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Corruption as an immanent feature of neoliberalism

It is possible to drain the swamp?

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended books Recommended Links "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Senator Bob Menendez
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Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy  John Kenneth Galbraith Alternatives to neoliberalism Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

 The discussion below is reproduced with minor changes from  idec.gr (work in progress)

No political system is exempt from corruption and in my opinion this outcome might even be somehow inexorable due to the nature of a state based polity. The difference between  the European systems in particular but also, at the limit, the American one and those societies the US hypocritically claim as corrupt might be mainly based not on the extent of corruption, but on different types of corruption used. Partially this might be due to the fact that younger society which are still in formation  exhibit more "primitive" types of corruption then societies which have already passed the middle-age period in their life cycle. Revolving door corruption is rampant in the USA, but not so popular in Russia, Iran and other "younger" countries.  Old style bribes at the same time are more common in Russia, although in many cases they function not as bribe but as a kind of private insurance again prejudice/friction of the system: they help to prevent bias in the system or speed up processing of  a request,  but not materially affect outcome.

And to answer your question: "how to prevent the hijacking of public interest by state officials; protect the society form abuse of  the possibility of extracting private benefit inherent in large power of the state official?"

But there is another aspect of corruption which is pretty modern in origin. The dominant Western perspective on "governance" failed to highlight the major source of corruption -- neoliberalism as a social system. 

The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalization. It is variant of "blame the poor" (countries) line when instead of blaming neoliberal reforms themselves, neoliberals try to divert the attention from neoliberalism as a powerful force of enabling corruption  by highlighting other contributing factors such as

Over recent years,  IMF and World Bank have been promoting an artificially constructed discourse on corruption that separates it from its historic narrative -- the neoliberal political system under which it now flourish. They use pretty elaborate smoke screen designed to hide the key issues under the set of fuzzy terms such as "transparency", "accountability", "governance", "anticorruption initiatives". Ignoring the socio-political role of corruption of key mechanism of the neoliberal debt enslavement of peripheral nations  (see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - Wikipedia

As Wikipedia points out there is no universally accepted definition of corruption. In this sense privatization might well be the most widespread type of corruption which occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity to sell government property for pennies on the dollar to local oligarchs of international companies. with delayed payment via the "revolving door" mechanism.

If we assume that corruption is 'illegitimate use of government power to benefit a private interest" then neoliberalism is the most corrupt social system imaginable.

But in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption. The private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies especially international sharks to get unfair advantage. And they can use the USA embassy as a source of pressure instead of bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and destroys the stability of the economy. 

Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick).

This assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state and in case of peripheral nations without being strong armed by more powerful states. Under neoliberalism ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract.

Moreover antisocial behavior under liberalism is explicitly promoted (" greed is good") -- self-enrichment at the expense of others and society as a whole. Also the Western banks serve as a "treasure vault" for stolen money and Western states provides "safe heaven" for corrupt officials that face prosecution. At least this is true for Russian oligarchs when each crook automatically became "fighter for freedom" after landing in London airport and stolen money are indirectly appropriated by British state and never returned to Russia.

The USA is very similar. It likes to condemn corruption as but seldom returns that money stolen -- for example it never returned to Ukraine money stolen by Ukrainian Prime minister under President Kuchma Pavlo Lazarenko ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlo_Lazarenko  )

Moreover in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption, private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies attempts to get unfair advantage, for example by bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to  a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and deregulation policies destroys the stability of the economy.

Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up in the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick). It also assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state. Ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract. Antisocial behaviour is explicitly promoted (" greed is good").  As Pope Francis noted

... 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”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naďve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Neoliberals limit ethical component to adhering to contracts. However, the contracts themselves might be corrupt, or it can be forces upon other party under duress. It is important to see all those trick neoliberals use and develop a critical stance towards the Western anti-corruption "crusade" of the last decade. At least disclose all the hypocrisy behind it.  this is especially important as "corruption" serves as matches to flare up  "color revolutions" -- a new war strategy of penetrating of international capital into peripheral countries.

The key neoliberal argument is that corruption is an obstacle to "good governance" and economic development. They never evaluate corruption within a wider ethical frame as for example Pope Francis does, not they discuss the implications of neoliberal reforms on social rights.

In ethics corruption refers to a domination of social relations by self-interest and to the perception of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles or competitors. “In the morally corrupt society, civic virtue and social responsibility are displaced and discarded in favor of an intense competition for spoils.” In neoliberal thinking, however, the term is narrowly defined referring to the misuse of public office for private gain by bureaucrats, which is just a tip of the iseberg, because it is the other party -- powerful translational or local oligarchs who are buying those government officials.

Thus the drastic shift in in defining the term after the 1980s coincide with triumphant mach of neoliberalism over the world.  While the state was supposed to produce public interest and common good before then, the emphasis shifted in the neoliberal era to the opportunities that public power provided for individual rent-seeking. This is harmonious with the assumptions of neoliberal approach to governance, which treats the state as an economic entity.

The notion of good governance  under neoliberalism  typically means market reforms and their political framework of deregulation and privatization. In reality both are cesspool of corruption. As the business started to build direct ties with the bureaucracy it automatically obtains a greater role in decision making, and as the capacity of the state to facilitate private personal rents in the market increased. So corruption served much to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy under neoliberalism. Neoliberalism discard the necessity of national and planned development model of the Keynesian era in terms of facilitating and accelerating capital redistribution and accumulation, especially in transition economies. It is ironic that a neoliberal anti-corruption campaign led to tremendous level of corruption of privatization of industry in xUSSR countries and establishing (with direct help of the West)  a strata of powerful, corrupt, often criminal and closely linked to the West oligarchs.

This, on the other hand, the notion of corruption under neoliberalism is conceptualized in such a way that trivialize the value of state intervention in the economy, discard any notion of public interest, and even of national priorities in politics. In order to reverse the neoliberal domination as the ideology it is important to stress the fact that under neoliberalism the whole the arena over which market competition occurred is corrupt.  The players are not only unethical they are often criminal as recent investigation of TBTF banks had shown. This way is easier to bring ethics back into discussion of corruption and start to understand the without state interference it is impossible to have a fair market. Please note that neoliberals try to avoid discussion the notion of "fair market" substituting it with "free market" misnomer, which idealize the market  as the sphere of voluntary action and freedom. In reality it is far from that and in unregulated market bigger players simply squash or swallow  the small fish.

The Neoliberal Discourse on Corruption

The neoliberal discourse on corruption is based on a certain set of assumptions about state-society relations and on a certain stance about the role of state in economy. As Pinar Bedirhanoğlu argues, “the neoliberal conception of corruption is ahistoric, biased, contradictory and politicized, and has been induced by concerns over market competition rather than morality.” This is because neoliberal conceptualization of corruption has fulfilled significant functions in globalized economy and politics, particularly at moments of financial crisis, such as the 1997 East Asian financial crisis and in Turkey after the 2001 crisis.

 The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state–business relations and patrimonial state in the South, referring either to the heritage of the ‘strong state tradition’ in Turkey, ‘the communist past’ in Russia, or the ‘corporatist past’ in Latin America.

 Identifying corruption either with the inherent characteristics of bureaucrats and politicians (this way distorting the key idea of public administration  -- providing service to the people) or traditional and cultural characteristics of certain regions helps idealizing the Western political and economic model under the name ‘good governance’. This approach also served for the world elites to partially overcome the legitimacy crisis that the Western states experienced since the 1980s by articulating the demand of democratic reforms ("export of democracy"), the language of "good governance", transparency, and building civil society (at the same time under this rhetoric destroying all the social achievements of welfare state). Using its dominance in MSM neoliberals manage to brainwash public to the extent it start behaving contrary to its own economic interests, and in the interests of financial oligarchy (What's the matter with Kansas)

Neoliberals stress that enlargement of market relations and reduction in state functions would provide not only economic efficiency but also freedom and democracy, by breaking up the monopolization of power. The market is accepted as the sphere of freedom since transactions within it are voluntary and decentralized. New Right theoreticians argue that freedom is the individual control over choices, and it is best exercised in a market economy.

Concept of "Governance" and forceful suppression of discussion of links between political and economical spheres of society

By the 1970s neolibrals started to remove "the excesses of democracy" of New Deal and European Welfare states. Cosial reforms on New Deal era were condemned for the economic troubles during the decade, as was also the Keynesian economy o which they were based.  Organized labour and mass movements were suppressed and as they deemed  to be incompatible with unconstrained capitalist accumulation.

Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy in not just another policy, just favoring big ploayers instead of small fish. It if such approach is not political. Welfare reforms came to be regarded as an anomaly, as an obstance to economic development. And crusing orgnized labour was presented as return to the normal distinction between economic and political spheres. However, the "de-economization" of politics under neoliebral was just a smoke screen decsined to hide accesnce to power of finacnial olitachy, the political force supressed by New Deal. So it was a countrrevolution not a revolution. And instead of promotion of democracy it resulted in promotion of  authoritarianism ans police state (national Security State) were protection of financial olitarchy is disguied as "fight against terrorisrm". Public debate on the policy of taxation, privatization, on the forced retreat of state from social sectors, about the level of autonomy of Central Bank etc., was forcefully supressed.

So, to maintain the neolibel system the elites forcefully suppress and hide the relationship between economy and politics.

The term ‘governance’ started to be positively used by all parties to describe the political form of global market economy. It is defined as ‘governance without government’. Theories of governance argued that while government refers to formal acts and procedures at state level, governance is based on a network of informal relations at all levels. It assumes an interdependency between nations, between nations and international organizations, and between nations and transnational or subnational structures.

Governance aims at organizing the state and social life in general, along market relations. Even the state itself is dealt as if it is a business administration job. Politics is identified with corruption, nepotism, partisanship etc., and the parliamentarian and political party systems are regarded negatively as sources of populism, which harmed much the functioning of the economy.8

Making economic decisions turned out to be the job of technocrats, who were claimed to be neutral professionals applying the objective rules of the game called economy. Legislation and regulation are increasingly carried out by non-parliamentary and non-governmental agents. A neo-corporatist structure is developing in which interest groups and specialized policy networks represent themselves in a market-like sphere of politics. As expert knowledge “as opposed to popular, common-sensical, everyday knowledge” of the people tends to prevail, the democracy of citizens is being replaced by the democracy of organized interest and lobbies. So, as Jean Grugel states, globalisation

Use of "fight with corruption" as the Trojan horse for neoliberalization of economy

The neoliberal anticorruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state – business relations and patrimonial state in the South. Governance are not neutral processes with regard to their effects on state and society.10 The neoliberal discourse on corruption should be dealt accordingly. According to the neoliberal approach state is regarded as “the simple sum of profit maximising bureaucrats and politicians”, and corruption is assumed to arise for the rents created by the holding of offices. It is perceived as if exploitation and corruption are intrinsic characteristics of the state itself rather than representing its abuse. The underlying state– market dichotomy has led to an understanding of corruption primarily as a problem of the state.11 Those corrupt actions which necessitate the existence of public power –the state- as one of the parties of a mutual relation, such as bribery or extortion are mostly emphasized in the literature. Fraud or embezzlement, on the other hand, can be found in the private sector as well. While control mechanisms and measures are regarded sufficient in the private sector and corruption cases are not related to the nature of the property ownership, the state cannot benefit from such an exemption. This cannot be evaluated independently from the neoliberal attack against public ownership. It is for certain that public power is manipulated to gain economic advantage but so is economic power in private sphere.

Neoliberal discourse assumes that corruption is a phenomenon of the public sector. This interpretation “obscures the rising possibilities for private sector corruption caused by market-led economic reforms and has little to say about the complex linkages between abuses in the private and public sectors”.

Neoliberals regard the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rent-seeking behaviour of individual public servants. This is based upon highly questionable conceptualizations of human motivation and a very poor understanding of the state. Their major objective is limited to explaining how the activities of public servants distort the efficient functioning of markets.

Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke counter the view that the state is inherently more prone to corruption than the private sector. They argue that this, for example, leads to a lack of recognition of the opportunities for corruption that privatization and deregulation have provided. Even the World Bank accepts that transition to market economy has created fertile ground for corruption.

Since neoliberal discourse has a very limited conceptual understanding of the nature and functioning of the state and its relation to civil society, there appears certain inconsistencies. For example the writers refer to contradiction between the creation of new public bodies within institutional reform programmes and the assumption that public officials are primarily motivated by self-interest, and they question the hidden assumption that the workers within those anti-corruption offices were likely to be less corrupt than other public sector workers claimed to be naturally prone to rent-seeking behaviour.

Putting “public sector corruption as the most severe impediment to development and growth”, and moreover, claiming such things that bribery “distorts sectoral priorities and technology choices (by, for example, creating incentives to contract for large defence projects rather than rural health clinics specializing in preventive care)” is unfair and misleading. Corrupt behaviour is not limited to state officials; idealizing private sector actions while attacking state sector is at best naive. It is impossible to deny the motives for unethical behaviour in private sector and it is claimed that even the economic liberalization after 1980s, pointed as the solution of corruption problems, opened the path of corporate corruptions.

Since 1990s anti-corruption agenda has been promoted in developing countries through the reform programmes of the international financial institutions. It is not easy to determine whether an overall increase in corruption led to the anti-corruption campaign. Critical studies highlight the instrumentalization of anti-corruption discourse. Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke argue that there was little reliable evidence to determine if corruption levels had been worsening or whether there has simply been increasing legal and public recognition of corruption cases or perhaps even the conscious manipulation of public sensitivity about the issue.

The example of Turkey is worth mentioning. Coming to the office to recover Turkish economy after the Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy was not something political. (14 Ibid., p 287-91 and P. Bedirhanoğlu, “The Neoliberal Discourse on Corruption as a Means of Consent) 2001 financial crisis, Minister of Economic Affairs, now the UNDP President Kemal Derviş, have then explained the causes of the crisis with reference to the corrupt banking structure in Turkey and skilfully introduced the neoliberal discourse that associates anti-corruption porely with failures of  the implementation of the neoliberal reforms.

Through this discourse, neoliberal institutionalisation in Turkey which had been proceeding back and forth because of the resistance of various social forces for about a decade accelerated. Since this competition-induced concern over corruption was articulated within the moral based debates in domestic politics, the strategy received public consent.

The international ‘crusade’ against corruption does not fight with corruption itself but in the first place “promotes commerce, uniformity in commercial law and the associated disciplines of the market as indirect constraints on the conduct of states themselves”. In this respect, Barry Hindess regards the international anti-corruption campaign labelled as the promotion of good governance as an updated version of the older system of capitulations, which required independent states to acknowledge the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Western states in the area of commercial law.

Many scholars underline the conscious attempt of neoliberals to use corruption as a strategy for enabling neoliberal policies and try to demonstrate the consequences or by-products of international anti-corruption campaign of the last decade. One of those consequences is the strengthening of executive power and the growing role of international financial institutions. To overcome this problems that undermine state legitimacy, politics of civil society is gradually articulated in the campaign.

Despite their anti-state stance neoliberals are well aware of the continuing functions of state as a coercive and legitimizing body in regulating society. A central role is attached to the state in the launching of anticorruption policies. Pinar Bedirhanoğlu describes this as “to put the foxes in charge of the chicken house if it is recalled that corruption is assumed to be intrinsic to the state in rentier state theories”. To balance the state and prevent it from following a national program external pressure imposed by international financial institutions, NGOs, private sector, autonomous regulatory agencies, regional development agencies is applied. Rent-creation capacity of these bodies are usually disregarded. Practical monopoly of technical expertise makes such institutions extremely powerful and unaccountable.

As to the NGOs, in our case to those fighting against corruption, the question below is worth asking: “Can NGOs and similar organizations really help socialize citizens into the system, or do they rather represent a means by which citizens abdicate responsibility for active citizenship, and leave responsibility for political engagement with NGO staff?”.

Demet Dinler states that anti-corruption measures were functional in the redefinition of the relationship between the economic and the political. They emerged as a legitimating mechanism to justify market reforms and the separation of the economic from the political, because the ‘failure’ of the first generation reforms we explained by the continuing dominance of the political over the economic. “Corruption has been conceptualized as a ‘purely political’ phenomenon, related only to the politicians and their bureaucratic companions, by ignoring the major role of the businessmen in corruption and rentseeking.”

While the neoliberal concern on corruption is market-based and competition-induced at the international level, the domestic debates on corruption rest on moral grounds. This, according to Pınar Bedirhanoğlu, indicate different attitudes of capital and popular classes towards corruption. That of the latter seems to provide a more political ground. Corruption is undoubtedly harmful to the public interest through whatever medium we build the relation. However, it would be in vain to expect that the funds “rescued from the grasp of the corrupt public servant or politician” will be spent on good causes, such as education or health facilities for the poor.

The discourse of governance reduces morality to the loyalty to contract. However, we argue that the contract itself might be corrupt, if corruption is defined in ethical terms as the public opinion perceives it. The next part of the study will deal with the collapse of welfare policies and the transformation of labor market in this framework. 

A neoliberals also develop , cultivate and support interest groups and specialized policy networks which promotes neoliberalism and separation of politics and economics.

Attack of social rights as the mean to restore profitability in the environment of end of "cheap oil"

In the aftermath of the depression, the WWII and Keynesian revolution, the state actively intervened into the economy, helping to manage the conflicts arising from market competition In terms of its institutional and policy role, social provision was central to accumulation, helping to socialize consumption over the life-course and the reproduction of labor power. The success of the consolidation and expansion of welfare systems in virtually every Western country from 1950 through the early 1970s had two profound consequences for the political economy of welfare systems today. First, any attack on or defense of a welfare system must now operate along three distinct, yet interrelated, spheres: the economic, political and the cultural. Second, with welfare systems so successfully integrated into the institutional make-up of nations, the politics of welfare encompass far more than political wheeling and dealing over national budgets. Although expenditure levels remain important, the politics of welfare are increasingly about a nation’s class, racial, generational, and gender divisions. As an object of struggle and conflict, then, welfare politics reflect the interest of myriad social forces, such as employers’ associations, poverty groups, small business, social movements, and trade unions. Recent conflict over welfare systems has been intense, with government action from above and recipient reaction from below being very contentious.

However, both the ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism and the ‘Golden Age’ of social reforms came to an end with the worldwide economic slump of 1974-82, a crisis which covered two distinct generalized recessions separated by a weak recovery. In a long and drawn out process, the 1974-82 economic slump led to a new consensus in economic policy across the advanced capitalist economies. In the early 1980s, a neoliberals started a real offensive with the distinct goals of engineering an economic recovery and restoring profitability by redistributing the wealth up.

Destruction of New Deal and Welfare-state Social Policies

In altering the parameters of state intervention, neoliberalism rejected and turned away from the post-war reliance on the social right and more fair distribution of the results of  economic activity. The return of mass unemployment, industrial downsizing, the liberalization of capital flows and a rearticulating of hegemony of financial capital all changed the terrain of capitalist relations, destroying the post-war accord between the capital and labor.  Through neoliberalism coercive redistribution of wealth up started in full force. The emerging stage of ‘transnational capitalism’ is marked by high levels of capital mobility and economic integration between countries (some reduced to supplies of raw materials, like in classic neocolonialism) and defined by capital’s interaction with multiple states and an intensification of international competition. In this new political economic context, welfare systems are facing a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects and welfare system rivalry.

Neoliberal transformation of society put strong downward pressure on welfare systems. Apart from weakening organized labor outright, neoliberalism targets the economic, social and political costs of welfare. As John O’Connor argues for most of the 1990s, welfare systems in the advanced capitalist countries were the object of intense conflict between employers and workers. Governments fought hard to cut the cost of pensions, health care and benefit payments, while unions struggled to protect their longstanding social gains.26 In reshaping welfare systems, employers have been seeking to lower costs, improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. This is all being done to further international competitiveness and to help restore profitability. Defensive struggles over welfare systems have not been able to stop the retrenchment of social provision. Governments have embarked also on strategies of shifting the role of public and private sector via massive privatization of state assets, in which the private sector acquired public sector assets (as well as responsibilities and activities at discounted prices. Neoliberal policies resulted in globalization of capital and goods flows. It also led to mass outsourcing / off-shoring of whole industries to third world countries. The capability of swashing the cost of labor has been an important factor for multinational corporations. That is why reducing the cost of labor has been a major area by developing countries to compete against each other. Instead of permanent employment neoliberalism prefers the part-time labor / contractor  economy, were employees have not  social rights and minimal social protection.

There is a growing sense that social policies are taking new directions as policy debates move from an earlier embrace of privatization and marketization, to the task of retooling the state to face new social risks and to reproduce the social (social cohesion, social capital, social inclusion, social economy).27 Welfare system today have been openly scrutinized and challenged by Neoliberal approaches have regarded the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rentseeking behaviour of individual public servants, politicians, employers, citizens, and tax payers as never before in the vast majority of Western nations. The roots of this scrutiny and challenge have been the subject of much political and scholarly debate. As economic globalisation has progressed, nation states have forfeited sovereignty to supra-national organizations and treaties, such as the Group of Seven, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Union (NAFTA). These agencies and Organisations represent a complicated shift in political economic governance from the domestic level toward the supranational.29 With trans-state accumulation, there has been a move within many nations to move from ‘discretionary-based’ to ‘rule-based’ policy making.

This move toward rules is an attempt to implement mechanisms that automatically force domestic policy to reflect the changes associated with the global economy; e.g., the EU, the WTO, the IMF or World Bank.

Welfare retrenchment is sold to the public in terms of it being more a dictate of rules or logic of the global economy. Welfare systems are viewed now as national luxuries that cannot be afforded in the global economy. Given the enhanced exit options in today’s world, the political relationship among capital, the state and welfare coalitions have been recast. Capital mobility – or the threat of capital mobility – has the effect of forcing workers/unions and welfare coalitions into making concessions.31 Because capital is mobile, it can take an extremely aggressive stance in wage bargaining or in political negotiations. Trans-state accumulation has enhanced the power of capital, while leaving labour and welfare coalitions politically impotent. In addition to the usual concern over immigration, unemployment and population aging, it is obvious that governments in Europe and North America point to the pressures of economic globalisation as being one of the main reasons behind social cutbacks.

This offensive against the public sector in general and social systems in particular is universal and the language of globalisation has been central to this neoliberal assault.

As with the recasting of class relations, remaking the mode of production and reorganizing accumulation, neoliberalism seeks to restructure labour markets, making them more responsive to competitive forces. The integration of domestic economies has opened the door to welfare system social dumping effects, in which the benefits and services in one country are lowered the ward off any potential competitive disadvantages relative to another.32 Social dumping effects reflect governments’ concern that high ‘social cost’ will undermine a nation’s international competitiveness.

Given the rapid changes in the world market and the intensification of competition, an adaptable workforce and flexibility in the hiring and firing of workers are considered valuable economic assets. In general terms, economic flexibility can refer to the ability of capitalist enterprises to adjust their productive strategies, the ability of workers to move from one job to another and the ability of wage levels to move according to prevailing economic conditions.33

The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements. This neoliberal reordering unleashed the economic transforming tendencies of state rationalisation, market contestability, and factor mobility (‘coercive competition’) on all nations. The importance of coercive competition is that it simultaneously acted on and transcended domestic institutional-policy frameworks.

In this new political economic context, domestic social systems faced a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects, and welfare system rivalry. The prime source of retrenchment pressures was that the mobile capital has an aversion to anything that contributes to competitive locational disadvantage. These pressures were dealt with politically determines the nature and scope of welfare system retrenchment. It is obvious that the explanation of globalisation has become a force “helping to create the institutional realities it purportedly merely describes.”34 Recent welfare practice reflects discursive practices that communicate an “apolitical logic of inevitabilism” that rules out all alternatives to globalisation and welfare retrenchment.35 

The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. Neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements.

Conclusions

As a political strategy neoliberalism tries to restore profitability at the expense of social well-being of population. the problem of corruption is used as smoke screen for penetration into third world countries and for extracting raw materials at low, globalised prices.  Through such organizations as WTO a global market was created where raw materials prices are nearly same in the world and goods can flow globally without borders and customs . This situation transforms the world economies into an open market and also open production islands not just for goods also for services also. That is why the competition continues over labor costs where states can still compete over. This competition made the governments cut out welfare expenditures to reduce costs of production.

Through this neoliberal transformative action and discourse states are eliminating workers post-war social gains and social protections such as  guaranteed pension, health care and benefit payments. This is done  to improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. Apart from weakening labor rights, neoliberalism also redistributes wealth by eliminating  high taxes to upper brackets of population, reducing the cost of welfare and privatizing those saving by financial sector.

Neoliberalism creates "race to the bottom" -- a competition between developing countries in reducing the cost of labor  and also generates an informal economy without any social rights of labor. Finally both capital mobility and economic integration have undermined the ability of national governments to pursue welfare objectives.

We should label the behaviour of perceiving social rights as a competitiveness tool rather than a means for meeting vital needs of humans a corrupt behaviour. So corruption is an immanent feature of neoliberalism. That sort of normative questions raised by pope Francis helps to understand deeper the role of  corruption in the neoliberal society. In will not be exaggeration to say the neoliberal society is based on corruption.  In other words, by redefinition corruption in terms of domination of social relations by self-interest, and regarding of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles and competitors, we get deeper understanding of problem of corruption and related straggle against it the neoliberal era. That seems the best possible to fight corruption under neoliberalism is to fight neoliberal policies and to remembrance the ideas of New Deal which provided better the integrity of the economic and the political like of the society.


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[Mar 25, 2019] The Mass Psychology of Trumpism by Eli Zaretsky

Highly recommended!
But sophistication of intelligence agencies now reached very high level. Russiage was pretty dirty but pretty slick operation. British thre letter againces were even more devious, if we view Skripals poisoning as MI5/Mi6 "witness protection" operation due to possible Skripal role in creating Steele dossier. So let's keep wanting the evnet. The election 2020 might be event more interesting the Elections of 2016. Who would suggest in 2015 that he/she elects man candidate from Israel lobby instead of a woman candidate from the same lobby?
Notable quotes:
"... The consistent derogation of Trump in the New York Times or on MSNBC may be helpful in keeping the resistance fired up, but it is counterproductive when it comes to breaking down the Trump coalition. His followers take every attack on their leader as an attack on them. ..."
"... Adorno also observed that demagoguery of this sort is a profession, a livelihood with well-tested methods. Trump is a far more familiar figure than may at first appear. The demagogue's appeals, Adorno wrote, 'have been standardised, similarly to the advertising slogans which proved to be most valuable in the promotion of business'. Trump's background in salesmanship and reality TV prepared him perfectly for his present role. ..."
"... the leader can guess the psychological wants and needs of those susceptible to his propaganda because he resembles them psychologically, and is distinguished from them by a capacity to express without inhibitions what is latent in them, rather than by any intrinsic superiority. ..."
"... The leaders are generally oral character types, with a compulsion to speak incessantly and to befool the others. The famous spell they exercise over their followers seems largely to depend on their orality: language itself, devoid of its rational significance, functions in a magical way and furthers those archaic regressions which reduce individuals to members of crowds. ..."
"... Since uninhibited associative speech presupposes at least a temporary lack of ego control, it can indicate weakness as well as strength. The agitators' boasting is frequently accompanied by hints of weakness, often merged with claims of strength. This was particularly striking, Adorno wrote, when the agitator begged for monetary contributions. ..."
"... Since 8 November 2016, many people have concluded that what they understandably view as a catastrophe was the result of the neglect by neoliberal elites of the white working class, simply put. Inspired by Bernie Sanders, they believe that the Democratic Party has to reorient its politics from the idea that 'a few get rich first' to protection for the least advantaged. ..."
"... Of those providing his roughly 40 per cent approval ratings, half say they 'strongly approve' and are probably lost to the Democrats. ..."
Sep 18, 2018 | lrb.co.uk
One might object that Trump, a billionaire TV star, does not resemble his followers. But this misses the powerful intimacy that he establishes with them, at rallies, on TV and on Twitter. Part of his malicious genius lies in his ability to forge a bond with people who are otherwise excluded from the world to which he belongs. Even as he cast Hillary Clinton as the tool of international finance, he said:

I do deals – big deals – all the time. I know and work with all the toughest operators in the world of high-stakes global finance. These are hard-driving, vicious cut-throat financial killers, the kind of people who leave blood all over the boardroom table and fight to the bitter end to gain maximum advantage.

With these words he brought his followers into the boardroom with him and encouraged them to take part in a shared, cynical exposure of the soiled motives and practices that lie behind wealth. His role in the Birther movement, the prelude to his successful presidential campaign, was not only racist, but also showed that he was at home with the most ignorant, benighted, prejudiced people in America. Who else but a complete loser would engage in Birtherism, so far from the Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Harvard aura that elevated Obama, but also distanced him from the masses?

The consistent derogation of Trump in the New York Times or on MSNBC may be helpful in keeping the resistance fired up, but it is counterproductive when it comes to breaking down the Trump coalition. His followers take every attack on their leader as an attack on them. 'The fascist leader's startling symptoms of inferiority', Adorno wrote, 'his resemblance to ham actors and asocial psychopaths', facilitates the identification, which is the basis of the ideal. On the Access Hollywood tape, which was widely assumed would finish him, Trump was giving voice to a common enough daydream, but with 'greater force' and greater 'freedom of libido' than his followers allow themselves. And he was bolstering the narcissism of the women who support him, too, by describing himself as helpless in the grip of his desires for them.

Adorno also observed that demagoguery of this sort is a profession, a livelihood with well-tested methods. Trump is a far more familiar figure than may at first appear. The demagogue's appeals, Adorno wrote, 'have been standardised, similarly to the advertising slogans which proved to be most valuable in the promotion of business'. Trump's background in salesmanship and reality TV prepared him perfectly for his present role. According to Adorno,

the leader can guess the psychological wants and needs of those susceptible to his propaganda because he resembles them psychologically, and is distinguished from them by a capacity to express without inhibitions what is latent in them, rather than by any intrinsic superiority.

To meet the unconscious wishes of his audience, the leader

simply turns his own unconscious outward Experience has taught him consciously to exploit this faculty, to make rational use of his irrationality, similarly to the actor, or a certain type of journalist who knows how to sell their sensitivity.

All he has to do in order to make the sale, to get his TV audience to click, or to arouse a campaign rally, is exploit his own psychology.

Using old-fashioned but still illuminating language, Adorno continued:

The leaders are generally oral character types, with a compulsion to speak incessantly and to befool the others. The famous spell they exercise over their followers seems largely to depend on their orality: language itself, devoid of its rational significance, functions in a magical way and furthers those archaic regressions which reduce individuals to members of crowds.

Since uninhibited associative speech presupposes at least a temporary lack of ego control, it can indicate weakness as well as strength. The agitators' boasting is frequently accompanied by hints of weakness, often merged with claims of strength. This was particularly striking, Adorno wrote, when the agitator begged for monetary contributions. As with the Birther movement or Access Hollywood, Trump's self-debasement – pretending to sell steaks on the campaign trail – forges a bond that secures his idealised status.

Since 8 November 2016, many people have concluded that what they understandably view as a catastrophe was the result of the neglect by neoliberal elites of the white working class, simply put. Inspired by Bernie Sanders, they believe that the Democratic Party has to reorient its politics from the idea that 'a few get rich first' to protection for the least advantaged.

Yet no one who lived through the civil rights and feminist rebellions of recent decades can believe that an economic programme per se is a sufficient basis for a Democratic-led politics.

This holds as well when it comes to trying to reach out to Trump's supporters. Of those providing his roughly 40 per cent approval ratings, half say they 'strongly approve' and are probably lost to the Democrats. But if we understand the personal level at which pro-Trump strivings operate, we may better appeal to the other half, and in that way forestall the coming emergency.

[Mar 23, 2019] Killing for Credibility A Look Back at the 1999 NATO Air War on Serbia by Brett Wilkins

Mar 23, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.

One Man's Terrorist

Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation, stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan descended deeper into civil war.

The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however, is something altogether different.

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration armed and trained these fighters in flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.

When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.

The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia, called it "without any question a terrorist group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.

However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president called the war an internal Russian affair and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.

Although NATO called the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict. President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary of State James Rubin later admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small."

Wagging the Dog?

In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:

The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.

Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters."

While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted – that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves." This was completely false . US diplomat David Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.

However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been "fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington. Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner, acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."

Bloody Hypocrites

The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention. More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses, where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.

Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the world's worst human rights records. The list goes on and on.

Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995. Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned convoys of fleeing refugees.

"Painful for the Serbs"

Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much of its water supply.

NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards. There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac forecast as many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in nearby apartments.

Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age 23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."

Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7, killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic and medical dispensary were also bombed in the mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.

Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece was blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.

On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing. An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to help those wounded in the first strike.

No One Is Safe

The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175 bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000 residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children, died when bombs meant to destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."

The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded. Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later reported that the US deliberately bombed the embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.

There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including 16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month later, another column of refugees was bombed near Koriša, killing 87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM missile blew the roof off of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.

NATO's "Murderous Thugs"

As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.

The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group "murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles rescued the besieged militants. It later emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.

Credibility Conundrum

The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton added that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton, declaring on the eve of the war that "to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote that the Clinton administration "transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United States into a major test of American resolve."

Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.

Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history. Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian people in service of NATO's credibility.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com

Read more by Brett Wilkins

[Mar 23, 2019] MoveOn on Twitter the list of 2020 presidential candidates who have made the decision to #SkipAIPAC continues to grow

Mar 23, 2019 | twitter.com

MoveOn ‏ 1:32 PM - 21 Mar 2019

& the list of 2020 presidential candidates who have made the decision to # SkipAIPAC continues to grow. Thank you for your leadership here @ PeteButtigieg , @ ewarren , @ BernieSanders , @ KamalaHarris , @ JulianCastro , @ BetoORourke , @ JayInslee ... who is next?

[Mar 20, 2019] Warren, Clinton and the sexist 'likability' narrative

Mar 20, 2019 | www.aol.com

In 2016, Cannon wrote that Warren would indeed bring more warmth than Clinton, pointing to an anecdote she shared on Facebook about how she would bake her mother a "heart shaped cake" as a child. He contrasted that with Clinton's sarcastic "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies" comment from 1992 , which was a response to ongoing questions about why she chose to continue her law practice when her husband was governor of Arkansas.

For some Bernie Sanders supporters, meanwhile, praising Warren was a way to deflect accusations of sexism. In a 2016 Huffington Post opinion piece titled, "I Despise Hillary Clinton And It Has Nothing to Do With Her Gender," Isaac Saul wrote that he "and many Sanders supporters would vote for Elizabeth Warren if she were in the race over Hillary or Bernie." ( Saul apologized to Clinton for being a "smug young journalist" and "Bernie Bro" in a follow up article months later, writing that his views of her changed after he endeavored to learn more about her history).

So what's going on here? Has Warren become incredibly unlikable over the past two years? Or is this change more an indication of her growing power. High-achieving women, sociologist Marianne Cooper wrote in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article , are judged differently than men because "their very success -- and specifically the behaviors that created that success -- violates our expectations about how women are supposed to behave." When women act competitively or assertively rather than warm and nurturing, Cooper writes, they "elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine." As a society, she says, "we are deeply uncomfortable with powerful women. In fact, we don't often really like them."

[Mar 20, 2019] Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who comes from the Sanders wing of the party, just told CNN in response to Brazile's op-ed that the she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged by Aaron Blake

Nov 02, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com

The former interim head of the Democratic Party just accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of "unethical" conduct that "compromised the party's integrity." The Clinton campaign's alleged sin: A hostile takeover of the Democratic National Committee before her primary with Sen. Bernie Sanders had concluded.

Donna Brazile's op-ed in Politico is the equivalent of taking the smoldering embers of the 2016 primary and throwing some gasoline on them. Just about everything she says in the piece will inflame Sanders's passionate supporters who were already suspicious of the Democratic establishment and already had reason to believe -- based on leaked DNC emails -- that the committee wasn't as neutral in the primary as it was supposed to be.

But the op-ed doesn't break too much new provable, factual ground, relying more upon Brazile's own perception of the situation and hearsay. In the op-ed, Brazile says:

Brazile sums it up near the end: "If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party's integrity."

None of this is truly shocking. In fact, Brazile is largely writing about things we already knew about. The joint fundraising agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was already known about and the subject of derision among Sanders's supporters. But it's worth noting that Sanders was given a similar opportunity and passed on using it, as Brazile notes.

There were also those emails from the DNC hack released by WikiLeaks that showed some at the DNC were hardly studiously neutral . One email chain discussed bringing Sanders's Jewish religion into the campaign, others spoke of him derisively, and in one a lawyer who worked for both Clinton and the DNC advised the committee on how to respond to questions about the Clinton joint fundraising committee. The emails even cast plenty of doubt on Brazile's neutrality, given she shared with the Clinton campaign details of questions to be asked at a pair of CNN forums for the Democratic candidates in March 2016, before she was interim chair but when she was still a DNC official. Brazile, who was a CNN pundit at the time, lost her CNN job over that.

The timeline here is also important. Many of those emails described above came after it was abundantly clear that Clinton would be the nominee, barring a massive and almost impossible shift in primary votes. It may have been in poor taste and contrary to protocol, but the outcome was largely decided long before Sanders ended his campaign. Brazile doesn't dwell too much on the timeline, so it's not clear exactly how in-the-bag Clinton had the nomination when the alleged takeover began. It's also not clear exactly what Clinton got for her alleged control.

This is also somewhat self-serving for Brazile, given the DNC continued to struggle during and after her tenure, especially financially . The op-ed is excerpted from her forthcoming book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House." Losses like the one in 2016 will certainly lead to plenty of finger-pointing, and Brazile's book title and description allude to it containing plenty of that.

But taking on the Clintons is definitely something that most in the party wouldn't take lightly. And Brazile's allegation that Clinton was effectively controlling the DNC is the kind of thing that could lead to some further soul-searching and even bloodletting in the Democratic Party. It's largely been able to paper over its internal divisions since the primary season in 2016, given the great unifier for Democrats that is President Trump.

Sanders himself has somewhat toned down his criticism of the DNC during that span, but what he says -- especially given he seems to want to run again in 2020 -- will go a long way in determining how the party moves forward.

[Mar 20, 2019] Opinion Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism by David Leonhardt

Looks like Warren is acceptable candidate for NYT and Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.
Mar 15, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

... ... ...

Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards -- to end the era of "shareholder-value maximization," in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.

Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax , on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.

"Sometimes, bigger ideas are more possible to accomplish," Warren told me during a recent conversation about the economy at her Washington apartment. "Because you can inspire people."

... ... ...

Warren's agenda is a series of such bold ideas. She isn't pushing for a byzantine system of tax credits for child care. She wants a universal program of pre-K and child care, administered locally, with higher pay for teachers and affordable tuition for families.

And to anyone who asks, "But how will you pay for that?" Warren has an answer. Her wealth tax would raise more than $250 billion a year, about four times the estimated cost of universal child care. She is, in her populist way, the fiscal conservative in the campaign.

... ... ...

David Leonhardt is a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, and was the founding editor of The Upshot and head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns on the financial crisis. @DLeonhardt • Facebook [Sign up for David Leonhardt's daily newsletter with commentary on the news and reading suggestions from around the web.]

[Mar 20, 2019] What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About 'Freedom' by Thom Hartman

Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post focuses on an important slice of history in what "freedom" has meant in political discourse in the US. But I wish it had at least mentioned how a well-funded, then extreme right wing effort launched an open-ended campaign to render US values more friendly to business. They explicitly sought to undo New Deal programs and weaken or end other social safety nets. Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell codified the strategy for this initiative in the so-called Powell Memo of 1971.

One of the most effective spokesmen for this libertarian program was Milton Friedman, whose bestseller Free to Choose became the foundation for a ten-part TV series.

By Thom Hartman, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print . He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute . Produced by the Independent Media Institute

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism . We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom .

The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they're on the streets.

While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a "free" society.

The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding.

The irony -- of the nation founded on the world's greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves -- is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans.

But what do those words mean?

If you ask the Koch brothers and their buddies -- who slap those words on pretty much everything they do -- you'd get a definition that largely has to do with being "free" from taxation and regulation. And, truth be told, if you're morbidly rich, that makes a certain amount of sense, particularly if your main goal is to get richer and richer, regardless of your behavior's impact on working-class people, the environment, or the ability of government to function.

On the other hand, the definition of freedom and liberty that's been embraced by so-called "democratic socialist" countries -- from Canada to almost all of Europe to Japan and Australia -- you'd hear a definition that's closer to that articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed, in January 1944, a " second Bill of Rights " to be added to our Constitution.

FDR's proposed amendments included the right to a job, and the right to be paid enough to live comfortably; the right to "adequate food and clothing and recreation"; the right to start a business and run it without worrying about "unfair competition and domination by monopolies"; the right "of every family to a decent home"; the right to "adequate medical care to achieve and enjoy good health"; the right to government-based "protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment"; and the right "to a good education."

Roosevelt pointed out that, "All of these rights spell security." He added, "America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

The other nations mentioned earlier took President Roosevelt's advice to heart. Progressive "social democracy" has kept Europe, Canada, and the developed nations of the East and South Pacific free of war for almost a century -- a mind-boggling feat when considering the history of the developed world since the 1500s.

Just prior to FDR winning the White House in the election of 1932, the nation had been treated to 12 years of a bizarre Republican administration that was the model for today's GOP. In 1920, Warren Harding won the presidency on a campaign of "more industry in government, less government in industry" -- privatize and deregulate -- and a promise to drop the top tax rate of 91 percent down to 25 percent.

He kept both promises, putting the nation into a sugar-high spin called the Roaring '20s, where the rich got fabulously rich and working-class people were being beaten and murdered by industrialists when they tried to unionize. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (the three Republican presidents from 1920 to 1932) all cheered on the assaults, using phrases like "the right to work" to describe a union-free nation.

In the end, the result of the " horses and sparrows " economics advocated by Harding ("feed more oats to the horses and there'll be more oats in the horse poop to fatten the sparrows" -- that generation's version of trickle-down economics) was the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until after World War II).

Even though Roosevelt was fabulously popular -- the only president to be elected four times -- the right-wingers of his day were loud and outspoken in their protests of what they called "socialist" programs like Social Security, the right to unionize, and government-guaranteed job programs including the WPA, REA, CCC, and others.

The Klan and American Nazis were assembling by the hundreds of thousands nationwide -- nearly 30,000 in Madison Square Garden alone -- encouraged by wealthy and powerful "economic royalists" preaching "freedom" and " liberty ." Like the Kochs' Freedomworks , that generation's huge and well-funded (principally by the DuPonts' chemical fortune) organization was the Liberty League .

Roosevelt's generation had seen the results of this kind of hard-right "freedom" rhetoric in Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany, the very nations with which we were then at war.

Speaking of "the grave dangers of 'rightist reaction' in this Nation," Roosevelt told America in that same speech that: "[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."

Although right-wingers are still working hard to disassemble FDR's New Deal -- the GOP budget for 2019 contains massive cuts to Social Security, as well as to Medicare and Medicaid -- we got halfway toward his notion of freedom and liberty here in the United States:

You're not free if you're old and deep in poverty, so we have Social Security (although the GOP wants to gut it). You're not free if you're hungry, so we have food stamps/SNAP (although the GOP wants to gut them). You're not free if you're homeless, so we have housing assistance and homeless shelters (although the GOP fights every effort to help homeless people). You're not free if you're sick and can't get medical care, so we have Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (although the GOP wants to gut them all). You're not free if you're working more than 40 hours a week and still can't meet basic expenses, so we have minimum wage laws and the right to unionize (although the GOP wants to gut both). You're not free if you can't read, so we have free public schools (although the GOP is actively working to gut them). You're not free if you can't vote, so we've passed numerous laws to guarantee the right to vote (although the GOP is doing everything it can to keep tens of millions of Americans from voting).

The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that "freedom" means the government doesn't provide any of the things listed above.

Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we're broke and sick, we're "free" to die like a feral dog in the gutter.

Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.

Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America's lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states .

America -- particularly the Democratic Party -- is engaged in a debate right now about the meaning of socialism . It would be a big help for all of us if we were, instead, to have an honest debate about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty .



cuibono , , March 20, 2019 at 2:53 am

Know Your Rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfInFVPkQs

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm

I have been informed by Fox that knowing your rights is un-American

everydayjoe , , March 20, 2019 at 4:26 am

Let us not forget the other propaganda arm of Republican party and big money- Fox news. They spew the freedom nonsense while not adhering to any definition of the word.

I worked in the midwest as an Engineer in the 90s to early 2000s and saw plants being gutted/shifted overseas, Union influence curtailed and mid level and bottom pay stay flat for decades; all in the name of free market.

Sadly the same families that are the worst affected vote Republican! But we know all this and have known it for a while. What will change?

lyman alpha blob , , March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am

They want freedom -- for the wolves to eat the sheep.

PKMKII , , March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm

And then act like it's fair because they don't have laws against the sheep eating the wolves.

Norb , , March 20, 2019 at 8:39 am

The intro to this post is spot on. The Powell memo outlined a strategy for a corporate coup d'eta. Is was completely successful. Now that the business class rules America, their only vision is to continue the quest and cannibalize the country and enslave its people by any means possible. What tools do they use to achieve these ends? -- debt, fear, violence and pandering to human vanity as a motivator. Again, very successful.

Instead of honest public debate- which is impossible when undertaken with liars and thieves, a good old manifesto or pamphlet like Common Sense is in order. Something calling out concrete action that can be taken by commoners to regain their social respect and power. That should scare the living daylights out of the complacent and smug elite.

Its that, or a lot of public infrastructure is gong to be broken up by the mob- which doesn't work out in the long run. The nations that learn to work with and inspire their populations will prosper- the rest will have a hard time of it. Look no further than America's fall.

Carla , , March 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Thank you, Norb. You've inspired me to start by reading Common Sense.

Jamie S , , March 20, 2019 at 9:13 am

This piece raises some important points, but aims too narrowly at one political party, when the D-party has also been complicit in sharing the framing of "freedom" as less government/regulation/taxation. After all, it was the Clinton administration that did welfare "reform", deregulation of finance, and declared the end of the era of "big government", and both Clinton and Obama showed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in a "grand bargain".

WJ , , March 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm

+100

If in place of "the GOP," the author had written, "The national Democratic and Republican parties over the past fifty years," his claim would be much more accurate. To believe what he says about "the GOP," you have to pretend that Clinton, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Feinstein simply don't exist and never did. The author's implicit valorization of Obamacare is even more disheartening.

But perhaps this is the *point* of the piece after all? If I were a consultant to the DNC (and I make less than $100,000/yr so I am clearly not), I would advocate that they commission, underscore, and reward pieces exactly like this one. For the smartest ones surely grasp that the rightist oligarchic policy takeover has in fact happened, and that it has left in its wake millions of disaffected, indebted, uneducated, uninsured Americans.

(Suggesting that it hadn't was the worst idiocy of Clinton's 2016 campaign. It would have been much better had she admitted it and blamed it on the Republican Senate while holding dear old Obama up as a hamstrung martyr for the cause. I mean, this is what everybody at DailyKos already believes, and the masses -- being poor and uneducated and desperate -- can be brought around to believe anything, or anyway, enough of them can be.)

I would advocate that the DNC double down on its rightful claims to Roosevelt's inheritance, embrace phrases like "social democracy" and "freedom from economic insecurity," and shift leftward in all its official rhetoric. Admit the evisceration of the Roosevelt tradition, but blame it all on the GOP. Maybe *maybe* even acknowledge that past Democratic leaders were a little naive and idealistic in their pursuit of bipartisanship, and did not understand the truly horrible intentions of the GOP. But today's Democrats are committed to wresting back the rights of the people from the evil clutches of the Koch Republicans. This sort of thing.

Would my advice be followed? Or would the *really* smart ones in the room demure? If so, why do you think they would?

In short, I read this piece as one stage in an ongoing dialectic in the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2020 election wherein party leaders try to determine how leftward its "official" rhetoric is able to sway before becoming *so* unbelievable (in light of historical facts) that it cannot serve as effective propaganda -- even among Americans!

NotTimothyGeithner , , March 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Team Blue elites are the children of Bill Clinton and the Third Way, so the echo chamber was probably terrible. Was Bill Clinton a bad President? He was the greatest Republican President! The perception of this answer is a key. Who rose and joined Team Blue through this run? Many Democrats don't recognize this, or they don't want to rock the boat. This is the structural problem with Team Blue. The "generic Democrat" is AOC, Omar, Sanders, Warren, and a handful of others.

Can the Team Blue elites embrace a Roosevelt identity? The answer is no. Their ideology is so wildly divergent they can't adjust without a whole sale conversion.

More succinctly, the Third Way isn't about helping Democrats win by accepting not every battle can be won. Its about advancing right wing politics and pretending this isn't what its about. If they are too clear about good policy, they will be accused of betrayal.

jefemt , , March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Kris Kristofferson

shinola , , March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

"nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free"
;)

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

The modern GOP has a very brutalist interpretation of Christianity, one where the money changers bring much needed liquidity to the market.

where , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

it's been 2 generations, but we assure you, the wealth will eventually trickle down

Dwight , , March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Be patient, the horse has to digest your oat.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 10:13 am

This article makes me wonder if the GOP is still a political party anymore. I know, I know, they have the party structure, the candidates, the budget and all the rest of it but when you look at their policies and what they are trying to do, the question does arise. Are they doing it because this is what they believe is their identity as a party or is it that they are simply a vehicle with the billionaires doing the real driving and recruiting? An obvious point is that among billionaires, they see no need to form their own political party which should be telling clue. Certainly the Democrats are no better.

Maybe the question that American should ask themselves is just what does it mean to be an American in the year 2020? People like Norman Rockwell and his Four Freedoms could have said a lot of what it meant some 60 years ago and his work has been updated to reflect the modern era ( https://www.galeriemagazine.com/norman-rockwell-four-freedoms-modern/ ) but the long and the short of it is that things are no longer working for most people anymore -- and not just in America. But a powerful spring can only be pushed back and held in place for so long before there is a rebound effect and I believe that I am seeing signs of this the past few years.

GF , , March 20, 2019 at 11:06 am

And don't forget FRD's Second Bill of Rights:

" a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security."

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 10:20 am

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

I agree, and we should also be having a debate about capitalism as it actually exists. In the US capitalism is always talked about in rosy non-specific terms (e.g. a preference for markets or support for entrepreneurship) while anybody who says they don't necessarily support capitalism has to answer for Stalin's gulag's or the Khmer Rouge. All the inequalities and injustices that have helped people like Howard Schultz or Jeff Bezos become billionaire capitalists somehow aren't part of capitalism, just different problems to be solved somehow but definitely not by questioning capitalism.

Last night I watched the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I couldn't help but laugh at all these powerful politicians, investors, and legal giants going along with someone who never once demonstrated or even explained how her groundbreaking innovation actually worked. $900 million was poured into that company before people realized something that a Stanford professor interviewed in the documentary saw when she first met Holmes. Fracking companies have been able to consistently raise funding despite consistently losing money and destroying the environment in the process. Bank balance sheets were protected while working people lost everything in the name of preserving American capitalism. I think it's good to debate socialism and capitalism, but there's not really any point if we aren't going to be talking about Actually Existing Capitalism rather than the hypothetical version that's trotted out anytime someone suggests an alternative.

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am

There was a great comment here on NC a little while ago, something to the effect of "capitalism has the logic of a cancer cell. It's a pile of money whose only goal is to become a bigger pile of money." Of course good things can happen as a side effect of it becoming a bigger pile of money: innovation, efficiencies, improved standard of living, etc. but we need government (not industry) regulation to keep the bad side effects of capitalism in check (like the cancer eventually killing its host).

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 12:21 pm

"efficiency" is very often not good for the Commons, in the long term.

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Shoot, must have missed that comment but it's a good metaphor. Reminds me of Capital vol. 1, which Marx starts with a long and dense treatment of the nature of commodities and commodification in order to capture this process whereby capitalists produce things people really do want or need in order to get at what they really want: return on their investment.

Jack Gavin , , March 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I also agree but I think we need to have a the same heated debate over what capitalism means. Over the years I have been subjected to (exposed) to more flavors of socialism than I can count. Yet, other than an introductory economics class way back when, no debatable words about what 'capitalism' is seems to get attention. Maybe it's time to do that and hope that some agreeable definition of 'freedom' falls out.

jrs , , March 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

of course maybe socialism is the only thing that ever really could solve homelessness, given that it seems to be at this point a worldwide problem, although better some places than others (like the U.S. and UK).

Stratos , , March 20, 2019 at 11:11 am

This article lets the Dems off the hook. They have actively supported the Billionaire Agenda for decades now; sometimes actively (like when they helped gut welfare) and sometimes by enabling Repubs objectives (like voter suppression).

At this point in time, the Dem leadership is working to deep six Medicare for All.

With 'friends' like the Dems, who needs the Repubs?

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

our last democratic president was Carter

thump , , March 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm

1) In the history, a mention of the attempted coup against FDR would be good. See The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer. ( Amazon link )

2) For the contemporary intellectual history, I really appreciated Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains . ( Amazon link ) Look her up on youtube or Democracy Now . Her book got a bit of press and she interviews well.

Bob of Newton , , March 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Please refer to these folks as 'rightwingers'. There are Democratic as well as Republicans who believe in this type of 'freedom'.

Jerry B , , March 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

This post seems heavily slanted against the GOP and does not take into account how pro-business the Democrats have become. I tenuously agree with Yves intro that much of the current pro business value system campaign in the US was started with the political far right and the Lewis Powell Memo. And that campaign kicked into high gear during the Reagan Presidency.

But as that "pro business campaign" gained steam, the Democratic Party, IMO, realized that they could partake in the "riches" as well and sold their political soul for a piece of the action. Hartman's quote about the billionaire class should include their "wholly owned Republicans and Democrat politicians".

As Lambert mentions (paraphrasing), "The left puts the working class first. Both liberals and conservatives put markets first, liberals with many more layers of indirection (e.g., complex eligibility requirements, credentialing) because that creates niches from which their professional base benefits".

As an aside, while the pro-business/capitalism on steroids people have sought more "freedom", they have made the US and the world less free for the rest of us.

Also the over focusing on freedom is not uniquely GOP. As Hartman mentions, "the words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding." US culture has taken the concept of freedom to an extreme version of individualism.

That is not surprising given our history.

The DRD4 gene is a dopamine receptor gene. One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the "7R" form) produces a receptor protein that is relatively unresponsive to dopamine. Being unresponsive to dopamine means that people who have this gene have a host of related traits -- sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD. -- -- Seems like the type of people that would value extreme (i.e. non-collective) forms of freedom

The United States is the individualism poster child for at least two reasons. First there's immigration. Currently, 12 percent of Americans are immigrants, another 12 percent are children of immigrants, and everyone else except for the 0.9 percent pure Native Americans descend from people who emigrated within the last five hundred years.

And who were the immigrants?' Those in the settled world who were cranks, malcontents, restless, heretical, black sheep, hyperactive, hypomanic, misanthropic, itchy, unconventional, yearning to be free, yearning to be rich, yearning to be out of their, damn boring repressive little hamlet, yearning. -- -- Again seems like the type of people that would value freedom in all aspects of life and not be interested in collectivism

Couple that with the second reason -- for the majority of its colonial and independent history, America has had a moving frontier luring those whose extreme prickly optimism made merely booking passage to the New World insufficiently, novel -- and you've got America the individualistic.

The 7R variant mentioned above occurs in about 23 percent of Europeans and European Americans. And in East Asians? 1 percent. When East Asians domesticated rice and invented collectivist society, there was massive selection against the 7R variant. Regardless of the cause, East Asian cultural collectivism coevolved with selection against the 7R variant.

So which came first, 7R frequency or cultural style? The 4R and 7R variants, along with the 2R, occur worldwide, implying they already existed when humans radiated out of Africa 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. A high incidence of 7R, associated with impulsivity and novelty seeking, is the legacy of humans who made the greatest migrations in human history.

So it seems that many of the people who immigrated to the US were impulsive, novelty seeking, risk takers. As a counterpoint, many people that migrated to the US did not do so by choice but were forced from their homes and their countries by wars.

The point of this long comment is that for some people the concept of freedom can be taken to extreme -- a lack of gun control laws, financial regulation, extremes of wealth, etc. After a brief period in the 1940's, 1950's, and early 1960's when the US was more collective, we became greedy, consumerist, and consumption oriented, aided by the political and business elites as mentioned in the post.

If we want the US to be a more collective society we have to initially do so in our behaviors i.e. laws and regulations that rein in the people who would take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Then maybe over an evolutionary time period some of the move impulsive, sensation seeking, ADHDness, genes can be altered to a more balance mix of what makes the US great with more of the collective genes.

IMO, if we do not begin to work on becoming a collective culture now, then climate change, water scarcity, food scarcity, and resource scarcity will do it for us the hard way.

In these days of short attention spans I apologize for the long comment. The rest of my day is busy and I do not have more time to shorten the comment. I wanted to develop an argument for how the evolutionary and dysfunctional forms of freedom have gotten us to this point. And what we need to do to still have some freedom but also "play nice and share in the future sandbox of climate change and post fossil fuel society.

[Mar 20, 2019] Elizabeth Warren, Champion of Consumer Financial Protection by Drake Bennett

Notable quotes:
"... Elizabeth Warren has infuriated bankers and alienated half of Washington, all in the name of a new consumer protection agency she may not get to run ..."
"... At this point, Warren says, the banker made a confession. "We recognize that we have an unsustainable model, and it cannot work forever," she says he told her. "If we told people how much these things cost, they wouldn't use them." ..."
"... Warren's life is a blur of building and promoting the agency she dreamed up -- and that she may never get to lead. On leave from Harvard, she has spent hundreds of hours on Capitol Hill visiting with members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, and flown across the country meeting with the heads of the nation's major banks and many smaller ones. If most financial firms have yet to embrace the bureau, she's made some headway, at least, among the community banks. "Some of my colleagues have not gotten there yet because they are convinced she's close to the antichrist," says Roger Beverage, the head of the Oklahoma Bankers Assn. "I don't think she's doing anything but speaking from the heart on community banks." ..."
"... While Washington bickers, Warren has built the CFPB largely to her specs and almost entirely free of interference from Congress and the Administration, which devotes most of its attention to fixing the economy. Few Cabinet secretaries can claim to have left as indelible a mark on the departments they lead as Elizabeth Warren has already left on the one she doesn't. ..."
Jul 07, 2011 | bloomberg.com

Elizabeth Warren has infuriated bankers and alienated half of Washington, all in the name of a new consumer protection agency she may not get to run

Elizabeth Warren's admirers often refer to her as a grandmother from Oklahoma. This is technically true. It's also what you might call posturing. Warren, 62, is a Harvard professor and perhaps the country's top expert on bankruptcy law. Over the past four years she has managed to stoke a fervent debate over the government's role in protecting American consumers from what she sees as the predatory practices of financial institutions, and she has positioned herself as the person to oversee a new federal agency to rewrite the rules of lending. Warren is a grandma from Oklahoma in roughly the same way Ralph Nader is a pensioner with a thing about cars.

If the grandmother perception is plausible, it's largely because Warren has a gift for parables and for placing herself in the middle of them as the embodiment of moral force. Thus, her account of the precise moment she realized that changing the way banks lend was going to require a new federal bureaucracy -- and that it was up to her to create it.

Warren begins her tale in the spring of 2007, before the housing crash and the financial crisis. She was on a plane back to Boston after a series of discouraging meetings with credit-card company executives. She had tried to sell them on an idea called the "clean card" that grew out of her academic work and her side gig as a guest on such shows as Dr. Phil , where she dispensed empathy and advice to audience members who were one bad check away from losing everything. The concept was simple: Offer the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to any credit-card company that disclosed all of its costs and fees up front, no fine print.

After a few meetings in which she was politely rebuffed, one executive walked Warren to the door and, with his arm around her, let her in on a trade secret: If he admitted that his card's actual rate was 17 percent, while his competitors were still claiming theirs was only 2.9 percent, his customers would desert him for the seemingly cheaper option, seal of approval or not. No credit-card company would ever go along with a clean card unless all of them did. And the only way to get all of them to do it was to require it by law.

At this point, Warren says, the banker made a confession. "We recognize that we have an unsustainable model, and it cannot work forever," she says he told her. "If we told people how much these things cost, they wouldn't use them."

Here she pauses for effect, and to take a sip of herbal tea. Warren is slight and kinetic, with wide, pale blue eyes behind rimless glasses. She punctuates her sentences with exclamations like "Holy guacamole!" It's difficult to tell whether these are spontaneous or deliberately deployed to soften her imposing professorial mien. Warren, who grew up poor and went to college on a debate scholarship, understands the power of expression. When she wants to underline a point, she leans in to conspire with her listener; then her voice goes quiet, as it does when she says she knew instantly the condescending executive was right. Her clean card was a flop.

And so, on the flight home, Warren turned to the problem of how to push those credit-card companies into doing the right thing. By landing time, she says, she had her answer: a powerful new federal agency whose sole mission would be to protect consumers, not only from confusing credit cards but from what she calls the "tricks and traps" of all dangerous financial products. The same way the Consumer Product Safety Commission guards against dangerous household products or the Food and Drug Administration watches out for contaminated produce and quack medications. The way Warren tells it, she pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack and got to work right there on the plane. "I started sketching out the problem and what the agency should look like."

It's a good story, even if the timeline is a little off. Warren's aides say she first pitched the idea of a consumer financial protection agency to then-Senator Barack Obama's office months before her fateful meeting with the executive. Whatever the idea's provenance, there's no doubting its influence. In a summer 2007 article in the journal Democracy , Warren outlined what her guardian agency would look like. "It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house," she wrote. "But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street -- and the mortgage won't even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner." One was effectively regulated. The other was not.

The annals of academia are stuffed with provocative proposals. Most die in the library. A little over four years after she first dreamed it up, Warren's has become a reality. Last summer, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a package of financial reforms meant to prevent another economic meltdown. One of the bill's pillars is Warren's watchdog agency, now called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

On July 21, exactly a year after Dodd-Frank became law, the CFPB is scheduled to open for business with a broad mandate to root out "unfair, deceptive, or abusive" lending practices. Consolidating functions previously scattered across seven different agencies, the bureau will have the power to dictate the terms of every consumer lending product on the market, from mortgages and credit cards to student, overdraft, and car loans. It will supervise not only banks and credit unions but credit-card companies, mortgage servicers, credit bureaus, debt collectors, payday lenders, and check-cashing shops. Dozens of researchers will track trends in the lending market and keep an eye on new products. Teams of examiners will prowl the halls of financial institutions to ensure compliance. The bureau is already at work on its first major initiative: simplifying the bewildering bank forms you sign when you buy a house.

Warren's life is a blur of building and promoting the agency she dreamed up -- and that she may never get to lead. On leave from Harvard, she has spent hundreds of hours on Capitol Hill visiting with members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, and flown across the country meeting with the heads of the nation's major banks and many smaller ones. If most financial firms have yet to embrace the bureau, she's made some headway, at least, among the community banks. "Some of my colleagues have not gotten there yet because they are convinced she's close to the antichrist," says Roger Beverage, the head of the Oklahoma Bankers Assn. "I don't think she's doing anything but speaking from the heart on community banks."

One other person she has not yet won over: Barack Obama. The President has not nominated her to head the bureau. Instead, last fall he gave her the title of special assistant to the President and special adviser to the Treasury and tasked her with getting the place up and running. For now, she is the non-head of a non-agency. The White House refuses to say whether Obama will eventually put her up for the job, allowing only that he is considering several candidates. In the coded language of appointment politics, it is a signal that they are seriously considering passing Warren over for someone else. A White House official says the Administration would like to have a nominee in place before Congress leaves for its August recess.

There's a reason for their wariness. The White House is reluctant to antagonize congressional Republicans in the middle of contentious negotiations over the federal debt ceiling. Warren's position requires Senate approval, and Republicans, many of whom regard the CFPB as more clumsy government meddling in the free market, are vehemently opposed to allowing its creator to be installed at its helm. Republicans have used a parliamentary maneuver to keep the Senate from officially adjourning for its traditional summer break, thus depriving Obama of the opportunity to sidestep their objections and make Warren a recess appointment.

"She's probably a nice person, as far as I know," says Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Banking Committee, which will hold hearings on the eventual nominee for the post. Shelby has said Warren is too ideological to lead the agency, a judgment shared by many of his Republican colleagues. "She's a professor and all this," he says in a tone that makes it clear he is not paying her a compliment. "To think up something, to create something of this magnitude, and then look to be the head of it, I wouldn't do that," Shelby says. "It looks like you created yourself a good job, a good power thing."

Warren is not waiting for permission to do the job she may never get. She and her small team have hired hundreds of people, at a recent clip of more than 80 per month. The agency has already outgrown its office space and is divided between two buildings in downtown Washington -- with branches to be opened across the country. A fledgling staff of researchers is cranking out the CFPB's first reports, and its first bank examiners are being trained. Meanwhile, the office softball team has compiled a 2-3 record.

Above all, an institutional culture is emerging, and it is largely loyal to Warren and her idea of what the agency should be. She has attracted several top hires from outside the federal government. The bureau's chief operating officer, Catherine West, was previously president of Capital One; its head of research, Sendhil Mullainathan, is a behavioral economist and star Harvard professor; the chief of enforcement, Richard Cordray, is the former attorney general of Ohio; Raj Date, her deputy and head of the bureau's Research, Markets and Regulation Div., is a former banker at Capital One and Deutsche Bank. Warren, whose reputation as a scholar rests on her pioneering use of bankruptcy data, has imbued the place with her faith in quantitative analysis. Researchers she recruited and hired have begun to build the bureau's database of financial information, with a broad mandate to keep track of lending markets and find ways to make financial information more easily digestible.

While Washington bickers, Warren has built the CFPB largely to her specs and almost entirely free of interference from Congress and the Administration, which devotes most of its attention to fixing the economy. Few Cabinet secretaries can claim to have left as indelible a mark on the departments they lead as Elizabeth Warren has already left on the one she doesn't.

The CFPB's main offices are on two floors of a russet-colored office building a few blocks northwest of the White House. The government-gray cubicles and hallways spill over with new hires -- many of them young -- working 12- and 14-hour days elbow to elbow, pale and exuding a dogged cheerfulness that suggests that, no, they do not miss the sun. By the elevator bank is a calendar counting down the days until July 21.

Ten years ago, before she became a liberal icon, Warren was a popular Harvard professor known for taking a maternal interest in the students she chose as research assistants. She was famous, but only in the small corner of academia that cared about bankruptcy. "In my opinion she is the best bankruptcy scholar in the country," says Samuel Bufford, a law professor at Penn State who got to know Warren decades ago as a bankruptcy judge in California's Central District.

Work Warren did with Jay Westbrook, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Teresa Sullivan, a sociologist who is now president of the University of Virginia, reshaped the scholarly understanding of bankruptcy. Analyzing thousands of filings and interviewing many of the debtors themselves, they found that those who go bankrupt weren't, as commonly assumed, primarily poor or financially reckless. A great many of them were solidly middle class and had been driven to bankruptcy by circumstances they did not choose or could not control: the loss of a job, a medical disaster, or a divorce. The explosion in consumer credit in recent decades had only exacerbated the situation -- almost without realizing it, households could now slide faster and further into debt than ever before.

Warren, Westbrook, and Sullivan all saw their bankruptcy findings as a window into the broader travails of the financially fragile middle class. More than her co-authors, though, Warren sought a larger audience for the message. In 2003, along with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, she wrote The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke , a book that combined arguments about the political and economic forces eroding middle-class financial stability with practical advice about how households could fight them. The language was sharper than in her academic work: "Subprime lending, payday loans, and the host of predatory, high-interest loan products that target minority neighborhoods should be called by their true names: legally sanctioned corporate plans to steal from minorities," Warren and Tyagi wrote.

The book got attention and Warren became a frequent TV guest. She was invited to give speeches and sit on panels on bankruptcy and debt. She was a regular on comedian Al Franken's radio show on the now defunct Air America network. "She's quite brilliant. She was always just an excellent guest," recalls Franken, now a Democratic U.S. Senator from Minnesota. "She has a very good sense of humor."

In 2003, Warren attended a fundraiser in Cambridge for Barack Obama, then running for U.S. Senate. When she walked up to shake his hand, he greeted her with two words: "predatory lending." As a senator, Obama would occasionally call Warren for her thoughts, though the two never became close.

It was the financial crisis that made Warren a star. In November 2008, in a nod to her growing reputation as a consumer advocate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chose Warren to chair the congressional panel overseeing the TARP financial rescue program. The reports she helped produce over the next two and a half years and the hearings she helped lead gave the panel a higher profile than even its creators had predicted, as she articulated concerns that many Americans had about the wisdom of a massive Wall Street bailout. In perhaps her most famous moment, Warren grilled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on AIG's share of the aid money and how it was that so much of it had ended up simply reimbursing the investment banks the insurer owed money.

Warren used her role on the panel, and the newfound visibility it gave her, to push for her agency. She worked the idea into a special report the committee released in January 2009, among a list of recommendations to head off fut ure financial crises. She wrote op-ed pieces, was on TV constantly, and met with at least 80 members of Congress. She also brought the idea to the Administration. Over a long lunch at an Indian restaurant in Washington, she pitched the concept to White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, whom she knew from his tenure as Harvard's president. Inside Treasury, the idea was taken up by Michael Barr, a key architect of Dodd-Frank and a lawyer Warren had known for years. At least within the White House, Barr recalls, it wasn't hard to build support. "I think there was a general consensus that built pretty quickly that this was a good option," he says. "I didn't get any significant pushback on the idea." Barr's inside advocacy, combined with Warren's PR blitz, paid off. In June 2009, Obama released a "white paper" laying out his own financial regulatory proposals, and Warren's agency was in it.

Among the CFPB staff there is a strongly held belief that they have the opportunity not only to reshape an industry but reinvent what a government agency can be, to rescue the idea of bureaucracy from its association with sclerosis and timidity. People there emphasize that they are creating a 21st century agency. Still, there's a throwback Great Society feel to the place, with its faith in the abilities of very smart unelected administrators, armed with data, to iron out the inefficiencies and injustices of the world. "Nobody looks at consumer finance regulation as it existed over the past decade and says, 'Yeah, that seemed to work all right, let's do more of that,' " says Raj Date, a square-jawed 40-year-old who speaks in the confident, numbers-heavy parlance of Wall Street.

Regardless of whether the CFPB has a director by its July 21 "transfer date," there are certain things it will immediately begin to do. One is to send teams of examiners into banks and credit unions to make sure they are complying with existing consumer finance regulations. When the bureau is fully staffed up -- initially, it will have some 500 employees and an annual budget of around $500 million -- a majority of the people who work there will be examiners. The bureau has only supervisory power over banks with assets of more than $10 billion, though the rules it writes will still apply to smaller banks. Banks on the low end of the scale will see a team of examiners for a few weeks every two years, unless there are specific complaints to investigate. Most of the biggest banks, those with assets of $100 billion and up, will have CFPB examiners in residence year-round. The examiners will go to work parsing the terms of mortgages and other loans, searching for evidence of consumer harm. They'll look at how the products are marketed and sold to make sure it's done transparently, that costs and fees are disclosed up front.

What the bureau will not be able to do without a director is send its examiners into nonbank financial institutions. Dodd-Frank gives the CFPB jurisdiction over payday lenders, check cashers, mortgage brokers, student loan companies, and the like. Because this is an expansion of regulatory powers, it will not take effect until a permanent director is in place.

The bureau is less willing to discuss the specifics of what will happen when it finds evidence of wrongdoing. The press office refused to make the head of enforcement, Richard Cordray, available for an interview. Like other enforcement agencies, the CFPB will have a variety of measures at its fingertips: It will be able to give firms a talking-to, or issue so-called "supervisory guidance" papers on problematic financial products. It will be able to send cease-and-desist orders. And if all else fails, the bureau will be able to take offenders to court.

The CFPB will also have broad rule-making powers over everything from credit-card marketing campaigns to car loan terms to the size of bank overdraft fees. For now, it has confined itself to initiatives less likely to arouse wide opposition among financial firms. The major one at the moment is developing a clear, simple, two-page mortgage form that merges the two confusing ones borrowers now confront. Bureau staff met with consumer advocates and mortgage brokers last fall, then put up two versions of a possible new form on the bureau's website, where consumers were invited to leave critiques. About 14,000 people weighed in. The forms are now being shown to focus groups around the country. A new version is due out in August.

This lengthy process is meant to demonstrate the bureau's commitment to a sort of radical openness to counter accusations that it's a body of unaccountable bureaucrats. In another gesture, Warren's calendar is posted on the website so that anyone can see who has a claim on her time. The undeniable sense among bureau staffers that they are political targets tempers that commitment to transparency a bit. The press office is jittery about allowing reporters to talk to staff on the record, and Warren agreed to two interviews on the condition that Bloomberg Businessweek allow her to approve quotes before publication.

If the supervision and enforcement division is the long arm of the bureau, its eyes and brain will be Research, Markets and Regulations, headed by Raj Date. Teams of analysts will follow various markets -- credit cards, mortgages, or student loans -- to spot trends and examine new products. Economists and other social scientists on staff will help write financial disclosure forms that make intuitive sense. The benefits of this sort of work, Date argues, will extend beyond just protecting consumers. It will help spot signs of more systemic risks. If the bureau and its market research teams had been in place five years ago, he says, they would have spotted evidence of the coming mortgage meltdown and could have coordinated with the bureau's enforcement division to head it off. "If it was someone's job to be in touch with the marketplace and monitor what was going on," Date says, "it would have been very difficult not to notice that three different kinds of mortgages had gone from nothing to a very surprising share of the overall marketplace in the span of, honestly, like three years."

Were it not for a head of prematurely gray hair, Patrick McHenry could still pass for the college Republican he once was. Elected to Congress from North Carolina seven years ago at age 29, he speaks through an assiduous smile and arches his eyebrows as he listens -- furrowing them quizzically at arguments he disagrees with. In late May, McHenry assumed the role of Warren's chief antagonist in Congress. At an oversight hearing he was chairing, McHenry accused Warren of misleading Congress about whether she had given advice to Treasury and Justice Dept. officials who were investigating companies for mortgage fraud. McHenry said she had concealed her conversations. Warren insisted she had disclosed them.

The hearing then took a bizarre turn. McHenry called for a recess so members of the committee could go to the House floor for a vote. Warren replied that she had agreed to testify for an hour and could not stay any longer. "Congressman, you are causing problems," she said. "We had an agreement." Offended, McHenry shot back: "You're making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case." Warren's response, an outraged gasp, was played on cable news.

In a conversation a month later in his Capitol Hill office, McHenry is eager to emphasize that his problem is not with Warren, but with the bureau itself. That's not to say he feels he has anything to apologize for. "I've asked questions of a litany of Administration officials from Democrat and Republican Administrations, and I've never seen an action by any witness like I saw that day," he says.

Like most congressional Republicans -- and a broad array of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions -- McHenry opposed the creation of the CFPB and voted against Dodd-Frank. At the time, the bureau's opponents argued that its seemingly noble goals would not only hurt financial firms -- depriving them of the ability to compensate for risky borrowers by charging higher interest rates -- they would also hurt borrowers. The prospect of limits on the sort of rates and fees they could charge would cause banks and payday lenders alike to lend less and to not lend at all to marginal borrowers at a time when the economy needed as much credit as it could get.

Where it's not actively harmful, McHenry argues, the bureau will be redundant. If there's fraud or deceptive marketing in the consumer lending market, the federal government can prosecute it through the Federal Trade Commission. Clearer mortgage forms are all well and good, but Congress can take care of that, he says, noting that he introduced legislation for a simpler mortgage form three years ago. In response to arguments like these, Warren simply points to the record of those existing regulators: the Fed and the Housing & Urban Development Dept. have haggled over a simpler mortgage form for years. As for fears that the bureau will cap the interest rates companies can charge, she notes that Dodd-Frank explicitly prevents it from doing that.

Warren has been uncharacteristically tightlipped about her own ambitions. She refuses to say whether she even wants the job and has never publicly expressed a desire for it. In a way, the White House may do her a favor by not nominating her. If the President decides to go with a compromise candidate to appease Republicans, she will be spared the indignity of being tossed aside. She can't be said to have lost a job she was never offered.

Yet Warren gives the distinct impression that she will not suffer long if the President passes her over. Harvard has more than its share of celebrity professors who have gone to Washington and returned. The experience could also lead to a different kind of life in politics: Democrats in Massachusetts have been urging her to come home to run for Senate against Republican Scott Brown. There would be books to write, television appearances to make, and, who knows, maybe a show of her own. And whatever happens, she will get to tell the second half of the story of how she started a government agency. Whether the story ends with her confirmation or being driven from town, it's almost certain that the character of Elizabeth Warren will come out looking just fine.

( Corrects the year Elizabeth Warren moved to Washington to work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau )

[Mar 20, 2019] The sex slave scandal that exposed pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein by Maureen Callahan

Notable quotes:
"... Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school. ..."
"... Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on "work release." ..."
"... Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. As of 2015, Epstein had settled multiple such cases. ..."
Oct 09, 2016 | nypost.com
Judge gives deadline for arguments relating to unsealing Jeffrey Epstein documents Documents related to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein may be unsealed Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's deal with feds was illegal: judge Northam has only himself to blame In 2005, the world was introduced to reclusive billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, friend to princes and an American president, a power broker with the darkest of secrets: He was also a pedophile, accused of recruiting dozens of underage girls into a sex-slave network, buying their silence and moving along, although he has been convicted of only one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Visitors to his private Caribbean island, known as "Orgy Island," have included Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Stephen Hawking.

According to a 2011 court filing by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, she saw Clinton and Prince Andrew on the island but never saw the former president do anything improper. Giuffre has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was a minor, a charge Buckingham Palace denies.

"Epstein lives less than one mile away from me in Palm Beach," author James Patterson tells The Post. In the 11 years since Epstein was investigated and charged by the Palm Beach police department, ultimately copping a plea and serving 13 months on one charge of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old girl, Patterson has remained obsessed with the case.

"He's a fascinating character to read about," Patterson says. "What is he thinking? Who is he?"

Patterson's new book, "Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy," is an attempt to answer such questions. Co-authored with John Connolly and Tim Malloy, the book contains detailed police interviews with girls who alleged sexual abuse by Epstein and others in his circle. Giuffre alleged that Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell, abused her. Ghislaine Maxwell has denied allegations of enabling abuse.

Epstein has spent the bulk of his adult life cultivating relationships with the world's most powerful men. Flight logs show that from 2001 to 2003, Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's private plane, dubbed "The Lolita Express" by the press, 26 times. After Epstein's arrest in July 2006, federal tax records show Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation that year.

Bill Clinton in 1994. AP

Epstein was also a regular visitor to Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, and the two were friends. According to the Daily Mail, Trump was a frequent dinner guest at Epstein's home, which was often full of barely dressed models. In 2003, New York magazine reported that Trump also attended a dinner party at Epstein's honoring Bill Clinton.

Last year, The Guardian reported that Epstein's "little black book" contained contact numbers for A-listers including Tony Blair, Naomi Campbell, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.

In a 2006 court filing, Palm Beach police noted that a search of Epstein's home uncovered two hidden cameras. The Mirror reported that in 2015, a 6-year-old civil lawsuit filed by "Jane Doe No. 3," believed to be the now-married Giuffre, alleged that Epstein wired his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving his prominent friends and underage girls. The ultimate purpose: blackmail, according to court papers.

Britain's Prince Andrew in 2012 AP

"Jane Doe No. 3" also alleged that she had been forced to have sex with "numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders."

"We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives," Patterson says.

"The reader has to ask: Was justice done here or not?"

Epstein, now 63, has always been something of an international man of mystery. Born in Brooklyn, he had a middle-class upbringing: His father worked for the Parks Department, and his parents stressed hard work and education.

'We uncovered a lot of details about the police investigation and a lot about the girls, what happened to them, the effect on their lives.'

- James Patterson

Epstein was brilliant, skipping two grades and graduating Lafayette High School in 1969. He attended Cooper Union but dropped out in 1971 and by 1973 was teaching calculus and physics at Dalton, where he tutored the son of a Bear Stearns exec. Soon, Epstein applied his facility with numbers on Wall Street but left Bear Stearns under a cloud in 1981. He formed his own business, J. Epstein & Co.

The bar for entry at the new firm was high. According to a 2002 profile in New York magazine, Epstein only took on clients who turned over $1 billion, at minimum, for him to manage. Clients also had to pay a flat fee and sign power of attorney over to Epstein, allowing him to do whatever he saw fit with their money.

Still, no one knew exactly what Epstein did, or how he was able to amass a personal billion-dollar-plus fortune. In addition to a block-long, nine-story mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Epstein owns the $6.8 million mansion in Palm Beach, an $18 million property in New Mexico, the 70-acre private Caribbean island, a helicopter, a Gulfstream IV and a Boeing 727.

"My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won't get a straight answer from him," one high-level investor told New York magazine. "He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I've also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It's like looking at the Wizard of Oz -- there may be less there than meets the eye."

Jeffrey Epstein's Palm Beach home Splash News

"He's very enigmatic," Rosa Monckton told Vanity Fair in 2003. Monckton was the former British CEO of Tiffany & Co. and confidante to the late Princess Diana. She was also a close friend of Epstein's since the 1980s. "He never reveals his hand . . . He's a classic iceberg. What you see is not what you get."

Both profiles intimated that Epstein had a predilection for young women but never went further. In the New York magazine piece, Trump said Epstein's self-professed image as a loner, an egghead and a teetotaler was not wholly accurate.

Donald Trump in 1990 AP

"I've known Jeff for 15 years," Trump said. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it -- Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Three years after that profile ran, Palm Beach Police Officer Michele Pagan got a disturbing message. A woman reported that her 14-year-old stepdaughter confided to a friend that she'd had sex with an older man for money. The man's name was Jeff, and he lived in a mansion on a cul-de-sac.

Pagan persuaded the woman to bring her stepdaughter down to be interviewed. In his book, Patterson calls the girl Mary. And Mary, like so many of the other girls who eventually talked, came from the little-known working-class areas surrounding Palm Beach.

A friend of a friend, Mary said, told her she could make hundreds of dollars in one hour, just for massaging some middle-aged guy's feet. Lots of other girls had been doing it, some three times a week.

Mary claimed she had been driven to the mansion on El Brillo Way, where a female staffer escorted her up a pink-carpeted staircase, then into a room with a massage table, an armoire topped with sex toys and a photo of a little girl pulling her underwear off.

Ghislaine Maxwell Getty Images

Epstein entered the room, wearing only a towel, Mary said.

"He took off the towel," Mary told Pagan. "He was a really built guy. But his wee-wee was very tiny."

Mary said Epstein got on the table and barked orders at her. She told police she was alone in the room with him, terrified.

Pagan wrote the following in her incident report:

"She removed her pants, leaving her thong panties on. She straddled his back, whereby her exposed buttocks were touching Epstein's exposed buttocks. Epstein then turned to his side and started to rub his penis in an up-and-down motion. Epstein pulled out a purple vibrator and began to massage Mary's vaginal area."

Palm Beach assigned six more detectives to the investigation. They conducted a "trash pull" of Epstein's garbage, sifting through paper with phone numbers, used condoms, toothbrushes, worn underwear. In one pull, police found a piece of paper with Mary's phone number on it, along with the number of the person who recruited her.

On Sept. 11, 2005, detectives got another break. Alison, as she's called in the book, told Detective Joe Recarey that she had been going to Epstein's house since she was 16. Alison had been working at the Wellington Green Mall, saving up for a trip to Maine, when a friend told her, "You can get a plane ticket in two hours . . . We can go give this guy a massage and he'll pay $200," according to her statement to the police.

Alison told Recarey that she visited Epstein hundreds of times. She said he had bought her a new 2005 Dodge Neon, plane tickets, and gave her spending money. Alison said he even asked her to emancipate from her parents so she could live with him full-time as his "sex slave."

She said Epstein slowly escalated his sexual requests, and despite Alison's insistence that they never have intercourse, alleged, "This one time . . . he bent me over the table and put himself in me. Without my permission."

Alison then asked if what Epstein had done to her was rape and spoke of her abject fear of him.

An abridged version of her witness statement, as recounted in the book:

Alison : Before I say anything else . . . um, is there a possibility that I'm gonna have to go to court or anything?
Recarey : I mean, what he did to you is a crime. I'm not gonna lie to you.
Alison : Would you consider it rape, what he did?
Recarey : If he put himself inside you without permission . . . That, that is a crime. That is a crime.
Alison : I don't want my family to find out about this . . . 'Cause Jeffrey's gonna get me. You guys realize that, right? . . . I'm not safe now. I'm not safe.
Recarey : Why do you say you're not safe? Has he said he's hurt people before?
Alison : Well, I've heard him make threats to people on the telephone, yeah. Of course.
Recarey : You're gonna die? You're gonna break your legs? Or  --
Alison : All of the above!

Alison also told Recarey that Epstein got so violent with her that he ripped out her hair and threw her around. "I mean," she said, "there's been nights that I walked out of there barely able to walk, um, from him being so rough."

Two months later, Recarey interviewed Epstein's former house manager of 11 years, documented in his probable-cause affidavit as Mr. Alessi. "Alessi stated Epstein receives three massages a day . . . towards the end of his employment, the masseuses . . . appeared to be 16 or 17 years of age at the most . . . [Alessi] would have to wash off a massager/vibrator and a long rubber penis, which were in the sink after the massage."

Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school.

In May 2006, the Palm Beach Police Department filed a probable-cause affidavit, asking prosecutors to charge Epstein with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor -- a second-degree felony -- and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 14-year-old minor, also a second-degree felony.

Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court.

Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on "work release."

Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. As of 2015, Epstein had settled multiple such cases.

Giuffre has sued Ghislaine Maxwell in Manhattan federal court, charging defamation -- saying Maxwell stated Giuffre lied about Maxwell's recruitment of her and other underage girls. Epstein has been called upon to testify in court this month, on Oct. 20.

The true number of Epstein's victims may never be known.

He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, not that it fazes him. "I'm not a sexual predator, I'm an 'offender,' " Epstein told The Post in 2011. "It's the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel."

[Mar 19, 2019] Elizabeth Warren had a good speech at UC-Berkeley. She focused on the middle class family balance sheet and risk shifting

Mar 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

rc, March 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Elizabeth Warren had a good speech at UC-Berkeley. She focused on the middle class family balance sheet and risk shifting. Regulatory policies and a credit based monetary system have resulted in massive real price increases in inelastic areas of demand such as healthcare, education and housing eroding purchasing power.

Further, trade policies have put U.S. manufacturing at a massive disadvantage to the likes of China, which has subsidized state-owned enterprises, has essentially slave labor costs and low to no environmental regulations. Unrestrained immigration policies have resulted in a massive supply wave of semi- and unskilled labor suppressing wages.

Recommended initial steps to reform:

1. Change the monetary system-deleverage economy with the Chicago Plan (100% reserve banking) and fund massive infrastructure lowering total factor costs and increasing productivity. This would eliminate

2. Adopt a healthcare system that drives HC to 10% to 12% of GDP. France's maybe? Medicare model needs serious reform but is great at low admin costs.

3. Raise tariffs across the board or enact labor and environmental tariffs on the likes of China and other Asian export model countries.

4. Take savings from healthcare costs and interest and invest in human capital–educational attainment and apprenticeships programs.

5. Enforce border security restricting future immigration dramatically and let economy absorb labor supply over time.

Video of UC-B lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A&feature=youtu.be

Jerry B, March 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

As I have said in other comments, I like Liz Warren a lot within the limits of what she is good at doing (i.e. not President) such as Secretary of the Treasury etc. And I think she likes the media spotlight and to hear herself talk a little to much, but all quibbling aside, can we clone her??? The above comment and video just reinforce "Stick to what you are really good at Liz!".

I am not a Liz Warren fan boi to the extent Lambert is of AOC, but it seems that most of the time when I hear Warren, Sanders, or AOC say something my first reaction is "Yes, what she/he said!".

[Mar 19, 2019] Angry Bear " Elizabeth Warren, David Leonhardt, Redistribution, and Predistribution by Robert Waldmann

Mar 17, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
Politics Taxes/regulation I just had an unusual experience. I was convinced by an op-ed. One third of the way through "Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism" by David Leonhardt, I was planning to contest one of Leonhard's assertions. Now I am convinced.

The column praises Elizabeth Warren. Leonhardt (like his colleague Paul Krugman) is careful to refrain from declaring his intention to vote for her in the primary. I am planning to vote for her. I mostly agreed with the column to begin with, but was not convinced by Leonard's praise of Warren's emphasis on aiming for more equal pre-fiscal distribution of income rather than just relying on taxes and transfers to redistribute.

In particular, I was not convinced by

This history suggests that the Democratic Party's economic agenda needs to become more ambitious. Modest changes in the top marginal tax rate or in middle-class tax credits aren't enough. The country needs an economic policy that measures up to the scale of our challenges.

Here two issues are combined. One is modest vs major changes. The other is that predistribution is needed in addition to redistribution, as discussed even more clearly here

"Clinton and Obama focused on boosting growth and redistribution," Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has advised Warren, says. "Warren is focusing on how pretax income can be made more equal."

The option of a large change in the top marginal tax rate and a large middle class tax credit isn't considered in the op-ed. I think this would be excellent policy which has overwhelming popular support as measured by polls (including the support of a large fraction of self declared Republicans). I note from time to time that, since 1976 both the Democrats who have been elected president campaigned on higher taxes on high incomes and lower taxes on the middle class (and IIRC none of the candidates who lost did).

This is also one of my rare disagreements with Paul Krugman , and, finally one of my rare disagreements with Dean Baker ( link to a book which I haven't read).

After the jump, I will make my usual case. But first, I note Leonardt's excellent argument for why "soak the rich and spread it out thin" isn't a sufficient complete market oriented egalitarian program. It is phrased as a question.

"How can the next president make changes that will endure, rather than be undone by a future president, as both Obama's and Clinton's top-end tax increases were?"

Ahh yes. High taxes on high income and high wealth would solve a lot of problems. But they will be reversed. New programs such as Obamacare or Warren's proposed universal pre-K and subsidized day care will not. Nor will regulatory reforms such as mandatory paid sick leave and mandatory paid family leave. I am convinced that relatively complicated proposals are more politically feasible, not because it is easier to implement them, but because it is very hard to eliminate programs used by large numbers of middle class voters.

I'd note that I had already conceded the advantage of a regulatory approach which relies on the illusion that the costs must be born by the regulated firms. Here I note that fleet fuel economy standards are much more popular than increased gasoline taxes. One is a market oriented approach. The other is one that hides behind the market as consumers don't know that part of the price of a gas guzzler pays the shadow price of reducing fleet average milage.

OK my usual argument after the jump

It is unusual for me to disagree with Baker, Leonhardt, and (especially) Krugman. I am quite sure that the Democratic candidate for president should campaign on higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes for the non-rich.

To be sure, I can see that that isn't the only possible policy improvement. Above, I note the advantages of hiding spending by mandating spending by firms and of creating entitlements which are very hard for the GOP to eliminate. I'd add that we have to do a lot to deal with global warming. Competition policy is needed for market efficiency. I think unions and restrictions on firing without cause have an effect on power relations which is good in addition to the effect on income distribution.

But I don't understand the (mildly) skeptical tone. I will set up and knock down some straw men

1) Total straw -- US voters are ideological conservatives and operational liberals. They reject soaking the rich, class war, and redistribution. To convince them to help the non rich, one has to disguise what one is doing.

This is especially silly, and no one in the discussion argues this (anymore -- people used to argue this). The polls and elections are clear. US voters want higher taxes on high incomes and on the wealthy. Also Congress has gone along -- the effective tax rate on the top 1% was about the same after Obama as before Reagan

2) Extremely high marginal tax rates are bad for the economy. Here this is often conceded, in particular by people arguing for modest increases in the top marginal tax rate. The claim is not supported by actual evidence. In particular the top rate was 70% during the 60s boom.

3) High tax rates cause tax avoidance. This reduces efficiency and also means that they don't generate the naively expected revenue. There is very little evidence that this is a huge issue . In particular there was a huge increase in tax sheltering after the 1981 Kemp-Roth tax cuts and reforms. It is possible to design a tax code which makes avoidance difficult (as shown by the 1986 Kemp-Bradley tax reform). It is very hard to implement such a code without campaigning on soaking the rich and promoting class uh struggle.

4) More generally, redistribution does not work -- the post tax income distribution is not equalized because the rich find a way. This is super straw again. All the international and time series evidence points the other way.

I don't see a political or policy argument against a large increase in taxes on high incomes (70% bracket starting at $400,000 a year) used to finance a large expansion of the EITC (so most households receive it).

I think a problem is that a simple solution does not please nerds. I think another is that a large fraction of the elite would pay the high taxes and it is easier to trick them into trying to make corporations pay the costs.

But I really don't understand.


Denis Drew , March 17, 2019 3:51 pm

First, whenever anybody (that I hear or read) talks about what to do with the revenue from higher taxes on the rich, they always suggest this or that government program (education, medical, housing). I always think of putting more money back in the pockets of my middle 59% incomes to make up for the higher consumer prices they will have to pay when the bottom 40% get unionized.

Of course the 59% can use that money to pay taxes for said government programs -- money is fungible. But, that re-inserts an important element or dimension or facet which seems perpetually forgotten (would not be in continental Europe or maybe French Canada).

Don't forget: predistribution goal = a reunionized labor market. Don't just look to Europe for redistribution goals -- look at their predistribution too.

Bert Schlitz , March 17, 2019 10:14 pm

Nobody in the 60's that was taxed at a marginal 70% rate paid 70%. The top effective rate was about 32-38%, which was far higher than today, but you get the point. The income tax code was as much control of where investment would take place as much as anything ..Ronald Reagan whined about this for years. Shove it grease ball. There was a reason why.

Redistribution won't work because the system is a debt based ponzi scheme. The US really hasn't grown much since 1980, instead you have had the growth in debt.

You need to get rid of the federal reserve system's banks control of the financial system, which they have had since the 1830's in terms of national control(from Hamilton's Philly, which was the financial epicenter before that) and de Rothschild free since the 1930's(when the bank of de Rothschild ala the Bank of England's reserve currency collapsed). Once we have a debt free currency that is usury free, then you can develop and handle intense changes like ecological problems ala Climate Change, which the modern plutocrats cannot and will not solve.

They have been ramming debt in peoples face since 1950 and since 1980 it has gotten vulgar. They know they are full of shit and can't win a fair game.

run75441 , March 18, 2019 6:09 am

Robert:

Would you agree a secure healthcare system without work requirements for those who can not afford healthcare is a form of pre-distribution of income? Today's ACA was only a step in the right direction and is being tampered with by ideologs to limit its reach. It can be improved upon and have a socio-economic impact on people. Over at Medpage where I comment on healthcare, the author makes this comment:

"Investing in improvements in patients' social determinants of health -- non-medical areas such as housing, transportation, and food insecurity -- is another potentially big area, he said. "It's a major opportunity for plans to position around this and make it real. The more plans can address social determinants of health, [the more] plans can become truly organizations dedicated to health as opposed to organizations dedicated to incurring medical costs, and that to me is a bright future and a bright way to position the industry."

Many of the "social determinants of health" are not consciously decided by the patient and are predetermined by income, social status or politics, and education. What is being said in this paragraph makes for nice rhetoric and is mostly unachievable due to the three factors I suggested. And yes, you can make some progress. People can make healthy choices once the pre-determinants to doing so are resolved.

Another factor which was left dangling when Liebermann decided to be an ass is Long Term Healthcare for the elderly and those who are no longer capable. Medicare is only temporary and Medicaid forces one to be destitute. There is a large number of people who are approaching the time when they will need such healthcare till death. We have no plans for this tsunami of people.

The tax break was passed using Reconciliation. In 7-8 years out, there is a planned shift in taxes to be levied on the middle income brackets to insure the continuamce of Trump's tax break for the 100 or so thousand households it was skewed towards. If not rescinding the tax break then it should be fixed so it sunsets as did Bush's tax break due to its budget creating deficit. Someone running for the Pres position should be discussing this and pointing out how Republicans have deliberately undermined the middle income brackets.

We should not limit solutions to just income when there are so many areas we are lacking in today.

Mu $.02.

Robert Waldmann , March 18, 2019 4:47 pm

I guess I consider food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security old age pensions and disability pensions to be redistribution. My distinction is whether it is tax financed. Providing goods or services as in Medicare and food stamps seems to me basically the same as providing cash as in TANF and old age pensions.

There is also a difference between means tested and age dependent eligiability, but I don't consider it fundamental.

I assert that Medicare (especially plan B) is a kind of welfare basically like TANF and food stamps.

(and look forward to a calm and tranquil discussion of that opinion).

run75441 , March 18, 2019 9:01 pm

Robert:

Medicare is 41% funded by general revenues. The rest comes from payroll taxes and beneficiary premiums. Advantage plans cost more than traditional Medicare for providing the same benefits and also extract a premium fee. I do not believe I have been mean to you. I usually question to learn more. I am happy to have your input.

I am writing for Consumer Safety Org on Woman's healthcare this time and also an article on the Swiss struggling to pay for cancer fighting drugs.

I am always looking for input.

[Mar 17, 2019] As Hemingway replied to Scott Fitzgerald assertion The rich are different than you and me : yes, they have more money.

Highly recommended!
Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right ..."
"... 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." ..."
"... "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." ..."
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

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"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.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

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."

[Mar 15, 2019] Will Democrats Go Full Hawk by Jack Hunter

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Warren could have easily gone either way, succumbing to the emotive demands of the Never Trump mob. She instead opted to stick to the traditional progressive position on undeclared war, even if it meant siding with the president. ..."
"... Bravo Congressman Khanna. And to those progs who share his sympathies with those of us who have consistently opposed US military adventurism. Howard Dean's comments that American troops should take a bullet in support of "women's rights" in Afghanistan (!) only underscores why he serves as comic relief and really should consider wearing tassels and bells. ..."
"... Trump – and Bernie – put their fingers on the electoral zeitgeist in 2016: the oligarchy is out of control, its servants in Washington have turned their backs on the middle class, and we need to stop getting into stupid, needless wars. ..."
"... "Principles", LOL? What principles? When have Democrats ever not campaigned on a "bring them home, no torture, etc" peace platform and then governed on a deep state neocon foreign policy, with entitlements to drone anyone on earth in Obama's case? At least horrible neocon Republicans are honest enough to say what they believe when they run. ..."
"... Hillary was full hawk. It was Trump who said he was less hawkish. Yeah, he hasn't lived up to that either. But Democrats can't go hawkish in response. They already were the hawks. ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

When President Donald Trump announced in December that he wanted an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, there was more silence and opposition from the Left than approval. The 2016 election's highest-profile progressive, Senator Bernie Sanders, said virtually nothing at the time. The 2018 midterm election's Left celeb, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, kept mum too. The 2004 liberal hero, Howard Dean, came out against troop withdrawals, saying they would damage women's rights in Afghanistan.

The liberal news outlet on which Warren made her statement, MSNBC, which had already been sounding more like Fox News circa 2003, warned that withdrawal from Syria could hurt national security. The left-leaning news channel has even made common cause with Bill Kristol and other neoconservatives in its shared opposition to all things Trump.

Maddow herself has not only vocally opposed the president's decision, but has become arguably more popular than ever with liberal viewers by peddling wild-eyed anti-Trump conspiracy theories worthy of Alex Jones. Reacting to one of her cockamamie theories, progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted , "She is Glenn Beck standing at the chalkboard. Liberals celebrate her (relatively) high ratings as proof that she's right, but Beck himself proved that nothing produces higher cable ratings than feeding deranged partisans unhinged conspiracy theories that flatter their beliefs."

The Trump derangement that has so enveloped the Left on everything, including foreign policy, is precisely what makes Democratic presidential candidate Warren's Syria withdrawal position so noteworthy. One can safely assume that Sanders, O'Rourke, Dean, MSNBC, Maddow, and many of their fellow progressive travelers' silence on or resistance to troop withdrawal is simply them gauging what their liberal audiences currently want or will accept.

Warren could have easily gone either way, succumbing to the emotive demands of the Never Trump mob. She instead opted to stick to the traditional progressive position on undeclared war, even if it meant siding with the president.

... ... ...

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


WorkingClass March 13, 2019 at 10:36 pm

Only a crushing defeat and massive casualties on the battlefield will cause ANY change in foreign policy by either party.
PAX , says: March 13, 2019 at 10:45 pm
The antiwar movement is not a "liberal" movement. Hundreds of mainly your people addressed the San Francisco board of supervisors asking them to condemn an Israeli full-fledged attack on Gaza. When they were finished, without objection from one single supervisor, the issued was tabled and let sink permanently in the Bay, never to be heard of again. Had the situation been reversed and Israel under attack there most probably would have been a resolution in nanoseconds. Maybe even half the board volunteering to join the IDF? People believed Trump would act more objectively. That is why he got a lot of peace votes. What AIPAC wants there is a high probability our liberal politicians will oblige quickly and willingly. Who really represents America remains a mystery?
Donald , says: March 13, 2019 at 11:40 pm
"That abiding hatred will continue to play an outsized and often illogical role in determining what most Democrats believe about foreign policy."

True, but the prowar tendency with mainstream liberals ( think Clintonites) is older than that. The antiwar movement among mainstream liberals died the instant Obama entered the White House. And even before that Clinton and Kerry and others supported the Iraq War. I think this goes all the way back to Gulf War I, and possibly further. Democrats were still mostly antiwar to some degree after Vietnam and they also opposed Reagan's proxy wars in Central America and Angola. Some opposed the Gulf War, but it seemed a big success at the time and so it became centrist and smart to kick the Vietnam War syndrome and be prowar. Bill Clinton has his little war in Serbia, which was seen as a success and so being prowar became the centrist Dem position. Obama was careful to say he wasn't antiwar, just against dumb wars. Gore opposed going into Iraq, but on technocratic grounds.

And in popular culture, in the West Wing the liberal fantasy President was bombing an imaginary Mideast terrorist country. Showed he was a tough guy, but measured, unlike some of the even more warlike fictitious Republicans in that show. I remember Toby Ziegler, one of the main characters, ranting to his pro diplomacy wife that we needed to go in and civilize those crazy Muslims.

So it isn't just an illogical overreaction to Trump, though that is part of it.

polistra , says: March 14, 2019 at 2:18 am
Won't happen. Gabbard is solid and sincere but she's not Hillary so she won't be the candidate. Hillary is the candidate forever. If Hillary is too drunk to stand up, or too obviously dead, Kamala will serve as Hillary's regent.
ked_x , says: March 14, 2019 at 2:48 am
The problem isn't THAT Trump is pulling the troops out of Syria. The problem is HOW Trump is pulling the troops out of Syria. The Left isn't fighting about 'keeping troops indefinitely in Syria' vs pulling troops out of Syria'. Its a fight over 'pulling troops out in a way that makes it so that we don't have to go back in like Obama and Iraq' vs 'backing the reckless pull out Trump is going to do'.
Kasoy , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:42 am
Will Democrats go full hawk?

For Democrats, everything depends on what the polls say, which issues seem important to get elected. They will say anything, no matter how irrational & outrageously insane if the polls say Democrat voters like them. If American involvement in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan are less important according to the polls, Democratic 2020 hopefuls will not bother to focus on it.

For True Christian conservatives, everything depends on how issues line up to God's laws. Polls do not change what is morally right, & what is morally evil.

Connecticut Farmer , says: March 14, 2019 at 8:47 am
"I am glad Donald Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria. Congress never authorized the intervention."

Bravo Congressman Khanna. And to those progs who share his sympathies with those of us who have consistently opposed US military adventurism. Howard Dean's comments that American troops should take a bullet in support of "women's rights" in Afghanistan (!) only underscores why he serves as comic relief and really should consider wearing tassels and bells.

M. Orban , says: March 14, 2019 at 9:35 am
Having grown up under communism, I learned that it is dangerous but inevitable that propagandists eventually come to believe their own fabrications.
Argon , says: March 14, 2019 at 11:23 am
Kasoy: "For True Christian conservatives, everything depends on how issues line up to God's laws. Polls do not change what is morally right, & what is morally evil."

I think that needs the trademark symbol, i.e True Christians™

What do True Scotsmen do?

Dave , says: March 14, 2019 at 12:53 pm
Recent suggests that more Christian Identity Politics will not keep us out of unwise wars.
Dave , says: March 14, 2019 at 1:19 pm
The Second Coming of Jack Hunter. Given his well-documented views on race, it's no surprise he's all in on Trump. That surely outweighs Trump's massive spending and corruption that most true libertarians oppose.
EarlyBird , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:04 pm
Trump – and Bernie – put their fingers on the electoral zeitgeist in 2016: the oligarchy is out of control, its servants in Washington have turned their backs on the middle class, and we need to stop getting into stupid, needless wars.

Of course, the left would come out against puppies and sunshine if Trump came out for those things.

But if they are smart, they'd recognize that on war, or his lack of interest in starting new wars, even the broken Trump clock has been right twice a day.

Erin , says: March 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm
The flip side of this phenomenon is that so many Republican voters supported Trump's withdrawal from Syria. Had it been Obama withdrawing the troops, I suspect 80-90% of Republicans would have opposed the withdrawal.

This does show that Republicans are listening to Trump more than Lindsey Graham or Marco Rubio on foreign policy. But once Trump leaves office, I fear the party will swing back towards the neocons.

Andrew , says: March 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm
"Principles", LOL? What principles? When have Democrats ever not campaigned on a "bring them home, no torture, etc" peace platform and then governed on a deep state neocon foreign policy, with entitlements to drone anyone on earth in Obama's case? At least horrible neocon Republicans are honest enough to say what they believe when they run.

Dopey Trump campaigned on something different and has now surrounded himself with GOP hawks, probably because he's lazy and doesn't know any better.

Bernie, much like Ron Paul was, 180 degrees away, is the only one who might do different if he got into office, and the rate the left is going he may very well be the nominee.

Mark Thomason , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:23 am
Hillary was full hawk. It was Trump who said he was less hawkish. Yeah, he hasn't lived up to that either. But Democrats can't go hawkish in response. They already were the hawks.

The least bad comment on Democrats is that everyone in DC is a hawk, not just them.

[Mar 12, 2019] Elizabeth Warren Ads Banned From Facebook

Mar 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

"Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google," read the ads which began to run on Friday, According to Politico . "We all use them. But in their rise to power, they've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor."

As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation , and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it's time to break up our biggest tech companies. -Elizabeth Warren

Facebook confirmed with Politico that the ads had been taken down and said said the company is reviewing the matter. "The person said, according to an initial review, that the removal could be linked to the company's policies about using Facebook's brand in posts ."

Around a dozen other ads placed by Warren were not affected.

[Mar 11, 2019] Is There Any Real Evidence of Elite Pedophile Sex Rings Involving Government Pop Culture – Collective Evolution

Mar 11, 2019 | www.collective-evolution.com

Pedophilia has come up in the mainstream a lot lately, as PizzaGate came to light fairly recently and more and more pedophile rings are being exposed, some of which have involved government officials.

If you're unfamiliar with PizzaGate, it refers to a wide range of email correspondence leaked from the DNC that allegedly unearthed a high-level elitist global pedophile ring in which the U.S. government was involved.

It emerged when Wikileaks released tens of thousands of emails from the former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, John Podesta, who also served as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. It's because of these emails that many claimed John Podesta was a part of these child trafficking rings as well.

Since then, conspiracy theorists and world renowned journalists alike have been looking into the topic and speculating how big this problem could be and who could be involved within these underground rings.

For example, award winning American journalist Ben Swann explained the Pizzagate controversy in detail on mainstream news:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-GZFHLAcG8A?start=0&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0&theme=light

Not long after, Swann's entire online personal brand and accounts had all but vanished from the internet. Why?

More recently, there's been some speculation that these pedophile rings could stretch into pop culture, potentially involving more pedophilia scandals and symbolism within the media. The question here is: Is there any tangible evidence of all of this, or is it mere speculation?

Pedophilia Symbolism

I'd like to begin by identifying the symbols that are used by pedophiles to identify themselves and make their requests within underground networks. Here is a link to a declassified FBI document illustrating the symbols and images used by pedophiles to "identify their sexual preferences."

So, how do these images relate to pizza? First of all, before PizzaGate was even suggested, "cheese pizza" was used as a code word to discuss "child porn" (hint: it's the same initials, CP). A quick Google search will reveal that the market for underage sex workers is fairly substantial, and you can even see a 2015 post on Urban Dictionary that explains how "cheese pizza" is used as code for child porn.

As per PizzaGate and the symbolism, it all started when multiple emails involving John Podesta, his brother, and Hillary Clinton simply didn't add up. Strange wording discussing pizza and cheese left readers confused, and because the emails made so little sense, it led many to suspect that they were code for something else.

For example, this email addressed to John Podesta reads: "The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related)," and this email sent from John Podesta asks: "Do you think I'll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?" There are many more examples, and I encourage you to go through the Wikileaks vault to explore.

On top of that, the DNC was associated with two pizza places, Comet Ping Pong and Besta Pizza, which use very clear symbols of pedophilia in their advertising and have strange images of children and other ritualistic type images and suspicious videos on their social media accounts – which has since been made private given the controversy over the images and their link to the DNC, but again, a quick Google search will show you what those images looked like. You can read the email correspondence between John Podesta and Comet Ping Pong's owner, James Alefantis, here .

... ... ...

[Mar 11, 2019] Google s Page Allegedly Gave Rubin $150 Million Stock Award

Notable quotes:
"... Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page didn't get board approval when he awarded a $150 million stock grant to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software who was under investigation by the company for sexual harassment at the time, according to a lawsuit. ..."
"... The new allegations shed light on Page's power to compensate top executives and could add fuel to criticism that the company's board isn't strong enough to keep management accountable to shareholders. ..."
"... Alphabet initially required shareholders' lawyers to conceal information in the complaint about the $150 million stock award to Rubin, on grounds it was confidential, according to Renne. Alphabet then rescinded its demand. Google declined to comment on that decision. ..."
Mar 11, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page didn't get board approval when he awarded a $150 million stock grant to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software who was under investigation by the company for sexual harassment at the time, according to a lawsuit.

Page later got "rubber stamp" approval for the equity compensation package from a board leadership committee eight days after he granted it in August 2014, according to a revised investor complaint made public on Monday in California state court in San Jose. Rubin used the grant as "leverage" to secure a $90 million severance agreement when he left the company almost three months later, according to the complaint.

The new allegations shed light on Page's power to compensate top executives and could add fuel to criticism that the company's board isn't strong enough to keep management accountable to shareholders. It could also pull Page deeper into the controversy around how Google has handled sexual harassment complaints. The Alphabet co-founder has generally stayed behind the scenes, while Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been left to deal with criticism of the company's culture.

Investors claim the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment to occur, approving big payouts and keeping the details private. The complaint targets the company's top executives and committee members, including co-founder Sergey Brin , venture capitalist John Doerr, investor Ram Shriram and Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, among others.

"It's confirmation of the fact that there were these large payouts" to Google executives and that the company's "own internal investigation had shown there was misconduct and harassment," Louise Renne, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Monday by phone.

"Nonetheless, rather than being just being terminated, they were terminated with hefty reimbursement and gifts," Renne said.

A lawyer for Rubin said the complaint mischaracterizes his departure from Google.

"Andy acknowledges having had a consensual relationship with a Google employee," attorney Ellen Stross said in an email. "However, Andy strongly denies any misconduct, and we look forward to telling his story in court."

Google Board Sued for Hushing Claims of Executive Misconduct

The $90 million severance package was first detailed by the New York Times in October 2018, and sparked a firestorm of criticism from both inside and outside the company. Soon after, thousands of Google employees walked out to protest how the company handles sexual harassment complaints. Since then, Google has changed its policies, including ending the practice of barring employees from suing the company and shunting them into private arbitration. People fired for sexual harassment haven't gotten severance payments in the past two years, Google has said.

"There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google," a spokeswoman for Google said in an emailed statement. "In recent years, we've made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority."

Alphabet initially required shareholders' lawyers to conceal information in the complaint about the $150 million stock award to Rubin, on grounds it was confidential, according to Renne. Alphabet then rescinded its demand. Google declined to comment on that decision.

"My hope is this is a step toward transparency," Renne said, referring to Alphabet's decision to not fight the information being unsealed. "The reason we brought this shareholder lawsuit was to have some transparency governing corporate affairs, as well as the behavior being completely inappropriate conduct toward women," she said.

One allegation unsealed Monday is that Amit Singhal, a top Google executive who left the company in 2016, was allowed to resign after accusations that he sexually harassed a female employee were found credible and he was given an exit package worth between $35 million and $45 million. Singhal would go on to work for Uber Technologies Inc., but resigned from the ride-hailing company after Recode reported that he hadn't told Uber about the reasons he left Google. Singhal, who has denied the harassment claims, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Martin v. Page, 19-cv-343672, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).

-- With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra

[Mar 09, 2019] Warren Takes Her Amazon, Facebook Breakup Proposal to SXSW

Mar 09, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com
On Friday she called for legislation that would designate large technology companies as "platform utilities," and for the appointment of regulators who'd unwind technology mergers that undermine competition and harm innovation and small businesses.

"The idea behind this is for the people in this room," for tech entrepreneurs who want to try out "that new idea," Warren told a packed and enthusiastic crowd. "We want to keep that marketplace competitive and not let a giant who has an incredible competitive advantage snuff that out."

Warren said venture capital "in this area" has dropped by about 20 percent because of a perceived uneven playing field. She didn't provide more detail or say where she obtained her figures.

[Mar 09, 2019] Warren's Plan to Break Up Big Tech Should Focus on Amazon

Mar 09, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up "Big Tech" companies is sure to stoke debate and add to the tension between the Democratic Party and reliably Democratic Silicon Valley. While breaking up Big Tech isn't likely to happen anytime soon, one nuance in her proposal is worth thinking about, and that's whether tech companies that operate large marketplaces should also be able to participate in said marketplaces.

The most obvious impact this would have would be on Amazon. While in the universe of the American retail industry Amazon's market share remains in the single digits, in e-commerce it's got around 50 percent market share . When consumers shop on Amazon, they're presented with items sold by Amazon, and also items that Amazon doesn't own or warehouse but merely hosts the listings. It's also increasingly getting into the advertising business, so that when you're searching you'll be presented with a list of sponsored products in addition to whatever results a search may generate.

A third-party seller on Amazon has a difficult relationship with Amazon, which can act both as partner and competitor. Amazon can use its huge data sets to see how successful third-party sellers and products are, and if they meet a certain profitability threshold Amazon can decide to compete with that third-party seller directly.

Someone might say, isn't that what grocery stores or Costco do with private label goods or Costco's Kirkland brand? But the difference is that in physical retail, there are all sorts of stores where a producer can sell their products -- Walmart, Target, Costco, major grocery chains, and so on. In e-commerce, with half the market share, Amazon has a dominant position. While in the short run Amazon being able to compete with its third-party sellers may be good for consumers, who can end up with lower prices, in the long run it may mean fewer producers even bother to come up with new products, feeling that eventually Amazon will crowd them out of the marketplace.

Would restricting Amazon, which has grown so quickly and is popular with consumers, harm the economy? Government's antitrust fight with Microsoft a generation ago ended up paying dividends for innovation. In the 2000s a common critique of Microsoft was that it "missed" the internet, and smartphones, and social media, but to some extent that may have been because the company feared an expansion in emerging technologies would bring back more scrutiny from the government. As a result, new tech platforms and companies bloomed. The same could happen in the next decade if Amazon's ambitions were reined in a little.

"Break up Big Tech" is an easy emotional hook, but hopefully Warren's proposal will get all Americans to think more about the power of tech companies and their platforms, and whether regulatory changes would best serve both consumers and producers.

[Mar 05, 2019] The Sad Story of Trump University by Michael Warren

Feb 26, 2016 | www.weeklystandard.com

In a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Matt Labash highlighted the sad story of Trump University, one of the Donald's biggest failures. Here's an excerpt:

But most egregious was Trump University, a purported real estate school that attracted the attention of New York's attorney general, who brought a $40 million suit on behalf of 5,000 people. The New York Times described Trump U as "a bait-and-switch scheme," with students lured "by free sessions, then offered packages ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 for sham courses that were supposed to teach them how to become successful real estate investors." Though Trump himself was largely absentee, one advertisement featured him proclaiming, "Just copy exactly what I've done and get rich." While some students were hoping to glean wisdom directly from the success oracle, there was no such luck. At one seminar, attendees were told they'd get to have their picture taken with Trump. Instead, they ended up getting snapped with his cardboard cutout. What must have been a crushing disappointment to aspiring real estate barons is a boon to Republican-primary metaphor hunters.

Read the whole article here , which documents Trump at his Trumpiest, from his penchant for cheating at golf to his sensitivity to being called a "short-fingered vulgarian."

Michael Warren is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

[Mar 05, 2019] David Cay Johnston on the Crony Capitalism, and Part 2 on Plans for Funding For Your Old Age

Mar 05, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

David Cay Johnston on the Crony Capitalism, and Part 2 on Plans for Funding For Your Old Age

"A pension is not a 'gratuity.' A pension is wages you could have taken in cash, but prudently and conservatively set aside for your old age. It's your money. If your employer, for every pay period, does not set aside and designate it to go into a pension plan, your employer is stealing from you. The way to get this is to require pay stubs to itemize the amount of money that has been contributed to your pension plan."

David Cay Johnston

"Capitalism is at risk of failing today not because we are running out of innovations, or because markets are failing to inspire private actions, but because we've lost sight of the operational failings of unfettered gluttony. We are neglecting a torrent of market failures in infrastructure, finance, and the environment. We are turning our backs on a grotesque worsening of income inequality and willfully continuing to slash social benefits. We are destroying the Earth as if we are indeed the last generation."

Jeffrey Sachs

"We are coming apart as a society, and inequality is right at the core of that. When the 90 percent are getting worse off and they're trying to figure out what happened, they're not people like me who get to spend four or five hours a day studying these things and then writing about them -- they're people who have to make a living and get through life. And they're going to be swayed by demagogues and filled with fear about the other, rather than bringing us together.

President Theodore Roosevelt said we shall all rise together or we shall all fall together, and we need to have an appreciation of that.

I think it would be easy for someone to arrive in the near future and really create forces that would lead to trouble in this country. And you see people who, they're not the leaders to pull it off, but we have suggestions that the president should be killed, that he's not an American, that Texas can secede, that states can ignore federal law, and these are things that don't lack for antecedents in America history but they're clearly on the rise.

In addition to that, we have this large, very well-funded news organization that is premised on misconstruing facts and telling lies, Faux News that is creating, in a large segment of the population -- somewhere around one-fifth and one-fourth of it -- belief in all sorts of things that are detrimental to our well-being.

So, no, I don't see this happening tomorrow, but I have said for many years that if we don't get a handle on this then one of these days our descendants are going to sit down in high-school history class and open a textbook that begins with the words: The United States of America was and then it will dissect how our experiment in self-governance came apart."

David Cay Johnston, May 2014

https://www.youtube.com/embed/zaKYPn0zJKc

https://www.youtube.com/embed/sZbqr2AzoOo

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[Mar 05, 2019] Democratic senator to introduce tax on trading [Video]

Mar 05, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

CNBC Videos

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is expected to introduce a new tax bill today. The senator says his bill would tax the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives at a 0.1 rate. It would apply to any transaction in the United States. The senator says his proposal would clamp down on speculation and some high frequency trading that artificially creates more market volatility.

[Mar 04, 2019] Holy Corruption, Batman! Could this be the end of the Boy Wonder?

Mar 04, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Jen March 1, 2019 at 12:09 pm

I was expecting that if a Western invasion of Venezuela were to go ahead, that Brazil and Colombia would decline to commit troops, the US would be overstretched, and Canada would take the lead in organising an invasion force.

But I have just heard that Justin Bieber Turdeau is facing calls to resign after former federal attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that she'd been pressured to drop bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin by government officials (of whom some were from the Prime Minister's Office) wanting her to apply deferred prosecution (by which SNC-Lavalin would merely pay a fine). The charges against SNC-Lavalin involve former company executives making illegal donations to the Liberal Party from 2004 to 2011. SNC-Lavalin also paid huge bribes to Libyan govt officials to secure contracts in Libya and has been shut out of contracts by the World Bank for corrupt practices in Bangladesh.

The company has its head office in Quebec (which the Liberal Party needs to hold to win the general election in October this year) and employs some 3,400 people in the province.
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/03/justin-trudeau-is-finished.html#more
https://canadafreepress.com/article/canadas-snc-lavalin-corruption-scandalshould-prime-minister-justin-trudeau

If JWR's allegations that Turdeau pressured her, directly or indirectly, then he could be charged with obstructing the course of justice. Deferred prosecution itself is recent legislation introduced by the Turdeau government and SNC-Lavalin had lobbied for it.

Looks like Canada will be too busy dealing with the Turdeau govt's own corruption instead of Maduro.

The silver lining is that Chrystia Freeland has said she supports JBT 100%, although with her record of telling the truth one can never be too sure and she might not be willing to go down with him if he has to resign.

yalensis March 1, 2019 at 12:48 pm
Holy Corruption, Batman! Could this be the end of the Boy Wonder?
Mark Chapman March 1, 2019 at 5:28 pm
That will teach me a lesson; I just lost a very lengthily-developed comment because I was typing too fast, and accidentally hit the wrong combination of keys. Therefore, this one will evolve in the form of saves and updates.

Yes, he's in serious trouble. Wilson-Raybould was one of his big success stories, the first aboriginal woman to be appointed Justice Minister. She's also a lawyer, and kept detailed records of who said what to her when. After the SNC-Lavalin affair broke and following her obviously-unsatisfactory performance in refusing to keep things on the down-low so they would be allowed to settle out of court and probably just pay a fine, she was removed from her position in a cabinet shuffle, and given Veterans Affairs.

She pissed off Veterans with her obvious discontent with her new portfolio, as if it is unworthy of her talents, and there is a substantial question why she did not immediately resign as soon as she was pressured to do something she obviously knew was at least unethical if not illegal. But otherwise she seems to have all her ducks in a row, and it is going to be very difficult for the Trudeau government to attack her position.

They're not too busy to proceed with the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, though, I see.

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/breakingnews/feds-allow-meng-extradition-case-to-proceed/ar-BBUgnxV?li=AAggNb9&ocid=wispr

This is not necessarily the end of the line, and is just a hearing, not a trial. Nonetheless, it moves the decision into ministerial territory, and the higher you go in the Canadian government, the more people you meet who like to lick the US government's shoes, and would no more tell it "No" than they would come to work with no pants on. More ominously, the Canadian Justice Department claims to have thoroughly reviewed the US charges, and consider them satisfactorily supported to proceed.

Extremely curious timing, as there was just a story in today's National Post which mostly scoffed at the American inveigling against Huawei, referring to it as 'exaggerated', and even having the temerity to point out the USA has actually done what it accuses China of doing, while China has not been caught – ever – inserting 'backdoors' in any of its software. The USA built backdoors into equipment made by Cisco Systems, and then shipped it around the world, which is why China banned it.

https://business.financialpost.com/telecom/experts-us-anti-huawei-campaign-likely-exaggerated

Predictably, after London declined to ban Huawei outright, saying the risk could be 'managed' – a terrific blow to the American argument – other countries with less backbone, Canada among them, claim to have been of the same mind.

Curiously, as well, the original reference points out that the charges against Meng, which the Minister deems substantial enough to proceed with the extradition hearing, relate to matters which are not offenses in Canada. That struck a chord with me, because I remember that when William Browder was detained in Spain on a Russian Interpol warrant, the official reason Spain gave for letting him go was that the matters on which he was ordered held were not crimes in Spain.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/30/putin-critic-bill-browder-arrested-in-spain

Unofficially, as revealed by Browder himself, the Interpol General Secretary in Lyon advised the Spanish government not to honour the Russian warrant. Yet when the EU demands that Russia release Khodorkovsky, or Navalny or whatever prominent 'Kremlin critic' is in jail at the moment, they expect Russia to jump right the fuck to it.

[Mar 04, 2019] One cheer for Elizabeth Warren's anti-corruption crusade

Mar 04, 2019 | www.washingtonexaminer.com

...Her prescription also includes some great ideas. She would bar congressmen and Cabinet secretaries from owning individual stocks (a measure we proposed in 2011 ) and apply conflict of interest laws to the president and vice president. Both would be good regulations of our politicians, mitigating temptations to corruption.

[ Also read: Elizabeth Warren doesn't mind taking money from lobbyists (so long as they're local) ]

An extension of the current brief lobbying ban for senators and congressmen also seems prudent and justified. Warren would make it a lifetime ban. She would also require former government officials to disclose their private sector work for four years after they leave the government. These rules can be thought of as conditions for holding positions that involve the public trust. Truly serving the public can mean limiting your post-government employment options.

Some of her other ideas are well-intentioned but nonsensical. Warren wants to expand the definition of "lobbyist" to "include all individuals paid to influence the government."

[Mar 04, 2019] Trump calls for 21st century Glass-Steagall banking law

Notable quotes:
"... As Sen. Elizabeth Warren has famously said with respect to cabinet and other political appointments, "Personnel Is Policy." You can see the outline of the Trump administration's real policies being shaped before our eyes via his proposed cabinet appointees, covered by Politico and other sites. ..."
"... Sanders, Warren and others should hold Trump's feet to the fire on the truly populist things he said and offer to work with him on that stuff. Like preserving Social Security and Medicare and getting out of wars. ..."
Nov 11, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
allan November 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Trump calls for '21st century' Glass-Steagall banking law [Reuters, Oct. 26]

Financial Services [Trump Transition Site, Nov. 10]

Oddly, no mention of Glass-Steagall, only dismantling Dodd-Frank. Who could have predicted?

File under Even Victims Can Be Fools.

Chauncey Gardiner November 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Not surprised at all. The election is over, the voters are now moot. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren has famously said with respect to cabinet and other political appointments, "Personnel Is Policy." You can see the outline of the Trump administration's real policies being shaped before our eyes via his proposed cabinet appointees, covered by Politico and other sites.

Dr. Roberts November 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Also no mention of NAFTA or renegotiating trade deals in the new transition agenda. Instead there's just a bunch of vague Chamber of Commercesque language about making America attractive to investors. I think our hopes for a disruptive Trump presidency are quickly being dashed.

Steve C November 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Sanders, Warren and others should hold Trump's feet to the fire on the truly populist things he said and offer to work with him on that stuff. Like preserving Social Security and Medicare and getting out of wars.

As to the last point, appointing Bolton or Corker Secretary of State would be a clear indication he was just talking. A clear violation of campaign promises that would make Obama look like a choirboy. Trump may be W on steroids.

pretzelattack November 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm

sure he may be almost as bad as Clinton on foreign policy. so far he hasn't been rattling a saber at Russia.

Steve C November 10, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Newland also is pernicious, but as with many things Trump, not as gaudy as Bolton.

anti-social socialist November 10, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Yathink?
https://www.ft.com/content/aed37de0-a767-11e6-8898-79a99e2a4de6

Katniss Everdeen November 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I can't imagine how he's neglected to update his transition plan regarding nafta. After all, he's already been president-elect for, what, 36 hours now? And he only talked about it umpteen times during the campaign. I'm sure he'll renege.

Hell, it took Clinton 8 hours to give her concession speech.

On the bright side, he managed to kill TPP just by getting elected. Was that quick enough for you?

[Mar 04, 2019] We must end the fiction of corporation as a "legal person." We must hold corporate officers accountable for criminal activity and truly enforce anti-bribery and other laws. Too often corporations are de facto criminal conspiracies

Mar 04, 2019 | www.washingtonpost.com

BigB249 6 months ago

It is my belief as a student of history that corruption has been a integral part of the United States government from the very start. I offer the careers of founding fathers Robert Morris and James Wilson as evidence. We owe debts of gratitude to these two men for their positive contributions, but their misdeeds are scandalous. Let us not forget the dark compromises over slavery that continue to poison our society or the cynical corruption that allowed the destruction of the civilized tribes of the Southeast and the illegal seizure of their lands.

As a student of economics and a longtime corporate accountant, I propose even more radical reforms than Senator Warren. I believe that we must reform the rights and legal protections of corporations. We must end the fiction of corporation as a "legal person." We must hold corporate officers accountable for criminal activity and truly enforce anti-bribery and other laws. Too often corporations are de facto criminal conspiracies. It will take international cooperation of governments to reign these enterprises in and force them to behave in a socially responsible manner.

XXX 6 months ago

Thank you for this insightful article. Most Americans know that the system is rigged towards the wealthy and big business; however, they don't know exactly how. You have laid out the perfectly legal way that government and business are intertwined to benefit big business and the individual in government calling the shots.

A good example is Medicare Part D, where the legislation precluded CMS negotiating directly with manufacturers for drug prices - a gigantic gift to the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, I worked at a pharma company, and they through a party in relief.

Billy Tauzin, the Congressman from Louisiana, shaped the Medicare Part D legislation, retired from the House, and went to work for the pharmaceutical industry's top lobbying organization for a reported $2 million a year.

Billy and big pharma reaped huge benefits but the American people and our government did not. It is time something is done about our government/business "pork fest", otherwise, as a nation, we will fall from within through sheer unmitigated corruption.

XXX 6 months ago

FEC fillings first reported by the Washington Free Beacon show that Warren cashed two checks from Jonathan Lavine, the chief investment officer of Bain Capital, and his wife, Jeannie Lavine, worth $5,400 each. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bain Capital has spent more than $5.5 million on lobbying in the last decade.

Those same filings show Warren filling her war chest with $1,000 from Daniel O'Connell, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, an organization described by the Boston Globe as "the state's most powerful business group." Warren also took two checks worth $5,400 each from Lawrence Rasky, chair of Massachusetts-based lobbying firm Rasky Baerlein, and Carolyn Rasky, his wife.

When asked whether or not Warren would still accept that money if she had a chance to do it all over again, the senator's office did not return for comment. It seems the senator wants to drain the swamp in Washington so long as she can still get that campaign money from local lobbyists back home.

XXX 6 months ago

Philip Wegmann Elizabeth Warren doesn't mind taking money from lobbyists | Washington Examiner | August 21, 2018

Wait a second: you condone lobbying or you are against it? It would seem that the legislative proposal would address, at least, some of the issues plaguing our country. Do you really believe, Ms. Warren cashes the checks? It's an organization...e

[Mar 04, 2019] Mentality of neoliberals is many ways close to the Italian mafia mentality. The mentality of organized mob. They put themselves outside and above the society

Clinton is the primary example of such a behavior.
Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. -> Sanjait...

Reply Monday, February 20, 2017 at 03:41 PM

""The low-pressure economies of Volcker, late Greenspan, and Bernanke wreaked immense damage."'

It's good to see Democrats make having a high-pressure economy a priority.

Oh wait no.

You and PGL are huge liars.

libezkova -> Sanjait...

There is no need to assume nefarious motives under neoliberalism. They are the essence of the system, especially among the financial oligarchy. Wolf eats wolf and "Greed is good!" is the most typical mentality.

In some way, it is close to the Italian mafia mentality. The mentality of organized mob. They put themselves outside and above the society.

Reply Monday, February 20, 2017 at 05:37 PM

[Mar 04, 2019] Obama corruption: Warren troubled by Obama speaking fees

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Shot: "Obama's $400,000 Wall Street Speech Is Completely In Character" [ HuffPo ].

Chaser: "Ask all the bankers he jailed for fraud."

JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/330912-warren-troubled-by-obamas-speaking-fee

This just in .Saint Obama is no longer infallible among Dems. Winds of change are blowing. Six months ago, you couldn't get away with saying this kind of thing.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , April 27, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Clinton is down.

Now Obama.

Pelosi? For how long?

Only one big Democrat left – Schumer. Very few target him for challenge, yet.

curlydan , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

He probably said to himself, "What did I make in a year as president? Oh yeah, $400,000. Now that's what I want to make in an hour"

jrs , April 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

you gotta pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy

David Carl Grimes , April 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Obama's not concerned about optics anymore.

fresno dan , April 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm

JohnnyGL
April 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm

"The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Obama will receive the sum - equal to his annual pay as president - for a speech at Cantor Fitzgerald LP's healthcare conference, though there has been no public announcement yet."

=======================================
Sheer coincidence that what Obama campaigned on and what Obama governed on appear to be influenced by rich people. Physics prevents single payer health care .dark energy, dark matter, dark, dark, money ..

Until a strong majority of dems are ready to say what is patently obvious to anyone even mildly willing to acknowledge reality, i.e., that policy is decided not by a majority of voters, but by a majority of dollars, than there is simply no hope for reform.

[Mar 04, 2019] Elizabeth Warren is right Corruption is rotting the U.S. from within by Helaine Olen

Aug 22, 2018 | www.washingtonpost.com

... just as the day was ending, news broke that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), an early Trump backer, was indicted for misusing campaign funds for personal expenses big and small, including dental bills and a trip to Italy.

And this sort of behavior isn't even what Warren is targeting.

Warren's bill takes on what is usually termed the legalized corruption, the dirty dealings of Washington. Among other things, the legislation would:

The goal? To make government once again responsive to voters, not the corporations and the wealthy donors responsible for the vast majority of the $3.37 billion spent lobbying Washington in 2017. That money buys results, but only for the people paying the bills. As Warren said:

Corruption has seeped into the fabric of our government, tilting thousands of decisions away from the public good and toward the desires of those at the top. And, over time, bit by bit, like a cancer eating away at our democracy, corruption has eroded Americans' faith in our government.

This is not hyperbole. A 2014 academic study found the U.S. government policy almost always reflected the desires of the donor class over the will of the majority of voters, while a 2016 report by the progressive think tank Demos determined political donors have distinctly different views from most Americans on issues ranging from financial regulation to abortion rights. A tax reform package that showers benefits on corporations and the wealthiest among us? Consider it done. But a crackdown on drug pricing, buttressing of Social Security without cutting benefits, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, or progress combating global warming, all of which majorities say they want? Not so fast.

Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) said on June 5 that she will introduce "sweeping anti-corruption legislation to clean up corporate money sloshing around Washington." (Georgetown Law)

It's not just what laws get passed, but who is held accountable under those laws. No one in a high position went to jail for the financial crisis. Foreclosure fraud on the part of the banks was punished with a slap on the wrist – if that. All too many corporations treat their customers with complete impunity, as scandals ranging from the Equifax hack to Wells Fargo's many misdeeds demonstrate. It feels as if there is no one minding the store -- if you are rich and connected enough, that is.

This behavior leaves us enraged, feeling like outsiders peering in on our own elected government. A Gallup poll found 3 out of 4 voters surveyed described corruption as " widespread throughout the government " -- in 2010. There's a reason Trump's claim he would "drain the swamp" resonated. No one, after all, thought Trump was clean. His stated argument was, in fact, the opposite. He claimed his success a businessman navigating the corrupt U.S. system gave him just the right set of insight and tools to clean up Washington.

We all know now that was just another audacious Trump con. The tax reform package almost certainly benefited his own bottom line, though we don't know that for sure since he has not released his taxes. Andrew Wheeler , the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a former lobbyist for the coal industry. Alex Azar , the secretary of Health and Human Services, is a former top executive of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. At the Education Department, the revolving door is alive and well, with former George W. Bush administration officials who went on to work at for-profit institutions of higher education returning to government service to advise Betsy De Vos who is -- surprise! -- cutting the sector multiple breaks.

And all this, under our current laws, is allowed.

To be clear, this is not a matter of Republicans Good, Democrats Bad. As Warren put it on Tuesday, "This problem is far bigger than Trump." An Obama-era attempt to slow the revolving door was riddled with loopholes that allowed the appointment of Wall Street insiders to too many regulatory posts. Subsequently, more than a few Obama appointees have gone on to work for big business as lobbyists.

Corruption, legal or illegal, rots the system from the inside out. In an environment where it seems anything goes, it's not hard to think that, well, anything goes -- like Cohen and Manafort, who almost certainly would have gotten away with their behavior if not for the Mueller investigation, and Hunter, who ignored multiple warnings from his campaign treasurer and instead continued to do such things as pass off the purchase of a pair of shorts as sporting equipment intended for use by "wounded warriors."

There is, of course, no way Warren's bill would clean up this entire festering mess. But healthy democracies need government officials -- elected and unelected -- to behave both ethically and honestly. Warren is putting our governing and business classes on notice. Simply saying the law is on your side isn't good enough. The voters won't stand for that.

[Mar 04, 2019] Elizabeth Warren's anti corruption crusade evaporates when foreign policy is raised by Sam Husseini

Aug 22, 2018 | mondoweiss.net
     

On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the National Press Club , outlining with great specificity a host of proposals on issues including eliminating financial conflicts, close the revolving door between business and government and, perhaps most notably, reforming corporate structures .

Warren gave a blistering attack on corporate power run amok, giving example after example, like Congressman Billy Tauzin doing the pharmaceutical lobby's bidding by preventing a bill for expanded Medicare coverage from allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices. Noted Warren: "In December of 2003, the very same month the bill was signed into law, PhRMA -- the drug companies' biggest lobbying group -- dangled the possibility that Billy could be their next CEO.

"In February of 2004, Congressman Tauzin announced that he wouldn't seek re-election. Ten months later, he became CEO of PhRMA -- at an annual salary of $2 million. Big Pharma certainly knows how to say 'thank you for your service.'"

But I found that Warren's tenacity when ripping things like corporate lobbyists' "pre-bribes" suddenly evaporated when dealing with issues like the enormous military budget and Israeli assaults on Palestinian children.

... ... ...

Said Warren of her own financial reform proposals: "Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends. Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they're not already the law.

Why doesn't the same principle apply to funding perpetual wars and massive human rights abuses against children?

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of VotePact .org. Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini

ckg
August 22, 2018, 10:46 am OpenSecrets shows that Senator Warren has received funds from the pro-Israel PAC Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs for the 2018 election cycle. Among the largest funders of this PAC are billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and his wife. At the start of Israel's 2014 massacre in Gaza, the PAC issued a statement in support of Israel.
just
August 22, 2018, 12:36 pm No surprise there, ckg. I cannot think of anyone in Congress nor in the US cabinet that is not 99-100% in Israel supporters' pockets. Nor can I think of anyone that is diplomatically focused. Nor can I think of anyone that is seriously objecting to the slaughter in Yemen, the ongoing attempt to topple Assad, and the endless war in Afghanistan, etc.

Then there's this: the US and too many others pay/subsidize Israel for the privilege of dictating foreign policy and for their own selfish, ridiculous claims of being 'surrounded by enemies'. A nuclear- armed state (though never inspected nor properly declared) keeps this trope/cliché alive???

How many billions should Americans and others pay to Israel for nothing in return?

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2018/03/understanding-military-aid-israel-180305092533077.html Log in to Reply

Maghlawatan
August 23, 2018, 7:10 am Standing up to the Israel lobby now is suicidal. Nobody will risk a career to support a dissident until the dam breaks as it always does.

Power doesn't work linearly. It goes in cycles. Zionism is tied up with money which is a function of the economic system. Warren is playing a long game. She knows the people at the Fed are clueless. She knows there is going to be an awful crash. She knows there will be a new economic system based on the people rather than the elites..

Zionism is living on fumes in DC

https://youtu.be/uDT0xSsrVIg

[Mar 04, 2019] Elizabeth Warren criticized Obama unsaturable greed

Notable quotes:
"... By Joshua Weitz, a research associate at the Academic-Industry Research Network and an incoming graduate student in the PhD program in political science at Brown University ..."
Jun 02, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. How many ways can you spell "payoff"?

By Joshua Weitz, a research associate at the Academic-Industry Research Network and an incoming graduate student in the PhD program in political science at Brown University

Since leaving office President Obama has drawn widespread criticism for accepting a $400,000 speaking fee from the Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, including from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Only a few months out of office, the move has been viewed as emblematic of the cozy relationship between the financial sector and political elites.

But as the President's critics have voiced outrage over the decision many have been reluctant to criticize the record-setting $65 million book deal that Barack and Michelle Obama landed jointly this February with Penguin Random House (PRH). Writing in the Washington Post, for example, Ruth Marcus argues that while the Wall Street speech "feels like unfortunate icing on an already distasteful cake," the book deal is little more than the outcome of market forces fueled by consumer demand: "If the market bears $60 million to hear from the Obamas, great."

[Mar 04, 2019] Warren by name, saying he was wrong to claim at a commencement address at Rutgers last year that "the system isn't as rigged as you think." "No, President Obama, the system is as rigged as we think"

May 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Obama centrists don't have to worry just about Sanders' popularity. Elizabeth Warren, who is increasingly appearing as a plausible presidential candidate for 2020, has also risen as an economic populist critic of the former president.

She has been perfectly willing to challenge Obama by name, saying he was wrong to claim at a commencement address at Rutgers last year that "the system isn't as rigged as you think." "No, President Obama, the system is as rigged as we think," she writes in her new book This Fight Is Our Fight. "In fact, it's worse than most Americans realize." She even went so far as to say she was "troubled" by Obama's willingness to take his six-figure speaking fee from Wall Street. There is indeed a fight brewing, but it's not Obama v. Trump, but Obama v. Warren-Sanders.

And this is where the real difficulty lies for the Democrats. The trouble with the popular and eminently reasonable Sanders-Warren platform-reasonable for all those, Obama and Clinton included, who express dismay over our country's rampaging levels of Gilded Age-style inequality-is that it alienates the donor class that butters the DNC's bread. With Clinton's downfall, and with the popularity of economic populism rising in left circles, Obama has to step in and reassert his more centrist brand of Democratic politics. And what better way to do so than by conspicuously cashing a check from those who would fund said politics?

[Mar 04, 2019] Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare.

Mar 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

MedicalQuack , , November 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare.

He's out there trying to do his own reputation restore routine. Go back to 2009 and read about the short paying of MDs by Ingenix, which is now Optum Insights, he was the CEO and remember it was just around 3 years ago or so he sat there quarterly with United CEO Hemsley at those quarterly meetings.

Look him up, wants 40k to speak and he puts the perception out there he does this for free, not so.

diptherio , , November 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

I think you're missing the context. Lambert is quoting him by way of showing that the sleazy establishment types are just fine with him. Thanks for the extra background on that particular swamp-dweller, though.

a different chris , , November 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Not just the context, it's a quote in a quote. Does make me think Slavitt must be a real piece of work to send MQ so far off his rails

petal , , November 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Alex Azar is a Dartmouth grad (Gov't & Economics '88) just like Jeff Immelt (Applied Math & Economics '78). So much damage to society from such a small department!

sgt_doom , , November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Nice one, petal !!!

Really, all I need to know about the Trumpster Administration:

From Rothschild to . . . .

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

Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus.

He served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund. Later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ross served as the Mayor's privatization advisor.

[Mar 04, 2019] Corporatism masquerading as Liberty

Jan 18, 2014 | creditwritedowns.com

I have been meaning to write something on faux Libertarians of the corporatist ilk for a while. However, since I switched to forecasting mode instead of advocacy , I have tried to leave the political element out of my posts as much as possible. I'll leave the politics to those who enjoy it; I don't. But, I think this is an important topic so I am going to give it a go here.

If you do a search for the word 'liberty' on the Internet, invariably you find the Wikipedia entry for that word. I think the definition used there is a good one. Here's what Wikipedia says about Liberty :

Liberty is the concept of ideological and political philosophy that identifies the condition to which an individual has the right to behave according to one's own personal responsibility and free will. The conception of liberty is influenced by ideals concerning the social contract as well as arguments that are concerned with the state of nature.

Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion or coercion and this is defined as negative liberty.

What you will notice is there is nothing in this definition regarding corporations. It is all about individual liberty and the freedoms of individuals . Individuals are born with innate, natural and inalienable rights to liberty that are self-evident. This philosophical view of humankind gained currency during the enlightenment and is now universally accepted. It also underpins the very concept of democracy and is the origin of the founding of the United States of America.

For example, the U.S. Declaration of Independence begins [highlighting added]:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them withpowers of the earth, the separate and equal sta

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness . -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

As always, I have to note that the writer of the Declaration was a slaveholder in a country in which government killed the indigenous population. So, there is certainly a gap between the high-mindedness of this wonderful document and actual events on the ground. Don't let that detract from the aspirational quality of the words.This is exactly what individual liberty is all about.

On the other hand, a corporation is a societal construct codified into legal existence to further the mutual interests of individuals. A corporation is "an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of the law," according to Chief Justice Marshall in the Dartmouth College Case of 1819. Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward , won by Daniel Webster when the state of New Hampshire attempted to turn the college into The University of New Hampshire, was an early American test of eminent domain-type property seizure.

A corporation has no inalienable or natural rights. Nevertheless, it is the fact that corporations represent a group of individuals that allows the 'corporatist' to claim that these fictional legal entities should enjoy the same natural and legal liberties and rights with which individuals are born.

Let me be bold here: The 'Corporatist' is a kleptocrat masquerading as a believer in liberty. He uses terminology based in liberty to construct an ideology solely as a means of furthering the gains of a specific strata of society allied with the corporatist and at the expense of other strata, by coercion if necessary .

Remember my post on kleptocracy from 2008? If not, here are the four methods Jared Diamond says ruling elites use to maintain power:

  1. Disarm the populace, and arm the elite.
  2. Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received, in popular ways.
  3. Use the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence. This is potentially a big and underappreciated advantage of centralized societies over noncentralized ones.
  4. The remaining way for kleptocrats to gain public support is to construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy.

I broadened the argument on this in my year in review in 2009. Please read The year in review at Credit Writedowns – Kleptocracy to get a fuller perspective. Here's the statement from that post I want to concentrate on:

The last (and perhaps most important) issue [of the four ways elites maintain power], in my view, has to do with the unabiding faith in free markets that many now have. It is with religious zeal that these so-called Libertarians defend the primacy of markets over all else when in reality common sense would tell you that those with the greatest influence and money will always be at an advantage without some check on that influence and power.

This is the corporatism, the faux Libertarianism, to which I refer. The logic goes like this:

  1. Individuals have inalienable rights to freedom. This is a fundamental right that all individuals have and efforts by government to undermine these rights must be resisted at all costs.
  2. Corporations are groups of individuals which have banded together for mutual benefit. In so doing, they can express their individual natural rights more effectively than they could as individuals.
  3. As such, corporations must retain the same rights as individuals legally in order to allow those individuals the corporation represents to express there natural rights. Therefore, the same resistance to denying the rights of individuals must also be transferred to the corporations which represent them .

This logic will take you much further in furthering the aims of corporations, the point being that corporations, businesses, should enjoy the same rights that individuals have.

That is not to say that businesses should not have rights. They should; and we should grant them as much liberty as is reasonable and warranted. But let's be clear, corporations are not individuals; they are collections of individuals. Often, individuals hide behind this collective using the corporate veil to shield themselves from sanction for behaviour that abuses individual liberties. In a very real sense, the rights and liberties of businesses and individuals often come into conflict. A real libertarian would always favour the individual in that conflict . A corporatist would favour the corporation. That's the difference.

Let me give you an example. Say I was walking down the street in Louisville, Kentucky and saw a cute little shop that sold Kettle Korn. For those of you who don't know kettle korn, it is salted and sweetened popcorn that was brought to the U.S. by German immigrant farmers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and into the Midwest over two hundred years ago. In Germany, popcorn is sweet not salty like it is in the U.S. So, I see this store and I am thinking, "They have Kettle Korn in Kentucky? Wow, who knew. I love this stuff. Let me go get some." Here's the problem: the owner of the store has a business policy that no black people are allowed inside. Mind you, this isn't a government policy because government discrimination based on race or ethnicity is illegal in the United States. But, this business owner doesn't want Blacks in his store. So when I enter, he tells me to leave because I am violating his store's liberty to choose its own policies.

I would say the individual liberty trumps the business liberty in this case, especially since the owner is violating his own government's business policy as well as societal norms. A corporatist would say that the business owner wins since it is his business. Again, that's the difference.

There are lots of other examples of corporatism at work in the U.S. legal system regarding property rights in particular. My November 2009 post " New York to use eminent domain to build a basketball stadium " showed the New York State Court of Appeals ruling that the Atlantic Yards basketball project can go forward as planned, dislocating the residents in the Brooklyn, NY area where the stadium is to be built. The decision means that government can evict you from your own home, seize your property, and give you what it believes is a fair price without your consent to build a sports arena, ostensibly for the public good but certainly for state and private profit.

This and other cases like it are occurring because of the decision in Kelo v. City of New London, Conn . If a state or local government deems a private project – funded by private monies and profiting private enterprises – to be in the public interest, it can seize your property to allow this project to occur. In the New London case, residents were evicted to make way for a luxury hotel and up-scale condos, from which private developers would profit handsomely. Kelo was an outrageous example of cronyism completely at odds with the ethos of the Dartmouth College Case of 1819. Because of Kelo , government can now abuse its power to enrich specific private interests. That's corporatism at work.

Corporatism has nothing to do with liberty. It is all about power and coercion. It's about favouring the big guy over the little guy, the more well-connected over the less well-connected, the insider over the outsider. And in society that means favouring large, incumbent businesses over smaller businesses, new entrants or individuals. How does deregulation and free market ideology fit into this ?

"Obviously, if some always have more power and wealth than others, there is never a situation in which the economic playing field is level. Moreover, it is axiomatic that those with the means and access will always have greater influence over government than those without. So, in a very real sense, the socioeconomic elite of any advanced, stratified society will always have disproportionate control of the economic and political system.

"Now, I happen to be a Libertarian-minded individual, so I have nothing against the free markets or the concept of limited government and deregulation. Freer markets and more limited government are my preferred ideal. However, I am a realist. I understand that markets are never truly free and government fulfils a necessary function .

"So, when you hear someone talking about getting government out of the way and allowing the free markets to work, you should be thinking about the influence and control this would naturally engender.

"Think crony capitalism

"In fact, I would argue that the deregulation and free market capitalism that these individuals refer to is really crony capitalism in disguise. I will explain.

"When I think of deregulation, I think of two related but distinct concepts. The one is the actual de-regulation, which is the permission of economic actors to compete in markets previously unavailable to them by order of legislation or de facto government intervention and coercion. The other is regulatory oversight, which is the maintenance of specific rules of engagement under threat of penalty on economic actors by government. De-regulation and regulatory oversight are related concepts but they are not the same."

This favouring of large corporate interests is what Bill Black has been calling Deregulation, Desupervision and De Facto Decriminalization . Dylan Ratigan calls it corporate communism . Ron Paul calls it corporatism . I am calling it kleptocracy. Whatever label you put on this 'thing', it is not about liberty at all. It is about entrenching the interests of a select few at the expense of the rest– and that has nothing to do with liberty.

[Mar 04, 2019] Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime

November 16, 2008

A very timely book , November 16, 2008 Joseph Oppenheim (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews

What makes "Gangster Capitalism" so worthwhile is that it helps in understanding what has led us to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. As the book shows, like during the 1920's, deregulation led the way for powerful companies to allow the very wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of average people by using poor working conditions, low wages, etc, plus at the same time supporting supposedly moral movements (against gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc) which mainly served the purpose of making these trades more profitable to crooks and therefore created rampant gangsterism there. The result was such a society wracked with gangsterism at all levels, but because most people felt they were prospering, few complained.

But, then it all collapsed with the 1929 crash and resulting Depression, which led the way for FDR and the New Deal programs which increased regulation of corporations, repeal of Prohibition, etc. Though the Depression lingered until WWII, the New Deal was successful in restructuring our laws and public infrastructure to create a better footing for the prosperity which would follow.

The book effectively traces how much of this regulation was reduced piece by piece, beginning in earnest with Nixon, using Cold War fears to tilt the nation toward more corporate power and away from reform, support of right-wing dictators around the world, re-energizing a 'moral crusade' especially by beginning the War on Drugs, thereby making the illegal drug trade super profitable, etc.

The nation had shifted Right and even Democratic presidents like Carter who was instrumental in deregulating industry and Clinton who signed into law the repeal of Glass--Steagle weren't able to stop the shift. Then, the 'Gangster Capitalism" went on steroids with G. W. Bush. By 2003, corporate taxes only amounted to 7% of revenues, while payroll taxes amounted to 40%.

Of note, the book makes clear it is opportunity which leads to much crime, so the approach of massive deregulation of corporations, plus focusing on arrests and imprisonment for victimless crimes ends up with the wrong results, more entrenched crime, even allowing corporations to capitalize on a prison industry.

The book is also good at highlighting how corporations and outright gangsters were able to corrupt legal drugs (price-fixing), tobacco, asbestos, body parts, autos (Pintos), etc. Some other things in the book, of note: Hamid Karzai included drug traffickers in his Afghan administration.

And, our support of Suharto (Indonesia), Mobuto (the Congo), and Marcos (the Philippines) allowed 'looting' of these countries.

A corrupt financial infrastructure included the BCCI bank and offshore banking to evade taxes also developed. Plus, laundering money from illegal arms sales, drugs, and so many other illegal activities passed through our financial system.

The book is definitely tilted toward a liberal way of looking at things, therefore it doesn't go into the good things about capitalism, but there are disturbing patterns which are important to understand, and this book does that very well.

By James R. Maclean (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Wasted opportunity , September 6, 2006

Despite the fact that I was predisposed to agree with many of the author's views, this book was a huge disappointment. First, the basic premises:
  1. American business enterprise is singularly corrupt;
  2. Most of the crime that Americans suffer from is corporate crime;
  3. American methods of fighting crime focus on lurid fantasies of underworld conspiracy;
  4. The USA exports criminality through its foreign & trade policies.

Each of these premises could have been, and in other venues have been, well-argued. The first three suffer from a lack of generally accepted, objective measures, but experts on criminology have overcome worse obstacles. What we get instead is an unfocused, rambling listing of claims (plausible, but very poorly documented) about the criminal underworld, anecdotes about corporate crime, and extreme statements. No doubt "legitimate" business enterprise does rip off more money from customers each year than do gangsters or mafiosi; but the latter also account for a tiny fraction of the total US labor force. And comparing deaths from industrial accidents to mob hits is just over the top.

Woodiwiss says that the book

"had its inception during a seminar series on transnational organized crime run by Adam Edwards and Peter Gill... Adam and Peter put together several of the best academic researchers from Europe and North America...."

Yet the book is exasperatingly badly substantiated. I noticed almost no original research. Woodiwiss's footnotes, which--like cops--are never around when you need them (viz., when he is actually saying something that requires documentation), are almost exclusively from articles in the *Guardian* or from other sensational exposes. Radical literature has its place, of course, but saying, "US capitalism is just like organized crime... see, it says so in 'The New Left Review'" is just a harangue, not evidence.

The back cover declaims:

"..[T]he position of large multinational corporations...actually provide the most enticing opportunities for illegal profit... Gangster Capitalism shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence that would leave the most hardened mafiosi speechless."

In fact, it's a disappointing pile of clippings. With the exception of his claims--again, plausible but unsubstantiated--you are not going to find any surprises here.

As I mentioned, he attacks conventional wisdom regarding the mafia and J. Edgar Hoover (who comes off surprisingly well); unfortunately, Woodiwiss offers almost no support for those contentions that are likely to be controversial.

For example, on p.78 he mentions President [Nixon]'s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, "Organized Crime Strike Force Report" [1969], which included a vaguely worded remark that the reliance on legal sanctions to fight drug abuse was actually causing organized crime to flourish." This is footnoted.

Then he says that Nixon was so horrified by this that he ruthlessly suppressed the report. This is not footnoted.

The next paragraph (p.49) includes a quote from a law enforcement officer claiming that gambling arrests were made just to pad the arrest numbers; this is footnoted. The next paragraph declares that gambling is no more corrupt than the rest of the economy. A surprising observation, it is predictably not footnoted.

The result: lots of footnotes documenting that water is a bit on the damp side, but nothing to support the controversial stuff. Only a small part is devoted to crime; the rest is a paste-up job from two dozen radical critiques of the USA.

Anything from the 1971 ditching of the gold exchange standard to the various covert activities of the CIA are brought up, with no more compelling a connection to Woodiwiss' original point than being bad things that Americans did.

The conclusions are so insipid (it calls for "fair trade" with no further specification of how that would be any different... capital punishment for corporations--evidently Mr. Woodiwiss has never heard of 'money laundering,' in which a vehicle corporation commits suicide), that it is pointless to spend any time on them.

Woodiwiss needs to actually learn something about economics; ironically enough, for someone who claims business is closely tied to crime, he knows almost nothing about it. He needs to know, and say what he knows, about law enforcement and business practices abroad, so he can make a comparison. And finally, he needs to actually learn how to write.

[Mar 04, 2019] Harvard mafia sowed Dragon teeth in Russia

The USA in decline needs friends. Instead it got a powerful and well armed afversary, that stupid neocon jerks (including academic jerks like Summers) tried to play to get some dollars in theirs pockets... Add to this tentions with china and Harvard boys should probably be hanged on lampposts.
As the incomparable Jimmy Dore says on his show, which should be required watching for everyone, if the Russians can swing an election with such modest resources against maybe $1-2 billion spent by the Donald and the Hillary together, then every candidate for offices high and low should run not walk with $54,700 in hand to secure a cheap and easy victory from the Russobots.
When you beat a person who is down with boots and this person survive, you should not expect any mercy in the next fight.
Mar 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

MEFOBILLS , says: February 18, 2019 at 4:26 pm GMT

@jeff stryker Reality much?

Russia just passed up the U.S. in grain exports. Their economy in real terms grows year on year. Russia has more natural wealth available to exploit than USA that includes lands rich in minerals, timber, water, etc.

With regards to traitorous fifth column atlantacists and oligarchy, Russia's shock therapy (induced by the Harvard Boys) in the 90's helped Russian's figure out who the real enemy is. Putin has marginalized most of these ((Oligarchs)), and they longer are allowed to influence politics. Many have also been stripped of their ill gotten gains, for example the Rothschild gambit to grab Yukos and to own Russia was thwarted. Dollar debts were paid off, etc.

Russia could go further in their symphony of church and state, and copy Justinian (Byzyantine empire) and prevent our (((friends))) from teaching in schools,bein control of money, or in government.

With regards to China, they would be not be anywhere near where they are today if the West had not actively transferred their patrimony in the form of transplanted industry and knowledge.

China is only temporarily dependent on export of goods via their Eastern seaboard, but as soon as belt and road opens up, she will pivot further toward Eurasia. If the U.S. factories withdrew from China tomorrow, China already has our "knowledge" and will find markets in Eurasia and raw materials in Africa, etc.

People need to stop whistling past the graveyard.

The Atlantics strategy has run its course, internal development of U.S. and linking up with belt and road would be in America's best future interests. But, to do that requires first acknowledging that money's true nature is law, and not private bank credit. Further, the U.S. is being used as whore of Babylon, where her money is "Federal Reserve Notes" and are international in character. The U.S is not sovereign. Deep state globalism does not recognize national boundaries, or sovereignty.

AriusArmenian , says: February 18, 2019 at 5:14 pm GMT
That US elites that are split on who to go after first compromised by going after both Russia and China at the same time is a definition of insanity. The US doesn't have a chance in hell of subduing or defeating the Russia/China alliance. The US is already checkmated. The more it goes after some big win the worse will be its defeat.

So the question (for me) is not which side will win, the question is the scenario of the decline of the US Empire. Someone here mentioned the EU turning East. At some point the EU will decide that staying a US vassal is suicide and it will turn East. When that happens then the virus of US insanity will turn inwards into itself.

The US has recently focused on South America by installing several fascist regimes and is now trying to get Venezuela. But the US backed regimes are laying the groundwork for the next wave of revolution soon to come. Wherever I look the US is its own worst enemy. The big question is how much suffering before it ends.

Cratylus , says: February 18, 2019 at 5:56 pm GMT

... ... ...

Huawei now sells more cell phones worldwide than Apple ( https://gearburn.com/2018/08/huawei-smartphone-sales-2018/ ). And Huawei does this even though it is effectively excluded from the US market (You cannot find it in stores) whereas Apple has unfettered access to the enormous Chinese market. You find Huawei everywhere -- from Italy to Tanzania. How would Apple fare if China stopped purchases of its products? Not so well I am afraid.

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: February 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm GMT
Usa is at war against everyone , from China to Latinamerica , from Europe to India , from the islamic world to Africa . Usa is even at war against its own citizens , at least against its best citizens .
wayfarer , says: February 18, 2019 at 6:55 pm GMT
China's "Petro-Yuan": The End of the U.S. Dollar Hegemony?
WorkingClass , says: February 18, 2019 at 7:09 pm GMT
When we speak of the culture war or the war on drugs or the war between the sexes or a trade war we are misusing the word war.

War with China means exactly shooting and bombing and killing Chinese and American people. Expanding the meaning of the word only makes it meaningless.

We are NOT already at war with China.

AnonFromTN , says: February 18, 2019 at 9:04 pm GMT
@joe webb Russia and China are certainly not natural allies. However, deranged international banditry of the US (called foreign policy in the DC bubble) literally forced them to ally against a common threat: dying demented Empire.

As you call Chinese "Chinks", I suggest you stop using everything made in China, including your clothes, footwear, tools, the light bulbs in your house, etc. Then, using your likely made in China computer and certainly made in China mouse, come back and tell us how great your life has become. Or you can stick to your principles of not using China-made stuff, write a message on a piece of paper (warning: make sure that neither the paper nor the pen is made in China), put it into a bottle, and throw it in the ocean. Be patient, and in a few centuries you might get an answer.

Anonymous [375] Disclaimer , says: February 18, 2019 at 9:34 pm GMT
@joe webb Russia is currently trying to get China to ally against the West:

" Russia to China: Together we can rule the world "

https://www.politico.eu/blogs/the-coming-wars/2019/02/russia-china-alliance-rule-the-world/

In the halls of the Kremlin these days, it's all about China -- and whether or not Moscow can convince Beijing to form an alliance against the West.

Russia's obsession with a potential alliance with China was already obvious at the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual gathering of Russia's biggest foreign policy minds, in 2017.

At their next meeting, late last year, the idea seemed to move from the speculative to something Russia wants to realize. And soon

Seen from Moscow, there is no resistance left to a new alliance led by China. And now that Washington has imposed tariffs on Chinese exports, Russia hopes China will finally understand that its problem is Washington, not Moscow.

In the past, the possibility of an alliance between the two countries had been hampered by China's reluctance to jeopardize its relations with the U.S. But now that it has already become a target, perhaps it will grow bolder. Every speaker at Valdai tried to push China in that direction.

peter mcloughlin , says: February 19, 2019 at 1:55 pm GMT
Where a war begins -- or ends -- can be hard to define. Michael Klare is right, 'War' and 'peace' are not 'polar opposites'. We often look at wars in chronological abstraction: the First World War started on the 28th July 1914. Or did it only become a global war one week later when Great Britain declared war on Germany? The causes can be of long duration. The decline of the Ottoman Empire, for which the other Great Powers were positioning themselves to benefit, might have begun as far back as 1683 when the Turks were defeated at the Battle of Vienna. It ultimately led to the events of 1914.

Great power rivalry has always led to wars; in the last hundred years world wars. Graham Allison wrote that the US can 'avoid catastrophic war with China while protecting and advancing American national interests' if it follows the lessons of the Cold War. History shows that wars are caused by the clash of interests, that's always at some else's expense. When core interests collide there is no alternative to war -- however destructive.

https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

[Mar 03, 2019] Netanyahu's Possible Indictment and Jewish Dialectics by Gilad Atzmon

Notable quotes:
"... Yesterday Israel's attorney general published his decision to indict Mr Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases. ..."
"... Israel is tough on its leaders. It is certainly tougher than Britain that has so far failed to charge Tony Blair with war crimes or the USA that similarly failed to indict George Bush for launching an illegal war*. ..."
"... Ariel Sharon's political career didn't come to an end after the massacre in Sabra and Shatila. The Kahan Commission that was formed to probe Israeli involvement in that colossal crime found that the IDF was indirectly responsible and that Sharon, who was then the Defense Minister, bore personal responsibility for the massacre. The commission recommended the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense Minister. ..."
"... Israel is led by criminals who love their country. For at least 70 years, Britain has been led by criminals who loathe their country. ..."
"... "The Jewish State is an unusual place. It indicts its leaders and occasionally even locks them behind bars". ..."
"... Which is hardly surprising, since most people who rise to high political office (in any country) tend to be criminals – or at the very least callous and cruel. What really is surprising, as Mr Atzmon observes, is how rarely other countries see fit to prosecute their political leaders, even when they commit glaringly obvious crimes. ..."
"... As Howard Scott accurately remarked, "A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation". (Or, one might add, enough influence to launch a campaign for political power). ..."
"... Canadian Jew Henry Makow speaks often of the vicious rivalry in Jewry between the 'globalist' Jews typified by George Soros, and the 'nationalist-zionist' Jews typified by Netanyahu, who has recently making waves by his alliances with European right-wing parties, who are associated in many Jewish minds with 'anti-semitism' ..."
"... The prosecution of Netanyahu, can be seen as artillery fire by the Soros-type camp, which thinks Netanyahu has really gone too far linking himself with Viktor Orbán and so on ..."
"... One recalls the famous 'anti-semitic' tweet of Netanyahu's son Yair against Soros, using the infamous 'happy merchant' jewish caricature http://images.jpost.com/image/upload/q_60/391963 ..."
Mar 01, 2019 | www.unz.com

The Jewish State is an unusual place. It indicts its leaders and occasionally even locks them behind bars. Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was found guilty of "rape, sexual harassment, committing an indecent act while using force, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice". He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Veteran Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was convicted of two counts of bribery and was also sent to prison.

Yesterday Israel's attorney general published his decision to indict Mr Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases.

Israel is tough on its leaders. It is certainly tougher than Britain that has so far failed to charge Tony Blair with war crimes or the USA that similarly failed to indict George Bush for launching an illegal war*.

Yet Israel is far from an ethical realm. It is institutionally racist towards the indigenous people of the land as well as African immigrants, and it is also abusive to its poor. Israel is occasionally accused of gross war crimes . One may wonder why a criminal state with such an appalling record is so harsh with its leaders.

Zionism is one possible answer. Zionism, in its early days, was contemptuous of 'the Jews.' It promised to civilise the chosen people by means of 'homecoming.' The following comments weren't made by Adolf Hitler or a member of the Nazi party but by some of the most dedicated early Zionists:

The wealthy Jews control the world, in their hands lies the fate of governments and nations. They set governments one against the other. When the wealthy Jews play, the nations and the rulers dance. One way or the other, they get rich." (Theodor Herzl, Deutsche Zeitung, as cited by an Israeli documentary )

'The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline.' ( Our Shomer 'Weltanschauung' , Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936, p.26. As cited by Lenni Brenner)

'The enterprising spirit of the Jew is irrepressible. He refuses to remain a proletarian. He will grab at the first opportunity to advance to a higher rung in the social ladder.' (The Economic Development of the Jewish People, Ber Borochov, 1916)

The harsh treatment of Israeli politicians by the Israeli media and judicial system is inspired by that Zionist promise. Israel wants to be 'a state like all other states.' It wants its politicians to be ethical and behave with dignity. But the Israeli people aren't sure about the importance of such trappings. Mostly, they could care less whether the judicial system or the media approve of their leaders' ethical records.

Ariel Sharon's political career didn't come to an end after the massacre in Sabra and Shatila. The Kahan Commission that was formed to probe Israeli involvement in that colossal crime found that the IDF was indirectly responsible and that Sharon, who was then the Defense Minister, bore personal responsibility for the massacre. The commission recommended the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense Minister. These findings did not stop Sharon political career, as we know, he went on to become Israel's prime minister a few years later.


Johnny Rottenborough , says: Website March 1, 2019 at 7:57 pm GMT

Israel is tough on its leaders. It is certainly tougher than Britain that has so far failed to charge Tony Blair with war crimes

Israel is led by criminals who love their country. For at least 70 years, Britain has been led by criminals who loathe their country.

swamped , says: March 2, 2019 at 5:52 am GMT
The asterisk says it all:"Needless to mention, Israel sends its politicians to jail for bribery but also does not prosecute war crimes as much as it should." As long as you're plundering & strafing shegetzes you're on safe ground in Israel (or wherever else you can get away with it in heathen territory). Just like you can traffic in shiksas all you want (one of Israel's leading industries until too much publicity recently).But if you dare screw (either connotation) one of the tribe, your bacon (oink, oink) is fried!

"As much as early Zionism promised to change the people of Israel, the people themselves haven't been keen of turning into something totally foreign to their true nature" instead, they're more keen to turn their true nature into something very threatening to foreigners. "Despite yesterday's polls that suggest that Netanyahu's support has dropped following the decision to indict him, it is likely that within a few days we will find that Netanyahu's support is rising" as he directs his ire to another foreign population again, in Iran or Gaza or Europe or wherever. "This response to findings of criminal behaviour [of only one kind] enlightens the dialectical clash between what the Israelis 'are' and the image they insist upon attributing to"..the Other.

"Israelis love to see themselves as a dignified Western civilisation guided by law and order" at home; while they avidly sell-out this image in the world. "Israel is at least 'democratic' enough to bring this contradiction to light." So give them a little credit, anyway – but no reprieve.

Tsigantes , says: March 2, 2019 at 8:34 am GMT
The striking thing about the crimes Netanyahu is charged with is how trivial and Pollyannish they are compared to what he should be charged with. If I think this living outside Israel, I can only imagine what his diehard supporters think .
Tom Welsh , says: March 2, 2019 at 10:15 am GMT
"The Jewish State is an unusual place. It indicts its leaders and occasionally even locks them behind bars".

Which is hardly surprising, since most people who rise to high political office (in any country) tend to be criminals – or at the very least callous and cruel. What really is surprising, as Mr Atzmon observes, is how rarely other countries see fit to prosecute their political leaders, even when they commit glaringly obvious crimes.

As Howard Scott accurately remarked, "A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation". (Or, one might add, enough influence to launch a campaign for political power).

Brabantian , says: March 2, 2019 at 5:21 pm GMT
Regarding why corrupt Israel surprises us by prosecuting its own leaders sometimes – Before he ended up suddenly dead in Florida USA, exiled Israeli journalist Barry Chamish (1952-2016), always pointed out a corruption back-story behind such criminal charges

For example, Chamish attributed the bizarre Moshe Katsav indictment, to how Katsav had been an impediment to the machinations of the even-more-connected Shimon Peres.

Canadian Jew Henry Makow speaks often of the vicious rivalry in Jewry between the 'globalist' Jews typified by George Soros, and the 'nationalist-zionist' Jews typified by Netanyahu, who has recently making waves by his alliances with European right-wing parties, who are associated in many Jewish minds with 'anti-semitism'

The prosecution of Netanyahu, can be seen as artillery fire by the Soros-type camp, which thinks Netanyahu has really gone too far linking himself with Viktor Orbán and so on

One recalls the famous 'anti-semitic' tweet of Netanyahu's son Yair against Soros, using the infamous 'happy merchant' jewish caricature
http://images.jpost.com/image/upload/q_60/391963

Anonymous [253] Disclaimer , says: March 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke "inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions."

"also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments."

"the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions."

"a term used to describe a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides. " [the key phrase: Israelis contradict themselves, or Israeli behavior contradicts its profession of virtue]

synonyms: reasoning, argumentation, contention, logic;

[Mar 03, 2019] Elizabeth Warren GRILLS Betsy DeVos At Confirmation Hearing

She raise important question about Trump university
Notable quotes:
"... That was brutally enlightening. I mean, I heard from the news that she didn't have a clue about education, but I didn't know it was this bad. America's education system desperately needs to be improved, but I don't see that coming with her... ..."
"... Senator Warren's zeal and interrogation skills are both admirable. ..."
Mar 03, 2019 | www.youtube.com

FrostScience , 2 years ago

Warren is my hero. Keep up the great work Elizabeth!

Shaoul Rick Chason , 2 years ago

Warren for President, 2020

AfternoonBaboon , 1 year ago

"Put the pen down, dear, we both know you're not writing anything" - Olenna Tyrell

PRESTIGIOUS691 , 2 years ago

DeVos is clueless, another idiotic pick for swamp cabinet!!

Kristina V. , 2 years ago

Warren sounds like a teacher telling her student why they're failing.

Rondell Threadgate , 1 year ago

I am an Australian observer, What I see of Elizabeth Warren, she should be the next American President, 1, she has a brain, 2, she has dignity, 3, she knows what she is dong, (she has a clue, unlike the current one ) no one scares this woman.

Melissa Warren , 2 years ago

She is so SAVAGE. I love Elizabeth Warren for this!

Cupid Betty , 1 year ago

This is so funny. As so soon as Warren said "oh good", DeVos was going down.

whm5609 , 2 years ago

Betsy deVos got raked over the coals by both Franken and Warren... deVos isn't qualified to be a teacher's aid for a kindergarten class much less run the D. of Ed. scary!

Paul Copland , 2 years ago

We need more Elizabeth Warrens in America. And we need new rules in our governance. Can you imagine if this was a real life corporate board interview. Would DeVos be hired by that board? Be honest....... DeVos was beyond stupid here.

Lucas Sg , 2 years ago

That was brutally enlightening. I mean, I heard from the news that she didn't have a clue about education, but I didn't know it was this bad. America's education system desperately needs to be improved, but I don't see that coming with her...

D Allen , 2 years ago

Education Secretary wanted, no experience necessary, top salary paid, full benefits.......man sign me up!

Clyde Mccray , 2 years ago

I am not a fan either way of DeVos, but this was nothing but a platform for Warren to fast talk over her, and a way to slam Trump, call him a crook and fraud, and be condescending non-stop.

Elizabeth Warren has some good ideas at times, but this was bullying and showboating on her part and she wasted her time lecturing instead of really giving her a real opportunity to answer a few strong questions to see where she stood on certain topics. Pity.

Has Warren been held accountable for the billions of waste and fraud committed by the congress in the past 8 years on failed policies, laws, etc.

And by the way, how many people in Washington, D C have had experience running a Trillion dollar bank? What a rather dumb question since the answer is NOBODY.

DeVos never stood a chance.

Guitar73 T , 2 years ago

"Destroys?" She basically ask her a bunch of questions she already knew the answer to just to point out she hasn't taken out a student loan or has experience overseeing a trillion dollar program. Then Liz proceeds to derive her own answer prior to Besty answering herself.

A cop may not have saved someones life before so by that logic the cop is not qualified to save lives? Sure, she may not have experience with student loans but that doesn't mean she doesn't understand compound interest, inflation and economics. Maybe these hearings would be a better use of tax payer's money if they weren't merely a forum to broadcast the fact that you don't like someone's political affiliations.

RcMx , 2 years ago

So having focused on being a community organizer is fine for running for president, but somehow NOT for running a federal agency under a president? Meanwhile, when it comes to following the spirit of regulations as opposed to regulations themselves, which (if any) were NOT violated when a certain senator used to be a professor at Harvard and proclaimed that she was of American Indian heritage, while such a classification "coincidentally" benefited whomever claimed it?

Having said that, Senator Warren's zeal and interrogation skills are both admirable. So is the way in which Betsy Devos diplomatically handles such an onslaught of pointed questions that some say are agenda-driven.

This is democracy at work and it's refreshing to see. Thanks Youtube and all who helped bring this about.

nfl doesn't matter , 2 years ago

Senator Warren. You are a US Senator. What is your plan for insuring the United States won't run up 10's of trillions of debt which will bankrupt our country? Senator Warren, have you ever balanced a budget? Do you know what a balanced budget is? Senator Warren, what is your plan for protecting US citizens from criminal illegal aliens? Do you know, Senator Warren, we already have laws in place to protect US citizens from criminal illegal aliens? They're called immigration laws.

[Mar 03, 2019] Warren is buddies with Suze Orman. I will never vote for her for this reason alone.

Mar 03, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Michael O , 1 hour ago

Warren is buddies with Suze Orman. I will never vote for her for this reason alone.

[Mar 03, 2019] Elizabeth Warren To Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan You Should Be Fired CNBC

Mar 03, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Tc Linn , 1 year ago (edited)

Tim Sloan has all the characteristics of a crook. He is remorseless, misleading, lacks responsibility, tries to cause confusion of the facts, and a manipulator. This guy was the CFO and claims he was removed from the scams. Yeah right!

Lily Reyes , 5 months ago (edited)

He should be fired for sure, fired straight to jail.

Realistic Man , 1 month ago

I know Tim Sloan did not do a good job and Senator Warren grilled him to the point where I feel bad for him. She is so good at finding out the truth and cornering the guilty like a rat.

Shauneille Morton , 1 month ago

Tim Sloan is a criminal psychopath and a habitual liar.

crayzmoe , 2 months ago

87% of CEO are crooks

J F , 3 weeks ago (edited)

Good job standing up against this loony who thinks she's a Native American.

Jeff Luallin , 3 weeks ago

I don't know all the ins-and-outs of Tim Sloan, probably some fair criticism, but he doesn't strike me as a crook. For Pocahontas to say he should be "fired", the same charge could be made at Pocahontas - that she should resign (fire herself from the Senate); the scam of her claiming Native American heritage to further her career was TOTALLY bogus.

[Mar 03, 2019] Fed Chair Jerome Powell answers Sen. Elizabeth Warren's questions on bank mergers - YouTube

Mar 03, 2019 | www.youtube.com

A E. , 4 days ago

This was a great line of questioning by Warren.

Boris Psenicnik , 3 days ago

Great job Ms. Warren!!!

James Powers , 4 days ago

If she would shut up about being an Indian and attacking Trump and focus on attacking the banks she would win I'm a Trump supporter and I would vote for her. She is great on the fed

Barry Calvert , 1 day ago

I hope she becomes the POTUS... They will kill her is=f she gets close. You think they dont like Trump ? They control him, they cant control her...

shiftnow , 3 days ago

Bravo Sen. Warren. Way smart, way informed and who gives a shit about DNA, Truth is, we're all a little bit Native American.

[Mar 03, 2019] Elizabeth Warren on controversy I shouldn't have done it

Trump is a dangerous and in his own way very capability media person, a propagandist who is capable fully exploit this story. She really needs to call Trump Pinocchio to neutralize this line of attack
Notable quotes:
"... She has too much excess baggage to run for president. She reminds me a little bit of Hillary mixed with Trump. She used to or still supports Susie Orman, the self proclaimed financial wizard. Orman is a lier and has cheated many people and has made a lot of money off people who fell for her get rich sceems. Orman is a lot like Trump. I don't mind having a woman president but just not this ine! ..."
"... Donald and Fred Trump both claimed that their family is from Switzerland when they are are actually 2nd and 3rd generation German immigrants and still have a whole town of living relatives in Germany. I'm sure we need to demand Donald Trump take a DNA test and also exhume and test Fred Trump's remains . I mean since these matters are clearly so important to everyone. Come on let's dig up the president's dead father to solve a petty political dispute! ..."
"... CNN literally can't do an interview without being obsessed with race. ..."
"... She mentions her native ancestry. It's a point of pride to her, she has no shame of it. Trumps bullying her lead her to get the DNA test. It made her look foolish, like she would do anything to shut the bully up. Whatever her action they have a reaction of insulting her. Because they are racist. ..."
"... OMG, What controversy with Warren?? No one outside of DC cares about the ancestry.. Trump is literally a Mob Boss... ..."
Mar 03, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Laura B , 2 hours ago

Is this the only dirt they can come up with. Lol 😊 Elizabeth Warren 2020

angelmushahf , 3 hours ago

Most White ppl in the U.S. think they are Cherokee, even though they aren't. In fact, I know White conservatives who claim Cherokee. Sure she went a step too far 30-40yrs ago, but at least she actually cares about Natives. Conservatives, on the other hand, claim to be Native Americans, support DAPL, could care less about them and mock Natives any chance they get

independent vote , 3 hours ago

This is FK'D. trump has committed EVERY political error in the book, breaks laws, THANK'D MATT GAETZ FOR THREATENING COHEN, cheats on wives..

BUT ELIZABETH WARREN IS IN TROUBLE ?

Queer Radical Social-Anarchist Punk-Rock Vegan , 3 hours ago

--Principal Chief Richard Sneed "It's media fodder. It's sensationalism. That's what it is,. All it takes is for one person to say they're offended, and then everybody does a dog pile. But to me, it's 'Wait a second. Let's get to some of the facts here.' Sen. Warren has always been a friend to tribes. And we need all the allies we can get."

Brian Young , 3 hours ago

I see the hate on the comments...it looks like the KKK types are here donning their MAGA hats. Are they tight? Lowering your, already low, IQs further? Yeah

James Burns , 3 hours ago

The whole DNA thing is such a silly, irrelevant distraction. It's so utterly unimportant. But we're now going to find that those sideshows become the focus of the race rather than any real discussion on policy. I'm becoming more and more convinced that people are increasingly too stupid or simply lazy and cynical to bother thinking about things that actually matter.

CC , 1 hour ago

Why? The poor learned the loopholes just like the rich. That's why she checked the native American box. And the hypocrisy of "President" Trump's past brought out from the time he stated he was running, this women was right next to Hillary knocking him down.

I don't buy the soft casual talk about not going to the past. She messes with the wrong man and then her skeletons came our of the closet. She deserved it

Slap Daddy , 3 hours ago

Nothing we First Nations people despise more than a white person so ashamed of themselves try and pretend they are one of us . We have more respect for white people who are strong and proud of their own people . She is not only very weak , she is a traitor to her people . We do not respect people ashamed of themselves .

Ezequiel H , 3 hours ago

Why so many stupid trump supporters in the comment section. This story is very relevant to many Americans my family included .

marzipanjoyjoy , 2 hours ago

I also hope all you upright citizens are out there demanding a boycott of Chuck Norris. I'm sure you're outraged by Walker Texas Ranger, correct? You know that tv show where one of the whitest guys in America claimed both in the show and outside of the show for marketing purposes that he is native American. I assume you all want Chuck Norris to take a DNA test and prove it right? Guys? Right?

Rob Wealer , 3 hours ago

They should simply agree on what is the proper genetic mix that is acceptable ideologically to determine which genetic mix is less or not acceptable so that the proper mistreatment of the lesser sort can be determined and enforced by popular consensus. This seems almost to be having the force and effect of law socially and politically. This is becoming a strange mix of nostalgic notions of virtue while at the same time embracing the basic premise of Nuremburg.

chip block , 2 hours ago (edited)

She has too much excess baggage to run for president. She reminds me a little bit of Hillary mixed with Trump. She used to or still supports Susie Orman, the self proclaimed financial wizard. Orman is a lier and has cheated many people and has made a lot of money off people who fell for her get rich sceems. Orman is a lot like Trump. I don't mind having a woman president but just not this ine!

Juantarde , 55 minutes ago

I'm happy as long as Elizabeth Warren is in ANY part of government where she can continue to kick major ass on the republican crooks.

marzipanjoyjoy , 2 hours ago

Donald and Fred Trump both claimed that their family is from Switzerland when they are are actually 2nd and 3rd generation German immigrants and still have a whole town of living relatives in Germany. I'm sure we need to demand Donald Trump take a DNA test and also exhume and test Fred Trump's remains . I mean since these matters are clearly so important to everyone. Come on let's dig up the president's dead father to solve a petty political dispute!

Jasion Sail , 2 hours ago

CNN literally can't do an interview without being obsessed with race. Warren would probably had a chance if they gave her a support like they do Harris. ...now here comes the twist I actually do not support her or anyone on the left but she didn't even get a solid chance she might as well drop out now and endorse someone.

Mister Sarajevo , 3 hours ago (edited)

Why do Bernie Bros hate her so much when she's basically doing the same thing but w/ less yelling, finger wagging & condescension?

2degucitas , 1 hour ago

She mentions her native ancestry. It's a point of pride to her, she has no shame of it. Trumps bullying her lead her to get the DNA test. It made her look foolish, like she would do anything to shut the bully up. Whatever her action they have a reaction of insulting her. Because they are racist.

Jason Milton , 2 hours ago

OMG, What controversy with Warren?? No one outside of DC cares about the ancestry.. Trump is literally a Mob Boss...

Lefty Jones , 2 hours ago

It's so annoying how anytime a decent person fucks up nowadays they're forced to spend like an entire year apologizing, and that's only if they don't automatically lose their entire career right after said fuck up. She admits she shouldn't have done it, great, now lets get back to policy.

TheRealMVP , 3 hours ago

I just don't understand how some people can't accept her apology for the Native American fiasco, yet they give trump all the slack in the world. This is a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy..... The double standard is just ridiculous.

[Mar 03, 2019] If Elizabeth Warren is nominated for president, and I hope she will be, I believe we will see the most virulent, vile and vituperative campaign imaginable against her by the right, the wealthy and the corporate interests.

Taxation itself does not solve the problem. You also need to cut MIC. Only in this case orginary americans will benefit. Andf that Mmieans that Eligeth Warren will face tremendous slander campaign neocons.
Mar 03, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

voreason Ann Arbor, MI Jan. 29

If Elizabeth Warren is nominated for president, and I hope she will be, I believe we will see the most virulent, vile and vituperative campaign imaginable against her by the right, the wealthy and the corporate interests. It will be a battle for the soul of this country. But if anyone can make the case to the middle class for real economic and tax reform in the face of the attacks that such a plan will face, Elizabeth Warren is the person to do it. She has a first class intellect, she has remarkable communication skills and, as she says, this is her life. She's not running in order to "be" president, she's running to enact policies that have the potential of turning the tide in this country in favor of the people and away from the plutocrats. And in this, she will face real opposition from many within her own party. It's going to be an interesting two years.

Robert Seattle Jan. 28

Paul, it would be great if you could compare the revenue effects of this Warren proposal with the actual tax policies that were in effect during the Eisenhower administration. It seems that the progressive taxation rates of that era, topping out at about 90% marginal rates, should and could be the "gold standard" for comparison with current plans.

The neolib/libertarian campaign, stretching back to those years and even earlier, has been wildly successful in brainwashing Americans with regard to both public finance and the link with tax structures. And the removal of controls on money in politics has us in a truly toxic environment that in my view has already tipped us into an oligo-klepto-plutocracy. The ravaging of all three branches of government has reached critical mass, and we're teetering on the brink in a way that may not be reversible.

Dawne Touchings Glen Ridge, NJ Jan. 29

Any candidate who is promising health care for all and a substantial response to climate change and crumbling infrastructure, has to be talking taxation of the wealthy either by income tax or wealth tax or both. Otherwise, they are just blowing smoke. Elizabeth has that combination in her platform.

Bill from Honor Jan. 29

@White Buffalo

It is a tragic commentary on the American political system that FDR felt he had to make a compromise with the Devil in order to gain the passage of progressive legislation.

The situation continues today with the institutions of the electoral college and especially the US Senate, where the population of several small easily manipulated states can hold equal power to representatives of states with many times more people. In our times the circumstances often result in gridlock when the Senators from progressive states refuse to compromise with these who represent minority viewpoints.

Tom Miller Oakland, California Jan. 29

Warren Buffett and other billionaires who are socially committed should endorse Senator Warren's proposal and her candidacy. Let Trump call her names; she knows what she's doing and is truly on our side.

Jay Arthur New York City Jan. 29

The national debt as a % of GDP was higher after WWII than it is now. Then we had three decades of prosperity along with a steady decline in the debt. How? High marginal tax rates. Since Reagan's election the debt has steadily increased, so that now it's almost as high as it was in 1945. We solved this problem before, we can solve it again. Warren and AOC are right on.

PATRICK G.O.P. is the Party of "Red" Jan. 29

There is a very simple logic to focus on; The corruption of Republicans from campaign donations to legislation as directed by wealthy's lobbyists enriching their wealthy benefactors, to gross wealth inequality as a result, is overwhelming justification to get that wealth back to the nation through progressive taxation. Tax the wealthy before they export America's wealth. It isn't trickling down as much as trickling Up and Out of the country.

mrpoizun hot springs Jan. 28

The idea that a couple of extra percentage points of taxes on fifty million dollars could be considered to be outrageous shows how radical the right-wing has become in this country.

Someone who has that much income- I was going to say "earned", but it's the lower-class working people who earn it for them- would not even miss that money. And how much money can you actually spend in a way that makes you happy, or happier, anyway?

Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Taz

In real life, Obama already increased taxes for the extreme rich, and Hillary's campaign agenda included additional tax increases. So this is merely a logical continuation of what Democrats have always stood for.

bill washington state Jan. 29

I've noticed two things that have happened in my lifetime. Many Billionaires and near billionaires have proliferated while at the same time social security has become more precarious and homelessness has exploded.

And of course our overall national debt has dramatically increased. Nobody needs a billion dollars or even ten percent of it for that matter. Not sure if Warren's plan is the best but it would generate a ton of money to improve the collective good and it still wouldn't dent the billionaires much.

SAF93 Boston, MA Jan. 29

I for one, would be happy to pay the extra taxes that Senator Warren proposes, should I ever amass over $50million in wealth!

JW New York Jan. 29

The downside to this proposal is that my newest Bugatti Veyron I was planning to gold-plate may have to be silver-plated instead. Worse, my tenth beach house estate I was planning on building on the island I purchased off Fiji may have to be scaled back to a bungalow occasionally rented out to cover the utilities. Oh, the pain. And forget about me trying a hostile takeover of a major media outlet I will not name.

CH Indianapolis IN Jan. 29

Prof. Krugman, why do you give credit to Elizabeth Warren's party rather than to Elizabeth Warren herself? Her party will deserve credit if they can get beyond the corporatists and nominate her. Otherwise, no. Last night on Lawrence O'Donnell, Sen. Warren explained how the wealthy have manipulated the system for years to accumulate more and more wealth.

Their lobbyists persistently ask Congress for small, subtle changes in the law that benefit them. Because the individual changes seem minor, Congress often goes along, but, over the years, they add up to major benefits allowing the wealthiest to accumulate more and more assets.

Billionaire Howard Schultz's ability to self-fund a presidential campaign and the Koch political network's efforts to make its own preferred policies exemplify another reason for taxing the wealthiest. They can and do use their vast resources to cause significant harm to the country.

Sherrie California Jan. 29

Watched Sen. Warren on MSNBC last night and she did well to explain her plan to us "regular folks," rare for a politician. Just ask Paul Ryan.

This plan can work if we don't let Republicans lie about its benefits. Nail the Fox crew to the wall in siding with their uber rich boss Murdoch, who loathes the plan (I wonder why). This plan can work if it still contains tax break goodies for the 90%---all levels. We all have to join together and we all have different economic concerns. That's a fact.

This plan can work if the public realizes it prevents tapping into Social Security or Medicare or cutting benefits. This plan can work if we can hear over and over again how the money will be spent on climate change, healthcare, college tuition, infrastructure, cyber security, and poverty, to name a few. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This plan will work if they point to the Republican tax debacle giveaway of 2018 did NOTHING to help any of those problems but was a major giveaway to the rich who did not reinvest into the economy but cashed in instead.

Meredith New York Jan. 29

The ripple effects of more fair, adequate, progressive tax rates are huge throughout the society. Low tax rates and tax havens for the rich and corporations lets mega donors keep increasing their donations (investments) in our politicians and elections, thus their dominance over lawmaking.

This effectively subverts our professed ideals of equality and citizen influence. It subverts our constitution, bill of rights, and the safeguards of our 3 equal branches. Big money values infect our executive, legislative and judicial branches. The S. Court legalized unlimited donor money (investments) in our elections, pretending that any limits would subvert the 1st Amendment's Free Speech. We see the effects on tax laws and weak regulations giving huge advantage to the donor elites. In effect they are regulating our govt.

johnj san jose Jan. 28

@Mystery Lits

You are wrong in every argument you make. You don't live in isolation, you live in an organized society that makes your wealth possible. There would be no wealth in the US if we didn't have a functioning society, and there would be no functioning society without taxation and government functions. And "the rich" didn't go anywhere in the fifties and sixties when the taxation was much higher than today. Also these 0.1 to 0.01% that Warren is proposing to tax don't pay vast majority of the taxes, it's the upper 10% that pays the majority.

Gene S Hollis NH Jan. 28

I agree that the tax rates from the 1950's were economically, fiscally and socially sound. Were it not a violation of the constitutional ban on bills of attainder, I would propose a more rigorous tax be applied to the Kochs and the Adelsons. When it comes to spending more on Medicare (which I interpret to mean more than the current 17-18% of GDP), however, we should not. I recently had a health problem while traveling in Germany. I spent 4 days in a teaching hospital (University Clinic of Bonn--UKB). Not only did I receive excellent care, which my American doctor told me was as good as any care available here, but the bill came to around $4300 (€3700). That included three diagnostic procedures. The Medicare-approved payments for the same care would have been about $28,000. Throwing more money down the bottomless pit of U.S. medical practice is futile. The proceeds of such a capital levy as that proposed by Ms.Warren would be better spent on addressing hunger, on infrastructure and on retiring some of the national debt

Ralph Averill New Preston, Ct Jan. 28

A tax on significant accumulated wealth is past due. The same for inherited wealth. Apparently the hated "Death Tax" doesn't go far enough. Many self-made millionaires promote the benefits of pulling one's self up by one's boot straps. Why are they so adamant about denying the opportunity to their children?

When Warren Buffett turned over much of his wealth to charity through Bill Gates, he was asked if he wasn't giving away his children's inheritance. Buffett responded, (paraphrase,) "My children have enough to do whatever they want. They do not have enough to do nothing." In my perfect world, it would be difficult to be very rich or very poor, and no one would ever go without.

Meredith New York Jan. 29

Nice headline---Eliz Warren does Teddy Roosevelt--- who broke up the trusts in the progressive era. And Bernie Sanders aimed to do Franklin Roosevelt. Sanders had the quixotic idea to restore the New Deal. But he was soundly bashed and trashed by Krugman and most NYT columnists/reporters.

Even if he wasn't their ideal candidate, his proposals should have been given the respect of serious discussion, like we now are getting for Ocasio and Warren. Do a compare and contrast on policy---Warren and Sanders. Interesting to see what we can learn.

Jose C North Gotham Jan. 29

Speaking of billionaires, I just heard Howard Schultz on NPR trashing Warren's wealth tax plan. So what does this say? Even a so-called progress wealthy person really doesn't want to give up a scintilla of coin. I think the counter-argument, that increasing the income of the 0.1% with tax breaks, does not lead to significant increases in prosperity for everybody - the "lifts all boats" ruse. A recent article in the NY Times shows that this is the case. That is, yachts are being lifted, dinghies are getting shredded by their propellers.

Blunt NY Jan. 28

Ignoring the irrelevance of the Teddy Roosevelt comparison (hardly has anything to do with the rest of his article anyway), this is pretty good from a guy who did all he could to kill Bernie against Hillary. Bernie would have said pretty much the same as Warren then and probably would agree with the proposals now. So Dr K, good to have you back in the midst of the progressives and assume you had a lapse of reason for the past 3 or 4 years. Saez, Piketty and Zucman are fantastic. I am delighted the first two are helping Warren. Ps. All three deserve the Nobel Prize. At least as much as you did.

Jack Mahoney Brunswick, Maine Jan. 29

I was disappointed that she didn't run in 16. She knows that large swaths of our population are under-educated, superstitious, and under the impression that their little arsenals will make a dent should their conspiracy theories that heroically place them behind bushes at Lexington and Concord at odds with the US government somehow come to pass. As someone who has taught school, she appears to understand that trying to engage the back row not only fails to produce positive results but also annoys and appalls those who showed up in good faith. Similarly, she appears to know that the best way to enlighten is to lay out the facts as accessibly as possible and trust that those viewing the facts can come to logical conclusions. Note that if her theory is fatally flawed, so is the Republic. Adlai Stevenson, when told that every thinking American would vote for him, reportedly was chagrined and noted that to win he needed a majority. That was in the 1950's, when sensible tax policies had not been hijacked by dark messaging funded by those who had so much to gain if American safety nets such as Social Security and, in the 1960's, Medicare, could be misconstrued as the insidious tentacles of the Red Menace. The messengers of deceit, thanks to Citizens United, no longer have to whisper doom from the shadows. Rest assured that if EW moves toward the nomination we will be frightened by slick ads that equate gross wealth not with a cancerous concentration but with American lifeblood.

Barbara Iowa Jan. 29

@JW Not sure why anyone on the left sneers at Sanders. Did you know that Sanders has an approval rating of something like 80% in Vermont, a state that used to be full of Republicans and still has plenty of conservatives? People who pay serious attention to Sanders like and respect him. We'll actually be very lucky if we get someone with Sanders' magnetism. If you listen closely, his anger is at injustice, not at other people. He cares about everyone.

Frank Columbia, MO Jan. 29

Why do we have college football coaches making $6million per year ? Because slightly lesser coaches make $5million per year. They could all get by very nicely on a quarter million per year. It's the same with the 1% : they need their fortune only in comparative terms. In the meantime 80% of us live in an economy comprising about 20% of our country's wealth, a very poor country in itself indeed.

Berkshire Brigades Williamstown, MA Jan. 28

Liz has always been ahead of the curve. She knows well that it's time for Democrats to right the ship of state by reducing income and wealth inequality before it sinks our democracy. Go Liz! Go Dems! Go big .. before it's too late!

M Lindsay Illinois Jan. 29

"...public opinion surveys show overwhelming support for raising taxes on the rich." Yet, congress refuses to support such tax reform. I guess that tells us that most politicians are serving and protecting their wealthy political donors rather than our country.

SherlockM Honolulu Jan. 29

Here's a fine way to make America great again. Yes, let's go back to the marginal tax rates of the prosperous '50's. What have we got to lose?

JLM Central Florida Jan. 29

@Linda

One summer in Sigourney, Iowa, when I was a small boy, my grandfather took me into the library Carnegie built and talked about it with great pride. By the way, he served in both world wars and was a prominent Republican. Oh, how times have changed.

Joe White Plains Jan. 29

This is going to be a tough choice for average voters. Work till the day you die, live in squalor and penury in old age as the social safety net is cut, and condemn your family to ever decreasing living standards -- or in the alternative, tax the accumulated wealth of billionaires. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

John Wesley Baltimore MD Jan. 29

RICH- THE ANSWER IS NOT CLASS WARFARE VS THE RICH...I'm not rejecting this proposal out of hand but Warren/Picketty have been putting the cart before the horse-she needs to identify and focus on a fiscal need, THEN assemble tax policy to pay for it in an earmarked way...and it has to be gradual, ideally phased in over 10 plus years. Suggestions ? What do we need to establish Medicare for all ? Or address infrastructure problems over next 10-20 years ? Or make SS solvent ? Determine the revenue you need, not the "revenge" you might want vs the "rentiers" - and I think a very good place to start would be top tax advantages accounts very heavily at high rates.Its absurd Mitt Romney has like what $200 million in his IRA and hes only taking the RMD ?? Tax any income to an IRA with a balance over say $10 million....nobody needs a tax break at that level.

Jesse DENVER, CO Jan. 29

But billionaires are the job creators, the noble stewards of finance and cap... and I'm laughing. Tax the rats. If they complain, tax them more. Let them move to Singapore and share their crocodile tears with crocodiles (does Singapore have crocodiles?)

America's oligarchs have given the working class 40 years of wage slavery and we've given them a life in the clouds. Time to renegotiate.

A.G. Alias St Louis, MO Jan. 29

@John Homan

It's I thought was about taxing the rich more, not only on high incomes but on high net worth also. Rajiv said about how the rich donate to causes that reduce their taxes, by say, electing more tax-cutting Republicans. The Koch brothers are good examples. I didn't quite get your criticism of Rajiv.

george Iowa Jan. 29

This column " Elizabeth Warren does Teddy Roosevelt " says a lot about Professor Warren but very little about Teddy. I read a column yesterday by Charlie Pierce where he goes into detail about TR`s New Nationalism speech.

There are parts of this speech that are real eye openers such as - The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.

Or- We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs. This speech spends a lot of time praising the Saviors of our Country, The Civil War Veterans. And it also says a lot about the proper place for Capital and Corporations, servants not masters.

Marx and Lennon Virginia Jan. 29

@George

I might agree with you if this was a momentary phenomenon, but it's not. The imbalance that is finally plain to all began with subtle changes in the balance between capital and labor in the early 1970s. The truly rich understood what they were doing. They found a fulcrum that allowed them to pry money and power from the increasingly vulnerable middle and lower classes, so they did. To correct this by less drastic means will take at least that long again. I doubt we can wait another 45 years, so yes. We need to use the taxation authority as the fulcrum to pry back the people's fair share. There is no other option as far as I can see.

CallahanStudio Los Angeles Jan. 29

@Tom:

Your characterization of the argument as suggesting that "we should just take all the money from individuals because we can" is as complacent as your reference to Lenin and Mao. Did you miss the part where Krugman points out that we have already used progressive taxation in this country to advance the collective economic good? U.S. economic policy from the Great Depression to Reagan unleashed a rising tide that truly floated all boats in the U.S. economy.

It was the gratuitous tax giveaways to the wealthy advocated by Milton Friedman, among others, that gave our wealth distribution its present hourglass configuration.

Tim W Seattle Jan. 29

Let's add another thing: scrap the cap on the amount of wages subject to the 6.2% Social Security tax, currently set at $128,400. Why should someone making $20 million a year only pay the SS tax on the first $128,400? Scraping the cap would make SS solvent forever, and could even reduce the percentage we're taxed.

dwalker San Francisco Jan. 29

@Robert Elizabeth Warren is a good explainer, and when she starts banging on a point she's convincing. Importantly, she doesn't do it just once, she makes it a theme to be hammered.

A great lesson of the Vietnam War was that it is *repetition* that drives change -- in that case, TV news repeatedly showing flag-draped coffins coming home, covering marching protesters, exposing atrocities, etc.

Whether through timidity or laziness or slavishness to big money donors, Democrats have failed to create a momentum on the idea of wealth inequality that would persuade the public. This will change with Elizabeth Warren and, if he chooses to run, Bernie Sanders. In this regard, a prediction: At some point before November 2020, we will hear the phrase "I welcome their hatred."

Ellen San Diego Jan. 28

Far from radical, the ideas of Warren, Sanders, and AOC are sensible, logical, and fair. Bring on any politician who means business such as these proposals and can articulate them, isn't a billionaire already, and doesn't have a tawdry history of being entangled with Wall Street, and watch him/her win.

Andrew Zuckerman Port Washington, NY Jan. 29

@dmckj

Progressive taxation isn't all that progressive anymore. Capital gains and even earned income of incredible amounts of money as well as stock options are taxed at low rates. In case no one has noticed, the AMT is a bust. It doesn't work and when it does, it harms the upper middle class rather than the super-rich.

The "high-end earners" pay a lot (but not enough) because they are the only ones who have so much income that taxing them does not adversely affect the economy. We have rich folks who can afford giant yachts and not so rich folks who can't survive an unexpected $400 bill. That is not the way the economy should work. Eventually, income inequality will even weaken corporate profits and destroy the economy. Even large corporations need customers who can buy their products.

Rima Regas Southern California Jan. 28

FDR 2.0 must address the social class the Great Recession created. Those are the now 50-60 year olds and millennials who lost jobs, pensions, and are still underemployed and in the gig economy.

Starting in ten years, if nothing is done,very will have 95 million or so homeless. Leaving it to states to construct affordable housing won't do. We need Universal Basic Income. This is needed regardless of whether the GOP and Trump's scams cause a depression. Bernie and Elizabeth would easily demand Congress act on these ideas. Bloomberg and Schultz? Not on your life. A decent future is progressive. We need FDR 2.0. we need to be done with triangulation.

The GOP is an untrustworthy partner. --- Things Trump Did While You Weren't Looking [2019] https://wp.me/p2KJ3H-3h2

Constance Warner Silver Spring, MD Jan. 28

Let's hope Warren succeeds, whether she becomes President or not. I recall that under Eisenhower-era rates of taxation, the middle class and the working class had a lot better deal than we have today. Heck, we even had a better deal under Nixon-era rates of taxation. It's weird to be nostalgic for Nixon, but look at what's in the White House now.

JP MorroBay Jan. 29

Thanks for a great column again, and yes, Ms. Warren in on the right track. Now if we could only get the corporate media to stop trivializising her policies as "nerdy" we might get somewhere.

DocBrew Central WI Jan. 29

While Warren's proposal and ACO's marginal tax ideas both have merit, let's be honest- ideas such as these have no chance until campaign finance reform occurs. Given the current composition of the SOCTUS that seems impossible for several decades, as the obscenely rich simply buy the government they want.

Kwip Victoria, BC Jan. 29

@Brenda

I suggest that you rethink your position. I appreciate the frustration with the current system but the public school system is habitually underfunded. The $40k is not a direct benefit to each child. Look into that. And maybe look at Finland where schooling is considered one of the most important benefits to a country. As a result you see the best university graduates going into teaching because they make a very good salary and they are supported by an administration that supports their efforts, efforts that come with passion for helping kids.

Murray Illinois Jan. 29

A 2% tax on wealth is not much more than what many of us pay the financial industry to 'manage' our savings. The investment funds take their percentage, and the companies managing the portfolio take theirs. Small investors tend to pay a higher percentage in fees than larger investors. When all is taken into account, people living paycheck to paycheck pay the highest percentage, of what ends up being zero wealth. This 'wealth tax' would help rectify the imbalance.

Whole Grains USA Jan. 29

I'm very impressed with Elizabeth Warren,not just for her tax proposals, but because she is so intelligent - and genuine. Some say that she is too heady to win but she certainly has more charisma than Adlai Stevenson, who lost in the 1950s because he was too intellectual. And he didn't have a catchy slogan such as "I Like Ike." Unfortunately, it's all about how politicians are perceived. I would like to see Warren more poised and not afraid to express her sense of humor.

Karen Brooklyn Jan. 29

@Brenda

If talent and drive - particularly talent - were the deciding factor in wealth accumulation, the descendants of Fred Trump would be living on the street.

Julie Parmenter Jan. 29

@Linda

We have a Carnegie library in our small town of 2400 in rural Indiana. It is still in use as a community resource center and town history museum. It is a beautiful sturdy brick building and I assume it will be around for 100 more years. We just outgrew it and had to build a new one. Carnegie will be remembered for this, not his great wealth. Same with Gates and Buffett.

SteveHurl Boston Jan. 28

I've generally been impressed with Warren's economic analyses, going back a couple of years before she ran for Senate. A close version of this plan deserves support. If it seems "radical," it's probably because the USA drifted so far to the right. I blame disco and "Grand Theft Auto."

CDN NYC Jan. 28

Her tax proposal would be a nightmare to implement. How do you value thinly traded assets (real estate, art, antiques, etc.)? Hire a valuation expert? Have the IRS contesting it every year? Litigate? Please, tax all dividends as ordinary income, eliminate/change the duration for long term cap gains treatment, make inherited assets have a zero cost basis, etc. Simple to implement, enforce, ideas.

4Average Joe usa Jan. 29

In 1906, Representatives and Senators did not spend 4.5 days a week, every in a cubicle, begging for money, calling rich people all day. We have elected telemarketers. (no insult intended to telemarketers.)

Elizabeth Bennett Arizona Jan. 29

It's not surprising that "the usual suspects" are already trying to disarm Elizabeth Warren's well thought out tax plan. Many American billionaires are nouveau riche, and don't have the sense of responsibility that the very wealthy used to feel towards the less fortunate. And the Republican party is right there egging them on to resist fair taxation--like Elizabeth Warren's proposal.

Christy WA Jan. 29

I'm all for her. Warren is by far the smartest presidential candidate in the Democratic pack and I'm all for supertaxing the superrich -- as well as making mega-corporations pay the proper taxes they've been evading for so long.

Stephen Boston Canada Jan. 29

@George

The confiscation of excessive wealth is exactly the point and that point is a practical one -- to mitigate the tendency of unregulated large scale economies to form parasitic aristocracies that lead to resource deprivation in vast portions of the society's population. And this is not a scapegoating of the wealthy, it is refusing to worship them, it is to call them back to Earth and ask of them what is asked of each of us.

Mjxs Springfield, VA Jan. 29

"Malefactors of great wealth," Theodore Roosevelt called them. Prosperity that delivers unbelievable amounts of wealth to a very few while the other 99% struggle is not sustainable.

TR was no wild-eyed Socialist: he was a man of wealth and property and wished to remain so. He and FDR were both blue-blooded aristocrats. Both were saving capitalism by restraining its excesses.

Pinewood Nashville, TN Jan. 29

@Tom,

Whether you realize it or not, the good old USA takes away the wealth of individuals and hands it over to the government to allocate. The rest of your statement, about tyrants, is just wrong. You are equating communism with taxation, a silly thing to do. Educate yourself.

Alex Washington D.C. Jan. 29

@Peter Wolf

I agree with you 1000%. I'm tired of people arguing that certain persons would not be good candidates because they sound too smart. That's the dumbest argument I've heard so far. If someone sounds smart, then GOOD. I hope they ARE smart.

Right now we are a laughing stock of the world because our leaders are actually proud to sound stupid and boorish. Out with charisma and in with intellect and expertise, please. I wouldn't want Tom Hanks performing brain surgery on me, nor do I want him in the White House (much as I enjoy seeing him on the big screen

[Mar 03, 2019] There was a time when being rich carried a responsibility to contribute more to the world than those with less; a responsibility to serve society overall, and one's country and community in particular

Mar 03, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Yuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 29 Times Pick

This isn't about taxing wealth. It's about taxing power, privilege and greed. This isn't about punishing oligarchy. This is about saving democracy. The concentration of wealth parallels the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: it is economic climate change with consequences equally as dire as global warming on all lifeforms.

The challenge will be no less difficult, replete with a powerful lobby of deniers and greed-mongers ready for war against all threats to their power and position. Their battle cry is apres moi, le deluge -- as if taxing wealth and privilege is barbarians at the gate and the demise of civilization rather than curbing cannibals driven not by hunger but voracious greed. Everywhere climate change deniers are being drowned out by a rational majority who now see the signs of global warming in every weather report and understand what this means for their children if we continue to emulate ostriches.

Likewise, the same majority now sees the rising tide of inequality and social dysfunction and what that means for the future as a global caste system condemns nearly all of us -- but mainly our progeny -- to slavery in servitude to our one percent masters.

Elizabeth Warren is no nerd. She's our Joan of Arc. And it's up to us to make sure she isn't burned alive by the dark lords as she rallies us to win back our country and our future.

Paul Rogers Montreal Jan. 29

@Yuri Asian:

the two issues, inequality of wealth and global warming, are related. The vast wealth of the Koch Brothers enables them to drown out rational debate with propaganda. Propaganda must be abolished.

Yuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 29

@FunkyIrishman I think Trump intentionally or inadvertently has destroyed anything resembling the status quo. It's the political equivalent of Newton's Third Law of Motion: that for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Trump is the ugly face of unbridled power and privilege, leavened only by vainglory ignorance.

He's the equivalent of melting icecaps and stranded polar bears when it comes to the concentration of wealth and economic climate change. His utter failure will be the rational majority's success in plowing a better and more equitable path forward. There's been nothing more radical than Trump. He's made radical solutions compelling and necessary. And inevitable.

hm1342 NC Jan. 29

@Yuri Asian: "This isn't about taxing wealth. It's about taxing power, privilege and greed." Their is plenty of power, privilege and "greed" in our nation's capital, and it is practiced daily by individuals who are elected and un-elected.

Yuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 29

@Jim Thanks for your reply and appreciation. I'm lucky to be an Editor's Pick as there are so many great comments by thoughtful and articulate NYT readers, particularly those who follow Krugman's columns. I agree with your sense of wealth as a social disease that's highly contagious. We need a vaccine and I hope Sen. Warren is it and she inoculates a strong majority by 2020.

November 2018 has Come; 2020 is Coming Vallejo Jan. 28

@Anne-Marie

Hislop

I agree, Anne - Marie. There was a time when being rich carried a responsibility to contribute more to the world than those with less; a responsibility to serve society overall, and one's country and community in particular. Also the rich were expected to have better manners and more discerning taste than those who worked because they had the free time to study and model grace and refinement.

In addition, the wealthy were expected to be patrons of the arts, the sciences, and religion by contributing money and time to support practioners, research, and experimentation in these areas.

Finally, the wealthy were expected to raise children who were role models, leaders, and volunteers who contributed emotionally and spiritually to their schools and communities.

Compare Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt to Paris Hilton or the tRump family.

Phyliss Dalmatian Wichita, Kansas Jan. 28

Amen and hallelujah, and I'm an atheist. For those asleep or oblivious, we're in the new gilded age. But faux gold, as evidenced by the occupant sitting in the Oval Office.

These " Job Creators " are creating Jobs only for shady attorneys and accountants specializing in creative mathematics, sham Corporations, Trusts and TAX avoidance. See: the Trump Family.

What's the average, law abiding citizen to do ??? Absent actually eating the Rich, WE must overhaul the entire system.

Warren is very nerdy, and very necessary. Unfortunately, the great majority of Men will not vote for any Woman, not yet. See: Trump. She would be a most excellent choice for VP, the back-up with a genius IQ and unstoppable work ethic. President ??? A modern day, working man's Teddy OR Franklin Roosevelt, and His name is Senator Sherrod Brown, Of the very great state of Ohio. MY native state. Think about it, it's the perfect pair.

Ray Zielinski Champaign, IL Jan. 28

@Peter Wolf

I particularly like Elizabeth Warren's ability to talk policy. But as a career academic I also realize that she sounds to most like a law professor giving a lecture. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a winning formula but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

Nana2roaw Albany NY Jan. 28

Yesterday a billionaire threatened the Democratic Party with certain defeat in the 2020 Presidential election if the Party chose a candidate not to his liking. Increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few will ultimately spell the end of our democracy.

Gustav Durango Jan. 28

If there were ever a politician for our time, the second and more egregious gilded age, it should be Elizabeth Warren. She INVENTED the Consumer Financial Protection Burueau! She has studied the big banks and Wall Street for decades! She knows how they operate better than anyone on the planet. She is the Teddy Roosevelt of our time, but are we smart enough to elect her?

Ralph Philadelphia, PA Jan. 28

My wife and I find Warren to be the most impressive candidate we've seen in a long time. She has the mastery of detail that can actually move our country to where it should be. No lazy demagoguery, either -- and she communicates well.

George Minneapolis Jan. 29 Times Pick

The primary purpose of taxes should be to raise necessary revenues, not the confiscation of "excessive" wealth. Making the case for the moral and practical necessity to contribute more would be more effective than the tiresome scapegoating of the wealthy.

FunkyIrishman member of the resistance Jan. 28

@RR I happen to live in one of those Scandinavian paradises. I, nor my family, have ever had a problem with ''care''. We also have higher education paid for through a moderately higher tax structure. (perhaps 10% average higher than the U.S.) I sleep like a baby and all is taken care of. (as well as 5 weeks vacation per year) You are welcome to visit anytime.

andrewm L.I. NY Jan. 28

@Shiv, the wealthiest 20% of Americans also have about 90% of the wealth (as of 2013, probably higher now). According to the Wall Street Journal, the top 20% in income paid about 87% of individual federal income taxes in 2018. But income tax is just a portion of tax. Personal income taxes were about 48% of federal revenues in 2017, payroll tax was 35%.

Since payroll taxes are regressive, the top 20% of income tax payers pay a considerably lower percentage of total taxes than the percentage of the nation's wealth they control. Saying those paying more in taxes than they receive in direct benefits and services are 'paying all the taxes' is simplistic and deceptive. It isn't even accurate to say that they are completely funding the transfers and services to the bottom 50%, since the federal government operates at a deficit.

The deficit is covered in large part by debt owed to the social security fund, which is funded through payroll taxes. When you include state and local taxes, it looks like the percentage of total taxes paid by each income quintile is not far off from the percentage of total income that they bring in.

The tax system in the U.S. overall is 'barely progressive'. https://www.ctj.org/who-pays-taxes-in-america-in-2015 / https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/power/wealth.html https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-20-of-americans-will-pay-87-of-income-tax-1523007001

Joe Ryan Bloomington IN Jan. 28

We probably all remember the scene where Chinatown's detective, J. J. Gittes, asks the bad guy, Noah Cross, "How much are you worth?" And Cross says, "I've no idea."

There are two take-aways from this. One is the low marginal utility of wealth at Mr. Cross's level. This is what makes the optimal progressivity of a wealth tax positive. But the second is the literal take-away: he really doesn't know. Nobody knows.

So, as Prof. Piketty points out (pp. 518ff of his book), the value of even a nominal wealth tax in terms of transparency -- forcing the system to determine what the distribution of wealth actually is -- is substantial, aside from revenue generation. If we're going to give wealth a vote, via Citizens United etc., then wealth should at least have to register.

Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Robert

As this op-ed shows, even a majority of Republicans ALREADY supports this idea. So the problem is not so much getting rid of the GOP's fake news, but having a voter turnout where the demographics of those who vote reflect the demographics of the entire population. In 2016, a whopping 50% of citizens eligible to vote, didn't vote. And the lack of political literacy among many progressives has certainly been a factor here. So what is needed is for ordinary citizens to start engaging in real, respectful debates with their family, friends, neighbors, colleagues etc. again, to make sure that everybody votes. Only then will we have more impact on what happens in DC than Big Money.

Umesh Patil Cupertino, CA Jan. 28

@DazedAndAmazed

This is a superb insight you are providing....the 'critique' of Late Capitalism from the perspective of 'Systems Stability'. I work in the field of Distributed Systems Management though Cloud for Living. The way with Distributed Decision Making is, in a number of situations it is a lot more resilient and powerful. There are advantages of Command & Control decision making (war for example). But in Late Capitalism that concentration of Decision Making in hand of few has gone too far.

To understand all this, to figure out the relevance of Distributed Decision Making, to articulate all this to masses and then to formulate sane policy proposals out of all that - that is not a simple task. So Sen. Warren, please continue the 'nerding'. I am Kamala Harris constituency, but the intellectual heft Warren is bringing to this campaign; I love that. She needs to bring her such big guns for a couple of marquee social issues as well as about America's Foreign Policy. Obviously, it cannot degenerate into 63 details policy papers like HRC.

The trick is to make the campaign about few core issues and then there to 'have the house cleaned' - completely worked out theory, understanding, explanation and policy proposals. Hope E. Warren does that, she is capable no doubt. (Predictable election cycles - such a good thing with American System....for a while just to think and discuss things apart from the Orange Head in White House - it is so refreshing...)

Thomas New York Jan. 28

J suspect that the notion that proposals to raise taxes sharply on the wealthy are too left-wing for American voters is wishful thinking or propaganda by the wealthy, on whom many pundits and analysts rely, one way or another, for their jobs. "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." I don't know whether I agree with Warren on enough things to support her, but I hope this idea influences the Democratic platform and becomes reality.

John B St Petersburg FL Jan. 28

@Tom The current Republican Party is toxic – to democracy, truth, ethics, human health, human survival, equality, education, nature, love... most anything a decent person values. We can get rid of it and still have a two-party system of reasonable people who disagree on the best way to solve problems.

Ellen San Diego Jan. 28

@DazedAndAmazed

I read somewhere that the Davos crowd was intent on speeding up the development of robots to do those jobs so they wouldn't have to deal with pesky humans who want an occasional break.

Rajiv California Jan. 29

As a person who has done fairly well, there is no end to your "needs" once your start getting wealthy. Let's take flying. First, you are happy to get a deal every now and then on a flight to Hawaii. After a while, you earn status, so now you want to be first in line, have baggage privileges and get into premium economy with an extra 5 inches of leg space. Then, it's enough status to "earn" business class upgrades. Next you have to have business class on every flight, so you pay up. There's first class, but now you can afford NetJets where you get fractional ownership of a jet to fly almost anytime you like. If you get even wealthier, you get your own jet with an on demand staff. It's "worth it" as your time is valuable. It goes on and on. Every time you get more, you can't live without it. You feel like you deserve it because you've worked so hard for that money. Knowing some of those super rich, they will complain about those fascist attacking their success. They "donate" a lot to candidates whose job it is to protect their wealth. While Warren's ideas via Piketty are really interesting, maybe we need to work on our culture and values so people understand what they are doing when they expect that jet with a staff that waits in them like royalty. Then let's invest in the IRS to stop the cheating that deprives our citizens of at least $200 billion/year. After that, let's look at closing loopholes and increasing taxes.

Bonnie Luternow Clarkston MI Jan. 29 Times Pick

Until we get the money out of elections, the moneyed will control those elected. I'm not sure what our elected officials are more afraid of - meeting with their electorate and facing our anger, or voting against Grover Norquist et al.

Peter Czipott San Diego Jan. 28

During the primaries and the subsequent campaign, Democratic candidates should run explicitly and continually as new Teddy Roosevelts, using his words and images of him -- presenting the Democratic Party as the Roosevelt Republican alternative when it comes to taxation policy. It would reduce right-wing attempts to cast them as Maduros-in-waiting to pure late-night comic fodder: which is what they properly are. In fact, they should identify past Republican champions of as many of their policy proposals as possible and run as "Democrats: the Real Republicans."

Bruce Shigeura Berkeley, CA Jan. 28

Warren, Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie have blown open up a discussion that had been locked down since Reagan -- tax the rich. Krugman is too timid.

Time to radically redistribute wealth from the capitalist class to the people in the form of jobs and social benefits.

Tax the banks and corporation to 40+% and end all tax incentives -- corporate welfare. Apple used its tax break to buy back stock to enrich investors. Facebook bought up competitors like Instagram and suppresses start-ups. A hedge fund bought Toys R Us, loaded it with debt, then bankrupted it.

The right-wing turn of rural white Americans is largely due to economic anxiety resulting from the industrialization of agriculture and global commodification of grain -- all the profits leave farm communities for mega-corporations based in cities and Wall Street, as well as global capitalist de-industrialization.

Americans on both the right and left believe the system is rigged, because it is. Warren's tax on personal assets is the first baby step. To win 2020, Democrats have to secure the vote of minorities, women, and Millennials, and peel off some white working-class voters. They have to fight for working people against the capitalists.

Thinker Upstate Jan. 28

@dajoebabe

And we have to keep educating people, in large part at taxpayers expense, so they can continue to speak up as you have. The idea that everything, education, healthcare, prescriptions, housing, food, etc has to be on a max-out-profit basis is not sustainable for a decent society. If you look into the history of successful billionaire families who might profess that government should not be used to create equal financial opportunity, you may find that they have benefited from U.S. government policies themselves to get to where they are. So why prevent others from having the opportunity to join them ?

sdavidc9 Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut Jan. 29

@Bill A small transaction tax on sales of stocks would not raise that much money. What it would do is much more useful -- put program trading and the arbitraging of tiny, tiny price differences on huge, huge trades out of business. The sort of liquidity they provide is not needed by the market and is not worth the price we pay for it.

Glenn Ribotsky Queens Jan. 28

Absolutely agree with R. Law--the carried interest loophole has got to go. That's probably contributed more to the aggrandizement of oligarchical fortunes than just about anything else. But I'd also add two more modest suggestions: --Eliminate the cap on individual Social Security contributions. There's no reason it should fade to black at $132,900 gross annual income. It should be applicable to ALL earned (and unearned) income. --Institute a small stock trade/financial transactions tax; even a 0.1% rate here would raise significant revenue, and it also might curb a lot of wild equities speculation. But, of course, none of this is likely until we can get big money out of politics; it's impossible to get representatives to represent their actual constituents, rather than their oligarchic campaign funders, if the latter are the prime source of campaign money. So, as the risk of repeating myself: --Publicly funded elections, with low three digit limits on individual campaign contributions and NO corporate, organizational, church, or (yes, even) union contributions. No PAC's, 501's, or any other letter/number combinations. --Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. --Legislative repeal of the Citizens United decision.

White Buffalo SE PA Jan. 29

@Tom "Wealthy people reinvest their money in economic ventures that grow their wealth, which generates greater productivity while creating jobs and wealth for the society." Like, for example, the investments that caused the 2008 Republican Great Recession for example? That plan hasn't worked since Reagan. And taxing 2%-3% of enormous wealth is hardly taking away "all the wealth of individuals!" We also need to roll back estate tax to pre-Reagan policies.

Roger California Jan. 29

@George

The moral and practical necessity is that oligarchy is antithetical to democracy. I would think that was obvious.

sdavidc9 Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut Jan. 29

@Tom

So businessmen and financiers need checks and balances, and these checks and balances include high taxation and occasionally breaking a business into pieces because it is too big and powerful. We broke up Rockefeller's company. We should be thinking about Amazon, Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft. We are using Word and Excel because Microsoft owned the operating system they run under, not because they were better products. Now we are stuck with their strengths, weaknesses, and odd habits.

calhouri cost rica Jan. 28

Boy do I wish I could share Dr, Krugman's hopefulness. But after the Supreme Court decision equating money with speech and one of the two major political parties literally a "wholly owned subsidiary" of those very 0.01%, as the ancestral Scot in laments, "I hae me doots."

Schrodinger Northern California Jan. 28

@Blair A Miller....Rewarded for hard work and talent? Well that is the myth. There is a case to be made that capitalism rewards greedy and unethical people who have a talent for working the system. There is also no question that it rewards monopolists and the fortunate.

Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Kurt Heck It doesn't. That's precisely why we have to stop the GOP strategy to pass tax cut after tax cut for the wealthiest all while making life even more difficult for the other, very hard-working 99%. And if you believe that in order to be a billionaire today you must work hard, it's time to update your info. Most of them inherited a fortune already, together with the knowledge needed to engage in financial speculation, which in the 21st century is totally disconnected from the real economy - or rather, they PAY experts to engage in financial speculation, and that's it.

It's time for the most industrious to at least be able to pay the bills, get the education and healthcare they want, and become represented in Congress again. THAT is why we need a tax increase for the extreme rich, all while increasing the minimum wage, and expanding Medicaid and Medicare. THAT is how we'll finally become an entirely civilized country too. Not by adding trillions and trillions to the debt just to make the extreme wealthy even wealthier, as the GOP just did again.

K D P Sewickley, PA Jan. 29

The NYTimes reported in October, "Over the past decade, Jared Kushner's net worth has quintupled to almost $324 million. And yet, for several years running, Mr. Kushner paid almost no federal income taxes." Let's not get lost in the details of how we do it: taxing wealth, making income taxes more progressive, restoring the estate tax, or something else. Let's remember that Jared Kushner is the poster boy for our current (extremely unfair) tax system.

Souvient St. Louis, MO Jan. 29

I care about taxes and wealth inequality, so I like that Warren is talking about them. I'm also a bit of a policy wonk, so I like the fact that Warren focuses on policy issues. As a classically trained economist, though, I know how quickly others' eyes glaze over when I get too excited about anything related to finance or economics. The vast majority of people lack the patience for it. Too many think they understand far more than they really do because they read a handful of articles and watched CNBC a couple times. And when people believe they already know something, they're unlikely to greet new ideas with an open mind. A wealth tax makes sense to me on a lot of levels. I just hope Senator Warren keeps the explanation as simple as possible. For every wonk she wins over, she risks pushing two rubes away if she makes it any more complicated. It's unfortunate that we live in the Twitter era of gadfly attention spans, but we do. Dems need to do a better job of distilling their platform to bumper stickers. If they do that, the polity might actually remember some of their talking points.

Matthew Carnicelli Brooklyn, NY Jan. 28

Win or lose, Elizabeth Warren will bring the lion's share of ideas to this presidential season. It's one to say that you support a trendy concept, but it's quite another to have thought through the implications of your proposals - and be prepared to first defend, and then implement them. Warren is, and will be - from Day 1. We shouldn't settle for "hope and change" this time; we need a President in 2021 capable of thinking her way through a maze of societal problems, and unafraid to passionately, untiringly champion her preferred option.

Paul, as an aside, do you think that we would have lost the House of Representatives in 2010 if someone had opted for that much larger stimulus package that you, Joe Stiglitz and Robert Reich were recommending (thus causing the economy to more quickly and fully rebound in time for the midterms)?

Barry of Nambucca Australia Jan. 29

@Tom A 2% tax on wealth from $50 million to $1000 million, will have minimal impact on the mega rich, with hopefully maximum benefit going to those who need government assistance.

HL Arizona Jan. 29

@George

The primary purpose of Citizens United was to allow the wealthy a back door into stealing our public institutions and public contracts along with reducing the taxes on passive income for their own personal expansion of wealth. While I agree this is a form of class warfare, the rich have won the war. Instead of thinking of this as confiscation, consider it insurance for keeping your head up.

ruth goodsnyder sandy hook, ct. Jan. 29

@Charlie

Love "Pinocchio". It is perfect. He needs to be made fun of. I think that would drive him crazy.

Ashleigh Adams Colorado Jan. 29

As Yascha Mounk has been saying for years, democracy isn't about a firm belief in the power of the people, or a belief in personal liberty - above all, its support is determined by one thing: whether it is delivering results for the majority of the population. If it doesn't, it loses support; and unfortunately, for decades now, it hasn't been delivering results. Even Obama, the great liberal hope, stacked his cabinet and advisors with the likes of Geithner, Bernanke, and Sommers, appointing people to the FTC who were too soft to trust-bust or aggressively tackle mergers. I am of the belief that Trump was a warning. We got him because ordinary people have been losing faith that the government is working for them. If we want to regain that faith, we need a government (meaning both an Executive and a Legislature) that is prepared to go full FDR in 2021. Trust bust corporations that have decreased power of workers by consolidating labor market, and the power of consumers by monopolizing goods and services. Expand social security. Cut the red tape to build millions of desperately-needed housing units. Take away the excess wealth of the plutocrats, and their political power. Expand voting rights. Make unionization easier, and healthcare more affordable by socializing it. Without this, we run the risk of losing our democracy. 2020 is do or die. Warren has a record of fighting for this. She has my vote.

hen3ry Westchester, NY Jan. 28

If the people who make their fortunes in America because of Americans don't want to support the country that helped them perhaps they should consider this: our sweat, our hard work, and our tears were a vital part of their success. It doesn't matter how brilliant the idea is or smart the inventor is or how cleverly the product is marketed. If the public isn't ready for it, it won't sell and money won't be made. There is a lot of luck involved in making a fortune. Part of that luck depends upon us and our willingness to buy into what is being sold. Yes, the inventor or the creator has to have the drive to succeed. S/he has to accept failure, work very hard, and have faith that s/he will succeed.

It's nonsense to claim that Bill Gates would not have created Windows if he knew he'd be taxed at very high rates. He didn't know if it would succeed as well as it did. The purpose of taxes is to support the country. It's to have a government that can fund basic research to help us, create nationwide rules to ensure that milk in New York is milk in North Dakota, and to regulate those little things like roads, bridges, water safety, and keep the country safe. Any exceedingly rich corporation or person who doesn't want to support that is not patriotic in the least. They are greedy.

Mark Cheboygan Jan. 28

Make America Great Again. Repeal the Bush and Trump tax cuts.

Tom New Jersey Jan. 28

@JSH

The American Revolution was a revolt of American born property holders, not of the peasants or the slaves. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are both very strong on property rights. The rights of an individual to own property free from seizure by the government is at the heart of Liberalism. We live in a two party state. If we truly eliminated the Republican party we'd be no different than China. America only gets better if the Republican party gets better. The Democratic party could use some improvement too. I support Warren's tax plan. It's a reasonable and sensible move, not just a bunch of poorly thought out hot air.

Peter J. New Zealand Jan. 28

This is but one in a long line of cogent reasonable suggestions to tax mega rich a little more. Unfortunately while the economics makes sense, these schemes fail politically because enough of the vast majority of much poorer people in the middle class can be convinced that there is something unfair by singling out the successful.

The Steve Jobs story, whereby a poor boy with a great idea should be able to make tons of money. The only way a change will come is if the middle class' eyes can be opened to the fact that for every Steve Jobs there are thousands of Jay Gatsbys who inherited their wealth and privilege and who now spend much of their time and money ensuring that the laws are written so that they can keep their wealth.

The inequity of the present laws, via tax loopholes and corporate subsidies to favour the very rich should be highlighted, showing the middle class how they are constantly being ripped off in order to fund the rich.

Ellis6 Sequim, WA Jan. 29

There are polls and then there is reality. In Alabama in 2003, a newly-elected conservative Republican governor proposed a constitutional amendment to raise taxes on the wealthiest Alabamans. The measure was defeated 67.5%-32.5% with low-income voters opposing it by a significant margin. In Washington in 2010, voters defeated a referendum to impose a modest income tax on the state's wealthiest residents. (There is no income tax in Washington.)

It seems unlikely that in the state with the country's most regressive tax system that 65% of the voters are wealthy. Despite language in the referendum that guaranteed it could never be applied to lower incomes without a vote of the people and a provision to lower property taxes by 20%, paranoia, not reason, ruled the day. It lost 65%-35%.

Polling is easy. But when concrete proposals go to the voters, the wealthy interests overwhelm voters with fear and lies, and the voters, complacent and ill-informed, can be easily manipulated. Conservative Alabama and liberal Washington State both defeated measures that would have helped their state finances significantly.

The money raised was to be spent on education, health care for the elderly and other radical things some of which would have helped the poor, but lower income voters cast their votes as though, despite their current conditions, they'd be subject to the taxes tomorrow or next month or next year.

Tom New Jersey Jan. 28

@Acajohn "Why isn't there one billionaire or multi billion dollar company that actually takes pride in paying their fair share?" Like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the two richest men in America, who have pledged to follow Carnegie's example, and taken actions to do so?

WK Green Brooklyn Jan. 29

@DBman

The notion that Sanders has no deep understanding of the policies that he champions is a stroke of common wisdom that is not very wise, as anyone who ever bothered going to he web site would find. In 2016, at least, it was chalk full of issues and positions with a long section on how it could be paid for.

Krugman seemed to shun him for reasons that were never clear to me, but Sanders' proposals had the ear of quite a few economists.

Even Krugman's crush, Thomas Piketty was intrigued. I'm thrilled that both Warren and Sanders are in this, and if the primary were today I could probably toss a coin. But I find this constant picking at Bernie Sanders and his "flailing arms" to be grating and uninformed. It's akin to asking him to just smile more.

Bejay Williamsburg VA Jan. 29

Not just Roosevelt. "The consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property... Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." - Thomas Jefferson, October 28, 1785.

"An enormous proportion of property vested in a few individuals is dangerous to the rights, and destructive of the common happiness, of mankind; and therefore every free state hath a right by its laws to discourage the possession of such property." - Benjamin Franklin, July 29, 1776.

"All property ... seems to me to be the creature of public convention. Hence the public has the right of regulating descents and all other conveyances of property, and even of limiting the quantity and the uses of it." - Benjamin Franklin, December 25, 1783.

Jerry in NH Hopkinton, NH Jan. 28

Bring back the inheritance tax on large estates and we have a winner!

aem Oregon Jan. 28

Senator Warren should consider a few adjustments to her plan. First, tax capital gains income at the same rate as earned income. Eliminate the carried interest deduction and close some other egregious loopholes (including the new "pass through" income loophole). Finally, give the wealth tax a nine year period after which it would have to be renewed. Call it a "Patriotism Tax". Pledge to use it for infrastructure improvements and debt reduction. I think that could be very popular.

Tom New Jersey Jan. 28

@FunkyIrishman

That is a radical plan, one tried many times before. It fails because humans are not perfect, and not perfectible. They try to accumulate wealth and power, are jealous of each other's possessions and mates, and try to create circumstances that favor their offspring over others of the next generation.

The fields of human evolutionary biology and psychology tell us that your plan can not and will not work. Not only that, countless Utopians have tried this in the past. Most fail within months, even with a small group of people who all supposedly love one another. All societies founded on the belief that humans are perfectible have failed. Societies founded on the belief that humans will be venal, corrupt, and power-hungry tend to have the safeguards that allow them to survive. That's why the constitution is full of "checks and balances". Don't think you can replace them with a society of peace and love where we will all live in quiet harmony. You can only replace them with better checks and balances if you hope to succeed. John Lennon's "Imagine" is a lovely song. But it's just a wish list, not a manifesto.

Acajohn Chicago Jan. 28

@Linda

Yes, what kind of person, especially one with obscene wealth, prefers to keep every penny rather than pay taxes that make our country function? Why isn't there one billionaire or multi billion dollar company that actually takes pride in paying their fair share?

Alan J. Shaw Bayside, New York Jan. 28

@Yabasta

Sanders said little about taxation. In his debates with Clinton, he advocated scrapping the ACA and starting de novo, whereas Clinton suggested legislation to improve it. Thanks in part to Sanders' attacks on Clinton, both personally and on policy, Trump got elected and the Republicans have tried in every possible way to destroy it. On this issue, will Pelosi and Warren follow the so-called progressivism of Sanders?

Laurie USA Jan. 29

@John Homan

I don't get your criticism of Rajiv either. Rajiv know what he is talking about. The rich can never have enough; more is not enough. We see it all the time. We need to eliminate the dynasties and equalize the democracy.

Mark Thomason Clawson, MI Jan. 28

Existing wealth and annual income are two very different things. Both are now problems. Existing wealth disparity is the accumulation of all the last 40 years of income disparity, plus the "work the money did" to pile itself up higher. Our laws magnified the wealth disparity. That was deliberate and calculated. Our laws allow it to pile up without the former taxation at death to trim it back. We charge only half the tax rate on the "work" of the money itself, the special "capital gains" rate. It is specially privileged from taxes, which is entirely new over these last few Presidential Administrations. It was said that would encourage job growth. It never did. Nobody who knew anything about the subject ever really believed it would. What is now proposed by Warren is to fix what they so deliberately broke. This would not come up if they had not done that first. And if we hadn't done this, we'd have had the job growth this stifled, from the consumer purchasing power it took to pile up as wealth, much of it speculative and overseas.

Stevenz Auckland Jan. 28

Conservative voters are against taxes because *if* they get rich they don't want to pay them. As a liberal I, on the other hand, would be *delighted* to have to pay this tax!

Charlton Price Jan. 28

@George

Tax policy also should strive to assess from each taxpayer according to the means of that tax payer. Note the source of that statement of principle.

Thomas Washington DC Jan. 29

By all means let's tax the rich. But what I find most alarming is Kamala Harris's call for yet ANOTHER tax cut for the middle class. Every since the days of Saint Ronnie, Americans have been misled into believing they deserve tax cut after tax cut. And the result for the commons (those goods and services that we share) has been disastrous. Americans already pay lower taxes than most of the developed world. Yet the candidates are also calling for more benefits: Medicare for All and free college. The defense establishment continues to clamor for more resources. What we need is to increase taxes on the rich along with a robust tax enforcement system, so that Americans see that EVERYONE is pulling their weight, according to their means.

Eitan Israel Jan. 29

Redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation is as American as apple pie. In addition to taxing wealth, there should be a significant estate tax on the top 1%. Getting rich is for many the American Dream, but that does not entitle the rich to endless wealth forever. Others should have an opportunity to take their shot.

PB USA Jan. 28

A couple of points: at the turn of the 20th Century (about the time that Teddy Roosevelt was railing against the rich), John D Rockefeller had more lawyers on staff than the United States Government. Rockefeller's net worth at that point (they had not yet broken up Standard Oil at that point), was $1 billion, at a time when the total receipts of the US Government were $700 billion.

Krugman also mentions Piketty and his book. A central theme in Piketty's book, not mentioned here, was that there is no countervailing force that naturally takes us back to a more equitable distribution of wealth.

That only occurred because the world suffered through two world wars, and a depression, out of which came a determination by FDR to use government as a countervailing force. And so it is not an accident that the Republican Party is trying to kill government because that is the only large, countervailing force known to be effective. Do we really want a world where a Jeff Bezos has more lawyers on staff than the US Government? Don't laugh; something similar has happened in the past.

Quinn New Providence, NJ Jan. 29

@dajoebabe For the last 40 years, we have had the GOP tell us that government is the problem and lower tax rates will supercharge economic growth. Now we have a nation with a superpower's army, third rate infrastructure, a porous social safety net and a mediocre education system. Granted that government cannot solve all problems (nor should it try!), but the evidence is clear that the effects of our disinvestment in ourselves is now coming to the fore. If we are truly at the point where raising the marginal tax rate on a very small number of households will cause economic collapse, then our capitalist system has failed and should be replaced.

Rick Morris Montreal Jan. 29 Times Pick

Interesting ideas, but to get Americans (read Republicans) to swallow this whole is doubtful. Perhaps some marketing is in order. Let's not call this a tax. Let's call it a gift. High value households would give to the government agency of their choice (Social Security, Veteran's Affairs, EPA etc..), garner a modest tax credit as in charity donations, and as a plus receive a full accounting of how their money was spent by an independent auditor. Their gifts could be publicized on social media, thus generating the kind of attention that could generate higher and higher donations. Just a thought.

Daniel Salazar Naples FL Jan. 29

We could also use Teddy Roosevelt's anti-corruption and environmental values as well. I think he is one Republican completely disowned by the current Republican Party. While I do not believe Elizabeth Warren has any chance to be President, her candidacy will certainly force intelligent debate on the Democratic Platform for 2020. She will make a tremendous Treasury Secretary and break the Goldman Sachs stranglehold on that position.

John Kell Victoria Jan. 28

Let's not stop with progressive taxes on the income and wealth of corporations and individuals. We need to ban monopolies outright, and limit the market share of oligopolies to something like 20%. And we should even limit the fraction of a corporations' shares (e.g. 10%) that can be owned by any one entity (corporal or corporate), and make privately-held corporations go public once they reach a certain size.

There's a lesson we can learn from Mother Nature: "Too big to fail" really means "Too big to exist"!

Michael Skadden Houston, Texas Jan. 28

Maybe Piketty instead of Teddy Roosevelt -- but the rates for the wealthy should be higher, especially for passive income, to force the rich if for no other to avoid taxation to invest their money in the economy.

Osama Jan. 29

@George.

"Poverty exists not because we can't feed the poor, but because we can't satisfy the rich."

Elin Minkoff Florida Jan. 28

@Linda: Your comment is just wonderful, and gets to the crux of what is right, fair, decent, moral. Some super wealthy people will always be superficial and greedy, and others will always be generous, and have profound character and depth.

People who are remembered with the greatest respect, fondness, reverence, and joy, are not those who have amassed fortunes, but those who have done what they could with their fortunes, for those who would never have fortunes. Or people who sacrificed for others, if not with their fortunes, then by other means. It is not desirable to be remembered for being selfish, greedy, and financially predatory like trump and his ilk.

David Henan Jan. 29

Aside from the fact that a a massive concentration of wealth is inimical to a functioning democracy because it inevitably leads to a concentration of power, if the tax code is meant to give incentives to productive behavior, what is less of an incentive to being productive than inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars?

I personally knew an heiress from one of the most famous wealthy families of the 20th century; the name would be familiar. She was a good person, but a drug addict. So was her brother. No one needs to start life with a hundred million dollars. It's not healthy.

Jan Schreuder New York Jan. 29

@John Coctosin

tax and spend is what a government is for. Spending it on infrastructure as opposed to increasing the already bloated pentagon budget and not on a wall, would be preferable. And reallocation, so that for instance teaching becomes a viable career choice again, would be a very useful government task. I don't know whether mr. Coctosin ever worked in the private industry but if he did he must have seen a lot of waste. Though willful blindness is of course "so expected from" the right.

Balance FL Jan. 29

@George

"Conficatory taxes on excessive wealth" is a sin tax-a tax on greed. There is only so much money on person can use in a lifetime if it is to be more than a competitive status and power symbol and is not given back as an investment to build society and the future.

The numbers-$50 million are HUGE. Anyone, with that kind of money who could resent paying 1% toward the future and toward society is simply, selfishly and sinfully, GREEDY! It's about time the excessively wealthy, who do not allow their wealth to trickle down as wages, or even trickle through the economy as investments for the benefit of society, are taxed because it has become apparent that only taxes will force them to let go of their wealth.

John B St Petersburg FL Jan. 29

@thewriterstuff

Trump making his tax returns public has nothing to do with IRS staffing. And yes, a better staffed IRS does a better job of catching tax cheats. (No idea why they never nailed Trump's father, though.)

Ana Luisa Belgium Jan. 28

@Gwen Vilen

We will only have a government for the people if it's a government BY the people. That means politicians who REALLY are just like you and me, not always very charismatic, not always your ideal best friend, or a "savior", or common sense spiritual leader such as Michelle Obama, but instead people who flaws, all while being decent citizens, with a very clear moral compass, AND the skills and intellectual capacity to know how to design new, science-based law projects and how to obtain political agreements in DC without even THINKING of starting to stop implementing already existing law (= shutting down the Executive branch of government).

14 Recommend
Duane McPherson Groveland, NY Jan. 29

@Peter Wolf,

Warren would be an excellent Cabinet member. But people vote for President on an emotional level, and I don't think Warren has that emotional charisma. It's excellent that she is running and running early, because that way she can set some of the parameters of discussion, which is what she's doing now.

Ken Tillson, New York Jan. 29

Just how much money does somebody really need? The Bezos divorce is going to result in two people having "only" 70 billion dollars each. 1 billion, 10 billion, 70 billion; at some point, how can you tell? At some point, doesn't it just become a number?

Jim MA/New England Jan. 29

@Yuri Asian Best comment I have read on this subject, Thank you. It should be understood that the wealthy just don't care and are very un- American. Wealth in our society will equal slavery for everyone else and it has already begun. See the republican tax plan if you have any doubts.

White Buffalo SE PA Jan. 29

@Tom

Two points: If you add the compound interest forgone on the amount paid in SS taxes I wonder if the calculation changes. The wealth of the over 65 group is very differentially distributed, just like wealth in general. Think what the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Walmart heirs and Warren Buffet do to that distribution.

Just because Ellen is 70 does not mean she is participating in the relative wealth growth of the over 65 cohort you note. I imagine with few exceptions most very wealthy people are over 65, but that does not mean the reverse is true, that most over 65 are wealthy or even comfortable. For a large number SS is their main source of support, and rampant ageism makes it very difficult for even healthy over 65 years to find a job to supplement it.

Taxing SS is a form of double taxation. People with high incomes could still be taxed on their income after excluding SS. Or, since you are so concerned about the people collecting more in SS than they paid in, taxation could start on all benefits exceeding that figure. (And you seem totally unconcerned with all the people who collect nothing or much less than they paid in. If you are worried about one group not being in balance you should be equally worried about the other group not being in balance.

I am ok with both because I consider SS to be an insurance program. I don't pay income taxes on my insurance proceeds paid for by premiums on which I did pay taxes.

Doug Keller Virginia Jan. 29

The shutdown taught a clear lesson: people squarely located in the middle class (in this case, federal workers) cannot afford to miss a single paycheck.

Add that awareness to the cluelessness of the wealthy who, with the attention brought to them by their position in the trump administration, put that cluelessness on full display -- and add the awareness that the trump tax break benefitted the wealthy only while saddling the nation with debt -- put those together, and we will find positive support for what amounts to a relative pinprick of sacrifice from the ultra wealthy, as proposed by Warren and likeminded Congresswomen.

Jane S Philadelphia Jan. 29

@George

American public policy is designed to concentrate wealth at the top and impoverish the bottom. Progressive taxation is but one measure to correct the economic structure that results in death and destitution, even among fully employed workers. Health care for all and living wages are additional measures.

Extreme poverty in America is a result of public policy which further enriches the wealthy. Course correction is a moral imperative.

Quinn New Providence, NJ Jan. 29

@Tom

It's a giant leap to say that a 2% tax or a higher marginal rate is the confiscation of wealth. It's also a giant leap imply that only the very wealthy reinvest their money. Where do you think the dividends and gains in your 401K account go? They are reinvested! The key point is that many of the very wealthy have used their wealth and influence to change the tax code and other laws to their benefit. There is zero evidence that a lower marginal tax rate on the wealthy has any correlation to job creation, but there is a very strong correlation between lower tax rates and income disparity.

PATRICK G.O.P. is the Party of "Red" Jan. 29

Taxes are the necessary fact of a thriving civilization. When confronted by the trained mindset of anti-tax rhetoric issuing from a clone of selfish leadership, I simply say; if it were not for taxes, we'd all be driving on rutted dirt roads and dying young. Tax the rich so they survive the slings and arrows of discontent they created. They will thank us for it later.

Duffy Currently Baltimore Jan. 29

@George

I'actually tired of the rich scapegoating the poor. Like Romney calling them takers. The wealthy will be fine, don't worry.

Duane McPherson Groveland, NY Jan. 28

@GP,

You already pay a wealth tax, if you own a home. It's called "property tax". Why should the very wealthy not pay a property tax, too? But in the present condition, they do not, and can easily hide their wealth from view, and pass it to their heirs without paying any tax. Which just adds and adds to the concentration of wealth among the few.

Clyde Pittsburgh Jan. 29

Of course it makes perfect sense. Which is why those uber-rich people will not allow this to happen. They'll do everything they can to shut down Ms. Warren. It's what they do

JMM Worcester, MA Jan. 28

If I were doing tax policy from scratch, I'd include both the Warren wealth tax, a progressive income tax culminating with the AOC 70% marginal rate, treat capital gains as regular income, eliminate the carried interest loophole, and investigate the taxing of all "non-profits" including religious and political organizations. I would replace the standard deduction and personal exemption with a universal basic income. I would reduce the military budget and provide at least a buy-in to medicare.

Anything less that than, I don't consider "radical."

Wendy Maland Chicago, IL Jan. 28

If the Democratic party continues to do nothing to address the problem of the top .1 percemt owning 90 percent of American wealth, we are destined to sit idly by as the heartbreaking inequities and divisions of this country deepen.... and this means, too, that we will be doing very little to address the deeper causes of a certain kind of American desperation and violence.

It's time to address the radically warped system with sensible countermeasures. This is, in my view, a moderate position that moderate, sensible politicians will promote. Doing nothing to address this enormous problem is the most radical position of all.

Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 29

@hm1342

I work and pay taxes and have done so for 40 years. I'm happy to pay taxes, not because I'm dependent on them, but because I realize a few things that make you uncomfortable:

1. No one does it by themselves; we all rely on others at work, at home and in life; we're part of society; we are not solo warriors on some mystical heroic island

2. Not everyone is as fortunate as I; I'm glad the poor, the disabled, the unlucky, the elderly, the uneducated and the unskilled can get a modicum of government assistance when their chips are own

3. Canadians and Europeans and the Japanese do not suffer from 'dependency' syndrome; they're hardworking people with healthy market economies who have decent government that regulate healthcare extortion and corporate extortion to a minimum; it's a pretty humane arrangement

4. Corporations and CEO's have been redistributing upward for about fifty years; 20:1 CEO:worker pay was the 1960's norm....now a 350:1 ration is common.

5. Tax rates for the rich and corporations have collapsed from the 1950's to 2019; the right-wing pretends they're high, but they're not. 6. America has the greatest health-care rip-off in the world at 17% of GDP; it's an international 'free-market' disgrace that no foreign country would touch a 300-foot pole because it would bankrupt them, just as it bankrupts Americans.

Keep living in a 1787 time tunnel and see where it gets you. Or buy a calendar...and evolve.

Judy M Los Angeles Jan. 28

[Drive toward] Equality is the basis of society; it has always been close to my heart. Thank you, Paul Krugman, for standing clearly for economic equality.

Gini Green Bay, Wi Jan. 29

@George

The purpose of taxes is not only to fund public necessities, but also to encourage society to behave in a manner which is good for all of society.

Thus, in World War 2 income tax was set quite high, to discourage consumption of scarce resources.

It is not scapegoating the wealthy to have them pay a proportional share of their wealth to fund the public good, and to, in a small way, discourage inherited wealth. It is through our society that they are able to accumulate their wealth, it follows that they should have incentive to preserve and further that society.

Duane McPherson Groveland, NY Jan. 28

I agree completely with a progressive tax on net wealth. Piketty proposed this in "Capital in the Twenty-first Century" back in 2014. I'm happy to hear that Elizabeth Warren has picked up the idea.

The elegance of it is that it does not prevent the wealth-motivated from seeking high incomes and accumulating a lot of wealth in their lifetime. But it reduces the incentive to earn an ever-higher income, and it prevents the wealthy from creating wealth dynasties.

And consider this: even a 90% tax on inherited wealth would mean, for someone who accumulated a $10 billion estate, that their heirs would receive a $1 billion inheritance as a grubstake. Not a bad start in life, if I say so myself.

Marvin Raps New York Jan. 29

Almost any tax measure to re-distribute wealth is appropriate in a nation that values economic justice. However, answering the question of just how people accumulate billions, while so many others struggle so hard to remain in place. First, it is necessary to dispense with the fiction that the wealthy earned it so let them keep it.

No one person or one family EARNS billions. The hard work necessary to create wealth belongs to many hard working and creative people and to numerous public institutions that make its creation possible.

Both are entitled to a fair share of the wealth they help to create. It is the laws and even traditions that allow one individual to CAPTURE and keep so much wealth. And those laws and traditions need to be changed.

Start with a Living Wage plus full benefits for all workers and salary scales that are reasonable, not the 1:300 that some CEO's currently enjoy. End golden parachutes for retiring or even fired executives and tax unearned income at the same rate as earned income. Equal opportunity cannot stand without economic justice.

John Griswold Salt Lake City Utah Jan. 29

@George

No, part of the purpose of taxes should be to counteract the normal power of capital that causes the formation of massive personal fortunes which distort the economy relied on by all. It's not scapegoating to try to put our economy back in balance, to curtail its division into the Main St. economy, currently starved by that wealth division so heavily favoring the fabulously wealthy, and the shadow economy of Wall St. gambling, commodity market manipulation, and asset ownership.

[Mar 03, 2019] I like the idea of Warren tax, but it may be very difficult to value certain kinds of assets and how they may have appreciated

Mar 03, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

JimB NY Jan. 29

I like the idea, although it may be very difficult to value certain kinds of assets and how they may have appreciated. For example, if the Republican Congressman you bought as a freshman goes on to win a Senate seat, how much would his value have increased?

[Mar 03, 2019] Warren Trump 'may not even be a free person' by 2020 by QUINT FORGEY

Feb 10, 2019 | www.politico.com

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Sunday said that President Donald Trump "may not even be a free person" by 2020, suggesting the president might become ensnared by the special counsel's investigation before she has a chance to face him in a general election.

"Every day there is a racist tweet, a hateful tweet -- something really dark and ugly," Warren said during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "What are we as candidates, as activists, as the press going to do about it? We're going to chase after those every day?"

She added: "Here's what bothers me. By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person."

The jab marks Warren's first foray into campaign-trail skirmishing with Trump since entering the Democratic presidential fray with a Saturday announcement event in Lawrence, Mass.

During her kickoff speech, Warren, a consumer protection advocate and former Harvard Law School professor, attacked Trump as being part of a "rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."

Earlier Saturday, Trump mocked Warren's rollout and took aim at the controversies surrounding her past claims of Native American heritage, which intensified Wednesday after The Washington Post revealed that she had identified herself as American Indian on her Texas State Bar registration card.

"Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President," Trump tweeted. "Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore?"

"See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!" the president added, in what many Democrats judged to be a reference to the forced relocation of several Native American tribes in the Southeast U.S. in the 1830s known as the Trail of Tears.

[Mar 03, 2019] Warren shuts down donor dinners, insider access by By NATASHA KORECKI

Feb 25, 2019 | www.politico.com

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Monday her campaign will shun fundraising through some of the old-fashioned means: dinners, donor calls and cocktail parties.

In an email to supporters Monday, Warren also said she won't sell access to big-name donors as candidates often do to raise money for a presidential bid.

Warren has demonstrated as much in organizing events where she poses for photos with anyone who stands in line and requests it. Typically, candidates put a premium on such access, sometimes charging thousands of dollars for a personal photograph.

"My presidential primary campaign will be run on the principle of equal access for anybody who joins it," Warren said in a message to supporters.

"That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks. And when I thank the people giving to my campaign, it will not be based on the size of their donation. It means that wealthy donors won't be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events. And it means I won't be doing 'call time,' which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support."

The self-imposed restrictions allow Warren to distinguish herself from the field at a time when candidates are in a mad race for donations from small donors.

The Democrat, who launched a full-fledged campaign earlier this month, has already vowed not to take money from lobbyists or super PACs.

She has rejected all PAC money and challenged others in the sprawling field of candidates to reject PAC money. A group of competitors have said they wouldn't take corporate PAC money -- including Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a prospective candidate, shattered records in the 2018 midterms after rejecting PACs and relying on small-dollar donors.

Warren's move, though, takes that promise a step further, saying she won't spend time making donor calls or that she will host private fundraising dinners or receptions.

While Warren did hold fundraisers in her years as a senator, she hasn't held any since she first launched her exploratory bid Dec. 31, according to her campaign.

Warren has a proven network of small dollar donors, but she's also seemed to lag others in the primary field in early fundraising, including Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose one-day $6 million haul swamped all his competitors in the field.

[Mar 02, 2019] The Trump presidency From the Manhattan underworld to the White House by Patrick Martin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship. ..."
Mar 01, 2019 | www.wsws.org

"The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society ." -- Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France

What Marx described, in his analysis of the corruption of the bourgeoisie in France leading up to the 1848 revolution, applies with even greater force to the United States of 2019, where the bourgeoisie faces its own rendezvous with social upheaval and explosive class battles.

That is how a Marxist understands the spectacle of Wednesday's hearing before the House Oversight Committee, in which Michael Cohen, the former attorney and "fixer" for Donald Trump for more than a decade, testified for six hours about how he and his boss worked to defraud business partners and tax collectors, intimidate critics and suppress opposition to Trump's acitvities in real estate, casino gambling, reality television and, eventually, electoral politics.

What Cohen described was a seedier version of an operation that most Americans would recognize from viewing films like The Godfather: Trump as the capo di tutti capi, the unquestioned authority who must be consulted on every decision ; the children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, each now playing significant roles in the ongoing family criminal enterprise; Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, the consigliere in charge of finance, mentioned by Cohen more than 20 times in the course of six hours of testimony as the man who facilitated Trump's schemes to evade taxes, deceive banks or stiff business partners.

Cohen himself was an enforcer. By his own account, he threatened people on Trump's behalf at least 500 times in a ten-year period, including business associates, politicians, journalists and anyone seeking to file complaints or gain reimbursement after being defrauded by one or another Trump venture. The now-disbarred lawyer admitted to tape recording clients -- including Trump among many others -- more than 100 times during this period.

The incidents recounted by Cohen range from the farcical (Trump browbeating colleges and even his military prep school not to release his grades or test scores), to the shabby (Trump having his own "charitable" foundation buy a portrait of himself for $60,000), to the brazenly criminal (deliberately inflating the value of properties when applying for bank loans while deflating the value of the same properties as much as twenty-fold in order to evade taxation).

One of the most remarkable revelations was Cohen's flat assertion that Trump himself did not enter the presidential race with the expectation that he could win either the Republican nomination or the presidency. Instead, the billionaire reality television "star" regularly told his closest aides, the campaign would be the "greatest infomercial in political history," good for promoting his brand and opening up business opportunities in previously closed markets.

These unflattering details filled the pages of the daily newspapers Thursday and occupied many hours on the cable television news. But in all that vast volume of reporting and commentary, one would look in vain for any serious assessment of what it means, in terms of the historical development and future trajectory of American society, that a family like the Trumps now occupies the highest rung in the US political system.

The World Socialist Web Site rejects efforts by the Democrats and the corporate media to dismiss Trump as an aberration, an accidental figure whose unexpected elevation to the presidency in 2016 will be "corrected" through impeachment, forced resignation or electoral defeat in 2020. We insist that the Trump administration is a manifestation of a protracted crisis and breakdown of American democracy, whose course can be traced back at least two decades to the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998-99, followed by the stolen presidential election of 2000.

The US political system, always dominated by the interests of the capitalist ruling class that controls both of the major parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, is breaking down under the burden of mounting social tensions, driven above all by skyrocketing economic inequality. It is impossible to sustain the pretense that elections at two-year and four-year intervals provide genuine popular influence over the functioning of a government so completely subordinated to the financial aristocracy.

The figures are familiar but require restating: over the past three decades, virtually all the increase in wealth in American society has gone to a tiny layer at the top. Three mega-billionaires -- Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates -- now control more wealth than half the American population. This process of social polarization is global: according to the most recent Oxfam report, 26 billionaires control more wealth than the poorer half of the human race.

These billionaires did not accumulate their riches by devising new technologies or making new scientific discoveries that increased the wealth and happiness of humanity as a whole. On the contrary, their enrichment has come at the expense of society. Bezos has become the world's richest man through the emergence of Amazon as the greatest sweatshop enterprise in history, where every possible second of labor power is extracted from a brutally exploited workforce.

The class of billionaires as a whole, having precipitated the global financial collapse of 2008 through reckless speculation and swindling in the sale of derivatives and other obscure financial "products," was bailed out, first by the Republican Bush, then by the Democrat Obama, to the tune of trillions of dollars. Meanwhile, the jobs, living standards and social conditions for the great mass of working people sharply declined.

As for Donald Trump, the real estate swindler, casino con man and reality television mogul is a living demonstration of the truth of Balzac's aphorism: "Behind every great fortune is a great crime."

Trump toyed with running for president on the ultra-right Reform Party ticket in 2000 after a long stint as a registered Democrat and donor to both capitalist parties. When he decided to run for president as a Republican in 2016, however, he had shifted drastically to the right. His candidacy marked the emergence of a distinctly fascistic movement, as he spewed anti-immigrant prejudice and racism more generally, while making a right-wing populist appeal to working people, particularly in de-industrialized areas in the Midwest and Appalachia, on the basis of economic nationalism.

As World Socialist Web Site editorial board Chairman David North explained even before the 2016 elections:

The Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States did not emerge from an American version of a Munich beer hall. Donald Trump is a billionaire, who made his money in Manhattan real estate swindles, the semi-criminal operations of casino gambling, and the bizarre world of "reality television," which entertains and stupefies its audience by manufacturing absurd, disgusting and essentially fictional "real life" situations. The candidacy of Donald Trump could be described as the transfer of the techniques of reality television to politics.

The main development in the two years since Trump entered the White House is the emergence of the American working class into major struggles, beginning with the wave of teachers' strikes in 2018, initiated by the rank and file in defiance of the bureaucratic unions. The reaction in the American ruling elite is a panic-stricken turn to authoritarian methods of rule.

The billionaire in the White House is now engaged in a systematic assault on the foundations of American democracy. He has declared a national emergency in order to bypass Congress, which holds the constitutional "power of the purse," and divert funds from the military and other federal departments to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Whether or not he is immediately successful in this effort, it is clear that Trump is moving towards the establishment of an authoritarian regime, with or without the sanction of the ballot box. As Cohen observed in his closing statement -- in remarks generally downplayed by the media and ignored by the Democrats -- he is worried that if Trump loses the 2020 election, "there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship.

The defense of democratic rights and genuine resistance to Trump's drive toward authoritarian rule must come through the development of an independent political movement of the working class, directed against both big business parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, and against the profit system which they both defend.

[Feb 26, 2019] Warren Joins Bernie In Rejecting Private Fundraisers.. For Now - YouTube

Feb 26, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Jonathan Powling , 7 hours ago

Send a buck to Tulsi. 65,000 donors baby

Mister Methuselah , 6 hours ago

What's wrong with Tulsi's fundraisers? They are not PAC money and $125/plate is not that expensive. Tulsi has a huge disadvantage, because she isn't getting any coverage. Tulsi's dinners are not sponsored by Corporate money.

Rosannasfriend , 6 hours ago (edited)

Warren said to Cenk Uygur(in a NEW interview!) that her refusal of corporate donations only extends to the primaries. She said [we] need corporate donations- or as she calls them- "everything in our arsenal to beat Trump". Still want to lump her in with Bernie?

Max Waller , 7 hours ago (edited)

Never Completely Trust anyone, so thoroughly research everyone before supporting anyone on anything to be fully aware of who benefits and how, since you may or may not benefit at all 11:16 hours Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday, 26 February 2019

un mog , 6 hours ago

Im not too mad about Tulsi, especially when a "large" donation is 200 or more. I think large should be considered more than 500

[Feb 23, 2019] Sen. Bob Menendez was also a passenger, and who knows who else

Feb 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

LetThemEatRand , 5 hours ago link

For all of you ZH'rs who hate civil trial lawyers, there were several prominent ones who literally devoted a decade to this (many at the risk of their practices, taking on TPTB). And without any real chance of ever seeing a penny for their efforts. Kudos and cheers for the victory in the battle.

TeamDepends , 5 hours ago link

Amen, and maybe they will never see a penny but they will live to see vindication.

7thGenMO , 3 hours ago link

If they do see vindication, The Miami Herald should get some credit. The reporters there have been doing the investigative work to reveal that there were many children involved. Funny how the MSM couldn't get to the bottom of this story. ///

Theosebes Goodfellow , 46 minutes ago link

It wasn't just Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey who got ferried, (sorry, but when it comes to Spacey, there's an inside joke there I'm sure). Sen. Bob Menendez was also a passenger, and who knows who else. I personally would like for AG Barr to have a chance at squeezing Epstein's nutz for evidence on the [DS].

[Feb 23, 2019] Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a "potential co-conspirator" in his crimes

Notable quotes:
"... "I wanted to tell you that I have compiled a list of 34 confirmed minors," Villafana wrote to Lefkowitz. "There are six others, whose name [sic] we already have, who need to be interviewed by the FBI to confirm whether they were 17 or 18 at the time of their activity with Mr. Epstein." ..."
"... Epstein agreed to a 30-month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of house arrest and the agreement to pay dozens of young girls under a federal statute providing for compensation to victims of child sexual abuse. .the U.S. Attorney's Office promised not to pursue any federal charges against Epstein or his Named and Un-Named co-conspirators. ..."
"... His legal team? Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, and Alan Dershowitz. ..."
"... The federal non-prosecution agreement Epstein's legal team negotiated immunized all named and unnamed potential co-conspirators in Epstein's child trafficking network, which includes those who allegedly procured minors for Epstein and any powerbrokers who may have molested them." ..."
Feb 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

LOLITA EXPRESS...ORGY ISLAND...ELITE PEDOPHILE RING ?-2006
* George W Bush President: January 20, 2001 – Jan. 20, 2009
* Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General USA: Feb. 3, 2005–Sept. 17, 2007
* Michael Bernard Mukasey, AG. USA: Nov. 9, 2007 – Jan. 20, 2009
* Eric Holder, A G. USA: Feb. 3, 2009 – April 27, 2015
* Loretta Lynch, Attorney General USA: April 27, 2015 – Present
* Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana
* Epstein's Attorneys: Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz.

+ "He (Epstein) is an enthusiastic member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations."

+ Bill Clinton...26 trips aboard the "Lolita Express"

Jeffrey Epstein's Boeing 727 is equipped with the necessary hardware for him to wake up, roll out of bed, and start trading.

+ Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a "potential co-conspirator" in his crimes.

+ Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein's former assistant Sarah Kellen -- have been repeatedly accused in court filings of acting as pimps. Oxford-educated Maxwell, recently seen dining with Clinton at Nello's on Madison Avenue. Manhattan-London G. Maxwell, daughter of the mysteriously deceased media titan Robert Maxwell.

+ A new lawsuit has revealed how Clinton took multiple trips to Epstein's private island where he 'kept young women as sex slaves'

+ Clinton was also apparently friends with a woman who collected naked pictures of underage girls for Epstein to choose from

+ Clinton invited her (pimp) to Chelsea's wedding

+ According to former child sex slave Virginia Roberts and a class action lawsuit against convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, former President Bill Clinton was present during sex parties involving up to twenty underage girls at Epstein's secluded island in the Caribbean.

+ 20 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 said were sexually abused by Epstein, Palm Beach Police and FBI

+ 35 female minors sexually abused, Epstein settled lawsuits from more than 30 "Jane Doe" victims since 2008; the youngest alleged victim was 12 years old at the time of her abuse.

..............................Source: FBI & Federal Prosecutors

+ flights on Epstein's planes 1997 to 2005, include Dershowitz (FOX NEWS, Harvard Law), former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers, Naomi Campbell, and scientist Stephen Pinker.

+ In the most recent court documents, filed on December 30, Roberts further claims she was sex-trafficked to "many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders." Roberts said Epstein trafficked children to politicians, Wall Streeters and A- listers to curry favor, advance his business, and for political influence.

The FIX

2015 Doc Release by Judge:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana wrote to Epstein lawyer Jay Lefkowitz in a Sept. 19, 2007, email. "I will include our standard language regarding resolving all criminal liability and I will mention 'co-conspirators,' but I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all of the other crimes and all of the other persons that we could charge ... maybe we can set a time to meet, if you want to meet 'off campus' somewhere, that is fine. I will make sure that I have all the necessary decision makers present or 'on call' as well."

"I wanted to tell you that I have compiled a list of 34 confirmed minors," Villafana wrote to Lefkowitz. "There are six others, whose name [sic] we already have, who need to be interviewed by the FBI to confirm whether they were 17 or 18 at the time of their activity with Mr. Epstein."

In a December 2007 letter, the prosecutor acknowledges some notifications of alleged victims but says they were sent after the U.S. Attorney's Office signed the plea deal and halted for most of the women at the request of Epstein's lawyers.

"Three victims were notified shortly after the signing of the Non-Prosecution Agreement of the general terms of that Agreement," Villafana wrote, again to Lefkowitz. "You raised objections to any victim notification, and no further notifications were done."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2015/07/judge-unseals-more-details-in-jeffrey-epstein-underage-sex-lawsuit-210065

Original Deal Hidden

On Sept. 24, 2007, in a deal shrouded in secrecy that left alleged victims shocked at its leniency,

Epstein agreed to a 30-month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of house arrest and the agreement to pay dozens of young girls under a federal statute providing for compensation to victims of child sexual abuse. .the U.S. Attorney's Office promised not to pursue any federal charges against Epstein or his Named and Un-Named co-conspirators.

Sources:

Fox By Malia Zimmerman, May 13, 2016

Daily Mail Reporter 19 March 2014

Gawker Nick Bryant 01/22/15

Western Journalism Kris Zane March 27, 2014

Politico By Josh Gerstein 07/07/15

New York Magazine, By Landon Thomas Jr.

THE FIX IS IN

"In 2006 the FBI counted at least 40 underage girls who had been molested by Epstein. Authorities searched his Florida mansion and found two computers containing child *********** and homemade video and photographs from cameras hidden in bedroom walls which had been used to film sex acts. The case was airtight for many counts of sexual crimes but Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer and the Justice Department stepped in and offered Epstein a plea deal. In 2008 Epstein pleaded guilty in a Florida court to one count of soliciting underage girls for sex. His punishment was 13 months of "8 hour nights only" at a halfway house. No other charges about raping underage girls nor running an underage sex trafficking ring were mentioned in the plea. His legal team? Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Ken Starr, and Alan Dershowitz.

The federal non-prosecution agreement Epstein's legal team negotiated immunized all named and unnamed potential co-conspirators in Epstein's child trafficking network, which includes those who allegedly procured minors for Epstein and any powerbrokers who may have molested them."

http://dcxposed.com/2015/01/26/bilderberg-pervs-island-sin-scandal-threatens-ultra-elite-politicians-lawyers-royalty/

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

The Talented Mr. Epstein

Lately, Jeffrey Epstein's high-flying style has been drawing oohs and aahs: the bachelor financier lives in New York's largest private residence, claims to take only billionaires as clients, and flies celebrities including Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey on his Boeing 727. But pierce his air of mystery and the picture changes. Vicky Ward explores Epstein's investment career, his ties to retail magnate Leslie Wexner, and his complicated past.

June 27, 2011 12:00 am

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2003/03/jeffrey-epstein-200303

Jeffrey Epstein: International Moneyman of Mystery

So how do termite grouping patterns fare as an investment strategy? Again, facts are hard to come by. A working day for Epstein starts at 5 a.m., when he gets up and scours the world markets on his Bloomberg screen -- each of his houses, in New York, St. Thomas, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as the 727, is equipped with the necessary hardware for him to wake up, roll

http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_7912/index3.html

[Feb 22, 2019] Western Oligarchs raped Russia in the 90's. The (((harvard))) boys foisted dollar debts on Russia, and then converted Russia to an extraction economy

Feb 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

MEFOBILLS , says: February 21, 2019 at 9:28 pm GMT

@TKK https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

The U.S. is an Oligarchy.

Western Oligarchs raped Russia in the 90's. OK, most of them were Jews – but still Western. The (((harvard))) boys foisted dollar debts on Russia, and then converted Russia to an extraction economy. Putin cleverly taxed the Oligarchs and prevented them from further predations.

No country can survive if it has an internal hostile elite. Nobody here can claim that Russia's government is hostile to its people. A fair claim can be made that the "international" elite that infest America IS HOSTILE. Why would you immigrate a replacement population if not hostile? Why would you export your industry if not hostile?

You don't dig out and convert your economy to first world standards overnight.

So, the trend lines are clear. The West and U.S. is a finance oligarchy in decline, while Russia is on a ascendant path. These lines will cross over at some point in near future. One could even squint and say that Russia is no longer an Oligarchy of special interests, and is moving into Byzantium mode e.g. symphony of Church and State. Many Russian thinkers are projecting another 40 years or so to consolidate the gains.

[Feb 19, 2019] Rhetoric and platitudes aren't enough

Feb 19, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Matt Chew , , 1 week ago

Liz Warren is talking about what Bernie talked about in '16. I'm concerned that she has progressive rhetoric but centrist instincts. Her voting record isn't as progressive as I believe is necessary. She needs to be able to withstand scrutiny if she hopes to attract progressive voters. Rhetoric and platitudes aren't enough... #LeadersNeedToLeadByExample

Steven H , 1 week ago

I don't think I'm alone in finding a big difference that was not mentioned in the video. While I greatly appreciate Elizabeth Warren, and those clips you showed from earlier today were very encouraging, there is just a quality Bernie and Tulsi share that is very rare among politicians. Something about the way they speak, their past actions, and ways they don't speak, just hit home really hard a believability that they are extremely genuine and from the heart. I see some of this from EW, but, Bernie and Tulsi are just incredibly impressive in regard to this quality... it doesn't feel like supporting a politician, it feels like supporting a kind of way of being and appreciation for what we all are so many of us try to make our way of life. fwiw, I think it's also a big part of AOC's appeal.

[Feb 19, 2019] What's the difference between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is a cautious, cowardish (her behaviour during 2016 was disgusting), but pretty energetic careerist. Her views will quickly change under pressure, so good talking points will never translated into real policies. The fact the wealthy control the USA is not news. This is the fact of life and always be. the question is how to reach optimal middle point when interest of the bottom 80% standard of living do not deteriorate.
Probably close to Barack Obama who also utters all right things during election complain and then blatantly betrayed his voters.
She clearly is the top anti-corruption candidate and will expose the level of corruption in Washington. So she is preferable to Kamala Harris and other establishment candidates.
The fight between organized and rich few and unorganized and poor many became hotter right now. But what is the power base of anti-neoliberal movement. That can be only trade unions, which were decimated. So the first step might be to restore the power of unions.
Notable quotes:
"... Elizabeth Warren is a progressive with no backbone who supports the military industrial complex ..."
"... Warren missed her moment when she failed us in 2016. She'd be VP today, and thinking about running in 2024. She shied away and instead, we have Trump ..."
Feb 19, 2019 | www.youtube.com

christina hayes , 1 week ago

Elizabeth Warren is weak. She did not have the courage to stand up to the Clinton machine in 2016 when she could have made a difference by standing up against corruption. Now she is waffling on what it means when she says she supports Medicare for All, as now she is open to tweaking the Republican "Affordable" Care Act. She won't fight for us. We need real fighters. We need Bernie and Tulsi.

Bacon Strips , 1 week ago

Kamala Harris Record is horrendous. It is absolutely disgusting. She is literally jumping on the bandwagon just to get elected.

Rik Longenecker , 1 week ago

She's a great ally, but not a leader. She's waffling on Medicare for all. Bernie or Tulsi will lead.

Unapologetic , 1 week ago

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Elizabeth Warren but in the last few years she's shown that she's not as reliable as i thought she was. She's way to soft when it comes to calling out the corruption in the dem party. She's also shown she's more willing to bend to the will of the Dem establishment and that is not the kind of President we need right now.

I'll be posting a video on her campaign soon & unfortunately I'll have to tear into her a lot more than you did in this video

tmcfootball96 , 1 week ago

Elizabeth Warren is a progressive with no backbone who supports the military industrial complex. She will lose to Trump if she gets the nominee. Tulsi is a real progressive with balls. #Tulsi2020

INF Flux , 1 week ago

Warren missed her moment when she failed us in 2016. She'd be VP today, and thinking about running in 2024. She shied away and instead, we have Trump.

I don't think she has the ability to motivate she could have had back then. I don't think she has the savvy to beat Trump. We need Tulsi or Bernie, the rest would lose in the general.

tomjulio2002, 1 week ago

Sorry but there is no comparison between Warren and Sanders.

Warren is either at best a coward (see primary 2016) or at worst a con (at lot of words but no action when it matters). So not much will change with her, except that Trump would be gone. Then we will get a worse than Trump next time around when people get even more disappointed and desperate.

For Sanders, you know for sure that he means what he says and that he intends to try.

The question is whether he will have the courage to go for it when the going gets tough. Or will he buckle like he did at the 2016 convention thinking best to get half a loaf than risking to get nothing.

With Sanders, there is at least a chance (albeit a slim one in my opinion) of big changes happening on the issues like Medicare for all, Green New Deal, Free public college...

For me, Warren is a no go.

Also Gabbard is clearly a fighter but I am still hazy on some of her positions. But I will take her before I even take another look at Warren (if somehow Warren becomes the nominee).

[Feb 13, 2019] A Study in Professional Power Why Do the Big 4 Accountants Survive by Richard Murphy

Notable quotes:
"... By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an "anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert". He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics . He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK ..."
"... Like much of political economy, this is a story of power. In the first instance this was professional power. The big firms did, as professional institutes developed, have the means to dominate them. They were in the capital cities where those institutes were usually based. They had the means to release partner time to manage those institutes' affairs. They had the motive to do so. That was ring-fencing their profit. The big firms, then, used their power to set the rules for their professions. ..."
"... Have been reading The Billion-Dollar Whale about the 1MDB mega-heist, facilitated by auditors and bank compliance officers at every step as the Malaysian people were fleeced of billions to pay for sickening rounds of parties, yachts, champagne baths, jewelry, gambling, and garish mansions. "Odious debt" if ever there were. ..."
"... Good topic to cover. The accounting firms are right up there with the ratings agencies as 'high priests' of capital whose blessing is required if your are to be welcome into the halls of power. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A Study in Professional Power: Why Do the Big 4 Accountants Survive? Posted on February 13, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. While many people go into "my eyes glaze over" mode when the topic of accountants comes up, you ignore them at your peril. In the US, boards and executives escape liability if they can say they were acting on the advice of professionals. Lawyers are the main liability shields for corporate bigwigs, but pliant accountants are also very helpful.

And why don't shareholders who've been hurt due to professionals signing off on crooked corporate conduct sue? They can't. As we wrote in ECONNED:

Legislators also need to restore secondary liability. Attentive readers may recall that a Supreme Court decision in 1994 disallowed suits against advisors like accountants and lawyers for aiding and abetting frauds. In other words, a plaintiff could only file a claim against the party that had fleeced him; he could not seek recourse against those who had made the fraud possible, say, accounting firms that prepared misleading financial statements. That 1994 decision flew in the face of sixty years of court decisions, practices in criminal law (the guy who drives the car for a bank robber is an accessory), and common sense. Reinstituting secondary liability would make it more difficult to engage in shoddy practices.

In other words, the only party that can sue an accounting firm for engaging in fraudulent conduct is his immediate client .who almost certainly is in on the con. Lovely.

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an "anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert". He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics . He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK

I was asked very recently why it was that the big 4 firms of accountants survive. This is an issue I have been considering with Len Seabrooke and Saila Stausholm at Copenhagen Business School. The academic paper on the subject is in progress. Let me offer a plain English perspective for now.

Like much of political economy, this is a story of power. In the first instance this was professional power. The big firms did, as professional institutes developed, have the means to dominate them. They were in the capital cities where those institutes were usually based. They had the means to release partner time to manage those institutes' affairs. They had the motive to do so. That was ring-fencing their profit. The big firms, then, used their power to set the rules for their professions.

Leading the way at a technical level as well, in a profession lead from these firms and not by either government or academia, these firms also innovated in ways that ring fenced their market. I suspect that this may have provided the strongest incentive for the creation of consolidated accounts – which were not a universal requirement for group companies until the 1940s. When consolidated accounts required that multinational groups be treated as single entities their auditors, who I strongly suspect sold its benefit to governments who then made it a legal requirement, could in turn demand that they were the sole group auditor. The global spread of a select few firms was guaranteed. The rise of the global firm was the consequence.

These firms succeeded. The firms then sold consultancy advising other companies to copy the success of their global company clients by also becoming global using a structure that guaranteed market growth in auditing for the big accountants. The market for the big audit firms was reinforced.

As this was happening in the 50s and 60s another phenomena was growing, which was the tax haven. Slowly at first, but steadily as the British empire (in particular) receded, the opportunity to hide nefarious activity, as well as profits and so tax bills in such places, grew. Did the big firms go there before their clients? Or did they have to go because some clients had already gone? It's a question to be answered. But if the firms were to maintain their demand that they must be sole auditor, worldwide, at least in name, then if the global entities they were helping spawn moved to tax havens then they too had to go there.

And they did not miss the opportunity. Already used to lobbying and forming opinion on legislation in the countries from which they originated, and well aware of the coercive power this gave them over their clients, the governments of new tax havens must have seemed easy pickings to the big accountants of the day. And so they were. Whole rafts of legislation were influenced by such firms as they peddled in tax havens the secrecy that opposed the transparency they sold elsewhere. The opportunities must have seemed unlimited.

But the timeline has now reached the 70s, and life was not so good for accountants. Airlines failed back then, with people noticing that their accounts gave no hint that they owned or used planes. In contrast, aeroplane engine makers were claiming that they had value when the products they were developing at enormous cost for the time were unlikely to push anything into the sky. Accounts were not providing a true and fair view.

In the face of significant threats to the profession from an outraged public (well, at least those parts losing money as a result of these failings) the big firms reclaimed the initiative. Accounting standards – supposedly written in the public interest and for the benefit of all stakeholders – were created and governments that were too trusting by half gave them the force of law. The power of the big accountants was reinforced, rather than diminished, by the accounting debacles of that era. Now they could write the rules; say they had the power of law; force them onto their clients and the rest of the profession; and in the process pull themselves ahead of the competing pack. They could do that by advising on the very rules they had created; by claiming to be the only people who could audit them; and by making sure that because some only applied to larger enterprises the knowledge of their use did not trickle down into the profession as a whole.

And they exploited this to the full. The era of capital market liberalisation and globalisation simply provided greater opportunity to do this, whilst the new and more relaxed ethics of this period promoted the use of tax havens in ways previously unforeseen, and the firms jumped with both feet into this market as well, producing tax avoidance schemes by the bucket load.

And things only got better. Although the accountants failed miserably to deliver what they promised when accounting standards were first developed, because they entirely ignored the needs of almost all users of accounts, their capture of the process was so complete that when the European Union was looking for a set of single accounting standards they adopted the Big 4 created International Financial Reporting Standards as quasi law, which has now led to their adoption in more than a hundred countries worldwide, with a parallel process taking place in the USA, Japan and other influential markets. The ability of these firms to control the world's view of capitalism appeared complete, and they reaped the rewards.

And then some cracks appeared. There was a global financial crisis, which accounts had not anticipated. And there was a global loss of tax revenue, which accountants appear to have facilitated through tax havens. And rather annoying people pointed out both failings. You would have thought that the fundamental failure of their product, in the form of accounting standards, and the fundamental failure of their ethics, evidenced by their use of tax havens and sale of tax avoidance products, would have done for these firms. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth, hence the question I was asked. How are they surviving?

Let me reiterate how we got here, because the clue is in the process.

The result is that the big four are now integral to company law, auditing law, accounting law, the law of many tax havens, the structure of the accounting profession and the structure of many of its clients. Their desire to protect their ability to make supernormal profit has created a situation where the entire process of law surrounding companies has been captured for their benefit, and the behaviour of whole markets has been distorted in their favour as a result.

But what they did to achieve this result was display an ability to innovate. Whenever under criticism, they delivered an alternative. When their ethics were questioned, they produced a supposed new standard. When the market demand that they change, for example post Enron, that's what they appeared to do, enough to keep people at bay. And all the time, chameleon like, they emerged from each threat with their power reinforced because they are so integral to the process of corporate regulation that government has effectively abandoned to them.

That is how they have survived. But that also suggests how the process is changed. Government has to reclaim this process.

And it has to determine who will write the alternatives. None of that will be easy. But with adequate investment it is entirely possible. These firms have captured significant parts of the processes of capitalism for their own ends. If we are to still have mixed economies, and I think we should, then this process of capture has to be disrupted, in the public interest. It is only by doing so that the power of the Big 4 will be challenged. Nothing else will change it.

That's the issue we face. And since there is no challenge right now the Big 4 will go on. And on. Which is right now just as they want it.

timotheus , February 13, 2019 at 5:30 am

Have been reading The Billion-Dollar Whale about the 1MDB mega-heist, facilitated by auditors and bank compliance officers at every step as the Malaysian people were fleeced of billions to pay for sickening rounds of parties, yachts, champagne baths, jewelry, gambling, and garish mansions. "Odious debt" if ever there were.

Colonel Smithers , February 13, 2019 at 5:53 am

Thank you, Yves.

"In the process they captured the tax havens and their legislatures, and used them for their own purposes." That is certainly the case in Mauritius where the former deputy PM and finance minister, Xavier-Luc Duval, worked for KPMG in London and Port-Louis. In the UK, Patricia Hewitt left the cabinet and Commons to head public policy and affairs for one of the Big Four.

It's not just the legislatures, the former CFO to the royal family, Sir Michael Peat,was senior partner at KPMG. So was his great grandfather, a scion of the Barclay banking family and founder of Peat Marwick. Former KPMG employees hold and have held senior regulatory positions in the UK. KPMG seems to be the go to firm.

Thuto , February 13, 2019 at 8:32 am

Thank You Colonel Smithers.

Meanwhile, down in SA:

1. VBS Mutual Bank looted into curatorship.

2. Cape Town HQD and dual listed in Frankfurt and Joburg, retailer Steinhoff International has shed over 90% of its market value due to an "accounting scandal" (with ordinary pensioners losing billions in the process).

3. The Guptas, through their companies and aided by their man Jacob Zuma as state president, brazenly looted state coffers on a massive scale.

As the enablers-in-chief, KPMG is woven into the common thread running across all these scandals. Not to worry though, they've thrown a few executives under the bus and are currently on a charm offensive reminding the public just how ethical a bunch they all are in spite of providing cover for these nefarious activities and will surely emerge from this with their "power reinforced".

PS: Steinhoff has set up an "ethics hotline" run by who? KPMG, wonders truly never cease

Colonel Smithers , February 13, 2019 at 9:12 am

Thank you, Thuto.

I know Steinhoff well from my time at HSBC in Johannesburg and London, 2003 – 6. It had yet to become the plaything of Wiese.

KPMG is similar woven into UK scandals.

You are right to use the term "enabler in chief". It's the entire professional services industry. Law firms, too. The UK Big Four are now setting up legal, advertising and corporate finance practices.

I was at the Blue Eagle, soon to be ABSA red in the rest of Africa, from 2014 – 6. A friend was fired from the nest after querying why one of the Big Four was hired to manage its client on boarding remediation at a higher cost and on a longer timescale than her team could do. The management wanted the Big Four as a firewall. Ironically, she joined one of the Big Four a few months later. Her settlement, which included a gagging order, precluded her from working for six months.

Thuto , February 13, 2019 at 11:11 am

"It's the entire professional services industry". Amen to that

vlade , February 13, 2019 at 6:11 am

This is a topic that gets raised now and them (more often recently) in the UK – that auditors/accountants should bear responsibility for fraud etc., and should not be just mindless box tickers.

The Rev Kev , February 13, 2019 at 6:45 am

A question for those of us not in the know. With Neoliberalism you can say that it has an intellectual back-office with places like the Chicago school of economics. Is there an intellectual back-office of sorts for accountancy that enable these Big Four to justify their accountancy rules as well? Or do they get to make it up as they go along?

Independent Accountant , February 13, 2019 at 9:02 am

Having the government do audits will make things worse. In the US, the PCAOB is the Big Four's cartel enforcer. The PCAOB should be dissolved and the law changed to facilitate suits against CPAs. Let the plaintiff's bar discipline the CPA profession.
Uncle Sam had the FED create stress tests. Why? To convince the public the FED had things under control and the banking system is sound. Why would government audits be better than the stress tests?
Uncle Sam could break up the Big Four into the not so sweet 16. Will it? Or does the Big Four do exactly what Uncle Sam wants? Are the "problems" we see, feature or bug?

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:24 am

Yes, the plaintiffs bar worked very well in my early days as a CPA. Particularly because CPAs, like other professionals, had PERSONAL liability and could not hide behind the corporate wall. This is one of those things that worked very well in real life but someone (if it wasn't economists it was persons of the same ilk) proved it was theoretically impossible. Hence, all professionals are now corporations where before they weren't even allowed to be called a business. From the perspective of a professional accountant with years of watching how the system works we are, ironically, failing because of accountability. We have a smoothly functioning form of capitalism that manifests in "Heads I win, tails you lose". That fundamental principal has been ignored from the late '70s to today at our extreme peril culminating in the GFC where it was taken to the extreme of "Heads I win, tails I win more and you lose more.

johnnygl , February 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

Good topic to cover. The accounting firms are right up there with the ratings agencies as 'high priests' of capital whose blessing is required if your are to be welcome into the halls of power.

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:35 am

Yet they're no better than Moody's or Fitch's ratings – bought and paid for. We know that they are, we're just haggling about the price.

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:33 am

For anyone interested, NN Taleb writes eloquently about two subjects which are germane: experts and skin in the game, for the same reasons as the author of this piece. The Big Four are so-called experts and they have no skin in the game. This as Taleb, makes us all fools who have been hoodwinked because failure to understand that abuses of these two issues is what has ruined capitalism in our lifetimes. Like the frog put in a pot of water which is slowly heated, I watched this happen over my career. It is our formerly functioning capitalist system that is the frog in the water.

lyman alpha blob , February 13, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for this. There have always been some accounting practices that were supposedly "Generally Accepted" that made me scratch my head as they didn't seem to lead to any greater transparency, and in fact often quite the opposite.

[Feb 12, 2019] Rubio One-Ups Sanders And Schumer With Plan To Curb Corporate Buybacks

Notable quotes:
"... To that end, the senator from Florida on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to limit corporate buybacks. Unlike a plan pitched by Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer earlier this month, Rubio's plan would seek to end preferential tax treatment of share buybacks, by decreeing that any money spent on buybacks would be considered - for tax purposes - a dividend paid to shareholders, even if individual investors didn't actually part with any stock. ..."
"... Any tax revenue generated by these changes could then be used to encourage more capital investment, Rubio said. As part of the proposal, Rubio would make a provision in the tax law that allows companies to deduct capital investment permanent (that provision is currently set to expire in 2022). ..."
"... But before lawmakers take their next steps toward regulating how and when companies should return excess capital to shareholders, they might want to take a look at a column recently published by WSJ's "Intelligent Investor" that expounds a concept called "the bladder theory." ..."
"... But the law most likely to govern here is the Law of Unintended Consequences. ..."
"... That companies bought back a record $1 trillion worth of stock last year while employers like GM slashed jobs and closed factories has stoked criticisms of the Trump tax cuts, but as the gulf between the rich and the poor grows ever more wide (a phenomenon for which we can thank the Federal Reserve and other large global central banks) it's worth wondering: facing a simmering backlash to one of the most persistent marginal bids in the market place, have investors already become too complacent about proposals like Rubio's? ..."
"... Worse, since they're largely funded by increased corporate debt (!) they amount to corporate strip-mining by senior management. This is disgraceful and dangerous. The debt will bust some corporations when the inevitable next downturn comes. ..."
"... This buyback cancer, which has grown rapidly because of corrupt SEC thinking and perverse tax incentives, requires urgent treatment. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

For better or worse, Republican Senator and one-time presidential candidate Marco Rubio isn't about to let the Democrats own the fight to curtail one of the most flagrant examples of post-crisis corporate excess. And if he can carve out a niche for himself that might one day help him credibly pitch himself as a populist firebrand, much like the man who went on to claim the presidency after defeating him in the Republican primary, well, that sounds to us like a win-win.

To that end, the senator from Florida on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to limit corporate buybacks. Unlike a plan pitched by Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer earlier this month, Rubio's plan would seek to end preferential tax treatment of share buybacks, by decreeing that any money spent on buybacks would be considered - for tax purposes - a dividend paid to shareholders, even if individual investors didn't actually part with any stock.

According to CNBC , the plan calls for every shareholder to receive an imputed portion of the funds equivalent to the percentage of company stock they own, which, of course, isn't the same thing as directly handing capital to shareholders (it simply changes the tax rate that the company buying back the shares would pay).

Ultimately, Rubio hopes that these changes would discourage companies from buying back stock. Those companies that continued to buy back shares would help contribute to higher revenues by increasing the funds that can be taxed, while also raising the rate at which this money can be taxed. Any tax revenue generated by these changes could then be used to encourage more capital investment, Rubio said. As part of the proposal, Rubio would make a provision in the tax law that allows companies to deduct capital investment permanent (that provision is currently set to expire in 2022).

But before lawmakers take their next steps toward regulating how and when companies should return excess capital to shareholders, they might want to take a look at a column recently published by WSJ's "Intelligent Investor" that expounds a concept called "the bladder theory."

Overall, however, buybacks (and dividends) return excess capital to investors who are free to spend or reinvest it wherever it is most needed. By requiring companies to hang onto their capital instead of paying it out, Congress might - perhaps - encourage them to invest more in workers and communities.

But the law most likely to govern here is the Law of Unintended Consequences. The history of investment by corporate managers with oodles of cash on their hands isn't encouraging. Hugh Liedtke, the late chief executive of Pennzoil, reportedly liked to quip that he believed in "the bladder theory:" Companies should pay out as much cash as possible, so managers couldn't piss all the money away.

That companies bought back a record $1 trillion worth of stock last year while employers like GM slashed jobs and closed factories has stoked criticisms of the Trump tax cuts, but as the gulf between the rich and the poor grows ever more wide (a phenomenon for which we can thank the Federal Reserve and other large global central banks) it's worth wondering: facing a simmering backlash to one of the most persistent marginal bids in the market place, have investors already become too complacent about proposals like Rubio's?

We ask only because the Dow soared more than 350 points on Tuesday, suggesting that, even as Rubio added a bipartisan flavor to the nascent movement to curb buybacks, investors aren't taking these proposals too seriously - at least not yet.

Celotex
This still doesn't address the insider trading aspect of stock buybacks, with insiders front-running the buyback.

vladiki

No one's arguing that if a company's groaning with cash then buybacks make sense. But it's the other 95% of of them that are the problem. Compare the 20 year graphs of buybacks with corporate profits, corporate debt, corporate tax paid, corporate dividends paid.

They tell you what everyone in higher management knows - that they're a tax-free dividend mechanism pretending to be "capital rationalisation".

Worse, since they're largely funded by increased corporate debt (!) they amount to corporate strip-mining by senior management. This is disgraceful and dangerous. The debt will bust some corporations when the inevitable next downturn comes.

This buyback cancer, which has grown rapidly because of corrupt SEC thinking and perverse tax incentives, requires urgent treatment.

james diamond squid

Everyone is in on this ponzi. I'm expecting tax deductions for buying stocks/homes.

[Feb 11, 2019] Whitaker clashes with lawmaker over donations - YouTube

Feb 11, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Whitaker clashes with lawmaker over donations CNN

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Published on Feb 8, 2019

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) clash over donations connected to Whitaker and decisions made at the Department of Justice.

[Feb 10, 2019] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Exposes the Problem of Dark Money in Politics NowThis - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Feb 10, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Published on Feb 8, 2019

'We have a system that is fundamentally broken.' -- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is explaining just how f*cked campaign finance laws really are.
" Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe

In the latest liberal news and political news, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines at a recent congressional hearing on money in politics by explaining and inquiring about political corruption. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, aka AOC, went into the issues of lobbyists and Super PACs and how the political establishment, including Donald Trump, uses big money to their advantage, to hide and obfuscate, and push crooked agendas. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is a rising star in the Democratic Party and House of Representatives.

#AlexandriaOcasioCortez #AOC #DarkMoney #politics

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Patrick NEZ , 2 days ago

Good for her. Unfortunately a number of American citizens aren't intelligent enough to realize this exact scenario is playing out right now!

Avembe , 2 days ago

OMG this lady is just a nuclear weapon by herself.

ATX World , 2 days ago

Love this feisty congresswoman. I can see why AOC is dislike by the right and even many democrats. She's in DC to work for the American ppl and not enrich herself or special interest. Love the 2018 class and hope they make changes and clean up DC.

TrueDaxian , 2 days ago

AOC is amazing, pointing out all the fundamental wrongs in our political system. I hope she stays in Congress as long as possible to spread her influence.

Lani Tuitupou , 2 days ago

True bravery and leadership in the face of corruption ! I love this woman

Michael Zinns , 2 days ago

AOC is speaking out when no one else will about the corruption in Washington. She is disliked because she is actually fighting for people. This makes me want to move to New York just so I can vote for her. Keep it up the pressure.

Aracelis Morales Garcia de Ramos , 2 days ago

She is going to be needing extra security. She's poised to take them down and we know how these things have been handled in the past. I'm loving her fearlessness but worry for her safety. May she be protected and blessed. SMIB

[Feb 10, 2019] AOC Campaign Finance Primer Goes Viral

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans. ..."
"... Quip, then Clear, Simple Statement. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on February 10, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Wow. strengthening ethics rules for the executive branch reached such a huge audience.

This is a must-watch clip. I hesitate to add much commentary, as anything I write will likely not add all that much, and might instead only distract from the original.

Nonetheless, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes! I will hazard adding some commentary.

I only ask that you watch the clip first. It'll only take five minutes of your time. Just something to ponder on what I hope for many readers is a lazy, relaxing Sunday. Please watch it, as my commentary will assume you've done so.

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

How to Explain What's At Stake with a Complex Subject

I've spent many, many years thinking about how business influences public policy – and trying to get people to understand some of the details of how that's done, in a variety of contexts.

Here, AOC breaks down one aspect of the problem, and clearly and succinctly explains what's the deal, in terms that've obviously resounded with people and led them to share her primer with their friends.

Quip, then Clear, Simple Statement. She opens with a self deprecating aside – perhaps a bit too self-deprecating, as she doesn't pause long enough to elicit many chuckles. Am I imagining a sense of "What's she up to?" emanating from the (sparse) crowd in that quick initial establishing shot of the hearing chamber?

And then explains what she's up to:

Let's play a lightning round game.

I'm gonna be the bad guy, which I'm sure half the room would agree with anyway, and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, really to enrich myself and advance my interests, even if that means putting my interests ahead of the American people.

I've enlisted all of you as my co-conspirators, so you're going help me legally get away with all of this."

Framing. Turning this into a lightning round taps into popular culture. Most TV viewers know what a lightning round is, certainly far more than regularly watch congressional hearings on C-Span.

And using the Q & A format requires those summoned to testify at the hearing to affirm each of her points. This reminded me a bit of the call and response technique that some preachers employ.

By structuring this exercise in a lightning round format, each witness can only answer yes or no, allowing little room to obfuscate – I'm looking at you, Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Institute for Free Speech (IFS). (Here's a link to the Washington Post op-ed AOC refers to: Those payments to women were unseemly. That doesn't mean they were illegal. )

AOC has no time for any waffling, "Okay green light for hush money, I can do all sorts of terrible things, It's totally legal now for me to pay people off " She's not just working from a great script – but is quick on her feet as well. Nice!

Simple Language, Complex Points

The language is simple, and sounds like the way ordinary people speak – "bad guy," Followed later by "super bad guy."

"Totally."

"Okay great."

"Fabulous."

"Okay, so, awesome."

I think it's easier for her to do this, because she's not a lawyer. Even when she's discussing questions of legality, she doesn't slip into legalese -- "super legal" isn't the sort of phrase that would trip easily from the tongues of most lawyers– even recovering ones, or those who got sidetracked into politics.

Repetition of One Point: This is All Legal

AOC channels Michael Kinsley's observation, "The scandal isn't what's illegal, the scandal is what's legal." I hesitate to repeat that saying here, as for political junkies, it's been been heard all too many times before.

AOC fleshes out the details of a message many Americans understand: the system is broken, and under the current laws, no one's going to jail for doing any of this stuff. Instead, this is standard operating procedure in Washington. And that's the case even though as this May headline for report by the Pew Research Centre's headline makes clear: Most Americans want to limit campaign spending, say big donors have greater political influence .

Those interested in details know much of what AOC exposes already; this viral video takes that message to several million more who haven't bothered to parse specifics.

No wonder Trump singled out the dangers of socialism in his State of the Union address: he's not the only one who's rattled.

She closed by zeroing in on what a president can get away with. The subject of the hearing is strengthening ethics rules that apply to the President, so it's logical for her to go here. This is not some virtue-signalling cooked up by Resistance types to preach to the converted about the well-publicized flaws and failings of Trump:

It's already super legal, as we've seen, for me to be a pretty bad guy. So it's even easier for the president of the United States to be one, I would assume.

To which she gets assent.

Rebuttal?

One point critics of AOC like to emphasize is that she occasionally garbles information, makes mistakes, and gets details wrong.

See, for example, the response the IFS posted on its website attempting to discredit AOC for skewering their chairman Smith during the hearing, AOC Doesn't Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story .

Although I see the as a good college try, after a careful read, I think the IFS does anything but.

The IFS response attempts to play gotcha on AOC's discussion of a payoff to cover up a skeleton in the candidate's closet, by inserting the issue of whether that is a campaign or personal expense (and therefore, what type of funds could be used).

But Smith wrote in his WaPo op-end about the Trump payments to women:

Yes, those payments were unseemly, but unseemliness doesn't make something illegal. At the very least, the law is murky about whether paying hush money to a mistress is a "campaign expense" or a personal expense. In such circumstances, we would not usually expect prosecutors to charge the individuals with a "knowing and willful" violation, leading to criminal charges and possible jail time. A civil fine would be the normal response.

Yes, saying "it's totally legal for me now to pay people off" in certain ways may be stretching the point. But not breaking it.

Similarly, the IFS quibbles over how dependent political candidates are on large corporate donations:

"Special interest" money does not dominate campaign coffers, even of the candidates you don't like. This ties in to Ocasio-Cortez's earlier assertion that a campaign could be entirely funded by corporate PAC donations. That's true in the abstract – there's nothing in the law to stop a candidate from trying – but completely divorced from the reality of how campaigns are funded. Notably, Ocasio-Cortez did not name any examples of this sort of campaign, because there aren't any.

Her lightning round is clearly a hypothetical – and that AOC can't list any examples isn't really to the point. A campaign doesn't have to be 100% funded by any single type or combination of corporate PAC donations for corporations and their executives to have immense influence. If you doubt that, IFS, please take a look at this major study by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen, Big Money -- Not Political Tribalism -- Drives US Elections , and please get back to me. Their study shows the irrelevance of corporate PACs to the realities of corporate domination of political finance.

Congressional Hearings Can Be Riveting

I'm old enough to remember when the Watergate hearings were broadcast on public television. Those were the days! They began in May 1973, finished in November and especially during the summer, when I turned twelve years old and there was no school to attend, I was riveted.

That was a different time, and a different country . To broadcast hearings gavel-to-gavel was unusual, to say the least. Most hearings were not broadcast, and never reached a national audience. Nor was there any C-Span either.

Here AOC takes the occasion of a sparsely attended hearing to take a message to millions of Americans:

We have a system that is fundamentally broken. We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now.

Last Wednesday, this lightning round, then on Thursday, she introduced the Green New Deal. Not a bad week's work.

I can't want to see what comes next.

[Feb 09, 2019] Government shutdown, Venezuela Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends. ..."
"... Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams. ..."
"... And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. " ..."
"... Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Government shutdown, Venezuela: Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm February 07, 2019 by system failure

Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is a pure sample of neoliberal barbarism . Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted, more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.

Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.

Then, Trump sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008.

In 2017 , Trump bombed Syria for the first time, resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of the confrontation with Russia.

Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends.

In the middle of all this 'orgy' of pro-establishment moves, Trump offered a controversial withdrawal of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan to save whatever was possible from his 'anti-interventionist' profile. And it was indeed a highly controversial action with very little value, considering all these US military bases that are still fully operational in the broader Middle East and beyond. Not to mention the various ways through which the US intervenes in the area (training proxies, equip them with heavy weapons, supporting the Saudis and contribute to war crimes in Yemen, etc.)

And then , after this very short break, Trump returned to 'business as usual' to satisfy the neoliberal establishment with a 'glorious' record. He achieved a 35-day government shutdown, which is the "longest shutdown in US history" .

Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams.

And now, we have the Venezuela issue. Since Hugo Chavez nationalized PDVSA, the central oil and natural gas company, the US empire launched a fierce economic war against the country. Yet, while all previous US administrations were trying to replace legitimate governments with their puppets as much silently as possible through slow-motion coup operations, Trump has no problem to do it in plain sight.

And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. "

Therefore, one should be very naive of course to believe that the Western imperialist gang seriously cares about the Venezuelan people and especially the poor. Here are three basic reasons behind the open US intervention in Venezuela:

  1. The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel, as well as the great untapped natural resources , particularly gold (mostly for the Canadian companies).
  2. Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy, which is mainly funded by the oil production. The imperialists know that they must interrupt the path of Venezuela to real Socialism by force if necessary. Neoliberalism must prevail by all means for the benefit of the big banks and corporations.
  3. Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war. The country may find an alternative to escape the Western sanctions in order to fund its social programs for the benefit of the people. And, of course, the West will never accept the exploitation of the Venezuelan resources by the Sino-Russian bloc.

So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision.

This is something we have never seen before. The 'liberal democracies' of the West - only by name - immediately, uncritically and without hesitation jumped on the same boat with Trump towards this outrageously undemocratic action. They recognized Washington's puppet as the legitimate president of a third country. A man that was never elected by the Venezuelan people and has very low popularity in the country. Even worse, the EU parliament approved this action , killing any last remnants of democracy in the Union.

Yet, it seems that the US is finding increasingly difficult to force many countries to align with its agenda. Even some European countries took some distance from the attempted constitutional coup, with Italy even trying to veto EU's decision to recognize Guaido.

Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance.

This unprecedented action by the Western neoliberal powers to recognize Guaido is a serious sign that neoliberalism returns to its roots and slips towards fascism. It appears now that this is the only way to maintain some level of power.

[Feb 05, 2019] Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center Prof. Wolff -- RT Business News

Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com

The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."

"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

[Feb 05, 2019] Sic Semper Tyrannis Is this the Trump Doctrine - TTG

Notable quotes:
"... Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed. ..."
"... PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem. ..."
"... There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go. ..."
"... I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq. ..."
Feb 05, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed.

We launched an ineffective volley of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a trumped up gas attack, but we never sought to establish a no fly zone and risk war with Russia. For a while we were well on our way to establish an enduring client state in east Syria. We assumed this was all the doing of the cabal of manipulating neocons that Trump surrounded himself with. His call for immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria surely proved this true. Finally Trump was allowed to be Trump. He was even seeking a way out of Afghanistan, after a literal lifetime of war in that godforsaken land.

The neocons are fighting back bigly. The pace of withdrawal from Syria was slowed and there is no indication we would ever give up our outpost on the Baghdad-Damascus highway at Tanf. Why? I think Trump laid out HIS thoughts on the matter during the traditional pre-super bowl presidential interview.

-- -- -- --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have...

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want to keep troops there [Iraq] now?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Whoa, that's news. You're keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don't understand. We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do.

-- -- -- --

So, We are staying in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran and we are doing this to protect Israel. It was not any of the neocons who said this. It was Trump himself. So much for America first. There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go.

However, Baghdad has thrown a monkey wrench into this developing Trump doctrine. Iraqi President Barham Salih has told Trump to slow his roll.

-- -- -- --

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for U.S. troops stationed there to "watch Iran."

Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran. U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that. (Reuters)

-- -- -- --

I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq.

TTG

[Feb 04, 2019] A banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations

Notable quotes:
"... pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Seriously, Ron Paul or Tulsi Gabbard speaking of democracy is one thing, but having gangsters and psychopathic thugs like Pompeo, Bolton or Abrams in charge really sends a message and that message is that we are dealing with a banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations:

First, to re-take control of Venezuela's immense natural resources. Second, to prove to the world that Uncle Shmuel can still, quote , " pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ", unquote.

President Macrobama ?

The obvious problem is that 1) nobody takes the US seriously because 2) the US has not been capable of defeating any country capable of resistance since many decades already. The various US special forces, which would typically spearhead any invasion, have an especially appalling record of abject failures every time they stop posing for cameras and have to engage in real combat. I assure you that nobody in the Venezuelan military cares about movies like "Rambo" or "Delta Force" while they carefully studied US FUBARs in Somalia, Grenada, Iran and elsewhere. You can also bet that the Cubans, who have had many years of experience dealing with the (very competent) South African special forces in Angola and elsewhere will share their experience with their Venezuelan colleagues.

[Feb 04, 2019] Trump s Revised and Rereleased Foreign Policy: The World Policeman is Back

Highly recommended!
This article from 2017 looks like it was written yesterday. Trump betrayal of his elctorate on multiple levels, essentially on all key poin of his election program mkes him "Republican Obama".
What is interesting about Trump foreign policy is his version of neoliberal "gangster capitalism" on foreign arena: might is right principle applied like universal opener. Previous administrations tried to put a lipstick on the pig. Trump does not even bother.
In terms of foreign policy, and even during the transition before Trump's inauguration, there were other, more disturbing signs of where Trump would be heading soon. When Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016, Trump seemed jubilant as if he had somehow been vindicated, and took the opportunity to slander Castro as a "brutal dictator" who "oppressed his own people" and turned Cuba into a "totalitarian island".
Notable quotes:
"... However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first". ..."
"... Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat. ..."
"... The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. ..."
"... Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding. ..."
"... AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States? ..."
"... AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing? ..."
"... AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange? ..."
"... While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them. ..."
"... Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture ..."
"... As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world . ..."
"... To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits. ..."
"... As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is ..."
"... On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. ..."
"... As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics. ..."
"... As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition. ..."
Aug 09, 2017 | zeroanthropology.net

Trump could have kept quiet, and lost nothing. Instead what he was attacking -- and the irony was missed on his fervently right wing supporters -- was someone who was a leader in the anti-globalist movement, from long before it was ever called that. Fidel Castro was a radical pioneer of independence, self-reliance, and self-determination.

Castro turned Cuba from an American-owned sugar plantation and brothel, a lurid backwater in the Caribbean, into a serious international actor opposed to globalizing capitalism. There was no sign of any acknowledgment of this by Trump, who instead chose to parrot the same people who would vilify him using similar terms (evil, authoritarian, etc.). Of course, Trump respects only corporate executives and billionaires, not what he would see as some rag-tag Third World revolutionary. Here Trump's supporters generally failed, using Castro's death as an opportunity for tribal partisanship, another opportunity to attack "weak liberals" like Obama who made minor overtures to Cuba (too little, too late).

Their distrust of "the establishment" was nowhere to be found this time: their ignorance of Cuba and their resort to stock clichés and slogans had all been furnished to them by the same establishment they otherwise claimed to oppose.

Just to be clear, the above is not meant to indicate any reversal on Trump's part regarding Cuba. He has been consistently anti-communist, and fairly consistent in his denunciations of Fidel Castro. What is significant is that -- far from overcoming the left-right divide -- Trump shores up the barriers, even at the cost of denouncing others who have a proven track record of fighting against neoliberal globalization and US interventionism. In these regards, Trump has no track record. Even among his rivals in the Republican primaries, senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul had more of an anti-interventionist track record.

However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first".

Russia

Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat.

Instead, Trump continued the sanctions, as if out of meek deference to Obama's policy, one founded on lies and antagonism toward Trump himself. Rather than repair the foul attempt to sabotage the US-Russian relationship in preparation for his presidency, Trump simply abided and thus became an accomplice. To be clear, Trump has done precisely nothing to dampen the near mass hysteria that has been manufactured in the US about alleged -- indeed imaginary -- "Russian intervention".

His comments, both during the electoral campaign and even early into his presidency, about wanting good relations with Russia, have been replaced by Trump's admissions that US relations with Russia are at a low point (Putin agreed: "I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn't improved. On the contrary, it has degraded " and his spokesman called the relations " deplorable ".)

Rather than use the power of his office to calm fears, to build better ties with Russia, and to make meeting with Vladimir Putin a top priority, Trump has again done nothing , except escalating tensions. The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. Russia had actively facilitated the US' war in Afghanistan for over a decade, and was a consistent collaborator on numerous levels. It is up to thinking American officials to honestly explain what motivated them to tilt relations with Russia, because it is certainly not Russia's doing. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the US leadership grew concerned that Russia was no longer teetering on the edge of total socio-economic breakdown, as it was under the neoliberal Boris Yeltsin, but has instead resurfaced as a major actor in international affairs, and one that champions anti-neoliberal objectives of enhanced state sovereignty and self-determination.

WikiLeaks

Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding.

After finding so much use for WikiLeaks' publication of the Podesta emails, which became incorporated into his campaign speeches, and which fuelled the writing and speaking of journalists and bloggers sympathetic to Trump -- he was now effectively declaring WikiLeaks to be both an enemy and a likely target of US government action, in even more blunt terms than we heard during the past eight years under Obama. This is not mere continuity with the past, but a dramatic escalation. Rather than praise Julian Assange for his work, call for an end to the illegal impediments to his seeking asylum, swear off any US calls for extraditing and prosecuting Assange, and perhaps meeting with him in person, Trump has done all of the opposite. Instead we learn that Trump's administration may file arrest charges against Assange . Mike Pompeo , chosen by Trump to head the CIA, who had himself cited WikiLeaks as a reliable source of proof about how the Democratic National Committee had rigged its campaign, now declared WikiLeaks to be a " non-state hostile intelligence service ," along with vicious personal slander against Assange.

Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks was one that he defended in terms that were not just a deceptive rewriting of history, but one that was also fearful -- "I don't support or unsupport" WikiLeaks, was what Trump was now saying in his dash for the nearest exit. The backtracking is so obvious in this interview Trump gave to the AP , that his shoes must have left skid marks on the floor:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, "Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff." You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn't have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren't able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, "Wow." It was just a figure of speech. I said, "Well, look at this. It's good reading."

AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing?

TRUMP: No, I don't support or unsupport. It was just information .

AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it's OK with me. I didn't know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it's OK with me.

First, Trump invents the fictitious claim that WikiLeaks was responsible for hacking the DNC, and that WikiLeaks also tried to hack the Republicans. Second, he pretends to be an innocent bystander, a spectator, in his own administration -- whatever others decide, is "OK" with him, not that he knows about their decisions, but it's all up to others. He has no power, all of a sudden.

Again, what Trump is displaying in this episode is his ultimate attachment to his class, with all of its anxieties and its contempt for rebellious, marginal upstarts. Trump shuns any sort of "loyalty" to WikiLeaks (not that they ever had a working relationship) or any form of gratitude, because then that would imply a debt and therefore a transfer of value -- whereas Trump's core ethics are those of expedience and greed (he admits that much). This move has come with a cost , with members of Trump's support base openly denouncing the betrayal. 6

NAFTA

On NAFTA , Trump claims he has not changed his position -- yet, from openly denouncing the free trade agreement and promising to terminate it, he now vows only to seek modifications and amendments, which means supporting NAFTA. He appeared to be awfully quick to obey the diplomatic pressure of Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Mexico's President, Enrique Peńa Nieto. Trump's entire position on NAFTA now comes into question.

While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them.

This really deserves to be treated at length, separately from this article. However, for now, let's keep in mind that when Trump complains about Canadian softwood lumber and dairy exports to the US, his argument about NAFTA is without merit. Neither commodity is part of the NAFTA agreement.

Moreover, where dairy is concerned, the problem is US overproduction. Wisconsin alone has more dairy cows than all of Canada . There is a net surplus , in the US' favour, with respect to US dairy exports to Canada. Overall, the US has a net surplus in the trade in goods and services with Canada. Regarding Mexico, the irony of Trump's denunciations of imaginary Mexican victories is that he weakens his own criticisms of immigration.

Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture.

As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world .

To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits.

His arguments with respect to Canada are akin to those of a looter or raider. He wants to block lumber imports from Canada, at the same time as he wants to break the Canadian dairy market wide open to absorb US excess production. That approach is at the core of what defined the US as a "new empire" in the 1800s. In addition, while Trump was quick to tear up the TPP, he has said nothing about TISA and TTIP.

Mexico

Trump's argument with Mexico is also disturbing for what it implies. It would seem that any evidence of production in Mexico causes Trump concern. Mexico should not only keep its people -- however many are displaced by US imports -- but it should also be as dependent as possible on the US for everything except oil. Since Trump has consistently declared his antagonism to OPEC, ideally Mexico's oil would be sold for a few dollars per barrel.

China

Trump's turn on China almost provoked laughter from his many domestic critics. Absurdly, what figures prominently in most renditions of the story of Trump's change on China (including his own), is a big piece of chocolate cake. The missile strike on Syria was, according to Wilbur Ross, the " after-dinner entertainment ". Here, Trump's loud condemnations of China on trade issues were suddenly quelled -- and it is not because chocolate has magical properties. Instead it seems Trump has been willing to settle on selling out citizens' interests , and particularly those who voted for him, in return for China's assistance on North Korea. Let's be clear: countering and dominating North Korea is an established favourite among neoconservatives. Trump's priority here is fully "neocon," and the submergence of trade issues in favour of militaristic preferences is the one case where neoconservatives might be distinguished from the otherwise identical neoliberals.

North Korea

Where North Korea is concerned, Trump chose to manufacture a " crisis ". North Korea has actually done nothing to warrant a sudden outbreak of panic over it being supposedly aggressive and threatening. North Korea is no more aggressive than any person defending their survival can be called belligerent. The constant series of US military exercises in South Korea, or near North Korean waters, is instead a deliberate provocation to a state whose existence the US nearly extinguished. Even last year the US Air Force publicly boasted of having "nearly destroyed" North Korea -- language one would have expected from the Luftwaffe in WWII. The US continues to maintain roughly 60,000 troops on the border between North and South Korea, and continues to refuse to formally declare an end to the Korean War and sign a peace treaty . Trump then announced he was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula, and boasted of how "very powerful" it was. This was in addition to the US deploying the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Several of his messages in Twitter were written using highly provocative and threatening language. When asked if he would start a war, Trump glibly replied: " I don't know. I mean, we'll see ". On another occasion Trump stated, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely". When the world's leading military superpower declares its intention to destroy you, then there is nothing you can do in your defense which anyone could justly label as "over the top". Otherwise, once again Trump posed as a parental figure, the world's chief babysitter -- picture Trump, surrounded by children taking part in the "Easter egg roll" at the White House, being asked about North Korea and responding "they gotta behave". Trump would presume to teach manners to North Korea, using the only tools of instruction that seem to be the first and last resort of US foreign policy (and the "defense" industry): bombs.

Syria

Attacking Syria , on purportedly humanitarian grounds, is for many (including vocal supporters) one of the most glaring contradictions of Trump's campaign statements about not embroiling the US in failed wars of regime change and world policing. During the campaign, he was in favour of Russia's collaboration with Syria in the fight against ISIS. For years he had condemned Obama for involving the US in Syria, and consistently opposed military intervention there. All that was consigned to the archive of positions Trump declared to now be worthless. That there had been a change in Trump's position is not a matter of dispute -- Trump made the point himself :

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I've been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn't get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility, and it's very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You're now talking about a whole different level".

Bending to the will of the prevailing Cold War and neo-McCarthyist atmosphere in the US, rife with anti-Russian conspiracy theories, Trump found an easy opportunity to score points with the hostile media, ever so mindful as he is about approval ratings, polls, and media coverage. Some explain Trump's reversals as arising from his pursuit of public adulation -- and while the media play the key role in purveying celebrity status, they are also a stiff bastion of imperialist culture. Given his many years as a the host of a popular TV show, and as the owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, there is some logical merit to the argument. But I think even more is at work, as explained in paragraphs above. According to Eric Trump it was at the urging of Ivanka that Donald Trump decided to strike a humanitarian-militarist pose. He would play the part of the Victorian parent, only he would use missiles to teach unruly children lessons about violence. Using language typically used against him by the mainstream media, Trump now felt entitled to pontificate that Assad is "evil," an " animal ," who would have to go . When did he supposedly come to this realization? Did Assad become evil at the same time Trump was inaugurated? Why would Trump have kept so silent about "evil" on the campaign trail? Trump of course is wrong: it's not that the world changed and he changed with it; rather, he invented a new fiction to suit his masked intentions. Trump's supposed opponents and critics, like the Soros-funded organizer of the women's march Linda Sarsour, showed her approval of even more drastic action by endorsing messages by what sounded like a stern school mistress who thought that 59 cruise missiles were just a mere "slap on the wrist". Virtually every neocon who is publicly active applauded Trump, as did most senior Democrats. The loudest opposition , however, came from Trump's own base , with a number of articles featuring criticism from Trump's supporters , and one conservative publication calling him outright a " weakling and a political ingrate ".

Members of the Trump administration have played various word games with the public on intervention in Syria. From unnamed officials saying the missile strike was a "one off," to named officials promising more if there were any other suspected chemical attacks (or use of barrel bombs -- and this while the US dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb in existence on Afghanistan); some said that regime change was not the goal, and then others made it clear that was the ultimate goal ; and then Trump saying, "Our policy is the same, it hasn't changed. We're not going into Syria " -- even though Trump himself greatly increased the number of US troops he deployed to Syria , illegally, in an escalation of the least protested invasion in recent history. Now we should know enough not to count this as mere ambiguity, but as deliberate obfuscation that offers momentary (thinly veiled) cover for a renewal of neocon policy .

We can draw an outline of Trump's liberal imperialism when it comes to Syria, which is likely to be applied elsewhere. First, Trump's interventionist policy regarding Syria is one that continues to treat that country as if it were terra nullius , a mere playground for superpower politics. Second, Trump is clearly continuing with the neoconservative agenda and its hit list of states to be terminated by US military action, as famously confirmed by Gen. Wesley Clark. Even Trump's strategy for justifying the attack on Syria echoed the two prior Bush presidential administrations -- selling war with the infamous "incubator babies" myth and the myth of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs). In many ways, Trump's presidency is thus shaping up to be either the seventh term of the George H.W. Bush regime, or the fifth straight term of the George W. Bush regime. Third, Trump is taking ownership of an extremely dangerous conflict, with costs that could surpass anything witnessed by the war on Iraq (which also continues). Fourth, by highlighting the importance of photographs in allegedly changing his mind, Trump has placed a high market value on propaganda featuring dead babies. His actions in Syria will now create an effective demand for the pornographic trade in pictures of atrocities. These are matters of great importance to the transnational capitalist class, which demands full global penetrability, diminished state power (unless in the service of this class' goals), a uniformity of expectations and conformity in behaviour, and an emphasis on individual civil liberties which are the basis for defending private property and consumerism.

Venezuela

It is very disturbing to see how Venezuela is being framed as ripe for US intervention, in ways that distinctly echo the lead up to the US war on Libya. Just as disturbing is that Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has a clear conflict of interest regarding Venezuela, from his recent role as CEO of Exxon and its conflict with the government of Venezuela over its nationalization of oil. Tillerson is, by any definition, a clear-cut member of the transnational capitalist class. The Twitter account of the State Department has a battery of messages sternly lecturing Venezuela about the treatment of protesters, while also pontificating on the Venezuelan Constitution as if the US State Department had become a global supreme court. What is impressive is the seamless continuity in the nature of the messages on Venezuela from that account, as if no change of government happened between Obama's time and Trump's. Nikki Haley, Trump's neocon ambassador to the UN, issued a statement that read like it had been written by her predecessors, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, a statement which in itself is an unacceptable intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs. For Trump's part, from just days before the election, to a couple of weeks after his inauguration, he has sent explicit messages of support for anti-government forces in Venezuela. In February, Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Vice President. After Syria and North Korea, Venezuela is seeming the likely focus of US interventionism under Trump.

NATO

Rounding out the picture, at least for now (this was just the first hundred days of Trump's presidency), was Trump's outstanding reversal on NATO -- in fact, once again he stated the reversal himself, and without explanation either: " I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete ". This came just days after the US missile strike against Syria, and just as Ivanka Trump was about to represent his government at a meeting of globalist women, the W20 . NATO has served as the transnational military alliance at the service of the transnational capitalist class, and particularly the military and political members of the TCC. 7

Saving Neoliberalism?

Has Trump saved neoliberal capitalism from its ongoing demise? Has he sustained popular faith in liberal political ideals? Are we still in the dying days of liberalism ? If there had been a centrally coordinated plan to plant an operative among the ranks of populist conservatives and independents, to channel their support for nationalism into support for the persona of the plant, and to then have that plant steer a course straight back to shoring up neoliberal globalism -- then we might have had a wonderful story of a masterful conspiracy, the biggest heist in the history of elections anywhere. A truly "rigged system" could be expected to behave that way. Was Trump designated to take the fall in a rigged game, only his huge ego got in the way when he realized he could realistically win the election and he decided to really tilt hard against his partner, Hillary Clinton? It could be the basis for a novel, or a Hollywood political comedy. I have no way of knowing if it could be true.

Framed within the terms of what we do know, there was relief by the ousted group of political elites and the liberal globalist media at the sight of Trump's reversals, and a sense that their vision had been vindicated. However, if they are hoping that the likes of Trump will serve as a reliable flag bearer, then theirs is a misguided wishful thinking. If someone so demonized and ridiculed, tarnished as an evil thug and racist fascist, the subject of mass demonstrations in the US and abroad, is the latest champion of (neo)liberalism, then we are certainly witnessing its dying days.

Is Trump Beneficial for Anti-Imperialism?

Once one is informed enough and thus prepared to understand that anti-imperialism is not the exclusive preserve of the left (a left which anyway has mostly shunned it over the last two decades), that it did not originate with the left , and that it has a long and distinguished history in the US itself , then we can move toward some interesting realizations. The facts, borne out by surveys and my own online immersion among pro-Trump social media users, is that one of the significant reasons why Trump won is due to the growth in popularity of basic anti-imperialist principles (even if not recognized under that name): for example, no more world policing, no transnational militarization, no more interventions abroad, no more regime change, no war, and no globalism. Nationalists in Europe, as in Russia, have also pushed forward a basic anti-imperialist vision. Whereas in Latin America anti-imperialism is largely still leftist, in Europe and North America the left-right divide has become blurred, but the crucial thing is that at least now we can speak of anti-imperialism gaining strength in these three major continents. Resistance against globalization has been the primary objective, along with strengthening national sovereignty, protecting local cultural identity, and opposing free trade and transnational capital. Unfortunately, some anti-imperialist writers (on the left in fact) have tended to restrict their field of vision to military matters primarily, while almost completely neglecting the economic and cultural, and especially domestic dimensions of imperialism. (I am grossly generalizing of course, but I think it is largely accurate.) Where structures such as NAFTA are concerned, many of these same leftist anti-imperialists, few as they are, have had virtually nothing to say. It could be that they have yet to fully recognize that the transnational capitalist class has, gradually over the last seven decades, essentially purchased the power of US imperialism. Therefore the TCC's imperialism includes NAFTA, just as it includes open borders, neoliberal identity politics, and drone strikes. They are all different parts of the same whole.

As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is. 8

On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. In addition to that, given that his candidacy aggravated internal divisions in the US, which have not subsided with his assumption of office, these domestic social and cultural conflicts cause a serious deficit of legitimacy, a loss of political capital. A declining economy will also deprive him of capital in the strict sense. Moreover, given the kind of persona the media have crafted, the daily caricaturing of Trump will significantly spur anti-Americanism around the world. If suddenly even Canadian academics are talking about boycotting the US, then the worm has truly turned. Trump can only rely on "hard power" (military violence), because "soft power" is almost out of the question now that Trump has been constructed as a barbarian. Incompetent and/or undermined governance will also render Trump a deficient upholder of the status quo. The fact that nationalist movements around the world are not centrally coordinated, and their fortunes are not pinned to those of Trump, establishes a well-defined limit to his influence. Trump's antagonism toward various countries -- as wholes -- has already helped to stir up a deep sediment of anti-Americanism. If Americanism is at the heart of Trump's nationalist globalism, then it is doing all the things that are needed to induce a major heart attack.

As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics.

As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition.

[Jan 31, 2019] Rule of law and money

Notable quotes:
"... Most people don't realize that the more money you have more you can exercise the "rule of law". ..."
Jan 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Oh , , January 31, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Bushie used the term "rule of law" and fooled a lot of people.

Most people don't realize that the more money you have more you can exercise the "rule of law".

[Jan 20, 2019] The breakup of the USSR was planned also. It was followed by the formation of oligarchs, IMF loans, and asset stripping. The economic advice and help Russia received from the west almost accomplished the goal of breaking up Russia.

Integrity Initiative infiltration ?
The breakup of the USSR was due to confluence of factors such as rise of neoliberalism, stagnation of oversentlised USSR economy, emergence of internat communications and personal computers which weakened official propaganda power, creation of fifth column within the USSR due to bad timing and execution of Gorbachev's reforms (Presetoyka was essentially the idea of repeating NEP on a new level), and extremely weak abilities of Gorbachov as a politician, growth of nationalism (well financed from theWest), degeneration of Bolshevik's elute and emergence of multiple neoliberal turncoats (Yeltsin, Gaidar, Yakovlev, etc). but dissolution of the USSR probably case as a surporse.
But after the dissolution CIA-Mossad-MI6 jumped into the dame with the explicit goal to destruction of Russian economy, asset stripping (Browder probably is connected to MI6), Harvard mafia probably also was somehow connected to CIA, and disintegration of the country (Chechnya insurrection was supported by the USA, Britain and their vassals in Persian gulf).
This is an interesting lesson for future reformers: the presence of CIA-Mossad-MI6 on the world scene changes the result of almost any forceful overthrow of the government, especially if it was done with the goal of neoliberalization, imposing a huge cost on the population. Ukraine is one recent example (the standard of living dropped probably 300 or so). Libya is another.
This particular neocon writing in his official capacity of a MIC lobbyist (that is what all neocons are), so his views are interesting only as an example of a dangerous trend.
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia's might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an "imperial construct."
Even more alarming is Bugajski's argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries . "Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill's piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who's who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a "Calexit," and many more in Mexico of a reconquista .)

green dragon , 2 hours ago link

The breakup of the USSR was planned also. It was followed by the formation of oligarchs, IMF loans, and asset stripping. The economic advice and help Russia received from the west almost accomplished the goal of breaking up Russia.

Russia is well aware that war with NATO cannot be avoided in the long run. One only has to talk to Russians to see that they understand they are in a Cold war that they have to survive. From their view they did not seek this confrontation. They truly thought they would be embraced by the West after the fall and a new relationship benefiting both sides could have emerged. So now Russia has to turn to China and prepare for a future war within a decade with NATO!

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

Disgusting projection of US imperialism. The elite never forgave Putin for throwing US Rothschild elites out of Russia so they could no longer plunder Russias extensive wealth under Yeltsin..

Let's see what happens when neocunts start that hot war, how Americans then feel about Russia

We truly have dumbfucks in this country who love the thought of other as enemy other than THEMSELVES. They never ONCE consider that in demonizing another countries leader, they are demonizing a whole nation of peoples too. I wonder how Americans would feel if constant demonizing and threats coming their way, with also say regime change in Mexico to provoke them?

US neocons are psychopaths that care nothing for Americans. What they do to others in regime change they will do to us. Oh, wait. They already have #9/11

August , 1 hour ago link

Poles actively pushing for the dismembering of Russia have been around for a long time.

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

Fluff The Cat , 4 hours ago link

Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title "Managing Russia's dissolution," author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain "Moscow's imperial ambitions" but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

If that is the intended goal then wouldn't it be accurate to state that America, or at least its government, has imperial ambitions?

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable...

Russia already tried "democracy" and the end result spelled disaster for their country. Minorities were put on a pedestal while their economy was in shambles, all the while the oligarchs, who were mostly Jewish, made a fortune plundering their natural resources. Sound familiar?

Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."

The hypocrisy in this statement is breathless. Is America going to return Alaska to Russia? Allow Hawaii to once again be an autonomous entity? Cease the illegal occupation of countries throughout the Middle East? Remove their Neo-Nazi stooges from Ukraine?

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

The idea seems to be to stoke regional tensions in order to provoke Russia and start a conflict where the surrounding countries are put on the front lines while being provided with logistics from the outside, meaning the US. Washington could then play up the plausible deniability angle, even while technology from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and other Western contractors is primarily being used against the Russians.

Russia is not a direct threat to Western nations, only to their (((governments))), because during any attempted implementation of a JWO (as in the EU for example), Russia will serve as a reminder to all Western peoples - especially white people - as to what their nations once were: independent, sovereign and self-determined. Russia prevented ISISrael from taking over Syria, thwarted their Oded Yinon plan and threw out their oligarchs, so World Judaism is using America as their bludgeon against the Russian Federation while preventing us from forming an alliance.

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

Browder a ******* fraud who owes Russia hundreds of millions in back taxes.

And along with **** Cardin, DEMOCRAT, helped to fraudulently create the Magnistky Act

back to basics , 5 hours ago link

74 years after Nazi Germany miscalculated Russian resolve some idiot dreams of carving Russia up like it's a Thanksgiving turkey and some people actually take him seriously. Yeah, good luck with that.

6 hours ago Bug-aj-ski - neocon shrill writing for and paid by the MIC it looks like from the sponsors of this think tank

let;s have a look see at their website

https://www.cepa.org

https://www.cepa.org/international-advisory-council - more neocons

oh yah Brzezinski - deceased tho - oops -

Albright - not dead yet

https://www.cepa.org/experts - and more "expert" neocons

https://www.cepa.org/strategy-and-statecraft

"Cultivating new sources of competitive advantage for U.S. strategy."

no list of sponsors tho I can see from the website - real MIC platform it sounds like from the article

6 hours ago Yep, it's a Zbigniew Brzezinski memorial. The money seems to come mostly from the MIC and the usual Cold War think tanks, like the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation. 5 hours ago These necons need to remember that chess is the national passtime of Russians, while making mudpies is the what they do in the West. These "think-tanks" are very childish. 3 hours ago 9 hours ago here's where some of it started/got turbocharged:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n02/seymour-m-hersh/the-vice-presidents-men LA_Goldbug 10 hours ago The only way I can understand this twat is to think that he is just earning his shekels. He knows what the Party Line is in DC requires and is writing accordingly. I just checked a bit of his BS and this one is definitely written for the uninformed or deeply indoctrinated Western sheep.

"Taking Stock of Ukraine's Achievements Amidst Russia's Aggression

Five years ago, the Ukrainian people staged a peaceful "revolution of dignity" against a corrupt regime sponsored by the Kremlin. They stood firm even under gunfire and it was the discredited President Viktor Yanukovych who eventually retreated and took refuge in Russia. With Moscow engaging in renewed attacks against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov it is important to take stock of Ukraine's achievements since those fateful days in Kyiv's Independence Square."

You need to be brain dead to think it was peaceful !!!!

[Jan 20, 2019] Exposing the Corporate Bribery Network

Notable quotes:
"... The Wealth of Nations ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.truthdig.com

Journalist David Montero (Sven Stork)
Here's a pop quiz: How long has corporate corruption existed? Answer: As long as corporations as we know them have been in business. Thanks to journalist David Montero's meticulously sourced survey, " Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network ," the consumer public now has access to a wealth of details about the astonishingly shady antics in which multinationals have been engaging since the retro-imperialist heyday of the British East India Company.

And this malignant strain of corporatism is only getting worse. As Robert Scheer remarks to Montero in this week's episode of "Scheer Intelligence," it amounts to nothing short of a "virulent, corrosive, murderous arrangement that has only accelerated in recent years." Some potential reasons why this global scourge hasn't been more aggressively treated include: greed; willful ignorance; the widely supported myth that the phenomenon is "just" about white-collar crime; a false sense that corporate malfeasance ranges outside of various states' jurisdictions; and powerful companies engaging in a race to the bottom because, well, everyone else is doing it.

But Montero is ready to serve notice to a host of Fortune 500 companies -- helpfully name-checked throughout the episode -- that at least two hard-nosed investigators are onto them. Not only has the extent of the damage done been vastly underestimated and underreported, but so long as it grows in the dark, it's able to feed into the worst kinds of crises around the world. After taking in Montero's argument, Scheer sums up the stakes powerfully as he remarks that "white-collar crimes are human rights crimes."

Listen to Montero's interview with Scheer or read a transcript of their conversation below:

https://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/how-corporate-corruption-fuels-terrorism-2013-and-why-it-goes-unpunished/embed-player?autoplay=false

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, from David Montero, who's a highly regarded journalist of considerable experience. And he's written what I think is kind of a classic book: "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network." And what the book asserts, in great detail with wonderful case studies, is that this is a historic problem of modern capitalism. And it goes back in this book to the British East India Company, the very company that the American Revolution was fought to challenge, with the Boston Tea Party and other things. And traces this virulent, corrosive, murderous arrangement that has only accelerated in recent years. And it begins with the claims about the Russian interference in our election, Russian oligarchs, and so forth, but it really takes in the most prestigious of American companies. And so let me get you to talk about why this book now. Because after having read it, it sort of makes a compelling case that despite our efforts, beginning most prominently with Frank Church, Sen. Frank Church in the 1970s, to do something about this problem, it's a festering problem that is actually more important now, maybe, than ever.

David Montero: Yeah, and I think the reason it's more important than ever now is because, one, we've laxly enforced a law that we had on the books since 1977 -- we've only laxly enforced it -- that law was supposed to prohibit corporations from paying bribes abroad. We now have a president in the White House who's vocally opposed to this law. His administration has done things to roll back that law. But more importantly, in the person of the president himself, we have someone whose business interests seem to be tainted by this crime itself, and himself. And that, I would say that more than just the efforts that the administration under Trump has made to roll back provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Trump being in the White House and being tainted by this crime itself sends a far more disturbing message, that we need to do something about this crime.

RS: Is it more disturbing, or is it just more obvious that, ah -- ? It's sort of the ugly face of a kind of international capitalism, that the people who practice this would rather it not be noticed. And you have Fortune 500 companies like Alcoa, Chevron, Shell, Simmons, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb; you can go down the list, it's just about every multinational corporation has engaged in this practice of going along with bribes, kickbacks, and everything. And their defense is, it's the only way you could do business. And they're accepting the normalcy of corrupting, basically, the international business community. That's the inescapable conclusion, I think, from your book.

DM: Yeah, and why that's disturbing is, again, you know, these are cutting-edge companies; these are world-class companies, as you mentioned the names; these are household names. It's really kind of shocking and disturbing that the only way that a lot of them seem to think they can compete abroad is to pay bribes to government officials. And the reason they think that is why? Because that's what their competitors are doing. But when you do something that your competitors are doing which is also illegal and inefficient and destructive to the business itself, it's not very innovative. And that was what was kind of surprising to me: that these companies that make these incredibly innovative products, and they have a history of innovation when it comes to selling them, they're not innovative at all. They just pay bribes. And they're not just tainting the international business community; these are bribes that they pay to government officials in some of the poorest, already unstable places on earth. And that money goes on to have a terrible impact, a lasting impact for decades, and is funneled into all kinds of nefarious things. Like conflict, like terrorism. And overall, it deepens poverty in those countries. It's a crime that right now, the public and the Justice Department tend to think of, and certainly prosecute, as a white-collar business crime. But it's much broader than that, much more complicated and much more devastating.

RS: I'm talking to David Montero. He's the author of "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network ." It's incredibly well documented, and it presents an issue that, you know, is incredibly important but overlooked. And I want to get into the overlooked part of it. You were a correspondent for a publication that I used to read a lot, the Christian Science Monitor; I thought they did a great job. And then of course you were well-known as a producer for PBS's Frontline series; you're a highly regarded journalist. Why has this been overlooked? You've written for a lot of important publications, the New York Times, The Nation, Le Monde diplomatique , all these others. Why is it under the rug? And then let me ask you, by the way, doesn't this involve these corporations being more than passive? First of all, they get an advantage if they know how to bribe better than others; if they've got their channel, their system set up, they don't want to ask too many questions. And they also are able to corrupt their home government, in this case the U.S. government, to not aggressively follow the law. Isn't that really the subtext here?

DM: You were saying just about why it's been so underreported -- just to address that first, I think part of the reason it's underreported is, again, the public and the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission tend to think of this as a white-collar crime; it's a business issue. And so a lot of people think, well, if a corporation pays bribes abroad, why should I care? That's a business thing, that doesn't affect me. I started looking at this from the lens of Bangladesh, which is a country where I lived for a year, and I lived there during a time when it was experiencing not only terrible corruption but terrible terrorism, the first suicide bombings, et cetera. I started digging into a particular case that involved Siemens, the German industrial company, and bribes they had paid in Bangladesh. And when I started following the money, actually looking at -- well, Siemens paid these bribes, which have been publicly announced by the Justice Department, and not much else. When I started looking into those payments and where they went, I uncovered that they had been given to a minister in the Bangladeshi government who was in turn a patron of a terrorist group. That sort of was eye-opening to me and made me think, well, it's not only that these bribes are a business issue; if we follow the money, which has not been done enough, and we uncover where the money goes, we find devastating things. And I think part of the reason it's not been looked at much is because it's expensive, and it takes a lot of time to go and follow the money in places like Bangladesh. The corporations certainly don't want to do that. The Justice Department doesn't make an effort to really understand; it's not in their purview, it's not in their mandate to understand the fallout of these bribes, so they don't do that. And journalists, again, it's not something that's necessarily on their radar, and it's not something they have the resources to do. So I think that's why it kind of got swept under the rug.

RS: Well, but you're kind of giving them a pass. I mean, first of all, the very idea that white-collar crime–you know, I just had some young people who work with, have come out of gangs here in Los Angeles, in my class; they served hard time for their crimes. And their crimes didn't affect as many people as the corporations you're talking about, the executives. What is it about this double standard? That you can bribe a whole nation–I mean, after all, for instance, Bangladesh, that's a factory-floor country now, right? They make a lot of the clothes that we're wearing, and everything else. People, you know, their working conditions, their living conditions, are a basic human rights concern for the world. And then some companies can go in there and totally corrupt the local government–well, they probably also can keep unions out; they can probably make sure we don't, the country doesn't do much for working conditions or the life of the people. So white-collar crimes are human rights crimes, very often.

DM: Oh, absolutely. And this one in particular, yeah.

RS: Well, talk about that a little bit, because I mean, there is a theme running through your book that could let these people off the hook–like, it's always been thus. You know, going back to the British East India Company. But the fact is, it's always been exploitive, vicious, and ever more so now.

DM: It's always been thus, and again, I think the crime has been looked at the wrong way, and as a result, the prosecution has been pretty weak. And that's what I was trying to argue in the book, that this is a crime that has existed for 400 years, since there were corporations. And the impact, as we saw with the British East India Company in India, has been devastating. But the companies have never been held to account for the devastation; they've just been held to account because our laws say that they violated the mandate to keep accurate books and records. In other words, we prosecuted as if it were just a white-collar crime. So that's what I'm saying, is that it's not just a white-collar crime; I agree with you, it's a human rights issue, it's something that affects poverty and political civility. I think the corporations get away with it because, to go back to something you said before, they often argue that they're extorted, and they sometimes argue that they've been passive participants in these schemes. Which is not true; if you look at the hundreds of cases that the Justice Department has filed in the last 10 years alone, this is active bribery. I mean, some companies have an entire department in their operation that handles these payments. It's very elaborate, and it's very active. So this whole idea that they're sort of being passively extorted, and we couldn't do business otherwise, and those sorts of arguments, is definitely not valid.

RS: But what is their influence over the U.S. government? I mean, clearly, you know, you have good contact in these government agencies as a reporter; they've turned over files to you, people talk to you. The book has a lot of this great detail. But what I took away from it is, yes, Donald Trump may be the most offensive president we've had in this regard, because he himself has perfected the art, has been able to function in these countries; so you know, he probably has been at the scene of these crimes more often than most presidents. But clearly, there's a lack of political will, and bipartisan. I mean, some of these companies -- for instance, GE is mentioned in your book. You know, it's a company where two out of three jobs have gone abroad, and they have all kinds of problems with GE Capital, and their financial, and blah blah blah. But Jeffrey Immelt, the head of GE, was the head of Barack Obama's jobs council. He was held up as an exemplary businessman. And this is true of a number of the companies. And American foreign policy has actually been the handmaiden of these companies, their ability to function.

DM: Maybe it goes back to this fact: while a corporation cannot pay a bribe abroad -- that is illegal under our laws; if you try, even attempt to pay a bribe to a government official abroad, that is illegal -- but here in this country, lobbying is not. And so, yeah, the corporations have a huge amount of money to legally lobby; that wouldn't be called bribing here in the United States. But yeah, they wield an incredible amount of power. And I mean, we have just seen an example of this; after Trump became president, the Republican-led House rolled back a very important -- bipartisan, I should mention -- effort to inject more transparency into business deals involving oil companies and mining companies under the Cardin-Lugar provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. That was a really important piece of legislation, but that was one of the first things that, thanks to the oil companies which lobbied very hard, the House repealed, and Trump signed into law.

RS: You know, there's a notion of free market capitalism, and you know, Adam Smith, Ricardo, the great prophets of that. And those notions of the free market, everybody thinks that that somehow was an unequivocal endorsement of capitalism -- no. It was a warning that there's another kind of capitalism -- of the cartels, monopoly capitalism, restrictive trade -- that would threaten the virtues of a free market. That's why Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations talked about, you know, the invisible hand; that no one should be able to control the action. But the multinational corporations, and they are dominant now -- they want a hand. They want it controlled.

DM: They have an invisible hand through bribes. There isn't a free market that we think, there isn't free and fair competition. In fact, it's all -- I don't want to say it's all rigged, but it's greatly rigged through bribes.

RS: In your book, you describe a normalcy of corruption. And then I kept thinking, OK, so what does Apple do in China? What does Lockheed do in their airplane sales? Trump just bragged about the biggest arms deal we have with Saudi Arabia that we've ever had. Does this go on in all of these places, and with these very respectable companies?

DM: That's what history would tell us. Again, we discovered that companies were doing this back in 1977, right after Watergate, because very prestigious companies like Lockheed, and the titans of industry, so to speak, were doing this. So in one sense, we just don't know; the estimates we have are that about 30 percent of companies globally pay bribes. But that's based on what they tell us through surveys, and it's based on the number of cases that are detected; we just don't know, we're looking at the tip of the iceberg. But yes, Rolls Royce, a company that is known for making the best engines in the world, the most cutting-edge engines in the world, and was considered, you know, a paragon of success and corporate leadership for 10 years, between 2006 and 2016 -- it turns out the way they made their money was not through brilliant corporate leadership, it was through bribes. They hired people around the world, these shady middlemen, which is a common practice, who paid off government officials in Nigeria and Indonesia. And the thing that's striking about that is, Rolls Royce didn't need to do that, in one sense; they have good products. It's not as if their engines are terrible; they have some of the best engines in the world. But they, again, thought, well, we won't compete with Pratt & Whitney, or other competitors, if we don't pay these bribes. They either thought that or they decided, we're not even going to take a chance; we're just going to pay these bribes and beat the competition. And they know that they can do that because the laws are not really going to hold them to account for it.

RS: And I just want to be clear, in your book, you deny the basic argument, which is that they have to do it, they have no choice. And in your book you indicate there's another motive: that if they can have a preponderant position in a market, if they have the support of that local government, they can have what they call a desirable business environment. That government will also suppress labor discontent; you see it in even, say, Vietnam, where strikes are broken in order to -- here's a government that, a communist government, and they had a revolution and fought off the United States and everything. Yet you know, you have companies like Nike and everything operating in Vietnam, and the government is a partner in giving them an acquiescent, suppressed workforce. And the key to modern capitalism seems to be to have a cartel or monopoly hold on a market share. And you want to exclude the competition. And that's what the bribing facilitates, right? It's just a cost of doing business that ends up being very lucrative.

DM: Absolutely, and in countries like Bangladesh -- and I mention Bangladesh because it's an example I know very well -- but in a period between 2001 and 2006 there was a particular government in control, and that government was notoriously corrupt and run by two brothers who were the sons of the prime minister. And I think a lot of corporations really liked having that system, where they knew as long as they keep paying off these guys, they'll get the contracts they want. That these guys will force contracts through Parliament that the country doesn't even need -- a telecom project, for example, or a power station project. And this is wasting public money, but it's a turnkey solution. If you have a corrupt politician in power, and you're a company willing the pay the bribes, then yeah -- I mean, this is what would be called state capture, right? You have a system that is just perfectly benefiting your aims and their aims, and it's the people who are losing out.

RS: I want to return to that point, but let me take a break for a few minutes here. [omission for station break] We're back with David Montero, the author of "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network." And we're just now talking about, what did you say the phrase is? State capture. And I want to get into that a little bit. We've just had the renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement, NAFTA 2.0, by Donald Trump. But a couple of the positive features is there's actually a built-in protection for goods that come in; that workers on 45 percent or something of the product have to make 16 bucks an hour; in some of these places they're making less than 2 bucks an hour, in Mexico. And also, the idea that maybe local courts -- Canadian, Mexican, U.S. courts -- might have some jurisdiction, instead of private corporate courts. But in looking into that, in Mexico for example, one of the things that companies get when they go down to Mexico, is there are these fake unions that people join. They aren't real unions that could really put pressure on a company to pay more than a couple of bucks an hour. And I'm just wondering whether the bribing has created an overwhelming norm, and that's why we have Apple computers in front of every student in a college classroom, that's why all the clothes we wear are made in Bangladesh or Vietnam or China. Because those governments are being bribed, one way or another, to deliver an acquiescent workforce. And that is the business model, it's not the exception.

DM: I can't speak to that directly; I didn't look at a case that involved how bribes affected labor specifically. But I can see your point with, again, a government in a place like Bangladesh being very much open to the idea of, if you bribe us we'll give you the contracts you want. In the case of these two brothers I mentioned, they certainly, some of their concerns that they owned were factories; no one's been able to trace back whether or not factories they owned were mistreating their workers or anything like that. But the point is that, yeah, I see what you're saying; that there's a sense that these governments would be willing to flout other laws. If they're willing to take bribes and pass contracts that their country doesn't even need, yeah, it's possible.

RS: Yeah, I mean, the reason I'm pushing this -- and it is a big issue in your book, because you're really arguing this is not a victimless crime. It's often presented as a victimless crime; that's how you do business, you grease the palm, goods get made, everybody's happy. But in your book, you keep reminding us that there are victims, and one victim is the American worker. This lowers wages, it has an effect on our quality of life. And that's why I'm bringing it up. I mean, these are concessions obtained in considerable measure through bribery of powerful people in the governments that are the factory floor, or what have you, for these goods. And the consequence is negative, considerably negative, for the average person in the home country, the United States in this case.

DM: Well, yeah. And it's incredibly negative, I think even more importantly, for the average citizen in the country where the bribes are paid. Because that's where the fallout really takes place. But certainly, yeah, this is a system through which the corporations benefit; the handful of officials who receive the bribes benefit; but on either side of the equation, in the United States and in the country where the bribes are paid, ordinary people lose out. That may include that, right, a company pays a bribe for a contract, and as a result, an American company loses that contract; and that has happened many, many times, and as a result Americans lose jobs, or as you said, wages go down. And in the countries where these bribes are paid, again, if you follow the money, you find that the impact of these bribes is very devastating, so devastating, and devastating for a very, very long time. These are crimes with an impact that takes sometimes a decade to unfold. And again, it increases poverty, it increases conflict. And that's part of the problem that I really didn't see being told. And I think that's why the laws against the crime are not really that enforced.

RS: Yeah. The book is called "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network." And that is not, from reading this book, to me, an overstatement. And if it's a network, then, you know, the consequences are pervasive not just in the country -- and here maybe I'm taking issue with your emphasis -- where the bribes are being extended, but in the home country. For example, we have a big argument -- I'm doing this broadcast from Los Angeles; the county and the city of L.A. just did pass resolutions guaranteeing a somewhat higher minimum wage that will rise in the next few years. That doesn't mean a whole lot if most of the goods that we're using are producing countries that have an incredibly low minimum wage. And if that low minimum wage is maintained elsewhere because of the bribery and corruption of those governments, whether it's Mexico or China or anywhere else, that means you're not going to do a whole lot through your own political activity, your own voting, your own activity within the home country to improve conditions, because these terms are set elsewhere, and they're set in a sea of corruption in this global corporate bribery network. So I think the book has an ominous message, really, beyond what we've discussed so far.

DM: Yeah. I mean, I think it's disturbing that this is, for a lot of companies, it is and has been for a long time, standard operating procedure. This is such an elaborate system, the way it works; it's not that a company goes to a foreign minister and hands him $10,000 under the table. The way bribery works in the modern era is far more complicated than that, and requires a network of people, both within the organization and then who are hired outside of the organization, to pass on these bribes. It takes an incredible amount of effort to launder the money once the officials receive it. So it really is a network, and it's an operation that's much more sophisticated and ominous than we think when we think of someone just passing money under the table.

RS: The power of this book is you offer case studies that cannot be ignored. And it means that within a large company, there are whole divisions devoted to this kind of bribery. And people are in on it–accountants, executives, and so forth. This is a major part of doing business. And so I want to go from there, and we only have a few minutes left. I'd like to get into the role of our own government. Because you are really quite flattering in this book about individual civil servants within our own government who are supposed to be monitoring this. And they're well-intentioned, they get the data, they try to bring the cases. But most often, it doesn't go very far. And the fines are not very large given the profits involved; it's more of a slap on the wrist. And I want you to just take the trajectory in this book from the mid-1970s, when thanks to Senator Frank Church and others, and good media reporting for once, whistleblowing, we actually were conscious of this corruption. And how much progress have we really made since the mid-1970s in controlling this global corporate bribery network? Is it worse now, is it better?

DM: Yeah, as you mentioned, after Watergate in the 1970s it was the most poignant reckoning as a country we had with how this -- this system exists, and how it exists. Congress held hearings for three or four years in which they really delved into the issue, and that resulted in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, this law. So there was a time in the late '70s, early '80s, when there was a great amount of momentum behind stopping this crime; we understood why it was so bad, it involved our best companies, it was wreaking havoc abroad. But then a number of things happened, and we kind of lost sight of the law. The first was that the FCC and the Justice Department could not really decide, well, who's in charge of enforcing this law? And by the way, it's a law that doesn't just deal with market violations; it's a very complex law touching on national policy, foreign policy, et cetera. They didn't have the expertise to do it. Nonetheless, it was decided they would jointly enforce this law, neither of them having really the adequate expertise to do so. Communism collapsed, and that was one of the main motivations for why we had this law; we were worried that the bribery abroad, that our corporations were involved in, was helping communists; it was giving them ammunition to say, look at these corrupt corporations funding these capitalist parties, and et cetera. Communist collapsed, and then by the 1990s, really this law became about protecting American competitiveness. The whole argument of "we need to protect citizens abroad" sort of died out; it became, the CIA of all things uncovered that foreign corporations were costing American companies billions of dollars in contracts because they were stealing them through bribery. And the CIA became very active in cracking down on this by handing over intercepts and other things. So by the early 2000s, we had literally one guy at the Justice Department enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and not surprisingly, he was an incredible -- I mentioned in the book, Peter Clark, he was an incredible force in that sense. But there's only so much one man can do. By the mid-2000s, enforcement of the FCPA was entirely lacking. And so there has been an upsurge in the last 10 years, as the result of a couple of different factors including more international cooperation and more political will. But the fines that the companies are forced to pay, for one thing, they're so low. According to one study, they are equivalent to about one percent of a company's market cap. That's not much to be punitive. The Justice Department has many prosecutors working on this crime, but they're incredibly complex, and they often don't have the resources to really delve into them. What they would rather see is, bring enough evidence to get a corporation to settle, and pay a moderate fine, and that sends the message of deterrence. But clearly, it doesn't.

RS: Well, I mean, people should ponder what you just said. We have lots of people in our prison system; we have the largest incarcerated population in absolute terms in the world. And our society is vigilant in going after someone who's committed a petty crime, even, the third time, and try to put them away forever. And yet we get this slap on the wrist. And the idea that you have one person -- one person! -- in this huge bureaucracy devoted to controlling this, it tells the story. And it tells it, I think -- I'm all for Trump-bashing and everything, but the fact of the matter is, he didn't invent this problem. He may personify the problem, but we're talking about, you know, the Clinton administration, the Obama administration, the two Bush administrations, going back to the Nixon administration. And so there's a general intent, or lack of will, to hold these large corporations accountable. I don't know, I don't want to misstate the book, and people should read the book, draw their own conclusions. But the conclusion that I came away [with] from reading "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network," I felt I needed to take a shower.

DM: [Laughs]

RS: I felt I had just been dipped in a cesspool. And these are people who have been to the Harvard Business School, and you know, they're top lawyers, they're businesspeople, they talk a good game, they wear the finest suits, talk about integrity. And they live in a cesspool of corruption. I mean, you mentioned Siemens; it's a German company of great, high regard, right? And these companies, they're the blue-chip companies, and the norm of their operation throughout the world is to set an example of deep, deep corruption. Am I putting too fine a point on this? I don't want to distort the book.

DM: No, not at all. I just want to point out, though, at the moment the Justice Department certainly has more than one person enforcing this. They have, I think, 24 prosecutors. But, right, for a long time it was only one person. But no, I think you're absolutely not overstating this. I think that it's standard operating procedure at many corporations; it's very active, it's very organized, this bribery. And it has a devastating impact. And it's done by corporations that have already paid fines to the Justice Department, and in return for not being prosecuted through a settlement, they have said to the Justice Department, we are really sorry, we promise we're going to reform, here's the money for our fine. And they move on, and then a couple years later, guess what we find out -- oh, they did it again. And they again reach a settlement where the Justice Department says, we won't prosecute you, you guys promise to reform, we'll take the fine. And it seems like on the one hand, their reforms are window dressing, and the Justice Department's fines are kind of a slap on the wrist, and it's not really making an impact for the corporations or for the people abroad who suffer for this.

RS: Your book describes these incredibly prosperous business executives, corporate lawyers, and so forth, who are quite comfortable in a system where they know when they violate the laws and bring misery to large numbers of people around the world, and corrupt the other political systems -- they're the worst role models for American democracy in the world; it's a role model of corruption -- that they're not going to be hurt by this. Their company is not going to be hurt. They're going to get the slap on the wrist. I just wonder, what will the people who read the New York Times, or the L.A. Times, Washington Post , who are in these corporate boardrooms -- and presumably you'll get some good reviews, hopefully -- but what will they think when they read this book? Will they feel a sense of shame? Will they want to reform the system? Will they think it's only Trump? If it's only Trump, then how do you explain going back 400 years? You know, what do you think the reaction will be?

DM: Yeah, I think the reaction should be a wake-up call. I think some executives that I spoke to, including some who'd gone to jail for bribery in the past, they claimed–I think I believe them–they weren't aware that bribes had such a devastating impact. And I think that's part of the problem. People pay these bribes and they think it goes into a vacuum, and that allows them to get away with it legally, but also on their conscience. So I'm hoping that people who read this book, if they work in a corporation, it will be a needed wake-up call for them to say, wow, this is really devastating stuff; this money doesn't just go into a black hole. It funds some really, really terrible things. And that, yes, I think hopefully the book will set a precedent that they can't just get away with this by saying, well, we didn't know the bribes were going to do that; we didn't know they had that effect. And I hope that it may result in maybe more meaningful fines, if people understand the impact that this bribery has; it's not just a white-collar crime.

RS: Great. That's it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence. I've been talking to David Montero. The book is called "Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network." And if you're one of those folks who thinks you don't want to read about economics, then you don't really want to read about people, you don't want to read about the world condition. This book -- and it's vivid, and it's telling of case stories, it's a page-turner, and I highly recommend it. And that's it for this week's edition of Scheer Intelligence. Kat Yore and Mario Diaz are our brilliant engineers here at KCRW. Joshua Scheer and Isabel Carreon are our producers. And we were ably assisted this week by the public radio affiliate in Pittsburgh, WESA. That's it for this week's Scheer Intelligence. We'll see you next week.

[Jan 13, 2019] There is no free market! It's all crooked by financial oligarchy!

Highly recommended!
Free market is possible only under strict government regulation. Without government regulation free market quickly deteriorates into the law of jungles. Such a paradox ;-)
And if financial oligarchy gets to power as they got via coup d'état in the USA in late 7th, it is only a matter of time before the society collapses. They are very destructive to the society at large. Probably more so then organized crime. But wait. They actually can be viewed as special type of organized prime as is "The best way to rob the bank is to own it".
Notable quotes:
"... Idiots on here are always going on about how we don't got capitalism, if we only had capitalism, we don't got free markets, if only we had free markets, then everything would be hunky-dory. Without any proof, of course, because there never was and never will be a "free" "market." The US has plenty capitalism. And everything sucks. And they want more. Confused, stupid, disingenuous liars. ..."
"... Free markets are crookedness factories. As a PhD from Chicago Business School told me, "Free markets?! What free markets?! There is no free market! It's all crooked!" ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:37 am GMT

Idiots on here are always going on about how we don't got capitalism, if we only had capitalism, we don't got free markets, if only we had free markets, then everything would be hunky-dory. Without any proof, of course, because there never was and never will be a "free" "market." The US has plenty capitalism. And everything sucks. And they want more. Confused, stupid, disingenuous liars.
obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:42 am GMT
Look, what you call "capitalism" and "free markets" just means scams to make rich people richer. You read some simple-minded description of some pie-in-the-sky theory of some perfect world where rational actors make the best possible decisions in their own interest without any outside interference, and you actually think you are reading a description of something real.

I'll tell you what's real. Crookedness. Free markets are crookedness factories. As a PhD from Chicago Business School told me, "Free markets?! What free markets?! There is no free market! It's all crooked!"

[Jan 11, 2019] Havard mafia as enablers of oligarchic plunder of Russia

Naomi Klein was mostly right about 'shock doctrine' – that was a nasty trick to wrest the wealth from the society back to financial oligarchy and strip assets in the post-Soviet republics.
Notable quotes:
"... Taking advantage of the anarchy, a conspiratorial elite consisting of a cabal of billionaires raped the Soviet Union of its wealth while there was still something left to steal and absconded to safe havens in London, New York, and Israel. This made the end of the Soviet system inevitable. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

TheJester , says: Next New Comment January 11, 2019 at 11:51 am GMT

Let me be optimistic that the path to the eventual economic, national, and cultural collapse of the United States will follow the path of the Soviet Union: quick collapse followed by a slow process of national, cultural, and religious regeneration.

In this model, Trump is playing out the script written for "Yeltsin" a reckless buffoon exposing the hypocrisy and inherent weakness of Soviet ideology, economics, and culture.

Trump has done us a favor. Without Yeltsin, the Soviet Union might have lumbered for a few more decades as a decadent, geriatric patient in a hospice awaiting inevitable death. With Yeltsin's help, the end came quickly. Taking advantage of the anarchy, a conspiratorial elite consisting of a cabal of billionaires raped the Soviet Union of its wealth while there was still something left to steal and absconded to safe havens in London, New York, and Israel. This made the end of the Soviet system inevitable.

Are we already in the phase of oligarchical plunder? Yes, it's obvious.

Russia achieved its "MRGA" with Putin, backed by a core of Russian nationalists and patriots who rejected the multicultural diversity and globalism inherent in Marxist dogma. Russia is returning to its pre-1917 culture and traditions. Let's hope we can also achieve our "MAGA" by rediscovering the confident Anglosphere that created the post-WWII world.

Bye-bye feminism, multicultural diversity, and the decadent "globohomo" ideology that came to define the "Empire".

Svigor , says: Next New Comment January 11, 2019 at 10:26 pm GMT
@TheJester I'll remain agnostic as to whether the US is facing financial collapse, but point out that USSR's collapse doesn't imply US has to have one (not that you intended the reference that way).

USSR had a command economy, US doesn't. That said, I do think our military-industrial complex is long overdue for a collapse, having long since lost its only real justification, the Soviet threat.

Trimming the huge amount of Defense and entitlement fat we're carrying would help a lot.

[Jan 11, 2019] As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, The Party's Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic And Pro-War Than Republicans by Glenn Greenwald

Clinton Democrats (DemoRats) are so close to neocons that the current re-alliance is only natural and only partially caused by Trump. Under Obama some of leading figures of his administration were undistinguishable from neocons (Samantha Power is a good example here -- she was as crazy as Niki Haley, if not more). There is only one "war party in the USA which continently consists of two wings: Repugs and DemoRats.
Notable quotes:
"... Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham , one of the country's most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton , who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump's decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon. ..."
"... That's not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that "the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm's way" ..."
"... But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent. ..."
"... This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan ..."
"... While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining ..."
"... At the same time, Democratic policy elites in Washington are once again formally aligning with neoconservatives , even to the point of creating joint foreign policy advocacy groups (a reunion that predated Trump ). The leading Democratic Party think tank, the Center for American Progress, donated $200,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and has multilevel alliances with warmongering institutions. ..."
"... By far the most influential [neo]liberal media outlet, MSNBC, is stuffed full of former Bush-Cheney officials, security state operatives, and agents , while even the liberal stars are notably hawkish (a decade ago, long before she went as far down the pro-war and Cold Warrior rabbit hole that she now occupies, Rachel Maddow heralded herself as a "national security liberal" who was "all about counterterrorism"). ..."
"... All of this has resulted in a new generation of Democrats, politically engaged for the first time as a result of fears over Trump, being inculcated with values of militarism and imperialism, trained to view once-discredited, war-loving neocons such as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, and former CIA and FBI leaders as noble experts and trusted voices of conscience. It's inevitable that all of these trends would produce a party that is increasingly pro-war and militaristic, and polling data now leaves little doubt that this transformation -- which will endure long after Trump is gone -- is well under way. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of both parties , but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington's reflexively pro-war establishment.

Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country's most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump's decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.

But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump's Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.

That's not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that "the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm's way" far more than they agree with the pro-war view that "the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region."

But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.

A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.

Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump's announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops there than Republicans and independents.

This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan:

With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed . Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

This latest poll is far from aberrational. As the Huffington Post's Ariel Edwards-Levy documented early this week , separate polling shows a similar reversal by Democrats on questions of war and militarism in the Trump era.

While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining. "Those who voted for Democrat Clinton now said by a 42-point margin that the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria involving ISIS," Edwards-Levy wrote, "while Trump voters said by a 16-point margin that the nation had no such responsibility." (Similar trends can be seen among GOP voters, whose support for intervention in Syria has steadily declined as Trump has moved away from his posture of the last two years -- escalating bombings in both Syria and Iraq and killing far more civilians , as he repeatedly vowed to do during the campaign -- to his return to his other campaign pledge to remove troops from the region.)

This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted their "beliefs" based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party's base spent the Bush-Cheney years denouncing war on terror policies, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantánamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency .

But what's happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance