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Two Party System as Polyarchy and anti-Democratic mechanisms of "first past the post" elections

Version 2.4 (Nov  21, 2016)

The USA looks more and more like a single party state -- it is governed by  Neoliberal party with two factions
 "soft neoliberals" (Democratic Party) and "hard neoliberals"(Republican Party)

News Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Books Recommended Links Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite  Demexit Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ? The Deep State Predator state
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite New American Militarism Electoral College Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Demexit Myth about intelligent voter
Neocons Obama: a yet another Neocon Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neoliberalism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Protestant church on danger of neoliberalism
Donald Trump Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin National Security State  American Exceptionalism Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Paleoconservatism Corporatism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism Non-Interventionism "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry  Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
Bernie Sanders Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention Jeb "Wolfowitz Stooge" Bush US Presidential Elections of 2012  Mayberry Machiavellians Politically Incorrect Humor Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin

Due to the side an introduction was moved to the separate page Polyarchy, Authoritarianism and Deep State

Summary

I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitled to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ?  Or  in election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. Is the democracy possible, if elections use "the first after the post" rule?  Another important question is "democracy for whom". There are always part of society living under the dictatorship and excluded from the democratic process.

My impression is that the Communist Party of the USSR made a grave mistake by not adopting "the first after the post" election system. In reality it would just legitimize the permanent Communist Party rule, as two factions of the CPSU competing for power (let's call them "Democratic Communists" and "Republican Communists") would exclude any real challenge for the one party rule that was practiced in the USSR under so called "one party" system. Which, while providing the same results,  looks more undemocratic then "first after the post" system, and thus  less safe for the rule of oligarchy as it generates resentment of the population.  

The "first after the post" system provides a very effective suppression of any third party, preventing any chance of maturing such a political force.  No less effective the Societ one party rule, but more subtle and more acceptable to the population. Which is all what is needed to continuation of the rule of the oligarchy.  The same is true for the parties themselves. Iron law of olgarchy was actualy discovered by observing the evolution of the party leadership.

Revolutionary situation after 2008 is connected with discreditation of neoliberal ideology

The situation when the current ruling elite (or in less politically correct term oligarchy) experienced difficulties with the continuation of its rule and the existing methods of suppression and indoctrination of the lower part population stop working is called  "revolutionary situation". Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what was essentially an independent candidate -- Donald Trump.  It was clear that there is a widespread feeling that the current system is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wont to live under the current system, and the ruling oligarchy can't continue to rule using the same methods and its brainwashing/propaganda does not work anymore " a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings twice, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".

 In such cases, often the ruling elite decides to unleash a foreign war and use "rally around the flag" effect  to suppress dissent and to restore the control (that's the real meaning of Samuel Johnson quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"). The pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016 in neoliberal MSM suggest that some part of the US elite is not totally hostile to this solution even in nuclear age. As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Even by promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems. The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the level achieved by communist propagandists in best days of the USSR.  And that happened because this time there is a slight chance that the election are not about choosing "soft neoliberal" vs. "hard neoliberal" but "soft neoliberal"  vs. (at least partially) "paleoconservative", who rejects the idea of neoliberal globalization and by extension the necessity of fighting constant wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.   This heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state, and the hissy fit in neoliberal media and the just of intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" of political process (hackingate") were to be expected.

There is also an interesting question what kind of democracy the competition  of "Democratic Neoliberals" ("soft neoliberal/closet neocons) and "Republican Neoliberals: ("hard core" neoliberal/open neocons) in the USA demonstrates. And not only "democratcy for who" -- it is clera tha thtis is democracy for the top 1% or at best top 20% of population.

Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience. They use university course in economics in the same (or more correctly slightly more subtle; using mathematics as smoke screen for indoctrination into neoliberal ideology)  way Soviet universities use the course of philosophy. In the USSR the courses of philosophy and political economy were obligatory for all university students and people did read both Marx and Lenin; but there were problem here -- as Marx famously said he was not a Marxist.  The same to a certain extent is true for Lenin, who was essentially a bridge between Marxism and national socialism.  This problem was solved by carefully pre-selecting "classics" works to only a subset that felt in like with Bolshevism.

But deteriorating economy and stagnation make this propaganda less effective, much like happened with neoliberal propganda in the USA in 2016. And people were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming.  Similar things happened inthe USA after 2008. Eventhoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion, started to have doubts.  And like Soviet population resorted to the alternative sources of information (for example Guardian, RT, Asia Times, to name a few).

But still the general level  political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is much lower then it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marxs and Lenin much like modern incarnations of Jesus Christ in Soviet state). Let's honestly ask yourselves  what percentage of US voters can list key proposition of paleoconservative political platform vs neoliberal platform. Or define what the term "neoliberal" means. It is difficult also because the terms "neoliberalism" and "Paleoconservatism" are expunged from MSM. Like Trotsky writings were in the USSR. Assuming that this might well be the key difference between two frontrunner in the last Presidential race, this is really unfortunate.

The myth about intelligent voters

That means the hypothesis that majority of voters under "popular democracy" regime (where all citizens have a right to vote) understand what they are voting for ("informed voters" hypothesis)  is open to review (see Myth about intelligent voter).  Otherwise identity politics would not be so successful in the USA, despite being a primitive variation of classic "divide and conquer" strategy. In any democracy, how can voters make an important decision unless they are well informed?  But what percentage of US votes can be considered well informed?  And taking into account popularity of Fox News what percentage is brainwashed or do not what to think about the issues involved and operate based on emotions and prejudices? And when serious discussion of issues that nation faces are deliberately and systematically replaced by "infotainment" voters became just pawns in the game of factions of elite, which sometimes leaks information to sway public opinion, but do it very selectively. All MSM represent the views of large corporations which own them. No exception are allowed. Important information is suppressed or swiped under the carpet to fifth page in NYT to prevent any meaningful discussion. For example, ask several of your friends if they ever heard about Damascus, AR.

In any case one amazing fact happened during this election: republican voters abandoned Republican brass and flocked to Trump, while Democratic voters abandoned Democratic neoliberals and flocked to Sanders (although DNC managed to fix primaries, and then engaged in anti-Russian hysteria to hide this criminal fact).  See Trump vs. The REAL Nuts for an informed discussion of this phenomenon.

Mr. Trump’s great historical role was to reveal to the Republican Party what half of its own base really thinks about the big issues. The party’s leaders didn’t know! They were shocked, so much that they indulged in sheer denial and made believe it wasn’t happening.

The party’s leaders accept more or less open borders and like big trade deals. Half the base does not! It is longtime GOP doctrine to cut entitlement spending. Half the base doesn’t want to, not right now! Republican leaders have what might be called assertive foreign-policy impulses. When Mr. Trump insulted George W. Bush and nation-building and said he’d opposed the Iraq invasion, the crowds, taking him at his word, cheered. He was, as they say, declaring that he didn’t want to invade the world and invite the world. Not only did half the base cheer him, at least half the remaining half joined in when the primaries ended.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen.

The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their imperial ambitions. As in the efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieved by nomenklatura in Soviet Union outside of "Stalinism" period.  Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

The term "neoliberalism" is effectively prohibited from usage in major US MSM and all political discussion is forcefully turned into "infotainment" -- the clash of  personalizes. In other words discussion of key issues facing the country (politics in real sense of this word)  was replaced under neoliberal regime by "infotainment" with slick and often psychically beautiful "presstitutes" instead of olitical analysts.   But like was the case in the USSR neoliberal brainwashing gradually lost its effectiveness because it contradicts the reality. and neoliberalism failed to deliver promises of "rising tide lifting all board", or trickle down economy which justified tremendous enrichment of top 0.1%. 

Neoliberalism divides the society in  two classes like in old, good Marxism

Politically neoliberalism. like Marxism in the past, operates with the same two classes: "entrepreneurs" (modern name for capitalists and financial oligarchy) and debt slaves (proletarians under Marxism) who work for them. Under neoliberalism only former considered first class citizens ("one dollar -- one vote"). Debt slaves are second class of citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses") See Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.  In this sense the role of the election is not election of the candidate of people want but legitimizing the candidate the oligarchy pre-selected. . They  helps to provide legitimacy for the ruling elite. 

The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen. The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their pretty much imperial ambitions. The efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieve by nomenklatura in Soviet Union. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

Corporation as the role model for government under neoliberalism excludes the possibility of democracy

Everything should be organized like corporation under neoliberalism, including government, medicine, education, even military. And everybody is not a citizen but a shareholder  (or more correctly stakeholder), so any conflict should be resolved via discussion of the main stakeholders. Naturally lower 99% are not among them.

The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance is "wealth maximization". Which proved to be very seductive for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80%, or eve 99% of population.  In essence, it means a form of welfare economics for financial oligarchy while at the same time a useful smokescreen for keeping debt-slaves obedient by removing any remnants of job security mechanisms that were instituted during the New Deal. As the great American jurist and Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can have huge wealth in the hands of a relatively few people or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both.”

As under neoliberalism extreme wealth is the goal of the social system, there can be no democracy under neoliberalism. And this mean that pretentions of the USA elite that the USA is a bastion of democracy is plain vanilla British ruling elite style hypocrisy.  Brutal suppression of any move to challenge dominance of financial oligarchy (even such feeble as Occupy movement)  shows that all too well.

Like in case of communist regimes before, under neoliberalism we now face a regime completely opposite to democracy: we have complete, forceful atomization of public, acute suppression of any countervailing political forces (similar to the suppression of dissidents in the USSR in its effectiveness and brutality, but done in "velvet gloves" without resort to physical violence). That includes decimation of  labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80%, or even 99% of population.  Neoliberalism tries to present any individual, any citizen, as a market actor within some abstract market (everything is the market under neoliberalism). Instead of fight for political  and economic equality neoliberalism provides a slick slogan of "wealth maximization" which is in essence a "bait and switch" for redistribution of wealth up to the top 1% (which is the stated goal of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"). It was working in tandem with "shareholder value" mantra which is a disguise of looting of the corporations to enrich its top brass via outsize bonuses (IBM is a nice example where such an approach leads) and sending thousands of white-collar workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-collar workers that were affected. Times changed. 

The difference between democrats and republicans as (at least partially) the difference in the level of authoritarianism of two factions of the same "Grand neoliberal Party of the USA"

Both Democratic Party and Republican arty in the USA are neoliberal parties. So effectively we have one-party system skillfully masked as duopoly ;-). Communists could use the same trick, by having the part Socialist internationalists worker-peasants party of the USSR and Democratic internationalists peasant-worker party of the USSR, with leaders wet kissing each other behind the curtain as is the case in the USA. In the USA we have Cola/Pepsi duopoly that is sold as the shining example of democracy, although just the rule "the first after the post" prevents democracy from functioning as it eliminates minorities from governance. 

Political atmosphere at the USA since Reagan, when Republican drifted right and Democrats were bought by Wall Street really reminds me the USSR.  But still those parties reflect two different strata of the US population, which according to Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics in the level of authoritarianism (for example, as measured by F-scale.). Many Republican politicians can be classified as Double High Authoritarians.

If we assume that this is true, the the large part of "verge issues" that so skillfully played in each election, and using which allow the elite to avoid addressing any fundamental issues facing the nation, such as race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.

Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. While the authors acknowledge that authoritarianism is not the only factor determining how people vote, it does offer a an important perspective : a large part (at least white Americans) flock to the particular party based on proximity to their own level authoritarianism and corresponding worldview of the party.  In other words  the percentage of authoritarian/non-authoritarian personality in the population allow to predict, at least in part,  voting behavior of the the USA "white block" electorate.


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[Mar 25, 2017] What Russia Wants - and Expects

Notable quotes:
"... Does Russia Have a Future? ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
March 22, 2017

Washington's political infighting has blocked President Trump's plans for a new détente with Russia but also has left the global playing field open for Russian – and Chinese – advances in expanding their influence, explains Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

As Democrats and the mainstream U.S. media focus intensely on still unproven charges of Russian election meddling to explain Hillary Clinton's surprising defeat, the furor has forced an embattled President Trump to retreat from his plans to cooperate with Russia on fighting terrorism and other global challenges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

Amid the anti-Russian hysteria, Trump's Cabinet members and United Nations ambassador have gone out of their way to reiterate the tough policy positions of the Obama administration with respect to Russia, underlining that nothing has changed. For its part, Congress has plunged into McCarthyistic hearings aimed at Trump supporters who may have met with Russians before the 2016 elections.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has duly noted these developments in Washington. In Moscow, the breakthrough in relations that some had hoped for is now dismissed as improbable. On the other hand, while the United States is tearing itself apart in partisan fighting, Russia is getting a much-needed breather from the constant ratcheting up of pressure from the West that it experienced over the past three years.

We hear from Russian elites more and more how they plan to proceed on the international stage in the new circumstances. The byword is self-reliance and pursuit of the regional and global policies that have been forming over the past couple of years as the confrontation with the United States escalated.

These policies have nothing to do with some attack on the Baltic States or Poland, the nightmare scenarios pushed by neoconservatives and liberal interventionists in the U.S. and the European Union. The Russian plans also have nothing to do with subversion of elections in France or Germany, the other part of the fevered imaginations of the West.

Instead, the Russians are concentrating on their domestic defense capabilities and their budding political alliances with China and a host of Asian countries that together can oppose the power of the West. It is important to understand that the Russian vision is a future multi-polar world, not a return to the bipolar Cold War system of two superpowers, which Russian elites see as unattainable given the diffusion of power across the globe and Russia's own more limited resources.

In other words, the Russians are envisioning a future world order whose contours harken back to the Nineteenth Century. In terms of details, the Russians are now inseparably wed to China for reasons of mutual economic and security interest on the global stage. The same is becoming true of their relationship with Iran at the regional level of the Greater Middle East.

The Russian elites also take pride in the emerging military, economic and geopolitical relationships with countries as far removed as Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Thailand. News about breakthroughs with each of these countries is heralded on daily television programming.

Mideast Interests

Russian elites note that the United States has misunderstood Moscow's position in Syria from the start of the war there. Russia's priority was never to keep the Assad regime in power, but rather to maintain a foothold in the Middle East. Put narrowly, Russia was determined to maintain its naval base at Tarsus, which is important to support Russia's presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. More broadly, Moscow's goal was to restore Russian influence in the strategic region where Russia once was a significant player before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In May 2016, Russian marchers honoring family members who fought in World War II. (Photo from RT)

Russia's loss of Eastern Europe is also not forgotten, though American hegemony there is acknowledged as a reality of the present. But nothing lasts forever, and the Russians expect to be back as a major force in the region, not by military conquest, but by virtue of economic and strategic logic, which favors them in the long term. Though many East European elites have been bought off by the United States and the European Union, many common citizens have been major losers from the American led post-Cold War order, suffering from de-industrialization and large-scale emigration to more developed E.U. countries, reaching as much as 25 percent of the general population in some places. These Eastern European countries have little to offer Western Europe except for tourist destinations, whereas their shared potential for trade with Russia is immense.

This past weekend, Russian television news carried images of demonstrations in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova that you did not see on Euronews. The object of this popular wrath was billionaire financial speculator George Soros and his "Open Society" affiliates. Russian news commentary explained that these demonstrations - operating under the banner of "Go Home Soros" - became possible now because the Trump administration has dropped U.S. support for him.

It would be naïve not to see some official Russian assistance to these coordinated demonstrations across a large swath of Eastern Europe, but the Russians were simply giving the United States a taste of its own medicine, since U.S.-sponsored "non-governmental organizations" have been busy subverting legitimate Euro-skeptic governments in these countries in cooperation with Soros's NGOs.

Not Your Grandfather's Cold War

But there are key differences between what is happening now and in the Cold War days. The original Cold War was characterized not only by military and geopolitical rivalry of the world's two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It also was an ideological rivalry between – on one side – free market capitalism and parliamentary democracy and – on the other – planned economies and monolithic top-down Communist Party rule.

President Richard Nixon with his then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in 1972.

Starting with President Richard Nixon, a policy of détente was put in place, which embodied the principle of co-existence of these competing principles of organizing human society for the sake of world peace. There are those who maintain we have no New Cold War today because the ideological dimension is lacking, although there are obvious differences over principles between the socially liberal U.S./E.U. and the more socially conservative Russia. But those differences hardly constitute a full-blown ideological conflict.

The real area of contention is in how each side today conceptualizes global governance. On this level, it makes sense to speak of an ideological divide because there is a vast body of thought to underpin the competing views which include: globalization versus sovereign-state; values-based foreign policy versus interests-based foreign policy; a global order established by the all-out victory of liberal democracy over all other forms of national governance versus a balance of forces and respect for local differences; idealism versus realism. The West generally has favored the first of these options while Russia and China lead a bloc of nations generally favoring the second options.

On the campaign trail and in his Inaugural speech, Donald Trump spoke in Realist terms suggesting that the U.S. would abandon its Idealist ideology of the preceding 25 years, which involved coercive "regime change" strategies to impose Western political values and economic systems around the world. Instead, Trump suggested that he would do business with Russia and with the world at large without imposing U.S. solutions, essentially accepting the principles that the Russians have been promoting ever since they began their public pushback to the United States in 2007.

However, given Trump's retreat on foreign policy in recent weeks – while under fierce attack from Washington power centers asserting possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – we may be left with something akin to the re-set that Obama introduced at the start of his rule in 2009 which never went as far as détente/co-existence. It was limited to cooperation in isolated areas where U.S. and Russian interests were deemed to coincide.

The only difference we might see from the embattled Trump administration is less of a penchant for "regime change" operations and a resumption of some bilateral contacts with Russia that were cut off when Obama decided to penalize Russia for its intervention in Crimea and the Donbass in 2014.

Assuming that Washington's neocon Republicans and hawkish Democrats don't push Trump into a desperate political corner, he might at least engage Moscow with a more polite and diplomatic tone. That might be better than some of the alternatives, but it is surely not an onset of a new collaborative Golden Age.

The scaling back in expectations of how far the Trump administration will go in improving relations with Russia makes sense because of another reality that has become clear now that his team of advisers and implementers is filling out, namely that there is no one in his "kitchen cabinet" or in his administration who can guide the neophyte president as he tries to negotiate a new global order and to do a "big deal" with Vladimir Putin, such as Trump may have hoped to strike.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner lacks the experience and depth to be a world-class strategic thinker. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has corporate skills from his years at Exxon-Mobil but also lacks a strategic vision. Many other key jobs have gone to military generals who may be competent administrators but have limited political or diplomatic experience. There was talk of guidance coming from Henry Kissinger, but he has not been seen or heard from recently, and it is doubtful that at his advanced age and frailty he could provide consistent counsel.

As Trump struggles to survive the cumulative attacks on his fledgling administration, he is also distracted from the reality of a rapidly changing world. If and when he does get to concentrate on the geopolitical situation, he may well have to play catch up with Russia and China as they make deals with other regional players and fill the vacuum left by the ongoing American political disorder.

Assuming Trump can bring on board talented advisers with strategic depth, it would still take enormous vision and diplomatic skills to strike a "big deal" that could begin to end the violent chaos that has swept across much of the world since 2001. If and when that becomes possible, such a deal might look like a "Yalta-2" with a triangular shape involving the U.S., Russia and China.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. Andrew Nichols , March 22, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Stuff your silly divide and rule. How about live and let live? I presume this is what you do in your private life. I dont feel any threat at all from Russia, Iran or China despite the Chicken Little crap from our media and bought and paid for pollies on a daily basis. So let's all chill out and tell our pollies to shut ..f..k up!

Kiza , March 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Your words reminded me of what I learned about Hitler. In Europe, all my teachers of history in primary and secondary school emphasised that if Hitler was smart enough to attack one country at a time, he would have won the WW2. For example, when he attacked Poland and Britain declared war on Germany, he should have tried to finish off Britain instead of trying to win it over whilst attacking Soviet Union.

Perhaps the US/Israeli leadership suffers from the same type of hubris, believing that it can globalize the World by conquering both Russia and China. Of course, the US/Israeli MIC believes that the bigger the enemy the higher the profit.

Joe Tedesky , March 23, 2017 at 1:35 am

KIza my hunch is the American Israeli MIC is blinded by money, and what they consider success. Here could have been the moment for America to truly be the that shinning city upon the hill, but instead we took the advice of the Project for a New American 21st Century, a project so evil it surpasses the stupidity of Dr Strangelove and here we are. If the money could see a profit in humanitarian needs, wow wouldn't that be lovely.

My grandmother always told me the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and America better watch out now it's gonna get it's ass kicked good if it doesn't wise up. I love my country, and that remark I just made isn't a reflection on our uniformed military, but these genius in DC fighting each other, and laying down some really made stuff on Russia, isn't good, and it ain't going to amount to much more than pain in the end. The whole idea of this 21st century America is nothing but a plan to inflict pain.

This fricking media we have isn't going to stop until Trump gets impeached, or we really do something stupid to Russia. The sense of all of this in my eyes always leads back to that Project for the new American Century piece of crap. America had it all to win over the love of the world, why with just the rhetoric and spirit it was enough to try and strive for, but now ah not so much. It's not too late, but I don't at this moment in time see what good is on the horizon in the meantime I'm going to just try and appreciate whatever it is there is to appreciate take care Joe

Kiza , March 23, 2017 at 3:35 am

I agree Joe, as a project of its Dual Citizens PNAC is the root of most evil in US. It is not a true American project. It is a project for global domination of Israel using US, its people and its resources, as means to an end. Who needs to discuss the veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, when PNAC is available in plain sight. I am just surprised how few US people understand this. Thanks for your great comment as usual.

Bob Van Noy , March 22, 2017 at 10:55 am

"Russians are concentrating on their domestic defense capabilities and their budding political alliances with China and a host of Asian countries that together can oppose the power of the West. It is important to understand that the Russian vision is a future multi-polar world, not a return to the bipolar Cold War system of two superpowers, which Russian elites see as unattainable given the diffusion of power across the globe and Russia's own more limited resources." Gilbert Doctorow

Again. "The real area of contention is in how each side today conceptualizes global governance. On this level, it makes sense to speak of an ideological divide because there is a vast body of thought to underpin the competing views which include: globalization versus sovereign-state; values-based foreign policy versus interests-based foreign policy; a global order established by the all-out victory of liberal democracy over all other forms of national governance versus a balance of forces and respect for local differences; idealism versus realism." Gilbert Doctorow

To me the choice, were we ever given a choice as voters, would clearly be: 1) A future multi-polar world and, 2) a balance of forces and respect for local differences. The choice doesn't seem so very controversial? However, the default position of the Neocons and the liberal interventionists has always been to double down rather than negotiate, so I expect more saber rattling aggression

BannanaBoat , March 22, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Jimmy Carter stated USA is no longer a democracy, true. Idealism is the opposite of true USA motives, pure machivellian greed.

backwardsevolution , March 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Brad Owen – that's the way I see it too. I don't think that Trump needs Bannon or his son-in-law to be strategic. Strategic thinking (one-upping your opponent, outsmarting him, taking what's not yours, outright lying, propaganda, coups, trying to control the whole world) has been the policy for too long. I think Trump has a particular vision, and he's, as you say, playing rope-a-dope with the "strategic" thinkers.

I see Trump as wanting to create free (but FAIR) trade. I see him wanting to stay out of other countries' business, concentrating on the home base, which has been sorely neglected for the last 20 – 30 years.

I think people totally underestimate Trump.

This is really a war between those who favor globalism/internationalism thinking (open borders, absence of a nation state or culture, multinational corporations controlling the world, one-world order) and those who favor nation states, culture, borders, fair and open trade with other countries.

Trump is not a professional politician. He is not a great orator, slick or polished. But I believe he loves his country more than the other bought-and-paid-for politicians who govern according to who is paying them the most money on any given day.

I think that the way Trump looks at business is if his competitor gets a property on one block, he gets one on the next. Everybody is happy. He doesn't set out to ensure that his competitor is crushed. He doesn't lie about him, try to get others to sanction him, try to bar him from doing business.

Arseniy Urazov , March 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Hi Brad, nice comment, I think you will like this article in case you missed it https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/14/trumps-quiet-outreach-to-russia/
And just to add to your comment, Russia and USA are working very close in Syria. Not directly of course, but Syrian army and the Kurds (who are heavily supported by USA from air) are making great progress in the Norther part of Syria. In fact they even cooperated to block further advances of the Turks (NATO member btw). So I think that the RU-USA relationship is better than the media is trying to show us

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

I agree,Arseniy. We are two of the three Nations (China being the third Nation) PRIMARILY responsible for securing the peace and guiding development for the entire World we three. This was Roosevelt's vision,ejected by the Anglophile intelligence community the moment he died; recovered fortunately, by our mutual ally China, in the BRI policy. Russia and USA will be the Gateway managers of the World LandBridge (tunnel, spanning Bering Straits with mag-lev rail lines, pipelines, power lines, communication lines) that ties the whole World together. This was thought of in Lincoln's time a way to bypass the powerful British and other European maritime Empires. Russia had the foresight to sell us Alaska towards this end. Russia ALWAYS supported our stand AGAINST European Empires (especially the British Empire), even in the Soviet days. Together with our friend China, AND the rest of the World's Nations we'll continue to progress and grow and move out, into the Solar System to industrialize the moon and Mars and other moons and planets, after we put away these childish, pointless, sinful, wars. Read Executive Intelligence Review website, where these ideas are championed. Remember Krafft Erikhe (spelling?) whose vision of Man the Solar Species inspired our early space program. Our next, centuries-long Era will be our inhabiting of our Solar System, after war has been abolished as obsolete and counter-productive.

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

It is a sad day when detente and cooperation is replaced with demonization and belligerence to boot. When will our American leadership finally come to grips that this world isn't flat? Is liberating a nation for the sake of our installing an American fast food chain worth the price of so many innocent lives who get displaced, or worst yet killed by American bombs the price people must pay to join the NWO? Does anyone believe that by doing these things we are making any real and sincere new friends can you say blowback?

All this fuss over Putin and Russian interference is putting President Trump in a difficult box. Why even Putin critic Masha Gessen is worried ..

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/03/21/noted-putin-critic-warns-of-confrontation-between-trump-and-russia-not-collaboration/

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Politics is said to make strange bedfellows, and if we include journalist well then Masha Gessen for at least on this Russia-Gate story is making charges similar to those of us who see this witch hunt for what it really is. Now don't blast me for posting a link to Gessen's article but since others are quoting her I thought you may wish to read her own words.

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/03/06/trump-russia-conspiracy-trap/

After reading what Gessen has to say, then read what Paul Street has to say about her saying it.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/22/russiagate-and-the-democratic-party-are-for-chumps/

If America can pull through these tough and difficult times all in one piece, and regain some sense of sanity and fairness of values, this moment in time will be shelved along side the McCarthy era of the lowest of times in America.

Kiza , March 22, 2017 at 9:00 pm

I would not be as generous to Masha Gessen as you are Joe. Ms Gessen is very anti-Russian and anti-Putin, but she recognises the damage the current DNC policy against her two pet-hates does. After all the US high-tempereture emotional madness blows out, Russia will end up standing even taller because the US Democrats were crying wolf. I have been highlighting this same point for a while now – the Democrats are really working to benefit Russia, they are the really traitorous fifth column they accuse Trump of. This is why Ms Gessen is distancing herself from the mindless bunch.

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 11:46 pm

KIza please don't read my posting Gessen's article as an endorsement. I only posted it due to the fact that sites like libertblitzkreig and Leftist Paul Street on counterpunch talked about Gessen's concerns. You know how I've mentioned in many of my comments how I think Vladimir Putin is the only adult in the room when it comes to our world's future. I'm all for distributed power, and I am no fan, and never was of the NWO.

You are on too something though, when you mention to how Masha is no doubt distancing herself away from the awaiting disaster the Democrate's are leading us into. This whole fiasco is troubling when you think of how Hillary's conniving has brought us all to this place. It would be great if Hillary were brought to justice, but then again so much for wishful thinking.

I'll leave you with this, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

[Mar 25, 2017] Maddow has proven herself an indisputable part of "the establishment media going whole-hog on these vague suspicions". That is, she is carrying tubs of water for her Deep State masters.

Notable quotes:
"... Any moderately intelligent person who explores the news and history outside the MSM can easily find the OVERWHELMING evidence of the Deep State's crimes, including JFK, 9/11, and Israel. And it's not merely an organizational survival instinct in the CIA. The massive, long-standing MSM coverups point to tight control and coordination from a powerful center. As Deep Throat taught us, "Follow the money". ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
Jessejean

March 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm Good history–wonder why Rachel The Mouth Maddow never did it in her time wasting opening segments where she repeats herself over and over to numb our minds and spend her time when she could be saying something insightful. Maybe that's why. PS. Why does she never invite Robert Parry on to comment? Oh. I see. Reply Brian Setzler , March 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Because she's paid $7 million per year to talk about some things, and not others.

Google "Jill Stein and Russia" and the results will illuminate the Democratic Party Echo Chamber

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Maddow has proven herself an indisputable part of "the establishment media going whole-hog on these vague suspicions". That is, she is carrying tubs of water for her Deep State masters.

Any moderately intelligent person who explores the news and history outside the MSM can easily find the OVERWHELMING evidence of the Deep State's crimes, including JFK, 9/11, and Israel. And it's not merely an organizational survival instinct in the CIA. The massive, long-standing MSM coverups point to tight control and coordination from a powerful center. As Deep Throat taught us, "Follow the money".

[Mar 25, 2017] Hillary and her faction were puppets of deep state. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you. ..."
"... I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA. ..."
"... Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then. ..."
"... having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right. ..."
"... Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats. ..."
"... The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State. ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Mark Thomason , March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

This should be no real surprise. Hillary and her faction were neo-Republicans. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

They kept control of the party. It is not Democratic in the sense of opposing war or McCarthyism or corporate abuses or Wall Street or trade agreements. It is bought and paid for by the people who were the Republicans all along.

This is the end state of triangulating courtesy of Bill Clinton. We have two Republican parties, one even crazier than the other.

Bob In Portland , March 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you.

I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA.

Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then.

After JFK's removal, the Deep State wanted better control of both parties. Nixon wasn't supposed to be the problem he was for them, so Watergate. But having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right.

Perhaps Bill earned his bones with Asa Hutchinson in the 80s by ignoring Mena. Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats.

The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Interesting speculations. For new readers just getting acquainted with the Deep State, consider the scholarly work by professor Peter Dale Scott. Here are three interviews about his books.

In the Conversations With History series from UC Berkeley.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBGgxU27kJA

Deep Politics on the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0CFpMej3mA

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QH9yOzhkio

[Mar 25, 2017] Every time the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California opens his mouth to propagate unsubstantiated allegations against Russia and Russian influence on the last US elections, he makes a reminder, inadvertently, of the First Husband (the philanderer) taking $500.000 from Russians.

Notable quotes:
"... Another official US moron has blamed Russia, this time for "supplying Taliban" in Afghanistan. US Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti announced that "it was conceivable that Russia was providing supplies to the Afghan Taliban". ..."
"... It appears that absolutely any personal or group failure by any US official gets automatically converted into "Russia did it". Little kids are more creative when they say "the dog ate my homework". ..."
"... He showed the two political parties as 'two wings of the same bird of prey" ..."
"... 69 percent of the [US] people have been taken in with the Russia bashing ..."
"... I would trace the transition of the Democrats to a war party, not to the fear of being labeled disloyal after Iraq War 1, but to their being taken over by the zionists. The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." They want those Mideast wars because they are religious fanatics and thieves. Those are the facts of the Democrats. They are owned by zionist traitors. They are Ziocrats. ..."
"... The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. While there is no doubt that Natanyahu's Israel supports a policy in sync with that of neo-con objectives, it is beyond a stretch to attribute that policy to that Israel's exaggerated influence in the US. ..."
"... Rather, Israel, as well as Israel's Saudi allies, are both instruments of British Empire policy, sometimes called "globalism," which was adopted and embraced by what can be called the Obama faction of the Democratic Party and its backers in the Republican right. ..."
"... US policy, especially in the post-Soviet era has been determined by a failing attempt to maintain a "unipolar" world that no longer exists and should never have been. The freak-out over Trump's exposure of British Intelligence's GCHQ, heralding a possible rupture in Britain's "special relationship" is an indication of the fear gripping the Anglo-American financial oligarchy that their control over the US is slip-sliding away and that the US will pursue its political and economic self-interest by establishing new relationships to true world powers Russia, China, India and Japan. ..."
"... The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. ..."
"... Can you share with readers why you used the term "dangerous illusion" and why it needs debunking? According to William Binney, Obama's use of GCHQ was nothing more than standard operating procedure, an everyday mode of business, to avoid breaking American laws – nothing new, so therefore presenting no threat of rupturing U.S.-British "special relationship". ..."
"... The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." ..."
"... I can tell you that the atmosphere is such on campus that a social science faculty member needs to be very careful not to be taken for having "sympathies" for either Russia or China. I repeatedly hear comments that are chilling, and just nod and get away. ..."
"... When did the Democratic Party turn into the post-war war party? At the Democratic convention in 1944 when the establishment did a coup against FDR's right hand man, ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Anna , March 23, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Every time the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California opens his mouth to propagate unsubstantiated allegations against Russia and Russian influence on the last US elections, he makes a reminder, inadvertently, of the First Husband (the philanderer) taking $500.000 from Russians. The money was a bribe intended to make a right impression on Mrs. Clinton. Keep going Mr. Schiff. There were also tens of millions of $US dollars delivered to Clintons Foundation by the major sponsors of terrorism. These tens of millions of dollars from Saudis, Qatari, and Moroccans constitute bribing of a State Department official. As a result of these bribes, the US government has violated the US Constitution by supplying the US-made weaponry to the Middle Eastern warmongering despots/sponsors of terrorism. That is indeed a treason. Let Mr. Schiff talk. He has been making a nice rope for his own hanging.

Skip Scott , March 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

Great post Anna.

Kiza , March 24, 2017 at 8:06 am

Another official US moron has blamed Russia, this time for "supplying Taliban" in Afghanistan. US Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti announced that "it was conceivable that Russia was providing supplies to the Afghan Taliban".

It appears that absolutely any personal or group failure by any US official gets automatically converted into "Russia did it". Little kids are more creative when they say "the dog ate my homework".

But what this sick and unintelligent bull does to Russia? It appears that the US coup in Ukraine and its support for Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria have solidified Putin's popularity rating at around an unimaginable 85%. All this in the middle of a fairly serious economic crisis in Russia. There is and there has been no major country in the World where the leader has had such approval rating, for so long and despite the economy in a bad shape. Read all about it: http://johnhelmer.net/the-us-war-has-been-good-for-president-vladimir-putin-and-the-russian-economy-looks-stable-through-the-presidential-election-so-if-you-are-a-us-warfighter-what-is-the-regime-change-opportunity-no/#more-17368

Therefore, all these US Demopublicans, generals and other assorted officials are obviously all on Putin's payroll, because they keep working to increase his popularity.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Democrats. Republicans. Same old, same old.

In 1904 Upton Sinclair wrote in The Jungle :

"The original edition of the novel concluded with its proletarian protagonist attending a mass rally addressed by the American Socialist Party's mesmerizing presidential candidate – Sinclair's fictional representation of Eugene Debs. The candidate, Sinclair wrote:

"was a man of electric presence, tall and gaunt, with a face worn think by struggle and suffering. The fury of outraged manhood gleamed in him – and the tears of suffering. When he spoke he paced the stage restlessly; he was lithe and eager, like a panther. He leaned over, reaching out for his audience; he pointed into their souls with an insistent finger. His voice was husky from much speaking, but the hall was still as death, and everyone heard him. He spoke the language of workingmen – he pointed them the way. He showed the two political parties as 'two wings of the same bird of prey" [emphasis added]. The people were allowed to choose between their candidates, and both of them were controlled, and all their nominations were dictated by, the same [money] power."

In a number of essays Walter Karp made similar points backed up by lots of evidence.

Accidental , March 23, 2017 at 8:04 pm

That book should be required reading in this country. I suspect most people have never even heard of it despite the fact that it was undoubtedly one of the most influential books of the early 20th century.

D5-5 , March 23, 2017 at 1:34 pm

The time is extraordinary in the reckless and naked way the PTB (i.e. the two major parties) are exposing themselves as to NOT serving the people. I was disappointed today to read on RT that 69 percent of the [US] people have been taken in with the Russia bashing (showing I've been wrong lately on my estimates), but I'm hopeful that will not last. More important, Robert's article shows us the dedication of the parties to their deeper playbook, which is obviously controlled by financial interests, not the people's interests. The nakedness of this exposure today is unusual in my experience of watching Washington.

Recommended: a look at what could be a companion piece to Robert's article from Mike Whitney in today's counterpunch, titled "Will Washington risk WWIII to block an emerging EU-Russia super-state":

From that article:

"For the last 70 years the imperial strategy has worked without a hitch, but now Russia's resurgence and China's explosive growth are threatening to break free from Washington's stranglehold. The Asian allies have begun to crisscross Central Europe and Asis with pipelines and high-speed rail that will gather together the far-flung statelets scattered across the steppe, draw them into a Eurasian Economic Union, and link them to an expansive and thriving superstate, the epicenter of global commerce and industry."

BannanaBoat , March 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Neither the proud Russians nor Chinese will diminish their nation and culture. BRICS is the level of unity they will accept.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I would trace the transition of the Democrats to a war party, not to the fear of being labeled disloyal after Iraq War 1, but to their being taken over by the zionists. The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." They want those Mideast wars because they are religious fanatics and thieves. Those are the facts of the Democrats. They are owned by zionist traitors. They are Ziocrats.

J. D. , March 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm

The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. While there is no doubt that Natanyahu's Israel supports a policy in sync with that of neo-con objectives, it is beyond a stretch to attribute that policy to that Israel's exaggerated influence in the US.

Rather, Israel, as well as Israel's Saudi allies, are both instruments of British Empire policy, sometimes called "globalism," which was adopted and embraced by what can be called the Obama faction of the Democratic Party and its backers in the Republican right.

US policy, especially in the post-Soviet era has been determined by a failing attempt to maintain a "unipolar" world that no longer exists and should never have been. The freak-out over Trump's exposure of British Intelligence's GCHQ, heralding a possible rupture in Britain's "special relationship" is an indication of the fear gripping the Anglo-American financial oligarchy that their control over the US is slip-sliding away and that the US will pursue its political and economic self-interest by establishing new relationships to true world powers Russia, China, India and Japan.

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Well said. It's also time to get rid of the phony "Special Relationship" (between 1%er oligarchs of The City and The Street), to replace it with the actual Special Relationship, so as to ease UK's transition into the New multi-polar Era dawning: this is tribal, in that dear old "Mother Country" need not worry that Her "Four Children" (Australia, Canada, N.Z., USA) will leave Her out in the cold. THAT is the TRUE special relationship; the far-flung, English-speaking Tribe will see to the General Welfare of ALL of its' members, but without degrading the well-being of the rest of the World. War is obsolete, not conducive to anyone's well-being, Geopolitics & divide & conquer is over, finished.

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Zionism is a product of Cecil Rhodes' RoundTable Group, which, in concert with the Synarchist Movement for Empire, concerned how to manage African and Middle East colonies and assets belonging mainly to British and French Empires (which also explains WHY the Brits dawdled in North Africa during WWII, much to the chagrin of Stalin and Gen Marshall, who wanted to open up the Western Front ASAP).

They found the perfect opportunity to implement the strategy post-WWII, and suckered USA, via The City's Wall Street Tories, into guaranteeing the existence of Israel. End of story.

Check out the tons of articles on the subject at the EIR website. Tarpley covers it well also. Argue your case with them, F Sam. Good luck. You'll need lots of it.

rosemerry , March 23, 2017 at 4:49 pm

All the talk of "Russian interference" takes over the media, but the ever-present Israeli connection is just accepted as normal. Saudi Arabia, too, is allowed plenty of influence while Iran is demonized.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Yes, Brad, I agree that Cecil Rhodes and others were involved with the zionists fairly early, although perhaps the greatest British interest was in the Suez canal. Also agree that the US was fooled into taking over the Suez protection and pressuring the UN to create Israel. No doubt there was Wall St interest, although I gather that zionists made direct "donations" to Truman's campaign for the UN pressure.

No doubt there were British zionists involved. But I think that JD's theory that Brits control US policy in the Mideast is a diversion from the obvious zionist control, whether he knows it or not. I will look again at your EIR website. Did not mean to offend.

Brad Owen , March 24, 2017 at 4:27 am

Sam, we just disagree on the location of the REAL enemy. The zionistas are indeed real, and a threat, a real enemy to the USA, but I maintain they are just a weapon wielded by our traditional enemy who has always fought to undermine us here in America; the British Empire (an entity distinct from the Anglo-Celtic people living on the British Isles who are our tribal mates and suffering under the same yoke of Empire as are we).

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Completely wrong: it is an obvious fact that the Democrats have been taken over by the zionists. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." Hillary's major campaign sponsors are all Jewish.
http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/033116/top-10-corporate-contributors-clinton-campaign.asp
The top 10 contributors to HRCs Superpac were as follows:
1. Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna: $35 million
2. Donald Sussman, Paloma Partners: $21,100,000
3. Jay Robert Pritzker (Mary), Pritzker Group and Foundation: $12,600,000
4. Haim Saban and Cheryl Saban, Saban Capital Group: $10,000,000
5. George Soros (Schwartz): $9,525,000 (changed name from Schwartz)
6. S. Daniel Abraham, SDA Enterprises: $9,000,000
7. Fred Eychaner (Eichner), Newsweb Corporation: $8,005,400
8. James Simons (Shimon), Euclidean Capital: $7,000,000
9. Henry Laufer and Marsha Laufer, Renaissance Technologies: $5,500,000
10. Laure Woods (Wald), Laurel Foundation: $5 million

Your suggestion that this is "British empire" policy is way beyond the ridiculous, it is zionist propaganda. The entire UK economy is a small fraction of that of the US, and there is little financial connection.

I challenge you to deny these facts, or to substantiate the absurd theory of British control. US mass media.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

To continue, the US mass media are also controlled by Jews, presumably zionists. About 40-60 percent of US newspapers are controlled by persons of identifiable Jewish surnames, while less than half of Jewish people can be so identified. Most of the rest are indirectly controlled by Jews.

No further explanation is needed of the mass media craze for Hillary Clinton (Kleinberg). The DNC emails show that she talks to no one but Jews about Mideast policy.

No further proof is needed of the origins of Democrat policy in the Mideast. It may play to the interests of the MIC and oil companies sometimes, but not in Syria/Libya/Egypt. And we got no special deals on Iraqi oil anyway, and had no reason to expect them.

Your move.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm

In support of your points, here is an excellent article at a Jewish-run, anti-Zionist website that points out the huge known influence of Israel on American politics that is being ignored amidst all the speculation about possible Russian influence, "Let's talk about Russian influence"
http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/about-russian-influence/

Mondoweiss is a site of news and analysis with high journalistic standards. Like Consortium News it has also been attacked by the Deep State for its honesty.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Thank you; it is very appropriate to note that many Jewish people are strong critics of zionism and Israeli policies. There is some hope that they will assist in liberating Jews as well as Palestinians from the racism of the zionists, as many whites assisted in greatly reducing racism among whites in the US against African-Americans.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm

The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking.

There were references in an earlier post quoting two former Israeli prime ministers saying, in effect, they could take care of U.S. politicians to ensure they would do Israel's bidding. I recall Yitzhak Shamir was one of them. The spectacle of Netanyahu showing contempt for Obama in the way he addressed Congress and the standing ovations Netanyahu got from the senators and Congresspersons who sold their souls to the Israel lobby kind of supports the proposition that "the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists"" Same thing goes for the Republicans.

Anna , March 23, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Have you heard about PNAC? Have you heard about the Lobby?
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/pnac.htm
http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/neocons-as-a-figment-of-imagination/#comment-1810991

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for the links. PNAC founders Kristol and Kagan helped harness forces for zionist goals. PNAC signers W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were principal promoters of Iraq War II, as Wolfowitz installed Israeli spy operatives Perl, Feith, and Wurmser at CIA/DIA/NSA offices to select known-bad "intelligence" to incite the war.

Jerry Alatalo , March 23, 2017 at 6:50 pm

J. D.,

"The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking."

Can you share with readers why you used the term "dangerous illusion" and why it needs debunking? According to William Binney, Obama's use of GCHQ was nothing more than standard operating procedure, an everyday mode of business, to avoid breaking American laws – nothing new, so therefore presenting no threat of rupturing U.S.-British "special relationship".

Can you share the names of major influential figures composing what you describe as the "Anglo-American financial oligarchy" for the benefit of others who pass this way?

It's hard to explain away Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and so many other U.S. politicians fighting each other to get to the head of the pack in supporting Israel. Bernie Sanders only mentioned that Palestinians suffer human and civil rights deficiencies and the world shook, despite it being only a very minor, tiny critique of Israel. Can we imagine what would have happened – the titanic reaction – had Mr. Sanders blurted out during one of the debates with Ms, Clinton the same conclusion that Professor Virginia Tilley and Professor Richard Falk's report arrived at very recently – that the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid?

Years ago while Mr. Sanders appeared weekly with Thom Hartmann on "Brunch With Bernie" we redialed the call-in program until finally getting through and asking two questions. The first was a request for a response from Senator Sanders on the trillion-dollar / year global tax haven-evasion industry facilitated by the world's most powerful accounting, legal and banking firms. The second requested response on the suggestion that it was time to "nationalize the privately-owned Federal Reserve". Mr. Sanders responded to the 1st, then suddenly the show went to music and a break – then after the break until show's end nothing about the Federal Reserve.

My guess is that Mr. Sanders and Mr. Hartmann were aware of a "panic button to break" to be triggered when the live call-in topics became, let's say, "unmanageable". That is just a guess,but another guess is that Mr. Sanders was the recipient of, how shall we put it, very "risky" news during his campaign for president when running against Ms. Clinton. So, long story short, Sanders capitulated because he's fully aware of what happened to JFK, MLK and RFK, Clinton became spoiled goods and unacceptable as America's new CEO, and Donald Trump was selected. Trump's long-time friends include "Lucky" Larry Silverstein, who just happened to avoid being in his Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, breaking his religiously kept routine of breakfast every morning in a restaurant located in the top floors of one of the towers – because his wife fortunately convinced him to keep an appointment with his dermatologist.

Donald Trump, "Lucky Larry" and Benjamin Netanyahu are long-time friends.

***

Men and women wishing to read, copy, save and disseminate the report on Israel apartheid by Professor Tilley and Professor Falk can find it online at the co-author's internet platform, available at:

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 3:52 pm

The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor."

In exchange Israel got a $38 BILLION package of US aid. What a deal!! Presumably, the Israel lobby will show its appreciation to Obama with donations to his presidential library probably making that library the most expensive ever.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Yes, there can be little doubt that the zionist campaign money comes at least indirectly from US aid to Israel, and that the aid is intended substantially for that purpose. Investigation of such cashflows might turn up evidence, although there is a quid pro quo economy on both sides that could easily obscure the feedback.

You may well be right in suggesting that the vast aid flows simply make campaign donations a great investment for those who would otherwise have invested in Israel. But the Dems and Reps know that this aid to Israel is for campaign bribes, pure and simple.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:42 pm

In addition to the carrot bribes, there are also the blackmail sticks. This possibility is consistent with the following segment of a 1998 interview with Kay Griggs, former wife of the U.S. Army's director of assassination training.

Kay Griggs: "Even when he [General Al Gray] was General he ran an intelligence operation which was a contract organization trying to hook politicians, and get them. What is the word? In other words "

Interviewer: "In compromising situations?"

Kay Griggs: "Yes, yes. He had and still has an organization which brings in whores, prostitutes, whatever you want to say, who will compromise politicians so they can be used."

The above is in Part 2 of the whole interview, starting at 48:00 in the video at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-SEA9W6pmA

In Part 1 of the interview she explains the motives behind this.

Kay Griggs: "I'm talking about the Brooklyn-New Jersey mob. My husband, Al Gray, Sheehan, they're all Brooklyn. Cap Weinberger. Heinz Kissinger – there's the Boston mob, which was shipping weapons back and forth to Northern Ireland. And I don't want to get too deeply involved in that, but it goes – Israel – some of the Zionists who came over from Germany, according to my husband, were – he works with those people – they do a lot of money laundering in the banks, cash transactions for the drugs they're bringing over, through Latin America, the Southern Mafia, the Dixie Mafia, which now my husband's involved with in Miami. The military are all involved once they retire. They're – you know, they go into this drug and secondary weapon sales."

The above starts soon after 18:00 in the video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNitCNycKQ
(Part 1 of interview)

Further on the following exchange occurs.

Interviewer: "And directly under whose instructions to sell these weapons, do you know that?"

Kay Griggs: "Yeah."

Interviewer: "Okay, who would that be?"

Kay Griggs: "Well, uh, [pause] it's the Israeli-Zionist group in New York."

The above starts at 1:06:45 in the same video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNitCNycKQ

Shortly afterward in the same segment is this exchange.

Kay Griggs: "It's kind of like Monica and Bill. I think they put Monica in there to have something on Bill. That's my own feeling. Sarah McClendon feels the same way. Because "

Interviewer: "And Linda Tripp was there to guide the situation."

Kay Griggs: "Absolutely, of course. Linda Tripp was Delta Force. Linda Tripp was trained by Carl Steiner, who's in the diary [her husband's] with my husband. And he [Steiner] tried to trip up Schwarzkopf. I mean, he was trying to take, to take the whole Iraqi thing over because they had been baiting, you know using the Israeli rogues in Turkey. They were having little zig-zag wars. It's all to sell weapons. It's all about weapons sales, it's all about drugs, it's all about funny money."

A blackmail factor, combined with financial carrots, and especially if backed up with a death threat, could easily explain why a reasonably intelligent and educated person would act uninformed and irrational. The surface inconsistency becomes easy to understand. A strategic system of blackmail of the sort Kay Griggs described could easily explain a phalanx of politicians lying in lockstep to American voters, and voting against America's best interests.

backwardsevolution , March 24, 2017 at 12:19 am

JWalters – fascinating! Thanks for posting. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Sam f , March 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm

That is fascinating. There must be material on the linkages of secret agencies, ex-military staff, political gangsters, and money-laundering banksters to the drugs and weapons trade. They would be useful tools for false-flag incidents and to supply terror groups.

Those with connections should contact independent news reporters, who could perhaps train journalism students to investigate further. There may be material in the Wikileaks Vault-7 dump of CIA docs.

Pablo Diablo , March 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm

A military buildup=an empire in decline.

chuck b , March 23, 2017 at 2:25 pm

before they let their hegemony over humanity collapse, they blow up the planet.

what's remarkable, for me as an outsider at least, how many insane people are running the show and that's not exclusive to the psychotic right. seeing the mad general at hillary's DNC coronation and the "U!S!A!" chants from the crowd, i'm under the impression that the majority of Americans, that has not yet been marginalized and impoverished, is as deranged as ecstatic Germans cheering on Goebbels and his total war.

Accidental , March 23, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Actually what's happening now in the US is more like France in 1848

Pauline Saxon , March 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I have supported you from the beginning. I would like to understand why you seem to be protecting Trump

D5-5 , March 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I don't believe Robert Parry or this site are protecting Trump. Questioning the demonizing and slandering of Trump, and efforts to remove him, also do not constitute "protecting."

Trump was elected legitimately to be the president for better or worse. An assessment means looking at both sides of whatever it is. Trump is obviously not doing well and getting negative evaluations, but some of his views (for one example) that promise toward détente or acceptance of a multi-polar world are worth considering.

Is he genuinely moving in this direction, or faking for some hidden reason? The jury is still considering. So investigating an attack on Trump that is primarily bogus and motivated as a smoke screen to demonize Russia, and prepare the nation for war, is not protecting Trump, but trying to get at the underbrush of what's really going on behind the headlines.

Perhaps you could give us some idea of what you see as protecting Trump?

For myself I'm very critical of Trump. At this time he seems bent on building up ground troops in Syria, but with ISIS already being subdued without this action, we should question why. What's going on. Is he seeking a Ronald Reagan/George W. type of glory moment as One Tough Supreme Commander? Is he now falling in to the neocon overview of controlling the middle east? It's more foolishness in my view, that will not settle the problems and what W uncorked with his phony Iraq war. But this kind of considering doesn't take the heat off the DEM Party for its unconscionable manipulations with Trump and Russia bashing at this time.

Hayden Head , March 23, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Well said! You are spot on in your defense of Parry, who has consistently shown himself to be committed to the truth, regardless of whom he is defending or the consequences of his position. Many of us are waiting to see if Trump might, just might, lead us away from endless war to something approaching a rational foreign policy. Is such hope foolishness? Well, hope usually is.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Unfortunately, this site is afflicted with the utterances of sloppy readers who are triggered to hit their keyboard when some sentence gets their attention and causes them to ignore other contradictory commentary.

Jake G , March 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm

What are you talking about? There are as many Trump-critic articles from him.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:49 pm

It seems to me Parry is not so much protecting Trump as trying to protect America from another needless war manufactured by the Deep State, e.g. "War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror"
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Gina , March 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Excellent article. I am pretty horrified at the direction of the Dems which has become Rethuglican-lite.

LJ , March 23, 2017 at 2:06 pm

The Democrats abandoned their core constituency , LABOR, when Clinton got the 1992 nomination promising to sign NAFTA a short time after having been pictured attending a Bilderberg Beer fest, Since then by jumping further under the sheets with High Finance and Tech Billionaires they have continuously bled votes everywhere except the West Coast. Recent Polling you may have noticed has the Democrats declining in favorability even more since the election. Strange Days have found us haven't they?. .when all else fails we can whip the horses eyes and make them sleep and cry .. I say for starters we separate the words Military and Intelligence forever with a Constitutional Amendment .. How then will Senators McCain and Feinstein react? What will they do for God's sake? The rest of the Two Party infrastructure will quickly implode. Sorry. Thank God and the ACA,, the Amazon Drone has just delivered my prescription meds.. Peace in our time.

chuck b , March 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm

i think it's safe to say that the democrats have been equally adept at waging war since the nutcase LBJ didn't know if they were shooting at whales in the bay of tomkin and started the American holocaust. obama let his darling Hillary run amok which resulted in a rise of refugees and idp by 50% to over 60 million, in just his first term. you actually live in a country run by Nazis for a very long time. from Kissinger to McCain, they are people in power who have collaborated with Nazis (phoenix, condor) and continue to do so in Ukraine or with Islamic extremists in syria. the prospect of McCain anywhere near the state dept must be avoided by an means necessary.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

"[B]ut what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom." That's it Mr. Parry. That is the key that we need to understand. It is not, not, a priority of either political half of the Republican/Democratic dynamic, to do good for the American people. We are being subjected to the policies which previously were our export, the evisceration of nation(s) to benefit private capital.

I had previously wondered, back in the 90's when Russia was being subjected to neo liberal economic intervention, why these vultures hadn't descended upon the United States, being the feted calf that it were. But I was blind, they were already descending, it only has take some time and a couple of "opportunities", such as 9/11, the Katrina hurricane, to implement those same measures here.

We need to understand that our current political structure is indifferent to the well being of the majority of the "citizens" ie; what are now more commonly called consumers. If the prisons stay full and the indebtedness mounts that is part of the program. Stop thinking that our present system is offering anything that would be recognized by a rational and moral human being as something even close to "a government of the People, by the People, for the People; [or] Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

ltr , March 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I can tell you that the atmosphere is such on campus that a social science faculty member needs to be very careful not to be taken for having "sympathies" for either Russia or China. I repeatedly hear comments that are chilling, and just nod and get away.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 2:38 pm

It is nearly impossible to engage with someone in a political context and advocate for a least a fair mind, some neutrality in examining the domestic political situation and relations with Russia. I have to mute myself unless I am willing to engage in a long and tiring argument/discussion in which my point is lost and I have to defend simple ideas of statesmanship and diplomacy.

Sheryl , March 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm

I can relate. The frustrating part is that they think I'm a nut wearing a tinfoil hat.

Realist , March 23, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Would you go so far as to say that most such discussions now take place on terrain far removed from the real world? And, if you insist on sticking to facts rather than fantasy, are you immediately branded an enemy of the state, an intellectual exile without friends or influence, and probably someone marked for extinction, at least on the professional level, if this country must repeat the greatest mistakes of the 1930's and 40's, as it seems headed? So glad I am retired, and I worked in the natural sciences, not the more volatile and political social sciences. Now their only leverage against me is my state pension and health benefits, which many do want to make into a political football.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm

The distinction between the real and the ideological has been blurred in accordance with the principles of public opinion management, ie; propaganda. The prevailing mania, contextualized via the dynamic of globalized free market capitalism masquerading as the promotion of freedom and democracy, is where one finds that the seeds of "treason" are sown wider and wider against heretics.

Kiza , March 24, 2017 at 8:35 am

Just reading what all of you guys have written about the prevailing atmosphere in the so called intellectual community, which is much more serious than the atmosphere in the nutty MSM, makes me think of the Decline of the Roman Empire. Many people here are leftists, therefore they will disagree with me, but I see absolutely solid parallels between Russia-hate and AGW. Both have become religion for the vast majority of the Western intellectual class, devoid of the principal tool of the intellectuals – rationality. If you are a doubter, you will be ostracized .

Enquiring Mind , March 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

They have no decency, sir.
At least McCarthy was right on the commie threat, even though his methods and execution were unsound.

Miranda Keefe , March 23, 2017 at 3:59 pm

"At least McCarthy was right on the commie threat."

The US was the aggressor in the Cold War. The Soviet Union, after the war, wanted to continue to co-exist under the spheres of influence agreed on by the US at Yalta.

When did the Democratic Party turn into the post-war war party? At the Democratic convention in 1944 when the establishment did a coup against FDR's right hand man, his VP, his chosen future VP and successor, the great Henry Wallace.

Gregory Herr , March 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Wallace instead of Truman? One of the big "what might have been" turns of history.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/14297-henry-wallace-americas-forgotten-visionary

[Mar 24, 2017] Democrats Trade Places on War and McCarthyism – Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... At such a point, that might put the Democrats and Republicans in sync as two equally warmongering parties, but what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Exclusive: The anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Democratic Party marks a "trading places" moment as the Democrats embrace the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism, flipping the script on Republicans, writes Robert Parry.

Caught up in the frenzy to delegitimize Donald Trump by blaming his victory on Russian meddling, national Democrats are finishing the transformation of their party from one that was relatively supportive of peace to one pushing for war, including a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

This "trading places" moment was obvious in watching the belligerent tone of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Monday as they impugned the patriotism of any Trump adviser who may have communicated with anyone connected to Russia.

Ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, acknowledged that there was no hard evidence of any Trump-Russia cabal, but he pressed ahead with what he called "circumstantial evidence of collusion," a kind of guilt-by-association conspiracy theory that made him look like a mild-mannered version of Joe McCarthy.

Schiff cited by name a number of Trump's aides and associates who – as The New York Times reported – were "believed to have some kind of contact or communications with Russians." These Americans, whose patriotism was being questioned, included foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Trump's second campaign manager Paul Manafort, political adviser Roger Stone and Trump's first national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

In a 15-minute opening statement, Schiff summed up his circumstantial case by asking: "Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated."

As an investigative journalist who has covered (and uncovered) national security scandals for several decades, I would never accuse people of something as serious as betraying their country based on nothing more than coincidences that, who knows, might not be coincidental.

Before we published anything on such topics, the news organizations that I worked for required multiple layers of information from a variety of sources including insiders who could describe what had happened and why. Such stories included Nicaraguan Contra cocaine smuggling, Oliver North's secret Contra supply operation, and the Reagan campaign's undermining of President Carter's Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980.

For breaking those stories, we still took enormous heat from Republicans, some Democrats who wanted to show how bipartisan they were, and many establishment-protecting journalists, but the stories contained strong evidence that misconduct occurred – and we were highly circumspect in how the allegations were framed.

Going Whole-Hog

By contrast, national Democrats, some super-hawk Republicans and the establishment media are going whole-hog on these vague suspicions of contacts between some Russians and some Americans who have provided some help or advice to Trump.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilateral meeting on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo] Given the paucity of evidence – both regarding the claims that Russia hacked Democratic emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks, and the allegations that somehow Trump's advisers colluded in that process – it would appear that what is happening is a political maneuver to damage Trump politically and possibly remove him from office.

But those machinations require the Democratic Party's continued demonization of Russia and implicitly put the Democrats on the side of escalating New Cold War tensions, such as military support for the fiercely anti-Russian regime in Ukraine which seized power in a 2014 U.S.-backed putsch overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

One of the attack lines that Democrats have used against Trump is that his people toned down language in the Republican platform about shipping arms to the Ukrainian military, which includes battalions of neo-Nazi fighters and has killed thousands of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east in what is officially called an Anti-Terrorism Operation (or ATO).

The Democratic Party leaders have fully bought into the slanted Western narrative justifying the violent overthrow of Yanukovych. They also have ignored the human rights of Ukraine's ethnic Russian minorities, which voted overwhelmingly in Crimea and the Donbass to secede from post-coup Ukraine. The more complex reality is simply summed up as a "Russian invasion."

Key Democrats also have pressed for escalation of the U.S. military attacks inside Syria to force "regime change" on Bashar al-Assad's secular government even if that risks another military confrontation with Russia and a victory by Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists.

In short, the national Democratic Party is turning itself into the more extreme war party. It's not that the Republicans have become all that dovish; it's just that the Democrats have become all that hawkish. The significance of this change can hardly be overstated.

Questioning War

Since late in the Vietnam War, the Democrats have acted as the more restrained of the two major parties on issues of war, with the Republicans associated with tough-guy rhetoric and higher military spending. By contrast, Democrats generally were more hesitant to rush into foreign wars and confrontations (although they were far from pacifists).

Daniel Ellsberg on the cover of Time after leaking the Pentagon Papers

Especially after the revelations of the Pentagon Papers in the 1971 revealing the government deceptions used to pull the American people into the Vietnam War, Democrats questioned shady rationalizations for other wars.

Some Democratic skepticism continued into the 1980s as President Ronald Reagan was modernizing U.S. propaganda techniques to whitewash the gross human rights crimes of right-wing regimes in Central America and to blacken the reputations of Nicaragua's Sandinistas and other leftists.

The Democratic resolve against war propaganda began to crack by the mid-to-late 1980s – around Reagan's Grenada invasion and George H.W. Bush's attack on Panama. By then, the Republicans had enjoyed nearly two decades of bashing the Democrats as "weak on defense" – from George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Walter Mondale to Michael Dukakis.

But the Democratic Party's resistance to dubious war rationalizations collapsed in 1991 over George H.W. Bush's Persian Gulf War, in which the President rebuffed less violent solutions (even ones favored by the U.S. military) to assure a dramatic ground-war victory after which Bush declared, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all."

Fearful of being labeled disloyal to "the troops" and "weak," national Democrats scrambled to show their readiness to kill. In 1992, Gov. Bill Clinton left the campaign trail to return to Arkansas to oversee the execution of the mentally impaired Ricky Ray Rector.

During his presidency, Clinton deployed so-called "smart power" aggressively, including maintaining harsh sanctions on Iraq even as they led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. He also intervened in the Yugoslavian civil war by bombing civilian targets in Belgrade including the lethal destruction of the Serb TV station for the supposed offense of broadcasting "propaganda."

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, many leading congressional Democrats – including presidential hopefuls John Kerry, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton – voted to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. Though they offered various excuses (especially after the Iraq War went badly), the obvious real reason was their fear of being labeled "soft" in Republican attack ads.

The American public's revulsion over the Iraq War and the resulting casualties contributed to Barack Obama's election. But he, too, moved to protect his political flanks by staffing his young administration with hawks, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. (and later CIA Director) David Petraeus. Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama also became comfortable with continuing Bush's wars and starting some of his own, such as the bombing war against Libya and the violent subversion of Syria.

By nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Democratic Party completed its transformation into the Party of War. Clinton not only ran as an unapologetic hawk in the Democratic primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders – urging, for instance, a direct U.S. military invasion of Syria to create "no fly zones" – but positioned herself as a harsh critic of Trump's hopes to reduce hostilities with Russia, deeming the Republican nominee Vladimir Putin's "puppet."

Ironically, Trump's shocking victory served to solidify the Democratic Party's interest in pushing for a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. After all, baiting Trump over his alleged "softness" toward Russia has become the centerpiece of Democratic hopes for somehow ousting Trump or at least crippling his presidency. Any efforts by Trump to ease those tensions will be cited as prima facie evidence that he is Putin's "Manchurian candidate."

Being Joe McCarthy

National Democrats and their media supporters don't even seem troubled by the parallels between their smears of Americans for alleged contacts with Russians and Sen. Joe McCarthy's guilt-by-association hearings of the early Cold War. Every link to Russia – no matter how tenuous or disconnected from Trump's election – is trumpeted by Democrats and across the mainstream news media.

Lawyer Roy Cohn (right) with Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

But it's not even clear that this promotion of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism will redound to the Democrats' political advantage. Clinton apparently thought that her embrace of a neoconservative foreign policy would bring in many "moderate" Republicans opposed to Trump's criticism of the Bush-Obama wars, but exit polls showed Republicans largely rallying to their party's nominee.

Meanwhile, there were many anti-war Democrats who have become deeply uncomfortable with the party's new hawkish persona. In the 2016 election, some peace Democrats voted for third parties or didn't vote at all for president, although it's difficult to assess how instrumental those defections were in costing Clinton the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

More broadly, the Democratic obsession with Russia and the hopes for somehow exploiting those investigations in order to oust Trump have distracted the party from a necessary autopsy into why the Democrats have lost so much ground over the past decade.

While many Democratic leaders and activists are sliding into full-scale conspiracy-mode over the Russia-Trump story, they are not looking at the party's many mistakes and failings, such as:

Yet, rather than come up with new strategies to address the future, Democratic leaders would rather pretend that Putin is at fault for the Trump presidency and hope that the U.S. intelligence community – with its fearsome surveillance powers – can come up with enough evidence to justify Trump's impeachment.

Then, of course, the Democrats would be stuck with President Mike Pence, a more traditional Religious Right Republican whose first step on foreign policy would be to turn it over to neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, a move that would likely mean a new wave of "regime change" wars.

At such a point, that might put the Democrats and Republicans in sync as two equally warmongering parties, but what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's " Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon " and " Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party .]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

[Mar 24, 2017] Surveillance State Goes After Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Democrats are so eager to take down President Trump that they are joining forces with the Surveillance State to trample the privacy rights of people close to Trump, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley tells Dennis J Bernstein. ..."
"... 'Red Scare' fear of Communism" famously associated with legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who collaborated with Sen. Joe McCarthy's hunt for disloyal Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Democrats are so eager to take down President Trump that they are joining forces with the Surveillance State to trample the privacy rights of people close to Trump, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley tells Dennis J Bernstein.

Since Donald Trump's election, former Special FBI Agent Coleen Rowley has been alarmed over how Democratic hawks, neocons and other associates in the "deep state" have obsessed over "resurrecting the ghost of Joseph McCarthy" and have built political support for a permanent war policy around hatred of Russia.

Rowley, whose 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11failures, compared the current anti-Russia hysteria to "the

'Red Scare' fear of Communism" famously associated with legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who collaborated with Sen. Joe McCarthy's hunt for disloyal Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In an interview, Rowley told me that while Trump was wrong about his claim that President Obama ordered a surveillance "tapp" of Trump Tower, the broader point may have been correct as explained by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, who described how U.S. intelligence apparently picked up conversations by Trump associates while monitoring other targets.

Dennis Bernstein: A former high-level FBI whistleblower says Trump is vindicated on his claims of being surveilled by the previous administration. Joining us to take a close look at what's been going on, what's been unfolding in Washington, D.C. is Coleen Rowley. She's a former FBI special agent and division council. She wrote a May 2002 memo to the FBI director that exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11 failures, major failures. She was Time magazine's person of the year in 2002. Help us explain what chairman Nunes reported in terms of the collecting process and Trumps innocence or guilt?

... ... ...

CR: Well, I don't think there has and it's not just myself, it's really most of our veteran intelligence professionals, retired CIA, retired NSA, we've all been conferring for a while on this. And we have asked, we actually put out a memo asking for evidence. Because it's just been assertions and innuendoes, and demonization

We see a lot of demonization of the Russian T.V. channel. But we have not seen any actual evidence of Russians and there's a lot of reasons to think that this would be illogical. Even if, and I would grant that Comey mentioned this in his testimony, that Putin and other top Russians hated Hillary Clinton. Well, even if you assume that, that they didn't like Hillary Clinton, as much as Donald Trump. They considered Donald Trump their lesser evil, or whatever. Even if you think that, why would they take the risk? Because, at the time Hillary Clinton surprised everyone by everyone thought she was going to win. So it would have been completely illogical for them to have done these things, to take that kind of a risk, when it was presumed that she was going to be the next president. There's just so many things here that don't add up, and don't make sense.

FBI Director James Comey

And yet, and yet, because our mainstream media is owned by what? half a dozen big conglomerates, all connected to the military industrial complex, they continue with the scenario of that old movie the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming! And unfortunately the Democrat Party has become the war party, very clearly. They're the ones that don't see the dangers in ginning up this very dangerous narrative of going after Russia, as meddling, or whatever. And they should ask for, we all should ask for the full evidence of this. If this is case, then we deserve to know the truth about it. And, so far, we haven't seen anything. Look at that report. There's nothing in it.

DB: And, this is the same media who for the last ever since Trump claimed that he was wiretapped using the wrong terminology, these

journalists they couldn't stop saying "if he did lie, this is a felony. He did lie. He did accuse the former president of the United States " So, you're saying, based on your long experience and information this was just a confusion of a term of art, and the idea of the possibility of Trump Towers being under investigation, this was all incredibly not strange, not crazy, and totally normal in the context of an investigation.

CR: Yes, and I again, there could be grounds for legitimate investigation of the periphery of the Trump campaign, certain staffers. And you know what, corruption in Washington, D.C. is quite rampant. And I think many, many of the politicians if they actually put them under the microscope they could find just as you look at foreign leaders, Netanyahu was indicted for corruption, whatever. It's not uncommon to have conflicts of interests, and under the table deals. That's very possible.

So, that's not what our news is saying. Our mainstream news is saying that, what you said at the beginning, the Russians own Trump, and basically that this has undermined our democracy and our electoral process. That part of it we have seen no evidence of. And, Trump is partially vindicated, because obviously whether he was personally targeted, his campaign at least seems to have been monitored, at least in part.

DB: Were you amazed that, for instance, the FBI director raised the issue of the Clinton investigation, but not the Trump investigation?

CR: Well, I've been trying to figure that out. Because back, during when he went public, he was put into the spot because Loretta Lynch should have been the one to be public on these things. But she was tainted because of having met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac. And so my explanation was that that Comey shouldered the burden from Loretta Lynch. He was doing her a favor in a way because he thought it would look like this is more independent and more professional coming from the FBI. Because at the time Loretta Lynch was under a cloud. And I think that is the explanation for why he was so public at the time.

And, of course, things have developed the summer, if any investigation started during the summer, again, it was not known. It was probably legitimate if they got some information in about some act of corruption, or whatever, it was certainly legitimate. But since this summer what has happened is this whole narrative has just gone on steroids, because of the leaks about the Russians, etc. And the fact that they put out this report, the FBI, the NSA, and the director of National Intelligence. And I think that that's the problem right now is the public just is so confused because there has been so much wrong information out there in the media. And no one knows what to believe.

Actually, to Comey's credit he did say this a couple of times that these media accounts are not accurate. And, I think that, again, we there's been a lot of "sources" anonymous sources which I do not think are whistleblowers. But these anonymous sources seem to have come from political operatives, and even higher level people. I'm guessing some of this came from the Obama administration appointees, not Obama, of course, personally.

And, who knows if he knew anything about this, but some of those prior appointees, I think, when all is said and done will be seen as the ones, if they can ever uncover this. It's hard with anonymous sources. But I think they were probably the ones leading this. And maybe over time we can get back to some sanity here without so much of this planted information, and wrongful leaks. And I, again, I'm all for whistle blowing. But, I don't agree with leaks like Scooter Libby's where they were actually using the media to plant false info.

[Mar 24, 2017] The Mechanical Turn in Economics and Its Consequences

Notable quotes:
"... Theory of Moral Sentiments ..."
"... Wealth of Nations ..."
"... Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ..."
"... Why the Enlightenment is Still Important ..."
"... In the same way, neoliberals are no different. They aren't bad people – they just see their policies as right and just because those policies are working well for them and the people in their class, and I don't think they really understand why it doesn't work for others – maybe, like Adam Smith, they think that is the "natural state" .. ..."
"... Read the first sentence of the Theory of Moral Sentiments – it makes an assumption which is the foundation of all of Adam Smith. He asserted that all men are moral. Morality in economics is the invisible hand creating order like gravity in astronomy. Unfortunately, Adam Smith's assumption is false or at least not true enough to form a sound foundation for useful economic theory. ..."
"... But "morality" means different things to different people. Smith only saw the morality of his own class. For example, I am sure a wealthy man would consider it very moral to accumulate as much money as he could so that he would be seen by his peers as a good and worthy man who cares for his future generations and the well being of his class – he doesn't see this accumulation as amoral – whilst a poor man may think that kind of accumulation is amoral because he thinks that money could be better used provide for those without the basic needs to survive ..."
"... "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." ..."
"... Another I remember from Smith was something like, "The law exists to protect those who have much from those who have little." Sounds about right. ..."
"... One of Steve Keen's favourite analogies is astronomy. Neoclassical economics is like Ptolemy's epicycles; assume the Earth is at the centre, and that the planets orbit in circles and simply by adding little circles-epicycles-you can accurately describe the observed motion of the planets. The right epicycles in the right places can describe any motion. But they can't explain anything, they add nothing to understanding, they subtract from it, because they are false but give the illusion of knowledge. Drop the assumptions and you can begin to get somewhere. ..."
"... Steve Keen seems to have latched onto this in the last year or so, pointing out that all production is driven by energy. And the energy comes ultimately from the sun. Either it is turned into production via feeding workers, or by fueling machinery (by burning hydrocarbons extracted from plant and animal remains). ..."
"... I have a question about a similar thing. Simon Kuznetz is credited as someone who has invented modern concept of GDP and he revolutionized the field of economics with statistical method (econometrics). However, Kuznets , in the same report in which he presented modern concept of GDP to US congress, wrote following(from wikipedia): ..."
"... "The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the center of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification. ..."
"... All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above. Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what." ..."
"... "So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?"@Vedant ..."
"... That is your explanation right there. Large abstract numbers such as GDP obscure social issues such as "the personal distribution of income." and the effort that goes into creating that income. Large abstract numbers obscure the moral dimension that must be a part of all economic discussion and are obscured by statistics and sciencism. As the genius of Mark Twain put it, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Beware the credentialed classes! ..."
"... Interesting. There is a great book by John Dupré called 'Human Nature and the Limits of Science (2001)", which tackles this subject in a general way: the facts that taking a mechanistic model as a paradigm for diverse areas of science is problematic and leads to myopia. ..."
"... He describes it as a form of 'scientific imperialism', stretching the use of concepts from one area of science to other areas and leading to bad results (because there are, you know, relevant differences). As a prime example, he mentions economics. (When reading EConned;s chapter of the science ( 'science') of economics, I was struck by the similar argument.) ..."
"... Soddy was a scientist. He should have written as a scientist with definitions, logic and rigour, but he wrote like a philosopher, full of waffle and unsubstantiated assertions like other economists. It is unscientific to apply universal laws discovered in physics and chemistry to economics without proving by observations that those laws also apply to economics. ..."
"... I get irritated by radical free-marketeers who when presented with a social problem tend to dogmatically assert that "The free market wills it," as if that ended all discussion. It is as if the free market was their God who must always be obeyed. Unlike Abraham, we do not need to obey if we feel that the answer is unjust. ..."
"... Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ..."
"... The moralistic explanations for the disintegration of the (Western) Roman Empire were long ago discarded by all serious analysis of late antiquity. More practical explanations, especially the loss of the North African bread basket to the Vandals, are presented in the scholarly work these days. ..."
"... That book of Gibbon's is an incredible achievement. If it is not read by historians today, it is their loss. Its moral explanations, out of fashion today, are actually quite compelling. They become more so when read with de Tocqueville's views of the moral foundations of American township democracy and their transmission into the behavior, and assumptions, of New Englanders, whose views formed the basis of the federal republican constitution. ..."
"... The loss of the breadbasket was problematical, too. And it may be that no civilization, however young and virile, could withstand the migrations forever, as they withstood or absorbed them, with a few exceptions, for eight hundred years. But the progressive losses to the migratory tribes may have been a symptom of the real, "moral," cause of the decline. ..."
"... From 536-539AD the entire planet suffered a staggering holocaust. Krakatoa blew up - ejecting so much dust that it triggered a 'nuclear winter' that lasted through those years. ..."
"... It was this period that ended agriculture in North Africa. ( Algeria-Tunisia ) The drought blew all of the top soil into the Med. It was an irreversible tragedy. ..."
"... Economics is not science, simply because economics does not take facts seriously enough to modify flawed theories. ..."
"... In college I couldn't help but notice the similarities between modern economic theory and the control theory taught in engineering. Not such a great fit though, society is not a mechanical governor. ..."
"... " ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on March 21, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. This post takes what I see as an inconsistent, indeed, inaccurate stance on Adam Smith, since it depicts him as advocating laissez faire and also not being concerned about "emotions, sentiment, human relations and community." Smith was fiercely opposed to monopolies as well as businessmen colluding to lower the wages paid to workers. He also saw The Theory of Moral Sentiments as his most important work and wanted it inscribed on his gravestone.

Nor is it true that Smith advocated government not intervening in business. From Mark Thoma , quoting Gavin Kennedy :

Jacob Viner addressed the laissez-faire attribution to Adam Smith in 1928 ..Here is a list extracted from Wealth Of Nations:

"Viner concluded, unsurprisingly, that 'Adam Smith was not a doctrinaire advocate of laissez-faire'.

By Douglass Carmichael, perviously a Professor at University of California at Santa Cruz and a Washington DC based consultant, which clients including Hewlett-Packard, World Bank, Bell laboratories, The White House and the State Department. For the last ten years he has focused on the broad social science issues relevant to rethinking humanity's relationship to nature. Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

With Adam Smith, and hints before in Ricardo and others, economics took the path of treating the economy as a natural object that should not be interfered with by the state. This fit the Newtonian ethos of the age: science was great, science was mathematics; science was true, right and good.

But along the way the discussion in, for example, Montaigne and Machiavelli - about the powers of imagination, myth, emotions, sentiment, human relations and community - was abandoned by the economists. (Adam Smith had written his Theory of Moral Sentiments 20 years earlier and sort of left it behind, though the Wealth of Nations is still concerned with human well-being.) Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in 1776, the same year as Smith's Wealth , but hardly read today by most economists.

In philosophy and the arts (romanticism among others) there was great engagement in these issues economics was trying to avoid. But that philosophy and art criticism have not been widely read for many years.

The effect of ignoring the human side of lives was to undermine the social perspective of the "political," by merging it with the individually focused "interest." So, instead of exploring the inner structure of interest (or later utility or preference), or community feeling and the impact of culture, these were assumed to be irrelevant to the mechanics of the market. Politics, having to do with interest groups and power arrangements, is more vague and harder to model than economic activity.

Those who wanted economics to be a science were motivated by the perception that "being scientific" was appreciated by the society of the time, and was the path to rock-solid truth. But the move towards economics as a science also happened to align with a view of the landed and the wealthy that the economy was working for them, so don't touch it. We get the equation, embracing science = conservative. This is still with us because of the implication that the market is made by god or nature rather than being socially constructed. Since economics is the attempt at a description of the economy, it was more or less locked in to the naturalist approach, which ignores things like class and ownership and treated capital as part of economic flow rather than as a possession that was useable for social and political power.

Even now, economics still continues as if it were part of the age of Descartes and avoids most social, historical and philosophical thought about the nature of man and society. Names like Shaftesbury and Puffendorf, very much read in their time, are far less known now than Hobbes, Descartes, Ricardo, Mill and Keynes. Karl Polanyi is much less well known than Hayek. We do not learn of the social history such as the complex interplay in Viennese society among those who were classmates and colleagues such as Hayek, Gombrich, Popper and Drucker. The impact of Viennese culture is not known to many economists.

The result is an economics that supports an economy that is out of control because the feedback loops through society and its impact of the quality of life - and resentment - are not recognized in a dehumanized economics, and so can't have a feedback correcting effect.

The solution, however, is not to look for simplicity, but to embrace a kind of complexity that honors nature, humans, politics, and the way they are dealt with in philosophy, arts, investigative reporting, anthropology and history. Because the way forward cannot be a simple projection of the past. We are in more danger than that.

Anthony Pagden, in Why the Enlightenment is Still Important , writes that before the enlightenment, late feudalism and the Renaissance, "The scholastics had made their version of the natural law the basis for a universal moral and political code that demanded that all human beings be regarded in the same way, no matter what their culture or their beliefs. It also demanded that human beings respect each other because they share a common urge to 'come together,' and it required them to offer to each other, even to total strangers, help in times of need, to recognize 'that amity among men is part of the natural law.' Finally, while Hobbes and Grotius had accepted the existence of only one natural right - the right to self-preservation - the scholastics had allowed for a wide range of them." -

Pagen also writes, "The Enlightenment, and in particular that portion with which I am concerned, was in part, as we shall now see, an attempt to recover something of this vision of a unified and essentially benign humanity, of a potentially cosmopolitan world, without also being obliged to accept the theologians' claim that this could only make sense as part of the larger plan of a well-meaning, if deeply inscrutable, deity."

But as Pagen shows, that effort was overcome by market, technical and financial interests.

The reason this is so important is that the simple and ethical view in Smith (and many other classical economists if we were to read them) that it was wrong to let the poor starve because of manipulated grain prices, was replaced by a more mechanical view of society that denied human intelligence except as calculators of self interest. This is a return to the Hobbesian world leading to a destructive society: climate, inequality, corruption. Today, the poor are hemmed in by so many regulations and procedures (real estate, education, police) that people are now starved. Not having no food, but having bad food, which along with all the new forms of privation add up to a seriously starved life, is not perceived by a blinded society to be suffering. Economics in its current form - most economics papers and college courses - do not touch the third rail of class, or such pain.

HeadShaker , March 21, 2017 at 11:13 am

Interesting. I've been reading (thanks to an intro from NC) Mark Blyth's "Austerity" and, thus far, seems to imply, if not outright state, that Adam Smith was quite suspicious of government intervention in the economy. The "can't live with it, can't live without it, don't want to pay for it" perspective. The bullet points you've listed above seem to refute that notion.

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 11:39 am

Adam Smith tried to make a moral science out of what his class wanted to hear. If he had actually gone into those factories of his time, he might have had a different opinion of what labour was and how there was no "natural state" for wages, but only what was imposed on people who couldn't fight back. If he had gotten out of his ivory tower for a while, he might have had a different opinion of what those owners of stock were doing. He also might have had different views on trade if he could have seen what was happening to the labourers in the textile industries in France. And I could go on. But instead he created a fantasy that has been the basis for all economic thinking since.

In the same way, neoliberals are no different. They aren't bad people – they just see their policies as right and just because those policies are working well for them and the people in their class, and I don't think they really understand why it doesn't work for others – maybe, like Adam Smith, they think that is the "natural state" ..

Sorry, but there needs to be a Copernican Revolution in Economics just as there was in science. We have to realize that maybe Adam Smith was wrong – and I know that will be hard – just as it was hard for people to realize that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe.

Since I am retired, maybe I will go back to school, hold my nose and cover my lying eyes long enough to finish that Economics degree, so that I can get good access to all the other windows in Economics. I can't really believe I am the only person thinking this way – there must be some bright people out there who have come to similar conclusions and I would dearly love to know who they are.

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Read the first sentence of the Theory of Moral Sentiments – it makes an assumption which is the foundation of all of Adam Smith. He asserted that all men are moral. Morality in economics is the invisible hand creating order like gravity in astronomy. Unfortunately, Adam Smith's assumption is false or at least not true enough to form a sound foundation for useful economic theory.

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 3:18 pm

But "morality" means different things to different people. Smith only saw the morality of his own class. For example, I am sure a wealthy man would consider it very moral to accumulate as much money as he could so that he would be seen by his peers as a good and worthy man who cares for his future generations and the well being of his class – he doesn't see this accumulation as amoral – whilst a poor man may think that kind of accumulation is amoral because he thinks that money could be better used provide for those without the basic needs to survive

Lyonwiss , March 22, 2017 at 2:29 am

You have not read the first sentence of the book, where he stated what he meant – to me, it is his general statement of universal morality.

lyman alpha blob , March 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I've read a fair amount of Wealth of Nations although far from all of it and my take was that Smith was describing the economic system of his time as it was , not necessarily as it should or must be. Smith gets a bad rap from the left due to many people over the last 200+ years hearing what they wanted to hear from him to justify their own actions rather than what he actually said.

I'm cherry picking a bit here since I don't have the time to go through several hundred pages, but I think Smith might actually agree with you about the plight of labor and he was well aware of what the ownership class was up to –

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations

diptherio , March 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Yup, wish I would have had that one handy in my intro to micro course

Another I remember from Smith was something like, "The law exists to protect those who have much from those who have little." Sounds about right.

Grebo , March 21, 2017 at 4:58 pm

there needs to be a Copernican Revolution in Economics

One of Steve Keen's favourite analogies is astronomy. Neoclassical economics is like Ptolemy's epicycles; assume the Earth is at the centre, and that the planets orbit in circles and simply by adding little circles-epicycles-you can accurately describe the observed motion of the planets. The right epicycles in the right places can describe any motion. But they can't explain anything, they add nothing to understanding, they subtract from it, because they are false but give the illusion of knowledge. Drop the assumptions and you can begin to get somewhere.

digi_owl , March 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm

And that is exactly what Marx did, but then got himself sidetracked by trying to find (or create) support for his labor theory of value.

Actually most of what he writes in Capital basically refutes said theory, instead hinting at energy being the core source of value (how much food/fuel is needed to produce one unit, basically).

Steve Keen seems to have latched onto this in the last year or so, pointing out that all production is driven by energy. And the energy comes ultimately from the sun. Either it is turned into production via feeding workers, or by fueling machinery (by burning hydrocarbons extracted from plant and animal remains).

mejimenez , March 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Since words have somewhat flexible boundaries, it's hard to tell from what perspective this response is looking at the history of science. Characterizing cybernetics as mechanistic would require an unusually broad definition of "mechanistic". Even a superficial reading of Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, W. Ross Ashby, or any of the other early contributors to the discipline will make one aware that they were explicitly trying to address the limitations of simplistic mechanistic thinking.

In the related discipline, General Systems Theory, von Bertalanffy expressly argued that we should take our cues from the organic living world to understand complex systems. With the introduction of Second Order Cybernetics by Heinz von Foerster, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and others, the role of a sentient observer in describing the system in which he/she is embedded becomes the focus of attention. Bateson was an original participant with many of the people mentioned above in the Macy conferences where cybernetics was first introduced. The bulk of his work was a direct attack on the mechanistic view of the natural world.

Of course, many writers treat cybernetics, General Systems Theory, and their related disciplines as pseudoscientific. But those are typically people who are firmly committed to mechanistic explanations.

Vedant , March 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Yves,

I have a question about a similar thing. Simon Kuznetz is credited as someone who has invented modern concept of GDP and he revolutionized the field of economics with statistical method (econometrics). However, Kuznets , in the same report in which he presented modern concept of GDP to US congress, wrote following(from wikipedia):-

"The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the center of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification.

All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.
Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what."

So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?

Allegorio , March 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm

"So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?"@Vedant

" Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income."

That is your explanation right there. Large abstract numbers such as GDP obscure social issues such as "the personal distribution of income." and the effort that goes into creating that income. Large abstract numbers obscure the moral dimension that must be a part of all economic discussion and are obscured by statistics and sciencism. As the genius of Mark Twain put it, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Beware the credentialed classes!

Mucho , March 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Interesting. There is a great book by John Dupré called 'Human Nature and the Limits of Science (2001)", which tackles this subject in a general way: the facts that taking a mechanistic model as a paradigm for diverse areas of science is problematic and leads to myopia.

He describes it as a form of 'scientific imperialism', stretching the use of concepts from one area of science to other areas and leading to bad results (because there are, you know, relevant differences). As a prime example, he mentions economics. (When reading EConned;s chapter of the science ( 'science') of economics, I was struck by the similar argument.)

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Science does not imply only mechanistic models, which may be appropriate for physics, but not economics. Science is a method of obtaining sound knowledge by iterative interaction between facts and theory.

http://www.asepp.com/what-is-science/

UserFriendly , March 22, 2017 at 1:37 am

Just because equilibrium is shitty mechanistic model to try and stamp onto economics doesn't mean that all scientific modeling of economics futile. Soddy just about derived MMT from the conservation of energy in 1921.

http://habitat.aq.upm.es/boletin/n37/afsod.en.html?iframe=true&width=100%&height=100%

And refined it in a book in 1923.

http://dspace.gipe.ac.in/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10973/21274/GIPE-009596.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

UserFriendly , March 22, 2017 at 2:00 am

excellent job with the prepositions there. sigh. WAKE UP!

Lyonwiss , March 23, 2017 at 2:50 am

Soddy was a scientist. He should have written as a scientist with definitions, logic and rigour, but he wrote like a philosopher, full of waffle and unsubstantiated assertions like other economists. It is unscientific to apply universal laws discovered in physics and chemistry to economics without proving by observations that those laws also apply to economics.

Soddy needed to have developed a scientific methodology for economics first, before stating his opinions which are scientifically unproven like most economic propositions.

http://www.asepp.com/methodology/

Jim A. , March 21, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I get irritated by radical free-marketeers who when presented with a social problem tend to dogmatically assert that "The free market wills it," as if that ended all discussion. It is as if the free market was their God who must always be obeyed. Unlike Abraham, we do not need to obey if we feel that the answer is unjust.

PKMKII , March 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in 1776, the same year as Smith's Wealth, but hardly read today by most economists.

Other than as a reflection of the sentiments of the time Gibbon was writing in, historians don't spend much time reading it either. The moralistic explanations for the disintegration of the (Western) Roman Empire were long ago discarded by all serious analysis of late antiquity. More practical explanations, especially the loss of the North African bread basket to the Vandals, are presented in the scholarly work these days.

PhilM , March 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm

That book of Gibbon's is an incredible achievement. If it is not read by historians today, it is their loss. Its moral explanations, out of fashion today, are actually quite compelling. They become more so when read with de Tocqueville's views of the moral foundations of American township democracy and their transmission into the behavior, and assumptions, of New Englanders, whose views formed the basis of the federal republican constitution.

The loss of the breadbasket was problematical, too. And it may be that no civilization, however young and virile, could withstand the migrations forever, as they withstood or absorbed them, with a few exceptions, for eight hundred years. But the progressive losses to the migratory tribes may have been a symptom of the real, "moral," cause of the decline.

After all, the Romans did not always have that breadbasket; indeed, they had to conquer it to get it, along with the rest of the mighty and ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean and beyond, using the strengths derived from the mores of their martial republic. The story of the Punic Wars is a morality play in history, as much as anything else. But the main problem was the dilution of the Roman republican mores into a provincial stew.

And after that nice detached remark, about which historians can surely natter on in the abstract, I'll toss in this completely anti-historicist piece of nonsense: I think it's actually much the same problem the Americans are having today, as the mores of the founders have dissolved into the idea that the nation is about national government, centralized administration, world leadership, global domination through military might, and imperialist capitalism. That is not a national ethic that leads to lasting nobility of purpose and moral strength-as George Washington and Ike Eisenhower both pointed out.

blert , March 21, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Dendrochronology ( tree ring dating & organic history ) has established a wholly new rationale for the termination of the Roman Empire the re-boot of the Chinese and Japanese cultures and the death of a slew of Meso-American cultures.

From 536-539AD the entire planet suffered a staggering holocaust. Krakatoa blew up - ejecting so much dust that it triggered a 'nuclear winter' that lasted through those years.

The Orientals actually heard the blasts recognized that they emminated from the Indonesian islands. ( Well, at least to the south. ) The erruption and the weather was duly recorded by Court scribes.

Roman accounts assert that 90% of the population of Constantinople died or fled. ( mostly died ) The Emperor and his wife were at the dockside ready to flee - when she talked him back off the boat. Her reasoning was sound: it's Hell everywhere. He won't have any authority once he leaves his imperial guard.

It was this period that ended agriculture in North Africa. ( Algeria-Tunisia ) The drought blew all of the top soil into the Med. It was an irreversible tragedy.

This super drought triggered the events in Beowulf - and the exodus of the Petrans from Petra. They marched off to Mecca and Medina both locations long known to have mountain springs with deep water. The entire Arabian population congregated there.

This was the founding population amongst which Mohammed was raised many years later.

The true reason that Islam swept through Araby and North Africa was that both lands were still largely de-populated. The die-off was so staggering that one can't wrap ones mind around it.

Period art is so bleak that modern historians discounted it until the tree ring record established that this trauma happened on a global scale.

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Economics is not science, simply because economics does not take facts seriously enough to modify flawed theories.

http://www.asepp.com/facts-and-economic-science/

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Or throw them out! I remember the very first thing I was taught in Economics 101 about supply and demand and how they would balance at an equilibrium price. It didn't take much thinking to realize that there is no equilibrium price and that an equilibrium price was exactly the last thing suppliers or demanders wanted, and that the price of a good depended on who had the most power to set the price. Yet, we had to accept the "supply and demand theory" as coming directly from God. It's as if we were taught in Chemistry that the only acceptable theory of bonding possible was the hydrogen-oxygen bond and even though we could see with our own eyes that hydrogen also bonds to carbon, we should throw that out because it is an aberration from "acceptable theory" ..

PhilM , March 21, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Yes, coming from God; Platonic, like a Form. Economics is written in Forms, like "homo economicus" and "the efficient market." But we live in the Cave, where the markets that humans actually make are sad imitations of the Forms in the textbooks.

There's a lot good in the post, I think; noting the important philosophical underpinnings and challenges to Economics, and particularly in making it a moral, and therefore political and "social" science. But it's great to see where people's use of "incantatory names from the past" is called out by the curator. It's a pet peeve.

digi_owl , March 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Economics is the last "science" to hold onto the notion of equilibrium. The rest has moved on to complex systems/chaos theory, first demonstrated in meteorology. Trying to apply complex systems to economics have been the goal of Steve Keen's work for several decades now.

Rosario , March 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

In college I couldn't help but notice the similarities between modern economic theory and the control theory taught in engineering. Not such a great fit though, society is not a mechanical governor.

craazyboy , March 22, 2017 at 7:20 am

Ha. That's the same thing that got economists so excited. Things is, an engineering student attempting to model a simple system with two moving parts cares a great deal about whether the moving parts are connected by a spring, or ball screw, or shock absorber, or lever, or even invisible stuff like a temperature gradient when coming up with the system math model. Economists seem to think wtf is the difference?

Next, if the math gets a bit unwieldy as the number of moving parts increase, which it does in a hurry, they decide to simplify the math. Next, assume they have perfect sensors for everything and system lag can assumed to be zero for talking purposes, and in research papers too. Next, hysteresis effects due to bent parts, leaky valves and stretched springs are assumed not to exist. Congress has the "Highway Bill" thingy to address that.

Next, the guy with the control knob will do the "right thing". Or better yet, a "market" is doing the control knob. There could be "intermediaries", but these are modeled as zero loss pieces of golden wire and gold plated connectors.

Finally, money comes from batteries and there is no such thing in the real world like "shorts", "open circuits", or "semiconductors" with their quantum tunneling properties.

Other than that, it's all good!

knowbuddhau , March 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Thanks for this, and especially the heads up about the author's take on Smith. This is exactly what I'm on about. Not only are there more ways of knowing than the infamous mechanical, it itself should've died long ago.

I learned that from this Chomsky lecture I found last year: Noam Chomsky: The machine, the ghost and the limits of understanding; Newton´s contribution to the study of mind" . (Quotes are from Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding , an essay that seems to me to be the basis of the lecture.) Pretty sure I mentioned it in comments somewhere.

The author stresses economics is stuck in the age of Descartes. The history of Newton's refutation of Descartes's mechanical philosophy is very interesting. Yes, refutation. Descartes's mechanical philosophy is as dead as a dodo. So why does it still plague us? Obviously, because thinking of and acting on nature as if it were all just one great big machine works at getting you paid, much better than that wishy-washy humanism crap. /f (facetious).

I used to go on and on against reducing everything to mechanisms, and I largely blamed Newton. I was wrong.

I've spent an hour trying to boil this down. Ain't happenin. Apologies for the length.

The background is the so-called "mechanical philosophy" – mechanical science in modern terminology. This doctrine, originating with Galileo and his contemporaries, held that the world is a machine, operating by mechanical principles, much like the remarkable devices that were being constructed by skilled artisans of the day and that stimulated the scientific imagination much as computers do today; devices with gears, levers, and other mechanical components, interacting through direct contact with no mysterious forces relating them. The doctrine held that the entire world is similar: it could in principle be constructed by a skilled artisan, and was in fact created by a super-skilled artisan. The doctrine was intended to replace the resort to "occult properties" on the part of the neoscholastics: their appeal to mysterious sympathies and antipathies, to forms flitting through the air as the means of perception, the idea that rocks fall and steam rises because they are moving to their natural place, and similar notions that were mocked by the new science.

The mechanical philosophy provided the very criterion for intelligibility in the sciences. Galileo insisted that theories are intelligible, in his words, only if we can "duplicate [their posits] by means of appropriate artificial devices." The same conception, which became the reigning orthodoxy, was maintained and developed by the other leading figures of the scientific revolution: Descartes, Leibniz, Huygens, Newton, and others.

Today Descartes is remembered mainly for his philosophical reflections, but he was primarily a working scientist and presumably thought of himself that way, as his contemporaries did. His great achievement, he believed, was to have firmly established the mechanical philosophy, to have shown that the world is indeed a machine, that the phenomena of nature could be accounted for in mechanical terms in the sense of the science of the day. But he discovered phenomena that appeared to escape the reach of mechanical science. Primary among them, for Descartes, was the creative aspect of language use, a capacity unique to humans that cannot be duplicated by machines and does not exist among animals, which in fact were a variety of machines, in his conception.

As a serious and honest scientist, Descartes therefore invoked a new principle to accommodate these non-mechanical phenomena, a kind of creative principle. In the substance philosophy of the day, this was a new substance, res cogitans, which stood alongside of res extensa. This dichotomy constitutes the mind-body theory in its scientific version. Then followed further tasks: to explain how the two substances interact and to devise experimental tests to determine whether some other creature has a mind like ours. These tasks were undertaken by Descartes and his followers, notably Géraud de Cordemoy; and in the domain of language, by the logician-grammarians of Port Royal and the tradition of rational and philosophical grammar that succeeded them, not strictly Cartesian but influenced by Cartesian ideas.

All of this is normal science, and like much normal science, it was soon shown to be incorrect. Newton demonstrated that one of the two substances does not exist: res extensa. The properties of matter, Newton showed, escape the bounds of the mechanical philosophy. To account for them it is necessary to resort to interaction without contact. Not surprisingly, Newton was condemned by the great physicists of the day for invoking the despised occult properties of the neo-scholastics. Newton largely agreed. He regarded action at a distance, in his words, as "so great an Absurdity, that I believe no Man who has in philosophical matters a competent Faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it." Newton however argued that these ideas, though absurd, were not "occult" in the traditional despised sense. Nevertheless, by invoking this absurdity, we concede that we do not understand the phenomena of the material world. To quote one standard scholarly source, "By `understand' Newton still meant what his critics meant: `understand in mechanical terms of contact action'."

It is commonly believed that Newton showed that the world is a machine, following mechanical principles, and that we can therefore dismiss "the ghost in the machine," the mind, with appropriate ridicule. The facts are the opposite: Newton exorcised the machine, leaving the ghost intact. The mind-body problem in its scientific form did indeed vanish as unformulable, because one of its terms, body, does not exist in any intelligible form. Newton knew this very well, and so did his great contemporaries.

And later:

Similar conclusions are commonplace in the history of science. In the mid-twentieth century, Alexander Koyré observed that Newton demonstrated that "a purely materialistic pattern of nature is utterly impossible (and a purely materialistic or mechanistic physics, such as that of Lucretius or of Descartes, is utterly impossible, too)"; his mathematical physics required the "admission into the body of science of incomprehensible and inexplicable `facts' imposed up on us by empiricism," by what is observed and our conclusions from these observations.

So the wrong guy was declared the winner of Descartes vs. Newton, and we've been living with the resultant Frankenstein's monster of an economy running rampant all this time. And the mad "scientists" who keep it alive, who think themselves so "realistic" and "pragmatic" in fact are atavists ignorant of the last few centuries of science. But they do get paid, whereas I (relatively) don't.

Vatch , March 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Alexander Koyré observed that Newton demonstrated that "a purely materialistic pattern of nature is utterly impossible (and a purely materialistic or mechanistic physics, such as that of Lucretius or of Descartes, is utterly impossible, too)"

I think that Newton considered phenomena like gravity, magnetism, and optics to be non-material, perhaps even spiritual, and separate from matter. Modern physicists would disagree, and would consider gravity and electro-magnetism to be purely material phenomena. Newton didn't prove that the world is non-mechanical; he showed that objects do not need to touch for them to have influence on each other.

It is still quite possible that there are non-material phenomena, but those would be separate from gravity and electro-magnetism, which Newton considered non-material.

diptherio , March 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

It is still quite possible that there are non-material phenomena

Like love, courage, hope, fear, greed and compassion?

Vatch , March 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Sure! The existence of souls is another possibility (even for Buddhists, although I suppose they would have to be pudgalavadins to believe in this).

Plenue , March 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Are all products of the brain. I don't see how the results of the interaction of electrical impulses and chemicals are non-material. Magic is not an explanation for anything.

M Quinlan , March 21, 2017 at 7:50 pm

So Newton formulated his theories because of his belief in Alchemy and not, as I had thought, despite it. Discussions like this are what make this site so great.

blert , March 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

All modern economic thought ( 1900+ ) has been corrupted by the arrogance of Taylor's Time & Motion Studies. The essence of which is that bean counters can revolutionize economic output by statistics and basic accounting.

AKA Taylorism.

Big Government is Taylorism as practiced.

At bottom, it arrogantly assumes that if you can count it, you can optimise it.

The fact is that 'things' are too complicated.

Taylor's principles only work in a micro environment. His work started in machine shops, and at that level of simplicity, still applies.

Its abstractions and assumptions break down elsewhere.

MOST economic models in use today are the grandsons of Taylorism.

They are also the analytic engines that have driven the global economy to the edge of the cliff.

RBHoughton , March 21, 2017 at 7:24 pm

For my penny's worth the sentence "Today, the poor are hemmed in by so many regulations and procedures (real estate, education, police) that people are now starved" reveals the main problem.

Too many of the most lucrative parts of every national economy have been closed off by politicians and reserved for their friends.

Peter L. , March 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

The introductory remarks on Adam Smith reminded me of a funny exchange between David Barsamian and Noam Chomsky. Barsamian complements Chomsky on his research on Adam Smith :

DAVID BARSAMIAN: One of the heroes of the current right-wing revival is Adam Smith. You've done some pretty impressive research on Smith that has excavated a lot of information that's not coming out. You've often quoted him describing the "vile maxim of the masters of mankind: all for ourselves and nothing for other people."

NOAM CHOMSKY: I didn't do any research at all on Smith. I just read him. There's no research. Just read it. He's pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised.

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.

And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.

And here is a link to Adam Smith's poignant denunciation of division of labour:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN20.html#V.1.178

This mention of division of labor is, as Chomsky points out, left out of the index of the University of Chicago scholarly edition! Of George Stigler's introduction Chomsky claims, "It's likely he never opened The Wealth of Nations. Just about everything he said about the book was completely false."

I recommend reading the entire paragraph at the link above. Smith writes:

"The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it. "

[Mar 24, 2017] "Economics Upside Down" or Why "Free Markets" Don't Exist

Mar 24, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"Economics Upside Down" or Why "Free Markets" Don't Exist

This is an instructive interview with Ha-Joon Chang, author of the new book "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." He debunks some widely accepted beliefs, such at the existence of "free markets" or the necessity of "free trade" for the development of capitalism.

Enjoy!


Topics: China, Corporate governance, Credit markets, Free markets and their discontents, Globalization, The dismal science

Email This Post Posted by Yves Smith at 12:09 am

11 Comments " Links to this post


11 Comments:
Charles Frith says:
June 15, 2011 at 2:25 am
Bravo.

Reply
Septeus7 says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:57 am
Ha-Joon Chang is one of the best real world economists out there and I find it sad that Asians now have to teach Americans about traditional American system development and industrial policies but we should take any help we can get at this point.

When will we stop with these idiotic so-called "free market" economics and start understanding that if we run away from our responsibility to look out for our own economic interest politically then we will have our lunch taken by those "free market" types pouring billions into political influence because they obviously don't believe a word of their own faux-economic ideology?

Reply
Another Gordon says:
June 15, 2011 at 6:22 am
An excellent book, nicely structured and easy to read.

However, he does leave out a couple of things, for example that competition does not always lead to lower prices and/or better outcomes as the neoliberal fantasy has it.

Competition only works when it costs less than its benefits. Yet it is often horribly expensive and the benefits often modest at best.

Reply
Iolaus says:
June 15, 2011 at 11:02 am
Ha-Joon says "You can't have slaves." But we do have slavery, right here.

Reply
Anonymous Jones says:
June 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm
What is truly amazing is that something this obvious (that all markets are regulated by some means, and that whether you prefer those means versus others is almost entirely based on outcomes rather than procedures) is such a fringe idea.

I was watching the Bobby Fischer documentary on HBO, and it struck me how easy it must be slip into madness living in this completely insane world. There are so many obvious fallacies you must accept to "fit into" normal society (the existence not just of a god, but the particular consensus "God" of your community; the belief that your community (oh, let's say America) always has good intentions and could never (gasp) be using its might to enrich the people running the place; the weird idea that "honor" for samurai or other military types is selflessly serving the elite who are exploiting the rest of society). To be thought sane, one's insanity must match others' insanity.

To investigate the world, to examine the BS that you have been told over and over, has the potential to completely untether the psyche. Look at all the rampant conspiracy theorists on this site. Are they really different (in kind, not in specifics) from the "Protocols" crazies or the bilderberg lunatics or the "end of the world" preachers? Another thing that is so amazing is that you read history and watch documentaries and you realize these crazies are doing almost *exactly* the same thing as someone else in another generation 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 150 years ago, 1000 years ago. Fischer himself was once in the thrall of an "end of the world" preacher who was doing almost exactly what Harold Camping just did and then Fischer moved onto this insane "Protocols" fixation.

I guess people are just incapable of reflecting on themselves enough to see this. Or I guess it would make them as crazy as Fischer if they ever did.

Reply
Just Tired says:
June 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Read Eric Fromm's, The Sane Society. In the 1950's, Fromm recognized that a whole society could be mentally ill and those who were thought to be out of the mainstream were really the sane ones. He also raised the question to the mental health profession as to who were the proper ones to treat given that reality. It is almost as if the mental health takes a kind of democratic approach to the definition of mental illness, i.e. the majority of the population was defined as sane by definition. Fromm argued that the approach should be more objective.

Reply
Foppe says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm
subjectivity and objectivity are meaningless notions once you start 'diagnosing' entire societies as mentally ill or diseased. What is perceived as either is done so through consensus formation; this cannot meaningfully happen if you exclude the majority of the population from weighing in on the basis of an argument that they are mentally ill. (I do not find Fromm's vocabulary very helpful in this case)

Reply
LifelongLib says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Conspiracy theories are often twisted versions of things that are really happening. Mark of the Beast, without which you can't buy or sell? Try getting a plane ticket or renting a hotel room without a major credit card. World ruled by alien reptiles? Some kid joins the army to get money for college, and ends up getting blown apart 10,000 miles from home. Sure sounds like something alien reptiles would set up. Actual human beings wouldn't do those things to each other, right?

Reply
Fed Up :-) says:
June 16, 2011 at 5:05 am
How have individuals been affected by the tech­nological advances of recent years?

Here is the answer to this question given by a philosopher-psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Fromm:

Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress, is in­creasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure.

Our "increasing mental sickness" may find expres­sion in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are con­spicuous and extremely distressing. But "let us beware," says Dr. Fromm, "of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms. Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symp­toms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting." The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. "Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been si­lenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does." They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their per­fect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish "the illusion of indi­viduality," but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity. But "uniformity and free­dom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too. . . . Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed."

http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/index.html#overorg

Reply
Andrew P says:
June 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm
My main problem with Chang's book is that even though he destroys all these market conceits, he doesn't properly incorporate Marxian, and other structural critiques of capitalism. He just accepts that capitalism and market systems are the best distributive means available, which is absurd. He ignores the fundamentally irrational nature of capitalism, how it's at conflict with itself and that as marx noted, "it sows the seeds of its own destruction."

For a great structural critique of modern capital everyone here at NC should read up on John Bellamy Foster's Monopoly and finance capital. He builds on Sweezy and Baran's earlier work on Monopoly capital, showing how production in the "real" economy is less and less profitable, necessitating the explosion in financial speculation and debt in order to keep resuscitating the moribund monopoly production sector. It has aspects of Keen's Credit Accelerator argument but goes a bit further.

This article is the first in a series. You can find the rest at the site.

http://monthlyreview.org/2006/12/01/monopoly-finance-capital

Reply
MichaelPgh says:
June 16, 2011 at 4:02 am
Great post! See also Freud, "Civilization and its Discontents". The stories we tell ourselves about how the world works versus our discoveries of how the world actually works are a continuous source of "cognitive dissonance" (in modern psychology), "alienation" (in Marxism), or "madness" (in Foucault). Trying to reconcile the story with our own experience is perilous business indeed.

[Mar 24, 2017] C.I.A. Developed Tools to Spy on Mac Computers, WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows

The documents posted by WikiLeaks suggest that the C.I.A. had obtained information on 14 security flaws in Apple's iOS operating system for phones and tablets. The leaked documents also identified at least two dozen flaws in Android, the most popular operating system for smartphones, which was developed by Alphabet's Google division.
Notable quotes:
"... The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac's firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer's chips. It would then act as a "listening post," broadcasting the user's activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet. ..."
"... A similar tool called NightSkies was developed in 2009 to spy on iPhones, the documents said, with the agency figuring out how to install it undetected before a new phone was turned on for the first time. (Apple said that flaw affected only the iPhone 3G and was fixed in all later models.) ..."
"... By rewriting the firmware of a computer or a phone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

The C.I.A. developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers' fundamental operations, according to the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks .

Apple said in a statement Thursday evening that its preliminary assessment of the leaked information indicated that the Mac vulnerabilities described in the disclosure were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.

However, the documents also indicated that the Central Intelligence Agency was developing a new version of one tool last year to work with current software.

The leaked documents were the second batch recently released by WikiLeaks, which said it obtained a hoard of information on the agency's cyberweapons programs from a former government worker or contractor. The first group of documents , published March 7, suggested that the C.I.A. had found ways to hack Apple iPhones and Android smartphones, Microsoft Windows computers, Cisco routers and Samsung smart televisions.

Since the initial release of the C.I.A. documents, which the agency has not confirmed are authentic, major technology companies have been scrambling to assess whether the security holes exploited by the C.I.A. still exist and to patch them if they do.

All of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers. But the effects could be much wider. Cisco Systems, for example, warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the C.I.A.'s techniques.

... ... ...

The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac's firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer's chips. It would then act as a "listening post," broadcasting the user's activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet.

A similar tool called NightSkies was developed in 2009 to spy on iPhones, the documents said, with the agency figuring out how to install it undetected before a new phone was turned on for the first time. (Apple said that flaw affected only the iPhone 3G and was fixed in all later models.)

Although most of the tools targeted outdated versions of the Apple devices' software, the C.I.A.'s general approach raises new security concerns for the industry, said Eric Ahlm, who studies cybersecurity at Gartner, a research firm. By rewriting the firmware of a computer or a phone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates.

Under an agreement struck during the Obama administration, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies so they could be fixed. The C.I.A. documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret for the government's use.

The C.I.A. declined to comment Thursday, pointing reporters to its earlier statement about the leaks, in which it defended its use of "innovative, cutting-edge" techniques to protect the country from foreign threats and criticized WikiLeaks for sharing information that could help the country's enemies.

[Mar 23, 2017] F@ck Work?

Notable quotes:
"... By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade ..."
"... requirement ..."
"... You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone ..."
"... F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ..."
"... F-k Work ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. The reason I prefer a jobs guarantee (with an income guarantee at a lower income level) is that the time an income guarantee was implemented on an open-ended, long term basis, it produced an unskilled underclass (see our post on the Speenhamland system for more detail).

Moreover, the idea that people are brimming with all sorts of creative things they'd do if they had an income to allow themselves to do it is bunk. For instance, MacArthur Foundation grant recipients, arguably some of the very most creative people in society, almost without exception do not do anything productive while they have their grant funding. And let us not kid ourselves: most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own.

By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade

In the wake of Donald Trump's alarming election to the White House, historian James Livingston published an essay in Aeon Magazine with the somewhat provocative title, " Fuck Work ." The piece encapsulates the argument spelled out in Livingston's latest book, No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

In both his book and the Aeon essay, Livingston sets out to address several overlapping crises: an alienating and now exhausted "work ethic" that crystallized during the Protestant Reformation; forty years of rampant underemployment, declining wages, and widening inequality; a corresponding surge in financial speculation and drop in productive investment and aggregate demand; and a post-2008 climate of cultural resentment and political polarization, which has fueled populist uprisings from Left to Right.

What the present catastrophe shows, according to Livingston's diagnosis, is the ultimate failure of the marketplace to provision and distribute social labor. What's worse, the future of work looks dismal. Citing the works of Silicon Valley cyber-utopians and orthodox economists at Oxford and M.I.T., Livingston insists that algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable, like some perverse natural process. "The measurable trends of the past half-century, and the plausible projections for the next half-century, are just too empirically grounded to dismiss as dismal science or ideological hokum," he concludes. "They look like the data on climate change-you can deny them if you like, but you'll sound like a moron when you do."

Livingston's response to this "empirical," "measurable," and apparently undeniable doomsday scenario is to embrace the collapse of working life without regret. "Fuck work" is Livingston's slogan for moving beyond the demise of work, transforming a negative condition into a positive sublation of collective life.

In concrete terms, this means implementing progressive taxation to capture corporate earnings, and then redistributing this money through a " Universal Basic Income ," what in his book is described as a "minimum annual income for every citizen." Such a massive redistribution of funds would sever the historical relationship between work and wages, in Livingston's view, freeing un- and underemployed persons to pursue various personal and communal ends. Such a transformation is imminently affordable, since there are plenty of corporate funds to seize and redirect to those in need. The deeper problem, as Livingston sees it, is a moral one. We must rebuff the punishing asceticism of the Protestant work ethic and, instead, reorganize the soul on more free and capacious bases.

Lest we get the wrong idea, Livingston maintains that social labor will not simply disappear in a world organized by a tax-funded Universal Basic Income. Rather, he envisions an increasingly automated future, where leisure is our primary preoccupation, social labor becomes entirely voluntary, and ongoing consumption props up aggregate demand. Eschewing utopian plans or prescriptions, he wonders,

What would society and civilisation be like if we didn't have to 'earn' a living-if leisure was not our choice but our lot? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed places, such as Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day?

Enraged over the explosion of underpaid and precarious service work? Disaffected by soulless administration and info management positions? Indignant about the history of unfree labor that underwrites the history of the so-called "free market"? Want more free time? Not enough work to go around? Well, then, fuck work, declares Livingston. Say goodbye to the old liberal-democratic goal of full employment and bid good riddance to misery, servitude, and precarity.

"Fuck work" has struck a chord with a diverse crowd of readers. Since its release, the essay has garnered more than 350,000 clicks on the Aeon website. The Spanish publication Contexto y Acción has released a translation of the piece. And weeks later, Livingston's rallying cry continues to resonate through social media networks. "Fuck Work" has been enthusiastically retweeted by everyone from Marxists and small "l" liberals to anarchists and tech gurus.

The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution.

In a previous contribution to Arcade, I critiqued the Liberal conception of money upon which Marxists such as Livingston unquestionably rely. According to this conception, money is a private, finite and alienable quantum of value, which must be wrested from private coffers before it can be made to serve the public purpose. By contrast, Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."

Thus upon encountering Aeon Magazine's tagline for Livingston's piece-"What if jobs are not the solution, but the problem?"-I immediately began wondering otherwise.

What if we rebuffed the white patriarchal jargon of full employment, which keeps millions of poor, women, and minorities underemployed and imprisoned? What if, in lieu of this liberal-democratic ruse, we made an all-inclusive and well-funded federal Job Guarantee the basis for a renewed leftist imaginary?

What if we stopped believing that capitalists and automation are responsible for determining how and when we labor together? What if we quit imagining that so-called "leisure" spontaneously organizes itself like the laissez-faire markets we elsewhere decry?

What if we created a public works system, which set a just and truly livable wage floor for the entire economy? What if we made it impossible for reprehensible employers like Walmart to exploit the underprivileged, while multiplying everyone's bargaining powers? What if we used such a system to decrease the average work day, to demand that everyone has healthcare, and to increase the quality of social participation across public and private sectors? What if economic life was no longer grounded solely in the profit motive?

What if we cared for all of our children, sick, and growing elderly population? What if we halved teacher-student ratios across all grade levels? What if we built affordable homes for everyone? What if there was a community garden on every block? What if we made our cities energy efficient? What if we expanded public libraries? What if we socialized and remunerated historically unpaid care work? What if public art centers became standard features of neighborhoods? What if we paid young people to document the lives of retirees?

What if we guaranteed that Black lives really matter ? What if, in addition to dismantling the prison industrial complex, we created a rich and welcoming world where everyone, citizen or not, has the right to participation and care?

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?

Livingston's argument cannot abide such questions. Hence the Left's reply to "fuck work" should be clear: fuck that.

1 0 24 0 0 This entry was posted in Credit markets , Economic fundamentals , Free markets and their discontents , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , Social policy , Social values , The destruction of the middle class on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 131 comments BecauseTradition , January 5, 2017 at 4:58 am

Again the seemingly endless conflation of work, good, with being a wage slave, not so good. Progressives would do well to focus on justice and that does not include making victims work for restitution. One would think Progressives would wish to f@uck wage slavery, not perpetuate it.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own. Yves Smith

I solve that problem with volunteer labor at a local laundry. I do it ONLY when my favorite worker is there because I like her, she has a family to support, she is overworked, she is in constant pain from fibromyalgia, has carpal tunnel syndrome and because of the interesting people I get to see there.

How can I afford to do meaningful work for free? Because I'm retired and have a guaranteed income from Social Security and a small pension.

And let's be honest. A guaranteed job as opposed to a guaranteed income is meant to boost wages by withholding labor from the private sector. But who needs wages with an adequate guaranteed income?

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 8:58 am

I'll also piggyback onto this, even though I am not keen on basic income until I see a little more work put into it.

Many people aren't actually contributing anything in any given work environment in our current system. To expect differently if we have a guaranteed jobs program seems naive.

In the administrative structures I've worked under (both private and non profit, often interacting with government), many workers have obstructionist compliance responsibilities. Decisions are put off through nonsense data gathering and reporting, signatures in triplicate, etc. It's why I've become a huge proponent of the Garbage Can theory of administration: most of the work being done is actually to connect or disconnect problems from decision making. When it comes down to it, there are only a few actual decision makers within an organization, with everyone else there to CYA. That goes for any bureaucracy, private or public.

David Graeber has detailed the "bullshit jobs" phenomenon pretty well, and dismantles bureaucracy in his book, and says all this better than I. But the federal job guarantee seems like a path to a bureaucratic hell. Of course, an income guarantee for the disabled, mental, physical, otherwise, is absolutely critical.

Left in Wisconsin , January 5, 2017 at 11:46 am

There is no magic bullet, whether JG or UBI. But I think the author and Yves are absolutely correct in asserting that there is no workable UBI under the current political economy. It would by definition not meet the needs its proponents claim it could because private (and non-profit!) employers would scream about how it was raising labor costs and otherwise destroying the "real" "productive" economy. A UBI after the revolution? Perhaps. Before? Extremely problematic.

On the other hand, a JG that emphasized care work (including paying people to parent) and energy efficiency would meet screaming needs in our society and provide many people with important new skills, many of which would be transferable to the private economy. But even here, the potential pitfalls and problems are numerous, and there would no doubt be stumbles and scandals.

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Two things:
1. Goverments can hire people without a JG, the argument that the JG is necessary for the goverment to find employees is therefore not a very convincing argument.
2. Increasing and enforcing reduced hours an employer can demand of a worker will strengthen the bargaining position of all workers. But the people advocating the JG appears to see the reduced hours of work as a bad thing? People get to meet people at work but the more pleasant interaction (to me) comes outside of work with the same people.

How many paid days off should a person in JG get? As many as Germans get? Or the Japanese? Or?
When can a person in JG retire? At 60? 65? 70? When does work in JG stop being a blessing and instead living at leisure is the bliss? Are we all to be assumed to live for work?

And finally: If income guarantee is too liberal, isn't job-guarantee too much of one of its opposites – totalitarian?

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Why on earth is a Jobs Guarantee totalitarian?

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

How does JG put pressure and structure onto people?

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:46 pm

I think a combination of both would be best. As has been said many times here, a lot of current jobs are complete BS anyway and I don't really want to be guaranteed a job just so I can take the dirt out of Boss Keen's ditch and then put it back in.

Then there's automation which has already taken away a lot of jobs and will continue to do so. That's not a bad thing as long as people are still getting an income.

As there likely isn't enough productive work to go around, ideally there would be a UBI and instead of a job guarantee, have a minimal job requirement . That exact amount of work required could be tinkered with, but maybe it's a couple days a week, a few months a year, or something similar. You'd have to report to work in order to be able to collect your UBI when your work was no longer required.

When you're not doing required work, you can relax and live off your UBI or engage in some sort of non-essential free enterprise.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I don't know what sort of fantasy land you live in. Being an adult means doing stuff that is not fun so that you and your family can survive. This is the nature of the human condition, from the hunter-gatherer phases of existence onward. You see to believe that you have the right to be paid for doing stuff you enjoy. And the sort of jobs you deem to be "bullshit jobs" would seem like paradise to coal miners or people who had to go backbreaking manual work or factory workers in sweatshops in the 19th century. Go read Dickens or Karl Marx to get some perspective.

Kurt Sperry , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Was this meant to be a reply to cocomaan's post? It seems like it's replying to something else.

If I understand "Bullshit jobs" aren't bullshit because they are unpleasant to do, but because they are to some significant degree unproductive or even counterproductive. Administrative bloat in acedemia is pretty much the gold standard here from my perspective. They are great jobs to have and to do, just useless, unnecessary, and often counterproductive ones. High rise office buildings are, I have always suspected, staffed with a lot of these well paid administrative types of bullshit jobs.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

The Civilian Conservation Corps is, to my mind, the single most important civilian jobs program of the past century because it provided millions of people meaningful work at a time when they could not get it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

The military also provides a similar function to many people with no other way out of a poor situation. It is likely that one of the reasons that there was such a huge economic post WW II economic boom is because many people (men and women) learned discipline and skills in the military and industrial work places during WW II.

Problems with deadlines are the key drivers for productivity. If there are no problems defined with no deadline, then most people will simply drift. Occasionally a Faraday, Edison, or Einstein will show up who will simply endlessly grind through theoretical and experimental failures on ill-defined problems to come up with something brilliant. Even Maxwell needed Faraday's publications of his experiments showing electro-magnetic fields to get him to come up with his great equations.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm

The assumption that work (for profit) is good is very entrenched in culture. The argument that people aren't motivated to work (Americans are lazy) is disputed by the sheer amount of 'volunteerism' (unpaid labor).

Corporations are not going to give up on marketing jobs as they get the vast benefit of labors efforts.No one system works it will take employee ownership to counteract the negatives of private ownership and a ubi along with a job guarantee and expenditures on leisure to shift from a consumer based economy.

I always thought that people were supposed to argue for more than they want and then settle. Here the argument is always on the right side of the political spectrum capitalism and private ownership. Privatize schools and then use a transfer of wealth through taxes and a captured labor force to work in them?

swendr , January 5, 2017 at 5:27 am

Job guarantee all the way, as long as our bosses aren't dicks. We've already kicked people off of public assistance and into shitty underpaid jobs. If having a job is so important, there should always be a good one available. And anyone that can't or won't work can live off a limited basic income. Makes for a smooth and just transition too when our dirty, dull, and dangerous industries are shut down or automated out of existence.

philnc , January 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

Which brings us, along the way, to the need for meaningful educational opportunities for those who the system has heretofore failed.

Concrete case in point. My cousin is a young, single mom in central North Carolina who works hard but is just barely scraping by. Recently my wife and I decided to help her out by giving her the money she'd need to get broadband service so that she and her teenage daughter could take advantage of free, high quality online resources like EdX.org ( https://edx.org , check it out if you haven't yet). But actually getting her hooked up has been a challenge because the Internet provider Duopoly dropped their most affordable plans sometime last year (around $15/mo) so that the cost will now be a minimum of $40/mo before modem rental, taxes and whatever other fees the carriers can dream up (for the techs out there, even DSL costs $35/mo in that service area). This in a state where there's a law prohibiting local governments from providing Internet services to its citizens in competition with the Duopoly, and where a private initiative like Google Fiber has stumbled so badly that it actually has had a negative impact on price competition.

Of course you might say this is a first world problem, heck at least we have (semi) affordable electricity nowadays. But this happens to be a first world country, where big business pushes paperless constantly to cut its own costs and a semester in college is basically the price of a recent model preowned sedan, _every semester_.

So, a guaranteed job for everyone PLUS the resources to learns what's needed to obtain a job that's more than another dead-end.

P.S. Anyone who has ever tried to use free Internet services at their local library knows that's not a viable option both because of restrictive timeouts and bandwidth caps.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Bosses will be more likely to be dicks when their employees are a captured labor pool. If you don't comply with commands you'll be out of your 'job guarantee'.

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 am

I support Yves' idea for a basic income as a default position for disabled people. Although I'll advocate for something a bit different if possible for the ambulatory: instead of a monetary income, let's provide free basic rations and solar panels, along with a small plot of land in a rural area, free gardening and household supplies, (including free seeds that are appropriate for the given area). And free classes in ecology, cooking, composting, soil management, blacksmithing, carpentry, appropriate technolies and any other good stuff I happen to think of.

As for what the guest poster wrote–well he seems like a good guy but this social justice warrior thing is a dying fad that'll provoke a very unpleasant counter reaction if it keeps up for much longer. I'm positive that Trump garnered thousands of votes in those vital Midwestern swing states thanks to the highly visible sjw activities on campuses, and theis backlash is only going to increase as this goes on.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

I have a son with a disability. Without a job, he would watch movies all day.

With a job he becomes a productive part of society. He loves it and he is dedicated. It also gives him the opportunity to bond with people which is hard when you don't have full autonomy because of some aspects of your disability.

From my personal experience, a large percentage of people with a disabilities would prefer a job to income guarantee.

And many would be quite happy with what most consider shit jobs.

Arizona Slim , January 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

Amen, Moneta!

My mom shops at a store that hires intellectually disabled people to do things like shopping cart roundups and bagging customers' groceries. These aren't the kinds of jobs that most of us would flock to, but that's our perspective.

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

I have to second this. Having worked briefly with developmentally challenged students, they have a much easier go of things when they feel empowered, when they feel like they have some control over their lives, despite the challenges they face. Rendering them even more helpless simply increases frustration and exacerbates existing problems.

Which I think should be brought into the larger argument. It surprises me that any Marxist worth her salt would glomp onto this, when, it seems, the purpose is to further alienate people from the means of production and control over the political economy. When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be. Murray never met a poor or uneducated person he didn't want to drive into the ground, so I find it rather curious that he would suddenly be all for a form of social welfare.

And as to the boss point above, there's nothing stopping anyone from making the jobs program have a cooperative structure. As the article says, these are all political choices, not naturally occurring phenomena.

Romancing The Loan , January 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be.

My tankie friends on Twitter think that basic income is a trojan horse that's going to be used to try and trick the American public into ending Social Security and Medicare. They're usually right, sadly.

Stephanie , January 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

It seems to me as if basic income would also be a great excuse to chip away even further at the idea if public education and single-payer health care as social goods. If your parents aren't able to shell out for them, well, you don't need to be healthy or literate to recieve UBI.

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm

If there were both a UBI and a job requirement rather than a job guarantee, that might solve the problem you mentioned.

If everyone were required to work a certain amount in essential services like housing, food production, health care, etc before they could collect a UBI, that would require a trained and healthy workforce.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Yep. The level will be set by the requirements for rental extraction, and nothing else. There will be no surplus over that amount.

RC , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

As a disabed person myself I would argue it's not jobs that disabled people are necessarily after, it's being able to actively participate in society in a contributing, meaningful and productive way, to be included in something with a purpose, a purpose you believe in. If income is not an issue, most people would still engage in projects. Your son would watch movies all day only because there is no better role to play, we are at a transition stage where disabled people, still considered invalids, are being discovered to be not so invalid.

I take issue with the notion that disabled people would be happy to do any deadend work. We deserve more and better than that, everyone does.

I'm a deaf person with a talent which fintech wants and needs, which so happens to be ensuring our tech is accessible, inclusve, making it so much better; so disabled people can truly participate in society, to do all the same things tech supposedly does to liberate while making it truly liberating for all.

But we are also socially responsible for finding meaningful and significant work for the talents disabled people actually have, as opposed to getting them to do something stupid because it's something to do and they're disabled and so should be satisfied with whatever they get. We're not vegetables, nobody is. So that goes for non-disabled folks too.

Which brings us to the heart of this UBI/JG discussion, either you're coming to this from a perspective of people should have jobs, any job, cuz they're basically vegetables or some kind of autonomous machination which goes through motions and capitalism doesn't work without those machinations so there's some kind of moral imperative to labour or wage slavery, and the measure or class of a person is whether they are jobbed machinations/slaves, or UBI/JG is secondary to the question of are people as a whole happy and doing what they'd rather be doing, are they truly participating in society, as part of the human project.

That's the reality most corporations are facing at the moment. The meaning and nature of "work" itself is undergoing change, becoming "play", as capitalism shoots itself in the foot and in the drive for profit either necessitates socialism and classlessness, or mass social upheaval and less profits.

RC

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Thank you. It gets tiresome that the default is people are lazy. People are describing what seems to be human nature . the desire to connect with others and to contribute.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

After reading some of these arguments, and thinking about what I have experienced and seen, I think there are merits to both approaches (UBI and JG). From experience I can't entirely agree with Yves that people would remain unskilled and not pursue activities that engage with others and improve their lives and skills. Perhaps this is because I have always been fascinated by and have known many Hippy communities. I live in Eugene Oregon now, but grew up in San Francisco. The running joke I was told was that all the hippies left SF and came to Eugene because there were no jobs :-). I did see hippy groups in SF that did pretty much nothing but play all day. They didn't last. However, here in Eugene I see many lasting legacies of what they built after they "dropped out"; many if not most of my favorite businesses were created by these people: the alternative groceries like Sundance (supposedly Whole Foods was purported to model themselves after this store-bah!) and Kiva and Growers Market, the Saturday and Farmers Markets, Tsunami books. The Oregon Country Fair, the coops. Not all were directly started by "hippies" per se but the early hippy groups did much to create a culture and an environment that encourages this.

I also know a lot of people here that work "precariously" and there are times when work is hard to come by. But these people do not seem to sit around, they find other things to do, like learn about gardening, or get skills volunteering for Bring recycling (they do things like find creative re-use or "decom" houses slated for demolition and take out useful items), or Habitat for Humanity, or Center for Appropriate Transport (bicycle and human powered), or local tree planting and park cleanup. They often find work this way, and make connections, and get new skills. They don't have to But they want to stay active and involved.

This is why I think UBI is not such a bad thing.. I know many people who would benefit and still do many things like I've described I also am aware that there are more general tasks that society needs doing and that is where the JG might come in. But maybe Eugene is too much of an exception?

Of course, all this is besides what these policies may be used for by the PTB. That's an entirely different discussion; here I am arguing the merits, not the agendas.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I was careful to use the word many and not all people with disabilities.

My son has an intellectual disability. He needs to be instructed and the routine will not come on its own unless it is well practiced. But as long as someone is directing, he does great work.

It is obvious by your post that the menial job he would enjoy does not correspond to what you could offer the world!

I spent hours holding him in the NICU, worrying about his future until one day, instead of feeling sorry for the both of us, I looked around and noticed a regular guy, apathetic looking, spending his entire day cleaning and disinfecting the room then the thought came to me that someone with special needs could do the same job and actually be happy.

Around that time, I read an article about the problems they were now encountering with the integration of people with special needs in France. It would seem that when the job became boring, many would just stop showing up to work Why bother when the state and society has always been there for support that's what happens when individuals never get to feel true independence.

Any action that produces a good or a service is a form of work. Hugging is a service. So are smiling and cleaning a toilet.

For some reason we have huge trouble putting monetary value on many of the most essential services.

We are also having a very hard time filling the jobs with individuals who have the right skill set and temperament.

I don't know how we solve these issues.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Amidst the miserable news of 2016, this uplifting story of a woman with Down's syndrome retiring after working 32 years restored my faith in the potential of humanity. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/08/29/down-syndrome-mcdonalds-retirement-freia-david/

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Oy .. make the disabled do hard labor of agriculture? Blind? Deaf around heavy machinery? Wheelchairs on plowed land?

You are proposing this as it seems enriching, gets them out of your community, and is economically sound. This lifestyle choice should apply to everyone. Let any who want do this and you will have removed people from the labor pool (made up unemployment number magically goes down) less resource consumption.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 5:39 am

Thanks Yves for pounding this issue. As a former lazy BIG'er I am naturally wired to stare at my navel all day. I think at the heart of it we have an existential problem with toil. Tcherneva's succinct take-down of BIG vs JG also set me on the straight and narrow. Plus she spanks Yglesias which is always enjoyable.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 8:51 am

My biggest quibble with JG is that "work" often involves needless consumption. Most people (in America) require a car and 1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work". Personally this is a very good reason NOT to work.

Leigh , January 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work".

The reason I get to work 2 hours before I'm required to is because I find driving to work is the most stressful part of my day. I commute while the roads are quiet. The deterioration in driving etiquette is maddening. It is dog eat dog out there. The fact that we are all flying around at 70 MPH in 4,000 pounds of steel and glass is lost on most drivers.

dontknowitall , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I think there should be an indicator on the dashboard showing the probability of surviving a frontal impact at your current road speed, people might slow down as they saw the number approach zero

George Phillies , January 5, 2017 at 6:12 am

"If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own."
People have all sorts of mental quirks, but to what extent do we rig society to handle them? As a justification for work, this one sounds expensive.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:01 am

We are social creatures. That's not a quirk, just a fact. The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal, no need for a radical redesign.

As for costs – unemployment imposes devastating costs in sickness, addiction, crime, etc. JG is a no-brainer. It's been tried with great success in Argentina. It works. There's a slogan for ya: Work Works .

roadrider , January 5, 2017 at 8:05 am

We are social creatures.

Well, OK, but we all vary in the level of our sociability. Some need people around them all the time others value their solitude and still others are in between.

That's not a quirk, just a fact.

One that you're overstating.

The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal,

Actually, it is a big deal since noise and lack of privacy are two of the biggest problems in today's workplaces, particularly those with "open work space" designs. I speak from personal experience here.

no need for a radical redesign.

Ummm, yeah, there actually is.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Whether or not JG is the answer or not, there is most definitely a need for a radical redesign of the capitalist workplace

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 8:15 am

I'd rather be out in the woods spending my time growing fruit trees. I hate people–and reading above about all the inspirational work the government would be giving me and the people I'd have to be around while while doing it left me wondering about whether or not going postal would be a good idea.

Secondly, the wishlist I saw above for everything the government is supposed to be doing to help people was pretty scary. Ehile the intentions might be good, power like this given to government never, ever turns out well for the people. As an example, let's say Scott waved his magic wand and suddenly Trump had all the power and authority he needed to accomplish everything on Scott's list today. Alright, now try to imagine just how awful the next four years would be. Not good!

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

I sympathize with the desire to just be alone and do your own thing–I'm like that as well–but I think you're missing an important aspect of the argument, one which Tcherneva makes more forcefully, which is that there is a knock on benefit of people being more engaged in public life: they are harder to politically disenfranchise. I wouldn't be surprise if one of the reasons why elites are so gung ho about UBI is that it would serve to further alienate people and fragment communities, thus preventing them from organizing anything like meaningful resistance to state power.

Also, Ferguson kind of already addressed this:

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:26 am

The problem with a JG and that line of argument, is that JG does not propose to engage people more in public life than an Unconditional Income, as an Unconditional Income is by definition, far more inclusive of all kinds of work that people may do for others.

You may even do things that nobody in a society approves of, with an Unconditional Income, like trying to prove that the world is round, not flat.

JG got nothing on enabling people to be active citizens. It's a policy to look backwards, or it's so inclusive that it's basically an unconditional income to everyone. You gotta be willed to take a long shot sometimes (increasingly often, looking at the world as it is today and might increasingly be tomorrow), to properly empower people so they can be active citizens.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

As best I can tell UI doesn't engage people at all: by what mechanism does UI engage people "more in public life?"

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

How about we have more public housing I would like to see boarding houses come back but another option could be monastery type living? There could even be separate ones for men, women and families that way you could select a monastery that is focused on agriculture and you could have space away from women.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I sometimes have incredibly vivid dreams. One of them I hade a couple of years ago was somewhat apocolyptic; something had happened (unknown) and I was in a dilapidated city of middlin' size. The blocks of cheek-by-jowl houses and storefronts were all boarded up. But I entered one and found that 1) they had been connected by knocking down walls between them, and 2) the Interior Of the block was completely open. All the buildings faced inward (no boarded windows) and that had been transformed into a Commons with gardens, vegetables, corrals, parklands, small outbuildings. Maybe something like that .

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

It would never happen but eminent domain should apply to abandoned buildings. If it's been unused for x amount of years, it's raffled off for public use . housing, education etc. Heck, it could apply to manufacturing. If a corp wants to leave, don't let the door hitcha, but that building is going to the employees as a coop as competition is as good for the goose as it is for the gander.

I would imagine more people will be having dreams like yours if things keep declining and people try to imagine what's next.

jjmacjohnson , January 5, 2017 at 6:54 am

Actually I know a few artist who won the Guggenheim Award and I beg to differ. Art is not something that given bunch of money produces great work. It comes with time and time spent contemplating and thinking. Most of the artists who won had to work to pay the bills before. Many were teachers and many still are. There are so few fine artists who just make art. The 1980s really pulled the wool over non-artists eyes.

Case in point since getting the grant, not right after of course, Cara Walker made one the best pieces of her career. A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

Plus she continues to teach.

timround2 , January 5, 2017 at 7:09 am

She won the MacArthur Foundation Award.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Sorry, it was MacArthur Foundation grant winners who typically do not do much during the grant period. Fixing the post.

Disturbed Voter , January 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

Job guarantee maybe, but not corvee. We can have jobs for everyone, if we build pyramids. Forced labor is totalitarian. But entitlement and free lunches are destructive of society. Neo-liberalism involves entitlement and free lunch for some people, and for some countries (I see what you are doing to everyone else USA, GB, Germany, Japan). Entitlement isn't just for individuals. I love my work, as long as it is "sort of" a free choice. Economic necessity works for most of us, and while wage and debt slavery aren't fun, they are both better than chattel slavery.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

In a country like the USA, the only limit on socially useful, meaningful work for everyone is the will and creativity to do it. Off the top of my head I can think of more programs that could be implemented than people to fill them.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

I agree. But the problem seems to reside in the link between the services and the hard goods.

One is unlimited while the other is limited so the human tendency is to use money from the unlimited side and consume/stock up/hoard the hard goods creating a scarcity.

I don't see how we can solve that problem with property rights as they are protected now.

In my mind, land and resources would have to be a common good why should someone get the waterfront property or more arable land or pools of oil just because of a birthright or some other non sharing policy.

Going even further, why should some groups/countries benefit from resources while not sharing with others?

Lots of sharing problems to deal with nationally and globally before we get it right

For the last few decades, our system has been based on debt to income and debt to GDP. Those nations and individuals who loaded up on it did ok . so we did not think of the fair distribution of resources.

But now that debt levels are hitting what we consider ceilings we will be changing the rules of the game you know what happens when someone decides to invent their own rules in a board game midway through the game!

All this to say that even if we guarantee jobs the physical world of resources will constrain us.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm

There needs to be a shift from work and consumption to leisure. Leisure is infinite . walking trails, biking trails, parks, movies/music in the parks (our community puts up a big screen and a 150 or so show up with lawn chairs, snacks and blankets), art shows, community theatre, festivals, music, picnic areas, chess/checkers concrete tables .

I want to start a game library: sort of a pub/restaurant with games. Have a bite, beer and a game of scrabble. I like the idea of pub nites with quiz events. If there were public buildings, gathering spaces would not have to make a 'profit', public health would be the benefit.

schultz , January 5, 2017 at 7:13 am

"What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

"What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?"

First, thanks for this article – this is a good and interesting debate to have.

It makes me suspicious that the author's sort of trump-card, climactic 'takedown' of UBI is a series of questions rather than answers. Things which even the author can't figure out the answer to, apparently, so how can they expect UBI to have the answers.

Think about the answers (i.e. in terms of, policy changes to people's material lives) to the questions posed above. What would any of those policies look like? Who knows?

My point is, it's easy to make things (including UBI) look dumb by comparing them to impossibly high vague standards like "no limits to how we can care for one another."

If the author had a better more concrete, specific reason why UBI is bad, they would have used that, yeah?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

In my view, Unconditional Incomes answer these questions without being wasteful of human life, and with being unconditionally pro-labor, as opposed to being conditionally pro labor as a JG would be. JG only empowers labor that is recognized immediately, by some body of people who do not represent the valuations of all who are part of society.

Unconditional Incomes recognize labor that only later might generate appreciable results, and it recognizes broad valuation of the fine grained process where it is societally worthwhile, as individuals perceive it. If understood as enablement and pay for all labor related time, unconditionally.

Pay beyond that would be representation of how much respect you command, how much you desire to obtain monopoly incomes, and how much you might hate a job. But not the labor value. That's what unconditional incomes can provide. To the guy writing open source for a greater benefit to many, to the hardworking construction worker whose job involves a lot of undesirable factors (for which he may demand additional comensation), to the superstar/superbrand owner who seeks to maximize customer awareness and monetization with a blend of natural and artificial marketing and monopolization strategies, and to the guy who strategically maximizes market incomes to do even greater things for society than what he could be doing with just writing open source.

On that note, thanks Amazon for pushing the envelope. At least for the time being. We can financially burden all of these market/rent incomes to provide unconditional (labor) incomes, to ensure that there's not too much emphasis on just cashing in on your good (brand) name and market position. Coca Cola is a prime example for what such a cashing in would look like. Customers are beasts of convenience, unless there's breakthroughs that radically improve on some process of delivery or production, that somehow isn't taken notice of by the big brand, before another active citizen takes the opportunity to compete by help of it.

tl;dr: No to turning society into a glorified Arnish settlement, yes to Amazon as it is today, though with a higher tax burden, yes to unconditional incomes, yes to political activism, independent research, parenting work, work for being a decent person among equal people that may look however like you chose.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Its way back up there at the top:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/01/the-failure-of-a-past-basic-income-guarantee-the-speenhamland-system.html

BIG was tried before with disastrous results. When a BIG program can be proven to address its deep and complex past failure, it may be worth a try. I agree with Yves on when and where an IG is appropriate until someone somewhere test drives a better one.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Don't worry, most UBI experiments and proposals nowadays aren't 'Income Guarantees' but rather Unconditional payments to all, or Tapered negative income tax proposals (britain's RSA has a UBI equivalent NIT proposal like that at least), on top of which people could earn more. Only experienceing regular taxation or a modest clawback rate of the benefit.

UBI is commonly understood to not be a top-up to the same point for everyone as the speenhamland system was, which of course destroys motivation to expose oneself to a strenuous environment, when you can't actually get compensated for your troubles. Any sensible person would tell you that the speenhamland system was an insane offer to the people, it asked of people to work for free, basically.

As for UBI experiments, they're generally rather encouraging. Particularly this coincidental observation might give prove to be useful, if you're concerned about the timely restricted nature of pilot projects/experiments. http://www.demos.org/blog/1/19/14/cherokee-tribes-basic-income-success-story

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

By what mechanism does UI prevent employers from bidding down wages? As Yves post form last year says, "Taxes would therefore need to be increased to offset those effects. The best tax outcome you could expect would be a progressive tax on income. Thus the end result in a best-case scenario would be tantamount to a means-tested BIG, graduated so as to avoid any sudden cutoff for someone who wanted to work. Thus the result (whether achieved directly or indirectly) is likely to resemble Milton Friedman's negative income tax, with the zero tax rate set at a living wage level." Meaning the UI just pushes free money into an otherwise unchanged system incentivized from the top down to soak that money back up and out.

So pushing more money into the system just inflates the system while sustaining the ongoing upward redistribution.

Thus: "The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution."

craazyamn , January 5, 2017 at 7:33 am

It sounds like it's is going to be a lot of work - to abolish work.

Who's gonna do all the work involved? LOL.

If you think of sub-cultures where nobody works - like ancient Roman nobles, Europes aristocrats, gang-bangers, southern antebellum planters– mostly they got into fights about nonsense and then killed each other. That is something to consider.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 9:05 am

The crap jobs will be the easiest to get rid of, but then we won't have any necessary goods and services. The Romans knew this, which is why they had a pretty good run before collapsing.

OTOH, with so much more humanity getting their creative juices going, we could end up with lots and lots of art. There would be so much art, it would probably be given away for free!

Then there is the start your own biz path. I've been keeping an eye on our local self serve dog wash. The sign outside changed to "Self Service Pet Wash". Has me wondering what's that all about. Expanding the biz into cats, hamsters, parrots and turtles maybe? Good to see success in the entrepreneurial class, but then I wonder if that's really for everyone and there may need to be some larger organizational structure geared towards producing some more complex thing or service. Dunno, but that could be food for thought as a next step for analysis in this whole job creation subject.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

If anybody actually expects to get paid for their "art", that's when all hell will break loose.

A self-service dog wash is interesting, but if you let a dog wash itself it may not do a good job. Dogs hate to get washed. I'm not sure if this is gonna work.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Good point. But there is risk in business. Any businessman knows that.

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

Kwame Anthony Appiah talks about the end to duels in his book on Honor. It's interesting stuff.

One takeaway I remember is that the lower classes actually began to clamor for an end to the idea that murder was okay if you were in the upper classes, since dueling was a matter of challenging, preserving, and reifying an upper class. The other way to look at it is that the lower classes wanted in on the action.

It also ended when everyone was embarrassed and fed up that their leaders were slaying each other by night.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 7:36 am

Great philosophical thougths are cauught. In the Moderbator!

Even the moderbator is already working to thwart illumination and enlightenment. That should be a lesson of some sort. I'm not sure what though. That wouldd mean mental work. I'll do it but it's still kind of early. I'll do it later.

From Cold Mountain , January 5, 2017 at 7:38 am

Yup. There is a big difference between work in a Capitalist ecosystem and work in an Anarchistic ecosystem. In the first you have to ask for a Universal Basic Income and equality, etc. In the second there is no need to ask for it.

So maybe "F@ck Work" is really "F@ck Capitalism" or "F@ck Authoritarianism", but they just don't quite get it yet.

Carolinian , January 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

Agreed that what the author is really saying is f@ck capitalism. Pretending it's all about the current fad for neoliberalism ignores the reality that neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses. The problem with left utopianism is that human nature works against it. So the author's "what ifs" don't carry a lot of intellectual punch. What if we all loved each other? Well, we don't.

Personally I'd rather just have the BIG and the freedom. The Right may be just as paranoid as the Left when they claim all forms of government social engineering are totalitarian but there is a grain of truth there. Neither side seems to have a very firm grasp of the human problems that need to be solved in order for society to work.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm

"neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses"

I think it has worse excuses, actually. No excuses. There is no excuse for the centrally managed wealth extraction in the name of "markets" that we have been seeing since Bill Clinton made nice with Goldman Sachs in the 1990s.

Pelham , January 5, 2017 at 7:52 am

While MMT correctly conceives of money as a limitless resource, what it doesn't take into account is the fact that continuing to allow vast accumulations of the stuff at the top of the economy inevitably translates into political power.

And I suspect that those with such power, principally the financial industry, will work assiduously to reinforce conventional notions of money as finite, which in turn enhances their power and their ability to profit from widespread misery.

Higgs Boson , January 5, 2017 at 9:15 am

That is the taproot of The Big Lie – keeping the masses convinced of money scarcity, which goes hand-in-hand with scare mongering on the national "debt". The delegitimizing of the national currency as worthless IOUs, mere "scraps of paper".

The .01%, who have accumulated political power through this con, will not just give it up.

It reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) anecdote about Queen Victoria hearing about Darwin's Origin of Species and asking, "Is it true?"

"I'm afraid so, your majesty."

"Well then, let's hope the commoners don't find out!"

UserFriendly , January 5, 2017 at 7:58 am

Great piece!!! Does anyone know of any proposals or white papers for a State or City wide Job Guarantee? Laboratory for democracy or something. I know the lack of a currency printer throws a wrench into the MMT aspects and clearly there would be migration affects greater than on a national scale, but I think that a state or local program would almost necessarily have to come before a national one, or at least would make the debate about a national one less arduous. This is something I am pushing with my state house rep (Raymond Dehn, who recently threw his hat in the ring for Minneapolis's Mayoral contest)

DanB , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?" MMT acknowledges that the availability of natural resources is a limit to money creation and, overall, economic growth. I wish this essay had addressed this issue, as I believe we are in the post-peak oil world and still not facing how this fact -peak oil when properly understood is an empirical fact to me- is dismembering modern political economies. Simultaneously, this destruction is proceeding in accord with neoliberal domination.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

And most of the time, when I see MMT, it seems to be associated with projects and investments that are incredibly energy and resource intensive.

Many MMT supporters seem to work on the assumption that the US will always have the right to consume an inordinate share of global energy and resources.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 12:36 pm

It seems that many attempting to pigeonhole MMT, seem to not recognize the role of fiscal policy to regulate and modulate. Full employment need not correlate to consuming " an inordinate share of global energy and resources." IMHO, how the term "growth" is often used with and within "economics" seems misleading and disingenuous.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

And Trump has all the answers on how to modulate fiscal policy under MMT?

MMT will not help the people unless the right leaders are modulating.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Its not about messianism it's more about recognizing that the constraints on the user are not constraints on the issuer of a currency.

fresno dan , January 5, 2017 at 8:04 am

It seems to me we have done that no work experiment for .OH, 70 years. Its called social security.
Maybe every single person on social security doesn't have as many friends as they should – the book "Bowling Alone" as well as many other publications about the isolation of modern society address what is a problem. But many people with jobs are isolated, as well as not getting social interaction on and off the job. I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY.

People on social security can work, volunteer, follow a hobby or take up one. In CA old folks used to be able to "audit" college classes, where you could attend for free but get no credit. Alas, no longer the case (as well as when I was young and went to college, it was dirt cheap – how did it get so frigging expensive?).
And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle. I imagine young people would do the same, especially if the stress of wondering where there income would come from was removed.

There were people at work who said they would never retire because they wouldn't be able to fill their time. I find that just sad. Somebody has to give these people something to do because in there whole lives they have never developed any interests?
I was very lucky to have a career that was interesting. It was also frustrating, difficult, and stressful, and besides the friends from work, there were also the assh*les. It was fine for 26, but it was time to move on. And though I thought about getting another job, I have found that not working is ..WONDERFUL.

B1whois , January 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

I also do not work, and I enjoy it. I need to find things to fill my days (other than NC), but this is complicated by not having competence in the local language. I could speed up my citizenship process by getting a job here in Uruguay, but I don't want to go back to a stressful life feeling like I don't have enough time to do interesting things. So learning Spanish is my job now.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

as many friends as they should

How about, as many friends as they want? There surely is no obligation to have some number defined by other people.

rusti , January 5, 2017 at 11:18 am

I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY .

And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle

I suppose it's a much larger ambition in many ways, but I've always thought that a more worthwhile aim than a basic income guarantee would be de-financialization. Private health care and car-based communities put people in the very precarious position of having to worry about their cash buffer for lots of basic survival needs. I live in a country with government-funded health care, and even though my income is a fraction of what I made when I lived in the US it would be easy for me to quit my job and live on savings for an extended period of time, since the only real expenses I have are food and housing, and the other necessities like clothes or bicycle repairs can be done on the cheap when one has lots of free time.

Public transit connecting libraries, parks, community colleges, and other public forums where people can socialize are much preferable to cruise ships!

Lee , January 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I too have for years now enjoyed and sometimes struggled with not having to work for money. While my ability to engage in many activities is currently limited by health issues, I have previously gone back to university and earned a degree, learned fine woodworking, volunteered as a charity fundraiser and done field work for the wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone. I have also spent a lot of time reading, gardening, fixing up my old house, watching movies, political activity, fishing, motorcycling, the list could go on. However, to be honest, I do suspect that the years I did spend working and the earnings therefrom did lay a foundation upon which I could build an edifice more of my own choosing.

Gaylord , January 5, 2017 at 8:07 am

Make work more interesting and rewarding by directing it toward esthetic goals. Promote the arts and education at all ages. Put art, design, music, theater, & crafts back into the curriculum, identify people with special skills & talent, support them and provide venues for learning, exhibits & performances with low- or no- cost access to the public. Elevate culture to the epitome of human achievement in all walks of life and expand involvement. Discourage commercial television watching, especially for children.

jabawocky , January 5, 2017 at 8:12 am

I do wonder if there's a kind of circular argument to this piece, or at least there is a continuum between this job guarentee solution and the basic income. In one sense, it is said that people cannot be left to themselves to create because they just won't. So the solution is some kind of municipal creativity, an entitity which does the creating and then forces people to work on its projects in return for income. The more top down 'new deal'-like this is, then it looks like a JG system. If it can be bottom up, it more closely resembles a basic income.

diptherio , January 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

That's why my personal proposal for a JG incorporates aspects of Participatory Budgeting to determine what jobs are getting done by JG workers:

Basic Income vs. Job Guarantee

Clark Landwehr , January 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

There is little difference, in the real world, between sitting on a park bench all day and sitting in a cubicle filling out spreadsheets, because most jobs are already busy-work. So most people are already doing corvee labor in a totalitarian civilization: digging holes and filling them up again. In a typical office building, the only people who are doing real, productive work are the janitors and maintenance engineers.

Eureka Springs , January 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

I think it would take a long time, as in many generations, to begin to know who we are, what we would do and be without a Protestant work-ethic. It's almost impossible for most to imagine life in some other form just as it's impossible for most to imagine a democratic process, even within just one party. Idle time scares the beejesus out of so many people I know. I've watched people 'retire' and move to these beautiful Ozark mountains for decades and do nothing but destroy them, over and over again, out of boredom and idle guilt. I can't remember the last time I cut down a live tree for firewood.. since there are always mountains of forrest being laid to waste.

But we must face the fact most work is useless, crap, BS, and or outright destructive. MIC and Insurance come to mind immediately. To enforce human work for the sake of it is to perhaps destroy the big blue marble host at – at best an highly accelerated rate. If we keep making ourselves act like drones our world will continue to look like it's what we are doing / who we are. Just drive down any street America built post 1960 looking for something esthetically pleasing, somewhat unique, that isn't either mass produced or designed to fall apart in a few decades or less.

Or maybe with a jobs guarantee we should just outlaw bulldozers, chainsaws, 18 wheelers, private jets, dwellings/offices with more than four units, and large farm equipment.

If we are going to force labor then give every man and woman a shovel or a hoe with their HS diploma – not a gun, not an office for predatory FIRE purposes. That way we wont destroy ourselves so quickly.

Joni sang.. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone . What about the people who never knew what was there to begin with? Will some of us live long enough to morn the passing of parking lots?

JohnL , January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thank you. When a "job" means profit for someone else and more destruction, consumption, and waste, we fewer "jobs", not more.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

"A job at a decent wage, set by public policy, will eliminate at least 2/3 of poverty. we can then work on eliminating the rest thru compassion."

Doesn't strike me as morally agreeable to reduce the right to nature and ideas that anyone may reason to have, to a matter of compassion.

"This is the high road that can increase productive capacity"

Giving people an unconditional income and letting people earn money on top, could also increase productive capacity, and having a JG scheme in place might as well reduce productive capacity where it pretends to people that they're doing something important, when they're not. Overpaying work can be a disservice to the people and society alike. Let individuals themselves tell others how much they think something is worth, in respect and in monetary terms. We just need to equip people with money (that maintains relevance in relation to the aggregate of all money), for that.

The high road that can increase productivity is a commitment to enabling people as individuals, unconditionally, to make economic expressions, rooted in their rights to nature.

Octopii , January 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

WALL-E

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 9:36 am

""Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."""

Wouldn't it be interesting if it took someone like Trump to get the fact that money is a public utility into the public mindset.

This is a strong and powerful tool. Seems like it could be up his alley.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

But Trump WONT do that. He's very much a super 1% elitist who thinks of people as winners and losers. He thinks the government is like a business that has to balance its books and "live within its means" (means = tax receipts + fees).

Trump is NOT an MMTer. He's closer to gold standard idiots in the GOP (whether they actually want the gold standard to return or not means nothing the idea that the federal budget needs to be balanced is 100% outgrowth of the gold standard dinosaur days so they are ALL goldbugs at core).

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Probably true, but he now has his hands on the biggest business around.

He has a lot of money available which could make him a popular and useful leader.

Michael , January 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

Great Article and food for thought.

I agree with many of the skeptical views above. In the endeavor to provide equitable incomes an underlying problem is who decides what industries or groups get funded from the taxes collected? Is there private capital? How do you keep certain people from manipulating the system to assure they can collect more wealth than someone else?

All of these might be questions may be resolved with strict laws, but I can recall in my childhood such laws and such cultures that assured a more equitable system, but these too were corrupted by people who wanted to "keep their wealth", because "they earned it", or inherited it ("Death to the Death Tax!").

This utopia sounds good on paper, but it appears to me that the execution is most times corrupted by the connected and powerful.

In any case the most difficult task in this process will be getting enough power to take any sizable wealth away from the "shareholders" , ie owners, to redistribute in a society controlled via media and laws by our lords and masters.

David , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time. Even with the factory system, and the beginning of paid employment, many of the workforce were skilled craftsmen with years of training and a high social status. The modern idea of a "job" as an unnecessary task carried out to gain money you don't need to buy things you don't want would have seemed incomprehensible. Indeed, there are parts of Africa today where a "job" is what you get to earn enough money to live on for a while and that's it.
The real problem then is a sense of purpose in life. There's some evidence that work can and does provide this, provided that work is minimally useful and satisfying. Certainly, the psychological damage from long-term unemployment as well as the psychological dangers of working alone are extensively documented. But the opposite is also true – work can make you ill, and the line between guaranteeing work and forcing people to work is a treacherously easy one to cross.
It would be better to move towards thinking about what kind of society and economy we want. After all, much of the contemporary economy serves no useful purpose whatever, and could be dispensed with and the assets invested elsewhere. Without getting into the magic wand thinking in the article, it must be possible to identify a host of things that people can usefully "do", whether or not these are "jobs" in the traditional sense.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

You're onto something here. Reading the post and comments, I couldn't identify what was bothering me, because when I think of work now (having been out of the paid workforce a while) I think in terms of things that make life more livable, either in very practical ways or through learning, enlarging my view of the world, and I don't in the least want to see the elimination of that kind of work. It's the other kind of work, that expects you to feign devotion to the manufacture or marketing of widgets, that probably needs to be largely eliminated (I won't say wholly, as there may be some for whom widgets are mentally rewarding). The author seems too certain of what needs to change and how. I think you're right that we need to give it more thought.

akaPaul LaFargue , January 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

The author of this review misses much of what James Livingston is all about. JL spends some time discussing how to imagine a meaningful life and he refers to Freud (!) that we need work and love. If work is no longer available then how do we imagine love as the basis for social solidarity? OR, is solidarity another way to express love? The author's concerns for wonky policy BS takes us down the wrong path into the scrubland of intellectual vapidity.

And btw Fred Block has devastated the Speenhamland analogy long ago. I think not many folks have gotten beyond Andre Gorz on these topics.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Yeah, I'm sort of skeptical of BIG myself, but I really don't think Speenhamland is a good comparison at all. Speenhamland had too many particularities that separate it from most modern BIG proposals IMHO.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

It would be helpful if you'd list some of those particularities.

River , January 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time

Too true. If you want to see what someone's ancestor most likely did, look at their last name. Tanner, Cooper, Fuller, etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

People used to have a right to land with which they could harvest building supplies, roofing supplies, food to feed themselves, fuel to heat and cook, raise livestock for food and fiber. The people have been stripped of the rights and ability to provide for their basic needs by force. They now have to have a job, the majority of their labor benefits someone else, to gain money in a system where nearly every transaction isn't just monetized but exploitative.

There is still the pull towards liberalism . to develop a hierarchy of needs, and a hierarchy of the usefullness/productiveness/profitability of tasks. There needs to be a ubi along with the jg. When the focus is on developing hierarchies, the end result will be a rigid bureaucratic structure and the use of force to ensure compliance.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?"

To do this, I propose that we give everyone, unconditionally, an income, as expression of their potential (and natural desire) to contribute to society, and all the prerequisite time that goes into that, and for the very contributions themselves. An unconditional labor value derived income, for all. An income that both enables all kinds of work, and pays that labor value in the same stroke.

From there, additional earned income becomes a matter of how much respect you command, how well you utilize monopolies, and how much you hate your job and require compensation for how much you hate it. But the labor value would be accounted for, unconditionally.

In a world where there's superstars (and superbrands) who command respect and natural monopolies to make a lot of money, and people writing open source for the greater benefit of everyone else predominantly, it makes sense to make a statement such as that, about labor value, and to pay it to everyone. Mothers and fathers in active care of their children too, could agree, I'd imagine.

But making a list of things that you think might be cool for society, and try to have tangible compensations for only those, seems problematic, if not to say, counterproductive. Rather recognize ALL the time that people spend, to be decent people among fellow people, to educate themselves formally and informally, be it in the process of being an entrepreneur in a broader sense, at times. A sense of justice that can only be achieved by the state deciding for its people what is purposeful, will fall flat on its face when it comes to practicality, unless we have artifical super intelligence. Because you will have to literally know better than the people, what they will appreciate to what extent. And you don't know that. Neither do I.

There's great things in community/entertainment space happening today, that nobody was thinking of 5 years ago. Because people still have some power to recognize things as individuals, that others do, as purposeful (as much as aggregate demand is increasingly in a sorry state, as the result of a 3+ decade long trend that seems to still keep going. Just fixing that issue would already help a lot.). I say we should build on that, and further empower people in that direction. Which to me means to give money to all the people of the society, so they can more directly at times, express what benefits society, that is themselves. And for macro economic/long term considerations we can always have direct democracy.

Schwarmageddon , January 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

The sorts of psychopaths that tend to be in control of modern human societies clearly prefer money as a tool of social control to money as any sort of public utility that would facilitate individual productivity and/or affirm human dignity, whether in the context of neoliberal derangement or not. That's the view from the long-frozen Rust Belt and certainly nothing new in history.

It also appears that any human capacity for moral innovation is easily constrained by our basic feces-hurling primate OS, particularly if said primates consider money to be something finite and concrete.

On the real balance sheet, though, the sweet old Earth likely can't afford a JG for a population of 7 billion, at least not under any current or previously existing model of labor exploitation. As all NCpeeps know, we're resource-constrained, not dollar-constrained.

So we arrive back at the same old power relationships, the coercion, desperation and ecocide to which we have been accustomed, in the absence of any disruptive® (!) moral innovation. Can anyone suggest that modern humans have demonstrated a capacity for moral innovation outside of prison camps? Actual, non-hopey-changey varieties of moral innovation? If so, is that capacity retarded only by misperceptions regarding the nature of money? Retarded perhaps by an exceptional propaganda system? One might only answer that for themselves, and likely only until the SWAT team arrives. It seems unlikely that some rational and compassionate bureaucracies will be established to compensate in their stead: Congress is wholly unable to formulate policy in the public interest for very good reasons, none of them admirable. It seems the social economic entities they protect require human desperation just as much as they require currency liquidity or juvenile male soldiers.

In the absence of representation, rule of law or some meager rational public policy, a reproductive strike may be a better individual approach than FW, as not having children avoids the voluntary provisioning of debt slaves into a corrupt and violent system of social control. There is also the many ecologically salubrious effects of less humans and a potential opportunity to avoid being forced to constantly sell one's labor at a sharp discount. Couples I know, both having made catastrophic errors in career choice (education, research, seriously OMG!), are able to persist with some degree of dignity only and precisely because they have avoided begetting, in the very biblical sense, more debt slaves.

Shom , January 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

The author's contention that JG is better than BIG is persuasive; however I am not convinced that JG is best implemented by the govt. We have had systems like these, e.g. USSR, and it is very clear that central planning for large masses never works.

Why not implement that JG as saying that the govt guarantees X $/hr for up to T hrs per week for every one, no matter where they are hired. Advantages:
– small business owners are afforded breathing space to get their dreams off the ground,
– Walmart workers will walk off if Walmart doesn't up its game significantly beyond $(X x 4T) per month,
– Non profits will be able to afford to pay volunteers more reliably,
– People who want to be alone / not work can setup their own "self preservation" business and earn the minimum $X/hr for T hrs.

This form of decentralized planning may help implement JGs in a more sustainable manner than centralized planning. It also puts a floor on minimum income. Also, when combined with barriers on moving jobs outside the US, it helps provide a sharper threshold on how good automation needs to be in order to replace labor.

X and T can be the $15 and 40 hrs that is being implemented in big coastal cities, progressive states. Or it could be set to just above poverty level earnings, depending on how comfortable we are in letting go of our Pilgrim/Protestant shackles.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Past time to kill off the Protestant Ethic. The future has always supposed to be made up of robots doing scut work while people get to chill out and NOT do shit work.

The job race is why people STILL don't take enough vacation or full vacation. It is why they feel COMPELLED to not take days off because if they do, their boss will hold it against them come promotion time.

Not all jobs are worth doing and forcing people to take them doesn't do anyone any good, and makes people into commodities, THE biggest problem with neoliberalism. People are NOT commodities and work should NOT be a measure of one's value. CEOs outrageously overvalue themselves for doing little or nothing while engineers and workers they mistreat do EVERYTHING. That is neoliberalism and capitalism in a nutshell.

Guaranteed Basic Income ends that. Set a max income so there will be no more over-compensated CEOs AND provide a decent income for EVERYONE, gratis, so they are not forced to take a job polishing the shoes of the useless eater CEOs.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I prefer the Universal Basic Income guarantee to the Work guarantee. The Work guarantee guarantees MAKEWORK . "Here, have a broom and do some sweeping with it. Somewhere."

Or, "Here's a desk and a pile of papers with staples in them. Remove the staples."

"You! Toss this box of trash in the street and you, walk behind him and pick it up and put it in THIS box!"

Fuck work. In particular, fuck MAKEWORK. A job, ANY job, just to say you have a job is CRAP.

Better: Income guarantee. Period. Gratis. If a company wants you to do a job for them then they will have to provide incentive enough to get you to take the job. You don't HAVE to take a shit job because you have a guaranteed income so employers better offer a sweat deal like good pay and benefits (and LESS pay and benefits for CEOs, etc the lazy do-nothing self-entitled class).

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I hear the make-work talking point over and over again. It's nonsense. It didn't happen where the job guarantee was implemented , and it doesn't have to happen if the work is under democratic control.

Adam Eran , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

The basis of job guarantees would universally empower or improve the public realm–shared goods.

The "anti-collectivist" propaganda that dominates most mainstream media now forbids anything but public squalor and private opulence.

We work to construct a pyramid of Democratic skulls , January 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

The basic income and the job guarantee are natural complements. In terms of the acquis that any sovereign state must comply with (the UDHR,) you have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [your]self and of [your] family, and the right to free choice of employment. Two different rights. That means work should be an option.

The idea is, you're not on the treadmill, it's the state that's on the treadmill, working continually to fulfill your economic and social rights. It's the state that bears duties, you have rights. So if you want to do something and you need structure, knock yourself out, work for the state or some customer or boss. If you want to spend all the time you can with your kid before the mass extinction starves her, that's fine too.

When you ask people, Do you exist for the state, or does the state exist for you? People are quick to say, I don't exist for the state, that's totalitarianism! But people seem to accept that they exist for the economy. They accept that their life depends on acceptable service to the labor market. Just like I don't exist for the state, I don't exist for the economy. The economy exists for me. That is the revolutionary import of the ICESCR (and that's why the US strangled Venezuela when Chavez committed the state to it.)

Human rights is a complete, consistent and coherent alternative to neoliberal market worship. The idea sounds so strange because the neoliberal episcopate uses an old trick to get people to hold still for exploitation. In the old days, the parasitic class invented god's will to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. Everybody nodded and said, I see, it's not some greedy assholes, it's god's will. After a while everybody said, Wait a minute. The parasitic class had to think fast, so they invented the economy to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. So now you submit to that. Suckers!

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I would prefer not to.

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

i love you.

please marry me!

wait, i think i know what the answer will be

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Thank you, Mr. Bartleby.

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

I am in favor of the job or income guarantee program. We really should not and do not need to work nearly as much as is common in U.S. (nevermind the even more repressive slave labor in Asia). The claim that "algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable" seems like a pretty likely scenario at this point. Why have we been working for millenia to build this advanced civilization, if not to relax and enjoy it and be DONE slaving away?!

I recently sold everything I had and travelled around the US for 6 months, and it was delightful. I was next to broke, but if I had an income guarantee I could have had way more freedom to stop here and there, get involved in who knows what, and enjoy myself with very low stress.

I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced, but that is what we need to finally work on: ourselves and our crippling egos. The world is plenty advanced technologically, we have made incredible inventions and that will continue to happen, but people need to start working on themselves inwardly as well or the outward world will be destroyed.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

What does being productive mean? Besides making a profit for an oligarch. Everything is work. Cook for yourself, not work. Cook for someone else, work. Garden for yourself, not work. Garden for someone else, work. Travel for yourself, not work. Travel for someone else, work. etc.

Has anyone run the numbers for a 4 day work week, or 3? How about if full time work were lowered to 30, 25 hours per week?

Automation was supposed to free up labors time. Workers have participated in designing automation, installing automation, testing automation and training others for automation. It's time labor takes the share of their labor and if oligarchs get the permanent financial benefit of labors efforts to automate, so does labor.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

> I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced

That sounds like the persistent notion that the pyramids were built with slave labor. Michael Hudson has debunked this :

We found [the pyramids] were not built by slaves. They were built by well-paid skilled labour. The problem in these early periods was how to get labour to work at hard tasks, if not willingly? For 10,000 years there was a labour shortage. If people didn't want to work hard, they could just move somewhere else. The labour that built temples and big ceremonial sites had to be at least quasi-voluntary even in the Bronze Age c. 2000 BC. Otherwise, people wouldn't have gone there.

We found that one reason why people were willing to do building work with hard manual labour was the beer parties. There were huge expenditures on beer. If you're going to have a lot of people come voluntarily to do something like city building or constructing their own kind of national identity of a palace and walls, you've got to have plenty of beer. You also need plenty of meat, with many animals being sacrificed. Archaeologists have found their bones and reconstructed the diets with fair accuracy.

What they found is that the people doing the manual labour on the pyramids, the Mesopotamian temples and city walls and other sites were given a good high protein diet. There were plenty of festivals. The way of integrating these people was by public feasts.

Now, you can argue that labor is no longer scarce, so the logic doesn't apply. But you can't generalize that people won't work unless forced; it's not true.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Perhaps the best solution would be a Universal Beer Income?

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

I see what you mean, but they built the pyramids because they needed money to survive, the beer and festivals is an added bonus. Whether you call it slave labor or working for a decent wage, the premise is the same – your survival depends on doing the work so you do it.

The distinction I think relates to what waldenpond says above. People want to feel a sense of ownership, meaning and community around what they are doing, and then they do it of their own volition, so it is not seen as work. This is something quite rare in todays labor market, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Looks like people chose to work not just for pay but for pay and the addition of leisure activities (cooking, eating, partying) and a sense of community.

ekstase , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I agree with this. I think of the people I knew who had to work at two or more jobs, full time or more, to be "allowed" to be a painter, musician, writer, or performer, etc. It is sapping us culturally, not to let the creative people have time to do what they were born to do. And I think at least a little of this lives in all of us. There are things that we are born to do. How much does our society let us be who we are?

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

similar arguments made regarding all of the lands in North and South America.

"they aren't using it for anything productive. best we take it from them."

who are you to say what is productive in another person's life? if we had a meaningful culture and education in this debased society, each of us would be able to make the decision about what exactly we find most productive and worthy of our efforts, and what isn't. since we have no public lands to hunt and gather and fish and farm and live upon, we are forced into this economic system. i find it odd as heck that two people who are effectively "unemployed" find it better for everyone else to be chained to a money-for-work scheme. will you both be signing up for some labor-conscription hours? will it be compulsory for all, without ability to opt-out except for complete physical/emotional disability with no gaming by the rich? (my apologies if you all do not agree, and i have misrepresented your positions)

more rationales to make people love their chains, please. because we know how this would work out: rather as it does now when you sign up for unemployment/food assistance-you MUST take the first job for the first abuser that comes along and makes an offer for you.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

I think we should separate the wage/salary component of work from social welfare provisioning. Namely, universal health care and universal old age pensions. The more you think about it in the context of today's various pressures, the more sense it makes.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Social welfare provisioning isn't just the means of exchange, it's the ability to acquire the necessities of survival of shelter, food, heat etc. If the focus is just within the capitalist system of private ownership and rent seeking is not ended, the welfare is merely passed through and ends with the oligarchs.

cojo , January 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I have several questions, concerns with UBI. One is if everyone is given a base salary who is to decide what that amount should be. Will it be indexed to inflation, what will it do to inflation, specifically, inflation for housing, food, healthcare.

Will a UBI be an excuse to gut all social contracts/guarantees. Who will make those decisions. What will happen to social services (public schools, hospitals), and social needs (clean water, air, sanitation/trash, police/fire protection).

Primitive human cultures traditionally "worked" to fulfill their needs only 3-4 hours a day. The rest was leisure, taking care of children/elderly, and rest. I agree, that a large percentage of time at work is wasted time due to hour artificial 9:5 business schedule. If we all perform work from home, what will the hours be like? Will we have more time to meet our neighbors and become more involved in the community or will we be shut in our houses all day not seeing anyone. Will the family unit be stronger, since people will not have to travel across the country for job opportunities and stay near each other.

Who will be provided with basic education, will that be free or for a fee, or will the idle relatives and neighbors collaborate to provide it.

Will some neighborhoods/regions be more organized and successful than others? Will all the "lazy people" filter into future slums riddled with crime and disease? Who will provide for them if there is no longer any social services.

inhibi , January 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I'm sure someone has already posted this, but my idea was to have a huge Federally funded Environmental Cleanup Dept. that essentially hires mass amounts of people to literally clean streets, parks, waterways, sort through trash, etc. It's needed, its relatively low skill labor, but at least it could provide an alternative to Welfare, which is a huge huge scam that's imprisons people in the lowest class (cant own a car or land).

Obviously this doesn't solve the entire issue, but it's become pretty clear that just having a huge Welfare state will not work longterm, as Yves mentions, the detriments are huge and real: unskilled lower class, unmoivitated lower class (more free time = more criminal activity), etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Again with the Americans are lazy myth. I would argue criminal activity is more related to being blocked by state violence from accessing a thoroughly monetized society (poverty) and a purposely bled social structure than from boredom.

If a person has access to a share of the resources of a society (shelter/food and enrichment) they will not likely commit crime. For those that want a rush, we can add some climbing walls etc. ha!

For those that are critical of the'welfare state'.. it isn't natural nor accidental, it's purposeful. Stop putting in so many resources (legal, political, financial) to create one.

David , January 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm

What do you actually want to work for ?
In early societies, you worked so that you and your family and community didn't die, and could produce the goods needed to make society function. But that's changed, and today we work to earn the money to pay other people to carry out these same functions. We even work to earn the money to pay the costs of working to earn the money to pay others. We buy a house (which in the past would have been constructed by the society) and have to pay to travel to work to earn the money to pay for the house, and then the insurance on the house, and the business clothes, and then buy a car and insurance on the car because the time we spend working and traveling means we have to shop at the supermarket instead of local shops, and then we pay a garage to maintain the car, and we pay someone to look after our garden because between trips to the supermarket we don't have time ourselves, and then we pay someone to look after our children because we work so hard earning money to pay for childcare that we have no time actually left for caring for our children. And the idea is that everybody should be guaranteed the right to do this?

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

You think too much. ;)

J Gamer , January 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

In the drive towards totalitarianism, universal basic income is the carrot that enables the abolition of cash. India is the trial run. Although after seeing what's transpired in India, it's probably safe to say the ruling elite have wisely concluded that it might be better to offer the carrot before rolling out the stick.

Gil , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Read Edmund Phelps' Rewarding Work for good ideas about how to generate full time jobs with adequate wages.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

As I wrote at EconoSpeak back in December, "everyone is wrong."

There seems to be this false dilemma between the impending "end" of work and the unlimited potential of creative job creation. BOTH of these utopias are apocalyptically blind to history.

In 2017 what counts as "work" - a job, wage labor - is inseparably bound up with the consumption of fossil fuel. A "job" consumes "x" barrels of oil per annum. Lumps of labor are directly quantifiable in lumps of coal.

The ecological implications of this are clearly that the dilemma does not resolve itself into a choice between different schemes for redistributing some proverbial surplus. That "surplus" represents costs that have been shifted for decades and even centuries onto the capacity of the ambient environment to absorb wastes and to have resources extracted from it.

Can such an extractive economy continue indefinitely? Not according to the laws of thermodynamics.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

From April 2015, UBI Caritas :

A UBI might reduce the dire incentive to "work or starve" at the same time as it increases opportunities and incentives to pursue the bright elusive butterfly of "meaningful work." That would be good if it was the only consideration. But it is not. There is also an inconvenient truth about the relationship between productivity and fossil fuel consumption. In the industrial economy, larger amounts of better work mean more greenhouse gas emissions. Productivity is a double-edged sword.

We have long since passed the point where capital "diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition – question of life or death – for the necessary."

Currently, world-wide carbon emissions per year are roughly double what can be re-absorbed by oceans and plants. This is not to say that the re-absorption by oceans is harmless –it leads to acidification. But clearly more than half of the emissions are superfluous to sustainability. Lo and behold, carbon emission increase in virtual lockstep with hours of work. In the U.S., the correlation between the two has been about 95% over the last quarter century.

Don't even think of using the "correlation doesn't prove causation" gambit. We are talking about a "water is wet" relationship. Fossil fuel is burned to do work. Period. Not just correlation - identity.

So the bottom line is we either need to cut hours of work at least in half or the remaining hours need to be less productive not more.

Reducing the hours of work also implies the potential for redistributing hours of work to create more jobs from less total work time. This of course flies in the face of " laws of political economy " that were discredited more than a century ago but nonetheless get repeated as gospel ad nauseum by so-called "economists."

UBI Caritas et amor

bulfinch , January 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I like where this guy is trying to go, but I think I'd put forth more of a F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ethos, rather than F-k Work . Too oversimple too broad. Work, on some level, is really all there is. The idea of a collective life devoted to perpetual and unbridled hedonism just sounds like death by holiday to me; just as awful as working yourself into the grave.

As to Yves' notion - probably this is true. Pressure is a fine agent for production and problem solving; but I suspect that stagnant period might just be a byproduct of the initial hangover. Guilt is an engine that hums in many of us - I think most people feel guilty if they spend an entire day doing nothing, let alone a lifetime tossed away.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:24 pm

It is going to be interesting to see what happens as the financial sector "high value" employees continue to be replaced by passive investing and computer programs. I suspect this process will result in a rethinking of many of these people about the value of work and job security.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I have been stating this also. So many tasks are open to automation in law, healthcare (remote offices), writing (algorithms), teaching (one math teacher per language!), policing. I can even imagine automated fire trucks that can pinpoint hot spots, hook up to hydrants, open a structure and target.

Dick Burkhart , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

What we need is not a guaranteed minimum income, but universal ownership of key productive assets, like Alaska does with its Permanent Fund. These assets could include partial citizenship ownership of our largest corporations. All paid work would be on top of this.

As Peter Barnes says, "With Dividends and Liberty for All". Thus everyone would have a base income, enough to prevent extreme poverty, but still with plenty of incentives for jobs. Note: You'd also need to make it illegal for these "dividends" to become security for loan sharks.

Craa+zyChris , January 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

I spent a lot of time over the holidays thinking about the future of human work and came to this conclusion: As we move forward, robots and other automation will take over a lot of human work, but in 3 areas I think humans will always have an edge. I'll summarize these 3 essentially human endeavors as: "sex, drugs and rock-and-roll", but each of those is a proxy for a wider range of human interactions.

"Sex work" (compare to "Fuck Work" from this essay) means what it says, but is also a proxy for human interactions such as massage, phys-therapy, etc. Robots will encroach on this turf somewhat (serving as tools), but for psychological reasons, humans will always prefer to be worked over by other humans.

Drugs is a proxy for human appreciation of chemical substances. Machines will of course be used to detect such substances, but no one will appreciate them like us. The machines will need us to tell them whether the beer is as good as the last batch, and we must make sure to get paid for that.

Finally, rock-and-roll is a proxy for human artistic expression as well as artistic appreciation. Robots will never experience sick beats the way we do, and while they may produce some, again for psychological reasons, I think humans will tend to value art created by other humans above that produced by machines.

The good news is that the supply and demand balance for these activities will scale in a stable way as the population grows (or shrinks). So I think the key is to make sure these types of activities are considered "work", and renumerated accordingly in our bright J.G. future.

[Mar 23, 2017] I love the smell of money-greased credentialism in the morning.

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ewmayer , March 22, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Received a "new academic programs" missive from my alma mater in today's mail, containing the following:

How to Make Innovation Happen in Your Organization

The Certified Professional Innovator (CPI) program is intended to develop the competency of high potential leaders in the theory and practice of innovation. It is rooted on the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation.

The certification is comprised of a 12-week curriculum with specific syllabus and assignments for each week, including videos, workbook assignments, and reports. During the program, participants, functioning as a cohort, communicate and collaborate with each other and faculty through a series of webinars and discussions. The program culminates in project pitches.

"It is rooted on [sic] the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation" - OK, fine there, but it is also rooted in the notion that such creativity can be taught in a formal academic setting, here monetized and condensed into a 12-week program. As for me, I'm gonna hold out for the following surely-in-development mini-courses:

o Certified Professional Serial Disruptor (CPD)
o Certified Professional Innovative Thought Leader (CPCTL)
o Certified Professional Smart Creative (CPSC)

I love the smell of money-greased credentialism in the morning.

Synoia , March 22, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Certified Real Accounting Professional.
Certified Real Estate Experienced Professional

[Mar 23, 2017] Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurers, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again- effectively being single-payer, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

Notable quotes:
"... Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. " ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
djrichard , March 22, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Just a bit of a thought experiment, building on some thinking from a comment yesterday by jefemt

Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurers, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again- effectively being single-payer, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

Taking jefemt's thinking further, imagine the health insurance provider was not only monopolistic (owned the entire market), but was also a GSE (government sponsored enterprise). Now take it one more step and imagine it was an actual part of the government and not merely a GSE.

Conceivably, it wouldn't even have to live off appropriations from congress, assuming it was equally as extractive from the private sector as it is now (i.e. revenue model is the same). Talk about good living. Who knows, maybe they pocket their proceeds into some kind of surplus in Treasury dept.

But let's assume they had to give up on revenue models. [Afterall, it's easier to find partners in congress when you have an appropriations process that binds you to them.] Then they would be exposed. Somebody would get the bright idea that this agency doesn't need as much staffing since they are no longer revenue oriented. That indeed, they could have the same staffing profile as the agency responsible for medicare. Indeed they could be folded into medicare.

I was thinking of this too as a reponse to Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. "

Indeed, I think of the insurance industry as being part of the deep state already. It seems that congress's preference is that this part of the deep state is outsourced. So that's it not a GSE, and not even a monopoly, but maintained as an oligopoly. And then, well hey whatever surplus it can hoover up is fair game. After all free-hand of the market and all that. [And heaven knows, we don't want to crowd that out.]

In contrast to other parts of the deep state that don't really have a revenue model. In which case, those parts need to be insourced by the Fed Gov.

human , March 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

The CIA has a long history of drug trafficking. The FBI traffics in blackmail. The NSA in network surveillance. DIA, special ops. NRO, satelite throughput. 11 more in the US of A and countless more globally. They all have opaque resources outside of regular channels.

Ernesto Lyon , March 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

Great documentary about the 80's cocaine business in Miami called "Cocaine Cowboys." It's real life Scarface.

Guess who the Feds sent to get a handle on the cocaine smuggling?

See-eye-aye man George H.W. Bush. Coincidence?

[Mar 23, 2017] Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow

Notable quotes:
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... Moyers & Company ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow March 21, 2017

President Trump promised health insurance for all, but – now dependent on the political protection of House Speaker Paul Ryan – he is supporting a plan that will push millions outside the system, writes Michael Winship.

By Michael Winship

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump still insists he's going to Make America Great Again! Mind you, it won't be a healthy or vigorous America - in fact, it will be coughing and wheezing to the grave, but boy, will it be great!

If you ever needed further evidence that Trump doesn't give a single good goddamn about the people who elected him, just look at his treacherous turnabout on health care. This Republican "repeal and replace" bill stinks on so many levels I'm tempted to say it should be taken far out to sea and dumped into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench but I have too much regard for marine life, even the kind with the big googly eyes and the really scary teeth.

Remember that Trump was the carnival barker who declared during the campaign , "I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." And right before his inauguration he told The Washington Post , "We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."

Then along comes the proposed Republican bill, which over a decade, according to the now-famous report from the Congressional Budget Office , would see 24 million fewer Americans with coverage, doubling the number of uninsured. Trump's own supporters would take it on the chin for what he tweeted is "our wonderful new health care bill."

According to John McCormick at Bloomberg News : "Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples."

And remember all that nonsense about Obamacare's "death panels," a falsehood so rotten to the core it was declared PolitiFact's 2009 Lie of the Year ? Well, this Republican bill actually would kill people. Those older would pay more than the young, it would strip Planned Parenthood of funding and Medicaid programs would be slashed. It would eliminate money for the Prevention and Public Health Fund , which provides epidemiology, immunization and health-screening programs. And there would be no mandate that employers with 50 employees or more provide coverage.

Julia Belluz at Vox reports on:"[V]ery high-quality studies on the impacts of health insurance on mortality, which come to some pretty clear estimates. This research suggests that we would see more than 24,000 extra deaths per year in the US if 20 million people lost their coverage. Again, 20 million is less than the 24 million the CBO thinks will lose insurance by 2026. So the death toll from an Obamacare repeal and replacement could be even higher."

Ignoring the Needy

Notice that Trump has barely lifted a finger to assist those who need genuine reform that would bring quality care to all, the kind of help he promised as a candidate. Instead, he has directed his energies at helping Speaker Paul Ryan win over right-wing House members by promising to make the bill even crueler to those who need health care the most.

Take a look at this statement issued by tea partier and Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt after meeting with Trump on Friday, a statement so mind-boggling it's worth quoting in full :

"President Trump called me to the Oval Office this morning to discuss the American Healthcare Act, because of his understanding that I could not support the current language of the bill. I expressed to the president my concern around the treatment of older, poorer Americans in states like Alabama. I reminded him that he received overwhelming support from Alabama's voters.

"The president listened to the fact that a 64-year-old person living near the poverty line was going to see their insurance premiums go up from $1,700 to $14,600 per year. The president looked me in the eye and said, 'These are my people and I will not let them down. We will fix this for them.'

"I also asked the president point blank if this House bill was the one that he supported. He told me he supports it '1,000 percent.' After receiving the president's word that these concerns will be addressed, I changed my vote to yes."

Can you believe it? Trump's behind the bill 1,000 percent, the President claims, but don't worry, we'll fix it. It's hard to decide which of the two men is behaving more hypocritically: Trump saying he won't let the people down or Aderholt claiming to believe the President actually will keep his word. Each is endorsing a cutthroat scheme that will bring nothing but grief to the people but hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthy and vast profits to the insurance industry.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities : "The top 400 highest-income taxpayers - whose annual incomes average more than $300 million apiece - each would receive an average annual tax cut of about $7 million , we estimate from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data."

Andy Slavitt, who was President Obama's acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told The Washington Post , "This is a massive tax cut for unpopular industries and wealthy individuals. It is about cutting care for lower-income people, seniors, people with disabilities and kids to pay for the tax cut."

This is, in the words of Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, "a dumpster fire of a bill that was written on the back of a napkin behind closed doors because Republicans know this is a disaster." But thanks to ineptitude and an inchoate, ill-planned rush to pass the legislation, it looks as if the current Republican bill may be on its way to failure, if not in the House then in the Senate.

Lucky us - for now. But if the GOP and Trump White House do manage to force on us anything short of what's really needed – single-payer, universal health care - we're doomed to live in a nation the motto of which may no longer be "In God We Trust" but instead, "Die young and leave a good-looking corpse."

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship . [This article first appeared at http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-gop-prescription-america-dont-get-sick/ ]

[Mar 23, 2017] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

March 20, 2017

It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
By ANGUS DEATON

THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman

President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

What of today, when inequality is back in full force? I am not persuaded that we can be saved by the return of a rational and public-spirited middle class, even if I knew exactly how to identify middle-class people, or to measure how well they are doing. Nor is it clear, postelection, whether the threat is an incipient oligarchy or an incipient populist autocracy; our new president tweets from one to the other. And European countries, without America's middle-class Constitution, face some of the same threats, though more from autocracy than from plutocracy, which their constitutions may have helped them resist. Yet it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population....


Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 10:27 AM libezkova said in reply to anne... Thank you Anne.

As for ".. it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population...."

that was accomplished in 1980 by Reagan. That's why we now can speak about "a colony nation" within the USA which encompasses the majority of population. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 04:58 PM libezkova said in reply to libezkova... Neoliberals vs the rest of population is like slave owners and the plantation workers. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 04:59 PM

[Mar 23, 2017] On the congressional Russian pant sniffing hearings, this is most worthy of a fast read

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
uncle tungsten , March 23, 2017 at 5:16 am

On the congressional Russian pant sniffing hearings, this is most worthy of a fast read:

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/23/conspiracy-against-president-trump.html

[Mar 23, 2017] Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire

Notable quotes:
"... to influence our Atlantic Council! ..."
"... our Atlantic Council! ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
craazyboy , March 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

"Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire" [Politico]. (Furzy Mouse). ZOMG!!!! The Ukrainians were hacking tampering with meddling in seeking to influence our election! Where's that declaration of war I had lying around
______________________

Ukrania IS A NEW WORLD ORDER!!!!!

Ukrainian World Congress
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_World_Congress

Members[edit]
European Congress of Ukrainians (Yaroslava Khortiani)
Armenia: Federation of Ukrainians of Armenia "Ukraine"
Belgium: Main Council of Ukrainian Public Organizations
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Coordination council of Ukrainian associations
Czech Republic: Ukrainian Initiative in the Czech Republic
Croatia: Union of Rusyns and Ukrainians of the Republic of Croatia
Estonia: Congress of Ukrainians of Estonia
France: Representative Committee of the Ukrainian Community of France
Georgia: Coordination Council of Ukrainians of Georgia
Germany: Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany
Greece: Association of the Ukrainian diaspora in Greece "Ukrainian-Greek Thought"
Hungary: Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary
Italy
Latvia: Ukrainian Cultural-Enlightening Association in Latvia "Dnieper"
Lithuania: Community of Ukrainians of Lithuania
Moldova: Society of Ukrainians of Transnistria
Norway
Poland: Association of Ukrainians in Poland (Piotr Tyma)
Portugal: Society of Ukrainians in Portugal
Romania: Union of Ukrainians of Romania
Russia: Association of Ukrainians of Russia
Serbia
Slovakia: Union of Rusyn-Ukrainians of the Slovak Republic
Spain
Switzerland
United Kingdom: Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Zenko Lastowiecki)
Others
Australia: Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (Stefan Romaniw)
Argentina: Ukrainian Central Representation in Argentina
Brazil: Ukrainian-Brazilian Central Representation
Canada: Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Paul Grod)
Kazakhstan: Ukrainians in Kazakhstan
Paraguay:
United States: Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (Andriy Futey)
United States: Ukrainian American Coordinating Council (Ihor Gawdiak) [2]
Uzbekistan: Ukrainian Cultural Center "Fatherland"

They also are attempting to influence our Atlantic Council!

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

Funding[edit]
In September 2014, the New York Times reported that since 2008, the organization has received donations from more than twenty-five governments outside of the United States, including $5 million from Norway.[34] Concerned that scholars from the organization could be covertly trying to push the agendas of foreign governments, legislation was proposed in response to the Times report requiring full disclosure of witnesses testifying before Congress.[35] Other contributors to the organization include the Ukrainian World Congress, and the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.[9][36]

Plus, Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the famous DNC security firm, Cloudstrike, is a senior fellow of our Atlantic Council!

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

Cloudstrike also has hired some top FBI security professionals. Revolving Door!

Keep plenty of Declaration of War forms handy. We're gonna need 'em!!!!

[Mar 23, 2017] Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Peter Van Erp , March 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

"Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. Yesterday, Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex, and current member of the pundit class from her position as the First Woman to Head the Wilson Center.
Let the word go forth from this time and place that the government works in your best interests, despite the apparent fact that it doesn't work for most Americans and keeps delivering more and more benefits to the oligarchy. Any attempt to explain it as deliberate policy is a fantasy, a fever dream of rabid leftists right wing nuts.

Paid Minion , March 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Funny how some are getting their undies in a twist over "foreign interference" in our elections.

Globalists push global markets, global labor pools, global "race to the bottom" rules for white collar crime. Yet are surprised/offended by "global elections". Especially when the US government interferes (directly or indirectly) with every country on the face of the earth.

Maybe we should be happy that our government is for sale to the highest bidder, worldwide. After all, global competition has done so much for US business and labor.

So we have Global Kleptocrats. In charge of the Global Banana Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm

"Domestic interference' is not OK.

But I think we should ignore it for now, per the Propaganda Ministry.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:51 am

Putin forced the Democrats to lose all those ballots in Brooklyn. It's incredible.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:58 am

> the deep state

Watch that definite article. (What that Politico article shows is how easy it is to write sloppy articles about the "deep state." That's because the deep state is such a sloppy, amorphous concept. It's very sloppiness is what makes it simultaneously (a) useful to our scribes in the political class, who can (b) bang out stories with click-baity headlines easily, while (c) disempowering to the rest of us (since to have power over your enemies, you have to understand them).

[Mar 22, 2017] A Breach in the Anti-Putin Groupthink

Anti-Russian campaign is too profitable to be affected by minor setbacks.
Notable quotes:
"... Does Russia Have a Future? ..."
Mar 21, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

The mainstream U.S. media has virtually banned any commentary that doesn't treat Russian President Putin as the devil, but a surprising breach in the groupthink has occurred in Foreign Affairs magazine, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

Realistically, no major change in U.S. foreign and defense policy is possible without substantial support from the U.S. political class, but a problem occurs when only one side of a debate gets a fair hearing and the other side gets ignored or marginalized. That is the current situation regarding U.S. policy toward Russia.

For the past couple of decades, only the neoconservatives and their close allies, the liberal interventionists, have been allowed into the ring to raise their gloves in celebration of an uncontested victory over policy. On the very rare occasion when a "realist" or a critic of "regime change" wars somehow manages to sneak into the ring, they find both arms tied behind them and receive the predictable pounding.

While this predicament has existed since the turn of this past century, it has grown more pronounced since the U.S.-Russia relationship slid into open confrontation in 2014 after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and sparking a civil war that led Crimea to secede and join Russia and Ukraine's eastern Donbass region to rise up in rebellion.

But the only narrative that the vast majority of Americans have heard – and that the opinion centers of Washington and New York have allowed – is the one that blames everything on "Russian aggression." Those who try to express dissenting opinions – noting, for instance, the intervention in Ukrainian affairs by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as well as the U.S.-funded undermining on Yanukovych's government – have been essentially banned from both the U.S. mass media and professional journals.

When a handful of independent news sites (including Consortiumnews.com) tried to report on the other side of the story, they were denounced as "Russian propagandists" and ended up on "blacklists" promoted by The Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets.

An Encouraging Sign

That is why it is encouraging that Foreign Affairs magazine, the preeminent professional journal of American diplomacy, took the extraordinary step (extraordinary at least in the current environment) of publishing Robert English's article , entitled "Russia, Trump, and a new Détente," that challenges the prevailing groupthink and does so with careful scholarship.

A wintery scene in Moscow, near Red Square. (Photo by Robert Parry)

In effect, English's article trashes the positions of all Foreign Affairs' featured contributors for the past several years. But it must be stressed that there are no new discoveries of fact or new insights that make English's essay particularly valuable. What he has done is to bring together the chief points of the counter-current and set them out with extraordinary writing skills, efficiency and persuasiveness of argumentation. Even more important, he has been uncompromising.

The facts laid out by English could have been set out by one of several experienced and informed professors or practitioners of international relations. But English had the courage to follow the facts where they lead and the skill to convince the Foreign Affairs editors to take the chance on allowing readers to see some unpopular truths even though the editors now will probably come under attack themselves as "Kremlin stooges."

The overriding thesis is summed up at the start of the essay: "For 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have acted in ways that look much the same to Moscow. Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back. The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn't get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does."

English's article goes back to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and explains why and how U.S. policy toward Russia was wrong and wrong again. He debunks the notion that Boris Yeltsin brought in a democratic age, which Vladimir Putin undid after coming to power.

English explains how the U.S. meddled in Russian domestic politics in the mid-1990s to falsify election results and ensure Yeltsin's continuation in office despite his unpopularity for bringing on an economic Depression that average Russians remember bitterly to this day. That was a time when the vast majority of Russians equated democracy with "shitocracy."

English describes how the Russian economic and political collapse in the 1990s was exploited by the Clinton administration. He tells why currently fashionable U.S. critics of Putin are dead wrong when they fail to acknowledge Putin's achievements in restructuring the economy, tax collection, governance, improvements in public health and more which account for his spectacular popularity ratings today.

English details all the errors and stupidities of the Obama administration in its handling of Russia and Putin, faulting President Obama and Secretary of State (and later presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton for all of their provocative and insensitive words and deeds. What we see in U.S. policy, as described by English, is the application of double standards, a prosecutorial stance towards Russia, and outrageous lies about the country and its leadership foisted on the American public.

Then English takes on directly all of the paranoia over Russia's alleged challenge to Western democratic processes. He calls attention instead to how U.S. foreign policy and the European Union's own policies in the new Member States and candidate Member States have created all the conditions for a populist revolt by buying off local elites and subjecting the broad populace in these countries to pauperization.

English concludes his essay with a call to give détente with Putin and Russia a chance.

Who Is Robert English?

English's Wikipedia entry and biographical data provided on his University of Southern California web pages make it clear that he has quality academic credentials: Master of Public Administration and PhD. in politics from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also has a solid collection of scholarly publications to his credit as author or co-editor with major names in the field of Russian-Soviet intellectual history.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left and the Kremlin to the right. (Photo by Robert Parry)

He spent six years doing studies for U.S. intelligence and defense: 1982–1986 at the Department of Defense and 1986-88 at the U.S. Committee for National Security. And he has administrative experience as the Director of the USC School of International Relations.

Professor English is not without his political ambitions. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, he tried to secure a position as foreign policy adviser to Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. In pursuit of this effort, English had the backing of progressives at The Nation, which in February 2016 published an article of his entitled "Bernie Sanders, the Foreign Policy Realist of 2016."

English's objective was to demonstrate how wrong many people were to see in Sanders a visionary utopian incapable of defending America's strategic interests. Amid the praise of Sanders in this article, English asserts that Sanders is as firm on Russia as Hillary Clinton.

By the end of the campaign, however, several tenacious neocons had attached themselves to Sanders's inner circle and English departed. So, one might size up English as just one more opportunistic academic who will do whatever it takes to land a top job in Washington.

While there is nothing new in such "flexibility," there is also nothing necessarily offensive in it. From the times of Machiavelli if not earlier, intellectuals have tended to be guns for hire. The first open question is how skilled they are in managing their sponsors as well as in managing their readers in the public. But there is also a political realism in such behavior, advancing a politician who might be a far better leader than the alternatives while blunting the attack lines that might be deployed against him or her.

Then, there are times, such as the article for Foreign Affairs, when an academic may be speaking for his own analysis of an important situation whatever the political costs or benefits. Sources who have long been close to English assure me that the points in his latest article match his true beliefs.

The Politics of Geopolitics

Yet, it is one thing to have a courageous author and knowledgeable scholar. It is quite another to find a publisher willing to take the heat for presenting views that venture outside the mainstream Establishment. In that sense, it is stunning that Foreign Affairs chose to publish English and let him destroy the groupthink that has dominated the magazine and the elite foreign policy circles for years.

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The only previous exception to the magazine's lockstep was an article by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer entitled "Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault" published in September 2014. That essay shot holes in Official Washington's recounting of the events leading up to the Russian annexation of Crimea and intervention in the Donbass.

It was a shock to many of America's leading foreign policy insiders who, in the next issue, rallied like a collection of white cells to attack the invasive thinking. But there were some Foreign Affairs readers – about one-third of the commenters – who voiced agreement with Mearsheimer's arguments. But that was a one-time affair. Mearsheimer appears to have been tolerated because he was one of the few remaining exponents of the Realist School in the United States. But he was not a Russia specialist.

Foreign Affairs may have turned to Robert English because the editors, as insider-insiders, found themselves on the outside of the Trump administration looking in. The magazine's 250,000 subscribers, which include readers from across the globe, expect Foreign Affairs to have some lines into the corridors of power.

In that regard, the magazine has been carrying water for the State Department since the days of the Cold War. For instance, in the spring issue of 2007, the magazine published a cooked-up article signed by Ukrainian politician Yuliya Tymoshenko on why the West must contain Russia, a direct response to Putin's famous Munich speech in which he accused the United States of destabilizing the world through the Iraq War and other policies.

Anticipating Hillary Clinton's expected election, Foreign Affairs' editors did not hedge their bets in 2016. They sided with the former Secretary of State and hurled rhetorical bricks at Donald Trump. In their September issue, they compared him to a tin-pot populist dictator in South America.

Thus, they found themselves cut off after Trump's surprising victory. For the first time in many years in the opening issue of the New Year following a U.S. presidential election, the magazine did not feature an interview with the incoming Secretary of State or some other cabinet member.

Though Official Washington's anti-Russian frenzy seems to be reaching a crescendo on Capitol Hill with strident hearings on alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election, the underlying reality is that the neocons are descending into a fury over their sudden loss of power.

The hysteria was highlighted when neocon Sen. John McCain lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul after the libertarian senator objected to special consideration for McCain's resolution supporting Montenegro's entrance into NATO. In a stunning breach of Senate protocol, a livid McCain accused Paul of "working for Vladimir Putin."

Meanwhile, some Democratic leaders have begun cautioning their anti-Trump followers not to expect too much from congressional investigations into the supposed Trump-Russia collusion on the election.

In publishing Robert English's essay challenging much of the anti-Russian groupthink that has dominated Western geopolitics over the past few years, Foreign Affairs may be finally bending to the recognition that it is risking its credibility if it continues to put all its eggs in the we-hate-Russia basket.

That hedging of its bets may be a case of self-interest, but it also may be an optimistic sign that the martyred Fifteenth Century Catholic Church reformer Jan Hus was right when he maintained that eventually the truth will prevail.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

[Mar 22, 2017] The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is past its sell-by date

Mar 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is past its sell-by date? Neoliberalism is not, after all, just a set of policies that can be discontinued and replaced with something else - neoliberal capitalism has birthed a complex global economy that isn't going to change overnight. Moreover, neoliberalism is also an encompassing set of orienting ideas that pervades all spheres of life; its core ethos of faith in private enterprise, ever-expanding commodification, and bootstrap individualism remains robust" [ Jacobin ], "The politics that prevail in America will determine whether the transition from neoliberal capitalism to something else is a step forward or a descent into hell." Yep.

[Mar 20, 2017] As French Election Nears, Le Pen Targets Voters Her Party Once Repelled

Notable quotes:
"... "There's been a real evolution," Philippe Renault-Guillemet, the retired head of a small manufacturing company, said as he handed out National Front leaflets in the market on a recent day. "A few years ago, they would insult us. It's changed ..."
"... With a month to go, the signs are mixed. Many voters, particularly affluent ones, at markets here and farther up the coast betray a traditional distaste for the far-right party. Yet others once repelled by a party with a heritage rooted in France's darkest political traditions - anti-Semitism, xenophobia and a penchant for the fist - are considering it. ..."
"... French politics are particularly volatile this election season. Traditional power centers - the governing Socialists and the center-right Republicans - are in turmoil. Ms. Le Pen's chief rival, Emmanuel Macron, is a youthful and untested politician running at the head of a new party. ..."
"... Those uncertainties - and a nagging sense that mainstream parties have failed to offer solutions to France's economic anemia - have left the National Front better positioned than at any time in its 45-year history. ..."
"... Frédéric Boccaletti, the party's leader in the Var, knows exactly what needs to be done. Last week, he and his fellow National Front activists gathered for an evening planning session in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, a working-class port town devastated by the closing of centuries-old naval shipyards nearly 20 years ago. Mr. Boccaletti, who is running for Parliament, keeps his headquarters here. ..."
"... It is not unlike the strategy that President Trump applied in the United States by campaigning in blue-collar, Democratic strongholds in rust-belt Ohio. No one thought he stood a chance there. Yet he won. ..."
"... "Now, we've got doctors, lawyers, the liberal professions with us," Mr. Boccaletti said. "Since the election of Marine" to the party's presidency in 2011, "it's all changed. ..."
"... The backlash against neoliberal globalization creates very strange alliances indeed. That was already visible during the last Presidential elections. When a considerable part of lower middle class professionals (including women) voted against Hillary. ..."
"... As Fred noted today (Why did so many white women vote for Donald Trump http://for.tn/2f51y7s ) there were many Trump supporters among white women with the college degree, for which Democrats identity politics prescribed voting for Hillary. ..."
"... I think this tendency might only became stronger in the next elections: neoliberal globalization is now viewed as something detrimental to the country future and current economic prosperity by many, usually not allied, segments of population. ..."
Mar 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : March 20, 2017 at 09:23 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/world/europe/french-election-marine-le-pen-national-front.html

As French Election Nears, Le Pen Targets Voters Her Party Once Repelled

By ADAM NOSSITER

MARCH 19, 2017

SANARY-SUR-MER, France - The National Front's leafleteers are no longer spat upon. Its local candidate's headquarters sit defiantly in a fraying Muslim neighborhood. And last week, Marine Le Pen, the party's leader, packed thousands into a steamy meeting hall nearby for a pugnacious speech mocking "the system" and vowing victory in this spring's French presidential election.

"There's been a real evolution," Philippe Renault-Guillemet, the retired head of a small manufacturing company, said as he handed out National Front leaflets in the market on a recent day. "A few years ago, they would insult us. It's changed."

It has long been accepted wisdom that Ms. Le Pen and her far-right party can make it through the first round of the presidential voting on April 23, when she and four other candidates will be on the ballot, but that she will never capture the majority needed to win in a runoff in May.

But a visit to this southeastern National Front stronghold suggests that Ms. Le Pen may be succeeding in broadening her appeal to the point where a victory is more plausible, even if the odds are still stacked against her.

With a month to go, the signs are mixed. Many voters, particularly affluent ones, at markets here and farther up the coast betray a traditional distaste for the far-right party. Yet others once repelled by a party with a heritage rooted in France's darkest political traditions - anti-Semitism, xenophobia and a penchant for the fist - are considering it.

"I've said several times I would do it, but I've never had the courage," Christian Pignol, a vendor of plants and vegetables at the Bandol market, said about voting for the National Front. "This time may be the good one."

"It's the fear of the unknown," he continued, as several fellow vendors nodded. "People would like to try it, but they are afraid. But maybe it's the solution. We've tried everything for 30, 40 years. We'd like to try it, but we're also afraid."

French politics are particularly volatile this election season. Traditional power centers - the governing Socialists and the center-right Republicans - are in turmoil. Ms. Le Pen's chief rival, Emmanuel Macron, is a youthful and untested politician running at the head of a new party.

Those uncertainties - and a nagging sense that mainstream parties have failed to offer solutions to France's economic anemia - have left the National Front better positioned than at any time in its 45-year history.

But if it is to win nationally, the party must do much better than even the 49 percent support it won in this conservative Var department, home to three National Front mayors, in elections in 2015. More critically, it must turn once-hostile areas of the country in Ms. Le Pen's favor and attract new kinds of voters - professionals and the upper and middle classes. Political analysts are skeptical.

Frédéric Boccaletti, the party's leader in the Var, knows exactly what needs to be done. Last week, he and his fellow National Front activists gathered for an evening planning session in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, a working-class port town devastated by the closing of centuries-old naval shipyards nearly 20 years ago. Mr. Boccaletti, who is running for Parliament, keeps his headquarters here.

"I'm telling you, you've got to go to the difficult neighborhoods - it's not what you think," Mr. Boccaletti told them, laughing slyly. "Our work has got to be in the areas that have resisted us most" - meaning the coast's more affluent areas.

It is not unlike the strategy that President Trump applied in the United States by campaigning in blue-collar, Democratic strongholds in rust-belt Ohio. No one thought he stood a chance there. Yet he won.

"Now, we've got doctors, lawyers, the liberal professions with us," Mr. Boccaletti said. "Since the election of Marine" to the party's presidency in 2011, "it's all changed."

...

libezkova -> Peter K.... March 20, 2017 at 11:05 AM

The backlash against neoliberal globalization creates very strange alliances indeed. That was already visible during the last Presidential elections. When a considerable part of lower middle class professionals (including women) voted against Hillary.

As Fred noted today (Why did so many white women vote for Donald Trump http://for.tn/2f51y7s ) there were many Trump supporters among white women with the college degree, for which Democrats identity politics prescribed voting for Hillary.

I think this tendency might only became stronger in the next elections: neoliberal globalization is now viewed as something detrimental to the country future and current economic prosperity by many, usually not allied, segments of population.

[Mar 20, 2017] Any answer to right-wing populism requires left-wing economics

Notable quotes:
"... [Arzheimer] found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries - that is, the ones with the largest welfare states - saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did. ..."
"... Welfare state policies are the link between economic crisis, unemployment and far right party support. Welfare cuts have increased the insecurity of the European middle classes that are being hit by the economic crisis. This matters because of the implications it has for policy. By reversing austerity, which results in welfare cuts and increases insecurity, we can limit the appeal of right-wing extremism. ..."
"... The typical model for how social democratic politics would defeat far-right reactionaries rests on the belief that "universal benefits enable a solidarity mindset" while "means-tested [benefits] enable resentment," as Ryan Cooper of The Week has argued. So one would expect that citizens living under social democratic welfare regimes would be more sympathetic to immigrants than those living under Christian democratic or liberal welfare regimes would. ..."
"... This suggests that less diverging lifestyles between the rich and the poor lead to more understanding towards (potential) immigrant welfare recipients among majority populations. Put differently, in more unequal societies the rich are more likely to consider minority groups deviant, and therefore less entitled to welfare. [Emphasis added] ..."
"... A 2014 study by Antonio Martín-Artiles, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Guglielmo Meardi, a professor at the University of Warwick, meanwhile, found that "social protection expenditure and unemployment benefits are correlated with a reduction in social inequality and the risk of poverty, ultimately contributing to the formation of attitudes favourable to immigration." ..."
Mar 20, 2017 | medium.com

https://medium.com/@eshhou/any-answer-to-right-wing-populism-requires-left-wing-economics-545e9e214f76#.mohjenx2x

by eshhou

Why Zack Beauchamp's piece arguing otherwise is wrong

Zack Beauchamp of Vox has written an article entitled "No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism." In this piece, he argues that "tacking to the left on economics won't give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump's success [and] could actually wind up [making] Trump [stronger.]" Matt Bruenig has written about the piece's odd moral implications; I want to discuss some of the evidence Beauchamp provides, and why I don't find it all that convincing.

There's plenty of evidence suggesting strong welfare states can blunt the far-right

"A legion of commentators and politicians," Beauchamp writes, "have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as [Donald] Trump and France's Marine Le Pen."

Supporters of these leaders[, these commentators and politicians] argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

Against these claims, Beauchamp contends that:

[A] lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration - or, more precisely, it doesn't do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it's in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

His main evidence for this claim consists of a study from Kai Arzheimer, a professor at the University of Mainz, looking at "data on working-class voters, the traditional base of social democratic parties, between 1980 and 2002."

[Arzheimer] found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries - that is, the ones with the largest welfare states - saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did.

There are plenty that conclude just the opposite. A 2003 study by Duane Swank of Marquette University and Hans-Georg Betz of the University of Zurich, for example, based on an "empirical analysis of national elections in 16 European [countries] from 1981 to 1998" found that "the universal welfare state directly depresse[d] the vote for radical right-wing populist parties." Furthermore, a 2015 study by Daphne Halikiopoulou and Tim Vlandas of the University of Reading looking at the link between unemployment benefit levels and far-right party success in the 2014 European parliament elections found that across countries "[u]nemployment benefits have a strongly negative and statistically significant association with far-right support." Based off of this, they write in The Huffington Post that:

Welfare state policies are the link between economic crisis, unemployment and far right party support. Welfare cuts have increased the insecurity of the European middle classes that are being hit by the economic crisis. This matters because of the implications it has for policy. By reversing austerity, which results in welfare cuts and increases insecurity, we can limit the appeal of right-wing extremism.

Anti-immigrant sentiment and the welfare state

Anti-immigrant sentiment (which Beauchamp argues is the true driver of far-right support), has also been shown to be ameliorated by stronger welfare states.

In his 1990 book The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Gøsta Esping-Andersen, a professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, divided the welfare states of developed countries into three types: liberal, Christian democratic, and social democratic. The liberal category ("liberal" being used in the classical, European sense) includes the US, as well as Britain and Australia (among others)- countries that have relatively small and highly targeted welfare states. The Christian democratic category, on the other hand, is typified by the welfare regimes that exist in Germany and Austria. Falling in the middle between liberal type welfare states and social democratic type welfare states in generosity, the Christian democratic welfare state tends to make less use of means-tested benefits than the liberal welfare state does, but places more emphasis on preserving traditional family structures through benefit design than the social democratic welfare state tends to. Lastly, there is the social democratic category, typified by the welfare regimes that exist in the Nordic countries, which is the most generous and universalistic of the three welfare regimes.

The typical model for how social democratic politics would defeat far-right reactionaries rests on the belief that "universal benefits enable a solidarity mindset" while "means-tested [benefits] enable resentment," as Ryan Cooper of The Week has argued. So one would expect that citizens living under social democratic welfare regimes would be more sympathetic to immigrants than those living under Christian democratic or liberal welfare regimes would.

And indeed, a study by Jeroen Van Der Waal and Willem De Koster of Erasmus University Rotterdam and Wim Van Oorschot of KU Leuven finds that the "native[-born] populations of liberal and [Christian democratic] welfare regimes are more reluctant to entitle immigrants to welfare than those living under social-democratic regimes." They conclude that the reason why "the native populations in social-democratic welfare regimes consider immigrants most entitled to welfare [is] because of the low levels of income inequality" as "higher levels of income inequality go hand in hand with higher levels of welfare chauvinism." They then continue:

This suggests that less diverging lifestyles between the rich and the poor lead to more understanding towards (potential) immigrant welfare recipients among majority populations. Put differently, in more unequal societies the rich are more likely to consider minority groups deviant, and therefore less entitled to welfare. [Emphasis added]

This point is especially significant given Beauchamp's accurate observation that "[r]ight-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries - that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity."

"Our results" Van Der Waal, De Koster, and Van Oorschot write, "indicate that strengthening policies and institutions aimed at reducing income inequality can be utilized" to "help in fighting" against "exclusionary sentiments".

A 2014 study by Antonio Martín-Artiles, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Guglielmo Meardi, a professor at the University of Warwick, meanwhile, found that "social protection expenditure and unemployment benefits are correlated with a reduction in social inequality and the risk of poverty, ultimately contributing to the formation of attitudes favourable to immigration."

Additionally, Markus Crepaz and Regan Damron of the University of Georgia found in 2012 that "the more comprehensive the welfare state is, the more tolerant native[-born citizens] are of immigrants," while a 2009 study by Xavier Escandell of the University of Iowa and Alin Ceobanu of the University of Florida, looking at "Anti-immigrant Sentiment and Welfare State Regimes in Europe" found "mean levels of anti-immigrant sentiment" to be "lower in those countries with high levels of public spending in social protection programs." They therefore conclude that "investments in social protection systems seem to have a strong payoff when it comes to reducing prejudice towards immigrants."

...

[Mar 19, 2017] Why Trumpism Is a Global Phenomenon

Notable quotes:
"... various European countries have seen a significant rise in votes for populist parties (on the right and left) and a decline in center-left "mainstream" parties. ..."
"... As a result, most Americans are in debt, most Americans' wages have not increased above inflation, and most of the gains of the past 30 years of America's economic growth have gone to the top 1% of income earners. (And the same trends are true for other Western democracies.) ..."
"... Blyth points out the famous Elephant Chart by economist Branko Milanovic, which shows the change in real income between 1988 and 2008 for all people in the world: basically, during the past 30 years, everyone in the world has seen a real increase in their income except for the Western world's middle class. ..."
"... Mark Blyth poses the example of a hypothetical man named Gary who lives in Gary, Indiana, who is emblematic of a typical Midwestern white working-class Trump voter. In 1989, Gary had 10 years in the union at age 30 and was a line supervisor making $30 an hour (real dollars, adjusted for inflation). In 1993, after a few years of losing factory jobs to Southern states, the U.S. passed NAFTA and his town lost a lot of jobs. The town took a huge economic hit. Tax base declines, schools get worse. Gary wound up getting a job in a call center for $15 an hour. 5 years later, the call center moved from Indiana to India. Now at age 58, Gary works for $11.67 per hour at Walmart. ..."
"... The only person who actually seems to articulate anything that Gary gives a shit about is Trump. And Gary knows that Trump's a buffoon, he knows he's a reality TV star. But Gary has seen politician after politician every four years saying 'vote for me, better jobs! vote for me, more security!' and Gary's life has gotten crappier and crappier. So he has no reason whatsoever to believe a word that they say. So he has a liar on one side, and a bullshit artist on the other. Which one gives you more possibilities?" ..."
"... However: a sizable portion of Trump's vote-just like Brexit and just like the rise of other populist parties in the UK and Europe-was more of a despairing protest vote, a way to send a message to the political establishment and mainstream media: we don't like what you're doing, this system you've built is not working for us, we don't like the way you talk down to us, and we're gonna throw a brick through your window. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Peter K.... March 17, 2017 at 09:32 AM

, 2017 at 09:32 AM
https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/trump-is-not-a-fluke-why-trumpism-is-a-global-phen.html

Trump Is Not a Fluke: Why "Trumpism" Is a Global Phenomenon

By Ben Gran | January 31, 2017 | 4:25pm

Where did Trump come from? Is the rise of Trump a fluke, a problem unique to America, born of American reality TV culture, combining 20th century American xenophobia with the worst aspects of 21st century social media into an ominous new post-truth world? Are American Trump voters uniquely racist and stupid and self-sabotaging? Or is Trump part of a broader global trend in politics, where voters throughout the industrialized world are revolting against the established political, economic and social order?

There was a great lecture (from before the election) by Mark Blyth, Brown University professor of international political economy, about global Trumpism where he discusses how the same factors that are playing out in America are also happening in lots of other Western democracies, driven by populism (both right-wing and left-wing), racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism. For example, various European countries have seen a significant rise in votes for populist parties (on the right and left) and a decline in center-left "mainstream" parties. One particularly powerful example was the unexpected success of the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union; despite the pleas of the political establishment and most members of the media, a small majority of UK voters decided to leave the EU even though it was widely described as an economically damaging, self-sabotaging, xenophobia-driven, unthinkable decision. Sound familiar?

Blyth explores the economic factors and argues that Trump's victory should not be seen as an isolated, local "America-only" event; instead, Trump's victory is part of a broader trend where the post-World War II neoliberal global order is breaking down. What will replace it? No one knows. But it's worth listening to Mark Blyth for perspectives on how we ended up with Trump, and how to understand the broader political and economic forces that made Trump possible.

Here are a few of Mark Blyth's key points on what "global Trumpism" means and how it happened:

A Brief History of the Post World War II Economic Order

Ever since World War II, the governments and financial institutions of "the West" (U.S., UK, Europe) have focused their national economic policy on two broad targets-from 1945 to 1975, broadly speaking, the goal was to achieve "full employment." This is part of why the 1950s-60s are looked back upon as a kind of Golden Age for the middle class, especially for people who worked in manufacturing at union jobs with good wages and benefits. And broadly speaking, this policy was successful! But full employment led to inflation-and by 1975, inflation had gotten so bad that creditor classes within these countries (investors, banks, wealthy people) started to revolt, and put in politicians like Reagan and Thatcher who focused on strong anti-inflation policies, and who changed the way that everyday people thought about the economy by appealing to voters' interests as consumers ("low-priced products from China are good! High-paid union labor is bad!") instead of their interests as workers or union members. All of this was good for creditors and consumers, even if it was bad for borrowers and workers. That's where we've been ever since 1975: central banks have fought inflation, interest rates have been low, labor unions have been weak-to-nonexistent, and life has gotten better for creditors and worse for debtors.

As a result, most Americans are in debt, most Americans' wages have not increased above inflation, and most of the gains of the past 30 years of America's economic growth have gone to the top 1% of income earners. (And the same trends are true for other Western democracies.)

Meanwhile, during that time, the center-left parties (Clinton's New Democrats, Tony Blair's New Labour, and Germany's Social Democratic Party) have moved away from their traditional working-class base and have become more comfortable hob-nobbing with bankers and tech CEOs and other corporate interests. So where are working class voters supposed to go? This is where left-wing populists like Bernie Sanders and right-wing nationalists like Trump are filling the void in the political marketplace.

The Elephant Chart

Blyth points out the famous Elephant Chart by economist Branko Milanovic, which shows the change in real income between 1988 and 2008 for all people in the world: basically, during the past 30 years, everyone in the world has seen a real increase in their income except for the Western world's middle class.

This is why so many former factory workers in the Midwest are upset about globalization: they haven't seen their lives get better from it; if anything, globalization has made their lives worse. So when Trump promises to "bring jobs back" and raise taxes on companies that export products to the U.S., that message resonates in the Rust Belt states in a way that "the wife of the guy who passed NAFTA" just never would.

Gary, from Gary

Mark Blyth poses the example of a hypothetical man named Gary who lives in Gary, Indiana, who is emblematic of a typical Midwestern white working-class Trump voter. In 1989, Gary had 10 years in the union at age 30 and was a line supervisor making $30 an hour (real dollars, adjusted for inflation). In 1993, after a few years of losing factory jobs to Southern states, the U.S. passed NAFTA and his town lost a lot of jobs. The town took a huge economic hit. Tax base declines, schools get worse. Gary wound up getting a job in a call center for $15 an hour. 5 years later, the call center moved from Indiana to India. Now at age 58, Gary works for $11.67 per hour at Walmart.

As Blyth describes in his lecture, speaking from the point of view of "Gary:" " The only person who actually seems to articulate anything that Gary gives a shit about is Trump. And Gary knows that Trump's a buffoon, he knows he's a reality TV star. But Gary has seen politician after politician every four years saying 'vote for me, better jobs! vote for me, more security!' and Gary's life has gotten crappier and crappier. So he has no reason whatsoever to believe a word that they say. So he has a liar on one side, and a bullshit artist on the other. Which one gives you more possibilities?"

Trump's Victory was an Anti-Elite Vote

Yes, Trump's a racist and a misogynist. Yes, he's horrible. Yes, lots of people voted for him out of racist or sexist hostility and wanting to raise a middle finger at Muslims and black people and Mexican immigrants.

However: a sizable portion of Trump's vote-just like Brexit and just like the rise of other populist parties in the UK and Europe-was more of a despairing protest vote, a way to send a message to the political establishment and mainstream media: we don't like what you're doing, this system you've built is not working for us, we don't like the way you talk down to us, and we're gonna throw a brick through your window.

But Trump Voters are all Racist ... Right?

By all means, condemn Trump's racism and sexism. Resist his retrograde agenda every step of the way. But liberals need to be open to the possibility that Trump won not just because of racism and sexism (those voters weren't turning out for the Democrats anyway), but because-especially in a few key Upper Midwest states-Trump was offering a message of aggressive economic populism that the Democrats were not delivering, that was embraced by just enough voters in just the right states (who otherwise might have voted for the Democrat) to give him a victory.

Trump didn't just happen in America; the political forces he represents are happening all over the Western democratic world. Other countries like Greece and Spain have elected left-wing "Trumpists" but America didn't have one of those choices on the ballot in November.

If the only lesson that liberals take away from this election is: "48% of America's voters are irredeemably racist and sexist," they're not really understanding the nature of Trump's appeal within this broader context of "global Trumpism." And they'll lose to him again in 2020.

What's Next?

Mark Blyth is oddly optimistic about America in the age of Trumpism, especially compared to Europe. He says that America has an advantage over Europe because Europe is bound by the Euro currency, which Blyth says is a "disaster" because individual countries within the Eurozone (such as Greece vs. Germany) have different conflicting political agendas that cannot be addressed by monetary policy. Trump might turn out to be a flash in the pan, a Black Swan event brought on by a one-time bizarre confluence of events and a bad matchup with the Democratic nominee.

Trump might even have some positive effects, in Blyth's view, because the U.S. would benefit from a more isolationist foreign policy with fewer costly, unending military interventions in other countries. As Blyth says in this discussion on the 2016 election results, if Europe is left to pay more for their own national defense and find their own accommodation with Russia, without relying on American military power, that would not be a bad thing for the U.S. Blyth is skeptical that Trump will actually enact any of his trade protectionist promises, since U.S. voters won't want to see higher prices for their iPhones (imported from China). It's possible that Trump's presidency will be less frighteningly radical than many liberals have feared.

Aside from Trump's immediate outrages, the broader challenge for America, and the world, is that the neoliberal political order of the past 30 years in the Western democracies is breaking down. We've elected a president who campaigned as a populist, but who's likely going to govern as a traditional Reagan-style "trickle-down economics" Republican. Those Upper Midwest swing voters who voted based on economic populism and "bringing jobs back" are not remotely going to get the populist politics that Trump promised; so the question is, can the Democrats deliver a real populist alternative instead? Will the American Left be defeated by Trumpism, or can they co-opt Trump's appeal to the middle-class and working-class, and create a new politics that truly speaks to the concerns of the people who have been left behind by globalization and our new era of wealth inequality?

sanjait -> Peter K.... , March 17, 2017 at 09:54 AM
tl:dr.
Peter K. -> sanjait... , March 17, 2017 at 01:03 PM
the short version is that the failure of neoliberalists such as yourself to provide an economy with shared prosperity has led to the rise of the populist right across the globe.

You really need to go back and study the 1920s and 1930s. History is repeating itself.

[Mar 19, 2017] The Great Recession clearly gave rise to right-wing populism

Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : March 18, 2017 at 06:49 AM , 2017 at 06:49 AM
Sanjait says it was social media.

http://theweek.com/articles/685813/great-recession-clearly-gave-rise-rightwing-populism

March 15, 2017

The Great Recession clearly gave rise to right-wing populism

by Ryan Cooper

at's to blame for the resurgence of racist right-wing populism? Since the election of President Trump, the American left has been consumed with this question, with leftists blaming the failures of neoliberal economic policy and liberals leaning more on cultural explanations.

Over at Vox, Zack Beauchamp has an entry in this debate on the latter side. He argues that left-wing economic policy actually causes people to be more racist, largely because welfare states tend to disproportionately benefit poor minorities and immigrants, and hence raise resentment among whites. But his account of economics is jarringly incomplete - in particular, skipping almost entirely over the financial collapse of 2008, the ensuing plague of austerity, and the ongoing eurozone currency crisis. And this provides by far the strongest evidence for the leftist case.

Let's review. In 2008, the whole world was convulsed by a financial crisis, leading to mass unemployment in the United States and Europe. The initial response was fairly similar in both places, featuring immense public bailouts of ailing banks. But after that, there was a sharp divergence: America generally tried large fiscal and monetary stimulus, while Europe did the opposite with spending cuts and tax increases - that is, austerity - and tight money.

Though the U.S. stimulus was inadequate, the worst was avoided, and economic conditions improved slowly, surpassing its pre-crisis GDP by 2011. In Europe - and especially within the eurozone, where the common currency became a gold standard-esque economic straitjacket - the result was disaster. So much austerity was forced on debtor nations that they fell into full-blown depression. Greece's economy is worse than that of America in the 1930s - and the eurozone as a whole only matched its pre-crisis GDP in April of last year.

Mass unemployment is electoral poison, and about every party that happened to be holding power during the worst of it - generally either center-right (Fianna Fáil in Ireland, People of Freedom in Italy) or center-left (the Socialist Party in France, the Democrats in America) - suffered serious setbacks in subsequent elections. Radical parties on both the left and right gained as establishment parties were badly discredited. New fascist parties (Golden Dawn in Greece) sprung to prominence, and older fascist-lite ones (National Front in France) gained strength.

But Beauchamp barely even references this history, restricting his argument almost entirely to welfare policy. He assembles reasonably convincing evidence and expert testimony to the effect that welfare states increase racist resentment in both the United States and Europe. But he does not mention mass unemployment, austerity, or the eurozone. These are yawning absences in an article purporting to deal with the social effects of economic policy.

Welfare is one chapter of leftist economic policy, but the first and most important one is full employment. That is the major route by which leftist economic policy can deflate right-wing nativism. Center-left parties often claim to support full employment, but they have manifestly failed to do so over the last eight years, and arguably long before that. (President Obama was plumping for austerity in February of 2010, with unemployment at 9.8 percent.) Fascists organize best in the chaos and misery of depression, as people lose faith in traditional solutions and root around for scapegoats. Is it really a coincidence that the Nazi electoral high tide came at a time of nearly 30 percent unemployment?

Now, politics is a chaotic process. It takes a lot of ideological spadework to convince people that austerity is the problem, and a lot of time and effort to build a political coalition dedicated to an anti-austerity platform. And sometimes it doesn't work well, as Beauchamp's detailed discussion of the U.K. Labour Party's difficulties since losing the elections of 2015 (on a pro-austerity platform, mind you). But savage infighting within the party is likely just as much to blame for Labour's collapse as leader Jeremy Corbyn's left-wing views. Sometimes political coalitions fracture over personality and internal struggles for dominance.

What's more, Beauchamp doesn't mention other cases where organizing has been more successful, such as Greece or Spain, where parties that didn't even exist before the crisis have leaped to the front rank of politics. In Greece, the center-left PASOK has all but ceased to exist, while the left-wing Syriza actually won in 2015 very obviously because of their anti-austerity platform (the fact that they later were prevented from implementing it at economic knifepoint by eurozone elites notwithstanding). Now, the fascists are the only credible anti-austerity party left in that beleaguered country.

It's perfectly plausible - obvious even - to say that immigration or more welfare can lead to a racist backlash, especially if you means-test benefit policy to restrict it to disproportionately minority poor people only, as American liberals tend to do. But it simply beggars belief to argue that running on full employment and an end to austerity in a time of depression is a guaranteed loser.

[Mar 18, 2017] The Role of Experts in Public Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42] ..."
"... Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith. ..."
"... I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage. ..."
"... "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." ..."
"... I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that. ..."
"... Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place ..."
"... Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here. ..."
"... Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal. ..."
"... A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies. ..."
"... A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack. ..."
"... This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. ..."
"... I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies. ..."
"... It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit. ..."
"... Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.) ..."
"... It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people." ..."
"... The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.) ..."
"... Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!) ..."
"... C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists." ..."
"... It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos. ..."
"... Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about. ..."
"... Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton. ..."
"... We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest. ..."
Mar 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Sandwichman. Originally published at Angry Bear

Jonathan Portes asks, " What's the role of experts in the public debate? " He assumes it is his prerogative, as an expert, to define that role:

I think we have three really important functions.

First, to explain our basic concepts and most important insights in plain English. Famously, Paul Samuelson, the founder of modern macroeconomics, was asked whether economics told us anything that was true but not obvious. It took him a couple of years, but eventually he gave an excellent and topical example – simply the theory of comparative advantage.

Similarly, I often say that the most useful thing I did in my 6 years as Chief Economist at DWP was to explain the lump of labour fallacy – that there isn't a fixed number of jobs in the economy, and increased immigration or more women working adds to both labour demand and labour supply – to six successive Secretaries of State. So that's the first.

Second is to call bullshit.

O.K. I call bullshit. What Portes explained "to six successive Secretaries of State" was a figment of the imagination of a late 18th century Lancashire magistrate, a self-styled " friend to the poor " who couldn't understand why poor people got so upset about having their wages cut or losing their jobs - to the extent they would go around throwing rocks through windows, breaking machines and burning down factories - when it was obvious to him that it was all for the best and in the long run we would all be better off or else dead.

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was simply the return of the repressed - the obverse of "Say's Law" (which was neither Say's nor a Law) that "supply creates its own demand," which John Maynard Keynes demolished in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and that John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently declared " sank without trace " in the wake of Keynes's demolition of it.

I call bullshit because when Paul Samuelson resurrected the defunct fallacy claim that Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State, he did so on the condition that governments pursued the sorts of "Keynesian" job-creating policies that the discredited principle of "supply creates its own demand" insisted were both unnecessary and counter-productive.

But the lump of labor argument implies that there is only so much useful remunerative work to be done in any economic system, and that is indeed a fallacy . If proper and sound monetary, fiscal, and pricing policies are being vigorously promulgated , we need not resign ourselves to mass unemployment. And although technological unemployment is not to be shrugged off lightly, its optimal solution lies in offsetting policies that create adequate job opportunities and new skills.

[Incidentally, as Robert Schiller has noted, the promised prevention of mass unemployment by vigorous policy intervention did not imply the preservation of wage levels. Schiller cited the following passage from the Samuelson textbook, " a decrease in the demand for a particular kind of labor because of technological shifts in an industry can he adapted to - lower relative wages and migration of labor and capital will eventually provide new jobs for the displaced workers."]

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was not even Paul Samuelson's policy-animated zombie lump-of-labour fallacy but a supply-side, anti-inflationary retrofit cobbled together by Richard Layard and associates and touted by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder as the Third Way " new supply-side agenda for the left. " Central to that agenda were tax cuts to promote economic growth and "active labour market policies" to foster non-inflationary expansion of employment by making conditions more "flexible" and lower-waged:

Part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work because they ease the transition from unemployment to jobs.

Encourage employers to offer 'entry' jobs to the labour market by lowering the burden of tax and social security contributions on low-paid jobs.

Adjustment will be the easier, the more labour and product markets are working properly. Barriers to employment in relatively low productivity sectors need to be lowered if employees displaced by the productivity gains that are an inherent feature of structural change are to find jobs elsewhere. The labour market needs a low-wage sector in order to make low-skill jobs available.

I call bullshit because in defending the outcomes of supply-side labour policies, Portes soft-pedaled the stated low-wage objectives of the Third Way agenda. In a London Review of Books review, Portes admitted that "it may drive down wages for the low-skilled, but the effect is small compared to that of other factors (technological change, the national minimum wage and so on)." In the Third Way supply-side agenda, however, a low-wage sector was promoted as a desirable feature - making more low-skill jobs available - not a trivial bug to be brushed aside. In other words, in "driving down wages for the low skilled" the policy was achieving exactly what it was intended to but Portes was "too discreet" to admit that was the stated objectives of the policy.

dk , March 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

I found this helpful in better understanding the economics discussed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage#Criticism

Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42]

Galbraith also contends that "For most other commodities, where land or ecology places limits on the expansion of capacity, the opposite condition – diminishing returns – is the rule. In this situation, there can be no guarantee that an advantage of relative cost will persist once specialization and the resultant expansion of production take place. A classic and tragic example, studied by Erik Reinert, is transitional Mongolia, a vast grassland with a tiny population and no industry that could compete on world markets. To the World Bank, Mongolia seemed a classic case of comparative advantage in animal husbandry, which in Mongolia consisted of vast herds of cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Opening of industrial markets collapsed domestic industry, while privatization of the herds prompted the herders to increase their size. This led, within just a few years in the early 1990s, to overgrazing and permanent desertification of the subarctic steppe and, with a slightly colder than normal winter, a massive famine in the herds."

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith.

I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage.

/L , March 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

James K Galbraith is the son of the famous New Deal economist John K Galbraith.

John K G:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

/L , March 18, 2017 at 7:10 am

John K G on The Art of Good Writing

"I was an editor of Fortune under Henry Luce, the founder of Time, Inc., who was one of the most ruthless editors that I have ever known, that anyone has ever known. Henry could look over a sheet of copy and say, "This can go, and this can go, and this can go," and you would be left with eight to ten lines which said everything that you had said in twenty lines before.

And I can still, to this day, not write a page without the feeling that Henry Luce is looking over my shoulder and saying, "That can go." That illuminate one "problem" in our age of internet, unlimited space to be verbose and no editors that de-obscure the writers "thoughts".

JEHR , March 18, 2017 at 8:24 am

/L–This site is just wonderful! Anything you want to know about knowing seems to be here. Thanks for the great link.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Recommendation: Wealth, Power and the Crisis of Laissez-Faire Capitalism , by Donald Gibson

Norb , March 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

I wonder if this phenomenon – the desirability succinct communication -- was a holdover of earlier times, when accurate communication made the difference between life and death. Settling and developing a continent would place a high value on such purposeful human exchanges.

Today, we are awash in branding and marketing intended to maintain the current order. The language is used to obfuscate, not clarify experience or goals.

An expert in any field that has the ability to communicate in a general , popular mode, is of great value to society. Truth and understanding is its main function. Knowledge, or insight that cannot be shared is more often than not just an excuse to hide methods of control and exploitation.

If citizens can't get the generalities right, the specifics will be impossible to comprehend.

craazyman , March 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Almost everything can go. I remember seeing a video of the photographer William Klein saying a master photographer is remembered for just a handfull of images. Maybe 10 or 15, tops. Out of probably at least 100,000 serious photos.

Of course what goes is necessary fertilizer for what doesn't go. You can't avoid it. Hahahah. But you have to let it go anyway. Or your editor has to be williing to cut.

I've noticed lots and lots of posts here could be a lot better if the post author had said the same thing in half as many words. Most wouldn't lose any persuasion, if they had any to begin with. And they'd gain reader attention for the pruning.

I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that.

Having saidd all that, Say was rite. If the supply of labor increases, that createes its own demand for jobs! How is that not completely obvious.

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

Ah yeah, sorry, getting my JK's mixed up. Both are good.

fresno dan , March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

PlutoniumKun
March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Huffington Post review has a synopsis of the Ha-Joon Change book. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/a-review-of-ha-joon-chang_b_840417.html
My favorite:
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place

shinola , March 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the tip PK & thank you fd for the link to the review. I'm going to check this fellow out; sounds like he has some interesting things to say. One of the "things" that may apply to the above article:

Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal.

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

A word of warning from the UK. Denigrate experts too much and you end up like us with government by people who really are inexpert. That is not an improvement.

Mael Colium , March 18, 2017 at 8:39 am

Ha! I think an anti brexiter just rolled the white eye.

Strange that the awful things that the experts told us all would happen haven't and don't look like happening since the people called bullshit on the EU mess. Britain with or without those blokes in dresses up north will do just fine as they steer themselves out of the EU quagmire. I'll take the people anytime anonymous – they have more common sense than the experts. Didn't you read the article?

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

If you are referring to economic forecasters, they, by definition, are not experts.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Thank you!!!

I remember back in the 1980s, when so-called "experts" were prattling about such nonsense as . . .

"Computers don't make mistakes, humans make mistakes !"

Which was surely untrue as anyone with any real IT expertise back then would have explained that 97% or more of hardware crashes generate software problems (for obvious reasons).

visitor , March 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies.

A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack.

voislav , March 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. This is in chemistry, so things are typically straightforward, no need for convoluted explanations and massaging of the data.

But people still do it because that's the culture that they've been educated in, a scientific paper has to be high-brow, using obscure words and complicated sentences.

Steve Ruis , March 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies.

It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

So in the end, we wind up with Say's Law anyway, since creating a "low wages" sector is exactly how Say's Law functions–supply creates its own demand because declining wages means investment spending can increase, which keeps aggregate demand where it needs to be for full employment.

This is the solution, we are told, to Keynes "sticky prices." Jim Grant makes this very argument in his book about the "short-lived" crisis of the early 1920s. Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.)

It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.)

Back to managing stagnation.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

Managing stagnation is what we have "experts" for in the first place.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!)

Just finished a book called, The Death of Expertise , by a professor of national security (oh give me a frigging break!!!!), Tom Nichols.

Biggest pile of crapola I have ever read! The author was also yearning for the days when "experts" were blindly followed!

Sandwichman , March 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists."

marku52 , March 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos.

Altandmain , March 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The answer is that said "experts" have failed the general public miserably.

Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about.

Now people wonder, why they don't trust "experts"?

Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton.

We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest.

[Mar 17, 2017] Costco is now carrying Orwell famouns novell 1984 And this is not a joke

Mar 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Holbrooks via TheAntiMedia.org,

"Next time you're at Costco, you can pick up a jumbo bag of Cheetos and a copy of '1984.' Doubleplus good!"

That's how the Washington Post opened its quick little entry on Wednesday. Continuing, Ron Charles, editor of Book World for the Post , wrote:

"The discount store is now stocking Orwell's classic novel along with its usual selection of current bestsellers."

If the significance of the fact that a dystopian masterwork can now be purchased alongside a three-ton bag of cheese puffs instantly strikes you, it should. Strangely, though, Charles and the Post don't seem to see it.

In fact, it seemed to be a joke to them. The entry closed in the manner it opened. With humor:

"Appropriately, Costco is offering a reprint of the 2003 edition of '1984,' which has a forward by Thomas Pynchon. That reclusive satirist must love the idea of hawking Orwell's dystopian novel alongside towers of discounted toilet paper and radial tires. SHOPPING IS SAVING."

In the one and only instance Charles even approached something that could be considered commentary, he linked the surge in the book's sales to "alternative" news items :

"Last month, amid talk of 'alternative facts' from the Trump administration, Signet Classics announced that it had reprinted 500,000 copies, about twice the novel's total sales in 2016."

Note Charles was certain to use the word "alternative" when mentioning Trump. Why? Very clearly, "fake news" is the man's go-to phrase when speaking of the media. So why go with "alternative" instead? Hell, the Post itself was the driving force behind the "fake news" frenzy in the first place.

I could go on about how this is the Washington Post , corporate media juggernaut, attempting, rather pathetically, to poison the notion of "alternative" in the minds of its readers - or, I should say, what's left of them - but that's not really what this is about.

What it's really about is journalism. The fact that "1984" is being sold at Costco, the fact that demand for the classic tale has skyrocketed , is significant. It's societal. And journalists are supposed to write about things like that.

And what does the Post do? They make a joke of it.

This is an organization that, as recently as January, has been busted publishing false news stories. You would think that with its credibility among a growing division of society hanging on by a thread - at best - the Post would turn an event like this into social commentary. This was an opportunity to speak about a changing world.

But instead, the Post went for laughs.

Let it sink in, friends. George Orwell's "1984," a dystopian tale about a society being crushed under the boot of authoritarian regime, is, once again, flying off bookshelves. To the extent that you can now get it at Costco. Let the significance of that truly dig in deep.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is talking about Cheetos and toilet paper.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

xythras -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 10, 2017 11:56 PM

Well, after all the shit is going down, White House is definitely in distress. Trump gets a taste of his own medicine as he's grabbed by the pussy from all intelligence agencies directions.

And Spicer just proved it today:

White House in Distress? Sean Spicer's Upside Down Flag Pin Unleashes Twitter Frenzy

http://dailywesterner.com/news/2017-03-10/white-house-in-distress-sean-s...

Luc X. Ifer -> Twee Surgeon , Mar 11, 2017 12:46 AM

Read 'Little Heroes' by Norman Spinrad. It's like the dude had a trip to the future which is our present, a completly broken society dominated by corporations exploiting the masses of hedonist mindless snowflakes. In my humble oppinion perfect companion to Orwell's 84.

[...

  • In the future the class divide between capitalist and worker will have widened to become a virtually unbridgeable chasm. In HG Wells' The Time Machine (1895) this division has become so extreme that humanity had split into two species.
  • The way to keep the underclass under control is to feed them mass-produced pseudo-culture. If - as in Orwell's 1984 (1949) - the technocratic ruling class can get some kind of computer or machine to generate this product, so much the better.
  • In the future, 20th century entertainment forms like TV and movies will have been superseded by more direct experiences that, ideally, feed directly into the brain or, at least - as with the 'feelies' in Huxley's Brave New World (1932) - stimulate more senses than simply the visual and auditory.
  • And now, here's a book that uses all these themes in one hit, and builds on these classic foundations by adding rock & roll to the mix.

    Set in the early years of the 21st century, it shows us an America decimated by devaluation, where unemployment is commonplace and rock music is firmly in the grip of accountants and electro-nerds producing synthesized superstars to keep the proles contented.

    ...]

    http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/little_heroes.html

    Latina Lover -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 11, 2017 7:16 AM

    Washington Post = CIA produced fake news.

    peddling-fiction , Mar 10, 2017 9:59 PM

    Please read Philip K. Dick's most recent works for a more accurate description of our dystopian reality.

    RIP Philip.

    LetThemEatRand -> indygo55 , Mar 10, 2017 10:05 PM

    "Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then." P.K.D.

    Row Well Number 41 -> LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Once they notice you, Jason realized, they never completely close the file. You can never get back your anonymity. It is vital not to be noticed in the first place. -- Philip K Dick

    PodissNM -> Row Well Number 41 , Mar 10, 2017 11:27 PM

    "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

    P.K.D., How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

    AlaricBalth -> peddling-fiction , Mar 11, 2017 12:13 AM

    Philip was spot on decades before the advent of the CIA's infestation of cell phones and other electronic devices.

    "There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'." Philip K. Dick

    AlaricBalth -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 12:30 AM

    Here is a free copy of 1984.

    https://ia800201.us.archive.org/8/items/NINETEENEIGHTY-FOUR1984ByGeorgeO...

    "The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

    napples -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 2:37 AM

    The irony never fails to amuse:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

    bruno_the -> BeanusCountus , Mar 10, 2017 11:31 PM

    Sure. Read it again...

    As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.

    Free

    https://wikispooks.com/w/images/f/fc/1984.pdf

    Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a user's guide.

    Twox2 -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    Too late...

    skinwalker -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 11:35 PM

    Orwell and Huxley were close to the fabians, so they knew what was coming down the pike.

    The difference is Orwell grew a conscience and tried to warn everybody.

    He probably would have titled it 2036, but 1984 was the 100th anniversary of the Fabian society.

    koan , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    WaPo is fake news, owned by a stereotypical bald headed villain. (Bezos)

    Ignorance is bliss -> aloha_snakbar , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Maybe Orwell meant 2084. That sounds like a scary year to me...

    Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 10:08 PM

    You could also download "1984" for free to your computer or Kindle device. Do a Google search.

    Ms No -> Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 11:05 PM

    That's actually a waste of time at this point. If anything read Anthony Suttons Wall Street series for free on the internet, or stay here. You already know more than Orwell will teach you at this point. Unless your a mouth breather or blind from herpes of the eyeball. Apparently that is something contracted at birth.

    All wars are bankers wars. You can sum 1984 up to that. Actually they didn't even cover that. They just covered mechanisms. Actually they didn't even cover that, just symptoms.

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=BolshevikRev&C=4.0

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=WallStHitler

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Entity=BrzezinskiZ

    SgtShaftoe -> Wee_littte_dogee , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    You're fine. Their lists don't have enough enforcers to do jack shit. By the time the first raid occurs, all hell would break loose and they'll all die.

    Ms No -> SgtShaftoe , Mar 10, 2017 10:57 PM

    In order to break that down we have to figure who their enforcers are.

    Intelligence agencies. That's a big one.

    Some unknown number of police agency staff. Quite a few in many places, like Texas. They obviously have strategic coroners, emergency room staff, etc.

    Some unknown quantitity of narco-terrorists out of Mexico/fast and furious funded types.

    Some unknown number of our military. They have been purging for decades.

    A smaller but unknown number of funded terrorist groups/ ISIS types.

    A very large number of our congress, etc.

    Probably 2/3 of our Supreme Court

    The entire media system and publishing

    The easiest way to narrow it down is who do they not have? I give up already. Remember JFK was a long time ago.

    SgtShaftoe -> Ms No , Mar 11, 2017 9:10 AM

    The ones most relevant in my mind are the logistics and support as well as the "action" guys (using that term very loosely).

    The military, the CIA and a few other agencies have trained combat arms types that are effective. The rest are at various stages of competency. In any event, they still don't have enough competent troops by a long shot. The logistics tail is also very wide and vulnerable.

    [Mar 17, 2017] The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan

    Permanent war for permanent peace
    Notable quotes:
    "... What are we to make of the chasm between effort expended and results achieved? Why on those increasingly infrequent occasions when Afghanistan attracts notice do half-truths and pettifoggery prevail, rather than hard-nosed assessments? Why has Washington ceased to care about the Afghan war? ..."
    "... The answer, it seems to me, is this: As with budget deficits or cost overruns on weapons purchases, members of the national security apparatus - elected and appointed officials, senior military officers and other policy insiders - accept war as a normal condition. ..."
    "... Once, the avoidance of war figured as a national priority. On those occasions when war proved unavoidable, the idea was to end the conflict as expeditiously as possible on favorable terms. ..."
    "... These precepts no longer apply.... ..."
    "... As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion. ..."
    "... When was the last time you saw a major economist...or a prominent Democrat complain about wasteful 'defense' spending? ..."
    Mar 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne : March 13, 2017 at 05:04 AM , 2017 at 05:04 AM

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/opinion/the-never-ending-war-in-afghanistan.html

    March 12, 2017

    The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan
    By ANDREW J. BACEVICH

    BOSTON - Remember Afghanistan? The longest war in American history? Ever?

    When it comes to wars, we Americans have a selective memory. The Afghan war, dating from October 2001, has earned the distinction of having been forgotten while still underway.

    President Trump's Inaugural Address included no mention of Afghanistan. Nor did his remarks last month at a joint session of Congress. For the new commander in chief, the war there qualifies at best as an afterthought - assuming, that is, he has thought about it all.

    A similar attitude prevails on Capitol Hill. Congressional oversight has become pro forma. Last week Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, told Congress that the Pentagon would probably need more troops in Afghanistan, a statement that seemed to catch politicians and reporters by surprise - but that was old news to anyone who's been paying attention to the conflict.

    And that's the problem. It doesn't seem that anyone is. At the Senate hearings on the nomination of James Mattis as defense secretary, Afghanistan barely came up.

    To be fair, Mr. Mattis did acknowledge that "our country is still at war in Afghanistan," albeit without assessing the war's prospects. In response to a comment by Senator John McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, that "we are in serious trouble in Afghanistan," Mr. Mattis merely allowed that the Taliban had "eroded some of our successes."

    That was it. No further follow up. Other members of the committee, Republican and Democratic, focused on more pressing concerns like seeking to induce Mr. Mattis to endorse military programs and installations in their home state.

    The military brass deserves some of the blame. Soon after Mr. Mattis's hearing, Gen. John Nicholson, the latest in a long line of American commanders to have presided over the Afghan mission, arrived in Washington to report on its progress. While conceding that the conflict is stalemated, General Nicholson doggedly insisted that it is a "stalemate where the equilibrium favors the government." Carefully avoiding terms like "victory" or "win," he described his strategy as "hold-fight-disrupt." He ventured no guess on when the war might end.

    All of this flies in the face of what the conflict in Afghanistan has become, a reality made clear in a recent report from the Defense Department's special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

    Despite appropriating over three-quarters of a trillion dollars on Afghanistan since 2001, Afghan security forces continue to be plagued by the problem of inflated rolls, with local commanders pocketing American-supplied funds to pay for nonexistent soldiers; according to the report, "The number of troops fighting alongside 'ghost soldiers' is a fraction of the men required for the fight."

    Large-scale corruption persists, with Afghanistan third from the bottom in international rankings, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea. Adjusted for inflation, American spending to reconstruct Afghanistan now exceeds the total expended to rebuild all of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan; yet to have any hope of surviving, the Afghan government will for the foreseeable future remain almost completely dependent on outside support.

    And things are getting worse. Although the United States has invested $70 billion in rebuilding Afghan security forces, only 63 percent of the country's districts are under government control, with significant territory lost to the Taliban over the past year. Though the United States has spent $8.5 billion to battle narcotics in Afghanistan, opium production there has reached an all-time high.

    For this, over the past 15 years, nearly 2,400 American soldiers have died, and 20,000 more have been wounded.

    What are we to make of the chasm between effort expended and results achieved? Why on those increasingly infrequent occasions when Afghanistan attracts notice do half-truths and pettifoggery prevail, rather than hard-nosed assessments? Why has Washington ceased to care about the Afghan war?

    The answer, it seems to me, is this: As with budget deficits or cost overruns on weapons purchases, members of the national security apparatus - elected and appointed officials, senior military officers and other policy insiders - accept war as a normal condition.

    Once, the avoidance of war figured as a national priority. On those occasions when war proved unavoidable, the idea was to end the conflict as expeditiously as possible on favorable terms.

    These precepts no longer apply....

    anne -> anne... , March 13, 2017 at 05:06 AM
    http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

    September, 2016

    US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
    Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security

    By Neta C. Crawford

    Summary

    Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

    As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.

    But of course, a full accounting of any war's burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger. From the civilians harmed or displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the US and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors. Yet, the expenditures noted on government ledgers are necessary to apprehend, even as they are so large as to be almost incomprehensible....

    JohnH -> anne... , March 13, 2017 at 08:05 AM
    Thanks, anne. Seems that most economists turn a blind eye when it comes to 'defense' spending and its crowding out of spending for social programs.

    When was the last time you saw a major economist...or a prominent Democrat complain about wasteful 'defense' spending?

    [Mar 17, 2017] Chickenhawks from Kagan family

    Notable quotes:
    "... "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others. ..."
    "... Their money ensures that their aggressive writings still get published in the usual Deep State media. I particularly liked a touch of light humor by Mr Parry: "There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, to Secretary of State." ..."
    "... What is troublesome is with the Kagan's screaming out, 'watch the Russians, beware of the Russians' and with the 24/7 MSM alarm bells going off over Russia, will the Trump Adminstration need to craft their foreign policy around the likes of these Russia Haters? ..."
    "... The common denominator is profit and increased market share fueled by greed ..Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the average USA investor who fuels the stock market looking for the best return on his/her money. ..."
    "... After finding this early warning essay by Cartalucci I have often wondered that if our MSM were to have scooped this kind of news regarding the travels of Senator John McCain would the tragedy of Benghazi have never happened. ..."
    "... http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mccain-founding-father-of.html ..."
    "... Plus this article adds insight to how the Deep State operates. McCain should be the one held for high treason, but as things are that will never happen. The more you may learn the more you may find that Donald Trump seems to be less of a problem than we all know. Now that isn't an endorsement of Trump, as much as it is a heads up to notice who all is behind the curtain. ..."
    "... I recommend reading the latest blog by Moon of Alabama and enlightened comments. You will get further details on what the Kagans' plans are – what they would have done for sure under their L'Amour Toujours, Clinton as President. ..."
    "... I read that moonofalabama, b is always right on. In fact b and Robert Parry are excellent examples of how 'small' is good. http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/15/us-expands-defacto-syrian-invasion/ The above article by Tony Cartalucci is along the same lines as moonofalabama. ..."
    "... Excellent point – how to quickly recognise psychopaths: "psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content". A large proportion of our politicians fit the description. ..."
    "... "I noted two years ago in an article entitled "A Family Business of Perpetual War": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks." ..."
    "... "the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers." ..."
    "... For instance, Robert's brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). ..."
    "... Andrew Bacevich referred to Kagan as "the chief neoconservative foreign-policy theorist" in reviewing Kagan's book The Return of history and the end of dreams.[21] ..."
    "... Here's Andrew Bacevich's 2014 piece on the Kagans: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/duplicity-ideologues ..."
    "... But Mr Parry, I think it will also be interesting to examine the 'Vault 7' disclosure with regards to this Russia bashing. If the CIA has the ability to put out any email or documentation without a trail as to its origin, the Kagans could be shown as the charlatans they are if it was the CIA who meddled with the US election. ..."
    "... "The US military will try to take Raqqa from ISIS with the help of the Kurds in coordination with Syrian government forces. The Syrian government will also destroy al Qaeda in Idleb. The chance that Trump will pick up on any of these neo-con plans is practically zero. But who knows?" ..."
    "... On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars. ..."
    "... It's just reported on Global Research that Russia has absorbed 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the US 2014 coup and Europe 900,000 more, according to a Kremlin parliamentarian in February. Thanks to Victoria Nuland! ..."
    "... Far too much money which MIC wants play with. ..and as Admiral Thomas Moorer commented, " No American President can stand up to Israel " ..."
    "... the virulent fixation on Russia is out of control. ..."
    Mar 17, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
    Bart in Virginia March 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    It's not the Family Kagan, but rather as Glenn Greenwald dubbed them, The Warrior Kagan Family with a trade mark sign as suffix.

    I'll bet Victoria resigned from State, seeing her future there granting visas in Baku.

    Thanks, Robert, I haven't had a Kagan fix in quite a while!

    Kiza , March 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others.

    As to Mr Parry, calling them the American neocon royalty, it certainly is some foul-mouth royalty, telling another Zio servant EU to get f'ed.

    Thank you Robert Parry for a great article, just like Bart I was wondering what happened to the cookie distributing "royalty" after the Clinton fail. It is not surprising that they are now learning to manipulate outcomes from the opposition. Their money ensures that their aggressive writings still get published in the usual Deep State media. I particularly liked a touch of light humor by Mr Parry: "There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, to Secretary of State."

    Between the Clinton liberals and the Ziocons C'est une Affaire d'Amour Toujours , as Pepé Le Pew likes to say.

    Skip Edwards , March 15, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others.

    I learned how to laugh again; and, at the expense of all those despicable Kagen's.

    Joe Tedesky , March 15, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    KIza there is good news inside Robert Parry's article if you look for it. One good thing is that Hillary isn't the president, and if she were one could only imagine what her and the Kagan's would be up to right now. The other piece of good news, is that the Kagan's are writing op-eds and not working for the Trump Adminstration.

    Now I have read somewhere where the U.S. is working with Russia, and that for the most part for now has to be done on the low key. Of course with news being 'fake' and all of that, who's to know?

    What is troublesome is with the Kagan's screaming out, 'watch the Russians, beware of the Russians' and with the 24/7 MSM alarm bells going off over Russia, will the Trump Adminstration need to craft their foreign policy around the likes of these Russia Haters?

    Cheney and Rumsfeld developed 'the Continuity of Government Program' and I'm wondering if that cast of characters could seep into the mix of things? Plus don't forget the ever reliable CIA. So with all of that working against you, one could only wonder if Ghandi and Jesus could do much better up against this evil array of villains.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Here is something worth reading Tony Cartalucci explains the Deep State, and goes on to talk about how it may be defeated. Here's a hint, the world will not be run by the New World Order.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/03/exposing-real-deep-state.html

    John , March 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Very good link, Joe!! The common denominator is profit and increased market share fueled by greed ..Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the average USA investor who fuels the stock market looking for the best return on his/her money. I would not look for much altruistic behavioral changes in human nature Greed is still the preferred method of operation .and firmly in control ..

    Common Tater , March 16, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Joe T.
    Excellent article, thanks!

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Joe, many thanks for this powerful link on the deep state, and its explanation of the multi-polar conditions needed, and as happening, plus the link you supplied below related to what's going on in Syria, also clear and helpful.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I'm glad that you all found the link to be informative. I am posting another link to a Tony Cartalucci article that got my attention of his work a few years ago, and ever since I look forward to reading his reporting.

    This link is interesting for the fact that the original article was published March 2012 which was somewhere in the neighborhood of six months before the deadly attack took place in Benghazi. After finding this early warning essay by Cartalucci I have often wondered that if our MSM were to have scooped this kind of news regarding the travels of Senator John McCain would the tragedy of Benghazi have never happened.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mccain-founding-father-of.html

    Plus this article adds insight to how the Deep State operates. McCain should be the one held for high treason, but as things are that will never happen. The more you may learn the more you may find that Donald Trump seems to be less of a problem than we all know. Now that isn't an endorsement of Trump, as much as it is a heads up to notice who all is behind the curtain.

    Curious , March 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the two links Joe. I didn't think it was possible for me to dislike McCain more than I already did, but I was wrong. I did like Senator Pauls' comment about McCain today however. He basically said McCain is a perfect example of why we should have term limits in the Senate, which is so true.

    Kiza , March 16, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Oh no, I did not mean that it is bad news this is why I wrote that the Kagans are learning to spew hate from the opposition not from the government. Like D5-5, I recommend reading the latest blog by Moon of Alabama and enlightened comments. You will get further details on what the Kagans' plans are – what they would have done for sure under their L'Amour Toujours, Clinton as President.

    As to Jesus, he self-sacrificed himself to show the way out of human predicament. Jesus was fighting against such ideologues of hate and moneychangers as the Kagans, who are an exemplar of the mad-gleaming-eye-greedy-finger types so well known in the old Europe. Just observe the first photo to the article: she looks like she would murder just about any baby in the world to take her sweet candy.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 1:08 am

    I read that moonofalabama, b is always right on. In fact b and Robert Parry are excellent examples of how 'small' is good.

    http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/15/us-expands-defacto-syrian-invasion/

    The above article by Tony Cartalucci is along the same lines as moonofalabama.

    At this stage of the game the best that I can put forward with, is we got to take one day at a time, in order to make sense of whatever the real news is going on inside Syria. From one article to another it's hard to tell who's fighting, or going to fight who. With the atmosphere here in America I'm waiting for an arrest to be made if you talk favorably about Russia, or Putin. Seriously, our MSM cable news networks are going hells bells on this Russian hacking, Russian tampering with our democracy, Russia has a puppet in the White House, Russia _______fill in the blank. We have gone totally nuts this time, and it looks like we are going to stay that way for awhile.

    I always like to ponder the politics that would have prevailed during the time of Jesus. If you get a grasp on that then Jesus really stands out better for what he was preaching too, and preaching against. I'm sure Herod or Ceasar had their Kagan's around in their day, and who knows how discreetly those ancient Kagan's could have whispered vile and nasty ideas of war and conquest into their leaders head. When it's all about power and money it's easy to lose ones head, or so they say. Let's all hope the Kagan's amount to be nothing more than sore losers.

    Peter Loeb , March 16, 2017 at 6:13 am

    WITH MCCAIN AS HELPER

    A good comment Joe Tedesky.

    As to Syria, we already have invaded and already plan more (see Defense Appropriation). Of interest would be Putin's response on the ground.

    (When Netanyahu went to Moskow to ask for help in getting Syria to reign in Iran, he was referred to the sovereign government of Syria! Is the current (and future) US invasion of the sovereign state of Syria at the invitation of the Syrian Government??

    Ans: No! See UN Charter on aggression, I think it is Article 4(2) if memory serves. Besides the current administration wants to make all its sins of commission such as drones done by the CIA. Which is to say covert and not accountable to anyone (such as DOD, White House etc.).Our invasion will evidently be
    accountable to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    I am certain Moscow has a plan, a response (diplomatic or otherwise).

    Donald Trump likes war and being "Commander-in-Chief". All countries involved in war are always absolutely persuaded that their victory will be quick, easy etc.It also helps(??) the US economy as all wars have for hundreds of years. No one will oppose more money for defense. I have already contacted my Mass. Senators in regard to funds for the invasion of Syria as well as my Congressional Representative. (I expect little support. All lawgivers are dependent on AIPAC support )

    --Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Except for Desert Storm every war has lasted long past it's end date, and even one could argue over Desert Storm if you add in the time of occupation or establishing no fly zones to how long we have been there.

    I'm not all that sure yet that Trump likes war. There are times he stresses peace, after he rally's the people around a powerful military speech. Now, what I do worry about is the people around him. NIkki Haley just recently in a NBC interview said how we should never trust Russia. Wow, and she is our UN ambassador. So much for statesmanship and diplomacy.

    As far as our CIA goes they are going to get everyone on this planet killed. It's long overdue to crunch the CIA down to being an information gatherer and stop with the convert intrigue. If we factor in stability and the quality of human life, then tell me about the one CIA operation which has been a success. The CIA's interference, and trashing of foreign government sovereignty is a disgrace, and should I add be prosecuted as a war crime in the highest order. If Trump could shred the CIA into a thousand pieces then I say, do it Mr President.

    The real problem we face while attempting to establish the Yinon Plan, is that we will finally either partner with Russia somehow over something, or end up fighting Russia and possibly not fight them through proxies. I don't see either Russia or the U.S. using nukes on each other at first, but I would be praying for the poor souls in places such as Iran, Yemen, or places like that. And while we are at it North and South Korea, and once again Japan would most likely be countries well inside the lines of being in jeopardy.

    Russia, and China, should be our natural allies, but there's nothing natural about our country's foreign policy when world hegemony overrides man's human nature to life in peace.

    John , March 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Joe,

    The other piece of good news is that they are actually starting to walk back the Russia hacked the election an we can prove it nonsense. Read Glenn Greenwald's latest piece at The Intercept. At long last sir have they actually some human decency? Nah!!!

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks John I will be sure to read Greenwald's article, but you know we in America need a bogey man .so if not Russia then who?

    Dominic Pukallus , March 16, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Concerning the foul-mouthing, I was disturbed to hear such strong talk (at least to this earthy soul) in such a delicate voice. To me a sign of psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content. Another is causing the killing of no small amount of people with a large amount of apparent unconcern, but then again that's a net which would drag an alarming amount of people from corridors of power. Perhaps the majority of these have mastered the art of matching tone and content in their requirement to at least appear Human to their subjects.

    Kiza , March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Excellent point – how to quickly recognise psychopaths: "psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content". A large proportion of our politicians fit the description. Thank you.

    Nastarana , March 16, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Kiza, Please don't forget that is a "sign of psychopathy". There are other kinds of derangement in which the unfortunate sufferers are prone to the use of inappropriate body language and verbal tone, but are not necessarily a danger to others. As for the Kagans, I consider them to be criminals, plain and simple.

    Anon , March 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I am waiting to see the male ballerina "foot soldiers" demanding transgender bathrooms in the trenches.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Anon in 1919 Max Sennett was way ahead of you. You might get a kick out of watching Sennett's movie called 'Yankee Doodle in Berlin'. It is a story about an American soldier dressed as a woman going behind enemy lines to entice the Kaiser. Also notice the slanted propaganda of the way American Hollywood film producers were characterizing the Germans. We are all but a product of who came before us I'm sad to say .but hey enjoy the silent flick anyway.

    https://archive.org/details/YankeeDoodleInBerlin

    Oh and with all due respect let's at least give a salute to Chelsea Manning.

    BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS , March 16, 2017 at 9:26 am

    BART IN VIRGINIA!!

    Are you really "Bart" as in short for "Bartholomew"!!!!

    Parry, thank you for a GREAT article.

    Early on you pegged them:

    "Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow's alleged help in electing Donald Trump."

    Then skillfully reminding us: "I noted two years ago in an article entitled "A Family Business of Perpetual War": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks."

    Your conclusion is actually overly optimistic:

    "the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers."

    Instead, the Deep State is preparing to begin getting rid of Trump on June 1st:

    http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/video-on-june-1st-the-deep-state-will-move-to-overthrow-trump-there-is-a-secret-agenda-to-allow-a-crisis-and-get-rid-of-the-president_03142017

    IF you the reader haven't read my "The Deep State Versus President Trump" it is time (on Amazon for only $12.95 or less).

    Parry, I will immediately post this EXCELLENT article on Facebook. Because my wife and I are living "by the skin of our teeth" on social security, I can't make a donation, but I will send in an article on why the Deep State wants Trump gone as a pro bono contribution. Hope you think it is worthy of publication.

    Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy (ethics, public policy) and Religion (books: "On the Buddha": "On Gandhi"; and "Why Christians and World-Peace Advocates Voted for President Donald Trump"), Northeastern University, Boston, MA-and the only Ph.D. in philosophy among the thousands that I and my mentor Professor Samuel Gorovitz know who voted for and supports Trump [no, Sam was and is opposed to our POTUS].

    dineesh , March 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Who is behind them rascals?

    evelync , March 15, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Good question! And I don't know the answer, but I googled the question and FWIW depending on the reliability of the writers of the articles, here's what I found:

    "A Family Business

    There's also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.

    For instance, Robert's brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

    According to ISW's annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA's venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to US military intelligence in Afghanistan.

    Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded US forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See "Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War."]

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-26/meet-kagans-seeking-war-end-world

    from wikipedia:

    "In 1983, Robert Kagan was foreign policy advisor to New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp. From 1984–86, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, he was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and a member of the United States Department of State Policy Planning Staff. From 1986–1988 he served in the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.[10]

    In 1997, Kagan co-founded the now-defunct neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century with William Kristol.[3][5][11] Through the work of the PNAC, Kagan was a strong advocate of the Iraq war.

    From 1998 until August, 2010, Kagan was a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was appointed senior fellow in the Center on United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution in September 2010.[12][13][14][15] He is also a member of the board of directors for the neoconservative think tank The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).[16]

    During the 2008 presidential campaign he served as foreign policy advisor to John McCain, the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election.[17][18]

    Since 2011, Kagan has also served on the 25-member State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton[19] and John Kerry.[20]

    Andrew Bacevich referred to Kagan as "the chief neoconservative foreign-policy theorist" in reviewing Kagan's book The Return of history and the end of dreams.[21]

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

    also check out the footnotes from the wiki article ..

    Here's Andrew Bacevich's 2014 piece on the Kagans: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/duplicity-ideologues

    Bottom line, though, it seems like the Kagans have been at the center of Washington policy think for decades and decades and therefore fit neatly within the comfort zone of powerful people who carry out U.S. foreign policy – Republicans and Democrats.
    That's who we are, apparently ..
    I recently saw Wally Shawn's play in NYC – 'Evening at the Talk House', an amazing play about who we are – or have become .
    https://www.timeout.com/newyork/blog/theater-review-evening-at-the-talk-house-is-wallace-shawns-political-party-trick-021617
    http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/theater-evening-at-the-talk-house-and-escaped-alone.html

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you for your research and report

    jaycee , March 15, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    It's not too difficult to identify the think-tanks the Kagans belong to or run. These organizations have web sites, and the web sites usually list who the funders are. That's the information you seek.

    For example, the Institute for the Study of War is supported by the likes of General Dynamics, CACI, Microsoft, Centerra, Capital Bank, etc.

    Diana , March 16, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Robbie Martin has produced a three-part documentary on them rascals called "A Very Heavy Agenda." It's well worth watching, but it's expensive the box set of the three DVDs costs $50.00. I opted for the Vimeo version, where each part can be purchased for $6.99 or rented for $2.99. You can watch the trailers and learn more at http://averyheavyagenda.com .

    Diana , March 16, 2017 at 8:10 am

    You can find the Vimeo versions at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/averyheavyagenda . Watch the trailer for Part 3 and you will see that it refers to Robert Parry's "Family Kagan" article.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:03 am

    The ME warmongers are largely zionist Jews, including the Kagan/Nulands and the 2003 Iraq War II sponsors SecDef Wolfowitz and his Israeli spy operatives Perl, Feith, and Wurmser installed at CIA/DIA/NSA offices to select known-bad "intelligence" to incite war. The Kochs are of course complicit. Any who aren't zionist Jews are after their stolen US funds to Israel, fed to stink tanks and political bribe donations.

    The war in Iraq was such a success that the US was forced out having ensured the pro-Iran government it most feared, having built AlQaeda from a CIA proxy to a regional and then a worldwide enemy, and having guaranteed the violent Sunni uprising now called IS. Read Bamford's Pretext for War. Don't we need more of those wars.

    BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS , March 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

    dineesh,

    This is a reply to your (lost in the undergrowth): MORE RASCALS, in fact, THE ENTIRE DEEP STATE.

    dineesh's question: Who is behind those rascals.

    D5-5 , March 15, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Take a look at Moon of Alabama on this Kagan rehash. The comments in response to the analysis also recommended. Posted today.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/03/third-times-the-charm-the-neocons-want-another-sunni-insurgency.html

    Sally Snyder , March 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    As shown in this article, the United States is using ammunition in Syria that is adding to the already significant problems that Syrians are facing:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-united-states-and-cancer-of-warfare.html

    Apparently, the lessons taught in Iraq have been forgotten.

    Scott , March 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    A lesson can be had only by those willing to learn. Democrats just lost over 900 seats across state and federal offices and even that proved not to be a teachable moment.

    Curious , March 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    What a disturbing headline. I had hoped they would have been neutered after the Hillary defeat.

    But Mr Parry, I think it will also be interesting to examine the 'Vault 7' disclosure with regards to this Russia bashing. If the CIA has the ability to put out any email or documentation without a trail as to its origin, the Kagans could be shown as the charlatans they are if it was the CIA who meddled with the US election. It would shake their entire platform of blaming Russia to the core. It is difficult enough as it is to tell the originator of many internal docs leaked to the public, so the blame game is false as it is. I would welcome more release of the CIA vault 7 if only to show how often the CIA is involved in internal US politics and "homeland" situations. This meddling is supposedly against the law.

    One could only hope.

    Tannenhouser , March 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Not only that .A 'democrats' views are so symbiotic to a kagans shows they play for the same team while occasionally wearing different color jersey's. Curious indeed . I share your hope.

    Jonathan , March 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    In connection with the legality of CIA meddling in internal affairs, and the Trump wire-tapping charge, Scott Ritter has made what seems to be a rather good point in a recent article published in Truthdig. The article digs a little deeper into the matter and comes up with a surprising and quite optimistic conclusion.
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/trumps_wiretapping_charge_could_contain_some_explosive_truth_20170314

    D5-5 , March 15, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    As b says, analyst at Moon of Alabama (he's German by the way) on this topic, "The US military will try to take Raqqa from ISIS with the help of the Kurds in coordination with Syrian government forces. The Syrian government will also destroy al Qaeda in Idleb. The chance that Trump will pick up on any of these neo-con plans is practically zero. But who knows?"

    He also finds the Kaganista notions on a THIRD try at raising "the moderates" to get rid of Assad "drinking the kool aid."

    My question is how does this troop infusion, made problematical as Assad has not okayed it, calling it illegal, and which includes 2500 "tip of the spear" paratroopers in Kuwait, move the situation on, additional to (or beyond) the goal of cleaning out ISIS? To what, why? Suppose ISIS defeated (replaced in how long by another ISIS unless the political/economic situation changes for the sunnis) then what? Trump does an Obama and the US leaves again? Or cuts a deal with the neocons on pipeline projects etc?

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I read that article. The Qatar Turkey Pipeline was one of the hoped for outcomes of the Regime Change in Syria . This was problematic for Russia and will remain so. If the USA>NATO>EU thought that they could bring Turkey into the fold with this pipeline it might make sense but right now this is very unlikely.

    Personally I do not think Trump and Tillerson would go for World War .Do not forget that China is allied with Russia on this and they see Syria as very important to the completion of One Belt One Road'. Israel's role in the region and in Syria should not be forgotten ever. They are anxious about the Golan and Russia and they always want the USA to attack Iran. So does Saudi Arabia and you may have noticed the Saudi Foreign Minister dropping a comment a couple days ago that this planned action against Hezbollah and Iran is very much on the table.

    There are many heads on the chopping block right now not just Assad's, enemies and allies also. The Planners cannot control the outcome in Turkey (We played our card already), in Iraq, in Syria or in Lebanon. WE are not liked. All the USA can do at this point is destroy, we can never win hearts and minds in the Middle East.. Can of Worms.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I think the biggest worry is to hope that whoever loses can bear the cost of loss. This Syrian war I don't think at this point is as much about ISIS as it is about land. Land for pipelines mostly, but land for a whole host of other reasons as well. Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, are the predominant people who are fighting for space, but so are countries like Turkey, Saudi's, and the Israeli's in the Golan Heights. So stretching pipelines, and building new one road infrastrutures need land oh and let's not forget the Shia Crescent and Iran. This area is so messed up I'm not that sure even the winner will have won much more than a big headache.

    Enjoyed reading both of your comments, and thought I'd make some noise to accompany your conversation.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Joe, both the Syrian and Iraq wars now have two purposes. First is to prevent the dreaded "Shia Crescent," and the second is to protect Israel. The latest surge in Iraq and Syria by the US forces is to keep the perpetual wars going by creating "Sunni" zones in Iraq and Syria. When the Iraqi Army and the Shia militias were battling the ISIS, there were no US boots on the ground. Same thing in Syria. Consider the timing of this surge. ISIS is almost routed in Iraq and Syria and all of a sudden Trump sends ground forces to help mop up the remnants of ISIS.

    The real purpose is not to clean up ISIS but to prevent the government forces to establish rule in Mosul. Saudi Arabia wants that part to remain Sunni. This way Iran doesn't win. The US wants to divide Iraq in three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish, as has been her plan all along. Similarly, in Syria, if Assad wins the whole of Syria is under his rule. By inserting herself in the war, the US wants to set up a Sunni section on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Israel, to be a thorn in Assad's side and a Kurdish side to punish Erdogan for his behavior and keep him occupied. The wars will continue in the Middle East, the Military-Industrial Complex will continue to sell weapons and Israel will be worry free.

    What I don't understand is why is US so against the Shias. I can understand Israel's position. Israel got her rear end kicked twice by a tiny Hezbollah force but why US. It can't be just to please Israel or is it? So much bloodshed just for that.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:13 am

    The US is involved solely to get political campaign funds from Israel stolen from US "aid".

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Going back to the old communist days and Nassar the U.S. sided with Israel. That was back at a time when we Americans were exposed to the propaganda that Israeli's were like us Americans, and all Arabs were crazy. We were fine with Iran as long as we had the Shad there to protect our interest. The Iran Hostage event was excellent PR to demonize Iran for over a forty year period, and life goes on.

    You and I along with many others here believe now is a great time to hit the Middle East reset button .now how do we convince our country's leadership to do that, is the question.

    John P , March 16, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Good article and I think you hit the nails on the heads MEexpert. Your final paragraph, I think the U.S. wants a stable ally in the region and they believe Israel fills that roll, even though I see little common interest in eithers ambitions, one for stability the other for annexations. Perhaps the U.S. politicians hold their noses and hope.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    The Qatar-Turkey pipeline concept tried to break the "Shiite crescent" of Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon and compete with the southern Russia-Turkey pipeline; otherwise they would not be seeking war near pipelines that could more easily have coexisted.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 2:57 am

    "Suppose ISIS defeated (replaced in how long by another ISIS unless the political/economic situation changes for the sunnis) then what?"

    Why such concern about the Sunnis? In Iraq only 20% population is Sunni. Yet Saddam, a Sunni, ruled more that 60% Shias for 35 years and other Sunni rulers before that. There was no concern for their feelings or their safety by Papa Bush in 1991 or after that when Saddam gassed the Shias and the Kurds. Bahrain, on the other hand, at one time was 90% Shia with a Sunni ruler, thanks to the British. The Emir of Bahrain has been systematically stripping the Shias of their citizenship and importing Sunnis from other countries and giving them Citizenship by recruiting them into the Bahraini Armed Forces. Even when the uprising started in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia moved in there to put the uprising down, all US did was to send down the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs to reassure the Emir of Bahrain and to make sure that the 5th fleet was safe.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    @ ME Expert:

    Thank you for your comments! I'm looking at the above responses, including the additional link on Syria from Joe, which provides historical perspective also, in terms of US establishing a presence in eastern Syria to be "a thorn in Assad's side" as you say, and continue to push for regional control allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia, et al.

    On your question why such concern about the Sunnis, here's my impression, which could be too simple.

    With the conquest of Iraq and Bremer's releasing the 400,000 military, a highly Shia favored sort of revenge government program fell into place, favoring Shias and leading to problems for Sunnis (including high unemployment) that led on to the creation of ISIS. If similar economic and political problems are not dealt with, wiping out this iteration of ISIS could lead to another version of it. I also have the impression the potential number of these dissatisfied, as potential recruits, could number in many millions (not sure how many). I don't intend to take a position favoring Sunnis, but am trying to understand the complexity of the grievances of whomever. As part of this, my understanding is that many members of ISIS are not head-chopping maniacs but joined as ISIS was the only available opposing force.

    On your question why is the US so against the Shias, my impression is they haven't been against the Shias in Iraq, while simultaneously (and shortsightedly) exercising no influence on fair governance of Iraq following the 03 invasion, and this favoritism favored the Shias there and stirred Sunni resistance. But, I'm thinking, the animosity toward Shias elsewhere is related to alignments in the region, toward dominating the entire region, including taking down Syria and Iran. So it's not so much animosity toward Shias per se as it is to regime change uncooperative rulers, whether in Lebanon, Syria, or Iran, with their Shia populations (and lately of course throw in Russia). At stake is pipelines of various sorts, and water rights, and overall in terms of globalism and full spectrum dominance taking over the entire middle east region.

    I welcome being straightened out on where I'm correct or too simplistic. Thanks again.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Meant to say INcorrect or too simplistic!

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    The politics of divide and conquer can create strange bedfellows. There is deep routed historical enmity between the Sunnis and Shiites to begin with. Search Twelver. The US has allies and enemies, Bottom line, Saudi Arabia has a lot of oil and Israel has a lot of political power through it's representatives in the USA especially but also in Britain and France. The Iranians were our friends too after the USA overthrow their Democratic Government in 1953 and installed the Shah and the CIA set up ZAVAK to protect him. It worked until he got weak. . Iran's enmity with the USA and Israel is well supported by facts . So is Hezbollah's enmity as is the enmity of Palestinians living in camps in stateless exile in Lebanon and elsewhere. . We don't necessarily hate Shias. It's policy. A fun fact to know and tell is that the Saudis pump oil from under the feet of the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia. who have live near the Persian Gulf since they were Persians and Zoroastrians. Also The US 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain courtesy of a treaty with the Sunni Rulers of the 90% Shiite nation. Yemen in the same story. Policy is a reason why during the Bush years the USA began referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. So too, When I was young Yemen was not unified. It will never be. Houthis are being oppressed in a genocidal manner right now with US backing because House of Saud sits on the Thrown of Damocles . That is why the King of Saudi Arabia is on a worldwide tour shaking hands with Xi in China yesterday. etc.,,,, ad nauseum

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I wouldn't argue with any of you who are commenting here on this thread, because I agree with all of you. I would like to point out that when Iraq fell the Shia (Shiites) became the popular ruling segment of Iraq, and then came General David Petraeus. The Sunni Awakening has had profound ramifications on what we are up against now, if we should be up against anything at all since most of what we are dealing with is U.S. inspired. The ultimate goal was to descale Iraq away from Iranian influence, and this social engineering by the U.S. could not have been a bigger mistake than what it's turned out to be. Now we are turning Yemen into our new Cambodia, and this will also turn out to be an even bigger mistake unless better minds prevail inside of our White House (if the Oval Office even has the deciding decision on this). Take a look at a map and see where Iran is, and then see where we are positioning ourselves. My thoughts are that Iran is the final goal, and until Iran is brought down, done of us will get a good nights sleep hoping to wake up to a peaceful world. Also don't take that last sentence of mine to be an endorsement to attack Iran. I am more than happy to let Iran be Iran.

    https://warontherocks.com/2016/11/waking-up-to-the-truth-about-the-sunni-awakening/

    If we wish to end war, then let's quit fighting them!

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I agree Iran is the real target. The Afghan and Iraq wars were less against Al-Qaeda, since there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but more against Iran. George Bush wanted to establish bases around Iran. In addition to these two countries, he wanted to establish one more in Turkmenistan. US already had a base in Turkey. Turkmenistan refused to allow any US base. Turkey refused the use of Turkish base to launch an attack on Iran. US got bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. So the attack on Iran never came. Mind you, the largest US base in Iraq is near the Iran border.

    The dismantling of the Iraqi army wasn't the only thing Paul Bremer did wrong. He gave veto power to the minority Kurds and Sunnis. That is the reason for the non-functional Iraqi government. Nothing gets done. The Kurds are taking advantage of this situation and with the help of US are consolidating their territorial position. Saudi Arabia doesn't want another Shia government as its neighbor and so keeps the sectarian war going adding to the instability of the government.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I keep trying to post a link to The Saker for Feb 7 this year, and it keeps disappearing. Easy to find, however. His analysis on what war with Iran would mean is excellent. "US vs Iran a war of apples vs. oranges."

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Pence seems to be on board already as are McCain and Graham.I agree we can't can't on the Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer's Liberal wing of the Democrats here. Maybe the Trump's Generals will save us? Yeah right. The House of Representatives ? Not likely . Strange days indeed .,

    CitizenOne , March 15, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I was not aware of the Kagan's role and I thank you for doing the due diligence on outlining how this family is intertwined with recent misadventures. But also it is kind of picking at Nits. This is a smallish operation. It does not compare to the decades long operation of Cheney to privatize the DOD, teach his corporate buddies a Halliburton how to cash in, dream of further cashing in himself with PNAC and the Carlyle Group, gin up a war, destabilize the middle east and get a pass from the media. Cheney and Bush ignored all of the warnings from the FBI and the CIA that Saudi terrorists were planning an attack which would instantly make the Carlyle Group the wealthiest private equity firm on the planet.

    I agree it is all planned. Planned well in advance. The goal is to become rich by creating a war or wars.

    I realize it is aimed at a microscopic part of the picture but fails to connect the dots of Kagan and PNAC and 9/11. Cheney's own admission that short of "A New Pearl Harbor" Americans would not likely go along with his dreams of launching preemptive wars reveal a naked desire to become rich along with his buddies over at the Carlyle Group which snatched up defense stocks when the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR was disintegrating. While the rest of the World was celebrating the possibility of future peace with Russia, The PNAC folks were buying up stock in the defense industry and were dreaming of a war. which they created by ignoring all of the signs that 9/11 was underway. I get that they felt some future democratic branch of the government would botch an opportunity to create a fake enemy in Iraq and would fail to launch a war.

    But the facts are the whole thing was avoidable and was pushed with a mountain of lies which the major media simply regurgitated leading us to war.

    It doesn't end there. While we are now busy banning millions of people from coming to America because they might be terrorists, the real terrorists from abroad and here at home with Islamic ties were all known by the authorities. Yet they did nothing to stop them and instead have used their failures as excuses to create chaos which they hope will lead to more violence.

    How does a guy who went to the FBI and confessed was delusional and heard voices in his head trying to convert him to an ISIS terrorist then be allowed to board an airplane with a gun?

    How was the underpants bomber allowed on a plane when his parents called the US Consulate to inform US officials that their son was getting on that plane with a bomb. Yet we let this person on a plane. Why has the media never investigated this failure?

    It is failure after failure with gross incompetence from federal authorities charged with our security that has led to terrorist acts and not the failure to keep millions of people from traveling here.

    The Boston Marathon bombers were singled out to US intelligence agencies by none other than the Russians that they were terrorists but we let them in. No investigation of that but banning entire nations is an option we have now tried twice. What about the failure of intelligence to flag two people who were singled out as terrorists?

    There is a much bigger story here.

    The US government and intelligence agencies have obviously allowed terrorist attacks to happen. This has happened time and time again and yet the media focuses on the terrorists time and time again while ignoring and under reporting the backstory of how we just let it happen.

    It can be rationalized by a reasoned argument that we must allow some attacks to focus our efforts on thwarting even bigger attacks like nuclear attacks but there has been no action by the government to actually improve security so what is the point.

    The meaningless act of taking ones shoes off at an airport is only not copied by forcing us to all strip down to our underpants based on a similar event to the shoe bomber because people would not tolerate being forced to take off all their clothes.

    Now since an FAA test of airport security revealed that guns were not detected 95% of the time we are all preparing for pat downs. Nobody is examining the reason that 95% of the time somebody with a gun in their baggage gets through security which is supposedly equipped with machines that can spot guns. Where is the investigation of the machines since they fail so often?

    There are all sorts of similar stories which all conclude that we are faced with a rational reason that our government needs to allow some terrorist action to happen which in turn turns our state increasingly toward a militaristic police state.

    What I have a problem with is that we are more likely to be attacked by known terrorists and that nobody seems to be concerned with. I guess that allowing terrorist attacks provides the political concurrence to launch trillion dollar wars against other nations all for profit and put spy cupcakes in our refrigerators. Watch out! There's a camera just below the icing on the cupcake! Don't eat it!

    We can't just ignore home grown terrorists like the shooters in California who, while on a watch list, were allowed to purchase weapons or the crazy guy who told FBI ISIS was inside his head to board an airplane with a gun and do nothing to investigate these intelligence failures and instead use them to seek Apple to grant access to all our information on smartphones and order travel bans for millions of people while justifying turning our TVs into Big Brother.

    We can't ignore the obvious windfalls of Cheney and his pals at the Carlyle group to grow rich by allowing terrorists to kill thousands of people.

    If we are going to spill blood in preparation for war, then we need to make sure we are doing everything in our power to prevent it and especially not to seek to become rich from it. We also need to protect our privacy.

    So now it comes down to making Russia the new enemy. We have to reinvent an old enemy to justify further reasons for keeping America strong. But we spend ten times the money on our National Defense than the Russians do. Where does that line up with weakness? How do we just invent some myth that there are liberators working abroad in Ukraine and Syria to justify military spending just like we invented Vietnam? Has Vietnam attacked us recently? I think not. Is Syria a serious player in the international terrorism game? I think not.

    Here is a suggestion. Apply all that money used to create advanced defensive capability into an industry aimed at real security.

    Destabilizing the whole World to get rich is a bad idea. Getting rich by providing the means of nonmilitary industry aimed at enhancing security is a good idea. Easy money is a crime. Earning it the hard way is an honest living.

    Time for the easy money folks to be sidelined and for the people interested in long term survival to hold power.

    Bruce Walker , March 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Anyone in the USA who can say they are not aware of the Kagan clan no nothing and should not be writing such a long comment. Go back to sleep.

    CitizenOne , March 16, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    That would be spelled: knows nothing
    Perhaps you should wake up, learn to spell, and spend more than a lazy moment trolling me. If you have something intelligent to say we are all waiting with baited breath.

    CitizenOne , March 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Well I guess I have to forgive Bruce Walker for not being a very good speller.

    That would be : bated breath.

    My bad.

    geoff , March 15, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    kagans never fail to excite. a package of madness on my monitor and how the hell did they get to screw things up. oh!! scuse me yes, hillary whatsaname!!!

    Brad N , March 15, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    The picture painted here is actually rather dismal when one considers the long term consequences of having such nonsense going on. Trump as possible savior from a war with Russia is a really hard pill to swallow. Very hard indeed, it is worth repeating. I have no confidence in his consistency at all. As for this article, I wish I could find fault with the analysis presented here. Sadly, I cannot.

    Chris Jonsson , March 15, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    War, Inc. A family owned and operated corporation.

    TheSkepticalCynic , March 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Fuck the Kagans

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    But they might multiply!

    Fran Macadam , March 15, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    "Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton,"

    I greatly appreciate Mr. Parry's reporting and insights. However, I believe that the determination of fitness for the Presidency is determined by the voters and democracy determines who is qualified.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:35 am

    If only we had a democracy, Fran. But in fact elections and mass media are controlled by money, and our Constitution has no protection of these tools of democracy from money power, because there were no businesses then larger than plantations and small ships that would be small businesses today. We do not have a democracy now.

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.

    This quote suggests it is time to send a team of men with a strait-jacket into the New York Times to cart this nutcase off to the loony bin. Come to think of it, maybe they should take several strait-jackets with them and clean out the editorial staff.

    Gregory Herr , March 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    It's absolutely asinine isn't it?! I'll have to take a look, but I'll bet there wasn't a snicker or even a raised eyebrow when Friedman (the oh-so-serious-in-the-know hushed-toned Friedman who reveled in promoting the Iraq killing field) spittled his brain drool. He really should be referred. At the very least, he should have been called out for his absurdity before being excused at the next commercial break.

    It's amazing how people like Kagan & Friedman can straight-face their farcical musings about Russian "interference". It's funny too how they can go on about the integrity and reliability of democratic processes when it is precisely the compromise of such that Wikileaks revealed. As noted by Mr. Parry:

    " by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee's tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation. In other words, the WikiLeaks' releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not "disinformation" or "fake news." They were real news."

    So much for real news in this country. And my God Mr. Kagan, Trump doesn't necessarily have faith in the findings or motives of the "intelligence community". I wonder why.

    I hope the Kagans find their karma. Oh, and that weasel Friedman too.

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Given the wars the Kagans have helped promote and the consequences of these wars, surely there is some crime they could be charged with.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    We wish.

    F. G. Sanford , March 15, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    The desperation with which neocons are baiting for a new Cold War suggests that there is something much bigger than "election hacking" that needs covering up. Profit motives aside, the cost-benefit ratio looks more like a ploy to stay out of jail. Not that anyone in the "deep state" ever faces penalties for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but it must be a nagging thought to anyone familiar with Julius Streicher and Alfred Rosenberg.

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Institute for the Study of War, that says it all! I remember when Dennis Kucinich as Representative from Ohio introduced a bill to create a Department of Peace. It didn't go very far.

    I also did not know about Frederick and Kimberly Kagan. How many more of these Kagans can be spawned?

    Thanks for a good warning, Robert Parry. These people must dream of war at night. I hope Trump and Tillerson are wary of them.

    Eric Bischoff , March 16, 2017 at 9:11 am

    "How many more of these Kagans can be spawned?"

    Yes and how many more Devos and Princes can we afford as well. Or how many Bushes, Clintons or Trumps!

    Sr. Gibbonk , March 16, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Ah yes, The Project for a New American Century manifesto: primary authors Robert Kagan and William Kristol on behalf of the neocon cabal and the European colonial Zionist project. Another demonstration that narrow, selfish interests, greed and the thirst for power drive this world. And all the while there are two great storms brewing on the horizon, each capable of driving our's and the majority of this earth's species to extinction. One, perhaps the most imminent, is the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation which is being spearheaded by the reckless ideologues and predatory capitalist deep state demagogues in their quest for Full Spectrum Dominance of global affairs. Even if the dire specter of nuclear holocaust is somehow avoided the global corporate world's avaricious, boundless appetite for short term profits, especially through fossil fuel extraction, will make the worst predictions of climate change inevitable: ecological collapse and along with it the collapse not only of nation states but of the human capacity to reason. How will the great nuclear powers, flailing like dinosaurs during the Permian-Triassic extinction - also known as The Great Dying - not then Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds?

    Stygg , March 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    FWIW, dinosaurs did not yet exist by the end of the Permian.

    Eric Downey , March 16, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Robert Parry thank you, and please continue your hard work. Our best hope for peace lies with Trump, Bannon, Tillerson and the Generals. It sounds crazy (and it is!) but they are well suited because they are aligned with a good chunk of the vocal electorate. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) proposed a bill Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and it has a companion in the Senate, sponsored by Rand Paul:
    https://www.mintpressnews.com/rand-paul-joins-tulsi-gabbard-calling-congress-stop-funding-isis-al-qaeda/225868/

    This is an informed electorate taking action. Parry is doing his job by informing us. Our job is to support H.R.608 and S.532.

    Gary , March 16, 2017 at 5:05 am

    There are so many in Washington who deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity that it is difficult to know where one would start. Actually, come to think of it, the Kagan family would be a great place to start! Then of course we'd have to move on to Bill and Hillary and another highly deserving couple Samantha Powers and hubby Cass Sustien of "cognitive infiltration" fame. Apparently psychopaths do find each other quite attractive, though who knows how many homicidal fantasies these particular spouses might actually harbor toward each other??

    Seema Gillani , March 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Trump has been neutralised to become a puppet of deep state. The world should expect the war business as usual.

    Geoffrey de Galles , March 16, 2017 at 7:44 am

    If I were the Kagans with as loaded an agenda as they share in the worldwide assertion of American exceptionalism, then I would consider the POTUS's Achilles heel to be Jared Kushner and his wife; and, in a more or less gentle and subtle way, would endeavour first to establish a relationship with them as a means of gradually bringing the pater familias around to my bellicose and imperialistic way of thinking. Myself, I consider the Kagans (among many others) to be the true enemy of the people. But that's my concern - viz., with trying to anticipate and out-think the enemy. So best watch out in that direction.

    fudmier , March 16, 2017 at 8:00 am

    The problem here is lack of ideal structure to for the concerned to become involved with
    No one has outlined the ideal America as seen from the point of everyday Americans..
    these 340,000,000 millions have no idea what to be for and against because they have
    no structure and no purpose .. seems to me developing that structure (culture, education,
    health care, voting rights, financial security, infra structure, and the like).
    Developing the structure is a first step to mounting the support Trump needs to make the right decisions..
    Trump himself lacks that structure.. Once the structure becomes a household word everyone knows the
    right decision they might agree to disagree on its implementation but the result intended is in plain view.

    Bryan Hemming , March 16, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Why would the Russians need to undermine democracy in the United States when the Democratic and Republican party machines are doing such a marvellous job of it by themselves?

    Del Spurlock , March 16, 2017 at 8:51 am

    EXCEPTIONAL

    Donald Kagan
    Spawned a tribe
    Of tinhorn
    Warriors

    Practice war he
    Said to them
    Make men
    Sacrifice
    Their reason and
    Their rectitude
    Their dreams of paradise.

    Make them fear
    The empty space
    Filled with conjured devils
    Make them sacrifice their young
    To save god's holy settlers.

    Make Obama toe their line
    Add John Lewis too
    Watch Black leaders
    Act so dumb
    And crap on King to Boot.

    Roberto , March 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXspsfoPX50

    Roberto , March 16, 2017 at 8:57 am

    The title should be, "How To Turn Unemployment Into A Great Day At The Gallows."

    Eric Bischoff , March 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Aren't there laws that the Kagan family are breaking? Seems to me we should start with them and arrest them for the lies that took the Bush regime into the Middle East wars and definitely for the Ukraine coup. They are financing and spreading terrorism therefore the money and the financiers behind these war think tanks are also guilty. This goes all the way to the Koch Brothers and they should be arrested as well! Why are we, the peace crusaders, on the defensive. We need to go on the offensive. Enough already!

    Dan Kuhn , March 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

    As P T barnum said " Theres a sucker born every minute". The real question is ; Are the American people going to get suckered into a war with Russia and or China? Given their past record of seriously questioning the propaganda put out by the Kagans et all i am not too hopeful over this present push to what will be a catastrophic war.

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    It's all talk. We can't beat the Taliban or the Viet Cong or the Mexican and Central American drug Gangs on the ground if it comes to that. Russia? China? That's funny. This is to justify perpetuation of the status quo in this nation. We the People can't be allowed to pick up our heads and gaze at reality. We need to be preoccupied with the BS. Political Correctness has done it's job now we have to spend a bunch of money on imaginary threats so billionaires and bankers can get richer and we can all pretend that they matter and that this is fair and justified and Democracy in action , We need idiotic Generals in charge and tough talking politicians too. Obfuscation, whatever word or combination of words you like . It's fascistic crap. We the People didn't want more war in Syria under Obama . Nothing has changed , next time it won't matter if 90% of calls to Congressional offices are against a war. This is what Eisenhower said would happen back in 1958 though the entrenchment of the Military Industrial Financial Cyber Intelligence Complex.

    exiled off mainstreet , March 16, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Rather than being extolled and given mainstream platforms to exercise their baleful interests, the Kagans should face some sort of legal accountability as professional war criminals.

    Stiv , March 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Jesus Christ. Yea yea yea. Same old same old. In searching for a sign of light after the elections, the best I was able to do is " well at least Nuland won't be Secretary of State". But to go on and on and on

    Isn't there more important stuff going on? How about the "Hard diplomacy" Trumpistas are spouting about?

    It's been funny .in a sick way to see Trump and administration figures using the same language as Parry and his hangers on. "McCarthyism", "Deep State" are used every other paragraph.

    It's been noted a marked shift towards the Trump administration talking points in commentary here at Consortium "news". Even the "fake news" debacle is furthered here.

    And not in the right direction.

    My question .When does the news start, Robert?

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    You know it's possible you're so angry you're not really paying attention. It you think there's been a "marked shift towards Trump administration talking points in commentary here" you're not really reading what's here, just swiftly glancing and stamping your foot with irritation. Why don't you provide a little news yourself instead of your same old same old bitching all the time?

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Here is that link to Saker's article:

    http://www.unz.com/tsaker/u-s-against-iran-a-war-of-apples-vs-oranges/

    Gregory Herr , March 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    So your grasp of what has "importance" is not aligned with CN and the thrust of its commentary. I think you've made that clear on several ad nauseam occasions.
    I should think that if this site was about reiterating Trump Administration talking points, we'd have the "hard diplomacy" thing covered by now. If you are concerned about what Mr. Parry publishes, submit articles on what you think is important. If you are concerned about the level or direction of commentary here, contribute with something substantive.

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Well, the Trump team players even Donald himself need to defend themselves for their own reasons. I think most commenters here are a little worried and rightly so for their own reasons, I personally do not like the vilification of all things Russian and the obvious McCarthy like tactics that have been going on calling for a witch hunt, a special prosecutor on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. Democrats aren't calling out for justice they want to geld Trump but Pense would be even worse. Maybe it's time tobelieve in Democracy at some level.

    John , March 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    The Kagans are simply supplying a strategy to further a growing agenda ..The average USA citizen's strategy is complacency and their agenda is simply to do nothing ..This is why the 1% rule over the 99% ..

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Tony Cartaluccu's article on The Deep State is excellent, thank you, Joe. The multipolar world he speaks of, which Putin often refers to, is what the neocon imperialists such as the Kagans don't want, but they're getting it, anyway. Since the days of the Iraq War, many great alternative journalists, such as this website, have exposed and continue to expose the facts behind deep state propaganda so these folks can't dominate as they used to. The USA doesn't look so good to a lot of nations after the disasters created by the regime change proxy wars. Despite the badmouthing of Putin and Russia in the US, many other countries aren't signing on to that attitude, from what I've read. I have just read that China wants to help rebuild Syria, since Syria is an important geographic route on their One Belt, One Road project. If the US can't recognize it can't remain top dog forever and that it's a multipolar world, it might find itself isolated.

    Dag , March 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    The Kagans should be in prison for all the crimes they've enabled, all the lives they've destroyed.

    Airman Sparky , March 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Robert Parry & Glenn Greenwald are at the top of my short list of real-life, courageous, truth-telling heroes but, for today, Kiza reigns supreme with her tour de force:"Between the Clinton liberals and the Ziocons C'est une Affaire d'Amour Toujours, as Pepé Le Pew likes to say."
    Massive props, Zika, for referencing Pepe, HRC, & neocons in a single sentence

    Ted , March 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    OK, I get it about the Kagans, but I still don't trust Putin.

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    So then, Ted, why don't you move to Russia so that you can do an objective evaluation of the country and under Putin? Of course, Russian is not an easy language to learn! It's just reported on Global Research that Russia has absorbed 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the US 2014 coup and Europe 900,000 more, according to a Kremlin parliamentarian in February. Thanks to Victoria Nuland!

    Ted , March 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hmm that's a response I would expect at TheBlaze – knee-jerk and black-and-white. Perhaps I should learn Russian. Are you offering to teach me, comrade?

    J'hon Doe II , March 16, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    UK/US is the Last Empire and Trump is an 'angel-of-death'.
    Nothing good can or will from his spurious administration .

    http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2016/11/09/20161111_trump1.jpg

    Brad Isherwood , March 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    The PNAC psychopaths did their part in 911. The conquer 7 Nations in 5 years for Israel has been delayed.

    The MIC has Al qeada,ISIS. ..even Muslim Brotherhood, ..all over the place, to give the MIC years and years. ..even another decade or more war pleasuring. Trump kicked huge gift to the Military. ..before the Ides of March arrived.

    The Saudi/Qatar block have invested multi millions in regime change Assad. The trained Mercs forces, logistics, weapons. posture against Iran, and the dream of Pipelines.

    Erdogan the Mad Caliph is the receiver of the Terrorists from Saudi or Libya and other, the reciever of the pipelines.
    Israel will not give back the Golan .wants Hezbollah gone from near its Safe Zone.

    Far too much money which MIC wants play with. ..and as Admiral Thomas Moorer commented, " No American President can stand up to Israel "

    US boots going back into Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Iraq, going into Syria, media bleating about US needs go back to Libya and fix that mess.

    Trump is where on his supposed non intervention promises? The John McCain and Deep State media rush against Russia with lies like WMD Iraq. Is this Deja Vu

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Ted, my comment was sarcastic because you did not back up your opinion with any facts. The situation is getting very sticky with now Canada's Foreign Minister getting into the smearfest. Freeland just pulled out the Crimean Tatars as being victims of Russian aggression, and I, knowing nothing about the issue, had to start digging, which began with US articles supporting brutalization by Russia, some from 2016. Digging out further are some articles that this is not the case, Tatars supported going with Russia as Crimeans voted. All which supports that propaganda is rife, is there a free press anymore, and the virulent fixation on Russia is out of control. And my position is that some politicians are willing to take us to extinction to get their way, while we have a planet with many problems we should be addressing.

    [Mar 17, 2017] The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow

    Notable quotes:
    "... The Kagan family, America's neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency. ..."
    "... "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. ..."
    "... "This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks. ..."
    "... the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." ..."
    "... Yet, the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. ..."
    "... It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. ..."
    "... As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers. ..."
    "... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
    Mar 15, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

    Exclusive: The neocon royalty Kagans are counting on Democrats and liberals to be the foot soldiers in the new neocon campaign to push Republicans and President Trump into more "regime change" wars, reports Robert Parry.

    The Kagan family, America's neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.

    Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow's alleged help in electing Donald Trump.

    In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as "Russia's accomplices after the fact" by not investigating more aggressively.

    Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.

    Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington's world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.

    Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose "liberal interventionism" matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.

    There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to Secretary of State.

    Then, there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing the U.S. military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting "regime change" back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money.

    A Family Business

    As I noted two years ago in an article entitled " A Family Business of Perpetual War ": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

    "This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

    "Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert's brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War."

    But things didn't quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Republicans stumbled through the GOP primaries losing out to Donald Trump and then – after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim the Democratic nomination – she fumbled away the general election to Trump.

    After his surprising victory, Trump – for all his many shortcomings – recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically appointed job as Assistant Secretary but resigned from the Foreign Service, too.

    With Trump in the White House, Official Washington's neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Democrats and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland's fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Democrats and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump's team to rig the U.S. election.

    New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia's alleged "meddling" to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al Qaeda's 9/11 terror attacks.

    On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.

    So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves.

    Baiting Republicans

    Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of The Washington Post to bait key Republicans, such as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was pictured above the Post article and its headline, "Running interference for Russia."

    Gen. David Petraeus posing before the U.S. Capitol with Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo credit: ISW's 2011 Annual Report)

    Kagan wrote: "It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party's leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country's political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing."

    Kagan then reprised Official Washington's groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from President Obama's outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had "hacked" Democratic emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign.

    Though Obama's intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims – and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians – the allegations were widely accepted across Official Washington as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office.

    Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama's appointees, Kagan judged that "given the significance of this particular finding [about Russian meddling], the evidence must be compelling" and justified "a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation."

    But Kagan also must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia.

    He declared: "The most important question concerns Russia's ability to manipulate U.S. elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in the United States' electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers.

    "Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the U.S. political system with weapons of war. But by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of U.S. elections, it can shake that system to its foundations."

    A Different Reality

    As alarmist as Kagan's op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the Democratic emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks – an unsubstantiated and disputed contention – those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election's outcome.

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

    Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.

    Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee's tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

    In other words, the WikiLeaks' releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not "disinformation" or "fake news." They were real news.

    A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week when someone leaked details about Trump's tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen's tax returns was somehow a threat to American democracy.

    The general feeling was that Americans have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn't it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton's nomination, about the contents of Clinton's speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation?

    Yet, because Obama's political appointees in the U.S. intelligence community "assess" that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on U.S. democracy is a reason for World War III.

    More Loose Talk

    But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining U.S. democracy. He asserted as "fact" – although again without presenting evidence – that Russia is "interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy's recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions."

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria "Toria" Nuland, addresses Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]

    There's been a lot of handwringing in Official Washington and across the Mainstream Media about the "post-truth" era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it.

    But it's clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on U.S. military hardware and on Western propaganda to "counter" what is deemed "Russian propaganda."

    Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Democrats and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at Republicans to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:

    "But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party's current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community's findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees.

    "Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly.

    "The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party's leadership, both in the White House and Congress.

    "When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia's accomplices after the fact."

    Lying with the Neocons

    Many Democrats and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down Republicans for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch hunt. But they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

    On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan's brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons' long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.

    But the neocons have long lusted for "regime change" in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama's arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State's "capital" of Raqqa.

    In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:

    "American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.

    "The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America's approach to it."

    A New Scheme on Syria

    In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the U.S. military into a "regime change" project in Syria.

    The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major U.S. air assault on the Syrian military.

    But Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to arrange for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons even as Assad continued to deny any role in the sarin attack.

    Putin's interference in thwarting the neocons' dream of a Syrian "regime change" war moved Putin to the top of their enemies' list. Soon key neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed "the biggest prize" and a steppingstone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow.

    It fell to Assistant Secretary Victoria "Toria" Nuland to oversee the "regime change" in Ukraine. She was caught on an unsecured phone line in late January or early February 2014 discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how "to glue" or "to midwife" a change in Ukraine's elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

    Several weeks later, neo-Nazi and ultranationalist street fighters spearheaded a violent assault on government buildings forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives, with the U.S. government quickly hailing the coup regime as "legitimate."

    But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion."

    So, by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a "regime change" in Syria.

    All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.

    Yet, the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.

    It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.

    As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.

    Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

    [Mar 16, 2017] New Oil Price War Looms As The OPEC Deal Falls Short naked capitalism

    Mar 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    nonsense factory , March 14, 2017 at 11:46 am

    The writing on the wall for the oil industry is pretty clear: (1) high oil prices are needed to finance recovery of the remaining dirty, hard-to-get oil, but (2) high oil prices drive a collapse in demand as consumers respond by turning to efficient technologies and renewable energy.

    The oil industry, from multinationals like Exxon to state actors like OPEC members, is thus trying to keep prices in a narrow band that is just high enough to make things like fracking and shale oil profitable, but not so high as to accelerate demand collapse. The highest-cost dirtiest oil is being abandoned, for example Exxon just wrote off tar sand oil holdings:

    The company said Wednesday in its annual 10-K filing to the Securities and Exchanges Commission that it has cut its estimate of recoverable reserves by a net 3.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent (or "bboe"), to just under 20 billion, a result of low crude prices that have made some of its investments in high-cost oil uneconomic to extract. Specifically, the company de-booked its entire pro rata 3.5 billion barrels of reserves in a Canadian oil sands project.

    Clearly the long-term picture is a shift to highly efficient vehicles (Toyota's 133-mpg Prius just came out), electric vehicles, low-pollution fuels like natural gas for the trucking industry, etc. – meaning that gasoline and diesel are heading the same way as coal, slowly but surely. Smart investors should be unwinding their oil holdings as fast as possible.

    yamahog , March 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Toyota's Prius Prime isn't rated at 133 mpg on gas – it's closer to 50-60 mpg and the Prius Prime is more expensive than the conventional prius. The primary benefit of the prius prime is that it has bigger batteries and 'plug in' capabilities. It goes 133 miles on the electricity equivalent of 1 gallon of gas but its batteries are so small that it can only go about 20 miles on electricity until it switches over to gas.

    Meanwhile, Toyota's Camry (a 30 mpg car) is losing its sales volume to the Rav4 (a 24 mpg SUV). America's desire for SUVs and AWD has resulted in a pretty constant fleet mpg average over the past two decades with gains in efficiency offset by gains in vehicle mass and capability.

    voislav , March 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    I recently talked to somebody from Toyota and he mentioned that their production mix in North America is skewed compared to their demand. Their production mix 45:55 passenger cars to trucks/SUV's right now, but the demand is 40:60 and it's shifting further to the heavy side, they expect this year to be 35:65.

    This is despite heavy promotions and discounts they are doing on smaller vehicles to try to get them off the lot. On the truck side, they sell them as soon as they are out of the factory. Cheap oil is driving the demand for larger vehicles and killing the hybrid/electric sales.

    photosymbiosis , March 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    The basic issue is that electric motors approach 99% efficiency at converting stored electric charge to power, while gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines tend to operate at 15-25% efficiency when converting gasoline or diesel to power. At current fuel & electricity prices, costs per-mile are at least 3 times higher for fossil fueled vehicles vs. electric vehicles.

    Hence, if oil prices rise to a level that makes production of the remaining oil profitable, fuel prices will also rise, driving that cost differential even higher in favor of electric vehicles. This is a fairly slow process, sure, but the trend is clear:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-03/electric-cars-could-take-an-opec-sized-bite-from-oil-demand

    What effect would a 10% drop in demand for gasoline and diesel have on crude oil prices? And at those low prices, what would be the effect on investment in exploration and production of oil? That's the downward death spiral for the fossil fuel industry.

    nikbez , March 14, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    "The basic issue is that electric motors approach 99% efficiency at converting stored electric charge to power,"

    This is not true. Electric motor in cars works via transmission, not directly because they rotate at higher speeds then is necessary to rotate the wheels.

    Which impose at least 20% losses.

    Battery also impose 10% losses as it has internal impedance and conversion of chemical energy into electrical and vise versa in not 100% efficient.

    Efficiency of the battery drops with age and three year battery is even less efficient. Another 5% losses are in charging devices and transmission.

    Add to this that electrical car needs to heat cabin with 5 KW heater or cool it with 3 KW air conditioner and outside California hybrids beat electrical vehicle to the punch in all important technological parameters.

    That means that electrical car right now is more of a status symbol, then a practical solution for regular folks.

    TOM , March 14, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Electricity is still mostly being produced by fossil fuel. If you factor in distribution loss and the much higher energy cost for producing batteries electric cars are less efficient. That is unless you take to producing electrity from renewables. But the renewables are not always on line and therefore you need to have the same amount of legacy power stations as before. You need to find a way to store energy but we are still very far from that and I personally don´t think we will ever return to the days when one unit of energy yields 100 units of energy in oil. Renewables will never provide these kinds of yields. And it isn´t at all clear to me why one had to move one ton of iron to get somebody from A to B. It is all in the mind .

    FluffytheObeseCat , March 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Quite a bit of the enduring switch to larger, lower mpg vehicles seems to be fueled by lending practices that favor big-ticket big machines. Absent this market-distorting 'push' from car manufacturers' affiliated finance arms .. this preference might disappear. From the user perspective there are benefits to owning larger vehicles, but on our increasingly congested roads there are obvious drawbacks as well.

    You are – implicitly – claiming consumers naturally prefer the big vehicles that are pushed on them by financing gimmicks. I see the almighty consumer as being gamed on this matter.

    tongorad , March 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    You are – implicitly – claiming consumers naturally prefer the big vehicles that are pushed on them by financing gimmicks.

    Where I live in TX, a mega-truck seems to an entree into machismo-ville, duck-dynasty utopia or somesuch. Amerika's car culture looms large.

    johnnygl , March 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    There are definitely regional and cultural differences that you are correct to point out, and status symbols corresponding.

    I think there are generational differences, also. Young people are much less into cars than the older crowd. Plus they prefer cities more, where cars become more of a hassle.

    With rising default rates and rising interest rates, the auto lending sector looks set to take a bath in the next year or two.

    Code Name D , March 14, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    If you are going to be stuck in trafic for hours on end, with the kids in the back seat, would you rather be in a closterfobic combac or a spatious SUV?

    nick , March 14, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    In MA I see a ton of shiny, otherwise normal looking pickups with commercial plates. I've always assumed it was tradesmen or plowers who could plausibly claim a tax break for these vehicles.

    RenoDino , March 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Peak oil consumption equals stranded resource. The race is on to pump as much as possible before demand dries up even more and prices collapse to $10 p/b. There is so much debt leverage against oil in the ground that pumping must be ramped to pay it off making a price collapse even more certain.

    likbez , March 14, 2017 at 5:06 pm
    I wish we live in such a comfortable Universe as you describe. But this is a Utopia. In reality:

    1. There no peak oil consumption on the horizon world wide. Mankind adds around one million barrels per day in consumption each year. China and India consumption is growing and probably will continue to grow for at least a decade. Consumption in other Africa and Asian countries is growing too.

    2. There are very few oil fields were you can profitably extract oil at prices below $50 per barrel. And those fields are old and are closer and closer to depletion (those fields are mainly KSA, Iraq and other Gulf fields). Neither US shale nor Canadian oil sands belong to this category. But with oil prices above 60 or 70 the US economy will stagnate, unless supported by printing money. See nonsense factory post above. This is a new Catch 22 but will pretty menacing implications.

    3. Junk bonds generated by shale companies in the USA is a bubble (or Ponzi finance in Minsky classification, if you like) that will eventually collapse/deflate. Few bondholders will ever be paid.

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