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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 Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Corporatism Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories  Corruption of Regulators New American Militarism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Two Party System as polyarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult The Deep State Harvard Mafia Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Anti-globalization movement Inverted Totalitarism
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Media-Military-Industrial Complex If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Jeremy Grantham On The Fall Of Civilizations Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Neoliberal corruption White collar crime Neo-fascism Neocons as USA neo-fascists      
The Great Transformation   Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen Gangster Capitalism
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 naïve 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.

Capitalism  is a social system that in infeasible without economic expansion, the continuation of this expansion became the top priory and well-being of population was sacrificed on the altar of productivity.  And in 70th capitalism entered economic crisis.  The key reason for this was the end of era of "cheap oil".  Oil is a real driver of the world capitalism economy. To the extent that XX century can be called the century of "cheap oil". At the end of the century around 85 million barrels of oil were produced on the planet every day. The Persian Gulf accounts for a third of this production. Russia and the Caspian sea region account for a sixth. Another sixth is accounted for by OPEC producers outside the Gulf: Libya and Algeria in the Maghreb, Nigeria and Angola in sub-Saharan Africa, and Venezuela et cetera. The remaining third is accounted for by Canada, United States, Mexico and an assortment of others. This flow of cheap oil created tremendous opportunities for growth of economy, which were parcially exhausted at the end of the century. But the stress was started to feel about late 70th. In response to this stress and diminished profitability neoliberal reformers were introduced which were directed of drastic redistribution of wealth up and this way by stimulating top 1% (or 0.1%) increasing profitability of businesses and ensuring continuing expansion of capitalist economy (Energy and the Economy – Twelve Basic Principles)

Posted on August 14, 2014 by   There is a standard view of energy and the economy that can briefly be summarized as follows: Economic growth can continue forever; we will learn to use less energy supplies; energy prices will rise; and the world will adapt. My view of how energy and the economy fit together is very different. It is based on the principle of reaching limits in a finite world. Let me explain the issues as I see them.

Twelve Basic Principles of Energy and the Economy

1. Economic models are no longer valid, as we start getting close to limits.

We live in a finite world. Because of this, the extraction of energy resources and of resources in general operates in a way that is not at all intuitive as we approach limits. Economists have put together models of how the economy can be expected to act based on how the economy acts when it is distant from limits. Unfortunately, these economic models are worse than useless as limits approach because modeled relationships no longer hold. For example:

(a) The assumption that oil prices will rise as the cost of extraction rises is not necessarily true. Instead, a finite world creates feedback loops that tend to keep oil prices too low because of its tight inter-connections with wages. We see this happening right now. The Telegraph reported recently, “Oil and gas company debt soars to danger levels to cover shortfall in cash.”

(b) The assumption that greater investment will lead to greater output becomes less and less true, as the easy to extract resources (including oil) become more depleted.

(c) The assumption that higher prices will lead to higher wages no longer holds, as the easy to extract resources (including oil) become more depleted.

(d) The assumption that substitution will be possible when there are shortages becomes less and less appropriate because of interconnections with the rest of the system. Particular problems include the huge investment required for such substitution, impacts on the financial system, and shortages developing simultaneously in many areas (oil, metals such as copper, rare earth metals, and fresh water, for example).

More information is available from my post, Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network.

2. Energy and other physical resources are integral to the economy.

In order to make any type of goods suitable for human use, it takes resources of various sorts (often soil, water, wood, stones, metals, and/or petrochemicals), plus one or more forms of energy (human energy, animal energy, wind power, energy from flowing water, solar energy, burned wood or fossil fuels, and/or electricity).

Figure 1. Energy of various types is used to transform raw materials (that is resources) into finished products.

Figure 1. Energy of various types is used to transform raw materials (that is resources) into finished products.

3. As we approach limits, diminishing returns leads to growing inefficiency in production, rather than growing efficiency.

As we use resources of any sort, we use the easiest (and cheapest) to extract first. This leads to a situation of diminishing returns. In other words, as more resources are extracted, extraction becomes increasingly expensive in terms of resources required, including human and other energy requirements. These diminishing returns do not diminish in a continuous slow way. Instead, there tends to be a steep rise in costs after a long period of slowly increasing costs, as limits are approached.

 

Figure 2. The way we would expect the cost of the extraction of energy supplies to rise, as finite supplies deplete.

Figure 2. The way we would expect the cost of the extraction of energy supplies to rise, as finite supplies deplete.

One example of such steeply rising costs is the sharply rising cost of oil extraction since 2000 (about 12% per year for “upstream costs”). Another is the steep rise in costs that occurs when a community finds it must use desalination to obtain fresh water because deeper wells no longer work. Another example involves metals extraction. As the quality of the metal ore drops, the amount of waste material rises slowly at first, and then rapidly escalates as metal concentrations approaches 0%, as in Figure 2.

The sharp shift in the cost of extraction wreaks havoc with economic models based on a long period of very slowly rising costs. In a period of slowly rising costs, technological advances can easily offset the underlying rise in extraction costs, leading to falling total costs. Once limits are approached, technological advances can no longer completely offset underlying cost increases. The inflation-adjusted cost of extraction starts rising. The economy, in effect, starts becoming less and less efficient. This is in sharp contrast to lower costs and thus apparently greater efficiency experienced in earlier periods.

4. Energy consumption is integral to “holding our own” against other species.

All species reproduce in greater numbers than need to replace their parents. Natural selection determines which ones survive. Humans are part of this competition as well.

In the past 100,000 years, humans have been able to “win” this competition by harnessing external energy of various types–first burned biomass to cook food and keep warm, later trained dogs to help in hunting. The amount of energy harnessed by humans has grown over the years. The types of energy harnessed include human slaves, energy from animals of various sorts, solar energy, wind energy, water energy, burned wood and fossil fuels, and electricity from various sources.

Human population has soared, especially since the time fossil fuels began to be used, about 1800.

 

Figure 3. World population based on data from "Atlas of World History," McEvedy and Jones, Penguin Reference Books, 1978  and Wikipedia-World Population.

Figure 3. World population based on data from “Atlas of World History,” McEvedy and Jones, Penguin Reference Books, 1978 and Wikipedia-World Population.

Even now, human population continues to grow (Figure 4), although the percentage rate of growth has slowed.

 

Figure 4. World population split between US, EU-27, and Japan, and the Rest of the World.

Figure 4. World population split between US, EU-27, and Japan, and the Rest of the World.

Because the world is finite, the greater use of resources by humans leads to lesser availability of resources by other species. There is evidence that the Sixth Mass Extinction of species started back in the days of hunter-gatherers, as their ability to use of fire to burn biomass and ability to train dogs to assist them in the hunt for food gave them an advantage over other species.

Also, because of the tight coupling of human population with growing energy consumption historically, even back to hunter-gatherer days, it is doubtful that decoupling of energy consumption and population growth can fully take place. Energy consumption is needed for such diverse tasks as growing food, producing fresh water, controlling microbes, and transporting goods.

5. We depend on a fragile self-organized economy that cannot be easily replaced.

Individual humans acting on their own have very limited ability to extract and control resources, including energy resources. The only way such control can happen is through a self-organized economy that allows people, businesses, and governments to work together on common endeavors. Development of a self-organized economy started very early, as bands of hunter-gatherers learned to work together, perhaps over shared meals of cooked food. More complex economies grew up as additional functions were added. These economies have gradually merged together to form the huge international economy we have today, including international trade and international finance.

This networked economy has a tendency to grow, in part because human population tends to grow (Item 4 above), and in part because greater complexity is required to solve problems, as an economy grows. This networked economy gradually adds more businesses and consumers, each one making choices based on prices and regulations in place at the particular time.

This networked economy is fragile. It can grow, but it cannot easily shrink, because the economy is constantly optimized for the circumstances at the time. As new products are developed (such as cars), support for prior approaches (such as horses, buggies and buggy whips) disappears. Systems designed for the current level of usage, such as oil pipelines or Internet infrastructure, cannot easily be changed to accommodate a much lower level of usage. This is the reason why the economy is illustrated as interconnected but hollow inside.

Another reason that the economy cannot shrink is because of the large amount of debt in place. If the economy shrinks, the number of debt defaults will soar, and many banks and insurance companies will find themselves in financial difficulty. Lack of banking and insurance services will adversely affect both local and international trade.

6. Limits of a finite world exert many pressures simultaneously on an economy.

There are a number of ways an economy can reach a situation of inadequate resources for its population. While all of these may not happen at once, the combination makes the result worse than it otherwise would be.

a. Diminishing returns (that is, rising production costs as depletion sets in) for resources such as fresh water, metals, and fossil fuels.

b. Declining soil quality due to erosion, loss of mineral content, or increased soil salinity due to poor irrigation practices.

c. Rising population relative to the amount of arable land, fresh water, forest resources, mineral resources, and other resources available.

d. A need to use an increasing share of resources to combat pollution, related to resource extraction and use.

e. A need to use an increasing share of resources to maintain built infrastructure, such as roads, pipelines, electric grids, and schools.

f. A need to use an increasing share of resources to support government activities to support an increasingly complex society.

g. Declining availability of food that is traditionally hunted (such as fish, monkeys, and elephants), because an increase in human population leads to over-hunting and loss of habitat for other species.

7. Our current problems are worryingly similar to the problems experienced by earlier civilizations before they collapsed.

In the past, there have been civilizations that were confined to a limited area that grew for a while, and then collapsed once resource availability declined or population outgrew resources. Such issues led to a situation of diminishing returns, similar to the problems we are experiencing today. We know from studies of these prior civilizations how diminishing returns manifested themselves. These include:

(a) Reduced job availability and lower wages, especially for new workers joining the workforce.

(b) Spiking food costs.

(c) Growing demands on governments for services, because of (a) and (b).

(d) Greater disparities in wealth, as newer workers find it hard to get good-paying jobs.

(e) Declining ability of governments to collect sufficient taxes from common workers who are producing less and less (because of diminishing returns) and because of this, receiving lower wages.

(f) Increased reliance on debt.

(g) Increased likelihood of resource wars, as a group with inadequate resources tries to take resources from other groups.

(h) Eventual population decline. This occurred for two reasons: As wages dropped and needed taxes rose, workers found it increasingly difficult to obtain an adequate diet. As a result, they become more susceptible to epidemics and diseases. Greater involvement in resource wars also led to higher death rates.

When collapse came, it did not come all at once. Rather a long period of growth was succeeded by a period of stagnation, before a crisis period of several years took place.

Figure 6. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

Figure 6. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

We began an economic growth cycle back when we began using fossil fuels to a significant extent, starting about 1800. We began a stagflation period, at least in the industrialized economies, when oil prices began to spike in the 1970s. Less industrialized countries have been able to continue growth their growth pattern longer. Our situation is likely to differ from that of early civilizations, because early civilizations were not dependent on fossil fuels. Pre-collapse skills tended to be useful post-collapse, because there was no real change in energy sources. Loss of fossil fuels would considerably change the dynamic of the outcome, because most jobs would become obsolete.

Most models put together by economists assume that the conditions of the growth period, or the growth plus stagflation period, will continue forever. Such models miss turning points.

8. Modeling underlying the book Limits to Growth shows why depletion can be expected to lead to declining economic growth. It also shows why extracting all of the resources that seem to be available is likely to be impossible.

We also know from the analysis underlying the book The Limits to Growth (by Donella Meadows and others, published in 1972) that growing demand for resources because of Items listed as 6a to 6g above will take an increasingly large share of resources produced. This dynamic makes it very difficult to produce enough additional resources so that economic growth can continue. The authors report that the behavior mode of the modeled system is overshoot and collapse.

The 1972 analysis does not model the financial system, including debt and the repayment of debt with interest. The closest it comes to economic modeling is modeling industrial capital, which it describes as factories, machines, and other physical “stuff” needed to extract resources and produce goods. It finds that inability to produce enough industrial capital is likely to be a bottleneck far before resources in the ground are exhausted.

As an example in today’s world, there seems to be a huge amount of very heavy oil that can be steamed out of the ground in many places including Canada and Venezuela. (The existence of such heavy oil is one reason the ratio of oil reserves to oil production is high.) To actually get this oil out of the ground quickly would require a huge physical investment in a very short time frame. As a practical matter, we cannot ramp up all of the physical infrastructure needed (pipelines, steaming equipment, refining equipment) without badly cutting into the resources needed to “grow” the rest of the economy. A similar problem is likely to exist if we try to ramp up world oil and gas supply using fracking.

9. Our real concern should be collapse caused by reaching limits in many ways, not the slow decline reflected in a Hubbert Curve.

One reason for being concerned about collapse is the similarity of the problems our current economy is experiencing to those of prior economies that collapsed, as discussed in Item 7. Another reason for this concern is based on the observation from physics that an economy is a dissipative structure, just as a hurricanes is, and just as a human being is. Such dissipative structures have a finite lifetime.

Concern about future collapse is very different from concern that one or another resource will decline in a symmetric Hubbert curve. The view that resources such as oil will gradually decrease in availability once 50% of the resources have been extracted reflects a best-case scenario, where a perfect replacement (both cheap and abundant) replaces the item that is depleting, so that the economy is not affected. Hubbert illustrated the kind of situation he was envisioning with the following graphic:

 

Figure 7. Figure from Hubbert's 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

Figure 7. Figure from Hubbert’s 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

10. There is a tight link between both oil consumption and total energy consumption and world economic growth.

This tight link is evident from historical data:

 

Figure 8. Comparison of three-year average growth in world real GDP (based on USDA values in 2005$), oil supply and energy supply. Oil and energy supply are from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2014.

Figure 8. Comparison of three-year average growth in world real GDP (based on USDA values in 2005$), oil supply and energy supply. Oil and energy supply are from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2014.

The link between energy and the economy comes both from the supply side and the demand side.

With respect to supply, it takes energy of many types to make goods and services of all types. This is discussed in Item 2 above.

With respect to demand,

(a) People who earn good wages (indirectly through the making of goods and services with energy products) can afford to buy products using energy.

(b) Because consumers pay taxes and buy goods and services, growth in demand from adequate wages flows through to governments and businesses as well.

(c) Higher wages enable higher debt, and higher debt also acts to increase demand.

(d) Increased demand increases the price of the resources needed to make the product with higher demand, making more of such resources economic to extract.

11. We need a growing supply of cheap energy to maintain economic growth.

This can be seen several ways.

(a) Today, all countries compete in a world economy. If a country’s economy uses an expensive source of energy (say high-priced oil or renewables) it must compete with other countries that use cheaper fuel sources (such as coal). The high price of energy puts the country with high-cost energy at a severe competitive disadvantage, pushing the economy toward economic contraction.

(b) Part of the world’s energy consumption comes from “free” energy from the sun. This solar energy is not evenly distributed: the warm areas of the world get considerably more than the cold areas of the world. The cold areas of the world are forced to compensate for this lack of free solar energy by building more substantial buildings and heating them more. They are also more inclined to use “closed in” transportation vehicles that are more costly than say, walking or using a bicycle.

Back in pre-fossil fuel days, the warm areas of the world predominated in economic development. The cold areas of the world “surged ahead” when their own forests ran short of the wood needed to provide the heat-energy they needed, and they learned to use coal instead. The knowledge they gained about using coal for home-heating quickly transferred to the ability to use coal to provide heat for industrial purposes. Since the warm areas of the world were not yet industrialized, the coal-using countries of the North were able to surge ahead economically. The advantage of the cold industrialized countries grew as they learned to use oil and natural gas. But once oil and natural gas became expensive, and industrialization spread around the world, the warm countries regained their advantage.

(c) Wages, (non-human) energy costs, and financing costs are all major contributors to the cost of producing goods and services. When energy costs rise, the rise in energy costs puts pressure both on wages and on interest rates (since interest rates determine financing costs), because businesses need to keep the total cost of goods and services close to “flat,” if consumers are to afford them. This occurs because wages do not rise as energy prices rise. In fact, pressure to keep the total cost of goods low creates pressure to reduce wages when oil prices are high (perhaps by sending manufacturing to a lower-cost country), just as it adds pressure to keep interest rates low.

(d) If we look at historical US data, wages have tended to rise strongly (in inflation-adjusted terms) when oil prices were less than $40 to $50 barrel, but have tended to stagnate above that oil price range.

 

Figure 9. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

Figure 9. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

12. Oil prices that are too low for producers should be a serious concern. Such low prices occur because oil becomes unaffordable. In the language of economists, oil demand drops too low.

A common belief is that our concern should be oil prices that are too high, and thus strangle the economy. A much bigger concern should be that oil prices will fall too low, discouraging investment. Such low oil prices also encourage civil unrest in oil exporting nations, because the governments of these nations depend on tax revenue that is available when oil prices are high to balance their budgets.

It can easily be seen that high oil prices strangle the economies of oil importers. The salaries of consumers go “less far” in buying basics such as food (which is raised and transported using oil) and transportation to work. Higher costs for basics causes consumers cut back on discretionary expenditures, such as buying new more expensive homes, buying new cars, and going out to restaurants. These cutbacks by consumers lead to job layoffs in discretionary sectors and to falling home prices. Debt defaults are likely to rise as well, because laid-off workers have difficulty paying their loans. Our experience in the 2007-2009 period shows that these impacts quickly lead to severe recession and a drop in oil prices.

The issue we are now seeing is the reverse–too low oil prices for oil producers, including oil exporters. These low oil prices are contributing to the unrest we see in the Middle East. Low oil prices also contribute to Russia’s belligerence, since it needs high oil revenues to maintain its budget.

Conclusion

We seem now to be at risk in many ways of entering into the collapse scenario experienced by many civilizations before us.

One of areas of risk is that interest rates will rise, as the Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies held in place since 2008 erode. These ultra-low interest rates are needed to keep products affordable, since the high cost of oil (relative to consumer salaries) has not really gone away.

Another area of risk is an increase in debt defaults. One example occurs when student loan borrowers find it impossible to repay these loans on their meager wages. Another example is China with the financing of its big recent expansion by debt. A third example is the possibility that businesses extracting resources will find it impossible to repay loans with today’s (relatively) low commodity prices.

Another area of risk is natural disasters. It takes surpluses to deal with these disasters. As we reach limits, it becomes harder to mitigate the effects of a major hurricane or earthquake.

Clearly loss of oil production because of conflict in the Middle East or in other oil producing countries is a concern.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Many economies are “near the edge” now. Recent news is that Germany has slipped into recession as well as Japan. One economy failing is likely to pull others with it.

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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[Dec 03, 2017] How Criminals Built Capitalism by Clive Crook

That explains why after dissolution of the USSR organized crime reached such level: this is standard capitalism development scenario.
Notable quotes:
"... In fact, the evolution of the modern economy owes more than you might think to these outlaws. That's the theme of " Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance " by Ian Klaus. It's a history of financial crimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries that traces a recurring sequence: new markets, new ways to cheat, new ways to transact and secure trust. As Klaus says, criminals helped build modern capitalism. ..."
"... Cochrane, in a way, was convicted of conduct unbecoming a man of his position. Playing the markets, let alone cheating, was something a man of his status wasn't supposed to do. Trust resided in social standing. ..."
"... The stories are absorbing and the larger theme is important: "Forging Capitalism" is a fine book and I recommend it. But I have a couple of criticisms. The project presumably began as an academic dissertation, and especially at the start, before Klaus starts telling the stories, the academic gravity is crushing. ..."
"... Nonetheless, Klaus is right: Give the markets' ubiquitous and ingenious criminals their due. They helped build modern capitalism, and they aren't going away. Just ask Bernie Madoff. ..."
Apr 05, 2015 | Bloomberg View

Whenever buyers and sellers get together, opportunities to fleece the other guy arise. The history of markets is, in part, the history of lying, cheating and stealing -- and of the effort down the years to fight commercial crime.

In fact, the evolution of the modern economy owes more than you might think to these outlaws. That's the theme of "Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance" by Ian Klaus. It's a history of financial crimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries that traces a recurring sequence: new markets, new ways to cheat, new ways to transact and secure trust. As Klaus says, criminals helped build modern capitalism.

And what a cast of characters. Thomas Cochrane is my own favorite. (This is partly because he was the model for Jack Aubrey in Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" novels, which I've been reading and rereading for decades. Presumably Klaus isn't a fan: He doesn't note the connection.)

Cochrane was an aristocrat and naval hero. At the height of his fame in 1814 he was put on trial for fraud. An associate had spread false rumors of Napoleon's death, driving up the price of British government debt, and allowing Cochrane to avoid heavy losses on his investments. Cochrane complained (with good reason, in fact) that the trial was rigged, but he was found guilty and sent to prison.

The story is fascinating in its own right, and the book points to its larger meaning. Cochrane, in a way, was convicted of conduct unbecoming a man of his position. Playing the markets, let alone cheating, was something a man of his status wasn't supposed to do. Trust resided in social standing.

As the turbulent century went on, capitalism moved its frontier outward in every sense: It found new opportunities overseas; financial innovation accelerated; and buyers and sellers were ever more likely to be strangers, operating at a distance through intermediaries. These new kinds of transaction required new ways of securing trust. Social status diminished as a guarantee of good faith. In its place came, first, reputation (based on an established record of honest dealing) then verification (based on public and private records that vouched for the parties' honesty).

Successive scams and scandals pushed this evolution of trust along. Gregor MacGregor and the mythical South American colony of Poyais ("the quintessential fraud of Britain's first modern investment bubble," Klaus calls it); Beaumont Smith and an exchequer bill forging operation of remarkable scope and duration; Walter Watts, insurance clerk, theatrical entrepreneur and fraudster; Harry Marks, journalist, newspaper proprietor and puffer of worthless stocks. On and on, these notorious figures altered the way the public thought about commercial trust, and spurred the changes that enabled the public to keep on trusting nonetheless.

The stories are absorbing and the larger theme is important: "Forging Capitalism" is a fine book and I recommend it. But I have a couple of criticisms. The project presumably began as an academic dissertation, and especially at the start, before Klaus starts telling the stories, the academic gravity is crushing.

Trust, to be simple with our definition, is an expectation of behavior built upon norms and cultural habits. It is often dependent upon a shared set of ethics or values. It is also a process orchestrated through communities and institutions. In this sense, it is a cultural event and thus a historical phenomenon.

No doubt, but after a first paragraph like that you aren't expecting a page-turner. Trust me, it gets better. When he applies himself, Klaus can write. Describing the messenger who brought the false news of Napoleon's death, he says:

Removed from the dark of the street, the man could be seen by the light of two candles. He looked, a witness would later testify, "like a stranger of some importance." A German sealskin cap, festooned with gold fringes, covered his head. A gray coat covered his red uniform, upon which hung a star Neighbors and residents of the inn stirred and peered in as the visitor penned a note.

Tell me more.

My other objection is to the book's repeated suggestion that Adam Smith and other classical proponents of market economics naively underestimated the human propensity to deceive and over-credited the market's ability to promote good behavior. Klaus doesn't examine their claims at length or directly, but often says things such as:

The sociability in which Adam Smith had placed his hopes for harnessing self-interest was not a sufficient safeguard in the sometimes criminal capitalism of the ruthless free market.

Of course it wasn't. Smith didn't believe that the market's civilizing tendencies, together with humans' instinct for cooperation, were a sufficient safeguard against fraud or breach of contract or other commercial wrongs. He was nothing if not realistic about human nature. And by the way, many of the subtle adaptations to the shifting risk of fraud that Klaus describes were private undertakings, not government measures. Far from being surprised by them, Smith would have expected their development.

Nonetheless, Klaus is right: Give the markets' ubiquitous and ingenious criminals their due. They helped build modern capitalism, and they aren't going away. Just ask Bernie Madoff.

To contact the author on this story: Clive Crook at ccrook5@bloomberg.net

[Dec 01, 2017] Elite needs a kill switch for their front men and women

Notable quotes:
"... Today when we consider the major countries of the world we see that in many cases the official leaders are also the leaders in actuality: Vladimir Putin calls the shots in Russia, Xi Jinping and his top Politburo colleagues do the same in China, and so forth. However, in America and in some other Western countries, this seems to be less and less the case, with top national figures merely being attractive front-men selected for their popular appeal and their political malleability, a development that may eventually have dire consequences for the nations they lead. As an extreme example, a drunken Boris Yeltsin freely allowed the looting of Russia's entire national wealth by the handful of oligarchs who pulled his strings, and the result was the total impoverishment of the Russian people and a demographic collapse almost unprecedented in modern peacetime history. ..."
"... An obvious problem with installing puppet rulers is the risk that they will attempt to cut their strings, much like Putin soon outmaneuvered and exiled his oligarch patron Boris Berezovsky. ..."
"... One means of minimizing such risk is to select puppets who are so deeply compromised that they can never break free, knowing that the political self-destruct charges buried deep within their pasts could easily be triggered if they sought independence. I have sometimes joked with my friends that perhaps the best career move for an ambitious young politician would be to secretly commit some monstrous crime and then make sure that the hard evidence of his guilt ended up in the hands of certain powerful people, thereby assuring his rapid political rise. ..."
"... The gist is that elite need a kill switch on their front men (and women). ..."
"... McCain's father connected with the infamous Board of Inquiry which cleared Israel in that state's attack on USS LIBERTY during Israel's seizure of the Golan Heights. ..."
"... Another stunning article in which the author makes reference to his recent acquisition of what he considers to be a reliably authentic audio file of POW McCain's broadcasts from captivity. Dynamite stuff. ..."
"... Also remarkable; fantastic. It's hard to believe, and a testament to the boldness of Washington dog-and-pony shows, because this must have been well-known in insider circles in Washington – anything so damning which was not ruthlessly and professionally suppressed and simply never allowed to become part of a national discussion would surely have been stumbled upon before now. Land of the Cover-Up. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Patient Observer, July 23, 2016 at 7:07 pm
An interesting article on John McCain. I disagree with the contention that McCain hid knowledge that many American POWs were left behind (undoubtedly some voluntarily choose to remain behind but not hundreds ). However, the article touched on some ideas that rang true:

Today when we consider the major countries of the world we see that in many cases the official leaders are also the leaders in actuality: Vladimir Putin calls the shots in Russia, Xi Jinping and his top Politburo colleagues do the same in China, and so forth. However, in America and in some other Western countries, this seems to be less and less the case, with top national figures merely being attractive front-men selected for their popular appeal and their political malleability, a development that may eventually have dire consequences for the nations they lead. As an extreme example, a drunken Boris Yeltsin freely allowed the looting of Russia's entire national wealth by the handful of oligarchs who pulled his strings, and the result was the total impoverishment of the Russian people and a demographic collapse almost unprecedented in modern peacetime history.

An obvious problem with installing puppet rulers is the risk that they will attempt to cut their strings, much like Putin soon outmaneuvered and exiled his oligarch patron Boris Berezovsky.

One means of minimizing such risk is to select puppets who are so deeply compromised that they can never break free, knowing that the political self-destruct charges buried deep within their pasts could easily be triggered if they sought independence. I have sometimes joked with my friends that perhaps the best career move for an ambitious young politician would be to secretly commit some monstrous crime and then make sure that the hard evidence of his guilt ended up in the hands of certain powerful people, thereby assuring his rapid political rise.

The gist is that elite need a kill switch on their front men (and women).

http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-when-tokyo-rose-ran-for-president/

Cortes , July 24, 2016 at 11:16 am

Seems to be a series of pieces dealing with Vietnam POWs: the following linked item was interesting and provided a plausible explanation: that the US failed to pay up agreed on reparations

http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-relying-upon-maoist-professors-of-cultural-studies/

marknesop , July 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm
Remarkable and shocking. Wheels within wheels – this is the first time I have ever seen McCain's father connected with the infamous Board of Inquiry which cleared Israel in that state's attack on USS LIBERTY during Israel's seizure of the Golan Heights.
Cortes , July 25, 2016 at 9:08 am
Another stunning article in which the author makes reference to his recent acquisition of what he considers to be a reliably authentic audio file of POW McCain's broadcasts from captivity. Dynamite stuff. The conclusion regarding aspiring untenured historians is quite downbeat:

http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-will-there-be-a-spotlight-sequel-to-the-killing-fields/

marknesop , July 25, 2016 at 10:40 am
Also remarkable; fantastic. It's hard to believe, and a testament to the boldness of Washington dog-and-pony shows, because this must have been well-known in insider circles in Washington – anything so damning which was not ruthlessly and professionally suppressed and simply never allowed to become part of a national discussion would surely have been stumbled upon before now. Land of the Cover-Up.

yalensis , July 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm

So, McCain was Hanoi Jack broadcasting from the Hanoi Hilton?

[Nov 30, 2017] The people who worked in int l finance in the 90s (representing countries to the WB and IMF) knew about the criminal callousness of these institutions when pushing austerity or reform policies. Local elites sometimes were complacent and profited (those privatizations! those newly opened markets!), sometimes resisted, but the US and the multilateral system –financial or otherwise– are ruthless and very hard to resist.

Notable quotes:
"... "The World Wealth and Inequality project's latest white-paper, co-authored by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty, painstaking pieces together fragmentary data-sources to build up a detailed picture of wealth inequality in Russia in the pre-revolutionary period; during phases of the Soviet era; on the eve of the collapse of the USSR; and ever since. ..."
"... According to our benchmark estimates, top income shares are now similar to (or higher than) the levels observed in the United States. We also find that inequality has increased substantially more in Russia than in China and other ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe. We relate this finding to the specific transition strategy followed in Russia. According to our benchmark estimates, the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia. ..."
"... For my money, Saker emphasises the supposed friendliness of the Western people towards Russia too much. It is not the Western people who want to attack Russia then the Western Anglozionist elite, but the Western people really do not care, as long as it is not the blood of their progeny and their own money paying for bringing Russia to heel. ..."
"... And if Russia is destroyed, just like Ukraine, then there could be some lucrative jobs when the Western Zio-elite starts dismembering the Russian corpse. And well paying jobs are in great demand in the bankrupt West. The unwritten contract that the Western people have with their Anglozionist elite says: find a way to destroy Russia without a global nuclear war, cheaply, without serious dying on our side and throw us a few bones and we will gladly hybernate our moral conscience. ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Anon , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 3:02 am GMT

The people who worked in int'l finance in the 90s (representing countries to the WB and IMF) knew about the criminal callousness of these institutions when pushing 'austerity' or 'reform' policies. Local elites sometimes were complacent and profited (those privatizations! those newly opened markets!), sometimes resisted, but the US and the multilateral system –financial or otherwise– are ruthless and very hard to resist.

Many countries suffered, not because they were Russian or Brazilian or Mexican, but because the opportunity for gain was there.

anon , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 4:51 am GMT
There's some common ground between the reds and whites in that the reds tapped into nationalist sentiments, hence the wars of national liberation around the world being supported by the communists: Korea, Vietnam, insurgencies in Latin America, Africa, etc. The script has flipped with the western countries now being the 'godless' ones who are trying to destroy religion, the family and traditional ways of life. The 1% were horrified that there was an ideology out there that advocated taking their loot away so they used all their resources in combatting it, even being willing to take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon in doing so. They'd take the world down with them rather than lose their positions of power and money. Now that the ideology is no longer there it's just back to the business of robbing everyone weaker than them. All the hysteria about Putin is simply that he's built up the Russian state to where they can resist and that he's not a fellow slaveholder like them.

The intervention in Syria has unhinged parts of the west where they thought they could rob and kill anywhere they pleased but now have been successfully resisted. Political systems come and go but the people have endured for the past thousand years, something the fat cats of the west are trying to destroy to enlarge their slave plantation.

peterAUS , November 29, 2017 at 6:57 am GMT
@anon

he's not a fellow slaveholder like them .

Quick Google:
Inequality in Russia

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/apr/25/unequal-russia-is-anger-stirring-in-the-global-capital-of-inequality

" With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country's wealth, Russia is rated the most unequal of the world's major economies. ."

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/wealth-inequality-in-russia-in-photos-2017-7?r=US&IR=T#/#li-mi-yan-photographed-this-series-in-moscow-1

" Russia has greater economic disparity than any other major global power. In 2016, Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report found that the wealthiest 10% of people in Russia controlled 89% of the country's wealth ..

"The World Wealth and Inequality project's latest white-paper, co-authored by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty, painstaking pieces together fragmentary data-sources to build up a detailed picture of wealth inequality in Russia in the pre-revolutionary period; during phases of the Soviet era; on the eve of the collapse of the USSR; and ever since.

The headline findings: official Russian estimates drastically understate national inequality; Russia is as unequal as the USA or even moreso; Russian inequality is more intense than the inequality in other post-Soviet states and in post-Deng China.

This paper combines national accounts, survey, wealth and fiscal data (including recently released tax data on high-income taxpayers) in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day. We find that official survey-based measures vastly under-estimate the rise of inequality since 1990. According to our benchmark estimates, top income shares are now similar to (or higher than) the levels observed in the United States. We also find that inequality has increased substantially more in Russia than in China and other ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe. We relate this finding to the specific transition strategy followed in Russia. According to our benchmark estimates, the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia.

From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia 1905-2016 [Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman/World Wealth and Income Database]"

Etc

Cyrano , November 29, 2017 at 8:25 am GMT
@anon

People used to stage revolutions in order to bring communism to their countries. Plenty of examples for that: Russia, China, Cuba and many others. Of course, those people were deluded, right? Who would want to bring a system that preaches economic equality? It must be someone who is out of their mind. Has there ever been a capitalist revolution where someone took up arms trying to bring capitalism to their country? Must be because it's such a humane and desirable system. Also, a lot of people think that Islam is a backward religion. Really? Then how come it tolerates socialism (communism), better than Christianity ever did? Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan they were all socialist at some point. That's why the greatest democracy set their sights on them to destroy them. Because, you see, by their calculations, no matter how extremist and backward the Islam gets, it's still more progressive than socialism or communism. Helluva math there. The game has always been about preserving capitalism, and not the most benign version either. Which is too bad, because capitalism has been known to tolerate dictatorship, fascism, Nazism, slavery – pretty much the ugliest forms of government the sick human mind can come up with, but it can't tolerate little bit of socialism. Because you see, socialism is worse than any of those lovely political systems. Democracy (capitalism) is too pure for that, such a fragile and delicate thing that it is.

I am surprised Sweden hasn't been bombed yet, for their flirting with socialism, but the way the things are going over there, they don't have to be bombed. They did themselves in by following someone's stupid ideas about multiculturalism – which of course is also a form of socialism – racial one, instead the real deal – the economic socialism that the greatest democracy of them all is so afraid of.

Kiza , November 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm GMT
When the Serbians in different parts of Yugoslavia started being attacked by the West, I was constantly pointing out that in recent times, since WW1, an attack on Serbia has been a kind of introduction to an attack on Russia. In other words, I had no doubt that Russia was next.

But, there is one huge difference between Serbia and Russia. Whilst the Serbians killed very few of those Western Zionist military mercenaries who were killing Serbians directly or using their Croat, Muslim and Albanian proxies, if attacked the Russian military could kill hundreds of thousands of the Western mercenaries. This is why whilst the war on Serbia was real and bloody only on Serbians and the Bosnian Muslim proxies, the war on Russia would be totally disastrous for the Anglozionist Empire. This is the only reason a shooting war on Russia has not started already.

For my money, Saker emphasises the supposed friendliness of the Western people towards Russia too much. It is not the Western people who want to attack Russia then the Western Anglozionist elite, but the Western people really do not care, as long as it is not the blood of their progeny and their own money paying for bringing Russia to heel.

And if Russia is destroyed, just like Ukraine, then there could be some lucrative jobs when the Western Zio-elite starts dismembering the Russian corpse. And well paying jobs are in great demand in the bankrupt West. The unwritten contract that the Western people have with their Anglozionist elite says: find a way to destroy Russia without a global nuclear war, cheaply, without serious dying on our side and throw us a few bones and we will gladly hybernate our moral conscience.

yeah , November 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Well, what evidence have you for asserting that Putin is a thug? You saw through the media's false reporting earlier as you admit, so how come you again swallow the load of marbles that they dish out?

And while Putin may or may not be feared by "near abroad" he certainly is feared by those who seek total dominance of the planet. The thing is, he is not an easy pushover and that is what is behind the thug claims. Many thinking people admire his intellect, statesmanship, and skill in dealing with major problems of our times. The media also hates him because he shows up the western leaders for the clowns that they are.

A principled US Government would have dealt very differently with Russia and Putin. There is no inherent conflict of interest with Russia once global dominance is discarded as the main policy objective.

Avery , November 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

{The only people that fear Putin is the near abroad, .}

Sure, if you say so, Bub.
Texas* is, of course, 'near aboard' .

[Russia has begun testing of its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the RS-28 Sarmat. Sarmat can carry a payload of up to ten tons of nukes. The missile system is set to enter service in 2018.
The RS-28 Sarmat is the first entirely new Russian ICBM in decades. The heavyweight missile weighs 100 tons and can boost 10 tons. Russia claims the Sarmat can lift 10 heavyweight warheads, or 16 lighter ones, and Russian state media has described it as being able to wipe out an area the size of Texas or France.]

_______________________
*
[Russia's New ICBM Could "Wipe Out Texas"]

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23547/russias-new-icbm-could-wipe-out-texas/

disturbed_robot , November 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm GMT
@WorkingClass

Wow, this is the most refreshing and clear minded comment I've seen here in a while. Nice job WorkingClass, you've managed to keep your mind clear and not buy into the BS. You've given me some hope Thank you.

Anonymous , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm GMT
@peterAUS

Inequality in Russia

The supposed leaders of the West are busy trying to replace or at the very least water down their own populations with a totally different set of people from far away. Obviously these supposedly democratic leaders loathe what are supposed to be their own people but rather see all those below them as just so many replaceable units of labor, the mark of a "slaveholder". Putin has helped his people immensely. Life expectancies had plummeted into the 50′s and that's now been improved greatly as well as living standards. He's popular because he's done much for the people he identifies with, unlike Western leaders who hold their noses when anywhere near the citizenry. If the Russians like him then they must not be as worried about some issues as critics outside the country appear to be.

L.K , November 29, 2017 at 6:35 pm GMT
Very interesting interview with Professor McCoy:

On Contact: Decline of the American empire with Alfred McCoy

WorkingClass , November 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm GMT
@disturbed_robot

Thanks for the kind words.

Aedib , November 29, 2017 at 7:08 pm GMT
@James N. Kennett

It is hard to find people in the West who "hate the Russian people themselves"; but in place of hatred there is definitely fear – fear of Russia's military strength.

Disagree. The enormous propagandistic effort to demonize Russia in the West, not only reveals fear. It also reveals hate, at least on most of the elites. Most people are indifferent toward Russia but elites definitively have fear to the bear. You can test some people by simply naming "Russia" and you will see on their eyes a quite irrationala mix of hate and fear. I think this is result of an Orwellian propaganda effort aimed at injecting fear to "Eurasia".

This fear is exaggerated by the US military-industrial complex for its own purposes;

Agreed.

gwynedd1 , November 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm GMT
@WorkingClass

Given any two races or culture , what they are and what I think of them hardly matters. However pitted against each other it will cultivate and create good conditions for the scum of both of them and embroil the rest in the conflict. It is an against of chaos for a hostile order.

gwynedd1 , November 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

"Why should the west try to destroy Russia? They're doing a great job of it all by themselves"

How many times have you visited Russia?

Cyrano , November 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Philip Owen

Right. Those were capitalist revolutions. You are bang on. Capitalism is one of the most tolerant systems of all kinds of extremism, as I already mentioned. Capitalism has been known to tolerate monarchy, fascism, Nazism, various forms of dictatorships, slavery, pretty much everything. But they draw the line at tolerating socialism, like it's the worst extremism they have ever tolerated. My point is, capitalism is pretty robust system, it's not some delicate beauty that will fall apart if it comes in touch with socialism. Democracy is only a window dressing, it has never been about democracy, it has always been about capitalism.

AB_Anonymous , November 29, 2017 at 8:12 pm GMT
There's nothing easier nowadays than becoming a Kremlin (or any other kind of) Troll. Just start talking about things as they are and you're half way through. Keep talking that way a bit longer, and you'll forever become another precious source of income for the army of no-talent crooks with unlimited rights and zero oversee from those for whom they officially work. These guys are simply used to build their entire careers and financial well-beings by adjusting reality to their needs. They've been doing it for decades. Why not, as long as the true bosses are happy ? Why not, when the MSM will make population to swallow anything, no matter how idiotic and illogical it is ?

[Nov 30, 2017] The people who worked in int'l finance in the 90s (representing countries to the WB and IMF) knew about the criminal callousness of these institutions when pushing 'austerity' or 'reform' policies. Local elites sometimes were complacent and profited (those privatizations! those newly opened markets!), sometimes resisted, but the US and the multilateral system –financial or otherwise– are ruthless and very hard to resist.

Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Anon , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 3:02 am GMT

The people who worked in int'l finance in the 90s (representing countries to the WB and IMF) knew about the criminal callousness of these institutions when pushing 'austerity' or 'reform' policies. Local elites sometimes were complacent and profited (those privatizations! those newly opened markets!), sometimes resisted, but the US and the multilateral system –financial or otherwise– are ruthless and very hard to resist.

Many countries suffered, not because they were Russian or Brazilian or Mexican, but because the opportunity for gain was there.

anon , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 4:51 am GMT
There's some common ground between the reds and whites in that the reds tapped into nationalist sentiments, hence the wars of national liberation around the world being supported by the communists: Korea, Vietnam, insurgencies in Latin America, Africa, etc. The script has flipped with the western countries now being the 'godless' ones who are trying to destroy religion, the family and traditional ways of life. The 1% were horrified that there was an ideology out there that advocated taking their loot away so they used all their resources in combatting it, even being willing to take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon in doing so. They'd take the world down with them rather than lose their positions of power and money. Now that the ideology is no longer there it's just back to the business of robbing everyone weaker than them. All the hysteria about Putin is simply that he's built up the Russian state to where they can resist and that he's not a fellow slaveholder like them.

The intervention in Syria has unhinged parts of the west where they thought they could rob and kill anywhere they pleased but now have been successfully resisted. Political systems come and go but the people have endured for the past thousand years, something the fat cats of the west are trying to destroy to enlarge their slave plantation.

peterAUS , November 29, 2017 at 6:57 am GMT
@anon

he's not a fellow slaveholder like them .

Quick Google:
Inequality in Russia

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/apr/25/unequal-russia-is-anger-stirring-in-the-global-capital-of-inequality

" With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country's wealth, Russia is rated the most unequal of the world's major economies. ."

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/wealth-inequality-in-russia-in-photos-2017-7?r=US&IR=T#/#li-mi-yan-photographed-this-series-in-moscow-1

" Russia has greater economic disparity than any other major global power. In 2016, Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report found that the wealthiest 10% of people in Russia controlled 89% of the country's wealth ..

"The World Wealth and Inequality project's latest white-paper, co-authored by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty, painstaking pieces together fragmentary data-sources to build up a detailed picture of wealth inequality in Russia in the pre-revolutionary period; during phases of the Soviet era; on the eve of the collapse of the USSR; and ever since.

The headline findings: official Russian estimates drastically understate national inequality; Russia is as unequal as the USA or even moreso; Russian inequality is more intense than the inequality in other post-Soviet states and in post-Deng China.

This paper combines national accounts, survey, wealth and fiscal data (including recently released tax data on high-income taxpayers) in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day. We find that official survey-based measures vastly under-estimate the rise of inequality since 1990. According to our benchmark estimates, top income shares are now similar to (or higher than) the levels observed in the United States. We also find that inequality has increased substantially more in Russia than in China and other ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe. We relate this finding to the specific transition strategy followed in Russia. According to our benchmark estimates, the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia.

From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia 1905-2016 [Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman/World Wealth and Income Database]"

Etc

Cyrano , November 29, 2017 at 8:25 am GMT
@anon

People used to stage revolutions in order to bring communism to their countries. Plenty of examples for that: Russia, China, Cuba and many others. Of course, those people were deluded, right? Who would want to bring a system that preaches economic equality? It must be someone who is out of their mind. Has there ever been a capitalist revolution where someone took up arms trying to bring capitalism to their country? Must be because it's such a humane and desirable system. Also, a lot of people think that Islam is a backward religion. Really? Then how come it tolerates socialism (communism), better than Christianity ever did? Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan they were all socialist at some point. That's why the greatest democracy set their sights on them to destroy them. Because, you see, by their calculations, no matter how extremist and backward the Islam gets, it's still more progressive than socialism or communism. Helluva math there. The game has always been about preserving capitalism, and not the most benign version either. Which is too bad, because capitalism has been known to tolerate dictatorship, fascism, Nazism, slavery – pretty much the ugliest forms of government the sick human mind can come up with, but it can't tolerate little bit of socialism. Because you see, socialism is worse than any of those lovely political systems. Democracy (capitalism) is too pure for that, such a fragile and delicate thing that it is.

I am surprised Sweden hasn't been bombed yet, for their flirting with socialism, but the way the things are going over there, they don't have to be bombed. They did themselves in by following someone's stupid ideas about multiculturalism – which of course is also a form of socialism – racial one, instead the real deal – the economic socialism that the greatest democracy of them all is so afraid of.

Kiza , November 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm GMT
When the Serbians in different parts of Yugoslavia started being attacked by the West, I was constantly pointing out that in recent times, since WW1, an attack on Serbia has been a kind of introduction to an attack on Russia. In other words, I had no doubt that Russia was next.

But, there is one huge difference between Serbia and Russia. Whilst the Serbians killed very few of those Western Zionist military mercenaries who were killing Serbians directly or using their Croat, Muslim and Albanian proxies, if attacked the Russian military could kill hundreds of thousands of the Western mercenaries. This is why whilst the war on Serbia was real and bloody only on Serbians and the Bosnian Muslim proxies, the war on Russia would be totally disastrous for the Anglozionist Empire. This is the only reason a shooting war on Russia has not started already.

For my money, Saker emphasises the supposed friendliness of the Western people towards Russia too much. It is not the Western people who want to attack Russia then the Western Anglozionist elite, but the Western people really do not care, as long as it is not the blood of their progeny and their own money paying for bringing Russia to heel.

And if Russia is destroyed, just like Ukraine, then there could be some lucrative jobs when the Western Zio-elite starts dismembering the Russian corpse. And well paying jobs are in great demand in the bankrupt West. The unwritten contract that the Western people have with their Anglozionist elite says: find a way to destroy Russia without a global nuclear war, cheaply, without serious dying on our side and throw us a few bones and we will gladly hybernate our moral conscience.

yeah , November 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Well, what evidence have you for asserting that Putin is a thug? You saw through the media's false reporting earlier as you admit, so how come you again swallow the load of marbles that they dish out?

And while Putin may or may not be feared by "near abroad" he certainly is feared by those who seek total dominance of the planet. The thing is, he is not an easy pushover and that is what is behind the thug claims. Many thinking people admire his intellect, statesmanship, and skill in dealing with major problems of our times. The media also hates him because he shows up the western leaders for the clowns that they are.

A principled US Government would have dealt very differently with Russia and Putin. There is no inherent conflict of interest with Russia once global dominance is discarded as the main policy objective.

Avery , November 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

{The only people that fear Putin is the near abroad, .}

Sure, if you say so, Bub.
Texas* is, of course, 'near aboard' .

[Russia has begun testing of its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the RS-28 Sarmat. Sarmat can carry a payload of up to ten tons of nukes. The missile system is set to enter service in 2018.
The RS-28 Sarmat is the first entirely new Russian ICBM in decades. The heavyweight missile weighs 100 tons and can boost 10 tons. Russia claims the Sarmat can lift 10 heavyweight warheads, or 16 lighter ones, and Russian state media has described it as being able to wipe out an area the size of Texas or France.]

_______________________
*
[Russia's New ICBM Could "Wipe Out Texas"]

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23547/russias-new-icbm-could-wipe-out-texas/

disturbed_robot , November 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm GMT
@WorkingClass

Wow, this is the most refreshing and clear minded comment I've seen here in a while. Nice job WorkingClass, you've managed to keep your mind clear and not buy into the BS. You've given me some hope Thank you.

Anonymous , Disclaimer November 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm GMT
@peterAUS

Inequality in Russia

The supposed leaders of the West are busy trying to replace or at the very least water down their own populations with a totally different set of people from far away. Obviously these supposedly democratic leaders loathe what are supposed to be their own people but rather see all those below them as just so many replaceable units of labor, the mark of a "slaveholder". Putin has helped his people immensely. Life expectancies had plummeted into the 50′s and that's now been improved greatly as well as living standards. He's popular because he's done much for the people he identifies with, unlike Western leaders who hold their noses when anywhere near the citizenry. If the Russians like him then they must not be as worried about some issues as critics outside the country appear to be.

L.K , November 29, 2017 at 6:35 pm GMT
Very interesting interview with Professor McCoy:

On Contact: Decline of the American empire with Alfred McCoy

WorkingClass , November 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm GMT
@disturbed_robot

Thanks for the kind words.

Aedib , November 29, 2017 at 7:08 pm GMT
@James N. Kennett

It is hard to find people in the West who "hate the Russian people themselves"; but in place of hatred there is definitely fear – fear of Russia's military strength.

Disagree. The enormous propagandistic effort to demonize Russia in the West, not only reveals fear. It also reveals hate, at least on most of the elites. Most people are indifferent toward Russia but elites definitively have fear to the bear. You can test some people by simply naming "Russia" and you will see on their eyes a quite irrationala mix of hate and fear. I think this is result of an Orwellian propaganda effort aimed at injecting fear to "Eurasia".

This fear is exaggerated by the US military-industrial complex for its own purposes;

Agreed.

gwynedd1 , November 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm GMT
@WorkingClass

Given any two races or culture , what they are and what I think of them hardly matters. However pitted against each other it will cultivate and create good conditions for the scum of both of them and embroil the rest in the conflict. It is an against of chaos for a hostile order.

gwynedd1 , November 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

"Why should the west try to destroy Russia? They're doing a great job of it all by themselves"

How many times have you visited Russia?

Cyrano , November 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Philip Owen

Right. Those were capitalist revolutions. You are bang on. Capitalism is one of the most tolerant systems of all kinds of extremism, as I already mentioned. Capitalism has been known to tolerate monarchy, fascism, Nazism, various forms of dictatorships, slavery, pretty much everything. But they draw the line at tolerating socialism, like it's the worst extremism they have ever tolerated. My point is, capitalism is pretty robust system, it's not some delicate beauty that will fall apart if it comes in touch with socialism. Democracy is only a window dressing, it has never been about democracy, it has always been about capitalism.

AB_Anonymous , November 29, 2017 at 8:12 pm GMT
There's nothing easier nowadays than becoming a Kremlin (or any other kind of) Troll. Just start talking about things as they are and you're half way through. Keep talking that way a bit longer, and you'll forever become another precious source of income for the army of no-talent crooks with unlimited rights and zero oversee from those for whom they officially work. These guys are simply used to build their entire careers and financial well-beings by adjusting reality to their needs. They've been doing it for decades. Why not, as long as the true bosses are happy ? Why not, when the MSM will make population to swallow anything, no matter how idiotic and illogical it is ?

[Nov 29, 2017] How I became a Kremlin Troll by The Saker

Nov 29, 2017 | www.unz.com

The Soviet authorities had long listed me, and my entire family, as dangerous anti-Soviet activists and I, therefore, could not travel to Russia until the fall of Communism in 1991 when I immediately caught the first available flight and got to Moscow while the barricades built against the GKChP coup were still standing. Truly, by this fateful month of August 1991, I was a perfect anti-Soviet activist and an anti-Communist hardliner. I even took a photo of myself standing next to the collapsed statue of Felix Derzhinsky (the founder of the ChK – the first Soviet Secret police) with my boot pressed on his iron throat. That day I felt that my victory was total. It was also short-lived.

Instead of bringing the long-suffering Russian people freedom, peace, and prosperity, the end of Communism in Russia only brought chaos, poverty, violence, and abject exploitation by the worst class of scum the defunct Soviet system had produced. I was horrified. Unlike so many other anti-Soviet activists who were also Russophobes, I never conflated my people and the regime which oppressed them. So, while I rejoiced at the end of one horror, I was also appalled to see that another one had taken its place. Even worse, it was undeniable that the West played an active role in every and all forms of anti-Russian activities, from the total protection of Russian mobsters, on to the support of the Wahabi insurgents in Chechnya, and ending with the financing of a propaganda machine which tried to turn the Russian people into mindless consumers to the presence of western "advisors" (yeah, right!) in all the key ministries. The oligarchs were plundering Russia and causing immeasurable suffering, and the entire West, the so-called "free world" not only did nothing to help but helped all the enemies of Russia with every resource it had. Soon the NATO forces attacked Serbia, a historical ally of Russia, in total violation of the most sacred principles of international law. East Germany was not only reunified but instantly incorporated into West Germany and NATO pushed as far East as possible. I could not pretend that all this could be explained by some fear of the Soviet military or by a reaction to the Communist theory of world revolution. In truth, it became clear to me that the western elites did not hate the Soviet system or ideology, but that they hated Russian people themselves and the culture and civilization which they had created.

By the time the war against the Serbian nation in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo broke out, I was in a unique situation: all day long I could read classified UNPROFOR and military reports about what was taking place in that region and, after work, I could read the counter-factual anti-Serbian propaganda the western corporate Ziomedia was spewing out every day. I was horrified to see that literally everything the media was saying was a total lie. Then came the false flags, first in Sarajevo, but later also in Kosovo. My illusions about "Free World" and the "West" were crumbling. Fast.

Fate brought me to Russia in 1993 when I saw the carnage of meted out by the "democratic" Eltsin regime against thousands of Russians in Moscow (many more than what the official press reported). I also saw the Red Flags and Stalin portraits around the parliament building. My disgust by then was total. And when the Eltsin regime decided to bring Dudaev's Chechnia to heel triggering yet another needless bloodbath, that disgust turned into despair. Then came the stolen elections of 1996 and the murder of General Lebed. At that point, I remember thinking "Russia is dead."

So, when the entourage of Eltsin suddenly appointed an unknown nobody to acting President of Russia, I was rather dubious, to put it mildly. The new guy was not a drunk or an arrogant oligarch, but he looked rather unimpressive. He was also ex-KGB which was interesting: on one hand, the KGB had been my lifelong enemy but on the other hand, I knew that the part of the KGB which dealt with foreign intelligence was staffed by the brightest of the brightest and that they had nothing to do with political repression, Gulags and all the rest of the ugly stuff another Directorate of the KGB (the 5th) was tasked with (that department had been abolished in 1989). Putin came from the First Main Directorate of the KGB, the "PGU KGB." Still, my sympathies were more with the (far less political) military intelligence service (GRU) than the very political PGU which, I was quite sure by then, had a thick dossier on my family and me.

Then, two crucial things happened in parallel: both the "Free world" and Putin showed their true faces: the "Free world" as an AngloZionist Empire hell-bent on aggression and oppression, and Vladimir Putin as a real patriot of Russia. In fact, Putin slowly began looking like a hero to me: very gradually, in small incremental steps first, Putin began to turn Russia around, especially in two crucial matters: he was trying to "re-sovereignize" the country (making it truly sovereign and independent again), and he dared the unthinkable: he openly told the Empire that it was not only wrong, it was illegitimate (just read the transcript of Putin's amazing 2007 "Munich Speech").

Putin inspired me to make a dramatic choice: will I stick to my lifelong prejudices or will I let reality prove my lifelong prejudices wrong. The first option was far more comfortable to me, and all my friends would approve. The second one was far trickier, and it would cost me the friendship of many people. But what was the better option for Russia? Could it be that it was the right thing for a "White Russian" to join forces with the ex-KGB officer?

SteveLancs , November 28, 2017 at 5:44 am GMT

The transcript for the 2007 speech is here in English, plus questions and answers

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Speech_and_the_Following_Discussion_at_the_Munich

NoseytheDuke , November 28, 2017 at 1:07 pm GMT
@SteveLancs

Thanks for that Steve, I had intended to search for it but got sidetracked by visits to the vet. What strikes me whenever I read a transcript of Putin's speeches is the precision of his language, it's really impressive. It really isn't fair to compare that to the loose waffle of GWB or the Trumpster but even WJC or BHO who were considered to be commendable orators just lack the fine edge and the gravitas of Putin.

[Nov 27, 2017] The Robot Productivity Paradox and the concept of bezel

This concept of "bezel" is an important one
Notable quotes:
"... "In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.) ..."
"... At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks. ..."
"... This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle. ..."
"... In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly. ..."
"... In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks ..."
Feb 22, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.com

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 08:36 AM

John Kenneth Galbraith, from "The Great Crash 1929":

"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.)

At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks.

This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle.

In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly.

In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks."

Sanwichman, February 24, 2017 at 05:24 AM

For nearly a half a century, from 1947 to 1996, real GDP and real Net Worth of Households and Non-profit Organizations (in 2009 dollars) both increased at a compound annual rate of a bit over 3.5%. GDP growth, in fact, was just a smidgen faster -- 0.016% -- than growth of Net Household Worth.

From 1996 to 2015, GDP grew at a compound annual rate of 2.3% while Net Worth increased at the rate of 3.6%....

-- Sanwichman

anne -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 05:25 AM

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cOU6

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1952-2016

(Indexed to 1952)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cPq1

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 03:35 PM

The real home price index extends from 1890. From 1890 to 1996, the index increased slightly faster than inflation so that the index was 100 in 1890 and 113 in 1996. However from 1996 the index advanced to levels far beyond any previously experienced, reaching a high above 194 in 2006. Previously the index high had been just above 130.

Though the index fell from 2006, the level in 2016 is above 161, a level only reached when the housing bubble had formed in late 2003-early 2004.

Real home prices are again strikingly high:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm Reply Friday, February 24, 2017 at 03:34 PM anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017

Valuation

The Shiller 10-year price-earnings ratio is currently 29.34, so the inverse or the earnings rate is 3.41%. The dividend yield is 1.93. So an expected yearly return over the coming 10 years would be 3.41 + 1.93 or 5.34% provided the price-earnings ratio stays the same and before investment costs.

Against the 5.34% yearly expected return on stock over the coming 10 years, the current 10-year Treasury bond yield is 2.32%.

The risk premium for stocks is 5.34 - 2.32 or 3.02%:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

anne -> anne..., February 24, 2017 at 05:36 AM

What the robot-productivity paradox is puzzles me, other than since 2005 for all the focus on the productivity of robots and on robots replacing labor there has been a dramatic, broad-spread slowing in productivity growth.

However what the changing relationship between the growth of GDP and net worth since 1996 show, is that asset valuations have been increasing relative to GDP. Valuations of stocks and homes are at sustained levels that are higher than at any time in the last 120 years. Bear markets in stocks and home prices have still left asset valuations at historically high levels. I have no idea why this should be.

Sandwichman -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 08:34 AM

The paradox is that productivity statistics can't tell us anything about the effects of robots on employment because both the numerator and the denominator are distorted by the effects of colossal Ponzi bubbles.

John Kenneth Galbraith used to call it "the bezzle." It is "that increment to wealth that occurs during the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it." The current size of the gross national bezzle (GNB) is approximately $24 trillion.

Ponzilocks and the Twenty-Four Trillion Dollar Question

http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2017/02/ponzilocks-and-twenty-four-trillion.html

Twenty-three and a half trillion, actually. But what's a few hundred billion? Here today, gone tomorrow, as they say.

At the beginning of 2007, net worth of households and non-profit organizations exceeded its 1947-1996 historical average, relative to GDP, by some $16 trillion. It took 24 months to wipe out eighty percent, or $13 trillion, of that colossal but ephemeral slush fund. In mid-2016, net worth stood at a multiple of 4.83 times GDP, compared with the multiple of 4.72 on the eve of the Great Unworthing.

When I look at the ragged end of the chart I posted yesterday, it screams "Ponzi!" "Ponzi!" "Ponz..."

To make a long story short, let's think of wealth as capital. The value of capital is determined by the present value of an expected future income stream. The value of capital fluctuates with changing expectations but when the nominal value of capital diverges persistently and significantly from net revenues, something's got to give. Either economic growth is going to suddenly gush forth "like nobody has ever seen before" or net worth is going to have to come back down to earth.

Somewhere between 20 and 30 TRILLION dollars of net worth will evaporate within the span of perhaps two years.

When will that happen? Who knows? There is one notable regularity in the data, though -- the one that screams "Ponzi!"

When the net worth bubble stops going up...
...it goes down.

[Nov 27, 2017] Nineteen Ninety-Six: The Robot/Productivity Paradox and the concept of bezel

This concept of "bezel" is an important one
Feb 22, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.com

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 08:36 AM

John Kenneth Galbraith, from "The Great Crash 1929":

"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.)

At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks.

This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle.

In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly.

In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye.

The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks."

Sanwichman, February 24, 2017 at 05:24 AM

For nearly a half a century, from 1947 to 1996, real GDP and real Net Worth of Households and Non-profit Organizations (in 2009 dollars) both increased at a compound annual rate of a bit over 3.5%. GDP growth, in fact, was just a smidgen faster -- 0.016% -- than growth of Net Household Worth.

From 1996 to 2015, GDP grew at a compound annual rate of 2.3% while Net Worth increased at the rate of 3.6%....

-- Sanwichman

anne -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 05:25 AM

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cOU6

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1952-2016

(Indexed to 1952)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cPq1

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 03:35 PM

The real home price index extends from 1890. From 1890 to 1996, the index increased slightly faster than inflation so that the index was 100 in 1890 and 113 in 1996. However from 1996 the index advanced to levels far beyond any previously experienced, reaching a high above 194 in 2006. Previously the index high had been just above 130.

Though the index fell from 2006, the level in 2016 is above 161, a level only reached when the housing bubble had formed in late 2003-early 2004.

Real home prices are again strikingly high:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm Reply Friday, February 24, 2017 at 03:34 PM anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017

Valuation

The Shiller 10-year price-earnings ratio is currently 29.34, so the inverse or the earnings rate is 3.41%. The dividend yield is 1.93. So an expected yearly return over the coming 10 years would be 3.41 + 1.93 or 5.34% provided the price-earnings ratio stays the same and before investment costs.

Against the 5.34% yearly expected return on stock over the coming 10 years, the current 10-year Treasury bond yield is 2.32%.

The risk premium for stocks is 5.34 - 2.32 or 3.02%:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

anne -> anne..., February 24, 2017 at 05:36 AM

What the robot-productivity paradox is puzzles me, other than since 2005 for all the focus on the productivity of robots and on robots replacing labor there has been a dramatic, broad-spread slowing in productivity growth.

However what the changing relationship between the growth of GDP and net worth since 1996 show, is that asset valuations have been increasing relative to GDP. Valuations of stocks and homes are at sustained levels that are higher than at any time in the last 120 years. Bear markets in stocks and home prices have still left asset valuations at historically high levels. I have no idea why this should be.

Sandwichman -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 08:34 AM

The paradox is that productivity statistics can't tell us anything about the effects of robots on employment because both the numerator and the denominator are distorted by the effects of colossal Ponzi bubbles.

John Kenneth Galbraith used to call it "the bezzle." It is "that increment to wealth that occurs during the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it." The current size of the gross national bezzle (GNB) is approximately $24 trillion.

Ponzilocks and the Twenty-Four Trillion Dollar Question

http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2017/02/ponzilocks-and-twenty-four-trillion.html

Twenty-three and a half trillion, actually. But what's a few hundred billion? Here today, gone tomorrow, as they say.

At the beginning of 2007, net worth of households and non-profit organizations exceeded its 1947-1996 historical average, relative to GDP, by some $16 trillion. It took 24 months to wipe out eighty percent, or $13 trillion, of that colossal but ephemeral slush fund. In mid-2016, net worth stood at a multiple of 4.83 times GDP, compared with the multiple of 4.72 on the eve of the Great Unworthing.

When I look at the ragged end of the chart I posted yesterday, it screams "Ponzi!" "Ponzi!" "Ponz..."

To make a long story short, let's think of wealth as capital. The value of capital is determined by the present value of an expected future income stream. The value of capital fluctuates with changing expectations but when the nominal value of capital diverges persistently and significantly from net revenues, something's got to give. Either economic growth is going to suddenly gush forth "like nobody has ever seen before" or net worth is going to have to come back down to earth.

Somewhere between 20 and 30 TRILLION dollars of net worth will evaporate within the span of perhaps two years.

When will that happen? Who knows? There is one notable regularity in the data, though -- the one that screams "Ponzi!"

When the net worth bubble stops going up...
...it goes down.

[Nov 11, 2017] What Craziness is Going on in Saudi Arabia by Eric Margolis

Notable quotes:
"... Is this the beginning of the collapse of the House of Saud? Or a Saudi renaissance led by Prince Mohammed as he claims? Stay tuned. ..."
"... John Chuckman: "Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were 'Milking' Kingdom For Years". This is just nonsense from Trump. Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia. How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society? ..."
"... In all the Neocon Wars in the Mideast, great effort has been made, one way or another, not to have Israel at center stage, to avoid having Israel appear as aggressor. But, in fact, without the influence of Israel, none of these terrible wars would have happened. ..."
Nov 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

November 11, 2017

What's going on in Saudi Arabia? Over 200 bigwigs detained and 'illegal profits' of some $800 billion confiscated.

The kingdom is in an uproar. The Saudi regime of King Salman and his ambitious 32-year old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, claim it was all part of an 'anti-corruption' drive that has Washington's full backing.

Utter nonsense. I've done business in Saudi Arabia since 1976 and can attest that the entire kingdom, with its thousands of pampered princes and princesses, is one vast swamp of corruption. In Saudi, the entire nation and its vast oil revenues are considered property of the extended Saudi royal family and its hangers-on. A giant piggy bank.

The late Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi told me the Saudis are 'an incredibly rich bunch of Bedouins living behind high walls and scared to death of their poorer neighbors.'

We have just witnessed a palace coup in Riyadh caused by the violation of the traditional desert ruling system which was based on compromise and sharing the nation's riches.

Young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's appointment as heir apparent by his ailing father, King Salman, who is reportedly suffering from cognitive issues, upset the time-proven Saudi collegial system and provoked the current crisis. Among the people arrested so far were 11 princes and 38 senior officials and businessmen, including the nation's best-known and richest businessman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns important chunks of Apple, Citigroup and Twitter. He's being detained at Riyadh's swanky Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Also arrested was Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the largest Saudi construction firm, The Binladen Group, and former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a bitter rival to the new Crown Prince Mohammed.

Interestingly, there are no reports of senior Saudi military figures being arrested. The Saudi military has always been kept weak and marginalized for fear it could one day stage a military coup like the one led by Colonel Khadaffi who overthrew Libya's old British stooge ruler, King Idris. For decades the Saudi army was denied ammunition. Mercenary troops from Pakistan were hired to protect the Saudi royals.

Randal , November 11, 2017 at 3:59 pm GMT

Is this the beginning of the collapse of the House of Saud? Or a Saudi renaissance led by Prince Mohammed as he claims? Stay tuned.

This is the key question, of huge import to the longer term future of the ME. In the meantime, the issue is what the collateral damage inflicted upon the region by the rivals for Saudi power is likely to be, with Lebanon and Iran the likely next targets. Can the Saudis really get away with so openly admitting what everyone has known to be true for decades – that they are firm allies of Israel? Are the Arabs really that beaten and cowed?

JOHN CHUCKMAN , Website November 11, 2017 at 5:23 pm GMT
WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN SAUDI ARABIA?

John Chuckman: "Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were 'Milking' Kingdom For Years". This is just nonsense from Trump. Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia. How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society?

So, it is easy for a guy like the new Crown Prince to glance around and conveniently find some corruption among people he wants to discredit anyway.

It may go beyond merely discrediting them to having hundreds of billions seized by the Crown Prince. Not a bad day's work.

What is going on is a kind of coup against the old order by the new usurper Crown Prince. His recent appointment was by a King well known for his senility, and it suddenly and surprisingly upset the established order of succession and all kinds of extended family compacts.

We likely will never know what truly happened in this secretive kingdom. But we do know the abrupt changes created lots of enemies who needed attending to, and that seems to be what is happening.

And the enemies have no friends in Washington to whom they can appeal. The old order in Saudi Arabia suffered terribly in the wake of 9/11, and despite great efforts to pacify the US with new levels of cooperation, it is now being swept out.

Now, whatever is considered good for a hyper-aggressive United States is coincidentally good for its de facto colony in the Middle East.

Trump himself has already proved to be one of Israel's best-ever American friends. Israel has long had great influence, but it possibly never had it so good as it does now, as with a UN Ambassador who speaks as though she were a joint appointment of Trump and Netanyahu. Trump's only competitor in this regard would be Lyndon Johnson.

The US and Israel closely embrace the usurper because he has proven his dependability with bloody projects like making illegal war on Yemen. That war is exactly like the proxy war waged by mercenaries – ISIS and Al-Nusra et al – in Syria except that in this case it is the open work of a nation-state. And now he joins Israel in making threats on Lebanon.

In all the Neocon Wars in the Mideast, great effort has been made, one way or another, not to have Israel at center stage, to avoid having Israel appear as aggressor. But, in fact, without the influence of Israel, none of these terrible wars would have happened.

Yes, the Crown Prince will be a dependable component in the years-long American-Israeli project of creating a new Middle East. The Crown Prince is essentially Israel's man in Saudi Arabia, just as President el-Sisi is in Egypt. Israel is comfortable being surrounded by absolute governments, so long as they are absolute governments beholden to its patron, the United States.

Right now, the new Crown Prince is doing another bloody service for Israeli interests. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was called to come to Riyadh in the King's name for some business, as it turned out on false pretenses. Hariri had his plane surrounded and he was effectively arrested upon landing. Just pure modern piracy. Later, and who knows after what threats, he announced his sudden and unexpected resignation as prime minister, and he remains in Saudi Arabia.

It just so happens, in very recent time, Netanyahu and some of his officials have made some very ugly noises against Lebanon and even staged a large-scale set of war games, including calling up reservists, clearly threatening the country.

Anonymous , Disclaimer November 11, 2017 at 7:39 pm GMT
I would still like an article by Mr. Margolis on this interesting topic – if there is a benign explanation for it, why not share it with us. It would be fascinating to hear a description of what the place is like
Eric Margolis's name is in Jeffrey Epstein's little black book.
A journalist, Mr. Margolis certainly knows what an interesting story it would be to write about his visits to Lolita Island. Why no comment, no article? See for yourself:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/1508273/jeffrey-epsteins-little-black-book-redacted.pdf

Priss Factor , Website November 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm GMT
So much corruption and so much goes unreported. And most people don't care since they are hooked to Pop Culture and other nonsense. Maybe this is what all societies need: An ongoing TV series about the most powerful peoples, institutions, and industries in America. So, imagine a TV show called the FED. It has to be based on facts than fiction. Since it takes time to ascertain facts, these shows will feature events from a month ago. Always a month-time-lag to verify facts. And it will show what kind of decisions took place within the FED. And a TV show called SUPREME COURT. A dramatization of key things that happened in SC. Again, a month-lag on the programming. And the PRESIDENCY And the CIA. And the FBI. And the NYT and other elite media. And IVY LEAGUES. A show on the major decisions made by university presidents and deans. And the Pentagon. And Goldman Sachs. And Amazon. And Microsoft. And Google. And Apple.

This stuff can be made entertaining with a bit of dramatization. Outright fictionalization will not be allowed as everything has to be according to verified facts. However, narrative will of course be tightened and streamlined and dramatized with colorful personalities.

This will be a great public service.

And maybe every city can have a Play Production about City Hall. A never-ending series based on what happens among politicians, big time folks, and etc in the seats of power.

That way, entertainment won't always be about escapism but about focusing on what is happening among the powerful.

Now, there are shows like HOUSE OF CARDS that offer a vague inkling of what happens in DC. But with fictionalized characters and exaggerated situations, it's more escapism than enterism .

We need Enterism in culture. We need to enter into the way of power.

[Nov 11, 2017] Saudi Crown Prince Consolidates Power With Anti-Corruption Arrests

Charge in corruption is a standard instrument in regime change effort. Most widely used in in color revolutions. So this is a pretty old way tested in xUSSR republics.
Nov 10, 2017 | angrybearblog.com

Everybody is against corruption, so it has become the new cool way to concentrate power in dictatorial societies to engage in an anti-corruption drive, as Putin and Xi Jinping have done. Actually corrupt people may well be arrested, but somehow included in the set of those arrested are rivals of the leader who are conveniently disposed of.

likbez , November 10, 2017 8:53 pm

Barkley,

You should probably think in a wider framework of color revolution, not in the narrow framework of (possibly inflated) corruption charges. This is about de-legitimization, not about the corruption per se.

BTW the charge in corruption is a standard tool used in color revolutions. So it is far from only "the new cool way to concentrate power in dictatorial societies". It is more of an old way to induce "regime change".

It is perfectly applicable to political struggle in neoliberal societies as well as we see now with Trump. Probably even more, as "greed is good" morale imperative implies. Also provides opponents of Trump high moral ground to attach him and his entourage.

We can start analysis from Trump campaign against Hillary. If it would be more interesting to analyze the current anti-Trump campaign from this angle. Especially recent Robert Mueller's indictments. We can view then as a kind of attempt to "import" color revolution methods of "regime change" into the USA in order to depose Trump.

In other words boomerang eventually returns.

Several listed in from https://www.sott.net/article/334026-SOTT-Exclusive-A-Purple-Color-revolution-in-the-US-Learn-the-signs-of-color-revolutions ) tell-tell signs of regime change is probably applicable to anti-Trump campaign.

== quote ==

The Chinese pastor Leung has outlined the 12 steps of regime change.

The key difference is that this time it is not the U.S. making regime change overseas, but in America itself to serve the powers that be. The 12 steps are:

1.Dispatch CIA, MI6 and other intelligence officers as students, tourists, volunteers, businessmen, reporters to the target country

2.Set up Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) under the guise of humanitarianism to fight for "democracy" and "human rights" in order to attract advocates of freedom and ideals

3.Attract local traitors, especially academics, politicians, reporters, soldiers etc. through bribery or threaten those who have some stain in their life

4.If the target country has unions, bribe them

5.Pick a catchy theme or color for the revolution. Examples include the Praque spring (1968), Velvet Revolution (Eastern Europe, 1989), Rose Revolution (Georgia, 2003), Cedar Revolution (Lebanon, 2005), Orange Revolution (Ukraine 2004), Green Revolution (Iran), Jasmine Revolution, Arab Spring and even Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

6.Start protests for whatever reasons to kick off the revolution. It could be human rights, democracy, government corruption or electoral fraud. Evidence isn't necessary; an excuse will do.

7.Write protest signs and banners in English to let Americans see and get Americans politicians and civilians involved

8.Let those corrupted politicians, intellectuals and union leaders join the protests and call upon all people with grievances to join

9.The US and European mainstream media help by continuously emphasizing that the revolution is caused by injustice and thereby gaining the support of the majority

10.When the whole world is watching stage a false-flag action. The target government will soon be destabilized and lose support among its people

11.Add in violent agent provocateurs to provoke the police to use force. This will cause the target government to lose the support of other countries and become "delegitimized" by the international community

12.Send politicians to the US, EU, the UN to petition so that the target government will face the threat of economic sanctions, no-fly zones and even airstrikes and an armed rebel uprising.

Barkley Rosser , November 10, 2017 11:34 pm

Oh, I don't think so, Likbez. The really big numbers of arrests for corruption as part of a power grab have not been in color revolution nations, but in long estabilished regimes. So in China Xi Joinping has arrested about 1.4 million people in the CPC on anti-corruption charges since he took power. No wonder nobody was voting against him at the recent party congress.

Then we have Erdogan in Turkkey, who has arrested something like 70,000. Now a lot of those have been busted for supposedly being part of the Gulenist copu attempt, but many have been buseed for couurption. Yeah, color places do it, but these are the places with the reallyi big numbers.

Oh, and the numbers arrested in Saudi Arabia apparently now exceed 200, and that is not coloar revolution, nor is what has gone on in the US.

likbez , November 11, 2017 9:32 pm

"Oh, I don't think so, Likbez. The really big numbers of arrests for corruption as part of a power grab have not been in color revolution nations, but in long estabilished regimes."

Not true. After Ukrainian Maidan color revolution (2014) there were wide purges on corruption charges of supporters of ousted President Yanukovich.

The current "Russiagate" color revolution against Trump recently started to concentrate on corruption charges too (Mueller's first indictments). They are definitely not wide. But they send a message to Trump and serve classic for color revolution de-legitimization purpose. In the context of the USA they probably do not actually need them to be wide as they can be amplified 100 or 1000 times by anti-Trump MSM.

See https://www.amazon.com/Power-Struggle-Politics-Nonviolent-Action/dp/087558070X/

In both cases there is a strong support within the intelligence agencies of the actions that can help to depose elected President (Brennan, Clapper, possibly Comey in case of the USA). Along with the goal to froze the possibility of détente with Russia. Which was achieved to the delight of all neocons.

There are also some discussions about the possibility that DNC hack was a false flag operation in classic color revolutions fashion. See

[Nov 10, 2017] Why have we built a paradise for offshore billionaires? by Thomas Frank

Nov 10, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The Guardian

We endure potholes and live in fear of collapsing highway bridges because our leaders wanted these very special people to have an even larger second yacht

It's not enough to say, in response to the Paradise Papers revelations, that we already knew that rich people parked their money in offshore tax havens, where their piles accumulate far from the scrutiny of our government. Nor is it enough to say that we were already aware that we live in a time of "inequality."

What we have learned this week is the clinical definition of the word. What we have learned is how much the rich and the virtuous have been hiding away and where they're hiding it. Yes, there are sinister-looking Russian capitalists involved. But there's also our favorite actors and singers. Our beloved alma mater, supposedly a charitable institution. Everyone with money seems to be in on it.

We're also learning that maybe we've had it backwards all along. Tax havens on some tropical island aren't some sideshow to western capitalism; they are a central reality. Those hidden billions are like an unseen planet whose gravity is pulling our politics and our economy always in a certain direction. And this week we finally began to understand what that uncharted planet looks like; we started to grasp its mass and its power.

Think about it like this. For decades Americans have been erupting in anger at what they can see happening to their beloved middle-class world. We think we know what the culprit is; we can see it vaguely through a darkened glass. It's "elitism". It's a "rigged system". It's people who think they're better than us. And for decades we have lashed out. At the immigrant next door. At Jews. At Muslims. At school teachers. At public workers who are still paid a decent wage. Our fury, unrelenting, grows and grows.

We revolt, but it turns out we have chosen the wrong political leader. We revolt again; this time, the leader is even worse.

This week we are coming face to face with a big part of the right answer: it's that the celebrities and business leaders we have raised up above ourselves would like to have nothing to do with us. Yes, they are grateful for the protection of our laws. Yes, they like having the police and the marine corps on hand to defend their property.

Yes, they eat our food and breathe our air and expect us to keep these pure and healthy; they demand that we get educated before we may come and work for them, and for that purpose they expect us to pay for a vast system of public schools. They also expect us to watch their movies, to buy their products, to use their software. They expect our (slowly declining) middle class to be their loyal customers.

But those celebrities and business types would prefer not to do what it takes to support all this. That burden's on us. Oh, they're happy to haul billions out of our economy and use us up in the workplace, but maintaining the machinery that keeps it all running – that's on us.

I don't want to go too far here. I know that what the billionaires and the celebrities have done is legal. They merely took advantage of the system. It's the system itself, and the way it was deliberately constructed to achieve these awful ends, that should be the target of our fury.

For decades Americans have lashed out against taxation because they were told that cutting taxes would give people an incentive to work harder and thus make the American economy flourish. Our populist leaders told us this – they're telling us this still, as they reform taxes in Washington – and they rolled back the income tax, they crusaded against the estate tax, and they worked to keep our government from taking action against offshore tax havens.

In reality, though, it was never about us and our economy at all. Today it is obvious that all of this had only one rationale: to raise up a class of supermen above us. It had nothing to do with jobs or growth. Or freedom either. The only person's freedom to be enhanced by these tax havens was the billionaire's freedom. It was all to make his life even better, not ours.

Think, for a moment, of how this country has been starved so the holders of these offshore accounts might enjoy their private jets in peace. Think of what we might have done with the sums we have lost to these tax strategies over the decades. All the crumbling infrastructure that politicians love to complain about: it should have – and could have - been fixed long ago.

Think of all the young people saddled with catastrophic student-loan debt: we should have – could have – made that unnecessary. Think of all the decayed small towns, and the dying rust belt cities, and the drug-addicted hopeless: all of them should have – could have – been helped.

But no. Instead America chose a different project. Our leaders raised up a tiny class of otherworldly individuals and built a paradise for them, made their lives supremely delicious. Today they hold unimaginable and unaccountable power.

We endure potholes and live in fear of collapsing highway bridges because our leaders wanted these very special people to have an even larger second yacht. Our kids sit in overcrowded classrooms in underfunded schools so that a handful of exalted individuals can relax on their own private beach.

Today it is these same golden figures with their offshore billions who host the fundraisers, hire the lobbyists, bankroll the think tanks and subsidize the artists and intellectuals.

This is their democracy today. We just happen to live in it.

Thomas Frank is a Guardian columnist

[Nov 10, 2017] Priti Patel Resigns - Israel Lobby Mourns The Loss Of A Valuable British Asset

Notable quotes:
"... US Budgetary Costs of Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2018: $5.6 Trillion ..."
"... The Guardian just showed that the UK government is a state-sponsor of terrorism if it allowed LIFG terrorists to openly reside in the UK and given the love affair that the Guardian has going with various salafi jihadists, the Guardian is an organ of terrorist propaganda, which was obvious from the way it took pride in naming Ahrar al-Sham as a source for much of its reporting on Syria. ..."
"... JFK/RFK tried to get the precursor to AIPAC, the American Zionist Council, (AZC) to register as foreign agents. Of course, he also insisted that Israel allow inspectors into Israel's nuclear weapons producing facility. I forget what the resolution of those issues was. ;-) ..."
Nov 10, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

A British Minister of Hindu heritage was fired after it emerged that she secretly met Israeli officials in Israel and elsewhere without informing the Foreign Office. Back in Britain she then tried to arrange additional finances for Israel's arming of al-Qaeda in the Golan heights. The affair shines light on the nefarious influence of the Israel lobby on British politics.

Priti Patel was International Development Secretary, responsible for British aid to various countries and organizations. She is a Thatcherite Conservative, a vocal supporter of Britain's exit from the European Union and of Hindu fascism in India:

She has been a strong cheerleader of the Narendra Modi government, publicly praising a number of its policies including demonetisation.

In August Patel went on a "family holiday" to Israel. Instead of enjoying the beach she met dozens of Israeli officials from Prime Minister Netanyahoo down to the heads of Zionist aid organizations. She was shepherded by one Lord Polak, a long time Israel lobbyist in British politics. Polak accompanied her to every meeting. None of these were disclosed to the British Embassy, the Foreign Office or Downing Street. Cabinet rules demand that all such meetings are coordinated and briefed through these official channels.

Stuart Polak is a major character in Zionist lobbying in Britain:

Ennobled by David Cameron two years ago, Lord Polak is a veteran of Westminster's corridors of power. He has taken literally hundreds of Tory MPs to Israel over the years, educating them about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and securing their support in parliamentary votes and the public arena.

Under his guidance, CFI became the biggest lobbying group in Westminster, holding lunches for 700 guests, making countless Downing Street visits, and developing contacts throughout Israel and the Middle East.

Polak fled when the media tried to question him about his Israel visit arrangements for Patel.

One of Patel's meetings was at an army hospital in the Israel occupied Syrian Golan heights where the Israeli military patches up al-Qaeda Jihadis which were wounded while fighting the Syrian government. Only last week the Israeli army in the occupied Golan supported a murderous attack of al-Qaeda Jihadis on the Syrian Druze village of Hader in the Quneitra area. The Jihadis in the Golan are surrounded by Syrian government forces. Their only supply line is through Israel occupied land. Druze in Israel who protested against the attack were arrested .

Back in Britain Priti Patel asked her department to move British aid money from Palestinian causes to the Israeli military operation in the occupied Golan. (Funny how the Guardian in its wrap-up fails to mention that point ...)

Additionally to her busy holiday, Priti Patel had two other meetings with Israeli officials which she similarly did not disclose.

When it became clear yesterday that Priti Patel's behavior would cost her her job, the British Zionist lobby launched a rescue attempt. Based on anonymous sources the Jewish Chronicle claimed that Prime Minister May had been informed about two of the meetings and had ordered Patel to not disclose them:

Number 10 instructed Development Secretary Priti Patel not to include her meeting with the Israel foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on 18 September in her list of undisclosed meetings with Israelis which was published on Monday, the JC has learned.

Downing Street immediately denied the claim and no other source backed it up. The blackmail attempt failed. The Jewish Chronicle also was at the forefront of the slander campaign that tried to smear the British labor leader Corbyn as anti-semite.

The Independent notes about the Patel affair:

... ... ...

ger | Nov 9, 2017 7:13:47 AM | 2
Indeed a very influential lobbyist group ..... now having convinced governments about the world that criticism of Palestinian genocide is hate speech. They are actively seeking to make any negative comment about Zionism a crime. The only comfort I can find is: Not all Morons live in America.
librul | Nov 9, 2017 7:16:29 AM | 3
This line gave me a chill: "Lord Polak is a veteran of Westminster's corridors of power. He has taken literally hundreds of Tory MPs to Israel over the years" Once in Israel they are subjected to hypnosis and/or subliminal indoctrination.
mauisurfer | Nov 9, 2017 7:22:56 AM | 4
US Budgetary Costs of Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2018: $5.6 Trillion

Neta C. Crawford (2017)

Paper (pdf)
WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2017/USBudgetaryCostsFY2018

scottindallas | Nov 9, 2017 7:30:15 AM | 5
mauisurfer--it's called extradition, and practiced the world over.
Ghostship | Nov 9, 2017 7:45:17 AM | 6
>>>> mauisurfer | Nov 9, 2017 6:49:39 AM | 1

I really don't see that what the British government did for Qaddafi has to do with Priti Patel.

Two leading figures in the Libyan opposition

Ah, the Libyan "opposition", the Guardian is up to it's usual trick of being economical with the truth. In this case the Libyan "opposition" was the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG or Al-Jama'a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya), a salafi jihadist group that was at the time classified as a terrorist group because of its associations with Al Qaeda, the same Al Qaeda that the Israeli government is supporting in Syria by providing medical aid and artillery support to its terrorists.

Oh, now I see the connection, Priti Patel wants the UK to provide support to salafi jihadists just as it did the LIFG during the overthrow of Qaddafi.

...who had been living legally in the UK for years

The Guardian just showed that the UK government is a state-sponsor of terrorism if it allowed LIFG terrorists to openly reside in the UK and given the love affair that the Guardian has going with various salafi jihadists, the Guardian is an organ of terrorist propaganda, which was obvious from the way it took pride in naming Ahrar al-Sham as a source for much of its reporting on Syria.

Lourenzo | Nov 9, 2017 9:02:58 AM | 17
@ SPYRIDON POLITIS

Don't be a retard. One cannot understand Western history without understanding the Jewish role. The international Jewish financiers were active in both Britain and the U.S. before WWII and even before WWI.

[long blubber taken from rense.com deleted]
[Make your own argument, don't just copy stuff from elsewhere - b.]

duplicitousdemocracy | Nov 9, 2017 10:18:47 AM | 22
Judging by the footage of her leaving Downing Street, Patel seemed unconcerned. As another poster stated, she probably knows she will be away from the front bench only temporarily. Liam Fox didn't spend too much time on the back benches. Zionists can deny having influence as much as they like, the facts speak for themselves. Pro Israeli politicians bending over backwards for Israel at the expense of their own country rarely spend too much time away from the corridors of power. Patel will be no different. The general public don't see Israel as a threat. If Patel had been meeting up with Russian government officials, she would have been arrested.
karlof1 | Nov 9, 2017 11:15:17 AM | 30
Awhile back, Craig Murray tried to make similar instances of corruption known to the Foreign Office--"He linked Matthew Gould, the then British ambassador to Israel, with the Fox-Werritty scandal and raised questions about meetings between Gould, Liam Fox and Fox's strange friend Adam Werritty." https://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2017/02/11/1014062-britains-sickening-infatuation-with-israel-continues/

The scandal prompted Murray to write "Matthew Gould and the Plot to Attack Iran," http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29713.htm

A search of Murray's blog provides a link to the series of posts he made regarding the scandal and his attempts to get it into the public eye, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?s=matthew+gould And although that scandal occurred in 2011, it clearly set the stage for the scandal surrounding Patel, which I trust Murray will eventually write about now that he's free from his recent legal issues. IOW, the Patel scandal isn't the first nor will it be the last and signals the very real need to scupper May's government and install Corbyn.

ToivoS | Nov 9, 2017 11:36:46 AM | 32
spyridon #8: the so-called anti-Zionist lobby. For that is what it is - a lobby.

Most certainly wrong. A lobby, at least here in the US, is registered with the government and is regulated by federal law. There might be an anti-zionist lobby in the US but I am not aware of one. Anti-zionism is a mass political movement organized into many different organizations that do not require official recognition from or registration by the government. Their autonomy is protected from government control by the constitution of the US.

Cassandra | Nov 9, 2017 12:55:44 PM | 38
To really understand the political background of the „Balfour Declaration" it is necessary to pay attention to what the British government was really up in the ME before WW I:

British imperial strategists were increasingly alarmed with the growing "Arab Awakening" emerging in the context of Arab indigenous nationalism. These fears of a growing and developing Arab nationalism informed British Prime Minister CAMPBELL BANNERMAN when he stated at the 1907 Colonial Conference:

"Empires are formed, enlarged and stabilized so very little before they disintegrate and disappear. Do we have the means of preventing this fall, this crumbling, is it possible for us to put a halt to the destiny of European colonialism which at present is at a critical stage?"

The answer Bannerman received from the commission he established to look at the question, was that it was necessary to prevent any "Union of popular masses in the Arab region or the establishment of any intellectual, spiritual or historical link between them". To achieve this one could "construct a powerful, human 'barrier' foreign to the region, a force FRIENDLY TOWARDS IMPERIALISM and hostile towards the inhabitants of the region."

The report submitted to Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman recommended the following actions:

1) To promote disintegration, division and separation in the region.
2) To establish artificial political entities that would be under the authority of the imperialist countries. [MB, KSA]
3) To fight any kind of unity – whether intellectual, religious or historical – and taking practical measures to divide the region's inhabitants.
4) To achieve this, it was proposed that a "buffer state" be established in Palestine, populated by a strong, foreign presence which would be hostile to its neighbors and friendly to European countries and their interests. [5]

Read more here: https://www.newsbud.com/2011/12/30/the-origins-of-imperial-israel-part-i/

The British rulers [and later the USG] thought they could use „Zionism" for their dirty geo-political,Machiavellian games but the Zionists soon outwitted them (the British had deceived Zionists and Arabs with false promises):

Sir John Munro Troutbeck (fmr. head of the British Middle East Office in Cairo) writing to Churchill in May 1948:

"It is difficult not to see that Zionist policy is anything else than unashamed aggression carried out by methods of deceit and brutality not unworthy of Hitler"

On June 2, 1948, Sir Troutbeck sent another diplomatic message, this time to the British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin. He complains that "the Americans are responsible for the creation of a gangster state" headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders".

Albert EINSTEIN (who fled to the US from Nazi-Germany in 1933) concurred some months later:

"It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world (if correctly informed about Mr.Begins political record) could lend their names and support to the movements he represents. Before irreparable damage [..] is done,... and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America support fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objective of Mr. Begin and his government.

The public avowels of Mr. Begin's party are no guide whatever to its actual character.
Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state.
It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future."

Source: Letter to the NYT by Albert Einstein (and other prominent Jews) published in December 1948, after the DEIR YASSIN massacre to which it also refers:

„The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the „Freedom" Party.
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.
During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine JEWISH] community
Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them.
By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute." . [to say nothing of the Arabs – see Ilan Pappe/ Ethnic Cleansing]

Read the whole letter here: http://users.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/NYTimes1948.html

(OVERCOMING ZIONISM, a book by Dr. Joel Kovel : perhaps the best analysis of the psychopathology of Zionism ...which goes hand in hand with the psychopathology of "American exceptionalism" (moral absolutism)

Debsisdead | Nov 9, 2017 1:11:54 PM | 39
Congratulations to those posters who had the good sense to ignore the diversionary tactics of the zionist shill. Those who chose to respond would be wise to consider the motives of rather than the rather obvious lies which zionists post. When these scumsuckers aren't posting racist garbage on pro humanist threads in a weak arsed attempt to bring sites into disrepute, they try to push discussion of the egregious acts of the zionist lobby to one side by distracting naifs thru posts of extended tirades composed entirely of deceits about the genocidal campaign of rape murder and theft which israel's thugs have been conducting upon the indigenous people of the Jordan Valley. Of course they don't even believe the shite themselves, but the purpose is to shift the discussion away from zionism's hateful activities onto a never ending rehash of old stories, thereby distracting from accurate discussion and assessment of zionism's latest crimes.

The thread is about a particularly nasty piece of Gujarati gash, fortunately atypical - most of the men & women of that culture who I am familiar with are honest empathetic and like the rest of us more interested in the well being of their families than seeking profit by advancing the interests of arseholes looking for pay to play pols.

Priti Patel will get up on her hind legs and spout lies about anything as long as two basic preconditions are met. 1) The subject must be controversial and not a point of view one would expect to hear from a woman who likes to cast herself as 'the voice of the minority' - she is desperate to lead the tories and wants to appeal to the typical tory - a grumpy old whitefella who constantly moans about 'england going to the dogs'.

2) The gig must pay extremely well Patel has an expensive wardrobe and jewellery collection to maintain - not mention her jones for thousand pound handbags, so she is always on the lookout for rich arseholes desperate to sell fridges to Eskimos and that is the zionist lobby in a nutshell. They specialise in persuading racist old pricks to increase their level of hate towards young unwhite humans & in doing so ensure that lots more people die every year.

A classic example would be the horror show Israel has cooked up with KSA; from now on all shipments of medicines to Yemen a nation which Israel and Saudi have destroyed by bombing and shelling of all major population centers, will be blocked. So what if 800,000 Yemen citizens have cholera because all water reticulation infrastructure has been destroyed by bombing? All the better! Blocking the supply of all medicines will guarantee those cholera sufferers - most of em children, will die.

Not even the nazis tried that one on but that is just another part of the plan for greater israel so as per usual the end justifies the means for zionists.
Priti will be pissed she is unlikely to get the contract to sell that to englanders - not to worry the zionist lobby has a queue of greedy sociopaths eager to do the job. Maybe the arsehole who dropped by MoA fancies his chances and this post is part of his portfolio for the gig. Who cares the grumpy old pr1cks are dying out and in another decade they will be gone completely and the Jordan Valley will be returned to its owners not long after that. The enablers of zionism have backed a loser, they know it which is why their crimes get worse and more obvious each year - flailing about prior to drowning.

librul | Nov 9, 2017 1:25:05 PM | 41
@39 said,

1) To promote disintegration, division and separation in the region.
2) To establish artificial political entities that would be under the authority of the imperialist countries. [MB, KSA]
3) To fight any kind of unity – whether intellectual, religious or historical – and taking practical measures to divide the region's inhabitants.
4) To achieve this, it was proposed that a "buffer state" be established in Palestine, populated by a strong, foreign presence which would be hostile to its neighbors and friendly to European countries and their interests. [5]

Familiar sounding, reminds one of the recent attempt to balkanize Syria, and the recent 2014 coup in Ukraine...and, heck, the modus operandi of the CIA in general...

Peter AU 1 | Nov 9, 2017 1:26:45 PM | 42
Bilad al-Sham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilad_al-Sham

Magnier mentioned this place a number of times in his articles on the Sunni jihad groups of Syria. I also noticed many of these groups with ties to AQ had al Sham or Sham in their name.

The Shia Hezbolla interactive map also covers most of the Bilad al-Sham area. Syria itself has been a steadfast opponent of the imposed state of Israel.

Strong historical ties throught the former Bilad al-Sham region -(Greater Syria? Historical Syria)- although the Sunni jihadists seem to have now sided with the Israelis?

The nasty little state of Israel is totally reliant on US (plus five eyes) protection at the UN, but like a parasite, sucking the life out of its host.

failure of imagination | Nov 9, 2017 1:30:47 PM | 43
Weirder even more is the entertainment of Rapture-Ready Christians. Certainly happy with Israel now, but looking forward to The End. Should the duplicity of Pope Pius X onwards be revealed and the mopes get angry (and not in a Christian way) then Kingdom Come comes to " a bunch of white people pretending to be Jewish protected by a bunch of white people pretending to be Christian" (Malcolm X) quicker than prophecy. More alcoholic-overreach, doubling-down on losing games (demographics). Samson suit-case nukes can't be that bad. They may even scare the Arabs out of Europe.
Actually, wishing good health and thanks all
chet380 | Nov 9, 2017 2:25:04 PM | 45
Britain's 260,000 Jews are a tiny fraction of 1% of the British population -- the amount of political influence that this miniscule proportion is able to employ is so grossly beyond disproportionate as to be laughable. So what is the answer?
ashley albanese | Nov 9, 2017 2:35:58 PM | 46
Henry Ford and his ant- Semitism often pops up in discussions of Fascisn and Zionism . Ford's involvements did not end merely with support for Nazi Germany. E H carr points out correctly that Ford engineers were active in the building and design of Soviet industry .
Anonymous | Nov 9, 2017 2:42:44 PM | 47
If you guys consider Priti Patel some kind of agent, do you guys support the latest, that Russian RT sign up to be considered a "foreign agent"?
ben | Nov 9, 2017 3:10:17 PM | 48
Debs @ 39 said:"Who cares the grumpy old pr1cks are dying out and in another decade they will be gone completely and the Jordan Valley will be returned to its owners not long after that. The enablers of zionism have backed a loser, they know it which is why their crimes get worse and more obvious each year - flailing about prior to drowning."

Great wrap-up Debs. One of your most salient rants, and if that scenario plays out, the world will be better off..

jwco | Nov 9, 2017 3:25:54 PM | 49
b Perhaps now i see why you have been called "anti-semitic."

What is your reading of the history of British colonialism?

Of the famines? (Eire, Bharat)

Can you imagine why a Hindu might refer to her travel to Israel as a "family vacation"?

Hi again | Nov 9, 2017 3:40:32 PM | 50
https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-british-high-society-fell-in-love-with-the-nazis

"British war against Germany"? Which British?

CD Waller | Nov 9, 2017 3:41:33 PM | 51
Politus...another example of the Israeli 'lobby'. Zionists publicly brag about stove piping what they consider to be anti Zionist comments to their army of social media trolls. He probably gets paid by the word. Don't encourage him. Reason will not prevail.
nonsense factory | Nov 9, 2017 3:42:50 PM | 52
Student of history. . . As far as Britain and the Balfour Declaration (2 November 1917), this can only be understood in the context of British ambitions for the Middle East after the discovery of oil in Persia in 1908 by D'Arcy, and the formation of the Anglo-Persian oil company in 1909. Britain, having transitioned its navy from coal to faster, more efficient oil-powered ships, wanted complete control over all Persian Gulf oil to ensure it would retain control of the seas.

Fun historical questions: What role did the German effort to build a Berlin-to-Baghdad rail line to access Middle Eastern oil have on the outbreak of World War I? What part did Germany's alliance with the Ottoman Empire have in (1) Britain's decision to issue the Balfour Declaration(1917) and (2) Britains support for the Levant Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule (1916)?

Controlling the oil was a huge factor, and the Berlin-to-Baghdad rail line was a major threat to British interests. Oil was also the subject of secret treaties between Britain and Russia over post-war control of Central Asian and the Middle East. To get to the point, the establishment of Israel was part of the British Empire program:

The Arabs were also opposed to a separate Israeli state, claiming that instead a larger Arab state would be a better fit for the region. In a 1919 petition, the General Syrian Congress asserted that a key principle of their government would be "safeguarding the rights of minorities" and that instead of a separate nation, "[o]ur Jewish compatriots shall enjoy our common rights and assume the common responsibilities." Instead, the British were openly committed to the creation of a Palestinian mandate for Jews. Three of the reasons offered for UK control over the Palestinian mandate, at a 1919 meeting, were that the mandate would provide the UK with "great prestige", to give access to the Hedjaz railway, and to provide a defensive buffer against possible French threats towards Egypt and the Suez Canal. The Palestinian mandate and the resulting state of Israel would long remain a symbol of the power and true priorities of foreign, European interests in the Middle East.

Thes were standard British practices - establishing a client state (Israel) that would support British imperial agendas and be reliant on British support for its long-term survival (hence, would be obedient to British directives). However, the Zionists themselves eventually turned on their British client state right after WW2. The United States eventually took over the British role in the relationship with Israel as the Cold War ignited in the 1950s. This also initiated a long period of U.S. support for Wahhabist Islam, which Israel supported (they created Hamas) both as a proxy force against the Soviet Union, as well as against the secular PLO which wanted Palestinian land returned.

Zionists are more like Wahhabists than anything else - complete merger of religious doctrine with state government, intolerance for any other religious groups, (kind of like certain groups of evangelical Christians), a real tendency towards fascist organization and authoritarian repression - hence the 'natural alliance' between groups like these:

"Patel.. Hindutva fanatics would fit well with the US touring freak show of wahhabi's, zionists and nazi's."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 9, 2017 12:31:34 PM | 34

As far as the British deal today? Israel, relying so heavily on external support for its economic health, trys hard to influence British and American politics, i.e. it spends millions to influence elections and government policy for its own interests. Funny how this is viewed as acceptable behavior for Israel (and Saudi Arabia). Some law about having to register as a foreign agent is being violated in Congress, the State Department and the associated cloud of lobbyists, isn't it?

bevin | Nov 9, 2017 3:46:41 PM | 53
"Havent we been arguing the opposite when GOP politicians have talked with russians?
Why is Preti wrong to be fired then? A bit of double standard here now.."Anonymous 36

There is no comparison between what Patel did and the unsubstantiated allegations made against Americans who are far from being cabinet members.

To talk of 'double standards' in this matter is nonsensical unless you are drawing attention to the incredible laxity with which Patel has been treated.

Ghostship | Nov 9, 2017 3:50:56 PM | 54
>>>> chet380 | Nov 9, 2017 2:25:04 PM | 45
Britain's 260,000 Jews are a tiny fraction of 1% of the British population -- the amount of polltical influence that this miniscule propoertion is able to employ is so grossly beyond disproportionate as to be laughable.

I'm not so sure British Jews as British citizens have much political power. It's more that many politicians in the UK have their noses so far up Washington's arse for some reason that when the Israelis tell them to do something they do it immediately and without question because they want to get their noses even further up Washington's arse. Why this happens I can only guess. Perhaps they're all on massive backhanders from the CIA. Perhaps the NSA and CIA have embarrassing information about them. Perhaps they're worried that the CIA will organise a colour revolution. Perhaps they believe the CIA/DoS BS that Putin is coming to murder them in their beds. Washington exerts massive influence on British as well as European politicians but what it is is not obvious. Also most of the media, including supposedly left-wing newspapers like The Guardian are strongly Zionist.

Peter AU 1 | Nov 9, 2017 4:06:59 PM | 55
54 "Why this happens I can only guess."

UK= King Salman and US= MBS? That's the way I am starting to look at it with Canada, Australia and NZ the tag along siblings.

james | Nov 9, 2017 4:30:40 PM | 57
@53 bevin.. i think they were drawing attention to the double standards where israel gets a free ride all the time in the usa and everywhere else, but any contact with Russia is a huge no no, as witness the insanity in the usa at present.. that was how i read it..
mauisurfer | Nov 9, 2017 4:41:05 PM | 58
concerned about "the jewish lobby"? it is far worse than you know unless you have read "Samson Option" by Seymour Hersh?
free copy here: https://archive.org/stream/Sampson_Option/Sampson_Option_djvu.txt
Shakesvshav | Nov 9, 2017 5:28:41 PM | 61
A moral victory, I feel, for Craig Murray in his battle with Zionist elements: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/11/the-end-of-the-affair/
Lochearn | Nov 9, 2017 5:37:35 PM | 62
A documentary by Peter Oborne for the UK's Channel 4 on the Israel lobby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGAyJpzJwp4
Lozion | Nov 9, 2017 5:40:33 PM | 63
@60 Ah so that would make you a Bajan of portuguese descent? Fascinating..
Guidance & love Ras.
SFC Steven M Barry USA RET | Nov 9, 2017 6:32:37 PM | 64
There is only one solution to "The Jewish Problem." Dialogue is not part of the solution.
TSP | Nov 9, 2017 6:45:18 PM | 65
With the US and EU coming out Wednesday supporting Lebanon, doesn't seem the moar woar brigade is pulling the strings. First Qatar survives its legislated doom, now Lebanon has still not yet been freedomed.

Could this be yet another crack in the anglozionist machine? What possibly could be going on with the borg?

Laguerre | Nov 9, 2017 6:48:55 PM | 66
re Saudi

Angry Arab says MbS king in 36 hours

I'd say, assassination. serious money is involved. However well defended MbS is, the price for suborning a guard, however high, would be worth it.

Anonymous | Nov 9, 2017 7:13:22 PM | 67
VK @23

"Saudi Arabia -- the cradle of Muslim extremism -- is an ally of Israel."

Israel has no allies. It uses other countries to do its dirty work for them. If that dirty work can also destroy the 'ally' so much the better. For example, Turkey was 'allied' in the early days with the destruction of Syria - supposedly Turkey had something against Assad. The quid pro quo was to be Israel's influence in getting Turkey into the EU. However, it was clear that destruction of Syria would empower the Kurds, which would be a real existential threat to Turkey, as opposed to the imagined acts of Assad.

The supposed 'Turkish caliphate' had the same likelihood of happening as the supposed 'Qatar pipeline' which would come online shortly after the supposed UNOCAL pipeline through Afghanistan (hint try running major construction works through areas held by unstable tribal/ethnic/religious groups. Groups would blow stuff up just to spite their opponents. Those bought off would not stay bought off)

Temporarily Sane | Nov 9, 2017 7:18:00 PM | 68
@3 librul
Once in Israel they are subjected to hypnosis and/or subliminal indoctrination.

They don't need to employ extreme measures like these. For one thing the people they are influencing are already on their side, and run-of-the-mill overt peer group pressure to conform puts the human psyche under enormous strain to conform to group demands.

An experiment that has been repeated probably thousands of times in various forms goes as follows: In a rigged group discussion or "lesson" one person is the "mark" and the other members are part of the experimenters team. In a very simple version of the experiment two lines are drawn on a whiteboard. One line is, say, 20" long and the other one, drawn right beneath it, is 15" long - very obviously shorter than the one above it. The mark is engaged in a discussion and asked if he sees any difference between the two lines. Yes, the bottom line is shorter than the top one he will invariably say. The other group members then vociferously disagree with the mark and tell him no, he's wrong and both lines are exactly the same length. The mark will protest no, that's crazy...just look at them! (The "teacher" will say the group needs to reach a consensus before they can continue with the "lesson" or break for lunch.) The fake students will continue to deny the mark's very true observation and continue to pressure him to admit his "error." About 3 out of 4 the "marks" in these experiments capitulate and "go with the group" even when it is blatantly obvious he is right and they are wrong. (I don't have the exact number on hand...but it is very high.)

So, no, Zionist Israelis do not need to brainwash and "subliminally" mind fuck visiting Zionist allies to get them to go along with their hosts want. Boring old group pressure is usually sufficient to get dissenters on board. It is the same dynamic that makes hold outs go along with gang rapes and gives rise to mob mentality where even mild mannered people can become violent and kill. It can be observed in groups of all kinds including internet forums. Kids do this all the time to their friends. It is a very common human behavior.

Not every nefarious goal is achieved via a calculated and carefully planned conspiracy to secretly trick or use deeply subversive tactics to gain compliance. Anyone who thinks so does not understand human social psychology.

Peter AU 1 | Nov 9, 2017 7:18:34 PM | 69
"What possibly could be going on with the borg?"

"Sponsors" locked up at the Ritz?
Trump prasing the Saudi "crackdown on corruption" and the borg axiously wondering where there next paycheck will come from?

Temporarily Sane | Nov 9, 2017 7:21:50 PM | 70
@66 Laguerre

It's been close to 24 hrs since he posted that. If the rumors he heard come to pass that will be very interesting indeed. I wonder how the "international community" will react?

likklemore | Nov 9, 2017 7:22:22 PM | 71
@ Lozion 63

Not to detract the thread but no, the one in Bdos was sold and is not the oldest. It's further west in Jah, proudly of spanish- portuguese decent. Peace.

@ Laguerre 66

Indira Ghandi was well protected. MbS may be handed the throne but he is done. The purge was pre-emptive. In the doing, he has notched up too many enemies. Billionaires need certainty. Fear in the air. Saudi Billionaires Scramble To Move Cash Offshore, Escape Asset Freeze
also at ZH Following KSA, "Kuwait orders citizens to Leave Lebanon Immediately - against any negative impact that may take place"

Anonymous | Nov 9, 2017 7:22:53 PM | 72
The Saudi-Lebanon 'war' stuff is bullshit as was the was Saudi-Qatar 'war' on the recent past. The Saudis can't handle the khat-chewing flip-flop, dishdasha and sports jacket-wearing Houthis, let alone battle hardened Hezbollah. Saudi itself is in dire financial straits witnessed by the dismal attempts to sell of ARAMCO to get a lump sum now rather than decling sums over time. It is also attempting to diversify away from oil dependency with the NEOM bs.

This whole thing is an last ditch attempt by Israel to raise a distraction allowing it to grab the areas of Syria/Lebanon it covets in the name of 'national security'. It is already showing its concern for the Druze in the Occupied Golan, offering to protect them from its ISIS proxy force. If Lebanon and Saudi get destroyed in the process, so much the better (from Israel's viewpoint).

http://www.mintpressnews.com/israel-occupy-syria-town-near-golan-heights-protect-druze/234146/

likklemore | Nov 9, 2017 8:28:21 PM | 73
Anonymous | Nov 9, 2017 7:22:53 PM | 72

Well, Bibi could use some distraction. He is in the police hot seat as his former chief of staff and close confidant turned state's witness on corruption - allegations of "suspected bribery, fraud and breach of trust."

JPost, November 9, 2017

According to Army Radio, Netanyahu is expected to be confronted during the investigation with testimony from Ari Harrow, his former aide who has turned state's witness.

Police interrogators from the Lahav 433 unit arrived at the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday evening to question him over his involvement in police cases 1000 and 2000.[.]

How shocking. Isn't this the norm - taking gifts in exchange for favours?

ben | Nov 9, 2017 8:30:28 PM | 74
Lochearn @62: Thanks for the link. Sounds like a carbon copy of AIPAC, The U$A's version of Israeli buy-offs for politicians.
Daniel | Nov 9, 2017 9:19:07 PM | 76
Once again, great article and wonderful, insightful (almost universally) comments. I LOVE this site.

Anonymous @47. I'll take a stab at what I see as three different situations encompassed by your query.

Patel's wrongdoing stemmed from being a state official conducting state business without the knowledge of the state she ostensibly serves. It's ironic because the British State would likely have been just fine with what she negotiated, acquiesced to, promised or whatever - but since she did this covertly, and was outed by journalists, she was bumped from one office, though not otherwise sanctioned.

The issue of government officials overtly or covertly putting the interests of foreign powers above those of the citizens and interests of their own country should be of great concern, but serving certain "allies" seems to have no boundaries in both the US and Britain.

When a private person or group that is not part of the home country government lobbies on behalf of a foreign government, they are required to register as agents of that foreign government. Hence, I say the "Friends of Israel" in Britain and AIPAC in the U.S. should be registered as foreign agents.

That is one of the things Paul Manafort was charged with as regards Ukraine, Michael Flynn got in some trouble over as regards Turkey, and is why Tony Podesta resigned from his lobbying organization as regards RUSSIA!!!.

JFK/RFK tried to get the precursor to AIPAC, the American Zionist Council, (AZC) to register as foreign agents. Of course, he also insisted that Israel allow inspectors into Israel's nuclear weapons producing facility. I forget what the resolution of those issues was. ;-)

News media are a different situation completely. BBC in the US clearly promotes British political and economic agendas. So even if RT was promoting Russian ideology, it would be no different. In my observations of RT America, they are more honest and unbiased than most news sources. They endeavor to present both "liberal" and "conservative" viewpoints, and their news presenters like Abby Martin, Thom Harmann and Ed Schultz have all stated that the network never once tried to interfere with their editorial independence, which is something I doubt any Western corporate or state-backed news presenter/editor can say. Well, except for those who share the official ideology so much that they would never imagine presenting anything contrary to or questioning of that ideology.

Where I see bias in RT America is more in what news they choose not to cover, or to simply report as having happened with no context. The other problem I have with RT is that they report the Global War OF Terror and various false flag or hoax appearing events with the same assumptions as the Western MSM.

frances | Nov 9, 2017 11:04:46 PM | 79
reply to:Familiar sounding, reminds one of the recent attempt to balkanize Syria, and the recent 2014 coup in Ukraine...and, heck, the modus operandi of the CIA in general...
Posted by: librul | Nov 9, 2017 1:25:05 PM | 41

You are right and I think it also sounds like what is happening in the US today.

frances | Nov 9, 2017 11:25:58 PM | 80
reply to "With the US and EU coming out Wednesday supporting Lebanon, doesn't seem the moar woar brigade is pulling the strings.First Qatar survives its legislated doom, now Lebanon has still not yet been freedomed.Could this be yet another crack in the anglozionist machine? What possibly could be going on with the borg?
Posted by: TSP | Nov 9, 2017 6:45:18 PM | 65

Keep in mind the US spoken support came from the State Dept, however we haven't heard from Trump yet and as his son-in-law is "best friends ever" with the SA Clown Prince, Tillerson may once again be left to eat his words.

[Nov 07, 2017] Fat Leonard' probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals

Nov 07, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , November 6, 2017 at 9:18 am

Washington's Pissed via Antiwar.com: 'Fat Leonard' probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fat-leonard-scandal-expands-to-ensnare-more-than-60-admirals/2017/11/05/f6a12678-be5d-11e7-97d9-bdab5a0ab381_story.html

Most of the admirals are suspected of attending extravagant feasts at Asia's best restaurants paid for by Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based maritime tycoon who made an illicit fortune supplying Navy vessels in ports from Vladivostok, Russia to Brisbane, Australia. Francis also was renowned for hosting alcohol-soaked, after-dinner parties, which often featured imported prostitutes and sometimes lasted for days, according to federal court records .
####

Plenty more at the link.

[Nov 07, 2017] Washington's Wonderful World of Corruption - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... On the next day, Woolsey and his wife met separately with the same two Turkish businessmen at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City and discussed with them a more general but broadly based $10 million plan of their own that would combine lobbying with public relations to discredit Gülen both in the press and in congress. Woolsey stressed that he had the kind of contacts in government and the media to make the plan work. ..."
"... Woolsey did not get the $10 million contract that he sought and Flynn's well-remunerated work for Turkey reportedly consisted of some research, a short documentary that may or may not have been produced, and a November op-ed in The Hill ..."
"... But the real story about Flynn and Woolsey is the fashion in which senior ex-government employees shamelessly exploit their status to turn money from any and all comers without any regard for either the long- or short- term consequences of what they are doing. ..."
"... Just think. Casino king, lord of vice industry, is the #1 donor to the GOP. Politics was always about money, but now it's totally shameless. ..."
"... So did Flynn take the considerable risks of nondisclosure because he was an ideologue or was it primarily for the money? And was it pathological or just stupidly brazen? The Gereral's pardon awaits. ..."
"... What does one expect in a country where money dominates all ? The USA is a great country to live in when one is rich, anything goes, and horror when one is poor. The only way to escape horror is to get rich, and stay rich. I am severely ill, the Dutch health care system keeps me alive, at great cost. In the USA I would either be broke and dead, or simply dead. ..."
"... Just a couple observations here, but the world economy went into the toilet around the time the big Western economies started pushing all this anti-corruption stuff for businesses, and one cannot help but notice that political corruption in the West has become far more sophisticated in the past twenty years, with payoffs arriving after the fact to provide some degree of plausible deniability for the politicos and apparatchiks involved. ..."
"... 'As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value'. ..."
"... Then, Errol Morris was interviewed about his documentary film on Donald Rumfseld. Morris was scathing: Rumsfeld was all about his career, his voluminous "snowflake" memos were meandering BS, self-aggrandizing; Morris was especially outraged with Rumsfeld's reaction to a seriously wounded soldier -- it was a photo op; no measure of humanity was in evidence. Interesting contrast between McNamara and Rumsfeld ..."
Nov 07, 2017 | www.unz.com

Enter former General Michael Flynn and former Bill Clinton CIA Director James Woolsey, both of whom were national security advisers to candidate Donald Trump during his campaign when they competed for contracts with Turkish businessmen linked to the Erdogan government to discredit Gülen and possibly even enable his abduction and illegal transfer to Turkey. If, as a consequence of their labors, Gülen were to be somehow returned home he would potentially be tried on treason charges, which might in the near future carry the death penalty in Turkey.

Both Flynn and Woolsey are highly controversial figures. Woolsey, in spite of having no intelligence experience, was notoriously appointed CIA Director by Bill Clinton to reward the neoconservatives for their support of his candidacy. But Woolsey never met privately with the president during his two years in office. He is regarded as an ardent neocon and Islamophobe affiliated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). I once debated him on NPR where he asserted that Israel does not spy on the United States, a delusional viewpoint to be sure. Former CIA Senior analyst Mel Goodman, recalling Woolsey's tenure at the Agency, commented in 2003 that "[he] was a disaster as CIA director in the 90s and is now running around this country calling for a World War IV to deal with the Islamic problem. This is a dangerous individual "

Flynn, is, of course, better known, and not for any good qualities that he might possess. He is, like Woolsey, an ardent hawk on Iran and other related issues but is also ready to make a buck through his company The Flynn Intel Group, where Woolsey served as an unpaid adviser. In the summer of 2016 Flynn had obtained a three-month contract for $530,000 to "research" Gülen and produce a short documentary film discrediting him, an arrangement that should have been reported under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but the big prize was a possible contract in the millions of dollars to create a negative narrative on the Hizmet founder and put pressure on the U.S. government to bring about his extradition.

Woolsey and Flynn, both Trump advisers at the time, found themselves in competition for the money. Flynn had a New York meeting at the Essex House with the businessmen accompanied by the Turkish Foreign and Energy Ministers as well as Erdogan's son-in-law on September 19 th 2016 where, inter alia, the possibility of kidnapping Gülen and flying him to Turkey was discussed. Flynn has denied that the possibility of kidnapping was ever raised, but Woolsey, who was at the meeting for a brief time, insists that "whisking away" Gülen in the dead of night was on the agenda, though he concedes that the discussion was "hypothetical."

On the next day, Woolsey and his wife met separately with the same two Turkish businessmen at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City and discussed with them a more general but broadly based $10 million plan of their own that would combine lobbying with public relations to discredit Gülen both in the press and in congress. Woolsey stressed that he had the kind of contacts in government and the media to make the plan work.

Woolsey did not get the $10 million contract that he sought and Flynn's well-remunerated work for Turkey reportedly consisted of some research, a short documentary that may or may not have been produced, and a November op-ed in The Hill by Flynn that denounced Gülen as a "radical Islamist who portrays himself as a moderate."

But the real story about Flynn and Woolsey is the fashion in which senior ex-government employees shamelessly exploit their status to turn money from any and all comers without any regard for either the long- or short- term consequences of what they are doing. The guilt or innocence of Fetullah Gülen was never an issue for them, nor the reputation of the United States judiciary in a case which has all the hallmarks of a political witch hunt. And if a kidnapping actually was contemplated, it begs one to pause and consider what kind of people are in power in this country.

Neither Flynn nor Woolsey ever considered that their working as presidential campaign advisers while simultaneously getting embroiled in an acrimonious political dispute involving a major ally just might be seen as a serious conflict of interest, even if it was technically not-illegal. All that motivated them was the desire to exploit a situation that they cared not at all about for profit to themselves.

No one expects top rank ex-officials to retire from the world, but out of respect for their former positions, they should retain at least a modicum of decency. This is lacking across the board from the Clintons on down to the Flynns and Woolseys as Americans apparently now expect less and less from their elected officials and have even ceased to demand minimal ethical standards.

Issac , November 7, 2017 at 2:32 am GMT

I've heard it said that Gülen was stateside precisely because of his potential leverage over Ankara. One could be forgiven thinking, therefor, that he had outlived his usefulness after the failed/faked coup. One might even consider sending him home would be a diplomatic gift to such a "major ally," as Turkey. Apparently Langley does not want this bargaining chip off the table just yet. Or do they? Who would even know?

Do you expect Americans to trust current national security state employees more than ex-, if indeed ex- even has the connotation one expects? On what basis would they make this judgement? Are most of the people in either camp not appointments from various neocon-influenced administrations? What would popular resentment of this corruption even look like? Would they demand the passing of legislation that could be ignored?

What ethical standards can be applied to an organization that can lie, under oath, without repercussion? In a world in which sixth generation American citizens are equated in every way with aggressive third-world refugees, the words "loyalty," and "corruption," have lost any foundation upon which they might have meaning.

Carlton Meyer , Website November 7, 2017 at 5:29 am GMT
And in the news today:

By CRAIG WHITLOCK | The Washington Post | Published: November 5, 2017

The "Fat Leonard" corruption investigation has expanded to include more than 60 admirals and hundreds of other U.S. Navy officers under scrutiny for their contacts with a defense contractor in Asia who systematically bribed sailors with sex, liquor and other temptations [like cash], according to the Navy.

Most of the admirals are suspected of attending extravagant feasts at Asia's best restaurants paid for by Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based maritime tycoon who made an illicit fortune supplying Navy vessels in ports from Vladivostok, Russia, to Brisbane, Australia. Francis also was renowned for hosting alcohol-soaked, after-dinner parties, which often featured imported prostitutes and sometimes lasted for days, according to federal court records.

RobinG , November 7, 2017 at 6:16 am GMT

the sell-out.. disease.. afflicting officials in national security.

corruption from the top down a combination of greed and dishonesty

Amen, Phil, and Americans are collateral damage.

General Michael Hayden abandoned an NSA cyber program –that could have prevented the 9/11 attack– in favor of a less effective plan that was more profitable for corporate security firms, and generated greater funding for the intelligence agency.

"A Good American" tells the story of former Technical director of NSA, Bill Binney, and a program called ThinThread. He and a small team within NSA created a surveillance tool that could pick up any electronic signal on earth, filter it for targets and render results in real-time. NSA leadership dumped it – three weeks prior to 9/11.

Watch it free, before it's taken down. https://youtu.be/FlkAxAc7EjI

Priss Factor , Website November 7, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
Just think. Casino king, lord of vice industry, is the #1 donor to the GOP. Politics was always about money, but now it's totally shameless.
Mark James , November 7, 2017 at 7:06 am GMT
So did Flynn take the considerable risks of nondisclosure because he was an ideologue or was it primarily for the money? And was it pathological or just stupidly brazen? The Gereral's pardon awaits.
jilles dykstra , November 7, 2017 at 7:35 am GMT
What does one expect in a country where money dominates all ? The USA is a great country to live in when one is rich, anything goes, and horror when one is poor. The only way to escape horror is to get rich, and stay rich. I am severely ill, the Dutch health care system keeps me alive, at great cost. In the USA I would either be broke and dead, or simply dead.
The Alarmist , November 7, 2017 at 9:23 am GMT
Oddly enough, I thought that Gülen was a Company asset, and that that was the reason they took Flynn down. Not that I know anything, just speculation.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, for anybody below the C-Suite there is an ever increasing pressure for compliance policies that outlaw all but the most trivial gifts or meals and entertainment in order to prevent corruption and abuse of position.

Just a couple observations here, but the world economy went into the toilet around the time the big Western economies started pushing all this anti-corruption stuff for businesses, and one cannot help but notice that political corruption in the West has become far more sophisticated in the past twenty years, with payoffs arriving after the fact to provide some degree of plausible deniability for the politicos and apparatchiks involved.

JackOH , November 7, 2017 at 9:41 am GMT
Phil, thanks. Every sentence tells here of an America off the rails.

A onetime local mayor in my area may offer an idea of the type of person we need. Pat U. has balls of steel. The Mob was against him. City hall bureaucrats were against him. The unions were against him. The police were against him. Corrupt cops threatened to frame him. The priest who'd married him and his wife was enlisted as an errand boy to deliver bribe money. Pat once publicly described our area as a "banana republic". He had a remote car starter installed to guard against assassination by car bombing. He was elected for multiple terms, and survived all attempts to crush him.

What did Pat have going for him? Personal anatomy. A wife who'd been a very young Polish WWII refugee, and who knew a thing or two about government gone bad and people gone bad. A strong, incorruptible law director, and a strong, incorruptible budget and finance guy. Charisma, and, of course, votes. He kept a local Mr. Big, a zillionaire briber of politicians, at a distance and worked warily with him. Pat met the challenges of an economically collapsing area pretty well.

How many politicians could weather the permanent storm of American corruption as well as Pat? Not a whole lot.

Greg Bacon , Website November 7, 2017 at 9:59 am GMT
The corruption in DC must be setting a record unmatched in history. It doesn't help that our craven, corrupt Congress sets its own rules regarding pay and benefits, but has also passed laws saying its 'OK' for those elite to engage in insider trading. Each Rep and Senator knows that kissing up to the Fortune 500 guarantees them a job after they leave Congress, with a fat paycheck, bennies and sexy secretaries more than happy to take DICKtation, all provided by the company's they took care of while in Congress.

Compounding the situation is the equally rotten DOJ, who has no problem going after blue-collar crime, but won't touch the real problem, those TBTF Wall Street banks acting like out-of-control casinos who then dump their losses on the backs on the American taxpayer. The latest USAG head Sessions is more confirmation that the Senate is a 'good ol' boys' and girls club that will not go after current and former members, as Sessions will NOT go after the thieving, lying, traitorous Hillary for her many crimes.

Its impossible to Drain the Swamp when it has so many creatures that snack on Americans and protect each other.

Short of a revolution, this can only end badly for Americans.

EliteCommInc. , November 7, 2017 at 10:29 am GMT
I would love to have seen that debate. I am not a fan of the contention that Iran embodies all things evil about Islam. But it is disappointing that Gen Flynn's advocacy is mired in a competition for financial contract.
Tom Welsh , November 7, 2017 at 10:41 am GMT
"We Americans appear to have done it all to ourselves through inexplicable tolerance for a combination of greed and fundamental dishonesty on the part of our elected and appointed government officials".

One thing about you Americans that often surprises foreigners is your readiness to believe that all this corruption is something new or different. It has been going on ever since well before 1776.

My own opinion is that systematic corruption is a more or less inevitable consequence of Americans' attempts to cut themselves off from all previous history and moral standards. There were to be no royalty, nobility, gentry – no one exceptional at all in any way.

Well, human nature abhors a lack of hierarchy: we need it almost as much as water, air, food, security. If you try to abolish all forms of hierarchy, all that happens is that it goes underground. What do Americans respect – what, indeed, have they respected most since (at least) the 1850s? Money. That's it. Cold hard cash. Wealth is next to godliness. The more money you have, the better a person you are thought to be – absolutely regardless of whether you got it by grinding the faces of the workers, murder, torture, drug dealing, or anything else.

But money is not, cannot be a value. Marx explained this in fairly simple terms, but the following is my favorite way of putting it.

'As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value'.

– Morris Berman, "The Moral Order", Counterpunch 8-10 February 2013. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/the-moral-order/

another fred , November 7, 2017 at 11:31 am GMT

We Americans appear to have done it all to ourselves through inexplicable tolerance for a combination of greed and fundamental dishonesty on the part of our elected and appointed government officials.

One might call it stupid to believe that a nation could invest its government with the power to handle and disburse vast sums of money without becoming corrupt. Then again one might call that belief insane. One thing is clear, giving the government that much power and money is sure to corrupt it. Anyone who expects anything else of human beings does not know much about human beings.

Z-man , November 7, 2017 at 11:54 am GMT
Flynn was the worst associate that Trump fell in love with. That's a flaw of Trump. He did get rid of Gorka and one or two other NeoCons, unfortunately he has an 'influential' son in law that he can't get rid of that easily whose connected by blood to Joo land. And then again he has a Zionist speech writer Steven Miller, who's very good pushing back the anti Trump press, but still a Zionist Joo . 'Second Coming' anyone? (Grin)
Moi , November 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm GMT
What's PG griping about? Our elected leaders, senior officials and corporate captains pretty accurately reflect what our country has devolved into.
jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm GMT
@JackOH

Thanks for that great story.

How many politicians could weather the permanent storm of American corruption as well as Pat? Not a whole lot.

I'd guess almost zero.

Hotzenplotz , November 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

„I know of no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property." Tocqueville

Dishonesty and greed – the American way from the beginning.

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh

My own opinion is that systematic corruption is a more or less inevitable consequence of Americans' attempts to cut themselves off from all previous history and moral standards. There were to be no royalty, nobility, gentry – no one exceptional at all in any way.

Well, the royalty, nobility, gentry as well as the chief priests and rabbis and and almost everyone in a position of power have historically been pretty corrupt, I'd say. In fact it's probably accurate to say that all of them have been based on violence, treachery and bullshit or some varying mixture of those things has been the rule since rule began.

As far as worshipping money, you are correct, but the systemic corruption is baked into the cake by the way most political systems generally arise, and it's not only an American phenomenon since a person reading Aristophanes, Plutarch, Juvenal, Herbert Spencer and tons more could as well be writing of current events. The concepts are unchanged; only the names, dates and minor particular issues have changed.

Upon arriving at Messene Philip proceeded to devastate the country like an enemy acting from passion rather than from reason. For he expected, apparently, that while he continued to inflict injuries, the sufferers would never feel any resentment or hatred towards him.

-The Histories of Polybius , Book VIII, pg 465, Section III. Affairs of Greece, Philip, and Messenia. published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1922 thru 1927

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/8*.html

The concept is not only ancient, but cross-cultural too.

" The Master said, 'Why do you not leave this place?' The answer was, 'There is no oppressive government here.' The Master then said to his disciples: 'Remember this, my little children. Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers.'"

-Confucius as quoted in The Ethics of Confucius, by Miles Menander Dawson, [1915]

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/eoc/eoc10.htm

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm GMT

What's PG griping about? Our elected leaders, senior officials and corporate captains pretty accurately reflect what our country has devolved into.

Sorry good sir, but no devolution needed. It was baked in the cake from inception. The "anti-federalists" warned us but the warnings fell on deaf (and powerless and preoccupied) ears.

Rich , November 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

I'm not trolling you, Jilles, you just keep showing up on this site bashing America with factually wrong statements. I'm aware that the Netherlands is a pleasant nation, both my wife and I have some Dutch ancestry, but the Netherlands, like the US, isn't perfect. The fact is that every country, from Venezuela to Monaco, is a great country when one is rich, I'd bet even Holland is nice if you've got a few bucks.

To your point about your health issues. Here in the US there are two primary medical insurance programs run by the government, Medicare and Medicaid. If you're over 65 you are automatically covered by Medicare, there are some low costs associated with it, but if you're too poor to pay them, you don't have to. Medicaid is a government run health insurance program for the poor and uninsured in the US. In most cases all medical conditions are covered for free in this program. No hospital emergency room in the US is allowed to refuse treatment, either. Could the system be better? Of course, but people aren't really dying in the streets, desperate for medical attention, as the leftists you read are telling you.

Carroll Price , November 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm GMT
Contrary to the proverb, fish DO NOT rot from the head down but from the gut. The rampant corruption practiced by elected and unelected US officials alike, simply mirrors that of the nation as a whole.

http://www.brainstormwarning.org/2008/10/30/the-fish-rots-from-the-head

DESERT FOX , November 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm GMT
Our government is not our government anymore , it is a criminal cabal ran for and by criminals and as such is not legitimate anymore and this has led to perpetual war for perpetual profit and perpetual corruption, we are Rome and the end is near.
Joe Hide , November 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm GMT
Amazing changes for the Good are taking place at an ever more rapid rate. The exposure of the shenanigans of Flynn and Woolsey are literal examples of the figurative "The darkness hates the Light because the Light exposes the darkness for it's evil deeds". The internet and authors like this allow the Light (Truth) into Humanities Consciousness. Keep it up Giraldi!
SolontoCroesus , November 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT
@Rich

Could the system be better? Of course, but people aren't really dying in the streets, desperate for medical attention, as the leftists you read are telling you.

That may or may not be so, I'd have to see some statistics. The evidence of my lyon' eyes tells me plenty of people are living on the streets. My gentrified neighborhood insisted that police remove the men who slept under dumpsters in the alleys -- they moved them to bridge abutments and abandoned industrial sites.

Public libraries are ersatz day-care-for-hoboes; libraries now have police patrolling to ensure that the mentally ill regulars do not act out too loudly or stink too badly. Washington, DC libraries post extensive rules on the bathroom doors: NO shaving, NO showering, NO sex in the bathrooms.

Hu Mi Yu , November 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX

we are Rome and the end is near.

I think of Athens in 415 BC just before the battle of Syracuse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Expedition

Old Ben , November 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm GMT
@another fred

Ben Franklin's famous quote while voting to adopt the US Constitution.

"Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
And that was back when the Fed Govt was designed to be much smaller and much less powerful than today. Today's great power concentrated in the US govt, including the power to destroy entire countries or businesses and of course people, as well as a great deal of money which can then thus make people fabulously wealthy, means that this govt is far more susceptable to corruption than the one old Ben Franklin was referring to.

In a country where money means anything and can buy anything, then one must assume that everything is corrupt.

Old and in the way , November 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

Academics, working from CDC statistics, estimated in 2009 that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of medical care.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/09/new-study-finds-45000-deaths-annually-linked-to-lack-of-health-coverage/

As a nation, we want to go nuts over a few hundred or perhaps a thousand deaths from illegal aliens, but we look the other way as tens of thousands die in order to make people rich(er) from a for-profit medical system.

Rich , November 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

Who are these hobos living in the street? Here in NYC they are drug addicts or mentally unstable people. Why are they allowed to live in the street? Because leftist judges and politicians have made it illegal to force them into mental hospitals or drug addiction facilities. Leftists believe this is a sign of their benevolence. I don't know of anyone who is actually homeless because of poverty in the US. There's just too many programs, from section 8, to welfare, to public housing available.

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 4:21 pm GMT
@Old Ben

as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

I could be classified as a big fan of BF, but I think today he'd change that to as other forms have done before it, when the leaders shall become so corrupted as to benefit even more from despotic Government, being incapable of any other. It seems to me that the fish is always on the verge of rotting, and I on't know if it starts at the head or not, but the thing still stinks, and the head, at least, has always been pretty rotten.

Emidio Borg , November 7, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
There is more honour in a lake full of crocodiles than there is in the American heart.
anonymous , Disclaimer November 7, 2017 at 5:16 pm GMT
A couple references to "2017" should be corrected to 2016. Thank you for using this wonderfully bipartisan example. One has to be pretty naive to think that R and D mean much in Washington. Flush twice!
Jake , November 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm GMT
Of course, top officials sell out to anyone for anything. It is always that way in any Empire, save the ones ruled by very bright and brutal men who make it clear that so doing will cost in the biggest ways.

And then there is the fact of WASP culture being one in which everything is for sale. You can see the issue in all kinds of works of literature, from Jonson's The Alchemist to Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and beyond. That is what underlay the English rotating between fury and amusement that the Irish and Highlanders were to too stupid about pence and pounds to know when to sell, including their freedom and family heritage. The same dynamic was highlighted in Yankee WASPs versus Southerners, whose sense of honor was both hated furiously and laughed ay endlessly by pure-blood Anglo-Saxon Yankees.

Ron Unz , November 7, 2017 at 6:22 pm GMT
@Old and in the way

Academics, working from CDC statistics, estimated in 2009 that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of medical care As a nation, we want to go nuts over a few hundred or perhaps a thousand deaths from illegal aliens, but we look the other way as tens of thousands die in order to make people rich(er) from a for-profit medical system.

Actually, I think the former figure is a *gigantic* over-estimate. Offhand, I'd say there are something like 100 million middle-class white Americans and maybe 11 million or so illegal immigrants. And there were also over 17,000 total homicides during 2016.

Now if we're talking about ordinary middle-class whites murdered by illegals, I doubt the figure is even remotely close to 1-in-a-million per year, which would be a total of 100. In fact, I'm quite skeptical about whether the total is above 10/year, which would be one-in-10-million. That's the reason that neither VDare nor any of the other anti-immigrant webzines can almost ever find any real-life cases to talk about.

In my opinion, the notion that anything more than an infinitesimal number of American whites are murdered by illegals is just a total Internet hoax that's been endlessly propagated by silly activists.

If anyone on this thread thinks I'm wrong then I challenge them to locate at least 10 cases of ordinary middle-class whites murdered by illegals in 2016 (I'm not talking about Aryan Brotherhood gang members shivved in prison brawls or wives killing husbands/husbands killing wives). If you can't find ten cases in all of America during an entire year, then I'm probably right.

anonymous , Disclaimer November 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

I am not a fan of the contention that Iran embodies all things evil about Islam.

On the other hand, I am a fan of the contention that the white race embodies all things evil about Christianity.

MBlanc46 , November 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm GMT
"Modicum of decency"? By former elected officials and functionaries? Maybe in some other possible world.
Art , November 7, 2017 at 7:34 pm GMT
Did Flynn get crossways with the Mossad – is that why he is in trouble today? Clearly Gülen has protection in America – that has to mean Mossad/CIA backing. I have seen writing that says that Gülen has ties to Israel. That explains a lot. Think Peace -- Art
SolontoCroesus , November 7, 2017 at 8:13 pm GMT
Is corruption uniquely part of the US system of government (beyond the obvious propensity for all systems to become corrupted);
or does the US system of governance have unique loopholes, or systemic weaknesses, that make corruption more likely;
or is/has the US system of governance been corrupted by the machinations of a group or of some 'bad apples,'

Are Woolsey/Flynn examples of the "bad apple" notion: their lack of character has spread rot to the larger system? Their rot has normalized corruption?

Just watched two interviews, a conversation with Robert McNamara and Errol Morris, who directed the documentary, Fog of War, about McNamara's controversial career and decisions about war.

McNamara is widely described as an SOB of dubious moral fiber. In this conversation, he does not hide from his complicity in enormously harmful decisions, but does spell out the forces involved, not only the venal, career-protecting influences but also the realization that decisions involve the lives of large numbers of US men in uniform.

McNamara also tries to articulate the complexities -- and restraint -- with which past political leaders such as himself must approach their post-employment situation: while they do have knowledge, from experience, about situations, McNamara argues that it was his belief that he had to tread very lightly in making public opinions or prescriptions.

Then, Errol Morris was interviewed about his documentary film on Donald Rumfseld. Morris was scathing: Rumsfeld was all about his career, his voluminous "snowflake" memos were meandering BS, self-aggrandizing; Morris was especially outraged with Rumsfeld's reaction to a seriously wounded soldier -- it was a photo op; no measure of humanity was in evidence. Interesting contrast between McNamara and Rumsfeld

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man." Or Cometh the man, rot-eth the barrel."

Andrei Martyanov , Website November 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

McNamara is widely described as an SOB of dubious moral fiber. In this conversation, he does not hide from his complicity in enormously harmful decisions, but does spell out the forces involved, not only the venal, career-protecting influences but also the realization that decisions involve the lives of large numbers of US men in uniform.

Interesting that you mentioned it. I remember years ago watching McNamara's Q&A session after his lecture in one of the US "liberal" universities. I found myself surprised (in a good sense) with his into your face readiness to face anything thrown at him. He went ballistic when some student shouted "murderer" from back seats of the auditorium but McNamara spoke to this student passionately and personally. He was absolutely human and vulnerable, yet honest. In some sense it was very touching and you could see how it also tormented him.

As per neocons, from what I observed so far, I never encountered any indication of any of them being simply decent humans–they are human sewer.

[Nov 07, 2017] The Paradise Papers: How Business Titans, Royals and Pop Stars Hide Their Cash

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Stephens used an opaque holding company to own an approximately 40 percent stake in a loan business accused by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of cheating working-class and poor Americans. While earning millions from the investment, Mr. Stephens helped finance a political onslaught against the bureau, never mentioning his personal connection to the fight. ..."
Nov 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs November 07, 2017 at 12:24 PM

The Paradise Papers: How Business Titans, Royals and Pop Stars Hide Their Cash

Records from a top offshore law firm reveal a client list that is a who's who of the world's wealthiest citizens, including Queen Elizabeth II, Bono and Madonna.

Here's how an American billionaire grew one of the world's largest trusts and another owned part of a company accused of exploiting the poor.

How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals Hide Their Wealth https://nyti.ms/2hPRkfw

NYT - SCOTT SHANE, SPENCER WOODMAN and MICHAEL FORSYTHE - NOV. 7

Records from an offshore hideaway show how an American billionaire grew one of the world's largest trusts and another owned part of a company accused of exploiting the poor.

James H. Simons, a reserved mathematician and hedge fund operator from Boston now approaching 80, is a big Democratic donor. Warren A. Stephens, a 60-year-old golf enthusiast once called the king of Little Rock, Ark., inherited a family investment bank and became a booster of conservative Republicans.

But Mr. Simons and Mr. Stephens are both billionaires who have used the services of offshore finance, the trusts and shell companies that the world's wealthiest people use to park their money beyond the reach of tax collectors and out of the public eye.

Mr. Simons was the main beneficiary of a private trust, never previously described, that was one of the largest in the world. In response to recent questions about the trust, Mr. Simons said that he had transferred his share to a Bermuda-registered charitable foundation.

Mr. Stephens used an opaque holding company to own an approximately 40 percent stake in a loan business accused by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of cheating working-class and poor Americans. While earning millions from the investment, Mr. Stephens helped finance a political onslaught against the bureau, never mentioning his personal connection to the fight.

The details of the two men's hidden wealth come from the files of Appleby, founded in Bermuda more than a century ago and considered one of the world's top offshore law firms. A collection of 6.8 million Appleby documents, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with media organizations through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, offers an inside look at the firm's services and customers.

Appleby operates in a rarefied universe of U.H.N.W.I.'s -- the industry's abbreviation for ultra-high-net-worth individuals -- where yachts and private jets are preferred transport and mansions sit empty because their owner has several others. Some of Appleby's customers are also P.E.P.'s -- politically exposed persons -- for whom avoiding unwanted attention is a crucial goal.

"The Right People. The Right Places," reads the slogan on Appleby's stationery.

What offshore services offer to a diverse international elite is secrecy and discretion, along with the opportunity to minimize or defer taxes. Appleby appears to be more scrupulous than another offshore firm, Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, about shunning overtly corrupt and criminal clients, based on a comparison of the Appleby files with the leaked Panama Papers, which drew global coverage last year. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , November 07, 2017 at 12:34 PM

What Are the Paradise Papers? Our Reporting So Far

Paradise Papers Shine Light on Where the Elite Keep Their Money https://nyti.ms/2j0wYmZ
NYT - MICHAEL FORSYTHE - NOV. 5, 2017

It's called the Paradise Papers: the latest in a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shedding light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens.

The core of the leak, totaling more than 13.4 million documents, focuses on the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people. Appleby helps clients reduce their tax burden; obscure their ownership of assets like companies, private aircraft, real estate and yachts; and set up huge offshore trusts that in some cases hold billions of dollars.

The New York Times is part of the group of more than 380 journalists from over 90 media organizations in 67 countries that have spent months examining the latest set of documents.

As with the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers leak came through a duo of reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was then shared with I.C.I.J., a Washington-based group that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the millions of records of a Panamanian law firm. The release of that trove of documents led to the resignation of one prime minister last year and to the unmasking of the wealth of people close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

This week, The New York Times is publishing articles on the Paradise Papers that were reported in cooperation with our I.C.I.J. partners. Here is a roundup of the stories that have already been made public.

The Times's Coverage So Far

• Behind one of Silicon Valley's most prominent investors, Yuri Milner, was hundreds of millions of dollars in Kremlin funding. The documents show that Mr. Milner's investment in Twitter relied on money from VTB, bank controlled by the Russian state. One of his most significant investors in Facebook relied on funding from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled institution. Mr. Milner is also an investor in Cadre, a New York-based real estate technology company founded by Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser.

(Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire's Twitter and
Facebook Investments https://nyti.ms/2hHV8iR )

• Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, invested in a shipping company whose top clients include a Russian firm controlled by an oligarch facing sanctions and President Vladimir V. Putin's son-in-law. The ethics agreement Mr. Ross filed when taking office said he intended to retain several investment partnerships, but did not specify that they were used to hold his stake in the shipper, Navigator Holdings. The revelations of Mr. Ross's continued investment led Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, to call for an investigation. Mr. Ross said he had done nothing wrong, but would "probably" sell his Navigator shares.

(Commerce Secretary's Offshore Ties to Putin 'Cronies' https://nyti.ms/2j36TE6 )

• Apple has come under scrutiny by Congress for shifting much of its earnings to Irish subsidiaries, avoiding income taxes. Documents from the leak show that after its chief executive, Tim Cook, said that the company didn't just "stash money on a Caribbean island," it found a new tax haven -- an island in the English Channel. The use of complex offshore structures have helped keep much of Apple's more than $128 billion in profit abroad free from taxation. The technique isn't unique to Apple. "U.S. multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax avoidance schemes," said Edward Kleinbard, a former corporate tax adviser to such companies. ...

(After a Tax Crackdown, Apple Found a New Shelter
for Its Profits https://nyti.ms/2hMZKV1 )

Christopher H. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , November 07, 2017 at 12:40 PM
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qv3wxb/the-paradise-papers-make-the-republican-tax-plan-look-insane

The Paradise Papers Make the Republican Tax Plan Look Insane

by David Dayen
Nov 6 2017, 9:06pm

The bill would give huge tax breaks to the superrich and reward corporations hoarding assets abroad, just like those implicated in the latest massive leak.

-------------

Anyone who's breathed air in the past 40 years understands that rich people and big corporations will do pretty much anything to avoid paying taxes. They hire sharp accountants, exploit loopholes, and use special tax havens to shield their money. In that sense, one could argue we didn't exactly need the release of the Paradise Papers -- the latest cache of internal documents detailing the who, where, and how of the global elite's tax avoidance -- to bolster our well-founded suspicions.

...

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , November 07, 2017 at 12:40 PM
• A bank in Utah is in the business of helping wealthy foreigners register private planes in the United States, which requires American citizenship or residency. The offshore files shed light on how a small financial institution, the Bank of Utah, served as a stand-in for citizenship purposes to allow Russia's richest man, Leonid Mikhelson, whose energy company is subject to sanctions, register a $65 million Gulfstream jet.

(From Utah, Secretive Help for a Russian
Oligarch and His Jet https://nyti.ms/2hMKh7f )

• The fortunes of the world's richest people are growing at a rate far faster than for everyone else. One reason is that they are so adept at shielding their money from taxes through the use of offshore companies and trusts. Queen Elizabeth II and pop stars like Bono and Madonna have all taken advantage of offshore companies, Appleby records show. Americans are big customers: The hedge fund billionaire James H. Simons and his family were beneficiaries of a massive trust in Bermuda. Mr. Simons quietly transferred his share to a Bermuda-registered charitable foundation that now has about $8 billion in assets. And Warren A. Stephens, who aggressively grew a family investment bank in Arkansas, used an opaque company to hide his stake in a payday loan company accused of exploiting the poor. ...

(How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals
Hide Their Wealth https://nyti.ms/2hPRkfw )

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , November 07, 2017 at 12:42 PM
Who Are Appleby's Clients?

The predominantly elite clients of Appleby contrast with those of Mossack Fonseca -- the company whose leaked records became the Panama Papers -- which appeared to be less discriminating in the business it took on. The records date back to 1950 and up to 2016.

Appleby has offices in tax havens around the world. In addition to its Bermudan headquarters, it works out of places like the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean; the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey off Britain; Mauritius and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean; and Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Americans -- companies and people -- dominate the list of clients. Past disclosures, such as the 2013 "Offshore Leaks" from two offshore incorporators in Singapore and the British Virgin Islands, the 2015 "Swiss Leaks" from a private Swiss bank owned by the British bank HSBC and another leak in 2016 from the Bahamas were dominated by clients not from the United States.

The Paradise Papers were leaked to the same two German reporters -- Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier -- who obtained the Panama Papers.

The documents come not only from Appleby, but also from the Singaporean company Asiaciti Trust and official business registries in places such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Lebanon and Malta.

Setting up companies offshore is generally legal, and corporations routinely do so to facilitate cross-border transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. Appleby, in a public statement on Oct. 24, after inquiries from I.C.I.J., said that it was "subject to frequent regulatory checks" in "highly regulated jurisdictions."

"Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients," the company said.

[Nov 01, 2017] The Political Organization Men

Notable quotes:
"... The Organization Man ..."
"... What Whyte ran across was the sub-culture of the workplace as followed by those who set themselves upon a "career path" within a specific organization. The stereotypical examples are those, to quote Whyte , "who have left home spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life. [They adopt an ethic that] rationalizes the organization's demand for fealty and gives those who offer it wholeheartedly a sense of dedication." ..."
"... Today, some private-sector organizations have moved away from the most extreme demands of such conformity, but some other career lines have not, two examples being the military and career party politics. ..."
"... The Power Elite ..."
"... The Organization Man. ..."
"... hose who make their careers within these entities, especially the military and the government, are ideologically conditioned to identify their well-being with the specific goals of their chosen organizations. That means they must bind themselves not only to the goals, but also to the ethics of their workplace. ..."
"... Those who balk are eventually punished and cast out of the organizations. Those who guide these organizations, and essentially decide how rules and ethics will be interpreted and applied, are Mills's "power elite." ..."
"... It may come as a surprise to the reader that party politics as practiced by many of the Western democracies is quite similar. The "power elites" who reside at the top of the so-called greasy pole, holding positions as the head of ruling and contesting parties, are likely to demand the same sort of obedience to orders as any military officer. ..."
"... Rafe explained it this way ..."
"... Leaders of political parties can control their organizations in dictatorial fashion. They have power to reward or punish their party's cohorts in a fashion that can make or break careers. For instance, they control the dispersal of party funds from monies for elections right down to one's office budget; they determine whether a candidate will have to face a primary challenge; they make all committee assignments; they can promote and demote within the party ranks. ..."
"... As Rafe Mair observed, the possibilities for both reward and punishment are almost endless. In this way elected officials become bound to the diktats of their party's leaders. They cannot normally vote their conscience or reliably represent their constituency unless doing so coincides with the desires of their party's leadership. ..."
"... Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest ..."
"... America's Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood ..."
"... This is an excellent summary of the basis in mentality of what is factually a 21st century version of a fascist regime. Even though two political parties and the shell forms of republican government may exist, the reality is that the parties are factions and the way things operate is via conformity and loyalty to an authoritarian power structure. ..."
Nov 01, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Many working-class Americans voted for Donald Trump believing he would address their needs, not those of rich Republicans. But all pols, it seems, end up conforming to their political group's priorities, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

By Lawrence Davidson

In 1956, William H. Whyte published a book entitled The Organization Man about America's societal changes in the post-World War II economy. Basing his findings on a large number of interviews with CEOs of major American corporations, Whyte concluded that, within the context of modern organizational structure, American "rugged individualism" had given way to a "collectivist ethic." Economic success and individual recognition were now pursued within an institutional structure – that is, by "serving the organization."

Whyte's book was widely read and praised, yet his thesis was not as novel as it seemed. "Rugged individualism," to the extent that it existed, was (and is) the exception for human behavior and not the rule. We have evolved to be group-oriented animals and not lone wolves. This means that the vast majority of us (and certainly not just Americans) live our lives according to established cultural conventions. These operate on many levels – not just national patriotism or the customs of family life.

What Whyte ran across was the sub-culture of the workplace as followed by those who set themselves upon a "career path" within a specific organization. The stereotypical examples are those, to quote Whyte , "who have left home spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life. [They adopt an ethic that] rationalizes the organization's demand for fealty and gives those who offer it wholeheartedly a sense of dedication."

Today, some private-sector organizations have moved away from the most extreme demands of such conformity, but some other career lines have not, two examples being the military and career party politics.

For insight in this we can turn to the sociologist C. Wright Mills , whose famous book The Power Elite was published the same year as Whyte's The Organization Man. Mills's work narrows the world's ruling bureaucracies to government, military and top economic corporations. T hose who make their careers within these entities, especially the military and the government, are ideologically conditioned to identify their well-being with the specific goals of their chosen organizations. That means they must bind themselves not only to the goals, but also to the ethics of their workplace.

Those who balk are eventually punished and cast out of the organizations. Those who guide these organizations, and essentially decide how rules and ethics will be interpreted and applied, are Mills's "power elite."

How this works out in the military is pretty obvious. There is a long tradition of dedication to duty. At the core of this dedication is a rigid following of orders given by superiors. This tradition is upheld even if it is suspected that one's superior is incompetent.

It may come as a surprise to the reader that party politics as practiced by many of the Western democracies is quite similar. The "power elites" who reside at the top of the so-called greasy pole, holding positions as the head of ruling and contesting parties, are likely to demand the same sort of obedience to orders as any military officer.

The Organization Man or Woman in Politics

Running for and holding office in countries like the United States and Canada often requires one to "take the vows of organization life." Does this support democracy or erode it? Here is one prescient answer: the way we have structured our party politics has given us "an appalling political system which is a step-by-step denial of democracy and a solid foundation for a 'soft' dictatorship."

One of the elegant rooms at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club. (Photo from maralagoclub.com)

Those are the words of the late Rafe Mair , a Canadian politician, broadcaster, author and a good friend of this writer. Rafe spent years in Canadian politics, particularly in his home province of British Columbia, and his experience led him to the conclusion expressed above. How does this translate into practice?

Rafe explained it this way : "In a parliamentary [or other form of representative] democracy the voter transfers his rights to his member of parliament [congressperson, senator or state legislator] to exercise on his behalf – the trouble is, by running for his political party the [elected person, in turn, is led to] assign your [the voter's] rights to the [party] leader for his exclusive use!"

There is no law that makes the elected official do this. However, the inducements to do so are very powerful.

Leaders of political parties can control their organizations in dictatorial fashion. They have power to reward or punish their party's cohorts in a fashion that can make or break careers. For instance, they control the dispersal of party funds from monies for elections right down to one's office budget; they determine whether a candidate will have to face a primary challenge; they make all committee assignments; they can promote and demote within the party ranks.

As Rafe Mair observed, the possibilities for both reward and punishment are almost endless. In this way elected officials become bound to the diktats of their party's leaders. They cannot normally vote their conscience or reliably represent their constituency unless doing so coincides with the desires of their party's leadership.

... ... ...

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest ; America's Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood ; and Islamic Fundamentalism . He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com .

Stephen J. , October 30, 2017 at 9:19 am

I believe we are prisoners of a corrupted "democracy."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

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

Sam F , October 30, 2017 at 11:42 am

Yes, our ertswhile democracy has been completely corrupted. Thanks to Lawrence Davidson, William Whyte, C. Wright Mills, and Rafe Mair for this consideration of the systemic corruption of political parties. The diseases of conformity within party organizations are a nearly inherent problem of democracy.

The improper influence which determines the policies conformed to by parties is the central problem, and stems largely from influence of the economic Power Elite, directing the policies to which the Organization Man must be obedient to be chosen. This distortion can be eliminated by Amendments to the Constitution to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited individual contributions.

Our problem is that we cannot make such reforms because those tools of democracy are already controlled by oligarchy, which never yields power but to superior force. Talk of justice and peace is not in their language of might makes right, and has no effect whatsoever. They yielded to the 1964 Civil Rights Act only because their fear of riots in the streets led them to pretend that MLK et al had been persuasive.

The foreign wars may be stopped by the defeat, isolation, and embargo of the US by foreign powers. But within the US, the full price of democracy must again be paid the People of the US. The oligarchy must be defeated by superior force: only those who deny enforcement to oligarchy and terrify the rich will bring them to yield any power. That is likely to await more severe recessions and inequities caused by the selfish and irresponsible rich.

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

You are exactly right Sam F. Unfortunately time is quickly running out for our corrupt "civilization." The time to cultivate and practice wisdom has passed. The sad truth is that our goose is cooked; there will be no cavalry showing up to save us. We are now "eating our karma" and will reap our just deserts. Not because I or anyone say so, but because implacable laws of nature will now play out. Dominant intellectual species occupy a precarious position in planetary evolution, and we are on the verge of a great fall – and all the King's horses and all the King's men will not be able to put our extincting species together again ..

Sam F , October 30, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Your reply touches a responsive chord, in that humanity seems to have made so little permanent progress in its million years or so, mostly in its last few hundred years, an insignificant fraction of planetary history. But the history and literature of temporary progress lost is significant as the repository of ideas for future democracies, at those rare moments when they are designed.

Our diseased society is but one tree in the forest of democracies. The US is or will be like the apparently healthy tree that took down my power lines last night, a pretty red oak with brilliant autumn leaves, but sideways now and blocking the road. But like the leaves on that tree, we can see the problem and still hope to be as happy as this year's leaves on healthier trees.

As in what I like to call the universal mind of humanity, individuals may have foresight and thoughts beyond their apparent functions, which survive in that greater mind of their thoughts recorded or just passed along, and in that way their learning is not in vain.

Drew Hunkins , October 30, 2017 at 10:34 am

Trump did nix out the TPP and did desire a rapprochement of sorts with Moscow. He also regularly asserted that he wanted to re-build American manufacturing in the heartland and wanted to rein in Washington's footprint across the globe. Of course Trump ultimately capitulated to the militarist Russophobes. One can only put so much stock in campaign pronouncements, but he did come off as less bellicose than Killary, that was clear to any fair minded observer.

Trump's also been a nightmare as it comes to workers' rights in general, consumer and environmental protections and fair taxation as it relates to regressive vs progressive rates. He was also an Islamophobe when it comes to Iran and fell right in line with Adelson and the other ZIonist psychopaths.

The most welcoming aspect of Trump was his desire to make peace with Russia, this has been completely sabotaged by the deep state militarists. This is the reason the Corkers, Flakes and much of the establishment mass media browbeat and attack him relentlessly. Most of them ignore what he actually should be admonished for opting for nuclear brinkmanship instead.

exiled off mainstreet , October 30, 2017 at 11:25 am

This is the best description I have seen about Trump's role.

Bob Van Noy , October 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

Thank you CN and Lawrence Davidson for what I think is a accurate explanation of the failure of our Democracy. I especially like the reference to C. Wright Mills who is a heroic character for me. I think Mr. Mill's book on the Power Elite was prescient, as was his thinking in general. He published a little known book "Listen, Yankee" (1960) that was very insightful about the then current Cuban Revolution. It seems in retrospect that there was plenty of warning at the time for America to wake up to the goals of Big Government and Big Business but it was either successfully repressed or ignored by those who might have made a difference, like Labor. At any rate, C. Wright Mills died too early, because he seemed uniquely suited to make a difference. His writing remains current, I'll add a link.

http://www.cwrightmills.org

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

I am a big CW Mills fan too. We have had many warnings – now we are going to experience the fate of those who ignore wisdom.

tina , October 30, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Hey, college UWM 1984- 1987 Mass Comm, I did not graduate , but we studied Mills, Lewis Mumford, and my favorite, Marshall McLuhan. Also, first time I was introduced to Todd Gitlin and IF Stone. While I did not pursue a life in journalism, I so appreciate all those who did the hard work. I still have all my college required reading books from these people, it is like a set of encyclopedias, only better. And better than the internet. Keep up the work CN , I am not that talented, but what you do is important.

BobH , October 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm

First, let me commend Lawrence Davidson for his selection of two of the most insightful writers of the sixties to use as a springboard for his perceptive essay. A third(John Kenneth Galbraith) would complete a trilogy of the brilliant academic social analysis of that time. Galbraith's masterpiece(The Affluent Society) examined the influence of the heavy emphasis corporate advertising had on American culture and concluded that the economic/social structure was disproportionately skewed toward GDP(gross domestic product) at the expense of educational investment. This was in direct contrast with the popular novels and essays of Ayn Rand, the goddess of greed whose spurious philosophy had come to epitomize the mindset that continues to plague the globe with the neoliberal ideals that have been reinvented under many names over time; i.e. laissez faire, trickle down,the Laffer curve, free market economics and monetarism.

Zachary Smith , October 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Usually such claims are themselves no more than campaign hot air. However, in their ignorance, voters may well respond to such hot air, and the result can be a jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. U.S. voters seem to have taken just such a leap when they elected Donald Trump president.

Nowhere in this essay are either of the terms "Hillary" or "Clinton" mentioned. U.S. voters had the choice of a known evil on the "D" side of the ballot, or another person well understood to be a shallow, self-centered, rich *****. They were going to end up with an unqualified person either way the voting went. Quite possibly the nod went to Trump because 1) his promises were surely more believable than those of Clinton and 2) Trump wasn't yet the known destroyer of entire nations.

Describing the predicament of the voters as "ignorance" just isn't fair when looking at the overall picture.

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Yes. Voters were put in a no win situation. That's why I did not participate in the "show" election.

Realist , October 31, 2017 at 4:33 am

What were Obama's reasons for failing to take a stand, once elected, on all the promises he made during his campaigns? He mostly gave away the store to the other side, and insulted his supporters while doing so. Talk about progressives not getting a "win" even after carrying the elections. Two terms earlier, the media called the contest one of two "moderates" between Bush and Gore. If that was "moderation" practiced by Dubya, I need a new dictionary. Most recent elections have been pointless, especially when the Supreme Court doesn't allow a complete recount of the votes. In a field of 13(!) primary candidates last year, the GOP could not provide one quality individual. The Dems cheated to make sure the worst possible of theirs would get the nomination. I see nothing but mental and moral midgets again on the horizon for 2020. I don't expect Trump to seek re-election. He will have had a bellyful should he even survive.

Stephen J. , October 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I believe what has happened to all of us is: "The Imposition of a New World Order." This plan has been helped by puppet politicians. Therefore the question must be asked: "Is There An Open Conspiracy to Control the World'?
[More info on this at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2014/12/is-there-open-conspiracy-to-control.html

john wilson , October 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Stephen: why do you ask the question to which you already know the answer? Yes, we're all screwed and have been for years. The bankers already control the world and the military make sure its stays that way.

Stephen J. , October 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Very true john wilson. Questions beget answers and information.
cheers Stephen J.

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm

It's like the Purloined Letter by Poe – the truth of our enslavement is so obvious, that only the deeply brainwashed can fail to see it.

Zachary Smith , October 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm

The parts of The Organization Man I found most interesting were the chapters about "Testing The Organization Man". The companies were deliberately selecting for people we currently label Corporate Psychopaths. Whyte suggested memorizing some "attitudes" before taking one of the tests. Among them:

I loved my father and my mother, but my father a little bit more
I like things pretty much the way they are
I never worry much about anything
I don't care for books or music much
I love my wife and children
I don't let them get in the way of company work

You can substitute any number of things that you won't allow to get in the way of company work .

Ecology. Laws. Regulations. Integrity. Religion.

"Screw planet Earth. Exxon comes first!" Or "screw Jesus and the horse he rode in on. We need to cut taxes and balance the budget. People are poor because they're too lazy to get a job."

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Good points. Brainwashing in action revealed.

john wilson , October 30, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Democracy is another word for consensual slavery. In a communist system or a dictatorship etc you are told you are a slave because you have no voice or choice. In a democracy you do have a choice and its between one salve master and another. If you vote Democrat you are just as much a slave to the system as you are if you vote Republican. The possibility of a third choice which might just free you from your chains, is a fantasy and only there as window dressing to give democracy some credibility. The term for this dilemma is called being TOTALLY SCREWED!!

mike k , October 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Amen John. You got it right brother.

exiled off mainstreet , October 31, 2017 at 11:01 am

This is an excellent summary of the basis in mentality of what is factually a 21st century version of a fascist regime. Even though two political parties and the shell forms of republican government may exist, the reality is that the parties are factions and the way things operate is via conformity and loyalty to an authoritarian power structure.

[Oct 30, 2017] IMF forced Russia to allow other former Soviet countries to use, and issue, Rubles, thereby delaying the introduction of national currencies by a year, and giving the other former Soviet countries a motivation to issue huge quantities of currency, and thereby driving hyperinflation

Notable quotes:
"... New York Magazine ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

saskydisc , October 27, 2017 at 7:21 pm

I am reading Alex Krainer's book on Bill Browder. After introducing himself, he summarized Browser's Red Alert, then spends several chapters giving the context of the 1990s US/IMF rape of Russia via Yeltsin. One thing that he mentions of which I was not aware, is that the IMF forced Russia to allow other former Soviet countries to use, and issue , Rubles, thereby delaying the introduction of national currencies by a year, and giving the other former Soviet countries a motivation to issue huge quantities of currency, and thereby driving hyperinflation. He portrays Jeffrey Sachs as possibly a geopolitical useful idiot of the US and IMF.

The IMF refused to give loans to actually assist the transition, but they had no problem giving Yeltsin a 6.7 billion dollar loan for the Chechen war. Banks were given loans "to support the ruble," which were promptly used to bet against same.

At times, the conduct of the Harvard connected personnel in Russia became so blatantly criminal that the FBI investigated and prosecuted. Harvard defended the guilty parties, and even paid a 31 million dollar US fine to settle the matter, and kept the guilty party as faculty.

rkka , October 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm
By the way, Jeff Sachs has come to the conclusion that he was used in exactly that way, that the USG never intended to actually assist Russia's transition, but to make the process as prolonged and destructive as possible.

And then there was the US support to Yeltsin's reelection campaign in '96. In January Yeltsin was polling with a 5% approval rating. 55% of Russians thought he should resign rather than seek reelection, mostly because his policies had them dying off by almost a million a year. Funny that. He and the 'Family' seriously considered cancelling the election and ruling by decree.

Instead, they decided to steal it, with the assistance of Western governments & the IMF. In March, President Clinton prevailed on the IMF to release about $10b to the Russian government, which used the funds to support Yeltsin's reelection. Years of wage arrears for government workers were suddenly cleared, as if by magic! Zyuganov was buried under a tsunami of stories that he intended to bring back War Communism and the Purges from both State and Oligarch-owned media, while getting no coverage of his actual positions from same. Zyuganov adhered to the legal limits on campaign spending, while Yeltsin exceeded them by a couple of orders of magnitude, with no consequence. And to top it all off, there was flagrant use of 'administrative resource' and outright voter fraud. Mr. Michael Meadowcroft, the leader of the OSCE election monitoring team, told The Exile of the heavy pressure he got from Western governments to minimize his reporting of how the Yeltsin reelection team was abusing Russian political processes in every possible way to ensure his reelection and the continuation of the policies that had Russians dying off by almost a million a year.

And so in '96 Western media celebrated the 54% majority vote for the guy with the 5% approval rating as 'A Triumph of Democracy!'

In 2012 they called it 'Massive Fraud!' when the guy with the 66% approval rating got 63% of the vote.

The only possible conclusion from this is that Western government care nothing for what Russians think, or how, or even whether, they live, only that the Russian government submit.

Their big problem for Western governments is that Russian voters now understand this, which puts them beyond the influence of the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy.

This drives the AFPE&P up the wall, for they are obsessed with having 'Leverage' and 'Influence' and cannot stand having none.

And so they bleat about a miniscule Facebook ad buy.

saskydisc , October 28, 2017 at 4:23 pm
The desperation is in full display. One interesting thing that I notice is that the apolitical people are not aware, and even forget the propaganda shortly after being subjected to it. While this has the downside of making them uninterested in the facts, it does make them indifferent to the propaganda as well. Should they be dragooned into fighting, they will fight to survive, rather than to conquer.

As such, the powers that still are, are out of options. Winning a battle such as a colour revolution is more expensive to their aims in the long run than not initiating one, yet they need to steal other countries' wealth to roll over their expense accounts. I need to work up my cynicism and invest in popcorn.

saskydisc , October 28, 2017 at 4:40 pm
Another nice little detail that Krainer includes is the sending of large sums of mint US banknotes to Russian banks involved in money laundering for gangs. This was done by a bank owned by Browser's "angel" investor, Edmond Safra, and he lists how the regulators went out of their way to avoid their legal responsibilities in that matter. He also spends some time on Browder's confession that his (Browder's) pretensions of being in opposition to Soros outfit Renaissance Capital was a ruse, as Browder admits to having conducted much business with same.

He also spends some pages looking at Browder's tax evasion through transfer pricing (selling cheaply abroad, to a tax haven) using avionics outfit AVISMA.

Finally, some humour: when Browder got served his summons, he started complaining that he left the US due to prosecution of his family. Under examination, it turns out that his immediate family included professors at prestigious US universities, long after McCarthy, but long before he opted for UK citizenship.

marknesop , October 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Yes, I did a piece on that long ago , probably before your time here. It included some very useful links, some of which probably still work – perhaps the most eye-popping being Robert Friedman's "The Money Plane", from New York Magazine . Check it out; I think you'll find it enlightening.

I did not know that Renaissance Capital was connected to Soros, though; that's news to me, and I guess you can always learn something.

saskydisc , October 29, 2017 at 2:32 pm
Will check it out. Krainer does cite one of your pieces, in a different matter.
saskydisc , October 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm
You go into more detail, e.g. that the purpose of the shell companies was to take ownership of and manipulate Gazprom et alia. You also have more detail on Safra -- Krainer did not mention his death, and I don't recall him mentioning Mr North.
marknesop , October 29, 2017 at 9:06 am
And there is considerable anecdotal confirmation – which I realize is not evidence – that Zyuganov actually won the election, but was so stupefied and frightened at the prospect of leading such a restive country that he allowed the election to be stolen from him without opposing it. If true, he has never spoken of it himself to my knowledge. But others have.
Pro-Freedom , October 29, 2017 at 9:08 am
For that matter, there likely wouldn't not have been a Putin presidency.
kirill , October 29, 2017 at 10:30 am
Zyuganov was 5th column comprador who made sure the Communist Party did not evolve and thereby ensuring its long term oblivion.
Matt , October 29, 2017 at 10:45 am
Per Dugin, that technically qualifies him as a 6th columnist:

http://katehon.com/1318-sixth-column.html

This structure sure is stable, kek.

[Oct 24, 2017] Mueller Investigating Podesta Group In Connection With Russia Probe Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... Yanukovich has never been pro Russian, dear author, Yanukovich has always been pro Yanukovich. Why do you twist the reality? ..."
"... $35 million into Joule before they folded it. Yeah, they threw that money into a garbage can when they folded the business. ..."
"... By spreading the investigation, Mueller escapes from having to admit that Russia did not get Trump elected. Wait for some goofy blanket comdemnation against everyone....therefore no one ..."
"... Podesta is just a smokescreen to demonstrate "the lack of bias". Nothing will come of it unless it is necessary to produce a sacrificial Democrat, in which case Podesta is expendable. ..."
Oct 24, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Uranium One

The Podesta group also earned $180,000 lobbying for Russian-owned mining company Uranium One during the same period that the Clinton Foundation was receiving millions from UrAsia / U1 interests.

Last week, two bombshell reports published by The Hill revealed that the FBI - headed by Robert Mueller at the time - discovered that " Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton 's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow " – a deal which would grant the Kremlin control over 20 percent of America's uranium supply, as detailed by author Peter Schweitzer's book Clinton Cash and the New York Times in 2015.

... ... ...

Joule Unlimited

While NBC reports that Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and presumed Secretary of State John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta group and not part of Mueller's investigation, it should be noted that he sat on the board of Massachusetts energy company Joule Unlimited, along with senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and Russian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan – who was appointed by Vladimir Putin to the Russian economic council.

Two months after Podesta joined the board, Joule managed to raise $35 million from Putin's Kremlin-backed investment fund Rusnano.

Not only did John Podesta fail to properly disclose this relationship before joining the Clinton Campaign, he transferred 75,000 shares of Joule to his daughter through a shell company using her address .

Despite the Russian assistance, the Daily Caller reports that Joule Unlimited folded shortly after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election.

In an interview with Fox Business News' Maria Bartaromo, Podesta denied that he failed to disclose his ties, emphatically stating "Maria, that's not true. I fully disclosed and was completely compliant," adding "I didn't have any stock in any Russian company!" in reference to Massachusetts based Joule Unlimited – with its two Russian dignitaries on the board board and a $35 million loan from a Russian investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin.

udawn , Oct 24, 2017 8:49 AM

This is a grand plan to orchestrate IMMUNITY for both Podesta brothers for this whole uranium mess and to set up a firewall to all the pedo stuff. Mueller needs to be yanked off this thing YESTERDAY. His professional space needs to be locked down YESTERDAY. Trump did it with Comey. One can only hope he's got a plan for this - what will end up being the biggest malignant corruption scandal in American history. NO IMMUNITY!

shutterbug , Oct 24, 2017 8:47 AM

Step 1. Always lead the investigation into your own interest network.

Step 2. Gather all evidence and destroy it a.s.a.p.

Step 3. Rob all witnesses or let them have some "fitness accident"

Step 4. communicate again and again that the investigation has been done, not by weasels.

Step 5. Conclude that no laws were intentionally broken

Step 5. Continue with Step 1 if needed.

medium giraffe , Oct 24, 2017 6:40 AM

"Will they dig into Uranium One and Joule?"

aaaaahhhhhhahahahahahahahaha! good one

oncemore , Oct 24, 2017 3:18 AM

Yanukovich has never been pro Russian, dear author, Yanukovich has always been pro Yanukovich. Why do you twist the reality?

BidnessMan , Oct 23, 2017 7:26 PM

Surprising the influence was bought so cheap. $180K got Bill Clinton a personal $500K speaking fee, and cash and pledges of $130M to the Clinton Fund? That went who knows where?

Darn good ROI. Almost 3X for the speech, and 722X for the Clinton Fund. Miracle winning bets on Cattle Futures back in the 1980s were chump change in comparison.

Kayman -> BidnessMan , Oct 24, 2017 8:52 AM

$35 million into Joule before they folded it. Yeah, they threw that money into a garbage can when they folded the business.

And with criminal dirtbags, you are only hearing about the money on top of the table.

Hulk -> nmewn , Oct 23, 2017 9:22 PM

Nothing like a two tiered justice system to fuel a revolution...

nmewn -> Hulk , Oct 24, 2017 7:01 AM

That's the essential attribute of a good revolution, the base on which all other things build.

Your average Joe (left or right) observes it. He doesn't have to imagine it or be told its there without proof, its right there in front of him where he can see it and touch it. Two different outcomes for the very same offense depending on who you are.

Make no mistake, Mueller is the Deep State guy put there to play defense just as much as offense.

If they conclude they will have to sacrifice Podesta (or any underling) to prevent damage to Hillary, Holder, Lynch and Obama thats exactly what they will do. Just like Weinstein will be offered up to shield Whoopi, DeNiro, Tarantino and the rest of the Hollywood elites, they all knew what he was doing and did nothing to stop his depredations for decades , in fact, some even fed him his victims.

Its just how the Machine rolls ;-)

RagaMuffin , Oct 23, 2017 6:04 PM

By spreading the investigation, Mueller escapes from having to admit that Russia did not get Trump elected. Wait for some goofy blanket comdemnation against everyone....therefore no one

Got The Wrong No -> IH8OBAMA , Oct 23, 2017 7:01 PM

According to this article, the real reason Mueller is investing Hillary, Podesta and Obama is to destroy evidence.

https://www.teaparty.org/real-purpose-mueller-investigation-mueller-dest...

philipat -> DjangoCat , Oct 23, 2017 8:41 PM

Podesta is just a smokescreen to demonstrate "the lack of bias". Nothing will come of it unless it is necessary to produce a sacrificial Democrat, in which case Podesta is expendable.

[Oct 24, 2017] The Blind Justice Lady is real

Oct 24, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

AlaricBalth -> Creepy_Azz_Crackaah , Oct 24, 2017 1:03 PM

"Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status. The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic..."

Spewed coffee after reading this quote.

E.F. Mutton -> Gerry Fletcher , Oct 24, 2017 12:57 PM

The Blind Justice Lady is real, she just has a .45 at the back of her head held by Hillary

And don't even ask where Bill's finger is

[Oct 22, 2017] Public Rebuke of Culture at Goldman Opens Debate

See also In Goldman Sachs we trust classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers
Notable quotes:
"... The timing is curious. With all of the federal investigations and information gathering, I am suspicious that this will be a case of Goldman Sachs saying the bad guys already left, we're the good guys and we want to help your investigation. I find it almost impossible to believe that this man was blind to the culture and did not participate in the market mayhem. As long as he held high position, took his salary and bonus ... he was part of the problem. ..."
Mar 14, 2013 | dealbook.nytimes.com

walterrhett Charleston, SC

It is amazing that the "concern" mirrors the self-centered, look-out-for-ourselves values that Mr. Smith attempts to draw attention to, including citing that he was disgruntled as he was not well paid, earning only $500K and bonuses.

It seems it is still all about the money, and those unable to earn big bucks are evaluated as lacking and incompetent. Ironically, his post made the wagons circle tighter and reduced the likelihood for the short run that Goldman will ever be transparent.

OneCitizen Speaking Los Angeles

The timing is curious. With all of the federal investigations and information gathering, I am suspicious that this will be a case of Goldman Sachs saying the bad guys already left, we're the good guys and we want to help your investigation. I find it almost impossible to believe that this man was blind to the culture and did not participate in the market mayhem. As long as he held high position, took his salary and bonus ... he was part of the problem.

No amount of "op ed" mea culpa or implicit finger pointing will suffice. Methinks that he is positioning himself for a government job or another high-level gig at a major like Citi. (Pure Speculation)

NewsView USA

" There is a rule of thumb when interviewing -- you don't bad-mouth your old boss. No one wants to hear it," said Eric Fleming, the chief executive of the Wall Street recruiting firm Exemplar Partners. "You can argue something like this needed to be said, but if you hire the guy who said it you are taking the risk he will do it again."

And if I were hiring a gutsy manager to clean financial house and put more than a thinly-veiled PR spin on a corrupt culture, I would precisely hire this fellow to do that very job.

It all depends on where you sit and what you have to hide. I, for one, will be looking at the next firm that does hire Mr. Smith. It will tell me volumes about whether that firm is serious about business ethics.

June Charleston , SC

One of the many great disappointments in our government was the refusal to thoroughly investigate & hold Wall Street banks & investment firms culpable for the economic collapse which they created & from which they benefited. US taxpayers are still waiting for judgment day while the thieves collect their profits as they laugh at us.

Michael, San Jose

If what he says is true, they will destroy him like a pack of jackals descending upon a lamb. If what he says is not true, they will destroy him like a pack of lawyers suing a defamer. Either way does not look good for him.

Peter K. Chan

I think it needed to be said. Much kudos to Mr. Smith. Coming from an insider, his observations carried much weight.

To the Wall Street executive who said Mr. Smith should have taken it with his superiors privately and to the headhunter skeptical about him getting work again on Wall Street: Something are simply more important than self-interests and the interests of a few. These two just don't get it. To the firm that still does trading business with Goldman because it thinks Goldman is a good trader while acknowledging that Goldman can and will trade against you: maybe you would want to rephrase that before you lose YOUR clients?

Wilson, CaliforniaR

What I find most disturbing is the personal attacks on Mr. Smiths character while side stepping the detailed charges he levels at the banks culture, using only the most generalized rebuttals containing weasel words like "disappointment" and dead pan statements like "it is just not true". From my experience, you see this phenomenon when someone has wandered off the reservation and is doing too much truth telling.

What I find most amazing however, is how they can claim he was some low level nothing executive (i.e. hint** he was one of the sorry losers who was passed over). This may be true, yet I have never worked at any company big or small who put sad sack passed-over middle managers in recruitment videos.

Frankly I could not care less how unfair, cruel or scumbaggish Goldman's internal culture is. But the day some joker takes my money and calls me sock puppet is the day I turn said joker into my personal money butler. fetch! faster!!

Thanks for the World Series tickets, but I will pass on this product for now. What else you got? oh! btw - my kids want to know what a million dollar bills look like in a briefcase... have that delivered to my home office by 4pm. etc etc.

Dude, Philly

.."reignited a debate on the Internet and on cable television over whether Wall Street was corrupted by greed and excess"

I didn't realize there was a debate. Don't you need to have two sides that both hold legitimate opinions for there to be a debate?

[Oct 21, 2017] Socialism, Land and Banking 2017 compared to 1917 by Michael Hudson

Notable quotes:
"... Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized. ..."
"... Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia's October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism – guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves socialist or "labour" since the 1980s have supported neoliberal policies that are the opposite of socialist policy. Russia itself has chosen neoliberalism. ..."
"... Few socialist parties or theorists have dealt with the rise of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector that now accounts for most increase in wealth. Instead of evolving into socialism, Western capitalism is being overcome by predatory finance and rent extraction imposing debt deflation and austerity on industry as well as on labor. ..."
"... Failure of Western economies to recover from the 2008 crisis is leading to a revival of Marxist advocacy. The alternative to socialist reform is stagnation and a relapse into neofeudal financial and monopoly privileges. ..."
"... Russia's Revolution ended after 74 years, leaving the Soviet Union so dispirited that it ended in collapse. The contrast between the low living standards of Russian consumers and what seemed to be Western success became increasingly pronounced. ..."
"... When the Soviet Union dissolved itself in 1991, its leaders took neoliberal advice from its major adversary, the United States, in hope that this would set it on a capitalist road to prosperity. But turning its economies into viable industrial powers was the last thing U.S. advisors wanted to teach Russia. [3] Their aim was to turn it and its former satellites into raw-materials colonies of Wall Street, the City of London and Frankfurt – victims of capitalism, not rival producers. ..."
"... It should not be surprising that banks became the economy's main control centers, as in the West's bubble economies. Instead of the promised prosperity, a new class of billionaires was endowed, headed by the notorious Seven Bankers who appropriated the formerly state-owned oil and gas, nickel and platinum, electricity and aluminum production, as well as real estate, electric utilities and other public enterprises. It was the largest giveaway in modern history. The Soviet nomenklatura became the new lords in outright seizure that Marx would have characterized as "primitive accumulation." ..."
"... The American advisors knew the obvious: Russian savings had been wiped out by the polst-1991 hyperinflation, so the new owners could only cash out by selling shares to Western buyers. The kleptocrats cashed out as expected, by dumping their shares to foreign investors so quickly at such giveaway prices that Russia's stock market became the world's top performer for Western investors in 1994-96. ..."
"... The basic neoliberal idea of prosperity is financial gain based on turning rent extraction into a flow of interest payments by buyers-on-credit. This policy favors financial engineering over industrial investment, reversing the Progressive Era's industrial capitalism that Marx anticipated would be a transition stage leading to socialism. Russia adopted the West's anti-socialist rollback toward neofeudalism. ..."
"... Russia joined the dollar standard. Buying Treasury bonds meant lending to the U.S. Government. The central bank bought U.S. Treasury securities to back its domestic currency. These purchases helped finance Cold War escalation in countries around Russia. Russia paid 100% annual interest in the mid-1990s, creating a bonanza for U.S. investors. On balance, this neoliberal policy lay Russia's economy open to looting by financial institutions seeking natural resource rent, land rent and monopoly rent for themselves. Instead of targeting such rents, Russia imposed taxes mainly on labor via a regressive flat tax – too right wing to be adopted even in the United States! ..."
"... Theories of Surplus Value ..."
"... This Western financial advice became a textbook example of how not ..."
"... By 1991, when the Soviet Union's leaders decided to take the "Western" path, the Western economies themselves were reaching a terminus. Appearances were saved by a wave of unproductive credit and debt creation to sustain the bubble economy that finally crashed in 2008. ..."
"... The same debt overgrowth occurred in the industrial sector, where bank and bondholder credit since the 1980s has been increasingly for corporate takeovers and raiding, stock buybacks and even to pay dividends. Industry has become a vehicle for financial engineering to increase stock prices and strip assets, not to increase the means of production. The result is that capitalism has fallen prey to resurgent rentier ..."
"... Theories of Surplus Value ..."
"... American Journal of Economics and Sociology ..."
"... Super-Imperialism ..."
"... The Great Credit Crash ..."
"... The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model ..."
"... Journal of Economic Issues ..."
Oct 20, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org
Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.

Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia's October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism – guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves socialist or "labour" since the 1980s have supported neoliberal policies that are the opposite of socialist policy. Russia itself has chosen neoliberalism.

Few socialist parties or theorists have dealt with the rise of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector that now accounts for most increase in wealth. Instead of evolving into socialism, Western capitalism is being overcome by predatory finance and rent extraction imposing debt deflation and austerity on industry as well as on labor.

Failure of Western economies to recover from the 2008 crisis is leading to a revival of Marxist advocacy. The alternative to socialist reform is stagnation and a relapse into neofeudal financial and monopoly privileges.

Socialism flowered in the 19 th century as a program to reform capitalism by raising labor's status and living standards, with a widening range of public services and subsidies to make economies more efficient. Reformers hoped to promote this evolution by extending voting rights to the working population at large.

Ricardo's discussion of land rent led early industrial capitalists to oppose Europe's hereditary landlord class. But despite democratic political reform, the world has un-taxed land rent and is still grappling with the problem of how to keep housing affordable instead of siphoning off rent to a landlord class – more recently transmuted into mortgage interest paid to banks by owners who pledge the rental value for loans. Most bank lending today is for real estate mortgages. The effect is to bid up land prices toward the point where the entire rental value is paid as interest. This threatens to be a problem for socialist China as well as for capitalist economies.

Landlords, banks and the cost of living

The classical economists sought to make their nations more competitive by keeping down the price of labor so as to undersell competitors. The main cost of living was food; today it is housing. Housing and food prices are determined not by the material costs of production, but by land rent – the rising market price for land.

In the era of the French Physiocrats, Adam Smith, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, this land rent accrued to Europe's hereditary landlord class. Today, the land's rent is paid mainly to bankers – because families need credit to buy a home. Or, if they rent, their landlords use the property rent to pay interest to the banks.

The land issue was central to Russia's October Revolution, as it was for European politics. But the discussion of land rent and taxation has lost much of the clarity (and passion) that guided the 19 th century when it dominated classical political economy, liberal reform, and indeed most early socialist politics.

In 1909/10 Britain experienced a constitutional crisis when the democratically elected House of Commons passed a land tax, only to be overridden by the House of Lords, governed by the old aristocracy. The ensuing political crisis was settled by a rule that the Lords never again could overrule a revenue bill passed by the House of Commons. But that was Britain's last real opportunity to tax away the economic rents of landlords and natural resource owners. The liberal drive to tax the land faltered, and never again would gain serious chance of passage.

The democratization of home ownership during the 20 th century led middle-class voters to oppose property taxes – including taxes on commercial sites and natural resources. Tax policy in general has become pro- rentier and anti-labor – the regressive opposite of 19 th -century liberalism as developed by "Ricardian socialists" such as John Stuart Mill and Henry George. Today's economic individualism has lost the early class consciousness that sought to tax economic rent and socialize banking.

The United States enacted an income tax in 1913, falling mainly on rentier income, not on the working population. Capital gains (the main source of rising wealth today) were taxed at the same rate as other income. But the vested interests campaigned to reverse this spirit, slashing capital gains taxes and making tax policy much more regressive. The result is that today, most wealth is not gained by capital investment for profits. Instead, asset-price gains have been financed by a debt-leveraged inflation of real estate, stock and bond prices.

Many middle-class families owe most of their net worth to rising prices for their homes. But by far the lion's share of the real estate and stock market gains have accrued to just One Percent of the population. And while bank credit has enabled buyers to bid up housing prices, the price has been to siphon off more and more of labor's income to pay mortgage loans or rents. As a result, finance today is what is has been throughout history: the main force polarizing economies between debtors and creditors.

Global oil and mining companies created flags of convenience to make themselves tax-exempt, by pretending to make all their production and distribution profits in tax-free trans-shipping havens such as Liberia and Panama (which use U.S. dollars instead of being real countries with their own currency and tax systems).

The fact that absentee-owned real estate and natural resource extraction are practically free of income taxation shows that democratic political reform has not been a sufficient guarantee of socialist success. Tax rules and public regulation have been captured by the rentiers , dashing the hopes of 19 th -century classical reformers that progressive tax policy would produce the same effect as direct public ownership of the means of production, while leaving "the market" as an individualistic alternative to government regulation or planning.

In practice, planning and resource allocation has passed to the banking and financial sector. Many observers hoped that this would evolve into state planning, or at least work in conjunction with it as in Germany. But liberal "Ricardian socialist" failed, as did German-style "state socialism" publicly financing transportation and other basic infrastructure, pensions and similar "external" costs of living and doing business that industrial employers otherwise would have to bear. Attempts at "half-way" socialism via tax and regulatory policy against monopolies and banking have faltered repeatedly. As long as major economic or political choke points are left in private hands, they will serve s springboards to subvert real reform policies. That is why Marxist policy went beyond these would-be socialist reforms.

To Marx, the historical task of capitalism was to prepare the way for socializing the means of production by clearing away feudalism's legacy: a hereditary landlord class, predatory banking, and the monopolies that financial interests had pried away from governments. The path of least resistance was to start by socializing land and basic infrastructure. This drive to free society from economic overhead in the form of hereditary privilege and unearned income by the "idle rich" was a step toward socialist management, by minimizing rentier costs (" faux frais of production").

Proto-socialist reform in the leading industrial nations

Marx was by no means alone in expecting a widening range of economic activity to be shifted away from the market to the public sector. State socialism (basically, state-sponsored capitalism) subsidized pensions and public health, education and other basic needs so as to save industrial enterprise from having to bear these charges.

In the United States, Simon Patten – the first economics professor at the new Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania – defined public infrastructure as a "fourth factor of production" alongside labor, capital and land. The aim of public investment was not to make a profit, but to lower the cost of living and doing business so as to minimize industry's wage and infrastructure bill. Public health, pensions, roads and other transportation, education, research and development were subsidized or provided freely. [1]

The most advanced industrial economies seemed to be evolving toward some kind of socialism. Marx shared a Progressive Era optimism that expected industrial capitalism to evolve in the most logical way, by freeing economies from the landlordship and predatory banking inherited from Europe's feudal era. That was above all the classical reform program of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the intellectual mainstream.

But the aftermath of World War I saw the vested interests mount a Counter-Enlightenment. Banking throughout the Western world find its major market in real estate mortgage lending, natural resource extraction and monopolies – the Anglo-American model, not that of German industrial banking that had seemed to be capitalism's financial future in the late 19 th century.

Since 1980 the Western nations have reversed early optimistic hopes to reform market economies. Instead of the classical dream of taxing away the land rent that had supported Europe's hereditary landed aristocracies, commercial real estate has been made virtually exempt from income taxation. Absentee owners avoid tax by a combination of tax-deductibility for interest payments (as if it is a necessary business expense) and fictitious over-depreciation tax credits that pretend that buildings and properties are losing value even when market prices for their land are soaring.

These tax breaks have made real estate the largest bank customers. The effect has been to financialize property rents into interest payments. Likewise in the industrial sphere, regulatory capture by lobbyists for the major monopolies has disabled public attempts to keep prices in line with the cost of production and prevent fraud by breaking up or regulating monopolies. These too have become major bank clients.

The beginning and end of Russian socialism

Most Marxists expected socialism to emerge first in Germany as the most advanced capitalist economy. After its October 1917 Revolution, Russia seemed to jump ahead, the first nation to free itself from rent and interest charges inherited from feudalism. By taking land, industry and finance into state control, Soviet Russia's October Revolution created an economy without private landlords and bankers. Russian urban planning did not take account of the natural rent-of-location, nor did it charge for the use of money created by the state bank. The state bank created money and credit, so there was no need to rely on a wealthy financial class. And as property owner, the state did not seek to charge land rent or monopoly rent.

By freeing society from the post-feudal rentier class of landlords, bankers and predatory finance, the Soviet regime was much more than a bourgeois revolution. The Revolution's early leaders sought to free wage labor from exploitation by taking industry into the public domain. State companies provided labor with free lunches, education, sports and leisure activity, and modest housing.

Agricultural land tenure was a problem. Given its centralized marketing role, the state could have reallocated land to build up a rural peasantry and helped it invest in modernization. The state could have manipulated crop prices to siphon off agricultural gains, much like Cargill does in the United States. Instead, Stalin's collectivization program waged a war against the kulaks. This political shock led to famine. It was a steep price to pay for avoiding rent was paid to a landlord class or peasantry.

Marx had said nothing about the military dimension of the transition from progressive industrial capitalism to socialism. But Russia's Revolution – like that of China three decades later – showed that the attempt to create a socialist economy had a military dimension that absorbed the lion's share of the economic surplus. Military aggression by a half dozen leading capitalist nations seeking to overthrow the Bolshevik government obliged Russia to adopt War Communism. For over half a century the Soviet Union devoted most of capital to military investment, not provide sufficient housing or consumer goods for its population beyond spreading literacy, education and public health.

Despite this military overhead, the fact that the Soviet Union was free of a rentier class of financiers and absentee landlords should have made the Soviet Union the world's most competitive low-cost economy in theory. In 1945 the United States certainly feared the efficiency of socialist planning. Its diplomats opposed Soviet membership on the ground that state enterprise and pricing would enable such economies to undersell capitalist countries. [2] So socialist countries were kept out of the IMF, World Bank and the planned World Trade Organization, explicitly on the ground that they were free of land rent, natural resource rent, monopoly rent and financial charges.

Capitalist economies are now privatizing and financializing their basic needs and infrastructure. Every activity is being forced into "the market," at prices that need to cover not only the technological costs of production but also interest, ancillary financial fees and pension set-asides. The cost of living and doing business is further privatized as financial interests pry roads, health care, water, communications and other public utilities away from the public sector, while driving housing and commercial real estate deeply into debt.

The Cold War has shown that capitalist countries plan to continue fighting socialist economies, forcing them to militarize in self-defense. The resulting oppressive military overhead is then blamed on socialist bureaucracy and inefficiency.

The collapse of Russian Stalinism

Russia's Revolution ended after 74 years, leaving the Soviet Union so dispirited that it ended in collapse. The contrast between the low living standards of Russian consumers and what seemed to be Western success became increasingly pronounced. In contrast to China's housing construction policy, the Soviet regime insisted that families double up. Clothing and other consumer goods had only drab designs, needlessly suppressing variety. To cap matters, public opposition to Russia's military personnel losses in Afghanistan caused popular resentment.

When the Soviet Union dissolved itself in 1991, its leaders took neoliberal advice from its major adversary, the United States, in hope that this would set it on a capitalist road to prosperity. But turning its economies into viable industrial powers was the last thing U.S. advisors wanted to teach Russia. [3] Their aim was to turn it and its former satellites into raw-materials colonies of Wall Street, the City of London and Frankfurt – victims of capitalism, not rival producers.

Russia has gone to the furthest anti-socialist extreme by adopting a flat tax that fails to distinguish wages and profits of labor and capital from unearned rental income. By also having to pay a value-added tax (VAT) on consumer goods (with no tax on trading in financial assets), labor is taxed much higher than the wealthy.

Most Western "wealth creation" is achieved by debt-leveraged price increases for real estate, stocks and bonds, and by privatizing the public domain. The latter process has gained momentum since the early 1980s in Margaret Thatcher's Britain and Ronald Reagan's America, followed by Third World countries acting under World Bank tutelage. The pretense is that privatization will maximize technological efficiency and prosperity for the economy as a whole.

Following this advice, Russian leaders agreed that the major sources of economic rent – natural resource wealth, real estate and state companies – should be transferred to private owners (often to themselves and associated insiders). The "magic of the marketplace" was supposed to lead the new owners to make the economy more efficient as a byproduct of making money in the quickest way possible.

Each Russian worker got a "voucher" worth about $25. Most were sold off simply to obtain money to buy food and other needs as many companies stopped paying wages. Russia had wiped out domestic savings with hyperinflation after 1991.

It should not be surprising that banks became the economy's main control centers, as in the West's bubble economies. Instead of the promised prosperity, a new class of billionaires was endowed, headed by the notorious Seven Bankers who appropriated the formerly state-owned oil and gas, nickel and platinum, electricity and aluminum production, as well as real estate, electric utilities and other public enterprises. It was the largest giveaway in modern history. The Soviet nomenklatura became the new lords in outright seizure that Marx would have characterized as "primitive accumulation."

The American advisors knew the obvious: Russian savings had been wiped out by the polst-1991 hyperinflation, so the new owners could only cash out by selling shares to Western buyers. The kleptocrats cashed out as expected, by dumping their shares to foreign investors so quickly at such giveaway prices that Russia's stock market became the world's top performer for Western investors in 1994-96.

The Russian oligarchs kept most of their sales proceeds abroad in British and other banks, beyond the reach of Russian authorities to recapture. Much was spent on London real estate, sports teams and luxury estates in the world's flight-capital havens. Almost none was invested in Russian industry. Wage arrears often mounted up half a year behind. Living standards shrank, along with the population as birth rates plunged throughout the former Soviet economies. Skilled labor emigrated.

The basic neoliberal idea of prosperity is financial gain based on turning rent extraction into a flow of interest payments by buyers-on-credit. This policy favors financial engineering over industrial investment, reversing the Progressive Era's industrial capitalism that Marx anticipated would be a transition stage leading to socialism. Russia adopted the West's anti-socialist rollback toward neofeudalism.

Russian officials failed to understand the State Theory of money that is the basis of Modern Monetary Theory: States can create their own money, giving it value by accepting it in payment of taxes. The Soviet government financed its economy for seventy years without any need to back the ruble with foreign exchange. But Russia's central bank was persuaded that "sound money" required it to back its domestic ruble currency with U.S. Treasury bonds in order to prevent inflation. Russian leaders did not realize that dollars or other foreign currencies were only needed to finance balance-of-payments deficits, not domestic spending except as this money was spent on imports.

Russia joined the dollar standard. Buying Treasury bonds meant lending to the U.S. Government. The central bank bought U.S. Treasury securities to back its domestic currency. These purchases helped finance Cold War escalation in countries around Russia. Russia paid 100% annual interest in the mid-1990s, creating a bonanza for U.S. investors. On balance, this neoliberal policy lay Russia's economy open to looting by financial institutions seeking natural resource rent, land rent and monopoly rent for themselves. Instead of targeting such rents, Russia imposed taxes mainly on labor via a regressive flat tax – too right wing to be adopted even in the United States!

When the Soviet Union dissolved itself, its officials showed no apprehension of how quickly their economies would be de-industrialized as a result of accepting U.S. advice to privatize state enterprises, natural resources and basic infrastructure. Whatever knowledge of Marx's analysis of capitalism had existed (perhaps in Nicolai Bukharin's time) was long gone. It is as if no Russian official had read Volumes II and III of Marx's Capital (or Theories of Surplus Value ) where he reviewed the laws of economic rent and interest-bearing debt.

The inability of Russia, the Baltics and other post-Soviet countries to understand the FIRE sector and its financial dynamics provides an object lesson for other countries as to what to avoid. Reversing the principles of Russia's October 1917 Revolution, the post-Soviet kleptocracy was akin to the feudal epoch's "primitive accumulation" of the land and commons. They adopted the neoliberal business plan: to establish monopolies, first and most easily by privatizing the public infrastructure that had been built up, extracting economic rents and them paying out the resulting as interest and dividends.

This Western financial advice became a textbook example of how not to organize an economy. [4] Having rejoined the global economy free of debt in 1991, Russia's population, companies and government quickly ran up debts as a result of its man-made disaster. Families could have been given their homes freely, just as corporate managers were given their entire companies virtually for free. But Russian managers were as anti-labor as they were greedy to grab their own assets from the public domain. Soaring housing prices quickly plagued Russian's economy with one of the world's highest-priced living and business costs. That prevented any thought of industrial competitiveness with the United States or Europe. What passed for Soviet Marxism lacked an understanding of how economic rents and the ensuing high labor costs affected international prices, or how debt service and capital flight affected the currency's exchange rate.

Adversaries of socialism pronounced Marxist theory dead, as if the Soviet dissolution meant the end of Marxism. But today, less than three decades later, the leading Western economies are themselves succumbing to an overgrowth of debt and shrinking prosperity. Russia failed to recognize that just as its own economy was expiring, so was the West's. Industrial capitalism is succumbing to a predatory finance capitalism that is leaving Western economies debt-ridden. [5] The underlying causes were clear already a century ago: unchecked financial rentiers , absentee ownership and monopolies.

The post-Soviet collapse in the 1990s was not a failure of Marxism, but of the anti-socialist ideology that is plunging Western economies under domination by the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector's symbiosis of the three forms of rent extraction: land and natural resource rent, monopoly rent, and interest (financial rent). This is precisely the fate from which 19 th -century socialism, Marxism and even state capitalism sought to save the industrial economies.

A silver lining to the Soviet "final" stage has been to free Marxist analysis from Russian Marxology. Its focus of Soviet Marxology was not an analysis of how the capitalist nations were becoming financialized neo- rentier economies, but was mainly propagandistic, ossifying into a stereotyped identity politics appealing to labor and oppressed minorities. Today's revival of Marxist scholarship has begun to show how the U.S.-centered global economy is entering a period of chronic austerity, debt deflation, and polarization between creditors and debtors.

Financialization and privatization are submerging capitalism in debt deflation

By 1991, when the Soviet Union's leaders decided to take the "Western" path, the Western economies themselves were reaching a terminus. Appearances were saved by a wave of unproductive credit and debt creation to sustain the bubble economy that finally crashed in 2008.

The pitfalls of this financial dynamic were not apparent in the early years after World War II, largely because economies emerged with their private sectors free of debt. The ensuing boom endowed the middle class in the United States and other countries, but was debt financed, first for home ownership and commercial real estate, then by consumer credit to purchase of automobiles and appliances, and finally by credit-card debt just to meet living expenses.

The same debt overgrowth occurred in the industrial sector, where bank and bondholder credit since the 1980s has been increasingly for corporate takeovers and raiding, stock buybacks and even to pay dividends. Industry has become a vehicle for financial engineering to increase stock prices and strip assets, not to increase the means of production. The result is that capitalism has fallen prey to resurgent rentier interests instead of liberating economies from absentee landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. Banks and bondholders have found their most lucrative market not in the manufacturing sector but in real estate and natural resource extraction.

These vested interests have translated their takings into the political power to shed taxes and dismantle regulations on wealth. The resulting political Counter-Reformation has inverted the idea of "free market" to mean an economy free for rent extractors, not free from landlords, monopolists and financial exploitation as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and other classical economists had envisioned. The word "reform" as used by today's neoliberal media means undoing Progressive Era reforms, dismantling public regulation and government power – except for control by finance and its allied vested interests.

All this is the opposite of socialism, which has now sunk to its nadir through the Western World. The past four decades have seen most of the European and North American parties calling themselves "socialist" make an about-face to follow Tony Blair's New Labour, the French socialists-in-name and the Clinton's New Democrats. They support privatization, financialization and a shift away from progressive taxation to a value-added tax (VAT) falling on consumers, not on finance or real estate.

China's socialist diplomacy in today's hostile world

Now that Western finance capitalism is stagnating, it is fighting even harder to prevent the post-2008 crisis from leading to socialist reforms that would re-socialize infrastructure that has been privatized and put a public banking system in place. Depicting the contrast between socialist and finance-capitalist economies as a clash of civilizations, U.S.-centered "Western" diplomacy is using military and political subversion to prevent a transition from capitalism into socialism.

China is the leading example of socialist success in a mixed economy. Unlike the Soviet Union, it has not proselytized its economic system or sought to promote revolution abroad to emulate its economic doctrine. Just the opposite: To avert attack, China has given foreign investors a stake in its economic growth. The aim has been to mobilize U.S. and other foreign interests as allies, willing customers for China's exports, and suppliers of modern production facilities in China.

This is the opposite of the antagonism that confronted Russia. The risk is that it involves financial investment. But China has protected its autonomy by requiring majority Chinese ownership in most sectors. The main danger is domestic, in the form of financial dynamics and private rent extraction. The great economic choice facing China today concerns the degree to which land and natural resources should be taxed.

The state owns the land, but does fully tax its rising valuation or rent-of-location that has made many families rich. Letting the resulting real-estate and financialized wealth dominate its economic growth poses two dangers: First, it increases the price that new buyers must pay for their home. Second, rising housing prices force these families to borrow – at interest. This turns the rental value of land – value created by society and public infrastructure investment – into a flow of interest to the banks. They end up receiving more over time than the sellers, while increasing the cost of living and doing business. That is a fate which a socialist economy must avoid at all costs.

At issue is how China can best manage credit and natural resource rent in a way that best meets the needs of its population. Now that China has built up a prosperous industry and real estate, its main challenge is to avoid the financial dynamics that are subjecting the West to debt deflation and burying Western economies. To avoid these dynamics, China must curtail the proliferation of unproductive debt created merely to transfer property on credit, inflating asset prices in the process.

Socialism is incompatible with a rentier class of landlords, natural resource owners and monopolists – the preferred clients of banks hoping to turn economic rent into interest charges. As a vehicle to allocate resources "the market" reflects the status quo of property ownership and credit-creation privileges at any given moment of time, without consideration for what is fair and efficient or predatory. Vested interests claim that such a market is an immutable force of nature, whose course cannot be altered by government "interference." This rhetoric of political passivity aims to deter politicians and voters from regulating economies, leaving the wealthy free to extract as much economic rent and interest as markets can bear by privatizing real estate, natural resources, banking and other monopolies.

Such rent seeking is antithetical to socialism's aim to take these assets into the public domain. That is why the financial sector, oil and mineral extractors and monopolists fight so passionately to dismantle state regulatory power and public banking. That is the diplomacy of finance capital, aiming to consolidate American hegemony over a unipolar world. It backs this strategy with a neoliberal academic curriculum that depicts predatory financial and rentier gains as if they add to national income, not simply transfer it into the hands of the rentier classes. This misleading picture of economic reality poses a danger for China sending its students to study economics at American and European universities.

The century that has elapsed since Russia's October 1917 Revolution has produced a substantial Marxist literature describing how finance capitalism has overpowered industrial capitalism. Its dynamics occupied Marx in Volumes II and III of Capital (and also his Theories of Surplus Value ). Like most observers of his era, Marx expected capitalism to make a substantial step toward socialism by overcoming the dynamics of parasitic capital, above all the tendency for debt to keep on expanding at compound interest until it produces a financial crash.

The only way to control banks and their allied rentier sectors is outright socialization. The past century has shown that if society does not control the banks and financial sector, they will control society. Their strategy is to block government money creation so that economies will be forced to rely on banks and bondholders. Regulatory authority to limit such financial aggression and the monopoly pricing and rent extraction it supports has been crippled in the West by "regulatory capture" by the rentier oligarchy.

Attempts to tax away rental income (the liberal alternative to taking real estate and natural resources directly into the public domain) is prone to lobbying for loopholes and evasion, most notoriously via offshore banking centers in tax-avoidance enclaves and the "flags of convenience" sponsored by the global oil and mining companies. This leaves the only way to save society from the financial power to convert rent into interest to be a policy of nationalizing natural resources, fully taxing land rent (where land and minerals are not taken directly into the public domain), and de-privatizing infrastructure and other key sectors.

Conclusion

Markets have not recovered for the products of American industry and labor since 2008. Industrial capitalism has been sacrificed to a form of finance capitalism that is looking more pre-capitalist (or simply oligarchic and neofeudal) with each passing year. The resulting polarization forces every economy – including China – to choose between saving its bankers and other creditors or freeing debtors and lowering the economy's cost structure. Will the government enforce bank and bondholder claims, or will it give priority to the economy and its people? That is an eternal political question spanning pre-capitalist, capitalist and post-capitalist economies.

Marx described the mathematics of compound interest expanding to absorb the entire economy as age-old, long predating industrial capitalism. He characterized the ancient mode of production as dominated by slavery and usury, and medieval banking as predatory. These financial dynamics exist in socialist economies just as they did in medieval and ancient economies. The way in which governments manage the dynamics of credit and debt thus are the dominant force in every era, and should receive the most pressing attention today as China shapes its socialist future.

Notes.

[1] I give the details in "Simon Patten on Public Infrastructure and Economic Rent Capture," American Journal of Economics and Sociology 70 (October 2011):873-903.

[2] My book Super-Imperialism (1972; new ed. 2002) reviews this discussion during 1944-46.

[3] I discuss the IMF and World Bank plan to wipe out Russian savings with hyperinflation and make manufacturing investment uneconomic in "How Neoliberal Tax and Financial Policy Impoverishes Russia – Needlessly," Mir Peremen (The World of Transformations), 2012 (3):49-64 (in Russian). МИР ПЕРЕМЕН 3/2012 (ISSN 2073-3038) Mir peremen М. ХАДСОН, Неолиберальная налоговая и финансовая политика приводит к обнищанию России, 49-64.

[4] I give details in "How Neoliberals Bankrupted 'New Europe': Latvia in the Global Credit Crisis," (with Jeffrey Sommers), in Martijn Konings, ed., The Great Credit Crash (Verso: London and New York, 2010), pp. 244-63, and "Stockholm Syndrome in the Baltics: Latvia's neoliberal war against labor and industry," in Jeffrey Sommers and Charles Woolfson , eds., The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model (Routledge 2014), pp. 44-63.

[5] For more analysis see Dirk Bezemer and Michael Hudson, " Finance is Not the Economy: Reviving the Conceptual Distinction ," Journal of Economic Issues , 50 (2016: #3), pp. 745-768.

[Oct 18, 2017] Spy Schools How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities by Nick Roll

Notable quotes:
"... Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ..."
"... The Boston Globe ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers. ..."
"... It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc. ..."
"... When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies." ..."
"... Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious. ..."
"... For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially. ..."
"... Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery. ..."
"... Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath. ..."
www.chronicle.com
October 3, 2017

The CIA Within Academe 21 Comments

Book documents how foreign and domestic intelligence agencies use -- and perhaps exploit -- higher education and academe for spy operations.
Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it's not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ( Henry Holt and Company ), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores the fraught -- and sometimes exploitative -- relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Chapters explore various case studies of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation using the open and collaborative nature of higher education to their advantage, as well as foreign governments infiltrating the U.S. via education.

"It's pretty widespread, and I'd say it's most prevalent at research universities," Golden, an editor at ProPublica and an alumnus of The Boston Globe 's "Spotlight" team, told Inside Higher Ed . "The foreign intelligence services have the interest and the opportunity to learn cutting-edge, Pentagon-funded or government-funded research."

Golden, who has also covered higher education for The Wall Street Journal , previously wrote about the intersection of wealth and admissions in his 2006 book The Price of Admission .

Each of the case studies in Spy Schools , which goes on sale Oct. 10, is critical. One could read the chapters on the Chinese government's interest in U.S. research universities as hawkish, but then turn to the next chapter on Harvard's relationship with the CIA and read it as critical of the American intelligence establishment as well.

"People of one political persuasion might focus on [the chapters regarding] foreign espionage; people of another political persuasion might focus on domestic espionage," Golden said. "I try to follow where the facts lead."

Perhaps the most prestigious institution Golden examines is Harvard University, probing its cozy relationship with the CIA. (While Harvard has recently come under scrutiny for its relationship with the agency after it withdrew an invitation for Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow -- after the agency objected to her appointment -- this book was written before the Manning incident, which occurred in September.) The university, which has had varying degrees of closeness and coldness with the CIA over the years, currently allows the agency to send officers to the midcareer program at the Kennedy School of Government while continuing to act undercover, with the school's knowledge. When the officers apply -- often with fudged credentials that are part of their CIA cover -- the university doesn't know they're CIA agents, but once they're in, Golden writes, Harvard allows them to tell the university that they're undercover. Their fellow students, however -- often high-profile or soon-to-be-high-profile actors in the world of international diplomacy -- are kept in the dark.

"Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard's knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide," Golden writes. "For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence."

But the CIA isn't the only intelligence group operating at Harvard. Golden notes Russian spies have enrolled at the Kennedy School, although without Harvard's knowledge or cooperation.

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed , Harvard officials didn't deny Golden's telling, but defended the university's practices while emphasizing the agreement between the university and the CIA -- which Golden also writes about -- on not using Harvard to conduct CIA fieldwork.

"Harvard Kennedy School does not knowingly provide false information or 'cover' for any member of our community from an intelligence agency, nor do we allow members of our community to carry out intelligence operations at Harvard Kennedy School," Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in a statement.

While Golden said the CIA's involvement on campus raises existential questions about the purpose and integrity of higher education, Harvard maintained that the Kennedy School was living up to its mission.

"Our community consists of people from different spheres of public service. We are proud to train people from the U.S. government and the intelligence community, as well as peace activists and those who favor more open government," Rosenbach said in his statement. "We train students from a wide range of foreign countries and foreign governments, including -- among others -- Israel, U.K., Russia and China. That is consistent with our mission and we are proud to have that reach."

On the other hand, other countries are interested in exploiting U.S. higher education. Golden documents the case of Ruopeng Liu, a graduate student at Duke University who siphoned off U.S.-government-funded research to Chinese researchers. Liu eventually returned to China and has used some of the research for his Chinese-government-funded start-up ventures.

Golden is comprehensive, interviewing Duke researchers who worked with Liu, as well as dispatching a freelance journalist in China to interview Liu (he denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were taken as part of higher education's collaborative norms regarding research projects). Despite questions that arose while Liu was a student, he received his doctorate in 2009 without any formal questions or pushback from the university. A week before Liu defended his dissertation, Golden notes that Duke officials voted to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese government regarding opening a Duke campus in China -- raising questions about whether Duke was cautious about punishing a Chinese student lest there were negative business implications for Duke. ( The building of the campus proved to be a controversial move in its own right. )

The Duke professor Liu worked under told Golden it would be hard to prove Liu acted with intentional malice rather than out of genuine cultural and translational obstacles, or ethical slips made by a novice researcher. Duke officials told Inside Higher Ed that there weren't any connections between Liu and the vote.

"The awarding of Ruopeng Liu's degree had absolutely no connection to the deliberations over the proposal for Duke to participate in the founding of a new university in Kunshan, China," a spokesman said in an email.

These are just two chapters of Golden's book, which also goes on to document the foreign exchange relationship between Marietta College, in Ohio, and the controversial Chinese-intelligence-aligned University of International Relations. Agreements between Marietta and UIR, which is widely regarded a recruiting ground for Chinese intelligence services, include exchanging professors and sending Chinese students to Marietta. Conversely, Golden writes, as American professors teach UIR students who could end up spying on the U.S., American students at Marietta are advised against studying abroad at UIR if they have an interest in working for the government -- studying at UIR carries a risk for students hoping to get certain security clearances. Another highlight is the chapter documenting the CIA's efforts to stage phony international academic conferences, put on to lure Iranian nuclear scientists as attendees and get them out of their country -- and in a position to defect to the U.S. According to Golden's sources, the operations, combined with other efforts, have been successful enough "to hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program."

But Golden's book doesn't just shed light on previously untold stories. It also highlights the existential questions facing higher education, not only when dealing with infiltration from foreign governments, but also those brought on by cozy relationships between the U.S. intelligence and academe.

"One issue is American national security," Golden said. "Universities do a lot of research that's important to our government and our military, and they don't take very strong precautions against it being stolen," he said. "So the domestic espionage side -- I'm kind of a traditionalist and I believe in the ideal of universities as places where the brightest minds of all countries come together to learn, teach each other, study and do research. Espionage from both sides taints that that's kind of disturbing."

After diving deep into the complex web that ties higher education and espionage together, however, Golden remains optimistic about the future.

"It wouldn't be that hard to tighten up the intellectual property rules and have written collaboration agreements and have more courses about intellectual safeguards," he said. "In the 1970s, Harvard adopted guidelines against U.S. intelligence trying to recruit foreign students in an undercover way they didn't become standard practice [across academe, but], I still think those guidelines are pertinent and colleges would do well to take a second look at them."

"In the idealistic dreamer mode, it would be wonderful if the U.N. or some other organization would take a look at this issue, and say, 'Can we declare universities off-limits to espionage?'"

Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 8:18 AM

Equating the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses with that of foreign intelligence is pretty obtuse moral relativism. US academia and US intelligence alike benefit from cooperation, and the American people are the winners overall. By the way, is it really necessary to twice describe this relationship as "cozy"? What does that mean, other to suggest there's something illicit about it?

Grace Alcock -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 4, 2017 1:30 AM

It'd be nice if American intelligence was paying a bit more attention to what goes on in academic research--as far as I can tell, the country keeps making policies that don't seem particularly well-informed by the research in relevant areas. Can we get them to infiltrate more labs of scientists working on climate change or something?

Maybe stick around, engage in some participant observation and figure that research out? It's not clear they have any acquaintance with the literature on the causes of war. Really, pick a place to start, and pay attention.

alsotps -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 5:20 PM

If you cannot see how a gov't intelligence agency, prohibited from working in the USA by statute and who is eye-deep in AMERICAN education is wrong, then I am worried. Read history. Look back to the 1970's to start and to the 1950's with FBI and the military agents in classrooms; then read about HUAC.

Now, look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers.

Get it? it is 'illicit!"

Nicholas Dujmovic -> alsotps , October 4, 2017 12:38 PM

Actually, I read quite a bit of history. I also know that US intelligence agencies are not "prohibited from working in the USA." If they have relationships in academia that remind you of Stalin, Hitler, etc., how have US agencies "imposed lock-step thinking and ferreted out free-thinkers?" Hasn't seemed to work, has it? Your concern is overwrought.

Former Community College Prof -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 12:12 PM

"Cozy" might refer to the mutual gains afforded by allowing the federal government to break many rules (and laws) while conducting their "intelligence operations" in academe. I do not know if I felt Homeland Security should have had permission to bring to this country, under false premises supported by ICE and accrediting agencies, thousands of foreign nationals and employed them at companies like Facebook, Apple, Morgan Stanley and the U.S. Army. While Homeland Security collected 16K tuition from each of them (and the companies that hired these F-1s didn't have to pay FICA) all our nation got was arrests of 20 mid level visa brokers.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Personally, I think cozy was quite complimentary as I would have chosen other words. Just imagine if there are additional "undercover students" with false credentials in numbers significant enough to throw off data or stopping universities and colleges from enforcing rules and regulations. If you set up and accredit a "fake university" and keep the proceeds, it strikes me as illicit.

alsotps -> Former Community College Prof , October 3, 2017 5:21 PM

Hey...don't imagine it. Read about Cointelpro and military 'intelligence' agents in classes in the early 1970's....

Trevor Ronson -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 2:36 PM

And behaving as if the "the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses" is something to accept without question is also "obtuse moral relativism". We are talking about an arrangement wherein a / the most prestigious institutions of higher learning has an established relationship with the CIA along with some accepted protocol to ongoing participation.

Whether it is right, wrong, or in between is another matter but please don't pretend that it's just business as usual and not worthy of deeper investigation.

alsotps -> Trevor Ronson , October 3, 2017 5:16 PM

Unfortunately for many people, it IS business as usual.

George Avery , October 3, 2017 9:46 AM

It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc.

Never mind that I primarily do health policy and economics work, and have not been near a lab bench since I returned to school for my doctorate.....anything with a defense or security application drew a flurry of interest in getting involved.

As a result, I tended to be very discerning in who I took on as an advisee, if only to protect my security clearance.

alsotps -> George Avery , October 3, 2017 5:22 PM

PAr for the course for both UG and grad students from China who have not paid a head hunter. ANY school or program offering money to international students was flooded by such inquiries. Get over yourself.

John Lobell , October 3, 2017 6:25 AM

When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies."

We had a program in "Tropical Architecture" which enrolled students form "third world" countries. Rumor was -- --

jloewen , October 3, 2017 10:38 AM

When I got my Ph.D. from Harvard in 1968, the Shah of Iran got an honorary doctorate at the same commencement. The next year, by pure coincidence!, he endowed three chairs of Near Eastern Studies at H.U.

alsotps -> jloewen , October 3, 2017 5:24 PM

Absolutely a coincidence! You don't think honoraria have anything whatsoever to do with the Development Office do you? (Snark)

Kevin Van Elswyk , October 3, 2017 9:31 AM

And we are surpised?

Robert4787 , October 4, 2017 6:28 PM

So glad to see they're on campus. Many young people now occupy the CIA; the old "cowboys" of the Cold War past are gone. U may find this interesting>> http://osintdaily.blogspot....

TinkerTailor1620 , October 3, 2017 5:29 PM

Hundreds of government civil servants attend courses at the Kennedy School every year. That a few of them come from the CIA should be no surprise. It and all the other intelligence agencies are nothing more than departments within the federal government, just like Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, the FDA, Energy, and so on. Nothing sneaky or suspicious about any of it. Why anyone with cover credentials would tell the Kennedy School admin that is beyond me. When I was in cover status, I was in cover status everywhere; to not be was to blow your cover, period, and was extremely dangerous.

Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious.

Phred , October 3, 2017 1:49 PM

For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially.

alsotps -> Phred , October 3, 2017 5:25 PM

The key, here, is financially. The bean counters and those whose research is funded don't look hard at the source of the funding. Just so it keeps coming.

Jason , October 4, 2017 6:34 PM

Academic treason.

Sanford Gray Thatcher , October 4, 2017 6:13 PM

Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery.

Remember also how intelligence agency money was behind the journal Encounter? Lots of propaganda got distributed under the guise of objective social science research.

donald scott , October 3, 2017 6:05 PM

Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath.

In the research for my biography of Stewart I found significant information about CIA presence on the UC Berkeley campus, in the mid-twentieth century, which reached in to the highest levels of the administration and led to a network of "professors" recruited by that unAmerican spy agency.

The oaths, the current gender wars and the conviction by accusation of harassment are all later attempts to politicize education and turn fiat lux into fiat nox. IHE should be writing more about that and about the current conviction by sexual accusation, and the effect of such on free thought and free inquiry.

[Sep 21, 2017] After 2.5 Years, A Lawsuit To Unseal Draft Whitewater Indictments Against Hillary Gets Its Day In Court

Sep 21, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

McClatchy points out, since March 2015 Judicial Watch has been engaged in a back and forth battle with the National Archives which argues that "the documents should be kept secret [to preserve] grand jury secrecy and Clinton's personal privacy."

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that files Freedom of Information Act requests, wants copies of the documents that the National Archives and Records Administration has declined to release. It filed a FOIA request for the documents in March 2015 and in October 2015 the group sued for the 238 pages of responsive records.

According to Judicial Watch: " The National Archives argues that the documents should be kept secret, citing grand jury secrecy and Clinton's personal privacy."

But Judicial Watch says that because so much about the Whitewater case has already been made public, "there is no secrecy or privacy left to protect."

The documents in question are alleged drafts of indictments written by Hickman Ewing, the chief deputy of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton's alleged involvement in fraudulent real estate dealings dating back to the 70's.

Ewing told investigators he drafted the indictments in April 1995. According to Judicial Watch, the documents pertain to allegations that Hillary Clinton provided false information and withheld information from those investigating the Whitewater scandal.

Meanwhile, for those who haven't been alive long enough to remember some of the original Clinton scandals dating back to the 1970's, the Whitewater scandal revolved around a series of shady real estate deals in the Ozarks, not to mention a couple of illegal, federally-insured loans, back when Bill was Governor of Arkansas.

Of course, like with all Clinton scandals, while several other people ended up in jail as a result of the FBI's Whitewater investigation, Bill and Hillary emerged unscathed. Wikipedia offers more details:

The Whitewater controversy, Whitewater scandal (or simply Whitewater), was an American political episode of the 1990s that began with an investigation into the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal, in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s.

A March 1992 New York Times article published during the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign reported that the Clintons, then governor and first lady of Arkansas, had invested and lost money in the Whitewater Development Corporation. The article stimulated the interest of L. Jean Lewis, a Resolution Trust Corporation investigator who was looking into the failure of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, also owned by Jim and Susan McDougal.

Lewis looked for connections between the savings and loan company and the Clintons, and on September 2, 1992, she submitted a criminal referral to the FBI naming Bill and Hillary Clinton as witnesses in the Madison Guaranty case. Little Rock U.S. Attorney Charles A. Banks and the FBI determined that the referral lacked merit, but Lewis continued to pursue the case. From 1992 to 1994, Lewis issued several additional referrals against the Clintons and repeatedly called the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock and the Justice Department regarding the case. Her referrals eventually became public knowledge, and she testified before the Senate Whitewater Committee in 1995.

David Hale, the source of criminal allegations against the Clintons, claimed in November 1993 that Bill Clinton had pressured him into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons' partner in the Whitewater land deal. The allegations were regarded as questionable because Hale had not mentioned Clinton in reference to this loan during the original FBI investigation of Madison Guaranty in 1989; only after coming under indictment himself in 1993, did Hale make allegations against the Clintons. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation resulted in convictions against the McDougals for their role in the Whitewater project. Jim Guy Tucker, Bill Clinton's successor as governor, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years of probation for his role in the matter. Susan McDougal served 18 months in prison for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions relating to Whitewater.

Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal.

Just more attempts to "criminalize behavior that is normal"...

jamesmmu , Sep 21, 2017 6:36 PM

Understanding The Battle Between The Deep State – And "One Nation Under God" – The Holy War Within The United States Of America.

http://investmentwatchblog.com/understanding-the-battle-between-the-deep...

knukles -> jamesmmu , Sep 21, 2017 7:00 PM

"National Security" Will Prevail Again. Hillary's health and mental condition are at risk.

Hillary/Diezapam 2020

Holy war? FFS people, this shit's straight out of the End of Days stories or numerous religious, spiritual and philosophical belief systems. Yes, the war between good and evil is real and evil has the upper hand at the moment. Greatly has the upper hand.

Edit and More Importantly, Andre Ward's announced his retirement from boxing Man was a thing of beauty in the ring....

Four chan -> knukles , Sep 21, 2017 7:27 PM

the first work the clintons did for the cia

booboo -> Four chan , Sep 21, 2017 8:22 PM

Didn't Sandy Berger get caught stealing Clinton related documents from the National Archives?

Wonder what else he make off in his socks?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16706-2005Mar31.html

Lumberjack -> Lumberjack , Sep 21, 2017 6:48 PM

Was Hillary Clinton Fired from the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry?

https://www.cato.org/blog/was-hillary-clinton-fired-nixon-impeachment-in...

In 1999, nine years before the Calabrese interview, Zeifman told the Scripps-Howard news agency: "If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her." In a 2008 interview on "The Neal Boortz Show," Zeifman was asked directly whether he fired her. His answer: "Well, let me put it this way. I terminated her, along with some other staff members who were ! we no longer needed, and advised her that I would not ! could not recommend her for any further positions."

Blankenstein -> YourAverageJoe , Sep 21, 2017 8:29 PM

They owned the property of what was most likely a drug smuggling operation in Paron, Arkansas.

That property has ties with the Rose law firm in Little Rock , in which Hillary Rodham Clinton was formerly a partner. While some observers believe the property was intended as an additional presidential residence - the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, for example, reported it was rumored to be a "White House West"; and contractors who worked on it whimsically tagged it "Camp Chelsea" - there are strong indications something quite different might be taking place in Paron

Simultaneous with this, residents said there was an increase in low-flying airplanes over the property. Unlike the military aircraft that occasionally fly over the area, these were "small Cessna-like" aircraft, according to Hill. He said the planes typically fly through a pass in the Cockspur Mountains on Southeast's property, several miles from the main road.

"After the planes leave, 20 to 30 minutes will go by, and small trucks and Jeeps leave the property at two different entrances," said Hill. He added that neighbors, during a flurry of aircraft activity, had logged the details, which they then passed on to federal authorities

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/993980/posts

Blankenstein -> insanelysane , Sep 21, 2017 8:23 PM

The ones with Vince Foster's fingerprints on them?

" After nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, the White House said this evening that it had unexpectedly discovered copies of missing documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton's law firm that describe her work for a failing savings and loan association in the 1980's.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/06/us/elusive-papers-of-law-firm-are-foun...

"The mysterious appearance of the billing records, which had been the specific subject of various nvestigative subpoenas for two year s, sparked intense interest about how they surfaced and where they had been"

"But Whitewater investigators believe that the billing records show significant representation. They argue that the records prove that Ms. Clinton was not only directly involved in the representation of Madison, but more specifically, in providing legal work on the fraudulent Castle Grande land deal."

"Investigators believe this suggests that, at some point, this copy was passed from Vince Foster to Hillary Clinton for her review.

In addition, investigators had the FBI conduct fingerprint analysis of the billing records. Of significance, the prints of Vince Foster and Hillary Clinton were found."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/arkansas/docs/recs.html

Rebelrebel7 , Sep 21, 2017 7:22 PM

It is extremely unfortunate that criminal behavior is now considered normal! The Clintons are responsible for that.

The Clintons were extremely guilty of Whitewater for profiteering on a failed real estate deal at Arkansas' residents expense, in addition to dozens of other crimes! I often wonder how life could be much better if the Clintons were never elected! The invasive and rampant corruption in virtually every sector of our society, has made this country 100% dysfunctional!

There had been criminal activity at the local level in government in some regions, but Clinton nationalized it, and legitimized it. Nixon was impeached, and resigned, giving people belief that nobody was above the law.

Now, Trump has not committed a single impeachable offense, and all that they ever talk about is impeachment!

I recall reading that Starr had DNC loyalties. My guess is that Republicans were more concerned with a President Gore, than a President Clinton.

Chippewa Partners , Sep 21, 2017 7:49 PM

The Rose Law Firm billings records? They were found sitting on her night stand next to her bed FFS...........

This is a great article on her prowess in cattle trading ......all of you wanna-be traders should try to emulate her ability!!!

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436066/hillary-clintons-cattle-fut...

Anunnaki , Sep 21, 2017 8:17 PM

The real scandal is how Hellary turned 1000$ into 100k in cattle futures. They said it would be like winning the lottery two days in a row

[Sep 21, 2017] Emails Hillary Clinton Sought Russian Officials For Pay-To-Play Scheme

Sep 21, 2017 | www.mintpressnews.com

Although Hillary Clinton has blamed numerous factors and people for her loss to Donald Trump in last year's election, no one has received as much blame as the Russian government. In an effort to avoid blaming the candidate herself by turning the election results into a national scandal, accusations of Kremlin-directed meddling soon surfaced. While such accusations have largely been discredited by both computer analysts and award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh, they continue to be repeated as the investigation into Donald Trump's alleged collusion with the Russian government picks up steam.

However, newly released Clinton emails suggest that that the former secretary of state's disdain for the Russian government is a relatively new development. The emails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, show that the Russian government was included in invitations to exclusive Clinton Foundation galas that began less than two months after Clinton became the top official at the U.S. State Department.

In March of 2009, Amitabh Desai, then-Clinton Foundation director of foreign policy, sent invitations to numerous world leaders, which included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Desai's emails were cc'd to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and later forwarded to top Clinton aide Jake Sullivan.

The Clinton Foundation's activities during Hillary's tenure as secretary of state have been central to the accusations that the Clinton family used their "charitable" foundation as a means of enriching themselves via a massive "Pay to Play" scheme. Emails leaked by Wikileaks, particularly the Podesta emails , offered ample evidence connecting foreign donations to the Clintons and their foundation with preferential treatment by the U.S. State Department.

[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.

[Aug 11, 2017] Democratic Senator Forced to Face Trial for Corruption, Judge Says

Notable quotes:
"... Update: The Palm Beach Post reported that Melgen's sentencing in a separate trial was abruptly postponed, fueling speculation he may be cooperating with authorities in the Menendez case. ..."
Aug 11, 2017 | observer.com

Observer Allowing public officials to remain in office while under indictment normalizes corruption By Michael Sainato • 08/10/17 11:50am

Sen. Robert Menendez. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

In 2015, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted on bribery charges. Prosecutors alleged that he accepted nearly $1 million in bribes through campaign donations, vacations, and private jet flights in return for doing political favors for a Florida optometrist, Salomon Melgen, a co-defendant in the case. In April 2017, Melgen was found guilty of Medicare fraud. Menendez pressed Obama's Health and Human Services secretary for leniency in the case. In addition, Menendez also tried to use his political influence to coerce U.S. officials to pressure the Dominican Republic to benefit one of Melgen's companies. He also intervened in acquiring visas for Melgen's foreign girlfriends. Since 2014, Menendez has raised $4.6 million for legal expenses and has continued to raise campaign funds for his re-election bid in 2018.

Menendez first won election to the Senate in 2006. He was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate in 2016 and served as her national campaign co-chair during her failed 2008 presidential campaign.

On August 9, a federal judge denied Menendez's last chance to avoid a trial this September. His attorneys tried to argue that his indictment should be overturned due to the Supreme Court decision that essentially normalized corruption by overturning former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption conviction in June 2016. In the ruling against Menendez, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls wrote , "Whether the acts alleged in the Superseding Indictment satisfy the definition of an 'official act' under McDonnell is a factual determination that cannot be resolved before the Government has the opportunity to present evidence at trial."

In addition to McDonnell's successful overturning of a corruption conviction, former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver managed to have his corruption conviction overturned in July 2017 due to the Supreme Court's decision narrowing the definition of political corruption, though federal prosecutors are working on re-trying the case. Former Congresswoman Corinne Brown is currently undergoing efforts to have her corruption conviction from May 2017 overturned .

This trend of permitting high-profile public officials to remain in elected office after receiving federal indictments normalizes corruption. Civilians indicted on charges related to their jobs are typically fired or forced to resign. Public officials should be held to even higher standards than people in the private sector because they are accountable to their constituents. Instead, standards of conduct have been deteriorating, leading to political antipathy across the country because voters increasingly feel that public officials prioritize their personal interests and those of their wealthy donors .

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What kind of representation are constituents receiving when public officials behave in ways where they have to worry about staying out of jail because of actions they took in office? As American citizens, public officials have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but constituents also have the right to unencumbered representation. Politicians should not be allowed to act above the law and get away with it.

Update: The Palm Beach Post reported that Melgen's sentencing in a separate trial was abruptly postponed, fueling speculation he may be cooperating with authorities in the Menendez case.

[Jul 27, 2017] Would you claim that while Clinton, yes, is a well-known money-grubbing scum, Kissinger and Nuland are statespersons, above reproach and above suspicion?

Jul 27, 2017 | www.unz.com

Grandpa Charlie > , July 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm GMT

... Or would you claim that while Clinton, yes, is a well-known money-grubbing scum, Kissinger and Nuland are statespersons, above reproach and above suspicion?

Anyway, you heard it here first, at Unz Review. So what?

Meanwhile, remember this: "None dare call it treason."

[Jul 23, 2017] Many critics of the USSR seems to fall into assessment of the Soviet Experiment mode in a careless way. It is terribly misleading to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures had on the course of the Soviet Unions development

Notable quotes:
"... While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation ..."
"... Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice ..."
"... What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. ..."
"... It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA. ..."
"... West had spent several billion dollars in cash to bribe significant portions of the Soviet elite (Soros, via his foundation, was especially active). And large part of the elite war already poisoned by neoliberalism and wanted to become rich. So while pre-conditions for the collapse of the USSR were internal (communist ideology was actually discredited in early 70th; economic stagnation started around the same time, Communist Party leadership completely degraded and became a joke in 80th ), external pressures and subversive activity played the role of catalyst that made the process irreversible. ..."
Jul 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , July 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

While I respect the author for raising this topic, he seems to fall into "assessment of the Soviet Experiment" mode in a careless way. I realize I tend to repetition about this, but it is terribly misleading -- perhaps "disorienting" would be a better term -- to discuss theses questions without any reference to the tremendous impact external pressures -- call it "intersystemic conflict," "international conflict," whatever -- had on the course of the Soviet Union's development. While it could be argued that capitalist economies also faced external pressures, that would miss the question of how such pressures impact on a society in the process of formation . We're talking about questions of constrained path dependence of a fundamental order that the experimentalist mode of thinking misses. Etc, etc.

Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism.

What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves.

While it is essential to try to determine the viability of alternative economic systems in comparison what we've got now, doing so without taking into account the tremendously destructive opposition a transition would face is, in a way, to blithely continue on in a "Soviet Experiment" mentality.

It's obvious that people can enjoyably engage in cooperative behavior, but if they can do so under a barrage is another matter. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if capitalist elites aren't thoroughly demoralized they will do whatever they can to 'prove' TINA.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I was a little confused by this comment. I'm not opposed to looking at the impact of external pressures, but I am opposed to treating them as monocausal.

Your preferred pattern of historical explanation shifts during the course of your comment. When discussing the USSR in the process of formation, you concentrate on bringing out external pressures and therefore considering the choices of the leadership as highly constrained. When discussing the collapse of the Soviet Union, you instead stress the choices of the leadership elite to "seize an opportunity to enrich themselves."

I'm not even sure why you would assume that your thesis about the elite choosing to engage in looting is opposed to anything that I'm saying.

I agree with you on is that it is possible to think both about what a self-sustaining better society might look like, and also the extent to which it's hard to get there within the constraints of current power structures. They are not the same question, and I think both are worth pondering.

likbez , July 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

hemeantwell,

Very good points:

"Then, as far as the "collapse of the Soviet Union" goes, there's no mention about the choice by significant sections of the Soviet elite to engage in looting instead of developing a transitional program that would protect viable sections of the Soviet economy under market socialism.

What from the standpoint of the Times editorial board looks like a necessary start-over was in fact a sloppily-carried decision, or merely an unintended outcome, of a section of the elite seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves. "

West had spent several billion dollars in cash to bribe significant portions of the Soviet elite (Soros, via his foundation, was especially active). And large part of the elite war already poisoned by neoliberalism and wanted to become rich. So while pre-conditions for the collapse of the USSR were internal (communist ideology was actually discredited in early 70th; economic stagnation started around the same time, Communist Party leadership completely degraded and became a joke in 80th ), external pressures and subversive activity played the role of catalyst that made the process irreversible.

The fact that neoliberalism was rising at the time means that this was the worst possible time for the USSR to implement drastic economic reforms and sure mediocre politicians like Gorbachev quickly lost control of the process. With some important help of the West.

The subsequent economic rape of Russia was incredibly brutal and most probably well coordinated by the famous three letter agencies: CIA (via USAID and "Harvard mafia") ) and MI6 and their German and French counterparts. See

Brain drain, especially to the USA and Israel was simply incredible. Which, while good for professionals leaving (although tales of Russian Ph.D swiping malls are not uncommon, especially in Israel ) , who can earn much better money abroad, is actually another form of neocolonialism for the countries affected:

Oregoncharles , July 22, 2017 at 12:57 am

It was a tragically missed opportunity to try genuine socialism. Instead of essentially selling the state enterprises to the Mafia, they could have been GIVEN, probably broken up, to the workers in them. It would have been instant worker-owned, market regulated – what? We don't have a familiar name for it, but it might be what Marx meant by "socialism."

Ironically, the Bolsheviks first set up such co-operatives, called soviets, but soon seized them in favor of state ownership. End of the socialist experiment. It's quite possible they were far more Russian than Marxist.

Moneta , July 22, 2017 at 8:14 am

The US economy hit a wall in the 70s. Instead of readjusting internally, it used its reserve currency and global exploitation to gain an extra few decades of consumerism. If exploitation is acceptable, then we could say that capitalism wins. However, capitalism will work until there is nothing left to exploit.

In the meantime, the USSR was set up in a way where it could not follow

IMO, left leaning theoretical communism would have trouble surviving when in competition with a system based on short-termism such as capitalism. This competition against short-termism would force the communist country to turn into a form of fascism just to stop the opportunists which happen to have the skills from defecting.

MikeC , July 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

While in the Peace Corps serving in Africa (after 2010), I had a former military doctor (originally from Moldavia) who I'd see due to ongoing health issues. He served in Angola as a doctor during the civil wars and had pictures of the people he helped who were injured in the war. He was hands down the most competent doctor I saw who was employed by the PC. This was by a wide margin of competence too. I had not illusions about the Peace Corps and it purpose (to put the kind face on US empire?). We'd talk quite a bit, and he was still bitter about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev who he blamed for its demise, due to the lower standards of living and hardships now faced by many in the Eastern bloc and in Russia itself. In all honesty, though I identify with the far Left, this was new to me since I never realized that anyone would long for those days since all I ever heard about as a youth (due to propaganda of course) was about long bread lines and the gray world of the lives of those in the Soviet Union. Kukezel's comments above, and other information I have gained over the time had somewhat expanded my ideas and understanding regarding the system, as have my growing understanding of just how unjust our system in the US is becoming more unjust year after year.

I am not knowledgeable enough, possibly not smart enough, to understand the finer points of the discussion here concerning Marx, but I do think it possible for we as a species to create better systems to organize our world other than one predicated on the profit motive. Besides being unsustainable in a world of finite resources and the possibility that we humans will destroy the possibility to exist, we need to creatively try new forms of organization. The problem with the concentration of power of present day capitalism is that it seems so adaptable to new ways to effectively change. I know some Marx but am limited, but he was very impressed with capitalism's way to adapt to preserve itself.

Unfortunately, at times I become too cynical about the ability of the human species intellect and abitlity to go beyond short-term solutions. We just may not be able to get past our limitations as a creature. In short, I just don't know if we are smart enough to do what is best for survival. Like my Peace Corps doctor, I too sometimes wax nostalgic for a past that will never return, back to the sixties when it seemed the distribution of wealth was more egalitarian, unions brought about some economic justice, and the concentration of power and wealth was not so dramatic as it is today. I just never know if I was too blind, or deluded, at the time to see that maybe those weren't actually better times in that the system itself was built upon the same exploitation has existed in all of US history. So all this good discussion at times brings me back to the question–is our historical evolution not far enough along a continuum for us to change before it is too late? That's a bummer of a thought, I know, but the present political manifestations keep blunting any optimism I still possess.

Anon , July 22, 2017 at 7:39 pm

I too sometimes wax nostalgic for a past that will never return, back to the sixties when it seemed the distribution of wealth was more egalitarian, unions brought about some economic justice, and the concentration of power and wealth was not so dramatic as it is today.

That was "white priveledge" back then. It's passing is what led to Trump and the epidemic of homelessness.

[Jul 22, 2017] USSR collapse and the evils of Yeltsin regime

Notable quotes:
"... After the processes of industrialization and urbanization had completely, there was nowhere for the economy to go, and the low growth combined with the ossification of bureacratic structures and the entrenchment of the World War II generation in power meant a lack of job opportunities. All of this contributed to the malaise that killed productivity and increased alcoholism, creating a self-feedback loop. Yeltsin and his cronies calculated that if the USSR transitioned to a capitalist economy, they stood to make a lot of money, so they met in secret and agreed to its dissolution. The public wanted reform, but they didn't want full-blown capitalism, certainly not of the variety Russia saw in the 90's. ..."
"... Especially considering the fact that Marx was arguably the greatest thinker of the modern era and his contributions were not at all limited to the 'isms' that people fought for in his name, I think a much better topic for a post would have been "common Cold War misconceptions about Russia and Marxism." ..."
Jul 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

John , July 22, 2017 at 4:47 am

I would rather live in Cuba than in Haiti, and the country's economic performance is all the more impressive considering the economic warfare wrought upon it by the US.

48% of Russians regret the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the second largest political party in Russia after Putin's is the Communist Party (article from The Nation circa 2012). And this isn't a political party claiming to bring about a new socialist society but rather one that promises to bring back the communism of the Brezhnev era.

Russia was a backwards country at the beginning of World War I and saw its industry annihilated by the war. The peace treaty ceded its industrial heartlands, and then it was ripped apart by the civil war of the 1920's. But this didn't compare to World War II, which wiped out an entire generation of Russians.

Yet within 12 years of the war's end, they were the first to put an object into space, and four years later they were the first to put a human into orbit. They Americans, who had been unscathed by the war, were blessed with nearly unlimited natural resources and had the most powerful economy and military in in history, saw their attempt blow up on the launchpad.

At this time in America, people actually thought socialism might win out. The Soviets certainly thought so. In the first two decades after World War II, their economy was probably the fastest growing in history. They were so confident that their system was superior that they assumed they could beat the American capitalists in every way, including providing the general populace with consumer goods. This promise, made during the "Kitchen Debates" and throughout the 60's and 70's, when the government officially embraced consumerism, was a horrible miscalculation that eventually contributed greatly to the public's discontent with the regime.

After the processes of industrialization and urbanization had completely, there was nowhere for the economy to go, and the low growth combined with the ossification of bureacratic structures and the entrenchment of the World War II generation in power meant a lack of job opportunities. All of this contributed to the malaise that killed productivity and increased alcoholism, creating a self-feedback loop. Yeltsin and his cronies calculated that if the USSR transitioned to a capitalist economy, they stood to make a lot of money, so they met in secret and agreed to its dissolution. The public wanted reform, but they didn't want full-blown capitalism, certainly not of the variety Russia saw in the 90's.

Especially considering the fact that Marx was arguably the greatest thinker of the modern era and his contributions were not at all limited to the 'isms' that people fought for in his name, I think a much better topic for a post would have been "common Cold War misconceptions about Russia and Marxism."

This is supposed to be a heterodox economics blog but it's always from the Keynesian perspective and never from the Marxist. Considering Keynes's thoughts on the Labour Party, for one, I think more perspectives are needed in informing discussion on how to approach questions of social justice. Marxian economists predicted the crisis just as well as the Keynesians. Let's listen.

[Jul 13, 2017] Progressive Democrats Resist and Submit, Retreat and Surrender by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "Have you ever met or talked to any Russian official or relative of any Russian banker, or any Russian or even read Gogol, now or in the past?" ..."
"... Progressives joined the FBI/CIA's 'Russian Bear' conspiracy: " Russia intervened and decided the Presidential election" – no matter that millions of workers and rural Americans had voted against Hillary Clinton, Wall Street's candidate and no matter that no evidence of direct interference was ever presented. Progressives could not accept that 'their constituents', the masses, had rejected Madame Clinton and preferred 'the Donald'. They attacked a shifty-eyed caricature of the repeatedly elected Russian President Putin as a subterfuge for attacking the disobedient 'white trash' electorate of 'Deploralandia'. ..."
"... Progressive demagogues embraced the coifed and manicured former 'Director Comey' of the FBI, and the Mr. Potato-headed Capo of the CIA and their forty thugs in making accusations without finger or footprints. ..."
"... Then Progressives turned increasingly Orwellian: Ignoring Obama's actual expulsion of over 2 million immigrant workers, they condemned Trump for promising to eventually expel 5 million more! ..."
"... Progressives, under Obama, supported seven brutal illegal wars and pressed for more, but complained when Trump continued the same wars and proposed adding a few new ones. At the same time, progressives out-militarized Trump by accusing him of being 'weak' on Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. They chided him for his lack support for Israel's suppression of the Palestinians. They lauded Trump's embrace of the Saudi war against Yemen as a stepping-stone for an assault against Iran, even as millions of destitute Yemenis were exposed to cholera. The Progressives had finally embraced a biological weapon of mass destruction, when US-supplied missiles destroyed the water systems of Yemen! ..."
"... Thank you for putting your finger on the main problem right there in the first paragraph. There were exceptions of course. I supported Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Primary that gave us the first black etc. But I never voted for Obama. Throughout the Cheney Admin I pleaded with progressives to bolt the party. ..."
"... This is an excellent summary of the evolution of "progressives" into modern militarist fascists who tolerate identity politics diversity. There is little to add to Mr. Petras' commentary. ..."
"... Barak Obama is America's biggest con man who accomplished nothing "progressive" during eight years at the top, and didn't even try. (Obamacare is an insurance industry idea supported by most Republicans, which is why it recently survived.) Anyone who still likes Obama should read about his actions since he left office. Obama quickly signed a $65 million "book deal", which can only be a kickback since there is no way the publisher can sell enough books about his meaningless presidency to justify that sum. Obama doesn't get royalties based on sales, but gets the money up front for a book he has yet to write, and will have someone do that for him. (Book deals and speaking fees are legal forms of bribery in the USA.) ..."
"... Then Obama embarked on 100 days of ultra expensive foreign vacations with taxpayers covering the Secret Service protection costs. He didn't appear at charity fundraisers, didn't campaign for Democrats, and didn't help build homes for the poor like Jimmy Carter. He returns from vacation this week and his first speech will be at a Wall Street firm that will pay him $400,000, then he travels to Europe for more paid speeches. ..."
"... They chose power over principles. Nobel War Prize winner Obomber was a particularly egregious chameleon, hiding his sociopathy through two elections before unleashing his racist warmongering in full flower throughout his second term. ..."
"... Like a huge collective 'Monica Lewinsky' robot, the Progressives in the Democratic Party bent over and swallowed Clinton's vicious 1999 savaging of the venerable Glass Steagall Act ..."
Jul 10, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Over the past quarter century progressive writers, activists and academics have followed a trajectory from left to right – with each presidential campaign seeming to move them further to the right. Beginning in the 1990's progressives mobilized millions in opposition to wars, voicing demands for the transformation of the US's corporate for-profit medical system into a national 'Medicare For All' public program. They condemned the notorious Wall Street swindlers and denounced police state legislation and violence. But in the end, they always voted for Democratic Party Presidential candidates who pursued the exact opposite agenda.

Over time this political contrast between program and practice led to the transformation of the Progressives. And what we see today are US progressives embracing and promoting the politics of the far right.

To understand this transformation we will begin by identifying who and what the progressives are and describe their historical role. We will then proceed to identify their trajectory over the recent decades.

Progressives by Name and Posture

Progressives purport to embrace 'progress', the growth of the economy, the enrichment of society and freedom from arbitrary government. Central to the Progressive agenda was the end of elite corruption and good governance, based on democratic procedures.

Progressives prided themselves as appealing to 'reason, diplomacy and conciliation', not brute force and wars. They upheld the sovereignty of other nations and eschewed militarism and armed intervention.

Progressives proposed a vision of their fellow citizens pursuing incremental evolution toward the 'good society', free from the foreign entanglements, which had entrapped the people in unjust wars.

Progressives in Historical Perspective

In the early part of the 20th century, progressives favored political equality while opposing extra-parliamentary social transformations. They supported gender equality and environmental preservation while failing to give prominence to the struggles of workers and African Americans.

They denounced militarism 'in general' but supported a series of 'wars to end all wars' . Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson embodied the dual policies of promoting peace at home and bloody imperial wars overseas. By the middle of the 20th century, different strands emerged under the progressive umbrella. Progressives split between traditional good government advocates and modernists who backed socio-economic reforms, civil liberties and rights.

Progressives supported legislation to regulate monopolies, encouraged collective bargaining and defended the Bill of Rights.

Progressives opposed wars and militarism in theory until their government went to war.

Lacking an effective third political party, progressives came to see themselves as the 'left wing' of the Democratic Party, allies of labor and civil rights movements and defenders of civil liberties.

Progressives joined civil rights leaders in marches, but mostly relied on legal and electoral means to advance African American rights.

Progressives played a pivotal role in fighting McCarthyism, though ultimately it was the Secretary of the Army and the military high command that brought Senator McCarthy to his knees.

Progressives provided legal defense when the social movements disrupted the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.

They popularized the legislative arguments that eventually outlawed segregation, but it was courageous Afro-American leaders heading mass movements that won the struggle for integration and civil rights.

In many ways the Progressives complemented the mass struggles, but their limits were defined by the constraints of their membership in the Democratic Party.

The alliance between Progressives and social movements peaked in the late sixties to mid-1970's when the Progressives followed the lead of dynamic and advancing social movements and community organizers especially in opposition to the wars in Indochina and the military draft.

The Retreat of the Progressives

By the late 1970's the Progressives had cut their anchor to the social movements, as the anti-war, civil rights and labor movements lost their impetus (and direction).

The numbers of progressives within the left wing of the Democratic Party increased through recruitment from earlier social movements. Paradoxically, while their 'numbers' were up, their caliber had declined, as they sought to 'fit in' with the pro-business, pro-war agenda of their President's party.

Without the pressure of the 'populist street' the 'Progressives-turned-Democrats' adapted to the corporate culture in the Party. The Progressives signed off on a fatal compromise: The corporate elite secured the electoral party while the Progressives were allowed to write enlightened manifestos about the candidates and their programs . . . which were quickly dismissed once the Democrats took office. Yet the ability to influence the 'electoral rhetoric' was seen by the Progressives as a sufficient justification for remaining inside the Democratic Party.

Moreover the Progressives argued that by strengthening their presence in the Democratic Party, (their self-proclaimed 'boring from within' strategy), they would capture the party membership, neutralize the pro-corporation, militarist elements that nominated the president and peacefully transform the party into a 'vehicle for progressive changes'.

Upon their successful 'deep penetration' the Progressives, now cut off from the increasingly disorganized mass social movements, coopted and bought out many prominent black, labor and civil liberty activists and leaders, while collaborating with what they dubbed the more malleable 'centrist' Democrats. These mythical creatures were really pro-corporate Democrats who condescended to occasionally converse with the Progressives while working for the Wall Street and Pentagon elite.

The Retreat of the Progressives: The Clinton Decade

Progressives adapted the 'crab strategy': Moving side-ways and then backwards but never forward.

Progressives mounted candidates in the Presidential primaries, which were predictably defeated by the corporate Party apparatus, and then submitted immediately to the outcome. The election of President 'Bill' Clinton launched a period of unrestrained financial plunder, major wars of aggression in Europe (Yugoslavia) and the Middle East (Iraq), a military intervention in Somalia and secured Israel's victory over any remnant of a secular Palestinian leadership as well as its destruction of Lebanon!

Like a huge collective 'Monica Lewinsky' robot, the Progressives in the Democratic Party bent over and swallowed Clinton's vicious 1999 savaging of the venerable Glass Steagall Act, thereby opening the floodgates for massive speculation on Wall Street through the previously regulated banking sector. When President Clinton gutted welfare programs, forcing single mothers to take minimum-wage jobs without provision for safe childcare, millions of poor white and minority women were forced to abandon their children to dangerous makeshift arrangements in order to retain any residual public support and access to minimal health care. Progressives looked the other way.

Progressives followed Clinton's deep throated thrust toward the far right, as he outsourced manufacturing jobs to Mexico (NAFTA) and re-appointed Federal Reserve's free market, Ayn Rand-fanatic, Alan Greenspan.

Progressives repeatedly kneeled before President Clinton marking their submission to the Democrats' 'hard right' policies.

The election of Republican President G. W. Bush (2001-2009) permitted Progressive's to temporarily trot out and burnish their anti-war, anti-Wall Street credentials. Out in the street, they protested Bush's savage invasion of Iraq (but not the destruction of Afghanistan). They protested the media reports of torture in Abu Ghraib under Bush, but not the massive bombing and starvation of millions of Iraqis that had occurred under Clinton. Progressives protested the expulsion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, but were silent over the brutal uprooting of refugees resulting from US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the systematic destruction of their nations' infrastructure.

Progressives embraced Israel's bombing, jailing and torture of Palestinians by voting unanimously in favor of increasing the annual $3 billion dollar military handouts to the brutal Jewish State. They supported Israel's bombing and slaughter in Lebanon.

Progressives were in retreat, but retained a muffled voice and inconsequential vote in favor of peace, justice and civil liberties. They kept a certain distance from the worst of the police state decrees by the Republican Administration.

Progressives and Obama: From Retreat to Surrender

While Progressives maintained their tepid commitment to civil liberties, and their highly 'leveraged' hopes for peace in the Middle East, they jumped uncritically into the highly choreographed Democratic Party campaign for Barack Obama, 'Wall Street's First Black President'.

Progressives had given up their quest to 'realign' the Democratic Party 'from within': they turned from serious tourism to permanent residency. Progressives provided the foot soldiers for the election and re-election of the warmongering 'Peace Candidate' Obama. After the election, Progressives rushed to join the lower echelons of his Administration. Black and white politicos joined hands in their heroic struggle to erase the last vestiges of the Progressives' historical legacy.

Obama increased the number of Bush-era imperial wars to attacking seven weak nations under American's 'First Black' President's bombardment, while the Progressives ensured that the streets were quiet and empty.

When Obama provided trillions of dollars of public money to rescue Wall Street and the bankers, while sacrificing two million poor and middle class mortgage holders, the Progressives only criticized the bankers who received the bailout, but not Obama's Presidential decision to protect and reward the mega-swindlers.

Under the Obama regime social inequalities within the United States grew at an unprecedented rate. The Police State Patriot Act was massively extended to give President Obama the power to order the assassination of US citizens abroad without judicial process. The Progressives did not resign when Obama's 'kill orders' extended to the 'mistaken' murder of his target's children and other family member, as well as unidentified bystanders. The icon carriers still paraded their banner of the 'first black American President' when tens of thousands of black Libyans and immigrant workers were slaughtered in his regime-change war against President Gadhafi.

Obama surpassed the record of all previous Republican office holders in terms of the massive numbers of immigrant workers arrested and expelled – 2 million. Progressives applauded the Latino protestors while supporting the policies of their 'first black President'.

Progressive accepted that multiple wars, Wall Street bailouts and the extended police state were now the price they would pay to remain part of the "Democratic coalition' (sic).

The deeper the Progressives swilled at the Democratic Party trough, the more they embraced the Obama's free market agenda and the more they ignored the increasing impoverishment, exploitation and medical industry-led opioid addiction of American workers that was shortening their lives. Under Obama, the Progressives totally abandoned the historic American working class, accepting their degradation into what Madam Hillary Clinton curtly dismissed as the 'deplorables'.

With the Obama Presidency, the Progressive retreat turned into a rout, surrendering with one flaccid caveat: the Democratic Party 'Socialist' Bernie Sanders, who had voted 90% of the time with the Corporate Party, had revived a bastardized military-welfare state agenda.

Sander's Progressive demagogy shouted and rasped on the campaign trail, beguiling the young electorate. The 'Bernie' eventually 'sheep-dogged' his supporters into the pro-war Democratic Party corral. Sanders revived an illusion of the pre-1990 progressive agenda, promising resistance while demanding voter submission to Wall Street warlord Hillary Clinton. After Sanders' round up of the motley progressive herd, he staked them tightly to the far-right Wall Street war mongering Hillary Clinton. The Progressives not only embraced Madame Secretary Clinton's nuclear option and virulent anti-working class agenda, they embellished it by focusing on Republican billionaire Trump's demagogic, nationalist, working class rhetoric which was designed to agitate 'the deplorables'. They even turned on the working class voters, dismissing them as 'irredeemable' racists and illiterates or 'white trash' when they turned to support Trump in massive numbers in the 'fly-over' states of the central US.

Progressives, allied with the police state, the mass media and the war machine worked to defeat and impeach Trump. Progressives surrendered completely to the Democratic Party and started to advocate its far right agenda. Hysterical McCarthyism against anyone who questioned the Democrats' promotion of war with Russia, mass media lies and manipulation of street protest against Republican elected officials became the centerpieces of the Progressive agenda. The working class and farmers had disappeared from their bastardized 'identity-centered' ideology.

Guilt by association spread throughout Progressive politics. Progressives embraced J. Edgar Hoover's FBI tactics: "Have you ever met or talked to any Russian official or relative of any Russian banker, or any Russian or even read Gogol, now or in the past?" For progressives, 'Russia-gate' defined the real focus of contemporary political struggle in this huge, complex, nuclear-armed superpower.

Progressives joined the FBI/CIA's 'Russian Bear' conspiracy: "Russia intervened and decided the Presidential election" – no matter that millions of workers and rural Americans had voted against Hillary Clinton, Wall Street's candidate and no matter that no evidence of direct interference was ever presented. Progressives could not accept that 'their constituents', the masses, had rejected Madame Clinton and preferred 'the Donald'. They attacked a shifty-eyed caricature of the repeatedly elected Russian President Putin as a subterfuge for attacking the disobedient 'white trash' electorate of 'Deploralandia'.

Progressive demagogues embraced the coifed and manicured former 'Director Comey' of the FBI, and the Mr. Potato-headed Capo of the CIA and their forty thugs in making accusations without finger or footprints.

The Progressives' far right - turn earned them hours and space on the mass media as long as they breathlessly savaged and insulted President Trump and his family members. When they managed to provoke him into a blind rage . . . they added the newly invented charge of 'psychologically unfit to lead' – presenting cheap psychobabble as grounds for impeachment. Finally! American Progressives were on their way to achieving their first and only political transformation: a Presidential coup d'état on behalf of the Far Right!

Progressives loudly condemned Trump's overtures for peace with Russia, denouncing it as appeasement and betrayal!

In return, President Trump began to 'out-militarize' the Progressives by escalating US involvement in the Middle East and South China Sea. They swooned with joy when Trump ordered a missile strike against the Syrian government as Damascus engaged in a life and death struggle against mercenary terrorists. They dubbed the petulant release of Patriot missiles 'Presidential'.

Then Progressives turned increasingly Orwellian: Ignoring Obama's actual expulsion of over 2 million immigrant workers, they condemned Trump for promising to eventually expel 5 million more!

Progressives, under Obama, supported seven brutal illegal wars and pressed for more, but complained when Trump continued the same wars and proposed adding a few new ones. At the same time, progressives out-militarized Trump by accusing him of being 'weak' on Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. They chided him for his lack support for Israel's suppression of the Palestinians. They lauded Trump's embrace of the Saudi war against Yemen as a stepping-stone for an assault against Iran, even as millions of destitute Yemenis were exposed to cholera. The Progressives had finally embraced a biological weapon of mass destruction, when US-supplied missiles destroyed the water systems of Yemen!

Conclusion

Progressives turned full circle from supporting welfare to embracing Wall Street; from preaching peaceful co-existence to demanding a dozen wars; from recognizing the humanity and rights of undocumented immigrants to their expulsion under their 'First Black' President; from thoughtful mass media critics to servile media megaphones; from defenders of civil liberties to boosters for the police state; from staunch opponents of J. Edgar Hoover and his 'dirty tricks' to camp followers for the 'intelligence community' in its deep state campaign to overturn a national election.

Progressives moved from fighting and resisting the Right to submitting and retreating; from retreating to surrendering and finally embracing the far right.

Doing all that and more within the Democratic Party, Progressives retain and deepen their ties with the mass media, the security apparatus and the military machine, while occasionally digging up some Bernie Sanders-type demagogue to arouse an army of voters away from effective resistance to mindless collaboration.

(Republished from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)

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WorkingClass > , July 12, 2017 at 9:21 pm GMT

But in the end, they always voted for Democratic Party Presidential candidates who pursued the exact opposite agenda.

Thank you for putting your finger on the main problem right there in the first paragraph. There were exceptions of course. I supported Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Primary that gave us the first black etc. But I never voted for Obama. Throughout the Cheney Admin I pleaded with progressives to bolt the party.

This piece accurately traces the path from Progressive to Maoist. It's a pity the Republican Party is also a piece of shit. I think it was Sara Palin who said "We have two parties. Pick one." This should be our collective epitaph.

exiled off mainstreet > , July 12, 2017 at 11:20 pm GMT

This is an excellent summary of the evolution of "progressives" into modern militarist fascists who tolerate identity politics diversity. There is little to add to Mr. Petras' commentary.

alan2102 > , July 13, 2017 at 2:04 am GMT

EXCELLENT.

Astuteobservor II > , July 13, 2017 at 5:17 am GMT

at this point, are they still progressives though? they are the new far right

CCZ > , July 13, 2017 at 5:30 am GMT

"Progressives loudly condemned Trump's overtures for peace with Russia, denouncing it as appeasement and betrayal!"

Perhaps the spirit of Senator Joseph McCarthy is joyously gloating as progressives (and democrats) take their place as his heirs and successors and the 21st century incarnation of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.

Carlton Meyer > , Website July 13, 2017 at 5:56 am GMT

The great Jimmy Dore is a big thorn for the Democrats. From my blog:

Apr 29, 2017 – Obama is Scum!

Barak Obama is America's biggest con man who accomplished nothing "progressive" during eight years at the top, and didn't even try. (Obamacare is an insurance industry idea supported by most Republicans, which is why it recently survived.) Anyone who still likes Obama should read about his actions since he left office. Obama quickly signed a $65 million "book deal", which can only be a kickback since there is no way the publisher can sell enough books about his meaningless presidency to justify that sum. Obama doesn't get royalties based on sales, but gets the money up front for a book he has yet to write, and will have someone do that for him. (Book deals and speaking fees are legal forms of bribery in the USA.)

Then Obama embarked on 100 days of ultra expensive foreign vacations with taxpayers covering the Secret Service protection costs. He didn't appear at charity fundraisers, didn't campaign for Democrats, and didn't help build homes for the poor like Jimmy Carter. He returns from vacation this week and his first speech will be at a Wall Street firm that will pay him $400,000, then he travels to Europe for more paid speeches.

Obama gets over $200,000 a year in retirement, just got a $65 million deal, so doesn't need more money. Why would a multi-millionaire ex-president fly around the globe collecting huge speaking fees from world corporations just after his political party was devastated in elections because Americans think the Democratic party represents Wall Street? The great Jimmy Dore expressed his outrage at Obama and the corrupt Democratic party in this great video.

jilles dykstra > , July 13, 2017 at 6:27 am GMT

Left in the good old days meant socialist, socialist meant that governments had the duty of redistributing income from rich to poor. Alas in Europe, after 'socialists' became pro EU and pro globalisation, they in fact became neoliberal. Both in France and the Netherlands 'socialist' parties virtually disappeared.
So what nowadays is left, does anyone know ?

Then the word 'progressive'. The word suggests improvement, but what is improvement, improvement for whom ? There are those who see the possibility for euthanasia as an improvement, there are thos who see euthanasia as a great sin.

Discussions about left and progressive are meaningless without properly defining the concepts.

Call me Deplorable > , July 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm GMT

They chose power over principles. Nobel War Prize winner Obomber was a particularly egregious chameleon, hiding his sociopathy through two elections before unleashing his racist warmongering in full flower throughout his second term. But, hey, the brother now has five mansions, collects half a mill per speech to the Chosen People on Wall Street, and parties for months at a time at exclusive resorts for billionaires only.

Obviously, he's got the world by the tail and you don't. Hope he comes to the same end as Gaddaffi and Ceaușescu. Maybe the survivors of nuclear Armageddon can hold a double necktie party with Killary as the second honored guest that day.

Seamus Padraig > , July 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm GMT

@jilles dykstra

Discussions about left and progressive are meaningless without properly defining the concepts.

Properly defining the concepts would impede the system's ability to keep you confused.

Seamus Padraig > , July 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm GMT

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson embodied the dual policies of promoting peace at home and bloody imperial wars overseas.

You left out the other Roosevelt.

Like a huge collective 'Monica Lewinsky' robot, the Progressives in the Democratic Party bent over and swallowed Clinton's vicious 1999 savaging of the venerable Glass Steagall Act

Hilarious!

Ignoring Obama's actual expulsion of over 2 million immigrant workers, they condemned Trump for promising to eventually expel 5 million more!

This is a huge myth. All that really happened is that the INS changed some of its internal terminology to make it sound as though they were deporting more people: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/21/lies-damned-lies-and-obamas-deportation-statistics/?utm_term=.7f964acd9b0d

Stephen Paul Foster > , Website July 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm GMT

The Progressives now, failing electorally, are moving on to physical violence.

See: http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2017/07/trumps-would-be-assassins.html

annamaria > , July 13, 2017 at 2:22 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer Obama, a paragon of American scoundrel

Anonymous IV > , July 13, 2017 at 2:49 pm GMT

@Seamus Padraig Agree on the bit about Obama as "deporter in chief." Even the LA Times had to admit this was misleading

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-deportations-20140402-story.html

so it's not just conservative conspiracy theory stuff as some might argue.

Still, the overall point of this essay isn't affected all that much. Open borders is still a "right wing" (in the sense this author uses the term) policy–pro-Wall Street, pro-Big Business. So Obama was still doing the bidding of the donor class in their quest for cheap labor.

I've seen pro-immigration types try to use the Obama-deportation thing to argue that we don't need more hardcore policies. After all, even the progressive Democrat Obama was on the ball when it came to policing our borders, right?! Who needed Trump?

Agent76 > , July 13, 2017 at 3:28 pm GMT

"Who controls the issuance of money controls the government!" Nathan Meyer Rothschild

June 13, 2016 Which Corporations Control The World?

A surprisingly small number of corporations control massive global market shares. How many of the brands below do you use?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44864.htm

"Control the oil, and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people." Henry Kissenger

Alfa158 > , July 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer If Jimmy keeps up these attacks on Wall Street, the Banksters, and rent-seekers he is going to get run out of the Progressive movement for dog-whistling virulent Anti-Semitism. Look at how the media screams at Trump every time he mentions Wall Street and the banks.

yeah > , July 13, 2017 at 5:46 pm GMT

Mr. Petra has penned an excellent and very astute piece. Allow me a little satire on our progressive friends, entitled "The path to hell is paved with good intentions".

The early socialist/progressive travellers were well-intentioned but naïve in their understanding of human nature and fanatical about their agenda. To move the human herd forward, they had no compulsions about resorting to harsher and harsher prodding and whipping. They felt entitled to employ these means because, so they were convinced, man has to be pushed to move forward and they, the "progressives", were the best qualified to lead the herd. Scoundrels, psychopaths, moral defectives, and sundry other rascals then joined in the whipping game, some out of the sheer joy of wielding the whip, others to better line their pockets.

So the "progressive" journey degenerates into a forced march. The march becomes the progress, becoming both the means and the end at the same time. Look at the so-called "progressive" today and you will see the fanatic and the whip-wielder, steadfast about the correctness of his beliefs. Tell him/her/it that you are a man or a woman and he retorts "No, you are free to choose, you are genderless". What if you decline such freedom? "Well, then you are a bigot, we will thrash you out of your bigotry", replies the progressive. "May I, dear Sir/Madam/Whatever, keep my hard-earned money in my pocket for my and my family's use" you ask. "No, you first have to pay for our peace-making wars, then pay for the upkeep of refugees, besides which you owe a lot of back taxes that are necessary to run this wonderful Big Government of ours that is leading you towards greener and greener pastures", shouts back the progressive.

Fed up, disgusted, and a little scared, you desperately seek a way out of this progress. "No way", scream the march leaders. "We will be forever in your ears, sometimes whispering, sometimes screaming; we will take over your brain to improve your mind; we will saturate you with images on the box 24/7 and employ all sorts of imagery to make you progress. And if it all fails, we will simply pack you and others like you in a basket of deplorables and forget about you at election time."

TheJester > , July 13, 2017 at 6:18 pm GMT

Knowing who is "progressive" and know who is "far-right" is like knowing who is "fascist" and who is not. For obvious historical reasons, the Russian like to throw the "fascist" slogan against anyone who is a non-Russian nationalist. However, I accept the eminent historian Carroll Quigley's definition of fascism as the incorporation of society and the state onto single entity on a permanent war footing. The state controls everything in a radically authoritarian social structure. As Quigley states, the Soviet Union was the most complete embodiment of fascism in WWII. In WWII Germany, on the other hand, industry retained its independence and in WWII Italy fascism was no more than an empty slogan.

Same for "progressives". Everyone wants to be "progressive", right? Who wants to be "anti-progressive"? However, at the end of the day, "progressive" through verbal slights of hand has been nothing more than a euphemism for "socialist" or, in the extreme, "communist" the verbal slight-of-hand because we don't tend to use the latter terms in American political discourse.

"Progressives" morphing into a new "far-right" in America is no more mysterious than the Soviet Union morphing from Leninism to Stalinism or, the Jewish (Trotskyite) globalists fleeing Stalinist nationalism and then morphing into, first, "Scoop" Jackson Democrats and then into Bushite Republicans.

As you might notice, the real issue is the authoritarian vs. the non-authoritarian state. In this context, an authoritarian government and social order (as in communism and neoconservatism) are practical pre-requisites necessity to force humanity to transition to their New World Order.

Again, the defining characteristic of fascism is the unitary state enforced via an authoritarian political and social structure. Ideological rigor is enforced via the police powers of the state along with judicial activism and political correctness. Ring a bell?

In the ongoing contest between Trump and the remnants of the American "progressive" movement, who are the populists and who the authoritarians? Who are the democrats and who are the fascists?

I would say that who lands where in this dichotomy is obvious.

RobinG > , July 13, 2017 at 6:19 pm GMT

@Alfa158 Is Jimmy Dore really a "Progressive?" (and what does that mean, anyway?) Isn't Jimmy's show hosted by the Young Turks Network, which is unabashedly Libertarian?

Anyway, what's so great about "the Progressive movement?" Seems to me, they're just pathetic sheepdogs for the war-crazed Dems. Jimmy should be supporting the #UNRIG movement ("Beyond Trump & Sanders") for ALL Americans:

On 1 May 2017 Cynthia McKinney, Ellen Brown, and Robert Steele launched

We the People – Unity for Integrity.

The User's Guide to the 2nd American Revolution.

Death to the Deep State.

https://www.unrig.net/manifesto/

Ben Banned > , July 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm GMT

Petras, for some reason, low balls the number of people ejected from assets when the mafia came to seize real estate in the name of the ruling class and their expensive wars, morality, the Constitution or whatever shit they could make up to fuck huge numbers of people over. Undoubtedly just like 9/11, the whole thing was planned in advance. Political whores are clearly useless when the system is at such extremes.

Banks like Capital One specialize in getting a signature and "giving" a car loan to someone they know won't be able to pay, but is simply being used, shaken down and repossessed for corporate gain. " No one held a gun to their head! " Get ready, the police state will in fact put a gun to your head.

Depending on the time period in question, which might be the case here, more than 20 million people were put out of homes and/or bankrupted with more to come. Clearly a bipartisan effort featuring widespread criminal conduct across the country – an attack on the population to sustain militarism.

peterAUS > , July 13, 2017 at 10:05 pm GMT

@yeah Nice.

If I may add:
"and you also have to dearly pay for you being white male heterosexual for oppressing all colored, all the women and all the sexually different through the history".

"And if it all fails, we will simply pack you and others like you in a basket of deplorables and forget about you at election time. If we see that you still don't get with the program we will reeducate you. Should you resist that in any way we'll incarcerate you. And, no, normal legal procedure does not work with racists/bigots/haters/whatever we don't like".

Reg Cæsar > , July 14, 2017 at 1:19 am GMT

@CCZ

"Progressives loudly condemned Trump's overtures for peace with Russia, denouncing it as appeasement and betrayal!"
Perhaps the spirit of Senator Joseph McCarthy is joyously gloating as progressives (and democrats) take their place as his heirs and successors and the 21st century incarnation of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.

take their place as his heirs and successors and the 21st century incarnation of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee

which itself was a progressive invention. There was no "right wing" anywhere in sight when it was estsblished in 1938.

[Jul 10, 2017] The article above also doesn't mention Larry Summers

www.unz.com

Maj. Kong , December 29, 2014 at 11:42 am GMT

Putin's biggest mistake was not creating the fake two party system. America has given the world many gifts, and our system of party politics is one of the best for maintaining control of a large nation. If Vlad had followed this advice, and created the real illusion of democracy in Russia, the West would have found him much harder to oppose.

http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/till-death-berezovsky-defends-backing-putin/?_r=0

Article is by Gessen, and clearly biased against Russia, but I think the idea is still a good one.

Putin has arguably aged badly as a leader, and considers himself too indispensable, much like Jiang Zemin in China. Though by Russian standards, he's the best since Alexander II.

Dutch disease is another mark against Russia, which Putin hasn't done much about, and which arguably makes them more dependent on the West (and possibly China) than they should be.

The article above also doesn't mention Larry Summers, which is a profound insight to which particular businessmen got away with it.

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2006/03/real-larry-summers-scandal.html

Maj. Kong , December 29, 2014 at 11:48 am GMT

http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/harvards-best-and-brightest-aided-russias-economic-ruin/

http://www.thenation.com/article/harvard-boys-do-russia

Back from when the left was more interested in hating capitalism, than the eeevil White Christian male.

[Jul 01, 2017] Gaius Publius An Investigation in Search of a Crime by Gaius Publius

Notable quotes:
"... http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hayes_drussiafakenews_170627 ..."
"... Start at 2:25. Chris Hayes to Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell: "How long are you allowed to go before you retroactively file as a foreign agent?" Note Swalwell's carefully phrased non-answers, as well as Hayes' seeming failure to know that not registering is a very common practice. (If video doesn't play in your browser, go here and listen, again starting at 2:25.) ..."
"... The big story is that these chicken-little stories all seam to serve as cover for the bought-and-paid for chicken little politicians ..while those elected politicians who give a damp about their office and those they represent are sidelined. ..."
"... And why do you thing tyrants, despots, emirs and dictators generously donated so much to the phoney Foundation? Because they wanted to further its good works, just like the Saudis are very worried about AIDS prevention? No, they wanted to buy influence. And Clinton gave them what they wanted. And why did these same tyrants, despots, emits and dictators stop donating once Clinton lost? Because she could no longer deliver. ..."
"... Corruption in high places is the norm. It is childish, all this virtue signaling. I would respect the sore losers more if they were honest they want to put Obama in as President for Life the US is Haiti now. Or the Kissinger faction of the MIC could install one of our TV generals as our version of Gen. Pinochet. ..."
"... It was the filthy Clintonites who gave us Trump to begin with. ..."
"... No doubt plenty of insulating layers if money-laundering took place via real estate, though its worth plumbing those depths. But given Trump appointees' soft-ball approach to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, I'd guess that's an arena well worth the time of journalists, insulating layers or not. I recall Sheldon Adelson's disdain for the FCPA likely increasing his fervor to dump Democrats. ..."
"... as I keep reminding people, you can turn on the spigot of MacCarthyism, and you may think that you can turn off that spigot, but you can't. In the case of Joe MacCarthy himself, it didn't truly end till about the time of his premature death from alcoholism. ..."
"... One aspect of the now-thoroughly-rotten system in the U S of A is the constant contesting of election results. As Lambert Strether keeps writing, the electronic voting machines are a black hole, and both parties have been engaged in debasing the vote and diminishing the size of the electorate. The gravamen in both parties is that the voters don't know what they are doing and the ballots aren't being counted properly. Maybe we can do something about that ..."
"... This is an implicit warning about impeachment. I interpret this as a recommendation to vigorously oppose Trump's actions over the next three and a half years, and to effectively campaign against him in 2020. Trump really is a terrible President, but Mike Pence would be terrible, too. And so would Hillary Clinton, but I hope we won't have to worry about her any more. ..."
"... In case you're wondering why I think that Trump is a terrible President, here's a short summary: ..."
"... None of the left-leaning writers who have been pooh-poohing the Russia investigation* have demonstrated a working knowledge of counterintelligence. I've also noticed that they correlate a lack of publicly-known evidence to an actual absence of evidence, which is the purview of the investigation. Investigators will be holding any evidence they discover close to their vests for obvious reasons, but even more so in this case because some of the evidence will have origins where sources and methods will statutorily need to be concealed. ..."
"... If they had anything concrete on Trump we've have heard about it by now. The spooks have been leaking for months – they aren't going to suddenly clam up if they've discovered something that's actually a crime. ..."
"... Until someone presents actual evidence, this investigation is nothing more than Democrat payback for Benghazi, which itself was a BS investigation in search of a crime that went on for years. Unfortunately for sHillary, a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while and they did manage to uncover actual criminality in her case (and brushed it right under the rug). ..."
"... Russia disseminates propaganda that (it hopes) will sway the American election in a direction more favorable to their interests! ..."
"... This is what gets me. We're supposed to me a great power, and we're going nuts on this stuff. It's like an elephant panicking at the sight of a mouse. The political class has lost its grip entirely. ..."
"... How sad, then, that the Pied Piper email showed that the Clinton campaign wanted Trump for their opponent. Or Was she ..."
"... OK, so you are saying that we should trust the word of anonymous leakers from the intelligence community, that is, anonymous leaks from a pack of proven perjurers, torturers, and entrapment artists, all on the basis of supposed evidence that we are not allowed to see. ..."
"... For that matter, how do we know the leakers even exist? When some media outlet wants to publish some made-up story, they can just attribute it to an anonymous source. ..."
"... As Constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz pointed out, the DOJ reports to the President. Trump was completely within his authority to give instructions to Comey and fire him. Dershowitz also points out Trump can pardon anyone, including himself. But Trump doesn't read and oddly no one seems to have clued him in on what Dershowitz has said. ..."
Jun 30, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
...Gaius quotes Matt Taibbi's line of thought that the relentless Trump investigations will eventually turn up something, most likely money laundering. However, it's not clear that that can be pinned on Trump. For real estate transactions, it is the bank, not the property owner, that is responsible for anti-money-laundering checks. So unless Trump was accepting cash or other payment outside the banking system, it's going to be hard to make that stick. The one area where he could be vulnerable is his casinos. However, if I read this history of his casinos correctly, Trump could have been pretty much out of that business since 1995 via putting the casinos in a public entity (although he could have continued to collect fees as a manager). Wikipedia hedges its bets and says Trump has been out of the picture since at least 2011 . He only gets licensing fees and has nada to do with management and operations. So even if Trump got dirty money, and in particular dirty Russian money, it's hard to see how that begins to translate into influence over his Presidency, particularly since any such shady activity took place before Trump was even semi-seriously considering a Presidential bid.

By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hayes_drussiafakenews_170627

Start at 2:25. Chris Hayes to Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell: "How long are you allowed to go before you retroactively file as a foreign agent?" Note Swalwell's carefully phrased non-answers, as well as Hayes' seeming failure to know that not registering is a very common practice. (If video doesn't play in your browser, go here and listen, again starting at 2:25.)

"And most pitiful of all that I heard was the voice of the daughter of Priam, of Cassandra" - Homer, The Odyssey , Book 11 PRIAM: What noise, what shriek is this?
TROILUS: 'Tis our mad sister; I do know her voice.
It is Cassandra.
-Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida , Act II, scene 2 "I'll be your Cassandra this week." -Yours truly

So much of this story is hidden from view, and so much of the past has to be erased to conform to what's presently painted as true.

Example of the latter: Did you remember that Robert Mueller and Bush's FBI were behind the highly suspicious (and likely covered-up) 2001 anthrax investigation - Robert Mueller, today's man of absolute integrity? Did you remember that James Comey was the man behind the destruction of the mind of Jose Padilla , just so that Bush could have a terrorist he could point to having caught - James Comey, today's man of doing always what's right? If you forgot all that in the rush to canonize them, don't count on the media to remind you - they have another purpose .

Yes, I'll be your Cassandra this week, the one destined not to be believed . To what do I refer? Read on.

How Many Foreign Agents Register as Foreign Agents? A Number Far Smaller Than "All"

Today let's look at one of the original sins pointed to by those trying to take down Trump, leaving entirely aside whether Trump needs taking down (which he does). That sin - Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort's failing to register as "foreign agents" (of Turkey and Ukraine, respectively, not Russia) until very after the fact.

See the Chris Hayes video at the top for Hayes' question to Rep. Eric Swalwell about that. Hayes to Swalwell: "How long are you allowed to go before you retroactively file as a foreign agent?" What Swalwell should have answered: "Almost forever by modern American practice."

Jonathan Marshall, writing at investigative journalist Robert Parry's Consortium News, has this to say about the current crop of unregistered foreign agents (my emphasis throughout):

The Open Secret of Foreign Lobbying

The alleged hacking of the Hillary Clinton campaign's emails and the numerous contacts of Donald Trump's circle with Russian officials, oligarchs and mobsters have triggered any number of investigations into Moscow's alleged efforts to influence the 2016 election and the new administration .

In contrast, as journalist Robert Parry recently noted , American politicians and the media have been notably silent about other examples of foreign interference in U.S. national politics. In part that's because supporters of more successful foreign pressure groups have enough clout to downplay or deny their very existence . In part it's also because America's political system is so riddled with big money that jaded insiders rarely question the status quo of influence peddling by other nations .

The subject of his discussion is the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Under the Act, failure to properly register carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Marshall notes that while the influence of foreign agents was of great national concern during World War I and World War II, very little is done today to require or enforce FARA registration:

Since the end of World War II, however, enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act has been notably lax. Its effectiveness has been stymied by political resistance from lobby supporters as well as by the law's many loopholes - including Justice Department's admission that FARA "does not authorize the government to inspect records of those not registered under the Act."

A 2016 audit by the inspector general of the Department of Justice determined that half of FARA registrations and 62 percent of initial registrations were filed late , and 15 percent of registrants simply stopped filing for periods of six months or more. It also determined that the Department of Justice brought only seven criminal cases under FARA from 1966 to 2015, and filed no civil injunctions since 1991 .

The result - almost no one registers who doesn't want to.

Here's Russia-savvy Matt Taibbi , who is looking at the whole Russia-Trump investigation and wonders what's being investigated. Note his comments about FARA at the end of this quote:

When James Comey was fired I didn't know what to think, because so much of this story is still hidden from view .

Certainly firing an FBI director who has announced the existence of an investigation targeting your campaign is going to be improper in almost every case. And in his post-firing rants about tapes and loyalty, President Trump validated every criticism of him as an impetuous, unstable, unfit executive who additionally is ignorant of the law and lunges for authoritarian solutions in a crisis.

But it's our job in the media to be bothered by little details, and the strange timeline of the Trump-Russia investigation qualifies as a conspicuous loose end.

[So] What exactly is the FBI investigating? Why was it kept secret from other intelligence chiefs, if that's what happened? That matters, if we're trying to gauge what happened last week.

Is it a FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act) case involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn or a lower-level knucklehead like Carter Page?

Since FARA is violated more or less daily in Washington and largely ignored by authorities unless it involves someone without political connections (an awful lot of important people in Washington who appear to be making fortunes lobbying for foreign countries are merely engaged in "litigation support," if you ask them), it would be somewhat anticlimactic to find out that this was the alleged crime underlying our current white-hot constitutional crisis.

Is it something more serious than a FARA case, like money-laundering for instance, involving someone higher up in the Trump campaign? That would indeed be disturbing, and it would surely be improper – possibly even impeachable, depending upon what exactly happened behind the scenes – for Trump to get in the way of such a case playing itself out.

But even a case like that would be very different from espionage and treason . Gutting a money-laundering case involving a campaign staffer would be more like garden-variety corruption than the cloak-and-dagger nightmares currently consuming the popular imagination.

Sticking narrowly with FARA for the moment, if this were just a FARA case, it would be more than "somewhat anticlimactic to find out that this was the alleged crime underlying our current white-hot constitutional crisis." It would be, not to put to fine a point on it, highly indicative that something else is going on, that other hands are involved, just as the highly suspicious circumstances around the takedown of Eliot Spitzer indicate the presence of other hands and other actors.

My best guess, for what it's worth, is that Trump-Russia will devolve into a money-laundering case, and if it does, Trump will likely survive it, since so many others in the big money world do the same thing. But let's stick with unregistered foreign agents a bit longer.

John McCain, Randy Scheuneman and the Nation of Georgia

Do you remember the 2008 story about McCain advisor Randy Scheunemann, who claimed he no longer represented the nation of Georgia while advising the McCain campaign, even though his small (two-person) firm still retained their business?

And all this while McCain himself was trying to gin up a war between Georgia and Russia that he would benefit from politically :

In the current [2008] crisis, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia fell into a Soviet trap by moving troops into the disputed territory of South Ossetia and raining artillery and rocket fire on the South Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali, with a still undetermined loss of civilian life. As in 1956, the Soviets responded with overwhelming force and additional loss of life. Once again the United States could offer only words, not concrete aid to the Georgians.

It is difficult to believe that, like the Hungarians in 1956, the Georgians in 2008 could have taken such action without believing that they could expect support from the United States . Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denies that the Bush administration was the agent provocateur in Georgia. To the contrary, a State Department source said that she explicitly warned President Saakashvili in July to avoid provoking Russia.

If this information is correct, then, by inference, John McCain emerges as the most likely suspect as agent provocateur . First, McCain had a unique and privileged pipeline to President Saakashvili (shown to the right in the photo to the right). McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was a partner in a two-man firm that served as a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government . Scheunemann continued receiving compensation from the firm until the McCain campaign imposed new restrictions on lobbyists in mid-May. Scheunemann reportedly helped arrange a telephone conversation between McCain and Saakashvili on April 17 of this year, while he was still being paid by Georgia...

McCain has benefited politically from the crisis in Georgia. McCain's swift and belligerent response to the Soviet actions in Georgia has bolstered his shaky standing with the right-wing of the Republican Party. McCain has also used the Georgian situation to assert his credentials as the hardened warrior ready to do battle against a resurgent Russia. He has pointedly contrasted his foreign policy experience with that of his Democratic opponent Barack Obama. Since the crisis erupted, McCain has focused like a laser on Georgia, to great effect . According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on August 19 he has gained four points on Obama since their last poll in mid-July and leads his rival by a two to one margin as the candidate best qualified to deal with Russia.

Was Scheunemann a paid lobbyist for Georgia at the time of these events? He says no. Others aren't so sure :

Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal-leaning watchdog group, said Scheunemann still has a conflict of interest because his small firm continues to represent foreign clients. The records that show Scheunemann ceased representing foreign countries as of March 1 also show his partner, Michael Mitchell, remains registered to represent the three nations. Mitchell said Tuesday that Scheunemann no longer has any role with Orion Strategies but declined to say whether Scheunemann still is receiving income or profits from the firm .

If almost no one registers under FARA who doesn't want to, what's the crime if Flynn didn't register? The answer seems to be, because he's Trump appointee Michael Flynn, and FARA is a stick his enemies can beat him with, while they're looking for something better.

The fact that FARA is a stick almost no one is beaten with, matters not at all, it seems. Not to Democratic politicians and appointees; and not to many journalists either.

An Investigation in Search of a Crime

Questioning the Michael Flynn investigation leads us (and Matt Taibbi) down a further rabbit hole, which includes two questions: what's being investigated, and how did this investigation start?

Short answer to the first question - no one knows, since unlike the Watergate break-in, this whole effort didn't start with a crime that needed investigating. It seems to have started with an investigation (how to get rid of Trump) in search of a crime. And one that still hasn't found evidence of one.

Journalist Robert Parry, who himself was a key Iran-Contra investigator, makes the same point :

In Watergate , five burglars were caught inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, as they sought to plant more bugs on Democratic phones. (An earlier break-in in May had installed two bugs, but one didn't work.) Nixon then proceeded to mount a cover-up of his 1972 campaign's role in funding the break-in and other abuses of power.

In Iran-Contra , Reagan secretly authorized weapons sales to Iran, which was then designated a terrorist state, without informing Congress, a violation of the Arms Export Control Act. He also kept Congress in the dark about his belated signing of a related intelligence "finding." And the creation of slush funds to finance the Nicaraguan Contras represented an evasion of the U.S. Constitution.

There was also the attendant Iran-Contra cover-up mounted both by the Reagan White House and later the George H.W. Bush White House, which culminated in Bush's Christmas Eve 1992 pardons of six Iran-Contra defendants as special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was zeroing in on possible indictment of Bush for withholding evidence.

By contrast , Russia-gate has been a "scandal" in search of a specific crime. President Barack Obama's intelligence chieftains have alleged – without presenting any clear evidence – that the Russian government hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta and released those emails via WikiLeaks and other Internet sites. (The Russians and WikiLeaks have both denied the accusations.)

The DNC emails revealed that senior Democrats did not maintain their required independence regarding the primaries by seeking to hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders and help Clinton. The Podesta emails pulled back the curtain on Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street banks and on pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

Hacking into personal computers is a crime, but the U.S. government has yet to bring any formal charges against specific individuals supposedly responsible for the hacking of the Democratic emails. There also has been no evidence that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russians in the hacking.

Lacking any precise evidence of this cyber-crime or of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, Obama's Justice Department holdovers and now special prosecutor Robert Mueller have sought to build "process crimes," around false statements to investigators and possible obstruction of justice.

I've yet to see actual evidence of an underlying crime - lots of smoke, which is fine as a starting point, but no fire, even after months of looking (and months of official leaking about every damning thing in sight). This makes the current investigation strongly reminiscent of the Whitewater investigation, another case of Alice (sorry, Ken Starr) jumping into every hole she could find looking for a route to Wonderland. Ken Starr finally found one, perjury about a blow job. Will Mueller find something more incriminating? He's still looking too.

Note that none of this means Trump doesn't deserve getting rid of . It just means that how he's gotten rid of matters. (As you ponder this, consider what you think would be fair to do to a Democratic president. I guarantee what happens to Trump will be repeated.)

What Was the Sally Yates Accusation Against Flynn Really About?

Short answer to the second question of my two "further rabbit hole" questions - How did this investigation start? - may be the Sally Yates accusation that Flynn was someone who could be blackmailed.

Here's Parry on that (same link):

In the case of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, acting Attorney General Sally Yates used the archaic Logan Act of 1799 to create a predicate for the FBI to interrogate Flynn about a Dec. 29, 2016 conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, i.e., after Trump's election but before the Inauguration .

Green Party leader Jill Stein and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn attending a dinner marking the RT network's 10-year anniversary in Moscow, December 2015, sitting at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Logan Act, which has never resulted in a prosecution in 218 years , was enacted during the period of the Alien and Sedition Acts to bar private citizens from negotiating on their own with foreign governments. It was never intended to apply to a national security adviser of an elected President, albeit before he was sworn in.

But it became the predicate for the FBI interrogation - and the FBI agents were armed with a transcript of the intercepted Kislyak-Flynn phone call so they could catch Flynn on any gaps in his recollection, which might have been made even hazier because he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic when Kislyak called.

Yates also concocted a bizarre argument that the discrepancies between Flynn's account of the call and the transcript left him open to Russian blackmail although how that would work – since the Russians surely assumed that Kislyak's calls would be monitored by U.S. intelligence and thus offered them no leverage with Flynn – was never explained.

Still, Flynn's failure to recount the phone call precisely and the controversy stirred up around it became the basis for an obstruction of justice investigation of Flynn and led to President Trump's firing Flynn on Feb. 13.

Do I need, Cassandra-like, to say this again? None of this means that Trump doesn't deserve getting rid of . It just means that how he's gotten rid of matters.

"So Much of the Story Is Still Hidden From View"

I'm not taking Robert Parry as the final word on this, but he's one word on this, and his word isn't nothing. If we were looking down rabbit holes for the source of this investigation, for where all this anti-Trump action started, I don't think Yates' concerns are where it begins.

I think this story starts well before Trump took office , a rabbit hole I don't want to jump into yet, but one with John Brennan 's and James Clapper 's fingerprints - Obama's CIA director, Obama's DNI - all over it. Models of honesty all.

What's down that hole? Who knows.

What I do know is that Manafort and Flynn not registering as foreign agents puts them squarely in the mainstream of Washington political practice. The fact that these are suddenly crimes of the century makes me just a tad suspicious that, in Matt Taibbi's words, "so much of this story is still hidden from view."

I warned you - I'll be your Cassandra this week. crime

TomDority , June 30, 2017 at 6:50 am

I would think that a crime in search of an investigation would be Clinton's private server while at state and, the tie in thru the Clinton foundation .just saying.

The big story is that these chicken-little stories all seam to serve as cover for the bought-and-paid for chicken little politicians ..while those elected politicians who give a damp about their office and those they represent are sidelined.

Ed , June 30, 2017 at 9:04 am

While some might think there is some tie in with donations to the Clinton Foundation and favors granted by the political wing of the Clinton Conglomerate and the sudden dissolution of said donations after the toppling of Dame Clinton by Der Trumpf it appears all such talk originates in the fever swamp of the right wing echo chamber and it's shot caller the GRU.

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Oh, what a load of bullcrap!

Present us evidence that the GRU has any influence, much less is the "shot-caller" with respect to the "right-wing echo chamber".

And why do you thing tyrants, despots, emirs and dictators generously donated so much to the phoney Foundation? Because they wanted to further its good works, just like the Saudis are very worried about AIDS prevention? No, they wanted to buy influence. And Clinton gave them what they wanted. And why did these same tyrants, despots, emits and dictators stop donating once Clinton lost? Because she could no longer deliver.

different clue , June 30, 2017 at 9:12 pm

I cannot tell if Ed's comment is straight or satire or snarcasm or what. The internet is a poor place to try such things.

I am going to take it as a straight comment. The Clintons have been grooming Chelsea for public office and will try desperately to get her elected to something somewhere. That way, they will still have influence to peddle and their Family of Foundations will still be worth something.

I hope Chelsea's wanna-have political career is strangled in the cradle. And hosed down with napalm and incinerated down to some windblown ashes.

Thor's Hammer , June 30, 2017 at 9:35 am

That investigation has been firmly crammed down the rabbit hole and cemented over.

If it had taken place in a nation where laws meant anything it would have likely disclosed:

Disturbed Voter , June 30, 2017 at 7:09 am

Corruption in high places is the norm. It is childish, all this virtue signaling. I would respect the sore losers more if they were honest they want to put Obama in as President for Life the US is Haiti now. Or the Kissinger faction of the MIC could install one of our TV generals as our version of Gen. Pinochet.

RenoDino , June 30, 2017 at 8:16 am

"None of this means that Trump doesn't deserve getting rid of."

I guess this means, he needs to go, but not this way. This way is anti-democratic. But isn't that the point?

Carolinian , June 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

Did Obama "deserve getting rid of"? Oh heck yes. You pays your money and you makes your choice. Next chance: 2020.

Crazy Horse , June 30, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Since he won't be impeached, I assume Gaius meant Trump should be assassinated? In the USA every four years we have the opportunity to battle over the control of voting machine software, voter disqualification and hanging chads. But if we want to change Presidents in mid-stream the traditional method is to have them shot.

different clue , June 30, 2017 at 9:15 pm

It was the filthy Clintonites who gave us Trump to begin with. Let Trump be smeared all over their face and shoved way deep up their noses till 2020. And if the Clintonite scum give us another Clintonite nominee in 2020, then let Trump be elected all over again. I'll vote for that.

Alice X , June 30, 2017 at 8:17 am

As regards the 2008 Georgian situation discussed here, Russia seems to have been referred to as Soviet . Twice. This happened for some years in the '90s but it is rather late to do so these days. Maybe I misunderstood something?

Vatch , June 30, 2017 at 9:50 am

You did not misunderstand; yes, the author of that article was sloppy. He was switching back and forth between events of 1956 and 2008, and he failed to adequately proofread what he wrote about 2008.

Skip in DC , June 30, 2017 at 8:39 am

Gaius offers a realistic and well-put caution for Democrats and journalists taking their eye off the ball of the Mnuchin crowd.

I've a good friend who's exasperated when I utter such blasphemies, asking how I could have missed the constant swell of opinion by Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Joe Scarborough, Rachel Meadow, etc

When I reply that prospects outside the courts of comedians and MSNBC infotainment pundits goosing their base are different – and I'm not so sure I'd prefer a less crass and crazed President Pence armed with Trumpster strategies – I'm asked "But what about justice?!!!"

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

No doubt plenty of insulating layers if money-laundering took place via real estate, though its worth plumbing those depths. But given Trump appointees' soft-ball approach to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, I'd guess that's an arena well worth the time of journalists, insulating layers or not. I recall Sheldon Adelson's disdain for the FCPA likely increasing his fervor to dump Democrats.

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm

The right-on set ask "What about justice?"

Hell, let's see some evidence before we proceed to the sentence and verdict.

TheCatSaid , June 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

And let's apply the justice to everyone , not just the "enemy camp" of whoever happens to be speaking.

And let's apply justice to those at the top first. Only after cleaning out all the top, most privileged layers, then the layers beneath them, should justice be applied to those at the bottom socio-economic layers. IOW, the opposite of the strategy we've seen applied over most of our history in many or most places.

DJG , June 30, 2017 at 9:18 am

Yves Smith: Thanks for this. Astute observations. And as I keep reminding people, you can turn on the spigot of MacCarthyism, and you may think that you can turn off that spigot, but you can't. In the case of Joe MacCarthy himself, it didn't truly end till about the time of his premature death from alcoholism.

Hence the observation above in the posting that the rightwingers will pull out the same techniques if a Democrat wins the next election.

One aspect of the now-thoroughly-rotten system in the U S of A is the constant contesting of election results. As Lambert Strether keeps writing, the electronic voting machines are a black hole, and both parties have been engaged in debasing the vote and diminishing the size of the electorate. The gravamen in both parties is that the voters don't know what they are doing and the ballots aren't being counted properly. Maybe we can do something about that

Crazy Horse , June 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

Perhaps we should look at the fairest electoral system in the world as a model. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8935

I'm sure readers will be shocked to learn that the electoral system referred to is that used in Venezuela in 2012. And it will be the rare person who can distinguish between a superior system for conducting an election and a result that they don't like.

Stephen Douglas , June 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

Do I need, Cassandra-like, to say this again? None of this means that Trump doesn't deserve getting rid of.

No. You didn't need to say it even once. Another interesting analysis utterly ruined by the writer's incessant feverish need to virtue signal himself as a Trump hater. Ugh!

You write an article chock-full of information clearly pointing to corruption, venality, un-democratic machinations, and still you feel the need to repeat over and over and over again that does not mean that you don't want to remove Trump. Remove him? Like how, Gaius? And why? Why not remove the people you write about in your article? Why not say 40 times you want to remove them. Undemocratically, of course. As you say in your article, be careful of how the talk about removing people one does not like.

You're a Cassandra alright. And methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Vatch , June 30, 2017 at 11:13 am

Here's another paragraph from the article:

Note that none of this means Trump doesn't deserve getting rid of. It just means that how he's gotten rid of matters. (As you ponder this, consider what you think would be fair to do to a Democratic president. I guarantee what happens to Trump will be repeated.)

This is an implicit warning about impeachment. I interpret this as a recommendation to vigorously oppose Trump's actions over the next three and a half years, and to effectively campaign against him in 2020. Trump really is a terrible President, but Mike Pence would be terrible, too. And so would Hillary Clinton, but I hope we won't have to worry about her any more.

In case you're wondering why I think that Trump is a terrible President, here's a short summary:

Scott Pruitt
Betsy DeVos
Jeff Sessions
Steven Mnuchin
Tom Price
Neil Gorsuch

There are other reasons, but that list should suffice for now.

Jay , June 30, 2017 at 11:10 am

None of the left-leaning writers who have been pooh-poohing the Russia investigation* have demonstrated a working knowledge of counterintelligence. I've also noticed that they correlate a lack of publicly-known evidence to an actual absence of evidence, which is the purview of the investigation. Investigators will be holding any evidence they discover close to their vests for obvious reasons, but even more so in this case because some of the evidence will have origins where sources and methods will statutorily need to be concealed.

Furthermore, many of these writers appear to be unfamiliar with the case law governing the major features of the case. Yes, money laundering may be a part of the case and a financial blog may emphasize that aspect of the case because that's what they're familiar with, but what we're fundamentally looking at is possible violations of the Espionage Act, as well as the obstruction of justice by certain players to hide their involvement. Not a single one of these articles (or any of the cable news shows) have taken note of one of the juiciest and obscure pieces of evidence that's right there out in the open, if you'd been following this as closely as I have. As much as I admire Gaius Publius and Matt Taibbi, and trust their reporting within their demonstrated and reliable competencies, neither have really written about intelligence activities in a thoroughgoing manner in order to be identified as journalists specializing in matters pertaining to intelligence, espionage, spies. Publius writes about political economy and Taibbi is as "Russia savvy" as your average Russian citizen; maybe less so. And being Russia savvy does not make you FSB savvy. Now if Sy Hersh wrote something about L'Affaire Russe, that would be worth seriously considering.

*I won't even address the seriousness or motives of the people on the right who have been pooh-poohing the Russia investigation. But it is curious for otherwise "GOP-savvy" lefties to align with people who spout Fox News talking points all the live long day, and who are wrong about everything, all the time, and not in a "broken clock tells correct time twice a day" sort of way.

lyman alpha blob , June 30, 2017 at 11:44 am

If they had anything concrete on Trump we've have heard about it by now. The spooks have been leaking for months – they aren't going to suddenly clam up if they've discovered something that's actually a crime.

Until someone presents actual evidence, this investigation is nothing more than Democrat payback for Benghazi, which itself was a BS investigation in search of a crime that went on for years. Unfortunately for sHillary, a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while and they did manage to uncover actual criminality in her case (and brushed it right under the rug).

shinola , June 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Just what makes Putin "the enemy"? Russia disseminates propaganda that (it hopes) will sway the American election in a direction more favorable to their interests! and in other news, the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:45 am

> Russia disseminates propaganda that (it hopes) will sway the American election in a direction more favorable to their interests!

This is what gets me. We're supposed to me a great power, and we're going nuts on this stuff. It's like an elephant panicking at the sight of a mouse. The political class has lost its grip entirely.

NotTimothyGeithner , June 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm

"but we've been hearing new evidence on a daily and weekly basis. Mueller isn't going to show his hand until the investigation has concluded,"

Ah we've been hearing new evidence, but Mueller is simultaneously keeping it secret wait did you mean we've heard new innuendos?

Jay , June 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Mostly it's been gumshoe reporters getting interviews. No need for inside sources for this story: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/republican-claimed-flynn-tie-clinton-emails-article-1.3289348

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:51 am

This is the story where the main source is dead?

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:49 am

> Putin must be delighted to have a vainglorious ignoramus presiding over a US government paralyzed by division

How sad, then, that the Pied Piper email showed that the Clinton campaign wanted Trump for their opponent. Or Was she Putin's stooge? Perhaps the server she left open to the world for three months with no password provided the Russkis with some kompromat ? Really, there's as much evidence for that theory as anything else

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:55 am

> so must also likewise concede that there may be more there than you suppose

So either there's something there or there isn't. That does seem to exhaust the possibilities. If only Maddow, the Clintonites, whichever factions in the intelligence community that are driving the "drip, drip, drip" of stories, the Jeff Bezos Shopper, cable, and all the access journalists writing it all up would take such a balanced perspective .

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm

OK, so you are saying that we should trust the word of anonymous leakers from the intelligence community, that is, anonymous leaks from a pack of proven perjurers, torturers, and entrapment artists, all on the basis of supposed evidence that we are not allowed to see.

Because secret squirrel counterintelligence. Ah, now I get it.

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm

We don't know who the leakers are. They're anonymous, but they willingly associate themselves with an intelligence community, the very organizations that commit perjury, that engage in torture, that do entrapment, all on a regular basis. Not to mention other crimes for which men have hung, such as gin up up evidence to drive this country towards aggressive war. So nothing to be suspicious of here.

These organizations have been leaking on a regular basis but they have not leaked evidence. That by itself is suspicious, since in a white collar crime case, a serial killer case, etc. we don't usually have a flood of anonymous leaks coming from supposed investigators.

Nor in a garden-variety criminal investigation do we have the suspect laid out in advance, and any leaks are intended to make the suspect guilty in the mind of the public, before charges or brought or a crime is determined.

ian , June 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm

For that matter, how do we know the leakers even exist? When some media outlet wants to publish some made-up story, they can just attribute it to an anonymous source.

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:34 am

> name the leakers who have committed perjury, torture, and entrapment.

We can't. They're anonymous.

> Is everyone in the intelligence community a perjurer, a torturer, or engaged in entrapment?

No, just the leadership. Clapper (perjury), Mueller (entrapment), Brennan (torture). Those come to mind immediately; there are doubtless others.

WeakenedSquire , June 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Nope. Telling us prawns to wait until the evidence is in, or, worse, that only the specialists can be trusted, is one of the tactics of repression that the elite use while they are busy manufacturing and/or hiding said evidence. And surely by now we all know that "specialists" have no clothes.

different clue , June 30, 2017 at 9:21 pm

If you want serious analysis by seriously non-left people who have broken rocks in the quarry of intelligence, you can read Sic Semper Tyrannis. They have offered some hi-valu input on this whole "Putin diddit" deal.

They also offered some hi-valu input on the Hillary server matter. And Colonel Lang had a thing or three to say about the Clinton Family of Foundations . . . including a little-remarked-upon stealth-laundry-pipeline registered in Canada.

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:35 am

Philip Giraldi at The American Conservative also does good work.

different clue , July 1, 2017 at 3:10 am

Philip Giraldi has also written guest-posts at Sic Semper Tyrannis from time to time. The name "Philip Giraldi' is one of the pickable subject-category names on the right side of the SST homepage.

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:59 am

> Not a single one of these articles (or any of the cable news shows) have taken note of one of the juiciest and obscure pieces of evidence that's right there out in the open, if you'd been following this as closely as I have.

OK, what is it?

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 12:19 pm

An investigation seeking to find evidence that a pre-selected target has commited a crime is I believe called a "witch hunt".

Byron the Light Bulb , June 30, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Or, you know, probable cause to investigate based on very public admissions. Production before a grand jury is secret under penalty of criminal prosecution. Once probable cause is affirmed, then the indictments will be under seal for what could be some time. I think it's probable that there may already be indictments against some of the players. DJT may already be a John Doe. The Fed GJ's in DC are three months long, the current one wrapping up third week of August [a guess based on past experience as a 3rd party]. Expect movement early this fall.

Yves Smith Post author , June 30, 2017 at 4:27 pm

As Constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz pointed out, the DOJ reports to the President. Trump was completely within his authority to give instructions to Comey and fire him. Dershowitz also points out Trump can pardon anyone, including himself. But Trump doesn't read and oddly no one seems to have clued him in on what Dershowitz has said.

Nixon was a completely different case. There had been an actual crime, a break in. Archibald Cox was an special prosecutor appointed by Congress. Firing him raised Constitutional issues.

Jay , June 30, 2017 at 6:43 pm

You mean this Alan Dershowitz? http://abovethelaw.com/2016/11/alan-dershowitz-thinks-black-lives-matter-is-anti-semitic-sticks-up-for-steve-bannon/

witters , June 30, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Yes. And?

Katje Borgesius , July 1, 2017 at 12:38 am

If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, read the complaint in "Kriss et al v. BayRock Group LLC et al" [ 1:10-cv-03959-LGS-DCF ] in NY Southern District. It's a RICO. It goes from the 46-story Trump SoHo condo-hotel on Spring Street to Iceland [?] and beyond. Then check out DJT's deposition in Trilogy Properties "LLC et al v. SB Hotel Associates LLC et al" [ 1:09cv21406 ] and his D&O doc production.

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.

Yves Smith Post author , July 1, 2017 at 12:49 am

Help me. This is the best you can do?

I've said repeatedly that people should stop hyperventilating about Trump and Russia and if anything should be bothered that he was in business with a crook, as in Felix Sater. I was on this long ago. Sater is Brighton Beach mafia. That means Jewish mafia, BTW; he worked Jewish connections overseas. He's not connected to anyone of any importance in Russia. No one with any sophistication would do business with a felon who turned state's evidence. Means he can't be trusted (by upstanding people, because he's a crook, and by crooks, because he sang like a canary).

Oh, and the former employees lost that suit.

Lambert Strether , July 1, 2017 at 12:36 am

Or a fishing expedition.

sid_finster , June 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

For "super secret" investigations, the investigators sure leak like sieves. I wonder why.

Lambert Strether , June 30, 2017 at 5:02 pm

On the latest one, " GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn ," unlocked at the WSJ, the main source, long-time Republican oppo researcher Peter W. Smith, left the land of the living on May 14 of this year, at the age of 81. So, on the up side, we've finally got a source with a name. On the down side, he's dead. Do better!

[Jun 28, 2017] Considering that Russia was gang-raped by Bill Clinton's Oligarch friends .a gang rape that caused a demographic collapse of the Russian population .Russia's subsequent recovery has been miraculous

Jun 28, 2017 | www.unz.com

War for Blair Mountain

June 22, 2017 at 10:44 pm GMT

@Mr. Hack


The only thing that Russia wanted from Ukraine is not to allow themselves to become threat to Russia by joining NATO. Ukraine, having wasted all other options for normal development, couldn't resist taking the offer of cashing in on becoming a threat to Russia. Ukraine tries to justify this based on some past historical grievances from the 1930's.
What total lunacy and hippocracy. Do I really need to remind you that before 2014 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO membership was not a popular option for most Ukrainians. But now, after the deceitful land grab by Russia of Crimea and three years of proxy directed war in Donbas orchestrated in Moscow, most Ukrainians now look favorably towards NATO membership. Latest polls show that 55.9% o Ukrainians now favor NATO integration (I think that pre 2014 it was less than 15%) and 66.4% now favor EU integration. You reap what you sew, Putinista fanboys. Bye, bye 'NovoRossiya'! http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2017/06/17/7147228/ The engine that drove the US into an economic power house was decades of violating free market principles

The engine that drove German economic success was being bailed out by the US right after WW2..

Considering that Russia was gang-raped by Bill Clinton's Oligarch friends .a gang rape that caused a demographic collapse of the Russian population .Russia's subsequent recovery has been miraculous

OOPS These comments were meant for Priss Factor not Mr. Hack

[Jun 26, 2017] After the collapse of the USSR neoliberal vultures instantly circled the corpse and have had a feast. Geopolitical goals of the USA played important role in amplifying the scope of plunder of Russia

Notable quotes:
"... The reasoning was simple and is not hard to understand: Carthago delenda est. ..."
"... In a way McCain can be viewed now as a caricature of the Roman senator Cato the Elder, who is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches. ..."
Jun 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM

1994

China's experience does not show that gradual reform is superior to the shock therapy undertaken in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union....

-- Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

[ Of course, China's experience had already showed and continues all these years after just the opposite. This is very, very important. ]

libezkova -> anne... , June 26, 2017 at 08:09 AM
Your discussion just again had shown that there is no economics, only a political economy.

And all those neoliberal perversions, which are sold as an economic science is just an apologetics for the financial oligarchy.

Apologetics of plunder in this particular case.

In a way the USSR with its discredited communist ideology, degenerated Bolshevik leadership (just look at who was at the Politburo of CPSU at the time; people much lower in abilities then Trump :-) and inept and politically naïve Mikhail Gorbachev at the helm had chosen the most inopportune time to collapse :-)

And neoliberal vultures instantly circled the corpse and have had a feast. Geopolitical goals of the USA also played important role in amplifying the scope of plunder.

No comparison of performance of Russia vs. China makes any sense if it ignores this fact.

Paine -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 06:30 PM
Lesson for the week

Deng ?
yes

Sachs ?
Nyet

anne -> Paine ... , June 25, 2017 at 07:11 PM
While I would argue with the economic advice given the Russian government after 1988, I am simply trying to understand the reasoning behind the advice, no more than that.
libezkova -> anne... , June 26, 2017 at 08:15 AM
The reasoning was simple and is not hard to understand: Carthago delenda est.

In a way McCain can be viewed now as a caricature of the Roman senator Cato the Elder, who is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches.

History repeats "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

[Jun 26, 2017] Jefferey Sachs shork therapy was a plunder of Russia

Unfortunatly Russia has its own fifth column of "Chicago boys" (called Chubasyata) to implement those distarous for common people measures
What Russia needed at the time was a Marshall plan. Instead Clinton mefia (Which at the very top included Rubin and Summers) adopted the plan to plunder and colonize Russia. It did not work.
economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeffrey_Sachs2/publication/5060711_Structural_Factors_in_the_Economic_Reforms_of_China_Eastern_Europe_and_the_Former_Soviet_Union/links/572f9f5e08ae744151904b90/Structural-Factors-in-the-Economic-Reforms-of-China-Eastern-Europe-and-the-Former-Soviet-Union.pdf

1994

Structural factors in the economic reforms of China, Eastern Europe, and the Former Soviet Union
By Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

Discussion

By Stanley Fischer - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The facts with which Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Woo have to contend are, first, that Chinese economic reform has been successful in producing extraordinary growth - the greatest increase in economic well-being within a 15-year period in all of history (perhaps excluding the period after the invention of fire); but second, that reform in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (EEFSU) has been accompanied not by growth but by massive output declines (in countries that are reforming as well as in those, such as Ukraine, which are not).

The interpretation of these facts with which they have to contend is that Chinese reform - described variously as piecemeal, pragmatic, bottom-up, or gradual - has been successful because it has been gradualist and EEFSU reform has failed because it has applied shock treatment. The conclusion is that EEFSU should have pursued a gradualist reform strategy, perhaps one that started with economic rather than political reform. Many also imply that there is still time for gradualism.

Sachs and Woo reject the view that economic reform in EEFSU should have been gradualist, though they do approve of the gradualist Chinese approach to the creation of a non-state industrial sector. They argue that the structure of the economy was responsible for the success of the Chinese reform strategy, and that there are no useful lessons for EEFSU from the Chinese case.

Reform in China started in an economy in which 80 percent of the population was rural, in which planning had never been pervasive, and in which economic control was in any case quite decentralized. Further, Chinese industrial growth has come largely from new firms, largely town and village enterprises, and there has been no reform of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector. In EEFSU by contrast, the industrial sector was extremely large, and there was no hope of starting a significant private sector without restructuring industry.

The authors make this argument with the aid of a model, basically one that says that the private sector in a reforming EEFSU economy is so heavily taxed that it does not pay an individual to move to that sector from the subsidized industrial sector. In China by contrast, agricultural reform freed up labour whose opportunity cost was below the earnings available in the industrial private (or at least TVE) sector - and in addition, because the SOE sector was relatively small, the industrial private sector was taxed less than in EEFSU. The model is linear and ignores uncertainty, but there can be no doubt that it is very difficult to start new firms in much of EEFSU. That, more than the earnings of an individual already in that sector, seems to be the equivalent of the tax that Sachs and Woo include; indeed, earnings for those who succeed in moving to the private sector are typically higher than they are in the state sector.

Sachs and Woo also argue that the data exaggerate China's success and EEFSU's output declines. I was initially inclined to discount this argument, but now believe it has a real basis, and that all that needs doing is to fill in the numbers....

Reply Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 04:17 PM anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:25 PM
Reading the paper by Samuel Marden, which was important in understanding the economic transformation of China, was also an important experience in understanding why Jeffrey Sachs, Wing Thye Woo and Stanley Fischer expressly rejected the Chinese experience in looking to a development model for the Soviet Union as the Soviet Union was geographically transformed.

The Chinese development model worked dramatically well, the Soviet model that Sachs, Wing and Fischer supported was as dramatically disruptive and self-defeating.

anne -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 04:31 PM
1994

China's experience does not show that gradual reform is superior to the shock therapy undertaken in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union....

-- Jeffrey Sachs and Wing Thye Woo

[ Of course, China's experience had already showed and continues all these years after just the opposite. This is very, very important. ]

[Jun 26, 2017] After 1991 Eastern Europe and FSU were mercilessly looted. That was tremendous one time transfer of capital (and scientists and engineers) to Western Europe and the USA. Which helped to secure Clinton prosperity period

Notable quotes:
"... If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay." ..."
"... Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. ..."
"... These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors. ..."
"... Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse. Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities. ..."
"... On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos. ..."
"... Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources. ..."
"... The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country. ..."
"... Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution. ..."
"... By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson. ..."
"... The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices." ..."
"... As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings. ..."
"... What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens. ..."
"... In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998. ..."
"... And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . . ..."
"... You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared. ..."
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova -> anne..., June 25, 2017 at 06:47 PM

After 1991 Eastern Europe and FSU were mercilessly looted. That was tremendous one time transfer of capital (and scientists and engineers) to Western Europe and the USA. Which helped to secure "Clinton prosperity period"

China were not plundered by the West. Russia and Eastern Europe were. That's the key difference.

For Russia this period was called by Anne Williamson in her testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the United States House of Representatives "The economic rape of Russia"

http://thebirdman.org/Index/Others/Others-Doc-Economics&Finance/+Doc-Economics&Finance-GovernmentInfluence&Meddling/BankstersInRussiaAndGlobalEconomy.htm

Paul Likoudis has an interesting analysis of this event: https://paullikoudis.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-plunder-of-russia-in-the-1990s/

Sorry long quote

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia by Paul Likoudis

May 4, 2000

The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of "shock therapy" capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago. Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:

===

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

by Paul Likoudis

In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson's Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay."

Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Contagion can be read on many different levels.

At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev's rule to April 2000 - a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a "managed economy" where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.

Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new "gangster" capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB - all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.

Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton's longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 - though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)

The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia "can't happen here" better realize it can happen here.

Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a "democrat," the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs' "shock therapy" - a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries - including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. - who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.

These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.

When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven "reform" program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.

Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse. Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.

In the new, emerging global economy, it's clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing - just as Asia is for clothing and computers - with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

This helps explain why America's political elites don't give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of "closet."

What is important for Western readers to understand - as Williamson reports - is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers' housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.

Another Level

On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.

Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.

Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she - drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard - explains in layman's vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed's policies on hapless Americans.

Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international "lending" agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar "councils" and "commissions" which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.

The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country.

Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, "who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening."

The Third Level

At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America's criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson's book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.

Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.

Williamson also documents Gore's intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.

Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore's response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.

By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson.

"Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia's thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm's exasperation. Russia's self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott ('Pro-Consul Strobe' to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore - the same Al Gore who'd been so quick to return the CIA's 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin's and Anatoly Chubais' personal corruption with the single word 'Bullshit' scrawled across it - took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF. . . ."

The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices."

As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.

What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.

Double Effect

In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.

"Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him - his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country's main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?

"The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged 'national security' issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group's (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund. . . .

And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .

"American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin's government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens' financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic 'Know Your Customer' program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family's beat-up station wagon or their 'starter' home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen's filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government's newest police force, the banks. . . ."

You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared.

[Jun 25, 2017] How Clinton's Bankers Plundered Russia by Paul Likoudis

Notable quotes:
"... You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared. ..."
May 04, 2000 | economistsview.typepad.com

The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of "shock therapy" capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago.

Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:

===

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

by Paul Likoudis

In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson's Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay."

Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Contagion can be read on many different levels.

At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev's rule to April 2000 - a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a "managed economy" where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.

Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new "gangster" capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB - all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.

Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton's longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 - though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)

The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia "can't happen here" better realize it can happen here.

Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a "democrat," the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs' "shock therapy" - a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries - including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. - who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.

These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.

When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven "reform" program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.

Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse.

Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.

In the new, emerging global economy, it's clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing - just as Asia is for clothing and computers - with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

This helps explain why America's political elites don't give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of "closet."

What is important for Western readers to understand - as Williamson reports - is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers' housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.

Another Level

On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.

Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.

Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she - drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard - explains in layman's vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed's policies on hapless Americans.

Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international "lending" agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar "councils" and "commissions" which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.

The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country.

Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, "who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening."

The Third Level

At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America's criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson's book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.

Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.

Williamson also documents Gore's intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.

Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore's response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.

By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson.

"Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia's thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm's exasperation. Russia's self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott ('Pro-Consul Strobe' to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore - the same Al Gore who'd been so quick to return the CIA's 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin's and Anatoly Chubais' personal corruption with the single word 'Bullshit' scrawled across it - took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF. . . ."

The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices."

As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.

What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.

Double Effect

In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.

"Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him - his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country's main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?

"The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged 'national security' issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group's (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund. . . . And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .

"American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin's government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens' financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic 'Know Your Customer' program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family's beat-up station wagon or their 'starter' home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen's filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government's newest police force, the banks. . . ."

You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared.

[Jun 21, 2017] The Government Tilt How Crony Capitalism Distorts Markets

Jun 21, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
  • Adriana I Pena , says: June 20, 2017 at 10:43 am
    Whether we like it or not, America was built on crony capitalism. Be it Hamilton's policies which set the groundwork for industrialization, or be it the massive land grants for railroads, they made America what it is today.

    It was called "the American system" and as such was copied by Prussia in the 19th century, with the result that an agricultural backwater turned into an industrial powerhouse that two World Wars could not destroy.

    There may be arguments why that model is no longer needed. But to posit a pristine time when none of it happened, and how it was spoiled by crony capitalism, is basically not knowing your history.

    KD , says: June 20, 2017 at 11:47 am
    Its not the truth that Communism has been tried and failed, its that true Communism has never been tried, erh, I mean true capitalism. [insert post-1789 ideology here.]
    Nicholas Needlefoot , says: June 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm
    To Adriana Pena's comment, I'd add the Homestead Act, the Erie Canal (state government), and pretty much any time government force was used to removed Indians from land, allowing for the widespread distribution of land ownership that did so much to make the U.S. a country of middle-class folks.

    As others have pointed out, there's a Libertarian vibe to these Crony Capitalism articles. Like there's a "true capitalism" or a "true free market" out there. There isn't.

    No to neos , says: June 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm
    In my little town, my city council during the past few years has:

    * pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars of annual "sales tax rebates" to the region's largest car dealer. The reason: He expanded his dealership. The agreement says the total amount of the rebate may not exceed the total amount of the expansion. In other words, taxpayers could pay for every penny he spends. Meanwhile, smaller car dealers in the area pay every penny the local governments can get.

    * pledged up to $1 million to a multi-national retailer that no doubt would have opened a store here anyway. That retailer of course is taking business from our smaller independently owned retailers, whose taxes help fund the competitor that is taking business from them.

    * bought an office building for $1.1 million, knocked it down, prepared the lot for development, and "sold" it to a real estate developer for $10. Yes, $10. After having spent well over $1 million to buy the property and prepare it for development.

    * built a new sewer plant and sent sewer/water rates skyrocketing to pay for it. Then, just weeks before the plant was to go on line, the city set aside 25% of the plant capacity for a real estate developer who announced plans for an industrial park. Technically, on the day the plant opened, it was already beyond capacity. The real estate developer paid exactly $0 for it even as homeowners and businesses around town are paying millions of dollars more for it.

    The amazing thing is, many people seem okay with all this (and there are other examples like these I could give). The Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation (which is made up of local economic development directors, mayors, city councilmen, big businesses, etc.), the local newspaper, all tell us these are great moves because it's economic development.

    At the same time they tell us these things, many storefronts are empty, people are still walking away from houses that are underwater on their mortgages, property taxes and local sales taxes are going up, etc.

    Adriana I Pena , says: June 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm
    @KD

    "It is not the truth that _____________ has been tried and failed. It is that ______________ has never been tried"

    I think that Chesterton said something like that about Christianity.

    Because all ideologies and religions are True Scotsmen.

  • [Jun 03, 2017] According to NYT on Obama $400K speech, Obamas already have $12 million plus receiving $80 million for their biography/books.

    Jun 03, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
    ID269211 Ima Right , 29 Apr 2017 12:19 According to NYT on Obama $400K speech, Obamas already have $12 million plus receiving $80 million for their biography/books.

    [Jun 02, 2017] The Market Forces Behind the Obamas Record-Setting Book Deal

    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 ..."
    "... Since the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, PRH has been owned jointly by Bertelsmann and the British education and publishing multinational Pearson, PLC. A leading producer of education and testing materials, Pearson has profited substantially from one of President Obama's major legislative initiatives-Race to the Top (RTTT). ..."
    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."

    For industry insiders, however, the size of the deal has vastly exceeded estimates of a projected final offer. As the leading trade magazine, Publishers Weekly , reported , a week before the announcement one publisher involved in the negotiations estimated that the two books would likely garner a $30 million contract, less than half the accepted bid.

    Seeking to make sense of the $65 million figure, some have pointed to the former President's prior book sales and Clintonesque celebrity status. Since 2001, 1995's Dreams from My Father and 2006's The Audacity of Hope -both of which were published by Crown, a division of Random House (now PRH) owned by the German multimedia conglomerate Bertelsmann-have sold roughly 4.7 million copies, undoubtedly yielding substantial profits.

    But according to industry insiders the former First Lady's contribution is a far greater gamble. And despite the President's successful publishing record the size of the contract remains something of a mystery. At $20 per book, sales of the two books combined would have to exceed 3.25 million copies to match the cost of the advance, and that doesn't include necessary overhead such as the costs of materials, distribution, and marketing. As one insider stated, "no one expected it to go this high, [with the books selling for] almost double what we might have imagined "

    At this point, a brief review of the relationship between the Obama administration and the companies behind the deal may shed light on the logic underlying this extraordinary bid.

    Since the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, PRH has been owned jointly by Bertelsmann and the British education and publishing multinational Pearson, PLC. A leading producer of education and testing materials, Pearson has profited substantially from one of President Obama's major legislative initiatives-Race to the Top (RTTT).

    Much like its Bush-era predecessor, No Child Left Behind, RTTT provides competitive funding to K-12 schools based on a range of criteria intended to stimulate higher teacher and student performance. Among the standards for receiving funding under RTTT is the adoption of Common Core (CC) testing, which, in effect, incentivized school districts to hand federal grant money over to private firms that create CC tests.

    Backed by the powerful Gates Foundation and pushed heavily by President Obama and then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, RTTT was met with widespread criticism among parents, teachers, and education scholars for its punitive and test-centric approach to education reform. In July of 2011, outrage over the initiative culminated in a widely publicized march held outside the White House, attendees of which included some of the country's leading educators, such as Jonathan Kozol and Diane Ravitch.

    Despite extensive outcry, including calls for Duncan's resignation in 2014 from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, two groups that many regard as traditional Democratic constituencies, President Obama continued to voice support for Duncan and RTTT. When Duncan finally resigned in late-2015, Obama praised Duncan's record , while not-so-subtly infantilizing his critics: "Arne has done more to bring our educational system-sometimes kicking and screaming-into the 21 st century than anybody else."

    But if RTTT was a failure in the eyes of the country's educators, it was a remarkable success for the testing companies. Between 2010, when RTTT first took effect, and 2014 demand for tests in the U.S. grew from $1.6 to $2.5 billion . Few firms benefitted from the rise of standardized testing in the United States as much as Pearson . According to an analysis by CNBC from 2010 to 2014 Pearson received more contracts than any other company in the industry-27 out of 128 in total. As Elaine Weiss noted in a 2013 report published by the Economic Policy Institute, in the state of Tennessee, one of the top recipients of RTTT awards, state funds flowing to Pearson increased threefold, from roughly $7 to $22 million between 2009 and 2013.

    While the Obamas' deal is unique for the amount of money involved, outsized book contracts between politicians and industries they've benefitted has precedent. In a recent report issued by the Roosevelt Institute, the study's authors, Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen, argue that the mainstream approach to money in politics fails to recognize major sources of political spending. Among the least appreciated avenues for political money, they argue, are payments to political figures in the form of director's fees, speaking fees, and book contracts. They note, for example, an apparent quid pro quo between former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and telecommunications firms:

    Newt Gingrich, a major player in the critical Telecommunications Act of 1996, had a history of ties to organizations in this arena from his earliest days as a politician. He also profited from book contracts proffered by vertically integrated concerns anchored in the industry.

    NotTimothyGeithner

    Future corruption is important. In a way, its not about the next President as much as the back benchers with delusions of adequacy. If Obama can get $65 million (I wonder if this was symbolic), a key vote can get a nice advance for a vote here and there especially if they blow up on tv similar to Obama or Liz Warren.

    Most politicians are surprisingly cheap when it comes to actual payments, but the expectation they can cash in is important.

    TK421

    It's definitely setting/maintaining a precedent.

    sgt_doom

    It's called a payoff. And look at the majority shareholders behind these dudes, it is always the Big Four investment firms: Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, and Fidelity (the others you may see will be the front-type groups, like Capital Group, and when you drill down further you get the Big Four once again).

    skippy

    Common Core was always about getting an IP on education and thus monopolize a bottleneck for endless rent extraction.

    disheveled . CC seems to be a reference to a core feature of neoliberalism and not education but we know how these semantic games are played

    kurtismayfield

    It seems that the book deal is a common payoff for our political class.

    Andrew Cuomo: http://buffalonews.com/2017/04/18/cuomos-income-jumps-renewed-book-royalty-payments/

    In all, Cuomo has made $783,000 from HarperCollins for his book. The book sold 3,200 copies since it was published in the fall of 2014, according to tracking company NPD BookScan.

    Deval Patrick: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2011/11/16/deval-patrick-book-was-not-bestseller/VeX6JKOTd4E67jvJlrYAJL/story.html

    According to Neilsen BookScan, Patrick's first book, "A Reason to Believe,'' has sold 9,445 copies in hardcover since coming out last April. And for that, Random House gave the governor a whopping $1.3 million advance.

    johnnygl

    Nice find

    Bawb the Revelator

    I believe, Kurtis, the late Gore Vidal used to complain about America no longer reading [THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA.] Bertelsmann's education hustle will survive Betsy Devos' evangelism to "charterize" the Public School system – which, btw, predates the US Constitution by 130 years. No Matter: Surely Bertelsmann can and will diversify into Netflix sit-coms and similar growth industries.

    [May 04, 2017] The sense of relief about Obama returning from French Polinesia was short lived. Obama proved that he blongs to the neoliberal camp once again

    Notable quotes:
    "... This is just one of many lucrative speaking gigs he plans to pursue, over and above the $65 million he and Michelle will receive for their memoirs. All in all, the Obamas can expect to haul in $200 million in the next fifteen years or so. ..."
    "... "I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." - Obama, Apr 2010. It's useful to know that point appears to be upward of $200 million. ..."
    May 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

    Peter K. Reply , May 04, 2017 at 01:26 PM

    "The Obama presidency was a three-act tragedy of millennial activist outrage: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Feel the Bern."

    A link for Owen Paine. (maybe he's correct that Obama was worse than Hillary)

    https://thebaffler.com/latest/keeping-hope-alive-johnson

    Keeping Hope Alive

    Obama's Wall Street payday isn't a mistake

    David V. Johnson, May 2

    AT LONG LAST, after kitesurfing with Virgin billionaire Richard Branson and Instagramming his time aboard David Geffen's yacht in French Polynesia with Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Hanks, former President Barack Obama has returned from vacation rested and ready to get back to work. After months of seeing Donald Trump attempt to trash his legacy and destroy the modest progressive gains he was able to achieve, liberals were getting restless for him to say something-anything-in response.

    "Why are we not hearing from him?" Sarah Kovner, an Upper West Side nonprofit consultant who raised $1 million for Obama's campaigns, told the New York Times. "Democrats are desperate. Everything that Trump is doing really requires a response."

    But the sense of relief was short lived in the house of neoliberalism. Obama supporters succumbed to a still-smoldering round of internecine squabbling after the news broke that their champion would take a $400,000 check from Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald to give a speech on health care this September. This is just one of many lucrative speaking gigs he plans to pursue, over and above the $65 million he and Michelle will receive for their memoirs. All in all, the Obamas can expect to haul in $200 million in the next fifteen years or so.

    Vox's Matt Yglesias led the charge among disenchanted Obama supporters, with an attention-grabbing post under the wildly exaggerated headline "Obama's $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee will undermine everything he believes in." Yglesias argued that during this trying period of rising right-wing populism, liberal leaders need to maintain higher standards of personal ethics. Joe Trippi, who made his career working for the former Vermont governor–turned–thoroughly compromised lobbyist Howard Dean, agreed about the optics. "Every president since I've been active in politics immediately got whacked for big speechifying," he told the Times. "I can't remember it not happening. And they never look good."

    Daniel Gross led the pro-Obama counterforces with the Slate-pitchiest of Slate hot takes, tut-tutting the "absurd double-standard" and the rampant "misunderstanding of the market forces animating the industries in which Obama now works." Gross argues, somewhat persuasively, that such buckraking hasn't hurt liberalism in the past, and concludes, a good deal less persuasively, that it shouldn't do so now. (The piece ran with a typically Slate-ified, everyone-calm-down sub-head: "If the only thing keeping progressivism afloat is the virtue-signaling of our best leaders, we're in trouble." Uh, Earth to Gross: we're in trouble.) He concludes by arguing that Obama's accepting the fee was actually redistributive and populist: He would be taking money from the low-tax folks at Cantor Fitzgerald and pay about 40 percent of it in income tax. This speaking gig, in short, was straight out of Robin Hood's own playbook; it would hurt the poor not to take it!

    Both sides of the debate are clearly right about two things: The Obamas don't need the money; and they don't seem the type to fall to Clintonesque greed. But the mistake in the hubbub over the Cantor speech is to see the decision as a bug in contemporary Democratic politics, rather than a feature. It may well dismay Yglesias to be reminded of this, but insofar as Obama has made a return to politics, it is not to fight the scourge of Trump-inflected populism. Obama has no intention of violating the rules of the presidential fraternity, in which departing presidents speak no ill of their replacements. Rather, Obama wants to show that the Democratic Party has been, and will continue to be, open for business to all comers. He is, in effect, marking off his version of center-left progressivism in order to stave off, once and for all, an emboldened Sanders-led insurgency from his left.

    Feel the Spurn

    Lest we forget, Obama's genius lay in being able to speak credibly to both Wall Street and Main Street. Back in 2006, well before his race for the presidency, Ken Silverstein wrote the definitive story on the Obama money machine for Harper's Magazine. In 2008, Obama set records for Wall Street donations-a point that Hillary Clinton cited in defense of her own lavishly compensated stint behind a Goldman Sachs-branded podium. Obama did it and he passed super-tough financial regulations all the same-so why not Hillary too? After all, none of his regulatory prevented him from going on to raise a boatload of money from Wall Street in 2012. This, in short, is business as usual as it should be: both lucrative and free of moral censure!

    Obama's winning 2008 message, you may recall, was that there was not a filthy-rich and dirt-poor America, or a corporate multinational and sole-proprietor America, or a full-time-with-benefits and freelance-contract-gig America, but the United States of America. (Anyway, I think that's how it went.) And he was blessed with the preternatural ability to speak convincingly to both sides. As the son of a Kenyan immigrant with a Muslim middle name raised in a single-mother household and as a South Side Chicago community organizer, he could address the oppressed as a sympathizer. And as the credentialed Ivy Leaguer, former Harvard Law Review editor, and fawning admirer of the Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers brand of deregulatory Democratic economics, he could rub elbows with elites.

    In this light, we shouldn't look at Obama's decision to take Cantor Fitzgerald's check as a risky venture that could alienate certain Democratic constituencies and feed into the anti-establishment populist groundswell. Instead, Obama is positively affirming his ties to Wall Street and corporate interests: Unlike the Sanders left, I am willing to work with you, and so will the Democratic Party, so long as I have sway.

    Even when he was luxuriating in sunny beach climes with the global elite, Obama leveraged his considerable post-presidential clout to his former labor secretary Tom Perez put in charge of the Democratic National Committee, successfully smiting the insurgent candidacy of the Sanders-backed, and Sanders-backing, challenger, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. What was at stake in that contest became clear on April 18 when Perez and Sanders appeared on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" during their "unity tour." The new DNC chair made it abundantly clear that he wasn't "feeling the Bern." While the earnest host tried to goad Perez into agreeing with Sanders that the Democratic Party had to finger the ruling billionaire class and say "your greed is destroying this country," he refused to take the bait.

    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?

    Moderating the Millennials

    Obama's return to the spotlight sought a more noble purpose: He was launching his work at the Obama Foundation. This enterprise would be dedicated to, among other goals, "training and elevating a new generation of political leaders in America," according to Obama's post-presidency senior adviser Eric Schultz. Here, too, we do well to note just what leaders are likely to prosper under Obama's guidance, and which ones will be denied backstage lanyards at his foundation conclaves. It takes no great leap of the imagination to surmise that Obama is keen to see his party led away from the left insurgency brewing among the Democrats' millennial constituency.

    Obama hagiographers would inform you that his campaign was noteworthy for its facility with young voters and activists, thanks to his innovative use of online mobilizing and his Kennedy-esque charisma. But lost in these sunny encomiums is the rise of anti-establishment youth activism that flowered under his presidency. One could trace the alternate saga of the Obama presidency in a three-act tragedy of millennial activist outrage: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Feel the Bern.

    This tension was always there during the Obama presidency for those paying attention. Consider this 2015 KPC article about Obama's determination to answer the frustrations of BLM activists by making inequality the focus of his post-presidential foundation. He announced his intentions at a speech at Lehman College in the Bronx and during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. "We're going to invest in you before you have problems with the police, before there's the kind of crisis we see in Baltimore," he assured aggrieved communities of color from the unlikely platform of the Ed Sullivan Theater. He also brought his inequality gospel to Manhattan's big-money donors, as the AP noted in an unusually arch dispatch:

    He tied the call to justice with an economic message for the sixty donors who paid $10,000 to see him at an expansive, art-filled Upper East Side apartment-including actor Wendell Pierce, who played a Baltimore police detective working in drug-ridden projects on The Wire. . . . Obama later held a discussion with about thirty donors contributing up to $33,400. That event was closed to the media.

    In this light, Obama's outreach to young leaders and activists isn't much of legacy-burnishing of President Hope-and-Change. Instead, it looks distinctly like a counterinsurgency effort to mobilize more moderate forces among millennial Democrats and tame their alleged potential to spin out of control. How do we clone more market-friendly activists like Deray Mckesson and quarantine the pro-Bernie DSA youth and their bloom of red-rosed Twitter accounts? Obama hopes Silicon Valley can help figure this out. Indeed, he's so committed to achieving this goal that he's willing to become a venture capitalist to do so.

    JohnH -> Peter K.... , May 04, 2017 at 01:55 PM
    Obama supporters simply can't wrap their heads around who the man really was...no matter how Obama publicly panders to wealthy interests.

    Clinton supporters have the same problem.

    mulp -> JohnH... , May 04, 2017 at 02:27 PM
    I fully understand Obama believes TANSTAAFL, just like I do.

    What evidence do you have for your free lunch political-economics?

    If your free lunch polices are so fantastic, why don't you start businesses that pay high wages, high taxes, and charge low prices with you as business owner having zero income and zero wealth?

    Why don't you do everything with zero fossil fuel burning content, going from place to place by walking on unpaved land (concrete and asphalt pavement are fossil fuel intensive) or by flying in a wood frame plane power by burning wood with the metal produced by charcoal from wood?

    After all, it's neoliberal to require paying for businesses, wages, taxes, capital in the price of goods and services.

    It's neoliberal to believe burning fossil fuels is the only feasible way to build capital assets, like cars and pavement.

    It's neoliberal to believe TANSTAAFL.

    paine -> JohnH... , May 04, 2017 at 05:50 PM
    Barry makes it look plausible, Hillary doesnt. But Barry really looks like a corporate fan dancer
    libezkova said in reply to paine... , May 04, 2017 at 06:09 PM
    "But Barry really looks like a corporate fan dancer"

    You "misunderestimate" Obama. He is a real king of "bait and switch".

    mulp -> Peter K.... , May 04, 2017 at 01:57 PM
    Obama is obviously a neoliberal for taking action that will result in paying $160,000 more in taxes. Real progressives know that paying taxes is not progressive, and Obama should make sure he never pays higher taxes by never doing any work.

    What is worse, if Obama gives the $400,000 to his foundation to help pay Chicago workers to build his literary, he will dodge the $160,000 in taxes, but then burden those construction workers with higher taxes compared to living on welfare in government housing built 50 years ago in the neoliberal tax and spend era.

    Clearly true progressives understand as true conservatives do, no one should ever work,mget paid to work, and if lucky enough to be paid to be in Congress, you must never do any work. The disasterous neoliberal bill passed only because of Democrats fails to shutdown government, fails to end taxes on the wages paid by government to doctors and nurses who are paid by insurers with insurance paid for by workers and government taxes on workers.

    The only good government for true progressives and conservatives is government that does absolutely nothing. Only when government does nothing can the perfection of both conservative and progressive policies be preserved. Passing anything always costs people and anything that costs is neoliberal, and thus it's absolutely not conservative or progressive.

    True conservative policies make everything free.
    True progressive policies make everything free.

    But neoliberalism forces every law to have costs, so every accomplishment by Congress is totally not progressive or conservative, but evil neoliberal.

    Observer -> Peter K.... , May 04, 2017 at 02:06 PM
    "This is just one of many lucrative speaking gigs he plans to pursue, over and above the $65 million he and Michelle will receive for their memoirs. All in all, the Obamas can expect to haul in $200 million in the next fifteen years or so."

    "I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." - Obama, Apr 2010. It's useful to know that point appears to be upward of $200 million.

    [Apr 30, 2017] Wall Street was calling the shots in the Obama administration before the Obama administration even existed.

    Notable quotes:
    "... It should not be a surprise. This unseemly and unnecessary cash-in fits a pattern of bad behavior involving the financial sector, one that spans Obama's entire presidency. ..."
    "... Obama's Wall Street payday will confirm for many what they have long suspected: that the Democratic Party is managed by out-of-touch elites who do not understand or care about the concerns of ordinary Americans. It's hard to fault those who come to this conclusion.. ..."
    "... I began this essay by saying that Obama's $400,000 oligarchic shill job was a bookend ..."
    "... Before he was even elected, an executive from Citigroup (the corporate owner of Citibank) gave Obama a list of acceptable choices for who may serve on his cabinet. The list ended up matching Obama's actual cabinet picks once elected almost to a 't' ..."
    Apr 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Jay , April 27, 2017 at 09:23 AM
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-wall-street-speech-400k_us_5900bf16e4b0af6d718ab7b9?72&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

    "The rumors are true: Former President Barack Obama will receive $400,000 to speak at a health care conference organized by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

    It should not be a surprise. This unseemly and unnecessary cash-in fits a pattern of bad behavior involving the financial sector, one that spans Obama's entire presidency.

    That governing failure convinced millions of his onetime supporters that the president and his party were not, in fact, playing for their team, and helped pave the way for President Donald Trump. Obama's Wall Street payday will confirm for many what they have long suspected: that the Democratic Party is managed by out-of-touch elites who do not understand or care about the concerns of ordinary Americans. It's hard to fault those who come to this conclusion..."

    RGC -> Jay... , April 27, 2017 at 09:41 AM
    If Progressives Don't Wake Up To How Awful Obama Was, Their Movement Will Fail
    ...............

    " I began this essay by saying that Obama's $400,000 oligarchic shill job was a bookend .

    I did that because, in what was easily the single most important and egregious WikiLeaks email of 2016, we learned that Wall Street was calling the shots in the Obama administration before the Obama administration even existed.

    Before he was even elected, an executive from Citigroup (the corporate owner of Citibank) gave Obama a list of acceptable choices for who may serve on his cabinet. The list ended up matching Obama's actual cabinet picks once elected almost to a 't' .
    ................
    https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/if-progressives-dont-wake-up-to-how-awful-obama-was-their-movement-will-fail-291fc214325f

    [Apr 30, 2017] Working-class Americans didnt necessarily understand the details of global trade deals, but they saw elite Americans and people in China and other developing countries becoming rapidly wealthier while their own incomes stagnated or declined

    Notable quotes:
    "... Meanwhile the center left spent their time and energy attacking the messengers - calling Sanders "unserious" - while mansplaining that their minimal reforms and tinkering was improving lives and people should be eternally grateful. ..."
    "... No wonder so many voters don't trust the Democratic party. ..."
    Apr 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    point , April 27, 2017 at 05:58 AM
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2017-04-17/liberal-order-rigged

    A hopeful article where the establishment analyzes itself and proposes treatment. Especially hopeful since the analysis seems roughly right.

    And here's a copy outside the paywall:

    https://fbkfinanzwirtschaft.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/the-liberal-order-is-rigged-fix-it-now-or-watch-it-wither/

    Peter K. -> point... , April 27, 2017 at 06:05 AM
    "Working-class Americans didn't necessarily understand the details of global trade deals, but they saw elite Americans and people in China and other developing countries becoming rapidly wealthier while their own incomes stagnated or declined. It should not be surprising that many of them agreed with Trump and with the Democratic presidential primary contender Bernie Sanders that the game was rigged."

    Meanwhile the center left spent their time and energy attacking the messengers - calling Sanders "unserious" - while mansplaining that their minimal reforms and tinkering was improving lives and people should be eternally grateful.

    No wonder so many voters don't trust the Democratic party.

    No, their pro-business attitude is part of the problem. They've bought into conservative propaganda: see Bill Clinton's welfare deform for instance.

    [Apr 30, 2017] Corrupt opportunism. of Obama

    Apr 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Peter K. Reply , April 27, 2017 at 05:57 AM
    Yggies isn't happy with Obama.


    http://crookedtimber.org/2017/04/26/yglesias-on-obama/

    Yglesias on Obama
    by HENRY on APRIL 26, 2017

    Matthew Yglesias's piece sharply criticizing Obama for taking a $400,000 speaker fee to talk at a conference organized by Cantor Fitzgerald is getting a lot of pushback. I find this a little startling – while I disagree with MY's defense of centrism, the underlying argument – that there is something sleazy about former officials going on the speaker's circuit for astronomical fees – seems so obviously right as to scarcely merit further discussion, let alone vigorous disagreement.

    I've seen three counter-arguments being made. First – that Yglesias and others making this case are being implicitly racist by holding Obama to a higher standard than other politicians. Personally, I'll happily stipulate to holding Obama to a higher standard than other politicians, but it isn't because he is black. Instead, it's because Obama seemed to plausibly be better than most other politicians on personal ethics. That's not to say that I agreed with his foreign policy, or attitude to the financial sector, or many other things he did, but I wouldn't have expected him to look to cash in, especially as he doesn't seem to be hurting for money. Obviously, I was wrong.

    Second – that there isn't any real difference between Obama's giving speeches for a lot of money, and Obama getting a fat book contract, since both are responses to the market. This, again, is not convincing. Tony Blair is catering to a market too – a rather smaller market of murderous kleptocrats who want their reputations burnished through association with a prominent Western politician. The key question is not whether it is a market transaction, but what is being sold, and whom it is being sold to. In my eyes, there is a sharp difference between selling the flattery of your company to the rich and powerful, and selling a book manuscript that is plausibly of real interest to a lot of ordinary people. The former requires you to shape your public persona in very different ways than the latter.

    Third – that everyone does it so why shouldn't the Obamas. Yglesias deals with this pretty well out of the box:

    Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama's position. It would set a precedent.
    Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He'd be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.

    Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.

    Just so. The claim that 'everyone does it' is not an excuse or defense. It's a statement of the problem.

    I do think that MY's piece can be criticized (more precisely, with a very slight change in rhetorical emphasis, it points in the opposite direction than the one Yglesias wants it to point in). MY states the objections that progressive centrism (or, as we've talked about it here in the past, left neo-liberalism) is subject to:

    The political right is supposed to be pro-business as a matter of ideological commitment. The progressive center is supposed to be empirically minded, challenging business interests where appropriate but granting them free rein at other times.

    This approach has a lot of political and substantive merits. But it is invariably subject to the objection: really?

    Did you really avoid breaking up the big banks because you thought it would undermine financial stability, or were you on the take? Did you really think a fracking ban would be bad for the environment, or were you on the take? One man's sophisticated and pragmatic approach to public policy can be the other man's grab bag of corrupt opportunism.

    He then goes on to say why this means that Obama needs to adopt a higher standard of behavior:

    Leaders who sincerely care about the fate of the progressive center as a nationally and globally viable political movement need to push back against this perception by behaving with a higher degree of personal integrity than their rivals - not by accepting the logic that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
    and

    Obama should take seriously the message it sends to those young people if he decides to make a career out of buckraking. He knows that Hillary Clinton isn't popular with the youth cohort the way he is. And he knows that populists on both the left and the right want to make a sweeping ideological critique of all center-left politics, not just a narrow personal one of Clinton. Does Obama want them to win that battle and carry the day with the message that mainstream politics is just a moneymaking hustle?
    Of course, it's just one speech. Nothing is irrevocable about one speech. But money doesn't get any easier to turn down with time, any more than rebuking friends and colleagues gets easier. To make his post-presidency a success, Obama should give this money to some good cause and then swear off these gigs entirely.

    But what does Obama's willingness to take the money in the first place say about progressive centrism, if we stipulate (as I think MY would likely agree) that Obama is probably as good as progressive centrists are likely to get? The left neoliberal hit against standard liberal-to-left politics in the 1980s was that it fostered sleazy interest groups and tacit or not-so-tacit mutual backscratching between these interest groups and politicians. If the very best alternative that left neoliberalism has to offer is another, and arguably worse version of this (Wall Street firms, unlike unions, don't even have the need to pretend to have the interests of ordinary people at heart), then its raison d'etre is pretty well exploded.

    More succinctly – MY wants Obama to behave better, because otherwise political centrism will start to look like a hustle. But if someone like Obama is not behaving better, doesn't that imply that the hustle theory has legs?

    kthomas -> Peter K.... , April 27, 2017 at 06:18 AM
    YAWN

    Big O should have charged 1 Million.

    Tom aka Rusty -> kthomas... , April 27, 2017 at 06:55 AM
    Absolutely, "too big to prosecute" was worth a lot to Wall Street, far more than $400,000.

    [Apr 28, 2017] A shocking display of sheer avarice of Obama family

    Apr 28, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com
    Peter L. Winkler BumbleDumble , 20h ago Barack and Michelle Obama just signed a dual book deal giving them $65 million dollars. And now he grabs at $400,000 for an hour long speech funded by Wall Street. It's a shocking display of sheer avarice.

    [Apr 27, 2017] Mark Ames: Credit Suisse Decries Russian Inequality After Playing Leading Role in Creating It

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled ..."
    "... Can hugely rich new capitalists weather a backlash from the angry masses? ..."
    "... Great piece. Mark Ames and his former eXile comrades Yasha Levine and Matt Taibbi write some of the most honest and ideologically neutral critiques of the current political and economic clusterfuck. The Guardian, OTOH, is pure neoliberal establishment propaganda. ..."
    "... 'Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?" ..."
    Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on April 27, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. At the end, Ames explains why this sudden handwringing about Russian inequality is newsworthy:

    Without any of this context, it's as though Russia's extremes of inequality that Credit Suisse just reported on suddenly appeared out of nowhere, as a manifestation of Vladimir Putin's innate evil. As though nothing preceded him-the 1990s had never happened, and our Establishment has always sincerely cared about how Russians must suffer from inequality and corruption. Erasing history like this has a funny way of making America look exceptionally good, and Russia look exceptionally bad.

    As anyone who knows a smidge about this sordid history could tell you, the US's neoliberal reforms set the stage for a plutocratic land grab, with members of the Harvard team advising the State Department feeding at the trough in a big way. As we've written, the fact that Harvard paid $26.5 million in fines, yet Larry Summer not merely failed to sanction the professor who headed the team, his personal friend Andrei Shleifer, but actually protected him was the proximate cause of the ouster of Summers as Harvard president .

    By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

    The Guardian just published a piece on Russia's inequality problem - first and worst in the world, according to a new Credit Suisse report . Funny to see Credit Suisse wringing its hands over Russian inequality, given that bank's active complicity in designing and profiting off the privatization of Russia in the early-mid 1990s. Shortly before Credit Suisse arrived in Russia, it was the most equal country on the planet; a few years after Credit Suisse arrived and pocketed up to hundreds of millions in profits, Russia was the most unequal country on earth, and it's pretty much been that way since.

    Credit Suisse's new Russia branch was set up in 1992, and it was led by a young twenty-something American banker named Boris Jordan, the grandson of wealthy White Russian emigres. Jordan was key to the bank's success, thanks to his cozy relationships with Russia's neoliberal "young reformers" in charge of privatizing the former Communist country. In the first wave of voucher privatization-when all Russians were issued vouchers which they could then either convert into shares in a newly-privatized company, or sell off-Credit Suisse's Boris Jordan gobbled up 17 million of Russia's privatization vouchers, over 10 percent of the total.

    Inside connections were the key. While working for Credit Suisse, Jordan advised the Yeltsin government on how to implement its Russia's disastrous voucher privatization scheme. Jordan worked together with the two of the most powerful US-backed Russian free-marketeers: Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, architect of the shock therapy program that led to the mass impoverishment of tens of millions of Russians; and Anatoly Chubais, architect of Russia's privatization program, which created Russia's new billionaire oligarch class. Gaidar's shock therapy confiscated wealth from the masses; Chubais' privatization concentrated wealth in a few hands. And Jordan's Credit Suisse advised, traded off, and profited from this wealth transfer. This was the trio that played a central role in creating the inequality that Credit Suisse is now wringing its hands over. (You can read an interview with Jordan about how he co-advised the voucher implementation in 1992, which is stunning for a lot of reasons- he admits they sped up its implementation of voucher privatization to make sure that Russia's parliament, i.e. representative democracy, couldn't interfere with it. Democracy was not something anyone involved in Russia's privatization in the 1990s gave a shit about.)

    The conflicts-of-interest here were so over-the-top, they were almost impossible to wrap your head around: Credit Suisse banker Boris Jordan helped implement the voucher privatization scheme with Russia's top political figures; and Credit Suisse massively profited off this same privatization scheme. And it was all done with the full backing and support of the US Treasury Department and the IMF.

    (Another major beneficiary of Russian privatization vouchers was a murky hedge fund run by the billionaire Chandler brothers. They made a killing snapping up vouchers cheap, converting them into stakes in key Russian industries, and selling their stakes for huge profits. I wrote about them a couple of years ago because one of the Chandler brothers plowed some of his Russia loot into something called the Legatum Institute -a Dubai-based neocon front group that's been bankrolling the "Russia disinformation panic!" for several years now, issuing report after report after report on the Kremlin disinformation scare by their protege Peter Pomerantsev . You have to let these vulture-capitalist billionaires wet their beaks a little, or they'll raise an army of human rights activists to regime-change your ass.)

    Shock therapy, first implemented in 1992 and not really ended until Russia's devastating financial crash in 1998, was politically useful in that by confiscating the Russian middle-class's and lower-class's savings, it created a massively unequal society. And that alone drove Russia further from its Communist recent past, which was the political goal that justified everything.

    In 1994, this same young Credit Suisse banker, Boris Jordan, told Forbes' Paul Khlebnikov about a scheme he was trying to sell to the Yeltsin regime. It was called "loans-for-shares" and when it was finally adopted at the end of 1995, it resulted in what many considered the single largest plunder of public wealth in recorded history: The crown jewels of Russian industry-oil, gas, natural resources, telecoms, state banks-given away to a tiny group of connected bankers. It was this scheme, first devised by a Credit Suisse banker, that created Russia's world-famous oligarchy.

    The scheme went something like this: The Yeltsin regime announced in late 1995 auctions under which bankers would lend the government money in exchange for "temporary" control over the revenue streams of Russia's largest and most valuable companies. After a period, the government would "repay" the "loans" and the banks would give the their large stakes back to the government.

    In reality, every single "auction" was rigged by the winning bank, which paid next to nothing for its control over an oil company/nickel company/etc. Even the little money paid by this bank was often stolen from the state. That's because Russia used a handful of private banks as authorized treasury institutions to transfer government salaries and other funds around the country. This allowed the same bankers who were authorized as state treasury banks to keep those funds for themseles rather than distribute them to the teachers, doctors and scientists as salaries-so they did what was in their rational self-interest and kept the money, delaying salary payments for months or even years at a time, while they used the funds for themselves to speculate, or to buy up assets in auctions they rigged for themselves. It was pure libertarian paradise on earth-everything von Hayek and von Mises dreamed of-in practice.

    By the time the loans-for-shares was actually put into effect in late 1995, Credit Suisse's Boris Jordan joined up with an anointed banker-oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, to set up their own investment bank, Renaissance Capital. They raised their first private equity fund, Sputnik Capital-with George Soros and Harvard University as co-investors-and Sputnik Capital went on to take advantage of the loans-for-shares investment opportunities, which had even more help from the fact that Yeltsin made Potanin his Finance Minister in 1996.

    This sudden mass wealth transfer from the many to the few had a devastating effect on Russia's population. Inflation in the first two years of shock therapy and voucher privatization ran at 1,354% in 1992, and 896% in 1993, while real incomes plunged 42% in 1992 alone; real wages in 1995 were half of where they were in 1990 (pensions in 1995 were only a quarter in real terms of where they were in 1990). According to very conservative official Russian statistics, GDP plunged 44% from 1992-1998 - others put the GDP crash even higher, 50% or more. By comparison the Soviet GDP fell 24% during its war with Nazi Germany, and the US's GDP fell 30% during the Great Depression. So what happened in the 1990s was unprecedented for a major developed country-by the end of the decade and all of the Washington/financial industry-backed reforms, Russia was a basket case, a third-rate country with an even bleaker future. Capital investment had collapsed 85% during that decade-everyone was stripping assets, not investing in them. Domestic food production collapsed to half the levels during perestroika; and by 1999, anywhere from a third to half of Russians relied on food grown in their own gardens to eat. They'd reverted to subsistence farming after a decade of free market medicine.

    All of this had a catastrophic effect on Russians' health and lives. Male Russian life expectancy dropped from 68 years during the late Soviet era, to 56 in the mid-1990s, about where it had been a century earlier under the Tsar. Meanwhile, as births plunged and child poverty and malnutrition soared, Russia's death-to-birth ratio reached levels not seen in the 20th century. According to Amherst economist David Kotz, over 6 million Russians died prematurely during the US-backed free-market reforms in the 1990s. What's odd is how little pity or empathy has ever been shown for those Russians who were destroyed by the reforms we backed, advised funded, bribed, coerced, and were accessory to in every way. They weren't entirely America's fault; Yeltsin and his US-backed "market bolsheviks" had their own cynical, ideological and political reasons to restructure Russia's political economy in the most elitist, hierarchical unequal manner possible. But if the US had acted differently, given how much influence the Clinton Administration had with the Yeltsin regime, things could certainly have turned out differently. The point is-they didn't. The inequality was the surest sign of success. It only became something to wring our hands about later, a soft-power weapon to smack them with, now that we have little to zero influence over Russia.

    It's interesting that our literature is filled with plenty of official empathy for Weimar German victims of that country's hyperinflation, but nothing of the sort for Russians of the 1990s, who were, it was argued, being ennobled and lifted up by the linear thread of liberal history-they were heading towards the bright market-based future, can't let a few knocks and scratches distract us! Can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs, as the West's Stalin apologists used to say.

    Here, for example, is a typical cheerleader story about the new Russian inequality, published in Businessweek in 1996-a fluff job on Boris Jordan's Russian backer, Vladimir Potanin. Notice how the headline/subheader make clear that the hero of this narrative is the Russian billionaire, and the villains are the "angry masses" of poor envious Russians:

    The Battle for Russia's Wealth

    Can hugely rich new capitalists weather a backlash from the angry masses?

    Russia's answer to J.P. Morgan could not be less like the eccentric, bulbous-nosed original. Vladimir O. Potanin is a shy, athletic man of 35. Holding court in his rosewood-paneled office on Moscow's Masha Poryvaeva Street, the president of Oneximbank quietly gives instructions to two strapping bodyguards at his door. Cool and controlled, Potanin is a standout in a group of dynamic businessmen who have seized huge slices of the economy.

    Which reads a lot like this fluff job in the Los Angeles Times, published around the same time, headlined "Whiz-Kid Banker Named to Russian Cabinet" . Which reads a lot like a Businessweek followup up with even more shameless hagiography, headlined "The Most Powerful Man in Russia" . You can try reading that last one if you want, but I recommend keeping a vomit bag close by-and a cyanide pill for good measure.

    So this is the sordid and depressing backstory to the Credit Suisse report on Russian inequality-the story you definitely won't and don't read about in Credit Suisse's own account. They're a bank; their reports, while perhaps truthful, are far from The Truth-more like marketing pamphlets than serious scholarship.

    Credit Suisse made a killing in Russia in the early-mid 1990s, dominating two-thirds of Russia's capital markets deals-while tens of millions sank into desperate poverty. That too is inequality.

    Jordan himself remained a powerful celebrity-investor through the early Putin era. In 1997, Boris Jordan was caught up in a major scandal surrounding the privatization of the national telecoms concern, Svyazinvest-which was won by a consortium that included Soros, Harvard, and a bank owned by Finance Minister Potanin and his partner, Mikhail Prokhanov, who today owns the Brooklyn Nets. The scandal was this: The government official in charge of auctioning off the telecoms to Soros-Harvard-Potanin-Jordan consortium, Alfred Kokh, had been given a shady $100,000 book advance by a shady Swiss company connected to Potanin's bank. The book had not been written; the advance was unusually high; and the Swiss "publisher" which had never published a book before was itself incorporated and led by none other than Boris Jordan's cousin, Tikhon Troyanos.

    The revelations led to scandals, and Yeltsin was forced to fire his privatization chief Alfred Kokh, along with a handful of other corrupt US-backed "young reformers" caught getting paid on the eve of a rigged auction.

    But what did it really matter? What really mattered to everyone who matters was the political structure of Russia's economy. No longer egalitarian, no longer a threat to the neoliberal order-it now had the world's most unequal society, and that was a good thing, because the new elites would identify their interests more with the interests of their Davos counterparts than with the interests of the "backwards" Russian masses, whose fate was their problem, not ours. This is when racist caricatures of the "backwards" Russian masses help-you don't have to empathize with them, history is sending them to the trash heap of history, not you. The world was safe for business, and that was all the affirmation anyone needed to hear.

    At the end of the Yeltsin era, I visited the sprawling suburban Moscow "compound" owned by Potanin and his banking partner, Mikhail Prokhorov, as well as Renaissance Capital-the bank first founded with Boris Jordan in the mid-1990s. It was a huge gated compound with several buildings, a mini-hotel, and a nightclub/concert hall. One of the first things I saw entering the gaming hall building was two familiar-looking men in track suits playing backgammon: Vladimir Potanin, billionaire oligarch; and Alfred Kokh, the fired, disgraced head of Yeltsin's privatization committee.

    The financial crisis of 1998 left Russia's in complete tatters, and Boris Jordan was never the big shot that he had been before. His real value was providing cover for the new boss Vladimir Putin as he re-centralized power under Kremlin control. The first upstart oligarch that Putin took down was Vladimir Gusinsky. He was briefly jailed and then exiled to Israel. His once-respected opposition TV station, NTV, was "bought" by Gazprom, and Gazprom, needing a western-friendly face for its hostile takeover, hired Boris Jordan as the new general director of the network-and his old partner-in-crime, Alfred Kokh, the disgraced ex-privatization chief, as chairman of NTV's board. Almost immediately, 25 NTV journalists- half the staff- "resigned" . Jordan's job was to blunt western criticism of the Kremlin as it destroyed the lone critical voice on Russian television, and two years later, his job done, he moved on.

    Today Jordan still runs the Sputnik Fund , such as it is-mostly a web site as far as I can tell. And he is listed as the founder of New York University's "NYU Jordan Center for the Advance Study of Russia" . He looks like such a minor figure now.

    Without any of this context, it's as though Russia's extremes of inequality that Credit Suisse just reported on suddenly appeared out of nowhere, as a manifestation of Vladimir Putin's innate evil. As though nothing preceded him-the 1990s had never happened, and our Establishment has always sincerely cared about how Russians must suffer from inequality and corruption. Erasing history like this has a funny way of making America look exceptionally good, and Russia look exceptionally bad.

    Temporarily Sane , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 am

    Great piece. Mark Ames and his former eXile comrades Yasha Levine and Matt Taibbi write some of the most honest and ideologically neutral critiques of the current political and economic clusterfuck. The Guardian, OTOH, is pure neoliberal establishment propaganda. It really went downhill after Katherine Viner replaced Allan Rusbridger as chief editor. If the Snowden affair happened today they would probably be loudly calling for his arrest.

    Lambert Strether , April 27, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Seconded!

    Lambert Strether , April 27, 2017 at 4:49 am

    On the headline: "Well, I should hope so!"

    ambrit , April 27, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?" When it happened in Russia, the Russians ended up with Vladimir Vladimirovitch rising to stem the tide of officially sanctioned criminality. One could say that Russia has had precious little experience with "representational" governance, and thus a return to some form of autocracy was understandable. America, on the other hand, has, supposedly, a storied history of representative governance. So far, that "story" isn't showing signs of turning out so well for the "angry masses" of the Homeland. What, then, will America "put up with" to see the mere appearance of social justice? This is where the supposed "opposition" party, the Democrats, have fallen down. They aren't even "talking" a good game today. The longer these tensions continue, and increase, the greater the damage from the eventual unwinding will be.

    Carolinian , April 27, 2017 at 9:45 am

    The job of the Dems is to herd the sheep in the right direction. They do this by pretending to be lefties while keeping the true alternative, socialism, in its box. One could argue the whole history of the 20th century after WW1 was about keeping socialism in its box. Funny how the end of the Evil Empire–at least notionally committed to socialism–has made the situation in the West so much worse. It's almost a though those 20th century progressive reforms were only intended to keep the commies at bay. Now the plutocrats don't have to pretend any more.

    Mark P. , April 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Ambrit wrote: 'Why do I get the feeling that this "playbook" is being resurrected to manage a "privatization" of the American "safety net?"

    Because many of the same sociopaths who learned how to loot a collapsing empire after the fall of the USSR took the lessons learned and applied them over here.

    'The Harvard Boys Do Russia'
    https://www.thenation.com/article/harvard-boys-do-russia/

    'Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia'
    http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Pseudoscience/harvard_mafia.shtml

    Thuto , April 27, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Well this is to be expected isn't it. The same banks that go around the world selling their brand of "market based reforms" then turn around and wring their hands when the post-reform economy has been stratified in favour of the 1%. It's almost as if registering their concern about the inequality levels they had a hand in creating somehow assuages their guilt. In my own country South Africa, one of the most unequal societies in the world, we are drowning in a constant, ad nauseum barrage of media commentary about how orthodox neoliberal thinking is the only thing that will save the country. Such stories of how orthodoxy itself plunged a country like Russia into economic anarchy are sadly lacking, in fact speaking ill of orthodoxy is anathema and one suspects that journalists are either infected with terminal gullibility vis a vis neoliberal thinking or are towing the line to stay in their jobs

    David Barrera , April 27, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for this great article It looks like Popper's positivism did wonders for George Soros. As he would say: "I made a killing". Sure nothing a couple of his humanitarian NGO's can not fix!

    Fool , April 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

    This is terrific - and the Yeltsin-Clinton photograph is too perfect.

    I suppose we'll never forgive the Russians for how bad they let neoliberal capitalism look.

    Martin Finnucane , April 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I suppose we'll never forgive the Russians for how bad they let neoliberal capitalism look.

    I think that in some circles there's a deeply seated viral antagonism toward Russia and Russians that goes far beyond, and is far more deeply laid, than the liberal-v-not-liberal clash of civilizations du jour. Like herpes, this particular disease bubbles to the surface under certain conditions, such as a the Ukraine coup. Perhaps the virus first broke out around the time of the Venetian Sack of Constantinople ?

    Ask a Russian. If you ask a Western liberal and you'll get nothing but a blank stare. Of course Russia bad . That's all we need to known. Full stop. My Western liberal conscience is clean.

    The rank hypocrisy involved reminds one of Obama's gratuitous Russia bashing . And who is more iconically Western, more iconically liberal, than President Obama? Obama is nothing if not cool, and Western liberalism is coolness itself.

    Susan the other , April 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I've wondered what a better alternative would have looked like – instead of looting and refitting Russia to join a neoliberal capitalist world. Wasn't it Jeffrey Sachs, now reformed, who said shock therapy would be the fastest and least painful way to get Russia up and running? And Putin has been a tightrope walker all along and seems to be very sensible. Almost too sensible. He has his nationalist opponents on one side (the late, great Boris Nemtsov was one) who say he is giving Russian wealth away to the West and his western-neoliberal detractors one the other side who call him a nationalist tyrant. In between he has the backing of the Russian people. Very agile.

    PlutoniumKun , April 27, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    The obvious alternative way would be the various routes followed by the former Iron Curtain countries. Most had some form of shock therapy, if none as extreme as that in Russia, probably because they don't have the easy to grab mineral resources. None have done as well as hoped, but some have been moderately successful by steering a middle course – The Czech Republic and Poland have done reasonably well over the past 20 years. In general, I would say that those which opted for slower and gentler market reform did better than the 'get it over quick' ones. The one country that tried not to change – Belarus – is still standing, if a bit of a basket case.

    JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Keep in mind the EU played a much more constructive role back then. The elites at the time really wanted integration and modernization to work, especially in the Central European countries like those ones you listed.

    JohnnyGL , April 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Not directly related, but for wider context, very similar programs happened in Mexico during the Salinas administration (1988-1994) around the same time. NAFTA in 1994 was the 'reward' for the Mexican elites doing as they were told.

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/privatizing-mexico/

    Here's an old NYT article which aims for a tone of 'cheerleading with reservations', but does give you a sense of the corruption involved during the biddings, especially around TelMex and the resulting problems.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/27/world/going-private-special-report-mexico-sells-off-state-companies-reaping-trouble.html?pagewanted=all

    Of course, we know how the story ends in Mexico with the 1994-5 Tequila Crisis, much like the story ended in Russia with the 1998 default which crushed the LTCM hedgies.

    Martin Finnucane , April 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Also, Carlos Slim became the richest man in the world. Meritocracy rocks! Go suck a heuvo gordo, you socialistas sucias!

    Susan the other , April 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I've wondered what a better alternative would have looked like – instead of looting and refitting Russia to join a neoliberal capitalist world. Wasn't it Jeffrey Sachs, now reformed, who said shock therapy would be the fastest and least painful way to get Russia up and running? And Putin has been a tightrope walker all along and seems to be very sensible. Almost too sensible. He has his nationalist opponents on one side (the late, great Boris Nemtsov was one) who say he is giving Russian wealth away to the West and his western-neoliberal detractors one the other side who call him a nationalist tyrant. In between he has the backing of the Russian people. Very agile.

    PKMKII , April 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    My one minor quibble is the assertion that those in the West put the blame of the downfall of the Russian masses on the masses themselves. Most of those in the West are either ignorant, or in denial, of how bad it got for the average Russian in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. They were taught that the USSR was a hellhole where everyone lived in horrific poverty except for the party leaders. So they saw the horrible conditions under Yeltsin and company as a continuation of how things had always been. Some even argue it got better, painting any report showing things were better under the USSR as communist propaganda.

    [Apr 27, 2017] Obama corruption

    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.

    [Apr 17, 2017] Clinton was always a sclezy dealer on word of whom only fool can rely

    Apr 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

    Agent76 , April 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm GMT \n

    October 18, 1994 Remarks on the Nuclear Agreement With North Korea William J. Clinton

    Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea's nuclear program.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=49319

    [Apr 15, 2017] The Sense That the System Is Rigged Relates Directly to Governments Failure to Address Inequality and Concentration

    Notable quotes:
    "... For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs. ..."
    "... To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. "No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed's board of directors or be employed by the Fed," he said. ..."
    "... The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans." ..."
    "... Despite the GAO's finding of crony capitalism--A THE PARTICULARLY HARMFUL SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN BANKS AND GOVERNMENT--it's rare to find a 'librul' economist, particularly among the commenters here, who has an unkind word about how the Fed does its business. The ONLY criticism of the Fed typically has to do with a certain peevishness that arises when the Fed threatens to take away the ultra-low interest rates that commenters here covet. ..."
    Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    From a ProMarket interview with Anat Admati :

    ... Q: The World Economic Forum has called for "reimagining" and "reforming" capitalism. To what extent is this need for reform the result of disruption brought by technological change, globalization, and immigration and to what extent is it the effect of rent-seeking and regulatory capture?

    The impact of technological change, globalization, and immigration on society depends on how the relevant institutions manage these developments. Capitalism has worked poorly in recent years because governments mishandled the challenges of technological change and globalization, and that failure is related to rent-seeking and regulatory capture. The elites who engage with each other through the World Economic Forum and elsewhere can become out of touch and blind to reality; you can see the problem from Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone saying in Davos in 2016 that he found public anger "astonishing."

    Acemoglu and Robinson argued in Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty that "man-made political and economic institutions underlie economic success (or lack of it)." Technological developments have highlighted the immense power associated with controlling information. The business of investigative reporting is in a crisis. Corporations often play off governments, shopping jurisdictions and making bargains. For capitalism to work, the relevant institutions must work effectively and avoid excessive rent extraction. The governance challenge of the global economy is daunting.

    Here are a few examples...

    Q: Some people describe Donald Trump's economic policies as "corporatism." Are you more worried by Trump's interference in the market economy or by companies' ability to subvert markets' rules? ...

    RGC April 15, 2017 at 05:55 AM

    "Martin Hellwig and I discuss "global competitiveness" and THE PARTICULARLY HARMFUL SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN BANKS AND GOVERNMENTS in our book The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It."

    [Private/public arrangements are often a way for private parties to bleed wealth from society. Our current banking system is the most egregious example of this.]

    JohnH -> RGC... , April 15, 2017 at 06:48 AM

    Nicholas Gruen: "every bank is part of a larger public–private partnership and that at the apex of that system we already have a people's bank. Right now it might be owned by the people, but it's captured by the private banks."

    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2017/04/15/making-the-reserve-bank-peoples-bank/14921784004504

    With the internet, the central bank could just as easily lend to individuals. Instead of having the banking cartel ration credit and set interest rates, direct lending to borrowers could eliminate the unnecessary margins and fees charged by the cartel...and create competition where there is now collusion and crony capitalism.

    JohnH -> RGC... , April 15, 2017 at 04:12 PM
    The audit of the Fed that Bernie got the GAO to do: "The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse. In fact, according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.

    For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs.

    In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds. One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. "No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed's board of directors or be employed by the Fed," he said.

    The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans."

    https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/the-fed-audit

    Despite the GAO's finding of crony capitalism--A THE PARTICULARLY HARMFUL SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN BANKS AND GOVERNMENT--it's rare to find a 'librul' economist, particularly among the commenters here, who has an unkind word about how the Fed does its business. The ONLY criticism of the Fed typically has to do with a certain peevishness that arises when the Fed threatens to take away the ultra-low interest rates that commenters here covet.

    [Apr 15, 2017] There has never been anything except crony capitalism, and, as Adam Smith observed, the first thing successful business men buy is the politicians.

    Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    ken melvin , April 15, 2017 at 06:05 AM
    'Capitalism has worked poorly in recent years because governments mishandled the challenges of technological change and globalization, and that failure is related to rent-seeking and regulatory capture. '

    Wondrous leap of logic.

    Barry -> ken melvin... , April 15, 2017 at 06:43 AM
    Ken, your observation is correct. The failure is in politics, not in capitalism, as outlined in the article.
    DrDick -> Barry... , April 15, 2017 at 06:52 AM
    I want some of what both of you are smoking. This is inherent in capitalism and goes back to its origins. There has never been anything except "crony" capitalism, and, as Adam Smith observed, the first thing successful business men buy is the politicians.
    Barry -> DrDick... , April 15, 2017 at 07:00 AM
    Dear DrD, so wrong. There is plenty of capitalism well removed from politics. Rather, politics becomes a problem when institutions are not robust enough to control the avarice of the politician.
    By far the majority of capitalists are doing their best to earn a living by providing wanted goods and services. The same can be sad for some politicians, but not for those who are for sale.
    Barry -> Barry... , April 15, 2017 at 07:05 AM
    correction: can't be said
    ken melvin -> DrDick... , April 15, 2017 at 07:11 AM
    We're not in disagreement. The leap of reference was in fault to government.
    DrDick -> ken melvin... , April 15, 2017 at 11:35 AM
    I would argue that this is exactly how government is "supposed" to work under capitalism (see Adam Smith).
    Julio -> DrDick... , April 15, 2017 at 09:04 AM
    I'm not sure where if anywhere you disagree with each other.
    The way I see it these are inherent flaws of capitalism, as Dr. Dick says, and it requires a solution "from outside", i.e. from the political realm, as Barry says.

    Going back to the quote, "capitalism" is not "working poorly" by the self-referential measures commonly applied to it. The rich are still getting richer, albeit more slowly in the last several years. GDP, aka "the economy" is the only measure used widely, and over the last 40 years has done fine.

    By any measure that include metrics "from outside" such as how well people are faring, however, it's not doing well. Societies that derive their social arrangements entirely from capitalism are in trouble.

    [Apr 04, 2017] Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs were involved in economic rape of Russia. It would be nice if they wrote mea culpas.

    Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Peter K. , April 03, 2017 at 01:31 PM
    PGL puts the blame on Yeltsin and this is what Stiglitz writes:

    "I believe what we are confronting is partly the legacy of the flawed Washington Consensus that shaped Russia's transition. This framework's influences was reflected in the tremendous emphasis reformers placed on privatization, no matter how it was done, with speed taking precedence over everything else, including creating the institutional infrastructure needed to make a market economy work."

    Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs were involved in this. It would be nice if they wrote mea culpas.

    "Many in Russia believe that the US Treasury pushed Washington Consensus policies to weaken their country. The deep corruption of the Harvard University team chosen to "help" Russia in its transition, described in a detailed account published in 2006 by Institutional Investor, reinforced these beliefs.

    I believe the explanation was less sinister: flawed ideas, even with the best of intentions, can have serious consequences. And the opportunities for self-interested greed offered by Russia were simply too great for some to resist. Clearly, democratization in Russia required efforts aimed at ensuring shared prosperity, not policies that led to the creation of an oligarchy."

    Just look at what the West did to Iraq. Like Stiglitz I think it is more incompetence and ideology than a sinister plan to destroy Iraq and Russia. And we are reaping the results of that incompetence.

    2008 was also incompetence, greed and ideology not some plot to push through "shock doctrines."

    If the one percent were smart they would slowly cook the frog in the pot, where the frog doesn't notice, instead of having these crises which backfire.

    pgl -> Peter K.... , April 03, 2017 at 04:30 PM
    Nice cherry picking especially for someone who never read his chapter 5 of that great 1997 book.
    libezkova -> pgl... , April 03, 2017 at 10:40 PM
    The book is great, the article is junk.

    As Paine aptly said (in best Mark Twain style):

    "Too much [neo]liberal swamp gas"