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Polyarchy Bulletin, 2015

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[Nov 25, 2015] The shooting down of a Russian jet tangles the diplomatic web still further

Notable quotes:
"... Recently, Moscow's rapprochement with the Syrian Kurds, the PYD, only added to the huge complexity of the situation. ..."
"... any solution of the Syrian conflict will be based on a precondition that the US and Russia put aside their differences, ..."
"... At least one good thing has come from all of this. At least it took Putin to be the first leader to openly say exactly what turkey actually is. A despicable, Islamist supporting vile wolf in Sheeps clothing. ..."
"... well , just think for a second .... all the image - they were shooting him while he was in the air , shouting Allah Akbar then they showed a photo with dead pilot , being proud of that ..... Those ppl are the hope for a Syria post-Assad....dont you feel that something is wrong here ? ..."
"... Also as soon as the noble Turkman started shooting at the pilot and navigator once theyd bailed out of the plane they showed themselves to be the terrorists they are. Playing no prisoners against Russia. ..."
"... At the G20 Antalya summit of Nov 15, Putin embarrassed Obama publicly showing satellite pictures of ridiculously long tanker lines waiting for weeks to load oil from ISIS, as the coalition spared them any trouble. "I've shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil, said Putin. ..."
"... So there you have it. For 15 months, the US didn't touch the oil trade that financed ISIS affairs, until Russia shamed them into it. Then, the mightiest army in the world bombs 400 trucks, while Russia destroys 1000. Then Russia provides videos of its airstrikes, while the US doesn't, and PBS is caught passing off Russian evidence as American. ..."
"... Of course Turkey did not need to down this jet: well planned and a clear provocation to start the propaganda war against Russia which actually wants to stop this war before a transition without a pre-planned (US) outcome. ..."
"... With Saudi and Turkish support for ISIS , just who have they bothered saving and sending out into Europe amongst their name taking and slaughters ? Wahabists? How many cells set up now globally? ..."
"... The turkmen are illegally staging war. Russia is the only country legally in Syria. Thats why CIA, Saudi, Turk, Israel etc etc etc operate clandestine. But they all enjoy bombing hotheads. A pity so many of them think their brands of religion or old stories from centuries ago of enemies have any bearing today. Or perhaps they just believe rich mens newspapers and media too much. Maybe all their educations and futures were lost by gangsters that were funded and protected and given country ownership for oil and now forces clean up their centuries long mess for newer deals. ..."
"... I thought Russia was INVITED by the Syrian Gov. to assist them in eradicating ALL rebel factions including a bunch of Turkmen rebels funded by Erdogan. No others operating in Syria are legitimate. Any cowards shouting Allah uakbar and killing POWs should be eradicated ..."
"... According to the BBC the Turkmen fight with Al Nusra. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34910389 UN Resolution 2249 calls not only for action against IS but also Al Nusra and other AQ associated groups. ..."
"... I also know Turkey has been laundering ISIS oil from Syria and Iraq to the tune of $2 million/day. ..."
"... Well, a US Air Force has now also suggested that the Turkish shooting down of the Russian had to have been a pre-planned provocation. Also US officials have said it cannot be confirmed that the Russian jet incurred into Turkish territory. And of course there is the testimony of the Russian pilot. ..."
"... What ethnic cleansing??? Assad has a multi sect and multi ethnic government. Meanwhile western and Turkish backed jihadist have openly said they will massacre every last Kurd,Christian,Alawi and Druze in the country. ..."
"... Shooting down the Russian plane was Turkeys way of flexing its muscles. The murder of the pilot in the parashoot was a cowardly act. These are the people the US are backing. They can be added to Obamas list of most favored and join the ranks of the Saudis who behead and crucify protesters ..."
"... Erdogan is playing both NATO and Russia for fools. Trying to create a wedge and sabotage the restoration of stability in Syria. ..."
"... It is all a giant make-believe. They are only using ISIS as a pretext to occupy and breakup Syria. And Western populations swallow all these lies without blinking and feel victimized by refugees. ..."
"... Now, Id bet that Putin has no plans to exacerbate the current situation by shooting down any Turkish jets out of revenge for yesterdays incident. But it will be unsettling for Turkish flyboys and their bosses to know that a good chunk of their a airspace is totally vulnerable and they fly there only because Russia lets them. ..."
"... its astonishing how many of the Putin hating NATObots from the Ukrainian-themed CIF threads turn out to be ISIS supporters. ..."
"... indeed, with the stench of US grand mufti all over them.. How far do you think Obama will bow on his next visit to Saudi. ..."
"... Yup the FT estimated before the Russians got involved that ISIS were producing between 30,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil a day. You would need over 2000 full size road tankers just to move one days output. Now its fair to assume after filling up it takes more than a day before it gets back to the pump. Surprisingly the US has neither noticed all these tankers and even more surprisingly the oil tanks and installations. ..."
"... The whole regime change plan is hanging in the balance and every day Russia solidifies Assads position. If this continues for even another month it will be virtually impossible for the Western alliance to demand the departure of Assad. ..."
"... Their bargaining position is diminishing by the day and it is great to watch. Also good to read that the Russians have been pounding the shi*e out of those Turkmen areas. Expect those silly buggers to be slaughtered whilst Erdogan and the Turks watch on helplessly. If they even try anything inside the Syrian border now the Russians will annihilate them. ..."
"... Erdogans reaction to Syria shooting down a Turkish jet in 2012. Erdogan criticized Syria harshly on Tuesday for shooting down the Turkish fighter jet, saying: "Even if the plane was in their airspace for a few seconds, that is no excuse to attack." "It was clear that this plane was not an aggressive plane. Still it was shot down," the corrupt ISIS supporting scumbag said ..."
www.theguardian.com

The nervousness displayed by the AKP administration, in Ankara, has a lot to do with Turkey's Syria policy being in ever-growing disarray, and its failure to set priorities to help resolve the conflict. As the Syrian quagmire deepened, old anti-Kurdish fixations in Ankara came to the surface, and clashed with the priorities of its allies, centred on Isis. Ankara's blocking moves against the only combat force on ground, the PKK-YPG axis, has impeded the fight against jihadists, and its constant redrawing of red-lines (Kurds, Turkmens, no-fly zone, Assad gone etc) may have been frustrating the White House, but does not seem to affect Moscow. Recently, Moscow's rapprochement with the Syrian Kurds, the PYD, only added to the huge complexity of the situation.

In the recent G20 summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was once more keen to underline that "terror has no religion and there should be no our terrorist and your terrorist"

... ... ...

So, the tension now rises between one determined and one undecided, conflicted player – one lucid on strategy, the other lacking it. If any, the lesson to be drawn from this showdown is this: any solution of the Syrian conflict will be based on a precondition that the US and Russia put aside their differences, agree in principle on the future of the region, build a joint intelligence gathering and coordinated battle scheme against jihadists, and demand utter clarity of the positions of their myopic, egocentric allies. Unless they do so, more complications, and risks beyond turf wars will be knocking at the door

Eugenios -> André De Koning 25 Nov 2015 23:24

Assad is targeted because it is a necessary prelude to an attack on Iran. Pepe Escobar called that long ago. What is sought is a Syria in the imperialist orbit or in chaos.

Attack on Iran by whom--you ask? Actually several in cahoots, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, et al.

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:22

BBC maps show ISIS controlled territory only a few miles from the Turkmen area where the shooting down took place.
Your not very good at this are you
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:11

A brief search on the internet shows many items referring to Turkish support for IS.

Now the SAA with Russian support is on the border dealing with the jihadist Turkmen, Turkey's duplicity is in danger of being revealed .

Hence the impotent rage and desperate pleas for support to its other US coalition partners and the strange reluctance of the complicit western MSM to fully reveal the lies and double standards of the western allies in this foul business.

Only the other day a US TV program was trying to con its viewers that the US was bombing ISIS oil trucks, with video from a Russian airstrike.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/11/pbs-uses-russian-airstrike-videos-to-claim-us-airstrike-successes.html

James H McDougall 25 Nov 2015 23:09

At least one good thing has come from all of this. At least it took Putin to be the first leader to openly say exactly what turkey actually is. A despicable, Islamist supporting vile wolf in Sheep's clothing. Who else was buying ISIS oil....the tooth fairy ? Never in my life did I think I'd be defending the red team yet here I am.

AtelierEclatPekin -> murati 25 Nov 2015 23:06

well , just think for a second .... all the image - they were shooting him while he was in the air , shouting "Allah Akbar " then they showed a photo with dead pilot , being proud of that ..... Those ppl are the "hope" for a Syria post-Assad....don't you feel that something is wrong here ?

Shankman -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 23:02

He was awfully quick to accept Turkey's version of events.

As for his Nobel "Peace" Prize, Alfred Nobel is probably still turning in his grave.

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:02

Of course Turkey supports ISIS and has done for all its existence as part of an opposition to its main enemies, Assad and the Kurds.

A brief search of the internet provides countless articles on this without even having to quote Russian sources. Examples
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-isis-turke_b_6128950.html
http://www.infowars.com/former-nato-commander-turkey-is-supporting-isis/

iusedtopost 25 Nov 2015 23:01

.....and the censors are out again.....SHAME on you Guardian.

I say again.....MSM now referring to "Turkmen" like they are cuddly toys FFS

They are head chopping....moon howling....islamo-terrorists.

Russia has the right idea....kill the lot them

ianhassall -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 22:56

Also as soon as the noble Turkman started shooting at the pilot and navigator once they'd bailed out of the plane they showed themselves to be the terrorists they are. Playing "no prisoners" against Russia.

And as for the US - they can bomb a Medicin sans Frontiers field hospital in Afghanistan for 37 minutes and the best excuse they come out with is "the plane's email stopped working, it didn't know where the target was, they didn't know where they were, so they just attacked something that looked like". So much for US military's navigation abilities.

NikLot -> LordMurphy 25 Nov 2015 22:44

Dear Lord, where did I defend it?!! How do you read that?!!! Of course it is appalling!!!

I wanted to point out that the 'good terrorist' Turkmen militia or whoever else did it would have done the same to NATO pilots and that the story should be explored from that angle too. Statement by Turkey's PM today, if true, confirms my concern:

"Davutoglu told his party's lawmakers on Wednesday that Turkey didn't know the nationality of the plane that was brought down on Tuesday until Moscow announced it was Russian."

ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 22:38

Its amazing that NATO have been bombing ISIS for 2 years and did very little to halt its progress.

Russia's been doing it for a month and have bombed ISIS, the military supplies NATO have been giving ISIS, and the illegal oil racket that Turkey's been running with ISIS - all at a fraction of the cost that's going into supporting ISIS and other Syrian terrorist groups.

I can see why Turkey's upset. Also anyone who thinks Turkey shot down this plane without the approval of NATO and Obama is kidding themselves. Obama has blood up to his armpits with what's been going on in Syria, despite his Peace Prize credentials.


luella zarf -> ArundelXVI 25 Nov 2015 22:28

OK I did some research and I was somewhat wrong, Russia did initiate the bombing of the oil delivery system, but at the G20 summit. This is the actual chronology:

At the G20 Antalya summit of Nov 15, Putin embarrassed Obama publicly showing satellite pictures of ridiculously long tanker lines waiting for weeks to load oil from ISIS, as the coalition spared them any trouble. "I've shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil," said Putin.

The next day, on Nov 16, the US bombed a truck assembly for the first time in the history of the coalition and then claimed to have hit 116 oil tankers. In the meantime, Russia carried on its own airstrike campaign, destroying more than 1,000 tankers and a refinery in a period of just five days, and posting video footage of the airstrikes.

Because the US never made available any recordings, on Nov 19 PBS used footage of Russian fighter jets bombing an oil storage facility and passed it off as evidence of the US hits. The Moon of Alabama website was the first to notice. On Nov 23, a second American air raid claimed to have destroyed 283 oil tankers.

So there you have it. For 15 months, the US didn't touch the oil trade that financed ISIS affairs, until Russia shamed them into it. Then, the mightiest army in the world bombs 400 trucks, while Russia destroys 1000. Then Russia provides videos of its airstrikes, while the US doesn't, and PBS is caught passing off Russian evidence as American.

idkak -> John Smith 25 Nov 2015 22:17

Currently 18 aircraft are patrolling the area on a daily basis, they must have misread the memo.... Downing a Turkish plane over Turkish soil, or attacking a NATO aircraft on mission in Syria within the alliance that is currently bombing ISIS or other terrorist variants... won't be favorable for Russia or their forces in Syria. Even without NATO, Turkey has a very large military and the location we are talking about is about 2-5 minutes to bomb, and 1-2 minutes to intercept.. so the attack would be about the same level of strategic stupidity as attacking Russia from the Ukraine.

André De Koning -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 22:16

How naive: downing a jet who fights al-Nusra. Of course Turkey has supported terrorist there for a long time and left the border between Turkey and Syria porous, so the proxy war can be fought against Assad (just one man (?) always features in the multi-factorial warfare, which is easy on the ears of simpletons). There were already plans in 1957 and more modern ones in the US to ruin Syria and take the land and resources and use it for the oil pipelines from Saudi to Turkey (Assad did not sign off in 2009, so war was bound to happen).

André De Koning 25 Nov 2015 22:11

Imagine a US fighter being shot down? From the beginning of the war Russia and Syria said there were not just peaceful demonstrators, but people who were shooting and grew into ISIS and Al-Nusra and al-Qaeda. This did not fit the western propaganda and the Divide and Ruin policy (title of Dan Glazebrook's recent book of articles) which is that Syria was a on the Ruin-map for a long time. Turkey's Erdogan is intellectually an Islamist and together with Saudi they and the terrorists are fighting this proxy war the US can hardly afford.

In 7 weeks Russia destroyed more of ISIS infrastructure and oil tankers than the US did in a year (the superpower has managed to make ISIS increase seven-fold). The only objective is one man: Assad and the ruin of Syria to be 'rebuilt' (plundered) by western investments and domination of the entire region of the Middle East. The rest is lies to prop up propaganda and doing as if they bring democracy (like the West does in Saudi?! the biggest friend and weapons buyer. Just like Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, which did not play ball, it will be destroyed by the West. It gets harder with Russia actually wishing to stop the proxy war: Syria itself deciding what their future will be? No way as far as US and UK are concerned (and the weak EU following with their businessmen contingent to reap the benefits). Absolutely disgusting that the people have to suffer it.

Of course Turkey did not need to down this jet: well planned and a clear provocation to start the propaganda war against Russia which actually wants to stop this war before a transition without a pre-planned (US) outcome.

EightEyedSpy -> Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 21:59

Meanwhile, Turkey just gave the Russians a no-fly zone--against Turks.

Not true - unless Russia intends to breach the resolution unanimously passed by the UN Security Council authorising all member nations to fight against ISIS on territory controlled by ISIS in Syria.

Pursuant to the Security Council resolution, which Russia voted for, all member nations have the legal right to use Syrian airspace and traverse Syrian territory for the purpose of fighting ISIS in Syria.

If Russia attempts to impose a no-fly zone against Turkey in Syria, Russia will violate the Security Council resolution ...

btt1943 25 Nov 2015 21:59

Forget about whether Russian jet has infiltrated Turkey's airspace or not as claimed by one and denied by other, the bottom line is Turkey has been wanting to play a big and decisive role in Syrian conflict and ISIS's rise. Ankara does not wish to see Russian's growing influence and intervention in the messy region.


Jimmi Cbreeze -> Normin 25 Nov 2015 21:49

With Saudi and Turkish support for ISIS , just who have they bothered saving and sending out into Europe amongst their name taking and slaughters ? Wahabists? How many cells set up now globally?


Jimmi Cbreeze EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 21:17

The turkmen are illegally staging war. Russia is the only country legally in Syria. That's why CIA, Saudi, Turk, Israel etc etc etc operate clandestine. But they all enjoy bombing hotheads. A pity so many of them think their brands of religion or old stories from centuries ago of enemies have any bearing today. Or perhaps they just believe rich mens newspapers and media too much. Maybe all their educations and futures were lost by gangsters that were funded and protected and given country ownership for oil and now forces clean up their centuries long mess for newer deals.

And then you have the Murdochs and the Rothchilds and the arms industries.

Because where the people are'nt divided by cunning for profit, they are too lunatic and gangster minded to live in peace with each other anyway.
The whole matter is a multi joint taskforce of opportunism. And wealth is going for broke stamping and taking as much corporate ground as possible worldwide.

What chance is there of calling peace? Where and when are all these lunatics going to live in peace and constructively? How would they with half the the globe shitstirring and funding trouble amongst them for profit and gain?

Turkey has attacked Russia on Syrian soil and Russia is the only country legally at arms in Syria. Makes you wonder that Turkey does'nt like Turkmen or consider them a problem. That they provoke getting them wiped out of Syria. How could Assad or anyone govern getting undermined from a dozen directions.

Who knows, the place is a mess. It's no use preaching peace inside the turmoil. It has to come from outside and above. But it appears with this lot-what peace ever.

Bosula trandq 25 Nov 2015 21:07

Since you can't or don't bother to actually read the Guardian or other papers you probably missed that UN Resolution 2249 calls not only for action against IS but also Al Nusra and other AQ associated groups in Syria. The Syrian Free Army is linked with these groups, particularly Al Nusra.

Now you have learned something.


Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 21:04

It seems more likely than not that the Russians will make an effort to capture and try the moderate terrorists who shot the Russian pilot parachuting. It is a war crime after all. The old Soviets would have dispensed with such niceties as trials, but the RF is more legalistic. Nicely enough the moderate terrorists identified themselves on video, don't you know?

There may also be several legal cases brought against Erdogan and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkey just gave the Russians a no-fly zone--against Turks.


ozhellene -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 20:57

I thought Russia was INVITED by the Syrian Gov. to assist them in eradicating ALL rebel factions including a bunch of Turkmen rebels funded by Erdogan. No others operating in Syria are legitimate. Any cowards shouting Allah uakbar and killing POWs should be eradicated


luella zarf -> ArundelXVI 25 Nov 2015 20:54

US air strikes destroys 283 oil tankers used for smuggling to fund terror group. You were saying? I don't know why some people around here just feel free to make things up.

Give us a break. The US hit ISIS oil tanks 6 full days after Russia released footage which showed its fighter jets targeting 200 oil trucks and a refinery. In 15 months of bombing ISIS, there were no American airstrikes on oil tanks until Russia came along and showed them how it's done. Even PBS pointed out when reporting the attack "For the first time, the US is attacking oil delivery trucks."

ozhellene 25 Nov 2015 20:35

will this be a "turkey shoot"? Big mistake Mr Erdogan! You just condemned you Turkmen buddies to be bombed by the Russian bears.
Turkey will never avoid the Kurdish finally taking back their rightful lands, stolen during the Ottoman rule.
Never forget that Kurds make up a lot of your population.....waiting for the right moment...

WalterCronkiteBot 25 Nov 2015 20:32

According to the BBC the Turkmen fight with Al Nusra. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34910389 UN Resolution 2249 calls not only for action against IS but also Al Nusra and other AQ associated groups.

These guys advertise and run jihadist training camps for children. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/09/uighur-jihadist-group-in-syria-advertises-little-jihadists.php

They might not be explicitly AQ affiliated or Al Nusra itself but they share similar doctrines and fight together. Attacking them may not be by the word of the resolution but its certainly in the spirit of it.


ianhassall -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 20:13

Whether I think the Turkman should be wiped out is generally irrelevent.

I just know in the past 24 hours I've seen Turkey shoot down a Russian plane over Syria to defend the Turkmen. I also saw the Turkmen shooting at 2 Russian pilots why they attempted to parachute to safety, and one was killed. And I've seen the Turkmen fire a Saudi Arabia-supplied TOW missile at a Russian rescue helicopter, destroying it and killing two pilots.

I also know Turkey has been "laundering" ISIS oil from Syria and Iraq to the tune of $2 million/day.

You reap what you sow.

nnedjo 25 Nov 2015 19:49

In the recent G20 summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was once more keen to underline that "terror has no religion and there should be no our terrorist and your terrorist".

Yes, just when Erdogan says this, he thinks only on the Kurds, and wonder why the rest of the world considers the Kurds as freedom fighters, and only Turkey considers them as [its] terrorists.

However, the main message of this article is correct. In order to achieve peace in the Middle East, first the rest of the world must come to terms. The divisions in the world, inherited from the times of the Cold War were reflected also on the Islamic world, and so deepened or even provoked a new sectarian Sunni-Shia divisions and conflicts. So although it's "a chronic disease", it is fallen now into an acute phase in Syria and Iraq. And the urgency of the case requires that really has to come to some deal, primarily between the US and Russia, that it could reach the end of the civil war in Syria, but also in Iraq, because it's all inter-connected. Otherwise, this problem will become even more complicated and prolonged, with unforeseeable consequences.

Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 19:58

Well, a US Air Force has now also suggested that the Turkish shooting down of the Russian had to have been a pre-planned provocation. Also US officials have said it cannot be confirmed that the Russian jet incurred into Turkish territory. And of course there is the testimony of the Russian pilot. No doubt the Guardian will be covering these points, yes?

ianhassall -> EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 19:47

Yes, I know. Why shouldn't Turkey defend terrorits and shoot down a Russian jet while its flying missions in Syria and not incur any wrath.

Russians have been fighting Islamic extremists for a bit longer than the West, who have generally only ever funded or armed them. I'd believe Putin 99 times out of a 100 before I'd believe Obama once.

illbthr22 -> EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 19:21

What ethnic cleansing??? Assad has a multi sect and multi ethnic government. Meanwhile western and Turkish backed jihadist have openly said they will massacre every last Kurd,Christian,Alawi and Druze in the country.

Andrew Nichols -> Jeremn 25 Nov 2015 19:14

We don't have a clear, clear understanding of everything that happened today, okay? I've said that and I can keep saying it all day. We're still trying to determine what happened. It's easy to rush to judgments and to make proclamations and declarations after an incident like this.

Which is exactly what the US did - by supporting Turkeys side of the story. Dont you wish the journalist would point this out?

Cecile_Trib -> Spiffey 25 Nov 2015 19:12

Turkmen terrorists backed by Turkey (now from the air) are there not to fight with Assad but to wipe out Kurds in this region - Edorgan's sweet dream to get the political weight back.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/12/world/middleeast/turkey-kurds-isis.html?_r=0

spitthedog -> centerline 25 Nov 2015 18:43

Amazing how Russia attacking the ISIS oil operation can suddenly embarrass the Yanks into doing the obvious. Why didn't they do it before? If ISIS and their FSA buddies loses they can't get rid of Assad for Bibi, simples. The good old FSA, chanting Jihad and carrying white on black Al Qaeda flags. We have an interesting idea of what "moderate" is. Then again Blair was a moderate and he.... ummm....errrr....oops!

luella zarf -> TheOutsider79 25 Nov 2015 18:38

are France the only honest brokers in all of this, the only ones actually doing what they say they are doing - targeting ISIS

No, of course not. It's all spin. France, which was Syria's colonial master, is hoping to regain some of its former influence. ISIS is just a pretext, and they really have no incentive of destroying their only justification for being there in the first place.

When France launched its first airstrikes in Sep, Reuters wrote: "Paris has become alarmed by the possibility of France being sidelined in negotiations to reach a political solution in Syria. A French diplomatic source said Paris needed to be one of the "hitters" in Syria - those taking direct military action - to legitimately take part in any negotiations for a political solution to the conflict."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/27/us-mideast-crisis-france-syria-idUSKCN0RR07Y20150927

This is why they are participating - to get a seat at the table when the great powers break up Syria and hand out land rights for pipelines to big oil.

SallyWa -> HHeLiBe 25 Nov 2015 18:46

Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating. As it gets desperate, Turkey will attempt to bring focus back on the Assad regime and reverse the losses it has made both in Syria and geopolitically.


SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:45

Really? I guess I'll have to take your word for that.

Really. That's sort of your issue, not mine.

Do you have any links to support your claims about these lost ISIS territories?

For example http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/12/russian-airstrikes-support-syrian-troops-to-push-back-rebels-in-strategic-town
Article tried to call ISIS as rebels, though, it happens sometimes as those are always "good terrorists" or just "rebels" if they do what we need, like in this case if they are anti-Assad .


midnightschild10 25 Nov 2015 18:33

Although there has been a war of words between Greece and Turkey, with Turkey charging the Greeks with invading its air space, Turkey has yet to fire on a Greek plane. The turkmen are considered "moderates, and the US arm them to fight the Assad government. Shooting down the Russian plane was Turkey's way of flexing its muscles. The murder of the pilot in the parashoot was a cowardly act. These are the people the US are backing. They can be added to Obama's list of most favored and join the ranks of the Saudis who behead and crucify protesters, one upmanship over ISIS gruesome beheadings, and of course there is alSiSi, who executes all opposition. Petroshenko, wants to freeze the people of Crimea, and has over 6500 Ukrainian deaths notched on his belt since Nuland and Obama gave him the keys to Kiev.

Turkey feels feisty right now, but he obviously isn't aware of the talk coming from Washington about dividing up Syria among four leaders like they did to Berlin.

Turkey will have no part to play, and the US really wants to keep Russia out of the picture. They blame Assad for ISIS but the vacuum left by the US and the coalition left in Iraq is what gave birth to ISIS. Easy to depose governments, and then let chaos reign. Since Obama keeps bringing up the right of a sovereign nation to protect its borders, he should realize that the Syrian government never invited the US onto its soil. The Turkmen through their actions have shown they are terrorists, and Russia will treat them accordingly.

HHeLiBe 25 Nov 2015 18:32

Erdogan is playing both NATO and Russia for fools. Trying to create a wedge and sabotage the restoration of stability in Syria.

Branko Dodig 25 Nov 2015 18:26

The Russian plane was shot over Syrian airspace. Even if it had strayed over Turkish airspace, it was not shot down there. Basically, an act of revenge for bombing their "rebel" buddies.

SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:24

It is "Turkey screwed up and overreacted". Not confusing at all.

SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:23

Sorry, but I'm not Russian and also where have you been - Russia has been fighting ISIS in Syria better than US/coalition, though US/coalition did it like for a whole year.The result is that ISIS lost territories which it gained under US's "watch".

centerline 25 Nov 2015 18:12

Since the G20 meeting, Russia has photographed and destroyed the Turkish/ISIS oil convoys.

In the day or so since Turkey shot down the Russian plane in defence of al Qaeda, Russia has for the first time attacked a Turkish logistics convoy to ISIS and al Qaeda right at the main border crossing to Allepo. A number of trucks destroyed and 7 killed in that operation. turkey will pay dearly in the days to come, without Russia ever having to move into Turkish territory.

Any Turks running errands for AQ and ISIS within Syria will now be an endangered species. Or more to the point they will simply be eradicated like the vermin they are.

luella zarf -> TonyBlunt 25 Nov 2015 18:10

What a joke.

In one year of bombing, August 2014-July 2015, the coalition conducted 44,000 airstrikes in Syria-Iraq and killed 15,000 ISIS fighters, which comes at 3 sorties per terrorist!

It is all a giant make-believe. They are only using ISIS as a pretext to occupy and breakup Syria. And Western populations swallow all these lies without blinking and feel victimized by refugees.


pfox33 25 Nov 2015 17:49

The US and Israel were totally freaking when Russia first considered selling Iran S-300 systems, even though they're defensive. It would have taken the feasibility of bombing Iran's nuclear infrastructure to an unknown place. Russia sold these systems to select customers, like China. The S-400 is not for sale. Any search of Youtube will explain why.

When the S-400 is set up around Latakia they will effectively own the surrounding skies for 400 miles in every direction. That extends well into Turkey.

Now, I'd bet that Putin has no plans to exacerbate the current situation by shooting down any Turkish jets out of revenge for yesterday's incident. But it will be unsettling for Turkish flyboys and their bosses to know that a good chunk of their a airspace is totally vulnerable and they fly there only because Russia lets them.

So maybe the Turks pissed in the pickles. This little problem is keeping the Nato nabobs up at night. They haven't said a fucking word.


Geraldine Baxter -> SallyWa 25 Nov 2015 17:47

it's astonishing how many of the Putin hating NATObots from the Ukrainian-themed CIF threads turn out to be ISIS supporters.

indeed, with the "stench" of US grand mufti all over them.. How far do you think Obama will bow on his next visit to Saudi.


Liesandstats -> luella zarf 25 Nov 2015 17:47

Yup the FT estimated before the Russians got involved that ISIS were producing between 30,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil a day. You would need over 2000 full size road tankers just to move one days output. Now its fair to assume after filling up it takes more than a day before it gets back to the pump. Surprisingly the US has neither noticed all these tankers and even more surprisingly the oil tanks and installations.

jonsid 25 Nov 2015 17:33

An article about Syria is now infested with Banderites. They need to worry more about their own long-time disaster of a country instead of stalking every article mentioning Russia.

Anette Mor 25 Nov 2015 17:29

Russians spent all this time signing the rules of engagement and recognition of each other air crafts over Syria with the US, only to be shot by Turkey. Does NATO even exist as a unit other than in the headquarter offices? They constantly refer to the terms which could allegedly force then to support each other in case of external threat, while clearly they will fuck each other on technicalities for years before doing anything practically viable. Russia waste their time talking to NATO, instead had to bribe Turkey separately into a workable local deal. I am sure Turkey got just the same conclusion after wasting time in NATO talks. Corruption and complicity eaten away common sense in western politician and military heads. They only think how weak or strong they would look imitating one or another decision.

aretheymyfeet -> psygone 25 Nov 2015 17:22

Hilarious, checkmate Putin? The only reason the Turks took this drastic action is because the Western alliance has lost the initiative in Syria and they are desperately trying to goad Russia into overreacting. But, as we have seen time and again from the Russians (Lavrov is an incredibly impressive Statesman) that they are cool headed, and restrained.

The whole regime change plan is hanging in the balance and every day Russia solidifies Assad's position. If this continues for even another month it will be virtually impossible for the Western alliance to demand the departure of Assad.

Their bargaining position is diminishing by the day and it is great to watch. Also good to read that the Russians have been pounding the shi*e out of those Turkmen areas. Expect those silly buggers to be slaughtered whilst Erdogan and the Turks watch on helplessly. If they even try anything inside the Syrian border now the Russians will annihilate them. I'd say if anything, the Turks have strengthened the Russians providing them with the perfect excuse to close the Syrian air space to "unfriendly" forces. Check.


thatshowitgoes 25 Nov 2015 16:56

Erdogan's reaction to Syria shooting down a Turkish jet in 2012. "Erdogan criticized Syria harshly on Tuesday for shooting down the Turkish fighter jet, saying: "Even if the plane was in their airspace for a few seconds, that is no excuse to attack." "It was clear that this plane was not an aggressive plane. Still it was shot down," the corrupt ISIS supporting scumbag said"

SallyWa -> psygone 25 Nov 2015 16:56

means he's politically impotent, militarily boxed in a corner and incompetent for self-inflicting

You know you just described Obama and all his policies in a nutshell.

Bob Nassh -> keepithuman 25 Nov 2015 16:54

I believe there's conditions within the NATO treaty that prevent them from defending another member nation providing the conflict was instigated by war crimes committed by the member nation.


MRModeratedModerate 25 Nov 2015 16:50

But of course Turkey was exposed last year...Yet our governments continue to ignore and cover.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-isis-turke_b_6128950.html?ir=Australia

luella zarf Jeremn 25 Nov 2015 16:45

The US doesn't bomb ISIS, only pretends it does. Actually nobody bombs ISIS there except Russia.

Only between August 2014 and July 2015 the coalition aircraft have flown nearly 44,000 sorties, according to USNews, and Airwars said the strikes have killed more than 15,000 Islamic State militants during this period.

http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2015/07/21/stealthy-jet-ensures-other-war-fighting-aircraft-survive

So they needed 3 sorties per terrorist! I have no idea how they manage to be this ineffective unless a) they are world's worst airforce b) it's all make-believe. My money is on option b).

Yury Kobyzev -> Valois1588 25 Nov 2015 16:41

Now fact - turkey government is on ISIS side. Its simplifies situation. Russia now quite free to clean the Turkey border from interface with ISIS. It's half a job in fight.

I don't see why Russia can be damaged by so stupid current west policy. I think that clever part of west will change policy towards Russia in near future and will find there friends as it was during ww2. You can repeat mantra Pu... tin as I use Ooom ... but is he of your level?

Chummy15 25 Nov 2015 16:30

Turkey has made it pretty clear where its primary loyalties lie, with ISIS and the other anti-Assad elements. It was a foolish move shooting down the Russian plane which clearly was no threat to the security of Turkey whether or not it had violated Turkish airspace, something that happen around the world regularly. It adds a further dimension to an already complicated war

[Nov 25, 2015] Turkish military releases recording of warning to Russian jet

www.theguardian.com

Konstantin Murakhtin, a navigator who was rescued in a joint operation by Syrian and Russian commandos, told Russian media: "There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever."

He also denied entering Turkish airspace. "I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey," he said.

The apparent hardening of both countries' versions of events came as Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria's northern Latakia province, where the plane came down. Tuesday's incident – the first time a Nato member state has shot down a Russian warplane since the Korean war – risks provoking a clash over the ongoing conflict in Syria, where Russia has intervened to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

... ... ...

Later, in a telephone call with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Lavrov said Turkey's actions were a "gross violation" of an agreement between Moscow and Washington on air space safety over Syria. The state department said Kerry called for calm and more dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials.

... ... ...

Russian officials made it clear that despite the fury the reaction would be measured. There is no talk of a military response, and no suggestion that diplomatic relations could be cut or the Turkish ambassador expelled from Moscow. However, the tone of relations between the two countries is likely to change dramatically.

... ... ...

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, hit out at the US state department official Mark Toner, who said the Turkmen fighters who shot the Russian airman as he parachuted to the ground could have been acting in self defence. "Remember these words, remember them forever. I will never forget them, I promise," Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

[Nov 23, 2015] Who Turned My Blue State Red?

economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said...
Who Turned My Blue State Red?
http://nyti.ms/1kLMLSC
NYT - ALEC MacGILLIS - NOV. 20

It is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.

In his successful bid for the Senate in 2010, the libertarian Rand Paul railed against "intergenerational welfare" and said that "the culture of dependency on government destroys people's spirits," yet racked up winning margins in eastern Kentucky, a former Democratic stronghold that is heavily dependent on public benefits. Last year, Paul R. LePage, the fiercely anti-welfare Republican governor of Maine, was re-elected despite a highly erratic first term - with strong support in struggling towns where many rely on public assistance. And earlier this month, Kentucky elected as governor a conservative Republican who had vowed to largely undo the Medicaid expansion that had given the state the country's largest decrease in the uninsured under Obamacare, with roughly one in 10 residents gaining coverage.

It's enough to give Democrats the willies as they contemplate a map where the red keeps seeping outward, confining them to ever narrower redoubts of blue. The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that's taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party's growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what's going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers have detected alarming trends in their mortality rates.

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process. ...

(Indeed. Why are impoverished, federal-dollar absorbing states typically So Red? It's a good question. But Kentucky, Iowa & Maine are not good examples.
Kentucky has always been on the very edge of the Old South. Iowa is deeply evangelical. And Maine is just Maine.)

[Nov 21, 2015] The REALLY ANNOYING Don't-Wanna-Subsidize-Wealthy-Kids'-College-Tuition Canard

Notable quotes:
"... Can anyone really imagine Bernie Sanders in the White House? , ..."
"... I said here yesterday that Clinton is running a Republican-style campaign. But it's not only its style–its tactics–that are Republican. Watch her edge ever closer on substance as well. Which is the way she began her campaign last spring and early summer, until it became clear that Sanders' campaign was catching on. ..."
November 20, 2015 | naked capitalism

Yves here. Readers know I have a weakness for righteous rants…

By Beverly Mann. Originally published at Angry Bear

Hillary Clinton's performance wasn't as clean or as crisp as her last one. Among other things, she invoked 9/11 in order to dodge a question about her campaign donors. But she effectively made the case that, though Sanders speaks about important questions, his solutions are ultimately simplistic and hers are better. Instead of railing about breaking up the big banks, focus on identifying and moderating the biggest risks to the financial system. Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids' tuition.

Can anyone really imagine Bernie Sanders in the White House?, Stephen Stromberg, Washington Post, Nov. 15

Stromberg, a Washington Post editorial writer who also blogs there, is an all-but-official Clinton campaign mouthpiece who last month, in a blog post and (unforgivably) a Post editorial (i.e., commentary with no byline, published on behalf of the Post's editorial board) baldly misrepresented what Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on Tuesday misrepresented about Sanders' single-payer healthcare insurance plan, but from a different angle: Stromberg said that the cost of the single-payer plan would be in addition to the cost of healthcare now. Actual healthcare, not just insurance premiums.

According to Stomberg and the Post's editorial board then, hospitals, physicians and other healthcare provides would receive full payment from private insurers and also full payment from the government. And employers, employees and individual-market policyholders would continue to pay premiums to private insurers while they also paid taxes to the federal government for single-payer-double-payer?-insurance.

A nice deal for some but not, let's say, for others. Also, a preposterous misrepresentation of Sanders' plan.

Fast-forward a month and Stromberg, this time speaking only for himself (as far as I know; I don't read all the Post's editorials) and for the Clinton campaign, picks up on Clinton's invocation of the horror of the public paying college tuition for Donald Trump's kids. But since he probably knows that Trump's kids no more went to public colleges than did Clinton's kid, he broadens it.

Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids' tuition. Good line! At least for the ears of voters who are unaware that public universities, like private ones, quietly skew their admissions processes to favor the kids of parents who likely can pay full tuition simply by switching the funds from a CD or other savings account into a checking account at the beginning of each semester, thus removing the need for the school to dig into its endowment fund to provide financial assistance. Or to worry about whether the student will have that loan money ready at the beginning of each semester.

Which is why Jennifer Gratz, salutatorian at her working class Detroit suburb's high school, whose extracurriculars included cheerleading but probably not a summer in Honduras assisting the poor, was denied admission to the University of Michigan back in 1995. And why she sued the University in what eventually became a landmark Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality under the equal protection clause of UM's affirmative action program.

She did not challenge the constitutionality of the U's almost-certain, but unstated, admissions policy that would ensure that the freshman class had a substantial percentage of students from families wealthy enough to pay the full tuition.

Y'know, the ones wealthy enough to pay for SAT tutoring, SAT practice courts, and if necessary more than one SAT exam.

What especially angers me about this let's-not-subsidize-wealthy-kids'-college-tuition canard is that it uses disparities in ability to pay the tuition as a clever way to ensure the admissions status quo. Or something close to the status quo.

In her and her campaign spokesman's statements in the last several days-most notably her "Read My Lips; No New Taxes on the Middle Class, Even $1.35/wk to Pay for Family and Medical Leave" declaration, but other statements too-she's overtly declaring herself a triangulator. And some progressive political pundits are noticing it. Yes!* They!** Are!*** And Sanders needs to start quoting these articles, in speaking and in web and television ads.

I said here yesterday that Clinton is running a Republican-style campaign. But it's not only its style–its tactics–that are Republican. Watch her edge ever closer on substance as well. Which is the way she began her campaign last spring and early summer, until it became clear that Sanders' campaign was catching on.

[Nov 15, 2015] Nomi Prins Wall Street, the Imperial Presidency, Political Corruption, and Crony Capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... The connection between democracy and free markets is interesting though. Democracy is predicated on the idea that every vote counts equally, and in the utopian perspective, the government adopts policies that benefit or adhere to the majority of those votes. In fact, its the minority of elite families and private individuals that exercise the most control over Americas policies and actions. ..."
"... The myth of a free market is that every trader or participant is equal, when in fact the biggest players with access to the most information and technology are the ones that have a disproportionate advantage over the smaller players. What we have is a plutocracy of government and markets. The privileged few dont care, or need to care, about democracy any more than they would ever want to have truly free markets, though what they do want are markets liberated from as many regulations as possible. In practice, that leads to huge inherent risk. ..."
Jesse's Café Américain

Too big to fail is a seven-year phenomenon created by the most powerful central banks to bolster the largest, most politically connected US and European banks. More than that, it's a global concern predicated on that handful of private banks controlling too much market share and elite central banks infusing them with boatloads of cheap capital and other aid.

Synthetic bank and market subsidization disguised as 'monetary policy' has spawned artificial asset and debt bubbles - everywhere. The most rapacious speculative capital and associated risk flows from these power-players to the least protected, or least regulated, locales.

There is no such thing as isolated 'Big Bank' problems. Rather, complex products, risky practices, leverage and co-dependent transactions have contagion ramifications, particularly in emerging markets whose histories are already lined with disproportionate shares of debt, interest rate and currency related travails.

The notion of free markets, mechanisms where buyers and sellers can meet to exchange securities or various kinds of goods, in which each participant has access to the same information, is a fallacy. Transparency in trading across global financial markets is a fallacy. Not only are markets rigged by, and for, the biggest players, so is the entire political-financial system.

The connection between democracy and free markets is interesting though. Democracy is predicated on the idea that every vote counts equally, and in the utopian perspective, the government adopts policies that benefit or adhere to the majority of those votes. In fact, it's the minority of elite families and private individuals that exercise the most control over America's policies and actions.

The myth of a free market is that every trader or participant is equal, when in fact the biggest players with access to the most information and technology are the ones that have a disproportionate advantage over the smaller players. What we have is a plutocracy of government and markets. The privileged few don't care, or need to care, about democracy any more than they would ever want to have truly "free" markets, though what they do want are markets liberated from as many regulations as possible. In practice, that leads to huge inherent risk.

Michael Lewis' latest book on high frequency trading seems to have struck some sort of a national chord. Yet what he writes about is the mere tip of the iceberg covered in my book. He's talking about rigged markets - which have been a problem since small investors began investing with the big boys, believing they had an equal shot.

I'm talking about an entirely rigged political-financial system.

Nomi Prins

[Nov 15, 2015] Paris attacks Andrew J. Bacevich A war the West cannot win

"It's past time for the West, and above all for the United States as the West's primary military power, to consider trying something different.
Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself..."
Notable quotes:
"... Today, notwithstanding the Obama administration's continuing appetite for military piddling - air strikes, commando raids, and advisory missions - few Americans retain any appetite for undertaking further large-scale hostilities in the Islamic world. ..."
"... In proposing to pour yet more fuel on that fire, Hollande demonstrates a crippling absence of imagination, one that has characterized recent Western statesmanship more generally when it comes to the Islamic world. There, simply trying harder won't suffice as a basis of policy. ..."
"... Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself from the violence emanating from that quarter. Such barriers will necessarily be imperfect, but they will produce greater security at a more affordable cost than is gained by engaging in futile, open-ended armed conflicts. Rather than vainly attempting to police or control, this revised strategy should seek to contain. .. ..."
Nov 14, 2015 | The Boston Globe

French President Francois Hollande's response to Friday's vicious terrorist attacks, now attributed to ISIS, was immediate and uncompromising. "We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless," he vowed.

Whether France itself possesses the will or the capacity to undertake such a war is another matter. So too is the question of whether further war can provide a remedy to the problem at hand: widespread disorder roiling much of the Greater Middle East and periodically spilling into the outside world.

It's not as if the outside world hasn't already given pitiless war a try. The Soviet Union spent all of the 1980s attempting to pacify Afghanistan and succeeded only in killing a million or so Afghans while creating an incubator for Islamic radicalism. Beginning in 2003, the United States attempted something similar in Iraq and ended up producing similarly destabilizing results. By the time US troops withdrew in 2011, something like 200,000 Iraqis had died, most of the them civilians. Today Iraq teeters on the brink of disintegration.

Perhaps if the Russians had tried harder or the Americans had stayed longer they might have achieved a more favorable outcome. Yet that qualifies as a theoretical possibility at best. Years of fighting in Afghanistan exhausted the Soviet Union and contributed directly to its subsequent collapse. Years of fighting in Iraq used up whatever "Let's roll!" combativeness Americans may have entertained in the wake of 9/11.

Today, notwithstanding the Obama administration's continuing appetite for military piddling - air strikes, commando raids, and advisory missions - few Americans retain any appetite for undertaking further large-scale hostilities in the Islamic world. Fewer still will sign up to follow President Hollande in undertaking any new crusade. Their reluctance to do so is understandable and appropriate.

It's difficult to imagine the nihilism, and contempt for humanity, that could motivate such cold-blooded rage.

The fact is that United States and its European allies, to include France, face a perplexing strategic conundrum. Collectively they find themselves locked in a protracted conflict with Islamic radicalism, with ISIS but one manifestation of a much larger phenomenon. Prospects for negotiating an end to that conflict anytime soon appear to be nil. Alas, so too do prospects of winning it.

In this conflict, the West generally appears to enjoy the advantage of clear-cut military superiority. By almost any measure, we are stronger than our adversaries. Our arsenals are bigger, our weapons more sophisticated, our generals better educated in the art of war, our fighters better trained at waging it.

Yet most of this has proven to be irrelevant. Time and again the actual employment of that ostensibly superior military might has produced results other than those intended or anticipated. Even where armed intervention has achieved a semblance of tactical success - the ousting of some unsavory dictator, for example - it has yielded neither reconciliation nor willing submission nor even sullen compliance. Instead, intervention typically serves to aggravate, inciting further resistance. Rather than putting out the fires of radicalism, we end up feeding them.

In proposing to pour yet more fuel on that fire, Hollande demonstrates a crippling absence of imagination, one that has characterized recent Western statesmanship more generally when it comes to the Islamic world. There, simply trying harder won't suffice as a basis of policy.

It's past time for the West, and above all for the United States as the West's primary military power, to consider trying something different.

Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself from the violence emanating from that quarter. Such barriers will necessarily be imperfect, but they will produce greater security at a more affordable cost than is gained by engaging in futile, open-ended armed conflicts. Rather than vainly attempting to police or control, this revised strategy should seek to contain. ...

Fred C. Dobbs ->Fred C. Dobbs...

'Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself from the violence emanating from that quarter. Such barriers will necessarily be imperfect, but they will produce greater security at a more affordable cost...'

The question remains: Is it possible to do this?

Granted, the Mediterranean Sea is an insufficient barrier.

anne ->Fred C. Dobbs... November 14, 2015 at 12:35 PM
'Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself from the violence emanating from that quarter. Such barriers will necessarily be imperfect, but they will produce greater security at a more affordable cost...'

The question remains: Is it possible to do this?

Granted, the Mediterranean Sea is an insufficient barrier.

[ My understanding is that such a barrier is only possible to maintain when there are working governments in countries through the Middle East. Destroying the governments of Iraq and Libya proved disastrous strategic mistakes, destroying the government of Syria would be another such mistake but we have been determined to do just that. Yemen, the same.

Iraq was a strategic disaster but we learned nothing and went after Libya and now Syria and Yemen. ]

pgl ->Fred C. Dobbs... November 14, 2015 at 12:46 PM
ISIS is doing a lot of boosting now. Osama bin Laden was doing a lot of past late in 2001. What ever happened to that guy? Pissing off both the French and the Russians by killing 100s of their citizens is a good way to get yourself killed.

[Nov 14, 2015] Where Feds Critics Got it Wrong in GOP Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Their low information voters like the idea of big bad gobinment agencies doing bad stuff to all of us and being responsible for whatever. The narratives always Trump reality. ..."
"... It all makes sense when the good of the few Trumps [means plundering of] the rest is considered a public good. When avarice meets reality it attacks with diverting ad hominem [e.g. brainwashed socialists, etc.] and ever worse logic fallacies. ..."
"... So you call it a successful policy...based on what? Stock prices are up? The wealthy have grabbed most of the income gains? ..."
"... [Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates, consumer credit discounts for all variable rate interest lines of credit, short term small business cash flow balancing operating loans at prime rate. The wealthy got a little leverage trading done but only those that sold off stocks have made money from high stock prices. Those still holding shares may have nothing to gain except for losses.] ..."
"... A little?!? Take a look at the chart: Capitals share of national income. It has really taken off--well above the trend line of the last 40 years--since ZIRP and QE. ..."
"... But anyone with much experience in long term asset markets, such as the stock market or housing market, ought to realize that it is low inflation which tends to boost valuations for long term assets. The current very low inflation expectations are one of the main drivers behind high current US stock market valuations (using measures such as total market cap to GDP). ..."
"... As Krugman points out Murkan politics is dysfunctional, the GOP playing the Nazi role [from Weimars demise]. ..."
Nov 14, 2015 | Economist's View

DeDude said...

Their low information voters like the idea of big bad gobinment agencies doing bad stuff to all of us and being responsible for whatever. The narratives always Trump reality.

ilsm said in reply to DeDude...

It all makes sense when the good of the few Trumps [means plundering of] the rest is considered a public good.
When avarice meets reality it attacks with diverting ad hominem [e.g. brainwashed socialists, etc.] and ever worse logic fallacies.

Like Lacker's screed on inflation, actually selling deflation.

JohnH said in reply to ilsm...

So you call it a successful policy...based on what? Stock prices are up? The wealthy have grabbed most of the income gains?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to JohnH...

"...based on what?..."

[Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates, consumer credit discounts for all variable rate interest lines of credit, short term small business cash flow balancing operating loans at prime rate.

The wealthy got a little leverage trading done but only those that sold off stocks have made money from high stock prices. Those still holding shares may have nothing to gain except for losses.]

JohnH said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

The wealthy got a little leverage...

A little?!? Take a look at the chart: Capital's share of national income. It has really taken off--well above the trend line of the last 40 years--since ZIRP and QE.

No, Fed policy didn't cause increased inequality but it exacerbated it.

Now, please explain how "Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates"...blah...blah translated into higher real median income per household, etc. You know, common measure of economic performance.

acerimusdux said...

Another right wing myth worth addressing is the idea that low interest rates cause asset bubbles.

But anyone with much experience in long term asset markets, such as the stock market or housing market, ought to realize that it is low inflation which tends to boost valuations for long term assets. The current very low inflation expectations are one of the main drivers behind high current US stock market valuations (using measures such as total market cap to GDP).

Looser money, because it encourages more inflation, should be expected to limit bubbles. Too tight monetary policy should be expected to cause them.

Right wing economics seems to be primarily based on first either ignoring or not understanding the importance of natural rates, and so blaming the Fed any time nominal rates seem low (or even moderate), and then on blaming anything else in the economy that seems to be wrong at them moment on those "low" rates (without any regard to logic, reason, or consistency).

Sad to see that even some Fed board members seem to be ignoring the importance of inflation in determing monetary policy. There is no sign at all yet of even meeting the inflation target in the CPI, PCE, or ECI, while the PPI continues to show deflation. Meanwhile market based measures (such as the breakeven rates) show expectations that continue to fall, with the Fed not expected by markets to meet it's target even within a decade. And some are still talking about hiking in December?

Ben Groves said in reply to acerimusdux...

It is hard to have inflation when commodity deflation is lowering inputs and we are having a nasty price war between Brick/Mortar and e-Commerce. That sounds like a large CPI decline (which means real retail sales are better than usual) that started in the 3rd quarter may accelerate in the 4th quarter. I am seeing prices of some foods, the lowest in 10 years. Milk is down to 15 year lows at some of my regions stores.

I don't think central banks though, think that is a bad thing. They only care about wage growth and their own trimmed inflation figures that factor in wage growth. So the Fed/Republicans are on the same page. Anything more is dialectics.

ilsm said...

As Krugman points out Murkan politics is dysfunctional, the GOP playing the Nazi role [from Weimar's demise].

[Nov 01, 2015] Erdogan's party enjoys decisive election victory in Turkey

Looks like neo-Islamism = neoliberalism and radical Islam is a part of neoliberal fifth column... a definition of neo-Islamism includes these key characteristics: non-traditional religiosity, gradualism, Islam modernization, nationalism and pragmatic relations with the West. They are trying to rally a larger constituency than hard-core devout Muslims, recasting religious norms as more vague conservative values (family, property, work ethic, honesty) adopting a neoliberal approach to the economy, and endorsing a constitution, and parliament and regular elections. (Roy 2011a 31. Roy, O., 2011a. The paradoxes of the re-Islamisation of Muslim societies, 10 years after september 11. Available from: http://essays.ssrc.org/10yearsafter911/the-paradoxes-of-the-re-islamization-of-muslim-societies/ [accessed 14 October 2014]. See also Neo-Islamism in the post-Arab Spring - Contemporary Politics - Volume 20, Issue 4 The Turkish ruling party AKP provided an interesting example of this trend which changed their priorities merging "shariatization" with the nationalism and expansion of nation state (Nationalist Islamism)
Notable quotes:
"... I share the frustration expressed by other posts with WAPO and other Western journalism on Turkey. Luckily for me, the strategy behind the AKP victory was explained to me several days priors to the election by a fellow with intimate knowledge of Turkey. Erdogan looked at the Nationalist MHP and Islamist SP and figured out that his only way for strengthen his support would be by moving as many of their voters to the AKP. ..."
"... He figured that a rift with the Kurds will attract the nationalists and more Islamist positions will attract the latter. If you compare the results of the Nov 1 elections with the June 7 elections, you can see that it worked brilliantly. ..."
"... The great experiment in westernized Islam is dead. ..."
"... I would be only relieved if Turkish government would come up and speak all of those words you have mentioned. Iran did it. I have to respect that. They said what they stood for and that they do not like any others very clearly. This is at least honest and brave. If Turkey can pronounce its standing in between West and East, if you will, I will the most proud person even though I will be standing against here. Very well said. ..."
"... byetki - Exactly! At least a snake has dignity. A rat will do anything to survive! ..."
"... Remember the cynical adage about Democracy? Many of us rooted for, supported the campaign of, and voted for Obama. And what did we get? Obama and Erdogan and King Salman: and ongoing wars as far the eye can see. ..."
"... Bombing your own people wins elections. The Americans taught us this.. ..."
The Washington Post

Josh26

I share the frustration expressed by other posts with WAPO and other Western journalism on Turkey. Luckily for me, the strategy behind the AKP victory was explained to me several days priors to the election by a fellow with intimate knowledge of Turkey. Erdogan looked at the Nationalist MHP and Islamist SP and figured out that his only way for strengthen his support would be by moving as many of their voters to the AKP.

He figured that a rift with the Kurds will attract the nationalists and more Islamist positions will attract the latter. If you compare the results of the Nov 1 elections with the June 7 elections, you can see that it worked brilliantly.

Thus, Erdogan moved Turkey even further from the Western/democratic world in order to realize his unrelenting ambition for more and more power.
The US needs now to rely much more on the Kurds to defend US interests in the area, but it will be a real surprise if the current WH will do it.

Oscargo, 9:38 PM EST [Edited]

Turkey has chosen a religious Islamist state and an intolerant regime that jails reporters and journalists, even foreign, and does not accept dissent, over the pluralism, inclusiveness and freedom of speech of the European democracies.

Bye Bye EU!

Steve Willer

Who says corruption, murder, nullifying elections that don't come out your way, jailing the media etc doesn't pay? It did for Erdogan. Turkey should be removed from NATO as long as Erdogan is Sultan.

realityboy

The great experiment in "westernized" Islam is dead.

byetki

I would be only relieved if Turkish government would come up and speak all of those words you have mentioned. Iran did it. I have to respect that. They said what they stood for and that they do not like any others very clearly. This is at least honest and brave. If Turkey can pronounce its standing in between West and East, if you will, I will the most proud person even though I will be standing against here. Very well said.

ed_bx__

byetki - Exactly! At least a snake has dignity. A rat will do anything to survive!

MACLANE

Optimist on Democracy. Remember the cynical adage about Democracy? Many of us rooted for, supported the campaign of, and voted for Obama. And what did we get? Obama and Erdogan and King Salman: and ongoing wars as far the eye can see.

FalseProphet

So Turkey moves closer to being a autocratic theocracy. can't be good

ed_bx__, 4:14 PM EST

Bombing your own people wins elections. The Americans taught us this..

ed_bx__, 4:06 PM EST

It's not too late to get behind Al Assad. He is a more natural ally to the west than Erdogan.

[Oct 29, 2015] Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy (4-8)

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 4 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was. ..."
"... Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. ..."
"... he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. ..."
"... He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. ..."
"... The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically. ..."
"... the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society. ..."
"... I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. ..."
"... I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. ..."
"... It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow. ..."
"... Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane? ..."
"... The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. ..."
"... given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much. ..."
Oct 29, 2015 | naked capitalism
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part four of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and later Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated.

I wanted just to go through and I've taken notes from both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, of the characteristics of what you call inverted totalitarianism, which you use to describe the political system that we currently live under. You said it's only in part a state-centered phenomenon. What do you mean by that?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by that that one of the striking characteristics of our age is the extent to which so-called private institutions, like the media, for example, are able to work towards the same end of control, pacification, that the government is interested in, that the idea of genuine opposition is usually viewed as subversion, and so that criticism now is a category that we should really look at and examine, and to see whether it really amounts to anything more than a kind of mild rebuke at best, and at worst a way of sort of confirming the present system by showing its open-mindedness about self-criticism.

HEDGES: And you said that there's a kind of fusion now of–and you talk a lot about the internal dynamics of corporations themselves, the way they're completely hierarchical, even the extent to which people within corporate structures are made to identify with a corporation on a kind of personal level. Even–I mean, I speak as a former reporter for The New York Times–even we would get memos about the New York Times family, which is, of course, absurd. And you talk about how that value system or that structure of power, coupled with that type of propaganda, has just been transferred to the state, that the state now functions in exactly the same way, the same hierarchical way, that it uses the same forms of propaganda to get people at once to surrender their political rights and yet to identify themselves through nationalism, patriotism, and the lust for superpower itself, which we see now across the political landscape.

WOLIN: Yeah. No, I think that's a very strong element, in fact decisive element in our present situation. There's been a kind of conjuncture between the way that social and educational institutions have shaped a certain kind of mentality among students, among faculty, and so on, and the media itself, that are in lockstep with the requirements of the kind of political economic order that we have now, and that the basic question, I think, has been that we have seen the kind of absorption of politics and the political order into so many nonpolitical categories–of economics, sociology, even religion–that we sort of lost the whole, it seems to me, unique character of political institutions, which is that they're supposed to embody the kind of substantive hopes of ordinary people, in terms of the kind of present and future that they want. And that's what democracy is supposed to be about.

But instead we have it subordinated now to the so-called demands of economic growth, the so-called demands of a kind of economic class that's at home with the sort of scientific and technological advances that are being applied by industry, so that the kind of political element of the ruling groups now is being shaped and to a large extent, I think, incorporated into an ideology that is fundamentally unpolitical, or political in a sort of anti-political way. What I mean by that: it's a combination of forces that really wants to exploit the political without seeking to either strengthen it or reform it in a meaningful way or to rejuvenate it. It sees the political structure as opportunity. And the more porous it is, the better, because the dominant groups have such instrumentalities at their control now in order to do that exploitation–radio, television, newsprint, what have you–that it's the best possible world for them.

HEDGES: You actually cite Nietzsche, saying how prescient Nietzsche was. I think you may have said he was a better prophet than Marx, I think, if I remember correctly, in Politics and Vision, but how Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think that's–obviously, I think that's true of him, and I think it was very farseeing on his part. He, of course, was not a sympathizer with those development, but he wasn't an ordinary sympathizer, either, with the sort of historical elites, or even current elites, that were either capitalist or nationalistic, as in the case of Germany.

Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. And that, I think, was the failing of Nietzsche, because he saw so much in terms of tendencies in our society and culture that would ruin us to democracy and needed to be reformed, but reformed in a way that would promote democracy, but which Nietzsche would inevitably try to turn into vehicles for celebrating or encouraging elite formations. And he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. He just couldn't conceive it. He had the kind of 19th century sort of Hegelian notion that the masses were ignorant, they were intolerant, they were against progress, and all the rest of it. He simply, like so many very good writers in the 19th century, didn't know what to do with the, quote, people.

HEDGES: Including Marx.

WOLIN: No, no. They didn't. They tried to either neutralize them or tried to co-opt them, but they never really tried to understand them.

I think the best–the best political movement, I think, which did try to understand them in a significant way, strangely enough, was the American progressive movement, which was very much rooted in American history, in American institutions, but saw quite clearly the dangers that it was getting into and the need for really significant reform that required democratic means, not elitist means, for their solution, and above all required America to really think carefully about its role in international relations, because he saw that that was a trap and, as an aggressive, dominant role in economic relations, was a trap because of what it required, what it required of the population in terms of their outlook and education and culture, and what it required in the way of elites who could lead those kinds of formations. And I think for that reason he was literally a pessimist about what could happen and he had nowhere to go. He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. I think in the end he took a kind of view that what elites should do is to hunker down and preserve culture, preserve it in its various manifestations–literature, philosophy, poetry, so on.

HEDGES: But he certainly understood what happened when the state divorced itself from religious authority,–

WOLIN: Oh, yeah.

HEDGES: –that you would see the rise of fundamentalist religious movements in fierce opposition to the secular state, number one; and number two, you would see a frantic effort on the part of the state to sacralize itself.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, now, that's true. It did try to do that. It did that rather -- far less in the United States, but it certainly did it in Germany, and to some degree Italy, but not fully.

... ... ...

HEDGES: You said that in inverted totalitarianism, it is furthered by power holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. What I find interesting about that statement is you say even the power holders don't understand their actions.

WOLIN: Yeah, I don't think they do. I think that's most–I think that's apparent not only in so-called conservative political officeholders, but liberal ones as well. And I think the reason for it isn't far to see. The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically.

Now, I think the demands of the world are such now and so dangerous, with the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society.

HEDGES: We'd spoke earlier about how because corporate forces have essentially taken over not only systems of media but systems of education, they've effectively destroyed the capacity within these institutions for critical thinking. And what they've done is educate generation–now probably a couple of generations of systems managers, people whose expertise, technical expertise, revolves around keeping the system, as it's constructed, viable and afloat, so that when there's a–in 2008, the global financial crisis, they immediately loot the U.S. Treasury to infuse a staggering $17 trillion worth of money back into the system. And what are the consequences? We'd spoken earlier about how even the power holders themselves don't often understand where they're headed. What are the consequences of now lacking the ability to critique the system or even understand it? What are the consequences environmentally, economically, in terms of democracy itself, of feeding and sustaining that system of corporate capitalism or inverted totalitarianism?

WOLIN: Well, I think the only question would be what kind of time span you're talking about. I mean, I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. And of course the turnoff on the part of the voters is just one indication of it, but the level of public discourse is certainly another, so that I see it as a process which now is finding fewer and fewer dissident voices that have a genuine platform and mechanism for reaching people. I don't mean that there aren't people who disagree, but I'm talking about do they have ways of communicating, discussing what the disagreements are about and what can be said about the contemporary situation that needs to be addressed, so that the problem, I think, right now is the problem that the instruments of revitalization are just really in very bad disrepair. And I don't see any immediate prospect of it, because–.

HEDGES: You mean coming from within the system itself.

WOLIN: Coming from within. You know, years ago, say, in the 19th century, it was no ordinary occurrence that a new political party would be formed and that it would make maybe not a dominant effect, but it would certainly influence–as the Progressive Party did–influence affairs. That's no more possible now than the most outlandish scheme you can think of. Political parties are so expensive that I needn't detail the difficulties that would be faced by anyone who tried to organize one.

I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. To be sure, powerful economic interests have influenced political parties, especially the Republicans, but this kind of gross takeover, in which the party is put in the pocket of two individuals, is without precedent. And that means something serious. It means that, among other things, you no longer have a viable opposition party. And while however much many of us may disagree with the Republicans, there is still an important place for disagreement. And now it seems to me that's all gone. It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow.

HEDGES: Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane?

WOLIN: Yeah, it's true. Yeah, I mean, it's true that beginning with the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party has kind of lost its way too.

But I still–maybe it's a hope more than a fact, but I still have the hope that the Democratic Party is still sufficiently loose and sufficiently uncoordinated that it's possible for dissidents to get their voices heard.

Now, it may not last very long, because in order to compete with the Republicans, there will be every temptation for the Democrats to emulate them. And that means less internal democracy, more reliance on corporate funding.

HEDGES: Wouldn't it be fair to say that after the nomination of George McGovern, the Democratic Party created institutional mechanisms by which no popular candidate would ever be nominated again?

WOLIN: Oh, I think that's true. The McGovern thing was a nightmare to the party, to the party officials. And I'm sure they vowed that there would never be anything like it again possible. And, of course, there never has been. And it also means that you lost with that the one thing that McGovern had done, which was to revitalize popular interest in government. And so the Democrats not only killed McGovern; they killed what he stood for, which was more important.

HEDGES: And you saw an echo of that in 2000 when Ralph Nader ran and engendered the same kind of grassroots enthusiasm.

WOLIN: Yeah, he did. He did.

HEDGES: And just as it was the Democratic establishment that virtually, during the presidential campaign, the Connolly Democrats conspired with the Republican Party to destroy, in essence, their own candidate, you saw it was the Democratic Party that destroyed the viability of Nader.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. That's true. The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. But it seems to me that the conditions now in which political parties have to operate, conditions which involve large amounts of money, which involve huge stakes because of the character of the American economy now, which has to be very carefully dealt with, and very cautiously, and given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much.

Thank you very much. Stay tuned for part five coming up of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Hedges Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist (1-8)

Notable quotes:
"... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom. ..."
"... in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesnt rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but dont rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. ..."
"... I think Webers critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom / m re z/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And its that -- thats where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while its broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed its also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was. ..."
"... I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. ..."
"... the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by ruling groups , they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasnt just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country. ..."
"... in Politics and Vision , as in Democracy Inc. , you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process? ..."
"... I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, theres no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different. ..."
"... the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization. ..."
"... They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And thats why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people. ..."
"... the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government. ..."
"... that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism. ..."
"... the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybodys economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficultys been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled. ..."
therealnews.com

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Transcript

CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Hi. I'm Chris Hedges. And we are here in Salem, Oregon, interviewing Dr. Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and, later, Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Inc.. And we are going to be asking him today about the state of American democracy, political participation, and what he calls inverted totalitarianism.

So let's begin with this concept of inverted totalitarianism, which has antecedents. And in your great work Politics and Vision, you reach back all the way to the Greeks, up through the present age, to talk about the evolution of political philosophy. What do you mean by it?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. POLITICS EMERITUS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by it that in the inverted idea, it's the idea that democracy has been, in effect, turned upside down. It's supposed to be a government by the people and for the people and all the rest of the sort of rhetoric we're used to, but it's become now so patently an organized form of government dominated by groups which are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or even responsive to popular needs and popular demands. But at the same time, it retains a kind of pattern of democracy, because we still have elections, they're still relatively free in any conventional sense. We have a relatively free media. But what's missing from it is a kind of crucial continuous opposition which has a coherent position, and is not just saying, no, no, no but has got an alternative, and above all has got an ongoing critique of what's wrong and what needs to be remedied.

HEDGES: You juxtapose inverted totalitarianism to classical totalitarianism -- fascism, communism -- and you say that there are very kind of distinct differences between these two types of totalitarianism. What are those differences?

WOLIN: Well, certainly one is the -- in classic totalitarianism the fundamental principle is the leadership principle and the notion that the masses exist not as citizenry but as a means of support which can be rallied and mustered almost at will by the dominant powers. That's the classical one. And the contemporary one is one in which the rule by the people is enshrined as a sort of popular message about what we are, but which in fact is not really true to the facts of political life in this day and age.

HEDGES: Well, you talk about how in classical totalitarian regimes, politics trumps economics, but in inverted totalitarianism it's the reverse.

WOLIN: That's right. Yeah. In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have.

And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

HEDGES: In your book Politics and Vision, you quote figures like Max Weber who talk about capitalism as in fact being a destructive force to democracy.

WOLIN: Well, I think Weber's critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom /ˈmɔːreɪz/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that -- that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

HEDGES: You talk in the book about about how it was essentially the engine of the Cold War, juxtaposing a supposedly socialist Soviet Union, although like many writers, including Chomsky, I think you would argue that Leninism was not a socialist movement. Adam Ulam talks about it as a counterrevolution, Chomsky as a right-wing deviation. But nevertheless, that juxtaposition of the Cold War essentially freed corporate capitalism in the name of the struggle against communism to deform American democracy.

And also I just want to make it clear that you are very aware, especially in Politics and Vision, of the hesitancy on the part of our founding fathers to actually permit direct democracy. So we're not in this moment idealizing the system that was put in place. But maybe you could talk a little bit about that.

WOLIN: Well, I think that's true. I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. And that was rooted in historical realities. Many of the colonial governments had a very strong popular element that became increasingly prominent as the colonies moved towards rebellion. And rebellion meant not only resisting British rule, but also involved the growth of popular institutions and their hegemony in the colonies, as well as in the nation as a whole, so that the original impulses to the Constitution came in large measure from this democratizing movement. But the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by "ruling groups", they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasn't just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country.

And you must remember at this time that the people, so-called, were not well-educated and in many ways were feeling their way towards defining their own role in the political system. And above all, they were preoccupied, as people always have been, with making a living, with surviving. And those were difficult times, as most times are, so that politics for them could only be an occasional activity, and so that there would always be an uneasy relationship between a democracy that was often quiescent and a form of rule which was constantly trying to reduce, as far as possible, Democratic influence in order to permit those who were qualified to govern the country in the best interests of the country.

HEDGES: And, of course, when we talk about property, we must include slaveholders.

WOLIN: Indeed. Indeed. Although, of course, there was, in the beginning, a tension between the northern colonies and the southern colonies.

HEDGES: This fear of direct democracy is kind of epitomized by Thomas Paine, --

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah.

HEDGES: -- who was very useful in fomenting revolutionary consciousness, but essentially turned into a pariah once the Revolution was over and the native aristocracy sought to limit the power of participatory democracy.

WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true. I think it's too bad Paine didn't have at his disposal Lenin's phrase "permanent revolution", because I think that's what he felt, not in the sense of violence, violence, violence, but in the sense of a kind of conscious participatory element that was very strong, that would have to be continuous, and that it couldn't just be episodic, so that there was always a tension between what he thought to be democratic vitality and the sort of ordered, structured, election-related, term-related kind of political system that the framers had in mind.

HEDGES: So let's look at the Cold War, because in Politics and Vision, as in Democracy Inc., you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process?

WOLIN: Well, I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, there's no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different.

But in the Cold War, I think what was lost in the struggle was the ability to see that there was some kind of justification and historical reality for the appearance of communism, that it wasn't just a freak and it wasn't just a kind of mindless dictatorship, but that the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization.

HEDGES: So it's just like today.

WOLIN: Yeah. They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And that's why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people.

HEDGES: And the Cold War. So the Cold War arises. And this becomes the kind of moment by which capital, and especially corporate capital, can dismantle the New Deal and free itself from any kind of regulation and constraint to deform and destroy American democracy. Can you talk about that process, what happened during that period?

WOLIN: Well, I think the first thing to be said about it is the success with which the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government.

HEDGES: And in Politics and Vision, you talk about because of that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism.

WOLIN: Oh, I think there's no question about that, the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybody's economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficulty's been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled.

HEDGES: Thank you. Please join us for part two later on with our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Hedges and Wolin (3-8) Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 2 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... n all totalitarian societies theres a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism. ..."
"... I think Id probably qualify that, because Id qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isnt true of our contemporary situation. ..."
"... And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- youre right, in that the notion of superpower is that its global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically. ..."
"... I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where its lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do. ..."
"... And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think its in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I dont know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested. ..."
"... The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that its very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and its accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesnt want to claim in the end that hes really on your side. ..."
"... when a underdeveloped part of the world, as theyre called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, its a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because its so omnipresent, its so much a part of what were used to, that we cant recognize what were used to as a threat. And thats part of the paradox. ..."
"... I think theyre conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think theyre always willing to radically change, lets say, social legislation thats in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think theyre very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate. ..."
"... Thats, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism thats going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements. ..."
"... Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again youre back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldnt possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way. ..."
therealnews.com
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part three of our discussion with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

You talk in both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, about superpower, which you call the true face of inverted totalitarianism. What is superpower? How do you describe it?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I think it's important to grasp that superpower includes as one of its two main elements the modern economy. And the modern economy, with its foundations in not only economic activity but scientific research, is always a dynamic economy and always constantly seeking to expand, to get new markets, to be able to produce new goods, and so on. So the superpower's dynamism becomes a kind of counterpart to the character of the modern economy, which has become so dominant that it defines the political forms.

I mean, the first person to really recognize this -- which we always are embarrassed to say -- was Karl Marx, who did understand that economic forms shape political forms, that economic forms are the way people make a living, they're the way goods and services are produced, and they determine the nature of society, so that any kind of government which is responsive to society is going to reflect that kind of structure and in itself be undemocratic, be elitist in a fundamental sense, and have consumers as citizens.

HEDGES: And Marx would also argue that it also defines ideology.

WOLIN: It does. It does define ideology. Marx was really the first to see that ideology had become a kind of -- although there are antecedents, had become a kind of preconceived package of ideas and centered around the notion of control, that it represented something new in the world because you now had the resources to disseminate it, to impose it, and to generally make certain that a society became, so to speak, educated in precisely the kind of ideas you wanted them to be educated in. And that became all the more important when societies entered the stage of relatively advanced capitalism, where the emphasis was upon work, getting a job, keeping your job, holding it in insecure times. And when you've got that kind of situation, everybody wants to put their political beliefs on hold. They don't want to have to agonize over them while they're agonizing over the search for work or worrying about the insecurity of their position. They're understandably preoccupied with survival. And at that point, democracy becomes at best a luxury and at worst simply an afterthought, so that its future becomes very seriously compromised, I think.

HEDGES: And when the ruling ideology is determined by capitalism -- corporate capitalism; you're right -- we have an upending of traditional democratic values, because capitalist values are about expansion, exploitation, profit, the cult of the self, and you stop even asking questions that can bring you into democratic or participatory democracy.

WOLIN: I think that's true to an extent. But I would amend that to say that once the kind of supremacy of the capitalist regime becomes assured, and where it's evident to everyone that it's not got a real alternative in confronting it, that I think its genius is it sees that a certain relaxation is not only possible, but even desirable, because it gives the impression that the regime is being supported by public debate and supported by people who were arguing with other people, who were allowed to speak their minds, and so on. And I think it's when you reach that stage -- as I think we have -- that the problematic relationship between capitalism and democracy become more and more acute.

HEDGES: And yet we don't have anyone within the mainstream who questions either superpower or capitalism.

WOLIN: No, they don't. And I don't think it's -- it may be a question of weakness, but I think -- the problem is really, I think, more sort of quixotic. That is, capitalism -- unlike earlier forms of economic organization, capitalism thrives on change. It presents itself as the dynamic form of society, with new inventions, new discoveries, new forms of wealth, so that it doesn't appear like the old regime -- as sort of an encrusted old fogey type of society. And I think that makes a great deal of difference, because in a certain sense you almost get roles reversed. That is, in the old regime, the dominant powers, aristocracy and so on, want to keep the lid on, and the insurgent democracy, the liberalizing powers, wanted to take the lid off.

But now I think you get it -- as I say, I think you get it kind of reversed, that democracy, it now wants -- in its form of being sort of the public philosophy, now wants to keep the lid on and becomes, I think, increasingly less -- more adverse to examining in a -- through self-examination, and becomes increasingly, I would say, even intolerant of views which question its own assumptions, and above all question its consequences, because I think that's where the real issues lie is not so much with the assumptions of democracy but with the consequences and trying to figure out how we've managed to get a political system that preaches equality and an economic system which thrives on inequality and produces inequality as a matter of course.

HEDGES: Well, in all totalitarian societies there's a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism.

WOLIN: Well, I guess that's true. I think I'd probably qualify that, because I'd qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isn't true of our contemporary situation.

HEDGES: And yet in the same time, in those regimes, I mean, you look at Stalin's constitution as a document, it was very liberal, --

WOLIN: Sure.

HEDGES: -- it protected human rights and free speech. And so on the one hand -- at least in terms of civil liberties. And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- you're right, in that the notion of superpower is that it's global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically.

WOLIN: Well, I think it does. I think one has to treat the matter carefully, because a lot of the vestiges of the nation-states still are, obviously, in existence. But I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where it's lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do.

HEDGES: And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think it's in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I don't know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think you're right about that. The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that it's very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and it's accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesn't want to claim in the end that he's really on your side.

Yeah, it's a very paradoxical situation. And I don't know. I mean, I think we all have to take a deep breath and try to start from scratch again in thinking about where we are, how we get there, and what kind of immediate steps we might take in order to alter the course that I think we're on, which really creates societies which, when you spell out what's happening, nobody really wants, or at least not ordinary people want. It's a very strange situation where -- and I think, you know, not least among them is, I think, the factor that you suggested, which is the kind of evaporation of leisure time and the opportunities to use that for political education, as well as kind of moral refreshment. But, yeah, it's a really totally unprecedented situation where you've got affluence, opportunity, and so on, and you have these kinds of frustrations, injustices, and really very diminished life prospects.

HEDGES: You agree, I think, with Karl Marx that unfettered, unregulated corporate capitalism is a revolutionary force.

WOLIN: Oh, indeed. I think it's been demonstrated even beyond his wildest dreams that it -- yeah, you're just -- you just have to see what happens when a underdeveloped part of the world, as they're called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, it's a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because it's so omnipresent, it's so much a part of what we're used to, that we can't recognize what we're used to as a threat. And that's part of the paradox.

HEDGES: You take issue with this or, you know, point out that in fact it is a revolutionary force. And yet it is somehow, as a political and economic position, the domain of people as self-identified conservatives.

WOLIN: Yeah, it is. I think they're conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think they're always willing to radically change, let's say, social legislation that's in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think they're very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate.

That's, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism that's going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements.

HEDGES: Of both corporate capitalism and superpower.

WOLIN: Absolutely.

HEDGES: And yet you say that at this point, political debate has really devolved into what you call nonsubstantial issues, issues that don't really mean anything if we talk about politics as centered around the common good.

WOLIN: Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again you're back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldn't possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way.

You know, politics has become such an expensive thing that I think really the only way to describe it realistically is to talk about it as a political economy or an economic kind of political economy. It's got those -- those two are inextricable elements now in the business of the national or state governments, too.

HEDGES: And yet I think you could argue that even the Democratic Party under Clinton and under Obama, while it continues to use the rhetoric of that kind of feel-your-pain language, which has been part of the Democratic establishment, has only furthered the agenda of superpower, of corporate capitalism, and, of course, the rise of the security and surveillance state by which all of us are kept in check.

WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true, because the reformers have simply hesitated -- really, really hesitated -- to undertake any kind of a focus upon political reform.

HEDGES: Haven't the reformers been bought off, in essence?

WOLIN: I think it's the no-no subject. I don't think it even has to be bought off anymore. I think that it is such a kind of third rail that nobody wants to touch it, because I think there is a real in-built fear that if you mess with those kind of so-called fundamental structures, you're going to bring down the house. And that includes messing with them even by constitutional, legal means, that it's so fragile, so delicate, so this that and the other thing that inhibit all kinds of efforts at reforming it. As the phrase used to go, it's a machine that goes of itself -- so they think.

HEDGES: Thank you.

Stay tuned for part four, coming up, of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee

Sheldon Wolin RIP -- Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory
Notable quotes:
"... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. ..."
"... Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. ..."
"... democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for. ..."
"... Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. ..."
Oct 28, 2015 | coreyrobin.com

Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee.

I was a freshman at Princeton. It was the fall of 1985. I signed up to take a course called "Modern Political Theory." It was scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 am. I had no idea what I was doing. I stumbled into class, and there was a man with white hair and a trim white beard, lecturing on Machiavelli. I was transfixed.

There was just one problem: I was-still am-most definitely not a morning person. Even though the lectures were riveting, I had to fight my tendency to fall asleep. Even worse, I had to fight my tendency to sleep in.

So I started-- drinking coffee. I'd show up for class fully caffeinated. And proceeded to work my way through the canon-Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, along with some texts you don't often get in intro theory courses (the Putney Debates, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, and for a last hurrah: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations)-under the guidance of one of the great readers of the twentieth century.

More than anything else, that's what Sheldon Wolin was: a reader of texts. He approached The Prince as if it were a novel, identifying its narrative voice, analyzing the literary construction of the characters who populated the text (new prince, customary prince, centaur, the people), examining the structural tensions in the narrative (How does a Machiavellian adviser advise a non-Machiavellian prince?), and so on. It was exhilarating.

And then after class I'd head straight for Firestone Library; read whatever we were reading that week in class; follow along, chapter by chapter, with Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory that I know of (even though lots of the texts we were talking about in class don't appear there, or appear there with very different interpretations from the ones Wolin was offering in class: the man never stood still, intellectually); and get my second cup of coffee.

This is all a long wind-up to the fact that this morning, my friend Antonio Vazquez-Arroyo, sent me a two-part interview that Chris Hedges conducted with Wolin, who's living out in Salem, Oregon now. From his Wikipedia page, I gather that Wolin's 92. He looks exactly the same as he did in 1985. And sounds the same. Though it seems from the video as if he may now be losing his sight. Which is devastating when I think about the opening passages of Politics and Vision, about how vision is so critical to the political theorist and the practice of theoria.

Anyway, here he is, talking to Hedges about his thesis of "inverted totalitarianism":

In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

… ... ...

Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

Have a listen and a watch. Part 1 and then Part 2.

Pt 1-8 Hedges & Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

Pt 2:

see also

[Oct 22, 2015] Why the U.S. Is Selling Saudi Arabia $13 Billion Worth of New Weapons

finance.yahoo.com

Seeking to bolster its Persian Gulf allies in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration this week notified Congress that it plans to sell up to $11.25 billion in warships and related equipment to Saudi Arabia.

[Oct 22, 2015] Energy Crash - 97% of Fracking Now Operating at a Loss at Current Oil Prices

This is an old article (from Jan 2015), but most observations look quite current...
Notable quotes:
"... Some will point out correctly that oil sales from production is sold months or years ahead of time, so a temporary drop, no matter how steep, doesnt have an immediate effect. That statement is true, but it comes with two big caveats. First of all, there is no way of knowing when those oil futures were agreed to. They could expire tomorrow, or three years from now. The other caveat is specific to the geology of fracking. Unlike traditional oil drilling, shale oil taps out very quickly . That is simple geology. ..."
"... the average decline of the worlds conventional oil fields is about 5 percent per year. By comparison, the average decline of oil wells in North Dakotas booming Bakken shale oil field is 44 percent per year. Individual wells can see production declines of 70 percent or more in the first year. ..."
"... The IEA states that the shale oil business needs to bring 2,500 new wells into production every year just to sustain production, and these shale fields will increasingly become more expensive to drill , a rising percentage of supplies…require a higher breakeven price. ..."
"... With the current price of oil, almost none of the frackers will be sinking new wells. So if oil prices stay down, most of the frackers will simply be out of business in a year because they will have stopped producing enough oil for their business model. This is a big reason why the Saudis, with their conventional oil production can wait out the frackers. ..."
"... Of course, there is another factor that needs to be considered when it comes to the fracking industry, and that is high-yield debt . ..."
January 6, 2015 | Alternet
The majority of Texas energy production is still by conventional means. North Dakota, on the other hand, relies heavily on fracking, so they are looking at hard times. Already oil rigs are being shut down at the fastest pace in six years.
"At $50 oil, half the U.S. rig count is at risk," R.T. Dukes, an upstream analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said by telephone from Houston. "What happened in the last quarter foreshadows what's going to be a tough year for operators. It's looking worse and worse by the day."
Employment in the support services for oil and gas operations has risen 70% since mid-2009. Employment in oil and gas extraction has risen 34% over the same time period. The thing to remember is that most job creation in the fracking industry comes up-front, so job losses will hit long before production falls.
The most labor-intensive aspect of the oil-field industry is the construction and completion process for new wells, which requires the bulk of investment and provides the most income to the local economy.
He predicts ramifications of the oil slide to show up in three to six months, because companies will complete works in progress according to contract.
The price began crashing a couple months ago so the layoffs notices will really pick up on the oil patches any day. The Dallas Federal Reserve projects Texas will lose 125,000 jobs by the middle of this year. This slowdown is already projected to effect the state budgets of Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alaska.

Some will point out correctly that oil sales from production is sold months or years ahead of time, so a temporary drop, no matter how steep, doesn't have an immediate effect. That statement is true, but it comes with two big caveats. First of all, there is no way of knowing when those oil futures were agreed to. They could expire tomorrow, or three years from now. The other caveat is specific to the geology of fracking. Unlike traditional oil drilling, shale oil taps out very quickly. That is simple geology.

the average decline of the world's conventional oil fields is about 5 percent per year. By comparison, the average decline of oil wells in North Dakota's booming Bakken shale oil field is 44 percent per year. Individual wells can see production declines of 70 percent or more in the first year.

Shale gas wells face similarly swift depletion rates, so drillers need to keep plumbing new wells to make up for the shortfall at those that have gone anemic.

The IEA states that the shale oil business needs to bring 2,500 new wells into production every year just to sustain production, and these shale fields will increasingly become more expensive to drill, "a rising percentage of supplies…require a higher breakeven price."

With the current price of oil, almost none of the frackers will be sinking new wells. So if oil prices stay down, most of the frackers will simply be out of business in a year because they will have stopped producing enough oil for their business model. This is a big reason why the Saudis, with their conventional oil production can wait out the frackers.

Of course, there is another factor that needs to be considered when it comes to the fracking industry, and that is high-yield debt.

[Oct 14, 2015] Security farce at Datto Inc that held Hillary Clintons emails revealed by Louise Boyle & Daniel Bates

Notable quotes:
"... But its building in Bern Township, Pennsylvania, doesn't have a perimeter fence or security checkpoints and has two reception areas ..."
"... Dumpsters at the site were left open and unguarded, and loading bays have no security presence ..."
"... It has also been reported that hackers tried to gain access to her personal email address by sending her emails disguised parking violations which were designed to gain access to her computer. ..."
"... a former senior executive at Datto was allegedly able to steal sensitive information from the company's systems after she was fired. ..."
Oct 13, 2015 | Daily Mail Online

Datto Inc has been revealed to have stored Hillary Clinton's emails - which contained national secrets - when it backed up her private server

The congressional committee is focusing on what happened to the server after she left office in a controversy that is dogging her presidential run and harming her trust with voters.

In the latest developments it emerged that hackers in China, South Korea and Germany tried to gain access to the server after she left office. It has also been reported that hackers tried to gain access to her personal email address by sending her emails disguised parking violations which were designed to gain access to her computer.

Daily Mail Online has previously revealed how a former senior executive at Datto was allegedly able to steal sensitive information from the company's systems after she was fired.

Hackers also managed to completely take over a Datto storage device, allowing them to steal whatever data they wanted.

Employees at the company, which is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, have a maverick attitude and see themselves as 'disrupters' of a staid industry.

On their Facebook page they have posed for pictures wearing ugly sweaters and in fancy dress including stereotypes of Mexicans.

Its founder, Austin McChord, has been called the 'Steve Jobs' of data storage and who likes to play in his offices with Nerf guns and crazy costumes.

Nobody from Datto was available for comment.

[Oct 13, 2015] Hillary Clintons private server was open to low-skilled-hackers

Notable quotes:
"... " That's total amateur hour. Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this" -- ..."
"... The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton's server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks. ..."
"... Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas. ..."
"... The findings suggest Clinton's server 'violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don't expose insecure services to the Internet,' said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity. ..."
"... The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government's guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks. It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections. ..."
Daily Mail Online

Investigation by the Associated Press reveals that the clintonemail.com server lacked basic protections

... ... ...

Clinton's server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012.

Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn't intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.

.... ... ...

Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet.

" That's total amateur hour. Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this" -- Marc Maiffret, cyber security expert

'That's total amateur hour,' said Marc Maiffret, who has founded two cyber security companies. He said permitting remote-access connections directly over the Internet would be the result of someone choosing convenience over security or failing to understand the risks. 'Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this,' he said.

The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton's server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks.

'An attacker with a low skill level would be able to exploit this vulnerability,' said the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team in 2012, the same year Clinton's server was scanned.

Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas.

The findings suggest Clinton's server 'violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don't expose insecure services to the Internet,' said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Clinton's email server at one point also was operating software necessary to publish websites, although it was not believed to have been used for this purpose.

Traditional security practices dictate shutting off all a server's unnecessary functions to prevent hackers from exploiting design flaws in them.

In Clinton's case, Internet addresses the AP traced to her home in Chappaqua revealed open ports on three devices, including her email system.

Each numbered port is commonly, but not always uniquely, associated with specific features or functions. The AP in March was first to discover Clinton's use of a private email server and trace it to her home.

Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a top global computer security firm, said it was unclear how Clinton's server was configured, but an out-of-the-box installation of remote desktop would have been vulnerable.

Those risks - such as giving hackers a chance to run malicious software on her machine - were 'clearly serious' and could have allowed snoops to deploy so-called 'back doors.'

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government's guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks.

It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.

[Sep 27, 2015] Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russian Foreign Ministry, grades Nuland's paper

September 16, 2015 | Fort Russ/Komsomolskaya Pravda

It is impossible to deal with cockroaches in one room while at the same time laying out little plates of bread crumbs on the other side of the wall.

Translated from Russian by Tom Winter

Translator's note: this press account is based on a post on Maria Zakharova's facebook page, and I have changed this account slightly in alignment with Zakharova's original text. It was not clear in KP what was Zakharova and what was KP. I think it is in this translation...

Head of the Information Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote a "critical review" on the "Yalta speech" of the assistant US Secretary of State.

In Kiev, there was a conference "Yalta European Strategy". Already amazing. Yalta is in the Russian Crimea, and the "Yalta" conference was held in the Ukrainian capital. Well and good -- you couldn't miss that one!. But at this Yalta conference came the assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Yes, the same one that passed out the cookies. But now, considered a shadow ruler of Ukraine, she points out to the Kiev authorities what to do. This time, Nuland said in a public speech:

- There should be no tolerance for those oligarchs who do not pay taxes. There must be zero tolerance for bribery and corruption, to those who would use violence for political ends.

And these words of the grande dame of the State Department could not be overlooked. Just think, Americans don't like it when their loans to Ukraine get stolen. And anti-oligarchic Maidan brought the very oligarchs to power, and corruption in the country has become even greater. Some of us have grown weary of this talk. But, let Nuland drone on ...

But then Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Maria Zakharova replied. So much so that not a stone was left on stone in the American's "Yalta speech":

"All this a little bit, just a little, looks like a lecture to the fox about how bad it is to steal chickens, but actually it surprised in other ways. As soon as Russian authorities began exposing the tax evasion, bribery, or corruption of the oligarchs, Victoria Nuland's office hastened to call zero tolerance "political repression" - Zakharova wrote on her facebook page.

It would be great to see the Department of State "show that same zero tolerance and inquire a bit about how the initial capital of the Russian (and Ukrainian would not hurt) oligarchs got started, those oligarchs who have been accused of corruption at home, but who, once in London, feel protected by the authorities, enjoying all the benefits of membership in the Club of Victims of Political Persecution" - continued Zakharova.

"It is impossible to deal with cockroaches in one room while at the same time laying out little plates of bread crumbs on the other side of the wall. Giving the green light to the dirty money from Russia and the former Soviet Union, the Western world is only boosting the zeal with which the domestic thieves shove their loot in foreign bins."

"Though perhaps," wonders the Foreign Minstiry spokesman "this is the actual purpose of the imaginary zero tolerance?"

"Why do people on Interpol's lists, by the decision of the Russian courts, prove their financial immorality, as they thrive in the Western capitals, and no alarm bells go off in the State Department?"

It turns out to be an interesting story: Taking fetid streams of notes, the West has just one requirement at the border crossing. Scream "victim of the regime." That's it! and you're in spades!

This calls to mind the old Soviet bribery password translated into modern American:

- In Soviet times, it was common phrase, revealing corrupt intent to proceed with plans insidious in varying degrees: "I'm from Ivan Ivanovich." Today the corresponding "Open Sesame" that opens the doors "in Europe and the best houses in Philadelphia," is the phrase "I'm running away from Vladimir".

Victoria, if you're going to start cleaning out the cockroaches, stop feeding them on your side.

[Sep 26, 2015] Wild card Trevor Noah ready to revamp the Daily Show with an outsider twist

Sep 26, 2015 | www.theguardian.com

Speaking at a press breakfast to launch the new Daily Show, which starts on Monday 28 September, the South African comedian said he would use his position as an outsider in the US to look at some of the more bizarre elements of the country's political system without preconceptions.

... ... ...

Jon Stewart's final year in charge at the Daily Show saw the programme win three Emmys for outstanding variety talk series, outstanding writing for a variety series and outstanding directing for a variety series.

[Sep 21, 2015] Is Everything Carly Fiorina Says a Lie, Including "And" and "The"?

"... Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don't gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.) ..."
"... The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders "successful," people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don't perfectly coincide. ..."
"... At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. ..."
September 21, 2015 | The naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Let me provide the spoiler at once: Not entirely.

Much of what Fiorina says is vacuous, and (as with all the Republican candidates) there is the occasional gem amidst the muck. But wowsers! Fiorina's relationship to the truth is, at the very best, non-custodial. To come to this conclusion, I read Fiorina's answers to questions in the recent Republican debate (transcript here). I apologize for not color-coding the text, but the length is so extreme, and in any case I want to focus not on rhetoric, but just the facts. So, I'm going to skip the answers I regard as vacuous, and focus only on the answers that contain outright falsehoods, which I will helpfully underline, and the rare cases of genuine insight.

This is a campaign of firsts: The first socialist Presidential candidate, the first woman Presidential candidate, the first billionaire[1] candidate, and, with Fiorina, the first corporate executive Presidential candidate. And each of these candidates has a different source for their personal authority or ethos: Sanders with genuine, long-held and consistent policy views, Clinton with smarts and [1] process expertise, Trump as the wealthy mass media personality, and now Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don't gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.)

In the Financial Times ("Leadership BS") Dan Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, comments on Fiorina as an executive:

[E]ven "people who have presided over catastrophes" suffer no negative consequences. On the contrary. Ms Fiorina, "who by any objective measure was a horrible CEO, is running for president on her business record. I love it! . . . You can't make this stuff up - it's too good!"

Yes, we laugh that we may not weep; I've often felt that way, even this early in the 2016 campaign. In CNN, Pfeffer ("Leadership 101") comments on Fiorina's toxicity:

Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do:

Number one, tell your story. If you won't, no one else will. By telling your story repeatedly [like Clinton and Trump, but not Sanders], you can construct your own narrative. …

Second, Fiorina [like Trump] has and is building a brand - a public presence. Recognizable brands have real economic value. … Running for president, even if unsuccessful, transforms people into public figures often widely sought on the speaking circuit, so in many ways, they win even if they lose.

Third, don't worry about being liked - Fiorina doesn't. … In that choice, Fiorina is following the wisdom of Machiavelli, who noted that while it was wonderful to be feared and loved, if you had to choose one, being feared was safer than being loved [like Trump and Clinton, but not Sanders. "Nobody hates Bernie," as one insider commented."]

The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders "successful," people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don't perfectly coincide. [Oddly, since Trump is a brand, his corporate and personal interests do coincide. And since the Clinton Foundation is a money-laundering influence-peddling operation, its interests and Clinton's coincide as well. Sanders has no business interests.]

At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. As someone quite senior in H-P's strategy group told me, disagreeing with Fiorina in a meeting was a reasonably sure path out the door. By not brooking dissent, Fiorina ensured that few opponents would be around to challenge her power. But disagreement often surfaces different perspectives that result in better decisions. The famous business leader Alfred P. Sloan noted that if everyone was in agreement, the discussion should be postponed until people could ascertain the weaknesses in the proposed choice.

Fiorina has a pragmatic view of what it takes to be successful. And that's one reason she should not be underestimated, regardless of the opinions about her career at H-P.[3]

The fourth point is especially toxic, and may show up - despite the current adulation - further along on the campaign trail. If Fiorina insists on surrounding herself with sycophants, and on making all the strategic decisions herself, will her Presidential campaign turn into the trainwreck (see under "demon sheep") her Senate race did?[4]

To the transcript!

* * *

FIORINA: Good evening. My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop.

Anybody listening to this might conclude that Fiorina rose from working class roots - especially with the borrowed cachet of a truck driving man for a husband - to CEO, and at H-P. Her actual biography paints a different picture. Here's her background and career path, from WikiPedia:

Fiorina's father was a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He would later become dean of Duke University School of Law, Deputy Attorney General, and judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her mother was an abstract painter. [S]he was raised Episcopalian.

Oh. An Episcopalian secretary.

During her summers, she worked as a secretary for Kelly Services.[27] She attended the UCLA School of Law in 1976 but dropped out[28] after one semester and worked as a receptionist for six months at a real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, moving up to a broker position before leaving for Bologna, Italy, where she taught English.

So, speaking of bologna…

Fiorina received a Master of Business Administration in marketing from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980. She obtained a Master of Science in management at the MIT Sloan School of Management under the Sloan Fellows program in 1989.[30]

So that's when Fiorina's rise began; with degrees in marketing and management. Fiorina's one of those MBAs you get called into a windowless conference room to hear how you're going to lose your job because bullet points. That's what she was trained to do, and that's what she does.

***

FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn't talk to him at all. We've talked way too much to him.

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I'd probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. …

Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven't.

On the Sixth Fleet and imperial strategy generally, Ezra Klein comments:

The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it's hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin - after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over. Her proposal for more military exercises in the Baltics seemed odd in light of the fact that President Obama is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics. And the US already has around 40,000 troops stationed in Germany, so it's hard to say what good "a few thousand" more would do.

And pushing on a missile defense system in Poland is a very long-term solution to a very current problem. In total, Fiorina's laundry list of proposals sure sounded like a plan, but on inspection, it's hard to see why any of them would convince Putin to change course.

... ... ...

[Sep 13, 2015] Putin attacks U.S. electoral college system 'There is no democracy there'

The Washington Post

ravensfan20008

I can't believe I'm saying this...but Putin is right. You want to talk about a system that should cease to exist, it's this one.

And before you point to the Constitution and say "not gonna happen," there are plans out there that would render it a moot point, like states pledging to award electors to whoever wins the popular vote nationwide. And they'd easily pass constitutional muster.

jaysonrex1

Actually, Putin is right. After all these years, it is high the time a constitutional amendment changes this system for the straight voting method used in the entire world by democracies and even by dictatorships.

And while we are at it, maybe it is also high the time U.S. abandons the imperial system (it inherited from Britain - a country that already abandoned it many years ago) and finally adopts the metric system thus joining the civilized world - so to say.

And while we are at it, U.S. should get rid of the Senate. It serves no useful purpose apart from representing a unacceptable drain of public funds.

And while we are at it, .....

mvymvy

A constitutional amendment could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

Instead, by state laws, without changing anything in the Constitution, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes-that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

NationalPopularVote

Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

[Sep 10, 2015] Hillary Clinton admits private email server was a mistake

Notable quotes:
"... The woman is a hawk and a warmonger. In a sane world she would be ineligible on her voting record and likely foreign policy, not down to some technicality about her email address. ..."
"... The fact that she posted almost identical language on Facebook as she used in the Muir interview certainly suggests that the "apology" was carefully written and likely tested in focus groups. ..."
"... Read the dreadful facts (warning: lolcatz spoiler): http://www.bubblews.com/posts/hillary-email-the-horrid-facts ..."
"... An FBI investigation whilst running to be your party's presidential nominee, let alone running for president in the real thing next year, is never a good look. ..."
"... Agreed. I don't much care about this "classified or not" kerfuffle. I am much more concerned about the Nixonian scrubbing of the email server, when Clinton KNEW her work emails were subpoenaed by the House Benghazi committee. That says GUILTY in no uncertain terms. And I don't think we're ever going to receive an "apology" for those deletions. ..."
"... More than a mistake I'm afraid. At best it is a career ending error of judgment. At worst a deliberate and cynical attempt to maintain personal control of data so none of it could come back to damage her presidential campaign. Anyway, she should be finished. ..."
"... Her "We came, we saw, ..." laughter is inappropriate, especially in light of the turmoil resulting from a power vacuum which we are still witnessing today. But I don't know the context of why everyone in the room is in such a jovial mood. ..."
"... She has no ability, but for deception, no intelligence, unless someone "advises" her beforehand, but she DOES have much experience at deception, and commitment only to herself. Certainly not presidential material. She should just drop and let Bernie take the lead. Of course, her dear friend Wasserman-Shultz, would not allow that to happen. ..."
"... It becomes a matter of criminal conspiracy because Clinton did not just use a private email address. This was a conspiracy to avoid monitored email and a matter of legal public record, arranged as a conspiracy between Clinton's desire to maintain secret communications hidden from the rest of government and the person who did the work of setting up the server with knowledge of how it would be used and the network administrators who allowed it to exist in what should have been a secured network location, knowing how it would be used. So not the childish lie of "I did it but I didn't mean to", but the reality of a conspired plan to thwart record keeping, discussed and implemented with purposeful intent and with no question that it was to hide intended criminal activity. ..."
"... Obviously her "apology" was dragged out of her and is completely insincere. This is the track record of H Clinton - arrogant; power hungry; untrustworthy; unscrupulous; unprincipled; 100% insincere; can't we do any better than this? ..."
"... HRC is aiding her own demonization and I honestly think she's going to lose to whomever/whatever clown emerges from the Right Wing. ..."
"... It's not about leaving an opening for her adversaries, it's is about destroying the public record of the Secretary of State. In the US, government communications belongs to the government and to the people. ..."
"... Sanders is the better person but he will never get nominated. So it's either Hillary or some GOP nutbag. Easy vote. Not optimal, but still an easy choice. ..."
"... the private server was not an error --it was a coup of genius-- since it allowed "the candidate" to hand over only the harmless emails after erasing(?) the damning ones (e.g., those with the quid-pro-quo negotiation of UKR-neonazi donations to the clinton foundation before the 2014 UKR coup d'etat). ..."
"... Hillary has learnt a lot from the old Bill. Denial first step: Bill, I did not have sexual relation with that woman. And I need to go back to work for the American people. ..."
"... Admission second step: Bill admitted in taped grand jury testimony on August 17, 1998, that he had had an "improper physical relationship" with Lewinsky. ..."
"... Clinton consistently acts with arrogant denial when confronted with wrong-doing, and throughout her career there have been repeated situations, each marked by the same denial, arrogance. ..."
"... She believes she'll be anointed and begrudgingly goes on the stump, showing no joy in meeting regular folks and getting huffy when reporters dare ask her questions. ..."
"... The US hasn't been a democracy since day 1. Never meant to be. It was/is a carpetbagger's club. The only thing that's changed is the voters are dumber and the pizazz is crappier (to match the candidates). Why is this even discussed? ..."
"... Then again we are talking about an oligarch aiming to retake the presidential office for her wing of the national aristocracy. What else would one expect. ..."
"... I read where Carl Rove deleted 13,000 emails during the bush horror years. It pisses me off that she apologized for this non-issue because of political pressure. I'm voting for Bernie. ..."
"... Mrs. Clinton has the most unappetizing combination of qualities to be met in many days' march: she is a tyrant and a bully when she can dare to be, and an ingratiating populist when that will serve. She will sometimes appear in the guise of a 'strong woman' and sometimes in the softer garb of a winsome and vulnerable female. She is entirely un-self-critical and quite devoid of reflective capacity, and has never found that any of her numerous misfortunes or embarrassments are her own fault, because the fault invariably lies with others. And, speaking of where things lie, she can in a close contest keep up with her husband for mendacity. Like him, she is not just a liar but a lie; a phony construct of shreds and patches and hysterical, self-pitying, demagogic improvisations." (p. 123) ..."
"... Snowden on Clinton: If an ordinary worker at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency were sending details about the security of embassies, meetings with private government officials, foreign government officials and the statements were made over unclassified email systems, they would not only lose their jobs and lose their clearance, they would very likely face prosecution for it. (condensed quotation) ..."
Sep 08, 2015 | The Guardian

MasalBugduv -> MasalBugduv 9 Sep 2015 09:18

Killary? Ha ha. Well she is a bit of a warmonger, isn't she?

dawkinsbulldog 9 Sep 2015 08:50

The woman is a hawk and a warmonger. In a sane world she would be ineligible on her voting record and likely foreign policy, not down to some technicality about her email address.

It's like rejecting Pinochet as Chilean president because he once farted in mixed company.

TamLin -> Oldiebutgoodie 9 Sep 2015 07:43

Great post! For those who don't have time to watch the entire Jim & Hillary interview, the real fun begins just after the 24 minute mark, when Jim says of Iran, "...or they will be taken out", and Hillary responds by into an orgasm of laughter.

NottaBot steveji 9 Sep 2015 07:23

The fact that she posted almost identical language on Facebook as she used in the Muir interview certainly suggests that the "apology" was carefully written and likely tested in focus groups.

ProgRock 9 Sep 2015 07:22

Read the dreadful facts (warning: lolcatz spoiler): http://www.bubblews.com/posts/hillary-email-the-horrid-facts

callaspodeaspode 9 Sep 2015 07:16

An FBI investigation whilst running to be your party's presidential nominee, let alone running for president in the real thing next year, is never a good look.

Added to this is that if anything is calculated to motivate the movement conservative base to its highest ever turnout, it's Hillary Rodham Clinton running for president.

I'm mildly (only mildly) surprised there aren't more senior Democrats out there who can see what a liability she is.

Although I'll say this, if Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, the Republican candidate is going to end up with double the money from billionaires and corporate lobbyists, the cash normally being shared between the two candidates from the Republicrat Party.

Mind you, that will just prove Senator Sanders' point.

NottaBot -> ninjamia 9 Sep 2015 07:09

Agreed. I don't much care about this "classified or not" kerfuffle. I am much more concerned about the Nixonian scrubbing of the email server, when Clinton KNEW her work emails were subpoenaed by the House Benghazi committee. That says GUILTY in no uncertain terms. And I don't think we're ever going to receive an "apology" for those deletions.

thesweeneytodd -> Mark Forrester 9 Sep 2015 06:44

Some perspective please. Dubya caused total mayhem and catastrophe with his ill judged and utterly illegal war in Iraq. His lack of intervention in Katrina resulted in misery and death for many in New Orleans. The most unpopular US president perhaps of all time.

Hilary ran a private email server that was perhaps ill judged.

Like I say, some perspective please.

Mark Forrester 9 Sep 2015 06:38

More than a mistake I'm afraid. At best it is a career ending error of judgment. At worst a deliberate and cynical attempt to maintain personal control of data so none of it could come back to damage her presidential campaign. Anyway, she should be finished.

Oldiebutgoodie -> Oldiebutgoodie 9 Sep 2015 03:54

The interview about Diplomacy with Charlie Rose took place June 2012 - prior to the Benghazi fiasco.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpJWsryvVrc

Both James Baker and Hillary basically admit to forcing Assad out and causing 'regime change' in Syria.

Oldiebutgoodie -> makaio 9 Sep 2015 03:24

Nov. 2009
Hillary on Channel l3, NY's Charlie Rose show - Text of interview.
Subject: Iran, Afghanistan
http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2009/11/20091110130524xjsnommis0.1892206.html#axzz3lDt0HNg2

Hillary & Jim Baker interviewed must see laughing about provoking war with Iran
October 2012
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpJWsryvVrc

makaio -> TamLin 9 Sep 2015 01:38

Thanks for the previously unknown to me information.

Her "admission" is sarcasm, which is preceded by a quick note that she was not involved and her visit was unrelated.

Her "We came, we saw, ..." laughter is inappropriate, especially in light of the turmoil resulting from a power vacuum which we are still witnessing today. But I don't know the context of why everyone in the room is in such a jovial mood.

It's hard to get facts on the unfortunate and disastrous consequences of Gaddafi's assassination. I don't directly blame the U.S., but my sense in that our government wrongly gave it a go-ahead.

Timothy Everton -> Hin Leng 9 Sep 2015 01:32

She has no ability, but for deception, no intelligence, unless someone "advises" her beforehand, but she DOES have much experience at deception, and commitment only to herself. Certainly not presidential material. She should just drop and let Bernie take the lead. Of course, her dear friend Wasserman-Shultz, would not allow that to happen.

Rob Jenkins 9 Sep 2015 01:02

American politics is depressing again for me. All realistic candidates seem to be a retrograde step.

Clinton appears to be a moderate Republican from the 90s and has no feasible opponents whilst the GOP primary is a clown car filled with buffoons, crooks and religious zealots.

Where do you go now America?

Hin Leng 9 Sep 2015 00:58

Clearly America has caught a new cultural-political disease called "The Tall Poppy Syndrome". Cut down anyone with ability, intelligence, experience , commitment and vision. Find any excuse for doing it - email server, age, gender, hairstyles, anything whatsoever. Meanwhile give some blatantly nonsensical candidates for its presidency plenty of oxygen and headline space. Is this how an empire expire ? How a hegemon self-destruct ? It is worrying to the extreme.


vr13vr 9 Sep 2015 00:47

"I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility."

How is that taking responsibility after half a year of denial and fighting the allegations? Outside of the lingo of politicians, this doesn't even look like taking responsibility. A phrase, "I finally decided to admit the wrong doing," is much more appropriate at this point.

rtb1961 -> Asok Smith 9 Sep 2015 00:43

It becomes a matter of criminal conspiracy because Clinton did not just use a private email address. This was a conspiracy to avoid monitored email and a matter of legal public record, arranged as a conspiracy between Clinton's desire to maintain secret communications hidden from the rest of government and the person who did the work of setting up the server with knowledge of how it would be used and the network administrators who allowed it to exist in what should have been a secured network location, knowing how it would be used.

So not the childish lie of "I did it but I didn't mean to", but the reality of a conspired plan to thwart record keeping, discussed and implemented with purposeful intent and with no question that it was to hide intended criminal activity.


Merveil Meok 8 Sep 2015 23:36

Obama and Hillary Clinton were bitter rivals until the end of the primaries in 2008. When Obama suggested that Mrs. Clinton be his Secretary of State, I thought it was a trap and a dangerous proposition for Hillary's future bids to the presidency, because foreign policy was a mess after George W. Bush and anything going wrong in the world would be blamed on her. It looks like the GOP didn't need to work that hard.

p4451d 8 Sep 2015 23:08

Obviously her "apology" was dragged out of her and is completely insincere. This is the track record of H Clinton - arrogant; power hungry; untrustworthy; unscrupulous; unprincipled; 100% insincere; can't we do any better than this?

whereistheend 8 Sep 2015 23:00

I'd never vote for a Republican, but if she didn't have Bill Clinton's last name, she'd be out of the picture, and maybe Elizabeth Warren, or Bill Bradley, or Howard Dean (or Bernie) would have the nomination- any of those names could beat any Republican, but HRC is aiding her own demonization and I honestly think she's going to lose to whomever/whatever clown emerges from the Right Wing. Yes, I think she's going to lose to a clown, and that's depressing, and it's because she has no charm to handle her mistakes, and no judgment to avoid some of them (the 'wiping' comment was sickeningly stupid), and she's sucking up all the coverage so no one else is getting the air they need; most of the discussion is over this BS instead of actual issues and that's not all on Fox News.

Elias Vlanton -> seehowtheyrun 8 Sep 2015 22:47

It's not about leaving an opening for her adversaries, it's is about destroying the public record of the Secretary of State. In the US, government communications belongs to the government and to the people. This is not about what is illegal or not, it is about whether officials can be held accountable for their actions. By destroying the public record, Hillary Clinton wanted to avoid that accountability. That's the real travesty.

Kevin Reuter -> LostLake 8 Sep 2015 22:39

The corporate-run media would like us all to believe that Bernie doesn't stand a chance. Since he has such strong policy suggestions and is demanding such attention, the only possible way to stop him is to flood people's minds with rhetoric such as "he can't win!"

Hillary herself has now been championing policy ideas that Bernie started, such as repealing Citizens United, and $15 minimum wage!

LostLake 8 Sep 2015 21:55

Sanders is the better person but he will never get nominated. So it's either Hillary or some GOP nutbag. Easy vote. Not optimal, but still an easy choice.

sashasmirnoff -> erpiu 8 Sep 2015 21:09

As the "Guardian view" is unfailingly wrong on anything it opines on (proven track record), and it's fully endorsing this scum's candidacy, I can only conclude that she merits life in prison at the least, as opposed to high office. That no media organ is questioning her claim of the deleted emails as being purely "personal" speaks volumes as to the sorry state of journalism in this era, as you point out.
Great post!


erpiu 8 Sep 2015 20:28

the private server was not an error --it was a coup of genius-- since it allowed "the candidate" to hand over only the harmless emails after erasing(?) the damning ones (e.g., those with the quid-pro-quo negotiation of UKR-neonazi donations to the clinton foundation before the 2014 UKR coup d'etat).

yes, those erased emails that, let's see... the guardian never mentions, preferring to direct the suckers' attention to the leftover emails selected by billary for regular release. Great diversion job, guardian!

the NSA has hillary's erased emails! When is the MSM going to request that the NSA gives its copies of the erased h.clinton emails to the feds for official archiving and future declassification?


Confucion 8 Sep 2015 20:06

In an interview with ABC News's David Muir which aired on Tuesday, the former secretary of state said: "That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility."

Hillary has learnt a lot from the old Bill. Denial first step: Bill, I did not have sexual relation with that woman. And I need to go back to work for the American people.

Admission second step: Bill admitted in taped grand jury testimony on August 17, 1998, that he had had an "improper physical relationship" with Lewinsky.

Hilary is the best Bill's disciple in his trickery, lies and contempt of people from whom they are seeking employment and benefit.


FugitiveColors kenalexruss 8 Sep 2015 19:56

That's wishful thinking. The Judge ordered a release of more emails every 30 days until they are all released. It won't be over in 3 months much less 3 weeks. They say til February. There are 55,000 emails and those are just ones she didn't delete. She deleted 35,000 emails that will dog her forever.

When she finally gives up the ghost, I hope you will consider voting for the honest, scandal free candidate.
Bernie Sanders.

EarthyByNature -> Davinci Woohoo 8 Sep 2015 19:54

It's about trust, stupid.
Not being able to trust the potential President of the United States is a huge issue, for everyone on the planet.

1) Clinton consistently acts with arrogant denial when confronted with wrong-doing, and throughout her career there have been repeated situations, each marked by the same denial, arrogance.

2) Everyone's entitled to make mistakes in life and to beg forgiveness. When it happens repeatedly trust evaporates. I am no longer able to trust Hillary Clinton, no more no less that any other behaving the same way, Dem or Republican.

allymaxy -> danceoutlook 8 Sep 2015 19:47

Re: the Secretary of State position: Hillary didn't have to campaign for the job, she was appointed. Her problem is she's making the same mistakes running for CinC that she made in 2008.

She believes she'll be anointed and begrudgingly goes on the stump, showing no joy in meeting regular folks and getting huffy when reporters dare ask her questions.

Remember the recent rope line where she corralled the press in a noose of ropes to keep them away from her?

She is a poor candidate - always was and she hasn't learned anything from losing. She repeats the same mistakes and only changes her policies when focus groups chime in.

If Elizabeth Warren declared tomorrow, Hillary would be long forgotten and not missed.


Joe Stanil -> JoeBursudge 8 Sep 2015 19:47

The US hasn't been a democracy since day 1. Never meant to be. It was/is a carpetbagger's club. The only thing that's changed is the voters are dumber and the pizazz is crappier (to match the candidates). Why is this even discussed?

Ziontrain 8 Sep 2015 19:24

"Full responsibility" would actually mean admitting that she lacks the integrity to be president and withdrawing her candidacy.

But we live in an era where there is no shame, so "full responsibility" is not more like "yeah, I did it. So what? Nothing changes".

Then again we are talking about an oligarch aiming to retake the presidential office for her wing of the national aristocracy. What else would one expect.

JoeBursudge -> NeverLie 8 Sep 2015 19:22

A carpetbagger in a dress. Tony Blair and the Clintons - just goes to show it isn't country specific.

Though he didn't know them, these are the people Kim Beazley Snr was talking about when he said [the Left] went from being represented by the cream of the working-class to being led by the dregs of the middle-class.

Let's face it: the mere fact that Trump and Clinton are being discussed as a possible President is all the proof you need that America's democracy is stuck with a broken model. It's doubtful that the average Yank is up to fixing it.

Not that we can talk, of course, our system is looking sicker by the day. That a fool like Abbott can commit our troops to war without Parliamentary discussion is a pretty clear signal that our 19th century democratic architecture, too, is in need of renovation, if not a complete re-build.

jozzero -> gwpriester 8 Sep 2015 19:20

I read where Carl Rove deleted 13,000 emails during the bush horror years. It pisses me off that she apologized for this non-issue because of political pressure. I'm voting for Bernie.

OneTop 8 Sep 2015 18:42

Christoper Hitchens summed up HRC as well as anyone.

Mrs. Clinton has the most unappetizing combination of qualities to be met in many days' march: she is a tyrant and a bully when she can dare to be, and an ingratiating populist when that will serve. She will sometimes appear in the guise of a 'strong woman' and sometimes in the softer garb of a winsome and vulnerable female. She is entirely un-self-critical and quite devoid of reflective capacity, and has never found that any of her numerous misfortunes or embarrassments are her own fault, because the fault invariably lies with others. And, speaking of where things lie, she can in a close contest keep up with her husband for mendacity. Like him, she is not just a liar but a lie; a phony construct of shreds and patches and hysterical, self-pitying, demagogic improvisations." (p. 123)


Berkeley2013 williamdonovan 8 Sep 2015 18:35

Thank you; there are many more but this is a good start.

As the story unravels, many of there earlier HC rationalizations will require scrutiny--things that seemed innocuous to the average person will require intense scrutiny.

"I deleted e-mails that were personal."

This sounds anodyne enough on first read. Who wants to read billet doux between B and H?

Once people realize that she had no right to mix personal and professional and it certainly wasn't up to any one person what to delete, then even bigger troubles will start for the former SOS.

Sooner or later some of the deleted e-mails will begin to circulate.

At that point...


David Egan 8 Sep 2015 18:15

What gets me about this whole issue is the fact that she is still maintaining that "she did what was allowed" which is a bold faced lie!!! All she is doing right now is continuing to "circle her wagons" around this issue.... I'll bet right now she is trying to figure out how to bribe Pagliano to take the fall for her, stating that she knew nothing about what he did to maintain her ILLEGAL email account. They both knew it was ILLEGAL!!! Clinton and Pagliano should be brought up on charges, the sooner the better!!

Her utter contempt for the investigation makes me laugh, she really thinks she did nothing wrong, and to say something as totally ignorant like "It was allowed by the State Dept. and the State Department CONFIRMED that" is beyond belief and borderlines the definition of psychosis. The State Department is actively investigating Shrillary and her accomplice Bryan Pagliano. I'll bet Pagliano goes to prison.....Any takers?


CNNEvadingTheTopic 8 Sep 2015 18:11

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https://berniesanders.com/ (Meet Bernie, Learn Issues/Events, Volunteer, Donate…)
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zyxzyxzyx 8 Sep 2015 18:05

Snowden on Clinton:

If an ordinary worker at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency were sending details about the security of embassies, meetings with private government officials, foreign government officials and the statements were made over unclassified email systems, they would not only lose their jobs and lose their clearance, they would very likely face prosecution for it. (condensed quotation)

Clinton on Snowden:

I think turning over a lot of that material-intentionally or unintentionally, because of the way it can be drained-gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups and the like.

macktan894 8 Sep 2015 17:54

Poor Hillary. If she had just said this in the beginning instead of all the bs about how what she did wasn't a prosecutable offense and then tried to defend her behavior by comparing herself to the Republicans, she might have nipped much of this in the bud. Instead, she stonewalls for months, re-enacts her husband's insistence that "he didn't have sex with that woman, Ms Lewinsky," and arrogantly believes that voters will accept that all this is a vast right wing conspiracy that no one gives a hoot about.

Now she admits sorrow over her choice after practically being beat down about it. The main point is that people don't want to re-elect the same o same o. I for one am not looking forward to ranting on a forum about what happened to this promise, to that one. Oh, right. The Republicans. I don't want to hear another Dem try to persuade me that cutting measly social security and Medicare benefits are the way to save the system while at the same time the budget for defense, foreign aid, and mass govt surveillance go up so much that much of it is redacted.

I've heard too much of this before and have no interest in hearing it again. Vote for Bernie Sanders who believes open and transparent govt is worth a little inconvenience.

williamdonovan 8 Sep 2015 17:41

Great now tell it to the Judge. Because as I have stated from the very start these acts were and are Illegal. And Hillary Clinton new it at time she the secret server set up or should have known it.

Title 18, U.S. Code Section 641 - Public Money, Property or Records
793 - Gathering, Transmitting or Losing Defense Information
794 - Gathering of Delivering Defense Information to Aid Foreign Govt.
798 - Disclosure of Classified Information
952 - Diplomatic Codes and Correspondence
1905 - Disclosure of Confidential Information
2071 - Concealment, Removal, or Mutilation of Records

Title 50, U.S. Code
Section 783 (b) - Communication of Classified Information by Government Officer or Employee 783(d) - Penalties for Violation

Title 42, U.S. Code
Section 2272 -Violation of Specific Sections
2273 - Violation of General Sections
2274 - Communication of Restricted Data 2275 - Receipt of Restricted Data
2276 - Tampering With Restricted Data 2277 - Disclosure of Restricted Data

[Aug 22, 2015]How Complex Systems Fail

"...This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes)."
.
"...It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order."
.
"...The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function."
.
".... . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety."
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"...Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law..."
.
"...Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise"."
.
"...Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do""
.
"...The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems."
Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism
August 21, 2015 by Yves Smith

Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part reoptimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

So many ideas….
Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted… But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces…

MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience - not the early stages of systemwide failure.

Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

…it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I tend to agree with your point of view.

The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on…and on.
Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market"….god help us….

Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters… The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

No system is ever 'the'.

Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

If, of course, bigger is better.

Facts not in evidence.

Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

"But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yves,

Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

Thanks for the post!!!!!

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy… In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

abynormal
August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

oink oink is the sound of system fail

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

A very important principle:

All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

. . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary - there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify - just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

thanks for that, I think…

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize…Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification…)

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

And the new points of failure will be what?

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades… right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there… just a thought.

America still has a frontier ethos… how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

The work is organized around aphorisms - Systems tend to oppose their own proper function - The real world is what it is reported to the system - but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole - instead of that I'll quote a poem.

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

-Yates, "The Second Coming"

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

erm… make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

– Swift

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so, ad infinitum.

Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so ad infinitum!

Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

The order Siphonoptera….

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

Human error was the final cause in both cases.

Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

"Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

" capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

You hint at a couple fallacies.

1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Very good.

It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

  1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
  2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
  3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
  4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
  5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Three quite different thoughts:

First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Really?

"equilibrium…from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

There is another definition from physics.

When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

This is only a subset.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this.

I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right - long enough - to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

[Aug 12, 2015]The Macroeconomic Divide

"...Too much of macro is ideologically driven conjecture, or worse. None of it rises to the level of demonstrated reliability necessary to ethically inform decision-making. Confronting that reality and the limits of the profession's knowledge and ability, and reining-in it's obsession to intervene in things it doesn't actually understand except at a political level - that will permit the profession to at long last begin to honor its highest ethical duty ... 'First, do no harm.'"
Economist's View
Paul Krugman:
Trash Talk and the Macroeconomic Divide: ... In Lucas and Sargent, much is made of stagflation; the coexistence of inflation and high unemployment is their main, indeed pretty much only, piece of evidence that all of Keynesian economics is useless. That was wrong, but never mind; how did they respond in the face of strong evidence that their own approach didn't work?
Such evidence wasn't long in coming. In the early 1980s the Federal Reserve sharply tightened monetary policy; it did so openly, with much public discussion, and anyone who opened a newspaper should have been aware of what was happening. The clear implication of Lucas-type models was that such an announced, well-understood monetary change should have had no real effect, being reflected only in the price level.
In fact, however, there was a very severe recession - and a dramatic recovery once the Fed, again quite openly, shifted toward monetary expansion.
These events definitely showed that Lucas-type models were wrong, and also that anticipated monetary shocks have real effects. But there was no reconsideration on the part of the freshwater economists; my guess is that they were in part trapped by their earlier trash-talking. Instead, they plunged into real business cycle theory (which had no explanation for the obvious real effects of Fed policy) and shut themselves off from outside ideas. ...

RogerFox said...

Both sides in this macro cat-fight have succeeded in demolishing the credibility of their opponents, at the expense of being demolished themselves - meaning none of them are left standing in the eyes of anyone except their own partisan groupies, who are well-represented on this site. That's nothing but good.

Too much of macro is ideologically driven conjecture, or worse. None of it rises to the level of demonstrated reliability necessary to ethically inform decision-making. Confronting that reality and the limits of the profession's knowledge and ability, and reining-in it's obsession to intervene in things it doesn't actually understand except at a political level - that will permit the profession to at long last begin to honor its highest ethical duty ... 'First, do no harm.'

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RogerFox...

Confronting that reality and the limits of the profession's knowledge and ability, and reining-in it's obsession to intervene in things it doesn't actually understand except at a political level - that will permit the profession to at long last begin to honor its highest ethical duty ... 'First, do no harm.'

[That is some pretty ironic BS that you are totin' around. The profession does a very good job of NOT intervening in things that any one with half a brain should understand. How on earth do you think the 2008 financial crisis ever even happened? Economists could not intervene because they had black swans squatting on their hands, particularly those economist like Greenspan and Bernanke that were actually in a position to do something to prevent the crisis. Krugman wrote some articles warning about the risk, but undersold his case even to himself. Only Mike Stathis (an investments adviser and trader - not an economist) formally warned (in America's Financial Apocalypse: How to Profit from the Next Great Depression. 2006. ISBN 978-0-9755776-5-3) of the full scope of the coming disaster and that formal warning came a bit late and was almost entirely ignored. Nouriel Roubini (a.k.a. Doctor Doom), who is an economist, ran Stathis a close second on getting it correct. Dean Baker, also an economist, was in there too. It was entirely ignored by Greenspan and Bernanke, although I believe they knew what was going to happen but would rather clean up the mess than stop the party and get blamed for the fallout.

After the crisis several economists recognized the scale of the necessary stimulus to get the economy back on track, but a world of idiots, some of whom you may know, precluded an adequate response to prevent prolonged high unemployment.

Are you a market trader or just a rich man's tool? Anything else would make you just a plain ol' fool.]

DrDick said in reply to RogerFox...

"Both sides in this macro cat-fight have succeeded in demolishing the credibility of their opponents"

You, on the other hand. never had any credibility to begin with.

"Confronting that reality and the limits of the profession's knowledge and ability, and reining-in it's obsession to intervene in things it doesn't actually understand except at a political level"

You might take your own advice, as it is evident that you know nothing about economics or policy.

Peter K. said in reply to RogerFox...

Partisan groupies? Nope. We're the objective ones in this discussion.

Mr. Fox has no criteria upon which to judge and measure things, so of course he has no basis to criticize.

"First do no harm." How can you tell that harm has been done when you don't believe in anything?

You automatically believe that taking no action and the sin of omission is the better choice? But you have no basis on which to make that assumption.

"First do no harm" when it comes to government policy is conservative propaganda.

Paine said in reply to RogerFox...

If rog refuses to entertain any notion of macro nautic efficacy

He. Has taken his position
And perhaps he ought to be left to
sit on it
as long as he likes

However

If he has a test of say Lerner's
fiscal injections model he'd like to propose
A test that if past would change is mind

> Paine said in reply to Paine ...

Cockney takes over
when I sez his
it comes out is

RogerFox said in reply to Paine ...

I don't have a dog in this fight - but I do know that it's dangerously irresponsible and unprofessional to offer advice, or act on it, unless there is adequate evidence to justify the opinion that the advice will not plausibly make the situation worse than it is otherwise destined to be. The compiled track record of all theories of macro demonstrate that none of them yet meet that test - and this ongoing internecine cat-fight has done much to reinforce that view IMO.

Academics need to understand what real economy people who give advice professionally know very well - that an idea or theory could well be right and beneficial isn't enough to justify acting on it without proper consideration to the consequences should the approach prove to be wrong. Candidly assessing down-side risks seems to be anathema to all academics - almost as if they regard the entire matter as some sort of affront to their dignity.

The Crash of '08 and the Crash of '29 both happened, with academic macro-mavens leading us straight into both of them - eyes wide shut. Better for everyone if they'd just kept their mouths shut too.

pgl:

"In the early 1980s the Federal Reserve sharply tightened monetary policy; it did so openly, with much public discussion, and anyone who opened a newspaper should have been aware of what was happening. The clear implication of Lucas-type models was that such an announced, well-understood monetary change should have had no real effect, being reflected only in the price level.In fact, however, there was a very severe recession - and a dramatic recovery once the Fed, again quite openly, shifted toward monetary expansion. These events definitely showed that Lucas-type models were wrong, and also that anticipated monetary shocks have real effects."

Note Krugman is referring to the 2nd Volcker monetary restraint which happened under Reagan's watch. Rusty needs to get his calendar out as he thinks this was all Carter. Actually Volcker was following the advise of JohnH. How did the early 1980's work out for workers?

Back in 1982/3 I heard some economist seriously saying that this recession was due to some notion that people still had high expected inflation. When I asked them WTF - they response was the Reagan deficits.

Yes macroeconomics confuses some people terribly. Look at a lot of the comments here for how confused some people get.

Paine said in reply to pgl...

Confused or partisan ?

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke said...

No divide
Comment on 'The Macroeconomic Divide'

Keynes's employment function was indeed incomplete (2012). So far, Lucas/Sargent had a point. But the NAIRU expectation-wish-wash was even worse. So far, Krugman has a point. The deeper reason is that economics not only has no valid employment theory but that it is a failed science.

Neither the loudspeakers of the profession nor the representative economists of the various schools have a clue about how the actual economy works. What unites the camps is scientific incompetence.*

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

References
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2012). Keynes's Employment Function and the Gratuitous Phillips Curve Desaster. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2130421: 1–19. URL http://ssrn.com/abstract=2130421

*For details see the cross-references
http://axecorg.blogspot.com/2015/07/incompetence-cross-references.html

[Jul 12, 2015] Democracy in neoliberal society is illusive

"...As for democracy it does exists, but only for a tiny fraction of population - the elite and upper middle class. And this is nothing new. Historically democracy always existed mostly for the members of ruling class. For Greece that was class of slave-owners. Nothing essentially changed. This dream of "perfect democracy" is just a propaganda trick. And here you are right: "perfect democracy", "mass democracy" or "democracy for everybody" does not exist and never existed. Some strata of population and first of all low income strata historically were always excluded and marginalized. A simple question is: Does democracy exists if a party accepts $100K contributions?"
"...I agree, Anatoly. Western media networks have a wide variety of opinions on a limited number of issues only, and sing in startling unison on the some other extremely important matters. Wikileaks is a great example, the policy on Israel in the US is another."
"..."True democracy requires multi-party system." You are mixing apples and oranges. Democracy requires that citizens are equal before the law and have equal voting rights. By extension it leads to such thing as "tyranny of majority" which is inevitable (that's why Hegel prefer monarchy). Democracy also presuppose that alternative parties are not banned. But representation is completely another thing. If you are representing 3% of population and to get to Parliament requires 5% you are f*cked absolutely legitimately within this framework and can do nothing without undermining the notion of democracy as expressed. "

cartman, October 6, 2011 at 12:51 am

Slavic untermensch – especially Orthodox Christian ones – must be destroyed. Catholic Slavs are much easier to control. Witness that Poland has the presidency of the EU at the same time Merkel is giving ultimatums to the Serbs and German soldier are once again shooting Serbs at the border checkpoints (which are illegal under UNSC 1244). No matter what they say, it is totally irrelevant as a power.

kievite,October 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm

IMHO you are going a little bit too far both in regard of the value of Russian independence and existence of democracy.

As for independence. nobody cares too much about Russian independence as long as most oligarchs have London real estate, keep money in Western banks, teach children abroad in best colleges, etc.

As for democracy it does exists, but only for a tiny fraction of population - the elite and upper middle class. And this is nothing new. Historically democracy always existed mostly for the members of ruling class. For Greece that was class of slave-owners. Nothing essentially changed. This dream of "perfect democracy" is just a propaganda trick. And here you are right: "perfect democracy", "mass democracy" or "democracy for everybody" does not exist and never existed. Some strata of population and first of all low income strata historically were always excluded and marginalized. A simple question is: Does democracy exists if a party accepts $100K contributions?

But situation is more subtle. If the people's ability to vote candidates in and out of office has no meaningful influence on the decisions they make while in office, does democracy exist? The second important question is: "How much civil liberty and protection against government abuse remains in the system?"

In view of those arguments I think it is more correct to say that what in most cases what is sold under the marketing brand of "democracy" should be more properly be called "inverted totalitarism". Like with totalitarism the net effect is marginalization of citizens to control the direction of the nation through the political process. But unlike classic totalitarian states which rely on mobilization around charismatic leader, here a passive populace is preferred (famous "Go shopping" recommendation by Bush II after 9/11).

Barriers to participation like "management" of elections using two party system and by preselection of candidates by party machine are used as more subtle and effective means of control. Formally officials purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. In reality manipulation the levers of power excludes everybody but a tiny percentage of the population (oligarchy).

Like in classic totalitarism propaganda dispensed by schools and the media, not to mention the entertainment. The stress is on eliminating the audience for anybody who does not support the regime. Ideology is supported by powerful research institutions (aka "think tanks") and is adapted to modern realities by well paid "intellectual agents". Milton Friedman is a classic example. The goal is the same as in classic totalitarism: the dominance of official ideology, especially in schools and universities. But this is achieved without violent suppression of opposing views, mainly by bribing and ostracizing instead of the key ingredient of classical totalitarism - violence toward opponents.

xxx, October 6, 2011 at 2:17 am

The part about media self-censorship is at least every bit as prevalent in "free" societies such as the US as in Russia. Noam Chomsky's concept of the propaganda mode cannot be mentioned enough. The latest example is how The Guardian and NYT – and remember, print newspapers everywhere are more sophisticated than TV – colluded in with-holding from publication many Wikileaks cables that cast a bad light on the power elites.

Another question is ask is, which of these countries has the most democracy – one where many policy decisions are based on the wishes of corporate lobbyists; and one where many policy decisions are made as per opinion polls and the interests of the "overwhelming majority." Much of the "free" West is in the former category; Russia and China are in the latter.

kievite,October 6, 2011 at 2:45 am

AK: "Noam Chomsky's concept of the propaganda mode cannot be mentioned enough"

I think the right term is "Manufactured Consent". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent:_The_Political_Economy_of_the_Mass_Media

It describes five editorially-distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:

1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners – often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.

2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de-facto licensing authority".[1] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.

3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that "the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media's costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers."[2]

4. Flak and the Enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[2]

5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the "War on Terror", as the major social control mechanism.[3][4

kovane,October 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

I agree, Anatoly. Western media networks have a wide variety of opinions on a limited number of issues only, and sing in startling unison on the some other extremely important matters. Wikileaks is a great example, the policy on Israel in the US is another.

The real difficulty of politics is making weighted decisions that would be beneficial for the future of the country, listening both to lobbyist and the popular opinion. And mistakes can be made on both extremes. In retrospection, few would argue that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act in the US was made under significant pressure of financial lobby and it seriously contributed to the 2008 meltdown. But populism is equally dangerous, as it is evidenced by Greece. Adopting policies only because they are popular, without considering the long term effect, can be a ruin of any country. Keeping a right balance between these two approaches is the key.

Reply

grafomanka,October 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

'Managed democracy' is a front, and I would say it's kind of refreshing that we can stop living this hypocrisy now. And it's not because of Prokhorov and Kudrin, but because of bizzaro way in which Putin and Medvedev announced that they decided 'years ago'(!) about the job swap. And not even United Russia knew what was going on. What does it make United Russia then?

kovane,October 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

Democracy, first and foremost, is about the wishes of the voters. Putin can run all he wants, but if he doesn't get elected, their decision will be worth as much as my decision to run, for instance. And that's democracy and all that matters. By the way, why do you conclude that since Putin and Medvedev simply announced their decision, there were no consultations, etc?

yalensis,October 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

@grafomanka: I don't think the main problem is what goes on within United Russia and how they internally pick their candidate. It is the job of any political party to nominate their best candidate who, in this case is obviously Putin. The real problem is that they are the ONLY viable political party. So, Russia is effectively a one-party system now. True democracy requires multi-party system.

grafomanka,October 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Yes, basically….

kievite, October 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm

"True democracy requires multi-party system."

You are mixing apples and oranges. Democracy requires that citizens are equal before the law and have equal voting rights. By extension it leads to such thing as "tyranny of majority" which is inevitable (that's why Hegel prefer monarchy). Democracy also presuppose that alternative parties are not banned.

But representation is completely another thing. If you are representing 3% of population and to get to Parliament requires 5% you are f*cked absolutely legitimately within this framework and can do nothing without undermining the notion of democracy as expressed.

Also you can have an illusory alternative parties system like the USA two party system with "winner takes all" provisions in each state which make success of the third party extremely unlikely. My impression is that the existing two party system in the USA is just an improved version of one party system that existed in the USSR with the only difference that that two wings of the same party (let's say that one that represents mainly Wall Street but is friendly to military-industrial and Energy complex and that other the represents mainly Military-industrial and Energy complex but also is quite friendly to Wall Street) are staging the theatrical battles to amuse the electorate.

I hope you are not proposing special anti-democratic regime of affirmative action to change that situation (as you might remember from Okudzhva song "A pryanikov sladkih vsegda ne hvataet na vseh").

grafomanka,October 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Two party system is just like 'upgraded' one party system. Right. But in one political change is possible, in the other it isn't.

yalensis,October 7, 2011 at 12:36 am

Ha ha! No, I do not believe USA 2-party system is true democracy. How can there be any democracy when 1% of the population owns 99% of all the wealth? Is ridiculous situation.

grafomanka, October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

@kovane

They certainly pretended that there were consultations for the last 4 years, with Medvedev not ruling out that he's going to run, with the talk about some kind of modernizing fraction in the Kremlin.

Now it turned out that none of this was for real. I have more respect for Putin, at least he chose not to violate Russian constitution.

And about wishes of the votes, please. I read that opposition ads in some Russian regions were banned from state TV. Let's not pretend this is a democracy.

kovane,October 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

So you suppose that if "elites" (that's a very democratic term, straight from the Constitution) were unanimously opposed to Putin's nomination, he would be running anyway? Just because he and Medvedev allegedly made the decision 4 years ago?

Yes, if Nemtsov's talking head was on every channel 24/7 then the opposition would have every chance to win the election. The Muslim Brothers in Egypt were banned altogether, let alone the access to media, but that didn't stop them from being the most popular movement. So let's not pretend that isn't a democracy, having own TV network is not one of the God-given rights last time I checked.

Reply

grafomanka,October 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

If you didn't mean consultations within the elites then what consultations did you have in mind?

TV coverage is crucially important, because as Kremlin PR masters know right TV coverage can add as much as 15-20% support to a party/candidate. And they have no competition. TV is used for black PR all the time. I don't think Egypt is the fair example, for many reasons, religious etc.

Putin is popular and quite probably Putin is what Russia needs now. It doesn't make Russia a democracy. Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion….

Reply

kovane,October 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I meant exactly consultations within elites, though "consultations" is a very unsuitable term. Maneuvering and falling behind the right candidate, that's how I would put it.

TV coverage is crucially important

That's what I wrote in the piece. And that's why the Kremlin controls TV so zealously.

Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion

That's not democracy, that's a spherical model of democracy. Let's talk about two countries that are usually presented as model democracies, the UK and US. Does anybody discuss the policy on Israel in the US media? Did they discuss if the US should get into the war on Iraq? Bailout of the big banks in 2008? Or any major problem for that matter. And by being discussed I mean not presenting 1001 reason why it should be done. The UK mass media is even more pitiable in that regard. So, please, get off your high horse and stop gluing labels.

grafomanka,October 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I don't want to go into 'In America they…' If Russia is a democracy then where are the mechanisms for political change? They are technically there but in reality the Kremlin makes sure that they are useless. I certainly don't see anything democratic about how politics is handled.

kovane,October 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

Oh, no, you're not going to reduce it to lynching Negroes. The mechanism for political change is present in Russia, and you know it. When the citizens become dissatisfied with the government UR will be forced to make some changes. In many respect the Russian system is more responsive to negative tendencies in public sentiment, because UR can't shift blame on Democrats or Republicans or the Labour party. Whatever happens, everyone knows that's UR's fault.

yalensis,October 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

Well, this is how it is with artists, they experience everything in a vivid emotional manner and are not always rational thinkers. The good news is: Bondarchuk DID show up for work the following day (ergo, he was not whisked away to death star for torture by Putin). I like his rant, I like the way he talks. But I am still scratching my head: what specific policy changes is he asking for? If he decides to build his own faction within United Russia, then he will need a platform of proposed policies. Is not enough to show: "Look how brilliantly I am expressing my emotions! I should be the next Hamlet!"

apc27,October 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

That desire for a "public discussion" is a common criticism of the way Putin makes decisions, as he seems to prefer to keep his cards close to his chest. Some "discussion" is necessary, but all too often there is that annoying Russian delusion that "any housewife can run a country", that dictates peoples' desire to discuss things, rather than any practical considerations.

The decision as to who will run for a president may have huge implications, but at the end of the day, it is a deeply personal one. What good would our uninformed discussions could have done, besides rocking the boat and setting the power elites on the course for a direct confrontation? Plus, its not as if people's opinions are not considered. There plenty of polls and, of course, the elections themselves where Russians can have their say.

People often use US as an example of the way democracy should work, but what they themselves do not appreciate is that only in US can such polarising and all encompassing "discussions" NOT lead to chaos and ruin.

xxx October 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm

The impression that running a country is little more complicated than baking a cake or changing a tire is common to a great deal wider group than Russians. Please don't think I'm endorsing politicians, but politics and government are their business and they typically have some educational background that suits them to the purpose. The notion that a farmer who spends 70% of his waking hours running a farm and doesn't have time to watch more than the local news can engage at an international level and make decisions that will affect complicated relationships of which he is not even aware is beyond silly. But people insist on the right to be involved with the political process without exercising their own due diligence of informing themselves on the issues, and persist with the fiction that anyone could do the job just as well. Anyone who thinks mistakes in that respect are of little consequence, and any damages caused by a foolish choice based on sloganeering and jingoism are easily repaired should review the G.W. Bush and Yeltsin presidencies.

Putin is largely respected and trusted by the Russian people because his policies have generally brought Russia success, and under his guidance Russia has prospered while avoiding most of the stumbling-blocks placed in its path. They believe he can continue this record of success, and they believe it more than they believe Boris Nemtsov could achieve a similar level of success. Nemtsov was a Deputy Prime Minister – it is unrealistic to imagine there is a significant group of voters who do not know who he is and his name on the ballot would be instantly recognizable to nearly all voters. Voting in Boris Nemtsov, or Kasyanov or Kasparov just to prove the validity the multiparty system would have consequences far beyond the immediate.

Just once, I wish the government would not mess with Nemtsov – would allow him all the free advertising time he wanted and access to the voters as he pleased. Of course the government could not let him just blather and make shit up the way he does in his egregious "white papers", but rebuttal should be confined to calm, reasoned ripostes that do not attempt to overpower his message, rather offering citizens the opportunity to fact-check his claims. When Nemtsov still lost by a wide margin, as I'm sure he would, he would have to confront the fact that he has nothing to offer Russians but a big ego, a big aggreived pout and an inflated sense of self-worth.

yalensis,October 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

Why cannot a housewife run the country? Was Katherine the Great not a housewife before she became Emperess? Most historians agree she was pretty good ruler, except for that unpleasant business surrounding Pugachev uprising.

xxx October 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I assume you were joking, but ruling – as a member of the nobility – in days gone by is quite a bit different than ruling in the superpower age when all is comprised of alliances, "what have you done for me lately?" expectations and constant jockeying for advantage. Resolving international conflicts is unlikely to be brought about by challenging the enemy to a pie-making contest, winner take all. The more you don't possess any background knowledge in – political science, international affairs, foreign policy, trade….the more you must rely on advisors: and then, not only is the resulting policy not your own, you don't even understand it well enough to know if you've been sold a bag of shit that will have serious negative effects on the country.

George W. Bush is an excellent example of the radical pursuit of a narrow ideology that can result when someone is elected on his folksy charm and his devoutness, and not much else. He relied on a tight, like-minded circle of advisors to coalesce his opinions for him, decided things based on "gut feeling" rather than analysis and was not well-read in any subject except baseball despite having had the benefits of an excellent education. And he was a member of the political class!

While some modest, ordinary citizens might make excellent leaders on a community scale or with a simple problem in a subject with which they are acquainted, international politics are generally beyond them and they are not prepared for the infighting among their own political system that will make it difficult to get anything constructive done. I'm not suggesting ordinary citizens are too stupid to be politicians – merely that their life experiences have not prepared them for the political arena and I don't understand why anyone would invest their formative years in preparing for such a career (except that you can make quite a lot of money for doing little but talking and voting).

xxx October 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Sorry if I sound a little disillusioned with politics and politicians right now, but I'm still steaming after watching this video from Leos Tomicek's Austere Insomniac, which shows members of the European Parliament showing up at 7:00 AM just to enregister for the day – and pocket their 284-Euro allowance for doing so – and then buggering off for the weekend: many of them have their suitcases with them. I'm not sure what the language is, but it sounds like German and the film takes pains to point out EU Parliamentarians can earn more than Chancellor Merkel for basically doing dick-all. The reporter who is filming this gets kicked out by EU Parliament security.

xxx October 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm

"Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion…."

Please provide an example of somewhere that occurs absent influence or interference by the party currently in power.

yalensis,October 7, 2011 at 12:42 am

…or absent influence of big money interests…

xxx October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

This is the crux of the argument for me – let's not pretend this is a democracy, but while we're caught up in the tide of refreshing honesty, let's stop pretending there is real democracy anywhere. In that light, Russia is no better and no worse than anywhere else, so let's stop with the finger-pointing and the self-righteous pontificating. I'm not opposed to criticism of Russia, provided it is not hypocritical or unfair.

The Italian papers wouldn't run a toothpaste ad without consulting their guidelines, because Berlusconi owns the media – but nobody suggests Italy isn't a democracy or is a managed democracy. In every country that exercises a simple vote and is not a monarchy, the leaders maneuver behind the scenes to gather more power for themselves and reduce or eliminate the possibility of successful challenge by opposition – by control of media outlets, by manufactured scandal and by inflation or fabrication of their own accomplishments. When everyone drops the pretense that they're a real democracy, the accusation that this country or that country oppresses its citizens by unduly and unfairly influencing their exercise of a free vote will lose its sting altogether. Hey, you, you're a crook – say, fellow crook; like to get together for a drink after work, and compare notes?

On the opposite pole of the argument are the voters, who don't know shit about governance or running a country, much less the nuances of international relationships and alliances, but are ready to vote for the leader with the best hair or the most affable public-speaking style. Let's not pretend that's democracy, either.

xxx October 7, 2011 at 12:04 am

There is no democracy anywhere – and hasn't been for a long time – like the idealized model you describe. I know you don't want to get involved in a Russia-vs-the USA discussion, but the USA sets itself up for just such a comparison by regularly expounding that American-style democracy is so wonderful they simply must export it to others, and by virtue of the fact that most of Russia's harshest critics are Americans or products of American agencies.

Russia is not an ideal democracy, as kovane already pointed out, in that not all parties have equal access to media and the ruling party has extensive control over both voting mechanisms and the rulebook for viability of new parties. However, the USA is similarly deficient in democratic values in that it uses gerrymandering, redistricting and voter disenfranchisement to manipulate the popular vote, and the current opposition seems perfectly willing to use the filibuster to crash the economy so that its chances of regaining power are improved. That's manifestly not what the electorate wants, since polls regularly reveal jobs and the economy as its biggest concerns.

Granted, that's the opposite problem to Russia – in that the opposition has too much power and can highjack every economic initiative by misusing the supermajority rule – but it ushers in what some analysts describe as "the normalization of extortion politics", and is plainly not democracy because party discipline supersedes loyalty to the constituent.

"Tame" media outlets like Fox News regularly report outright falsehoods, misstate the qualifications of their guests and frequently push made-up narratives as if they were real news – is that democracy?

grafomanka,October 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

Mark, in America Democrats and Republicans are locked in constant battle, and of course it has negative effects like extortion policies and Fox News. Maybe It's even too extreme and bad for the country. Quite probably Chinese with their 5-year plans will turn out to be more effective in governing because they're not locked in constant competition battle. But America is democracy and China isn't. Americans don't have it ideal, half of the country alienated when Bush became president. But it is democracy, power shifts, you can watch the daily show which takes a piss out of Fox News.

xxx October 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

However nice TDS may be, it still behaves as though there are important differences between the two parties when, when it comes to (all-important) economic policy, there really isn't.

Both parties encourage outsourcing, both give huge subsidies to industries while cutting back on redistributive programs, neither party is willing to regulate and prosecute corrupt businesses/behavior (Cheney).. Certainly they differ a bit in the area of abortion/gay rights/etc., but they're doing as little as possible while still seeming distinct.

grafomanka, October 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

They differ economically too, but both pander to big businesses, yes. I think if Russia had more diversified economy and more different big businesses maybe politics would be a different story. But when big business in the country are oil and gas, why wouldn't the elites collude instead of competing? Collusion makes more sense to them.

About 'made-up narratives' I think Americans arrived at the conclusion that it doesn't matter what you say as long as it evokes emotional response. In the end it's emotions that win elections, not rational thinking. That's why Sarah Palin, Fox News, etc feel that they can spawn any bullshit.

[Jul 10, 2015] Hillary Clinton emails reveal Cherie Blair acted as go-between for leading Qatari and the-then US Secretary of State

Notable quotes:
"... When Mrs Clinton finally agreed to meet with Middle East royal, who Mrs Blair referred to as "My friend from Q", she replied to the green light, stating: "Great… when I see what a difference you are making it reminds me why politics is too important to be left to bad people ..."
Jul 10, 2015 | independent.co.uk

The wife of the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, lobbied Mrs Clinton, then US Secretary of State, for a "woman-to-woman" meeting in the American capital with Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned.

Sheikha Mozah's son is the current ruling emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani.

Using the close relationship that her husband and Bill Clinton built up during their respective years in Downing Street and the White House, Mrs Blair exchanged a series of 19 emails in 2009 asking Mrs Clinton to help Sheikha Moser improve Qatar's relationship with the US.

Although the meeting was aimed primarily on the Qatari royal's charitable interests, Mrs Blair admitted to the US Secretary of State that "I am sure the conversation would not be confined to these interests [disability charities] but would be about the US/Qatar relationship generally."

When Mrs Clinton finally agreed to meet with Middle East royal, who Mrs Blair referred to as "My friend from Q", she replied to the green light, stating: "Great… when I see what a difference you are making it reminds me why politics is too important to be left to bad people."

[Jul 10, 2015] You mean George Bush sends our soldiers into combat, they are severely wounded, and then he wants $120,000 to make a boring speech to them?

Warren, July 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm

You mean George Bush sends our soldiers into combat, they are severely wounded, and then he wants $120,000 to make a boring speech to them?

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2015

[Jun 28, 2015] US Department of Imperial Expansion

Deeper down the rabbit hole of US-backed color revolutions.
by Tony Cartalucci

Believe it or not, the US State Department's mission statement actually says the following:

"Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."

A far and treasonous cry from the original purpose of the State Department - which was to maintain communications and formal relations with foreign countries - and a radical departure from historical norms that have defined foreign ministries throughout the world, it could just as well now be called the "Department of Imperial Expansion." Because indeed, that is its primary purpose now, the expansion of Anglo-American corporate hegemony worldwide under the guise of "democracy" and "human rights."

That a US government department should state its goal as to build a world of "well-governed states" within the "international system" betrays not only America's sovereignty but the sovereignty of all nations entangled by this offensive mission statement and its execution.

Image: While the US State Department's mission statement sounds benign or even progressive, when the term "international system" or "world order" is used, it is referring to a concept commonly referred to by the actual policy makers that hand politicians their talking points, that involves modern day empire. Kagan's quote came from a 1997 policy paper describing a policy to contain China with.

....


The illegitimacy of the current US State Department fits in well with the overall Constitution-circumventing empire that the American Republic has degenerated into. The current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gives a daily affirmation of this illegitimacy every time she bellies up to the podium to make a statement.

Recently she issued a dangerously irresponsible "warning" to Venezuela and Bolivia regarding their stately relations with Iran. While America has the right to mediate its own associations with foreign nations, one is confounded trying to understand what gives America the right to dictate such associations to other sovereign nations. Of course, the self-declared imperial mandate the US State Department bestowed upon itself brings such "warnings" into perspective with the realization that the globalists view no nation as sovereign and all nations beholden to their unipolar "international system."

It's hard to deny the US State Department is not behind the
"color revolutions" sweeping the world when the Secretary of
State herself phones in during the youth movement confabs
her department sponsors on a yearly basis.

If only the US State Department's meddling was confined to hubris-filled statements given behind podiums attempting to fulfill outlandish mission statements, we could all rest easier. However, the US State Department actively bolsters its meddling rhetoric with very real measures. The centerpiece of this meddling is the vast and ever-expanding network being built to recruit, train, and support various "color revolutions" worldwide. While the corporate owned media attempts to portray the various revolutions consuming Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and now Northern Africa and the Middle East as indigenous, spontaneous, and organic, the reality is that these protesters represent what may be considered a "fifth-branch" of US power projection.

CANVAS: Freedom House, IRI, Soros funded Serbian color revolution
college behind the Orange, Rose, Tunisian, Burmese, and Egyptian protests
and has trained protesters from 50 other countries.


As with the army and CIA that fulfilled this role before, the US State Department's "fifth-branch" runs a recruiting and coordinating center known as the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM). Hardly a secretive operation, its website, Movements.org proudly lists the details of its annual summits which began in 2008 and featured astro-turf cannon fodder from Venezuela to Iran, and even the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt. The summits, activities, and coordination AYM provides is but a nexus. Other training arms include the US created and funded CANVAS of Serbia, which in turn trained color-coup leaders from the Ukraine and Georgia, to Tunisia and Egypt, including the previously mentioned April 6 Movement. There is also the Albert Einstein Institute which produced the very curriculum and techniques employed by CANVAS.

2008 New York City Summit (included Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement)
2009 Mexico City Summit
2010 London Summit

As previously noted, these organizations are now retroactively trying to obfuscate their connections to the State Department and the Fortune 500 corporations that use them to achieve their goals of expansion overseas. CANVAS has renamed and moved their list of supporters and partners while AYM has oafishly changed their "partnerships" to "past partnerships."

Before & After: Oafish attempts to downplay US State Department's extra-legal
meddling and subterfuge in foreign affairs. Other attempts are covered here.

Funding all of this is the tax payers' money funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House. George Soros' Open Society foundation also promotes various NGOs which in turn support the revolutionary rabble on the ground. In Egypt, after the State Department's youth brigades played their role, Soros and NED funded NGOs began work on drafting Egypt's new constitution.

It should be noted that while George Soros is portrayed as being "left," and the overall function of these pro-democracy, pro-human rights organizations appears to be "left-leaning," a vast number of notorious "Neo-Cons" also constitute the commanding ranks and determine the overall agenda of this color revolution army.

Then there are legislative acts of Congress that overtly fund the subversive objectives of the US State Department. In support of regime change in Iran, the Iran Freedom and Support Act was passed in 2006. More recently in 2011, to see the US-staged color revolution in Egypt through to the end, money was appropriated to "support" favored Egyptian opposition groups ahead of national elections.

Then of course there is the State Department's propaganda machines. While organizations like NED and Freedom House produce volumes of talking points in support for their various on-going operations, the specific outlets currently used by the State Department fall under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio Sawa. Interestingly enough, the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits on the board of governors herself, along side a shameful collection of representatives from the Fortune 500, the corporate owned media, and various agencies within the US government.

Hillary Clinton: color revolutionary field marshal & propagandist,
two current roles that defy her duties as Secretary of State in any
rational sense or interpretation.


Judging from Radio Free Europe's latest headlines, such as "Lieberman: The West's Policy Toward Belarus Has 'Failed Miserably' " and "Azerbaijani Youth Activist 'Jailed For One Month,'" it appears that hope is still pinned on inciting color revolutions in Belarus and Azerbaijan to continue on with NATO's creep and the encirclement of Russia. Belarus in particular was recently one of the subjects covered at the Globsec 2011 conference, where it was considered a threat to both the EU and NATO, having turned down NATO in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton's illegitimate threat regarding Venezuela's associations with Iran, no one should be surprised to find out an extensive effort to foment a color revolution to oust Hugo Chavez has been long underway by AYM, Freedom House, NED, and the rest of this "fifth-branch" of globalist power projection. In fact, Hugo Chavez had already weathered an attempted military coup overtly orchestrated by the United States under Bush in 2002.

Upon digging into the characters behind Chavez' ousting in 2002, it
appears that this documentary sorely understates US involvement.

The same forces of corporatism, privatization, and free-trade that led the 2002 coup against Chavez are trying to gain ground once again. Under the leadership of Harvard trained globalist minion Leopoldo Lopez, witless youth are taking the place of 2002's generals and tank columns in an attempt to match globalist minion Mohamed ElBaradei's success in Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, the US State Department's AYM is pro-Venezuelan opposition, and describes in great detail their campaign to "educate" the youth and get them politically active. Dismayed by Chavez' moves to consolidate his power and strangely repulsed by his "rule by decree," -something that Washington itself has set the standard for- AYM laments over the difficulties their meddling "civil society" faces.

Chavez' government recognized the US State Department's meddling recently in regards to a student hunger strike and the US's insistence that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission be allowed to "inspect" alleged violations under the Chavez government. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro even went as far as saying, "It looks like they (U.S.) want to start a virtual Egypt."

The "Fifth-Branch" Invasion: Click for larger image.


Understanding this "fifth-branch" invasion of astro-turf cannon fodder and the role it is playing in overturning foreign governments and despoiling nation sovereignty on a global scale is an essential step in ceasing the Anglo-American imperial machine. And of course, as always, boycotting and replacing the corporations behind the creation and expansion of these color-revolutions hinders not only the spread of their empire overseas, but releases the stranglehold of dominion they possess at home in the United States. Perhaps then the US State Department can once again go back to representing the American Republic and its people to the rest of the world as a responsible nation that respects real human rights and sovereignty both at home and abroad.

Editor's Note: This article has been edited and updated October 26, 2012.

[Jun 20, 2015]Jeb Bush - Profile

"...No Republican will enjoy credibility as a deficit hawk unless he or she acknowledges that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. "
.
"...The National Review piece went on: "Adelson sent word to Bush's camp in Miami: Bush, he said, should tell Baker to cancel the speech. When Bush refused, a source describes Adelson as "rips***"; another says Adelson sent word that the move cost the Florida governor 'a lot of money.'" (At around the same time the rupture with Adelson was reported, Bush publicly disavowed Baker, saying that he would not be a part of his foreign policy team.)"
.
"...In March 2014, Bush and several other potential candidates were also received by Adelson at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering at a Las Vegas hangar owned by Adelson's Sands Corporation, which papers dubbed the "Adelson primary." According to attendees, Bush gave a speech largely focused on domestic issues but also criticized the Obama administration's foreign policy-a key issue for Adelson, who is fiercely "pro-Israel." In his foreign policy remarks, Bush warned about the dangers of "American passivity" and, according to Time, "cautioned the Republican party against 'neo-isolationism' … a line universally understood as a shot at [libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand] Paul. Bush also pushed back on Democratic attacks that whenever a Republican calls for a more activist foreign policy that they are 'warmongering.'"
Jun 20, 2015 | Right Web - Institute for Policy Studies
Foreign Policy Views and Clues

Although he rarely comments on foreign policy, Bush has appeared to embrace neoconservatives who supported his brother's administration, inviting them to serve as his advisers, parroting their complaints about the Obama administration, promoting their current policy objectives, and defending many of their past debacles, like the Iraq War.

He has said that he does not think that "the military option should ever be taken off the table" with respect to Iran and that Obama administration policies on Iran had "empower[ed] bad behavior in Tehran."[8]

Bush has repeatedly defended the decision to invade Iraq. He told CNN in March 2013: "A lot of things in history change over time. I think people will respect the resolve that my brother showed, both in defending the country and the war in Iraq."[9]

More recently, in May 2015, when asked by Fox News pundit Megyn Kelly if he would have authorized the Iraq War "knowing what we know now," Bush replied: "I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got."[10] This statement spurred widespread criticism, including among conservatives. Radio host Laura Ingram, arguing that Bush's weakness on this issue could be exploited by an election opponent, quipped: "We can't stay in this re-litigating the Bush years again. You have to have someone who says look I'm a Republican, but I'm not stupid." She added: "You can't still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. If you do, there has to be something wrong with you," she added.[11]

Many writers have argued that Bush's national ambitions will inevitably suffer from his association with his brother, whom Jeb has pointedly refused to criticize. Saying he didn't believe "there's any Bush baggage at all," Jeb Bush predicted in March 2013 that "history will be kind to George W. Bush." This led The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart to quip, "Unfortunately for Jeb, history is written by historians," who have generally given the Bush administration poor reviews. "That's why Jeb Bush will never seriously challenge for the presidency," Beinart concluded, "because to seriously challenge for the presidency, a Republican will have to pointedly distance himself from Jeb's older brother. No Republican will enjoy credibility as a deficit hawk unless he or she acknowledges that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. No Republican will be able to promise foreign-policy competence unless he or she acknowledges the Bush administration's disastrous mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. … Jeb Bush would find that excruciatingly hard even if he wanted to."[12]

Bush has made several explicit gestures indicating his commitment to continue his brother's track record, particularly on foreign policy. In February 2015, his campaign announced 21 foreign policy experts who will guide him on foreign policy issues. The vast majority were veterans of the George W. Bush administration, like Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley, Michael Chertoff, John Negroponte, Otto Reich, and [13] George W. Bush Deputy National Security Adviser Meghan O'Sullivan has been mentioned as a possible "top foreign-policy aide."[14]

"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush … is seeking to distinguish his views on foreign policy from those of his father and brother, two former presidents," reported the Washington Post, "but he's getting most of his ideas from nearly two dozen people, most of whom previously worked for George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush."[15]

Many observers have surmised that Bush's emphatic support for his brother is the result of him attempting to win the support of Sheldon Adelson. Bush is believed to have received the ire of Adelson after he included in his list of foreign policy advisers former Secretary of State James Baker, a realist who has been critical of Israel on several occasions.

"The bad blood between Bush and Adelson is relatively recent," wrote the conservative National Review in May 2015, "and it deepened with the news that former secretary of state James Baker, a member of Bush's foreign-policy advisory team, was set to address J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel organization founded to serve as the antithesis to the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)."[16]

The National Review piece went on: "Adelson sent word to Bush's camp in Miami: Bush, he said, should tell Baker to cancel the speech. When Bush refused, a source describes Adelson as "rips***"; another says Adelson sent word that the move cost the Florida governor 'a lot of money.'"[17] (At around the same time the rupture with Adelson was reported, Bush publicly disavowed Baker, saying that he would not be a part of his foreign policy team.[18])

During the April 2015 Republican Jewish Coalition-hosted "Adelson primary" in Las Vegas, Salon reported, Adelson "devoted a night to honoring Bush's brother George W. for all he'd done for Israel and the Middle East." Salon added: "The Las Vegas mogul and Israel hawk thus took Bush's biggest political problem-his brother-and made him an asset."[19]

In May 2015, at a meeting with wealthy investors hosted by "pro-Israel" billionaire Paul Singer, Bush unequivocally expressed his attention to follow his brother's advice on issues related to Israel and the Middle East. "If you want to know who I listen to for advice, it's him," Bush said at the event.[20]

In March 2014, Bush and several other potential candidates were also received by Adelson at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering at a Las Vegas hangar owned by Adelson's Sands Corporation, which papers dubbed the "Adelson primary." According to attendees, Bush gave a speech largely focused on domestic issues but also criticized the Obama administration's foreign policy-a key issue for Adelson, who is fiercely "pro-Israel." In his foreign policy remarks, Bush warned about the dangers of "American passivity" and, according to Time, "cautioned the Republican party against 'neo-isolationism' … a line universally understood as a shot at [libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand] Paul. Bush also pushed back on Democratic attacks that whenever a Republican calls for a more activist foreign policy that they are 'warmongering.'"[21]

The remarks-which the Washington Post described as "muscular if generic"[22]-appeared to be well received by the attendees and seemed to demonstrate that Bush identified more with the party's interventionist wing than with its rising libertarian faction on foreign policy.[23]

At one point in the late 1990s, Bush seemed to have been considered a potentially more influential political ally than his brother by the neoconservatives who founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Commenting on the signatories to PNAC's 1997 founding statement of principles, Jim Lobe and Michael Flynn wrote: "Ironically, virtually the only signatory who has not played a leading role since the letter was released has been Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who in 1997 apparently looked to [William] Kristol and [Robert] Kagan more presidential than his brother George."[24]

[Jun 16, 2015] Hillary Clinton ducks questions on trade deals during New Hampshire visit

Notable quotes:
"... But, listen, lets review the rules. Heres how it works: the president makes decisions. Hes the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction! ..."
"... The media is still a bunch of stenographers for the WH and even now the WH candidates. ..."
"... She was part of the Obama/Biden administration that expanded Afghanistan war, attacked Libya, intervened in Syria and Yemen, relaunched the Iraq war, used Ukraine to provoke Russia and is being provocative with China by interfering in South China Sea. ..."
"... Lets face it. Wall Street and the military industrial complex control BOTH parties, and are especially bonded with and beholding to Hillary Clinton. ..."
"... You have to remember that to the financial elites who are backing Republicans - and Obama - middle class means anyone whos in the top 5% of the economic pyramid but hasnt made it into the top 1% because theyre too damned lazy. ..."
Jun 15, 2015 | The Guardian

FugitiveColors 15 Jun 2015 23:52

She can talk til her pantsuit turns blue.
I have already decided that my ballot will have Bernie Sanders on it one way or another.
I don't believe her. I don't like her, and I damn sure won't vote for her.
She is a blue corporate stooge and not much different than a red corporate stooge.
Bernie is honest and after all of those years in politics, he is not rich.
You can't say that about a single other candidate.


libbyliberal -> Timothy Everton 15 Jun 2015 23:47

Yo, Timothy, Paul Street recently reminded his readers of part of Colbert's speech at the Correspondents' Dinner way back in 2006 (time flies while we're sinking into fascism):

"But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!"

Timothy Everton -> enlightenedgirl 15 Jun 2015 22:36

Sorry Not-so-enlightenedgirl. WE don't elect government officials, and we don't pay them for "not putting the screws to us". They get elected, paid, and influenced by lobbyists for the wealthy one percent, and by the corporations, who both fund their campaigns for future favors rendered. Those with the most funding for the prettiest and most abundant campaign ads are those elected. And yes, they DO put the screws to us, the American public. This woman is more a puppet for those interests than some Republicans.

Timothy Everton -> libbyliberal 15 Jun 2015 22:11

"The media is still a bunch of stenographers for the WH and even now the WH candidates."

Sorry libby, I don't see them crowding around Bernie Sanders, the only viable candidate FOR the AVERAGE American. In fact, I believe he had more "press time" before he became a candidate.

That is the way it goes here though. Get an honest candidate who speaks her/his mind, and you get no press coverage - way too dangerous for those who actually control our government through lobbyists.


libbyliberal 15 Jun 2015 21:42

What is this business about Hillary NOT "taking the bait" of a reporter's questions? Hillary needs to be challenged and not be the one in control with her gobsmackingly well-funded pr info-mercial steamrolling her presidential challenge.

The media is still a bunch of stenographers for the WH and even now the WH candidates. This is what THEY say their policy is and will be. Not critical thinking of the journalist, no connecting of the dots, to be applied?

Their talk sure is cheap and seductive. Obama gave us major lessons in that in 2008 and again in 2012. More nicey-nice sounding bull-sh*t that is vague or downright mendacious to the realpolitik agenda.

Hillary wants to talk about what is convenient and safe for her. Identity politics. Generalized populist feel-good rhetoric. Nothing substantial with the globalized and corporatized trade deals OR the massive violent US-sponsored or direct militarism around the globe.

Hillary's NYC Four Freedoms Park speech: lack of mention of foreign policy except for some threats on China, Russia, N. Korea and Iran. No mention of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Afghanistan. No mention of drone warfare. No mention of NSA surveillance. No mention of police violence.

She was part of the Obama/Biden administration that expanded Afghanistan war, attacked Libya, intervened in Syria and Yemen, relaunched the Iraq war, used Ukraine to provoke Russia and is being provocative with China by interfering in South China Sea.

Hillary skipped addressing the inconvenient and the media and her fan base had no problem with such gobsmacking omissions. Hillary decides that the US citizenry doesn't want to focus on foreign policy and she ramps up vague populist rhetoric like Obama did back in 2008 to convince the citizenry she is their champion even though she personally has amassed over $100 million from her financial elite cronies over the decades and if you think that fortune has no influence on who she is championing there's a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn you should look into buying.

Let's face it. Wall Street and the military industrial complex control BOTH parties, and are especially bonded with and beholding to Hillary Clinton.


Vladimir Makarenko -> enlightenedgirl 15 Jun 2015 19:19

"diplomacy so badly needed after the disastrous term of Bush and Cheney and their destruction of the Middle East." If anything she extended B & Ch policies by destroying Libya and turning it in a murderous breeding ground for Islamic ultras. She was at helm of arming Syrian "opposition" better known today as ISIS.

Her record as a Secretary is dismal - line by line no achievements, no solved problems but disaster by disaster.

talenttruth 15 Jun 2015 18:34

If the Democratic party nominates the "inevitable" Hillary Clinton, rather than someone real who ACTUALLY represents the middle class, tells the truth and is NOT part of the "corporately bought-and-sold" insider group, then it will be heads-or-tails whether she wins or one of the totally insane, whack-job Republi-saur candidates wins.

If she keeps on doing what she's been doing, she will LOOK just like those arrogant "insiders" the Republicans claim her to be (despite the fact that they are FAR FAR FAR worse, but much better at lying about that than any Democrat). Hillary is a VERY VERY WEAK candidate, because the huge "middle" of decent Americans is looking for real change, and not -- as well -- a Republican change WAY for the worse.

This Election is the Democratic Party's to LOSE. Hillary could make that happen (no matter how much worse ANY Republican victor will likely be). What a choice.

sour_mash -> goatrider 15 Jun 2015 18:09

"...why doesn't the disgusting American media ask the Republicans who support it to explain themselves too. Why are they so eager to join Obama in destroying the American middle class?"

After +6 years of the then Republican Party, now known as the Christian Jihad Party or CJP, making Obama a one term president it smells to high heaven that they now agree on this single issue.

Yes, where are the questions.

Whitt 15 Jun 2015 18:03

Because they're not "destroying the American middle class". You have to remember that to the financial elites who are backing Republicans - and Obama - "middle class" means anyone who's in the top 5% of the economic pyramid but hasn't made it into the top 1% because they're too damned lazy.

[Jun 16, 2015] Jeb Bush's campaign debut: protester showdown met with chants of 'USA'

Notable quotes:
"... sandra oconnor is actually on record saying that she would do anything to get bush elected. ..."
"... All candidates are promising change and yet are funded by those who dont want change. All candidates are promising defeat of ISIS and yet voted for or presided over or agreed with military aggression in the ME and tactics that helped create the instability in Iraq that led to ISIS. All candidates are promising to strengthen the middle classes and yet support tax cuts (benefiting the rich), trade agreements (benefiting the rich), deregulation (benefiting the rich), and are funded by industries that impoverish the working and middle classes and keep wages stagnant. ..."
"... Most Americans are addicted , with help from the media, to those who like to drag them to wars and fuck their economy for the sake of the rich and powerful. And the sad truth is that there is not much difference between Democrats such as Clinton and the GOP bunch that have announced their presidential intentions. There is no hope as long as big money is involved in choosing leadership for a country that boasts about democracy and democratic values while its institutions are under assault by corrupt rich and powerful. ..."
"... The right-wing is incredibly stupid if Bush is their nominee. ..."
"... Bush may speak Spanish and come across as Latino friendly, but the reality is that hes the son of one of the most powerful families in the US. As a conservative Republican, his first priority is to the powerful elite. ..."
Jun 15, 2015 | The Guardian

eileen1 -> mabcalif 15 Jun 2015 23:48

Neither a Bush nor a Clinton. They're both poisonous in different ways.

eileen1 -> WMDMIA 15 Jun 2015 23:47

There is no difference between Bush and Obama, except Obama is smarter and more devious.

redbanana33 -> mabcalif 15 Jun 2015 23:27

"are you really suggesting we forget this piece of history simply because bush won by corruption and connivance?"

No, I never said I believed there was corruption and connivance. Those are your words. Your personal opinion. MY words were that if more voters had wanted Gore as their president, he would have won. As it was, he couldn't even carry his home state. Sometimes the truth is hard to face and so we make excuses for what we perceive as injustice, when, in reality, more people just didn't think like you did in that election. But blame the court (bet you can't even clearly state what the case points they were asked to consider, without googling it) and blame the Clintons and even blame poor Ralph for your guy's lack of popularity. If it makes you feel better, go for it. It won't change the past.

And, speaking of presidents winning by a hair's breadth, shall we talk about how Joe Kennedy bribed his way to electing his son? Hmmmm? Except that even the crook Nixon had enough class to concede rather than drag the country through months of misery like your hero did.

mabcalif -> redbanana33 15 Jun 2015 22:50

there have been more than one excellent president who's won that office only by a hair's breadth.

are you really suggesting we forget this piece of history simply because bush won by corruption and connivance? particularly when the outcome was so disastrous for the country and the world?

it wasn't a question of being more popular, it's a question of being overwhelmed by the clinton scandal, a brother governor willing to throw the state's votes and by a supreme court that was arrayed against him (sandra o'connor is actually on record saying that she would do anything to get bush elected.) not to mention a quixotic exercise in third party politics with a manifestly inadequate candidate that had no foreign policy experience

Otuocha11 -> redbanana33 15 Jun 2015 22:43

Yes some people need to be reminded, especially about the falsification/lies completing the 2009 voter-registration form.

bishoppeter4 15 Jun 2015 22:39

Jeb and his father and brother ought to be in jail !

Otuocha11 -> redbanana33 15 Jun 2015 22:38

His point is that "No more president with the name BUSH" in the White House. He can change his name to something like Moron or Terrone. Let him drop that name because Americans have NOT and will NOT recover from the regime of the last Bush.

redbanana33 -> Con Mc Cusker 15 Jun 2015 22:30

Then (respectfully) the rest of the world needs to grow some balls, get up off their asses, define their vision, and strike out on their own as controllers of their own destinies.

After that, you'll have the right to criticize my country. Right now you don't have that right. Get off the wagon and help pull it.

ponderwell -> Peter Ciurczak 15 Jun 2015 22:25

Politics is about maneuvering to get your own way. In Jebya speak it means whatever will
lead to power. Hillary sounds trite and poorly staged.

Jeez, now Trump wants more attention...a big yawn.

WMDMIA 15 Jun 2015 22:24

His brother should be in prison for war crimes and crimes against Humanity. Jeb violated election laws to put his brother in office so he is also responsible for turning this nation into a terrorist country.

ExcaliburDefender -> Zenit2 15 Jun 2015 22:03

No $hit $herlock, he met his wife when they were both 17, in MEXICO. Jeb has a degree in Latin Studies too.

Just vote, the Tea Party always does.

:<)

ExcaliburDefender 15 Jun 2015 22:01

Jeb may very well be the most qualified of the GOP, and he can speak intelligently on immigration, if his campaign/RNC would allow it.

Too bad we don't have other GOPers like Huntsman and even Steve Forbes, yes I enjoyed Forbes being part of the debates in 96, even voted for him in the primary. And not because I thought he would win, but I wanted him to be heard.

Debates will be interesting, Trump is jumping in for the 4th time.

#allvotesmatter

fflambeau 15 Jun 2015 22:00

The USA presidential campaign looks very much like a world wrestling match (one of those fake ones). Only the wrestlers are more intelligent.

MisterMeaner 15 Jun 2015 21:59

Jebya. Whoopty Goddam Doo.

ponderwell 15 Jun 2015 21:52

Jebby exclaimed: 'The country is going in the wrong direction'. Omitting the direction W Bush sent the U.S. into with false info. and willful intention to bomb Iraq for the sake of an egotistical purpose.

And, the insane numerous disasters W sponsored. The incorrigible Bush Clan !

benluk 15 Jun 2015 21:49

Jeb Bush, "In this country of ours, most improbable things can happen," Jeb Bush

But not as improbable as letting another war mongering Bush in the White House.

gilbertratchet -> BehrHunter 15 Jun 2015 21:42

Indeed, and it seems that Bush III thinks it's a virtue not a problem:

"In this country of ours, most improbable things can happen," began Bush. "And that's from the guy who met his first president on the day he was born and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital..."

No Jeb, that would be improbable for me. For you it was a normal childhood day. But it's strange you're pushing the "born to rule" angle. I guess it's those highly paid consultants who tell you that you have to own the issue before it defines you.

Guess what... No amount of spin will change your last name.

gorianin 15 Jun 2015 21:35

Jeb Bush already fixed one election. Now he's looking to "fix" the country.

seasonedsenior 15 Jun 2015 21:29

Stop calling him Jeb. Sounds folksy and everyman like. His name is John E. Bush. And he's from a family of billionaires. Don't let him pull a what's-her-name in Spokane. He was a rich baby, child, young man, Governor ...on and on and is completely out of touch with the common man.

He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and his sensibilities are built of money gained off the backs of the workers of this country. He is big oil to his core.

Caesar Ol 15 Jun 2015 21:27

Jeb is the dumbest of all the Bushes. Therefore the most dangerous as someone will manipulate him the way that Cheney did with Bush.

ChelsieGreen 15 Jun 2015 21:27

Interesting thing is that Bush is old school Republican, spend big, be the power to the world.

Since his brother/father left office the party moved on, Tea Party may have faded slightly but they are not big spenders, they are small government. Jeb will have trouble making a mark in the early states to be the nominee, he is considered center-right.

The right wing of the party thinks where they slipped up was not nominating someone right-wing enough, they will portray him as weak on immigration and chew him up.


Brookstone1 15 Jun 2015 21:11

America has been wounded badly by the reckless and stupidity of the Republicans under the leadership of G. W. Bush. And now it would be a DEADLY MISTAKE to even ponder about voting Republican again, let alone voting for another Bush! The Bush family has nothing in common with ordinary Americans!

NO MORE BUSH!!!

nubwaxer 15 Jun 2015 21:03

i heard his punchlines about "fixing" america to get us back to free enterprise and freedom. dear jeb, we know what you mean and free enterprise is code for corporatism run wild and repeal of regulations. similarly when you say freedom you mean that for rich white males and right to work laws, union busting, repeal of minimum wage laws, no paid vacation or maternity leave and especially the freedom to go bankrupt, suffer, and die for lack of health care insurance. more like freedumb.

Xoxarle -> sitarlun 15 Jun 2015 20:33

All candidates are promising change and yet are funded by those who don't want change.

All candidates are promising defeat of ISIS and yet voted for or presided over or agreed with military aggression in the ME and tactics that helped create the instability in Iraq that led to ISIS.

All candidates are promising to strengthen the middle classes and yet support tax cuts (benefiting the rich), trade agreements (benefiting the rich), deregulation (benefiting the rich), and are funded by industries that impoverish the working and middle classes and keep wages stagnant.

All candidates are promising bipartisanship and yet are part of the dysfunction in DC, pandering to special interests or extreme factions that reject compromise.

ID6995146 15 Jun 2015 20:33

Another Saudi hand-holder and arse licker.


OlavVI -> catch18 15 Jun 2015 20:24

And he's already got Wolfowitz, one of the worst war mongers (ala Cheney) in US history as an adviser. Probably dreaming up several wars for Halliburton, et al., to rake up billions of $$$$ from the poor (the rich pretty much get off in the US).

concious 15 Jun 2015 20:20

USA chant is Nationalism, not Patriotism. Is this John Ellis Bush really going to get votes?

sitarlun 15 Jun 2015 20:02

Most Americans are addicted , with help from the media, to those who like to drag them to wars and fuck their economy for the sake of the rich and powerful.

And the sad truth is that there is not much difference between Democrats such as Clinton and the GOP bunch that have announced their presidential intentions.

There is no hope as long as big money is involved in choosing leadership for a country that boasts about democracy and democratic values while it's institutions are under assault by corrupt rich and powerful.

OurPlanet -> briteblonde1 15 Jun 2015 19:34

He's a great "fixer" Him and his tribe in Florida certainly fixed those chads for his brother's election success in 2000. A truly rich family of oilmen . What could be better? Possibly facing if inaugerated as the GOP nominee to face the possibly successful Democrat nominee Clinton. So the choice of 2016 menu for American election year is 2 Fish that stink. Welcome to the American Plutocracy.

Sam Ahmed 15 Jun 2015 19:23

I wonder if the state of Florida will try "Fix" the vote count for Jeb as they did for Georgie. I wonder if the Republicans can "Fix" their own party. You know what, I don't want the Republican party to think I'm bashing them, so I'll request a major tune up for Hillary Clinton too. Smiles all around! =)

Cyan Eyed 15 Jun 2015 18:48

A family linked to weapons manufacturers through Harriman.
A family linked to weapons dealing through Carlyle.
A family linked to the formation of terrorist networks (including Al Qaeda).
A family linked to an attempted coup on America.
The right-wing is incredibly stupid if Bush is their nominee.

davshev 15 Jun 2015 18:43

Bush may speak Spanish and come across as Latino friendly, but the reality is that he's the son of one of the most powerful families in the US. As a conservative Republican, his first priority is to the powerful elite.

[Jun 14, 2015] Bush and Hawkish Magical Thinking

Notable quotes:
"... t's usually not clear what hawks think would have discouraged Russian interference and intervention in Ukraine under the circumstances, but they seem to think that if only the U.S. had somehow been more assertive and more meddlesome there or in some other part of the world that the conflict would not have occurred or would not be as severe as it is. ..."
Jun 14, 2015 | The American Conservative
Jeb Bush made a familiar assertion during his visit to Poland:

Bush seemed to suggest he would endorse a more muscular foreign policy, saying the perception of American retreat from the global stage in recent years had emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to commit aggression in Ukraine.

"When there's doubt, when there's uncertainty, when we pull back, it creates less chance of a more peaceful world," Bush told reporters. "You're seeing the impact of that in Ukraine right now."

Bush's remarks are what we expect from hawks, but they are useful in showing how they indulge in a sort of magical thinking when it comes to the U.S. role in the world. They take for granted that an activist and meddlesome U.S. foreign policy is stabilizing and contributes to peace and security, and so whenever there is conflict or upheaval somewhere it is attributed to insufficient U.S. meddling or to so-called "retreat." According to this view, the conflict in Ukraine didn't happen because the Ukrainian government was overthrown in an uprising and Russia then illegally seized territory in response, but because the U.S. was perceived to be "retreating" and this "emboldened" Russia. It's usually not clear what hawks think would have discouraged Russian interference and intervention in Ukraine under the circumstances, but they seem to think that if only the U.S. had somehow been more assertive and more meddlesome there or in some other part of the world that the conflict would not have occurred or would not be as severe as it is.

This both greatly overrates the power and influence that the U.S. has over the events in other parts of the world, and it tries to reduce every foreign crisis or conflict to how it relates to others' perceptions of U.S. "leadership." Hawks always dismiss claims that other states are responding to past and present U.S. actions, but they are absolutely certain that other states' actions are invited by U.S. "inaction" or "retreat," even when the evidence for said "retreat" is completely lacking. The possibility that assertive U.S. actions may have made a conflict more likely or worse than it would otherwise be is simply never admitted. The idea that the U.S. role in the world had little or nothing to do with a conflict seems to be almost inconceivable to them.

One of the many flaws with this way of looking at the world is that it holds the U.S. most responsible for conflicts that it did not magically prevent while refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of things that the U.S. has actually done. Viewing the world this way inevitably fails to take local conditions into account, it ignores the agency of the local actors, and it imagines that the U.S. possesses a degree of control over the rest of the world that it doesn't and can't have. Unsurprisingly, this distorted view of the world reliably produces very poor policy choices.

[Jun 14, 2015] An Inconvenient Truth The Bush Administration Was a Disaster

Jun 14, 2015 | The American Conservative

Most Americans remember the Bush years as a period of expanding government, ruinous war, and economic collapse. They voted for Obama the first time as a repudiation of those developments. Many did so a second time because most Republicans continue to pretend that they never happened.

[Jun 13, 2015] Former secretary of state officially launches presidential campaign, says shell fight for all Americans

Notable quotes:
"... Hillary diplomatic accomplishments consist of drone strikes, gunboat diplomacy, wire taps of friends, sucking up with enemies and assassination teams. ..."
"... Its funny how all you yahoos think that the people decide who is president. If the people really decided that, there wouldnt be just two candidates to vote for. Live on in your political fantasy world. ..."
"... @jgg0000012 @eightsigma You must have missed the freeloader narrative. ..."
Jun 13, 2015 | CBS News

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton officially launched her 2016 campaign in New York Saturday, laying out a populist policy agenda that she said would fight "for all Americans."

"I'm running to make our economy work for you and for every American," Clinton told supporters at a midday rally on New York's Roosevelt Island. "I'm not running for some Americans, but for all Americans."

Standing atop a stage shaped in the likeness of her campaign logo -- a large "H" with an arrow pointing right -- Clinton cited "America's basic bargain" as a guiding principle of her campaign and her personal life: "If you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead."

...Clinton also addressed issues with entering the presidential race at 67 years old.

...She made one reference to Vladimir Putin, saying she "stood up to" the Russian leader when she worked to pass a treaty to limit Russian nuclear warheads. But she noticeably avoided any talk of her stance on trade -- an issue that has dominated recent headlines because of congressional Democrats' internal strife on fast-track trade legislation.

Carltests

Hillary's message is one of being stuck in the past. Her mother lived through the Great Depression, and evidently had a hard time. Well, most people who lived through the Great Depression had hard times. Living under the impression that life is the way it was now almost 100 years ago is not indicative of anyone I can support.

She is really hung up women's issues. I know a lot of professional women who are doing quite well and don't seem to carry that sort of baggage. They tend to be good at their career choices and have understood that they only needed empower themselves to succeed, and therefore, they have succeeded. They weren't dependent upon the men in their lives, although they have them, nor were they dependent on the Government to have their success. Among them was one of the best supervisors I ever had, and she never had the hangups Hillary does, plus she was much more competent than Hillary has proved to be.

Perhaps Hillary's hangups are the result of her philandering, likely abusive husband, Slick Willy. You know, he was always that way. She could have left him at any time and stood on her own. Yet, she stayed in that almost certainly sick relationship. Now she claims she will save all women. Well, I think her actions and her choices in her life demonstrate that she won't.

puckingpup842

More Clinton crap of greed corruption is all we would get, and with her ignorance and a finger on the button WWIII as she thinks she is pushing a reset button.

..trout.

I am not a Hillary supporter. But if I have to choose between her and the motley lineup of Republicans, guess she gets my vote by default.

puckingpup842

Hillary diplomatic accomplishments consist of drone strikes, gunboat diplomacy, wire taps of friends, sucking up with enemies and assassination teams.

Buttercup

@puckingpup842

Which should make her right at home in the GOP.

eightsigma

@puckingpup842 In other words, normal foreign policy leadership.

WildStarre

It's funny how all you yahoos think that "the people" decide who is president. If the people really decided that, there wouldn't be just two candidates to vote for. Live on in your political fantasy world.

WildStarre

@eightsigma @WildStarre

They never have. The banks decide who the two candidates will be. And both candidates are in their pocket.

rykatspop

And from the far corner of the old GOP, Newt has a plan . . . a contract with America. They can bring that disaster out again.

Walker and Gingrich. There's a ticket. Neo conservatives and tea baggers unite.

eightsigma

GOP Presidential campaign platform:

"If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

eightsigma

@jgg0000012 @eightsigma You must have missed the "freeloader" narrative.

Slammy Davis, Jr.

@eightsigma @jgg0000012

Dayum right on that one! I saw Jon Stewart tear them apart on that one! Epic!

HiTor15

We saw a president come in here with all the hoopla and promise of "CHANGE"...what did he do instead? Well he MADE THE ELITE A WHOLE LOT MORE ELITE...the POOR A WHOLE LOT MORE POOR...and HE HAS BROUGHT US ONE SHOT FROM WORLD WAR THREE! That was not a whole lotta change of the kind most people were expecting.....as for hillary? well first she becomes SENATOR OF NEW YORK....then...when she loses her bid for the presidency..she decides she can join the MAN OF CHANGE and become SECRETARY OF STATE..and what did she do there????? ....well I can leave that answer to YOU!

Its time for a REAL CHANGE....or the only change we're going to get is to die in a NUCLEAR WAR! which will be charged to our credit bill.....before hand...... Just an opinion.....

KansasCowboy
The Clinton's have been for sale every since their early days in Arkansas. Put a t-shirt on Bill or Hillary with the sleeves cut out and a pack of smokes on their shoulder and they are right back in the hills..

eightsigma

@KansasCowboy Yeah - those Rhodes scholars. There goes the neighborhood
KansasCowboy

Elitist hypocrite on steroids... The Lyle Alzado of politics!

FlMed

The argument for Clinton in 2016 is that she is the candidate of the only major American political party not run by lunatics.

There is only one choice for voters who want a president who accepts climate science and rejects voodoo economics, and whose domestic platform would not engineer the largest upward redistribution of resources in American history.

Even if the relatively sober Jeb Bush wins the nomination, he will have to accommodate himself to his party's barking-mad consensus.

She is non-crazy America's choice by default. And it is not necessarily an exciting choice for some, but it is an easy one, and a proposition behind which she will command a majority

californiadreaming
That's a laugh. Her family is about one of the most dysfunctional families in the public spotlight today!

Sorry, but she's just borrowing a line from Obama's playbook - tell the voters anything and everything to get their votes, and then ignore them when you get elected.Yes, it might be time for a female president, but Hillary Clinton is not the person to fill those shoes. She has less experience than Obama had. And no - you can't count the 8 years being married to the president as experience!

The overall problem in 2016 is that no candidate has stepped up that would really fit the role of president - for either party. I've seen the administration of 11 presidents in my lifetimes, and I've never seen such slim pickings as we have in 2016. They are all unknown entities or they are total froot loops. The Republicans have so many candidates that even if they had a viable one, there are too many to choose from.

skeezix06
Obama's cabinet selection of CEOs and their assistant water carriers makes Hillary's claim of populism pretty thin. I might have believed it in 2010 but not at this point. I might add that I've given up on my current democratic senator due to an apparent inability to tell Obama "no". That person won'tbe getting my vote next election.

Everything considered, democrats did nothing to reverse Dumbya's bad policies and little or nothing that looks like actual democratic policies. I'm totally disgusted with the democratic party. Republicans have been forced so far into la-la land by the tea party/libertarians that they aren't an option. The only person running who looks interesting so far is Bernie.

rzarc101
@xlucky7x

Bush Jr. was CEO of one or two small companies that went belly up. Fiorina almost took out HP, a huge company. Romney was a very successful cEO. Running a company and running a government are two different animals. They share some things but not many.
wfw3536
Hillary talks about how she is the candidate of today, and how she is fighting for children, and regular folks. Maybe she should tell us how Bill and Hillary could make 130 million dollars in less than six years after being broke in 2008. She tells us she wants to help our economy, well she could help our economy by just giving us her secret of how to make 130 million dollars, or how to play the "pay to play" games and win big. Her comments of fighting against the rich is almost as big a lie as her whopper of being shot at by rebels in Kosovo that Obama exposed in the 2008 campaign. She claims to be a candidate of today, but the truth is if you listen to her speech it is the same old, same old Hillary who is getting very tired to a majority of folks who do not believe she is neither honest of trustworthy.

erasmus

@scottpatrick1234

Give your freakin' head a shake. Every single Republican candidate will have the same or more skeletons in their closet. I've never seen so many corrupt politicians. In fact, your whole political system is corrupt.

From what I can see, Obama is the only one without skeletons.. Good luck with finding another. This one was a fluke.




Anyways, GO HILLARY!!!
RJ.Incognito1974
@Buttercup @RJ.Incognito1974 You are damned right I'm afraid of a pathological liar and a Federal criminal as POTUS.

She is also likely to be an agent for the Communist Chinese now too.

Now that we can assume that the Chinese also have EVERY single email that Hillary Clinton had saved on the hard drive of her private server in her private home during her 4 years as Sec of State and for 2 more years afterward, she is totally compromised. The Chinese can blackmail her into doing ANYTHING they want her to do by threatening to expose her incriminating emails, and you can be sure there are MANY. She deleted 30,000 of them and then had her hard drive scrubbed in the attempt to prevent them from EVER being retrieved. Surprise, surprise, the Chinese have read ALL of them. The Chinese OWN Hillary Clinton's fat A$$.

wdrousell

If you don't like Hillary because she is too close to WallSt, then it is obvious you would never vote for a republican.

eightsigma

@scottpatrick1234 "Yesterday" means "greed is good".
Clinton has the moral high ground.

PlsMKSns

@scottpatrick1234 Oh. OK. You don't get it?

Yesterday - segregated army barracks, segregated society, can't vote, can't marry a different race, can't this can't that...you get it yet?
xlucky7x
Hillary equals more hate and racism and divisiveness and misogyny and impoverishment and dependency and crime.

Hillary offers nothing except that will be good for Hillary. She cares about nothing but herself!

FlMed
Here are some startling facts:

In 2012 the final Electoral College results were 332 for Obama and 206 for Romney. If that Mormon had won the battleground states of Florida (29 votes), Ohio (18 votes), and Virginia (13 votes), Obama would still have been reelected but by acloser margin of 272 to 266.

Now, just because Obama won well over 300 electoral votes does not mean Hillary will repeat that achievement but her chances of doing so look quite good. . The path to 270 is much easier for any Democrat candidate given current and future demographic growth and established voting patterns.

Hillary may in fact win by an electoral landslide not seen since Reagan's win in 1984 which in todays numbers would be 97% of the electoral college.

MickeyOne65
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "I want to say one thing to the American people - I will not vote for this woman."

[Jun 13, 2015]The Index Of Evil Whos The Bad Guy Now

"...Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Lindsey Graham come to mind, along with John McCain, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and all the other clownish warmongers."
Zero Hedge
Let us finish our series, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." We've been looking at how, when everybody's a lawbreaker, it's hard to spot the real criminals. (To catch up, here's Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.)

You'll recall that we imagined a conversation between two German soldiers on the Eastern Front in 1943. "Klaus, are we the bad guys here?" one might have asked the other.

Yesterday, we mentioned a few "bad guys." It was no trouble to find them. Just check the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But today we move on – beyond the two-bit bullies, chiselers, and zombies – to the really ugly guys. Who are the evil ones?

It's easy to see evil in dead people. Stalin... Hitler... Pol Pot... people who tortured and killed just to feel good. The jaws of Hell must open especially wide to let them in.

But who should go to the devil today?

Counting the Bodies

It is not for us to say. But we can make some recommendations:

Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Lindsey Graham come to mind, along with John McCain, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and all the other clownish warmongers.

Of course, we want to be fair and respectful. Each should definitely get an impartial hearing… and then his own lamppost.

... ... ...

[Jun 01, 2015] David Runciman writes something goofy about US vs. British Politicsby Rich Yeselson

Selected Quotes: "..."Why don't people start new parties in the US to compete against the established ones?" is the same damned question as "why don't people start new parties in the USSR to compete against the communist party?", it's just that the US has two parties instead of one.
"...the whole point, as imagined by men who, with certain important exceptions, were very much determined not to replicate the powers of a monarchy in their fledgling nation, was to create conditions that would force elites to compromise and to limit the power of the propertyless (let alone the slaves) to even enter into the discussion. Compromise between powerful interests, not the clarity of unitary authority, was supposed to occur not only between the branches of government, but also between the national government and those of the states (and between the North and the slaveholding sub-nation of the South). There is absolutely nothing structurally about the American system of government, either in its inception or in its current dissipated condition, that offers voters a "clear choice" regarding domestic politics. "
"...Meanwhile, the dominant political party over the past hundred years has won a majority yet again with a minority of those actually voting. ...people seem quite happy for a government to rule with the support of 22% of the population and to wait patiently for the opportunity to repeat the process in five years time."
"...These are all reasonable questions to ask at a time when the neoliberal course of policy evolution seems to be trending in a direction non-responsive to the substantive interests of the mass of people and the apparatus for authoritarian governance is being augmented. "
"..In fact, it turns out that the only country in the world with a US style two coke/ pepsi two parties and that is all you are going to get electoral system happens to be the US."
May 28, 2015 | Crooked Timber

David Runciman wrote a brief essay http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/david-runciman/notes-on-the-election in the LRB about the results of the British election. I want to focus on one peculiar passage. Runciman observes:

The two countries that have seen the greatest rise in inequality over the past couple of decades are Britain and the United States. Both have a first-past-the-post system designed to offer a clear choice between two main parties. Yet whichever of the two parties wins, the drift towards inequality has been inexorable.

... the US has a presidential model with separation of powers across three branches of government and a widely dispersed federalism, and the UK has a parliamentary model.

...The American system offers a decidedly murky choice; Because the congressional party (whose election is spread over three cycles) does not merely oppose, but also obstructs the presidential party, the US way of democracy provides the electorate with no logical party accountability - presidential "failures" can be caused by minority legislative parties because the presidential party only appears to voters-and to Runciman, apparently-to be the governing party, but is not.

... ... ...

...the whole point, as imagined by men who, with certain important exceptions, were very much determined not to replicate the powers of a monarchy in their fledgling nation, was to create conditions that would force elites to compromise and to limit the power of the propertyless (let alone the slaves) to even enter into the discussion.

Compromise between powerful interests, not the clarity of unitary authority, was supposed to occur not only between the branches of government, but also between the national government and those of the states (and between the North and the slaveholding sub-nation of the South). There is absolutely nothing structurally about the American system of government, either in its inception or in its current dissipated condition, that offers voters a "clear choice" regarding domestic politics.


Bruce Wilder 05.28.15 at 4:34 am

"The system makes them do it" enables a flight into meta, where the thin atmosphere and lessened gravity, makes all kinds of intellectual acrobatics possible, as david notes.

Technical tweaking of electoral rules may make knowledge seem like power, but, as Cersei Lannister so eloquently put it, "Power is power."

Neither the U.S. nor Britain has an effective, popular party with committed mass support or a committed leadership. Politicians of both Parties respond pretty much only to the very, very rich and to well-organized business interests.

That's not to say that the Parties are "the same", because they are not. But, it is to say that the political weight to force the kinds of political compromise with the general or mass interest Runciman apparently desires is simply not there, and no clever reforms can conjure it up.

reason 05.28.15 at 7:56 am

Bruce
The problem with a two party system is that it stifles debate (at least in the major media – crooked timber is an exception of course). Politics unfortunately today is about symbolism and personalities, I'm old enough to remember a time when it was about policy (as in my view it should be).

The US presidential system unfortunately institutionalises it being about personality which I regard as an enormous mistake. voting systems are not the solution to everything, but they matter.

Omega Centauri 05.28.15 at 5:03 pm

There might be issues of subtle incentives/drives towards certain types of outcomes, which effect the dynamics of how the system evolves. Does FPP which gives uneven decision power to swing voters in swing districts, favor those political actors (or pressure groups), which can capture these swing voters? If that is indeed happening, does it favor big money, over grassroots or vice versa?

I'm not up to date on the British system with regards to financing of campaign publicity efforts. There used to be strict limits on money in UK elections, in the US -especially after citizens united, there are effectively no limits on big money spending to influence results. Surely this creates forces that effect how the overall system evolves. In the US we have one party which is openly in the pocket of big money interests, and another which is rhetorically opposed, but in fact has to raise substantial funds from big money sectors in order to remain competitive. This of course creates a bit of a dichotomy, one party can have a clear set of principles it appears to be loyal to, whilst the other is continually compromising between its ideals, and its funders desires -therefore even though its policies are generally favored, the personal integrity of its candidates can be continually undermined.

Igor Belanov 05.28.15 at 6:31 pm

The British political system is extremely conservative, some of which is no doubt due to the voting system.

Take the 2015 election as an example, but in terms of the actual representation. The UK has remained a two-and-a-half party system, as it has been since at least 1997, but with the SNP replacing the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, the dominant political party over the past hundred years has won a majority yet again with a minority of those actually voting.

This is against a backdrop of massive change when it comes to voting and political attitudes. The winning party received the same proportion of the vote as the Labour Party did in its disastrous defeat in 1979. While almost all elections involve the vast majority of seats 'swinging' from one party to another, this election saw a bizarre collection of swings in different areas and individual constituencies. Scotland moved decisively for the SNP and against Labour. The North and the big cities saw safe Labour seats pile on enhanced majorities but lose out in marginal seats, while in the Midlands and South Labour lost votes slightly almost everywhere to the Tories and UKIP. The only uniform factor was the drubbing handed to the Lib Dems.

Despite the vagaries of the political system, however, the real sign of the conservatism of the British system and society is that people seem quite happy for a government to rule with the support of 22% of the population and to wait patiently for the opportunity to repeat the process in five years time.


Bruce Wilder 05.28.15 at 6:44 pm

reason @ 10: The problem with a two party system . . . Politics unfortunately today is about symbolism and personalities . . . The US presidential system unfortunately . . . I'm old enough to remember a time when . . .

Are the pathologies of politics related in a substantial way to the two-party system? What is the problem with the institution of the Presidency? (Or, what is the problem with institution of the Parliament?)

Two-party systems can have a variety of equilibria, which may involve various emergent third or fourth parties or movements on the periphery, as it were. The OP is raising the question of whether the Party system presents distinct choices, or should, and whether presenting distinct choices is related to being able to hold the Parties responsible and accountable, and whether the Party system encourages or discourages deliberation in policy choice or conduct.

These are all reasonable questions to ask at a time when the neoliberal course of policy evolution seems to be trending in a direction non-responsive to the substantive interests of the mass of people and the apparatus for authoritarian governance is being augmented. Tweaking the rules might disrupt undesirable trends driven by the peculiar turn taken recently in the strategic competition of the Parties.

... ... ...

Igor Belanov @ 22: . . . people seem quite happy for a government to rule with the support of 22% of the population . . .

I assume you mean that observation ironically.


Collin Street 05.28.15 at 9:10 pm

In fact, it turns out that the only country in the world with a US style two coke/ pepsi two parties and that is all you are going to get electoral system happens to be the US. This is probably due to the fact that, also somewhat uniquely, in the US the Democrats and the Republicans jointly staff the bureaucracies responsible for running the elections and counting the votes.

The actual root of the problem is twofold:

"Why don't people start new parties in the US to compete against the established ones?" is the same damned question as "why don't people start new parties in the USSR to compete against the communist party?", it's just that the US has two parties instead of one.

otpup 05.29.15 at 2:40 am

The US system has three, mutually reinforcing pillars:

Most of this rooted in the notoriously hard to amend Constitution. Reform in the US is high gear when it's only 50 years behind the rest of the advanced industrial nations.

Igor Belanov 05.29.15 at 7:20 am

@33

I think there is an incredible inertia within the core Labour vote, and there is such an anti-Tory feeling within a good quarter of the electorate that many of us end up voting Labour merely to try and keep the Tories out. While the present voting system exists I think this situation will endure.

That said, I suspect that the next five years will provide a useful experiment as to just how far the Labour Party can stretch the allegiance of its core vote without it snapping. I reckon that the next Labour leader will make Blair seem like Blanqui.

Main Street Muse 05.29.15 at 10:25 am

US needs campaign finance reform – stat. And they need to do what they can, if anything, to stop the revolving door. As the banks led the economy over the cliff, bankers finagled fantastic bonuses from one of their own – Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who, as CEO of $GS, had lobbied Congress in 2002 for lower capital requirements, a business practice that considerably weakened banks' ability to weather a financial crisis. There's huge backlash against raising the minimum wage, coming from – as you can imagine – well-coordinated lobbying efforts by companies that pay people so little they require federal assistance to survive. Corporations see huge profits but workers don't get a raise – the profits head out the door to shareholders. We bow at the altar of the shareholders, to he$$ with all else.

It's all very sordid and the furthest thing Madison et al. could have imagined.

otpup 05.29.15 at 1:42 pm

The US has open primaries because the 2 party system is over-determined, not the other way around.

The tendency toward fewer parties is due to (see Duverger) the tradeoff between voting for a party of one's preferred ideology and the voting for a party that might actually be represented in the legislature (let alone wield power).

SMD's, bicameralism, the existence and strength of a presidential office, federalism, etc. are all structural factors leading to fewer parties, mostly because they create or heighten the trade off.

In a supermajority legislature like the US, the trade off isn't even between voting one's ideological or policy preference because reform is so unlikely. It is between voting for one's preference and defensively voting for a party that, at the least, can block unwanted reforms by the other side.


Sancho 05.30.15 at 1:52 pm

Being Australian, I assume The Onion is relevant in this case. And if not, well that's my quaint antipodean misunderstanding.

http://www.theonion.com/article/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c-2849


Bruce Wilder 05.30.15 at 5:21 pm

Runciman's complaint is a rather vague one, about the responsiveness of politics, and it seems to me that his big mistake is imagining that the Continental polities, where the remnant Left has been Pasokified in grand coalition governments, is in any better shape than the UK.

If you have leftist sympathies, you may look upon SYRIZA in Greece, Podemos in Spain, or even the Five Star movement in Italy with some small measure of trepidacious hope. But, even if forlorn hope gets one of these Parties elected, like SYRIZA, they may find themselves unable to formulate a useful way to lead or exercise power.

There's been some back and forth in this thread using clichés concerning two-party competition for the generic political center or median voter. To me, the discussion just highlighted how incoherent such generic analysis has become.

Attlee may have succeeded, as the New Deal succeeded, because of the social and political solidarity forged by the experience of World War II. That sense of solidarity with the state, reinforced by a politics of mass-membership Parties, which was particularly necessary to Labour representing its eponymous constituency, gave advantages to the politicians, who sought to further the interests of the common man and the public good.

As that sense of solidarity has dissolved, the politics of self and symbolic political identity have displaced it, and the advantage has shifted to lobbyists for corporate interests, who can supply the funds for sophisticated campaigns of media manipulation and neoliberal rhetoric that can apologize for, and cover for, "reforms" that facilitate economic predation.

From my great distance, one of the more remarkable patterns in the recent British elections is the rise of a desire for political solidarity. Most British voters were, according to polls, fairly hostile to the Conservative agenda. And, though fragmented, the most effective political appeals seem to be centered on political solidarity of one kind or another. Labour found itself falling back on its historical constituencies and the voters who identify with it most strongly. Scottish nationalists of course, and English nationalists, too surged in the polls.

To the extent that politics is about who gets what, in the distribution of power and income, it is always, at its core, a potential war between the rich and poor, the few and the many, in which feelings of political solidarity are a means of reconciliation, of binding elites to followers, or, alternatively, allowing sufficient organization of the many to overwhelm with numbers the otherwise superior organization of elites pursuing their own selfish interests at the expense of the many.

In our neoliberal era, the "poor" and the many are losing, steadily and inexorably. Parties of the many - like Labour - do not seem to be able to find leaders who want to represent the genuine interests of the many or to make arguments for the interests of the many.

Arguments about consumer sovereignty in politics can obscure the import of the political losses of the many. Do people vote "against their interests"? Do they prefer racism to socialism? Why can't people see how much better Obama is than Romney? Why didn't people get more enthusiastic about Miliband's austerity-lite? Why are politicians of the centre-left so shy of challenging the shibboleths laid down by the right-wing press? Why was Miliband such a tool, rejecting cooperation with the SNP or engaging in self-parody with his policy tombstone?

When the rich are not genuinely afraid of nazis or commies, many have little or no interest in genuine solidarity, and are freed to engage in the most cynical sort of manipulation. Also, they will have the good sense to do what they can to undermine, or destroy, any nascent mass-movements with economics on their minds. And, as a second line of defense, they will actively seek to put political power out of constitutional reach, so that a popular party that achieves electoral success will be without the means to put together a coherent policy agenda.

This has been a long-winded way of saying that electoral arithmetic is a distraction from the difficulty of forming and leading a mass-movement against a well-organized, well-financed economic elite determined to prevent it. It's long-winded, because I want to get to a somewhat harder point: in the absence of a solidarity the encompasses a large part of the economic elite, the popular party has to depend on the passions of resentment and righteous anger, and contemplate the necessity of meeting violence.

Anger and resentment are not attractive qualities in political leadership. It's a tricky business to feed these into electoral politics, to (ideally) stage-manage ripping the mask of humanity off of the Camerons of this world, revealing them for the predators and sociopaths they, and their sponsors, may be.

I think this is realistic, but it is a long way from tweaking electoral rules to bring about a glorious era of consumer sovereignty in politics, and much closer to revolution in its aims and means.

Ed 05.30.15 at 6:41 pm

Bruce Wilder makes some excellent points in his post at # 73, but I'll add that one thing different about the 1930s and 1940s is that countries fought wars by conscripting as many working class men as they could into the army (those that could be spared from manufacturing weapons and yes, from the coal mines), and handing them rifles. This mass mobilization made it very important for the elites to actually pay attention to what the masses want, also to make sure they were well fed enough and healthy enough to do their military service.

Universal suffrage was invented in the French Revolution along with conscription, and was implement in most of Europe and North America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, right around the time of the World Wars. The US was late again here, in effect not instituting universal suffrage until after World War 2. The reason behind the rollback of democracy and the welfare state is simply due to the fact that the changes in technology means that the elites don't need them to fight for them anymore.

Bruce Wilder 05.31.15 at 4:04 pm

Stephen @ 75: [Didn't the New Deal happen before WWII?]

The New Deal, as a policy program and a political coalition, was initiated as a response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. By most accounts, the New Deal, policy and program, was put in considerable jeopardy by the steady march of Southern Senators and senior Representatives to the Right during the 1930s. FDR's so-called "court-packing scheme", though it ended the Supreme Court's intransigent opposition to key New Deal programs also galvanized a conservative coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats in Congress in opposition to FDR, and key New Deal programs of public works spending, advance of union rights and social liberalization were in jeopardy as the Depression eased toward the end of the 1930s.

What I asserted was that the New Deal succeeded to the extent that it did, as a result of WWII. The massive national effort of the war derailed the efforts of conservatives to curtail or reverse New Deal policies and programs. New Dealers became powerful administrators of the industrial and agricultural mobilization required by the war, and many goals and policies of the New Deal were advanced far beyond what had been achieved in the 1930s. Most notably, the war ended the stalemate over income distribution, resulting in what economists have labeled the Great Compression in income distribution, and the enormous "Keynesian" stimulus spending of the war altered the distribution of financial wealth in programs of forced savings among a new, broad middle class.

[May 31, 2015] Publius: Sinking the Sanders Campaign Beneath a Wave of Silence by Yves Smith

Quotes: "After nearly 40 years in journalism, I'm still amazed at just how routinely the press violates nearly every ethical precept that is supposed to guide its work."
"...You do realize that the party machinery will cheat, if necessary? Rigging elections was the meat and drink of the big city machines – almost all Democrats. Chicago is the last survivor."
"...That dog won't hunt. After the 1972 fiasco the Democrats specifically adopted the superdelegate rule to ensure that party establishment could exercise a de facto veto over the nomination process in order to ensure they would never again be saddled with an unelectable McGovernesque candidate by the party rank and file. From the point of view of the party establishment Sanders is McGovern with 10% of the charisma and 1000% of the ideological baggage.
Not that it's ever going to come to that. They destroyed Howard Dean literally overnight with the meme that he was some crazed out of control freak on the basis of one boisterous post primary celebration rally – and Dean was then a frontrunner with a extensive ground organization and Obama-like adulation from young Democrats. Taking down a 73 year old senator from a small state with no organization and no constituency within the Democratic Party is almost an insult to their finely honed mastery of the Machiavellian arts. "
"...MSM are large corporations. Large corporations plump for corporate approved candidates. Sanders isn't a corporate candidate. End of story. By the way, double-check your calendars, it isn't 1948, nor even 1972."
"...Sanders is toxic to the establishment not only because they regard him as unelectable, but more importantly because even if he was nominated (never mind thinking the unthinkable, as in a President Sanders) the plutocracy would abandon the Democrats in droves and take their money and patronage with them. From the perspective of the establishment that would be the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory."
"...Democrat is a disgusting moniker, not Liberal/Progressive". They (Democrats) sell their Mothers too, but it's behind a veil of policy, that's never brought up. Obama stunted the vote of the 18-30 year olds for possibly eternity. There was no "Change", and almost all have lost "Hope"."
"...I sometimes think that parties are: interest groups for certain industries. And if so Sanders could be different as long as he's the same on the issues these industries care about. And maybe that's what could happen, he'll be allowed some progressive economic policies that still have to pass Congress, and thus may never see the light of day, in return for steering the empire through another round, which will of course see the light of day.
The popular perception is to see parties as ideologies but to accept that is to condemn a party that will not condemn and disown Obama as having no principles, or no decent principles at any rate.
Because the Dem party is really not coherent as an ideological entity except as a champion of the worse types of things."
May 30, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

Ditto May 30, 2015 at 4:55 am

This article has an implicit faith in the American voter that is unearned. I'm deeply skeptical that the elites are the problem. I support Sanders. I think Americans are in denial and identify too much with the elite.

Gerard Pierce May 30, 2015 at 5:32 am

Another way of looking at it is the Americans want to be part of the winning team. At the same time, they want a candidate that they believe is on their side.

That may have a lot to do with Obama's victory – he convinced a large number of people that he WAS on their side.

It also explains why a large number of us have no respect for what's left of his administration, and it explains why a lot of people are less than fully optimistic about Hillary.

Bernie lacks the Wall St connections and the Wall St money. It's hard to see him as the inevitable winner. But we do know what he stands for. I'll vote for him in a primary and in the general election precisely because he is not the lesser evil.

The only way I would vote for Hillary would be if she convinced me that she was on my side. It's not likely to happen because she was tightly connected to the New Democrats, and they have demonstrated over and over that they are on their own side. She used up the time when she might have demonstrated who she is. It' a little late to start now and be believable.

JTMcPhee May 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Bill Clinton was on our side. He felt our pain. Reagan was on our side. We just knew it, he talked so good and trustworthy and he was a war hero, wasn't he? Like John Wayne?

To paraphrase, no one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public.

Lambert Strether May 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm

In general, I deprecate the "voters are stupid" trope. Basically, I file that under the heading of "Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others." (Too lazy to find the soruce of the quote; Churchill?) I deprecate it for two reasons:

1) Tactically, it's foolish. Why insult the people you need to persuade? (And if you write them off, what then?)

2) Morally, I'd appeal to "There but for the grace of ___ go I." After all, who among us hasn't done something really stupid, and sometimes persisted for years? I certainly have.)

neo-realist May 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I also believe that with many Americans, cultural values trump good economics: Americans may not want to support broader based health care programs and or a stronger social safety net in general if they believe that those more redistributive economic policies leading to such would provide equal quality benefits to people they consider less than worthy--poor people of color, poor people of color on federal assistance, substance abuse addicts. People who oppose abortion would vote for an anti-abortion candidate whose economic policies served the wealthy much more than a pro-choice candidate whose economics better serve the 99%.

Right Wing Corporate media has also done a bang up job over the past 3 decades "manufacturing consent" among main street Americans to economic policies that better the wealthy than themselves.

bkrasting May 30, 2015 at 7:05 am

Okay – Yves likes Sanders. But is Sanders really a viable candidate?

The man is 73 today. If elected he would be 75 when he takes the oath of office. The oldest president to take the oath was Ronnie Regan. He was 69 when he swore on a bible. Sanders will be six years older than Ronnie.

Bernie is a good guy, and he has ideas that have support – but there is no way that he is qualified to be the next Prez.

abynormal May 30, 2015 at 8:13 am

I say FINALLY…ditch the Am Idol Bierber Bops!
Sanders will have the experience and position to DELEGATE instead of being DELEGATED.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. Eisenhower

Vatch May 30, 2015 at 6:19 pm

"Bernie is a good guy, and he has ideas that have support – but there is no way that he is qualified to be the next Prez."

Just wondering: when was the last time we had a President who was qualified for the job?

Carolinian May 30, 2015 at 7:31 am

A couple of points:

If Sanders supporters ever thought that the mainstream press was going to help them in their crusade they are deeply delusional. The dismissive attitude of the political press is exactly what one might have expected.

And the Carter comparison is a bit of stretch. Carter brought the South into the Democratic fold when that was hardly guaranteed. Sanders brings…Vermont? The favorite son idea may seem antique in this media age but the last New Englander to win was JFK, and he was from the largest state in the region.

For once I actually agree with Chuck Todd and the rest. If Sanders wants to prove his political viability he's going to have to do more than cite popularity in tiny Vermont. Might be time to start shaking hands, kissing babies.

And finally isn't it way too early to be talking about any of this? The tea leaves are very murky.

jrs May 30, 2015 at 11:26 am

Way too early yea, I'm more with what Chomsky says in that voting should take 5 minutes, then get back to real activism. Now I think the 5 minute thing is wrong (and he uses it to defend voting for such "lesser" evils of Obama), I mean if your going to be a semi-intelligent voter do more research than that, or you really would be better off not voting, especially if your voting on referendums and things you have a direct say on. But it's closer to the truth than starting on the Presidency, of all things (the position we have least ability to affect), now.

Code Name D May 30, 2015 at 8:22 am

... But I also say that Bernie needs to keep his eye on the real prize here – which is actually much larger than the White House – and that is the principle of change itself, something that he doesn't need to win the presidency or even the nomination in order to achieve. He can show leadership now and make it happen.

For example, Bernie has a formidable ally with Warren, who can be his attack dog. He couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. If he uses her right, it not only advances his own chances, but Warren's as well, by better positioning her in congress and even making changes in the congressional races. This is nothing new. But it would be jaw dropping to see a Democrat playing political hardball like this – political competence would be awesome to see at work.

Brooklin Bridge May 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

Good comment and good question; What is Sanders going to do about it? Gaius is saying, keep the faith (long shots are not always so long), because the electorate is still looking for actual representation as illustrated by Gaius' somewhat less than compelling examples and will manage to find it somehow. That may be true, Gaius has a way of being early to recognize things. But you are absolutely correct that Sanders has to do something to make that happen and as you also point out he is not without possibilities. It won't be enough to simply blame the media if he fails.

The media will do a lot to hinder Sanders and silence is indeed their biggest weapon, but this is only the beginning. Personally, I'm more suspicious that wittingly or not, he is fulfilling other purposes than simply those of an enlightened choice in a democratic process – and that is the direction you will see the media, or a significant part of it, pushing things as hard as they can once the primaries get going. Will he be aware? Can he use it to his advantage?

Sanders is a deeply political person and a very capable one so he will deserve little excuse if his run turns out to be simply channeling energy into the Hillary coronation.

Vince in MN May 30, 2015 at 8:24 am

MSM are large corporations. Large corporations plump for corporate approved candidates. Sanders isn't a corporate candidate. End of story. By the way, double-check your calendars, it isn't 1948, nor even 1972.

In the post Citizens United world, none of this matters. Do we need a free press -yes. Do we have one – no. But then we don't have democracy either.

jrs May 30, 2015 at 11:18 am

Yes I've asked, could Sanders win on small donations alone? But we are told there are rich people or corporations who mean well that will donate. Ok, lets assume that (although I'd really rather not assume it about the corporate persons at least), would we even be able to KNOW WHO is donating to him? (or to any other candidate)

Carla May 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

No.

http://www.movetoamend.org

Jill May 30, 2015 at 9:04 am

If people truly believe in the candidacy of Sanders then they should do everything in their power to get him elected. I cannot say if other ways of person to person communication can undo the silence of the MSM, but it's certainly worth a try.

For me, the more important question is this– what are the people getting with a Sander's win? Just as Obama won, I would not say that ordinary people around the world or the earth itself is a better place due to his winning. His win has been an unmitigated disaster in this regard. It has also been an unmitigated, uncompromising success for his real constituents.

All I am asking is that people look not only at what Sanders says, (which like what Obama said before his election, is profound, excellent, impassioned and great), but that voters judge him on his votes. The votes are different from the speeches. Actions tell a story that voters need to understand.

We were all told it was necessary for Obama to win. Was it? Did his win help ordinary people and the earth?. Has his win accomplished the goals people sought in voting for him? I would say, absolutely not.

This country is very ready to vote for an actual left wing politician. I also see that we are again in a position of desperation, seeking a savior. That desperation, that desire for a savior can be very dangerous while trying to make a good judgment about our political class. However, if people look at Sander's actions and want to pull for him, that is what I would do. Go around the MSM in every possible way. It may not succeed but it is still worth doing.

Jagger May 30, 2015 at 10:49 am

What was his position on the Israeli attack on Gaza or Russia and the Ukraine debacle? What about Syria and Iran? And I guess now we need to look at China as well.

Hopefully, there isn't a neocon cloaked underneath that nice shiny anti-neo-liberal facade.

I guess I should do some homework on him.

Ned Ludd May 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Will Miller, an anti-war activist who fought to unionize the University of Vermont faculty, called Sanders: "Bernie the Bomber".

Since 1991 the Democrats have given Bernie membership in their Congressional Caucus. Reciprocally, Bernie has become an ardent imperialist. Sanders endorsed Clinton in 1992 and 1996. In 1992 he described Clinton as the "lesser of evils," (a justification he used to denounce when he was what the local press called an "avowed socialist"). By 1996 he gave Clinton an unqualified endorsement. He has been a consistent "Friend of Bill's" from since 1992. One student I know worked on the Clinton Campaign in 1996 and all across Vermont, Bernie was on the stage with the rest of the Vermont Democratic Party Leadership, while the unauthorized Democratic candidate for his Congressional seat was kept out in the audience.

Sanders continues to support sanctions even though the Iraqi body count has now passed 1.5 million. Just as he has supported every bombing of Iraq since 1992. When Clinton sent military units to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in October, 1994 because Iraq moved troops inside Iraq closer to the Kuwait border (apparently
about 100 miles away), Bernie supported this because "we cannot tolerate aggression." […]

The overwhelming majority of the people present were against Sander's [sic] support for the bombing… and his active support for every US intervention since he has been in Congress–Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Liberia, Zaire (Congo), Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.

When Delores Sandoval, an African American faculty member at the University of Vermont, ran as a Democrat against Sanders, she "was amazed that the official party treated her as a nonperson and Bernie kept outflanking her to her right. She opposed the Gulf build-up, Bernie supported it. She supported decriminalization of drug use and Bernie defended the war on drugs…"

Jess May 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm

So, the question is, "Do we want just more bombing and imperialism?" or "Do we want more bombing and imperialism to go along with cutting SS and Medicare, privatizing education, debt servitude, no prosecution of banksters, etc?"

Also, although MMT advocates may disagree, isn't it conventional wisdom that to do the kinds of things at home that Bernie advocates, we'll have to cut back on the foreign misadventures?

ran May 30, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Like the sainted Warren, he believes Israel is justified in murdering as many Palestinians as they want.

Oregoncharles May 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Good point. You need to start posting his voting record, or your posts get more hollow as you go along.

Lambert Strether May 30, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Yep. Worse, since the comments have no authority, they don't propagate. No point coming back to them, no point learning new sources, etc.

Ned Ludd May 30, 2015 at 12:21 pm

"The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman", a response to Amy Goodman's column on Obama's re-election, questions the entire role of the lefty media in electing Democrats.

It's their bread and butter to know, that, yes, the government IS bought and paid for and to remind us of that again and again in laborious, depressing and mostly disempowering detail. But it's also built into their job to hint at the way out and this they crucially do by habitually endorsing Democrats with loose talk of 'making [them] do it' via grass roots agitating.

But if the government is bought and paid for and only mass uprisings will help, why squander time and money on elections at all? Why not just get straight to the shit-disturbing?

Forget about ever hearing those questions posed, or answered, by Goodman and her ilk, at least not with any seriousness. That's not what they're paid to do.

Elections are a sink for activist energy. After my state's Green Party became hopelessly corrupt, I wasted far too much time electing more & better Democrats based on progressive promises and liberal voting records.

In a corrupt system, popular progressive, socialist, and Green politicians will follow the path of Joschka Fischer. Once he rose to the position of foreign minister of Germany, the former communist street fighter became a charismatic advocate for neoliberalism.

Uahsenaa May 30, 2015 at 9:57 am

This is Iowa, so take what I say with a grain of salt; people here have a tendency to overestimate the significance of being "first in the nation" (many eyerolls).

However, Hilary's campaign trail behavior has already been deeply irritating to voters here. At Kirkwood (Community College) she basically got out of her van, walked immediately into a building, delivered a speech to a bunch of cameras (no press!), where she talked about the importance of meeting "everyday Iowans," all the while many many flesh and blood Iowans were waiting outside, because she willfully ignored them. There was much grumbling in the crowd.

Meanwhile, Sanders is actually going to rec centers and townhalls to be bombarded with dumb midwestern platitudes, something which will almost certainly ingratiate him to the "ordinary folk" around here. I'm perfectly willing to predict a Hilary loss in Iowa even at this point in the game.

Pelham May 30, 2015 at 10:16 am

If one judges by the various candidates' policy positions and - far more importantly - their credibility (how likely they are to foIlow through on promises), Sanders is literally the only serious candidate.

If the press were truly objective, Sanders would be the dominant figure in the race, not an afterthought.

After nearly 40 years in journalism, I'm still amazed at just how routinely the press violates nearly every ethical precept that is supposed to guide its work.

Brooklin Bridge May 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Can't resist a question. I'm assuming, after 40 years in journalism, that you have contacts, friends, acquaintances among the media. Are they aware of the unflattering similarities between themselves and say Baghdad Bob, but the money is sweet, or do they really imagine they are reporting the facts?

juliania May 30, 2015 at 10:59 am

I take umbrage at the description of Obama. "Quixotic" he is not.

Steven Greenberg May 30, 2015 at 11:04 am

The point of the article is not so much, "What is Bernie going to do about it", and more "What are you and I going to do about it?" While we still have access to the internet, this is the biggest tool we have to get things done our way. It is up to us to use it, Tweet, Facebook, Blog, MeetUp, Organize, Petition, or do whatever else you can imagine doing on the internet to overcome the lame stream media's silence.

Don't just sit back and say it can't be done. How do you know it can't be done, if you don't try? If a 72 year old guy can muster the energy, perhaps the younger folk can find a little energy to invest, too. (Of course forcing you to have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, is a good way for the oligarchs to make sure you don't have too much excess energy to devote to politics.) If you are participating in this thread, then you must have some spare time on your hands.

"They" may have the money, but, at least for the time being, "we have the votes."

grayslady May 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

Some thoughts on Bernie:

1) Regarding age: It was only 5 years ago that Bernie filibustered for a solid 8 1/2 hours against a tax cut for people earning over $250,000. He's clearly a lot hardier than many people his age.

2) Bernie's campaign team includes the excellent Tad Devine as senior strategic consultant. Bernie's digital team includes Revolution Messaging, a firm comprised of many of the individuals who worked on Obama's campaigns.

These two choices tell me that Bernie knows he needs someone with serious credentials on how to win the Democrat primary and, also, that he understands the traditional media is going to give him short shrift. I don't personally participate in any of the standard social media platforms, but I don't underestimate their power. Consider that recently two housewives, and a quarter of a million online supporters, successfully forced Kraft to eliminate artificial dyes in their mac and cheese product. Online campaigns can be extremely powerful in reaching audiences that newspapers and television miss.

3) Democrat opposition: Hillary still had vestiges of populism in her 2008 persona. Today, it's difficult for anyone to imagine a woman who helps her daughter buy a $10 million co-op in NYC is anything but part of the .01%. Her refusal to condemn TPP, her brazen condemnation of Chelsea Manning, her pathetic responses on Edward Snowden, and her abnormally secretive actions–as SofS and before–also indicate a personality totally out of touch with the majority of Americans.

4) Bernie's voting record: Bernie hasn't always ended up voting the way I would have liked on issues, but I appreciate that as a member of Congress without a political party behind him, he has occasionally made deals that didn't benefit the public at large even if he was still able to negotiate some small victories for his Vermonters. When first asked if he was considering running for President, Bernie said it depended on two things: he would only run if he thought he could win, and he understood that for him to win he needed a movement behind him. He understands the fallacy of a political "savior". He's willing to be the voice of the people if the people are finally ready to take back their government–not just hand it over to one individual and hope for miracles.

5) Voter turnout: Bernie has a potentially broader base of voters by staying away from hot-button issues such as immigration and gay rights. His platform of universal free college has to be a winner with young people, and his campaign announcement included, as part of his platform, women's equality. He's also a serious advocate for environmental protection. Most importantly, anyone who works can easily relate to his primary platform issue, more and better jobs.

For what it's worth, my best friend's 17-year old grandson, who was an active foot soldier in our local congressional campaign last fall, said recently that looking at all the current candidates for President, he liked Bernie the best. If Bernie can catch hold with the younger voters, he won't have to worry about whether he's picking up the ethnic, single-issue voting blocs.

No candidate for President is ever ideal, but I agree with the author that Bernie has a real shot at the nomination as long as the voters, and not the traditional press, say he has a shot and are willing to back the movement Bernie says we need to develop.

jrs May 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

Was Bernie's filibuster real or hadn't everyone already gone home for the weekend by then? I mean very well, he does a so called filibuster, so does Rand Paul do so called filibusters and quits at the last minute (by the way I don't know why Rand Paul was able to insert a Patriot Act filibuster in a trade debate, but anyway.).

If we're going to develop a movement shouldn't it be for more than Bernie Sanders? Even a reformist movement should look toward I don't know taking over a political party or something. What happened to all the movement Obama allegedly built, sure some were Obots, but some probably really wanted change. Nothing of course. What do those types of single candidate movements do but churn through people and demoralize them if they lose the one office that was the whole reason for being of the whole movement.

I don't' just believe looking for a political savior is a fallacy, I believe starting at the top of the political system (the presidency!) is a fallacy. Why do we continually focus where we have no power, but not where we might (maybe city counsel member or something). But sure spend 5 minutes voting for Sanders if it makes sense to you. I'm undecided. I know why we start at the top: because all the propaganda is aimed there, every slight of hand has us looking in that direction, we're continually told the Presidency is what really matters (and witness voter turn out in Presidential elections versus non-Presidential), because the intoxication of so much power is seductive, because one can't help being informed about the Presidential race by osmosis and learning some down ticket items takes real effort. But it's not working.

grayslady May 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Try reading the bullet points. My point about Bernie's filibuster wasn't the content, or the time of day, or the day of the week. I'm a year younger than Bernie was when he filibustered and I couldn't stand up for 8 1/2 hours with only a glass of water and one bathroom break.

As to a movement, Bernie isn't talking about an Obama-worship type movement. He's talking about everyday citizens taking back their government from the monied class. He's indicated a willingness to be the governmental representative leading the charge, nothing more. Having started his political career running for mayor, I don't think Bernie ignores the importance of local action. But when you can have the state override local action, such as recently happened in Denton, Texas, you can't ignore the importance of changing state and Federal actions at the same time.

It's natural to feel jaded, I suppose, after so many years of political hucksters. Being from Illinois, I knew Obama was a con man from day one. Obama was never in the news here for anything, much less helping ordinary citizens, until Emil Jones decided to start manufacturing a bogus c.v. for him. Bernie has a long, public record to examine, whether you like his record or not. Personally, I'd rather try one more shot at a legitimate political contender before opting for revolution.

abynormal May 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Personally, I'd rather try one more shot at a legitimate political contender before opting for revolution. taking this with me…thanks

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem."
H. Zinn

Carolinian May 30, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Maybe what we need is a political savior. I think one error of the Occupy movement was thinking it could succeed without visible and charismatic leadership. After all we don't celebrate Civil Rights day, we celebrate Martin Luther King day. The Republicans win election after election by making it all about personalities because the reality is that's what wins Presidential elections. Even in the extreme situation of a 1930s style Depression–far worse than now–the right leader was needed and happily got elected.

What the left really needs is an Obama type figure who isn't a gold plated phony. It's a tough order. Some of us are just wondering if Sanders fits the bill.

Ned Ludd May 30, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an outstanding orator, but compare the time he was given to defend his views on The Mike Douglas Show, versus the concision required by today's news programs.

Jeff Greenfield, Nightline producer: One of the things you have to do, when you book a show, is know that the person can make the point in the framework of television… We've got to have English-speaking people. We also need concision.

[…]

Chomsky: The beauty of concision, you know, saying a couple of sentences between two commercials, the beauty of that is you can only repeat conventional thoughts. […]

You can't give evidence if you're stuck with concision. That's the genius of this structural constraint.

Today's media ensures that anyone with unconventional views "can't give evidence" and will "sound like they were from Neptune." Consequently, a contemporary dissident whose views cannot be explained in two sentences would fare better as an outstanding writer, instead of an outstanding orator.

Lambert Strether May 31, 2015 at 1:43 am

The long form is hard to do on a cellphone (or so I hear). And that's where so many of the 18-to-35s Obama betrayed are to be found. Maybe we have to figure out how to do that two sentence thing. "Peace, land, bread" worked well for Lenin.

Paul Tioxon May 31, 2015 at 2:25 pm

SOCIAL SECURITY-SOLAR POWER-$15 AN HOUR

Anthony Kennerson May 31, 2015 at 7:38 am

How about instead we support an Independent Left built from the bottom up through local activism, lead by leaders who are viable enough to lead. Kshama Sawant, anyone??

Doug Terpstra May 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm

This is an encouraging post. But ISTM that the examples of upstart outsiders, with the partial exception of Carter, maybe Truman, really turned out to be stealth insiders, whose appeal to the 1% put them over the top. Weren't Truman and Carter both militarists and Carter a big deregulator?

Truman's support for the partition of Palestine and the recognition of Israel probably out him over the top in 48. Ditto for Slick Willie, the come-back kid who went all-in for Wall Street. But the prize goes to the ultimate dark-horse Trojan horse, Obama, whose fealty to Israel, Wall Street, and the MIC are unconditional. These examples turned out to be very establishment presidents, with the exception of Obama, a radical fascist.

If Sanders follows these exemplary Democrats, no thank you. He already supports Israeli crimes and he supported the health insurance racket bailout bill (Obamneycare). Will he become yet another Wall Street "water-boy" to pull off an apparent "upset"?

Oregoncharles May 30, 2015 at 12:22 pm

You do realize that the party machinery will cheat, if necessary?

Rigging elections was the meat and drink of the big city machines – almost all Democrats. Chicago is the last survivor.

If Republicans can do it, Democrats certainly can, too, unless you think they're actually dumber.

The party apparatchiks' grip on the kind of power they care about is at stake.

Lambert Strether May 30, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Obama certainly rigged the caucuses in Texas in 2008. So, yeah.

JurisV May 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

I have a question I'd like to ask to ask the commenters who criticize Sanders about age, his support of particular items, and doubts about his odds of actually being elected.

How, other than his candidacy, would you suggest a better method/plan to get serious "leftist" ideas into the swarms of the Media????

Against him:

The quote above is from SicSemperTyrranis by Patrick Lang.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/05/angry-old-man-supports-angry-old-senator.html

I recommend reading the whole post because it's an example of the stirrings of recognition that we, as a country, are seriously off the tracks and that this recognition is seeping into public awareness. Pat Lang's post and the poster "Uahsenaa" upstream.

I can't think of a better to get real progressive ideas past the PTB in Washington and the MSM than Bernie Sanders campaigning for President.

sharonsj May 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

On the same day that Bernie gave a speech to 5,000, Rick Santorum gave a speech to 50 people. I expect this makes the establishment very nervous…. Maybe it proves that Chris Hedges is right about revolutions and that Americans aren't as stupid as they appear.

Gaius Publius May 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm

> On the same day that Bernie gave a speech to 5,000, Rick Santorum gave a speech to 50 people. I expect this makes the establishment very nervous….

I'm starting to agree with whoever said that Martin O'Malley will be the media's candidate to block Bernie Sanders (from getting in Clinton's way).

Just a thought, but watch for lots of O'Malley media love, plus lots of "Sanders language" from O'Malley, an insider who could steal the outsider's thunder, then lose - and never have to make good on those Sanders-style promises.

Hmm. The spidey sense is twitching…

GP

Lambert Strether May 30, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Yep. If people want a sheepdog (conscious collusion) I'd look to O'Malley, not Sanders. I'm not sure I understand if there is actually a rationale for his campaign, though people in Maryland don't seem to he very surprised he's running. (I like the anti-Wall Street rhetoric, but… If this were a local race, his name would be "Saunders," right?) Boy, does he have a chiseled jaw, though. It juts superbly, especially when photographed from below.

abynormal May 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Lambert, i just caught his am speech on npr. he was heckled pretty hard on his '0 tolerance' but he sounded prepared…as in Screaming.

1999 – " O'Malley has promised to clean up 10 drug corners in the city in the first six months of his administration and make low-income neighborhoods as safe as wealthier communities."

cleaned 10 and got 20 more thanks to his deep understanding of poverty.

Lambert Strether May 30, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Not sure I'd trust O'Malley's numbers on Baltimore crime. See David Simon.

ErnstThalmann May 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Terribly sorry but I refuse to be sucked credulously into a discussion that presupposes that Sanders – or Warren for that matter – represents a political vision that differs materially from Clinton.

Sander's' support for just about every defense expenditure he's considered over the last decade or so qualifies him as every bit the crazed warmonger that is Hillary.

And Warren's nausea inspiring support of Israel's war crimes in Gaza last Summer recommend her more than anything else for Elsa Koch look-alike of 2014. Sanders is no alternative, he's right out of DNC central casting. How stunningly naive it is to read trustfully a piece that treats him as anything else.

ErnstThalmann May 30, 2015 at 7:24 pm

It matters little to me, Lambert, that there will even be an election, what for all the authenticity elections for representative governments actually have. So if it's not already entirely clear, it is to your – and others – loyalty to these institutions that I addressed my remarks.

As long as you persist in imagining that the present context can produce "better alternatives", you remain, in my mind, the very expression of the underlying problem.

Many years ago, the Bernie Sanders version of this problem was aptly called "social fascism". So it is by no means certain that by "telling people who pay attention things that they already know", one is addressing people who actually do know.

Jim May 31, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Lets for a moment assume that everyone in the Thalman/Yves/Lambert back and forth has honorable motives.

From my perspective it would be extremely worthwhile if the respective political/economic/financial/cultural arrangements of each position could be sketched out.

Then we would all have something to really sink are teeth into.

TarheelDem May 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I get the reference to Eugene McCarthy 1968, but is that all that the great hope for Bernie Sanders amount to?

Jimmy Carter was on the map at all because in 1970 in his inaugural speech he committed as governor to ending segregation in Georgia. Bill Clinton was on the map because he, like Richard Riley of South Carolina, succeeded in getting taxes raised to fund public education in an era in which "no new taxes" was the mantra everywhere. And he did that with a conservative, if not Republican, legislature.

Barack Obama was on the map because of his 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, which made him an instant Presidential candidate like Reagan's address in 1964 made him an instant Presidential candidate.

Sanders gains momentum if he wins in Iowa (a matter of playing the quirky caucus system properly), New Hampshire, and can prove in South Carolina that he has the potential of developing momentum in red states. It was not Carter's and Clinton's centrism but their ability to deliver Southern states that made them attractive to Democratic voters in 1976 and 1992.

Ideological alignments with voters are only part of the appeal of Presidential candidates. Trust that they are up to the demands of campaigning and the operation of a huge executive operation are critical parts of a candidate's appeal. Sanders's encouraging polling seems to indicate that he is beginning to build that sort of trust. Another is the hints that the candidates' campaign style gives into his means of continued communications with voters, especially voters who might not agree with him all the time. Sanders goes into over-marketed campaigning at his peril; so far it looks like his team understands this.

The big question is can Sanders's campaign end run the Wall Street media and their subsidiary local media, blog presence, and social media so as to have two-way communication with voters. If he can transform marketing-oriented politics and gain traction, winning becomes much easier.

The other issue is governing after winning, which requires having coattails in the Congress within and outside the Democratic Party so as to create the prospect of challengers to Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2018 mid-terms.

He must change the nature of the conversation not rhetorically but institutionally.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Let's face it, elections are about money and power, more than ever after Citizens United. The shocking part is that with all of this nation's billionaires (>1400 at last count, up from 700 in 2008) not a single solitary man of principle, a man (or woman) who gives even the tiniest possible damn about the actual direction of the country and the people in it, has committed *anything* to candidates like Warren or Sanders.

Instead we get Rupert's whore, Koch's favorite fascist du jour, ossified Cold Warriors backing (retch) Bush, and flat earthers supporting any number of clown car passengers.

Billionaires smugly calculating which utterly corrupt puppet will be best for their personal bank balances or best for their own personal nutjob fantasies is a pretty damning indictment of "civic responsibility" in this age of ours.

A groundswell of public disgust will not turn the tide in 2016 without Really Big Money behind it. Probably will in 2020, in the midst of WW III and a financial meltdown that will make 2008 look like a picnic (if they still let people vote from the FEMA camps, that is…)

jrs May 30, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Last congressional election was the most expensive ever. And it shows. But money couldn't possible influence anything …. could it?

Jeremy Grimm May 30, 2015 at 8:35 pm

The levels of discontent are beyond anything I can recall from earlier times. Both red and blue voters are concerned and unhappy. I will vote for Sanders. He may wheel around like Obama and disdain his base. I doubt it. As for his past, he is not lily white. I am less concerned with his past than his future. As for his age he must be especially careful in choosing his vice president.

I don't know the answer - What was FDR about before he was elected? Did he have a lily white liberal voting record?

A rhetorical question - who else might … might … lead our country in the correct ("right" direction offers too much semantic propriety to what has become a direction toward madness) direction? At least Bernie doesn't offer any truly crazy ideas like an Adolf did in a similar period of discontent in a sibling country - so many years ago.

If you are for Bernie already, what to do about it? Send Bernie your $50 or what you can afford. Design your own Bernie Sanders for President sunscreen plastic to mount inside a rear window of your car and offer it to friends who have little kids. Talk Bernie up to your barber. Talk Bernie up at your Post Office, where you get your oil changed, anywhere many people congregate and occasionally talk and exchange opinions, anywhere a person like your barber talks to and listens to many people.

Even if you don't especially like Bernie, vote for him in the primary as the lesser Evil - although in Truth there is no lesser Evil. BUT don't vote for Evil lesser or otherwise in the final election - and DO vote and be counted as an undervote - at least do this if you do care and are not apathetic.

I voted for Obama, twice to my shame. I will never again vote for the lesser of Evils in the final election. But, I will vote my ballot in some way to assure it is counted as a ballot.

As for marching in the street and other such nostrums. I leave that to someone else. Direct confrontation with a vastly superior force, with absolutely no moral constraints holding them back, is simply unwise. The lessons of warfare in this and the previous century teach other far more effective tactics and strategy.

Money cannot buy votes directly. Money can buy advertising, signs, good words and bad words against enemies in the papers, radio and TV but those cannot buy your vote.

Laziness against complexity and nuance buys votes. Credulity buys votes. Disinformation and fatigue buys votes. Money only greases the transaction. Take and enjoy the bread and circuses for what they are, use them.

Remind all your friends, acquaintances and all who will or might listen - Citizenship is a sacred responsibility upon which our freedom depends. We don't live in an English men's club! Politics and its free and wide discussion by individuals is the vital life blood of a free and democratic nation.

Lexington May 30, 2015 at 8:47 pm

It's too bad that Intrade is no longer functional because it appears I could make a killing on Democratic nomination futures by betting against the starry eyed dreamers that believe for even one second that there's a snowball's chance in hell that the Democrats are going into the 2015 campaign with Bernie Sanders as their nominee. That dog won't hunt.

After the 1972 fiasco the Democrats specifically adopted the superdelegate rule to ensure that party establishment could exercise a de facto veto over the nomination process in order to ensure they would never again be saddled with an unelectable McGovernesque candidate by the party rank and file. From the point of view of the party establishment Sanders is McGovern with 10% of the charisma and 1000% of the ideological baggage.

Not that it's ever going to come to that. They destroyed Howard Dean literally overnight with the meme that he was some crazed out of control freak on the basis of one boisterous post primary celebration rally – and Dean was then a frontrunner with a extensive ground organization and Obama-like adulation from young Democrats. Taking down a 73 year old senator from a small state with no organization and no constituency within the Democratic Party is almost an insult to their finely honed mastery of the Machiavellian arts.

I like Bernie Sanders but he's a protest candidate at best whose real opportunity is to highlight issues that insiders in both parties would rather not discuss, and in so doing move the Overton Window and possibly help lay the groundwork for a future grassroots challenge to the biparty consensus.

Jess May 30, 2015 at 10:44 pm

I would tend to agree with you except that since Zero got elected in 2008 the curtain has been ripped down.

There is now much more disenchantment and resentment against the direction of the mainstream institutional Democrap party. And many grass roots conservatives are equally fed up with the Wall Street wing of their party. Much different terrain to fight this battle on than in times past.

Johnnie Fever May 30, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Oh no, that didn't happen. The democrats insist there was no curtain, you where just a "low info" voter, dontchaknow. The campaign speeches where just hyperbole, been like that forever.

Democrat is a disgusting moniker, not Liberal/Progressive". They (Democrats) sell their Mothers too, but it's behind a veil of policy, that's never brought up. Obama stunted the vote of the 18-30 year olds for possibly eternity. There was no "Change", and almost all have lost "Hope".

Lexington May 30, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Not disagreeing with you, but my point is regardless of how the electorate at large feels about the state of the nation and its leadership the Democratic nominee is going to be someone acceptable to the party establishment, who are the people who erected the curtain and stage managed everything that occurred behind it. That someone most definitely isn't Bernie Sanders. Sanders is toxic to the establishment not only because they regard him as unelectable, but more importantly because even if he was nominated (never mind thinking the unthinkable, as in a President Sanders) the plutocracy would abandon the Democrats in droves and take their money and patronage with them. From the perspective of the establishment that would be the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

There was an excellent post on NC a while back about how the leaders of an organization will ultimately always sacrifice the organization's putative objectives if this is necessary in order to preserve their own position and authority within it. Don't have time to look it up right now but I think it's very apropos the situation in which the party now finds itself.

CB May 31, 2015 at 4:49 am

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/001705.html

May 30, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Obama by all accounts should have lost in 2012 with the economy in the crappy shape it was but the Republican nominated Romney, who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with incidents like having had a Swiss bank account and his remarks about the 47% who don't pay taxes (which is untrue since everyone pays sales taxes and property taxes, either directly or indirectly through rent). So as much as the Republicans ought to win, again given the state of the economy and Democrat fatigue, they have a tone deafness as to how plutocrats play with the general public.

As to the popularity of the positions that Sanders advocates, the US polls consistently well to the left of the political center of gravity represented in the media and inside the Beltway.

Phil May 31, 2015 at 4:15 am

Lexington, you could be right, but something is changing in America. The Plutocrats are in our faces with hegemony and privilege, and using their elevated position of power to decimate the middle class.

Sanders resonates with people in both parties. Social media and its bottom-up power is more sophisticated than it was in 2008. New communication tools have the potential to trump Power. I would love to see Sanders go all the way. Lets see what happens.

TG May 31, 2015 at 9:36 am

Indeed. But Clinton and Obama were not 'quixotic' – they made explicit deals to sell us out, and from that point forward the corporate press suddenly gave them glowing coverage out of nowhere. That (I hope) does not apply to Bernie Sanders.

And it's not just silence that will be applied to Sanders – also the magnification of minor flaws or past mistakes until that's all the people know about him. The things he stands for – like not having TPP or bank bailouts, which even the tea party supports – will not be covered. So in the conservative press we hear nothing about Sander's opposition to TPP etc., only that he is a 'socialist' who fifty years ago wrote a stupid essay on something.

And the liberal press won't talk about Senator Jeff Sessions' opposition to TPP, because his opposition to the use of foreign workers to drive down wages means that he's a racist who scapegoats immigrants. Divide and conquer, report only makes the enemies of the 1% 'unelectable'.

washunate May 31, 2015 at 11:46 am

Very interesting read and comments. One angle I might add is to recall how important it was in 2007 to break the aura of inevitability. To grossly oversimplify, a few thousand teens and 20 somethings in Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, and farther away worked to ensure that Hillary Clinton finished third in the Iowa Caucus.

The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that you can only fool people so many times. A lot of those Obama and Edwards folks in 2006 and 2007 are wary of anyone operating within the Democratic Party today.

Jackrabbit May 31, 2015 at 12:03 pm

The fundamental flaw made by those who support Sanders is that the Democratic Party is an independent institution. It is not. It is a member of the Duopoly which, by design, offers the illusion of democracy. That makes Sanders nothing more than a prequel to lesser evil voting.

Berie Sanders is no Eugene Debs

Sanders' policies are pretty good on working-class economic justice demands and climate action, and not so good on foreign policy and militarism. But his positions on the issues is secondary to the question of whether his politics are helping the working class act for itself or subsume itself under the big business interests in charge of the Democratic Party. By entering the Democratic primaries with the promise of supporting Clinton as the lesser evil to the Republicans, Sanders is not helping the working class to organize, speak and act for itself.

By failing to act on its own and speak for itself in U.S. elections, the left committed political suicide. It lost its independent voice and its platform from which to be heard. The public doesn't hear from the left in elections. They only hear from pro-capitalist Democrats, who most of "the left" promotes as the lesser evil to the Republicans.

By trying to get Democratic politicians to say and do what the left wants them to say and do, the left has been engaged in a pathetic and hopeless attempt at political ventriloquism. It is dependent politics, powerless politics. It has been 80 years–20 presidential election cycles–since the left largely disappeared itself into the Democratic Party. It is way past time to draw the lesson of this experience: the left won't regain power and public significance until it breaks with the Democrats and acts independently for itself.

THE INDEPENDENT left should be talking to progressives who have decided to support Sanders. We should talk about why independent politics is the best way to build progressive power, about the Democratic Party as the historic graveyard of progressive movements, and about the need in 2016 for a progressive alternative when Sanders folds and endorses Clinton. I don't expect many will be persuaded to quit the Sanders campaign before the primaries. But I do expect that many of them will want a Plan B, a progressive alternative to Clinton, after the primaries.

Jackrabbit May 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Interesting bit of history (from "Bernie Sanders is No Eugene Debs"):

THE INDEPENDENT left was a force to be reckoned with in U.S. politics from the 1840s through the 1930s. The Liberty Party, the Free Soil Party and the Radical Republicans carried the banners of abolition, land reform, labor rights and Reconstruction from the 1840s through 1870s. With the post-Civil War industrialization and rapid expansion of industrial workers, the surviving radicals of the pre-war reform movements formed the populist farmer-labor Greenback Labor and People's Parties of the 1880s and 1890s.

With collapse of Populism into the Democratic Party, its radicals were central to the formation of the Socialist Party of America, as well as regionally based Labor, Farmer-Labor and Progressive Parties between 1900 and 1936, which came close to establishing a major third party on the left with a farmer-labor popular base. Together, they elected hundreds of local officials, scores of state officials and dozens of members of Congress. The Farmer-Labor and Progressive parties of the Upper Midwest in the 1930s had two governors, three U.S. Senators, 12 members of the House, and scores of state and local elected officials.

Those successes fueled widespread agitation for an independent labor party based on unions, which reached a peak as the 1936 election approached. Unfortunately, the unions and the Communist Party's Popular Front policy led most of labor and the left into the Democratic Party's New Deal Coalition in 1936 – from which they never emerged afterward in a major way.

jrs May 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm

If we believe that Sanders could win and be entirely different than Obama, then we believe the Democratic party could support both Obama and someone unlike him (the anti-Obama). Is this a coherent position? I don't know as I have a hard time making coherent sense of what parties really are, of having a mental model of them.

I sometimes think that parties are: interest groups for certain industries. And if so Sanders could be different as long as he's the same on the issues these industries care about. And maybe that's what could happen, he'll be allowed some progressive economic policies that still have to pass Congress, and thus may never see the light of day, in return for steering the empire through another round, which will of course see the light of day.

The popular perception is to see parties as ideologies but to accept that is to condemn a party that will not condemn and disown Obama as having no principles, or no decent principles at any rate.

Because the Dem party is really not coherent as an ideological entity except as a champion of the worse types of things. Sometimes I think parties should be seen more as junior high school cliques or yes as tribes, though I think that's a hard conception for those who never were "in with the in crowd" to get their minds around. But maybe they are just all people in exclusionary (to the other party) and inclusionary (to anyone in the party) social circles, and no we non-elite really aren't part of the club.

The other individualist alternative is to see Sanders as purely an individual, but he is running on a party platform. Would we vote for Sanders if he ran as a Republican? Why not? Maybe parties are branding, but branding of what, maybe those exclusionary and inclusionary social circles, that yea we the masses will never be part of.

jrs May 31, 2015 at 2:13 pm

I reject the simplification that both parties are the same big party. I can accept that they BOTH represent plutocrats and not the common person. But at the same time they fight too hard to win (even cheat to win as in hacking and counter-hacking the voting machines) to be the same exact party.

Even if it's really just fighting for the spoils and to distribute some spoils to their cliques (no their cliques are not us). But some may believe their own spin of it being for the greater good.

[May 22, 2015] Stephen Kinzers The Brothers John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

John Foster Dulles Allen Dulles were architects of deep state as a new form of US government.
May 15, 2015 | Foreign Policy Journal

Kinzer's The Brothers is an excellent source of information concerning the development of U.S. foreign policy during the Twentieth Century.

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret War Stephen Kinzer. St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 2013.

Stephen Kinzer is a masterful storyteller, creating an historical record that is readily accessible to all levels of readers. Besides writing history-or more importantly, rewriting history correctly-he is able to draw out the personal characteristics of the people involved, creating lively anecdotal stories that carry the reader through the overall narrative.

His book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret War, delves into the personal beliefs and perspectives of the Dulles brothers and those associated with them. From that he creates a picture of the nature of U.S. foreign policy as shaped by and being embodied by the brothers and the various Presidents and other corporate and political wheeler and dealers they interacted with over a span of fifty years:

"If they were shortsighted, open to violence, and blind to the subtle realities of the world, it was because these qualities help define American foreign policy and the United States itself…..they embodied the national ethos….They were pure products of the United States."

The historical narrative is clearly presented, the ties to corporations, their employment with powerful law firms, the power they gained within the political system such that after the Second World War they became the two most powerful figures in U.S. politics and foreign affairs. Apart from the basic historical record, the most intriguing aspect is the different natures of the brothers, and the basic similarity that few people gave very much credence to their abilities for deep thought.

Personalities…

They came from a relatively rigid Christian upbringing. John Foster retained the dourness of that upbringing through his life, while his younger brother Allen proved to be a dilettante and womanizer. Their concept of freedom

"was above all economic: a country whose leaders respected private enterprise and welcomed multinational business was a free country."

The other component of freedom was religion,

"Countries that encouraged religious devotion, and that were led by men on good terms with Christian clerics, were to them free countries….These two criteria…they conjured an explanation of why they condemned some dictatorships but not others."

This doctrinaire system of thought did not allow for much in the way of critical thinking skills. Sir Alexander Cadogan, Britain's undersecretary to the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, "wrote in his diary, "J.F.D. the wooliest type of useless pontificating American….Heaven help us!" Eden himself "considered Foster a narrow minded ideologue…always ready to go on a rampage….Churchill agreed. After one of their meetings he remarked,

"Foster Dulles is the only case I know of a bull who carries his own china shop around with him."

It was not just the British. American political scientist Ole Holsti found that Foster dealt with "discrepant information" by "discrediting the source" and "reinterpreting the new information so as to be consistent with his belief system; searching for other information. The advice of subordinates was neither actively sought nor, when tendered, was it often of great weight." Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said that Allen "was a frivolous man" who would "make these decisions which involved people's lives, and never would really think them through."

…and history

From a privileged upbringing with many family contacts in both the political and corporate world, the brothers had little trouble maneuvering through the intricacies of the global power structures they encountered. They were steeped in the ethos of pioneers and missionaries," and

"spent decades promoting the business and strategic interests of the United States….they were vessels of American history."

That history spans half a century. It starts with the Versailles peace talks and ends only with the death of Foster in 1959 and the senescence and increasing senility of Allen during that same time period. Its major impact occurred after World War II, with John Foster becoming Secretary of State with President Eisenhower, while Allen worked himself into founding leader of the FBI.

From both these positions, one of great public power (wielded with much secrecy) and the other with great covert power, they steered the course of U.S. history through the early days of the Cold War. Their rabid anti-communism, combining their religious and corporate beliefs, shaped the world as we know it today.

Kinzer leads the reader through the "Six Monsters", the foreign leaders who became the most public targets of the Eisenhower/Dulles administration: Mossadegh (Iran), Jacabo Arbenz (Guatemala), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), Sukarno (Indonesia ), Patrice Lumumba (Congo), and Castro (Cuba). The ongoing repercussions and blowback from these actions continue to shape our world today.

The last three of these had other impacts. UN Secretary Dag Hammarskjold was involved with Sukarno and Lumumba, and was killed by CIA backed covert action in the Congo. The assassination of John F. Kennedy has several possible claimants, of which his interactions with Sukarno and Castro are the most telling. Significantly, Allen Dulles was appointed to the Warren Commission by President Johnson as it had "some foreign complications, CIA, and other things." Allen "systematically used his influence to keep the commission safely within bounds, the importance of which only he could appreciate."[1]

Kinzer's The Brothers is an excellent source of information concerning the development of U.S. foreign policy during the Twentieth Century. A reader will develop a much stronger understanding of our current geopolitical crisis with this as a background source. It provides not just the historical data behind the events, but more importantly it examines the mindset of the U.S. administration and the people who are both shaped by it and are shaping it:

"The story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America. It illuminates and helps explain the modern history of the United States and the world."

Note

(1) See The Incubus of Intervention-Conflicting Indonesian Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles. Greg Poulgrain. Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Selangor, Malaysia. (Click here to read Jim Miles' review of Incubus of Intervention.)

[May 21, 2015] Militarization Is More Than Tanks Rifles It's a Cultural Disease, Acclimating Citizens To Life In A Police State

May 21, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."

- Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military

Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.

Only now-after the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later, after a whole generation of young Americans has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictates-only now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons being passed along to local police departments.

Not all, mind you, just some.

Talk about too little, too late.

Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.

Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations."

While this is a grossly overdue first step of sorts, it is nevertheless a first step from an administration that has been utterly complicit in accelerating the transformation of America's police forces into extensions of the military. Indeed, as investigative journalist Radley Balko points out, while the Obama administration has said all the right things about the need to scale back on a battlefield mindset, it has done all the wrong things to perpetuate the problem:

It remains to be seen whether this overture on Obama's part, coming in the midst of heightened tensions between the nation's police forces and the populace they're supposed to protect, opens the door to actual reform or is merely a political gambit to appease the masses all the while further acclimating the populace to life in a police state.

Certainly, on its face, it does nothing to ease the misery of the police state that has been foisted upon us. In fact, Obama's belated gesture of concern does little to roll back the deadly menace of overzealous police agencies corrupted by money, power and institutional immunity. And it certainly fails to recognize the terrible toll that has been inflicted on our communities, our fragile ecosystem of a democracy, and our freedoms as a result of the government's determination to bring the war home.

Will the young black man guilty of nothing more than running away from brutish police officers be any safer in the wake of Obama's edict? It's unlikely.

Will the old man reaching for his cane have a lesser chance of being shot? It's doubtful.

Will the little girl asleep under her princess blanket live to see adulthood when a SWAT team crashes through her door? I wouldn't count on it.

It's a safe bet that our little worlds will be no safer following Obama's pronouncement and the release of his "Task Force on 21st Century Policing" report. In fact, there is a very good chance that life in the American police state will become even more perilous.

Among the report's 50-page list of recommendations is a call for more police officer boots on the ground, training for police "on the importance of de-escalation of force," and "positive non-enforcement activities" in high-crime communities to promote trust in the police such as sending an ice cream truck across the city.

Curiously, nowhere in the entire 120-page report is there a mention of the Fourth Amendment, which demands that the government respect citizen privacy and bodily integrity. The Constitution is referenced once, in the Appendix, in relation to Obama's authority as president. And while the word "constitutional" is used 15 times within the body of the report, its use provides little assurance that the Obama administration actually understands the clear prohibitions against government overreach as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

For instance, in the section of the report on the use of technology and social media, the report notes: "Though all constitutional guidelines must be maintained in the performance of law enforcement duties, the legal framework (warrants, etc.) should continue to protect law enforcement access to data obtained from cell phones, social media, GPS, and other sources, allowing officers to detect, prevent, or respond to crime."

Translation: as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the new face of policing in America is about to shift from waging its war on the American people using primarily the weapons of the battlefield to the evermore-sophisticated technology of the battlefield where government surveillance of our everyday activities will be even more invasive.

This emphasis on technology, surveillance and social media is nothing new. In much the same way the federal government used taxpayer-funded grants to "gift" local police agencies with military weapons and equipment, it is also funding the distribution of technology aimed at making it easier for police to monitor, track and spy on Americans. For instance, license plate readers, stingray devices and fusion centers are all funded by grants from the DHS. Funding for drones at the state and local levels also comes from the federal government, which in turn accesses the data acquired by the drones for its own uses.

If you're noticing a pattern here, it is one in which the federal government is not merely transforming local police agencies into extensions of itself but is in fact federalizing them, turning them into a national police force that answers not to "we the people" but to the Commander in Chief. Yet the American police force is not supposed to be a branch of the military, nor is it a private security force for the reigning political faction. It is supposed to be an aggregation of the countless local civilian units that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

So where does that leave us?

There's certainly no harm in embarking on a national dialogue on the dangers of militarized police, but if that's all it amounts to-words that sound good on paper and in the press but do little to actually respect our rights and restore our freedoms-then we're just playing at politics with no intention of actually bringing about reform.

Despite the Obama Administration's lofty claims of wanting to "ensure that public safety becomes more than the absence of crime, that it must also include the presence of justice," this is the reality we must contend with right now:

Americans still have no real protection against police abuse. Americans still have no right to self-defense in the face of SWAT teams mistakenly crashing through our doors, or police officers who shoot faster than they can reason. Americans are still no longer innocent until proven guilty. Americans still don't have a right to private property. Americans are still powerless in the face of militarized police. Americans still don't have a right to bodily integrity. Americans still don't have a right to the expectation of privacy. Americans are still being acclimated to a police state through the steady use and sight of military drills domestically, a heavy militarized police presence in public places and in the schools, and a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the police are our "friends." And to top it all off, Americans still can't rely on the courts, Congress or the White House to mete out justice when our rights are violated by police.

To sum it all up: the problems we're grappling with have been building for more than 40 years. They're not going to go away overnight, and they certainly will not be resolved by a report that instructs the police to simply adopt different tactics to accomplish the same results-i.e., maintain the government's power, control and wealth at all costs.

This is the sad reality of life in the American police state.

[May 16, 2015]The Making of Hillary Clinton " CounterPunch Tells the Facts, Names the Names

First in a three-part series.

Hillary Clinton has always been an old-style Midwestern Republican in the Illinois style; one severely infected with Methodism, unlike the more populist variants from Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Her first known political enterprise was in the 1960 presidential election, the squeaker where the state of Illinois notoriously put Kennedy over the top, courtesy of Mayor Daley, Sam Giancana and Judith Exner. Hillary was a Nixon supporter. She took it on herself to probe allegations of vote fraud. From the leafy middle-class suburbs of Chicago's west side, she journeyed to the tenements of the south side, a voter list in her hand. She went to an address recorded as the domicile of hundreds of Democratic voters and duly found an empty lot. She rushed back to campaign headquarters, agog with her discovery, only to be told that Nixon was throwing in the towel.

The way Hillary Clinton tells it in her Living History (an autobiography convincingly demolished by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta in their Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, an interesting and well researched account ) she went straight from the Nixon camp to the cause of Martin Luther King Jr., and never swerved from that commitment. Not so. Like many Illinois Republicans, she did have a fascination for the Civil Rights movement and spent some time on the south side, mainly in African Methodist churches under the guidance of Don Jones, a teacher at her high school. It was Jones who took her to hear King speak at Chicago's Orchestra Hall and later introduced her to the Civil Rights leader.

Gerth and Van Natta eschew psychological theorizing, but it seems clear that the dominant influence in Hillary life was her father, a fairly successful, albeit tightwad Welsh draper, supplying Hilton hotels and other chains. From this irritable patriarch Hillary kept secret ­ a marked penchant throughout her life ­ her outings with Jones and her encounter with King. Her public persona was that of a Goldwater Girl. She battled for Goldwater through the 1964 debacle and arrived at Wellesley in the fall of 1965 with enough Goldwaterite ambition to become president of the Young Republicans as a freshman.

The setting of Hillary's political compass came in the late Sixties. The fraught year of 1968 saw the Goldwater girl getting a high-level internship in the House Republican Conference with Gerald Ford and Melvin Laird, without an ounce of the Goldwater libertarian pizzazz. Hillary says the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, plus the war in Vietnam, hit her hard. The impact was not of the intensity that prompted many of her generation to become radicals. She left the suburb of Park Ridge and rushed to Miami to the Republican Convention where she fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting Frank Sinatra and John Wayne and devoted her energies to saving the Party from her former icon, Nixon, by working for Nelson Rockefeller.

Nixon triumphed, and Hillary returned to Chicago in time for the Democratic Convention where she paid an afternoon's visit to Grant Park. By now a proclaimed supporter of Gene McCarthy, she was appalled, not by the spectacle of McCarthy's young supporters being beaten senseless by Daley's cops, but by the protesters' tactics, which she concluded were not viable. Like her future husband, Hillary was always concerned with maintaining viability within the system.

After the convention Hillary embarked on her yearlong senior thesis, on the topic of the Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky. She has successfully persuaded Wellesley to keep this under lock and key, but Gerth and Van Natta got hold of a copy. So far from being an exaltation of radical organizing, Hillary's assessment of Alinsky was hostile, charging him with excessive radicalism. Her preferential option was to
KillingTrayvons1seek minor advances within the terms of the system. She did not share these conclusions with Alinsky who had given her generous access during the preparation of her thesis and a job offer thereafter, which she declined.

What first set Hillary in the national spotlight was her commencement address at Wellesley, the first time any student had been given this opportunity. Dean Acheson's granddaughter insisted to the president of Wellesley that youth be given its say, and the president picked Hillary as youth's tribune. Her somewhat incoherent speech included some flicks at the official commencement speaker, Senator Edward Brooke, the black Massachusetts senator, for failing to mention the Civil Rights movement or the war. Wellesley's president, still fuming at this discourtesy, saw Hillary skinny-dipping in Lake Waban that evening and told a security guard to steal her clothes.

The militant summer of 1969 saw Hillary cleaning fish in Valdez, Alaska, and in the fall she was at Yale being stalked by Bill Clinton in the library. The first real anti-war protests at Yale came with the shooting of the students at Kent State. Hillary saw the ensuing national student upheaval as, once again, a culpable failure to work within the system. "I advocated engagement, not disruption."

She finally consented to go on a date with Bill Clinton, and they agreed to visit a Rothko exhibit at the Yale art gallery. At the time of their scheduled rendez-vous with art, the gallery was closed because the museum's workers were on strike. The two had no inhibitions about crossing a picket line. Bill worked as a scab in the museum, doing janitorial work for the morning, getting as reward a free tour with Hillary in the afternoon.

In the meantime, Hillary was forging long-term alliances with such future stars of the Clinton age as Marian Wright Edelman and her husband Peter, and also with one of the prime political fixers of the Nineties, Vernon Jordan. It was Hillary who introduced Bill to these people, as well as to Senator Fritz Mondale and his staffers.

If any one person gave Hillary her start in liberal Democratic politics, it was Marian Wright Edelman who took Hillary with her when she started the Children's Defense Fund. The two were inseparable for the next twenty-five years. In her autobiography, published in 2003, Hillary lists the 400 people who have most influenced her. Marion Wright Edelman doesn't make the cut. Neither to forget nor to forgive. Peter Edelman was one of three Clinton appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services who quit when Clinton signed the Welfare reform bill, which was about as far from any "defense" of children as one could possibly imagine.

Hillary was on Mondale's staff for the summer of '71, investigating worker abuses in the sugarcane plantations of southern Florida, as close to slavery as anywhere in the U.S.A. Life's ironies: Hillary raised not a cheep of protest when one of the prime plantation families, the Fanjuls, called in their chips (laid down in the form of big campaign contributions to Clinton) and insisted that Clinton tell Vice President Gore to abandon his calls for the Everglades to be restored, thus taking water Fanjul was appropriating for his operation.

From 1971 on, Bill and Hillary were a political couple. In 1972, they went down to Texas and spent some months working for the McGovern campaign, swiftly becoming disillusioned with what they regarded as an exercise in futile ultraliberalism. They planned to rescue the Democratic Party from this fate by the strategy they have followed ever since: the pro-corporate, hawkish neoliberal recipes that have become institutionalized in the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were founding members.

In 1973, Bill and Hillary went off on a European vacation, during which they laid out their 20-year project designed to culminate with Bill's election as president. Inflamed with this vision, Bill proposed marriage in front of Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District. Hillary declined, the first of twelve similar refusals over the next year. Bill went off to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to seek political office. Hillary, for whom Arkansas remained an unappetizing prospect, eagerly accepted, in December '73, majority counsel John Doar's invitation to work for the House committee preparing the impeachment of Richard Nixon. She spent the next months listening to Nixon's tapes. Her main assignment was to prepare an organizational chart of the Nixon White House. It bore an eerie resemblance to the twilit labyrinth of the Clinton White House 18 years later.

Hillary had an offer to become the in-house counsel of the Children's Defense Fund and seemed set to become a high-flying public interest Washington lawyer. There was one impediment. She failed the D.C. bar exam. She passed the Arkansas bar exam. In August of 1974, she finally moved to Little Rock and married Bill in 1975 at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Vic Nixon. They honeymooned in Acapulco with her entire family, including her two brothers' girlfriends, all staying in the same suite.

After Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1976, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm, the first woman partner in an outfit almost as old as the Republic. It was all corporate business, and the firm's prime clients were the state's business heavyweights ­ Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Jackson Stevens Investments, Worthen Bank and the timber company Weyerhaeuser, the state's largest landowner.

Two early cases (of a total of five that Hillary actually tried) charted her course. The first concerned the successful effort of Acorn ­ a public interest group doing community organizing ­ to force the utilities to lower electric rates on residential consumers and raise on industrial users. Hillary represented the utilities in a challenge to this progressive law, the classic right-wing claim, arguing that the measure represented an unconstitutional "taking" of property rights. She carried the day for the utilities.

The second case found Hillary representing the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company. In earlier years, Hillary had worked at the Children's Defense Fund on behalf of abused employees and disabled children. Only months earlier, while still a member of the Washington, D.C., public interest community, she had publicly ripped Joseph Califano for becoming the Coca Cola company's public counsel. "You sold us out, you, you sold us out!" she screamed publicly at Califano. Working now for Coca Cola, Hillary prevailed

[May 14, 2015] Will "Vagina Voters" Devour Democracy by James Bovard

See also Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton and US Presidential Elections of 2016

May 14, 2015 | CounterPunch

...Spiked Online editor Brendan O'Neill scoffed at the would-be vagina stampede for Hillary at Reason.com:

"This embrace of the gender card by Clinton and her cronies, this move from thinking with their heads to voting with their vaginas, is being celebrated as a great leap forward.

It's nothing of the sort. It merely confirms the speedy and terrifying shrinking of the political sphere in recent years, with the abstract being elbowed aside by the emotional, and the old focus on ideas and values now playing a very quiet second fiddle to an obsession with identity."

Would a female leader likely be less bellicose than recent male presidents? After the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Hillary Clinton only resumed talking to her husband when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest terms to begin bombing Serbia; the next day, Bill Clinton announced that the United States had a "moral imperative" to stop Serbia's Milosevic. Counterpunch co-founder Alexander Cockburn observed in 1999 in the Los Angeles Times: "It's scarcely surprising that Hillary would have urged President Clinton to drop cluster bombs on the Serbs to defend 'our way of life.' The first lady is a social engineer. She believes in therapeutic policing and the duty of the state to impose such policing. War is more social engineering, 'fixitry' via high explosive, social therapy via cruise missile… As a tough therapeutic cop, she does not shy away from the most abrupt expression of the therapy: the death penalty." In the Obama administration, Hillary, Samantha Powers, and Susan Rice have been among the biggest warmongers – with an unquenchable thirst to bomb Libya, Syria, and other nations.

What is the male equivalent of "vagina voters"? Dickheads? On the bright side, maybe one of Hillary's zealots will coin a catchy vagina-oriented version of the "hope and change" campaign promise.

Perhaps the greatest folly of "vagina voting" is the presumption that a candidate's gender is more important than the fact that they are a politician. Politicians have been renowned for deceit for hundreds of years. Hillary, like most of the Republican males in the race, has a long record of brazen deceit. Politicians as a class conspire against the rights and liberties of citizens. And there is no evidence that certain genitalia immunizes a person against Powerlust.

James Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan, Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. More info at www.jimbovard.com; on Twitter @jimbovard

[May 14, 2015] To Those Who Believe in Voting by NOEL IGNATIEV

The key problem here is that candidates are pre-selected and does not represnt people in any sense. they represent two factions of elite and, if elected, will fight for privileges of those faction that they represent.
May 12, 2015 | CounterPunch

Thoughts on the Least Important Decision People Make Every Four Years

One morning years ago, as I entered the classroom for a course I taught on U.S. history, I found the students engaged in a discussion of elections. One of them, whom I knew to be a supporter of "progressive" causes and who had previously complained about student apathy, asked me in a despairing tone, "Why don't people vote?"

"I don't know," I replied. "To me, the more interesting question is, Why do they?"

Why do people vote? The individual voter does not choose the winner of the election; she chooses which lever to pull or which box to check on a piece of paper. Yet some people get angry at me and call me a shirker when I tell them I don't vote. If you don't vote, they tell me, you have no right to complain.

Why not, I ask. Where is that written?

Some point out that in the past people died for the right to vote.

That is true, I respond, but beside the point: people also died for the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies, but no one calls abortion a public duty.

Clearly, something is operating here besides logic.

The only explanation I can come up with is that people vote for the same reason they cheer or do the wave at an athletic competition-it makes them feel part of a community. Now, I respect the desire for community. In the good old Hew Hess of Hay, "citizens" choose people to represent them. To vote is to participate in a community ritual. It begins in grade school, when children elect who among them will get to clean the blackboards.

Rituals reinforce the society that gives rise to them. By reenacting the voting ritual people reinforce a system that ensures their powerlessness. This is true regardless of whom they vote for.

The New Society is based on people acting in concert to shape their lives. Representative versus direct democracy. The Paris Commune. The Flint Sitdown Strike. The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Tahrir Square.

... ... ....

Noel Ignatiev is the author of How the Irish Became White (Routledge, 1995), and co-editor, with John Garvey, of the anthology Race Traitor (Routledge, 1996). He blogs here. He can be reached at noelignatiev@gmail.com.

[May 10, 2015] 'Winner takes all' vote system exaggerates Britain's divisions

May 10, 2015 | Reuters

David Cameron can thank Britain's winner-takes-all voting system for handing him an outright majority in parliament on just 37 percent of the vote. But by boosting the power of Scottish nationalists, it has also intensified one of his biggest headaches.

... ... ...

Those complaining loudest are the anti-European Union UK Independence Party and the Greens. Nationwide, they took 12.6 percent and 3.8 percent of the vote respectively, but their support was too thinly spread to win more than one member of parliament each.

"The fact that over 5 million people between them have voted UKIP and Green, and they have two MPs, strikes us as utterly absurd and a tragic denial of people's democratic wishes," said Will Brett, head of campaigns for the Electoral Reform Society which advocates a switch to proportional representation (PR).

... ... ...

LONG BATTLE

Complaints about the fairness of the system are not new. For decades it was the centrist Liberals, and their successors the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems), who led the calls for change.

As part of the price for supporting Cameron in a coalition after the previous 2010 election, the Lib Dems were granted a referendum in 2011 on adopting a modified version of first-past-the-post (FPP), in which voters would rank candidates in order. The change was rejected, on a low voter turnout.

Advocates of FPP say it is a tried and tested system that for the most part has delivered clear election outcomes and stable governments. But opponents say the Scottish question, the fragmentation of the old two-party-dominated political structure and the emergence of movements such as UKIP and the Greens have all bolstered the case for reform.

Under a system of PR like the one used in Germany and New Zealand, Cameron's Conservatives would still have been the biggest party in the House of Commons after Thursday's election but would have needed to rely on UKIP, with more than 80 seats, to scrape a majority.

In Scotland, the SNP would be reduced to half the seats, with the others split between Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. In that more balanced landscape, the political chasm between England and Scotland would be greatly narrowed.

Even before the election, that point was forcefully argued by Vernon Bogdanor, a constitutional expert who was Cameron's politics tutor at Oxford University.

"Distorted representation makes the UK appear more divided than in fact it is," he wrote in Prospect magazine in February. "Proportional representation, therefore, would alter the dynamics of the conflict between England and Scotland and make it far more manageable."

No one expects Cameron to change the system that has swept him back to power. But in the long term, some argue, there are compelling reasons to re-draw electoral rules that divide much of Britain into fortresses held for decades by one party or the other.

That means that millions of people are effectively disenfranchised and elections are decided in a relatively small number of close-fought marginal seats.

While the current system gives Cameron a mandate for a majority government, "it's not such a strong mandate that he can ignore the rest of the country," Brett said.

"It's going to be hard to ignore electoral reform indefinitely

[May 09, 2015] Election Dysfunction The Nation by John Nichols

September 19, 2006 | The Nation

The Sunday Washington Post headline said it all. Echoing a theme that is finally being picked up by print and broadcast media that for too long has neglected the dramatic problems with this country's systems for casting and counting votes, the newspaper's front page announced: "Major Problems At Polls Feared: Some Officials Say Voting Law Changes And New Technology Will Cause Trouble."

Following a disastrous election day in Maryland that was defined by human blunders, technical glitches, long lines and long delays in vote counting so severe that some contests remain unresolved almost a week after the balloting, the Post declared that, "An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said."

No fooling!

Some of us have been writing and talking about this country's almost fully dysfunctional electoral systems for the better part of a decade. And the one thing that every serious observer of the electoral meltdown recognizes is that the people who have managed the mess ought not to be trusted to clean it up.

That's the message that underpins the candidacy of John Bonifaz for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Bonifaz, the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, is one of a number of activists and advocates who are running in races for secretary of state positions around the country this year. They have recognized that these posts, which in most states are responsible for conducting elections, can no longer be trusted to Republican partisans -- such as Florida's Katherine Harris and Ohio's Ken Blackwell -- or Democratic hacks. They have to be occupied by champions of democracy who believe that protecting and the promoting the right to vote must be the central function of local and state election officials.

Some of these champions have already secured secretary of state nominations, including Minnesota Democrat Mark Ritchie and California Democrat Debra Bowen. But in Massachusetts, where the primary is Tuesday, Bonifaz faces a tough challenge. He must overcome an entrenched incumbent, William Galvin, who at one point was considered a serious contender for governor but dropped back to seek reelection as secretary of state.

That decision by Galvin made Bonifaz's job much harder. But he has persevered with a primary campaign that has spoken well and wisely of the need to fix our broken election systems. His small "d" democratic commitment has earned Bonifaz enthusiastic endorsements from newspapers such as the Boston Phoenix, one of the nation's premier alternative weeklies, and the New Bedford Standard-Times, which declared last week that, "Mr. Galvin has not used his office enough to push through voting reforms that make Massachusetts a shining example and a leader in reviving democracy at the local level. Mr. Bonifaz will be that champion for the voter."

Bonifaz has also won the backing of national figures who have been active on behalf of voting rights, including U.S. Representatives John Conyers, D-Michigan, and Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois., along with the support of the state's many Progressive Democrats of America chapters.

What appeals about Bonifaz is the seriousness of his uphill campaign, a seriousness that is highlighted by the candidate's commitment to a Voters' Bill of Rights that ought to be the platform on which progressives stand as they address this country's democracy shortfall.

Bonifaz's Voters Bill of Rights promises to:

1. Count every vote

The right to vote includes the right to have our votes properly counted.

We must ensure that every citizen's vote will be counted. This includes a guarantee of open and transparent elections with verified voting, paper trails, hand-recorded paper ballots, and access to the source codes for, and random audits of, electronic voting machines. It also includes a guarantee that we the people, through our government, will control our voting machines -- not private companies.

2. Make voting easier

We should enact election day registration here in Massachusetts, removing the barrier of registration prior to Election Day. Seven states have election day registration. They have a higher voter turnout in their elections and have no evidence of voter fraud. We should be encouraging greater participation in the political process, starting with election day registration.

We should also ensure absentee voting for all, allow for early voting, and remove other barriers that make it difficult for people to vote.

3. End the big money dominance of our electoral process

In a democracy, public elections should be publicly financed. In Maine and Arizona, publicly financed elections have enabled people to run for office who would never have dreamed of running under a system dominated by big money interests. We, as voters, need to own our elections, rather than allow the process to be controlled by the wealthy few.

We also need to enact mandatory limits on campaign spending. In 1976, the Supreme Court wrongly struck down mandatory campaign spending limits for congressional elections. Massachusetts should help lead the way with campaign spending limits for our elections.

4. Expand voter choice

Instant run-off voting: Voters should be able to rank their choices of candidates, ensuring majority support for those elected and allowing greater voter choice and wider voter participation.

Cross Endorsement Voting (Fusion voting): Voters should be able to cast their ballots for major party candidates on a minor party's ballot line, placing power in the hands of the people and broadening public debate on the issues of the day.

Proportional Representation: Voters should be allowed their fair share of representation, ensuring that majority rule does not prevent minority voices from being heard.

5. Ensure access for new citizens and language minorities

The right to vote does not speak one specific language. It is universal. No one should be denied the right to vote because of a language barrier.

6. Level the playing field for challengers

Redistricting reform -- Incumbent legislators should not have the power to draw their own district lines. We must transfer this power to independent non-partisan commissions and create fair standards for redistricting, thereby promoting competition in our electoral process and improving representation for the people.

7. Ensure non-partisan election administration

The Secretary of the Commonwealth must be a Secretary for all of us, regardless of party affiliation. The Secretary should not be allowed to serve as a co-chair of campaigns of candidates. To ensure the people's trust in the integrity of our elections, the Secretary must conduct the administration of elections in a non-partisan manner.

8. Make government more accessible to all of us

Democracy is not just about our participation on Election Day. We need to participate every day and our government needs to be accessible to us every day. This means a government that is open and transparent, that encourages people to make their voices heard, and that enlists citizen participation in addressing the major issues of our time.

9. Amend the US Constitution to ensure an affirmative right to vote

One hundred and eight democratic nations in the world have explicit language guaranteeing the right to vote in their constitutions, and the United States -- along with only ten other such nations -- does not. As a result, the way we administer elections in this country changes from state to state, from county to county, from locality to locality. The Secretary of the Commonwealth must fight for a constitutional amendment that affirmatively guarantees the right to vote in the US Constitution.

John Nichols is the author of Jews for Buchanan (The New Press), an account of the Florida recount fight following the 2000 presidential election, and numerous articles on America's dysfunctional electoral systems.

The Inner Circle Large Corporations and the Rise of Business Political Activity in the U.S. and U.K. (978019504033

This is the essence of neoliberalism" Businessmen Unite! instead of "Proletarians of all countries unite"...
July 7, 2005 | Amazon.com

Luc REYNAERT on July 7, 2005

Businessmen Unite!

In the US and Great-Britain top officers of large corporations formed in the 1970s a semi-autonomous network which Michael Useem calls the 'Inner Circle'. It is a sort of institutionalized capitalism with a classwide alongside a corporate logic and permits a centralized mobilization of corporate resources.

This select group of business leaders assume a leading role in the support of political candidates, in consultations with the highest levels of the national administrations, in public defense of the free enterprise system and in the governance of foundations and universities.

One of its main goals is the promotion of a better political climate for big business through philanthropy (image building via generous support of cultural programs), issue (not product) advertising and political financing.

The reasons behind the constitution of this 'Inner Circle' were the declining power of the individual companies and declining profitability together with, more specifically in GB, the threat of labor socialism (nationalizations and worker participation in corporate governance) and in the US, government intervention.

A main issue was also the desire to control the power of the media, which in the US were considered far too liberal.

The interventions of this 'Inner Circle' were (and are) extremely successful. President R. Reagan and Prime Minister M. Thatcher were partly products of business mobilizations. They lowered taxation, reduced government (except military) spending, lifted controls on business and installed cutbacks on unemployment benefits and welfare.

On the media front, the influence of corporate America is highly enhanced, directly through media mergers, and indirectly through the high corporate advertising budgets.

This is an eminent study based on excellent research.

Highly recommended.

[May 03, 2015] Whichever party takes power does its best to govern just like the other party would have done while shouting about how different they are

marknesop.wordpress.com
Warren , May 1, 2015 at 8:12 am
The woman who shredded Red Ed: How marketing company boss used laser-like precision to lead audience attack on Labour leader
Marketing boss Catherine Shuttleworth leads charge against Labour leader
Miliband had the roughest ride from special Question Time audience
Dismissed Labour's 2010 note admitting 'there is no money' as a Tory prop
He also faced the wrath of voters after denying Labour spent too much
Leaving stage after difficult 30 minutes, Miliband tripped and almost fell

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3063559/Woman-shredded-Red-Ed-laser-like-precision-leads-audience-attacks-economy.html#ixzz3YtrjMeLV
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

marknesop, May 1, 2015 at 8:52 am
I am suspicious of any PR moment that leaves that smug prick Dave coming out best. He is a disaster as leader and any election campaign that sees him get another term has to be rigged, since he is so clearly a privileged, cocky, full-of-himself jerk who projects an image of a Britain that is just like him, which it isn't.

All the western democracies suffer from the same malaise – there are two parties which dominate the nation's leadership; Labour and Conservative, Democrat and Republican, Conservative and Liberal, and whichever party takes power does its best to govern just like the other party would have done while shouting about how different they are. This is particularly noticeable in the case of the United States, but merely because of its global influence and size and its impact on the world. Britain is pretty small potatoes these days in terms of global influence, Canada smaller yet, but both the preceding suffer from the same disease to varying degrees. There is simply no choice – you take this bastard or that bastard. And whichever wins, even when the result is clearly one in which the electorate "chose" the least horrible by its own estimation, the winner claims a mandate and says "the people have spoken". Mmm….fewer and fewer of them all the time, as eligible voters continue to lose interest completely in the democratic electoral process. I wonder why?

Warren, May 1, 2015 at 11:42 am

The lady in question has been revealed as a Conservative/Tory supporter and not an independent undecided person as she purported to be.

Regarding, the UK General Election it seems inevitable there will be another hung Parliament. The Conservatives/Tories look like they will become the largest party in England, however they won't have an overall majority in Parliament. Whereas, Labour is facing annihilation in Scotland, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) routing the "Red Tories" north of the border. Labour could conceivably govern the UK with the SNP in a coalition government. Nicola Sturgeon the leader of the SNP has expressed her desire to see another independence referendum within a few years. However, the Labour leader Edward "Ed" Miliband has ruled that out in the debate last night.

UK politics has fragmented and become so unpredictable. This was always going to happen because the economic crisis, new radical parties and policies were always going to emerge.

marknesop, May 1, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Ha, ha – just like the phenomenon of Katie Abram in the U.S. Here she is, supposedly just a concerned young mother who is at pains to explain she has never before been even interested in politics, but now, by God and Sonny Jesus, she is fired up, so look out. She was an overnight sensation, and Republicans started talking right away in that mindless way they have of her maybe running for office, even though they just heard she was a young mother who had no previous interest – translates to zero experience – in politics. Here she is the next day, getting her ass handed to her by Lawrence O'Donnell on "Hardball". Watch her pretend not to know how much her family income is, although she just said the Obama government wants her to pay more taxes.

Nobody should have been surprised, then, when it was revealed she was a neoconservative organizer with failed rodeo clown Glenn Beck's "9-12 Project", and knee-deep in politics since at least the GOP's congressional-elections rout in 2006.

Neocons the Echo of German Fascism By Todd E. Pierce

March 27, 2015 | Consortiumnews

Exclusive: The "f-word" for "fascist" keeps cropping up in discussing aggressive U.S. and Israeli "exceptionalism," but there's a distinction from the "n-word" for "Nazi." This new form of ignoring international law fits more with an older form of German authoritarianism favored by neocon icon Leo Strauss, says retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.

With the Likud Party electoral victory in Israel, the Republican Party is on a roll, having won two major elections in a row. The first was winning control of the U.S. Congress last fall. The second is the victory by the Republicans' de facto party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel's recent election. As the Israeli Prime Minister puts together a coalition with other parties "in the national camp," as he describes them, meaning the ultra-nationalist parties of Israel, it will be a coalition that today's Republicans would feel right at home in.

The common thread linking Republicans and Netanyahu's "national camp" is a belief of each in their own country's "exceptionalism," with a consequent right of military intervention wherever and whenever their "Commander in Chief" orders it, as well as the need for oppressive laws to suppress dissent.

Leo Strauss, an intellectual bridge between Germany's inter-war Conservative Revolutionaries and today's American neoconservatives.

Leo Strauss, an intellectual bridge between Germany's inter-war Conservative Revolutionaries and today's American neoconservatives.

William Kristol, neoconservative editor of the Weekly Standard, would agree. Celebrating Netanyahu's victory, Kristol told the New York Times, "It will strengthen the hawkish types in the Republican Party." Kristol added that Netanyahu would win the GOP's nomination, if he could run, because "Republican primary voters are at least as hawkish as the Israeli public."

The loser in both the Israeli and U.S. elections was the rule of law and real democracy, not the sham democracy presented for public relations purposes in both counties. In both countries today, money controls elections, and as Michael Glennon has written in National Security and Double Government, real power is in the hands of the national security apparatus.

Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership role in the U.S. Congress was on full display to the world when he accepted House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to address Congress. Showing their eagerness to be part of any political coalition being formed under Netanyahu's leadership, many Congressional Democrats also showed their support by attending the speech.

It was left to Israeli Uri Avnery to best capture the spirit of Netanyahu's enthusiastic ideological supporters in Congress. Avnery wrote that he was reminded of something when seeing "Row upon row of men in suits (and the occasional woman), jumping up and down, up and down, applauding wildly, shouting approval."

Where had he heard that type of shouting before? Then it came to him: "It was another parliament in the mid-1930s. The Leader was speaking. Rows upon rows of Reichstag members were listening raptly. Every few minutes they jumped up and shouted their approval."

He added, "the Congress of the United States of America is no Reichstag. Members wear dark suits, not brown shirts. They do not shout 'Heil' but something unintelligible." Nevertheless, "the sound of the shouting had the same effect. Rather shocking."

Right-wing Politics in Pre-Nazi Germany

While Avnery's analogy of how Congress responded to its de facto leader was apt, it isn't necessary to go to the extreme example that he uses to analogize today's right-wing U.S. and Israeli parties and policy to an earlier German precedent. Instead, it is sufficient to note how similar the right-wing parties of Israel and the U.S. of today are to what was known in 1920s Weimar Germany as the Conservative Revolutionary Movement.

This "movement" did not include the Nazis but instead the Nazis were political competitors with the party which largely represented Conservative Revolutionary ideas: the German National People's Party (DNVP).

The institution to which the Conservative Revolutionaries saw as best representing German "values," the Reichswehr, the German Army, was also opposed by the Nazis as "competitors" to Ernst Rohm's Brownshirts. But the Conservative Revolutionary Movement, the DNVP, and the German Army could all be characterized as "proto-fascist," if not Fascist. In fact, when the Nazis took over Germany, it was with the support of many of the proto-fascists making up the Conservative Revolutionary Movement, as well as those with the DNVP and the Reichswehr.

Consequently, many of the Reichstag members that Uri Avnery refers to above as listening raptly and jumping up and shouting their approval of "The Leader" were not Nazis. The Nazis had failed to obtain an absolute majority on their own and needed the votes of the "national camp," primarily the German National People's Party (DNVP), for a Reichstag majority.

The DNVP members would have been cheering The Leader right alongside Nazi members of the Reichstag. DNVP members also voted along with Nazi members in passing the Enabling Act of 1933, which abolished constitutional liberties and dissolved the Reichstag.

Not enough has been written on the German Conservative Revolutionary Movement , the DNVP and the Reichswehr because they have too often been seen as victims of the Nazis themselves or, at worst, mere precursors.

The DNVP was the political party which best represented the viewpoint of the German Conservative Revolutionary Movement. The Reichswehr itself, as described in The Nemesis of Power by John W. Wheeler-Bennett, has been called a "state within a state," much like the intelligence and security services of the U.S. and Israel are today, wielding extraordinary powers.

The Reichswehr was militaristic and anti-democratic in its purest form and indeed was "fascist" in the term's classic definition of "an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization." Mussolini merely modeled much of his hyper-militaristic political movement on the martial values of the Reichswehr.

German Army officers even had authority to punish civilians for failing to show "proper respect." In its essence, the viewpoint of the DNVP and the Conservative Revolutionaries was virtually identical to today's Republican Party along with those Democrats who align with them on national security issues.

These groups have in common a worshipful attitude toward the military as best embodying those martial virtues that are central to fascism. Sister parties, though they may all prefer to be seen as "brothers in arms," would be Netanyahu's "national camp" parties.

German Conservative Revolutionary Movement

The Conservative Revolutionary Movement began within the German Right after World War I with a number of writers advocating a nationalist ideology but one in keeping with modern times and not restricted by traditional Prussian conservatism.

It must be noted that Prussian conservatism, standing for militaristic ideas traditional to Prussia, was the antithesis of traditional American conservatism, which professed to stand for upholding the classical liberal ideas of government embedded in the U.S. Constitution.

Inherent to those U.S. constitutional ideas was antipathy toward militarism and militaristic rule of any sort, though Native Americans have good cause to disagree. (In fact, stories of the American conquest of Native Americans with its solution of placing them on reservations were particularly popular in Germany early in the Twentieth Century including with Adolf Hitler).

Historians have noted that when the German Army went to war in World War I, the soldiers and officers carried with them "a shared sense of German superiority and the imagined bestiality of the enemy." This was manifested particularly harshly upon the citizens of Belgium in 1914 with the German occupation. Later, after their experience in the trenches, the Reichswehr was nearly as harsh in suppressing domestic dissent in Germany after the war.

According to Richard Wolin, in The Seduction of Unreason, Ernst Troeltsch, a German Protestant theologian, "realized that in the course of World War I the ethos of Germanocentrism, as embodied in the 'ideas of 1914,' had assumed a heightened stridency." Under the peace of the Versailles Treaty, "instead of muting the idiom of German exceptionalism that Troeltsch viewed with such mistrust, it seemed only to fan its flames."

This belief in German "exceptionalism" was the common belief of German Conservative Revolutionaries, the DNVP and the Reichswehr. For Republicans of today and those who share their ideological belief, substitute "American" for "German" Exceptionalism and you have the identical ideology.

"Exceptionalism" in the sense of a nation can be understood in two ways. One is a belief in the nation's superiority to others. The other way is the belief that the "exceptional" nation stands above the law, similar to the claim made by dictators in declaring martial law or a state of emergency. The U.S. and Israel exhibit both forms of this belief.

German Exceptionalism

The belief in German Exceptionalism was the starting point, not the ending point, for the Conservative Revolutionaries just as it is with today's Republicans such as Sen. Tom Cotton or Sen. Lindsey Graham. This Exceptionalist ideology gives the nation the right to interfere in other country's internal affairs for whatever reason the "exceptional" country deems necessary, such as desiring more living space for their population, fearing the potential of some future security threat, or even just by denying the "exceptional" country access within its borders - or a "denial of access threat" as the U.S. government terms it.

The fundamental ideas of the Conservative Revolutionaries have been described as vehement opposition to the Weimar Republic (identifying it with the lost war and the Versailles Treaty) and political "liberalism" (as opposed to Prussia's traditional authoritarianism).

This "liberalism," which offended the Conservative Revolutionaries, was democracy and individual rights against state power. Instead, the Conservative Revolutionaries envisaged a new reich of enormous strength and unity. They rejected the view that political action should be guided by rational criteria. They idealized violence for its own sake.

That idealization of violence would have meant "state" violence in the form of military expansionism and suppression of "enemies," domestic and foreign, by right-thinking Germans.

The Conservative Revolutionaries called for a "primacy of politics" which was to be "a reassertion of an expansion in foreign policy and repression against the trade unions at home." This "primacy of politics" for the Conservative Revolutionaries meant the erasure of a distinction between war and politics.

Citing Hannah Arendt, Jeffrey Herf, a professor of modern European history, wrote: "The explicit implications of the primacy of politics in the conservative revolution were totalitarian. From now on there were to be no limits to ideological politics. The utilitarian and humanistic considerations of nineteenth-century liberalism were to be abandoned in order to establish a state of constant dynamism and movement." That sounds a lot like the "creative destruction" that neoconservative theorist Michael Ledeen is so fond of.

Herf wrote in 1984 that Conservative Revolutionaries were characterized as "the intellectual advance guard of the rightist revolution that was to be effected in 1933," which, although contemptuous of Hitler, "did much to pave his road to power."

Unlike the Nazis, their belief in German superiority was based in historical traditions and ideas, not biological racism. Nevertheless, some saw German Jews as the "enemy" of Germany for being "incompatible with a united nation."

It is one of the bitterest of ironies that Israel as a "Jewish nation" has adopted similar attitudes toward its Arab citizens. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently proclaimed: "Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe."

Within Israel, these "Conservative Revolutionary" ideas were manifested in one of their founding political parties, Herut, whose founders came out of the same central European political milieu of interwar Europe and from which Netanyahu's Likud party is descended.

Ernst Junger

Author Ernst Junger was the most important contributor to the celebration of war by the Conservative Revolutionaries and was an influence and an enabler of the Nazis coming to power. He serialized his celebration of war and his belief in its "redeeming" qualities in a number of popular books with "war porn" titles such as, in English, The Storm of Steel, The Battle as an Inner Experience, and Fire and Blood.

The title of a collection of Junger essays in 1930, Krieg und Krieger (War and the Warriors) captures the spirit of America in the Twenty-first Century as much as it did the German spirit in 1930. While members of the U.S. military once went by terms such as soldier, sailor and marine, now they are routinely generically called "Warriors," especially by the highest ranks, a term never before used to describe what were once "citizen soldiers."

Putting a book with a "Warrior" title out on the shelf in a Barnes and Noble would almost guarantee a best-seller, even when competing with all the U.S. SEALS' reminiscences and American sniper stories. But German philosopher Walter Benjamin understood the meaning of Junger's Krieg und Krieger, explaining it in the appropriately titled Theories of German Fascism.

Fundamental to Junger's celebration of war was a metaphysical belief in "totale Mobilmachung" or total mobilization to describe the functioning of a society that fully grasps the meaning of war. With World War I, Junger saw the battlefield as the scene of struggle "for life and death," pushing all historical and political considerations aside. But he saw in the war the fact that "in it the genius of war permeated the spirit of progress."

According to Jeffrey Herf in Reactionary Modernism, Junger saw total mobilization as "a worldwide trend toward state-directed mobilization in which individual freedom would be sacrificed to the demands of authoritarian planning." Welcoming this, Junger believed "that different currents of energy were coalescing into one powerful torrent. The era of total mobilization would bring about an 'unleashing' (Entfesselung) of a nevertheless disciplined life."

In practical terms, Junger's metaphysical view of war meant that Germany had lost World War I because its economic and technological mobilization had only been partial and not total. He lamented that Germany had been unable to place the "spirit of the age" in the service of nationalism. Consequently, he believed that "bourgeois legality," which placed restrictions on the powers of the authoritarian state, "must be abolished in order to liberate technological advance."

Today, total mobilization for the U.S. begins with the Republicans' budgeting efforts to strip away funding for domestic civilian uses and shifting it to military and intelligence spending. Army veteran, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, exemplifies this belief in "total mobilization" of society with his calls for dramatically increased military spending and his belief that "We must again show the U.S. is willing and prepared to [get into] a war in the first place" by making clear that potential "aggressors will pay an unspeakable price if they challenge the United States."

That is the true purpose of Twenty-first Century Republican economics: total mobilization of the economy for war. Just as defeated German generals and the Conservative Revolutionaries believed that Germany lost World War I because their economy and nation was only "partially mobilized," so too did many American Vietnam War-era generals and right-wing politicians believe the same of the Vietnam War. Retired Gen. David Petraeus and today's neoconservatives have made similar arguments about President Barack Obama's failure to sustain the Iraq War. [See, for instance, this fawning Washington Post interview with Petraeus.]

What all these militarists failed to understand is that, according to Clausewitz, when a war's costs exceed its benefits, the sound strategy is to end the costly war. The Germans failed to understand this in World War II and the Soviet Union in their Afghan War.

Paradoxically in the Vietnam War, it was the anti-war movement that enhanced U.S. strength by bringing that wasteful war to an end, not the American militarists who would have continued it to a bitter end of economic collapse. We are now seeing a similar debate about whether to continue and expand U.S. military operations across the Middle East.

Carl Schmitt

While Ernst Junger was the celebrant and the publicist for total mobilization of society for endless war, including the need for authoritarian government, Carl Schmitt was the ideological theoretician, both legally and politically, who helped bring about the totalitarian and militaristic society. Except when it happened, it came under different ownership than what they had hoped and planned for.

Contrary to Schmitt's latter-day apologists and/or advocates, who include prominent law professors teaching at Harvard and the University of Chicago, his legal writings weren't about preserving the Weimar Republic against its totalitarian enemies, the Communists and Nazis. Rather, he worked on behalf of a rival fascist faction, members of the German Army General Staff. He acted as a legal adviser to General Kurt von Schleicher, who in turn advised President Paul von Hindenburg, former Chief of the German General Staff during World War I.

German historian Eberhard Kolb observed, "from the mid-1920s onwards the Army leaders had developed and propagated new social conceptions of a militarist kind, tending towards a fusion of the military and civilian sectors and ultimately a totalitarian military state (Wehrstaat)."

When General Schleicher helped bring about the political fall of Reichswehr Commander in Chief, General von Seekt, it was a "triumph of the 'modern' faction within the Reichswehr who favored a total war ideology and wanted Germany to become a dictatorship that would wage total war upon the other nations of Europe," according to Kolb.

When Hitler and the Nazis outmaneuvered the Army politically, Schmitt, as well as most other Conservative Revolutionaries, went over to the Nazis.

Reading Schmitt gives one a greater understanding of the Conservative Revolutionary's call for a "primacy of politics," explained previously as "a reassertion of an expansion in foreign policy."

Schmitt said: "A world in which the possibility of war is utterly eliminated, a completely pacified globe, would be a world without the distinction of friend and enemy and hence a world without politics. It is conceivable that such a world might contain many very interesting antitheses and contrasts, competitions and intrigues of every kind, but there would not be a meaningful antithesis whereby men could be required to sacrifice life, authorized to shed blood, and kill other human beings. For the definition of the political, it is here even irrelevant whether such a world without politics is desirable as an ideal situation."

As evident in this statement, to Schmitt, the norm isn't peace, nor is peace even desirable, but rather perpetual war is the natural and preferable condition.

This dream of a Martial State is not isolated to German history. A Republican aligned neoconservative, Thomas Sowell, expressed the same longing in 2007 in a National Review article, "Don't Get Weak." Sowell wrote; "When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."

Leo Strauss, Conservative Revolutionaries and Republicans

Political philosopher Leo Strauss had yearned for the glorious German Conservative Revolution but was despondent when it took the form of the Nazi Third Reich, from which he was excluded because he was Jewish regardless of his fascist ideology.

He wrote to a German Jewish friend, Karl Loewith: "the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme [inalienable rights of man] to protest against the shabby abomination."

Strauss was in agreement politically with Schmitt, and they were close friends.

Professor Alan Gilbert of Denver University has written: "As a Jew, Strauss was forbidden from following Schmitt and [German philosopher Martin] Heidegger into the Nazi party. 'But he was a man of the Right. Like some other Zionists, those who admired Mussolini for instance, Strauss' principles, as the 1933 letter relates, were 'fascist, authoritarian, imperial.'"

Strauss was intelligent enough when he arrived in the U.S. to disguise and channel his fascist thought by going back to like-minded "ancient" philosophers and thereby presenting fascism as part of our "western heritage," just as the current neocon classicist Victor Davis Hanson does.

Needless to say, fascism is built on the belief in a dictator, as was Sparta and the Roman Empire and as propounded by Socrates and Plato, so turning to the thought of ancient philosophers and historians makes a good "cover" for fascist thought.

Leo Strauss must be seen as the Godfather of the modern Republican Party's political ideology. His legacy continues now through the innumerable "Neoconservative Revolutionary" front groups with cover names frequently invoking "democracy" or "security," such as Sen. Lindsey Graham's "Security Through Strength."

Typifying the Straussian neoconservative revolutionary whose hunger for military aggression can never be satiated would be former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame and practitioner of the "big lie," who returned to government under President George W. Bush to push the Iraq War and is currently promoting a U.S. war against Iran.

In a classic example of "projection," Abrams writes that "Ideology is the raison d'etre of Iran's regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world." That can as truthfully be said of his own Neoconservative Revolutionary ideology and its adherents.

That ideology explains Bill Kristol's crowing over Netanyahu's victory and claiming Netanyahu as the Republicans' de facto leader. For years, the U.S. and Israel under Netanyahu have had nearly identical foreign policy approaches though they are at the moment in some disagreement because President Obama has resisted war with Iran while Netanyahu is essentially demanding it.

But at a deeper level the two countries share a common outlook, calling for continuous military interventionism outside each country's borders with increased exercise of authority by the military and other security services within their borders. This is no accident. It can be traced back to joint right-wing extremist efforts in both countries with American neoconservatives playing key roles.

The best example of this joint effort was when U.S. neocons joined with the right-wing, Likud-connected Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies in 1996 to publish their joint plan for continuous military interventionism in the Mideast in "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which envisioned "regime change" instead of negotiations. [See Consortiumnews.com's "How Israel Outfoxed U.S. Presidents."]

While ostensibly written for Netanyahu's political campaign, "A Clean Break" became the blueprint for subsequent war policies advocated by the Project for the New American Century, founded by neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The chief contribution of the American neocons in this strategy was to marshal U.S. military resources to do the heavy lifting in attacking Israel's neighbors beginning with Iraq.

With these policy preferences goes a belief inside each country's political parties, across the spectrum but particularly on the Right, that Israel and the United States each stand apart from all other nations as "Exceptional." This is continuously repeated to ensure imprinting it in the population's consciousness in the tradition of fascist states through history.

It is believed today in both the U.S. and Israel, just as the German Conservative Revolutionaries believed it in the 1920s and 1930s of their homeland, Germany, and then carried on by the Nazis until 1945.

Israeli Herut Party

The Knesset website describes the original Herut party (1948-1988) as the main opposition party (against the early domination by the Labor Party). Herut was the most right-wing party in the years before the Likud party came into being and absorbed Herut into a coalition. Its expansionist slogan was "To the banks to the Jordan River" and it refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Kingdom of Jordan. Economically, Herut supported private enterprise and a reduction of government intervention.

In "A Clean Break," the authors were advising Netanyahu to reclaim the belligerent and expansionist principles of the Herut party.

Herut was founded in 1948 by Menachem Begin, the leader of the right-wing militant group Irgun, which was widely regarded as a terrorist organization responsible for killing Palestinians and cleansing them from land claimed by Israel, including the infamous Deir Yassin massacre.

Herut's nature as a party and movement was best explained in a critical letter to the New York Times on Dec. 4, 1948, signed by over two dozen prominent Jewish intellectuals including Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt.

The letter read: "Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the 'Freedom Party' (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.

"It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine. (…) It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents. …

"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."

According to author Joseph Heller, Herut was a one-issue party intent on expanding Israel's borders. That Netanyahu has never set aside Herut's ideology can be gleaned from his book last revised in 2000, A Durable Peace. There, Netanyahu praises Herut's predecessors – the Irgun paramilitary and Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, a self-declared "terrorist" group. He also marginalizes their Israeli adversary of the time, the Hagana under Israel's primary founder and first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Regardless of methods used, the Stern Gang was indisputably "fascist," even receiving military training from Fascist Italy. One does not need to speculate as to its ideological influences.

According to Colin Shindler, writing in Triumph of Military Zionism: Nationalism and the Origins of the Israeli Right, "Stern devotedly believed that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' so he approached Nazi Germany. With German armies at the gates of Palestine, he offered co-operation and an alliance with a new totalitarian Hebrew republic."

Netanyahu in his recent election campaign would seem to have re-embraced his fascist origins, both with its racism and his declaration that as long as he was prime minister he would block a Palestinian state and would continue building Jewish settlements on what international law recognizes as Palestinian land.

In other words, maintaining a state of war on the Palestinian people with a military occupation and governing by military rule, while continuing to make further territorial gains with the IDF acting as shock troops for the settlers.

Why Does This Matter?

Sun-Tzu famously wrote "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

When we allow our "Conservative Revolutionaries" (or neoconservative militarists or proto-fascists or whatever term best describes them) to make foreign policy, the United States loses legitimacy in the world as a "rule of law" state. Instead, we present a "fascist" justification for our wars which is blatantly illicit.

As the American political establishment has become so enamored with war and the "warriors" who fight them, it has become child's play for our militarists to manipulate the U.S. into wars or foreign aggression through promiscuous economic sanctions or inciting and arming foreign groups to destabilize the countries that we target.

No better example for this can be shown than the role that America's First Family of Militarism, the Kagans, plays in pushing total war mobilization of the U.S. economy and inciting war, at the expense of civilian and domestic needs, as Robert Parry wrote.

This can be seen with Robert Kagan invoking the martial virtue of "courage" in demanding greater military spending by our elected officials and a greater wealth transfer to the Military Industrial Complex which funds the various war advocacy projects that he and his family are involved with.

Kagan recently wrote: "Those who propose to lead the United States in the coming years, Republicans and Democrats, need to show what kind of political courage they have, right now, when the crucial budget decisions are being made."

But as Parry pointed out, showing "courage," "in Kagan's view – is to ladle ever more billions into the Military-Industrial Complex, thus putting money where the Republican mouths are regarding the need to 'defend Ukraine' and resist 'a bad nuclear deal with Iran.'" But Parry noted that if it weren't for Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, Kagan's spouse, the Ukraine crisis might not exist.

What must certainly be seen as neo-fascist under any system of government but especially under a nominal "constitutional republic" as the U.S. claims to be, is Sen. Lindsey Graham's threat that the first thing he would do if elected President of the United States would be to use the military to detain members of Congress, keeping them in session in Washington, until all so-called "defense cuts" are restored to the budget.

In Graham's words, "I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We're not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts."

And he would have that power according to former Vice President Dick Cheney's "unitary executive theory" of Presidential power, originally formulated by Carl Schmitt and adopted by Republican attorneys and incorporated into government under the Bush-Cheney administration. Sen. Tom Cotton and other Republicans would no doubt support such an abuse of power if it meant increasing military spending.

But even more dangerous for the U.S. as well as other nations in the world is that one day, our militarists' constant incitement and provocation to war is going to "payoff," and the U.S. will be in a real war with an enemy with nuclear weapons, like the one Victoria Nuland is creating on Russia's border.

Today's American "Conservative Revolutionary" lust for war was summed up by prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, a co-author of "A Clean Break." Echoing the views on war from Ernst Junger and Carl Schmitt, Perle once explained U.S. strategy in the neoconservative view, according to John Pilger:

"There will be no stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there . . . If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

That goal was the same fantasy professed by German Conservative Revolutionaries and it led directly to a wartime defeat never imagined by Germany before, with all the "collateral damage" along the way that always results from "total war."

Rather than continuing with this "strategy," driven by our own modern Conservative Revolutionaries and entailing the eventual bankrupting or destruction of the nation, it might be more prudent for Americans to demand that we go back to the original national security strategy of the United States, as expressed by early presidents as avoiding "foreign entanglements" and start abiding by the republican goals expressed by the Preamble to the Constitution:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Todd E. Pierce retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions. In the course of that assignment, he researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

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45 comments for "Neocons: the Echo of German Fascism"

  1. tateishi

    March 27, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Good article. Often people forget that Germany is a very aggressive war mongers, sending soldiers to many areas, and actually it started Yugoslavian war together with the US. It also has many people who believe that they are Aryans, Hitler's imaginary race, though there are real Aryans peaceful one in the mountains of Iran, etc.

    • Lutz Barz

      March 28, 2015 at 5:23 am

      The Brits and French were far more militarily aggressive than the late comers Germany. The sun never set in British bayonets imposed on peaceful people globally. Over 3 million died in Bengal in the early 40s thanks to British indifference on feeding her own first [though she could source wheat from Canada and Bengal from Australia-this was not done]. Post WW1 into 1919 600+ Germans esp the young and old were dying of starvation courtesy of a British blockade still in place after the armistice. As for terrible Germany invading Belgium the Kaiser never protested about the British occupation of Ireland and it's bloody suppression. Then there is/was Palestine. One could go on. Every country has it's neanderthal conservatives. And Prussia was far more progressive during the early 19th century schooling its citizens and being part of the German Enlightenment. But as we know history is written by those who dominate militarily.

    • Lutz Barz

      March 28, 2015 at 5:24 am

      The Brits and French were far more militarily aggressive than the late comers Germany. The sun never set in British bayonets imposed on peaceful people globally. Over 3 million died in Bengal in the early 40s thanks to British indifference on feeding her own first [though she could source wheat from Canada and Bengal from Australia-this was not done]. Post WW1 into 1919 600+ Germans esp the young and old were dying of starvation courtesy of a British blockade still in place after the armistice. As for terrible Germany invading Belgium the Kaiser never protested about the British occupation of Ireland and it's bloody suppression. Then there is/was Palestine. One could go on. Every country has it's neanderthal conservatives. And Prussia was far more progressive during the early 19th century schooling its citizens and being part of the German Enlightenment. But as we know history is written by those who dominate militarily.

    • Lutz Barz

      March 28, 2015 at 5:24 am

      The Brits and French were far more militarily aggressive than the late comers Germany. The sun never set in British bayonets imposed on peaceful people globally. Over 3 million died in Bengal in the early 40s thanks to British indifference on feeding her own first [though she could source wheat from Canada and Bengal from Australia-this was not done]. Post WW1 into 1919 600+ Germans esp the young and old were dying of starvation courtesy of a British blockade still in place after the armistice. As for terrible Germany invading Belgium the Kaiser never protested about the British occupation of Ireland and it's bloody suppression. Then there is/was Palestine. One could go on. Every country has it's neanderthal conservatives. And Prussia was far more progressive during the early 19th century schooling its citizens and being part of the German Enlightenment. But as we know history is written by those who dominate militarily.

    • Lutz Barz

      March 28, 2015 at 5:25 am

      The Brits and French were far more militarily aggressive than the late comers Germany. The sun never set in British bayonets imposed on peaceful people globally. Over 3 million died in Bengal in the early 40s thanks to British indifference on feeding her own first [though she could source wheat from Canada and Bengal from Australia-this was not done]. Post WW1 into 1919 600+ Germans esp the young and old were dying of starvation courtesy of a British blockade still in place after the armistice. As for terrible Germany invading Belgium the Kaiser never protested about the British occupation of Ireland and it's bloody suppression. Then there is/was Palestine. One could go on. Every country has it's neanderthal conservatives. And Prussia was far more progressive during the early 19th century schooling its citizens and being part of the German Enlightenment. But as we know history is written by those who dominate militarily.

    • Lutz Barz

      March 28, 2015 at 5:25 am

      The Brits and French were far more militarily aggressive than the late comers Germany. The sun never set in British bayonets imposed on peaceful people globally. Over 3 million died in Bengal in the early 40s thanks to British indifference on feeding her own first [though she could source wheat from Canada and Bengal from Australia-this was not done]. Post WW1 into 1919 600+ Germans esp the young and old were dying of starvation courtesy of a British blockade still in place after the armistice. As for terrible Germany invading Belgium the Kaiser never protested about the British occupation of Ireland and it's bloody suppression. Then there is/was Palestine. One could go on. Every country has it's neanderthal conservatives. And Prussia was far more progressive during the early 19th century schooling its citizens and being part of the German Enlightenment. But as we know history is written by those who dominate militarily.

    • Steve

      March 29, 2015 at 11:07 am

      A very strange comment from a presumed Iranian especially. Germany is not aggressive at all since WW2, which was a result of much aggression by several nations starting with Japan and Italy. German soldiers have gone almost nowhere since then, a limited deployment in Afghanistan being the main case. Germany did not start the "Yugoslavian war" at all, which was begun by Serbia attacking Slovenia and Croatia after they voted and declared independence. Aryanism is very rare in Germany today, and far more belligerent language comes out of Iran than Germany, Iran having swapped Aryanism for Islamism to little if any benefit.

      As for the article itself, it makes the common error of imputing excessive influence to a limited era of German militarism, whilst ignoring the far more globally influential records of Western colonial and Communist militaristic imperialism, as well as Italian Fascism which was the more influential model for many amenable to such ideas, with its aggressive colonial and corporatist notions, and successful attainment of power a decade before Hitler's.

    • msc15@ymail.com

      March 29, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Yea, but lesson is that USA is the continuation and revival of nazi ideology carrying its propound ideology of "exceptionalism". The neo conservative hawkish holding the belief that USA has the right to interfere in others countries internal affairs, that USA is above the law, that USA is predestinated by providence to spread its civilization and more others imperialists beliefs.

  2. F. G. Sanford

    March 27, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Concur. A common slogan of the political opposition in the 1930's was, "Fascism Means War!" It was true then, and it's still true today. The Major speaks the truth. I hope someone is listening.

  3. bobzz

    March 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    This piece tracks well with Charles Derber's, Morality Wars: How Empires, the Born Again, and the Politically Correct Do Evil in the Name of Good. Hitler was rabid on the subject of morality (i.e., favored it). He was well received by many professional theologians, and the church generally swung in line. Not enough of the Barmen's Confession. This is another parallel with America and Israel and a major contributor to exceptionalism.

  4. John

    March 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Very true. The relationship of fascism and warmongering was described by Aristotle as the tactics of the tyrant over a democracy: fascist leaders must promote war and internal policing because it is the sole basis of their demand for power: they must create, provoke, or invent foreign enemies to demand power as "protectors" and accuse their opponents of disloyalty. They must appeal to the bully-boys as their militant wing, so they produce pseudo-philosophies of dominance.

    Fascism must at times be clarified in meaning to avoid limitation to specific historical instances, and it should be understood in those instances, but in is actually a very simple and universal attitude. It is nothing but the behavior and propaganda of bully boys. They are selfish, ignorant, hypocritical and malicious youths and abusive husbands and fathers, who glory in their small circle of the intimidated and push everyone around as a principal life skill. Those who extend that circle by operating small businesses, or as military or police officers, create and approve rationalizations of special rights. There is no real "exceptionalism" belief or philosophy of national/religious/ethnic superiority, it is just outright propaganda for bullying. They are quite stupid, and yet quickly pick up the methods of fascism, so it is not worth much analysis.

  5. John

    March 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I should add that the resurgence of fascism and its strength in the US and Israel is due to its association with economic concentrations. In business, the spoils go not to the inventor or ingenious professional as claimed in business propaganda: the spoils go to the bully-boy. Those who rise to the top in the corporate world are not the brilliant professionals or the effective managers who shine at lower levels. The path upwards is limited to those who come out on top wars between groups in collusion, who are without exception scheming bully-boys. There is no other way to the top. Only the methods are different from politics. So only bully-boys have great economic power.

    In the US, economic concentrations did not exist when the Constitution was written, so it provides no protection at all for the institutions of democracy from economic power. Economic powers controlled elections and the press in the 19th century, so there has been no way to even debate the issue, and now that control is almost absolute. Those are the powers obtainable only by bully-boys, the predominant fascists of Nazi Germany and the US, and no doubt Israel. So the US has been loosely controlled by fascism for a long time, and that control is nearly total now. Only the propaganda to rationalize this changes to sell the policies to the intimidated.

  6. Randy

    March 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    War is inevitable.. You simply cannot deny this and anyone who does is just dreaming… The world cannot live in some perpetual peace forever, what will happen when oil, water, and even living space runs out? Will you watch your family starve to death while the people over in the next town are eating to their hearts content?

    As much as you want to deny it, Hitler had it right. Peace is only attainable through war, and can only be won for your own people. There cannot be world peace, and the events of today proves it. Hitler and Japan was defeated more than 50 years ago, where is the peace? There will come a day where money will be worthless, the only currency will be strength, only those rich in this currency will survive. How nature intended it to be.

    Hitler knew this, and was preparing his own country, the rest of the world took the Banker path, and look where that led us.

    • Zachary Smith

      March 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      The world cannot live in some perpetual peace forever, what will happen when oil, water, and even living space runs out?

      Has it occurred to you that oil is only one of the many energy sources, and that the amount of water on Earth is basically a fixed quantity? Living space? Consider contraception combined with incentives, and disincentives for having babies galore.

      Can't help but notice you didn't mention Global Warming as a gnawing problem. Why?

      Finally, WHY is this site a magnet for the Hitler Fan Club?

      • Randy

        March 27, 2015 at 3:52 pm

        The idea is that resources run out, right? I wasn't going to list everything. There is not a infinite amount of resources in this world, you can continue living in your fairy tale world if you'd like but I will not.

        Even the soil that we grow food in will one day become unusable if it is abused like it is today. Global warming is a result of your delusion of world peace. Nature hits back when you delay and ignore up its rule for to long.. There would be no Global Warming problem i

        • Zachary Smith

          March 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

          Global warming is a result of your delusion of world peace.

          As I suspected.

          No doubt wind turbines kill the cute birdies.

          And contraception is some sort of sin.

    • John

      March 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Randy, be careful to avoid traps here:
      1. Wars will continue in history, but that is not a justification for doing wrong.
      2. When groups are in conflict, good leadership avoids war because it causes great wrongs. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, usually due to bad leadership. But of course that does not justify unnecessary war.
      3. Peace is not obtained by war. Sometimes it results from a successful defense against wrongful war, sometimes it is only the peace after a wrongful war succeeds. Those who prefer peace want to avoid unnecessary war. They are not afraid of necessary defense.
      4. Those who want to keep the US from unnecessary wars know more about the world's cultures and problems and solutions than those who always think of war as a solution. They know that our security depends upon making friends among a wild variety of cultures at different stages of development. That is done by helping the unfortunate even when we disagree with them, and we can't expect much from them in return. Wars mainly make us enemies, and those who promote wars conceal those failures. That's what this site is about.

    • holycowimeanzebra

      March 27, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Gee, we couldn't just talk like adults about the importance of having fewer children? War and killing is the only method of human population control?

    • holycowimeanzebra

      March 27, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Gee, we couldn't just talk like adults about the importance of having fewer children? War and killing is the only method of human population control?

    • zhu bajie

      March 30, 2015 at 1:03 am

      Nonsense. War is caused by fighting.

    • frank scott

      March 30, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      war, slavery and general ignorance are "inevitable" so long as people are mentally enslaved enough to tolerate them…the only thing inevitable about life is death…the rest is all subject to at least some measure of control, whether those are called political, religious or scientific..belief in such nonsense as above guarantees the continued master race-self chosen people-ism the article's writer is trying to contend with, call attention to and end..hitler was right about some things and wrong about most, like obama, bush, clinton, reagan and all other "leaders" of the status quo.

    • frank scott

      March 30, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      death is inevitable but the rest of life is subject to control by concerned, thoughtful and informed humans..war is inevitable only if the opposite type of humans continue and if they do it may be that all of us will lose continuity, fulfilling their dreadfully negative religious belief..the article seems to be at least trying to locate sources for some of the diseased madness that prevails but talk of "inevitable" war is an example of the disease.

  7. Gregory Kruse

    March 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Mr. Pierce appears to be a good example of a person who "knows himself, and knows his enemy", for indeed the Kagans and Cheneys of these times are enemies of the people. Unfortunately, most of the people don't know it yet, and in fact don't know themselves. It is absolutely dumbfounding to hear strains of Fox News coming from the mouths of otherwise seemingly decent and intelligent people who have the facility to think for themselves, but find it easier to parrot a TV station. I rue the fact that history and what served for political education in my youth led me to believe that there were no real enemies of democracy anymore. Reading back now through the history of Europe after the War of 1812 in Russia until WWI, I have come to appreciate the strength of fascist sentiment and passion, and I fairly tremble at the thought of the possible rise of another Otto von Bismark or Adolph Hitler in what we think of as "modern" times. There is only one ray of hope for me and that is the writing of such as Pierce, Parry, and some others scattered about the internet. It isn't clear to me that people will wake up and perceive the path we are on and in dreadful fear force a change of direction, but if not, we will learn again what it is to suffer unimaginable horror.

    • Zachary Smith

      March 27, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      It is absolutely dumbfounding to hear strains of Fox News coming from the mouths of otherwise seemingly decent and intelligent people who have the facility to think for themselves, but find it easier to parrot a TV station.

      Dumbfounding is right!

      Sometime back I was astonished to hear a relative at least as bright as myself (and educated at the same University) tell me that Fox was the ONLY news source which could be trusted. She'd moved from Indiana to the deep South years ago and sort-of "gone native". It was an ordeal to remain calm and use lip-glue.

  8. Theodora Crawford

    March 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Excellent discussion and worth the challenge of a thought-provoking and complex argument about governance and war. Today's environment is frightening with so much negative opinion, an absurd sense of US "exceptionalism" and unthinking faith in the power of war (clinched by a nuclear option as last resort).

    Alas, we have the government we deserve.

  9. Abe

    March 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    In 1926, German political theorist Carl Schmitt wrote his most famous paper, "Der Begriff des Politischen" ("The Concept of the Political"), in which he developed his theory of "the political".

    For Schmitt, "the political" is not equal to any other domain, such as the economic, but instead is the most essential to identity. As the essence of politics, "the political" is distinct from party politics.

    According to Schmitt, while churches are predominant in religion or society is predominant in economics, the state is predominant in politics. Yet for Schmitt the political was not an autonomous domain equivalent to the other domains, but rather the existential basis that would determine any other domain should it reach the point of politics (e.g. religion ceases to be merely theological when it makes a clear distinction between the "friend" and the "enemy").

    Schmitt, in perhaps his best-known formulation, bases his conceptual realm of state sovereignty and autonomy upon the distinction between friend and enemy. This distinction is to be determined "existentially," which is to say that the enemy is whoever is "in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible." (Schmitt, 1996, p. 27)

    For Schmitt, such an enemy need not even be based on nationality: so long as the conflict is potentially intense enough to become a violent one between political entities, the actual substance of enmity may be anything.

    Although there have been divergent interpretations concerning Schmitt's work, there is broad agreement that "The Concept of the Political" is an attempt to achieve state unity by defining the content of politics as opposition to the "other" (that is to say, an enemy, a stranger. This applies to any person or entity that represents a serious threat or conflict to one's own interests.) In addition, the prominence of the state stands as a neutral force over potentially fractious civil society, whose various antagonisms must not be allowed to reach the level of the political, lest civil war result.

    Leo Strauss, a political Zionist and follower of Vladimir Jabotinsky, had a position at the Academy of Jewish Research in Berlin. Strauss wrote to Schmitt in 1932 and summarized Schmitt's political theology thus: "[B]ecause man is by nature evil, he therefore needs dominion. But dominion can be established, that is, men can be unified only in a unity against – against other men. Every association of men is necessarily a separation from other men… the political thus understood is not the constitutive principle of the state, of order, but a condition of the state."

    With a letter of recommendation from Schmitt, Strauss received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to begin work, in France, on a study of Hobbes. Schmitt went on to become a figure of influence in the new Nazi government of Adolf Hitler.

    On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. The SA and SS led torchlight parades throughout Berlin. Germans who opposed Nazism failed to unite against it, and Hitler soon moved to consolidate absolute power.

    Following the 27 February Reichstag fire, the Nazis began to suspend civil liberties and eliminate political opposition. The Communists were excluded from the Reichstag. At the March 1933 elections, again no single party secured a majority. Hitler required the vote of the Centre Party and Conservatives in the Reichstag to obtain the powers he desired. He called on Reichstag members to vote for the Enabling Act on 24 March 1933.

    Hitler was granted plenary powers "temporarily" by the passage of the Enabling Act. The law gave him the freedom to act without parliamentary consent and even without constitutional limitations.

    Schmitt joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933. Within days of joining the party, Schmitt was party to the burning of books by Jewish authors, rejoicing in the burning of "un-German" and "anti-German" material, and calling for a much more extensive purge, to include works by authors influenced by Jewish ideas.[

    In July 1933, Schmitt was appointed State Councillor for Prussia (Preußischer Staatsrat) by Hermann Göring and became the president of the Vereinigung nationalsozialistischer Juristen ("Union of National-Socialist Jurists") in November. He also replaced Hermann Heller as professor at the University of Berlin (a position he held until the end of World War II).

    Schmitt presented his theories as an ideological foundation of the Nazi dictatorship, and a justification of the Führer state with regard to legal philosophy, in particular through the concept of auctoritas. Half a year later, in June 1934, Schmitt was appointed editor-in-chief of the Nazi news organ for lawyers, the Deutsche Juristen-Zeitung ("German Jurists' Journal").

    In July 1934, he published "The Leader Protects the Law (Der Führer schützt das Recht)", a justification of the political murders of the Night of the Long Knives with the authority of Hitler as the "highest form of administrative justice (höchste Form administrativer Justiz)".

    Schmitt presented himself as a radical anti-semite and also was the chairman of a law teachers' convention in Berlin in October 1936, where he demanded that German law be cleansed of the "Jewish spirit (jüdischem Geist)", going so far as to demand that all publications by Jewish scientists should henceforth be marked with a small symbol.

    Nevertheless, in December 1936, the SS publication Das schwarze Korps accused Schmitt of being an opportunist, and called his anti-semitism a mere pretense, citing earlier statements in which he criticized the Nazis' racial theories. After this, Schmitt resigned from his position as "Reichsfachgruppenleiter" (Reich Professional Group Leader), although he retained his post as a professor in Berlin, and his post as "Preußischer Staatsrat".

    After World War II, Schmitt refused every attempt at de-nazification, which effectively barred him from positions in academia. Despite being isolated from the mainstream of the scholarly and political community, he continued his studies especially of international law from the 1950s on.

    In 1962, Schmitt gave lectures in Francoist Spain, two of them giving rise to the publication, the following year, of Theory of the Partisan, in which he qualified the Spanish civil war as a "war of national liberation" against "international Communism."

    Schmitt regarded the partisan as a specific and significant phenomenon that, in the latter half of the twentieth century, indicated the emergence of a new theory of warfare.

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the most simple formulation of Schmitt's friend-enemy distinction was enunciated by this intellectual giant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sfNROmn7bc

    In that Schmittian fulmination known as the Bush Doctrine, the "partisan" is transformed into the "terrorist," no longer "internal" but a truly "global" enemy to be destroyed wherever found.

    As further codified by the Obama Doctrine: the decider has the right.

    The world-ordering, planet-appropriating doctrine of American exceptionalism has no space in its Grossraum (great space) concept for a "Eurasia."

    The very enunciation of a "Eurasian" political sphere is a "terrorist" act, and all those associated with such "lunacy" are "enemies" to be annihilated.

  10. John

    March 28, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Junger was not so pro-war when he lost his son in WW11.

  11. John

    March 28, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Junger was not so pro-war when he lost his son in WW11.

  12. Dato

    March 28, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Just as defeated German generals and the Conservative Revolutionaries believed that Germany lost World War I because their economy and nation was only "partially mobilized

    One would like to know wherein lay the premises of such a belief. Indeed, the general staff of the Reich laid out plans and performed actions for a "total war", and the effects, once the war ended, were hard to oversee: Not only were there scant resources and only barely functioning capital infrastructure left after the war, people were actually dying of hunger in the streets (made worse by the entente's continuing blockade even into 1915). Maybe all the information was hard to come back then.

    From "Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism" by Astore and Showalter, p 40ff:

    The war, Hindenburg noted, had become a colossal Materialschlacht, or material struggle, waged by modern industrial juggernauts. The western front in particular witnessed organized destruction on a scale theretofore thought impossible. Staggered by the sheer wastage of modern war, all combatants sought with varying degrees of success to mobilize their economies. The so-called Hindenburg Program was Germany's concerted attempt to mobilize fully, if somewhat belatedly, for total war. Improving the efficiency of economic mobilization was certainly a worthwhile goal. Hindenburg's, and especially Ludendorff's, key mistake was to presume that an economy could be commanded like an army. The end result was a conflict of effciencies. What was best for the army in the short term was not necessarily best for the long-term health of the economy. Furthermore, as economic means were mobilized to the fullest, the sacrifices required and incurred by modern warfare's destructive industrialism drove Germany, as well as the Entente powers, to inflate strategic goals to justify national sacrifice. Extreme economic mobilization encouraged grandiose political and territorial demands, ruling out opportunities for a compromise peace, which Hindenburg and Ludendorff rejected anyway. Under their leadership, imperial Germany became a machine for waging war and little else. And Hindenburg and Ludendorff emerged as Germany's most committed merchants of death.

    Nothing in Hindenburg's background prepared him for the task of overseeing an economic mobilization. Thus, he left details to the technocrat Ludendorff. Aided by Lieutenant Colonel Max Bauer, Ludendorff embarked on a crash program to centralize and streamline the economy. Fifteen separate district commands in Germany needed centralizing if economic mobilization was to be rationalized; rivalries among federal, state, and local agencies needed to be curtailed. As enacted, the Hindenburg Program sought to maximize war-related production by transforming Germany into a garrison state with a command economy. Coordinating the massive effort was the Kriegsamt, or War Office, headed by General Wilhelm Groener.

    Yet, Ludendorff's insistence on setting unachievable production goals led to serious dislocations in the national economy. Shell production was to be doubled, artillery and machine gun production trebled, all in a matter of months. The German economy, relying largely on its own internal resources, could not bear the strain of striving for production goals unconstrained by economic, material, and manpower realities. The release of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers from military duty back to the factories, which led to short-term increases in the production of armaments, did not solve critical and systemic shortages of labor. Large-scale deportation and impressment of Belgian workers was a stopgap that only further alienated world opinion, notably in the United States. In the aggregate, the high level of autonomy enjoyed by the military contributed to wasteful duplications of effort and patterns of bureaucratization that eventually defied even the Germans' gift for paperwork.

  13. Brad Owen

    March 28, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Excellent article. I still think the Financial Oligarchy, which currently holds the "Imperium" in City-of-London/Wall Street jointly, are the financial enablers of these "Conservative Revolutionaries". One of the main tasks of an Empire is to PREVENT any rival power structure (such as a legitimate Republic taking root within a colony, becoming a powerful nation-state, and becoming most attractive to the other subjugated colonies…the ONLY basis for U.S. "exceptionalism", and our one unforgivable "sin" in the, now covert, British Empire) from arising within its' Realm. The witless conservative revolutionaries are enabled by the Financier/Emperors (think of Grand daddy Prescott; bagman for the NAZIs) PRECISELY because they will lead to "the eventual bankrupting and destruction of the Nation", as Major Pierce says, thus being rid of a dangerous Republic within their Empire. These policies and wars are meant to destroy US, here, in America, and lead us, and the World, FAR AWAY from the wisdom of our Preamble. BTW, Kaiser's Germany, and Dr. Sun Yat Sen, were influenced by "Lincoln's economists" Henry Carey and Friedrich Liszt…the "republican infection" was spread far and wide, after Lincoln's victory in his proxy war with the British and French empires (The Russian Empire, as always, was USA's quiet ally in that war).

  14. Peter Loeb

    March 28, 2015 at 6:45 am

    NAMING NAMES…

    The history of fascism is helpful, It remains that it is a common tendency of liberals/
    progressives to believe in the illusion that one person, one party exchanged for another
    will transform a society (any society).

    As Naseer Aruri documents in his incisive book, DISHONEST BROKER, that the US has collaborated with Zionism for decades, Both US political parties have been complicit. This
    has been the case for 35 years prior to the current Administration and certainly was the
    case going back as far as Harry Truman.(Aruri's brief book was written just prior to
    the election of Obama.)

    Netanyahu's supposed "shock" to Washington is that his blatant racism and opposition to
    the "peaceful negotiations" of two so-called "sovereign" nations made such good PR. One commenter observed that it was like asking the lamb to "negotiate" with the wolf. Aruri
    repeats that the US, which has always supported the oppressor(Israel), could act as"mediator" thus excluding international law altogether. (Aruri blames in equal measure PLO's Arafat who agreed to "occupation by consent" (Aruri).

    Netanyahu blew the US "cover" for just a second. The next Democratic leadership if it is
    Hillary Clinton as President or Chuck Schumer as Democratic leader has never been
    noted for any sympathy for Palestinians aka "the inferior race" (Israelis). Both Clinton and
    Schumer have represented New York State in the US Senate. Both want to elect more members of their party (Democratic) and to use the dollars of wealthy US Jews in accomplishing this.

    The voices of the hundreds of thousands who lose their jobs as disposeable (except in
    campaign rehetoric) have less and less meaning. The very rich are the beneficiaries and they lay off thousands of workers and managers to move to low wage and more compliant
    location with high tech ease.

    From my perspective, the only means to delay this is economic. On the one hand it is
    BDS but on a larger field it is the weakness of the US economy and others of the West.

    Recalling that it was WW II that "solved" the Great Depression and not the ineffective programs of FDR's "New Deal" (See Gabriel Kolko, MAIN CURRENTS IN MODERN AMERICAN
    HISTORY). Todd E. Pierce does not mention the so-called global "revolution" but as the
    French have phrased it "La revolution se mange" (" The revolution eats itself") Everyone
    wants someone else to fight their battles for them at no cost to themselves.

    Pierce does not evaluate the power relationships weakening virtually all governments
    today. Inequality has eaten us up (we have eaten ouselves!).

    -Peter Loeb, Boston, MA USA

  15. muggles

    March 28, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Extremely good essay today by Todd Pierce. Very impressive scholarship and insight, particularly in the light of his impressive military career.

    Many good comments posted also, despite the inevitable odor of anti Semitism found in some, always the case when "Germany" is part of the topic. "Bankers", etc. Much easier to stereotype than to think.

    Yes, France and Britain were also hyper militaristic in the 19th century, far more than Germany, which of course wasn't united until the very end of that century, which meant that while some German states were quite active militarily in the period (Prussia) it didn't act as a "nation" as it did later in the 20th century.

    France lost most of the militarist ideology after two crushing defeats in the World Wars and post colonial failures. Britain maintained that outlook despite the World Wars but the wars devastated the economic ability and imperial reach which had sustained that view, despite the persistent Churchill worship. Thatcher's defense of the tiny Falklands was merely an almost comic echo of times past. Still, today in many British intellectual circles (if not in actually participating in the armed forces) military worship continues.

    Germany today has now lost most of its taste for war. Instead it leads Europe economically. Butter rather than guns.

    Pierce's essay highlights the sinister influence of Leo Strauss, something that libertarian historian-economist Murray Rothbard warned about several decades ago as well. As Godfather of the neocons, Strauss is the intellectual architect of today's bloodlust American political establishment. His being Jewish was the only thing which kept him from being a full fledged Hitlerite.

    So neocons, many themselves Jewish (though many not) are mere slightly less crazy fascists as were the interwar German nationalists who easily jumped into the Nazi bed when the cult of personality overwhelmed the German rightwing.

    There has long been a cult of war worship, going back to ancient times. The fact that warfare brings death and disease and horrible injury doesn't matter. The fact that it destroys wealth and human prosperity and harmony is ignored. Individuals are crushed to the greater "good" of arms against whatever enemy can be found. Sociopaths and psychopaths use militarism as the path to "greatness."

    That much of the American "right" is in the thrall of the pseudo fascist neocon ideology of Straussian war worship as the path to "security" and "national greatness" should be the red blinking "danger-danger!" light for every thinking American.

    Thanks Mr. Pierce.

  16. Steve Naidamast

    March 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I have not thoroughly read this article but will do so after I print it out.

    However I would like to add that though there were quite a few people in 190s Germany that were proponents of warfare there is a slow but increasing amount of research that is beginning to show that Adolph Hitler was not the war-monger western historians have made him out to be. In addition, after the advent of war in 1939, up through 1941, Hitler was making peace overtures to the west, which Britain continuously ignored and rejected.

    This too was done up through 1915 by Germany in World War I, which Britain also
    ignored.

    As recent research is beginning to show, it was not Germany who was itching for
    war in 1939 but in fact Britain and Poland. And war is what they eventually got and
    very much to Britain's and Poland's demise as the former lost her empire and the latter was
    swallowed up by Soviet Russia.

  17. Coleen Rowley

    March 28, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Great article showing how history repeats! But most of your points, with the exception of Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress and more Democrats than Republicans backing Obama's negotiation strategy with Iran, apply as much to the Democrat as Republican Party leadership. I think I even read where Robert Kagan may back Hillary Clinton whilst his fellow PNAC founder William Kristol will back Bush or whatever Republican wins the nomination. The neocon ideology seems to be fully in control of both parties.

    • Bob Van Noy

      March 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you Coleen for your comment. I share your concern that a Clinton/Bush race will be one in the same. I'm desperately hoping we get neither as candidates because it will mean "business as usual".

  18. hisoricus

    March 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    One of the most startling things I've found in reading "Nazi propaganda" is their dead-on accurate prediction of America's coming role as a primary threat to world peace, in its rulers' quest for total global domination. The United States was routinely mocked in the German press as the phony "democracy of dollars" controlled by the plutocrats of Wall Street – gosh, how'd they ever get a wacky idea like that, huh?

    Hitler clearly stated in Mein Kampf "we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions."

    Hitler attempted to rapidly build Germany into a global power that would be capable of fending off the twin threats of capitalist imperialism from the west and totalitarian communism from the east – but these forces were too strong: the "new Germany" never had a chance of survival. Eighty million Germans faced a billion-strong British empire that was determined to destroy all economic rivals, and had centuries of experience in mass murder and destruction in the Third World. Add to this the 320 million people of a communist USSR and a capitalist USA whose elites could agree on only one thing, that Germany's astoundingly successful experiment in national socialism must first be annihilated and then its true character erased from history.

    Today the German government's cruel treatment of Jews – who made up one half of one percent of Germany's population, by the way – is all that most people know of National Socialism, which is rather like remembering America's Founders only as the brutal slaveholders and Indian killers that they were.

    Ask yourself: how is it evenly remotely possible that the second German war could be the only time in our history that our leaders did not lie to us about why we were supposed to hate and butcher a people who had done us no harm?

    • Monster from the Id

      March 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Hoooo boy, the delusion is strong in this one…

  19. richard vajs

    March 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

    One good thing about the "coming together" of the fascist Republican Party and the fascist Israeli Likud Party – it will make for a unified target. As I've heard military drill instructors advise, "You people need to spread out – one hand grenade would get you all!". I look forward to no separation between the two and the tossing of that grenade.

    • Coleen Rowley

      March 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

      First I need to make clear I'm against bombing. Anyone. I'm in the "war is not the answer; war is a crime; war is waste; war is a lie; war is hell camp. I think individuals are justified in valid "self defense" but not the nation-state or ethnic-religious type tribalism that Carl Schmitt apparently referred to as the "political" groupings that justify and benefit from "pre-emptive" wars of aggression. It IS a slippery slope but still we must stick to principles.

      But with that said, the Likud-inspired AIPAC and other Israeli fronts were very much aware of your drill sergeant's advice, Richard. The Israel lobbyists were highly effective in the past, in contrast to other political lobbies (who generally favored one party or the other), simply because they did "spread out" and were able to infiltrate both Republican and Democratic parties (as well as their corresponding "think tanks") so as to better control the whole US government.

      The Boehner invite of Netanyahu, Republican Militarist Senator Cotton's letter and the exposing of AIPAC's forcing of Democratic congresspersons to now oppose their own Party Leader, Obama, in order to launch war on Iran, could be significant in ending that control of both parties by splitting the parties. Bush's former UN Ambassador and top neocon John Bolton's outright and explicit call for bombing Iran in the NYT helps pull off the mask and expose what the neocons are after. Middle of the road Democratic congresspeople, almost all of whom are normally are hard-pressed to not vote and give AIPAC anything it wants, may find it easier to publically explain how they cannot in good conscience vote this one time, for the Israel Lobby and what the terrible new war it wants.

      And my guess is the reason Kristol and Kagan would be splitting their support, if that does materialize, Kristol for Bush and Kagan for Clinton, would be exactly in line with your old drill sergeant's advice.

  20. Solon

    March 29, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    re: "Avnery's analogy of how Congress responded to its de facto leader was apt"

    The analogy could not be less apt.

    The German leaders were in their own nation, addressing the concerns of their own people, concerns including the debasement of their culture, the debasement of their money, high unemployment, challenges in finding food, riots and mob violence incited by Communist and Bolshevic subversives, and chaos in their political system. Promises were made to the German people by their leaders to solve their problems, a plan was laid out and most of the promises were kept: within 4 years, Germans were employed, the economy was revitalized with public works spending, and the people's morale was unified around German cultural values. Several of their international problems were settled without violence, as the people demanded and the NSDAP government promised.

    On the other hand, the leader of a foreign state stood before a representative body in which only 16% of the people have any confidence. He told this body that their leader should not be trusted, and they cheered.
    The representatives of the people pledged their fealty to this leader of a foreign state and promised to send him more taxpayer money to kill more of the people whose lands and homes the foreign state is stealing. None of the concerns of the American people - for jobs, for relief from high food prices, for adequate treatment of 50,000 military persons wounded in wars fought at the behest of the same foreign leader - none of those concerns were addressed by the cheering crowd.

    This author suffers from Hitler Derangement Syndrome: his thinking is so suffused with the relentlessly propagandized notion that Hitler and NSDAP are the embodiment of evil that his analysis is forced and his judgments flawed.

    An assessment of the full panoply of facts and evidence will reveal that it was not Hitler and NSDAP but the forebears of the same man who sought to - and came pretty close to succeeding in subverting the US political system.

    The German people under NSDAP leadership were reclaiming their government and culture, and for that they cheered.

    Their resistance to the ideology that Strauss and his cohort sought to impose on Germans was an affront to the pro to-neocons, and so they organized with warmongering British and manipulative American leaders to destroy Germany and incinerate the German people in what C E Hughes called the first use of weapons of mass destruction as a means of terror against a civilian population.

  21. zhu bajie

    March 30, 2015 at 1:23 am

    The comparison is interesting, but it a comparison between Japanese Militarism and the US permanent war regime would also be enlightening. Neither the US nor Japan have or had a charismatic orator, a Mussolini or a Hitler.

  22. zhu bajie

    March 30, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Re "exceptiohnalism," Lewis' _The American Adam_ should be read. The idea that Americans can do no wrong has been around since the early days of the Republic.

  23. Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell, J.D.

    March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Re: "It was left to Israeli Uri Avnery to best capture the spirit of Netanyahu's enthusiastic ideological supporters in Congress."

    I disagree with that sentence, albeit it's a judgment call. But I don't think Avnery is even in the running. The best capture of that I've seen is Noy Alooshe's masterful video remix of the event itself. .

  24. hbm

    March 31, 2015 at 3:06 am

    You don't get Nazis without Ashkenazis.

    Why should Neocons be at all surprising?

  25. Rob

    April 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I enjoyed the article, but I cannot agree that Netanyahu is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. Rather, he is a prop in the ongoing drama known as "Republicans doing everything in their power to oppose and embarrass President Obama and the Democrats."

    I have long advocated that those public figures who agitate for war should be sent into the battlefield along with all able bodied members of their families. That would quickly put an end to chicken hawk warmongers. The exception would be Charles Krauthammer, who is paralyzed in his lower extremities. That man should be sent into battle in his wheelchair.

[Apr 10, 2015] Shadow Government By Bruce Morgan

October 28, 2014 | Tufts Now

Elected officials are no longer in charge of our national security-and that is undermining our democracy, says the Fletcher School's Michael Glennon

"We are clearly on the path to autocracy," says Michael Glennon. "There's no question that if we continue on that path, [the] Congress, the courts and the presidency will ultimately end up . . . as institutional museum pieces." Photo: Kelvin Ma

Michael Glennon knew of the book, and had cited it in his classes many times, but he had never gotten around to reading the thing from cover to cover. Last year he did, jolted page after page with its illuminating message for our time.

The book was The English Constitution, an analysis by 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot that laid bare the dual nature of British governance. It suggested that one part of government was for popular consumption, and another more hidden part was for real, consumed with getting things done in the world. As he read, Glennon, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School, where he also teaches constitutional law, saw distinct parallels with the current American political scene.

He decided to explore the similarities in a 30-page paper that he sent around to a number of his friends, asking them to validate or refute his argument. As it happens, Glennon's friends were an extraordinarily well-informed bunch, mostly seasoned operatives in the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the military. "Look," he told them. "I'm thinking of writing a book. Tell me if this is wrong." Every single one responded, "What you have here is exactly right."

Expanded from that original brief paper, Glennon's book National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press) takes our political system to task, arguing that the people running our government are not our visible elected officials but high-level-and unaccountable-bureaucrats nestled atop government agencies.

Glennon's informed critique of the American political system comes from a place of deep regard. Glennon says he can remember driving into Washington, D.C., in the late spring of 1973, at the time of the Senate Watergate hearings, straight from law school at the University of Minnesota, to take his first job as assistant legislative counsel to the U.S. Senate. Throughout his 20s, he worked in government, culminating in his position as legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. Frank Church from 1977 to 1980. Since entering academic life in the early 1980s, Glennon has been a frequent consultant to government agencies of all stripes, as well as a regular commentator on media outlets such as NPR's All Things Considered, the Today show and Nightline.

In his new book, an inescapable sadness underlies the narrative. "I feel a great sense of loss," Glennon admits. "I devoted my life to these [democratic] institutions, and it's not easy to see how to throw the current trends into reverse." Tufts Now spoke with Glennon recently to learn more of his perspective.

Tufts Now: You've been both an insider and an outsider with regard to government affairs. What led you to write this book?

Michael Glennon: I was struck by the strange continuity in national security policy between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Obama, as a candidate, had been eloquent and forceful in criticizing many aspects of the Bush administration's national security policies, from drone strikes to Guantanamo to surveillance by the National Security Agency-the NSA-to covert operations. Yet as president, it turned out that he made very, very few changes in these policies. So I thought it was useful to explain the reason for that.

Were you surprised by the continuity?

I was surprised by the extent of it. I knew fundamentally from my own experience that changing national policies is like trying to change the course of an aircraft carrier. These policies in many ways were set long ago, and the national security bureaucracy tends to favor the status quo. Still, I thought that a president like Obama would, with the political wind in his sails and with so much public and congressional support for what he was criticizing, be more successful in fulfilling his promises.

You use the phrase "double government," coined by Walter Bagehot in the 1860s. What did he mean by that?

Walter Bagehot was one of the founders of the Economist magazine. He developed the theory of "double government," which in a nutshell is this. He said Britain had developed two sets of institutions. First came "dignified" institutions, the monarchy and the House of Lords, which were for show and which the public believed ran the government. But in fact, he suggested, this was an illusion.

These dignified institutions generate legitimacy, but it was a second set of institutions, which he called Britain's "efficient" institutions, that actually ran the government behind the scenes. These institutions were the House of Commons, the Cabinet and the prime minister. This split allowed Britain to move quietly from a monarchy to what Bagehot called a "concealed republic."

The thesis of my book is that the United States has also drifted into a form of double government, and that we have our own set of "dignified" institutions-Congress, the presidency and the courts. But when it comes to national security policy, these entities have become largely for show. National security policy is now formulated primarily by a second group of officials, namely the several hundred individuals who manage the agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracy responsible for protecting the nation's security.

What are some components of this arrangement?

The NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon and elements of the State Department, certainly; generally speaking, law enforcement, intelligence and the military entities of the government. It's a diverse group, an amorphous group, with no leader and no formal structure, that has come to dominate the formation of American national security policy to the point that Congress, the presidency and the courts all defer to it.

You call this group the "Trumanite network" in your book. What's the link to Harry Truman?

It was in Truman's administration that the National Security Act of 1947 was enacted. This established the CIA and the National Security Council and centralized the command of the U.S. military. It was during the Truman administration as well that the National Security Agency [NSA] was set up, in 1952, although that was a secret and didn't come to light for many years thereafter.

In contrast to the Trumanites you set the "Madisonians." How would you describe them?

The Madisonian institutions are the three constitutionally established branches of the federal government: Congress, the judiciary and the president. They are perceived by the public as the entities responsible for the formulation of national security policy, but that belief is largely mistaken.

The idea is driven by regular exceptions. You can always point to specific instances in which, say, the president personally ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden or Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution. But these are exceptions. The norm is that as a general matter, these three branches defer to the Trumanite network, and that's truer all the time.

So the trend is toward increased power on the Trumanite side of the ledger.

Correct.

If that's true, why has there not been a greater outcry from the public, the media-all the observers we have?

I think the principal reason is that even sophisticated students of government operate under a very serious misunderstanding. They believe that the political system is self-correcting. They believe the framers set up a system of government setting power against power, and ambition against ambition, and that an equilibrium would be reached, and that any abuse of power would be checked, and arbitrary power would be prevented.

That is correct as far as it goes, but the reality is that's only half the picture. The other half is that Madison and his colleagues believed that for equilibrium to occur, we would have an informed and engaged citizenry. Lacking that, the entire system corrupts, because individuals are elected to office who do not resist encroachments on the power of their branches of government, and the whole equilibrium breaks down.

What role, if any, have the media played?

The media have pretty much been enablers. Although there are a handful of investigative journalists who have done a heroic job of uncovering many of the abuses, they are the exception, for a number of reasons. Number one, the media are a business and have a bottom line. It takes a huge amount of money to fund an investigative journalist who goes about finding sources over a period of years. Very few newspapers or television concerns have those sorts of deep pockets.

Second, access for the press is everything. There is huge incentive to pull punches, and you don't get interviews with top-ranking officials at the NSA or CIA if you're going to offer hard-hitting questions. Look, for example, at the infamous 60 Minutes puff piece on the NSA, a really tragic example of how an otherwise respectable institution can sell its soul and act like an annex of the NSA in order to get some people it wants on the TV screen.

What is the role of terror in this environment?

The whole transfer of power from the Madisonian institutions to the Trumanite network has been fueled by a sense of emergency deriving from crisis, deriving from fear. It's fear of terrorism more than anything else that causes the American people to increasingly be willing to dispense with constitutional safeguards to ensure their safety.

Madison believed that government has two great objects. One object of a constitution is to enable the government to protect the people, specifically from external attacks. The other great object of a constitution is to protect the people from the government. The better able the government is to protect the people from external threats, the greater the threat posed by the government to the people.

You've been involved with the U.S. government for 40 years. How has your view of government changed?

Double government was certainly a factor in the 1970s, but it was challenged for the first time thanks to the activism stemming from the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. As a result, there were individuals in Congress-Democrats and Republicans like William Fulbright, Frank Church, Jacob Javits, Charles Mathias and many others-who were willing to stand up and insist upon adherence to constitutionally ordained principles. That led to a wave of activism and to the enactment of a number of pieces of reform legislation.

But there is no final victory in Washington. Those reforms have gradually been eaten away and turned aside. I think today we are in many ways right back where we were in the early 1970s. NSA surveillance is an example of that. The Church Committee uncovered something called Operation Shamrock, in which the NSA had assembled a watch list of antiwar and civil rights activists based upon domestic surveillance. Church warned at the time that NSA capabilities were so awesome that if they were ever turned inward on the American people, this nation would cross an abyss from which there is no return. The question is whether we have recently crossed that abyss.

To what degree are we still a functioning democracy? I'm sure you know that President Jimmy Carter told a German reporter last year that he thought we no longer qualified as a democracy because of our domestic surveillance.

We are clearly on the path to autocracy, and you can argue about how far we are down that path. But there's no question that if we continue on that path, America's constitutionally established institutions-Congress, the courts and the presidency-will ultimately end up like Britain's House of Lords and monarchy, namely as institutional museum pieces.

Bruce Morgan can be reached at bruce.morgan@tufts.edu.

Michael Glennon on who REALLY runs the government by Tom Jackson

Dec 2, 2014 | anduskyregister.com

My favorite nonfiction book this year is "National Security and Double Government" by Michael J. Glennon, which argues that the president and Congress are largely figureheads in setting U.S. national security policy.

Glennon's book suggests that U.S. foreign and security policy is formed by "Trumanites," a network of several hundred top bureaucrats. They're named after Harry S. Truman, whose administration saw the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 and the creation of the National Security Agency. The elected officials who are supposed to make the decisions are dubbed "Madisonians," after President James Madison.

The Madisonians do have power, and they make important decisions. President Barack Obama made the decision to carry out the raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, Glennon notes. No one will know whether Al Gore would have invaded Iraq. But Glennon argues that very little in American foreign policy actually changed when Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush at the White House.

As an example, Glennon's book is quite devastating in describing how prominent Madisonians reacted when James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, was caught lying to Congress about whether it collects data on "millions" of Americans. (Leaks from Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency in fact attempts to collect the phone records of all Americans.) Sen. Dianne Feinstein knew the statement was false and said nothing, Glennon writes. Obama knew or should have known the statement was false and also was silent, "allowing the falsehood to stand for months until leaks publicly revealed the testimony to be false," he writes. "Obama, finally caught by surprise, insisted that he 'welcomed' the debate that ensued, and his administration commenced active efforts to arrest the NSA employee whose disclosures had triggered it." Glennon's heavily-footnoted book then documents the misleading statements Obama made about the matter.

Glennon is not a campus radical or a conspiracy theorist blogging in his parents' basement. He's professor of international law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Before he entered academia, he had a legal career that included a stint as legal counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has written several books, and his opinion pieces have appeared in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post," among other newspapers. He kindly agreed to take our questions about his new book:

Sandusky Register: Did the election of President Barack Obama, and the subsequent disappointment of many who thought he would change U.S. national security policy, spur your book, or had you already had it in mind for years?

Glennon: Both. I had noticed for years that U.S. national security changed little from one administration to the next, but the continuity was so striking mid-way into the Obama administration that I thought it was time to address the question directly. Hence the book.

Sandusky Register: Your book suggests that elections in the U.S. have little effect on national security policy - most of the decisions are made by a network of several hundred national security bureaucrats, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office or the seats in Congress. Do politicians in Washington privately admit that this is true?

Glennon: I've spoken with many members of what I call the "Trumanite network" who do acknowledge that reality - it's hard to deny, really, though few will say so publicly - but members of Congress and federal judges have too much at stake to pull back the curtains. As I describe in the book, public deference depends upon the illusion that the public institutions of our government are actually in charge, and their legitimacy would suffer if they were brutally honest about how much power they have transferred to the Trumanites.

Sandusky Register: Drawing upon "The English Constitution" by Walter Bagehot, you refer to the politicians who are supposed to be in charge as "the Madisonians" (after James Madison) and the national security bureaucrats who actually govern as "the Trumanites" (after Harry Truman's National Security Act of 1947). Is it a misnomer to refer to the Trumanites as a "secret government," as some do?

Glennon: The Trumanites surely operate in secrecy; most of their work is highly classified because the security threats have to be addressed out of the public eye, for the most part. But the Trumanite network itself exists in plain view, and has been readily visible for some time. So it's a mistake to think of it as a "deep state" or "shadow government" to the extent that those terms imply some nefarious conspiracy. There has been no such thing.

Sandusky Register: The U.S. Senate just defeated an NSA reform bill, and even supporters admitted it would not have brought major change. Does this fit your book's suggestion that reform from the "Madisonians" is going to be a difficult enterprise?

Glennon: The bill was mostly cosmetic and would not have addressed the deeper sources of double government. Its defeat can be attributed to a number of factors, one of which surely is the power of the Trumanite network. But in the interest of complete accuracy, it's useful to think of the phenomenon of double government as something like climate change: not every bad storm or hot day is caused directly and exclusively by the dynamic of global warming. The theory of double government merely predicts that, over time, national security policy as a whole will be largely continuous. Individual elements of that policy could change.

Sandusky Register: I've noticed you haven't been invited to appear on national TV yet, or on NPR's "Fresh Air," although your thesis would seem to be controversial and interesting. Are there institutional reasons why your book isn't getting a huge amount of publicity, or is it just hard to get an academic press book out there?

Glennon: Some good books never get reviewed and some bad books do. Lots of it just seems to be luck and happenstance. I tried to write it for informed lay readers; time will tell whether they pick it up.

My other author interviews are archived. Professor Glennon also was interviewed by the Boston Globe. He also appeared on the Scott Horton Show.

Sandusky Register reporter Tom Jackson reviews and recommends local and national reading opportunities. You can read the other blog posts and follow this blog on Twitter.

Email him at tomjackson@sanduskyregister.com

Comments

AJ Oliver

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:40pm

Tom, thanks. That will go on my reading list - right now I'm into "Why We Lost (in Iraq and Afghanistan)" by Gen. Dan Bolger.
And for influence on security policy, don't forget the Neo-cons and their Israeli partners.
We're spending trillions on the military and becoming ever less secure - they are bankrupting the country.

[Apr 10, 2015] Professor Michael Glennon on the Rise of the American System of Double Government by Michael Glennon

November 7, 2014 | fletcherforum.org

Professor Michael Glennon on the Rise of the American System of Double Government

In his latest book, National Security and Double Government, Professor Michael Glennon challenges common understandings of American government institutions and provides daunting insights into the nature of the U.S. national security apparatus. Glennon claims that the "Trumanite network," consisting of managers of the military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, guides and often makes key decisions on U.S. national security policy. He highlights the lack of oversight, accountability, and the mutually beneficial relationship between the public-facing "Madisonian" actors, such as the President and Congress, and this classified "Trumanite" network. The Fletcher Forum Editorial team sat down with Michael Glennon, Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School, to talk about his book and discuss the future of American democracy.

FLETCHER FORUM: How did your experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and your continued work with the government inform your book?

GLENNON: When I worked for the Committee I was struck by the large number of Ford administration officials who continued on into the Carter administration. Many of these officials held significant policy-making roles in the realm of national security. I was also struck by the many programs and policies that also carried over from the earlier administration. Most of these related to classified intelligence and law enforcement activities. As a result the public believed that in many areas, things had changed much more than they actually had. What I was observing in closed meetings and in classified documents was not the civics-book model that the public had internalized. The courts, Congress, and even presidential appointees exercised much less influence over national security policy-making than people commonly believed. And the 1976 presidential election had had much less impact than people had expected. So it was pretty clear the data didn't fit the conventional tri-partite, separation-of-powers paradigm, but I wasn't sure what a more accurate paradigm would look like, or even whether there was one.

FLETCHER FORUM: When did you start thinking about this topic? How did you formulate this thesis and how did we get to this point?

GLENNON: Two years ago, I was struck again by the strange inalterability of U.S. national security policy. Before winning the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama had campaigned forcefully and eloquently against many elements of the Bush administration's national security policy. Yet rendition, military detention without trial or counsel, drone strikes, NSA surveillance, whistleblower prosecutions, non-prosecution of water-boarders, reliance on the state secrets privilege, covert operations, Guantanamo-you name it, virtually nothing changed. Obviously something more was going on than what the defenders of those policies claimed-which was that all those policies somehow happened to be the most rational response among all competing alternatives. The fact is that each of these policies presents questions on which reasonable people can differ-as indeed Obama himself had, as a Senator and as a candidate for the presidency. The epiphany occurred when I pulled a little book off the shelf and read it in amazement one rainy Sunday afternoon-Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution.

FLETCHER FORUM: What are some components of this double government in the U.S. today? What are the key institutions and players?

GLENNON: Bagehot's objective was to explain how the British government operated in the 1860s. He suggested that it had in effect split into two separate sets of institutions. The "dignified" institutions consisted of the monarchy and House of Lords. The British people believed that the dignified institutions ran the government. This belief was essential to foster the legitimacy needed for public deference and obedience. But that belief was an illusion. In fact, the government was run by the "efficient" institutions-the House of Commons, the prime minister, and the cabinet-which operated behind-the-scenes, largely removed from public view. Gradually and quietly, these efficient institutions had moved Britain away from a monarchy to become what Bagehot described as a "concealed republic." My book's thesis is that in the realm of national security, the United States also has unwittingly drifted into a system of double government-but that it is moving in the opposite direction, away from democracy, toward autocracy. With occasional exceptions, the dignified institutions of the judiciary, Congress, and the presidency are all on the road to becoming hollowed-out museum pieces, while the managers of the military, law enforcement, and intelligence community more and more come to dominate national security policy-making.

FLETCHER FORUM: You identify the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American public as the root problem, and argue that reform must come from the people. How can this actually work in practice? Is there any hope that change is possible?

GLENNON: It's a bit simplistic to focus exclusively upon the public's "pervasive civic ignorance" (a term used by former Supreme Court Justice David Souter). As I point out in the book, the American people are anything but stupid. And while it's true that they're not terribly engaged or informed on national security policy, their ignorance is in many ways rational. Americans are very busy people and it doesn't make much sense to expend a lot of effort learning about policies you can't change. So we're in a dilemma: because the dignified institutions can't empower themselves by drawing upon powers that they lack, energy must come from the outside, from the people-yet as the electorate becomes increasingly uninformed and disengaged, the efficient institutions have all the more incentive to go off on their own. It's telling and rather sad that the American public has become so reliant upon the government to come up with solutions to its problems that the public is utterly at loose ends to know where or how to begin to devise its own remedy. Learned Hand was right: liberty "lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."

FLETCHER FORUM: Does a lame duck President have a different relationship with the Trumanite Network? If President Obama were to read your book and ask for advice on changing the system, what would you tell him?

GLENNON: I'd suggest that he demonstrate to the American people that the book's thesis is wrong. He could do that by changing the national security policies that he led the American people to believe would be changed. Among other things: (1) fire officials who lie to Congress and the American people, beginning with John Brennan and James Clapper, (2) appoint a special prosecutor to deal with the CIA's spying on the Senate intelligence committee and Clapper's false statements to it, (3) stop blocking publication of the Senate intelligence committee's torture report, (4) stop invoking the state secrets privilege to obstruct judicial challenges to abusive counter-terrorism activities, (5) halt the bombing of Syria until Congress authorizes it, and (6) stop prosecuting and humiliating whistleblowers who spark public debates he claims to welcome.

FLETCHER FORUM: Are there any potential 2016 Presidential candidates that could challenge the Trumanite Network?

GLENNON: No.

FLETCHER FORUM: Do you have any other recommended reading on this subject?

GLENNON: The English Constitution, by Walter Bagehot; President Eisenhower's farewell address; The Power Elite, by C. Wright Mills; Why Leaders Lie, by John J. Mearsheimer; The Arrogance of Power, by J. William Fulbright; Top Secret America, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin; the final report of the Church committee (S. Rep. No. 94-755, 1976); On Democracy, by Robert A. Dahl; The New American Militarism, by Andrew Bacevich; Groupthink, by Irving Janus

[Apr 09, 2015] National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon

Amazon.com

Mal Warwick on December 22, 2014

Who makes national security decisions? Not who you think!

Why does Barack Obama's performance on national security issues in the White House contrast so strongly with his announced intentions as a candidate in 2008? After all, not only has Obama continued most of the Bush policies he decried when he ran for the presidency, he has doubled down on government surveillance, drone strikes, and other critical programs.

Michael J. Glennon set out to answer this question in his unsettling new book, National Security and Double Government. And he clearly dislikes what he found.

The answer, Glennon discovered, is that the US government is divided between the three official branches of the government, on the one hand - the "Madisonian" institutions incorporated into the Constitution - and the several hundred unelected officials who do the real work of a constellation of military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand. These officials, called "Trumanites" in Glennon's parlance for having grown out of the national security infrastructure established under Harry Truman, make the real decisions in the area of national security. (To wage the Cold War, Truman created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA, and the National Security Council.) "The United States has, in short," Glennon writes, "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system - a structure of double government - in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy. . . . The perception of threat, crisis, and emergency has been the seminal phenomenon that has created and nurtures America's double government." If Al Qaeda hadn't existed, the Trumanite network would have had to create it - and, Glennon seems to imply, might well have done so.

The Trumanites wield their power with practiced efficiency, using secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and the ability to mask the identity of the key decision-maker as their principal tools.

Michael J. Glennon comes to this task with unexcelled credentials. A professor of international law at Tufts and former legal counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, he came face to face on a daily basis with the "Trumanites" he writes about. National Security and Double Government is exhaustively researched and documented: notes constitute two-thirds of this deeply disturbing little book.

The more I learn about how politics and government actually work - and I've learned a fair amount in my 73 years - the more pessimistic I become about the prospects for democracy in America. In some ways, this book is the most worrisome I've read over the years, because it implies that there is no reason whatsoever to think that things can ever get better. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the Borg on Star Trek, "resistance is futile." That's a helluva takeaway, isn't it?

On reflection, what comes most vividly to mind is a comment from the late Chalmers Johnson on a conference call in which I participated several years ago. Johnson, formerly a consultant to the CIA and a professor at two campuses of the University of California (Berkeley and later San Diego), was the author of many books, including three that awakened me to many of the issues Michael Glennon examines: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. Johnson, who was then nearly 80 and in declining health, was asked by a student what he would recommend for young Americans who want to combat the menace of the military-industrial complex. "Move to Vancouver," he said.

The mounting evidence notwithstanding, I just hope it hasn't come to that.

Tom Hunter on November 22, 2014

Incredible Rosetta Stone book that Explains Why the US Government is Impervious to Change

This work is of huge importance. It explains the phenomenon that myself and many other informed voters have seen--namely--how the policies of the United States government seem impervious to change no matter the flavor of administration. I found myself baffled and chagrined that President Obama, who I cheerfully voted for twice (and still would prefer over the alternatives) failed to end many of the practices that I abhor, such as the free reign of the NSA, the continual increase in defense budgets and the willingness to keep laws that are clearly against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, be they Progressives or otherwise.

This incredible book acts as a Rosetta Stone that explains why nothing ever changes. Highly recommended.

[Apr 07, 2015] How America Became An Oligarchy by Ellen Brown

Zero Hedge/The Web of Debt blog

"The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. . . . You have owners."

- George Carlin, The American Dream

According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists. Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of – or even against – the will of the majority of voters. America's political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy elites.

"Making the world safe for democracy" was President Woodrow Wilson's rationale for World War I, and it has been used to justify American military intervention ever since. Can we justify sending troops into other countries to spread a political system we cannot maintain at home?

The Magna Carta, considered the first Bill of Rights in the Western world, established the rights of nobles as against the king. But the doctrine that "all men are created equal" – that all people have "certain inalienable rights," including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" – is an American original. And those rights, supposedly insured by the Bill of Rights, have the right to vote at their core. We have the right to vote but the voters' collective will no longer prevails.

In Greece, the left-wing populist Syriza Party came out of nowhere to take the presidential election by storm; and in Spain, the populist Podemos Party appears poised to do the same. But for over a century, no third-party candidate has had any chance of winning a US presidential election. We have a two-party winner-take-all system, in which our choice is between two candidates, both of whom necessarily cater to big money. It takes big money just to put on the mass media campaigns required to win an election involving 240 million people of voting age.

In state and local elections, third party candidates have sometimes won. In a modest-sized city, candidates can actually influence the vote by going door to door, passing out flyers and bumper stickers, giving local presentations, and getting on local radio and TV. But in a national election, those efforts are easily trumped by the mass media. And local governments too are beholden to big money.

When governments of any size need to borrow money, the megabanks in a position to supply it can generally dictate the terms. Even in Greece, where the populist Syriza Party managed to prevail in January, the anti-austerity platform of the new government is being throttled by the moneylenders who have the government in a chokehold.

How did we lose our democracy? Were the Founding Fathers remiss in leaving something out of the Constitution? Or have we simply gotten too big to be governed by majority vote?

Democracy's Rise and Fall

The stages of the capture of democracy by big money are traced in a paper called "The Collapse of Democratic Nation States" by theologian and environmentalist Dr. John Cobb. Going back several centuries, he points to the rise of private banking, which usurped the power to create money from governments:

The influence of money was greatly enhanced by the emergence of private banking. The banks are able to create money and so to lend amounts far in excess of their actual wealth. This control of money-creation . . . has given banks overwhelming control over human affairs. In the United States, Wall Street makes most of the truly important decisions that are directly attributed to Washington.

Today the vast majority of the money supply in Western countries is created by private bankers. That tradition goes back to the 17th century, when the privately-owned Bank of England, the mother of all central banks, negotiated the right to print England's money after Parliament stripped that power from the Crown. When King William needed money to fight a war, he had to borrow. The government as borrower then became servant of the lender.

In America, however, the colonists defied the Bank of England and issued their own paper scrip; and they thrived. When King George forbade that practice, the colonists rebelled.

They won the Revolution but lost the power to create their own money supply, when they opted for gold rather than paper money as their official means of exchange. Gold was in limited supply and was controlled by the bankers, who surreptitiously expanded the money supply by issuing multiple banknotes against a limited supply of gold.

This was the system euphemistically called "fractional reserve" banking, meaning only a fraction of the gold necessary to back the banks' privately-issued notes was actually held in their vaults. These notes were lent at interest, putting citizens and the government in debt to bankers who created the notes with a printing press. It was something the government could have done itself debt-free, and the American colonies had done with great success until England went to war to stop them.

President Abraham Lincoln revived the colonists' paper money system when he issued the Treasury notes called "Greenbacks" that helped the Union win the Civil War. But Lincoln was assassinated, and the Greenback issues were discontinued.

In every presidential election between 1872 and 1896, there was a third national party running on a platform of financial reform. Typically organized under the auspices of labor or farmer organizations, these were parties of the people rather than the banks. They included the Populist Party, the Greenback and Greenback Labor Parties, the Labor Reform Party, the Antimonopolist Party, and the Union Labor Party. They advocated expanding the national currency to meet the needs of trade, reform of the banking system, and democratic control of the financial system.

The Populist movement of the 1890s represented the last serious challenge to the bankers' monopoly over the right to create the nation's money. According to monetary historian Murray Rothbard, politics after the turn of the century became a struggle between two competing banking giants, the Morgans and the Rockefellers. The parties sometimes changed hands, but the puppeteers pulling the strings were always one of these two big-money players.

In All the Presidents' Bankers, Nomi Prins names six banking giants and associated banking families that have dominated politics for over a century. No popular third party candidates have a real chance of prevailing, because they have to compete with two entrenched parties funded by these massively powerful Wall Street banks.

Democracy Succumbs to Globalization

In an earlier era, notes Dr. Cobb, wealthy landowners were able to control democracies by restricting government participation to the propertied class. When those restrictions were removed, big money controlled elections by other means:

First, running for office became expensive, so that those who seek office require wealthy sponsors to whom they are then beholden. Second, the great majority of voters have little independent knowledge of those for whom they vote or of the issues to be dealt with. Their judgments are, accordingly, dependent on what they learn from the mass media. These media, in turn, are controlled by moneyed interests.

Control of the media and financial leverage over elected officials then enabled those other curbs on democracy we know today, including high barriers to ballot placement for third parties and their elimination from presidential debates, vote suppression, registration restrictions, identification laws, voter roll purges, gerrymandering, computer voting, and secrecy in government.

The final blow to democracy, says Dr. Cobb, was "globalization" – an expanding global market that overrides national interests:

[T]oday's global economy is fully transnational. The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments. . . . Thus transnational corporations inherently work to undermine nation states, whether they are democratic or not.

The most glaring example today is the secret twelve-country trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If it goes through, the TPP will dramatically expand the power of multinational corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge and supersede domestic laws, including environmental, labor, health and other protections.

Looking at Alternatives

Some critics ask whether our system of making decisions by a mass popular vote easily manipulated by the paid-for media is the most effective way of governing on behalf of the people. In an interesting Ted Talk, political scientist Eric Li makes a compelling case for the system of "meritocracy" that has been quite successful in China.

In America Beyond Capitalism, Prof. Gar Alperovitz argues that the US is simply too big to operate as a democracy at the national level. Excluding Canada and Australia, which have large empty landmasses, the United States is larger geographically than all the other advanced industrial countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) combined. He proposes what he calls "The Pluralist Commonwealth": a system anchored in the reconstruction of communities and the democratization of wealth. It involves plural forms of cooperative and common ownership beginning with decentralization and moving to higher levels of regional and national coordination when necessary. He is co-chair along with James Gustav Speth of an initiative called The Next System Project, which seeks to help open a far-ranging discussion of how to move beyond the failing traditional political-economic systems of both left and Right..

Dr. Alperovitz quotes Prof. Donald Livingston, who asked in 2002:

What value is there in continuing to prop up a union of this monstrous size? . . . [T]here are ample resources in the American federal tradition to justify states' and local communities' recalling, out of their own sovereignty, powers they have allowed the central government to usurp.

Taking Back Our Power

If governments are recalling their sovereign powers, they might start with the power to create money, which was usurped by private interests while the people were asleep at the wheel. State and local governments are not allowed to print their own currencies; but they can own banks, and all depository banks create money when they make loans, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged.

The federal government could take back the power to create the national money supply by issuing its own Treasury notes as Abraham Lincoln did. Alternatively, it could issue some very large denomination coins as authorized in the Constitution; or it could nationalize the central bank and use quantitative easing to fund infrastructure, education, job creation, and social services, responding to the needs of the people rather than the banks.

The freedom to vote carries little weight without economic freedom – the freedom to work and to have food, shelter, education, medical care and a decent retirement. President Franklin Roosevelt maintained that we need an Economic Bill of Rights. If our elected representatives were not beholden to the moneylenders, they might be able both to pass such a bill and to come up with the money to fund it.

[Apr 04, 2015] Plutocracy 1.0

naked capitalism

By Steve Fraser, co-founder of the American Empire Project and Editor-at-Large of the journal New Labor Forum. He is the author of Every Man a Speculator, A History of Wall Street in American Life, and most recently co-editor of Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. This article is excerpted and slightly adapted from The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power. Originally published at TomDispatch

The American upper classes did not constitute a seasoned aristocracy, but could only mimic one. They lacked the former's sense of social obligation, of noblesse oblige, of what in the Old World emerged as a politically coherent "Tory socialism" that worked to quiet class antagonisms. But neither did they absorb the democratic ethos that today allows the country's gilded elite to act as if they were just plain folks: a credible enough charade of plutocratic populism. Instead, faced with mass social disaffection, they turned to the "tramp terror" and other innovations in machine-gun technology, to private corporate armies and government militias, to suffrage restrictions, judicial injunctions, and lynchings. Why behave otherwise in dealing with working-class "scum" a community of "mongrel firebugs"?

One historian has described what went on during the Great Uprising as an "interlocking directorate of railroad executives, military officers, and political officials which constituted the apex of the country's new power elite." After Haymarket, the haute bourgeoisie went into the fort­ building business; Fort Sheridan in Chicago, for example, was erected to defend against "internal insurrection." New York City's armories, which have long since been turned into sites for indoor tennis, concerts, and theatergoing, were originally erected after the 1877 insurrection to deal with the working-class canaille.

During the anthracite coal strike of 1902, George Baer, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and leader of the mine owners, sent a letter to the press: "The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for… not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country." To the Anthracite Coal Commission investigating the uproar, Baer proclaimed, "These men don't suffer. Why hell, half of them don't even speak English."

Ironically, it was thanks in part to its immersion in bloodshed that the first rudimentary forms of a more sophisticated class consciousness began to appear among this new elite. These would range from Pullman-like Potemkin villages to more practical-minded attempts to reach a modus vivendi with elements of the trade union movement readier to accept the wages system.

efschumacher April 4, 2015 at 8:25 am

The nuggets of actual history are useful but Thorstein Veblen skewered them far more deftly.

MartyH April 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm

As did Frederic Lundberg in America's 60 Families (1938) somewhat later. Still protected by the "Protect Mickey Mouse Act" (copyright extension to perpetuity) as best I can figure but there are copies around in those subversive Public Libraries and such.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef April 4, 2015 at 9:57 am

But neither did they absorb the democratic ethos that today allows the country's gilded elite to act as if they were just plain folks: a credible enough charade of plutocratic populism. Instead, faced with mass social disaffection, they turned to the "tramp terror" and other innovations in machine-gun technology, to private corporate armies and government militias, to suffrage restrictions, judicial injunctions, and lynchings….

We still see that in play today across the globe.

Some security states are clumsy and some suave.

The suave ones say to their ruled, 'Behold them savages. Thou are truly blessed to have me."

MyLessThanPrimeBeef April 4, 2015 at 10:04 am

But an opposed instinct, native to capitalism in its purest form, wanted the state kept weak and poor so as not to intrude where it wasn't wanted. Due to this ambivalence, the American state was notoriously undernourished, its bureaucracy kept skimpy, amateurish, and machine-controlled, its executive and administrative reach stunted.

Thanks to its capture, after the tragic Sack of New Rome by a roaming band of billionaires, the state can now be safely allowed to expand, to be given unlimited money to spend. No more undernourishment, no more skimpiness. Amateurish maybe, as the debate rages eternally whether it's evil intent or just incompetence.

One word – Peopleism.

human April 4, 2015 at 10:11 am

Thank you for this post, Yves. I found it cathartic and rejuvenating, especially with May Day right around the corner.

As the grandson of an emigrated Menshevik pamphlateer, I have for two generations now understood his reluctance with small government.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL April 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm

What a sad fact to learn in this post, that May Day originated in the US and is now expunged like some unwelcome Kommissar airbrushed out of a Kremlin lineup. Oh the mere thought of the actual people who do all of the actual work, not the financial leeches, the tax-free corporo-fascist bosses, or the millionaires per capita of Maryland, that those actual people who do *work* should have some kind of identity and voice and actual claim to the social fabric…perish the thought!

Turning point in my mind was Reagan's stamping out the air traffic controller strike, in the Capital versus Labor battle of course Capital could buy every last possible advantage. Only with the consent of the governed of course…so the very idea that workers have rights needed to be demonized, and how completely successful they have been at that.

The very word "union" is spat with contempt by the widest possible swath of the populace, with holdover associations from the Red Scare. Mayor Bloomberg knew what to do: arrest 243 people for loitering in the Occupy Park…because he knew everybody was behind him. At the same time Jamie and Lloyd were flying to St. Barts for a really nice confab…when they should have been the ones getting the ankle bracelets.

Steve H. April 4, 2015 at 11:06 am

Many things of interest in this post. Let me highlight one of the milder juxtapositions:

"Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest
Eight hours for what we will."

and

"Work hard, but never work after dinner."

hemeantwell April 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

This is particularly useful for the references to alliances between working class and "petty bourgeois" shopkeepers, e.g. the Pittsburgh strike. I'm fairly familiar with the strike history lit and hadn't seen that before.

In a related vein, Yves has usefully pointed out that the resistance to the TPP has been drawing together sections of the left and right. In my contacts with our Congresscritter, Gwen Graham, I've stressed this point strongly. I think she's basically a hack looking to run for higher office asap but, for someone trying to maintain a seat in a district that went Tea Party in 2010, an anti-TPP position should be a no-brainer.

susan the other April 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm
'The Gilded Age' is such an apt moniker. Under its veneer of wealth there was no there there. My all time favorite book on the subject of the struggle for democracy is "Framing America" by Frances Pohl. The first plate is the memorial statue dedicated to those who died in the Haymarket riot. It is extremely beautiful. No need for gilding. There was another horrendous incident in 1913, a mining incident where miners and their families were massacred by the owners of the mines (Colorado I think) which became a rallying cry for NY artists and they produced an exhibit of abstract art in protest at the NY Armory. And then, of course, WW1.

When civility breaks down in one country it usually spreads. And the threat of socialism was on the horizon. Which is why it is so unbelievable to see the encroachment (really a takeover) of what is yet another gilded age trying to keep power. It's crazy.

participant-observer-observed April 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm

While plutocracy puts on its show, its fascism face is taking over-it is not enough to consider the economic elements of plutocracy isolated from its political implications:

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/4/2/20_years_in_prison_for_miscarrying

This report shows not only this one case, but the loss of personal sovereignty of pregnant women, and the abusive police state power.

(Same like Ferguson: going after minorities, women…..who's next?)

participant-observer-observed April 4, 2015 at 4:13 pm

There is also a hidden plutocracy-internecine war theme to the misogyny police state story:

A misogynist police state will never elect Hillary Clinton!

John April 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Why would any American worker want Hillary the Globalist to be president?

montanamaven April 4, 2015 at 4:03 pm

A month ago there was a discussion on Ian Welsh's site about the lack of non-fiction books of depth and original thought. Commenter Jessica had a list of good books that I decided to follow. I read Graeber's "Utopia of Rules" and am now tackling "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life" by Jonathan Sperber. I am totally taken with it. (And mind you, I've never read or studied Marx. As a theater/film major the closest I got was studying Bertolt Brecht.) Sperber's book puts Marx in the context of his times not through a 20th Century lens. Marx lived in an exciting but turbulent time; the mid-nineteenth century. It was a time of heady ideas and deep philosophical thought. Did God exist? What should replace him? Should nations or "the state" exist? Are "united" states a good idea or bad? Why should Marx's region of the Rhineland be either French or German?

Well heeled "shop keepers" put money into radical newspapers as share holders or gave great writers like Marx, Engels and Hess "grants" to publish their ideas. Shoe makers and other tradesmen moved from Germany to cities like Paris, Brussels, and London to take up revolutionary causes that had started with the French revolution and spread out. There were cafes, reading rooms, and back of the bar discussions that included factory workers, skilled craftsmen and scholars. Marx committed his life to action although as a scholar and writer not a professional agitator like a Karl Schapper or Giuseppe Mazzini. He did not want to just "interpret the world" as philosophers had done before him, he wanted to change it.

We did have some heady days in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Revolution was in the air in 1968 like it was in 1848. The anti-globalists have soldiered on and created a great event in 1999. Occupy gave a brief but heady time. It is good to be reminded of the labor clashes and solidarity that existed in the 19th Century amongst workers, farmers, and shop keepers. I am grateful to Yves for pointing out yet another book worth reading. Here at NC, we have a virtual cafe where we can hone our ideas and bicker in true Hegelian style. But after reading this book on Marx, I am determined to get back to the city for more meet ups of NC readers. The Most Holy Order of the Knights and Dames of Capitalism Most Naked dedicated to as much leisure time as we can get our hands on. In an age of acquiescence, drinking does help.

participant-observer-observed April 4, 2015 at 5:15 pm

You might enjoy a new book out by a scholar of process studies, called "Organic Marxism"
http://philipclayton.net/books/organic-marxism/

[Apr 03, 2015] Jeb is more interested in undermining Democratic constituencies than in financial gain

Apr 02, 2015 | naked capitalism

shinola, April 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I may not be remembering correctly, but doesn't Jeb Bush have some sort of financial interest in a company that benefits from the charter school movement?

NotTimothyGeithner, April 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I thought it was Neil off the top of my head, but it is the Bush crime family after all.

washunate, April 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

Jeb Bush has been involved with education for a long time, and certainly has some financial interests, but he's actually more of a true believer. The people in it for the money are more around him than Jeb himself.

If anything, Jeb is more interested in undermining Democratic constituencies (unions, impoverished communities, etc.) than in financial gain.

Which is a great example of how the Democrats have bean so unbelievably weird on areas like education policy. They have helped create the environment in which traditional Democratic constituents are now abandoning the party in droves. Rahm Emanuel and teachers unions are fighting each other in Chicago instead of fighting together against GOP policies.

Almost as if that's how national Democrats want things to work…

[Apr 02, 2015] Hillary Clinton: foreign policy is her strong suit – but it could be her undoing by Tom McCarthy

Apr 02, 2015 | The Guardian

someoneionceknew 2 Apr 2015 20:51

Hillary Clinton: war mongering is her strong suit – according to media hacks.


BradBenson Ashok Choudhury 2 Apr 2015 19:04


Nonsense. Who are the wise? Hillary is a war criminal. She should not be elected for any reason. She should be shipped off to the Hague with Obama, Bush and Cheney.

BradBenson yesfuture 2 Apr 2015 18:57

Libya, for one. It's always been about light crude that is used for airplane fuel. Regaining control of Libya's Oil is BP Petroleum's prime project and Hillary supported it.

BradBenson Elton Johnson 2 Apr 2015 18:52

Congratulations, you are both wrong. We were occupiers in Iraq and were always going to incite bigger and more violent opposition groups. We should not have gone in. We should have gotten out sooner. We should not be there now.

BradBenson Michael Seymour 2 Apr 2015 18:49

This kid is a living, typing example of the way that Americans have been dumbed down over the years. He has no fucking clue as to what we are doing in the world and believes everything he hears on CNN and MSNBC (our so-called 'liberal' media outlets). He can no longer be reeducated.

He will live in fear that ISIS or some other phony terrorist group will plant a bomb in his toilet and thus suffer from constipation for the rest of his life.


Paul Moore Alchemist 2 Apr 2015 18:45

Bush vs. Clinton
Been there. Done that.


BradBenson Whitt 2 Apr 2015 18:42

Well, actually that is no longer possible. Still, should we continue to accept that status quo? We can't overthrow the government, but we could all vote third party. I'll not vote for a Bush or a Clinton in the coming election. If my vote is wasted, so be it. My conscience will be clear and I will no longer vote for a known War Criminal as I did when I voted for Obama the second time around.

BradBenson Batters56 2 Apr 2015 18:40

Boy have you got it bass ackwards. We wanted Obama to do the things he promised. Instead, he became a neo-con War Criminal on his first day in office and rejected everything for which he once claimed to have stood.

Here's the links. Read 'em and weep.

More information on Obama's Embrace of war, murder, torture and mayhem can be found at the following link.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19622-empire-under-obama-americas-secret-wars-in-over-100-countries-around-the-world

More information of the influence of the neocons upon Obama can be found at the following link.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/23/obamas-true-foreign-policy-weakness/

BradBenson Whitt 2 Apr 2015 18:42

Well, actually that is no longer possible. Still, should we continue to accept that status quo? We can't overthrow the government, but we could all vote third party. I'll not vote for a Bush or a Clinton in the coming election. If my vote is wasted, so be it. My conscience will be clear and I will no longer vote for a known War Criminal as I did when I voted for Obama the second time around.

BradBenson Batters56 2 Apr 2015 18:40

Boy have you got it bass ackwards. We wanted Obama to do the things he promised. Instead, he became a neo-con War Criminal on his first day in office and rejected everything for which he once claimed to have stood.

Here's the links. Read 'em and weep.

More information on Obama's Embrace of war, murder, torture and mayhem can be found at the following link.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19622-empire-under-obama-americas-secret-wars-in-over-100-countries-around-the-world

More information of the influence of the neocons upon Obama can be found at the following link.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/23/obamas-true-foreign-policy-weakness/

BradBenson lightstroke 2 Apr 2015 18:36

Nobody, including Obama. Where have you been for the past six years. Obama makes Bush look like a beginner. Bush started two wars. We now have seven that we know about and are militarily engaged in more than 100 countries.

The blind eye that you faux lefties turn toward Obama and Hillary is absolutely disgusting and hypocritical. Obama and Hillary are fucking WAR CRIMINALS--just like Bush and Cheney--in fact worse!

BradBenson diddoit 2 Apr 2015 18:34

Yes...in the wrong direction. He's beginning to reverse some of his earlier anti-interventionist statements and was one of 47 idiots that signed that letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. I like Rand for a while, strictly because of his 'opposition' to our wars and the domestic spying. Lately, he's back to trying to appeal to Evangelical Nutcases.

BradBenson Natasha2009 2 Apr 2015 18:30

Well Natasha, you are correct that US Foreign Policy should be about protecting US Interests--to a point. Where we may disagree is in how that policy has truly not served our best interests and certainly could not be said to have served in the best interests of the US or the Globe in any single respect--not one. When your only foreign policy is war and murder by drone, you are not serving anyone's interests but the arms dealers.

BradBenson Samuel Burns 2 Apr 2015 18:22

Our leaders have brought war, torture, murder and mayhem to the planet since the early 90's and have doubled down since 9/11. They are war criminals and the blame is correctly place upon the US. Wake up.

BradBenson fredimeyer 2 Apr 2015 18:19

Well I wish you were right, but it's not shaping up that way right now. That being said, she cannot win and we will all be stuck with another fucking Bush.

I'll be voting third party this year as will every other anti-war progressive.

BradBenson sour_mash 2 Apr 2015 18:17

Those ills are now the ills of the Obama Administration and I have pointed this out to you way too often in the past for you not to have gotten it. Obama embraced Bush's War Crimes and made them his own. Quit apologizing and making excuses for this murderous SOB. Here again are the links. Educate yourself.

More information on Obama's Embrace of war, murder, torture and mayhem can be found at the following link.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19622-empire-under-obama-americas-secret-wars-in-over-100-countries-around-the-world

More information of the influence of the neocons upon Obama can be found at the following link.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/23/obamas-true-foreign-policy-weakness/

macmarco 2 Apr 2015 18:14

She like Obama are militarists. Obama astounded his progressive supporters with his praise for militarism at Nobel. Hillary lost the primaries by hanging onto the 'Iraq was a just and good intervention'. Even if it was imposed by Bill it was idiotic when even some in the GOP were jumping ship.

BradBenson Mikhail Lykhin 2 Apr 2015 18:14

That's just sexist bullshit. She's a well-qualified war criminal and will wage our wars with the same audacity, ferocity and veracity of any man. In fact, she will be more brutal just to prove that women should be allowed to be the War-Criminal-in-Chief more often.

BradBenson Expatdownunder1 2 Apr 2015 18:11

Yep, I remember that too. That should have been a wake up call for any faux Democrats that hated Bush's Policies, but loved those same policies under Obama. Now these neo-con converts can't wait for Hillary to break the glass ceiling and become the greatest US War Criminal of all-time. She will never be President. Real lefties will stay home.

BradBenson toadwarrior 2 Apr 2015 18:07

It's not a matter of age. It's a matter of faulty policies and a total lack of any morality. I'm 64 and I'd match my intellectual acuity against anyone, young or old. I might not always win, but it wouldn't be because of my age if I lost.

Hillary is not qualified because she is a war criminal. Period.

Kikinaskald voxusa 2 Apr 2015 18:03

It was easier for Clinton to coordinate his politics with Europeans at that time. The US was the measure of everything.

But yes, I think you are right, Hillary may be moved by an excessive ambition rather than pure ideology. What I fear is that this ambition makes her prone to hard ideological positions and to alliaces with the worst currents of American politics. On the other hand, you are right, as a whole the Democrats may seem to be more reasonable and I, in Europe, probably underestimate the political climate in the country.

BradBenson Kikinaskald 2 Apr 2015 17:59

People with money back them and most of the American People have been dumbed down to believe that we are a beacon of freedom and democracy around the world.

Despite the fact that realistic Americans recognize the truth, we can no longer unseat the shadow government and will just have to wait for the inevitable collapse of the evil empire under its own weight. It will be tough, but the education will be good for the survivors--however difficult.

voxusa Kikinaskald 2 Apr 2015 17:48

Point taken.

But interestingly, there was much less "go-it-alone" foreign policy by Bill Clinton. He coordinated with European allies, for one--for which he was castigated by the Republicans. That sort of foreign policy really took off under Bush--the right-wing is contemptuous of Europe, the UN, and pretty much any other nation.

I agree with you that she's too hawkish--and that she has made a number of serious mistakes. But I think she's less ideologically driven that driven by her (maybe "pragmatic") ambition.

But the climate in the US is such that the Republican alternatives are *much* more extreme and aggressive -- they talk about waging war on a daily basis. It's truly terrifying.

But anyone more "moderate" that Clinton really doesn't stand a chance for the Democrats. The political climate is too extreme and money has totally corrupted our political process--big money is generally (*but not exclusively) interested in "advancing their interests" and "the rest of the world be damned." There really are no good alternatives--it's Clinton or someone like Bush, or even worse someone like Cruz, Christie, or Paul.

NomChompsky Natasha2009 2 Apr 2015 17:45

The world is in much worse shape and the U.S. held in much lower esteem since she was Secretary of State.

Hey.


BradBenson 2 Apr 2015 17:32

The people are not dissatisfied with Obama's Foreign Policy because it has somehow been too tepid. They are sick of his embrace of the worst war crimes of the neo-con right as his own and his failure to implement hope and change from the abuses of the Bush/Cheney Administration. To say that Hillary's experience as Secretary of State has given her anything more than experience in WAR CRIMES is an exaggeration if not outright mendacity.

Obama started with two wars and we now have at least seven. During Obama's Tenure, both he and Hillary were involved in: illegal drone murders; CIA Black Sites (Benghazi was actually about the freeing of illegally held Libyan Nationals from a CIA Black Site Prison); an illegal Coup d'état in the Ukraine, which nearly brought Europe to the brink of war; the overthrow of the Libyan Government, which resulted in a civil war and the rise of ISIS there; the failure of our policies in Syria and Yemen, resulting in major wars throughout the Middle East; the failure of the Arab Spring and the reestablishment of US-backed dictatorial strongmen in numerous Arab Countries. Hillary has promised to be "more aggressive" than her predecessor.

There is no basis for this woman to be elected and her candidacy will result in the US being saddled with Bush III. Anti-war Progressives WILL NOT vote for another war criminal and will either vote for a third party candidate or stay home.

More information on Hillary's War Crimes can be found at the following sites.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14401-hillary-clintons-legacy-as-secretary-of-state
http://radio.foxnews.com/2014/10/29/cornel-west-calls-president-obama-and-hillary-clinton-war-criminals/
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/18/hillary-the-warmonger/

More information on Obama's Aggressive Foreign Policies and War Crimes can be found here.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19622-empire-under-obama-americas-secret-wars-in-over-100-countries-around-the-world
http://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/23/obamas-true-foreign-policy-weakness/

Matt062 2 Apr 2015 17:28

We don't call her Killary over here for nothing. There is no need to speculate about the future. We can already see her foreign policy in action in Yemen, where the USA is once again directing another lawless war of aggression.

Ask the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate how his targeted bombing of what little civilian infrastructure Yemen has? You know, dairy processing, electrical power installations, the usual list of war criminality we have all come to know so well and hate.

Ana ask how long will it take for mass starvation to kick in with a total naval blockade on a country that must import 100% of its grain?

normankirk 2 Apr 2015 17:02

Please, not Hillary. I'm not eligible to vote in American elections, but I do have a stake in staying alive. Hillary has to be a nutcase with her warmongering rhetoric.

And I'm not encouraged by Ukrainian oligarchs bloating the Clinton foundation with looted money


Kikinaskald voxusa 2 Apr 2015 16:56

I meant internationally. At that time nobody dared to oppose the US. Nowadys it's different. China challenges the US, in South America there are left governments and others that claim some independence. In Europe there is skepticism and critic of the American government. Iran made now an agreement on better terms than they had offered in 2003. Russia showed that they would act according to what they think it's their interest against American opposition. The US lost wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We have to consider all those failures and mistakes. Hillary Clinton is not the right person for that.


voxusa Kikinaskald 2 Apr 2015 16:38

"Bill Clinton could do whatever he wanted without much opposition."?

You must have missed the government shut-down by the right-wing and the mendacious obstructionism of Newtie Gingrich and his pals


Kikinaskald 2 Apr 2015 16:21

I wonder why the electorate keeps people in politics who are clearly unsuitable to be politicians. Many are crazy, are ignorant, are politically corrupt, have no common sense, have no scruples of any kind, are greedy. Why can't people have better choices? Why don't they send such people in retirement and vote for better politicians? Why do such politicians remain eternally in the political arena? Why do people take them seriously?


CroatianRoger 2 Apr 2015 16:14

If Clinton or Bush win we are in for more war, only Rand Paul will pull the troops back.
Apparently this election will cost about $5 billion, disgusting.


Kikinaskald 2 Apr 2015 16:12

but who may be guided by a preference for alliance-based negotiations of the kind that informed her husband's presidency

This doesn't mean very much. Times were completely different. The Soviet Union had just fallen when Bill Clinton was the president and the leadership of the US was not disputed. Today opposition to intervention is much stronger and an agressive politics which didn't function before when conditions were more favourable will not function now.

Bill Clinton could do whatever he wanted without much opposition. But he didn't seem to be very ideologically guided. He used military and diplomatic power because he had the power to do that, he was moved by custom, and for personal reasons (because of the scandals involving him).

Obama doesn't seem to be a very determined person, to have very strong convictions. He noticed that his power was limited and decided to take the easiest way. That means that he made mistakes, that he simply followed what Bush had begun without much questioning. But he tried to correct the course in some moments, to repair some mistakes, he took some positive initiatives.

Hilary Clinton on the other hand lacks some of the few qualities of past presidents while combining their bad qualities. She doesn't seem to be careful like Obama, she isn't so pragmatic as Bill Clinton, she's as ideological as some of the worse politicians in the US, she's as naive as Bush, she's as ignorant as McCain, she doesn't show any kind of moral and intellectual independence and autonomy: she sides with the worst tendencies of politics. The results cannot be good.

Speculation and discussions about all those cases (Ukraine, Syria and so on) show how insane political talk has become. It's funny, because they are exactly the result of long term faillures, political mistakes and so on. Obama often spoke wrong, but did the right thing in the end. H. Clinton would do the wrong thing in the end. I think that politis is too serious to be in the hand of people like her.

Expatdownunder1 2 Apr 2015 14:59

On the 22nd April 2008 Hillary Clinton made the following astonishing comment:"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the President, we will attack Iran," she replied adding, "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them". From that time on, I began to see her as a liability and was confirmed by innumerable speeches made as Secretary of State: speeches which displayed arrogance towards and ignorance of other cultures, together with a contempt for the political process.


Natasha2009 2 Apr 2015 14:41

How exactly is foreign policy her strong suit? The world is in much worse shape and the U.S. held in much lower esteem since she was Secretary of State. There is not one area of the world better off now due to her efforts.


Phil429 lightstroke 2 Apr 2015 13:55

Obama's strategy of forcing the regional players to sort things out themselves

This would be the same Obama who started the war on Libya and showered his Al-Qaeda buddies with weapons to terrorise the whole region, would it? The same Obama who tried to support Hosni Mubarak only until his defeat became undeniable, then worked to make sure his replacement would be as close to identical as possible? Whose State Department funded and enabled the Nazis who overthrew the government of Ukraine? Who's been devoted to indefinitely continuing the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq from his first day in office? Whose murder-by-drone campaign has caused vastly more devastation in Yemen and Pakistan than under Gov Bush? Who's turned Honduras into a living hell, tried to sanction the life out of Iran on fraudulent grounds with no authority and faithfully continued enabling every war crime Israel commits on its way to national suicide?
Anyone who considers that 'leaving others to sort things out' has lost all touch with reality.


Whitt brighterday 2 Apr 2015 12:48

"If some nutter like Jeb Bush wins, a major war is just a matter of time." - brighterday
*
Actually, in the current crop of Republicans making noises about running, Jeb Bush is the moderate one. Moderate being in a completely relative sense here.


TONY C 2 Apr 2015 12:08

A vote for Hillary is a vote for her undying support of the Iraq war. I hope this woman becomes undone at the seams for whatever can be made to stick. She is the same old pedigree of war mongers that both democrats and republicans push to the forefront of amerikkkan politics.


LowlyPeruser 2 Apr 2015 12:06

Hillary Clinton supported just about every military aggression in the Middle East (invading Iraq, bombing Syria and Lybia) that was on offer, and when the crap hit the fan (as in Benghazi) she was stupid enough to try to cover it up. Some strong diplomatic skills and wisdom she has, indeed....


sparafucile2 2 Apr 2015 11:24

Rand Paul is the only candidate on the horizon who could conceivably end America's disastrous love-affair with the neo-cons and neo-liberals. The thought of Hillary Clinton returning to the White House would be a bit like Cherie Blair returning to No 10.


DynamicDitherer 2 Apr 2015 11:24

Americans are being fed the idea that it is time a woman was in charge, like the first black president it is a con.

Anyone want to know what Hillary Clinton is about simply google "Hilary Clinton on Gadaffi" and it just about sums up US foreign policy REGARDLESS who is in the big chair.

If people in the UK really want to end the murders and mayhem our? foreign policies wreak around the globe then the only way to stop it is to vote green and be brave enough to usher in a brand new dawn in British politics as this shit has to stop, its only a matter of when, vote for the main parties and we are sending more of our own sons and daughters to go fight the banksters wars which in turn will unleash hell on the civillian populations of whatever country it is.. last time it was Libya, almost Syria... lets not let it happen again and perhaps bring foreign policy to the front of elections... no more war.


nonfiction 2 Apr 2015 11:02

She is an old fraud. She's told the world she was the one who brought peace to Northern Ireland, though it was certainly not anything she did that helped there. She told the world how brave she was, when she landed in a supposed danger zone, when in fact she and her daughter had landed to a peaceful welcome by a children's band. She showed no understanding of Palestine or of Israel. Internationally, she hasn't a clue. She's nothing but a grabby property developer. t can't believe even Americans are so easily hood-winked that they'd vote for her.


wimberlin 2 Apr 2015 10:42

She is obviously a bellicose bag - there is no doubt about that. However the irony is that this bellicose bag may be better than any wing-nut the Republicans decide to come up with in the next year.

American politics is all about money anyways - if she can get the really rich behind her, then she will get in.


Continent 2 Apr 2015 10:39

Foreign donations to foundation raise major ethical questions for Hillary Clinton ......

... Hillary, give the money back. Or don't run. You can't keep the money and run.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/02/18/foreign-donations-to-hillary-clintons-foundation-raise-major-ethical-questions/


DNAin1953 2 Apr 2015 10:28

In politics you do not need to be good, you just need to be better than the other choices and win a plurality of the electorate. Discussing someones merits or failings as a leader without contrasting that with the competition is a tiresome waste of time. Clinton is not impressive except in comparison with the lunatics from which her opponent will be choosen. It is this contrast that is the relevant one that should be discussed. Despote her many failings, she is the least bad choice among thoae on offer, by a country mile.


Continent 2 Apr 2015 10:28

Hillary Clinton: foreign policy is her strong suit

25 Mar 2008 ........ Hillary Clinton has conceded that she "did misspeak" about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, blaming tiredness for a dramatic description that was shown to have been significantly exaggerated. .....

..... News footage of the event however showed her claims to have been wide of the mark, and reporters who accompanied her stated that there was no sniper fire. Her account was ridiculed by ABC News as "like a scene from Saving Private Ryan".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1582795/Hillary-Clintons-Bosnia-sniper-story-exposed.html


Seanymoon 2 Apr 2015 09:56

Madame is a war hawk's war hawk; and few major political figures belong more completely to Wall Street.

No thanks.

moncur 2 Apr 2015 09:48

Family dynasties are a disturbing, newish trend in Western democracies, particularly in USA. The Bushes, the Clintons...
There is no need to copy North Korea.

[Mar 25, 2015] Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

There have been some suggestions that the Treaty of Moscow notwithstanding, there may well be another hidden agreement between the USA and Germany that exists apart from an agreement between the former WWII allies, a secret agreement that infringes upon German sovereignty and blocks the possibility of adopting a Verfassung.

Moscow Exile, March 24, 2015 at 2:25 am

The German system is better as there one votes for a party and for a candidate that one prefers. However, the system is complex – with good reason: they do not want a repeat performance of the 1930s.

See: Germany's Voting System Explained

A little sleight of hand there, though, in the above linked Der Spiegel article:

It only recently became completely fair. Germany's Constitutional Court ruled in 2009 that the voting system used up through the 2009 general election was actually unconstitutional. Then the first fix offered up by the Bundestag was thrown out as well. It was only in February of this year that the country finally got a new system that conforms with the country's constitution, the Basic Law.

Ever wondered why the German "constitution" is called "The Basic Law" (Grundgesetz)?

No?

Never entered your mind, or just not bothered?

Well, I shall tell you anyway:

You see, independent sovereign states have constitutions, do they not? – apart from the UK and three other sovereign states, or so I have been led to believe.

The UK has a constitution, they say, but if you ask to see a copy of it, they say there isn't one, because it is an unwritten constitution – which sounds like a bit of a swizz to me – whilst here, in the Police State that everyone knows as Russia, I can go to any news kiosk or bookshop and buy a copy of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

But I digress: the Federal Republic of Germany has no constitution (Verfassung) because some maintain that it is an occupied country and has been so since 1945.

The German "Basic Law" was imposed on the Germans by the victorious allied occupying forces in 1949 and differs from a constitution that has been created by a sovereign people.

In the day to day functioning of the German state, the Grundgesetz functions, of course, as a Verfassung, so every Fritz and Freda is happy – I think.

The fact remains, however, that the allied forces imposed the original Grundgesetz on the Germans (at the point of a Lee-Enfield .303 or M1 carbine as the case may be and as Call-Me-Dave might have said if he had been around at that time), and the Germans, of course, had no choice but to accept the Grundgesetz, though some at the time of its imposition did object to their conquerors' demand because they were good Germans and not Nazis – though they had known plenty who were – and felt that they were perfectly capable of drafting their own Verfassung.

It is also a fact that since the allied imposition of the Grundgesetz, the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has had occasion to change and make adjustments to parts of the Grundgesetz as regards the EU and the former German Democratic Republic, which the West Germans always called Die Sowjetische Besatzungszone (The Soviet Occupation Zone) before it became re-united with the rest of Germany, namely with the US, British and French occupation zones of Germany.

One could argue, therefore, that the changing of the Grundgesetz by the German Constitutional Court shows that it had the sovereign right to do so and that Germany is, indeed, a sovereign state that treats its Grundgesetz as though it were a Verfassung. Furthermore, that august and supreme judicial authority based in Karlsruhe is indeed called the the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and not the German Basic Law Court (Bundesgrundgesetzgericht) – so Germany does indeed have a constitution QED.

Yes, and the EU has a parliament in Strasbourg – but it ain't no parliament!

But get this:

Grundgesetz (not, may I remind you once again, Verfasssung) article 146.

"This Basic Law, which since the achievement of the unity and freedom of Germany applies to the entire German people, shall cease to apply on the day on which a constitution freely adopted by the German people takes effect".

See, the Basic Law recognises that there is no German constitution yet.

This very fact that Germany still has no Verfassung, or a document that they dare call one, may also indicate that Germans still do not enjoy full freedom in self-determination – which is a human right, goddamit!!!!!

:-)

A constitution is based upon a sovereign people. In Germany, however, there exists "The Basic Law" that was imposed upon the German people by its conquerors in 1949 following the unconditional surrender of the German state in 1945. Since "the unity and freedom of Germany" was achieved with the signing of the Treaty of Moscow in 1990, why have the Germans not changed the Basic law into a Constitution drawn up by a sovereign nation?

The Treaty of Moscow 1990 states in article 7:

"(1) The French Republic, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America hereby terminate their rights and responsibilities relating to Berlin and to Germany as a whole. As a result, the corresponding, related quadripartite agreements, decisions and practices are terminated and all related Four Power institutions are dissolved.

(2) The United Germany shall have accordingly full sovereignty over its internal and external affairs".

Alles klar?

So why no Deutsche Verfassung?

There have been some suggestions that the Treaty of Moscow notwithstanding, there may well be another hidden agreement between the USA and Germany that exists apart from an agreement between the former WWII allies, a secret agreement that infringes upon German sovereignty and blocks the possibility of adopting a Verfassung.

In 2007, Gerd-Helmut Komossa, a former head of the "German CIA" – the Bundesnachtrichtendienst (BND) – published the book "Die deutsche Karte (The German Card), stating that there was such a treaty in 1949

[Mar 14, 2015] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/14/hillary-clinton-arkansas-friends

From comments (BradBenson -> maggie111 14 Mar 2015 11:55) : We should have a woman candidate, but not this one. She is a WAR CRIMINAL who has promised a more aggressive foreign policy than Obama who, by the way, started five new wars to add to Bush's two. You are dangerously naïve.
Mar 14, 2015 | The Guardian

foggy2 -> OperatorError 14 Mar 2015 14:13

I think many Americans come here because usually the level of discussion is quite a bit higher than that found in most US newspapers.

I come here to read what other people are thinking and try hard to digest what I find because by using that process I can learn and grow.

Waughchild -> philipf 14 Mar 2015 14:10

Couldn't agree more. When she said she came under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996, she retracted and said it was a mistake. Mistake!!!!! No, a total BS lie that she was so stupid that she thought she could get away with. She is power hungry like her husband. She doesn't have a feminist bone in her body.

sfgirl42 14 Mar 2015 14:08

Remember this?

"After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left (the White House), the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.

Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return." abc news 2/8/2001

foggy2 -> Orance 14 Mar 2015 13:50

I think corporate and bankster money is much more important to them than opinion polls. They can say one thing to appease people but in the end go with the monied interests.

janvaneck 14 Mar 2015 13:41

What you Brits do not realize is that Hillary can never prevail in a national election. It has nothing to do with talent, or campaign funds, or staff abilities, or anything else. It has to do with her behavior, which is so disgraceful that a hefty chunk of "democrat" voters will bolt.

To understand the Hillary-antipathy phenomenon, I offer this little tidbit: Hillary was asked by some University to give a Commencement Address. For 40 minutes of speaking, she demanded a fee of $350,000. She also demanded to be ferried to and fro in a Gulfstream G-5; that is the ultimate top-of-the-line corporate jet, with intercontinental capabilities. She also demanded to be put up in a hotel - not some raggedy 4-star hotel, but only a 5-star hotel - and not is some "room," nor even a "suite," but only the "Presidential Suite." Then she demanded that a staff of courtiers be brought along and paid for, a chunk of these to be ferried out as advance men on First-class tickets (at least, not a private jet!), and then only so many photos were allowed, and so forth.

The University caved in to this extortion, and hired the jet and the Presidential Suite and paid the outrageous fee. But the problem is that this tab, which all-in likely ran to some $750,000, meant that hundreds of students would not be receiving need scholarships. If you figure that even $2,000 would tip a needy student out of school, she with her arrogance and hubris shut down the education of some 400 students.

She gets away with this self-absorbed behavior because she is "Hillary," and has figured out how to milk the system to put hefty chunks of coin into her purse. Plus, she confuses the G-5 with being "royalty." And she craves being pseudo-royalty. {Would Kate ever behave like this? No chance; the Princess has real class.] But the voters are wise to this, and they do not like this bad behavior in their leaders. She has so incensed even party stalwarts (not to even mention how Republicans froth at the mouth when anyone says "Hillary!") that she will end up shellacked.

It reminds me of another badly-behaved politician, a fellow named John Ashcroft. He was running for Senator from Missouri, and as the fates would have it, his opponent was killed in a plane crash some five weeks before the election. There was no time window to put another candidate in there on the ballot, so the voters were faced with the choice of electing Ashcroft or a dead man. The voters chose the dead man - anybody but Ashcroft. Humiliated, he was awarded a Cabinet Post as a consolation prize (and went on to do a lot of damage, just as Hillary did in the State Department).

Personally, I would vote for any identifiable road-kill carcass - skunk, gopher, opossum, whatever - before I would elect Hillary. Welcome to America, where we elect the dead. It is the ultimate "none of the above" voting line.

Lucymarie 14 Mar 2015 13:38

Hilary Clinton is such a hawk, that I offer the following version of the nursery rhyme:

Pillory Hillary, mock,
Our troops land on the dock.
Our troops strike out,
Throughout we're cursed,
Pillory Hillary, mock.

foggy2 -> BradBenson 14 Mar 2015 13:35

I'm a woman and would like to at some point see a female candidate but I don't think it should come about strictly based on gender. The right woman will appear and this may or may not be the election. But nowhere is it written that a female president is going to be any better than a male.

geronimo -> rustybeancake 14 Mar 2015 13:30


Why do you think this only comes up as an issue for female candidates?

I think that observation is plainly and simply wrong, however often Hillary claims that any attacks on her are 'because she's a women'. Disingenuous self-serving claptrap.

Where should I start the list of male politicians with the same sociopathy? Well, for the sake of provocation let's take another opportunistic self-serving martyr and Grauniad darling in the news, Boris Nemtsov...

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n06/keith-gessen/remembering-boris-nemtsov?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3706&utm_content=ukrw_nonsubs&hq_e=el&hq_m=3661873&hq_l=11&hq_v=6833aad56c

http://pando.com/2015/03/02/boris-nemtsov-death-of-a-russian-liberal/

philipf 14 Mar 2015 13:43

No matter how many words are written to try and humanise these people they are clearly sociopaths. Clinton, like her husband, is utterly shameless and without scruples. She is warmongering, lying scumbag without any genuine qualities.


MBDifani 14 Mar 2015 12:50

Hillary Clinton made a headline when she gave an address at Wellesley College in 1969 regarding the 'Nam war which I protested too at UC San Diego. I was in the army for five yrs. half of which was in W. Germany as a flight operations Sp5 at two helicopter bases. Our protest was not aimed at the trigger pullers, but the four star brass and civilian hawks such as Pres. LBJ and McNamara in the Pentagon. I am not for her as president...Jim Webb and Martin O'Malley in '16...not Joe Biden. Back in 2008 stand up comic Lewis Black ranted and raved about Clinton in the race vs. Obama. He wanted her to get out of the race, it's time for Barack Obama...on and on. Much applause from the audience.

boscovee 14 Mar 2015 12:48

Ah, the money must be finding the right pockets, this article is nothing but propaganda to foist this woman on the people, read the Clinton chronicles of ask the people of Arkansas about the Clinton's.

george1la 14 Mar 2015 12:39

This is exactly the personality type we do not need anymore. This is self destruction if she is elected. How about some sensible people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are for the people not corporations and billionaires as the Clinton's have proven, by their actions, to be with Fascist inclinations as does Obama when looking at not what they say, but what they do. Are we more free and safe? Do you have more or less privacy? Is the world safer? Why is the U.S. backing Nazi Fascists in the Ukraine?

WHO ARE WE REALLY AND WHO ARE THE LEADERS WE ELECT?

hertsman 14 Mar 2015 12:39

Why does this article not address the outright, provable lies she told when she ran against Obama and she was aggrandising her time in the White House ;

1) Her claim to have landed at Sarajevo, dodging sniper-fire
2) Her claim to have been instrumental in the Irish Peace process

Appalling liar. Impossible to trust her a e-mail controversy shows.

pwatson mizdarlin 14 Mar 2015 12:39

She's just another ambitious careerist who voted for war

chiefwiley -> Guruwho 14 Mar 2015 12:38

There will be a constant stream of sycophantic articles laying the base, together with stinging, downright nasty articles on each and every opponent, questioning why they are not in jail. She will be shown as holding her own against terrible accusations, while Republicans will be portrayed as denying, deflecting, and deceiving. Even potential Democratic opponents will be measured and found wanting.

It's all nonsense, of course, but the template is "history in the making," and history must be served. So they lower the bar for her and raise it for anybody else. She blatantly ignores public records and FOIA regulations --- no big deal. Christie, on the other hand, personally created a traffic jam and should be in jail for it.

Put on the popcorn and get out the pompoms. In the Guardian, it's Hillary Time!

flatulenceodor67 -> J.K. Stevens 14 Mar 2015 12:33

"She was on a secured server and has already confirmed that security was not breached."

What an ASININE statement believing a compulsive/corrupt KNOWN LIAR! I guess it takes one to know one.


geronimo -> MurkyFogsFutureLogs 14 Mar 2015 12:31

Indeed...

Under the retiring editor, all politics seems to have been reduced to 'identity' politics. Forget about class, war, class war and so on... If it can't be reduced to Hillary's gender or Putin's, er... transcendental evil... then it's barely worth a comment above the line.

As I've said before, for the Guardian 'the personal is the political' - or rather, for the Guardian as for Hillary, the political reduces to the personal.

A marriage made, not so much in heaven, but somewhere in political-fashionista North London.

Scuppie -> outsiderwithinsight 14 Mar 2015 12:18

I've heard that Elizabeth Warren's IQ is somewhat greater than that of a cherry stone clam. Anyone who would willingly sign up as a US presidential candidate cannot be very high in the brain-power pecking order. Political party has nothing to do with it.

xxxaaaxxx -> outsiderwithinsight 14 Mar 2015 12:17

She hasn't much experience and lied about her background to get a place at Harvard. We had an inexperienced young politician in Obama and that has not worked out so well. Just because someone is a women does not mean they need to be elected. BTW I am a women but there has to be more qualifications then sex to get the job.

consciouslyinformed -> outsiderwithinsight 14 Mar 2015 12:14

Elizabeth Warren, has stated she is heavily invested in her current position, about which, she has great passion and rewards of her personal productivity, and recognises that the presidency is not the "goal," of one who knows what her current position provides her and the citizens of her state.

Spanawaygal -> J.K. Stevens 14 Mar 2015 12:12

She's not a computer tech and hasn't got a clue as to whether security was breached. If the hackers can invade gov't websites (wikileaks) and major corporations, it's not only possible but very likely that her security was breached.

Roberta -> Hudlow Crewman 14 Mar 2015 12:06

There is a political term that drives me crazy, "flip-flopped," Do we really prefer politicians who say, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up?' Or do we prefer someone who can review the facts of an issue and find that their own view is wrong and untenable? I change my mind in view of facts. Do we want thinkers of primitive robots? I say primitive, because even computers can re-analyze. Further, I understand that many Evangelicals have changed stance on Israel-Palestine.

BradBenson -> maggie111 14 Mar 2015 11:55

We should have a woman candidate, but not this one. She is a WAR CRIMINAL who has promised a more aggressive foreign policy than Obama who, by the way, started five new wars to add to Bush's two. You are dangerously naïve.

[Nov 28 2014] Moyers & Company: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy

Nov 28 2014 | dewaynenet.wordpress.com

wa8dzp

Moyers & Company: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy
Nov 28 2014
<http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-long-dark-shadows-plutocracy/>

Some people say inequality doesn't matter. They are wrong. All we have to do to see its effects is to realize that all across America millions of people of ordinary means can't afford decent housing.

As wealthy investors and buyers drive up real estate values, the middle class is being squeezed further and the working poor are being shoved deeper into squalor - in places as disparate as Silicon Valley and New York City.

This week Bill points to the changing skyline of Manhattan as the physical embodiment of how money and power impact the lives and neighborhoods of every day people. Soaring towers being built at the south end of Central Park, climbing higher than ever with apartments selling from $30 million to $90 million, are beginning to block the light on the park below. Many of the apartments are being sold at those sky high prices to the international super rich, many of whom will only live in Manhattan part-time – if at all - and often pay little or no city income or property taxes, thanks to the political clout of real estate developers.

"The real estate industry here in New York City is like the oil industry in Texas," affordable housing advocate Jaron Benjamin says, "They outspend everybody… They often have a much better relationship with elected officials than everyday New Yorkers do." Meanwhile, fewer and fewer middle and working class people can afford to live in New York City. As Benjamin puts it, "Forget about the Statue of Liberty. Forget about Ellis Island. Forget about the idea of everybody being welcome here in New York City. This will be a city only for rich people."

At the end of the show Bill says: "Tell us if you've seen some of these forces eroding the common ground where you live. Perhaps, like some of the people in our story, you're making your own voice heard. Share these experiences at our website,BillMoyers.com."

Video+Transcript: 23:09 min

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