert Philip Verleger in an Oilprice story earlier this month and what the problem boils down to is too much debt. Shale, as Total's chief executive put it in a 2018 interview with Bloomberg, is very capital-intensive. The returns can be appealing if you're drilling and fracking in a sweet spot in the shale patch. They can also be improved by making everything more efficient but ultimately you'd need quite a lot of cash to continue drilling and fracking, despite all the praise about the decline in production costs across shale plays.
The fact that a lot of this cash could come only from banks has been highlighted before: the shale oil and gas industry faced a crisis of investor confidence after the 2014 crash because the only way it knew how to do business was to pump ever-increasing amounts of oil and gas. Shareholder returns were not top of the agenda. This had to change after the crash and most of the smaller players -- those that survived -- have yet to fully recover. Free cash remains a luxury.
Related: The EIA Cuts U.S. Oil Output Projections
The industry is aware of this vulnerability. The American Petroleum Institute has vocally opposed NOPEC, almost as vocally as OPEC itself, and BP's Bob Dudley said this week at CERAWeek in Houston that NOPEC "could have severe unintended consequences if it unleashed litigation around the world."
"Severe unintended consequences" is not a phrase bankers like to hear. Chances are they will join in the opposition to the legislation to keep shale's wheels turning. The industry, meanwhile, might want to consider ways to reduce its reliance on borrowed money, perhaps by capping production at some point before it becomes forced to do it.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
May 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
The New York Times is out with a puff piece ahead of the highly anticipated DOJ Inspector General report expected any day now detailing the FBI's (mis)conduct during the 2016 US election. The Times piece is brought to you by yet more leaks from the FBI, with their account of the operation against the Trump campaign prior to former Director Comey's firing and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
- The FBI's codename for the operation which began 100 days before the US election was Crossfire Hurricane, in reference to a lyric in the Rolling Stones song Jumpin' Jack Flash.
- The FBI sent counterintelligence agents, one of whom was Peter Strzok, to London in the summer of 2016 to meet with Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, to describe his meeting with Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos.
- The meeting with Downer was described as "highly unusual," and "helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation."
- The FBI kept details of the operation secret from most of the DOJ - with "only about five Justice Department officials" aware of the full scope of the case.
Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too "tasty" to resist sharing. "I'm not worried about our side," he wrote. - NYT
It was an assignment so secretive that Peter Strzok giddily texted his side piece about it on an unsecured line. It's also weird for NYT to characterize the meeting as "not yet reported" seeing as how Strzok's texts about it have been out for months. https://t.co/lbvTZksLJr pic.twitter.com/QSA7TedpTM-- Sean Davis (@seanmdav) May 16, 2018
- Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was under investigation, along with Paul Manafort and another advisor "suspected of being a Russian agent himself."
- Christopher Steele's anti-Trump dossier memos didn't reach the FBI until mid-September 2016.
The F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team .
- Strzok texted his mistress Lisa Page with doubts over the case.
"I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections," Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.
- Donald Trump was not under investigation, "but his actions perplexed the agents."
" A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump's advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government's disruptive efforts. "
"It's like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup," Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.
Mar 10, 2019 | patriots4truth.orgBruce Ohr. (Aug. 28, 2018) . TRANSCRIPT of Interview before an Executive Session jointly between the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, p. 184. U.S. Congress.
Bruce Ohr speaking about Nellie Ohr, TRANSCRIPT p. 184
One month before the 2016 Nov. election, Nellie Ohr moved from the DOJ and FusionGPS that was paid by the DNC and Clinton Foundation via hers and Obama's law firm Perkins Coie LLP to created the "Steele dossier". Then she went to work for Clinton Foundation donor/Clinton Speech sponsor VeriSign, Inc.
Mar 13, 2019 | patriots4truth.org
When we saw these tweets from George Papadopoulos, we thought we could help him out with some answers. If you can get them to George, please do.
Has congress figured out why Peter Strzok's former boss, Bill Priestap, was in London (of all places) the days before Alexander Downer was sent to spy on me and lie about our meeting? If not, time to get a move on it.
-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 12, 2019
Britain is in a political crisis. To push Brexit hard, declassifying the spy role of the David Cameron government on Trump and his team is paramount. Congress can not overlook the vital importance of London as the center of the coup attempt.
-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 12, 2019
What was I REALLY under surveillance for then? Explosive https://t.co/AVGlfwi5ld
-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 13, 2019
Our reply to George:
Bill Priestap was the Director of the FBI national security division and would have gone to the London CIA "office" for a meeting. There he would have met with Stefan Halper and Gina Haspel who was, at the time, head of the London CIA office and would have been in charge of the connections with Robert Hannigan (British GCHQ) and John Brennan who planned and executed the wiretapping of Trump Team at Trump Towers. Haspel's communications, when released, will reveal the full scope of the CIA led international attack on the 2016 presidential election.Gina Haspel would have known about the coup. If she has not reported all of this to the President Trump, she is complicit in the coup attempt and is guilty of HIGH TREASON.
Keep in mind, Peter Strzok was a CIA Regional Director who John Brennan appointed as the head of Crossfire Hurricane, the CIA counter-intelligence operation to "take out" candidate Trump – later it became the Mueller Witch Hunt after 13 different iterations spanning:
- the CIA (John Brennan),
- FBI (James Comey, Andrew McCabe, James Baker, etc.),
- DoJ (Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, Andrew Weisseman),
- State Department (Victoria Nuland, Jonathon Winer, Hilary Clinton, John Kerry),
- ODNS (James Clapper),
- NSA (Admiral Mike Rogers)
- and the White House senior staff (directly to Obama, Biden, Jarret, Rice, Powers, etc.).
Bill Preistap was the supervisor for Strzok and Lisa Page who also worked for John Carlin in the Department of Justice National Security Division under Sally Yates. Then Strozk and Page continued their CIA operation as they were appointed to Mueller's Special Council Investigation.
Gina Haspel worked directly for the instigator of the Crossfire Hurricane operation – John Brennan. It would have been impossible for Haspel not to have known about the British spying from London since it was reported in UK newspaper on a weekly basis. She certainly was controlling Stefan Halper , Josef Mifsud , Stephan Roh , Alexander Downer, Andrew Wood, John McCain, Mark Warner, Adam Schiff and the other conspirators.
All of these facts are well known and reported in open source documents. As the 53 testimonies of the House Intelligence Committee are released, we will see the house of cards all fall down and Gina Haspel will go with it.
Keep in mind Haspel was Michael Gaeta's handler. Gaeta handled the frame-up of George Papadopoulos.
Mar 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
March 15, 2019 Trump's Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence by Brian Cloughley There is a saying in the worlds of politics and business that most people who come to prominence are those who in defeat bear malice and in victory seek revenge. It is therefore unsurprising that President Donald Trump displays both characteristics in international as well as domestic affairs, although his targets vary erratically between friend and foe. His near-psychotic concentration on achieving the destruction of Iran is understandably malicious and revengeful, given the nature of the man, but his latest exhibitions of would-be superiority involve allies, which even for Trump is dramatically misguided.
The Trumpian United States has few friends, mainly because in his two years in the White House Trump has gone out of his way to belittle, demean and insult long-standing partners and antagonise those who may have been considering seeking closer ties with Washington.
His announcement last December that "America is respected again" was wide of the mark, because, unfortunately, America has become a global joke -- but a dangerous joke whose president may be a raving booby, but is still powerful and appears intent on upsetting what little tranquillity remains in this turmoil-stricken world.
One recent diatribe was unprecedented in length, vulgarity and volatility. When he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 he set a new low for absurdity in what the commentator Stephen Colbert described as being an "epically weird" harangue which The Atlantic said was the longest presidential oration in history . Moving on from this bizarre performance, Trump turned to international affairs and, as Politico reported on March 5, "kicked India and Turkey out of a decades-old US program that allows developing countries to export thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties," in a scheme known as the Generalized System of Preferences or GSP.
The reasons given by the US Trade Representative for Trump's orders were that India had failed "to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors" while "Turkey's termination from the GSP follows a finding that it is sufficiently economically developed and should no longer benefit from preferential market access to the United States market."
In the case of India, Washington has been trying for years to wean India away from its defence and trade association with Russia, concurrent with encouraging it to join the Pentagon in confronting China. The US Defence Department stated in September 2018 that "A decade ago, US arms sales to India amounted to virtually nothing. Today, the United States is the second-largest arms supplier to India, and US officials say they hope to increase that business," and the US focus on China has resulted in stronger military ties, with a joint statement last December indicating the intention "to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between India and the US."
Washington has been intensifying its confrontation with China in the South China sea, where in addition to overflights by nuclear-capable bombers it conducts what are absurdly called "freedom of navigation patrols" in waters where there has never been a single case of interference with any of the vast number of merchant ships that pass though every year. The rationale is given as support for the Convention on the Law of the Sea which, most ironically, Washington refuses to ratify . Nevertheless, the US has been trying hard to persuade the Indian government that it should contribute warships to join US patrols in the South China Sea, which, so far, India has refused to do . So it might be thought that the Trump Administration would do its best to encourage India to buy more US weapons and to cooperate in its anti-China antics (however unwise that would be) by keeping their relationship friction-free. But this isn't the way Trump works.
Washington's unfortunate timing of the announcement that it will penalise India in trade arrangements extends to India's domestic circumstances, because there are national elections due in April, and the party of Prime Minister Modi (an arch-nationalist and no mean war-drummer himself) was already having difficulties, and is looking shakier day-by-day. Indeed the whole bizarre affair was well summed-up by Professor Harsh Pant of King's College London when he said "the discourse in this country has been that America needs India to balance China, and the question will be: Why is America doing this to India?"
But there doesn't seem to be a sensible answer to that question.
The same holds for Washington's treatment of NATO ally Turkey, whose President said on February 26 that Ankara might buy the US Patriot missile system "if you [the US] provide us good conditions." But it's blindingly obvious that the US declaration that Turkey "should no longer benefit from preferential market access to the United States market" is not going to make President Erdoğan keen on buying Patriot missiles -- or anything else stamped "made in the USA."
There is a Russia factor in the US-Turkey relationship, because Ankara has placed an order for world-beating S-400 surface-to-air missiles, which has riled Washington, as has India's forthcoming acquisition of the same system. The Military-Industrial Establishment in Washington made its feelings known on March 8, when chief Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers told reporters that "If Turkey takes the S-400, there would be grave consequences in terms of our relationship, military relationship with them." But this doesn't seem to worry President Erdoğan, who had already made it clear that "The S-400 is a done deal, there can be no turning back. We have reached an agreement with the Russians. We will move toward a joint production. Perhaps after the S-400, we will go for the S-500."
The signals are that Turkey is moving further away from the US and is possibly considering leaving NATO. After all, the US has torn up favourable trade arrangements, and NATO has done nothing for Turkey which is working with Russia in many spheres. The most recent example of regional military cooperation was on March 6-8 when four Turkish and Russian vessels conducted a minor exercise in the Black Sea, aimed at demonstrating and sharing techniques involved in mine-avoidance.
Trust is fostered by cooperation based on preparedness to understand differing viewpoints. Even more importantly, it is stimulated by adopting pragmatic policies aimed at establishing confidence, rather than by ceaselessly confronting and confounding others. For so long as Trump considers that "Make America Great Again" depends on confrontation and malevolence then his country will achieve neither trust nor cooperation world-wide. And when he casts allies aside with sneering condescension, taking revenge for what he considers to be unwarranted favouritism in the past, he is destroying America's path to Greatness.
A version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on March 12.
Mar 17, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Someone astute once said "history repeats itself--the first as tragedy and then as farce." Oh, yes, it was Karl Marx in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Quite relevant to the subject.
I have followed the beginning of the 2020 presidential campaign undecided whether to cry or laugh. That is to say, I am undecided whether to view the unfolding season as a tragic or farcical circumstance.
Of particular agony is the back-and-forth between President Trump and his sycophants on the one side and the nominal Democratic wunderkind AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for those living on another planet) on the other. Trumpers label her as a dangerous socialist and vow to defend America against a resurgence of socialism. AOC returns the volley by declaring that she is, indeed a socialist, and the socialistic redistribution of billionaire fortune is what's best for the United States. Mainstream Democrats are terrified that AOC and her Millennial fans will hijack the 2020 primary campaign and once again allow the Democrats to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.
Between AOC and The Donald, I doubt that a single page of the writings of Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, or Mao Zedong have been read and digested.
There were serious revolutions in the 19th and early 20th century. Marx's writings on class warfare, the theory of surplus value and related topics were once seriously studied and gave some foundation to serious revolutionary thinkers. There were ferocious debates, particularly in Bolshevik Soviet Union post-1917 that led to firing squads and other serious consequences. Socialism in one country of Stalin versus permanent revolution of Trotsky was a core issue in shaping world revolution in the 1930s. The Popular Front Against Fascism was Stalin's approach to align with the United States and others to defeat the Nazis. 20 million Russians and 23 million Chinese died in the fight. 16 million Americans were sent to battle in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. But the moment the war ended, the new Cold War started. It was a struggle between Soviet Communism and Western Democracy, led by the United States. It had real consequences. It led to the rise of what President Eisenhower warned of as the "military-industrial complex" in his Farewell Address.
Relative to these genuine battles over ideas, I find the current debate worse than farce. If the best that the two major parties can come up with in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections is a debate over "socialism for dummies," then the real losers will be the American people.
I hope this thread sparks some response. I am touching on a big subject in a few words. Is there a genuine emergence of Millennial Socialism? AOC's self-proclaimed Green New Deal has nothing to do with FDR's actions in 1933, which were aimed, in part, at preparing the United States for the next war that was already looming in Europe. Reichstag Fire was February 27,1933.
FDR was inaugurated March 4, 1933--not even a week later. Serious times demand serious ideas and rich debate. Not kindergarten name calling from the peanut gallery.
Mark Logan -> Pat Lang , a day agoIt's IMO merely an aspiration document. I totally agree it's unrealistic and potentially catastrophic if suddenly implemented in the style of, say, one of Mao's 5-year plans. Yet it's not completely without merit. The world is rapidly industrializing and the population booming. At some point fossil fuels will become precious. There really are "green jobs", many in infrastructure and that means some government involvement. Jobs jobs jobs.Fred -> Mark Logan , 10 hours ago
We have too large a percentage of our capital just sloshing back and forth on Wall Street casino tables IMO.You mean when Senator Malarkey introduced that legislation he did not intend it to become the law of the land? That says a great deal about the Senator. "aspiration" is just the twist the Democratic party is using to continue to control the media narrative.Mark Logan -> Fred , 7 hours ago
"We have too large a percentage of our capital... on Wall Street..."
How did it become "our capital" and why should the Federal government be telling me what I can do with my own money?Because "A hungry mon is an angry mon." The US model is one of government saving capitalism both from and for the capitalists.TTG -> Mark Logan , a day ago
I understand some subscribe to the Ayn Rand notions of laissez faire capitalism, but I know of no industrialized place on the world where that has worked out well. We went through a Gilded Age ourselves, the result was not a happy one for most workers so we broke up the trusts and redistributed the wealth. Worked out pretty well, and it was done by the very generation being touted as heroes of capitalism now. Ike had a 90% tax rate on individual incomes above a certain level, and he hardly did that alone. I suspect Ike wanted to make damn sure the Daddy Warbucks of his previous war did not make him have to route hungry vets protesting for their pay out of Washington's streets again, but I be guessing.
I hear a lot about "supply side" theories. That implies a false dichotomy, one must be either a supply sider or something else. I'm a "both sider". Can't have a consumer economy without consumers and so consumers must have money to spend. Can't have jobs without some capital. I view assuming that it happens naturally in all cases as blind faith.
If I had to justify this constitutionally, I'd put it under "provide for the general welfare' and "preserve domestic tranquility'.The GND as introduced by AOC is indeed an aspirational document. It is a resolution rather than a bill destined to become law. Compared to some of the GNDs put out by other groups over the last few years, AOC's resolution is almost moderate. Almost, I still think going to net zero carbon emissions in 10 years is a tall order.Pat Lang Mod -> TTG , 5 hours ago
We are subsidizing a lot of industries at the state and federal level. That in itself smacks of socialist policies. If those subsidies were redirected to green industries we would be well on the way to meeting a lot of the GND goals. Even without those subsidies, the auto industry seems intent on moving to EP fleets at the expense of their fossil fuel fleets. And coal as a fuel is going the way of the dodo bird.It aspires to what? The kind of pastoral society that the South was before the Yankees destroyed it?
Mar 17, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
O Society , March 16, 2019 at 7:55 am
The Truth is Out There. I Want to Believe!
Same old scams, different packaging. That's New & Improved for you.
Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:35 pm
I could not suffer through reading the whole article. This is mainly because I have watched the news daily about Mueller's Investigation and I sincerely believe that Mueller is Champion of the Democrats who are trying to depose President Donald Trump at any cost.
For what Mueller found any decent lawyer with a Degree and a few years of experience could have found what Mueller found for far far less money. Mueller only found common crimes AND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PUTIN!
The Mueller Investigation should be given to an honest broker to review, and Mueller should be paid only what it would cost to produce the commonplace crimes Mueller, The Democrats, and CNN has tried to convince the people that indeed Trump COLLUDED with RUSSIA. Mueller is, a BIG NOTHING BURGER and THE DEMOCRATS AND CNN ARE MUELLER'S SINGING CANARYS! Mueller should be jailed.
Bogdan Miller , March 15, 2019 at 11:04 am
This article explains why the Mueller Report is already highly suspect. For another thing, we know that since before 2016, Democrats have been studying Russian Internet and hacking tactics, and posing as Russian Bots/Trolls on Facebook and other media outlets, all in an effort to harm President Trump.
It appears the FBI, CIA, and NSA have great difficulty in differentiating between Russians and Democrats posing as Russians.
B.J.M. Former Intelligence Analyst and Humint Collector
vinnieoh , March 15, 2019 at 8:17 am
Moving on: the US House yesterday voted UNANIMOUSLY (remember that word, so foreign these days to US governance?) to "urge" the new AG to release the complete Mueller report.
A non-binding resolution, but you would think that the Democrats can't see the diesel locomotive bearing down on their clown car, about to smash it to pieces. The new AG in turn says he will summarize the report and that is what we will see, not the entire report. And taxation without representation takes a new twist.
... ... ...
Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm
What else would you expect from two Political Parties who are really branches of the ONE Party which Represents DEEP STATE".
DWS , March 15, 2019 at 5:58 am
Maybe the VIPS should look into the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who had the security clearance required to access the DNC servers, and who was murdered in the same week as the emails were taken. In particular, they should ask why the police were told to stand down and close the murder case without further investigation.
Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:47 pm
EXACTLY! But, Deep State will not allow that. And, it would ruin the USA' plan to continue to invade more sovereign countries and steal their resources such as oil and Minerals. The people of the USA must be Ostriches or are so terrified that they accept anything their Criminal Governments tell them.
Eventually, the chickens will come home to roost and perhaps the USA voters will ROAST when the crimes of the USA sink the whole country. It is time for a few Brave Men and Women to find their backbones and throw out the warmongers and their leading Oligarchs!
KiwiAntz , March 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm
What a brilliant article, so logical, methodical & a forensic, scientific breakdown of the phony Russiagate project? And there's no doubt, this was a co-ordinated, determined Intelligence project to reverse the results of the 2016 Election by initiating a soft coup or Regime change op on a elected Leader, a very American Coup, something the American Intelligence Agencies specialise in, everywhere else, on a Global scale, too get Trump impeached & removed from the Whitehouse?
If you can't get him out via a Election, try & try again, like Maduro in Venezuela, to forcibly remove the targeted person by setting him up with fake, false accusations & fabricated evidence? How very predictable & how very American of Mueller & the Democratic Party. Absolute American Corruption, corrupts absolutely?
Brian Murphy , March 15, 2019 at 10:33 am
Right. Since its purpose is to destroy Trump politically, the investigation should go on as long as Trump is in office. Alternatively, if at this point Trump has completely sold out, that would be another reason to stop the investigation.
If the investigation wraps up and finds nothing, that means Trump has already completely sold out. If the investigation continues, it means someone important still thinks Trump retains some vestige of his balls.
DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:19 pm
By last June or July the Mueller investigation has resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes, and there was a handful of convictions to date. The report did not support the Clinton wing's anti-Russian allegations about the 2016 election, and was largely brushed aside by media. Mueller was then reportedly sent back in to "find something." presumably to support the anti-Russian claims.
mike k , March 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm
From the beginning of the Russia did it story, right after Trump's electoral victory, it was apparent that this was a fraud. The democratic party however has locked onto this preposterous story, and they will go to their graves denying this was a scam to deny their presidential defeat, and somehow reverse the result of Trump's election. My sincere hope is that this blatant lie will be an albatross around the party's neck, that will carry them down into oblivion. They have betrayed those of us who supported them for so many years. They are in many ways now worse than the republican scum they seek to replace.
DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm
Trump is almost certain to be re-elected in 2020, and we'll go through this all over again.
Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm
The very fact that the FBI never had access to the servers and took the word of a private company that had a history of being anti-Russian is enough to throw the entire ruse out.
LJ , March 14, 2019 at 2:39 pm
Agreed!!!! and don't forget the FBI/Comey gave Hillary and her Campaign a head's up before they moved to seize the evidence. . So too, Comey said he stopped the Investigation , thereby rendering judgement of innocence, even though by his own words 'gross negligence' had a occurred (which is normally considered grounds for prosecution). In doing so he exceeded the FBI's investigative mandate. He rationalized that decision was appropriate because of the appearance of impropriety that resulted from Attorney General Lynch having a private meeting on a plane on a runway with Bill and Hillary . Where was the logic in that. Who called the meeting? All were Lawyers who had served as President, Senator, Attorney General and knew that the meeting was absolutely inappropriate. . Comey should be prosecuted if they want to prosecute anyone else because of this CRAP. PS Trump is an idiot. Uhinfortunately he is just a symptom of the disease at this point. Look at the cover of Rolling Stone magazine , carry a barf bag.
Jane Christ , March 14, 2019 at 6:51 pm
Exactly. This throws doubt on the ability of the FBI to work independently. They are working for those who want to cover -up the Hillary mess . She evidently has sufficient funds to pay them off. I am disgusted with the level of corruption.
hetro , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am
Nancy Pelosi's announcement two days ago that the Democrats will not seek impeachment for Trump suggests the emptiness of the Mueller investigation on the specific "collusion" issue. If there were something hot and lingering and about to emerge, this decision is highly unlikely, especially with the reasoning she gave at "so as not to divide the American people." Dividing the people hasn't been of much concern throughout this bogus witch hunt on Trump, which has added to his incompetence in leavening a growing hysteria and confusion in this country. If there is something, anything at all, in the Mueller report to support the collusion theory, Pelosi would I'm sure gleefully trot it out to get a lesser candidate like Pence as opposition for 2020.
James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:17 am
We know and Assange has confirmed Seth Rich, assassinated in D.C. for his deed, downloaded the emails and most likely passed them on to former British ambassador Craig Murray in a D.C. park for transport to Wikileaks.
We must also honor Shawn Lucas assassinated for serving DNC with a litigation notice exposing the DNC conspiracy against Sanders.
hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm
Where has Assange confirmed this? Assange's long-standing position is NOT to reveal his sources. I believe he has continued to honor this position.
Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:15 am
It has merely been insinuated by the offering of a reward for info on Seth's murder. In one breath he says wikileaks will never divulge a source, and in the next he offers a $20k reward saying that sources take tremendous risk. Doesn't take much of a logical leap to connect A to B.
DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm
Are you aware that Democrats split apart their 0wn voting base in the 1990s, middle class vs. poor? The Obama years merely confirmed that this split is permanent. This is particularly relevant for Democrats, as their voting base had long consisted of the poor and middle class, for the common good. Ignoring this deep split hasn't made it go away.
hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:24 pm
Even more important is how the Democrats have sold out to an Establishment view favoring neocon theory, since at least Bill Clinton. Pelosi's recent behavior with Ilhan Omar confirms this and the split you're talking about. My point is it is distinctly odd that Pelosi is discouraging impeachment on "dividing the Party" (already divided, of course, as you say), whereas the Russia-gate fantasy was so hot not that long ago. Again it points to a cynical opportunism and manipulation of the electorate. Both parties are a sad excuse to represent ordinary people's interests.
Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:21 am
She said "dividing the country", not the party. I think she may have concerns over Trump's heavily armed base. That said, the statement may have been a ruse. There are plenty of Republicans that would cross the line in favor of impeachment with the right "conclusions" by Mueller. Pelosi may be setting up for a "bombshell" conclusion by Mueller. One must never forget that we are watching theater, and that Trump was a "mistake" to be controlled or eliminated.
Cindy Haddix , March 14, 2019 at 8:04 am
Mueller should be ashamed that he has made President Trump his main concern!! If all this investigation would stop he could save America millions!!! He needs to quit this witch-hunt and worry about things that really need to be handled!!! If the democrats and Trump haters would stop pushing senseless lies hopefully this would stop ? It's so disgusting that his democrat friend was never really investigated ? stop the witch-hunt and move forward!!!!
torture this , March 14, 2019 at 7:29 am
According to this letter, mistakes might have been made on Rachel Maddow's show. I can't wait to read how she responds. I'd watch her show, myself except that it has the same effect on me as ipecac.
Zhu , March 14, 2019 at 3:37 am
People will cling to "Putin made Trump President!!!" much as many cling "Obama's a Kenyan Muslim! Not a real American!!!". Both nut theories are emotionally satisfying, no matter what the historical facts are. Many Americans just can't admit their mistakes and blaming a scapegoat is a way out.
O Society , March 14, 2019 at 2:03 am
Thank you VIPS for organizing this legit dissent consisting of experts in the field of intelligence and computer forensics.
This so-called "Russiagate" narrative is an illustration of our "freedom of the press" failure in the US due to groupthink and self censorship. He who pays the piper is apt to call the tune.
It is astounding how little skepticism and scientifically-informed reasoning goes on in our media. These folks show themselves to be native advertising rather than authentic journalists at every turn.
DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm
But it has been Democrats and the media that market to middle class Dems, who persist in trying to sell the Russian Tale. They excel at ignoring the evidence that utterly contradicts their claims.
O Society , March 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm
Oh, we're well beyond your "Blame the middle class Dems" stage.
The WINNING!!! team sports bullshit drowns the entire country now the latrine's sprung a leak. People pretend to live in bubbles made of blue or red quite like the Three Little Pigs, isn't it? Except instead of a house made of bricks saving the day for the littlepiggies, what we've got here is a purple puddle of piss.
Everyone's more than glad to project all our problems on "THEM" though, aren't we?
Meanwhile, the White House smells like a urinal not washed since the 1950s and simpletons still get their rocks off arguing about whether Mickey Mouse can beat up Ronald McDonald.
T'would be comic except what's so tragic is the desperate need Americans have to believe, oh just believe! in something. Never mind the sound of the jackhammer on your skull dear, there's an app for that or is it a pill?
I don't know, don't ask me, I'm busy watching TV. Have a cheeto.
Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm
Very good analysis clearly stated, especially adding the FAT timestamps to the transmission speeds.
Minor corrections: "The emails were copied from the network" should be "from the much faster local network" because this is to Contradict the notion that they were copied over the internet network, which most readers will equate with "network." Also "reportedin" should be "reported in."
Michael , March 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm
It is likely that New Knowledge was actually "the Russians", possibly working in concert with Crowdstrike. Once an intelligence agency gets away with something like pretending to be Russian hackers and bots, they tend to re-use their model; it is too tempting to discard an effective model after a one-off accomplishment. New Knowledge was caught interfering/ determining the outcome in the Alabama Senate race on the side of Democrat Doug Jones, and claimed they were merely trying to mimic Russian methods to see if they worked (they did; not sure of their punishment?). Occam's razor would suggest that New Knowledge would be competent to mimic/ pretend to be "Russians" after the fact of wikileaks' publication of emails. New Knowledge has employees from the NSA and State department sympathetic to/ working with(?) Hillary, and were the "outside" agency hired to evaluate and report on the "Russian" hacking of the DNC emails/ servers.
DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm
Mueller released report last summer, which resulted in (the last I checked) roughly 150 indictments, a handful of convictions to date, all for perjury/financial (not political) crimes. This wasn't kept secret. It simply wasn't what Democrats wanted to hear, so although it was mentioned in some lib media (which overwhelmingly supported neoliberal Hillary Clinton), it was essentially swept under the carpet.
Billy , March 13, 2019 at 11:11 pm
Barr, Sessions, every congressmen all the corporate MSM war profiteer mouth pieces. They all know that "Russia hacked the DNC" and "Russia meddled" is fabricated garbage. They don't care, because their chosen war beast corporate candidate couldn't beat Donald goofball Trump. So it has to be shown that the war beast only lost because of nefarious reasons. Because they're gonna run another war beast cut from the same cloth as Hillary in 2020.
Realist , March 14, 2019 at 3:22 am
You betcha. Moreover, who but the Russians do these idiots have left to blame? Everybody else is now off limits due to political correctness. Sigh Those Catholics, Jews, "ethnics" and sundry "deviants" used to be such reliable scapegoats, to say nothing of the "undeveloped" world. As Clapper "authoritatively" says, only this vile lineage still carries the genes for the most extremes of human perfidy. Squirrels in your attic? It must be the damned Russkies! The bastards impudently tried to copy our democracy, economic system and free press and only besmirched those institutions, ruining all of Hillary's glorious plans for a worldwide benevolent dictatorship. All this might be humorous if it weren't so funny.
And those Chinese better not get to thinking they are somehow our equals just because all their trillions invested in U.S. Treasury bonds have paid for all our wars of choice and MIC boondoggles since before the turn of the century. Unless they start delivering Trump some "free stuff" the big man is gonna cut off their water. No more affordable manufactured goods for the American public! So there!
As to the article: impeccable research and analysis by the VIPS crew yet again. They've proven to me that, to a near certainty, the Easter Bunny is not likely to exist. Mueller won't read it. Clapper will still prance around a free man, as will Brennan. The Democrats won't care, that is until November of 2020. And Hillary will continue to skate, unhindered in larding up the Clinton Foundation to purposes one can only imagine.
Joe Tedesky , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm
I have posted this article 'the Russia they Lost' before and from time to time but once again it seems appropriate to add this link to expound upon for what you've been saying. It's an article written by a Russian who in they're youth growing up in the USSR dreamed of living the American lifestyle if Russia were to ever ditch communism. But . Starting with Kosovo this Russian's youthful dream turned nightmarishly ugly and, as time went by with more and yet even more USA aggression this Russian author loss his admiration and desire for all things American to be proudly envied. This is a story where USA hard power destroyed any hope of American soft power for world unity. But hey that unity business was never part of the plan anyway.
Realist , March 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm
right you are, joe. if america was smart rather than arrogant, it would have cooperated with china and russia to see the belt and road initiative succeed by perhaps building a bridge or tunnel from siberia to alaska, and by building its own fleet of icebreakers to open up its part of the northwest passage. but no, it only wants to sabotage what others propose. that's not being a leader, it's being a dick.
i'm gonna have to go on the disabled list here until the sudden neurological problem with my right hand clears up–it's like paralysed. too difficult to do this one-handed using hunt and peck. at least the problem was not in the old bean, according to the scans. carry on, sir.
Brian James , March 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm
Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a 'Crime Victim' by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses: https://youtu.be/ixWMorWAC7c
DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:55 pm
Trump is a willing player in this game. The anti-Russian Crusade was, quite simply, a stunningly reckless, short-sighted effort to overturn the 2016 election, removing Trump to install Hillary Clinton in office. Trump and the Republicans continue to win by default, as Democrats only drive more voters away.
Howard , March 13, 2019 at 4:36 pm
Thank you Ray McGovern and the Other 17 VIPS C0-Signers of your National Security Essay for Truth. Along with Craig Murray and Seymour Hirsch, former Sam Adams Award winners for "shining light into dark places", you are national resources for objectivity in critical survival information matters for our country. It is more than a pity that our mainstream media are so beholden to their corporate task masters that they cannot depart from the company line for fear of losing their livelihoods, and in the process we risk losing life on the planet because of unconstrained nuclear war on the part of the two main adversaries facing off in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Let me speak plainly. THEY SHOULD BE TALKING TO YOU AND NOT THE VESTED INTERESTS' MOUTHPIECES. Thank you for your continued leadership!
James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:28 am
Roger Ailes founder of FOX news died, "falling down stairs" within a week of FOX news exposing to the world that the assassinated Seth Rich downloaded the DNC emails.
DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 6:03 pm
Google the Mueller investigation report from last June or July. When it was released, the public response was like a deflated balloon. It did not support the "Russian collusion" allegations -- the only thing Democrats still had left to sell. The report resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes (not political), and a handful of convictions to date -- none of which had anything to do with the election results.
Hank , March 13, 2019 at 6:19 pm
Much ado about nothing. All the talk and chatter and media airplay about "Russian meddling" in the 2016 election only tells me that these liars think the American public is that stupid. They are probably right, but the REAL reason that Hillary lost is because there ARE enough informed people now in this nation who are quite aware of the Clinton's sordid history where scandals seem to follow every where they go, but indictments and/or investigations don't. There IS an internet nowadays with lots of FACTUAL DOCUMENTED information. That's a lot more than I can say about the mainstream corporate-controlled media!
I know this won't ever happen, but an HONEST investigation into the Democratic Party and their actions during the 2016 election would make ANY collusion with ANY nation look like a mole hill next to a mountain! One of the problems with living in this nation is if you are truly informed and make an effort 24/7 to be that way by doing your own research, you more-than-likely can be considered an "island in a sea of ignorance".
Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:13 pm
We know that the FBI never had access to the servers and a private company was allowed to handle the evidence. Wasnt it a crime scene? The evidence was tampered with And we will never know what was on the servers.
Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm
As a complement to this excellent analysis, I would like to make 2 further points:
The Mueller indictment of Russian Intelligence for hacking the DNC and transferring their booty to Wikileaks is absurd on its face for this reason: Assange announced on June 12th the impending release of Hillary-related emails. Yet the indictment claims that Guccifer 2.0 did not succeed in transferring the DNC emails to Wikileaks until the time period of July 14-18th – after which they were released online on July 22nd. Are we to suppose that Assange, a publisher of impeccable integrity, publicly announced the publication of emails he had not yet seen, and which he was obtaining from a source of murky provenance? And are we further to suppose that Wikileaks could have processed 20K emails and 20K attachments to insure their genuineness in a period of only several days? As you will recall, Wikileaks subsequently took a number of weeks to process the Podesta emails they released in October.
And another peculiarity merits attention. Assange did not state on June 12th that he was releasing DNC emails – and yet Crowdstrike and the Guccifer 2.0 personna evidently knew that this was in store. A likely resolution of this conundrum is that US intelligence had been monitoring all communications to Wikileaks, and had informed the DNC that their hacked emails had been offered to Wikileaks. A further reasonable prospect is that US intelligence subsequently unmasked the leaker to the DNC; as Assange has strongly hinted, this likely was Seth Rich. This could explain Rich's subsequent murder, as Rich would have been in a position to unmask the Guccifer 2.0 hoax and the entire Russian hacking narrative.
Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Curious that Assange has Not explicitly stated that the leaker was Seth Rich, if it was, as this would take pressure from himself and incriminate the DNC in the murder of Rich. Perhaps he doesn't know, and has the honor not to take the opportunity, or perhaps he knows that it was not Rich.
James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:40 am
View the Dutch TV interview with Asssange and there is another interview available on youtube in which Assange DOES subtly confirmed it was Seth Rich.
Assange posted a $10,000 reward for Seth Rich's murders capture.
Abby , March 13, 2019 at 10:11 pm
Another mistaken issue with the "Russia hacked the DNC computers on Trump's command" is that he never asked Russia to do that. His words were, "Russia if you 'find' Hillary's missing emails let us know." He said that after she advised congress that she wouldn't be turning in all of the emails they asked for because she deleted 30,000 of them and said that they were personal.
But if Mueller or the FBI wants to look at all of them they can find them at the NYC FBI office because they are on Weiner's laptop. Why? Because Hillary's aid Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife sent them to it. Just another security risk that Hillary had because of her private email server. This is why Comey had to tell congress that more of them had been found 11 days before the election. If Comey hadn't done that then the FBI would have.
But did Comey or McCabe look at her emails there to see if any of them were classified? No they did not do that. And today we find out that Lisa Page told congress that it was Obama's decision not to charge Hillary for being grossly negligent on using her private email server. This has been known by congress for many months and now we know that the fix was always in for her to get off.
robert e williamson jr , March 13, 2019 at 3:26 pm
I want to thank you folks at VIPS. Like I have been saying for years now the relationship between CIA, NSA and DOJ is an incestuous one at best. A perverse corrupted bond to control the masses. A large group of religious fanatics who want things "ONE WAY". They are the facilitators for the rogue government known as the "DEEP STATE"!
Just ask billy barr.
More truth is a very good thing. I believe DOJ is supporting the intelligence community because of blackmail. They can't come clean because they all risk doing lots of time if a new judicial mechanism replaces them. We are in big trouble here.
Apparently the rule of law is not!
You folks that keep claiming we live in the post truth era! Get off me. Demand the truth and nothing else. Best be getting ready for the fight of your lives. The truth is you have to look yourself in the mirror every morning, deny that truth. The claim you are living in the post truth era is an admission your life is a lie. Now grab a hold of yourself pick a dogdamned side and stand for something,.
Thank You VIPS!
Joe Tedesky , March 13, 2019 at 2:58 pm
Hats off to the VIP's who have investigated this Russian hacking that wasn't a hacking for without them what would we news junkies have otherwise to lift open the hood of Mueller's never ending Russia-gate investigation. Although the one thing this Russia-gate nonsense has accomplished is it has destroyed with our freedom of speech when it comes to how we citizens gather our news. Much like everything else that has been done during these post 9/11 years of continual wars our civil rights have been marginalized down to zero or, a bit above if that's even still an argument to be made for the sake of numbers.
Watching the Manafort sentencing is quite interesting for the fact that Manafort didn't conclude in as much as he played fast and loose with his income. In fact maybe Manafort's case should have been prosecuted by the State Department or, how about the IRS? Also wouldn't it be worth investigating other Geopolitical Rain Makers like Manafort for similar crimes of financial wrongdoing? I mean is it possible Manafort is or was the only one of his type to do such dishonest things? In any case Manafort wasn't charged with concluding with any Russians in regard to the 2016 presidential election and, with that we all fall down.
I guess the best thing (not) that came out of this Russia-gate silliness is Rachel Maddow's tv ratings zoomed upwards. But I hate to tell you that the only ones buying what Ms Maddow is selling are the died in the wool Hillary supporters along with the chicken-hawks who rally to the MIC lobby for more war. It's all a game and yet there are many of us who just don't wish to play it but still we must because no one will listen to the sanity that gets ignored keep up the good work VIP's some of us are listening.
Andrew Thomas , March 13, 2019 at 12:42 pm
The article did not mention something called to my attention for the first time by one of the outstanding members of your commentariat just a couple of days ago- that Ambassador Murray stayed publicly, over two years ago, that he had been given the thumb drive by a go-between in D.C. and had somehow gotten it to Wikileaks. And, that he has NEVER BEEN INTERVIEWED by Mueller &Company. I was blown away by this, and found the original articles just by googling Murray. The excuse given is that Murray "lacks credibility ", or some such, because of his prior relationship with Assange and/or Wikileaks. This is so ludicrous I can't even get my head around it. And now, you have given me a new detail-the meeting with Pompeo, and the complete lack of follow-up thereafter. Here all this time I thought I was the most cynical SOB who existed, and now I feel as naive as when I was 13 and believed what Dean Rusk was saying like it was holy writ. I am in your debt.
Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 2:33 pm
Andrew Thomas I'm afraid that huge amounts of our History post 1947 is organized and propagandized disinformation. There is an incredible page that John Simpkin has organized over the years that specifically addresses individuals, click on a name and read about them. https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdisinformation.htm
Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm
A small correction: the Daily Mail article regarding Murray claimed that Murray was given a thumbdrive which he subsequently carried back to Wikileaks. On his blog, Murray subsequently disputed this part of the story, indicating that, while he had met with a leaker or confederate of a leaker in Washington DC, the Podesta emails were already in possession of Wikileaks at the time. Murray refused to clarify the reason for his meeting with this source, but he is adamant in maintaining that the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked, not hacked.
And it is indeed ludicrous that Mueller, given the mandate to investigate the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Podesta, has never attempted to question either Assange or Murray. That in itself is enough for us to conclude that the Mueller investigation is a complete sham.
Ian Brown , March 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm
It's pretty astonishing that Mueller was more interested in Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi as credible sources about Wikileaks and the DNC release than Craig Murray!
LJ , March 13, 2019 at 12:29 pm
A guy comes in with a pedigree like that, """ former FBI head """ to examine and validate if possible an FBI sting manufactured off a phony FISA indictment based on the Steele Report, It immediately reminded me of the 9-11 Commission with Thomas Kean, former Board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, being appointed by GW Bush the Simple to head an investigation that he had previously said he did not want to authorize( and of course bi partisan yes man Lee Hamilton as #2, lest we forget) . Really this should be seen as another low point in our Democracy. Uncle Sam is the Limbo Man, How low can you go?
After Bill and Hillary and Monica and Paula Jones and Blue Dresses well, Golden Showers in a Moscow luxury hotel, I guess that make it just salacious enough.
Mueller looks just like what he is. He has that same phony self important air as Comey . In 2 years this will be forgotten.. I do not think this hurts Trumps chances at re-election as much as the Democrats are hurting themselves. This has already gone on way too long.
Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 11:59 am
Mueller has nothing and he well knows it. He was willingly roped into this whole pathetic charade and he's left grasping for anything remotely tied to Trump campaign officials and Russians.
Even the most tenuous connections and weak relationships are splashed across the mass media in breathless headlines. Meanwhile, NONE of the supposed skulduggery unearthed by Mueller has anything to do with the Kremlin "hacking" the election to favor Trump, which was the entire raison d'etre behind Rosenstein, Brennan, Podesta and Mueller's crusade on behalf of the deplorable DNC and Washington militarist-imperialists. It will be fascinating to witness how Mueller and his crew ultimately extricate themselves from this giant fraudulent edifice of deceit. Will they even be able to save the most rudimentary amount of face?
So sickening to see the manner in which many DNC sycophants obsequiously genuflect to their godlike Mueller. A damn prosecutor who was likely in bed with the Winter Hill Gang.
Jack , March 13, 2019 at 12:21 pm
You have failed. An investigation is just that, a finding of the facts. What would Mueller have to extricate himself from? If nothing is found, he has still done his job. You are a divisive idiot.
Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm
Yes, he has done his job. And his job was to bring his royal Orangeness to heel, and to make sure that detente and co-operation with Russia remained impossible. The forever war continues. Mission Accomplished.
Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm
Keep running cover for an out of control prosecutor, who, if he had any integrity, would have hit the bully pulpit mos ago declaring there's nothing of substance to one of the most potentially dangerous accusations in world history: the Kremlin hacking the election. Last I checked it puts two nuclear nation-states on the brink of potential war. And you call me divisive? Mueller's now a willing accomplice to this entire McCarthyite smear and disinformation campaign. It's all so pathetic that folks such as yourself try and mislead and feed half-truths to the people.
You're failing Jack, in more ways than you know.
Gregory Herr , March 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm
Drew, you might enjoy this discussion Robert Scheer has with Stephen Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Realist , March 15, 2019 at 3:38 am
Moreover, as the Saker pointed out in his most recent column in the Unz Review, the entire Deep State conspiracy, in an ad hoc alliance with the embarrassed and embarrassing Democrats, have made an absolute sham of due process in their blatant witch hunt to bag the president. This reached an apex when his personal lawyer, Mr. Cohen, was trotted out before congress to violate Trump's confidentiality in every mortifying way he could even vaguely reconstruct. The man was expected to say anything to mitigate the anticipated tortures to come in the course of this modern day inquisition by our latter day Torquemada. To his credit though, even with his ass in a sling, he could simply not confabulate the smoking gun evidence for the alleged Russian collusion that this whole farce was built around.
Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm
Mueller stood with Bush as he lied the world into war based on lies and illegally spied on America and tortured some folks.
George Collins , March 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm
QED: as to the nexus with the Winter Hill gang wasn't there litigation involving the Boston FBI, condonation of murder by the FBI and damages awarded to or on behalf of convicted parties that the FBI had reason to know were innocent? The malfeasance reportedly occurred during Mueller time. Further on the sanctified diligence of Mr. Mueller can be gleaned from the reports of Coleen Rowley, former FBI attorney stationed in Milwaukee??? when the DC FBI office was ignoring warnings sent about 9/11. See also Sibel Edmonds who knew to much and was court order muzzled about FBI mis/malfeasance in the aftermath of 9/11.
I'd say it's game, set, match VIPS and a pox on Clapper and the complicit intelligence folk complicit in the nuclear loaded Russia-gate fibs.
Kiers , March 13, 2019 at 11:47 am
How can we expect the DNC to "hand it " to Trumpf, when, behind the scenes, THEY ARE ONE PARTY. They are throwing faux-scary pillow bombs at each other because they are both complicit in a long chain of corruptions. Business as usual for the "principled" two party system! Democracy! Through the gauze of corporate media! You must be joking!
Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 11:28 am
"We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions."
I wish I shared this belief. However, as with Nancy Pelosi's recent statement regarding pursuing impeachment, I smell a rat. I believe with the help of what the late Robert Parry called "the Mighty Wurlitzer", Mueller is going to use coerced false testimony and fabricated forensics to drop a bombshell the size of 911. I think Nancy's statement was just a feint before throwing the knockout punch.
If reason ruled the day, we should have nothing to worry about. But considering all the perfidy that the so-called "Intelligence" Agencies and their MSM lackeys get away with daily, I think we are in for more theater; and I think VIPS will receive a cold shoulder outside of venues like CN.
I pray to God I'm wrong.
Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm
My extensive experience with DOJ and the federal judiciary establishes that at least 98% of them are dedicated career liars, engaged in organized crime to serve political gangs, and make only a fanatical pretense of patriotism or legality. They are loyal to money alone, deeply cynical and opposed to the US Constitution and laws, with no credibility at all beyond any real evidence.
Eric32 , March 14, 2019 at 4:24 pm
As near I can see, Federal Govt. careers at the higher levels depend on having dirt on other players, and helping, not hurting, the money/power schemes of the players above you.
The Clintons (through their foundation) apparently have a lot of corruption dirt on CIA, FBI etc. top players, some of whom somehow became multi-millionaires during their civil service careers.
Trump, who was only running for President as a name brand marketing ploy with little desire to actually win, apparently came into the Presidency with no dirt arsenal and little idea of where to go from there.
Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 11:09 am
I remember reading with dismay how Russians were propagandized by the Soviet Press Management only to find out later the depth of disbelief within the Russian population itself. We now know what that feels like. The good part of this disastrous scenario for America is that for careful readers, disinformation becomes revelatory. For instance, if one reads an editorial that refers to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or continually refers to Russian interference in the last Presidential election, then one can immediately dismiss the article and question the motivation for the presentation. Of course the problem is how to establish truth in reporting
Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 10:41 am
Thank you, VIPs. Hopefully, you don't expect this to make a difference. The US has moved into a post truth, post reality existence best characterized by Karl Rove's declaration: "we're an empire now, when we act, we create our own reality." What Mr. Rove in his arrogance fails to appreciate is that it is his reality but not anyone else's. Thus Pompous can claim that Guaido is the democratic leader in Venezuela even though he's never been elected .
Gary Weglarz , March 13, 2019 at 10:21 am
Thank you. The next time one of my friends or family give me that glazed over stare and utters anymore of the "but, RUSSIA" nonsense I will refer them directly to this article. Your collective work and ethical stand on this matter is deeply appreciated by anyone who values the truth.
Russiagate stands with past government propaganda operations that were simply made up out of thin air: i.e. Kuwaiti incubator babies, WMD's, Gaddafi's viagra fueled rape camps, Assad can't sleep at night unless he's gassing his own people, to the latest, "Maduro can't sleep at night unless he's starving his own people."
The complete and utter amorality of the deep state remains on display for all to see with "Russiagate," which is as fact-free a propaganda campaign as any of those just mentioned.
Marc , March 13, 2019 at 10:13 am
I am a computer naif, so I am prepared to accept the VIPS analysis about FAT and transfer rates. However, the presentation here leaves me with several questions. First, do I understand correctly that the FAT rounding to even numbers is introduced by the thumb drive? And if so, does the FAT analysis show only that the DNC data passed through a thumb drive? That is, does the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks? Second, although the transatlantic transfer rate is too slow to fit some time stamps, is it possible that the data were hacked onto a local computer that was under the control of some faraway agent?
Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am
Not quite. FAT is the crappy storage system developed by Microsoft (and not used by UNIX). The metadata associated with any file gets rewritten when it gets moved. If that movement is to a storage device that uses FAT, the timestamp on the file will end in an even number. If it were moved to a unix server (and most of the major servers run Unix) it would be in the UFS (unix file system) and it would be the actual time from the system clock. Every storage device has a utility that tells it where to write the data and what to write. Since it's writing to a storage device using FAT, it'll round the numbers. To get to your real question, yes, you could hack and then transfer the data to a thumb drive but if you did that the dates wouldn't line up.
Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 8:05 am
Which dates wouldn't line up? Is there a history of metadata available, or just metadata for the most recent move?
David G , March 13, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Marc asks: "[D]oes the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks?"
I asked that question in comments under a previous CN piece; other people have asked that question elsewhere.
To my knowledge, it hasn't been addressed directly by the VIPS, and I think they should do so. (If they already have, someone please enlighten me.)
Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm
I am no computer wiz, but Binney has repeatedly made the point that the NSA scoops up everything. If there had been a hack, they'd know it, and they wouldn't only have had "moderate" confidence in the Jan. assessment. I believe that although farfetched, an argument could be made that a Russian spy got into the DNC, loaded a thumb drive, and gave it to Craig Murray.
David G , March 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm
Respectfully, that's a separate point, which may or may not raise issues of its own.
But I think the question Marc posed stands.
Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 7:59 am
I don't see how it's separate. If the NSA scoops up everything, they'd have solid evidence of the hack, and wouldn't have only had "moderate" confidence, which Bill Binney says is equivalent to them saying "we don't have squat". They wouldn't even have needed Mueller at all, except to possibly build a "parallel case" due to classification issues. Also, the FBI not demanding direct access to the DNC server tells you something is fishy. They could easily have gotten a warrant to examine the server, but chose not to. They also purposely refuse to get testimony from Craig Murray and Julian Assange, which rings alarm bells on its own.
As for the technical aspect of Marc's question, I agree that I'd like to see Bill Binney directly answer it.
Mar 17, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca
Karl Rove's Prophecy: "We're an Empire Now, and When We Act, We Create our Own Reality" By Karel van Wolferen Global Research, February 05, 2017 Region: USA
In a famous exchange between a high official at the court of George W. Bush and journalist Ron Susskind, the official – later acknowledged to have been Karl Rove – takes the journalist to task for working in "the reality-based community." He defined that as believing "that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." Rove then asserted that this was no longer the way in which the world worked.
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." (Ron Suskind, NYTimes Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004).
This declaration became popular as an illustration of the hubris of the Bush-Cheney government. But we could also see it as fulfilled prophecy. Fulfilled in a manner that no journalist at that time would have deemed possible. Yes, the neoconservatives brought disrepute upon themselves because of the disaster in Iraq. Sure, opposition to the reality Rove had helped create in that devastated country became a first rung on the ladder that could lead to the presidency, as it did for Barack Obama. But the neocons stayed put in the State Department and other positions closely linked to the Obama White House, where they became allies with the liberal hawks in continuing to 'spread democracy' by overthrowing regimes.
America's mainstream news and opinion purveyors, without demurring, accommodated the architects of reality production overseen by Dick Cheney. This did not end when Obama became president, but in fact with seemingly ever greater eagerness they gradually made the CIA/neocon-neoliberal created reality appear unshakably substantial in the minds of most newspaper readers and among TV audiences in the Atlantic basin. This was most obvious when attention moved to an imagined existential threat posed by Russia supposedly aimed at the political and 'Enlightenment' achievements of the West. Neoconservatives and liberal hawks bent America's foreign-policy entirely to their ultimate purpose of eliminating a Vladimir Putin who had decided not to dance to Washington's tune so that he might save the Russian state, which had been disintegrating under his predecessor and Wall Street's robber barons. With President Obama as a mere spectator, the neocon/liberals could – without being ridiculed – pass off the coup d'état they had fomented in the Ukraine as a popular revolution. And because of an unquestioned Atlanticist faith, which holds that without the policies of the United States the world cannot be safe for people of the Atlantic basin, the European elites that determine policy or comment on it joined their American counterparts in endorsing that reality.
As blind vassals the Europeans have adopted Washington's enemies as their own. Hence the ease with which the European Union member states could be roped into a system of baseless economic sanctions against Russia, much to the detriment of their own economic interests. Layers upon layers of anti-Russian propaganda have piled up to bamboozle a largely unsuspecting public on both sides of the Ocean. In the Netherlands, from where I have been watching all this, Putin was held personally responsible in much of the media for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner flying over the Ukraine, which killed 298 people. No serious investigation was undertaken. The presentation of 'almost definitive' findings by the joint investigation team under Dutch leadership has neither included clues supplied by jet fighter cannon holes in the wrecked fuselage nor eyewitness stories, which would make the government in Kiev the prime suspect. Moscow's challenging the integrity of the investigation, whose agreed-upon rules allowed publication of findings only if Kiev agreed with them, were met with great indignation by the Dutch Foreign and Prime Ministers.
As the fighting in Syria reached a phase when contradictions in the official Washington/NATO story demanded a stepping back for a fresh look, editors were forced into contortions to make sure that the baddies stayed bad, and that no matter how cruel and murderously they went about their occupation in Aleppo and elsewhere, the jihadi groups fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government in Damascus remained strictly labeled as moderate dissidents worthy of Western support, and the Russians as violators of Western values.
Architects of an official reality that diverges widely from the facts you thought you knew must rely on faits accompli they achieve through military or police violence and intimidation, in combination with a fitting interpretation or a news blackout delivered by mainstream media. These conditions have been widely obtained in the Atlantic basin through a gradual loss of political accountability at top levels, and through government agencies protected by venerated secrecy that are allowed to live lives of their own. As a result American and European populations have been dropped into a fantasy world, one under constant threat from terrorists and an evil dictator in Moscow. For Americans the never ending war waged by their own government, which leaves them with no choice but to condone mass murder, is supposedly necessary to keep them safe."Blame the Russian Game" and the Information War: Mainstream Media "Fake News" vs. Truth from Alternative News
For Europeans, at least those in the northern half, the numerous NATO tanks rolling up to the border of the Russian Federation and the massing of troops in that area are an extra guarantee, on top of the missiles that were already there, that Vladimir Putin will restrain his urges to grab a European country or two. On a smaller scale, when every May 4th the 1940-45 war dead are remembered in the Netherlands, we must now include the fallen in Afghanistan as if they were a sacrifice to defend us against the Taliban threat from behind the Hindu Kush.
Ever since the start of this millennium there has been a chain of realities as prophesied by Karl Rove, enhanced by terrorist attacks, which may or may not have been the work of actual terrorists, but whose reality is not questioned without risking one's reputation. The geopolitical picture that they have helped build in most minds appears fairly consistent if one can keep one's curiosity on a leash and one's sense of contradiction sufficiently blunt. After all, the details of the official reality are filled in and smoothed out all the time by crafty campaigns produced in the PR world, with assistance from think tanks and academia. But the question does reappear in one's thoughts: do the politically prominent and the well-positioned editors, especially those known for having once possessed skeptical minds, actually believe it all? Do those members of the cabinet or parliament, who can get hot under their collar as they decry the latest revelation about one or other outrage committed by Putin, take seriously what they're saying?
Not all of them are believers. I know this from off the record conversations. But there appears to be a marked difference between the elite in government, in the media, in prominent social positions, and ordinary people who in these recent times of anguish about populism are sometimes referred to as uneducated. Quite a few among the latter appear to think that something fishy is going on. This could be because in my experience the alert ones have educated themselves, something that is not generally understood by commentators who have made their way through the bureaucracy of standard higher education. A disadvantage of being part of the elite is that you must stick to the accepted story. If you deviate from it, and have your thoughts run rather far away from it, which is quite inevitable once you begin with your deviation, you can no longer be trusted by those around you.
If you are a journalist and depend for your income on a mainstream newspaper or are hired by a TV company, you run the risk of losing your job if you do not engage in self-censorship. Consequently, publications that used to be rightly known as quality newspapers have turned into unreadable rags. The newspaper that was my employer for a couple of decades used to be edited on the premise that its correspondents rather than authorities were always correct in what they were saying. Today greater loyalty to the reality created in Washington and Langley cannot be imagined. For much of northern Europe the official story that originates in the United States is amplified by the BBC and other once reliable purveyors of news and opinion like the Guardian, the Financial Times and the (always less reliable) Economist.
Repetition lends an ever greater aura of truth to the nonsense that is relentlessly repeated on the pages of once serious publications. Detailed analyses of developments understood through strings of false clues give the fictions ever more weight in learned heads and debates in parliament. At the time of writing, the grave concern spread across the opinion pages on my side of the Atlantic is about how Putin's meddling in upcoming European elections can be prevented.
The realities Rove predicted have infantilized parliamentary debates, current affairs discussion and lecture events, and anything of a supposedly serious nature on TV. These now conform to comic book simplicities of evil, heroes and baddies. They have produced a multitude of editorials with facts upside-down. They force even those who advise against provoking Moscow to include a remark or two about Putin being a murderer or tyrant, lest they could be mistaken for traitors to Enlightenment values or even as Russian puppets, as I have been. Layers of unreality have incapacitated learned and serious people to think clearly about the world and how it came to be that way.
How could Rove's predictions so totally materialize? There's a simple answer: 'they' got away with momentous lies at an early stage. The more authorities lie successfully the more they are likely to lie again in a big way to serve the purposes of earlier lies. The 'they' stands for those individuals and groups in the power system who operate beyond legal limits as a hydra-headed entity, whose coordination depends on the project, campaign, mission, or operation at hand. Those with much power got away with excessive extralegal use of it since the beginning of this century because systems of holding the powerful to account have crumbled on both sides of the Atlantic. Hence, potential opposition to what the reality architects were doing dwindled to almost nothing. At the same time, people whose job or personal inclination leads them to ferret out truth were made to feel guilty for pursuing it.
The best way, I think, to make sense of how this works is to study it as a type of intimidation. Sticking to the official story because you have to may not be quite as bad as forced religious conversion with a gun pointed at your head, but it belongs to the same category. It begins with the triggering of odd feelings of guilt. At least that is how I remember it. Living in Tokyo, I had just read Mark Lane's Rush To Judgment , the first major demolishing in book form of the Warren Report on the murder of John F. Kennedy, when I became aware that I had begun to belong to an undesirable category of people who were taking the existence of conspiracies seriously. We all owe thanks to writers of Internet-based samizdat literature who've recently reminded us that the pejorative use of the conspiracy label stems from one of the greatest misinformation successes of the CIA begun in 1967.
So the campaign to make journalists feel guilty for their embarrassing questions dates from before Dick Cheney and Rove and Bush. But it has only reached a heavy duty phase after the moment that I see as having triggered the triumph of political untruth.
We have experienced massive systemic intimidation since 9/11. For the wider public we have the absurdities of airport security – initially evidenced by mountains of nail-clippers – reminding everyone of the arbitrary coercive potential that rests with the authorities. Every time people are made to take off their belts and shoes – to stick only to the least inane instances – they are reminded: yes, we can do this to you! Half of Boston or all of France can be placed under undeclared martial law to tell people: yes, we have you under full control! For journalists unexamined guilt feelings still play a major role. The serious ones feel guilty for wanting to ask disturbing questions, and so they reaffirm that they still belong to 'sane' humanity rather than the segment with extraterrestrials in flying saucers in its belief system. But there is a confused interaction with another guilty feeling of not having pursued unanswered questions. Its remedy appears to be a doubling down on the official story. Why throw in fairly common lines like "I have no time for truthers" unless you feel that this is where the shoe pinches?
You will have noticed a fairly common response when the 9/11 massacre enters a discussion. Smart people will say that they "will not go there", which brings to mind the "here be dragons" warning on uncharted bits of medieval maps. That response is not stupid. It hints at an understanding that there is no way back once you enter that realm. There is simply no denying that if you accept the essential conclusions of the official 9/11 report you must also concede that laws of nature stopped working on that particular day. And, true enough, if you do go there and bear witness publicly to what you see, you may well be devoured; your career in many government positions, the media and even academia is likely to come to an end.
So, for the time being we are stuck with a considerable chunk of terra incognita relating to recognized political knowledge; which is an indispensable knowledge if you want to get current world affairs and the American role in it into proper perspective.
Mapping the motives of those who decide "not to go there" may be a way to begin breaking through this disastrous deadlock. Holding onto your job is an honorable motivation when you have a family to maintain. The career motivation is not something to scorn. There is also an entirely reasonable expectation that once you go there you lose your voice publicly to address very important social abuse and political misdeeds. I think it is not difficult to detect authors active on internet samizdat sites who have that foremost in mind. Another possible reason for not going there is the more familiar one, akin to the denial that one has a dreadful disease. Also possible is an honorable position of wishing to preserve social order in the face of a prospect of very dramatic political upheaval caused by revelations about a crime so huge that hardly anything in America's history can be compared to it. Where could such a thing end – civil war? Martial law?
What I find more difficult to stomach is the position of someone who is worshiped by what used to be the left, and who has been guiding that class of politically interested Americans as to where they can and cannot go. Noam Chomsky does not merely keep quiet about it, but mocks students who raise logical questions prompted by their curiosity, thereby discouraging a whole generation studying at universities and active in civil rights causes. One can only hope that this overrated analyst of the establishment, who helps keep the most embarrassing questions out of the public sphere, trips over the contradictions and preposterousness of his own judgments and crumples in full view of his audience.
The triumph of political untruth has brought into being a vast system of political intimidation. Remember then that the intimidator does not really care what you believe or not, but impresses you with the fact that you have no choice. That is the essence of the exercise of brute power. With false flag events the circumstantial evidence sometimes appears quite transparently false and, indeed could be interpreted as having been purposeful. Consider the finding of passports or identity papers accidentally left by terrorists, or their almost always having been known to and suspected by the police. And their deaths through police shooting before they can be interrogated. Could these be taunting signals of ultimate power to a doubting public: Now you! Dare contradict us! Are the persons killed by the police the same who committed the crime? Follow-up questions once considered perfectly normal and necessary by news media editors are conspicuous by their absence.
How can anyone quarrel with Rove's prophecy. He told Susskind that we will forever be studying newly created realities. This is what the mainstream media continue to do. His words made it very clear: you have no choice!
A question that will be in the minds of perhaps many as they consider the newly sworn in president of the United States, who like John F. Kennedy appears to have understood that "Intelligence" leads a dangerously uncontrolled life of its own: At what point will he give in to the powers of an invisible government, as he is made to reckon that he also has no choice?The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Karel van Wolferen , Global Research, 2017
Mar 13, 2019 | Consortiumnews
The final Mueller report should be graded "incomplete," says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The Attorney General
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Mueller's Forensics-Free Findings
Media reports are predicting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is about to give you the findings of his probe into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump. If Mueller gives you his "completed" report anytime soon, it should be graded "incomplete."
Major deficiencies include depending on a DNC-hired cybersecurity company for forensics and failure to consult with those who have done original forensic work, including us and the independent forensic investigators with whom we have examined the data. We stand ready to help.
We veteran intelligence professionals (VIPS) have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.
There is an overabundance of "assessments" but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well -- and did our best to expose -- how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
We have scrutinized publicly available physical data -- the "trail" that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false. Drawing largely on the unique expertise of two VIPS scientists who worked for a combined total of 70 years at the National Security Agency and became Technical Directors there, we have regularly published our findings. But we have been deprived of a hearing in mainstream media -- an experience painfully reminiscent of what we had to endure when we exposed the corruption of intelligence before the attack on Iraq 16 years ago.
This time, with the principles of physics and forensic science to rely on, we are able to adduce solid evidence exposing mistakes and distortions in the dominant story. We offer you below -- as a kind of aide-memoire -- a discussion of some of the key factors related to what has become known as "Russia-gate." And we include our most recent findings drawn from forensic work on data associated with WikiLeaks' publication of the DNC emails.
We do not claim our conclusions are "irrefutable and undeniable," a la Colin Powell at the UN before the Iraq war. Our judgments, however, are based on the scientific method -- not "assessments." We decided to put this memorandum together in hopes of ensuring that you hear that directly from us.
If the Mueller team remains reluctant to review our work -- or even to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, we fear that many of those yearning earnestly for the truth on Russia-gate will come to the corrosive conclusion that the Mueller investigation was a sham.
In sum, we are concerned that, at this point, an incomplete Mueller report will fall far short of the commitment made by then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "to ensure a full and thorough investigation," when he appointed Mueller in May 2017. Again, we are at your disposal.
The centerpiece accusation of Kremlin "interference" in the 2016 presidential election was the charge that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to embarrass Secretary Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win. The weeks following the election witnessed multiple leak-based media allegations to that effect. These culminated on January 6, 2017 in an evidence-light, rump report misleadingly labeled "Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)." Prepared by "handpicked analysts" from only three of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA), the assessment expressed "high confidence" in the Russia-hacking-to-WikiLeaks story, but lacked so much as a hint that the authors had sought access to independent forensics to support their "assessment."
The media immediately awarded the ICA the status of Holy Writ, choosing to overlook an assortment of banal, full-disclosure-type caveats included in the assessment itself -- such as:
" When Intelligence Community analysts use words such as 'we assess' or 'we judge,' they are conveying an analytic assessment or judgment. Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong."
To their credit, however, the authors of the ICA did make a highly germane point in introductory remarks on "cyber incident attribution." They noted: "The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation -- malicious or not -- leaves a trail." [Emphasis added.]
The imperative is to get on that "trail" -- and quickly, before red herrings can be swept across it. The best way to establish attribution is to apply the methodology and processes of forensic science. Intrusions into computers leave behind discernible physical data that can be examined scientifically by forensic experts. Risk to "sources and methods" is normally not a problem.
Direct access to the actual computers is the first requirement -- the more so when an intrusion is termed "an act of war" and blamed on a nuclear-armed foreign government (the words used by the late Sen. John McCain and other senior officials). In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017, former FBI Director James Comey admitted that he did not insist on physical access to the DNC computers even though, as he conceded, "best practices" dictate direct access.
In June 2017, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr asked Comey whether he ever had "access to the actual hardware that was hacked." Comey answered, "In the case of the DNC we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. " Sen. Burr followed up: "But no content? Isn't content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?" Comey: "It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016."
The "private party/high-class entity" to which Comey refers is CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm of checkered reputation and multiple conflicts of interest, including very close ties to a number of key anti-Russian organizations. Comey indicated that the DNC hired CrowdStrike in the spring of 2016.
Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – including a possible impeachment battle and greatly increased tension between Russia and the U.S. -- it is difficult to understand why Comey did not move quickly to seize the computer hardware so the FBI could perform an independent examination of what quickly became the major predicate for investigating election interference by Russia. Fortunately, enough data remain on the forensic "trail" to arrive at evidence-anchored conclusions. The work we have done shows the prevailing narrative to be false. We have been suggesting this for over two years. Recent forensic work significantly strengthens that conclusion.
We Do Forensics
Recent forensic examination of the Wikileaks DNC files shows they were created on 23, 25 and 26 May 2016. (On June 12, Julian Assange announced he had them; WikiLeaks published them on July 22.) We recently discovered that the files reveal a FAT (File Allocation Table) system property. This shows that the data had been transferred to an external storage device, such as a thumb drive, before WikiLeaks posted them.
FAT is a simple file system named for its method of organization, the File Allocation Table. It is used for storage only and is not related to internet transfers like hacking. Were WikiLeaks to have received the DNC files via a hack, the last modified times on the files would be a random mixture of odd-and even-ending numbers.
Why is that important? The evidence lies in the "last modified" time stamps on the Wikileaks files. When a file is stored under the FAT file system the software rounds the time to the nearest even-numbered second. Every single one of the time stamps in the DNC files on WikiLeaks' site ends in an even number.
We have examined 500 DNC email files stored on the Wikileaks site. All 500 files end in an even number -- 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0. If those files had been hacked over the Internet, there would be an equal probability of the time stamp ending in an odd number. The random probability that FAT was not used is 1 chance in 2 to the 500th power. Thus, these data show that the DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks went through a storage device, like a thumb drive, and were physically moved before Wikileaks posted the emails on the World Wide Web.
This finding alone is enough to raise reasonable doubts, for example, about Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC emails given to WikiLeaks. A defense attorney could easily use the forensics to argue that someone copied the DNC files to a storage device like a USB thumb drive and got them physically to WikiLeaks -- not electronically via a hack.
Role of NSA
For more than two years, we strongly suspected that the DNC emails were copied/leaked in that way, not hacked. And we said so. We remain intrigued by the apparent failure of NSA's dragnet, collect-it-all approach -- including "cast-iron" coverage of WikiLeaks -- to provide forensic evidence (as opposed to "assessments") as to how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks and who sent them. Well before the telling evidence drawn from the use of FAT, other technical evidence led us to conclude that the DNC emails were not hacked over the network, but rather physically moved over, say, the Atlantic Ocean.
Is it possible that NSA has not yet been asked to produce the collected packets of DNC email data claimed to have been hacked by Russia? Surely, this should be done before Mueller competes his investigation. NSA has taps on all the transoceanic cables leaving the U.S. and would almost certainly have such packets if they exist. (The detailed slides released by Edward Snowden actually show the routes that trace the packets.)
The forensics we examined shed no direct light on who may have been behind the leak. The only thing we know for sure is that the person had to have direct access to the DNC computers or servers in order to copy the emails. The apparent lack of evidence from the most likely source, NSA, regarding a hack may help explain the FBI's curious preference for forensic data from CrowdStrike. No less puzzling is why Comey would choose to call CrowdStrike a "high-class entity."
Comey was one of the intelligence chiefs briefing President Obama on January 5, 2017 on the "Intelligence Community Assessment," which was then briefed to President-elect Trump and published the following day. That Obama found a key part of the ICA narrative less than persuasive became clear at his last press conference (January 18), when he told the media, "The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to how 'the DNC emails that were leaked' got to WikiLeaks.
Is Guccifer 2.0 a Fraud?
There is further compelling technical evidence that undermines the claim that the DNC emails were downloaded over the internet as a result of a spearphishing attack. William Binney, one of VIPS' two former Technical Directors at NSA, along with other former intelligence community experts, examined files posted by Guccifer 2.0 and discovered that those files could not have been downloaded over the internet. It is a simple matter of mathematics and physics.
There was a flurry of activity after Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016: "We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication." On June 14, DNC contractor CrowdStrike announced that malware was found on the DNC server and claimed there was evidence it was injected by Russians. On June 15, the Guccifer 2.0 persona emerged on the public stage, affirmed the DNC statement, claimed to be responsible for hacking the DNC, claimed to be a WikiLeaks source, and posted a document that forensics show was synthetically tainted with "Russian fingerprints."
Our suspicions about the Guccifer 2.0 persona grew when G-2 claimed responsibility for a "hack" of the DNC on July 5, 2016, which released DNC data that was rather bland compared to what WikiLeaks published 17 days later (showing how the DNC had tipped the primary scales against Sen. Bernie Sanders). As VIPS reported in a wrap-up Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017 (titled "Intel Vets Challenge 'Russia Hack' Evidence)," forensic examination of the July 5, 2016 cyber intrusion into the DNC showed it NOT to be a hack by the Russians or by anyone else, but rather a copy onto an external storage device. It seemed a good guess that the July 5 intrusion was a contrivance to preemptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish from the DNC, by "showing" it came from a "Russian hack." WikiLeaks published the DNC emails on July 22, three days before the Democratic convention.
As we prepared our July 24 memo for the President, we chose to begin by taking Guccifer 2.0 at face value; i. e., that the documents he posted on July 5, 2016 were obtained via a hack over the Internet. Binney conducted a forensic examination of the metadata contained in the posted documents and compared that metadata with the known capacity of Internet connection speeds at the time in the U.S. This analysis showed a transfer rate as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, which is much faster than was possible from a remote online Internet connection. The 49.1 megabytes speed coincided, though, with the rate that copying onto a thumb drive could accommodate.
Binney, assisted by colleagues with relevant technical expertise, then extended the examination and ran various forensic tests from the U.S. to the Netherlands, Albania, Belgrade and the UK. The fastest Internet rate obtained -- from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK -- was 12 megabytes per second, which is less than a fourth of the capacity typical of a copy onto a thumb drive.
The findings from the examination of the Guccifer 2.0 data and the WikiLeaks data does not indicate who copied the information to an external storage device (probably a thumb drive). But our examination does disprove that G.2 hacked into the DNC on July 5, 2016. Forensic evidence for the Guccifer 2.0 data adds to other evidence that the DNC emails were not taken by an internet spearphishing attack. The data breach was local. The emails were copied from the network.
After VIPS' July 24, 2017 Memorandum for the President, Binney, one of its principal authors, was invited to share his insights with Mike Pompeo, CIA Director at the time. When Binney arrived in Pompeo's office at CIA Headquarters on October 24, 2017 for an hour-long discussion, the director made no secret of the reason for the invitation: "You are here because the President told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk with you."
Binney warned Pompeo -- to stares of incredulity -- that his people should stop lying about the Russian hacking. Binney then started to explain the VIPS findings that had caught President Trump's attention. Pompeo asked Binney if he would talk to the FBI and NSA. Binney agreed, but has not been contacted by those agencies. With that, Pompeo had done what the President asked. There was no follow-up.
Confronting James Clapper on Forensics
We, the hoi polloi, do not often get a chance to talk to people like Pompeo -- and still less to the former intelligence chiefs who are the leading purveyors of the prevailing Russia-gate narrative. An exception came on November 13, when former National Intelligence Director James Clapper came to the Carnegie Endowment in Washington to hawk his memoir. Answering a question during the Q&A about Russian "hacking" and NSA, Clapper said:
" Well, I have talked with NSA a lot And in my mind, I spent a lot of time in the SIGINT business, the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever." [Emphasis added]
Clapper added: " as a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn't have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election."
(A transcript of the interesting Q&A can be found here and a commentary on Clapper's performance at Carnegie, as well as on his longstanding lack of credibility, is here .)
Normally soft-spoken Ron Wyden, Democratic senator from Oregon, lost his patience with Clapper last week when he learned that Clapper is still denying that he lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens. In an unusual outburst, Wyden said: "James Clapper needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people about mass surveillance. To be clear: I sent him the question in advance. I asked him to correct the record afterward. He chose to let the lie stand."
The materials brought out by Edward Snowden in June 2013 showed Clapper to have lied under oath to the committee on March 12, 2013; he was, nevertheless, allowed to stay on as Director of National Intelligence for three and half more years. Clapper fancies himself an expert on Russia, telling Meet the Press on May 28, 2017 that Russia's history shows that Russians are "typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever."
Clapper ought to be asked about the "forensics" he said were "overwhelming about what the Russians had done." And that, too, before Mueller completes his investigation.
For the steering group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:
- William Binney , former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA's Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)
- Richard H. Black , Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)
- Bogdan Dzakovic , former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)
- Philip Girald i, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
- Mike Gravel , former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator
- James George Jatras , former U.S. diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to Senate leadership (Associate VIPS)
- Larry C. Johnson , former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer
- John Kiriakou , former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
- Karen Kwiatkowski , former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
- Edward Loomis , Cryptologic Computer Scientist, former Technical Director at NSA (ret.)
- David MacMichael , Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
- Ray McGovern , former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)
- Elizabeth Murray , former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)
- Todd E. Pierce , MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
- Peter Van Buren , US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
- Sarah G. Wilton , CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)
- Kirk Wiebe , former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
- Ann Wright , retired U.S. Army reserve colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington's justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.9280
Tags: Bill Binney Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Clapper James Comey Mike Pompeo Robert Mueller Veteran Intelligence Professional for Sanity VIPS WikiLeaks
Mar 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com"We can't be divided by race, religion, by tribe. We're defined by those enduring principles in the Constitution, even though we don't necessarily all know them."
So Joe Biden told the firefighters union this week.
But does Joe really believe that? Or does that not sound more like a plea, a wistful hope, rather than a deep conviction?
For Biden surely had in mind the debate that exploded last week in the House Democratic caucus on how to punish Somali-American and Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for raising the specter of dual loyalty.
Rebutting accusations of anti-Semitism, Omar had fired back: "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country."
Omar was talking about Israel.
Republicans raged that Nancy Pelosi's caucus must denounce Omar for anti-Semitism. Journalists described the raising of the "dual loyalty" charge as a unique and awful moment, perhaps a harbinger of things to come.
Yet allegations of dual loyalty against ethnic groups, even from statesmen, have a long history in American politics.
In 1915, President Theodore Roosevelt, at a convention of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, bellowed: "There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans, or Italian-Americans. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is a man who is an American and nothing else."
The New York Times headline the next morning: "Roosevelt Bars the Hyphenated." It continued: "No Room in This Country for Dual Nationality, He Tells Knights of Columbus. Treason to Vote as Such."
What would Roosevelt think of the dual citizenship of many Americans today? If someone is a citizen of more than one country, how do we know where his primary allegiance lies?
Does not dual citizenship, de facto, imply dual loyalty?
Nor was the Rough Rider alone in his alarm. As America edged toward intervention in the European war, President Woodrow Wilson, too, tore into "the hyphenates":
The passions and intrigues of certain active groups and combinations of men amongst us who were born under foreign flags injected the poison of disloyalty into our most critical affairs.
I am the candidate of a party, but I am above all things else, an American citizen. I neither seek the favor nor fear the displeasure of that small alien element amongst us which puts loyalty to any foreign power before loyalty to the United States.
In another address, Wilson declared:
There is disloyalty active in the United States, and it must be absolutely crushed. It proceeds from a very small minority, but a very active and subtle minority. It works underground but it shows its ugly head where we can see it, and there are those at this moment who are trying to levy a species of political blackmail, saying: "Do what we wish in the interest of foreign sentiment or we will wreak our vengeance at the polls."
What did Ilhan Omar say to compare with that?
Roosevelt and Wilson had in mind some German and Irish citizens whose affections for the lands and peoples whence they came made them adversaries of Wilson's war, into which we would soon be dragged by a WASP elite with deep ties to Great Britain.
Our Founding Fathers, too, were ever alert to the dangers of dual loyalty. In his Farewell Address, President Washington warned against a "passionate attachment" to any foreign nation that might create the illusion of some "common interest where no common interest exists."
Did FDR fear dual loyalty? His internment of 110,000 Japanese, mostly U.S. citizens, for the duration of World War II suggests that he did.
Did not the prosecution of American communists under the Smith Act, begun by Truman and continued by Eisenhower, suggest that these first postwar presidents saw peril in a secret party that gave allegiance to a hostile foreign power?
Where Wilson, TR, and FDR distrusted ethnic and racial minorities, Truman went after the ideological enemies within -- the communists.
What defines us, said Joe Biden, are the "enduring principles in the Constitution, even though we don't necessarily all know them."
But if these principles, of which many Americans are not even aware, says Joe, are what define us and hold us together, then what is it that is tearing us apart?
Is it not our differences? Is it not our diversity?
Is it not the powerful and conflicting claims of a multiplicity of races, religions, tribes, ethnicities, and nationalities, as well as clashing ideologies, irreconcilable moral codes, a culture war, and conflicting visions of America's past -- the one side seeing it as horrible and hateful, the other as great and good?
"Diversity is our greatest strength!" we are ever admonished.
But where is the evidence for what appears to be not only an inherently implausible claim but a transparently foolish and false one?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.
Mar 17, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org
Rising inequality and slow growth are widely recognized as key factors behind the spread of public discontent in advanced economies, particularly in the United States. But these problems are themselves symptoms of an underlying malady that the US political system may be unable to address.
The world's advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928 , and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.
After promising annual growth of "4, 5, and even 6%," US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projections , the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.
Many factors are contributing to the US economy's low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans' poorly designed tax "reform" has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists' parlance), rather than providing useful services.
But an even deeper and more fundamental problem is the growing concentration of market power , which allows dominant firms to exploit their customers and squeeze their employees, whose own bargaining power and legal protections are being weakened . CEOs and senior executives are increasingly extracting higher pay for themselves at the expense of workers and investment.
For example, US corporate executives made sure that the vast majority of the benefits from the tax cut went into dividends and stock buybacks, which exceeded a record-breaking $1.1 trillion in 2018 . Buybacks raised share prices and boosted the earnings-per-share ratio, on which many executives' compensation is based. Meanwhile, at 13.7% of GDP , annual investment remained weak, while many corporate pensions went underfunded.
Evidence of rising market power can be found almost anywhere one looks. Large markups are contributing to high corporate profits . In sector after sector, from little things like cat food to big things like telecoms, cable providers, airlines, and technology platforms, a few firms now dominate 75-90% of the market, if not more; and the problem is even more pronounced at the level of local markets.
As corporate behemoths' market power has increased, so, too, has their ability to influence America's money-driven politics. And as the system has become more rigged in business's favor, it has become much harder for ordinary citizens to seek redress for mistreatment or abuse. A perfect example of this is the spread of arbitration clauses in labor contracts and user agreements, which allow corporations to settle disputes with employees and customers through a sympathetic mediator, rather than in court.
Multiple forces are driving the increase in market power. One is the growth of sectors with large network effects, where a single firm – like Google or Facebook – can easily dominate. Another is the prevailing attitude among business leaders, who have come to assume that market power is the only way to ensure durable profits. As the venture capitalist Peter Thiel famously put it , "competition is for losers."
Some US business leaders have shown real ingenuity in creating market barriers to prevent any kind of meaningful competition, aided by lax enforcement of existing competition laws and the failure to update those laws for the twenty-first-century economy. As a result, the share of new firms in the US is declining.
None of this bodes well for the US economy. Rising inequality implies falling aggregate demand, because those at the top of the wealth distribution tend to consume a smaller share of their income than those of more modest means.
Moreover, on the supply side, market power weakens incentives to invest and innovate. Firms know that if they produce more, they will have to lower their prices. This is why investment remains weak, despite corporate America's record profits and trillions of dollars of cash reserves. And besides, why bother producing anything of value when you can use your political power to extract more rents through market exploitation? Political investments in getting lower taxes yield far higher returns than real investments in plant and equipment. 1
Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone.
The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model.
The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it.
The challenge, as always, is political. But with US corporations having amassed so much power, there is reason to doubt that the American political system is up to the task of reform. Add to that the globalization of corporate power and the orgy of deregulation and crony capitalism under Trump, and it is clear that Europe will have to take the lead.
Mar 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Bezos : I've witnessed this incredible thing happen on the internet over the last two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago -- drove packages to the post office myself. Today we have 600,000-plus people, millions and millions of customers, a very large company.
How did that happen in such a short period of time? It happened because we didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting. All of the heavy-lifting infrastructure was already in place for it. There was already a telecommunication network, which became the backbone of the internet. There was already a payment system -- it was called the credit card. There was already a transportation network called the US Postal Service, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, all over the world, that could deliver our packages. We didn't have to build any of that heavy infrastructure.
An even more stark example is Facebook. Here's a guy who literally, in his dorm room, started a company -- Mark Zuckerberg started a company in his dorm room, which is now worth half a trillion dollars -- less than two decades ago.
NY Geezer , March 1, 2019 at 9:04 am
Jeff Bezos strikes me as an incredibly pompous hustler who is so much into himself that he has begun to believe that he is GOD. Before trying to hustle others into traveling to Mars, or any other space destination, he should show us that it is feasible by PERSONALLY going first, surviving 18 months of space travel (9 months each way to Mars) including a landing on and take off from Mars.
flora , March 1, 2019 at 7:27 am
Jeff reveals how he made his fortune using public infrastructure (read govt spending) and tax breaks. Now he's aiming for Pentagon riches.
In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City -- which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" -- the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.
The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.
Ape , March 1, 2019 at 7:48 am
Hmm, the internet already existed. In fact the WWW existed. He must know that -- so he's lying to minimize the amount of infrastructure he inherited. By 1994, everything was already there.
William Hunter Duncan , March 1, 2019 at 9:10 am
I am growing so very tired of the Cult of Bezos. That line about his garage is like an incantation to put his acolytes and sycophants into zombie mode. That argument that there can be no space Zuckerbergs sounds like subliminal messaging 'divert more public resources to ME! Only I can lead you to the stars!' He has zero intention of building his own space infrastructure. He wants us to build it for Him, our demigod, Bezos!
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015
As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."
Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am
Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).
MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am
"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm
Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm
In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm
Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm
"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:
Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:
Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."
Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right
craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.
There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!
giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:
"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.
"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.
"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comChris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pmLambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm
Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm
My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"
(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm
Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.
A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm
Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.
It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.
Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed.
Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.
Mar 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.comYves here. Even though Martin Wolf's post makes many important observations, I feel the need to take issue with his conclusion. Economists have been and continue to be enormously successful as experts. PhDs in economics make roughly twice as much as those in other social sciences. Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table. And they continue to do so, despite their colossal failure in the global financial crisis, with no serious change in the discipline and no loss of reputation of any prominent economists.
Neoclassical economics became important in large measure to show that markets delivered efficient outcomes, and efficiency was seen as tantamount to socially desirable. That's before considering that highly efficiency almost always comes at the expense of safety and robustness, and that efficient solutions may not be equitable.
The importance of economists as policy advisers grew in the post World War II era, after the USSR managed the impressive feat of industrializing in the 20th century. US officials were concerned that a command and control economy could beat a messy, consumer oriented capitalist one, and turned to economists to give guidance on how to achieve high growth rates so as to produce enough guns and butter.
As for the specific impetus for Wolf's article, it appears to be due to voters ignoring the dire warnings made by the Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign that Brexit would have large economic costs. But based on reports after the vote came in, that repudiation came not just because the public might well have good reason not to believe economists as a result of the crisis, but how the Remain campaign carried itself in the debates. That side apparently made arrogant-seeming, data heavy arguments, while the Leavers made stirring appeals about sovereignty .a UK version of MAGA.
By Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
"I think people in this country have had enough of experts."
Michael Gove, winner of the Brexit referendum (though loser in the game of politics, having failed to become leader of his party, and so, maybe, no true expert either) hit the nail on the head. The people of this country have, it seems, had enough of those who consider themselves experts, in some domains. The implications of this rejection of experts seem enormous. That should be of particular significance for economists, because economists were, after all, the "experts" against whom Mr. Gove was inveighing.
Yet it is not really true that the people of this country have had enough of experts. When they fall ill, they still go to licensed doctors. When they fly, they trust qualified pilots. When they want a bridge, they call upon qualified engineers. Even today, in the supposed "post-fact" world, such people are almost universally recognized as experts.
So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones. The question then become what makes experts trustworthy -- not, I should stress, intrinsically trustworthy, but rather perceived by the public to be so.
One might make three, admittedly speculative, points about this distinction between experts deemed by the public to be deserving of trust and those who are not.
The first is that some forms of expertise appear simply to be more solidly based than others in a body of theory and/or evidence, with recognizable successes to their credit. By and large, doctors are associated with cures, pilots with keeping airplanes in the sky and engineers with bridges that stay up. Such successes -- and there are many other comparable fields of expertise -- self-evidently make people with the relevant expertise appear trustworthy.
The second is that some forms of expertise are more politically contentious than others. Nearly everybody, for example, agrees that curing people, flying airplanes and building bridges are good things. Social and political arrangements -- and economics is inescapably about social and political arrangements -- are always and everywhere contentious. They affect not only how people think the human world works, but also how it ought to work. These forms of expertise are about values.
The third point is that trust in expertise seems to be quite generally declining. This is partly perhaps because education is more widespread, which makes possession of an education appear in itself less authoritative. It is also partly because of the rapid dissemination of information. It is partly because of the easy formation of groups of the disaffected and dissemination of conspiracy theories. The internet and the new social media it has spawned have turned out to be powerful engines for the spreading of disinformation aimed at manipulation of the unwary.
It might be encouraging for economists that they are not the only experts who are mistrusted. Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science. All these are the products of doubts fueled by a combination of core beliefs and suspicion of particular forms of expertise. The anti-vaccination movement is driven by parents' concerns about their children. The hostility to evolution is driven by religion. The rejection of climate science is clearly driven by ideology. Every climate denier I know is a free marketeer. Is this an accident? No. The desire to believe in the free market creates an emotional justification for denying climate science. In principle, after all, belief in free markets and in the physics of the climate system have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
So economists are in good company with other forms of politically or socially contentious expertise. But they have a special difficulty. Not only are they engaged in an essentially controversial, because political, arena, and so also an inherently ideological one, but they suffer to a high degree from the first point I made above: their "science", if science it is, just does not look to the public to be solidly based. It does not work as well as the public wants and economists have claimed. Economists claim a certain scientific status. But much of it looks to the outsider more like "scientism" -- the use of an incomprehensible intellectual apparatus to obscure ignorance rather than reveal truth.
This does not mean that economists don't know useful things. It is quite clear that they do. Markets are extraordinary institutions, for example. Economists' elucidation of markets or of the principle of comparative advantage is a great intellectual achievement. Yet suspicion of economics and economists is both long-standing and understandable.
The problem became far more serious after the financial crisis. The popular perception is that the experts -- macroeconomists and financial economists -- did not appreciate the dangers before the event and did not understand the longer-run consequences after it. Moreover, the popular perception seems to be in large part correct. This has damaged the acceptance of the expertise of economists to a huge extent.
So how, in this suspicious contemporary environment, might economists persuade the public they are experts who deserve to be listened to?
I decided to ask my colleagues this question. One answered that:
1. Good economists have a clear (if incomplete) understanding of how the world works. This is a pre-requisite to making it a better place.
2. Economists have a sense of scale. They understand the difference between big and small and how to make that distinction. This is vital for policy.
3. Economics is all about counterfactuals. It understands the relevant comparators even if they are difficult to work out.
4. Economists are experts on incentives and motivations and empirically try to measure them rather than relying on wishful thinking.
5. Generally, good economists are expert in understanding the limits of their knowledge and forecasting abilities.
Another colleague added:
The general public usually associate economists with:
-A small set of macroeconomic forecasts (growth, inflation mainly), and
-A belief that markets always produce perfect outcomes
And they attribute failure to them if either:
-point forecasts (inevitably) prove wrong, or
-markets produce some bad outcomes
Whereas the expertise of economists is really in the building blocks that enable you to construct sensible forecasts and to understand how people are likely to behave and respond to a given set of circumstances/policies. This structure for understanding the world allows economists to take on board new developments, understand whether they reflect a rejection of their existing theories or merely a (possibly tail) outcome that was consistent with their "model," and push forward their understanding of the world from there. Rather than throwing away all existing wisdom when circumstances change somewhat.
I agree with these propositions. Properly understood, economics remains very useful. One realizes this as soon as one is engaged with someone who knows nothing at all about the subject. But I still have four qualifications to make.
First, a large part of what economists actually do, namely forecasting, is not very soundly based. It would be a good idea if economists stated that loudly, strongly, and repeatedly. Indeed, there should be ceaseless public campaigning by the professional bodies, emphasizing what economists don't know. Of course, that would not -- as economists might predict -- be in their interests.
Second, in important areas of supposed economic expertise, the analytical basis is really weak. This is true of the operation of the monetary and financial systems. It is also true of the determinants of economic growth.
Third, economists are not disinterested outsiders. They are part of the political process. It is crucial to remember that certain propositions favor the interests of powerful people and groups. Economists can find themselves easily captured by such groups. "Invisible hand" theorems are particularly open to such abuse.
Finally, the division between economic aspects of society and the rest is, in my view, analytically unsound. The relationship between, say, economics and sociology or anthropology is not like that between physics and chemistry. The latter rests upon the former. But economics and anthropology lie side by side. I increasingly feel that the educated economist, certainly those engaged in policy, must also understand political science, sociology, anthropology, and sociology. Otherwise, they will fail to understand what is actually happening.
If I am right, the challenge is not just to purify economics of exaggerated claims, though that is indeed needed. It is rather to recognize the limited scope of economic knowledge. This does not mean there is no such thing as economic expertise: there is. But its scope and generality are more limited than many suppose.
Michael Gove was wrong, in my view, about expertise applied in the Brexit debate. But he was not altogether wrong about the expertise of economists. If we were more humble and more honest, we might be better recognized as experts able to contribute to public debate.
With this in mind, what should be the goal of an education in economics at the university level? A part of the answer will come from developments within the field. In time, the incorporation of new ideas and techniques may make the academic discipline better at addressing the intellectual and policy challenges the world now confronts.
Another part of the answer, however, must come from asking what an undergraduate education ought to achieve. The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics. For the great majority of those who learn economics, what matters is appreciation of both a few core ideas and of the complexity of the economic reality.
At bottom, economics is a field of inquiry and a way of thinking. Among its valuable core concepts are: opportunity cost, marginal cost, rent, sunk costs, externalities, and effective demand. Economics also allows people to make at least some sense of debates on growth, taxation, monetary policy, economic development, inequality, and so forth.
It is unnecessary to possess a vast technical apparatus to understand these ideas. Indeed the technical apparatus can get in the way of such an understanding. Much of the understanding can also be acquired in a decent, but not inordinately technical, undergraduate education. That is what I was fortunate enough to acquire in my own years studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford in the late 1960s. Today, I believe, someone with my background in the humanities would never become an economist. I am absolutely sure I would not have done so. It might be arrogant to make this claim. But I think that would have been a pity -- and not just for me.
In addition, it would be helpful to expose students to some of the heterodox alternatives to orthodox economics. This can only be selective. But exposure to the ideas of Hyman Minsky, for example, would be very helpful to anybody seeking to understand the macroeconomic implications of liberalized finance.
The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities. Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs. So be it. The study of economics at university must not be seen through so narrow a lens. Its purpose is to produce people with a broad economic enlightenment. That is what the public debate needs. It is what education has to provide.
greg , March 14, 2019 at 1:14 am
I am afraid a worse problem with economists is that they don't seem interested in anyone's opinions except their own.
They even hold ecology in disdain, not having any interest in learning what is, in fact, the foundational system of their own 'science.' The booms and busts of capitalism show familiar patterns to ecologists. Why, ecologists even have equations for them!
But I guess ecology is just too simple for the attentions of economists : Stupid animals. They don't even use money! What kind of economy can that be?
So economists look for models everywhere except where to find them. The hubris of humanity, not needing to give due attention to the economies of 'animal' societies.
Sanxi , March 14, 2019 at 7:04 am
To Yves. Well, I nearly lack the heart to respond, but I feel I must. Taking yesterday's NC's lessons of looking at a human facing and having eye contact to remain human online, I now do both – a human sits next to me. I read aloud to her.
Ok, you are a strong advocate of becoming a certified economist. Because 1.they make a lot of money and 2. only they sit at the policy table.
Further claims made in your preamble: in no particular order of importance: something about efficient outcomes that may not be equitable; command & control and guns and butter; and sadly an analysis of Brexit voters in either camp.
(One exception to all that I say is those using MMT, certified, with a degree or not. Again something I first learned about on NC.)
Yesterday, somewhere in the NC collective was the notion that the above mentioned economists tell tho' we may be so out of balance with the world that our extinction as a species is a legitimate issue to discuss, that in the end there ain't any money to not only not fix the problem but not even deal with it. And these guys/gals you laud? I and others have argued this gang provided the intellectual nonsense that put us where we are now.
What is your point that Econ grads make the most amount of money compared to what? Philosophy majors? True or not I still say it's a waste of a life. Not the knowing, but the being of one. I don't see what value there is for civilization in general but specifically that just because they make a lot of money, it's good?
All social science grads you say v Econ grads make more money. I doubt that. Seems every school district requires a PhD in Education, and a PhD in Business is very lucrative (not saying useful, just pays well).
The policy table. I'm truly baffled as to what you refer. If they are the only ones at said table then it follows they are the only ones at it. In my long life I'm trying to think were we ever let an economist have the final say, or even a moderate say in any political, governmental, or military policy. Some input yes, but deterministic, no. If they were sitting at their own table, when asked they came to table with those that had the votes, give their opinion and then left. Sociological impact statements had far bigger influence on policy. And policy is no more then the data we can agree on to make decisions.
Sure, many governments, NGOs, multinationals all have jobs for economists but in someway this is self serving, not a necessity. Kuhn's book on "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", does a good job of explain how authority gets established, vested, and in the end becomes useless. That it exists is not an argument that it is necessary or good. That there needs to be some way to define and explain things economic I no have issue with, that outside of MMT that is has been, using system theory I don't see it.
As to efficient outcomes that may not be equitable that speaks for itself. It doesn't. No 'may not' about it, said with respect.
As to command & control and guns and butter, seems like a long time ago. A long time ago, using science to help in making decisions was new and it took awhile to get it right, or at least to get it working.
(Small note, I have dual US & UK citizenships)
An analysis of Brexit voters in either camp. I can tell you why I voted the way I did but I need to make an appeal to Stephen Pinker's, "The Blank Slate". Either I have the free will to make a decision and accept responsibility for it or I don't. I believe I do and did. I voted to leave and yes their are economic impacts, as well as social, political, historical, psychological, and philosophical. As did in electing Trump. As did the 1776 revolution, as in the US Civil War, almost anything. Money is not everything nor the only thing. And the future isn't what it used to be. The Long Emergency is here.
skippy , March 14, 2019 at 7:15 am
Hayek liked banding around watery terms like freedom and liberty its when he stopped being an economist [political theory in times past] and jointed the ranks of ideologues .
Pay check included oops and health care .
Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm
Boy are you shooting the messenger. I'm not saying the way the economics discipline has become influential is a good thing, but that is the way it is. How economics operates as a discipline is great for economists, so why should they change? So what if their prescription fail way too often? For instance, there haven't been any bad consequences to anyone who didn't see the crisis coming and (even worse) advocated bank deregulation, starting with Larry Summers (but he had plenty of company).
And you are simply wrong about the influence economists have. In the US, CBO budget scoring is fundamental to how Congress views various proposed programs, even though we have described how the CBOs methods are crap and the CBO operates as an a big enforcer of deficit hysteria (as in they play a politicized role). The Fed and other central banks, the most powerful single government economic actors, are all run by monetary economists. The IMF, another very powerful institution, has deeply embraced and implements neoliberal policies, namely, balanced budgets and squeezing labor (labor "reforms"). In the US, economists in op eds and even in Congressional testimony (see Bernanke for instance) argue for balanced budgets and argue the supposed necessity of cutting Social Security and Medicare and NEVER mention cutting military spending. They are acting not just as enforcers of overall spending, but by advocating what to cut, are influencing priorities.
Avery T , March 14, 2019 at 9:53 am
Back in my former life as an economist-in-training, I ran into ecological economics as a branch of natural resource economics. It was completely backwards – the extent ecological theory was brought in didn't extend beyond simple predator-prey-plant models, and the goal was to find the macroeconomic general equilibrium of biomass in the ecosystem.
That was probably just the most striking example of the institutional close-mindedness I saw back among the economists.
deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 3:08 am
Mr Wolf says, among the important concepts are "externalities" Like everything that supports economic activity. Economics reduces the real world to "externalities" and simple equations about things measured in crude tokens – money. How good can it be then.
Also, "Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs" – is that a goal in itself? Like, the world needs a certain amount of economics PhDs produced? What for?
Prof. Michael Hudson, Prof. Richard Wolff and others have long ago explained what's wrong with mainstream economics, but that can't be said in FT.
This reminds me of the party press during the Perestroika in the 80ies talking about reform in a similar soft and obfuscatory of the truth way, full of wishful recommendations, striking a demurely optimistic tone supposed to convey integrity. It was bullshit and when the real things started happening, everybody forgot about it, because it had no depth and no bearing on real life.
diptherio , March 14, 2019 at 10:40 am
It seems obvious to most people that not all values are commensurable with each other. For instance, things like literary and artistic quality, friendships, and human lives cannot defensibly be measured in dollar terms. However, this is just what economics attempts to do. Hence, environmental economics simply aims to put a dollar value on environmental quality (or degredation). Hence, the entirety of my Labor Economics course was focused on how you place a monetary value on a human life, when the human happens to die because of their job.
So, I tend to agree with you. The whole discipline is of questionable value, so long as economists refuse to accept some very basic truths and incorporate much more than money into their analyses.
JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm
That comment strikes me as strange because one of the weaknesses of classical economic models was the fact that how money works was not part of their inquiry.
The Rev Kev , March 14, 2019 at 4:00 am
In trying to judge the abilities of an expert, the best that most people can do is to see the results on what they practice. If a doctor has a reputation of getting his patients drug-addicted, then you would not go to them. If an engineer built a building but the roof constantly leaked, you would think twice about giving them another contract. But let us think about how well economists are judged. You might say that a lot of people in the UK discounted their advice during Brexit but it has been noted that a lot of the Leave campaign was based in depressed areas. Why were so many areas depressed? Because the people knew that the government was using the advice of economists as to which areas to prioritize for resources. And usually that meant London and its outer areas – which voted Remain.
People are fully aware of what happens too when WTO economists go into a country – social services are cut, public transport is cut way back, the cost of living for the poor skyrocket while the rich seem to be protected. And take a look at the economic state of the United States. Wages have flatlined since the 70s, infrastructure is falling into disrepair, whole swathes of the country are abandoned to their own devices, de-industrialisation is a fact, etc, etc etc but the point is that the people that were giving all the advice to have this done were economists like Ken Rogoff and his wonky austerity study. It may have been the politicians that pulled the trigger but it was economists that were loading the gun.
if you want a breed of economists more grounded in reality, then I would suggest having them work in a fulfillment center for a week to show the the consequences of what happens when you get priorities wrong. Certainly they need to study the work of economists like Hyman Minsky and Susan Strange who had gone out of fashion before the crash but the long and short of it is to see what works and what does not work. I do not mean to be insulting here but as far as I can see, modern economic theory has really been a theory for the top 20% and not for the rest of the population. And now we are seeing the result up close and personal and until this changes, people will not feel the need to take the advice of economist, even when they should. Martin Wolf is fortunate in having also a humanities background but how true is that nowadays?
Jos Oskam , March 14, 2019 at 4:04 am
The sentence " So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones " is important. Unfortunately, in the article I miss a key aspect in making that distinction.
I seem to notice that the "trustworthy" areas of expertise in general tend to be removed from political ideas or preferences. Left or right, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, it does not affect the way in which trustworthy experts go about their business. It does not influence the way in which a doctor cures patients, a pilot flies a plane or an engineer constructs a bridge. However, as soon as we start discussing things like the economy, talk is full of "liberal" or "left" economists as opposed to "conservative" or "right" economics. I have never heard of one bridge being more at risk of collapse because it was designed by a liberal engineer versus a conservative one, or the other way round. When discussing the strength of a bridge political leanings simply do not come into play, it is not a factor like the strength of the steel used. But for all economic debate, these leanings often seem to be the essence of the discussion.
Given the general public's intensifying distrust of politicians and all things political, it does not surprise me that disciplines tainted by political colouring (like economics) are considered "untrustworthy" compared to disciplines where political colouring is not a factor (like the aforementioned doctors, pilots and engineers).
Since economics *is* in fact very interwoven with politics, I think the general public will always treat economists the same way they treat politicians, that is with a healthy dose of distrust. And who can blame them?
Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:07 am
Yes, ability vs integrity.
And you can take 10 of the most honest and well meaning people, dedicated to the public good and advancement of learning, employ them in a structure set up to profit first and ask questions second, and the whole is going to be not the same as the sum of the parts.
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:45 am
I'd say an unhealthy dose of distrust is more likely and more common.
People tend to treat conventional econospeak as so much blah, blah, blah and then turn around and credit or discredit what has been said on the basis of the tone with which it was said.
Economists working for the kleptocracy get a lot of mileage out of sounding serious, while talking complete rubbish. And, sadly, many economists working the left, get away with lame one-liners and a rudderless iconoclasm.
SJ , March 14, 2019 at 4:32 am
I had an e-mail exchange with Mr. Wolf many years ago – before the 2008 crash – where he basically told me that we live in the best of all possible worlds and that nothing needs to change – he has changed his tune since then, I suppose to try to avoid looking like a complete idiot and also to try to deflect criticism on to others. Maybe he has öearned something in the meantime, but maybe he is just faking for the sake of appearences.
deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 11:02 am
I think he is faking it. It's the party line. It is the beginning of the neoliberal Perestroika (see also Brad DeLong).
I quite like to look at it this way – it is very clarifying (as I lived in the Perestroika) and I recommend it. Don't for a moment trust the Perestroika – it is half-measures at best and purposeful deception at worst.
johnf , March 14, 2019 at 5:24 am
" The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics ." With apologies to Mr. Richter, economics is taught more like a branch of mathematical sophistry, and that is slighting the original sophists.
I was an undergraduate studying applied mathematics at the time and place, present day neoclassical economics was being developed, published and starting to be taught. I can think of just one economics-and-finance classmate who continued to study mathematics beyond first year calculus – which everyone had to take.
Our introductory numerical analysis professor was scathing about his colleagues at the other side of the Quads. He made it quite plain that we could not skip the rigor and "try to prove something like an economist". Pretty much all the econ students dropped his course when they discovered that. The specific problem they could not address, can be simply stated. If you know a number but don't know its error, you don't know the number. The difficulty the great mass of economists have with just that, excludes economics as a branch of applied mathematics.
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am
pretty much the sum total of neoclassical economics is trying to work out the counterfactual of how the economy would work if everyone had more-or-less complete information to work with.
introduce genuine uncertainty, and pretty much the whole apparatus turns topsy-turvy and all the "laws" of economics disappear or become highly contingent on circumstances unlikely to obtain.
Thuto , March 14, 2019 at 5:40 am
"Fixing" economics must start with a wholesale divestment from the idea of this profession being a "science", said divestment openly promoted by economists themselves. All manner of hardwired, warped thinking, to say nothing of obstinacy in changing one's views when confronted with contradictory evidence, results from people believing that they're scientists practising a real science. When such thinking seeps into the subconscious, the obstinacy is locked into place and even events of the scale of the GFC aren't enough to shake loose the erroneous biases held by the mainstream profession.
How else would an entire profession place so much faith in the predictive powers of its models if not having such faith resting on a (supposed) firm foundation of science? An engineer designing a beam for a bridge has justifiable faith in continuum mechanics (a real science) as a sound foundation for their work, economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.
Additionally, we see weak to non-existent culpability enforcement when policy recommendations put on the table by economists wreck lives (as they have over decades), this in stark contrast with e.g. an engineer designing a bridge that collapses and kills hundreds. In other words, economists have outsized influence in matters of policy out of proportion with the amount of actual skin they have in the game. On the other side, this "economics is a science" narrative disarms a public already deficient in the marginal capacity for independent, critical thinking to question anything economists say, said public including politicians who, as aptly put by the Rev Kev, pull the trigger of a policy gun loaded by economists.
cnchal , March 14, 2019 at 8:50 am
>. . . economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.
Not one economist, with their ass planted firmly on their throne at the policy table, will admit to that. The operating principle is venality.
Now that they have lost the respect of the peasants, I don't want them to matter again. What I would like to see is mass firings of eclownomists, so they can experience life as lived by the peasants, just once. It may even free up resources to pay people to actually do good things instead of perpetuating one failure after another, and being grossly rewarded for those failures.
dearieme , March 14, 2019 at 6:35 am
I think he gets the wrong end of the stick here: "Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science."
No doubt there are occasions when vaccinations can do serious harm: a niece of mine was excused a standard vaccination because of a contra-indication in her family medical history.The anti-vaxers, though, seem to have elevated some small kernel of truth into a stupid all-encompassing doctrine without giving the matter enough critical thought.
The anti-evolutionists seem to have failed to devote any critical thought to the matter at all.
But the sceptics about "climate science" have deployed critical thinking to identify this new religion as being composed largely of incompetence, dishonesty, and hysteria. It's the likes of old Wolfie who are lacking in critical thought on this issue. Maybe he's one of those people who is uneducated in science, and so too easily swayed by chaps shouting excitedly about models, measurements, and so forth.
It's very odd. Goebbels Warming is now old enough that you can check the historical record of its predictions of dreadful tipping points, of the disappearance of snow from Britain, of the flooding of this and that Pacific island group, and so on. All false. So why should anyone rational believe a word of it? After all, almost from the beginning its proponents believed that the science was settled – it was inarguable. In which case why have their predictions proved so lousy?
Consult a poet: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Consult an economist: incentives matter.
mle detroit , March 14, 2019 at 8:01 am
Dearie me, Dearieme, your comment appears to lack sources, citations, examples. Please provide.
Steve Ruis , March 14, 2019 at 8:38 am
So, Yves, you are saying ("Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table," etc.) that economists are like weathermen. They still have a time slot on the evening news and are respected, even though their accuracy is abysmal. They make a lot of money doing this.
Basically, this is because we expect very little of economists and because they have stopped using ordinary language professionally, they have the status equivalent to someone actually helpful.
I think economics has become an asocial science with too many economists willing to provide some sort of academic cover for whatever the plutocrats want to do.
Arthur Dent , March 14, 2019 at 11:24 am
I think the analogy to meteorologists is interesting. As an engineer, I have some perspective on this.
In engineering design, frequent failure of what we design is generally undesirable. So we have our analytical tools based on both scientific theory and empirical data, and then apply a factor of safety (sometimes called factor of ignorance, but more accurately is a recognition that there is a probabilistic distribution of outcomes and the factors of safety shift the design towards success instead of high probability of failure).
Airline pilots operate similar to engineers in that they aren't flying close to the edge of the airplane's flight characteristics. Instead they stay in a zone quite a ways away from what the airplane could potentially do. This is one of the reasons that airplane travel is very safe, especially compared to car travel.
Meteorologists are trying to make predictions of the most likely scenario which means they are trying to hit the center of the distribution of the potential outcomes. As a results, they frequently are shown to have "missed" in that some other lower probability event occurred instead. Over the past couple of decades, we have gotten used to seeing weather forecasts with probabilities or ranges of outcomes.
I think the public presentation of economics has two separate problems, but both undermine economics credibility.
First, economics is a field that is trying to predict the most likely event and the range of potential outcomes, similar to the weather forecasts, but does not present the predictions this way. So people don't cut economists slack because their public presentations don't recognize the range of potential outcomes and the frank recognition of the inaccuracy of their predictions that we are used to with the weather people, especially once they get past 24 hrs of predictions.
Second, many of the economists that make public predictions are funded by interest groups. When we see a lawyer on TV, we know that he is being paid by a client to be an advocate and that is his job as a lawyer. So we may disregard what he has to say but we understand the context he is speaking in. However, the economists don't say who they are being paid by and so they are presumed to be independent experts when they are sometimes not. I believe this is a fundamental ethical issue within the economics profession.
So when the economics predictions (e.g. effects of tax cuts) fail to be accurate, it needs to be parsed out if it was simply a lower probability event or if the predictions were intentionally biased to begin with. None of this is well-addressed by the economics profession, which greatly undermines credibility.
JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:40 pm
jfleni , March 14, 2019 at 8:55 am
I was just getting used to the idea that economists are like clocks: right twice a
day -- at Noon and sundown!
Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am
Economists also use the term 'efficiency' to denote pareto optimality, which causes much confusion.
Especially when communicating with both analytical people of a hard-sciencey or engineering background (efficiency = a context specific figure, some-measure-of-output/some-measure-of-input, strict limits in how far you can generalize), and business people (efficient = low cost)
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:00 am
economists also routinely distinguish the allocative efficiency they focus upon almost exclusively from the kinds of technical or managerial efficiency that most of the rest of the world focuses upon, but they rarely admit that their focus is so narrow and does not generalize to encompass common sense notions of cost and efficiency -- it is almost as if they want to avoid the critical examination engineering enables while providing double-talk as cover for business people trying to privatize the profits while socializing the costs.
Matthew G. Saroff , March 14, 2019 at 9:50 am
Let me start by saying that I object to the term "Dismal Science" for economics.
This is not because of the "dismal" part, it's because of the "science" part.
That being said, the devaluing of expertise is due in large part to something not mentioned by Mr. Wolf: corruption, particularly for the field of macroeconomics.
We have seen this repeatedly in the past few decades, where nominally independent researchers have been found to slant their research to accommodate the results desired by their patrons. (The sad state of pharma and medical research come to mind as well)
In fact, ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN "RATIONAL ACTOR" THEORIES , academics in general, and economists in particular,will behave in ways that will most strongly benefit themselves, and not in ways that serve the truth or reality. (Studies have shown that economists are the most selfish academics )
I believe that if you discuss the devaluation of knowledge and expertise without discussing the pervasive corruption in western society, you are ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.
john Wright , March 14, 2019 at 3:04 pm
I object to the "Dismal" part.
Economic Science is very optimistic that what they characterize as "economic growth" in using up the world's resources in its pursuit, is a "good thing".
Economists are selling a limitless planet on which humans will always "pull the rabbit out of the hat", to solve any resource issue, including climate change and overpopulation.
That being said, I view the economic profession, as largely practiced by its well-paid members, as a mechanism to justify what the political and business elite want to do.
The elite are simply getting what they pay to hear.
Steven Greenberg , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 am
I worked on simulation software for integrated circuits. My friend studied economics with all the famous people. When I described to him what I did if there seemed to be a discrepancy between what my simulator said and how the integrated circuit behaved in real life or the intuition that an electrical engineer had about how it would behave in real life he was amazed. I was amazed that he was amazed. How could you possibly believe a simulator that necessarily has bugs in it, if you don't track down discrepancies to understand which is right, your intuition or the simulator?
Sometimes, I had to be very inventive to find another way to make a complex calculation in a way that would test out if the simulator was right. If economics students are taught the math, but not how to check their work, and the necessity of checking their work, then they shouldn't be in positions to make policy recommendations.
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:09 am
Many economists avoid operational modeling of the processes of the actual, institutional economy. And, that which does take place in narrowly conceived research by specialists is never allowed to feed back on the methods or theories embodied in the core doctrines.
WobblyTelomeres , March 14, 2019 at 3:32 pm
Other than setting Friedman's Chicago Boys upon Chile, isn't it very difficult to model/test anything macro in the real world?
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 5:35 pm
One way mainstream macroeconomics defeats its own feeble efforts at empiricism is to set the problems in a frame of time-series regression analysis of highly aggregated data: national GDP and its high-level components year-by-year or quarter-by-quarter.
The behavior of tens or hundreds of millions of people reduced to statistics for largely formless accounting conventions relating to a single somewhat amorphous entity (a country) over time. History, however it happens, only ever happens one way, so there's always zero degrees of freedom in the aggregate time-series.
There is so little information left in the data, even the most clever econometricians would need a thousand years of data to "test" the most basic hypotheses. It is absurd to approach the task in the way they do.
Is it necessarily as difficult a task as they make it, to learn something useful about the way the economy works?
The problems of statistical aggregation and time-series are not rooted in the object of study -- the actual political economy -- so much as they are created by the conceptual apparatus.
In short form, economists have an analytic theory -- in form and epistemic status, something akin to Euclid's geometry. A geometry is not itself a map of the world and no one doing geometry confuses geometry with cartography or land surveying, but most economists do not understand that their theory is not itself a model of the actual political economy. Someone like Paul Krugman actually thinks he has "a map" of the political economy in, say, IS/LM . No student of geometry expects to find a dimensionless point in the bathroom or an isoceles triangle growing in the garden. Yet, economists regularly purport to casually observe perfectly competitive markets in equilibrium or the natural interest rate.
I think economists could do as well as, say, meteorologists or geologists in developing an empirically grounded understanding of the observable political economy, if they focused their attention on concrete and measurable mechanisms of the institutional economy and stopped talking meaninglessly about formless "markets" that have no existence.
Reality Bites , March 14, 2019 at 10:12 am
This article reminds me of why I stopped reading The Economist after the GFC. The Economist was quite explicit in advocating for a weak regulatory environment. I remember articles talking about how great it was for the Office of Thrift Supervision to regulate banks alongside others like the Fed because regulatory competition was good. After the GFC they were writing articles about how they opposed this all along.
It's not just that so many economists are wrong. It's that many times their models and predictions are wrong and they claim that it is either not what they argued for or 'externalities' intervened. Of course they never mentioned such externalities before. Many just outright conjure up unicorns. There were no shortage of economists claiming that the housing bubble was not a problem and the economy will grow to the point where things just naturally level off. Of course there was no accountability for those peddling these falsehoods.
Candy , March 14, 2019 at 11:01 am
I love the way people shrink down what Michael Gove said.
Here is his full exchange with his interviewer:
Gove: I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organizations from acronyms, saying --
Interviewer: They've had enough of experts? The people have had enough of experts? What do you mean by that?
Gove: People from organizations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.
Inteviewer: The people of this country have had enough of experts?
Gove: Because these people are the same ones who got consistently wrong what was happening.
shinola , March 14, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Perhaps it's changed since I started out as an econ. major in the mid '70's, but what disillusioned me was the total disregard for actual human behavior. Real people do NOT always behave rationally or honestly. Emotions/psychology do figure greatly in real people making "economic" decisions – just ask anyone who makes their living based on selling something.
Every economic model should be prefaced with "In an ideal world " (or perhaps more honestly "In an economist's construct of an ideal world )
Arizona Slim , March 14, 2019 at 12:18 pm
I share your disillusionment, shinola. I was a late 1970s econ major. By the time I graduated, I was done with economics.
hunkerdown , March 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm
Real people don't, but they should, say those who hire economists. If the algorithm doesn't work, change the inputs.
Wukchumni , March 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm
How many brand name economists up and quit in disgust 11 years ago when the powers that be decided to go against everything they stood for, and bailed out those that deserved to go down in financial flames?
not a one
bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm
A parenthetical lifted from Randy Wray's post responding to DeLong on MMT:
an exasperated Wynne Godley came into my office a couple of decades ago and announced that every [mainstream model] he had looked at was incoherent
That's the base problem, imho: economists are very successful as "experts" in a sociological sense, slotting into the role with firm claims on salary, status and ritual respect, as Yves Smith observed, but economics as a civic doctrine and a common frame of reference for political discourse is incoherent and economics as a scholarly discipline or "social science" fails methodological or epistemic standards.
There is a history of imperviousness to absolutely devastating critiques that isn't explained. Is that persistent "wrongness" related to professional success or only a by-product of an unfortunate pedagogy? Who puts the dogmatism into a dogma . . . and keeps it there?
(disclosure: i was a professional economist myself many years ago -- neither ambitious nor particularly successful, but I did attend ruling class schools for what that was worth)
deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 2:51 pm
Prof. Richard Werner has a fantastic talk (at the Russian Academy of Sciences) about, among other things, "the unresolved puzzles of modern economics" – to me the most striking there was how he dispenses with concept of "equilibrium".
He talks about the "puzzles" ~30 min in.
It is enough to see that and know that mainstream economists are little more than the high priests of the peculiar modern religion guiding our society.
Adam1 , March 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm
"The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities."
Sadly Mr. Wolf suffers from the same delusions that so many mainstream economist suffer. They think they have actually considered "actual realities".
Yet the foundations of mainstream economics ignores these ACTUAL REALITIES
– Assumes Loanable Funds yet the Bank of England & the Bundesbank both publicly published research say endogenous money is correct. Loans create Deposits. They are clueless as to how finance works. I recall the infamous intro to econ question "If I double you income and double prices for beer, how much beer can you now purchase?" The standard econ answer is the same amount of beer. But in the real world the correct answer is you don't know. The professor never told you how large the fixed debt payments of the person were which most definitely impacts the amount of disposable income you have to buy beer. But then again most economists would likely fail any advanced accounting class. Long gone are the days when undergraduate economics students in economics had to take 2 or 3 semesters of accounting. Even my alma mater which is definitely heterodox in faculty and has MMT / UMKC taught faculty only require 1 these days. You need a strong foundation in accounting to be stock flow consistent in your modeling of a highly monetary modern economy.
– Assumes upward sloping supply curve is the market norm. At least 3 economic studies have attempted to measure this on large cross industry scales and every time concludes that over 1/2 of all businesses face downward sloping cost curves (natural monopoly stuff, and we wonder why industry concentration is the norm) and another 1/3 face flat cost curves. An upward sloping supply curve, for those not taking advanced or graduate level economics IS the assumed upward sloping marginal cost curve of the industry or nation if you're crazy enough to apply it at the macro level.
There are dozens more piss pore assumptions that underpin mainstream economics. In this day and age far more EMPIRICAL, real word data can be used to confirm what really makes an economy work, but sadly what we teach in college is garbage where the ACTUAL REALITIES are ignored.
Steven , March 14, 2019 at 5:07 pm
Soddy (paraphrasing John Ruskin) yet again:
a logical definition of wealth is absolutely needed for the basis of economics if it is to be a science."
Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT,
2nd edition, p. 102
Economists and financiers seem to be incapable of understanding we live on a finite planet. Nor do they seem to be able to get beyond equating money with wealth. It is much easier to just put a price on something like a Beethoven symphony (or call it 'priceless') than to attempt a definition of wealth. But for most of us the ingredients of a definition are much simpler. Topping the list has to be energy. You can't create it but you can dissipate it, i.e. render it useless, by for example manufacturing useless junk that falls apart quickly enough for people who run or own the business to make a lot of money.
Or if your customers can no longer afford the junk because you have automated or off-shored their jobs, you can sell guns and bombs to your wholly owned government – to use in blowing up people who stand in the way of your accumulating more of the money created by your bankers, financiers and politicians. Then there is the basic intelligence required to run the machinery and discern better – i.e. more energy and resource efficient – ways of doing things. With real wealth creation comes power. The Chinese may have figured this out. The West's 1%, its economists, bankers and politicians don't appear to have a clue.
RBHoughton , March 14, 2019 at 11:19 pm
Did Kenneth Rogoff apologise for his hit on Iceland and his subsequent dismay defense in Ferguson's "Inside Job"? At least one of the Chicago boys (Jonathan Sachs) has resiled from the opinions of Friedman and rejoined the human race but only after a raft of countries were ground down by the mill of the moneymen. Chile and Poland seem to have survived at horrible social cost but what of the others?
The plaint is partly true. When governments were advised by economists, they replaced the wishes of the electorate. The economist brought along their army of lawyers who instantly appeared as mercenary terrorists to browbeat and coerce officials with various threats to do as the moneymen asked and cease attending to the people. This is still the state of play in UK and USA and those core paper-issuers drag the 'also rans' along with carrots and sticks.
I believe the fault lies in lazy officials who seldom run trials on new ideas in limited areas but drop the entire country into one speculative foray after another. Its a shame that its not mentioned. There is no good reason why the whole country has to be volunteered for these new scheme. Why has the UK Treasury shut down every competing form of banking to the high street banks – the trust banks, coop bank, post office bank, municipal banks, mutuals – all thrown away as infringers of the BoE's monopoly. The country needs an Oliver Cromwell or Napoleon to lead it not the present bunch of ragamuffins and hooligans.
That brings me to the second problem the disastrous state of the representation. It is mainly due to the control factions have brought to bear on the selection of candidates for office. That has to stop and the way to do it to have primary assemblies of every 200-300 people who select one of their number to represent them. He's a school friend or neighbor and a known quantity. Several primary assemblies select a chap to represent them and so on up this new structure of democracy to the top.
The business community have sought to keep everyone's nose to the grindstone with statistics justifying under payment by understating inflation. That has to stop. The economics trade belongs with astrology and weather forecasting until it acknowledges the fundamentals that drive prices.
Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 11:30 pm
It wasn't Ken Rogoff but Frederic Mishkin. He was on the Fed Board of Governors and had been vice chairman.
RBHoughton , March 15, 2019 at 4:00 am
Apologies to Mr Rogoff and grateful thanks to Yves for the correction. I'll take a pill now
Cal2 , March 15, 2019 at 12:29 am
It seems to me from my citizen's non-professional perspective that the only real economists are experts in resource extraction, manufacturing and end use of same.
IOW, a forester, mining, petroleum, construction engineer and even a naval admiral, sitting around a table, all beholden to and obeying the supreme chairmanship of an ecologist, would be a better and less destructive thing for the world than a bunch of money only maximum value extraction Wall Streeters controlling the engineers mentioned above.
Can there even be an economy without resource extraction? It seems like most new economic schemes are attempting this with humans bodies, credit ratings and bank accounts being the last available commodity.
Sound of the Suburbs , March 15, 2019 at 7:07 am
The economists got Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, but they missed this:
"The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community" Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist
What does our man on free trade mean?
He was an expert on the small state, unregulated capitalism he observed in the world around him. He was part of the new capitalist class and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
Employers have to cover the landlord's rents in wages reducing profit.
Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.
Employees get their money from wages and so the employer pays through wages.
Look at the US cost of living:
The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living
Employees get their money from wages, so it is the employer that pays through wages, reducing profit and driving off shoring from the US.
Maximising profit requires minimising labour costs; i.e. wages.
China, Asia and Mexico look good, the US is awful.
(This is Michael Hudson's argument in a slightly different from)
There are some fundamental problems with today's economics, like this and the fact it doesn't look at money, debt or banks.
Also, it hasn't worked out financial markets are not like other markets.
The supply of stocks stays fairly fixed and central banks can create a "wealth effect" by just adding liquidity. More money is now chasing a fairly fixed number of financial assets and the price (e.g. stock market) goes up.
Mar 16, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Kevin Peters , Mar 15, 2019 12:34:55 PM | link
The European banking system is about to implode with Italian banks in the worst state but which banks then owe the counter party risks, step forward the French banks. Macron is as it will be recalled a Rothschild banker.
The likes of the British banks aren't much better of course but the EU needs the UK and more importantly it's money to rescue thewe EU banks. Trouble is this is impossible task, but the EU is not about to allow the fifth largest economy to simply walk away.
Mar 16, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
smoothieX12 . -> Pat Lang , 17 hours agoI have this quote by Morgenthau on my desktop on my computer--it is from 1957 lecture in Naval War College:Pat Lang Mod -> smoothieX12 . , 15 hours ago
"I would say, and I have said many times before, that if the czars still reigned in Russia, that if Lenin had died of the measles at an early age, that if Stalin had never been heard of, but the power of the Soviet Union were exactly what it is today, the problem of Russia would be for us by and large what it is today. If the Russian armies stood exactly where they stand today, and if Russian technological development were what it is today, we would be by and large confronted with the same problems which confront us today."
In 2015 Kissinger basically reiterated the point when stated that the goal of US elites is a break up of Russia.I was told the same thing by Soviet specialists of the US Army who thought that what I did was irrelevant except for my demonstrated ability to recruit Soviets.
Jan 06, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comFred C. Dobbs : January 05, 2017 at 07:40 AM , 2017 at 07:40 AM(Harding redux?)Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , -1
The Trump Administration
Nov 28, 2016 - William Kristol
Who now gives much thought to the presidency of Warren G. Harding? Who ever did? Not us.
But let us briefly turn our thoughts to our 29th president (while stipulating that we're certainly no experts on his life or times). Here's our summary notion: Warren G. Harding may have been a problematic president. But the Harding administration was in some ways an impressive one, which served the country reasonably well.
It was possible to say, before Warren G. Harding was elected, that he wasn't particularly well-qualified to be president. And he did turn out as president to have, as we say nowadays, some issues. But his administration was stocked with (mostly) well-qualified men who served with considerable distinction.
Andrew Mellon was a successful Treasury secretary whose tax reforms and deregulatory efforts spurred years of economic growth. Charles Dawes, the first director of the Bureau of the Budget, reduced government expenditures and, helped by Mellon's economic policies, brought the budget into balance. Charles Evans Hughes as secretary of state dealt responsibly with a very difficult world situation his administration had inherited-though in light of what followed in the next decade, one wishes in retrospect for bolder assertions of American leadership, though in those years just after World War I, they would have been contrary to the national mood.
In addition, President Harding's first two Supreme Court appointments -- William Howard Taft and George Sutherland -- were distinguished ones. And Harding personally did some admirable things: He made pronouncements, impressive in the context of that era, in favor of racial equality; he commuted the wartime prison sentence of the Socialist leader, Eugene V. Debs. In these ways, he contributed to an atmosphere of national healing and civility.
The brief Harding administration-and for that matter the eight years constituting his administration and that of his vice president and successor, Calvin Coolidge-may not have been times of surpassing national greatness. But there were real achievements, especially in the economic sphere; those years were not disastrous; they were not dark times.
President-elect Donald J. Trump probably doesn't intend to model his administration on that of President Warren G. Harding. But he could do worse than reflect on that administration's successes-and also on its failures, particularly the scandals that exploded into public view after Harding's sudden death. These were produced by cronies appointed by Harding to important positions, where they betrayed his trust and tarnished his historical reputation.
Donald Trump manifestly cares about his reputation. He surely knows that reputation ultimately depends on performance. If a Trump hotel and casino is successful, it's not because of the Trump brand-that may get people through the door the first time-but because it provides a worthwhile experience thanks to a good management team, fine restaurants, deft croupiers, and fun shows. If a Trump golf course succeeds, it's because it has been built and is run by people who know something about golf. The failed Trump efforts-from the university to the steaks-seem to have in common the assumption that the Trump name by itself would be enough to carry mediocre or worse enterprises across the finish line.
To succeed in business, the brand only gets you so far. Quality matters. To succeed in the presidency, getting elected only gets you so far. Governing matters.
It would be ironic if Trump's very personal electoral achievement were followed by a mode of governance that restored greater responsibility to the cabinet agencies formally entrusted with the duties of governance. It would be ironic if a Trump presidency also featured a return of authority to Congress, the states, and to other civic institutions. It would be ironic if Trump's victory led not to a kind of American Caesarism but to a strengthening of republican institutions and forms. It would be ironic if the election of Donald J. Trump heralded a return to a kind of constitutional normalcy.
If we are not mistaken, it was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (though sadly unaware of the phenomena of either Warren G. Harding or Donald J. Trump) who made much of the Irony of History.
But how Hegelian it would be if the thesis of the Bush and Clinton dynasties, followed by the antithesis of a Trump victory over first a Bush and then a Clinton in 2016, were to produce an unanticipated synthesis: a Trump administration marked by the reconstruction of republican normalcy in America. In its own way, that would be a genuine contribution to making America great again.
(Harding-Coolidge-Hoover were a disastrous triumvirate that ascended to power after the Taft & Wilson administrations, as the GOP - then the embodiment of progressivism - split apart due to the efforts of Teddy Roosevelt.)ilsm -> Peter K.... , January 05, 2017 at 03:35 PM
Kristol is mad Trump lambasted the Iraq war. Was Putin against the Iraq war? I think the whole world was except for the "Coalition of the Willing." You'll never see the UK back another war like that.It is the neocon's taking a back seat! Kristol is co-founder of PNAC along with a Clinton mob long time foggy bottom associate's husband.. Trump is somewhat less thrilled with tilting with Russia for the American empire which is as moral as Nero's Rome.ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , -1Prescient: dumping Kristol's PNAC will strengthen the republic.Peter K. -> Peter K.... , January 05, 2017 at 07:52 AM
"Socialist feminist Liza Featherstone and others have denounced Clinton's uncritical praise of the "opportunity" and "freedom" of American capitalism vis-à-vis other developed nations. "With this bit of frankness," Featherstone explains, referring to the former Secretary of State's "Denmark" comments, "Clinton helpfully explained why no socialist-indeed, no non-millionaire-should support her. She is smart enough to know that women in the United States endure far more poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity than women in Denmark-yet she shamelessly made clear that she was happy to keep it that way." Indeed, Clinton's denunciation of the idea that the United States should look more like Denmark betrayed one of the glaring the fault lines within the Democratic Party, and between Clintonian liberalism and Sandersite leftism."
Is it better to ignore this fault line and try to paper it over or is it better to debate the issues in a polite and congenial manner?
Of course the progressive neoliberals in this forum regularly resort to ad hominem to any ideas or facts that don't line up with the agreed-upon party line.
Mar 13, 2019 | www.anncoulter.com
It is now clear that Trump isn't waiting for a better moment. This was not an anomaly. It's not an accident.
After he signed his third spending bill with no wall funding, which he claims to need, all sentient beings were forced to conclude that the president has no intention of ever doing anything we wanted on immigration.
In fact, Trump is steadily moving in the precise opposite direction of what he promised.
Illegal immigration is on track to hit the highest levels in more than a decade, and Trump has willfully decided to keep amnesty advocates Jared, Ivanka, Mick Mulvaney, Marc Short and Mercedes Schlapp in the White House. For all his talk about immigration, did he ever consider hiring people who share his MAGA vision?
A (diminishing) percentage of the base is annoyed when I point this out. They think that the moment something comes out of Trump's mouth, IT HAS HAPPENED.
Yes, Trump talks a good game. He's like a waiter who compliments us for ordering the hamburger, but keeps bringing us fish. The hamburger is our signature dish, juicy and grilled to perfection, you've made a brilliant choice ... now here's your salmon.
If he refuses to do what we hired him to do, he's not getting a good Yelp review.
I've decided to discuss the Trump presidency in purely mathematical terms. It's not his fault! He's trying! Never has a president been under such attack! -- these are more in the nature of "excuses," not facts.
Under my new approach, I will provide a numerical evaluation of the Trump presidency, which I call:
TRUMP BY THE NUMBERS!
No editorializing, no invective, no opinion.
** ** **
NUMBER OF MILES OF WALL BUILT ON OUR SOUTHERN BORDER SINCE TRUMP HAS BEEN PRESIDENT: ZERO.
** ** **
NUMBER OF MILES OF FENCE, BOLLARD OR GARDEN TRELLIS BUILT ALONG OUR 2,000-MILE BORDER SINCE TRUMP HAS BEEN PRESIDENT: 26.
** ** **
NUMBER OF TIMES TRUMP HAS CLAIMED ON TWITTER HE'S ALREADY BUILDING THE WALL: 16 BY MY COUNT.
** ** **
NUMBER OF TIMES TRUMP HAS COMPLAINED ON TWITTER THAT CONGRESS WON'T GIVE HIM FUNDS TO BUILD THE WALL THAT HE SAYS HE'S ALREADY BUILDING: AT LEAST 30 BY MY COUNT.
** ** **
NUMBER OF WALL "PROTOTYPES" DESTROYED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: ALL OF THEM.
** ** **
NUMBER OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS ENDING THE ANCHOR BABY SCAM -- AS TRUMP PROMISES WHENEVER AN ELECTION IS COMING: ZERO.
** ** **
NUMBER OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED BY TRUMP RESCINDING OBAMA'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIEN "DREAMERS": ZERO.
** ** **
NUMBER OF ILLEGAL ALIENS WHOSE PRESENCE HAS BEEN EXCUSED BY TRUMP: 11 TO 50 MILLION (depending on whether you believe the propaganda or the facts).
** ** **
NUMBER OF EXTENSIONS OF THE E-VERIFY SYSTEM TO PREVENT ILLEGALS FROM BEING HIRED OVER AMERICANS: ZERO.
** ** **
NUMBER OF H1-B FOREIGN WORKERS IN THIS COUNTRY WHEN TRUMP TOOK OFFICE: APPROXIMATELY 1 MILLION.
** ** **
NUMBER OF H1-B FOREIGN WORKERS IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY: APPROXIMATELY 1 MILLION.
** ** **
NUMBER OF ASYLUM LOOPHOLES CLOSED: ZERO.
... ... ...
Apart from immigration, probably the single most important campaign promise Trump made was to end the carried interest loophole. Most Republicans would break out into a cold sweat if asked to raise taxes on George Soros. FINALLY, we had a Republican (or Democrat) who wasn't beholden to Wall Street!
During the campaign, Trump said this tax scam allowed hedge fund managers to "get away with murder" and vowed to eliminate it. Americans who hadn't voted for 30 years said: How do I register to vote?
Let's take out the slide rule!
** ** **
NUMBER OF CARRIED INTEREST LOOPHOLES ELIMINATED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: ZERO.
** ** **
TOTAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS IN 2016 GIVEN BY GOLDMAN SACHS TO HILLARY CLINTON: $388,000.
** ** **
TOTAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS GIVEN BY GOLDMAN SACHS TO TRUMP: $5,607 (or 70 times less than Goldman gave to Hillary).
** ** **
NUMBER OF GOLDMAN SACHS EMPLOYEES PUT IN TOP ADMINISTRATION POSITIONS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: 7 -- or "more than Presidents Bush and Obama combined."
(For someone unable to fulfill the most basic of his immigration promises, Trump has been amazingly competent in accomplishing the things Wall Street wanted, but no one else did.)
** ** **
NUMBER OF ACTIONS TAKEN TO DEFEND THE FREE SPEECH RIGHTS OF TRUMP'S BIGGEST SUPPORTERS BEING DEPLATFORMED AND CENSORED, SUCH AS MILO YIANNOPOULOS, GAVIN MCINNES, LAURA LOOMER AND ALEX JONES:
** ** **
PERCENTAGE OF THE BASE THAT TRUMP CAN AFFORD TO LOSE IN 2020, AFTER MILLIONS OF OLDER, WHITER AMERICANS HAVE DIED OFF, AND MILLIONS OF IMMIGRANTS HAVE TURNED 18 AND BEGUN VOTING: ZERO.
COPYRIGHT 2019 ANN COULTER
Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
A newly declassified US intelligence memo has been unearthed this week and featured in a bombshell Wall Street Journal report. It proves that the year prior to the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq the White House was expressly warned in great detail of all that could and would go wrong in the regime change war's aftermath, including the Sunni-Shia sectarian chaos and proxy war with Iran that would define Iraq and the whole region for years following. And crucially, it reveals that seven months before the US invasion of Iraq, American intelligence officials understood that Osama bin Laden was likely "alive and well and hiding in northwest Pakistan" -- important given that a key Bush admin claim to sell the war was that Saddam Hussein and bin Laden were "in league" against the United States.
The July 2002 memo was authored by William Burns, then serving as assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and though clearly dismissed by the Bush neocons making the case for war, proved prescient on many levels. "Following are some very quick and informal thoughts on how events before, during and after an effort to overthrow the regime in Baghdad could unravel if we're not careful, intersecting to create a 'perfect storm' for American interests," Burns wrote in the memo, classified 'Secret' and sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The classified memo's existence was first brought to the public's attention through Knight Ridder's reporting in July 2003, which sought to reveal at the time there were pockets of dissenting voices in the State Department and intelligence community pushing back against the absurd White House claim that the whole operation would be a "cakewalk" and US troops would be greeted as "liberators". And there's Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous declaration that the military effort would take "weeks rather than months."
Now, sixteen years after the start of the war the "perfect storm" intel briefing has been made public in fully redacted form and it affirms, as the WSJ reports , "Diplomats accurately forecast many setbacks: sectarian violence, attacks on U.S. troops, Iranian intervention and long road to structural change ." Out of this came the rise of ISIS and the continued unleashing of regime change and sectarian chaos on neighboring Syria.
The ten page memo outlines a litany of catastrophic doom and gloom scenarios resulting from the invasion which would destabilize not only Iraq, but unleash sectarian hell on the entire region .
Here are but a handful of the memo's many warnings which later proved right on target, as summarized by the military reporting website Task & Purpose :
- Iran increasing aid to anti-American groups in both Iraq and Afghanistan because it feared being "next on US hit list."
- Security in Iraq collapsing following regime change because Iraqi troops and police would be too afraid to patrol while Iraqis aligned with the United States would prove to be inept.
- U.S. troops coming under increasing attacks as they patrol both Shiite and Sunni cities. "If they intervene to stop disputes, they are perceived to have sided with one party or another in a tribal dispute, thus incurring the wrath of the opposing party."
- Afghanistan's security situation simultaneously deteriorating, creating the need for more U.S. troops there.
- "Carpetbaggers, bill collectors, expats and exiles," arriving in Iraq. "It will be a wild mix."
"I don't mean to be pessimistic, because I really do believe that if we do it right this could be a tremendous boon to the future of the region, and to U.S. national security interests," the memo stated. "But we should have no illusion that it will be quick or easy."
And further contradicting Cheney's "weeks rather than months" claim, the memo accurately predicted that U.S. troops would have to stay for, "Five years – maybe four if we're lucky, ten if we're not."
Read the full newly declassified and unredacted intelligence memo here .
Some further interesting highlights from the July 2002 'Secret' report are below.
* * *
Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan (the Bush admin claimed Saddam and bin Laden were in cahoots)
"Osama bin Laden turns out to be alive and well and hiding in NW Pakistan. We press Paks, internal stresses grow in Pakistan."
Iran and Syria targeted next
"Following US warnings that it would take the war on terrorism to all groups with global capabilities, Iran and Syria hold summit meeting, decide US has targeted them."
Iran and Syria "strengthen positions in face of perceived US threat against them following action in Iraq."
Sectarian score settling and Shia uprising
"This means night becomes the time for revenge, all over Iraq. A horrible wave of bloodletting and private vengeance begins... US forces are helpless to stop the countrywide phenomenon. Police, intelligence, senior military, and Baath Party officials effectively go into hiding..."
"Shia religious and political leaders, unhappy with composition of provisional government and determined to secure greater share of power in post-Saddam Iraq... This leads to more violent confrontations, and deaths, and the riots become a political tool to demonstrate power and increase leverage against Sunnis and Kurds..."
Long US quagmire to put down sectarian powder keg
"Faced with inchoate and escalating disorder in the provinces, the US faces an agonizing decision: step up to a more direct security role, or devolve power to local leaders."
"The Shia in the south, quietly aided by Iran, stage major revolt, taking over local government offices and killing interim officials."
Weapons from Saddam's army will disappear (to be later used against US occupation)
"Law and Order, collecting weapons. We won't get them, most will go to ground."
"All for one, one for all, free for all - deals, short-term scrambles. It will be every clan for itself."
Mar 16, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com
ProPolyx Ignored says: 03/14/2019 at 4:30 pmVenezuela production is not only being hit by the blackout – which seems to have damaged their overall grid capacity – but by new sanctions. Their diluent supplier has just stated they will stop business.Watcher x Ignored says: 03/15/2019 at 2:35 am
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-reliance/reliance-halts-diluents-export-to-venezuela-not-raised-oil-buying-idUSKBN1QU240Perhaps useful to note that Maduro was just as incompetent 6 months ago as presumably he is now. He was just as incompetent 9 months ago as presumably he is now. And indeed, he was just as incompetent three months ago as he is now. In fact we could take it back years.ProPoly x Ignored says: 03/15/2019 at 10:29 am
Thus, it surely is just a coincidence that their blackout occurred at a point in time when a foreign coup attempt was underway, rather than 9 or 6 or 3 months ago. Sabotage could not be involved because we're told that incompetence and corruption is responsible, of the sort that just happened to manifest itself at this point in time.
The 20 folks who are alleged to have died in hospitals from lack of power just coincidentally died at this particular point in time. Because it is merely coincidence, the saboteurs probably cannot be tried for murder.
Power has apparently been restored. Oil will resume its flow at whatever magnitude.Rust doesn't sleep. You ignore something long enough it's gonna fail.Watcher x Ignored says: 03/15/2019 at 11:43 am
This is just their worst grid failure, far from the first.Ahh, rust has a feel for coincidence, too.Brazilian Guy (in ironic mode) x Ignored says: 03/15/2019 at 12:44 pmOf course there are no coincidences, just the things that the CIA, the Illuminati, the freemasons, the jewish bankers and the Martians wanted to happen.TechGuy x Ignored says: 03/16/2019 at 12:48 am"Thus, it surely is just a coincidence that their blackout occurred at a point in time when a foreign coup attempt was underway, rather than 9 or 6 or 3 months ago. Sabotage could not be involved because we're told that incompetence and corruption is responsible, of the sort that just happened to manifest itself at this point in time."Hightrekker x Ignored
I am sure the US is trying to speed up the process. After all, those Aid buses were not torched by Mo or his supporters but by Western agents. Its difficult to know who is really to blame for the blackout, but the US has an agenda to take control over VZ. I would not rule out the US causing it.