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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 is a single party state -- it is governed by the Neoliberal party with two factions "soft neoliberals" (Democratic Party) and "hard neoliberals" (Republican Party). Existence of  "Pepsi" and "Coca-Cola" parties in the USA is just a sophisticated variant of "divide and conquer" strategy and could be used by the USSR leadership  instead of one party system. 

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"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 three letter agencies like CIA exist?  Probably not as "deep state" sonner or later (usually sooner)  makes surface state just an intrument for providing legitimacy of deep state rule.

Does  the "the first after the post" rule along with enforsing two party system on the population also is instumental with establishing slightly camuflated one party state with two "Pepsi" vs "Coca Cola"  parties which serve as a spoilers for those to the left ot the right of the center, subverting and emasculating new social movements into their (currently neoliberal) stagnant and elite oriented framework. The effect is so profound that it created the impression that "first after the post" can't be used in any country pretending to be a democracy? 

does absence of limits of the term of senators subvert democracy ?  If so what should be the maximum term. Is "gerontocracy" in the US congress  represents positive, or highly negative. Is role of money in elections forces senators to serve effectively as representatives of corporations which reside in the states, not the states themselves  ? 

Another important question is "democracy for whom?". There are always a large part of society (say bottom 80%)  living under the dictatorship (or even neo-slavery as  "wage slaves")  and excluded from the democratic process.  Moreover,  most of the US population spend  their life under authoritarian rule. At least those who work in large corporation or serve in military or government. Which is a majority. how they can behave in a democratic way if they are conditioned and  adapted to authoritarian rule at work ?   What is the level of interest  in governance of an average middle class American (lower class with McJobs most of the time is too preoccupied with survival to be able to particulate in political activity) , if they are brainwashed 24 x 7 by neoliberal propaganda  which tries to distract them from discussing and understanding any serious issue facing the USA.  especially the issue of permanent war for permanent peace, that the USA wage (and profit) since 80th using private army (with a large role of contractors, effectively mercenaries) , so that death and carnage does not touch most americans.  This "light footprint" approach to war has relied on thousands of Americans paid to fight — and die — in the shadows. Outside of any official statistics. There are roughly three contractors (28,626) for every U.S. army member (9,800) in Afghanistan. In Iraq in mid 2017, 7,773 contractors support U.S. government operations — and 4,087 U.S. troops. On April 5, Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, declared during a Senate hearing that contractors made up 25 percent of his workforce (Foreign Policy).

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 oligarchy was actually 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 (neoliberal) 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".  In 2008 the protest was squashed by electing "Trojan horse" Obama, who proved to be the king of "bait and switch" maneuver. Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what  a person who like Obama pretended  essentially to be an independent candidate slightly (at least formally) opposing the most negative effects of neoliberalism on population (anti-globalization stance, accent of creation jobs within the USA, etc) -- Donald Trump.  Who later proved to be Republican version of Obama. Not without help of "deep state" which launched unprotected and well coordinated company of leaks and 24 x 7 negative news to discredit his personality and administration. Going as far as in a very elegant really Machiavellian way  using fake accusations ("Russiagate) appointing a special prosecutor using Obama/Hillary supporters in the Judicial department (effectively coup d'état as special procedure is big burden which effectively paralyses any administration and Clinton presidency had shown). And when it did not work, they tried to accuse him of being racist (using  1 Charlottesville events) or even insane person. Looks like for Trump, even if he has some intention to implement anti-neoliberal measures -- the resistance proved to be way too strong and such intencion did not last even half a year.  Bombing Syria army air field with Tomahawks was an early signal of surrender.  Removing Bannon, and adding troops to Afghan war make this turn around and betrayal of Trump voters in best Obama style virtual certainty.

It was clear that there is a widespread feeling among the majority of the US population now that the current neoliberal system of governance, installed by victorious neoliberals after 1980, is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wouldn't like 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 revolutionary situation, a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible arise. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings in 2008 and then in 2012, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society also has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".

 In such cases, the ruling elite typically 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"). But in this partualr case the USA already is in engaged in several wars (or occupations), so the nostalgia for good time what the USSR existed proved to be irresistible. And the pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016-2017 in neoliberal MSM suggest that a large part of the US elite decided to "waive a dead chicken" (actually Hillary made Russophobia a part of hir election campaign, effectively unleashing a new neo-McCarthyism campaign in the USA).  As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” --  John Kenneth Galbraith

In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Throwing  Sanders under the bus represented exactly this maneuver.  The were not stopped even by the fact that they are promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems ("We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality") The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the levels achieved by communist propagandists in during 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" (or "bustard neoliberal" ;-) who during election campaign 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.   But later quickly recognized that this heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state and can be harmful for his health ;-). The hissy fit in neoliberal media and the emergence of certain figures from the intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" as the leaders of "color revolution" against Trump (so called "Purple revolution") were to be expected but  caught Trump absolutely unprepared.

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 "democracy for whom" -- it is clear that this is the democracy for the top 1% or, at best, top 20% of population. a more interesting observation is that  as Trump election has shown, neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past are ready to go to extreme methods including coup d'état to preserve their power, the democracy be damned.  

Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience, which  were practiced from 1980th.  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 with indoctrination as Soviet society did not correspond to Marx expectations  -- 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 samll "legitimate" emasculated subset that was in like with Bolshevism.  Neoclassical economy in the USA plays exactly the same role and is even worse. At least with some effort Soviet  student can get all the  works of Marx and Lenin. Here, in the USA, chances to read Keynce and other "deviant" economists for univeristy students are virtually zero. They are completely distracted from funadmental issues by high doze of mathematics (misused and abused -- called mathiness). Which  is used as smoke  screen which hide the poverty of ideas of neo-classical economy.

But deteriorating economy and stagnation does make neoliberal propaganda less effective.  Like people of the USSR were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming, thinking people in the  USA are resort of alternative sources of news or even, God forbid, visit "naked capitalism", RT, or other "disapproved" by  neoliberal propagandists sites. Even thoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion (displacing Christianity, so much about fake myth the USA is Christian nation; it is not) , started to have doubts.  Alternative sources of information in 2016-2017 started to play such and outside role that the company about "fake news" was launched to suppress them. They did not stop people from reading, say, Guardian, RT, unz.com, American conservative, Asia Times, to name a few.

But still the general level  political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is probably as low if not lower that it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marxs and Lenin soviet voters with university education usually have strong doubt about soviet system ). 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 with the Communist Party 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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[Nov 15, 2017] Hand-Marked Paper Ballots and Virginia's 2017 Elections

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... there should be no digital determination or intermediation of voter intent whatever ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

As readers know, I'm a big fan of paper ballots[1], and the recent Election in Virginia gives me a chance to explain why. (The "recount" phase -- erroneously named, as what's been happening is resolving absentee and provisional ballots -- seems to have culminated with the Republicans keeping control of the Virginia House by a whisker, 49-51 .) First, I'll do that, and set up two requirements that any system for counting votes in a democracy should meet. Then, I'll look at Virginia's "Back to the Future" transition from digital voting to paper ballots.

From Brad Friedman's essay on " Democracy's Gold Standard" (with numbering added), a set of requirements for voting systems suitable for a democracy:

Last March, the country's highest court found that secret, computerized vote counting was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the country was Germany, and the Constitution violated by e-voting systems was the one that the U.S. wrote and insisted Germans ratify as part of their terms of surrender following WWII.

Paul Lehto, a U.S. election attorney and Constitutional rights expert, summarized the German court's unambiguous, landmark finding :

"No 'specialized technical knowledge' can be required of citizens to vote or to monitor vote counts." There is a "constitutional requirement of a publicly observed count." "[T]he government substitution of its own check or what we'd probably call an 'audit' is no substitute at all for public observation." "A paper trail simply does not suffice to meet the above standards. "As a result of these principles, 'all independent observers' conclude that 'electronic voting machines are totally banned in Germany' because no conceivable computerized voting system can cast and count votes that meet the twin requirements of being both 'observable' and also not requiring specialized technical knowledge.

If you go through this set of requirements, you'll see that hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, meet every one of them. You will also see that digital voting systems, no matter how designed or implemented, cannot. They cannot, especially, meet requirements #1 ("no specialized technical knowledge to monitor") and #2 ("a publicly observed count"). The first requirement ensures that the voting process is not riggable by insiders with technical expertise (native, or hired); the second ensures that the actual voting is not rigged on election day. These are important requirements for a functioning democracy.

And that is how Germany conducts its voting today, from Deutsche Welle ( "German election: Volunteers organize the voting and count the ballots") .

Public observation:

On September 24, hundreds of thousands of volunteers will be handing out ballots, checking voters' names against lists, and counting votes once the polling station closes. The entire process is open to the public Every citizen is allowed to watch and monitor the entire counting process; and in effect, the volunteers monitor each other.

No specialized technical knowledge

[T]he volunteers open the ballot box, take out the envelopes and remove the ballot slips. They sort the ballots according to a pre-arranged system, decide on whether the votes are valid or invalid, and count the votes – reading out each vote aloud, which is noted in writing in a log.

At the end, the number of ballots is compared with the number of people who voted in that particular polling station.

Does that sound technical to you? The United Kingdom and Canada [3] also use handmarked paper ballots, counted in public, as do most [4] other countries. Many nations have -- I don't want to use the word "reverted" -- come home to paper ballots after experimenting with digital systems and finding them wanting; so have some states in this country.

Now, let's turn to Virginia. It's worth noting that Virginia's move back to paper is being applauded across the political spectrum . From the centrist Daily Banter , a summary of the history:

It wasn't until 2014, when the state experienced a myriad of problems on Election Day, that Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed an overhaul of the state voting system. By 2015, the Virginia Board of Elections decertified the use of WINVote, but they were still stuck with other DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) systems. This past summer, at a DefCon conference in Las Vegas, computer scientists staged a "Voting Machine Hacking Village" to prove the instabilities of DRE, which included a single password for all machines, physical ports to insert malware, and reliance on outdated software that had not been updated since the mid-2000s.

(Kudos, amazingly enough, to McAuliffe, who also managed to restore the franchise to felons .) The Richmond Times-Dispatch explains the Board of Elections' reasoning:

In emergency meeting, Virginia elections board votes to scrap all touch-screen voting machines

The Virginia State Board of Elections voted Friday to discontinue use of all touch-screen voting machines throughout the state because of potential security vulnerabilities, forcing 22 cities and counties to scramble to find new equipment just weeks before voting begins for the November gubernatorial election.

Behind closed doors at an emergency meeting in Richmond on Friday afternoon, the board heard about specific vulnerabilities identified after a cybersecurity conference this summer in Las Vegas, where hackers showed they could break into voting machines with relative ease.

In an interview, Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés acknowledged that the short time frame could put localities under the gun. However, 10 of the 22 localities that still use touch screens, either as their primary voting method or for more limited uses, have already begun buying new equipment, Cortés said. That leaves 12 that will have to start from scratch, but Cortés said the rapid swap is "doable" and worth the "hiccups" that may come with new equipment.

(The Banter points to "Russian targeting of last year's presidential election" (whatever that means) as do others , but if the threat of Russia hacking was a necessary cause for the Board's decisionl, it was certainly the DefCon that was the proximate one).[2] In any case, the Board's decision was taken September 8, and by Election Day, November 7, the transition was complete with no reported problems, which shows you the advantages of adopting simple, rugged, and proven systems. Here is how the system works, as described in a press release from Albemarle County :

The Albemarle County Department of Voter Registration and Elections wants to alert voters that a new, digital scan voting system will be used in all County voting precincts in the upcoming November 3, 2015 general election. The previously used "touchscreen" voting machines have been replaced by the new voting systems as a result of the Commonwealth of Virginia's mandate which requires jurisdictions move toward the use of digital scan technology.

With the new system, voters will mark paper ballots at marking booths, and then deposit the marked paper ballots into a digital ballot scanning machine, which will read the ballots, and drop them into a secure ballot storage bin. When the polls close on Election Day, at 7 PM, the election officers at the voting precincts will obtain the tabulated totals of votes from a results report that will be printed by the digital scanning machine. After the election, the paper ballots will be kept in secure storage for a period of one year, to ensure a voter-verified paper trail in the event of a recount.

Recall our two requirements. Can the Virginia System be said to meet them?

1) Public observation. Yes and no. Yes, because the ballot is handmarked, and dropped in the box in public. No, because the ballots are counted in the innards of the optical scanner. (This can be mitigated by storing the ballots for recounts later, if needed.) And no, because the actual running of the count from the scanners does not take place in public, nor (AFAIK) the integration into the totals of provisional and absentee ballots.

2) No specialized technical knowledge. Yes and no. Yes, because clearly paper ballots are an improvement in every way from the horrid touch screens. No, in the same that once again, the innards of the optical scanner must be relied upon. (This could be mitigated, depending on the choice of vendor, by dealing with an actual scanner industry, as opposed to a bunch of tiny, sketchy outfits purveying custom, proprietary software.)

In summary, and IMNSHO, there should be no digital determination or intermediation of voter intent whatever ; why should we trust the scanner software engineers, or those who run them? There's no reason to, any more than there's reason to trust the engineers or operators of mechanical voting machines.) Virginia's ballots are indeed hand-marked, but they are not hand-counted in public.[5]

With these strong caveats, Virginia's hand-marked paper ballots were well-received by the public, and that's progress. WAVY :

At a voting precinct at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, voters said they had no issues going back to pen and paper.

"It goes back to the old days, you know, we've been voting a long time, so we remember when they didn't have anything but paper ballots," said voter Winston Whitehurst.

Voter Kevin Rafferty said he enjoyed the switch.

"It works. I understand. At least if we're having to spend some time on it, we're the only ones in control, perhaps is the idea. Nobody else hacking on in I guess is their theory so hopefully it's safe," he said.

And WTVR :

"You can't hack paper," a man training a group of Hopewell poll workers on the new [optical scanning] machines said.

(But you can hack the scanners -- using "specialized technical knowledge" --
and you can social engineer any process where the ballots are not hand-counted in public.)

Conclusion

Of the two requirements, the ability to monitor election results without technical expertise is needed to prevent chicanery by those who structure the voting process. And the public count is needed to prevent chicanery on election day by those who inspect and count the ballots. Paper ballots can and do meet these requirements. That's why most Western countries use them, and why many other countries have returned to them, after experimenting with digital systems. Virginia's re-adoption of hand-marked paper ballots is a step forward, not backward.

NOTES

[1] For those who are concerned that paper ballots prevent ranked choice voting, Maine advocates disagree : "Ranked choice voting is designed to work with paper ballots."

[2] The idea that "foreign invaders" (as the Christian Science Monitor puts it) are the main threat for election theft seems very odd to me. Surely domestic operatives are, or at least should be, the main concern?

[3] I vividly recall a Quebec referendum where the Quebec "scrutineers" rejected a seemingly overlarge number of "No" ballots. But because the process was public, and not part of an algorithmic black box, the scrutineers could be called out. Although Canada does use electronic voting at the municipal level, the stakes are lower.

[4] Hilariously, a Google search on "How many countries use paper ballots" directs me to a WikiPedia page on "Electronic voting by country." 26 are listed. There are 195 countries.

[5] The convenience of election officials seems to bulk large in these disucussions; they don't want to be "up all night counting paper." Well, if the Germans (and the Canadians (and the Brits)) can make that investment in democracy, why can't we?

PlutoniumKun , November 15, 2017 at 6:50 am

Just an added note here to say that in Ireland, which uses Single Transferable Vote, the law states that the election candidates can appoint Counting Agents , known as Tallymen during the vote. They observe the opening of voting boxes and keep a tally during the count. As this allows them to get a good feel for voting patterns, it eliminates another potential source of fraud, box stuffing during or after the vote.

The Tallymen are so skilled they can often provide a very accurate result hours before the final result (vote counting is much more complex for STV). There is no interest at all from political parties for electronic voting because tally information is more fine grained than final totals (as it is box by box rather than district by district) and so provides each party with very valuable statistical information.

Anonymized , November 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Same in Canada but we call them "scrutineers" or monitors (at least in Ontario). I worked as an election official a while back (I think it was at the last provincial election) and one of the scrutineers raised a big stink because the number of votes were not the same as the number of people who voted. I left around 10 pm and I heard they were there until midnight trying to resolve this. It was pure schadenfreude for me because I wasn't selected as one of the vote-counting electoral officials but was just a lower-paid electoral assistant who barred people from entering the building from the wrong door and gave directions to the correct entrance. "Serves those idiots right for not picking me" was what I was thinking when I left.

Frenchguy , November 15, 2017 at 6:51 am

In France, the process is basically the same as in Germany. An interesting note, that I don't see mentionned, is that once the public count is done and the number of votes matches the number of voters, ballots are destroyed (except blank votes). A very sensible step as the whole process is fraud-proof and ballots could be tampered with afterwards.

In this sense, there are no recounts (except the basic maths check). You can only report to the courts irregularities in the process and there will be a new election if enough polling station were affected to swing the election.

And the process is generally not too long. The average seems to be between one and three hours so it's almost always done way before midnight (British seems to take a very long time, if anyone cares to explain to me why ?). Of course, it helps a lot that we don't elect a whole bunch of people on the same night (no lieutnant-governor, judges, sheriffs ), it's always one election at a time with a dozen choices at most (and half the time it's only two because of the two-round system).

Jim A. , November 15, 2017 at 8:12 am

Having used a number of different systems as I moved around the state of Maryland*, my favorite system was hand marked ballots that were scanned by machine at the voting place. My observations follow.

Old fashioned lever machines: They haven't made them for years, so there was always a shortage of machines which led to long lines. Despite the fact that people are familiar with them, they are an un-auditable black box like electronic voting machines.

Punched card machines. They always seemed physically a little difficult to operate and a slight misalignment could result in a miscast vote. But there is a recountable paper trail and only one or two scanners is required for each polling place.

Electronic voting machines. They're a completey un-auditable black box. They DO have the advantage of being easier to adjust for people with limited vision and other handicaps. Each voting station requires a separate machine, which means either greater expense or longer lines compared to other systems. My guess is that programming the ballots into them probably costs almost as much printing ballots and is more difficult to spot errors or fraud.

Hand counted ballots: The difficulty with hand counting ballots is that it is error-prone and slow.

Paper ballots and digital scanners would seem to be the best system that I have used with several caveats. You have to manually recount a random sampling of polling places to check for systemic fraud in the setup of the scanning machines. You have to have a good system to deal with errors and complications. How do you void ballots that have been mis-marked by accident? You have to make SURE that they aren't added to the tallys. You have to have a system for contested/contingent voting, a way to segregate and maintain those ballots until the eligibility of the voters is determined.

*It used to be that every county chose the vote system separately

lyman alpha blob , November 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm

You have to manually recount a random sampling of polling places to check for systemic fraud in the setup of the scanning machines.

That is an excellent suggestion however getting officials on board is not so easy. Our state got new optical scan machines in all larger precincts a few years ago and since they had never been used I made the same suggestion you did to our city council and asked for a random audit. They refused and told me that by state law the city was not allowed to do an audit just because they felt like it and the only way a recount could be done was if an election was close enough to be within the mandated threshold needed to trigger one. If they were correct about our state law, the state has actually made it illegal for cities to check the accuracy of the machines they use. That would need to be changed in order for your proposal to work.

I do still prefer handcounted paper ballots – I did get to participate in a hand recount eventually and it was a LOT quicker than you might expect.

The other issue is cost – it would be a LOT cheaper to pay people to count by hand than to replace millions of large pieces of aging machinery every decade or so.

lyman alpha blob , November 15, 2017 at 8:13 am

"You can't hack paper"

Maybe, but machines can't determine voter intent on paper ballots nearly as well as humans can. Our city uses these optical scanners and as noted last election season, we had a close race that triggered a recount that I participated in. The human beings actually counted more ballots than the machines did, as the machines didn't count those that were filled out improperly (circles not completely filled out, or checked rather than filled in, etc). Rough estimate, we were able to count approximately 2% more votes then the scanner did.

If we're going to keep pretending we still have a democracy here in the US, everybody's vote deserves to be counted in every election. The only way to do that is count paper ballots by hand.

Barry Fay , November 15, 2017 at 8:14 am

The FIRST TIME I heard that they were going to use IT technology for voting I thought they must be kidding. It is so obviously wrong ON THE FACE OF IT that I have always suspected the motives of those making that decision (although I suppose I should´t be too surprised at human laziness being a motivating force!). Anyway, it is to me just another sign of the dumbing down of America that this whole topic needs any discussion at all!!

nonclassical , November 15, 2017 at 11:55 am

Voltaire would have loved political position that the machines were perfect and unable be hacked until Chavez-Venezuela bought voting machine manufacturer

suddenly voting machines were suspect

Tom , November 15, 2017 at 9:15 am

Clinton conflates Virginia's switch to paper ballots with her claims that Russia hacked into voter rolls and possibly went even further. This is Clinton speaking about it on Monday at the Atlanta stop on her book tour.

Vatch , November 15, 2017 at 10:16 am

So maybe we're finally getting some benefit from the claims that the Russians were able to manipulate the election results in the United States! In reality, it's Republicans and Democrats who manipulate election results in the U.S., but I'll accept a victory, even if it's for the wrong reasons.

Tom , November 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Exactly! Clinton applauds the reduced risk of paper ballots, but of course has to muddle it all up with the dreaded Russian threat. I swear, Clinton can't help but link almost everything to Russia now -- listening to her is like plaing a constant game of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, except it's 3 degrees and its Russia.

wilroncanada , November 15, 2017 at 7:33 pm

She'll continue to play six degrees of Kevin Bacon for the rest of her life–with egg on her face the whole time.

EoH , November 15, 2017 at 9:48 am

One would think that governments would require that any software to be used in a public election must be open source – not proprietary – and that it and its application be open to public audit.

Vendors unwilling to comply can take their sales people elsewhere. If vendors are hard to find, governments could join together in providing seed money for any number of parties to develop and maintain the necessary code.

This is the sort of change that should be part of any elections improvement commissions, not that the likes of Kris Kobach and his commission have in mind anything but voter suppression. The use of proprietary software in a public election is as appropriate as a cordon of watch dogs, lighted torches, or police cars outside a voting center.

PaulHarvey0swald , November 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

This. And why don't we turn the students at state run universities loose on it?

XXYY , November 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Long time software engineer here.

"Making the source code available" for a critical system makes a good sound bite, but in reality has a number of substantial problems:

o There is no guarantee that the compiled code in the box is the same as the purported source code made public. Even technical experts would have a very hard time confirming this, since the code in the box has been compiled down to machine instructions whereas the source code is normally in a high level language.

o The process of building (compiling and linking) the code introduces myriad opportunities for bad actors. E.g., code can include conditional sections or definitions that can be built in various ways. The build process itself invokes other programs that themselves can be hacked. Building also normally brings in third-party libraries of uncertain provenance, and for which the source is typically unavailable.

o Inspecting realistic industrial software for *inadvertent* problems, called a code review, is a big effort (many man weeks) and requires people with the requisite skills (often arcane) and expertise in the problem domain. Inspecting code for *deliberate hacks* would be much harder, and could well miss hacks anyway depending on the skill of the hacker.

Relying on public source code for security is a very weak reed and should be avoided altogether if at all possible.

PaulHarv3y0swald , November 15, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Fair enough. But why would proprietary code be better? I mean what stops a private vendor from doing this, but without public oversight? I mean to say "public code" in what ever form could be a start.

Synoia , November 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

XXYY was not supporting proprietary code. I believe he was pointing out that "open source" does not have sufficient integrity for e;ections, thus closed source (proprietary code) is worse.

bsg , November 15, 2017 at 10:46 am

After the 2000 election, congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Among the provisions of the bill, money was given to states and counties to upgrade their voting systems. Most of these new systems came online in the mid 00's.

Now that it has been around a decade, the generation of machines purchased with the help of federal money are getting long in the tooth. The average person changes their cell phone every 2-3 years, so a touch screen machine machine over a decade old feels especially ancient to a technophile.

There will be a trend toward paper ballots with this next generation. More states have added tougher paper trail requirements on DRE (touch screen) voting machines. and there is a lack of federal HAVA money available to states and counties to buy top-of-the-line DRE machines with paper trails. Vendors for this generation are pushing hybrid systems that allow a voter to input their choices onto a touch screen, then the machine prints out a paper ballot which (theoretically) removes ambiguous choices and allows disabled people to vote without assistance. But ultimately, if a jurisdiction is going to a paper system anyway, why spend more money on expensive hybrid machines that will break down in another ten years? I anticipate a push to paper ballots with optical scanning tabulation machines in the medium future.

nonclassical , November 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

and states can – do take away driver licenses – I.D. "legally" determining who gets to vote, by the hundreds of thousands, even over issues having nothing to do with driving, and primarily affecting the poor:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/10/22/4935/?utm_term=.604ea869bedb

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/10/america-punish-poor-debtors-drivers-license-suspension

http://www.jwj.org/these-two-states-will-revoke-your-license-if-you-cant-pay-back-your-student-loans

http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/license-restrictions-for-failure-to-pay-child-support.aspx

UserFriendly , November 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Minneapolis uses ranked choice with hand marked paper ballots that get scanned just like VA. But as I've said a million times ranked choice voting is bad for 3rd parties . Approval, range, or 3-2-1 are all much better options.
http://electology.github.io/vse-sim/VSEbasic/

ken , November 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

The convenience of election officials seems to bulk large in these disucussions; they don't want to be "up all night counting paper."

What is the rush? Why not start counting at 8 am the next morning? The all night vote count thing serves no functional purpose. Get some sleep.

Joel , November 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm

What is the rush?

In my town, we have big election night parties at the downtown bars while volunteers go to the polling stations and phone back the preliminary results which are posted in the front windows or on the front doors.

A lot of politically connected people would have trouble sleeping the night of the election if they didn't have the results.

Grebo , November 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm

That was my initial reaction too. Then I wondered: who will be guarding the ballot boxes overnight?

Joel , November 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm

In my town's municipal election last week, it seems almost a tenth of voters were confused by the design of the ballot and circled their choice rather than filling in the bubble.

Since we're in Massachusetts and all elections use Scantron ballots and tabulating machines, any circled ballot was marked "blank" the same as ballots where no notation was made.

A lot of people, including quite a few first-time and infrequent voters, and voters with eyesight issues, were disillusioned by the fact that their votes would not be counted. Some were shocked the ballots are not in fact counted by hand.

[Nov 12, 2017] The US election system is designed to prevent populists from winning. Populists who allowed to be elected (like Obama) are faux populists that actually serve the establishment.

Nov 12, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit | Nov 11, 2017 10:27:14 PM | 39

Somebody:
Americans seem to do what they always do to defend themselves - vote the opposition party in to limit power.
Wrong.
1) Clinton actually won a majority of the votes.

2) Clinton lost because she was such a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign.

3) Despite being so flawed she was allowed to win the nomination over Bernie because Obama-Clinton control of the party was absolute.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

All of the above are valid "facts" about the 2016 race. But there are several disturbing realities that cause the entire 2016 race to be suspect.

1) The US election system is designed to prevent populists from winning. Populists who allowed to be elected (like Obama) are faux populists that actually serve the establishment.

2) Bernie was a sheepdog who had (apparently) pledged to a) not attack Hillary on character issues, and b) support the party nominee.

3) Trump had supported Clinton against Obama and took up her "birther" nonsense to weaken him. During the election he actually said that it originated with Clinton and that he (now) accepted that Obama was qualified to be President.

4) Hillary had made it clear that she preferred that Trump be the Republican nominee (her supposed reasoning: as a billionaire and political neophyte, he would be easy to beat) .

5) Chelsea Clinton (the Clinton's ONLY child) and Ivanka Trump (Trump's only daughter whom he dotes over) are close friends.

6) Despite the apparently bitter contest, within days of winning the Presidency, Trump announced that he wouldn't pursue prosecution of Hillary saying that the Clinton's were "good people".

7) After assuming office, Trump has acted in ways that betrayed promises to his 'base' and/or created tension that allowed his political enemies to constrain his choices. Examples:

- keeping Comey on and then hinting that he had taped a conversation with Comey;

- a pre-mature missile attack on Syria;

- not explaining why he didn't denounce the alt-Right march in Charlottesville (they had a legal permit to march) which led to charges that he supported white supremacists.

Don Bacon | Nov 11, 2017 9:22:05 PM | 33
@chet380
Mencken was wrong and so are you. There is nothing wrong with the intelligence of the American people. Half of them are above average, as a matter of fact. Which half are you in?
Peter AU 1 | Nov 11, 2017 9:42:41 PM | 36
Don Bacon | Nov 11, 2017 9:22:05 PM | 33

When people are blinded by ideology, a great deal of inteligence is lost. People are the same all over, but in the US, the ideology of exceptionalism - and capitalism, has been pumped into them for many generations.

Have a run around the social media and check how many people believe Russia meddled in US "democracy" because of whats been pumped into them over the last year. One side believes Russia interfered on Trumps behalf and the other side believes Russia interfered on Clintons behalf, but they also know Russia interfered with their precious virgin democracy.

Mencken is right.

[Nov 12, 2017] Trump says Putin sincere in denial of Russian meddling by Karen DeYoung, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura

One useful criteria to distinguish propaganda from honest analyst is to check if the Intelligence assessment is called the product of "intelligence community" or group of handpicked by Brennan and Clipper analysts from just three agencies (NSA, CIA, and FBI). This is very similar to the test if some Western news out let call Magnitsky "a lawyer" or "an accountant".
T he question why intelligence agencies used Steele dossier remain unanswered. and the answer to this question if the key.
The forces against rapprochement with Russia are way too strong and include "foright policy establishment", large part of Pentagon, defense contractors, intelligence agencies and their contractors. Like any bureaucracies they want to expand much like cancel cells -- uncontrollably. In this sense the intelligence agencies were dangerous for the US democracy from the moment of their creation and remain so. The question that arise is " Is democracy compatible with the existence of hypertrophied, almost out of control by "civic" government intelligence agency, protected by secrecy of their operations? .
The main reason for their creation and existence in hypertrophied state was the existence of the USSR. But in less twenty years from its creation CIA became dangerous for the US democracy (in 1963 to be exact). And it probably remains dangerous now -- agency protected by secrecy and having huge among of money in their disposal.
It is clear that the bet of intelligence agencies (at least NSA, CIA and FBI) in the last lection was Hillary. Although it looks like FBI waved a bit. What they did to "help" her now needs to be investigated using something like Church commission.
Notable quotes:
"... On Saturday, in his Air Force One remarks, Trump suggested that what he called the "artificial Democratic hit job" of investigations of possible collusion between his campaign and Russia were somehow preventing U.S.-Russia cooperation on a range of issues, including North Korea. "It's a shame," he said, "because people will die because of it." ..."
"... Putin, in his own news conference after speaking with Trump, said he knew "absolutely nothing" about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials, and called reports that a campaign official met with his niece "bollocks," according to an interpreter. "They can do what they want, looking for some sensation," Putin said of the investigations. "But there are no sensations." ..."
"... On Saturday, Trump described the former top U.S. intelligence officials who concluded in January that the tampering took place -- including former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan -- as "political hacks." He called former FBI director James B. Comey, who testified to Congress that Trump asked him to drop an investigation of his campaign's connections to Russian officials, a "liar" and a "leaker." ..."
"... Pompeo said last month that intelligence agencies had determined that Russian interference had not altered the electoral outcome ..."
Nov 12, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com

President Trump said that President Vladi­mir Putin had assured him again Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign, and indicated that he believed Putin's sincerity, drawing immediate criticism from lawmakers and former intelligence officials who assessed that the meddling took place.

"I asked him again," Trump said after what he described as several brief, informal chats with Putin in Danang, Vietnam, where they were attending a regional conference. "You can only ask so many times . . . He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.

"I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it . . . I think he's very insulted, if you want to know the truth," Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One from Danang to Hanoi, on the ninth day of a long Asia tour. Trump voiced similar conclusions after his only previous meeting with Putin, last July in Germany.

Trump's response to questions about his conversations with ­Putin was a jarring return to the more insular preoccupations of Washington after more than a week of what has been a trip filled with pageantry and pledges of mutual admiration, but few substantive outcomes, between Trump and Asian leaders.

Later, in a news conference Sunday in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, "What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.

"As to whether I believe it or not," he said, "I'm with our [intelligence] agencies, especially as currently constituted.

"I want to be able . . . to get along with Russia," Trump said. "I'm not looking to stand and argue with somebody when there are reporters standing all around."

Reporters were not permitted inside the hall where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference was held in Danang.

... ... ...

On Saturday, in his Air Force One remarks, Trump suggested that what he called the "artificial Democratic hit job" of investigations of possible collusion between his campaign and Russia were somehow preventing U.S.-Russia cooperation on a range of issues, including North Korea. "It's a shame," he said, "because people will die because of it."

Putin, in his own news conference after speaking with Trump, said he knew "absolutely nothing" about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials, and called reports that a campaign official met with his niece "bollocks," according to an interpreter. "They can do what they want, looking for some sensation," Putin said of the investigations. "But there are no sensations."

On Saturday, Trump described the former top U.S. intelligence officials who concluded in January that the tampering took place -- including former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan -- as "political hacks." He called former FBI director James B. Comey, who testified to Congress that Trump asked him to drop an investigation of his campaign's connections to Russian officials, a "liar" and a "leaker."

Clapper said in a statement that "the president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election. His own DNI and CIA director have confirmed the finding in the intelligence community assessment. The fact that he would take Putin at his word over the intelligence community is unconscionable."

Brennan declined to comment.

In a statement, the CIA said that Director Mike Pompeo "stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community assessment . . . with regard to Russian election meddling." That position, it said, "has not changed." The assessment also concluded that Russia had acted to promote Trump's victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Although Pompeo said last month that intelligence agencies had determined that Russian interference had not altered the electoral outcome , the assessment did not address that question.

[Nov 12, 2017] You can't half pregnant. If it was not Russia then who? Seth Rish? Brennan people? NSA?

The question of exploiting Steele dossier by US intelligence services remains unanswered. But many people suspect the real culprit.
www.theguardian.com

US President Donald Trump said he had "good discussions" with Russian leader Vladimir Putin when they met briefly at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam.

On Twitter, he blasted "haters and fools", who, he said, do not encourage good relations between the countries.

Earlier he said Mr Putin told him he was insulted by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The US intelligence community has previously concluded that Russia tried to sway the poll in Mr Trump's favour.

"He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election," the US president said.

However, after intense criticism, Mr Trump clarified hat he supported US intelligence agencies in their conclusion. "As to whether or not I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies. I believe in our... intelligence agencies," he said.

"What he believes, he believes," he added, of Mr Putin's belief that Russia did not meddle.

The two leaders had no formal bilateral talks during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) event, but meet in passing on three occasions. They spoke about the Syria crisis and the election allegations, according to Mr Trump.

[Nov 12, 2017] Trump believes Putin on Russia meddling, says Mueller may cost lives by Julian Borger & Oliver Holmes

Does this means that Trump now believes that this was Brenna's false flag operation? And why intelligence agencies exploited Steele dossier against him?
Notable quotes:
"... "I mean, give me a break," Trump said. "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker." ..."
Nov 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The president disparaged officials who worked for Barack Obama, saying former CIA chief John Brennan, ex-director of national intelligence James Clapper and James Comey, the FBI director he fired in May , were "political hacks".

"I mean, give me a break," Trump said. "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker."

He suggested he put more faith in Putin's word.

"Every time he sees me he says 'I didn't do that' and I really believe that when he tells me that," Trump said. "He really seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn't do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn't do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that."

[Nov 11, 2017] Trump Points To Falsehoods In Russian Hacking Claims - Media Still Ignore Them

Possibly all of the Russia-gate allegations, which have been taken on faith by Democratic partisans and members of the anti-Trump Resistance, trace back to claims paid for or generated by Democrats. If for a moment one could remove the often justified hatred many people feel toward Trump, it would be impossible to avoid the impression that the scandal may have been devised by the DNC and the Clinton camp in league with Obama's intelligence chiefs to serve political and geopolitical aims. In other words this is a sophisticated false flag operation.
Even more alarmingly (what really smells like a part on intelligence agencies coup d'état against Trump ) is the basis for much of the Jan. 6 intelligence "assessment" by those "hand-picked" analysts from three U.S. intelligence agencies - the CIA, the FBI and the NSA - not all 17 agencies that Hillary Clinton continues to insist were involved. (Obama's intelligence chiefs, DNI Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, publicly admitted that only three agencies took part and The New York Times printed a correction saving so.)
Notable quotes:
"... Well its three . And one is Brennan . And one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They're political hacks . So you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey . Comey's proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker. So you look at that. ..."
"... Trump gets it. He knows the weak points of the propaganda claims of "Russian hacking": Podesta and the fake Steele dossier, the DNC server, the lack of any FBI investigation of the alleged hack, the NYT's long false insistence on the '17 agencies' assessment, the "political hacks" who fitted their claims to the Obama/Clinton narrative. ..."
"... But neither the Washington Post nor the NY Times or others mention the crucial points Trump spelled out in their write-ups of the gaggle. There is no word on the DNC servers in them. Instead they create a claim of "Putin says and Trump just believes him". The do not name the facts and questions Trump listed to support his position. Taking up the valid questions Trump asked would of course require the news outlets to finally delve into them. We can't have that. ..."
"... Trump is not the brightest bulb and he is not well informed. I dislike nearly all of his policies. But he understands that the "Russian hacking" narrative is false and is carried by lunatic political hacks who want to push the U.S. back into a cold, or maybe even hot war with Russia, China, Iran and probably everyone else. ..."
"... I guess it could be that the DNC really was hacked, but maybe they faked the hack story, fed the story to Crowdstrike, then paid Crowdstrike a lot of money to fabricate a fairytale about Russian hacking... ..."
"... This Russian fairytale would be the bedrock of Hillary's campaign, and it gave her a reason to badmouth trump who intended to get along with Putin, which deeply offended the neocon Bolsheviks who've been running things since 9/11 ..."
"... If the hacking really happened, it's maybe more likely to have been the US NSA that did the hacking... that might explain why the DNC and Hillary were not alarmed by the hacking --if it happened-- and did nothing about it, and continued to write incriminating emails... ..."
"... Russia gate is Really Hillary Gate... And that's just the beginning as we consider the DNC lid coming off via Donna Brazile and the Uranium scandal. Mueller has been gatekeeper for the Deep State for OKC bombing, 911,...other False Flag...and now today's Intrigues. ..."
"... Back when Trump looked like he was in the running in the US presidential election, I wondered how one man, even if he was genuine, could without the backing of US intelligence, take down the deepstate/borg/whatever. Putin pulled Russia out of the nineties with key backing from patriotic intelligence and military leadership, but Trump even if genuine would be on his own. Just ordered 'Art of the deal' to try and understand Trump a bit more. Looks like he has just destroyed a big chunk of deep state financing so will be interesting to see how long he can stay alive. ..."
"... well, Mueller declined to find 9/11 evidence against bin laden... or maybe we should say, "he declined to manufacture evidence"... for some unkown reason... ..."
"... Can we just face the facts here that there is a coordinated effort by these elite to get Trump dethroned? What reason for this? Simple...he's a threat. ..."
"... Mike Whitney posted a great piece this week suggesting Brennan, Obama's political 'hack', is behind this mess - "Brennan spearheaded the anti-Russia campaign from the get-go. As early as August 2016, Brennan was providing classified briefings to ranking members of Congress expressing his conviction that Moscow was helping Trump to win the election. The former Director offered no proof to back up his claims nor has he since then. It was also Brennan who gradually persuaded Clapper, Comey and Morrell to join his anti-Russia jihad, although all were reluctant participants at first. Were they won over by compelling secret evidence that has been been withheld from the public?" - http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48172.htm ..."
"... These are but a few sources digging and reporting on these bogus charges against Putin. I'd like to believe the majority of the U.S. electorate isn't being fooled by the nonsense. I can't speak for those who choose to remain inside the brainwashing corporate media bubble, but for those of us who divorced ourselves from their propaganda long ago ain't buying nor ever did buy into the muh Russia crap. ..."
"... Meanwhile, USG declares RT and Sputnik to be foreign agents and must register as such -- and Trump had nothing to do with that?!? ..."
"... The media is now now in permanent psy op mode, colonizing the public's mind and jamming people's ability to reason, think critically and even tell fact from fiction. It is only a matter of time before overt repression becomes widespread (to protect our freedoms of course) and the last remnants of democracy give way to an Orwellian/Huxleyite dystopia. ..."
"... CNN covers the Binney/Pompeo meeting, and describes Binney in the headline as a "conspiracy theorist": http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/politics/mike-pompeo-william-binney-meeting/index.html ..."
Nov 11, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trump Points To Falsehoods In "Russian Hacking" Claims - Media Still Ignore Them

During the flight of his recent Asia tour U.S. President Donal Trump held a press gaggle on board of the plane. Part of it were questions and answers about the alleged "Russian hacking" of the U.S. election.

There is no public transcript available yet but the Washington Post's Mark Berman provided a screenshot of some relevant parts:

Mark Berman @markberman - 6:20 AM - 11 Nov 2017

Full comment from @realDonaldTrump again questioning the US intel community conclusion that Russia meddled last year

In the attached transcript Trump talks about his very short encounter with the Russian President Putin in Hanoi:

Q: When did you bring up the issue of election meddling? Did you ask him a question?

A: Every time he sees me he says he didn't do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, I didn't do that. I think he is very insulted by it, ...
...
He says that very strongly and he really seems to be insulted by it he says he didn't do it.

Q: Even if he didn't bring it up one-on-one, do you believe him?

A: I think that he is very, very strong on the fact that didn't do it. And then you look and you look what's going on with Podesta , and you look at what's going on with the server from the DNC and why didn't the FBI take it ? Why did they leave it? Why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI ? You look at all of this stuff, and you say, what's going on here? And you hear it's 17 agencies. Well its three . And one is Brennan . And one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They're political hacks . So you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey . Comey's proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker. So you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently say he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.

Trump gets it. He knows the weak points of the propaganda claims of "Russian hacking": Podesta and the fake Steele dossier, the DNC server, the lack of any FBI investigation of the alleged hack, the NYT's long false insistence on the '17 agencies' assessment, the "political hacks" who fitted their claims to the Obama/Clinton narrative.

But neither the Washington Post nor the NY Times or others mention the crucial points Trump spelled out in their write-ups of the gaggle. There is no word on the DNC servers in them. Instead they create a claim of "Putin says and Trump just believes him". The do not name the facts and questions Trump listed to support his position. Taking up the valid questions Trump asked would of course require the news outlets to finally delve into them. We can't have that.

Instead we get more "Russian influence" claptrap. Like this from the once honorable Wired which headlines:

Here's the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit

Russian interference in Brexit through targeted social media propaganda can be revealed for the first time. A cache of posts from 2016, seen by WIRED, shows how a coordinated network of Russian-based Twitter accounts spread racial hatred in an attempt to disrupt politics in the UK and Europe.

Interesting, enthralling, complicate and sensational ...
... until you get down to paragraph 14(!):

Surprisingly, all the posts around Brexit in this small snapshot were posted after the June vote

"Russian agents" influenced the U.S. election by buying mostly irrelevant Facebook ads - 25% of which were never seen by anyone and 56% of which were posted AFTER the election

"Russian-based Twitter accounts" influenced the Brexit vote in the UK by tweeting affirmative AFTER the vote happened

Trump is not the brightest bulb and he is not well informed. I dislike nearly all of his policies. But he understands that the "Russian hacking" narrative is false and is carried by lunatic political hacks who want to push the U.S. back into a cold, or maybe even hot war with Russia, China, Iran and probably everyone else.

Tannenhouser | Nov 11, 2017 2:15:01 PM | 1

"Trump is not the brightest bulb and he is not well informed. I dislike nearly all of his policies. But he understands that the "Russian hacking" narrative is false and is carried by lunatic political hacks who want to push the U.S. back into a cold, or maybe even hot war with Russia, China, Iran and probably everyone else."

I couldn't agree more B. The distraction to cover up the DNC crimes and the 'pay to play' antics during HRC's tenure at SECState are part of this nonsense as well.

james | Nov 11, 2017 2:21:31 PM | 2
thanks b.. i 2nd @1 tannenhousers comment above..
wadosy | Nov 11, 2017 2:31:10 PM | 3
the term "hacked" implies that someone came in on the internet, right?

I guess it could be that the DNC really was hacked, but maybe they faked the hack story, fed the story to Crowdstrike, then paid Crowdstrike a lot of money to fabricate a fairytale about Russian hacking...

This Russian fairytale would be the bedrock of Hillary's campaign, and it gave her a reason to badmouth trump who intended to get along with Putin, which deeply offended the neocon Bolsheviks who've been running things since 9/11

If the hacking really happened, it's maybe more likely to have been the US NSA that did the hacking... that might explain why the DNC and Hillary were not alarmed by the hacking --if it happened-- and did nothing about it, and continued to write incriminating emails...

...they assumed the hackers were on their side

OK, then, if the hacking was a fairytale, made up by Debbie and Hillary, and reinforced by Crowdstrike, then what? Maybe it doesn't make any difference in the long run, if the DNC was hacked or not

Whatever happened, the emails got out, Assange strongly hints that Seth Rich was the leak, Seth Rich was murdered, and his murder was intended to be a warning to people like Donna Brazile, who, after Seth was murdered, started drawing her office blinds because she didn't want to be sniped... presumably by the people who murdered Seth Rich

broders | Nov 11, 2017 2:33:17 PM | 4
the real question is : what is j.sessions doing ? and if nothing , why trump doesn't fire him ?
Brad | Nov 11, 2017 2:55:42 PM | 5
Russia gate is Really Hillary Gate... And that's just the beginning as we consider the DNC lid coming off via Donna Brazile and the Uranium scandal. Mueller has been gatekeeper for the Deep State for OKC bombing, 911,...other False Flag...and now today's Intrigues.

Will Podesta and Hillary escape?...or get Prison? John McCain with ISIS and photo opp,.. Evil in your face 24. If certain people are not in Prison....Mueller could wear the label Satan's guardian. ..and it wouldn't be exaggeration

Peter AU 1 | Nov 11, 2017 3:00:44 PM | 6
Back when Trump looked like he was in the running in the US presidential election, I wondered how one man, even if he was genuine, could without the backing of US intelligence, take down the deepstate/borg/whatever. Putin pulled Russia out of the nineties with key backing from patriotic intelligence and military leadership, but Trump even if genuine would be on his own. Just ordered 'Art of the deal' to try and understand Trump a bit more. Looks like he has just destroyed a big chunk of deep state financing so will be interesting to see how long he can stay alive.
wadosy | Nov 11, 2017 3:05:39 PM | 7

well, Mueller declined to find 9/11 evidence against bin laden... or maybe we should say, "he declined to manufacture evidence"... for some unkown reason...

whatever, if seth rich's murder was an attempt to terrorize politicians and the media into parroting the party line --like the anthrax letters did after 9/11-- it worked

donna is still saying, "the Russians dun it".

NemesisCalling | Nov 11, 2017 3:07:36 PM | 8
b, it is so funny that everytime you allude to Trump being in the right against the teeming hordes or globalist, anti-Russia elites, you always offer the caveat: "but...he's a bastard and I hate him."

Can we just face the facts here that there is a coordinated effort by these elite to get Trump dethroned? What reason for this? Simple...he's a threat.

Enemy of my enemy anyone?

P.s. I view him as an opportunist. a chameleon. At the very least, perhaps he realizes the absolute absurdity of trying to keep the house of cards aloft in the ME. So far, no wars, and a de-escalation in Syria. Pundits are talking about 3+% growth in US for first time in decade. I dont't know...perhaps Donald can cut and run in time to salvage some of the US prosperity.

PavewayIV | Nov 11, 2017 3:22:45 PM | 9
I'm almost inclined to think Trump is letting this Russian hack thing play out on purpose despite his Tweets to the contrary. Preventing the feds from 'investigating' it wouldn't make it go away, it would just cement the notion of guilt and a cover-up into the anti-Trump, anti-Russian segment of the public. More importantly, the similarly-inclined political/government leaders (pro-Hillary, DNC, politicized FBI and intel, neocons, deep state, whatever...) and MSM slowly expose themselves for what they are. They get too confident in the big lie actually working and go into a feeding frenzy. Trump trolls them on Twitter and they go insane.

When you want to catch sharks, you don't chase them around the ocean to hunt them. You chum the waters and wait for them to come to you. Trump isn't the one chumming the waters here - he's letting the sharks do that themselves.

I scratched my head like everyone else trying to figure out Trump's earlier incomprehensible hiring/firing volley his first few months. Maybe that was just a bit of theatre. Trump might not understand the 'little people' too much, but he does understand his opponent psychopaths (corporate, banking or government/intel) and how to use their basic flaws against them. 'Draining the swamp' sells well, but letting his opponents stick their necks out far enough before Trump's own Night of the Long Knives would (to me) be a far more effective strategy towards his ends. And probably much safer for him than Kennedy's approach.

Kind of worrying that one has to rely on outsider psychopaths to cull other psychopath's well-entrenched herds within the US government. Does that ever turn out well?

Laguerre | Nov 11, 2017 3:30:12 PM | 10
Was anything Trump did really illegal? It hasn't been demonstrated yet. The US does much the same in Russia.
h | Nov 11, 2017 3:31:16 PM | 11
Only the most strident partisans hold tightly to the Russian interference nonsense.

Those who simply want to deal in facts bother ourselves to self inform using multiple sources who have been trying to make sense of the dastardly twists and turns in this muh Russia whodunit scandal. The DNC emails, dossier, collusion the whole escapade, from the beginning, could be seen as being built on nothing more than quicksand.

Mike Whitney posted a great piece this week suggesting Brennan, Obama's political 'hack', is behind this mess - "Brennan spearheaded the anti-Russia campaign from the get-go. As early as August 2016, Brennan was providing classified briefings to ranking members of Congress expressing his conviction that Moscow was helping Trump to win the election. The former Director offered no proof to back up his claims nor has he since then. It was also Brennan who gradually persuaded Clapper, Comey and Morrell to join his anti-Russia jihad, although all were reluctant participants at first. Were they won over by compelling secret evidence that has been been withheld from the public?" - http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48172.htm

Then you have Joe Lauria's outstanding piece which lived less than 24 hours at HuffPo before being disappeared - http://raymcgovern.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CLEANOn-The-Origins-of-Russia-gate-_-HuffPost.pdf

And then you have the Intercept's piece on Binney's meeting with CIA's Pompeo with Ray McGovern providing a lot more detail and an interview with his favorite news outlet RT - http://raymcgovern.com/

Oh, and about Binney's meeting with Pompeo? Trump requested Pompeo meet with him. He did. But Pompeo, as of today, remains steadfast in supporting the ICA crap report Obama's political intel hacks put out.

These are but a few sources digging and reporting on these bogus charges against Putin. I'd like to believe the majority of the U.S. electorate isn't being fooled by the nonsense. I can't speak for those who choose to remain inside the brainwashing corporate media bubble, but for those of us who divorced ourselves from their propaganda long ago ain't buying nor ever did buy into the muh Russia crap.

wadosy | Nov 11, 2017 3:36:47 PM | 12
we got to wonder why donna brazile made such a fuss about Seth Rich. She's being way too cagey for comfort but even if we leave seth rich out of it, none of it make any sense

... ... ...

Muslim Dude | Nov 11, 2017 3:42:36 PM | 13
According to journalist, Liz Crokin and others online, Trump is pulling the biggest sting operation in history.

https://www.lizcrokin.com/hillaryclinton/mueller-president-trump-pulling-biggest-sting-history/

Also from a Youtube video I saw earlier there are claims this is what is happening.

1. Obama regime was chronically corrupt including sell of Uranium to Russia for bribes. Elements of the US military and intelligence were disgusted by this and approached Trump BEFORE the elections as a figure who could help them.

2. Trump decided to work with them and during his election campaign he deliberately made constant exaggerated claims of his supposed friendship with Putin, this was bait for the Democrats to smear him as a Putin-lover, Putin puppet.

3. Once elected, the whole "Trump is a Putin puppet" was allowed to run so that a huge demand for some sort of investigation in to Trump and his Russia links could be built. Only this investigation would in fact be used to target the Democrats and Clinton including for their corruption over the Uranium sales with the Russians.

4. This was apparently (according to these claims) the game plan from the beginning and Mueller is apparently going to work to convict Hillary Clinton and other senior Democrats.

I don't know how true this is, but it does answer a lot of questions and anomalies and also ties in with B's thesis that we are essentially seeing a quasi-military government in D.C. under Trump.

psychohistorian | Nov 11, 2017 3:49:19 PM | 14
@ PavewayIV who ended his comment with: "Kind of worrying that one has to rely on outsider psychopaths to cull other psychopath's well-entrenched herds within the US government. Does that ever turn out well? "

Yep! And we add our textual white noise to the rearranging of the deck chairs on the top deck of the good ship Humanity as it careens over the falls/into the shoals/pick-your-metaphor

PavewayIV | Nov 11, 2017 4:30:10 PM | 15
psychohistorian@14 - Captain to crew: "I will not have this ship go down looking like a garbage scow. Deck chairs will be arranged in a neat and orderly manner at all times!"
Augustin L | Nov 11, 2017 4:32:46 PM | 16
The orange Chump is using diversionary tactics. Will the mafia Front goy thief disclose his extensive exposure/links to Russian and foreign banks ?

The same media you're decrying here is also ignoring this week's paradise papers revelations about Wilbur Ross, Trump's commerce secretary and business links with Russian Israeli mobsters and oligarchs like Mogilevich. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMhzkvWuXEM

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true. The other is to refuse to believe what is true. Can't fix stupid sociopathy. I pity deplorable goyims, They deserve their plight...

renfro | Nov 11, 2017 5:10:26 PM | 17
Please someone end this idiot circus! Russia hacked THE ELECTION ...hacked THE ELECTION ??? For the love of gawd..the ELECTION, meaning the voting was hacked.....it was NOT. Nothing has focused on Russian 'hacking' of VOTES. Russia 'if' they hacked, at best hacked some emails and info used to expose Hillary. And posted negative info on the net. So, so what? How many leakers weren't doing that?

I have had it with the Dems, they have IQs somewhere below that of cabbages. But I guess there are a certain number of citizens that will believe anything if it is repeated enough by their herd leaders.

notheonly1 | Nov 11, 2017 5:31:12 PM | 18
All this pathetic, lousy street theater resembling staging can only serve one important reason: Distraction. What is it that people need to be distracted from? That the US has turned openly into a military dictatorship? That the extermination proceedings are speeding up?

Hitler used gas chambers, as did the US after the war. While the first was a psychopathic dictator, the latter is a psychopathic society. It has spend trillions in research and design of lethal weapons and systems to exterminate any 'enemy'.

With all the technological progress, people do no longer need to be dragged to a gas chamber. The gas chamber will come to them. Sprayed into the atmosphere and making its way into earth's life systems.

Trump, Dump, Busch, Koch, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon - plutocratic hand puppets. It is not the people who decide where and when the ship sinks. It will be sunken for them - with all the useless eaters on board.

Jack Oliver | Nov 11, 2017 6:03:23 PM | 19
Trump is too stupid to realize that the very reason the election was rigged in his favour was - the derailment of ANY ZIO/US/Russia relations !! Their top priority ( as always) has been to keep Russia and Germany apart ! Russia's 'resources' and German 'innovation' is a match made in heaven - would spell the end of the US economy !
karlof1 | Nov 11, 2017 6:27:43 PM | 20
Not only did the Propaganda System refuse to correctly report as b details, but nowhere has it mentioned the defeat of Daesh, as Pepe Escobar discloses: "This is History in the making.

"And right on cue, VIRTUALLY NOTHING about this REAL ON THE GROUND VICTORY OF A REAL WAR ON TERROR is being covered by Western corporate media.

"No wonder. Because this was the work of Damascus, Russia, Hezbollah, Iran advisers, Baghdad and the PMUs – actually the "4+1" - and not the US-led "coalition" that includes Wahhabi mongrels House of Saud and UAE - that totally smashes to bits the monochord Washington narrative.

"So History in the making must be silenced." [Emphasis in original.] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48186.htm

Meanwhile, USG declares RT and Sputnik to be foreign agents and must register as such -- and Trump had nothing to do with that?!?

Temporarily Sane | Nov 11, 2017 6:30:23 PM | 21
The war on Syria and the Russian "hacking" debacle has corrupted the entire western media. Not that it was ever squeaky clean - far from it - but it was at least somewhat independent from the dominant establishment. There were pauses between the outrageous lies and blatant fact twisting and it did not overtly shill for neoliberal political parties and work overtime pushing massive amounts of propaganda on the public 24/7/365 and relentlessly demonize, in the most crude fashion imaginable, the leaders of some of the the world's most powerful countries and any sovereign nation that values its independence and freedom from Western exploitation.

The media is now now in permanent psy op mode, colonizing the public's mind and jamming people's ability to reason, think critically and even tell fact from fiction. It is only a matter of time before overt repression becomes widespread (to protect our freedoms of course) and the last remnants of democracy give way to an Orwellian/Huxleyite dystopia.

jayc | Nov 11, 2017 6:32:58 PM | 22
CNN covers the Binney/Pompeo meeting, and describes Binney in the headline as a "conspiracy theorist": http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/politics/mike-pompeo-william-binney-meeting/index.html
Peter AU 1 | Nov 11, 2017 6:37:08 PM | 23
karlof1 20

If by chance Trump or anyone is genuine about taking down the deep state, they cannot do it by running around in a pathetic attempt trying to fix small issues. They would have to leave the machine to carry on as normal and go for its foundations. I thought about this months ago, and now looking at the latest events, this could be what is happening.

gut bugs galore | Nov 11, 2017 6:52:35 PM | 24
Meanwhile a revolution threatening the federation of Australia is taking place in Canberra utilizing a formless and compliant press corps and a fake issue of dual citizenship. Chaos is a disease agent which has jumped out of the Middle Eastern laboratory into all western nations.
Krollchem | Nov 11, 2017 7:13:34 PM | 25
Educational Youtube videos on how the world works at "Rules for rulers"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig_qpNfXHIU

[Nov 11, 2017] Saudi Deep State Prince Bandar Among Those Arrested In Purge Report Zero Hedge

Can Prince Bandar provide compromising information on Brennan to Trump Justice Department ?
Nov 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
While no doubt Bandar's very well-known role in Saudi "oil for arms" programs which have come to define Saudi relations with the West over the past decades is a trumped up and "selective" charge (insofar as the highest levels of the state have overseen such shady dealing) the al-Yamamah deal in particular - which goes back to the mid-1980's - has been an historical embarrassment to both the UK and Saudi governments (BAE Systems was the prime British contractor involved) for the astounding level of fraudulent accounting exposed in UK courts.

Concerning Prince Bandar's role in the al-Yamamah deal, Middle East Eye continues :

Bandar bought an entire village in the Cotswolds, a picturesque area of central England, and a 2,000-acre sporting estate with part of the proceeds from kickbacks he received in the al-Yamamah arms deal, which netted British manufacturer BAE £43bn ($56.5bn) in contracts for fighter aircraft.

As much as $30m (£15m) is alleged to have been paid into Bandar's dollar account at Riggs Bank in Washington and the affair led to corruption probes in the US and UK, although the case was dropped in the UK in 2006 after an intervention by then-prime minister Tony Blair.

But more likely is that Bandar has been caught up in this week's MBS dragnet for his closeness to Western heads of state and foreign intelligence services. With MBS' aggressive consolidation of power which could result in ascension to the throne at any moment, and with fate of multiple princes and officials still unknown -- not the least of which is now ex-PM of Lebanon Saad Hariri - a shroud of secrecy has resulted in myriad theories concerning what is really happening behind the scenes.

Meanwhile news of Bandar's possible arrest and detention hasn't spread very widely in international media reports as of this writing, but it will be interesting to see the response in the West should the news be confirmed. Will Bandar's friends in Washington and London go to bat for him? Or will Prince Bandar quietly recede into the background of a permanent forced retirement from public life?

Most likely the latter will be the case. Regardless, for friends of the former powerful Saudi intelligence director on either side of the Atlantic and within Saudi Arabia itself, Bandar no doubt knows where all the skeletons are buried, and this alone makes him a worrisome, volatile and unpredictable figure in the midst of a transfer of power.

MK13 -> ludwigvmises , Nov 10, 2017 2:37 PM Yet somehow close connection to Clinton escaped detection, huh? http://www.americanlibertyreport.com/articles/the-clintons-saudi-connect...

This is a Bush/Obama/uniparty/alphabet agencies guy.

JakeSphinx -> ludwigvmises, Nov 10, 2017 5:26 PM

Bandar was the Bush's inside man in Saudi........if he goes down, he might be willing to tell all....about the crooked deals with the Bush Boys....lol......so much to gain, and yet look at the price.......his life!

STP -> MK13 , Nov 10, 2017 5:24 PM

If what they're doing in Saudi Arabia is any indication, it might be a prelude to what's going to happen here. There is no 'draining' the swamp and DJT knows it. They're going to have to use dynamite and lots of it. There's a whole bunch of sealed indictments sitting at the US District Court in DC and we know the Podesta's are just part of it. Imagine the huge snowflake outcry if HRC was among them? Remember, they were screaming at the sky last night! HRC would claim a coup and try to energize that group of idiots to rise up and it may take the National Guard to quell them and jail them. From what I hear, that's exactly the plan...

ludwigvmises , Nov 10, 2017 2:17 PM

Bandar was the piece of shit who lobbied the Bush administration to fly out the entire Bin Laden family from the US without questioning them after 9/11.

hedgeless_horseman -> ludwigvmises , Nov 10, 2017 2:20 PM

Yes, but supposedly it was Chertoff released the Five Dancing Israelis.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-08/do-you-remember-five-men-being-...

pot_and_kettle -> hedgeless_horseman , Nov 10, 2017 2:20 PM

That's the cocksucker who threatened Putin and Sochi 2014 and Putin ended throwing him out of his office ;-)

BaBaBouy -> pot_and_kettle , Nov 10, 2017 2:29 PM

What happens Next ?

Will they all be publicly executed House Of Saud Style ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Silenced Forever

evoila -> BaBaBouy , Nov 10, 2017 2:33 PM

Might as well look into Tom Barrack at Colony Capital....

BaBaBouy -> evoila , Nov 10, 2017 2:45 PM

I'll never get that picture of Thump doing the Woar "Sword Dance" with the Sheiks ...

I think we only have 5% of the actual story thats going on Here ...

"FatFinger" had to hit GOLD hard today for some reason.

wee-weed up -> BaBaBouy , Nov 10, 2017 2:46 PM

Bandar Bush!

BaBaBouy -> wee-weed up , Nov 10, 2017 2:51 PM

Heres The Clue ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4IXm7sEoPo

mc888 -> BaBaBouy , Nov 10, 2017 3:04 PM

I like the drums. But I could do without the soccer chanting.

Pinto Currency -> mc888 , Nov 10, 2017 3:12 PM

Trump and Putin both big smiles today.

Far from over though.

House of Saud's control of Saudi Arabia is in play.

[Nov 11, 2017] Is Hillary Just the "Fall Guy" for the Intel Agencies and their Moneybags Bosses by Mike Whitney

See Wikipedia article CIA influence on public opinion . The role on Brennan probably deserves a special prosecutor and/or a Congressional commettee similar to Church Committee
The question arise: "Was hacking DNC another CIA false flag operation with the specific goal to poison US-Russian relations and using Hillary Clinton as a patsy?"
According fo church committee report: "Approximately 50 of the [Agency] assets are individual American journalists or employees of U.S. media organizations. Of these, fewer than half are "accredited" by U.S. media organizations ... The remaining individuals are non-accredited freelance contributors and media representatives abroad ... More than a dozen United States news organizations and commercial publishing houses formerly provided cover for CIA agents abroad. A few of these organizations were unaware that they provided this cover. [7] "
"Journalist Carl Bernstein , writing in an October 1977 article in the magazine Rolling Stone , claims that the Church Committee report "covered up" CIA relations with news media, and names a number of journalists whom he says worked with the CIA. [10] Like the Church Committee report, however, Bernstein does not refer to any Operation Mockingbird."
Notable quotes:
"... "Russian meddling" became the perfect rallying cry for the CIA's broader information operation (IO) that was designed to poison public opinion against "Russian aggression" and to reign in Trump's plans to normalize relations with Moscow. ..."
"... Clinton became the "fall guy" in a darker, deep-state propaganda campaign for which she is only partially responsible. ..."
"... the Steele dossier was shared with the FBI at some point in the summer of 2016 and apparently became the basis for the FBI to seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against members of Trump's campaign. ..."
"... More alarmingly, it may have formed the basis for much of the Jan. 6 intelligence "assessment" by those "hand-picked" analysts from three U.S. intelligence agencies -- the CIA, the FBI and the NSA -- not all 17 agencies that Hillary Clinton continues to insist were involved ..."
"... The article proves that the nation's premier law enforcement agency was using parts of a discredited "raw intelligence" report that was paid for by the DNC and was clearly commissioned as a part of a smear campaign -- to spy on members of the opposition party. Clearly, one could easily make the case that the FBI was abusing its extraordinary police-state powers to subvert the democratic process. ..."
"... The FBI, under James Comey, also attempted to use agent Steele for future research but abandoned the idea after parts of the dossier began to surface in the media making it politically impossible to maintain the relationship. ..."
"... The fact that the FBI was willing to build its investigation on the sensational and unverified claims in the DNC-bought-and-paid-for dossier, suggests that the real motive was not to reveal collusion between Trump and Moscow or even to uncover evidence related to the hacking claims. The real goal was to vilify Russia and derail Trump's efforts at détente. ..."
"... Steele's July report helped to prop up the threadbare "hacking" storyline that was further reinforced by the dubious cyber-forensic analysis of DNC servers performed by CrowdStrike, "a private company co-founded by a virulently anti-Putin Russian." ..."
"... Russia-gate is entirely a Democratic Party invention. Both sources of information (Crowdstrike and Steele) were chosen by members of the Democratic hierarchy (through their intermediaries) to create stories that coincided with their political objectives. Due to the obvious bias of the people who funded the operations, neither the methods nor the information can be trusted. But that's just part of the story. The bigger story relates to the role played by the nation's premier intelligence and law enforcement agencies. And that's where we see signs of institutional corruption on a truly colossal scale. ..."
"... Nov. 18: Arizona Sen. John McCain and a former assistant, David Kramer, are told about the existence of the dossier by an associate of Steele's, former British diplomat Sir Andrew Wood. Kramer travels to London later that month to meet with Steele and find out more about the dossier. Steele forwards a copy of the dossier to Fusion, Kramer and McCain. ..."
"... This is a damning admission that the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that was released on January 6, and was supposed to provide rock-solid proof of Russia hacking and collusion, was built (at least, in part) on the thin gruel and specious allegations found in the sketchy "Trump dossier". Former CIA Director John Brennan has refuted this claim, but there's significant circumstantial evidence to suggest that it is true. ..."
"... On December 9, 2016, The Washington Post reported that the CIA determined that Russian hacking was conducted to boost Trump and hurt Clinton during the presidential campaign. This same theory that was propounded in the ICA report just a month later. It appears that Brennan and his "hand-picked" intelligence analysts decided to carefully comb the dossier cherry-picking the most credible allegations to weave into their dubious intelligence Assessment. So even though large sections of the dossier were scrapped, the report itself was used as the foundation for the ICA. ..."
"... It's clear that Brennan had no "information or intelligence" that would lead a reasonable man to think that anyone in Trump's entourage was colluding with Russian officials or agents. The whole story is spun from whole cloth. The disturbing implication however is that Brennan, who was an outspoken supporter of Hillary and equally harsh critic of Trump, was using the CIA's intrusive surveillance powers to spy on a rival political party in the heat of a presidential campaign. If that is not a flagrant example of subverting democracy, then what is? ..."
"... It all started with Brennan, he's the ringleader in this dodgy caper. But Brennan was not operating as a free agent pursuing his own malign political agenda, but as a strong-arm facilitator for the powerful foreign policy establishment which includes leaders from Big Oil, Wall Street, and the giant weapons manufacturers. These are the corporate mandarins who pull Brennan's chain and give Brennan his marching orders. This is how power trickles down in America. ..."
"... So while the moneytrail may lead back to the DNC and Hillary's Campaign, the roots of Russia-gate extend far beyond the politicians to the highest-ranking members of the permanent state. ..."
Nov 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

For nearly a year, Hillary Clinton failed to admit that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee had provided funding for the notorious dossier that alleged Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. Then, two weeks ago, the Washington Post published a blockbuster article that proved that Clinton had been misleading the public about her Campaign's role in producing the report.

Following the article's publication, Clinton went into hiding for more than a week during which time she huddled with her political advisors to settle on a strategy for dealing with the crisis.

"Russian meddling" became the perfect rallying cry for the CIA's broader information operation (IO) that was designed to poison public opinion against "Russian aggression" and to reign in Trump's plans to normalize relations with Moscow.

The fact that the CIA had essentially extracted a credible narrative from sections of the notorious dossier, left Hillary with no other option except to play-along even after the votes had been counted. As a result, Clinton became the "fall guy" in a darker, deep-state propaganda campaign for which she is only partially responsible. Here's a little background from Joe Lauria's "must read" article "The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate":

" the Steele dossier was shared with the FBI at some point in the summer of 2016 and apparently became the basis for the FBI to seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against members of Trump's campaign.

More alarmingly, it may have formed the basis for much of the Jan. 6 intelligence "assessment" by those "hand-picked" analysts from three U.S. intelligence agencies -- the CIA, the FBI and the NSA -- not all 17 agencies that Hillary Clinton continues to insist were involved .

If in fact the Steele memos were a primary basis for the Russia collusion allegations against Trump, then there may be no credible evidence at all." (Consortium News)

So, were "the Steele memos the primary basis for the Russia collusion allegations against Trump"? This is the pivotal question that still remains largely unanswered. As Lauria notes, the FBI did in fact use the "salacious and unverified" dossier to obtain at least one FISA warrant. This is from The Hill:

"The FBI used the dossier alleging Russian ties to President Trump's campaign associates to help convince a judge to grant a warrant to secretly monitor former campaign aide Carter Page, CNN reports.

FBI Director James Comey has cited the dossier in some of his briefings with lawmakers in recent weeks as one of the information sources used by his bureau to bolster its probe, U.S. officials briefed on the investigation told CNN." ("FBI used Trump dossier to help get warrant to monitor ex-aide: report", The Hill)

The article proves that the nation's premier law enforcement agency was using parts of a discredited "raw intelligence" report that was paid for by the DNC and was clearly commissioned as a part of a smear campaign -- to spy on members of the opposition party. Clearly, one could easily make the case that the FBI was abusing its extraordinary police-state powers to subvert the democratic process.

The FBI, under James Comey, also attempted to use agent Steele for future research but abandoned the idea after parts of the dossier began to surface in the media making it politically impossible to maintain the relationship. This is from a February article in the Washington Post:

"The former British spy who authored a controversial dossier on behalf of Donald Trump's political opponents alleging ties between Trump and Russia reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement. The agreement to compensate former MI6 agent Christopher Steele came as U.S. intelligence agencies reached a consensus that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election by orchestrating hacks of Democratic Party email accounts ..

Ultimately, the FBI did not pay Steele. Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele's now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter." ("FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier", Washington Post)

The fact that the FBI was willing to build its investigation on the sensational and unverified claims in the DNC-bought-and-paid-for dossier, suggests that the real motive was not to reveal collusion between Trump and Moscow or even to uncover evidence related to the hacking claims. The real goal was to vilify Russia and derail Trump's efforts at détente.

It's also worth noting , that Steele's earliest report implausibly alleges that the "Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US presidential candidate Trump for at least 5 years." (No one had any idea that Trump would run for president 5 years ago.) The report also details perverted sexual acts involving Trump and urinating prostitutes in a hotel in Moscow. (All fake, of course) The point we are trying to make, is that Steele's first report focused on corruption, perversion and blackmail, whereas, his second installment completely changed direction to cyber-espionage operations on foreign targets.

Why?

It was because, on July 22, 2016, just days before the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails hacked from DNC computers revealing the corrupt inner-workings of the Democratic establishment. In response, Steele decided to craft a story that would support the Dems plan to blame the Russians for the moral cesspit they-alone had created. In other words, his report was a way of "passing the buck".

Steele's July report helped to prop up the threadbare "hacking" storyline that was further reinforced by the dubious cyber-forensic analysis of DNC servers performed by CrowdStrike, "a private company co-founded by a virulently anti-Putin Russian."

The hacking theme was also aided by the deluge of unsourced, evidence-lite articles cropping up in the media, like this gem in the Washington Post:

"Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC's system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies " ("Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump", Washington Post)

What's remarkable about the above excerpt is that it follows the same basic approach to propaganda as nearly all the other pieces on the topic. Unlike the lead-up to the Iraq War, where journalists at the New York Times made every effort to create a believable storyline that included references to aluminum tubes, Niger uranium, mobile weapons labs, etc. The media no longer tries to support their narrative with evidence or eyewitnesses. The major media now simply tells people what they want them to think and leave it at that. Even so, it doesn't require much critical thinking to see the holes in the Russia hacking story. One merely needs to suspend judgment long enough to see that main claims all emerge from (Democratic) sources who have every reason to mislead the public. Here's an excerpt from Joe Lauria's article that sums it up perfectly:

"The two sources that originated the allegations claiming that Russia meddled in the 2016 election were both paid for by the Democratic National Committee, and in one instance also by the Clinton campaign: the Steele dossier and the CrowdStrike analysis of the DNC servers.

Think about that for a minute .

In other words, possibly all of the Russia-gate allegations, which have been taken on faith by Democratic partisans and members of the anti-Trump Resistance, trace back to claims paid for or generated by Democrats.

If for a moment one could remove the sometimes justified hatred that many people feel toward Trump, it would be impossible to avoid the impression that the scandal may have been cooked up by the DNC and the Clinton camp in league with Obama's intelligence chiefs to serve political and geopolitical aims." ("The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate", Consortium News)

Russia-gate is entirely a Democratic Party invention. Both sources of information (Crowdstrike and Steele) were chosen by members of the Democratic hierarchy (through their intermediaries) to create stories that coincided with their political objectives. Due to the obvious bias of the people who funded the operations, neither the methods nor the information can be trusted. But that's just part of the story. The bigger story relates to the role played by the nation's premier intelligence and law enforcement agencies. And that's where we see signs of institutional corruption on a truly colossal scale.

As we noted earlier, the Clinton smear campaign would probably have ended after the votes were counted had not the intel agencies, particularly the CIA, decided the hacking story could be used to inflict more damage on Russia. It wasn't Clinton's decision to gather more information for the dossier, but others whose motives have remained largely concealed. Who are they?

According to a timeline in the Daily Caller:

November: The contract between the Democrats, Fusion and Steele ends along with the presidential campaign.

Nov. 18: Arizona Sen. John McCain and a former assistant, David Kramer, are told about the existence of the dossier by an associate of Steele's, former British diplomat Sir Andrew Wood. Kramer travels to London later that month to meet with Steele and find out more about the dossier. Steele forwards a copy of the dossier to Fusion, Kramer and McCain.

Dec. 9: McCain provides a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey during a meeting at the latter's office.

Dec. 13: Steele writes the final memo of the dossier. It alleges that a Russian tech executive used his companies to hack into the DNC's email systems. The executive, Aleksej Gubarev, denied the allegations after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017. He is suing both BuzzFeed and Steele.

Jan. 6: Comey and other intelligence community officials brief then-President-elect Trump on some of the allegations made in the dossier.

Jan. 10: CNN reports that the briefing of Trump took place four days earlier. Citing that reporting as justification, BuzzFeed publishes the dossier. (The Daily Mail)

John McCain? Is that who we're talking about? Was it McCain who paid former M16 agent Christopher Steele to add another report to the dossier? Why?

Is it that hard to imagine that a Russophobic foreign policy wonk like McCain -- who has expressed his vehement hatred for Vladimir Putin on the floor of the senate -- would hire a mud-slinging free agent like Steele to craft a story that would further demonize Russia, discourage Trump from normalizing relations with Moscow, and reinforce the theory that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 elections?

Does that mean that McCain may have told Steele (or his intermediaries) precisely what he wanted the final draft to say? It certainly seems probable. And here's something else to mull over. This is from the Business Insider:

Steele gave the dossier to Republican Sen. John McCain. McCain then gave it to the FBI director at the time, James Comey. Comey, along with the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, briefed both President Barack Obama and then-President elect Trump on the dossier's allegations in January.

Intelligence officials purposefully omitted the dossier from the public intelligence report they released in January about Russia's election interference because they didn't want to reveal which details they had corroborated, according to CNN." ("Mueller reportedly interviewed the author of the Trump-Russia dossier -- here's what it alleges, and how it aligned with reality", Business Insider)

This is a damning admission that the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that was released on January 6, and was supposed to provide rock-solid proof of Russia hacking and collusion, was built (at least, in part) on the thin gruel and specious allegations found in the sketchy "Trump dossier". Former CIA Director John Brennan has refuted this claim, but there's significant circumstantial evidence to suggest that it is true.

On December 9, 2016, The Washington Post reported that the CIA determined that Russian hacking was conducted to boost Trump and hurt Clinton during the presidential campaign. This same theory that was propounded in the ICA report just a month later. It appears that Brennan and his "hand-picked" intelligence analysts decided to carefully comb the dossier cherry-picking the most credible allegations to weave into their dubious intelligence Assessment. So even though large sections of the dossier were scrapped, the report itself was used as the foundation for the ICA.

Brennan spearheaded the anti-Russia campaign from the get-go. As early as August 2016, Brennan was providing classified briefings to ranking members of Congress expressing his conviction that Moscow was helping Trump to win the election. The former Director offered no proof to back up his claims nor has he since then. It was also Brennan who gradually persuaded Clapper, Comey and Morrell to join his anti-Russia jihad, although all were reluctant participants at first. Were they won over by compelling secret evidence that has been been withheld from the public?

Not likely. It's more probable that Brennan was merely able to convince them that the powerful foreign policy establishment required their cooperation on an issue that would have grave impact on Washington's imperial plan for Syria, Ukraine, Central Asia and beyond?

Some readers might remember when Brennan testified before Congress way-back on May 23 and boldly stated:

BRENNAN: "I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals."

It's clear that Brennan had no "information or intelligence" that would lead a reasonable man to think that anyone in Trump's entourage was colluding with Russian officials or agents. The whole story is spun from whole cloth. The disturbing implication however is that Brennan, who was an outspoken supporter of Hillary and equally harsh critic of Trump, was using the CIA's intrusive surveillance powers to spy on a rival political party in the heat of a presidential campaign. If that is not a flagrant example of subverting democracy, then what is? Here's a clip from the Washington Times:

"It was then-CIA Director John O. Brennan, a close confidant of Mr. Obama's, who provided the information -- what he termed the "basis" -- for the FBI to start the counterintelligence investigation last summer .Mr. Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians

But he said he believed the contacts were numerous enough to alert the FBI, which began its probe into Trump associates that same July, according to previous congressional testimony from then-FBI director James B. Comey." (The Washington Times)

It all started with Brennan, he's the ringleader in this dodgy caper. But Brennan was not operating as a free agent pursuing his own malign political agenda, but as a strong-arm facilitator for the powerful foreign policy establishment which includes leaders from Big Oil, Wall Street, and the giant weapons manufacturers. These are the corporate mandarins who pull Brennan's chain and give Brennan his marching orders. This is how power trickles down in America.

So while the moneytrail may lead back to the DNC and Hillary's Campaign, the roots of Russia-gate extend far beyond the politicians to the highest-ranking members of the permanent state.

[Nov 10, 2017] Do Virginia and New Jersey Signal Trumps Undoing

"Empire lobby" -- people wellbeing of whom depends of enlargement and maintenance of the global US empire )and that includ employees of large Us tech companies, which all have global reach)-- now votes democratic. Democratic Party became the part of neoliberal globalization.
Nov 10, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Fran Macadam , , November 9, 2017 at 2:33 am

Too bad we always get either Democrats or Republicans.

A Hobson's Choice.

George W , , November 9, 2017 at 7:36 am
Virginia was once a red state, then a purple one. But it has been solidly blue for at least 10-15 years. This is because of the huge growth of the federal government in Washington, DC. A large percentage of them live in Northern Virginia.
Mario Diana , says: November 9, 2017 at 9:25 am
The Republicans may be facing trouble ahead, but I would say that the coming troubles have less to do with the president and more to do with the fact that the Republican Congress cannot get its act together. Establishment Republicans still don't get it, as most clearly evidenced with the issue of healthcare. The failure to institute reform and repeal "Obamacare" -- after years of grandstanding about how they were going to do just that -- paints the Republican Congress as a bunch of incompetent boobies.

Reform failed in Congress because the Republican leaders fancied being able to cook up a bill in their backrooms and then strong-arm their "underlings" in the party. Representative government isn't supposed to work that way -- and it clearly isn't working that way now.

The Republicans in Congress better start working with one another, and it's up to Republican leadership to change what it's doing. They are making a laughingstock of the party in a way that will never be matched by silly tweets.

collin , says: November 9, 2017 at 9:43 am
Lessons of Tuesday elections:

1) Republicans should be concerned for 2018 but it is still far enough to draw big conclusions.

... ... ...

ADC Wonk , says: November 9, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Those that are "blaming" the Dem victory on continual growth in federal employment are living in a bubble.

News flash: the number of civilian federal employees is lower than it was all throughout the 1980's. The so-called Dulles Technology Corridor is full of tech businesses, entrepreneurs, etc. Measured by percentage of college degrees, it's one of most highly educated areas in the Nation.

Gillespie lost college educated whites.

MM , says: November 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm
"Of course it is still possible that republicans will continue to vote to subsidize rich folks "

If by rich, you mean those households that currently pay ALL net federal taxes, and by subsidize, you mean letting said households keep more of their own income, then I hope so!

They don't even get a thank you from the Democratic Party, just slogans claiming they don't pay their fair share, even though about 1/3 of those households lean Left.

Hound of Ulster , says: November 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Suburbia the base of the GOP since Eisenhower, just delivered a crushing shot across the bow to the Trumpian GOP. If the D.C. Republicans, much less the GOP leadership in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa (all the states where the GOP legislative majorities are dependent on middle-class college educated white voters of the sort who rejected the Republicans across the country on Tuesday), do not heed this warning on taxes and health care, next year could see an electoral beatdown of historic proportions.
Thaomas , says: November 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm
I think this shows that Republicans should move to the center, embrace expanding ACA, advance making the tax system more progressive as they try to make it less economically distorting. get behind comprehensive immigration reform, etc.
MM , says: November 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm
"Those that are 'blaming' the Dem victory on continual growth in federal employment are living in a bubble."

Not entirely. Virginia has the 3rd highest share (about 8%) of civilian federal employees in the country.

And from 2006-2014, total federal employees and *federal retirees* living in Virginia increased by 20%, or about 50,000 people.

JeffK , says: November 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm
I am a 60 year old former Republican. The party left me when George Bush #2 listened to Dick Cheney and the rest of the neo-cons and started the 2nd war in Iraq. Probably the worst mistake in the last 100 years. The middle east is a total mess from this horrendous decision. Let me say that I think GB2 was a decent man, but he was overwhelmed by 9/11,Cheney, and the neocons.

I grew up in New Castle, PA in the 1970's. It was a thriving mill town north of Pittsburgh and east of Youngstown OH. I worked at the Rockwell International Axle plant and paid for my Penn State education with those earnings, working a good but physically demanding union job (7 days a week). That was one plant among many in NC that no longer exist or is a shadow of it's former self (Shenango China, Johnson Bronze, Conn Welding, Universal Rundle, Rockwell Spring Division, etc).

I am now a semi-retired independent computer systems consultant. Lucky enough to have worked hard enough and long enough, and lived frugally, to not worry financially. I should be a natural constituent of the Republican party. But I am no longer a member. The Republican party is now dead to me.

I believe that Trump has destroyed the Republican party. Dead men (and women) walking. And many people I know feel that way. But I understand why people that live in places like New Castle and Johnstown and Youngstown voted for the man. But I also believe that they know, in their hearts, that those jobs are not coming back. Which is shameful. Both political parties allowed those jobs to go overseas.

Voters have seen through the Republicans charade. They are not happy. Without the 2nd worst political candidate in history (Hillary Clinton) to run against (although they continue to try), the Republican party is in real trouble. Trickle down tax cuts that benefit the 1% donor class will not fly with the voters. Destroying the ACA and not providing a better replacement will be dealt with harshly. Figuring out ways to make abortions impossible to maintain will enrage a significant percent of women.

The Republicans are bankrupt of ideas. And they have elected a President (Trump) that is hated by 95% of the Democrats, 80% of the Independents, and 20% of the Republicans. And the Independents are the key to who gets elected. In general, from what I can see, the independents are very dissatisfied with Trump.

Damn right the votes on Tuesday are a reflection of the will of the voters. They are voting against Trump in particular, and against the Republicans in general. Many of the people I are friends with despise Trump, and have become Independents instead of Republicans.

The current Republican policies on Healthcare, Tax Reform, International Relations, the Environment, Abortion, Gun Rights, etc will stain the Republicans for at least a generation.

Now if the Democrats can only find candidates that are moderate and acceptable to the general public. Which VA, WA, and the local races in PA seem to indicate they are capable of.

EliteCommInc. , says: November 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm
"Surely, this is cause for deep worry among Republicans as they enter the 2018 midterm elections."

I agree with the overall advance here. It's not as telling as it was touted. But the more the admin. and the President himself looks, smells and behave like Sec Clinton or other 'run of the mill democrats,' the more likely those who voted for him simply will not turn out to vote.

It becomes increasingly difficult to support someone who is leaving the reasons you voted for in first place. I other word it is beginning too look like there were absolutely no Republican candidates who actually support its member's desires.

grumpy realist , says: November 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm
George W–so I guess that based on your comments we shouldn't have Federal Government employees at all?

Good luck running the country, then.

(If you do an actual comparison of the salaries government employees get vs. what they could get in the private sector, you'll note that they are in fact getting much less than what they could demand. Many of them exchange the stingier salaries for the higher pensions and the higher stability of the job. Are you saying that there is a problem with that?)

KSW , says: November 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm
The real news is that Dems may have also taken the Virginia state house of delegates, which has been solidly Republican in large part due to careful gerrymandering. As a result, It looks like the Dems will be in charge of redistricting after the 2020 census. I expect that after the next cycle or two, Dems will have supermajorities in both state legislative bodies, and will dominate the Congressional delegation as well.
Thomas Hobbes , says: November 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm
Fran Macadam

Too bad we always get either Democrats or Republicans.

Awe, sometimes we get Jesse Venturas or Donald Trumps. Usually even worse, but more entertaining.

Thaomas

I think this shows that Republicans should move to the center, embrace expanding ACA, advance making the tax system more progressive as they try to make it less economically distorting. get behind comprehensive immigration reform, etc.

But this goes against pretty much everything congressional Republicans want and a lot of what their constituents want.

One Guy , says: November 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm
JeffK could be writing my posts. I'm still a Republican because I believe in Republican (historical) ideas, not because I think present Republicans care about the country. I'm considering renouncing my membership in the party because of Trump, or rather, because of GOP politicians' worship of him. I would become an Independent.
EliteCommInc. , says: November 9, 2017 at 6:20 pm
" I guess that based on your comments we shouldn't have Federal Government employees at all?"

I found this n odd take away from the comments. I think it explains the predictable election results. Less to do with Pres Trump and more to do with the employment demographics and poor selections of campaign issues.

MM , says: November 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm
"If you do an actual comparison of the salaries government employees get vs. what they could get in the private sector, you'll note that they are in fact getting much less than what they could demand."

According to the CBO, that's only a true statement statement for the 9% of federal employees with a professional degree or doctorate.

For the 91% of federal employees with a high school degree, some college, or a bachelor's/master's degree, their average salaries are not "much less" than the average salaries for private sector employees with the same education.

https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52637-federalprivatepay.pdf

Do you have a better source for your claim?

morganB , says: November 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm
The Democratic victories did not signal the demise of the GOP Trump's stupidity did!
Back Home , says: November 9, 2017 at 7:48 pm
@JeffK

You and I share a demographic, except I'm a hundred some miles further south. And I also left the Republicans because of Iraq and other stupid decisions made in the Middle East. I patiently await a candidate who will pull us out of the Middle East and start focusing on America. Trump obviously isn't that guy, certainly not with all those Israel-owned Republicans in the Congress.

Siarlys Jenkins , says: November 9, 2017 at 10:00 pm
Pundits usually read too much into the results of off-year state and local elections.

True. There is nothing so transitory as the Newest Trend.

Exit polling indicates that healthcare -- not jobs, guns, taxes, immigration, Confederate monuments or abortion -- was the top voting issue in Virginia. Nearly two out of five voters picked it as their first concern.

This may be of greater significance. Republicans seized the initiative in 2010 with horror stories of how the Affordable Care Act was GOING to work, when it went into effect about four years in the future. Now, between the fact that it actually did a fair amount of good, and that neither the GOP establishment nor President Trump have turned out "something really terrific" to replace it, people are drawing sensible conclusions, and it may be for the Dems in 2018 what it was for the GOP in 2010. Ironic, but true.

Still, I agree with Fran Macadam that its a Hobson's choice. For the past ten years or so, polls have consistently reported that about ten percent of Americans trust Republicans in congress, and about fifteen percent trust Democrats in congress. The latter is 50 percent better than their rivals, but its that is a very low bar.

For the 91% of federal employees with a high school degree, some college, or a bachelor's/master's degree, their average salaries are not "much less" than the average salaries for private sector employees with the same education.

So, pay the Ph.D's better, and cut the wages of the maintenance staff?

This is because of the huge growth of the federal government in Washington, DC. A large percentage of them live in Northern Virginia.

Perhaps, but those people voting Democratic in northern Virginia are no longer voting Democratic in Utah or Idaho.

[Nov 07, 2017] Donna Brazile, the Rigged Democratic Primary, and Relitigating 2016 naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente ..."
"... The agreement -- signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to [DNC lawyer] Marc Elias -- specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings. ..."
"... A second difference in substance: Let's remember that for Clinton, the JFA enabled her campaign to circumvent contribution limits for large donors (Brazile: "Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400"). The Sanders campaign , by contrast, had no issue with maxed out donors: "During fall '15, 99.8% of Bernie donors could give again" (because it's awful hard to max out $27 at a time). ..."
"... That's pretty amazing, isn't it? Personnel is policy, as they say, and the Clinton campaign has made sure that the DNC's Communications Director and new hires in the senior staff in the communications, technology, and research departments will be acceptable to it. The Clinton campaign will also review all mass email and communcations (which explains why Brazile, as interim DNC chair, couldn't send out a press release without checking with Brooklyn. Since the notorious debate schedule was already controlled by Wasserman Schultz, there was no point messing about with it, I assume.) There is one place in this passage where the general election is mentioned, so let's look at it: ..."
"... Second, the DNC itself does not ..."
"... But I'd like to know how far up the editorial totem poles the fix went and how it was achieved. ..."
"... It has been a while since I handled a criminal defense case, but I am not sure that the agreement is not in fact, criminal. When the Sanders for President campaign signed an agreement and paid money in consideration of getting access to the voter file and when the state parties agreed to merge their fundraising efforts with the DNC and HFA, the commercial fraud laws applied to that relationship. Since the fundraising was done using interstate phone calls, letters, and emails and the voter file access was provided by electronic transmissions from servers in DC to end users in Burlington, Vermont that includes 18 USC 1341, 1343 and 1346 (mail, wire and honest services fraud). These laws do not just ban outright lying, but also the concealment of material facts that one has a duty to disclose. ..."
"... The DNC got into the position of selling themselves to the Clintons as they were $20 million in debt, right? I have read that the major reason for these debts was that the DNC had not shrunk itself since the last campaign and was paying out a ton of money for consultants doing Christ knows what. In fact, Obama also used the DNC to support a stack of his consultants as well as grifters gotta grift, right? ..."
"... My question is whether this was a deliberate ploy on Obama and the Clinton factions to put the DNC into such a vulnerable position before 2016 came along that when the time came, they had to take up an offer that they could not refuse. I have not heard if Obama has made any comments on this fiasco that took place on his watch and it seems nobody wants to call him out on it. In the Brazile case, it is not a matter of following the money but following the lack of money. ..."
"... "Both sides in the Democratic Party's current faction fight, as I see it, are in denial about the true nature and scope of the problem "Both responses are essentially utopian: They rest on the premise that the Democratic Party is still a functioning political organization and that the United States is still a functioning democracy." ..."
Nov 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Donna Brazile, the "Rigged" Democratic Primary, and Relitigating 2016 Posted on November 6, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Long-time Democratic[1] operative Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after Debbie Wasserman Schultz was defenestrated[2], has, like two other participants in the 2016 Presidential election and at least one set of observers , written a book, Hacked , and published a long excerpt from it four days ago, in Politico . Here is the key passage, in which Brazile paraphrases and quotes a conversation with Gary Gensler, former of Goldman Sachs and the CFTC, and then the chief financial officer of the Clinton campaign:

[Gensler] described the party as fully under the control of Hillary's campaign , which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party's national committee.

Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund -- that figure represented $10,000 to each of the 32 states' parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement -- $320,000 -- and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

Yes, you read that right. Although the Hillary Victory Fund was billed as aiding the states, in fact the states were simply pass-throughs, and the money went to the Clinton campaign. (This is not news; Politico covered the Victory Fun in 2016 : "The Democratic front-runner says she's raising big checks to help state committees, but they've gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised.")

"Wait," I said. "That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You're telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?"

Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.

"That was the deal that Robby struck with Debbie," he explained, referring to campaign manager Robby Mook. "It was to sustain the DNC. We sent the party nearly $20 million from September until the convention, and more to prepare for the election."

After some research, Brazile finds a document ("the agreement") that spells out what "fully under the control of Hillary's campaign" meant operationally:

The agreement -- signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to [DNC lawyer] Marc Elias -- specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

I had been wondering why it was that I couldn't write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.

(Importantly, Gensler has not disputed this account, of which, assuming he's not vacationing Antarctica, he must have been aware of, given the media uproar. We can therefore assume its accurate). Note two aspects of this passage, which I'm quoting at such length to ensure we know what Brazile actually charged. I've helpfully underlined them: (1) Brazile leads with the money; that is, the Clinton Victory Fund, and (2) Brazile describes the DNC as "fully under the control" of the Clinton campaign.

Predictably, an enormous controversy erupted, much of it over the weekend just passed, but I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow of the talking points. (Glenn Greenwald provides an excellent media critique in "Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False "; all four have to do with this controversy[3].) I think the following three quotes are key, the first two being oft-repeated talking points by Clinton loyalists:

First, from the current DNC chair, Tom Perez :

"The joint fundraising agreements were the same for each campaign except for the treasurer, and our understanding was that the DNC offered all of the presidential campaigns the opportunity to set up a JFA and work with the DNC to coordinate on how those funds were used to best prepare for the general election."

Question: Were the agreements "the same" for each campaign? (Perez focuses only on the JFA, but that omits a separate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DNC and the Clinton campaign, as we shall see below.)

Second, from 2005-9 DNC chair Howard Dean:

Question: Did the agreement apply only to the general election, and not the primary? (Dean says "this memo," but he also omits the distinction between the MOU and the JFA.)

Third, from Elizabeth Warren. CNN :

"We learned today from the former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile that the Clinton campaign, in her view, did rig the presidential nominating process by entering into an agreement to control day-to-day operations at the DNC," Tapper said, continuing on to describe specific arms of the DNC the Clinton camp had a say over, including strategy and staffing, noting that the agreement was "entered into in August of 2015," months before Clinton won the nomination .

Tapper then asked, "Do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?" And Warren responded simply: "Yes."

Question: Can we say that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged? (Tapper uses the word "rigged," and Warren adopts it, but a careful reading of Brazile's article shows that although she uses the word, she does not actually make the claim.[4])

In this post, I'm going to answer each of these three questions by looking at the documents, plural, in question (Spoiler: My answers are "No," "No," and "Yes," respectively.) Here is a timeline of the documents:

In summary, the Clinton JFA set up the Hillary Victory Fund scam , the MOU gave Clinton control of (much of) the DNC apparatus, and ( according to Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver ) the Sanders JFA bought their campaign access to the DNC voter list, and was never used for fundraising because the DNC never asked the campaign to do any. So to answer the our first question, we'll look at the JFA. To answer the second, we'll look at the MOU. And to answer the third, we'll see how all the evidence balances out.

Were the Agreements "the Same" for Each Campaign?

Perez is wrong. The agreements were not at all the same, either formally or substantively.

Formally, the agreements were not the same because the Clinton JFA had an MOU (the "side deal") and the Sanders JFA did not. ABC :

[T]he Clinton campaign Friday afternoon confirmed the existence of a memo between the DNC and their campaign, which specifically outlines an expanded scope and interpretation of their funding agreement . [R]epresentatives from Sanders' former campaign say they only signed a basic, formulaic fundraising agreement that did not include any additional language about joint messaging or staffing decision-making [as does the MOU].

Substantively, the agreements weren't the same either. The substance of the JFA was a scheme enable the Hillary Victory Fund to collect "big checks" (as Politico puts it), supposedly behalf of the state parties, but in reality treating them as conduits to the coffers of the Clinton campaign. Page 3:

From time to time and in compliance with FECA, after expenses have been deducted from the gross proceeds, the Victory Fund will transfer the net proceeds to the Committees according to the Allocation Formula, as modified by any reallocation required.

"[T]he Committees" being the state party political committees, into whose accounts the contributions were deposited, only to be immediately removed and transferred to the Clinton campaign (at least for the states that signed entered into the agreement; a few did not).

However, the Sanders campaign wasn't in the business of collecting "big checks," being small-donor driven. Hence the substance of the agreement could not have been the same. ABC once more :

Former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told ABC News Friday night that the campaign entered the agreement with the party in November 2015 to facilitate the campaign's access to the party's voter rolls. Weaver claims the DNC offered to credit any fundraising the senator did for the party against the costs of access to the party's data costs, priced at $250,000. But, Weaver continued, the party did not follow up about fundraising appearances for the independent senator.

Instead, the Sanders campaign raised the $250,000 from small donors. WaPo :

Weaver said the Sanders campaign decided early on to ignore the joint fundraising program and raise small dollars on its own to pay for access to the voter file. "Who are the wealthy people Bernie was going to bring to a fundraiser?" Weaver asked. "We had to buy the voter file right before the primaries."

A second difference in substance: Let's remember that for Clinton, the JFA enabled her campaign to circumvent contribution limits for large donors (Brazile: "Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400"). The Sanders campaign , by contrast, had no issue with maxed out donors: "During fall '15, 99.8% of Bernie donors could give again" (because it's awful hard to max out $27 at a time).

Suppose you were comparing two mortgages on different houses: One mortgage has a side deal attached, the other does not. One is for a lavish facility and demands a complex financing arrangement involving a third party. The other is for a fixer-upper and a lump sum is paid in cash. Would you say those two mortgages are "the same," or not? Even if they both had the word "Mortage" at the top of page one?

Did the Agreement Apply Only to the General Election, and not the Primary?

We now turn our attention to the MOU. Howard Dean, sadly , is wrong. The MOU contains two key passages; the first describes the relationship between Hillary for America (HFA; the Clinton campaign) and the DNC (Brazile: "fully under the control of Hillary's campaign"), and the second is language on the general election. Let's take each in turn. On control, pages 1 and 2:

With respect to the hiring of a DNC Communications Director , the DNC agrees that no later than September 11, 2015 it will hire one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA.

2. With respect to the hiring of future DNC senior staff in the communications, technology, and research departments , in the case of vacancy, the DNC will maintain the authority to make the final decision as between candidates acceptable to HFA. 3. Agreement by the DNC that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research. The DNC will provide HFA advance opportunity to review on-line or mass email, communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate . This does not include any communications related to primary debates – which will be exclusively controlled by the DNC. The DNC will alert HFA in advance of mailing any direct mail communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate or his or her signature .

That's pretty amazing, isn't it? Personnel is policy, as they say, and the Clinton campaign has made sure that the DNC's Communications Director and new hires in the senior staff in the communications, technology, and research departments will be acceptable to it. The Clinton campaign will also review all mass email and communcations (which explains why Brazile, as interim DNC chair, couldn't send out a press release without checking with Brooklyn. Since the notorious debate schedule was already controlled by Wasserman Schultz, there was no point messing about with it, I assume.) There is one place in this passage where the general election is mentioned, so let's look at it:

Agreement by the DNC that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election[-]related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.

At the most generous reading, the Clinton campaign has "joint authority" with the DNC over "strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures." At the narrowest reading, given that the "general-election[-]related qualifier applies only to "communications," the joint authority applies to "strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and data, technology, analytics, and research." And given that the Clinton campaign is writing the checks that keep the DNC afloat, who do you think will have the whip hand in that "joint authority" relationship?

Now to the clause that supposedly says the agreement (JFA + MOU) applies only to the general election. Here it is, from page 3:

Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC's obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process. All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary. Further we understand you may enter into similar agreements with other candidates

(Pause for hollow laughter, given Wasserman Schultz's defenestration, Brazile passing debate questions to the Clinton campaign, etc.). First, even though Hoho seems to think it's exculpatory, the clause is an obvious fig leaf. Glenn Greenwald explains :

DNC and Clinton allies pointed to the fact that the agreement contained self-justifying lawyer language claiming that it is "focused exclusively on preparations for the General," but as Fischer noted that passage "is contradicted by the rest of the agreement." This would be like creating a contract to explicitly bribe an elected official ("A will pay Politician B to vote YES on Bill X"), then adding a throwaway paragraph with a legalistic disclaimer that "nothing in this agreement is intended to constitute a bribe," and then have journalists cite that paragraph to proclaim that no bribe happened even though the agreement on its face explicitly says the opposite.

Second, the DNC itself does not believe that it has any "obligation of impartiality and neutrality" whatever. From Wilding et al. v. DNC Services Corporation, D/B/A Democratic National Committee and Deborah "Debbie" Wasserman Schultz (as cited in Naked Capitalism here ), the DNC's lawyer, Mr. Spiva:

MR. SPIVA: [W}here you have a party that's saying, We're gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we're gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have -- and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we're gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way . That's not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the Court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer those questions.

Third, look at the institutional realities from point one on control. The Clinton campaign had control over the Communications Director slot and major strategic decisions from the moment the agreement was signed. Are we really to believe that they were behaving as neutral parties? (One obvious way to have shown that would have been to release the MOU either when it was signed.)

Can We Say that the 2016 Democratic Primary Was Rigged?

Brazile herself says no . She says, of "rigging":

I found no evidence, none whatsoever. 'The only thing I found, which I said, I've found the cancer but I'm not killing the patient,' was this memorandum that prevented the DNC from running its own operation," Brazile added

I think Brazile is either overly charitable, or overly legalistic (perhaps confusing "rigged" with "fixed," where only in the latter case is the outcome absolutely determined). I also think she's wrong. The dictionary definition of rigged is:

to manipulate fraudulently

There's ample evidence of rigging in both the JFA and the MOU. The JFA enabled the Hillary Victory Fund, which was a fraudulent scheme to allow big donors to contribute to the Clinton campaign by using the states as passthroughs. And the MOU enabled to Clinton campaign to fraudulently manipulate the public and the press into the belief that the DNC was an independent entity, when in fact it was a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Clinton campaign.

Conclusion

I know we're not supposed to "relitigate" the 2016 campaign ; we're supposed to look forward and not back. However, the demand not to "relitigate" assumes that the case is closed; as Brazile shows, we're hardly through with the depositions, let alone prepared to render judgment. So, when you hear "relitigate," think "silencing tactic," and ask yourself who and what silence serves. And perhaps this post will provide a basis for further discussion. 119 comments

Moocao , November 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Another reason why it will be a long time until I can vote Democrat again. The betrayal of trust is enormous.

David, by the lake , November 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Likewise, confirms my decision to wash my hands of the party. If, by some miracle, a candidate acceptable to my priorities is nominated, I will still vote for him/her, but the party isn't getting any default support or any $.

Elizabeth Burton , November 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm

People need to stop conflating the DNC with the Democratic Party. I realized I was doing so and stopped.

The DNC is an organization for raising money to support Democratic Party candidates for US President; its subsidiaries are, of course, the DCCC and the DSCC. The only reason they have power to dictate to the actual party is because they hold the purse strings. That Bernie and others have run successful campaigns, to one degree or another, without their "help" is one of the reasons they're fighting so hard to maintain the status quo. If they're shown to be redundant, the power of those who currently run it evaporates.

Saying "I'll never vote Democrat again" is, as my sainted mother used to say, cutting off your nose to spite your face. Right now, if we're going to at least slow down the rocketing juggernaut that is GOP/plutocratic ownership of our governments, we need to elect progressive candidates. There's no time to create a third party that can compete, so we need to vote for the candidates who are advancing a non-neoliberal/neocon agenda whatever party they run under. It's mostly Democrats, at the moment, but a social media acquaintance spoke of a clearly progressive candidate running for a local office as a Republican because that's how she's registered.

One of the ways the GOP was so successful in conning the working people and small business owners and others into buying their hogwash was by demonizing "the Democrats." Now, their message that "Democrats" are nothing but crazy-headed hippies who want to take their money and give it to other people is so deeply ingrained it's a hard row to how convincing them just how big a lie it is. Indeed, I suspect I shocked a raging right-winger the other day when I told him we agreed about Obama and Clinton, because his Fox-muddled mind firmly believes a Democrat thinks Obama rules the heavens.

If we don't "vote Democrat" in the upcoming primaries, then the establishment local and state parties are going to throw more New Democrats against the GOP and lose. That can't happen.

Vatch , November 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Yes, thank you! People need to vote for the progressive candidates in the Democratic primaries. If they don't, then the establishment candidates will easily win, and the national government will continue to be dominated by both Republican and Democratic lap dogs of the billionaires. And if there are a few progressive Republicans out there, sure, vote for them, too.

I often wonder whether some of the people who admonish us to stop voting for Democrats are really employed by one of the many Koch brothers organizations. Not all of them, of course, and I'm not making an accusation against anyone who is commenting here. But if people don't vote for progressive Democrats, the billionaires and the corporate advocates of financialization will win.

nippersmom , November 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm

You're presupposing the presence of "progressive democrats". In many races, they don't exist.

animalogic , November 6, 2017 at 10:53 pm

Of course, appearances can be deceptive: Obama ran as a progressive candidate . As a quick ready-reckoner -- the more a candidate bloviates on Identity issues, the less likely they are (should they be elected) to be "progressive" on issues of substance: the economy, tax, war/imperialism

ArcadiaMommy , November 6, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Right! Where are these progressive democrats? I would love to support one other than Bernie Sanders (yes I know he is not perfect and he is too old). But they don't seem to exist at the national level. There seem to be mayoral and other municipal candidates on the right track – just have no idea how to move those ideas onto the state or national level. Maybe I am just cranky and pessimistic right now.

BoycottAmazon , November 7, 2017 at 6:16 am

Here, here!

TYT did several interviews of "Justice Democrats", newbies running on a progressive platform. Some of the interviews you could see Cenk Uynger almost cringing, and the usually voluble Jimmy Dore very quiet as the candidates lacked public speaking skills, and demonstrating a probable lack of political smarts necessary to maneuver any bureaucracy.

Without trial by fire at lower levels, learning how to run a government and get results, then there is no way to judge the candidates.

Unless candidates like Roza Calderon a faster learn that is apparent at this point, they the Justice Democrats can only win when "anyone but him/her" applies ,

witters , November 6, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Progressive Democrats. Square Circle. 2+2=5. "We Can Make it Happen!" All we need? "The Audacity of Hope".

witters , November 7, 2017 at 12:10 am

So it was our apathy that did it. It was our moral failure. "Really," says Algernon, in The Importance of Being Earnest, "if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility."

bronco , November 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm

no your democratic party is also a party of plutocrats . That's why it needs to be burned to the ground.

annenigma , November 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm

There's an important difference between being and voting Democrat. Actually, we already have a defacto 3rd party, Independents/Unaffiliated, a larger block of voters than either Republicans or Democrats.

With even greater numbers of Independents/Unaffiliated, we could be a force to be reckoned with. Actually, we should recognize and own our power right now because we could decimate the ranks of the Duopoly and make room for an actual third party. We can still vote for Democrats of course, but they'll realize that they can't continue to take our votes for granted.

There's actually no good reason to remain a registered Democrat. You can still vote for Democrats as an Independent/Unaffiliated voter. It's only for some presidential primaries and caucuses that party registration is a limitation. If you live in one of those states, you can temporarily register as a Democrat to vote, then revert to independent/unaffiliated afterwards. Other than that, all other elections are open without regard to affiliation.

The Democrats and Republicans are two wings of the same bird of prey, and we're the prey only because we haven't yet learned to fly to escape their talons. If we start owning our power as free agents/Independent voters, that can change. While deep pocketed donors may have the power to make the wheels turn for the Duopoly, those wheels can't go anywhere without our votes. Since we don't have the power of money, we can at least exercise our political power to stay out of their talons.

Independence is the way to fly. It's not just leverage, it's also the only way to clear more space and demand for official third parties. Since the Duopoly refuses to change their ways and repair the rigged system they created to keep only themselves in power, we can and should abandon them in droves.

Let's spread our wings and fly.

mrsyk , November 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm

In order to vote in the New York State Democrat party primary you must be a registered Democrat. In NY the primary is where most seats are won and lost. Being registered as a Democrat is a necessary evil in some cases.

Lambert Strether Post author , November 7, 2017 at 3:53 am

It has never been clear to me why a hostile takeover of the Democrats, followed by a management purge and seizure of its assets, should be framed as "saving" the Democrat Party. I think that's what a lot of Sanders people would like to do. It's also not clear to me why people think the Democrats can simply be by-passed , and don't need to be assaulted, and if from the inside, all the better.

As readers know, my experience with the Greens was poor (as it has been with others I have talked to). This is especially sad since the GP in Maine had seemed to be viable. So, my fear of the Greens is not fear of the un known, but fear of the known ; I worked at dysfunctional non-profits before, and I don't need to do it again. Others, especially CP activists, may differ in their experience, but that's mine. (Note that I was reinforced in my priors by Stein's lawyer adopting the "Russian hacking" meme in Stein's post-election lawsuits.)

Vatch , November 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

if Bernie's primary campaign and support had been transferred to the Green Party, he would have been a very serious contender,

I agree. But Sanders couldn't join the Green ticket, because he made a promise to support the Democratic candidate, and unlike some politicians, he tries to keep his promises. So what did the Greens do? Instead of actively trying to gain the support of Sanders primary voters, they nominated ideological purist Ajamu Baraka as their Vice Presidential candidate, and he would not back down from unrealistic insulting criticism of Sanders. In effect, the Greens chose to fail.

todde , November 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

I am not interested in keeping the two party system. Either the country breaks apart, or we will have regional parties that can compete with the Democrats and the Republicans.

Audacity of Hope , November 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm

How many clowns can dance on the head of a pin? Debating whether it feels better to have a donkey or an elephant standing on your neck is a fools errand. Neither the Democrat or Republican party is democratic or representative of any more than a handful of families from the Billionaires Club. While they may favor different individuals in the ruling class, neither faux-party has the slightest interest in the rabble who don't line their pockets and provide protection against electoral defeat.

Elections are a stage managed charade in our kleptocracy. Expecting them to change anything that matters, or alter the course of the Warfare State is pure delusion. First we must have Collapse, then Chaos before we can have Change that we can believe in.

animalogic , November 6, 2017 at 11:07 pm

"First we must have Collapse, then Chaos before we can have Change that we can believe in." You are right -- although hopefully mere "crisis" will be sufficient for radical change rather than complete collapse & chaos . Collapse & chaos may void any chance of organised positive change. Having said that the signs are not good: see https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/06/the-ecosystem-is-breaking-down/ for the less than cheery news on ecosystem breakdown. Both parties must be revealed unambiguously to the whole public as the completely morally bankrupt, treasonous & vicious entities that socialists & progressives have known them to be for decades.

zapster , November 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

The big problem with the Democrats is that they just kicked all the Progressives out and actively oppose them. Voting for blue dogs doesn't get us anywhere.

Vatch , November 6, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Yes, that's a genuine problem. Here are some possible solutions:

https://www.ourrevolution.com/candidates/

https://now.justicedemocrats.com/candidates

http://brandnewcongress.org/candidates/

Vatch , November 7, 2017 at 10:07 am

You are correct about Carter. Zbigniew Brzezinski was a creature of the Rockefellers, and he was Carter's Special Assistant for National Security. Prior to becoming President, Carter was a member of the Trilateral Commission.

sharonsj , November 6, 2017 at 2:27 pm

The rigging was obvious from the start. When nearly all the super delegates declared for Clinton before a single primary was held, I read numerous reports that said the reason was quid pro quo. The super delegates were to be given campaign money in exchange for their support. The agreement proves it.

That, and what the DNC did to Bernie supporters during the convention, made me swear I'd never give them a penny. I have only donated to specific candidates directly. Meanwhile, the Dem establishment stubbornly remains clueless as to why it cannot regain the House and Senate.

Lambert Strether Post author , November 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm

I have seen portions of the agreement (not sure if JFA or MOU) characterized as a "slush fund" for consultants. Naturally, of course, but one might also wonder if that slush fund was used to purchase any superdelegate votes. Pure speculation I didn't have time to run down, so I left it on the cutting room floor.

SpringTexan , November 6, 2017 at 11:06 pm

G, a lot happened to Sanders supporters at the convention, too much to recap but you can probably find stories about it. Many walked out but their seats were filled by paid seat-fillers so the hall didn't look empty, also from what I understand paid seat-fillers sometimes didn't let them take their seats. Signs were blocked, white noise was used to muffle boos, etc.

Before the convention, many of the primaries had a lot of funny business (not all, I know of no problems here in Texas). But California, Arizona, New York, Puerto Rico, Nevada and others all had SERIOUS problems with things such as efforts to prevent Sanders supporters from voting, questionable vote counting (such as at Nevada caucuses), efforts to make voting difficult by having few poll places, etc., etc.

nonclassical , November 7, 2017 at 12:32 am

..actually, while all you intone is accurate, we did clearly hear the boos from Senator Sanders supporters of which I was one.

Vatch , November 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

I think there were irregularities in Illinois, too. I recall that 6 counties did not have enough Democratic ballots, and the Democratic Attorney General, a Clinton supporter, sued to prevent voters in those counties from voting after election day. In Massachusetts, Bill Clinton illegally electioneered near or in a polling place. But the authorities let him get away with it.

Steve from CT , November 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Great article Lambert. TheGreenwald article was helpful but yours is the icing on the cake. Hopefully many will read this so that they do not get confused with all of the Clintonista response to Brazile. Howard Dean must be suffering from early Alzheimer's to write such a lie. But he has done it before.

Fiery Hunt , November 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm

It's hard for me to believe anyone can, with a straight face, suggest the 2 agreements are equal.How can you have more than one agreement giving "the authority to make the final decision " ??!! Final means last, no? #corruptlosers

ChrisAtRU , November 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

From no less than Joy Ann Reid w.r.t. "DNC Collusion":

"YOU CAN'T TRICK PEOPLE INTO VOTING FOR WHO THEY VOTED FOR"

I wonder if this type of logic can and should be applied to #Russian Collusion/Interference ;-)

#ProbablyNotCoolByMSNBC

hemeantwell , November 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

I know we're not supposed to "relitigate" the 2016 campaign; we're supposed to look forward and not back. However, the demand not to "relitigate" assumes that the case is closed; as Brazile shows, we're hardly through with the depositions, let alone prepared to render judgment. So, when you hear "relitigate," think "silencing tactic," and ask yourself who and what silence serves.

Well said. Regular contact with the centrist MSM recently is like being subjected to hypnotism routines from 50s movies. "You are thinking forward, forward, forward. When I snap my fingers you will feel fresh, eager to believe in the promises of the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama."

Elizabeth Burton , November 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

A case could be made that the party of FDR is not the same one as the party of Barack Obama. :-)

nonclassical , November 7, 2017 at 12:43 am

and yet FDR stood by while his own "Senator Sanders" – Henry Wallace was sidetracked from his vice-presidency and legacy as FDR's successor (to the chagrin of Eleanor, among many) by corporate dems James Byrnes, stooge for big oil and U.S. steel, who replaced Wallace with Truman at 1944 dem convention

However, there certainly is no comparison, as you note, between obama's complete lack of "transparency, oversight, accountability" regarding bush-cheney war crimes, Wall Street frauds, destabilization of entire Middle-East, leading to republican trump administration, and FDR

Most authors-historicans I have encountered believe FDR had no real idea how ill he was

jsba , November 6, 2017 at 3:04 pm

A while ago, I read a story about the DNC's misuse of unpaid interns. The story itself was barfy enough, but what really shocked me was an aside asserting that even official elected DNC members were barred from viewing the DNC's budget. ( http://paydayreport.com/unpaidinternsatdnc/ )

"Surely that can't be true," I said to myself. But it is! I looked up the DNC's charter and bylaws and the standing budget committee is specifically exempted from article 9 section 12, which says that all official meetings of the DNC and its committees must be open to the public and cannot involve voting by secret ballot. http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploads.democrats.org/Downloads/DNC_Charter__Bylaws_9.17.15.pdf

"WTF kind of an organization is this?!" I thought. How on earth is that even legal?

Well, after the Brazile disclosure of the Clinton MOU, I went back to look at the DNC charter/bylaws. You'll note on the first page the date the current version was adopted–2 days after the MOU was signed!

Anyone wanna take a bet that the budget committee carveout was one of things that was changed?

Anonymous , November 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm

jsba, suggest you use the Wayback machine or another internet archive and look at prior historical copies of DNC charter/bylaws, to identify the changes. Could be very illuminating as to (possible) criminal intent?

jsba , November 6, 2017 at 5:46 pm

I did find a 2009 dated version ( https://www.demrulz.org/wp-content/files/DNC_Charter__Bylaws_9.11.2009.pdf ).

I was wrong about the budget committee carveout–it's in this version as well (still completely insane!).

The fact that it was amended 2 days after the MOU is, obviously, still extremely suspicious. I don't have time to, but the 2009 version would be useful to identify possible changes.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , November 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm

As much as I'd like to switch parties (hah) so as to add to the greater numbers of fleeing formerly party faithful, I'm in one of those 'closed primary' states. My vote is already nearly worthless (though I exercise my right every chance I get); to switch to a third party would make sure I'm both excluded from the more interesting local party contests AND drowned out in national contests. Lose/lose. Maybe if something like Maine's (currently under attack) Ranked Choice Voting existed all over, I'd be less sour about the whole thing.

Donald , November 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Yeah, you need people like Lambert willing to do the work. It is exhausting keeping up with the truths, half truths and lies promulgated in the press and trying to figure out what is true and what isn't.

EricT , November 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

I find it interesting that the agreement involved control of the IT/data infrastructure of the DNC. Doesn't the DNC administer the democratic party registry? And with that observation, wasn't there a lot of illegal party switching that caused a problem for some Democrats voting in party restricted primaries that had their registration switched, so that they couldn't take part in the primaries. Wouldn't it be interesting if the switched parties were on the DNC record as donating to Bernie's campaign? Fixed, indeed.

Lambert Strether Post author , November 7, 2017 at 1:13 am

I'm not sure I understand your scenario, but the DNC "voter file" and the state's list of registered voters are two different things.

JCC , November 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

It just goes to show you

Skip in DC , November 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Manipulations of the deplorable superdelegate system, with its covert quid pro quo payoffs after the Clintons take power, was part of a seamless fix. Premature coronation by media and party wigs after primary victories in red states no Democrat would win in the general election helped ice it.

Perhaps revelations will turn up on mainstream media, from the Sabbath Gasbags to NPR, knifing Bernie with Hillary talking points at every opportunity, when he wasn't being ignored. Thomas Frank wrote persuasively on WaPo's bias in Swat Team in Harper's, and there have been tidbits on off-record Clinton media cocktail parties and such. But I'd like to know how far up the editorial totem poles the fix went and how it was achieved. Certainly Jeff Bezos has a Washington wish list. I marveled at how many journalists suddenly sounded like breathless valley girl propagandists. And still do. What faster way to tank journalism's credibility than that perception?

I guess that's why after catching headlines more of my reading time shifts to alternative offerings such as those presented here.

Mark P. , November 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

But I'd like to know how far up the editorial totem poles the fix went and how it was achieved.

I worked as a journalist in America for over a decade. I cannot stress enough how unnecessary such a literal fix would be. (Though doubtless words were and are exchanged between concerned parties when needed.)

The hive-mind position of most U.S. journalists -- and especially of editors, who tend to be the most compliant with the power-structure and often the stupidest people in the room -- was (and is) an automatical default to unquestioning support -- even worship -- of the Democratic Party, its elite, and Clintonite neoliberalism.

I once wrote a long feature that got a crush-letter from Joe Lieberman's office. The editors at the magazine in question were ecstatic and printed that letter as its own separate feature in the next issue. Personally, I thought Leiberman was scum, but kept my qualms to myself and was glad I used a byline.

Samuel Conner , November 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

It seems to me that the HRC campaign's JFA was expressly designed to -- and succeeded in its design -- circumvent the statutory $2700 limit on direct campaign contributions. Yet I have not seen commentary that suggests any laws were violated. What am I missing?

AnnieB , November 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

To me, it seemed that the Democratic Party had already decided for clinton before the primaries, as at my local caucus the party had planted each neighborhood group with a party faithful, not from the neighborhood, who would argue for clinton and fear monger about Trump. I know this because I talked to the plant in my group, asked her where she lived, and discovered it was not in my neighborhood; it was a different town. Others reported the same.

Also, a Dem party leader came up to me and said "Sanders is not going to be the nominee" and "When this is over (meaning the primary), then you'll be supporting Hillary, right?" I told her to never assume anything.

So, thanks to Brazile, no matter her motivation, for providing proof of what we already knew.

Richard , November 6, 2017 at 9:33 pm

I think you don't see that skill set very much in party leaders because they so rarely need for the party to win elections. They do need to be able to maintain control over their parties, so they're great at being cutthroat and cheating. But apart from certain important individual elections, the success of the party as a whole isn't a big priority for them. There are spoils to divide either way.

nonclassical , November 7, 2017 at 12:49 am

fyi, Lambert, the two political parties, while both far too corrupt, are different-your own false-equivalencies aside

Sam Adams , November 6, 2017 at 5:37 pm

I worked on the Sanders primary campaign in my city. I watched as the state/regional leadership consistently tanked the gotv and other Sanders ground outreach while a few local leaders working in smaller areas worked their hearts out on the ground. Surprisingly (or not) the state/ regional leadership bailed to work on the HRC campaign within hours of closing the primary office.

Nancy Sutton , November 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I swear, in one of her interviews on the past weekend, Brazile made a quick, underbreath, reference to 'poor Seth Rich' in recounting the death threats aimed at her. Glad someone has not forgotten that connection.

jalrin , November 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm

It has been a while since I handled a criminal defense case, but I am not sure that the agreement is not in fact, criminal. When the Sanders for President campaign signed an agreement and paid money in consideration of getting access to the voter file and when the state parties agreed to merge their fundraising efforts with the DNC and HFA, the commercial fraud laws applied to that relationship. Since the fundraising was done using interstate phone calls, letters, and emails and the voter file access was provided by electronic transmissions from servers in DC to end users in Burlington, Vermont that includes 18 USC 1341, 1343 and 1346 (mail, wire and honest services fraud). These laws do not just ban outright lying, but also the concealment of material facts that one has a duty to disclose.

Considering the importance of voter file access, it is impossible to imagine that your chief competitor having joint authority over hiring the people who handle all your customer service and monitor your compliance with voter file contract is not a material fact. If, under DC contract law or FTC commerical regulations, these kinds of conflicts of interest are mandatorily disclosable (I do not practice in DC but I doubt DC applies caveat emptor to that degree), then 18 USC 1343 was broken and Jeff Sessions could indict everyone involved.

It is even worse for the state parties agreement. The DNC arguably has a duty of loyalty to its state affiliates which makes agreeing to encourage them all to sign up even though it is concealing its knowledge that the money will be allocated in a way that will be bad for at least some of them seem utterly inconsistent with the honest services provisions of 1346. All in all, it is probably a good thing for the DNC that the Sessions aides I went to law school with paid less attention in criminal law that I did.

Jeff W , November 6, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Thanks!

It seemed to me that the nondisclosure of material facts and of conflicts of interest might, arguably, constitute some type of criminal activity and that Donna Brazile's characterization of the agreement as "not a criminal act" was, perhaps, a bit too facile but I did not know the specific statutes or claims that might be involved. I really appreciate your detailed observations here.

a different chris , November 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm

>that the Sessions aides I went to law school with paid less attention in criminal law

Did they? Does it really make sense to destroy the Democratic Party and open up space for something new and dangerous? I would just make popcorn.

PS: thanks for the excellent post, btw.

Oregoncharles , November 7, 2017 at 2:13 am

"Not a dime's worth of difference."
When it comes to politics, it isn't Russians we need to worry about, it's Americans. That's where the collusion is – between the parties.

It was the Republicans' turn, period. Jeff Sessions doubtless knows that.

dk , November 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Rigged, fixed, defrauded I like "compromised".

Just want to point out that the state-party=>DNC pass-through is not at all new. Has been active in some form and proportion in every presidential campaign since 1992 (mainly, or at least nominally due to changes in FEC regulation), but really ramped up in and after 2008.

Pushback by states has decreased over time, as state party executive directors are now almost always (even in off-cycle years) routed in from DC, instead of staffing from the local pool of operatives.

One of the important impacts is on state legislatures. Gutted of necessary funding, and discouraged (and sometimes contractually inhibited) from soliciting further funds on the national level, state parties have little left in their coffers to support their legislative candidates and committees (and forget about the bottom of the ticket).

So this kind of money hoovering is a significant factor in the national net loss of Dem seats in state houses in non-"battleground" states.

Lambert Strether Post author , November 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

> the state-party=>DNC pass-through is not at all new

I believe the amounts are new. Campaign Legal Center :

During oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC three years ago, Justice Samuel Alito dismissed the Campaign Legal Center's analysis showing how, absent limits on the total amount that donors could give to multiple political committees, candidates could use joint fundraising schemes to raise huge, potentially corrupting contributions.

These scenarios, Justice Alito claimed, are "wild hypotheticals that are not obviously plausible." Hillary Clinton, though, is proving that the Campaign Legal Center was right all along.

I'm not at all a campaign finance expert. Perhaps readers will weigh in?

dk , November 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Yes, the amounts are new. Just saying this was the direction things were going for a while already. Good will between DNC and state parties already at a low ebb, DWS a big part of that.

Kris Alman , November 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm

As we know, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allows corporations, individuals and labor unions to make unlimited contributions to independent organizations that use the money to support or defeat a candidate. Rules prohibit coordination between a candidate committee and an individual or organization making "independent expenditures."

Clearly this was not the arrangement between the HVF, State Democratic Central Committees participating in the PAC and the DNC. Hillary was pulling the strings at the DNC. But I'm just now appreciating that the Hillary Victory Fund is not a Super PAC.

https://www.fec.gov/updates/joint-fundraising-2/

Joint fundraising is fundraising conducted jointly by a political committee and one or more other political committees or unregistered organizations. Joint fundraising rules apply to:

Party committees;
Party organizations not registered as political committees;
Federal and/or nonfederal candidate committees;
Nonparty, unauthorized political committees (nonconnected PACs); and
Unregistered nonparty organizations. 11 CFR 102.17(a)(1)(i) and (2).

The HVF was the first joint fundraising committee between a presidential candidate and the Democratic party since the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision McCutcheon v FEC. A horrible precedent at that!

McCutcheon declared a total limit on how much an individual can give federal candidates and parties in a two-year cycle unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roberts opined, "The existing aggregate limits may in fact encourage the movement of money away from entities subject to disclosure."

Right!

The HVF demonstrates how rechanneling dark money from super PACs toward candidates and parties doesn't stop unethical and undemocratic processes.

That the HVF was needed to balance the Obama debt is one thing. That the HVF can pass through money from State committees to the DNC and then coordinate activities there while passing off as a joint fundraising committee is another thing.

The rechanneling of hundreds of millions of dollars donated by rich D elites to bypass individual contribution limits was a brilliant financial engineering feat–one that the Rs will surely emulate.

Before conducting a joint fundraiser, all participants must enter into a written agreement that identifies the JFR and states the allocation formula -- the amount or percentage that the participants agree to use for allocating proceeds and expenses. 11 CFR 102.17(c)(1).

What was the allocation formula of the joint fundraising committee?

As the HVF fairy tale plays out, Clinton is the witch who lures Hansel and Gretel to the forest with a castle of confections, with the intention to eat them.

Are Democrats capable of outsmarting the witches that want to cannibalize the party?

Down2Long , November 6, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Thanks Lambert for this. As usual, you have seen around corners and cleared the mud from the water. Thank God you like crawling through this sh*t, so that I at least don't have to.

Our local radio host Warren Olney, on KCRW who started his show "To The Point" (which is syndicated nationally on Public Radio International) during the 2000 Bush v Gore Supreme Court crowning of Bush fiasco is doing a week long retrospective of the disintegration of Americans' faith in "our" institutions (ha!) before he goes to a once a week podcast.

I have listened to him for 17 years and I don't know how he could stomach covering U.S. society, politics, and culture during those years of non-ending sh*t show. He was fair to all guests including some right wing loonies, but you never got the feeling he was going for "balance." He always seemed to get the truth. Gonna sorely miss him.

So glad you are still on the case, and loving it. You have my gratitude, and soon, a contribution.

Edward , November 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

How much of the $250,000 the Sanders campaign paid for the DNC voter list went to the Clinton campaign? I am still wondering if this kind of thing has occurred in other elections?

Deadl E Cheese , November 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm

As far as relitigating the primary goes, we should've had that fight back, if not in 2000, then definitely in 2004. After Team Clinton, people who justified their sellouts and perfidy with 'we must never have another McGovern or Carter', gave the GOP a gift of a unified government that should have been the permanent end of their credibility. Because while McGovern, Carter, and Mondale went down in flames they didn't so thoroughly destroy the anti-reactionary institutions as badly as the Third Way did.

The endless 2016 primary is our punishment for giving these centrist vipers a second chance.

Hana M , November 6, 2017 at 5:29 pm

I appreciate Lambert going through these documents and laying out the timeline. One of the things that this read sparked for me was the realization the Joe Biden was elbowed out just as much as Bernie Sanders. I didn't follow the Biden decision-making process at the time but checking back on the timeline it seems like Clinton pre-empted any attempt by dear old Joe to actually decide to run. Correct me if I'm wrong (as I may well be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden#2016_presidential_race

Jen , November 7, 2017 at 4:51 am

It doesn't take much elbowing to oust someone who was polling in single digits in his home state. I donated to O'Malley's campaign before Bernie got in, and, regrettably, am still on his mailing list.

Altandmain , November 6, 2017 at 5:32 pm

The bottom line is that the political system is owned by the ruling oligarchy and that the Democratic Establishment is in bed with them. If a serious candidate from the left poses a challenge, they will rig the Primary against that candidate.

The Democratic Establishment is pretty much paid to lose and to make the consultant class rich. Equally as importantly, they exist to co-opt the left.

Sure there are a few voices talking that make sense like Tulsi Gabbard. They are the exception to a very corrupt party.

A big part of why the middle class has declined is because of the total betrayal of the Democratic Party from the ideas behind the New Deal.

The Rev Kev , November 6, 2017 at 5:48 pm

The DNC got into the position of selling themselves to the Clintons as they were $20 million in debt, right? I have read that the major reason for these debts was that the DNC had not shrunk itself since the last campaign and was paying out a ton of money for consultants doing Christ knows what. In fact, Obama also used the DNC to support a stack of his consultants as well as grifters gotta grift, right?

My question is whether this was a deliberate ploy on Obama and the Clinton factions to put the DNC into such a vulnerable position before 2016 came along that when the time came, they had to take up an offer that they could not refuse. I have not heard if Obama has made any comments on this fiasco that took place on his watch and it seems nobody wants to call him out on it. In the Brazile case, it is not a matter of following the money but following the lack of money.

Summer , November 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

https://www.alternet.org/human-rights/demo-catastrophe-it-was-worse-we-thought-and-bigger-bernie-vs-hillary/
By Andrew O'Hehir / Salon

O'Hehir flails around until he nails it:

"Both sides in the Democratic Party's current faction fight, as I see it, are in denial about the true nature and scope of the problem "Both responses are essentially utopian: They rest on the premise that the Democratic Party is still a functioning political organization and that the United States is still a functioning democracy."

VietnamVet , November 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Thanks. This was plain and simple money laundering to get around the Federal Election Commission rules and regulations. That no one has been brought to justice shows how corrupt the American political process is. It would great if you could post how you would reform it. I would start with paper ballots counted in public and halt corporations from buying elections.

Lambert Strether Post author , November 7, 2017 at 4:03 am

> This was plain and simple money laundering

If I understand the law correctly, this really wasn't money laundering, since laundered money becomes dirty by virtue of its being the result of a crime (like drug dealers depositing cash at HSBC (IIRC)). Handling money in a complex and obfuscated way is not, in itself, money laundering. I'm not sure what the word is, though.

John k , November 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Violating campaign laws is a crime. Circumventing can often be shown to be violating. Need a prosecutor willing to prosecute white collar crime, a rare breed for at least the last decade. But trump has been attacked by Clintons, and he has DOJ but nothing is happening.

makedoanmend , November 7, 2017 at 5:23 am

Some very good points are made here. Carping about the inequities of the Democrat Party establishment isn't going to change their behaviour. Too much lucre. One needs to change the people running the party. From the ground up and with concrete regulatory features. Full stop.

However, one might look to the UK Labour party to see how it reacted when J. Corbyn, a lifelong member and activist, became leader of the party through grandee miscalculation. The Thatcherist Blairites went ballastic and basically decided to destroy the party rather than let a fairly mild democratic socialist offer an alternative to their beloved neoliberal economic policies. Too much lucre. They almost destroyed Labour in Scotland and were intent on defenestrating Labour in England, whilst retaining some feeble structure as a mock substitute, so that the Tories would, in fact, become the one and only alternative.

The forces aligned against the democratic tendencies of ordinary citizens are formidable and reach into every nook and cranny of our lives. They have the money, technological reach and hence the power of capital and its persuasive abilities.

Ain't going to be easy. Never is.

pretzelattack , November 7, 2017 at 9:46 am

i dont think a campaign had owned the dnc like that before. i think it had nothing to do with hilary being a good team player, and everything to do with money and juicy consulting/lobbying jobs. and pointing this out is not "sulking". know your enemy, and don't excuse their crimes and predations by an argument that "that's just the way things are".

audrey jr , November 6, 2017 at 8:26 pm

I am a Bernie supporter. He was pushed to the side by the Dem's – a party to which I belonged for forty years – in a total panic when it was shown to the Dem's that Bernie was able to reach disaffected party members as myself by raising a large amount of money through individual small donors.
That Bernie accomplished this feat was a huge factor, IMO, in why and how my former party felt it necessary to malign and derail Bernie and his supporters before, during and after the Democratic -meh – Nominating Convention.
The Dem's should have just named the Hillary for America Fund the Hillary for Hillary Fund.
Hillary cares only for and about Hillary. She's the reason Trump is POTUS today.
My family has been Democrat for many generations. Most of my family members have, unfortunately, BTFD on this one. I used to find them to be reasonable folk. Trump derangement syndrome has infected them all. This is a common complaint these days.

nonclassical , November 7, 2017 at 12:57 am

truth of trump actions-legislation, appointees, is not "trump derangement syndrome" trump has succeeded in swamping the drain

and yes, it is obama's fault HC opted for a losing, "more of same" campaign policy

audrey jr , November 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Forgot to thank Lambert for all of his great care and hard work in putting this together for us. Thank you, Lambert.
In Brazile's account I do believe I remember reading that my home state, CA, did not sign off on the agreement with regard to the HFV fund. But I seem to remember that Naked Capitalism, or perhaps in the commentariat here, did state that the Dem's here in CA were in an uproar over Hillary Victory Fund taking all of the state party monies. Am I having a flashback or did I actually remember this wrong? Anyone know?

JTFaraday , November 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm

I thought the most interesting thing about Brazile's comments to date was that Obama left the DNC indebted and therefore more vulnerable to the highest bidder. Not easy to bail that out on $27 donations. So typical of these Goldmanite administrations, this use of finance as a political weapon.

MLS , November 7, 2017 at 9:29 am

a feature not a bug? Is it completely implausible that Obama deliberately left the party in shambles just so Clinton could ride to the "rescue"?

[Nov 05, 2017] Donna Brazile says critics of Hillary Clinton revelations can go to hell by Martin Pengelly

Presstitutes from guardian have no shame. Look, for example, at the following statement "The former Clinton staffers – among them high-profile figures such as Huma Abedin, Jennifer Palmieri and campaign manager Robby Mook, the target of stringent criticism from Brazile – wrote: "It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent , about our candidate's health."
It is widely suspected that Hillary Clinton has second stage of Parkinson or some other serious neurological diseases?
It is telling that Guardian is afraid to open comments on this article.
Notable quotes:
"... Regarding the primary, in which Sanders – a Vermont independent – mounted a surprisingly strong challenge, Brazile writes in her book that a joint fundraising agreement between Clinton and the DNC "looked unethical" and she felt Clinton had too much influence on the party. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

She also said she "got sick and tired of people trying to tell me how to spend money" as DNC chair, when she "wasn't getting a salary. I was basically volunteering my time".

"I'm not Patsey the slave," Brazile said, referring to a character in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.

In her book, Brazile writes that she did not ultimately try to make the change of candidate because: "I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them."

On ABC, she admitted she had not had the power to make the change but said: "I had to put in on the the table because I was under tremendous pressure after Secretary Clinton fainted to have a quote-unquote plan B. I didn't want a plan B. Plan A was great for me. I supported Hillary and I wanted her to win. But we were under pressure."

Brazile writes that on 12 September 2016, Biden's chief of staff called saying the vice-president wanted to speak with her. Her thought, she writes, was: "Gee, I wonder what he wanted to talk to me about?"

On ABC, she said she did not mention the possible switch. "I mean, look, everybody was called in to see, do you know anything? How is she doing? And of course my job at the time was to reassure people, not just the vice-president but also reassure the Democratic party, the members of the party, that Hillary was doing fine and that she would resume her campaign the following week."

It is unclear if Biden was ever willing to step into the race. The former vice-president, who many believe could a run for the presidency in 2020, made no immediate comment.

Asked if she still thinks a Biden-Booker ticket could have won, Brazile equivocated, saying: "Well, you know, I had a lot of other combinations. This was something you play out in your mind."

Regarding the primary, in which Sanders – a Vermont independent – mounted a surprisingly strong challenge, Brazile writes in her book that a joint fundraising agreement between Clinton and the DNC "looked unethical" and she felt Clinton had too much influence on the party.

[Nov 02, 2017] The Democratic Law Firm Behind the Russian Collusion Narrative by Scott Ritter

The real question is so much Russian influence as the US intelligence agencies influence on 2016 presidential elections. Brennan in particular. He bet of Hillary Clinton and lost. After that he was instrumental in launching "color revolution" against Trump. In which the the critical step was to appoint "special prosecutor".
Notable quotes:
"... But even more is emerging that could take the Russia story in a totally new direction -- namely that the infamous dossier compiled by former British Secret Intelligence Service officer Christopher Steele was bought and paid for by a law firm , Perkins Coie, working on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). ..."
"... The extent to which the Steele Dossier influenced the intelligence underpinning Mueller's probe has yet to be determined with any certainty. In January, the U.S. intelligence community published the unclassified ICA, which was derived from a compilation of intelligence reports and assessments conducted by the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Many of the allegations made in the ICA mirror reporting contained in the Steele Dossier. So striking are the similarities that there are real concerns among some senior Republican lawmakers that the ICA merely reflects "echoes" of the Steele Dossier reported back via liaison with foreign intelligence services who had access to it (namely the British Secret Intelligence Service) or whose own sources were also utilized by Steele. ..."
"... An examination of the nexus between the dossier and the publication of the Russian ICA, however, shows that Litt was less than truthful in his denials. Material from the Steele Dossier was, in fact, shared with the FBI and U.S. intelligence community in July of 2016, and seems to have been the driving force behind the intelligence briefings provided to the so-called Gang of Eight who served as the initial impetus for an investigation into Russian meddling that eventually morphed into the 2017 Russian ICA. ..."
"... Moreover, while Perkins Coie had its hands all over the dossier, it was also massaging the Russian hack narrative for mainstream media primetime. ..."
"... The political law practice of Perkins Coie was started in 1981 under the leadership of Bob Bauer , who went on to become the White House Counsel to President Barack Obama. Today, the practice is headed by Marc Elias , who has been described as "the Democrats' go-to attorney an indispensable figure in the party." Elias oversees the work of 18 attorneys representing nearly every Democratic senator, as well as the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Hillary for America, which oversaw the Clinton campaign. ..."
"... Sussman, after coordinating with Wasserman-Schultz, approached the FBI and tried to get them to publicly attribute the intrusion to Russia. ..."
"... When the FBI refused, citing a need to gain access to the DNC servers before it could make that call, Sussman balked and, again with the full support of the DNC, instead coordinated a massive publicity effort intended to link Russia to the DNC breach through an exclusive to the Washington Pos t ..."
"... According to the Washington Post , in early August 2016, the CIA director John Brennan came into possession of "sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race." This intelligence was briefed to the Gang of Eight. Almost immediately, information derived from this briefing began to leak to the media. "Russia's hacking appeared aimed at helping Mr. Trump win the November election," officials with knowledge of Brennan's intelligence told the New York Times . The intelligence, referred to as "bombshell," allegedly "captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation's audacious objectives -- defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump." ..."
"... The question is was the investigation supposed to uncover whatever it uncovere, or was it supposed to fabricate the discovery? If it was fabrication, yes, they should be condemned. ..."
"... My best guess is that some part of the US intelligence community is involved in the election manipulation. Overthrowing foreign governments or undermining the EU is one thing, colluding with a foreign power to manipulate the US election is quite another. Note, by the way, the absence of any reference to George Papadopulous or Viktor Yanukovych. ..."
"... But it is obvious that most of the Beltway including the spook world badly wants a proxy war with Russia, Iran, and Syria. As usual we are killing people overseas under Presidents of both parties and as usual the United States of narcissism can only complain about what dastardly foreigners allegedly did to us. ..."
"... Someone help me out here. If Clinton (or her very close associates) pay huge bucks to Russians to get dirt (even if it is made up dirt) on Trump, that is good, because it hurts Trump. But if Trump associates simply have conversations with Russians, full stop (cf. Michael Flynn, or anyone else who spoke with the Russian ambassador), that is criminal. Is this not sort of a double standard? ..."
"... We're expected to believe Crowdstrike's report on Russian hacking but we can't examine the evidence. We're expected to believe that Perkins Coie went rogue and decided to spend $12 million without informing any of its clients. ..."
"... What a bunch of hogwash. There's a cover up here, but it's not what the complicit media is portraying. The cover up is of the past 8 years of misdeeds by the Deep State, the Clintons and the Obama Administration. ..."
"... I think the story is even more obvious than this. They wanted to spy on aspects of the Trump campaign but they legally couldn't. The FBI told them they needed a reason to tap the phones and read the mail. They paid a guy to put together a dossier that would allow them to get FISA warrants to do the spying they wanted to do illegally. They just needed the dossier to say certain things to get it past a FISA judge. They did this and tapped his phones and read his emails and texts for the purpose of beating him in the election. It is really that simple of a story. ..."
"... Given Hillary's past pay to play lobbying and her disregard for national security, it would seem appropriate to have investigate if members of the Clinton campaign had contacts with the Russian Ambassador or Russian "operatives. We now know that the dossier relied on collaboration with Russian officials. ..."
"... In my opinion, Mueller has disgraced his former and present positions by collaborating in this conjured affair that obfuscates the real crimes occurring during the Obama administration. ..."
"... Crooked Hillary and her klan never thought for a second they wouldn't be able to cover up democrat crimes. The Clinton Crime Family is in full panic mode. No one seems to remember why Mueller quit as director of the FBI. He was disgusted by the Obama administration covering up lawlessness. ..."
"... Why didn't the FBI insist on examining the DNC servers? Something's not right. ..."
"... I voted for Clinton, but as the lesser evil on various issues, chiefly domestic and environmental. Clinton is not in Putin's pocket. She is in the pocket of Netanyahu, and the Saudis. Trump doesn't really seem to be in Putin's pocket -- he has neocons and others working hard to ensure that he gets into a confrontation with Iran. Basically he too is in the pocket of the Israelis and the Saudis. ..."
"... The mainstream ignores this. The countries with real influence on our policies don't have to favor one party over the other. They have them both in their pocket. ..."
"... As time goes on, I don't think Russia "meddled" in US elections as much as US politicians of both parties corruptly attempted to rig the elections. Seems to me that the demonization of Russia is bi-partisan because the US military industrial complex needs a "bogey man" to justify its billions$$$$ and just about ALL politicians need that money to stay in power. ..."
Oct 31, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Democratic Law Firm Behind the Russian Collusion Narrative How a high-powered practice contracted oppo-research on Trump -- and then pushed a hack story.

Credit: Shutterstock/ Mark Van Scyoc The ongoing investigation headed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into alleged collusion between the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump and the Russian government has moved into a new phase, with a focus on purported money laundering. On Monday, indictments were filed against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates.

But even more is emerging that could take the Russia story in a totally new direction -- namely that the infamous dossier compiled by former British Secret Intelligence Service officer Christopher Steele was bought and paid for by a law firm , Perkins Coie, working on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The current controversy isn't so much over the contents of the dossier -- despite some of the reporting, none of the relevant claims contained within have been verified. Rather, the issue in question is how opposition research derived from foreign intelligence sources and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC ended up influencing the decision to prepare the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the contents of that assessment, and the subsequent investigations by the U.S. Congress and a special prosecutor.

The extent to which the Steele Dossier influenced the intelligence underpinning Mueller's probe has yet to be determined with any certainty. In January, the U.S. intelligence community published the unclassified ICA, which was derived from a compilation of intelligence reports and assessments conducted by the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Many of the allegations made in the ICA mirror reporting contained in the Steele Dossier. So striking are the similarities that there are real concerns among some senior Republican lawmakers that the ICA merely reflects "echoes" of the Steele Dossier reported back via liaison with foreign intelligence services who had access to it (namely the British Secret Intelligence Service) or whose own sources were also utilized by Steele.

According to Robert Litt , who served as general counsel to former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, this mirroring was nothing more than coincidence. "The dossier itself," Litt wrote in a recent Lawfare blog , "played absolutely no role in the coordinated intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in our election. That assessment, which was released in unclassified form in January but which contained much more detail in the classified version that has been briefed to Congress, was based entirely on other sources and analysis."

Moreover, Litt noted, the decision in December 2016 to brief President-elect Trump on the existence of the Steele Dossier and provide him with a two-page summary of that document, was not a reflection that "the Intelligence Community had relied on it in any way, or even made any determination that the information it contained was reliable and accurate." It was rather, Litt said, a need to share with Trump the fact that the document existed and was being passed around Congress and the media.

An examination of the nexus between the dossier and the publication of the Russian ICA, however, shows that Litt was less than truthful in his denials. Material from the Steele Dossier was, in fact, shared with the FBI and U.S. intelligence community in July of 2016, and seems to have been the driving force behind the intelligence briefings provided to the so-called Gang of Eight who served as the initial impetus for an investigation into Russian meddling that eventually morphed into the 2017 Russian ICA.

Moreover, while Perkins Coie had its hands all over the dossier, it was also massaging the Russian hack narrative for mainstream media primetime.

The political law practice of Perkins Coie was started in 1981 under the leadership of Bob Bauer , who went on to become the White House Counsel to President Barack Obama. Today, the practice is headed by Marc Elias , who has been described as "the Democrats' go-to attorney an indispensable figure in the party." Elias oversees the work of 18 attorneys representing nearly every Democratic senator, as well as the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Hillary for America, which oversaw the Clinton campaign.

It was in the latter two roles that Elias, acting on behalf of his clients, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C.-based company that, according to its website , "provides premium research, strategic intelligence, and due diligence services." Fusion GPS had previously been contracted by the Washington Free Beacon "to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary." However, when it became clear that Trump was going to secure the Republican Party nomination, the contract with Fusion GPS was terminated. According to a letter sent by Perkins Coie to Fusion GPS sometime in March 2016, Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, met with Elias and lobbied for the job of conducting opposition research on behalf of the Clinton campaign. In April 2016, Simpson's company was retained by the firm through the end of the election cycle.

Perkins Coie is also home to Michael Sussman , a partner in the firm's Privacy and Data Security Practice, who was retained by the DNC to respond to the cyber-penetration of their server in the spring of 2016. When, in late April 2016, the DNC discovered that its servers had been breached, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, then chairwoman of the DNC, turned to Perkins Coie and Sussman for help. Sussman chaired the meetings at the DNC regarding the breach, and, on May 4, 2016, he reached out to Shawn Henry , a former FBI agent who headed the incident response unit for the private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, for assistance in mitigating the fallout from the breach. According to CrowdStrike, it was immediately able to detect the presence of hostile malware that it identified as Russian in origin. Sussman, after coordinating with Wasserman-Schultz, approached the FBI and tried to get them to publicly attribute the intrusion to Russia.

When the FBI refused, citing a need to gain access to the DNC servers before it could make that call, Sussman balked and, again with the full support of the DNC, instead coordinated a massive publicity effort intended to link Russia to the DNC breach through an exclusive to the Washington Pos t , which was published in concert with a dramatic CrowdStrike technical report detailing the intrusion, ominously named "Bears in the Midst."

This public relations campaign started the media frenzy over the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC server, enabling every facet of the story that followed to be painted with a Russian brush -- normally with a spokesperson from either the DNC or Hillary for America taking the lead in promulgating the story.

It was about this same time that Elias decided to expand the scope of Fusion GPS's opposition research against Trump, going beyond the simple mining of open-source information that had been the hallmark of the firm's work up until that time, and instead delving into the active collection of information using methodologies more akin to the work of spy agencies. The person Fusion GPS turned to for this task was Steele

Key persons within the Clinton campaign and the DNC denied any knowledge of either the decision by Perkins Coie to hire Fusion GPS for the purpose of gathering opposition research, or to tap Steele to conduct this task. Elias reportedly made use of money already paid to the firm by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to fund the work of Fusion GPS, creating the conditions for deniability on the part of his clients. This decision meant that Perkins Coie, as a firm, had ownership of the Steele Dossier; expenditures of firm assets require the approval of either the management or executive committee of the firm (Elias sits on the executive committee).

But as far as intelligence products go, the Steele Dossier is as sketchy as it gets. It's an amalgam of poorly written "reports" cobbled together from what Vanity Fair called "angry émigrés," "wheeling and dealing oligarchs," and "political dissidents with well-honed axes to grind." These are precisely the kind of sources intelligence professionals operating in Russia in the early 1990s -- Steele was assigned to Moscow from 1990 to 1993 -- would have had access to. Such sources also produce information that professional analysts normally treat with more than a modicum of skepticism when preparing national-level intelligence products.

The very first report produced by Steele, dated June 20, 2016, was chock full of the kind of salacious details justifying its explosive title, "Republican Candidate Donald Trump's Activities in Russia and Compromising Relationship with the Kremlin." The substantive charges leveled in the report centered on three unnamed sources -- a senior Foreign Ministry official, a former top-level Russian intelligence officer, and a senior Russian financial official -- whom Steele accessed through a "trusted compatriot." The report alleged that Russia had been feeding the Trump campaign "valuable intelligence" on Clinton, and that this effort was supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A second report, dated June 26, 2016, focused exclusively on "Russian State Sponsored and Other Cyber Offensive (Criminal) Operations."

These reports were delivered to Elias at a critical time -- on July 22, when Wikileaks released thousands of emails believed to have been sources from the DNC hack . These emails detailed the internal deliberations of the DNC that proved to be embarrassing to both Clinton and the DNC leadership -- Wasserman-Schultz was compelled to resign due to the revelations set forth in these emails. This leak took place on the eve of the Democratic National Convention when Clinton was to be selected as the Democrats' candidate for president. The Clinton campaign blamed Russia. "Russian state actors," Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager told the press , "were feeding the email to hackers for the purpose of helping Donald Trump."

If Elias thought the publication of the DNC emails would spur the U.S. intelligence community to join both the DNC and the Clinton campaign in pointing an accusatory finger at Russia, he would be disappointed. When questioned by CNN's Jim Sciutto at the 2016 Aspen Security Forum as to whether or not the DNI shared the White House's view that there was no doubt Russia was behind the hack of the DNC emails, Clapper responded, "I don't think we are quite ready to make a call on attribution I don't think we are ready to make a public call on that yet." Noting that there was still some uncertainty about exactly who was behind the DNC cyber-penetration, Clapper stated that he was taken aback by the media's "hyperventilation" over the DNC email issue, pointing out that the intelligence community did not "know enough to ascribe motivation" at that time.

According to the Washington Post , in early August 2016, the CIA director John Brennan came into possession of "sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race." This intelligence was briefed to the Gang of Eight. Almost immediately, information derived from this briefing began to leak to the media. "Russia's hacking appeared aimed at helping Mr. Trump win the November election," officials with knowledge of Brennan's intelligence told the New York Times . The intelligence, referred to as "bombshell," allegedly "captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation's audacious objectives -- defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump."

This intelligence, allegedly from a "human source" linked to a foreign intelligence service, is at the center of the current spate of Russian meddling investigations. Was this source a product of the CIA's own efforts, as DNI General Counsel Litt contends, or was this an "echo" of the work done by Steele? The answer may lie in the actions of both Elias and Steele, who in the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, and on the heels of the statement by DNI Clapper that he wasn't ready to commit to Russian attribution, shared the first two reports with both the FBI and members of the intelligence community. Steele also sat down with U.S. officials to discuss the details of these reports , which presumably included the sourcing that was used.

The parallels between the information contained in the initial report filed by Steele and the "bombshell" intelligence that prompted Brennan's decision to brief the Gang of Eight are too close to be casually dismissed. Of particular note is Steele's "Source C," a senior Russian "financial official" who had "overheard Putin talking" on at least two occasions. Was this the source that Brennan cited when it came to Putin's "specific instructions"? The cause and effect relationship between the decision by Marc Elias to brief U.S. intelligence officials on the aspects of the Steele Dossier, and Brennan's coming into possession of intelligence that virtually mirrors the reporting by Steele, cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The future of the Trump presidency will be determined by the various investigations currently underway. Those efforts have been influenced, in one way or another, by reporting sourced to Perkins Coie, including the designation of Russia as the responsible party behind the DNC cyber-breach and the Steele Dossier. These investigations are linked in their unquestioning embrace of the conclusions set forth in the 2017 Russia Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia was, in fact, meddling in the election. However, the genesis of that finding, both in terms of Russian involvement in the DNC hack and the "bombshell" intelligence introduced by Brennan in August 2016, has gone largely unquestioned by the investigators.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West's Road to War (Clarity Press, 2017). MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Youknowho , says: October 30, 2017 at 11:09 pm

The question is was the investigation supposed to uncover whatever it uncovere, or was it supposed to fabricate the discovery? If it was fabrication, yes, they should be condemned. But if it was a question of "tell us what you find, good, bad, or indifferent" then uncovering what might be treasonable activity would be called a patriotic act.
SpecialAgentA , says: October 31, 2017 at 9:00 am
Was it a 'leak' or a 'hack'? Both terms are used here, almost interchangeably, but isn't that an essential issue to explain and clarify?
balconesfault , says: October 31, 2017 at 9:35 am
All of this and not one mention of how much of the controversy Donald Trump could defuse by simply releasing his tax returns and allowing more transparency into his financial relationships with the Russian oligarchy.
Bob Salsa , says: October 31, 2017 at 10:48 am
Ritter's underlying 'logic' here extended would have us believe Alan Turin's breaking of the Enigma Machine was done in collusion with Nazi U-boat commanders.
Michael Kenny , says: October 31, 2017 at 11:28 am
The spooks are still scared silly of Russiagate. "Hillary paid" doesn't mean "Hillary fabricated". That Mr Ritter is reduced to such a manifestly silly argument shows just how spooked the spooks are. My best guess is that some part of the US intelligence community is involved in the election manipulation. Overthrowing foreign governments or undermining the EU is one thing, colluding with a foreign power to manipulate the US election is quite another. Note, by the way, the absence of any reference to George Papadopulous or Viktor Yanukovych.
David G. , says: October 31, 2017 at 12:26 pm
Given that Russia's insiders (not to mention former-officials) are no more lined up with Putin than US counterparts and political actors are behind any current US administration or opponent, within and without the party in power, there are presumably Russian actors who would like to undermine Putin.

To the extent "the Russians" may be behind particular efforts – including information/disinformation – related to the 2016 US election, might they not have sought to undermine foreign and (Russian) domestic proponents of US-Russian detente?

Donald (the left leaning one) , says: October 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm
" Overthrowing foreign governments or undermining the EU is one thing, colluding with a foreign power to manipulate the US election is quite another. "

This is a joke. I have no concern one way or the other about whether Trump colluded with Russia – if laws were broken, prosecute the lot of them. But it is obvious that most of the Beltway including the spook world badly wants a proxy war with Russia, Iran, and Syria. As usual we are killing people overseas under Presidents of both parties and as usual the United States of narcissism can only complain about what dastardly foreigners allegedly did to us.

In DC we have a vicious fight between the McCain-Clinton forces and the Trump forces. It's a choice between warmongers.

m , says: October 31, 2017 at 1:16 pm
Donald (the left leaning one), I agree with your concluding comment that we are left with a choice between two warmongers, no question about that. However if you look at the corruption in the deep state in the Uranium One deal, how it was approved and now nobody, I mean nobody knows anything about FBI informant and gag order on him for the last 8 years it is just mind boggling. Oh well after all these years I think the African dictators have more integrity than our elected officials.
a person who once spoke to a Russian but regrets it now , says: October 31, 2017 at 1:58 pm
Someone help me out here. If Clinton (or her very close associates) pay huge bucks to Russians to get dirt (even if it is made up dirt) on Trump, that is good, because it hurts Trump. But if Trump associates simply have conversations with Russians, full stop (cf. Michael Flynn, or anyone else who spoke with the Russian ambassador), that is criminal. Is this not sort of a double standard?
Laramie , says: October 31, 2017 at 3:12 pm
I've worked at large law firms, been a partner at several and litigated against Perkins Coie, so I know a bit about them. Knowing the industry and this firm in particular, I can say without reservation that this statement is ridiculous: "Elias reportedly made use of money already paid to the firm by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to fund the work of Fusion GPS, creating the conditions for deniability on the part of his clients." That does not and would not happen with a $12 million expense.

Mr. Ritter does not come out and say it, but there's a plausible explanation for all of this Russia nonsense we've been hearing about for the past year. Until the day after the election, 99.9% of Democrats were convinced that Hillary Clinton would win. Once enshrined in office, all of the misdeeds that they'd been getting away with for the past decade -- the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One, the Pay-to-Play politics, etc. -- would be swept under the rug.

November came, and that didn't happen. Democrats were both floored and caught with their pants down. Now, all of their dirty laundry was going to come out into the open. It was only a matter of time.

So, what did they do? The same thing Democrats always do. The best defense is an offense. 'Always accuse your opponents of doing whatever wrong you've committed.' All of the sudden, it wasn't just that 'Russians hacked the election.' It became, 'the Trump campaign secretly colluded with the Russians.' The Steele dossier was leaked, the FBI was briefed which in turn briefed Obama, the Gang of Eight and Trump. Next, a Special Prosecutor had to be appointed to investigate.

But, where does it all lead? Back to Hillary, through Perkins Coie, and through many of the same Deep State players who were complicit in the misdeeds.

We now learn that Comey, Mueller and Rosenstein all knew about Russians attempting to buy influence through donations to the Clinton "charity," but they turned a blind eye when Uranium One was up for approval.

We now learn that Clinton and the DNC paid for the Steele dossier then fed it to Comey, who leaked it.

We're expected to believe Crowdstrike's report on Russian hacking but we can't examine the evidence. We're expected to believe that Perkins Coie went rogue and decided to spend $12 million without informing any of its clients.

What a bunch of hogwash. There's a cover up here, but it's not what the complicit media is portraying. The cover up is of the past 8 years of misdeeds by the Deep State, the Clintons and the Obama Administration.

Carolinatarheel , says: October 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm
I find it curious that Crooked Mueller charged two republicans just as Crooked Hillary and the DNC were identified for paying Russians for smear documents! America First!
Nick , says: October 31, 2017 at 4:06 pm
I love how the origins of the project (Free Beacon/Paul Singer) are merely a footnote in this terribly written piece.
Jake , says: October 31, 2017 at 4:14 pm
How is it not true? Reports indicate that Mr. Steele did indeed use paid sources within Russia to compile the "dossier" on Trump. Steele used money paid by the Clinton campaign labeled as "legal fees". There is a reason Hillary, DWS, Podesta and the others have all lied.
Quek , says: October 31, 2017 at 4:40 pm
I think the story is even more obvious than this. They wanted to spy on aspects of the Trump campaign but they legally couldn't. The FBI told them they needed a reason to tap the phones and read the mail. They paid a guy to put together a dossier that would allow them to get FISA warrants to do the spying they wanted to do illegally. They just needed the dossier to say certain things to get it past a FISA judge. They did this and tapped his phones and read his emails and texts for the purpose of beating him in the election. It is really that simple of a story.
Cjones1 , says: October 31, 2017 at 4:51 pm
Did Obama's White House Counsel Bauer and Perkins Coie's Elias engage in a conspiracy to smear Trump and benefit the Clinton campaign?

Did they orchestrate a campaign trick, using the Fusion GPS dossier and an insider leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks,that falsely smeared the Trump team?

Hillary and Fusion GPS both lobbied against business restrictions proposed and imposed by the Magnitsky legislation and both received bonuses and payments from Russian entities with ties to the Putin gang.

Given Hillary's past pay to play lobbying and her disregard for national security, it would seem appropriate to have investigate if members of the Clinton campaign had contacts with the Russian Ambassador or Russian "operatives. We now know that the dossier relied on collaboration with Russian officials.

Given that several levels under the 17 intelligence heads of the Obama administration, including former FBI Director Mueller, participated in suppressing known Russian bribery, obfuscated and obstructed the investigation into Hillary's national security violations & pay to play schemes, and apparently conspired using a dossier, containing Russian supplied information, to throw the last Presidential election, it is time to bring the Obama political appointees and Clinton campaign officials to justice and stop the interference affecting the Trump administration.

In my opinion, Mueller has disgraced his former and present positions by collaborating in this conjured affair that obfuscates the real crimes occurring during the Obama administration.

Zardoz , says: October 31, 2017 at 5:13 pm
The Russian SVR RF was no doubt inside the DNC's server, just as it was no doubt inside of Hillary Clinton's private unsecured email server on which she did all of her State Department business.

But that does not necessarily mean that the SVR RF released the damning evidence about the corruption of the DNC & its machinations to influence the outcome of the Election to Wikileaks. I believe Seth Rich was the source of that damning evidence.

Since there was allegedly some evidence of the Russian hacking, the DNC conveniently blamed the Wikileaks story on them.

But the fact the Democrats refused to turn over the supposedly hacked DNC server to the FBI suggests there is something seriously wrong with the Democ"rats" story.

Don Juan , says: October 31, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Crooked Hillary and her klan never thought for a second they wouldn't be able to cover up democrat crimes. The Clinton Crime Family is in full panic mode. No one seems to remember why Mueller quit as director of the FBI. He was disgusted by the Obama administration covering up lawlessness.
CapitalistRoader , says: October 31, 2017 at 5:49 pm
All of this and not one mention of how much of the controversy Hillary Clinton could defuse by simply releasing all of the government emails she kept on a private server in order to keep them away from FOIA requests and allowing more transparency into her financial relationships with the Russian oligarchy.
swb , says: October 31, 2017 at 5:57 pm
Nice try at deflection, but it is not likely to stop Muller because he has an actual brain. On the other hand, the comments indicate that the conspiracy types are on board. Now I have it on good authority that there are ties between Steele and Benghazi as well so it is time to wrap this all up together into a unified story.
Virginia Farmer , says: October 31, 2017 at 6:08 pm
Since most of the posters here seem to be partisan I'm sure that no one will like my preference: Lock both Trump and HRC up and put them in the same cell to save us money. They are both crooked and any attempt to accuse one and defend the other is futile.
MM , says: October 31, 2017 at 6:38 pm
Karen Finney, formerly of the Clinton 2016 campaign, on October 29th:

"I think what's important, though, is less who funded it than what was in the dossier."

In the same interview:

"We also learned this week that Cambridge Analytica, the company that was basically the data company for the [Trump] campaign, reached out to Julian Assange of Wikileaks."

Did everybody catch that?

In today's Democratic Party, it is perfectly acceptable to pay foreign sources for dirt, fabricated or not, on your domestic political opponent.

But it is totally unacceptable to reach out to Wikileaks, with no money involved, for dirt on your domestic political opponent. I'll note that Wikileaks has relied on whistle-blower sources and has not been shown to have published any false information in its entire 10-year existence.

Absolutely gorgeous

Zardoz , says: October 31, 2017 at 7:01 pm
The Russian SVR RF was likely inside the DNC's server, just as it was likely inside of Hillary Clinton's private unsecured email server on which she did all of her State Department business.

But that does not necessarily mean that the SVR RF released the evidence about the rotten corruption of the DNC & its machinations to influence the outcome of the Election to Wikileaks. I believe Seth Rich was the source of that evidence.

Since there was allegedly some evidence of the Russian hacking, the DNC conveniently blamed the Wikileaks story on them.

But the fact the Democrats refused to turn over the supposedly hacked DNC server to the FBI suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the Democ"rats" story.

Lenny , says: October 31, 2017 at 7:10 pm
To all of those who think that paying a foreign informant money to give you info is the same thing as accepting help from a foreign government, you have some screws lose.

Furthermore, the help that Trump received was in the form of emails that have been stolen from an American citizen, a federal offence.

The whole Uranium one non story is based on a book that his own author admitted he has no evidence of malfeasance by HRC , and who was paid for his effort by the Mercers.

Also, the Uranium cannot be exported outside the USA anyway, because the law prevents it, no matter who owns the company

JR , says: October 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm
To all those who think what Hillary campaign did is the same thing as what Trump campaign did: Can you with a straight face think that Hillary is in Putin's pocket? I don't think so. The issue, if you're being honest, is that a lot of people on the other side can easily see Trump being in Putin's pocket. And so far he (Trump) has done nothing to disprove that. Remember the Glee that the neocons had when Trump ordered a few missiles at Syria..guess what nothing came off it and Assad is still very much in power and no one cares anymore (an outcome that I am fine with). You think things would have been the same if Hillary was in power?

But at the end of the day, we're left to wonder whether Trump is doing Putin's bidding Just because so far he has done nothing that has been antagonistic towards Russian interests (Iran notwithstanding because nothing is going to come off it, all it is going to do is make US look impotent, which will be fine by Putin).

jlee67 , says: October 31, 2017 at 8:46 pm
Why didn't the FBI insist on examining the DNC servers? Something's not right.
b. , says: October 31, 2017 at 9:21 pm
If only Sanders had ever exclaimed something like "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn Russians!"

If there is any kind of actual evidence of state actors in the various efforts to force transparency on the Clinton campaign and the DNC, it is now tainted by the association with Steele, Simpson, Elias, which appear to have repeatedly acted against client privileges and privacy – peddling results paid for by one client to another, leaking information paid for by clients to the press, Congress, the FBI – or have acted with client permission, while a former "spy" is accessing and potentially endangering networks maintained by his former employer, a foreign intelligence service known for its ability to find yellowcake.

Only the Democrats can show such staggering ineptitude.

The plot needs some new, exciting turn at this point. Let us speculate that the Steele Dossier was in fact a false flag operation, allowing "Russians" to discredit not one, but two presidential campaigns, not one, but two presidential candidates, a twofer that makes whomever becomes President look like an idiot. One of the most ridiculous propositions of this whole affair has been the claim that Putin would seriously care which incompetent and corrupt American gets to prosecute the self-inflicted ruin of this blighted nation for the next four years.

It's morons all the way down.

Central Virginia Cantor Ejector! , October 31, 2017 at 11:16 pm
@Virginia Farmer : "Lock both Trump and HRC up and put them in the same cell to save us money. They are both crooked and any attempt to accuse one and defend the other is futile."

Right on! "Virginia Farmer" for President!

Donald ( the left leaning one) , says: November 1, 2017 at 12:09 am
"To all those who think what Hillary campaign did is the same thing as what Trump campaign did: Can you with a straight face think that Hillary is in Putin's pocket?"

I'm not very partisan. I voted for Clinton, but as the lesser evil on various issues, chiefly domestic and environmental. Clinton is not in Putin's pocket. She is in the pocket of Netanyahu, and the Saudis. Trump doesn't really seem to be in Putin's pocket -- he has neocons and others working hard to ensure that he gets into a confrontation with Iran. Basically he too is in the pocket of the Israelis and the Saudis.

The mainstream ignores this. The countries with real influence on our policies don't have to favor one party over the other. They have them both in their pocket.

Donald ( the left leaning one) , says: November 1, 2017 at 12:14 am
M --

Yeah, I can't keep up with all the twists and turns. I read just enough to see both sides ( the partisan ones) live in closed cognitive universes. I suspect there is plenty of corruption and dishonesty to go around, even if we restricted ourselves to real or alleged Russian ties. But I wonder what would turn up if we really looked into how our foreign policy sausage is made?

VikingLS , says: November 1, 2017 at 1:14 pm
@Donald ( the left leaning one)

In my annoyance I overstated it a little, but this thread is a good example of what I was saying about a lot of the liberal commenters on TAC. I don't read a lot of these comments and see people who are giving the article much thought.

BTW I was about to write the exact same thing to JR you did regarding the Saudis and the Israelis.

Cynthia McLean , says: November 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm
As time goes on, I don't think Russia "meddled" in US elections as much as US politicians of both parties corruptly attempted to rig the elections. Seems to me that the demonization of Russia is bi-partisan because the US military industrial complex needs a "bogey man" to justify its billions$$$$ and just about ALL politicians need that money to stay in power.

[Nov 01, 2017] The Political Organization Men

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

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

By Lawrence Davidson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Organization Man or Woman in Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.cwrightmills.org

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

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

tina , October 30, 2017 at 10:31 pm

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

BobH , October 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Realist , October 31, 2017 at 4:33 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecology. Laws. Regulations. Integrity. Religion.

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

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

Good points. Brainwashing in action revealed.

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

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

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

Amen John. You got it right brother.

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

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

[Oct 31, 2017] Above All - The Junta Expands Its Claim To Power

Highly recommended!
"All along Trump has been the candidate of the military. The other two power centers of the power triangle , the corporate and the executive government (CIA), had gone for Clinton. The Pentagon's proxy defeated the CIA proxy. (Last months' fight over Raqqa was similar - with a similar outcome.)"
Notable quotes:
"... All along Trump has been the candidate of the military. The other two power centers of the power triangle , the corporate and the executive government (CIA), had gone for Clinton. The Pentagon's proxy defeated the CIA proxy. (Last months' fight over Raqqa was similar - with a similar outcome.) ..."
"... Former U.S. Army Captain and now CIA director Mike Pompeo was educated at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is part of the Junta circle, installed to control the competition. ..."
"... Is the U.S. military really qualified to teach anyone how to respect human rights? Did it learn that from committing mass atrocities in about each campaign it ever fought? ..."
"... The deep-seated problems plaguing the USA do have solutions, but they are not those being forwarded by the very radical conservatives now in charge of Congress and many statehouses. And the junta members share their mindsets. So, I see the domestic situation continuing to spiral further out-of-control with no sign anywhere of a countervailing power arising with the potential to steer the ship-of-state away from the massive reef it's rapidly heading for ..."
"... Ah, Masha Gessen, literally cancer. Who elevated her? I find it interesting that she does the "translating" for the CIA-scripted FX show "The Americans", a show which has probably more effectively demonized Russians for the cud-chewing crowd than the sum total of Cold War propaganda since the 50s AND the daily Russian hate columns in Wapo et al that trickle down to the Buzzfeed crowd. ..."
"... Military junta or not b, make no mistake, the real power behind the throne are a cabal of billionaires who buy their way by co-opting the politicians who make the laws. Democracy is indeed dead here in the U$A. It's now a full-blown Oligarchy. ..."
"... I agree with this division of power and would add that Trump is also the candidate of the police. I see the media though as more being in the CIA/corporate camps. I think the military backing is necessary as you mention to take the CIA down a few notches. So far I'd say the result in Syria is promising. ..."
"... This tribal civil war is also spilling over into places like Las Vegas, which clearly is run by the Jewish Mafia. There still is no plausible motive given for the shooting incident, but we know that the owners of MGM would never willingly have allowed this to happen on their own property. So it clearly was a hit, and with Area 51 down the road and all the MIC contractors in Vegas, it is highly unlikely that they were not involved or at least aware of the operation. ..."
"... The ground work, or state-of-affairs that lead to what one might call a soft military coup in the US (see b) = within what, at one extreme could be called Ayn-Randian rabid individualism, and at the other a sort of neo-liberal capitalism which is nevertheless highly 'socialist' in the sense re-distributive from the center of power (if only to create a slave/subservient class and prevent uprisings), there is NO public space for 'solidarity' within (besides familial, or close, etc.) ..."
"... historically, dying empires invest in the double prong, military conquest + internal control (can be vicious) ..."
"... I don't think it is all that clear. Corps or better conglomerates of power like 'the media', the 'silicons', banking and finance, Energy, electronics, Big Pharma, etc. are politcally inclined (say!) to some form of corporate fascism, > bought pols from all-sides of any-aisle. Their ties to the military / milit. type power at home are not very strong, they may collaborate on occasion. Some of these 'industries' fear domination that goes beyond soft power and they loathe sanctions - think about who/what/how is doing lucrative deals and has continuing biz success in Iraq, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, etc. - NOT US cos./corps. ..."
"... First, if the only two choices were the Executive CIA and the Military "Junta" with Trump why would we continue the farce of elections? And if the elections were pre-determined and the ruling Junta took over in a coup, then how and why is the CIA out of power? ..."
"... The "farce of elections" is accurate because Trump is not doing what he claimed he would do, not unusual actually. It was Trump who sprang the "junta" on us. And who claimed that the CIA would be out of power? ..."
"... I used to think it was a counter-coup also. But sheep-dog Sanders and Trump's having supported Hillary in 2008 among other things caused me to conclude that it all bullshit. I now believe that the hyper-partisanship is just a show. The political system in the US is designed to prevent any real populist from gaining power. We are being played. Trump is the Republican Obama. ..."
"... The excuse for this was that while US hands were tied (because public wouldn't support further adventurism after Iraq) close allies could push forward. But the new Cold War has changed the calculus. ..."
"... The US isn't giving up on Empire. It's just a different type of Empire for a different type of environment. When Trump talks about "draining the swamp" I think he merely refers to foreign influence. ..."
"... Trump has one ally and that is the 65million voters who put him into office. He surrendered his top people. Saker says it was lack of character. I think when they point the gun at you, your family, your closest friends in your life, you acquiesce. They even took from him Keith Schiller, his personal security man for years. Kelly forced him out of the WH. ..."
"... On the bright side, members of Congress are at least nominally elected. Four star Generals, not so much. It's still a felony carrying a prison term of 5 to 10 years per incident to lie to Congress. The military have no precedent to recommend them either as a source of information or in their decision making ability. They are way out of their depth when it comes to administering a nation. ..."
"... Moon of Alabama always writes interesting and insightful critiques of the Deep State, the military, and the imperialist/war party, but falls flat on his face in his naive faith in the supposed anti-establishment, populist, and America First Nationalist proclivities of Donald Trump, and his arch-reactionary Svengali Steve Bannon. There is indeed at least one major split in the ranks of the ruling class, but to present Trump and Bannon as either valiant figures struggling for the national good, or noble isolated men surrounded by vipers and traitors is absurd. ..."
"... Now, in its late imperial decline, the U.S. has become unable to continue to exercise hegemony, the way it became accustomed to in the first 70+ years in the Post-WW 2 period. The number one Client/Ally/Master, Israel and their deeply embedded 5th Column in the U.S., the Zionists with their associated Pro-Zionist factions within the War Party, now nearly directly and openly controls U.S. foreign policy and military actions in the regions that the Likudnik faction in Israel cares about (i.e. the Levant, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa). ..."
"... Hollowed out economically and industrially the U.S. Empire is clearly on the way out. The various factions fighting for control of policy seem to be oblivious to this basic fact. ..."
Oct 31, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

In an advertising campaign in 2008 the U.S. Air Force declared itself to be "Above All". The slogan and symbol of the campaign was similar to the German "Deutschland Über Alles" campaign of 1933. It was a sign of things to come.

On Thursday Masha Gessen watched the press briefing of White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly and concluded :

The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments .
  1. Those who criticize the President don't know what they're talking about because they haven't served in the military . ...
  2. The President did the right thing because he did exactly what his generals told him to do . ...
  3. Communication between the President and a military widow is no one's business but theirs. ...
  4. Citizens are ranked based on their proximity to dying for their country. ...

Gessen is late. The coup happened months ago. A military junta is in strong control of White House polices. It is now widening its claim to power.

All along Trump has been the candidate of the military. The other two power centers of the power triangle , the corporate and the executive government (CIA), had gone for Clinton. The Pentagon's proxy defeated the CIA proxy. (Last months' fight over Raqqa was similar - with a similar outcome.)

On January 20, the first day of the Not-Hillary presidency , I warned:

The military will demand its due beyond the three generals now in Trump's cabinet.

With the help of the media the generals in the White House defeated their civilian adversary. In August the Trump ship dropped its ideological pilot . Steve Bannon went from board. Bannon's militarist enemy, National Security Advisor General McMaster, had won. I stated :

A military junta is now ruling the United States

and later explained :

Trump's success as the "Not-Hillary" candidate was based on an anti-establishment insurgency. Representatives of that insurgency, Flynn, Bannon and the MAGA voters, drove him through his first months in office. An intense media campaign was launched to counter them and the military took control of the White House. The anti-establishment insurgents were fired. Trump is now reduced to public figure head of a stratocracy - a military junta which nominally follows the rule of law.

The military took full control of White House processes and policies:

Everything of importance now passes through the Junta's hands ... To control Trump the Junta filters his information input and eliminates any potentially alternative view ... The Junta members dictate their policies to Trump by only proposing certain alternatives to him. The one that is most preferable to them, will be presented as the only desirable one. "There are no alternatives," Trump will be told again and again.

With the power center captured the Junta starts to implement its ideology and to suppress any and all criticism against itself.

On Thursday the 19th Kelly criticized Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of South Florida for hearing in (invited) on a phone-call Trump had with some dead soldiers wife:

Kelly then continued his criticism of Wilson, mentioning the 2015 dedication of the Miramar FBI building, saying she focused in her speech that she "got the money" for the building.

The video of the Congresswoman's speech (above link) proves that Kelly's claim was a fabrication. But one is no longer allowed to point such out. The Junta, by definition, does not lie. When the next day journalists asked the White House Press Secretary about Kelly's unjustified attack she responded:

MS. SANDERS: If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you. But I think that that -- if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that's something highly inappropriate

It is now "highly inappropriate" to even question the Junta that rules the empire.

... ... ...

If the soldiers do not work "for any other reason than that they love this country" why do they ask to be paid? Why is the public asked to finance 200 military golf courses ? Because the soldiers "love the country"? Only a few 10,000 of the 2,000,000 strong U.S. military will ever see an active front-line.

And imagine the "wonderful joy" Kelly "got in his heart" when he commanded the illegal torture camp of Guantanamo Bay:

Presiding over a population of detainees not charged or convicted of crimes, over whom he had maximum custodial control, Kelly treated them with brutality. His response to the detainees' peaceful hunger strike in 2013 was punitive force-feeding, solitary confinement, and rubber bullets. Furthermore, he sabotaged efforts by the Obama administration to resettle detainees, consistently undermining the will of his commander in chief.

Former U.S. Army Captain and now CIA director Mike Pompeo was educated at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is part of the Junta circle, installed to control the competition. Pompeo also wants to again feel the "wonderful joy". On Friday he promised that the CIA would become a "much more vicious agency". Instead of merely waterboarding 'terrorists' and drone-bombing brown families, Pompeo's more vicious CIA will rape the 'terrorist's' kids and nuke whole villages. Pompeo's remark was made at a get-together of the Junta and neo-conservative warmongers.

On October 19 Defense Secretary General Mattis was asked in Congress about the recent incident in Niger during which, among others, several U.S. soldiers were killed. Mattis set (vid 5:29pm) a curious new metric for deploying U.S. troops:

Any time we commit out troops anywhere it is based on a simple first question and that is - is the well-being of the American people sufficiently enhanced by putting our troops there , by putting our troops in a position to die?

In his October 20 press briefing General Kelly also tried to explain why U.S. soldiers are in Niger:

So why were they there ? They're there working with partners, local -- all across Africa -- in this case, Niger -- working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights ...

Is the U.S. military really qualified to teach anyone how to respect human rights? Did it learn that from committing mass atrocities in about each campaign it ever fought?

One of the soldiers who were killed in Niger while "teaching how to respect human rights" was a 39 year old "chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist" with "more than a dozen awards and decorations". The U.S. military sent a highly qualified WMD specialist on a "routine patrol" in Niger to teach local soldiers "to respect human rights" due to which presumably "the well-being of the American people" would be "sufficiently enhanced"? Will anyone really buy that bridge?

But who would dare to ask more about this? It is" highly inappropriate " to doubt whatever the military says. Soon that will change into "verboten". Any doubt, any question will be declared "fake news" and a sign of devious foreign influence. Whoever spreads such will be blocked from communicating.

The military is now indeed "Above All". That air force slogan was a remake of a 1933 "Über Alles" campaign in Germany. One wonders what other historic similarities will develop from it.

Posted by b on October 21, 2017 at 03:58 PM | Permalink

nhs | Oct 21, 2017 4:10:12 PM | 1

Why Donald Trump is the perfect tool in the hands of neocons right now

Peter AU 1 | Oct 21, 2017 4:26:51 PM | 3

The military junta rely on the US dollar as reserve currency for their lurks and perks. The more they take power, the faster this will slip away. So called allies will move towards China/Russia and other currencies. Dangerous times but the downfall of the US is gaining momentum.
ruralito | Oct 21, 2017 4:30:08 PM | 4
Cedant arma togae - Cicero
les7 | Oct 21, 2017 4:30:38 PM | 5
@1 While I understand the temptation to link Trump to Neo-con policies, I think it over simplifies the issue.

Thierry Meyssan has a recent article in which he questions how seriously we should take the US's anti-Iran policy. In it he states "We have to keep in mind that Donald Trump is not a professional politician, but a real estate promoter, and that he acts like one. He gained his professional success by spreading panic with his outrageous statements and observing the reactions he had created amongst his competitors and his partners."

That statement is a great summary of one of the key precepts of what I called 'asymmetrical leadership' - which I think characterizes Trumps leadership style (an application of asymmetrical warfare techniques to the political arena). This does not mean that the Junta has not taken over control. I would agree with b on this. However, the forms by which that control get expressed will still run through Trump and will still reflect his 'asymmetric' style.

VietnamVet | Oct 21, 2017 4:32:33 PM | 6
It does take someone on the other side of the world to give perspective. I don't think it is as much a military junta as things are falling apart. The generals are attempting to keep their corrupt war profits flowing. The media moguls still hate Donald Trump; only as an oligarch hates another. Donald Trump is firing up his base. Expect, the whole of the alt-right propaganda is false. It relies on the hatred of others. All he will do is speed up the splintering. If your home is foreclosed, flooded, polluted, burned down or blown apart; reality is slapping you in the face.
Lochearn | Oct 21, 2017 4:51:42 PM | 7
One of your most important posts, b. At first I thought it strange that you would quote Masha Gessen, an infamous anti-Putin journalist and Khodorkovsky fan, but then it didn't seem so strange. Gessen is a Zionist, therefore she is aligned with the CIA/Wall Street faction, which as you perceptively say lost out with Trump and Raqqa. I say Wall Street as opposed to corporate because, as I have pointed out before, non-financial corporates - and that includes most of the Dow Jones or FTSE - have fuck all say on anything except how they are going to meet next quarterly's earnings estimates. And the CIA is very close to Wall Street.

What interests me is how this relates to Iran, on which both factions appear to be in agreement, but there must be nuances. The Saker published an article where,in my opinion, he failed to give enough weight to how circumstances around Iran have changed over the last decade. I see little green men in large green aircraft weaving their way down the Caspian Sea, not to mention invisible Chinese hardware in the sense of how did it get there, and a Europe which is in disarray with their tongues hanging out for deals with Iran. The success of the anti-Trump MSM narrative combined with fears of potentially millions of Iranian refugees would surely indicate this is the worst possible time to attack Iran. So how can they conjure a war out of this?

les7 | Oct 21, 2017 5:49:02 PM | 9
On a far more insidious note, one has to wonder what an radiological 'expert' was doing in Niger - thanks b for that important piece of info.

When that info is combined with:
1) US Special ops in Mali from 2006
2) US operation Oasis Enabler (2009) looking to infiltrate and control Elite Malian army units
3) March 2012 Coup brought to power American trained Capt. Amadou Sanogo
4) French Operation Serval, at the request of the 'interim government' fights to control northern Malian territory and URANIUM mines along the Mali - Niger border (they said they fought ISIS but what they actually fought was a Tuareg separatist movement)

together with the presence of ISIS (the US trained, evacuated from Syria version?) in the area... Ominous is hardly strong enough to describe the feeling...

karlof1 | Oct 21, 2017 5:54:56 PM | 10
China's leader, Xi, just outlined his nation's goals out to 2050, which Pepe Escobar nicely condensed for our consumption, http://www.atimes.com/article/xis-road-map-chinese-dream/ The full transcript can be read here, starting page middle to top, http://live.china.org.cn/2017/10/17/opening-ceremony-of-the-19th-cpc-national-congress/

I start my comment by referencing these since the operational doctrine of the Outlaw US Empire is to keep any such challenges to its perceived dominance--and quest for total dominance--subdued to the point of insignificance. As you can clearly read, Xi, China, Putin, Russia, and their allies aren't going to allow any junta to stop their integration and development plans preparing their nations and region for the future--plans and thinking woefully absent from any sector of the Outlaw US Empire excepting perhaps weapon development. The just completed Valdai Conference provides an excellent insight to the drama, the comments and visions are as important as they're powerful, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55882 I could pile more of the same for barflies to digest, but I don't think that's required.

There's a very longstanding joke about the joining together of these two words--military intelligence--and for good reason, particularly within the Outlaw US Empire. I don't think anyone within the governmental establishment has any idea of what to do about the Eurasian/Muiltipolar Challenge other than trying to break it--no ideas of how to compete or join it so as to also profit from it. The reason for this as I see it is ideological--Zero Sumism and Randian junk economics is so deeply ingrained they've polluted minds to the point where their blinded and unable to think outside the box they've caged themselves within: Hoisted by their own petard as the saying goes. They just can't accept Win/Win as something viable--sharing is for sissies and commies. Problem is that well over half of humanity sees Win/Win as eminently viable and far more welcome than the demonstrably failed Zero Sum Game promoted by Randian political-economists and enforced through the barrel a gun.

The deep-seated problems plaguing the USA do have solutions, but they are not those being forwarded by the very radical conservatives now in charge of Congress and many statehouses. And the junta members share their mindsets. So, I see the domestic situation continuing to spiral further out-of-control with no sign anywhere of a countervailing power arising with the potential to steer the ship-of-state away from the massive reef it's rapidly heading for.

There might be a surprise in store from the junta, however--it might just take on a bit of the massive corruption plaguing the USA by attacking the Clinton Foundation and its related sewage. Although, that just solves one part of a huge host of problems.

pB | Oct 21, 2017 6:25:48 PM | 11
@karlof1 10

thanks for the link to pepe's take on the speech.

funny thing that just accord to me that i had not thought of for nearly ten years, one of the initial "benefits" of the state of Israel, was the cutting off of Africa from asia, and its pretty glaring that a project to connect Asia Africa and Europe does not include the logical land route as well.

Clueless Joe | Oct 21, 2017 6:28:30 PM | 12
At least in the times of Caesar and Augustus, military junta who seized power could claim to be effective and victorious military, able to crush significant enemy armies. The current top military in the US were at best kiddies the last time the US actually managed to defeat a truly powerful enemy, back in 1945. (though this criticism can apply to all major powers)
sejomoje | Oct 21, 2017 6:39:09 PM | 13
Ah, Masha Gessen, literally cancer. Who elevated her? I find it interesting that she does the "translating" for the CIA-scripted FX show "The Americans", a show which has probably more effectively demonized Russians for the cud-chewing crowd than the sum total of Cold War propaganda since the 50s AND the daily Russian hate columns in Wapo et al that trickle down to the Buzzfeed crowd.

We need to start calling the CIA traitors, actual traitors. Masha Gessen is CIA, CIA ghostwrites for most MSM. Traitors all. But even without the constant hagiographies, would people start to get it? "Americans", I mean?

karlof1 | Oct 21, 2017 6:46:49 PM | 14
Here's a bit of what Hamid Karzai at the Valdai Club had to say about what the junta accomplished in Afghanistan:

"Today, I am one of the greatest critics of the US policy in Afghanistan. Not because I am anti-Western, I am a very Western person. My education is Western, my ideas are Western. I am very democratic in my inner instincts. And I love their culture. But I am against the US policy because it is not succeeding. It is causing us immense trouble and the rise of extremism and radicalism and terrorism. I am against the US policy because on their watch, under their total control of the Afghan air space, the Afghan intelligence and the Afghan military, of all that they have, that super power, there is Daesh in Afghanistan. How come Daesh emerged in Afghanistan 14–15 years after the US presence in Afghanistan with that mass of resources and money and expenditure? Why is the world not as cooperative with America in Afghanistan today as it was before? How come Russia now has doubts about the intentions of the US in Afghanistan or the result of its work in Afghanistan? How come China does not view it the same way? How come Iran has immense difficulty with the way things are conducted in Afghanistan?

"Therefore, as an Afghan in the middle of this great game, I propose to our ally, the United States, the following: we will all succeed if you tell us that you have failed. We would understand. Russia would understand, China would understand. Iran, Pakistan, everybody would understand. India would understand. We have our Indian friends there. We see all signs of failure there, but if you do not tell us you failed, what is this, a game?"

I doubt the junta will do any better than its performed in Afghanistan because it only knows how to play the game Karzai describes. Link is same as one above.

AriusArmenian | Oct 21, 2017 7:24:02 PM | 15
We can now add the Air Force being 'Above All' to the supremacist 'exceptional and indispensable' lunatic attitude in the US that is definitely psychologically the same as another people that thought they were 'Uber Alles'.
Red Ryder | Oct 21, 2017 7:36:54 PM | 16
B,

You stated: The insurgency that brought Trump to the top was defeated by a counter-insurgency campaign waged by the U.S. military. (Historically its first successful one).

I differ. JFK was taken out by a combined US Naval Intel and CIA plot. The beneficiary was the MIC. Eleven days later, LBJ reversed the executive order by JFK to end the US involvement in Nam. For 11 more years the Military got what it wanted--war.

LBJ got what he wanted--the Presidency. The Cuban-Americans got what they wanted--revenge for failure at Bay of Pigs by Kennedy. The Mafia got what they wanted--revenge for Bobby Kennedy.

One other thing about the counter-insurgency. It was not so much Military. They waited while the IC ran the leaks and counter-insurgency. Then,Trump fell into the Military's arms. He had been cut off from his base and key supporters and had to empower them by obedience to their plans. Foreign policy is what they wanted. He can still have all the domestic policy he can get, which is basically nothing much. A SC justice, some EOs, and all the Twitter-shit he can muster.

Dr. Bill Wedin | Oct 21, 2017 7:42:38 PM | 17
American democracy is indeed dead. The US Military's only real victory after WWII. After Vietnam, the generals said: "Freedom of speech and of the press and of assembly and the right to trial by jury and all that crap has got to go! And they got rid of it all! The Junta is in control. And the only positive aspect is that we have a rolling Fukushima disaster in Trump, who could implode and then explode in a nuclear Holocaust any second from all the humiliation and investigations crushing in on him--if the Junta did not keep tight control over all the information coming in to him. So you better leave them in place or... BAM! That's the blackmail. But it only works as long as Trump has sole authority to launch our nuclear arsenal. If someone else with a 2nd launch key were required to agree, the Junta would no longer be needed to "protect" us Mafia-style.
ben | Oct 21, 2017 8:05:47 PM | 19
Military junta or not b, make no mistake, the real power behind the throne are a cabal of billionaires who buy their way by co-opting the politicians who make the laws. Democracy is indeed dead here in the U$A. It's now a full-blown Oligarchy.
Perimetr | Oct 21, 2017 8:26:46 PM | 20
Re Bill Wedin at 18, you wrote "the blackmail only works as long as Trump has sole authority to launch our nuclear arsenal."

Authority to launch also includes predelegation to some of the highest ranking military, in the event of a perceived nuclear attack, in which the National Command Authority is disrupted and unable to give launch orders. However, this leaves open the question as to whether the President could be bypassed in the process.

Trident sub commanders also have the necessary launch codes on board to initiate a nuclear strike. Yes, the codes are under lock and key, but the key is on board.

Don Bacon | Oct 21, 2017 8:32:11 PM | 21
The current US militarism also reflects on the kneeling during the national anthem, which is also an ode to the flag in a war setting -- "by the rockets red glare" etc. President Trump has said the protests (against police killing blacks) are unpatriotic and disrespectful of military veterans. Trump has initiated a petition: "The President has asked for a list of supporters who stand for the National Anthem. Add your name below to show your patriotism and support."

Randolph Bourne (see #8) had some thoughts on this.

. . . We reverence not our country but the flag. We may criticize ever so severely our country, but we are disrespectful to the flag at our peril. It is the flag and the uniform that make men's heart beat high and fill them with noble emotions, not the thought of and pious hopes for America as a free and enlightened nation. It cannot be said that the object of emotion is the same, because the flag is the symbol of the nation, so that in reverencing the American flag we are reverencing the nation. For the flag is not a symbol of the country as a cultural group, following certain ideals of life, but solely a symbol of the political State, inseparable from its prestige and expansion.
financial matters | Oct 21, 2017 9:18:09 PM | 23
""All along Trump has been the candidate of the military. The other two power centers of the power triangle, the corporate and the executive government (CIA), had gone for Clinton. The Pentagon proxy won over the CIA proxy. (Last months' fight over Raqqa was similar - with the same outcome.)""

I agree with this division of power and would add that Trump is also the candidate of the police. I see the media though as more being in the CIA/corporate camps. I think the military backing is necessary as you mention to take the CIA down a few notches. So far I'd say the result in Syria is promising.

I think this CIA/corporate power has to be dealt with first to give progressive/socialist ideas much of a chance. It's a fine line but the military is supposed to protect against enemies foreign and domestic.

The corporate part of course has huge power over Congress.

Yul | Oct 21, 2017 9:34:35 PM | 24
@ b

a 39 year old "chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist"

This is Niger - Remember back in 2002/2003 : The Italian letter and Yellow Cake. These days we have Areva mining uranium in Niger Hence the French military offering both security and protecting the "assets" of French Establishment. Those soldiers were not ambushed but were conducting a raid and something went wrong!

Anon | Oct 21, 2017 10:28:24 PM | 30
If there was a coup Masha would be singing praises free n the rooftop because the waragenda she is paid to shill for would be back on. The fact that the lying bitch is gnashing her teeth would suggest that the NeoCon agenda, especially for war against Russia, has been derailed. Fuck you Masha. You suck.
mo' better | Oct 21, 2017 10:29:51 PM | 31
This is great news! I hope the military junta smashes the CIA into little tiny pieces. Why? Because the US military is in its most easily defeatable state ever - they haven't won a war in generations, their generals are armchair soldiers most who have never seen combat, and they have a fondness for massively overpriced technological pieces of MIC enriching garbage for weapons. The CIA owns the media, and without an effective propaganda arm, the military will only ever face another Vietnam.
Don Bacon | Oct 21, 2017 11:02:22 PM | 32
On the topic of losing generals I'm reminded of Harry Truman. A couple of Truman quotes: "It's the fellows who go to West Point and are trained to think they're gods in uniform that I plan to take apart". . ."I didn't fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."
> It's worse now. Most generals got where they are by sucking up, not performing.
> Donald Trump is no Harry Truman, for sure.
peter | Oct 21, 2017 11:59:56 PM | 35
Remember CNN? That fake MSM outlet that never tells the truth? Well, they have been skewering Kelly since he ran his mouth about that Florida congresswoman. So have the other outlets. Huckabee-Sanders is now something of a national joke after her comments. Kelly's shit doesn't hold up and he's been called out repeatedly. "It is now "highly inappropriate" to even question the Junta that rules over the empire." Bullshit.
Ralphieboy | Oct 22, 2017 3:37:33 AM | 36
Look in the Twitter archives and you will find a counter-tweet for almost anything Trump says, including one criticizing four-star general Colin Powell...
Ralphieboy | Oct 22, 2017 3:57:25 AM | 37
Look in the Twitter archives and you will find a Trump tweet criticizing four-star general Colin Powell...
Heros | Oct 22, 2017 4:41:13 AM | 38
"The slogan and symbol of the campaign was similar to the German "Deutschland Über Alles" campaign of 1933."

This is once again typical anti-German propaganda that was used to get both WWI and WWII started, and is now being used against Putin and Russia as well as nationalists across Europe and the Anglo world. In 1933 France still had control of the Saar and the Rhineland, Germany was saddled with monumental war debts, and Hitler was clearly not running a campaign on the slogan "Germany should rule the world", which is what the Anglo-Zionist narrative would have us believe. The meaning "Über Alles" was clearly "Germany First". That means look out for the German people first. The Weimar government clearly wasn't doing this. Call it Hitler's "MAGA".

The real truth is that it is this same US military industrial complex who worked for Roosevelt, Churchill, and their Zionist masters to get the second world war started, and who now are desperate for a third. They are sadistic, murdering globalists. Hitler was a nationalist. He never planned to rule the world the same way the Zionists already do, as is evidenced by the never ending strife in the Middle East, and their ongoing tribal civil war which is also being waged within the US government.

This tribal civil war is also spilling over into places like Las Vegas, which clearly is run by the Jewish Mafia. There still is no plausible motive given for the shooting incident, but we know that the owners of MGM would never willingly have allowed this to happen on their own property. So it clearly was a hit, and with Area 51 down the road and all the MIC contractors in Vegas, it is highly unlikely that they were not involved or at least aware of the operation.

Here is a LV company where for $3500 you can fly around the desert in a Helicopter shooting up targets with a SAW-249.

https://machinegunsvegas.com/product/machine-gun-helicopter/

How is it that this company can get away with this without MIC participation? Could this helicopter be available for uses at the right price?

ralphieboy | Oct 22, 2017 6:11:44 AM | 40
The original meaning of "Deutschland über alles" came about in the early 1800's when there was no united Germany: it meant that there should be a united Germany above all the minor German states, duchies and principalities that existed at the time.
fx | Oct 22, 2017 7:08:30 AM | 41
For those who want to avoid being datamined by nhs, the original link about "Why Donald Trump is the perfect tool in the hands of neocons right now" is here: https://failedevolution.blogspot.com/
fx | Oct 22, 2017 7:10:36 AM | 42
"One of the soldiers who were killed in Niger while "teaching how to respect human rights" was a 39 year old "chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist" with "more than a dozen awards and decorations".

The U.S. military sent a highly qualified WMD specialist on a "routine patrol" in Niger to teach local soldiers "to respect human rights" due to which presumably "the well-being of the American people" would be "sufficiently enhanced"?" It's all about the uranium in Agades, then?

Jack Frost | Oct 22, 2017 7:49:08 AM | 43
Trump is either very gullible and ignorant (most likely) or he is diabolically clever. Everything he does - every action, every appointment, every utterance - could not be better formulated to undermine the Zioamerican empire. Which is kind of what he promised to do.
Camillus O'Byrne | Oct 22, 2017 7:52:58 AM | 44
The brazen arrogance of these jerks like Kelly is stupefying. Infuriatingly shameless.

The guy has never done an honest day's work IN HIS LIFE, has had his snout in the public trough continuously and has materially contributed to the ruination of his country. STFU you stupid twat. He is also a scumbag that no doubt had a lot to do with his son's demise - imagine being this a-hole's son?

These clowns call themselves "General" and we are supposed to think that puts them in the same class as a Wellington or a Caesar or Napoleon? They were all first class bastards, ruthless, but fine Generals. Tough, bold, audacious leaders of men and brilliant strategists, who took risks, including with their own lives. Hell, the Prussian officer training system turned out Quartermasters that were better field Generals than these American frauds.

As I have said in another thread, the US has none of the martial virtues. Not as a people, not as military institutions, not as individual soldiers or sailors (their airmen are obviously cowards or psychopaths so not necessary even to consider in this context). Virtues such as steadfastness in adversity, discipline when under fire, self-sacrifice for comrades and the cause. Not saying anything about the morality of any particular cause here, just what makes a professional army. To compare the US military with Rome's Legions, say, is laughable. The biggest difference between these American whackers is that in real armies individuals are expected to be able to contend with a worthy adversary. To take risks. To fight when it is HARD to fight. Even Rome's patricians understood that every now and then they had to expose themselves to danger if they were to have any honour, as Crassus, richest of them all, found out very dramatically when he met his end at the head of the Syrian Legions. (Defeated by the Iranians! - they've seen 'em all come and go). Windbags like Kelly wouldn't know what honour is.

The US has NEVER fought an adversary on anything like equal terms. They preen themselves about WW2. I call BS. They waited until the Soviets had broken the back of the most fearsome war machine in history, the Wehrmacht and then faced teenagers and old men in France. On the occasions when they did face professional German troops they had their whiney arses kicked. As for the Pacific war, they stood off island after island and rained a stupendous amount of naval shells and bombs on the Japanese garrisons to the point where they were insane with the cacophany and pure physical terror to turn your bowels to water, before setting foot on them, while the aerial destruction of Japanese cities is one of the great atrocities in history, disgraceful and completely without honour. I suspect a disproportionate number of US military casualties are due to being run over by a forklift, training accidents, friendly fire, syphilis or fragging of their own.

The qualities the US military (they don't deserve the epithet "army") exemplifies are cowardice, incompetence, viciousness and wanton destructiveness. No wonder, as the corruption (plenty of fiscal as well as moral) starts at the top with the Kellys and drips down like a putrid slime from there.

He and his ilk are just a bunch of murderous bags of human excrement. No decent person can have anything but contempt for them.

Petri Krohn | Oct 22, 2017 9:02:58 AM | 45
It is little surprise if a junta has taken over. Many Democrats would support a military junta over Trump. Now we are hearing similar calls from Republicans.

One of the latest is this opinion piece by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post from October 12, 2017: Republicans, it's time to panic The Washington Examiner has a short summary:

Ex-Bush adviser Michael Gerson tells Republicans: 'It's time to panic'

Michael Gerson, who's also a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote in an op-ed Friday that "the security of our country -- and potentially the lives of millions of people abroad -- depends on Trump being someone else entirely."

"The time for whispered criticisms and quiet snickering is over. The time for panic and decision is upon us. The thin line of sane, responsible advisers at the White House -- such as Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- could break at any moment," Gerson wrote. "The American government now has a dangerous fragility at its very center. Its welfare is as thin as an eggshell -- perhaps as thin as Donald Trump's skin."

The op-ed comes amid Trump's feud with Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who warned that the president's reckless threats could lead to "World War III."

"I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him," Corker told the New York Times.

arze | Oct 22, 2017 9:48:36 AM | 46
At this point in history to be US president is to be a criminal. An "autonomous" US president has not existed at least since JFK, perhaps not since Lincoln. Kelley, like his boss, routinely "clowns" the media, and however unctuous Kelley's remarks are, they fit into that mode.

Our generals are weak men. If they weren't, they wouldn't need a Trump, or a whatever to run for office and win that office.

They can't run and win any better than they can conduct warfare as a rational means to a rational end; and as the post eloquently points out, again: they are experts at rape, murder, war crimes, mayhem and destruction. The ubiquitous propaganda to hide that is all they have that saves them from the penal colony where they belong.

Their project to rule the world would be as successful as any "they destroyed it in order to save it" attempts.

MG's fragmented consciousness permit her to be rational at times, and irresponsible at others.

Don Bacon | Oct 22, 2017 10:02:48 AM | 47
re: Presiding over a population of detainees not charged or convicted of crimes, over whom he had maximum custodial control, Kelly treated them with brutality. . .

The US needed go show progress in the "war on terror" and one way was to accumulate some prisoners of the "war." CIA operatives were sent to the tribal areas of Afghanistan & Pakistan with cash to entice "bounty hunters." It was easy, because every tribal chief had enemies, which he would capture and present for a big payoff. So the Guantanamo (Gitmo) prison was set up in Cuba and soon accumulated 7-800 "detainees" who were bullied and tortured.

None of them were tried because there was no evidence they had done anything wrong. The Supreme Court ruled that they should have a judicial process but (except a few cases) it was never done. Most of the prisoners detainees were released, including a 13 yo boy and a 92 yo man, and about 200 remained. I guess it's less now.

Meanwhile the Washington politicians were able to crow about all those dangerous people in Gitmo, and prattle about the "recidivism" danger if and when they would be released. What were they supposed to do, forgive and forget all the terrible treatment they had received?? So yes, Kelly is scum, but that's not unusual for a general.

Noirette | Oct 22, 2017 10:07:12 AM | 48
The ground work, or state-of-affairs that lead to what one might call a soft military coup in the US (see b) = within what, at one extreme could be called Ayn-Randian rabid individualism, and at the other a sort of neo-liberal capitalism which is nevertheless highly 'socialist' in the sense re-distributive from the center of power (if only to create a slave/subservient class and prevent uprisings), there is NO public space for 'solidarity' within (besides familial, or close, etc.)

Therefore, the belonging or 'solidarity' is activated only facing an outside enemy who is personalised as e.g. communist, ugly dictator, intends to attack the US, poisons babies, etc. That gives the military an edge.. Then natch, historically, dying empires invest in the double prong, military conquest + internal control (can be vicious), ain't flash news.

.... I don't think it is all that clear. Corps or better conglomerates of power like 'the media', the 'silicons', banking and finance, Energy, electronics, Big Pharma, etc. are politcally inclined (say!) to some form of corporate fascism, > bought pols from all-sides of any-aisle. Their ties to the military / milit. type power at home are not very strong, they may collaborate on occasion. Some of these 'industries' fear domination that goes beyond soft power and they loathe sanctions - think about who/what/how is doing lucrative deals and has continuing biz success in Iraq, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, etc. - NOT US cos./corps.

To me this looks more like total disorganisation than anything else.

J | Oct 22, 2017 10:53:49 AM | 49
What a load of hooey!

First, if the only two choices were the Executive CIA and the Military "Junta" with Trump why would we continue the farce of elections? And if the elections were pre-determined and the ruling Junta took over in a coup, then how and why is the CIA out of power?

Secondly, same question will be here for you when a) the military and Trump get booted with impeachment, or b) when the next election comes.

Van Morrison once penned "politics, superstition and religion go hand in hand." It never fails, those out of power go from being logical, critical thinkers to becoming outlandish bores who exaggerate things and fabricate what they see. It's called delusion.

Don Bacon | Oct 22, 2017 11:22:03 AM | 51
@J 49
The "farce of elections" is accurate because Trump is not doing what he claimed he would do, not unusual actually. It was Trump who sprang the "junta" on us. And who claimed that the CIA would be out of power?
Don Bacon | Oct 22, 2017 11:25:38 AM | 52
Kelly: So why were they there? They're there working with partners, local -- all across Africa -- in this case, Niger -- working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights

These guys didn't die teaching, nor in combat in Niger, they were (according to news reports) trying to track down an accomplice of one Abu Adnan al-Sahraoui. In other words they were doing police work in a foreign country, an absolutely ridiculous task which they were not trained or able to do and which put their lives needlessly in danger. This criticism applies to the whole "war on terror" which has proven to be a tragic farce (if there can be such a thing).

dahoit | Oct 22, 2017 11:37:28 AM | 53
b is quoting macha gessen? You got be kidding. MSN will look his site in homage. In what way MSM will JFK look CIA approval? Traitors.
Jackrabbit | Oct 22, 2017 12:38:59 PM | 54
I used to think it was a counter-coup also. But sheep-dog Sanders and Trump's having supported Hillary in 2008 among other things caused me to conclude that it all bullshit. I now believe that the hyper-partisanship is just a show. The political system in the US is designed to prevent any real populist from gaining power. We are being played. Trump is the Republican Obama.
Piotr Berman | Oct 22, 2017 1:10:28 PM | 56
Carry on, nothing to see here.

I really think that this is the case in this instance. Trump is bellicose and erratic. In the realm of foreign policy and military, it yielded one positive change: his obsession with ISIS led to huge decrease of fighting between "moderate opposition" in Syria with "SAA and allies", allowing the latter to effectively reduce the territory controlled by ISIS, similarly, Obama's efforts to sideline "sectarian forces trained by Iran" from fighting with ISIS were apparently abandoned with similar effect. But otherwise, no "reset" with Russia, clown show concerning the nuclear program of North Korea, berating allies who spend insufficiently to fight threats that they do not have, increasing domestic military budget (again, to fight threats that we do not have) and so on. Formation of the new axis of evil, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela is a notable novelty.

Trump was so contradictory is his campaign statements that it is almost amazing that ANY positive element can be discerned. At the time, I paid attention to his praises of John Bolton, a proud walrus-American who communicates using bellowing, in other words, resembles a walrus both in the way he looks, but also in the way he speaks.

Needless to say, Dotard in Chief can exercise power only through underlings that may try to make sense of what he says. In some cases, like reforming American healthcare according to his promises, this is flatly impossible. So generals are seemingly in the same position, and of course, when in doubt, they do what they would do anyway.

Lawrence Smith | Oct 22, 2017 1:22:16 PM | 57
Not that I am any more or less in the loop than any of these fine commenters, but what pops into my mind when reading of the ambush of the four special forces servicemen is the crash of the helicopter that took out so many of the seal team six who supposedly took out Osama. Maybe they knew too much would be my guess. Why else would they put such a knowledgable specialist out on the perimeter? Makes no sense. Offing your own is part and parcel in the military. Heroes of convenience.
Jackrabbit | Oct 22, 2017 1:39:09 PM | 58
What seems to have been lost in the discussion is what exactly the "counter-coup" is all about.

1. During the Obama years, "successes" like Lybia and Ukraine were matched by "failures" like the lost proxy war for Syria and pushing Russia into the arms of China. The new 'Cold War' makes US nationalism more important as 'hot' conflicts become more likely.

2. Obama/Clinton-led civilian authority was abusing power to promote an "Empire-first" vision of governance, Obama/Clinton:

>> replaced/retired many military officers;

>> placed US resources/forces in a support role ("leading from behind") ;

>> grew a 'radical center' (aka "Third Way") that sought to undermine traditional nationalist/patriotism via immigration and divisive 'wedge issues'.

The excuse for this was that while US hands were tied (because public wouldn't support further adventurism after Iraq) close allies could push forward. But the new Cold War has changed the calculus.

The US isn't giving up on Empire. It's just a different type of Empire for a different type of environment. When Trump talks about "draining the swamp" I think he merely refers to foreign influence.

So Trump pivots US policy based on Obama's record (as Obama did off Bush's record), and the next President will pivot off Trump's record, but the direction is always the same.

Red Ryder | Oct 22, 2017 2:34:25 PM | 59
Trump has one ally and that is the 65million voters who put him into office. He surrendered his top people. Saker says it was lack of character. I think when they point the gun at you, your family, your closest friends in your life, you acquiesce. They even took from him Keith Schiller, his personal security man for years. Kelly forced him out of the WH.

Trump is powerless except when he functions as Leader of the rallies. As President, even with the cabal running the Oval Office, they all are limited by the Shadow Government, Deep State, IC, Khazarian Matrix. No President is a free man empowered to act.

He now is focused on what is possible. Perhaps that will be a tax cut and a few more SC justices and a few score of judges for the fed district courts. Those don't interfere with Financial Power and MIC and the Hegemony of Empire.

There is one hope. Putin + Xi.
And we know the limits they face.

Inside the Tyranny of American government, there is no hope. During the Trump time Putin and Xi have to make the most of the Swamp creating their own problems. It is that moment of opportunity, though it looks bleak.

One thing for certain, the US military does not want a direct war. It wants more of these terror conflicts. Africa will become huge over the next few years. Graham is already selling it big. Trillions of dollars is what is the goal.

SE Asia and Africa are the new big "markets" for MIC. ISIS/AQ are the product. War is the service industry being sold as the "solution".

The Long War of anti-terror is the scam Smedley Butler told us about in the thirties.

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

CD Waller | Oct 22, 2017 2:39:29 PM | 60
On the bright side, members of Congress are at least nominally elected. Four star Generals, not so much. It's still a felony carrying a prison term of 5 to 10 years per incident to lie to Congress. The military have no precedent to recommend them either as a source of information or in their decision making ability. They are way out of their depth when it comes to administering a nation.

In none of their unwarranted invasions (all the result of bad information and poor judgment) of other nations have they been successful the day after the bombs stopped falling.

bob | Oct 22, 2017 3:21:56 PM | 61
IDIOTS!!! you forget the fact that if clinton won you would first be glowing GREEN and now dead. On Oct 16th 2016 Putin said "if hillary wins its WW3" on you tube. guess what we are alive and have to deal with that taxevader trump. we will survive!
james | Oct 22, 2017 4:04:30 PM | 62
@57 lawrence... plausible... thanks..truth eventually comes out..
Castellio | Oct 22, 2017 5:05:46 PM | 63
@16, @22

The time has long passed since one can ignore JFK's failed insistence on the inspections of the illegal Israeli nuclear weapons program at Dimona, and then his sudden death. Factoring Israel into the equation greatly simplifies understanding the make-up of the Warren Commission, LBJ's about turn on the relation to the illegal nuclear weapons program and his reaction to the attack on the Liberty, and the evolution of US politics more generally.

One would be more pressed to argue why one thinks it is not a primary cause.

Fidelios Automata | Oct 22, 2017 11:37:16 PM | 64
We voted for change and as usual, we got more of the same. All I can say is thank God it's not Hillary in the White House. At least Trump's not spoiling for a war with Russia.
Danny801 | Oct 23, 2017 11:09:10 AM | 65
Democracy has been dead in America for a long time. I'd rather Kelly run the country than Hillary Clinton. She would have us all annihilated in a war with Russia and China
ian | Oct 23, 2017 5:15:48 PM | 66
It's going to be hard to fight a junta. The military is at least halfway competent, something that can't be said for either the administration or congress. Look at this latest flap - on the one side you have Wilson the rodeo clown, on the other you have Trump, who can't resist the urge to pop off on twitter.

Then you have Kelly, who at least comes off like an adult. Before people start pointing to all the nefarious things the military is doing, let me just say I'm talking about perception.

This all seems like Rome all over.

Shyaku | Oct 23, 2017 10:06:35 PM | 67
Maybe this sums it up: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather#World_War_I

- Regards as always, Shyaku.

NemesisCalling | Oct 23, 2017 10:32:39 PM | 68
@59 Ryder

Good post sans the Africa bit. They are having a tough time explaining the Niger debacle to people. I don't think African conflicts have the same glamorous draw as MENA conflicts. Once the economy goes to shit, it will be an even tougher sell.

Trump is walking a narrow line. He has not brought us into a war with either Russia or NoKo...yet. This deserves some praise. The media blitz against Trump has always had a twofold reasoning behind it: it puts pressure on his ego to acquiesce and, two, if he doesn't, the public has been inoculated against feeling too bad when a lone-gunmen puts a bullet in his brain. I guess if you believe that, as I do, it explains why even a bumbling policy is a positive aspect of a Trump presidency, instead of the true-believer approach from Hillary and her ilk. There really is no other choice. It's either war or watch the empire crumble. The true believers might have chosen the former, but President Trump, I believe, has sabotaged that possibility. So take all the Trump-bashers in here with a grain or salt. They are asking for the stars, but watching the empire's police implode suits me just fine.

"But the white supremacists...KKK!" What a fucking joke.

dmorista | Oct 24, 2017 7:57:57 AM | 69
Moon of Alabama always writes interesting and insightful critiques of the Deep State, the military, and the imperialist/war party, but falls flat on his face in his naive faith in the supposed anti-establishment, populist, and America First Nationalist proclivities of Donald Trump, and his arch-reactionary Svengali Steve Bannon. There is indeed at least one major split in the ranks of the ruling class, but to present Trump and Bannon as either valiant figures struggling for the national good, or noble isolated men surrounded by vipers and traitors is absurd.

Now, in its late imperial decline, the U.S. has become unable to continue to exercise hegemony, the way it became accustomed to in the first 70+ years in the Post-WW 2 period. The number one Client/Ally/Master, Israel and their deeply embedded 5th Column in the U.S., the Zionists with their associated Pro-Zionist factions within the War Party, now nearly directly and openly controls U.S. foreign policy and military actions in the regions that the Likudnik faction in Israel cares about (i.e. the Levant, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa).

Hollowed out economically and industrially the U.S. Empire is clearly on the way out. The various factions fighting for control of policy seem to be oblivious to this basic fact. The actual situation is similar to that the U.S. participated in during period from the late 1800s - WW 2; the declining hegemon accustomed to calling the shots in international affairs (then the British Empire, now the U.S.), ends up overextended and committed in far too many areas, with declining resources and domestic solidarity to dedicate to the tasks; the rising hegemon (then the U.S. now China) is still focused on issues of internal and external economic development and the exercise of regional power. China is already either equal in power to the U.S. or more powerful and will only continue to grow in power as the U.S. continues to decline. The Israelis/Zionists fully realize that the U.S. would not survive another disastrous war (like the air war they want the U.S. to wage against Iran, the U.S. does not have the capability to conduct a land war against Iran) intact. They are willing to try to force the issue to achieve one more step in their plan to establish "Eretz Israel" whose territory would extend from the Nile to the Euphrates and from the Sinai to Turkey. Their plans are just as crazy as those of the NeoCons and the NeoLiberals and their endless disastrous wars; and Trump/Bannon are their agents in the U.S.

[Oct 30, 2017] Democrats Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

Notable quotes:
"... The Republican Party is home to many a vile reactionary, but its principal function is, and long has been, to serve the most odious wing of the American ruling class. ..."
"... Being unfit and unprepared for the office he suddenly found himself holding, Trump had no choice but to call on seasoned Republican apparatchiks for help. Thus he ended up empowering the very people he had beaten into submission months before. ..."
"... Thus the Republican Party and the Donald became locked together in a bizarre marriage of convenience. Their unholy aliance has by now become a nightmare for all concerned. ..."
"... Moreover, with each passing day, the situation becomes more fraught – to the point that even Republican Senators, three of them so far, have already said "enough." ..."
"... Vice President Mike Pence, his constitutionally prescribed successor, is an opportunist too, but he is also a dedicated theocrat and a thoroughgoing reactionary. A skilled casting director could not have come up with a more suitable vector for spreading the plagues that Republican donors like the Koch brothers seek to let loose upon the world. ..."
"... With Pence in the Oval Office, the chances of nuclear annihilation would diminish, but everything else would be worse. Trump is temperamentally unable to play well with the denizens of the "adult daycare center" that official Washington has become. On the other hand, because his effect on people is more soporific than terrifying, and because he is, by nature, a "pragmatic" conservative -- a mirror image of what Clinton purported to be -- Pence could end up doing more to undermine progress than Trump could ever imagine. ..."
"... Therefore, Trump's demise, though necessary, would be a mixed blessing, at best. ..."
"... After all, Democrats are part of the problem too -- arguably, the major part – and they can hardly remain entirely indifferent to the concerns of voters who lean left. ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

The Republican Party is home to many a vile reactionary, but its principal function is, and long has been, to serve the most odious wing of the American ruling class.

Before Hillary Clinton threw away a sure victory last November, Donald Trump was well on the way to blowing that dreadful party apart.

No credit is due him, however. The harm he was on track for causing was unintended. Trump was not trying to do the GOP in; he was only promoting his brand and himself.

However, by stirring up longstanding rifts between the party's various factions, he effectively put himself on the side of the angels. Without intending anything of the sort, and without even trying, Trump turned himself into a scourge upon America's debilitating duopoly party system.

As Election Day approached, it was unclear whether the GOP's Old Guard would ever be able to put their genteel thing -- their WASPish Cosa Nostra -- back together again.

With Hillary Clinton in the White House, their odds were maybe fifty-fifty. Had the Democrats nominated a less inept Clintonite like Joe Biden or an old school liberal like Bernie Sanders, their odds would have been worse.

But then, to nearly everyone's surprise, including his own, Trump won -- or, rather, Clinton lost, taking many a Democrat down with her. The debacle wasn't entirely her fault. For years, the Democratic National Committee had been squandering its resources on getting Democratic presidents elected, leaving down ticket Democrats wallowing in malign neglect.

And so, for a while, it looked like the GOP would not only survive Trump, but would thrive because of him.

Even so, Republicans were not exactly riding on Trump's coattails. The party's grandees had problems with the Donald, as did comparatively sane Republican office holders and office seekers; so did Republican-leaning voters in the broader electorate. But with Clinton flubbing so badly, none of this mattered.

Being unfit and unprepared for the office he suddenly found himself holding, Trump had no choice but to call on seasoned Republican apparatchiks for help. Thus he ended up empowering the very people he had beaten into submission months before.

Thus the Republican Party and the Donald became locked together in a bizarre marriage of convenience. Their unholy aliance has by now become a nightmare for all concerned.

Moreover, with each passing day, the situation becomes more fraught – to the point that even Republican Senators, three of them so far, have already said "enough."

Republicans continue to run the House and the Senate, and they occupy hosts of other top government offices, but the Republican Party has gone into damage control mode. It had little choice, inasmuch as its Trump induced, pre-election trajectory is back on track.

After only a brief hiatus, the chances are therefore good once again that if the country and the world survive Trump, he will be remembered mainly for destroying the party that Abraham Lincoln led a century and a half ago.

This is therefore a good time to give Republicans space to destroy themselves and each other, cheering them on from the sidelines – especially as they turn on Trump and he turns on them.

Saving the world from that menace is plainly of paramount importance, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the alternative is arguably even more unpalatable. Trump is an accidental malefactor; he goes where self-interest leads him. Vice President Mike Pence, his constitutionally prescribed successor, is an opportunist too, but he is also a dedicated theocrat and a thoroughgoing reactionary. A skilled casting director could not have come up with a more suitable vector for spreading the plagues that Republican donors like the Koch brothers seek to let loose upon the world.

With Pence in the Oval Office, the chances of nuclear annihilation would diminish, but everything else would be worse. Trump is temperamentally unable to play well with the denizens of the "adult daycare center" that official Washington has become. On the other hand, because his effect on people is more soporific than terrifying, and because he is, by nature, a "pragmatic" conservative -- a mirror image of what Clinton purported to be -- Pence could end up doing more to undermine progress than Trump could ever imagine.

Therefore, Trump's demise, though necessary, would be a mixed blessing, at best.

Trump is not likely to "self-impeach" any time soon; and. at this point, only persons who have the ear of Republican bigwigs can do much of anything to hasten his departure from the scene. But there are other ways to "deconstruct" the duopoly party system -- as Trump's fascisant, pseudo-intellectual (formerly official, now unofficial) advisor, Steve Bannon might infelicitously put it.

After all, Democrats are part of the problem too -- arguably, the major part – and they can hardly remain entirely indifferent to the concerns of voters who lean left. ... ... ... ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What's Wrong With the Opium of the People . He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press

[Oct 29, 2017] Whose Bright Idea Was RussiaGate by Paul Craig Roberts

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan.The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don't think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia. ..."
"... Russia bashing became more intense when Washington's coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. ..."
"... The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex. ..."
"... Washington is fully aware that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election or in the state elections. The military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Democratic Party are merely using the accusations to serve their own agendas. ..."
Oct 03, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan.The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don't think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia.

Public Russia bashing pre-dates Trump. It has been going on privately in neoconservative circles for years, but appeared publicly during the Obama regime when Russia blocked Washington's plans to invade Syria and to bomb Iran.

Russia bashing became more intense when Washington's coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex.

Russia bashing is much larger than merely Russiagate. The danger lies in Washington convincing Russia that Washington is planning a surprise attack on Russia. With US and NATO bases on Russia's borders, efforts to arm Ukraine and to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO provide more evidence that Washington is surrounding Russia for attack. There is nothing more reckless and irresponsible than convincing a nuclear power that you are going to attack.

Washington is fully aware that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election or in the state elections. The military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Democratic Party are merely using the accusations to serve their own agendas.

These selfish agendas are a dire threat to life on earth.

Reprinted with permission from PaulCraigRoberts.org .

[Oct 29, 2017] The US and the Overthrow of the Chilean Government A Declassified Dossier (2003)

Youtube video
Notable quotes:
"... The Pinochet File was selected as one of "The Best Books of 2003" in the nonfiction category by the Los Angeles Times. The New Yorker said, "The evidence that Kornbluh has gathered is overwhelming." in its review. The Newsweek review of The Pinochet File describes it as "...actually two distinct but intersecting books. The first is a narrative account of the Nixon administration's involvement in Chile. Its mission was to make sure that Allende's election in 1970 didn't serve as a model for leftist candidates elsewhere. The second consists of the reproduction of hundreds of salient intelligence documents released in 1999 and 2000 in response to requests by President Bill Clinton." ..."
May 15, 2016 | www.youtube.com

The Pinochet File is a National Security Archive book written by Peter Kornbluh. About the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159...

It covers over approximately two decades of declassified documents, from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), White House, and United States Department of State, regarding American covert activities in Chile. It is based on more than 24,000 previously classified documents that were released as part of the Chilean Declassification Project during the Clinton administration, between June 1999 and June 2000.

The Pinochet File was selected as one of "The Best Books of 2003" in the nonfiction category by the Los Angeles Times. The New Yorker said, "The evidence that Kornbluh has gathered is overwhelming." in its review. The Newsweek review of The Pinochet File describes it as "...actually two distinct but intersecting books. The first is a narrative account of the Nixon administration's involvement in Chile. Its mission was to make sure that Allende's election in 1970 didn't serve as a model for leftist candidates elsewhere. The second consists of the reproduction of hundreds of salient intelligence documents released in 1999 and 2000 in response to requests by President Bill Clinton."

The inclusion of key source documents allows the reader not only to corroborate Kornbluh's findings, but to acquire a flavor of the extent of U.S. covert activities within Chile, and to understand the tenor of conversation in the White House and CIA regarding Salvador Allende's presidency. While the U.S. claimed to support Chile and its democratic election process, the documents show intricate and extensive attempts first to prevent Allende from being elected, and then to overthrow him with a coup d'état. The coup d'état required first removing the commander in chief of the Chilean armed forces (General René Schneider), who opposed military interference in political situations; he was assassinated by CIA-funded coup plotters (retired General Roberto Viaux and active duty General Camilo Valenzuela). Once Augusto Pinochet took power, his human rights violations were tolerated, even though the U.S. knew that thousands of people had been detained and American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi murdered. The CIA fostered an extensive cover-up of its involvement in fomenting the coup, including dissembling to the Church Committee. The White House also withheld key documents. Subsequently, the role of the US in this period of history was not correctly understood based solely on the findings released at that time. Furthermore, extensive black propaganda, especially in El Mercurio, shaped world perceptions of Allende, essentially painting him as a Communist pawn and portraying the wreckage of the Chilean economy as due to his decisions. In contrast, the declassified documents show that Richard Nixon enacted an "invisible blockade" in concert with American multinational corporations and international banking organizations, which were pressured to withhold loan refinancing. Consequently, much of the history that has been written without access to these documents may need to be reexamined, as Kornbluh discusses in the book's introduction:

Indeed, the documents contain new information on virtually every major issue, episode, and scandal that pockmark this controversial era. They cover events such as Project FUBELT, the CIA's covert action to block Salvador Allende from becoming president of Chile in the fall of 1970; the assassination of Chilean commander-in-chief René Schneider; U.S. strategy and operations to destabilize the Allende government; the degree of American support for the coup; the postcoup executions of American citizens; the origins and operations of Pinochet's secret police, DINA, CIA ties to DINA chief Manuel Contreras, Operation Condor, the terrorist car-bombing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, D.C., the murder by burning of Washington resident Rodrigo Rojas, and Pinochet's final efforts to thwart a transition to civilian rule.

The inclusion of key source documents provide a rare behind-the-scenes view of covert regime change in operation. Key documents from the CIA, United States National Security Council (NSC), White House, DIA, and State Department were declassified in the year 2000. The more than 24,000 records correspond to an average of about three records per day gathered over two decades and Kornbluh's analysis was not complete and in print until 2003.

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

Image By Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile. [CC BY 2.0 cl ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... )], via Wikimedia Commons

Latinoamericano Soy , 1 year ago

Thank you, I really enjoyed this documentary, it summarizes what many latinoamericans know or sense, in fact the same type of interventions have taken place in Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Granada, Bolivia, Cuba, not to mention many other countries in the rest of the planet. It's pure modern imperialism.

[Oct 27, 2017] The long history of the US interfering with elections elsewhere

Notable quotes:
"... While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. ..."
"... Aside from its instigation of coups and alliances with right-wing juntas, Washington sought to more subtly influence elections in all corners of the world. And so did Moscow. Political scientist Dov Levin calculates that the "two powers intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000 - an average of once in every nine competitive elections. ..."
"... In the late 1940s, the newly established CIA cut its teeth in Western Europe, pushing back against some of the continent's most influential leftist parties and labor unions. In 1948, the United States propped up Italy's centrist Christian Democrats and helped ensure their electoral victory against a leftist coalition, anchored by one of the most powerful communist parties in Europe. CIA operatives gave millions of dollars to their Italian allies and helped orchestrate what was then an unprecedented, clandestine propaganda campaign : This included forging documents to besmirch communist leaders via fabricated sex scandals, starting a mass letter-writing campaign from Italian Americans to their compatriots, and spreading hysteria about a Russian takeover and the undermining of the Catholic Church. ..."
"... "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets," recounted F. Mark Wyatt , the CIA officer who handled the mission and later participated in more than 2½ decades of direct support to the Christian Democrats. ..."
"... This template spread everywhere : CIA operative Edward G. Lansdale, notorious for his efforts to bring down the North Vietnamese government, is said to have run the successful 1953 campaign of Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay. Japan's center-right Liberal Democratic Party was backed with secret American funds through the 1950s and the 1960s. The U.S. government and American oil corporations helped Christian parties in Lebanon win crucial elections in 1957 with briefcases full of cash. ..."
"... In Chile, the United States prevented Allende from winning an election in 1964. "A total of nearly four million dollars was spent on some fifteen covert action projects, ranging from organizing slum dwellers to passing funds to political parties," detailed a Senate inquiry in the mid-1970s that started to expose the role of the CIA in overseas elections. When it couldn't defeat Allende at the ballot box in 1970, Washington decided to remove him anyway. ..."
"... And for the record, the recent parliamentary coup in Brazil has Obama's fingerprints all over it ..."
"... Thank you for this reality check. When we look at the problems in the world, we should remember that a key reason democratic institutions are so fragile in many of these countries is because of our meddling over the years. It was perceived to be in our direct national interest to undermine democratic institutions and install and support "freindly" leaders, no matter their policies towards their people. ..."
"... The blowback has and will continue. We should remember this when making "holier than thou" pronouncements about countries around the world, and acting as thou the problems of these countries in the modern era are not our responsibility. ..."
"... Thank you WAPO! I've been saying this for years: The U.S. has regularly done its worst to interfere not only with elections in foreign countries, but also with other functions in these sovereign nations. Most blatant was the Bush-Chaney attack on Iraq. ..."
"... So here's the list of US invasions of sovereign nations since 1776: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050713.htm ..."
Oct 13, 2016 | The Washington Post

While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. It has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically elected populists .

The most infamous episodes include the ousting of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 - whose government was replaced by an authoritarian monarchy favorable to Washington - the removal and assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, and the violent toppling of socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, whose government was swept aside in 1973 by a military coup led by the ruthless Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

For decades, these actions were considered imperatives of the Cold War, part of a global struggle against the Soviet Union and its supposed leftist proxies. Its key participants included scheming diplomats like John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, who advocated aggressive, covert policies to stanch the supposedly expanding threat of communism. Sometimes that agenda also explicitly converged with the interests of U.S. business: In 1954, Washington unseated Guatemala's left-wing president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had had the temerity to challenge the vast control of the United Fruit Co., a U.S. corporation, with agrarian laws that would be fairer to Guatemalan farmers. The CIA went on to install and back a series of right-wing dictatorships that brutalized the impoverished nation for almost half a century.

A young Che Guevara, who happened to be traveling through Guatemala in 1954, was deeply affected by Arbenz's overthrow. He later wrote to his mother that the events prompted him to leave "the path of reason" and would ground his conviction in the need for radical revolution over gradual political reform.

... ... ...

" Aside from its instigation of coups and alliances with right-wing juntas, Washington sought to more subtly influence elections in all corners of the world. And so did Moscow. Political scientist Dov Levin calculates that the "two powers intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000 - an average of once in every nine competitive elections. "

In the late 1940s, the newly established CIA cut its teeth in Western Europe, pushing back against some of the continent's most influential leftist parties and labor unions. In 1948, the United States propped up Italy's centrist Christian Democrats and helped ensure their electoral victory against a leftist coalition, anchored by one of the most powerful communist parties in Europe. CIA operatives gave millions of dollars to their Italian allies and helped orchestrate what was then an unprecedented, clandestine propaganda campaign : This included forging documents to besmirch communist leaders via fabricated sex scandals, starting a mass letter-writing campaign from Italian Americans to their compatriots, and spreading hysteria about a Russian takeover and the undermining of the Catholic Church.

"We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets," recounted F. Mark Wyatt , the CIA officer who handled the mission and later participated in more than 2½ decades of direct support to the Christian Democrats.

This template spread everywhere : CIA operative Edward G. Lansdale, notorious for his efforts to bring down the North Vietnamese government, is said to have run the successful 1953 campaign of Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay. Japan's center-right Liberal Democratic Party was backed with secret American funds through the 1950s and the 1960s. The U.S. government and American oil corporations helped Christian parties in Lebanon win crucial elections in 1957 with briefcases full of cash.

In Chile, the United States prevented Allende from winning an election in 1964. "A total of nearly four million dollars was spent on some fifteen covert action projects, ranging from organizing slum dwellers to passing funds to political parties," detailed a Senate inquiry in the mid-1970s that started to expose the role of the CIA in overseas elections. When it couldn't defeat Allende at the ballot box in 1970, Washington decided to remove him anyway. "

Rude Trevor Vargas, 10/19/2016 11:32 AM EDT

"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it,"

I laughed out loud when I read this. Was this printed the same day we started bombing Yemen on behalf of one of the world's cruelest regimes, the Saudis? It's always amusing when neoliberals clutch their pearls at the very mention of Assad's crimes against humanity, take a breath, then give the Saudis, who are every bit as horrible, weapons by the ton.

The difference? The Saudis give us oil. Assad doesn't.

Elisi Newell, 10/18/2016 3:18 AM EDT

As the late great Chalmers Johnson aptly observed, the U.S. is a malignant society. To further self-educate, read Johnson's Blowback Trilogy.

Brian Hanley, 10/17/2016 1:25 PM EDT

"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere."

Excuse me? The USA's worst behavior is right now! The USA fomented a coup in Ukraine, backed the coup against the elected government. We are still calling it the legitimate government of Ukraine. We brought NATO to the brink of war in Europe. And Hunter Biden, who was right in the midst of that, our vice president's son, is now worth $4 billion. This is gross nepotistic corruption at the top level of our government as far as much of the rest of the world is concerned.

Behind us? This is arguably the most corrupt administration in American history.

And then there is the madness we are pursuing in Syria against that government, funding a revolutionary army against the Syrians. What's going on in journalisim's la-la land? Is that because all of that was mostly Hillary's architecting that nobody can mention it?

centex1, 10/17/2016 8:48 AM EDT

Why limit it to elections ? We have a long and meddlesome history of interfering in just about everything - everywhere !!

JohninCT, 10/17/2016 6:51 AM EDT

And, so what else is new? The only thing the rumors of Russian hacking are doing is provide cover for the chosen candidate. Plausible deniability is being set up for Hillary Clinton. "Oh, That treasonous activity wasn't me. It must have been the Russians" Same game the Republicans ran with Tailgunner Joe and the CIA in the '50's.

Stand there and wave some papers in the air alleging proof Hill. It's an old game honed to its finest under John Foster and Alan Dulles and then brought to its finest public lying under Hammering Hank Kissenger keeping us in Viet Nam waiting for Nixon's "secret plan". [Got an extra 10 to 15,000 Americans killed. thanks Henry!] All they had to do was wave the red flag and the lemmings ran off the cliff.

And so Ishann, what else is new. We're now stuck in a war begun during yet another a Republican administration to pay back their friends. And, apparently, clarified for Mr. Obama with the explanation from the military industrial complex that what is called "globalism" is in their best interests and his continued good health in office. And, many of these folks say their conservatives and patriots. they still lie pretty well!

And, so it goes. The Russian hacking myth gives their candidate plausible deniability. And, we'll have a female President who probably should be in Leavenworth and would be if she had been in the military when she conducted her hiding of misuse of classified documents.

As Freedom Flies, 10/17/2016 5:22 AM EDT

You want a one-world government and we are getting closer by the year. Is this not what Globalism was intended to be? Everyone has an opinion?

I think we should just get used to this because this is what the founders of Globalism wanted.

murray1, 10/17/2016 5:21 AM EDT

ever hear of Monroe Doctrine? other countries have similar goals as well.

rogerdsl, 10/16/2016 4:28 PM EDT [Edited]

The true is that the US has to apologize to so many people by the actions of so called "patriots" like Kissinger, who were just long distance criminals and their servants in central and South America.

No wonder it's better not to say that you are an American if you travel there.

In Chile, the US embassy was just a CIA office for the operation to kill the President elected Salvador Allende.

And all this for what? Forty years later there is a socialist as president of Chile.

The university of Chicago was also involved in the coup by sending graduate economics students to drive the Chilean government and inject billions of dollars into the economy.

Dumb and dumber in real life

Wildthing1, 10/16/2016 4:07 PM EDT

Changed? With all of our new technological advances? And the vulnerabilities of the internet published to the entire planet. Add questions of involvement in a military coup against Charles DeGaulle.

Hillary Clinton visiting Honduras just before their coup. Add having Kissinger & Brzezinski as favored advisers. And that the cold war was hyped to create permanent war footing for permanent MIC needing permanent wars to test out new weapons and get rid of the old in spasms of creative destruction.

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/05/27/enginee...

on Afghanistan:

http://www.counterpunch.org/1998/01/15/how-jimmy-c...

There have been many to question an anachronistic NATO by the way and it is proving in more all the time.
The question is even more relevant after invading Iraq. How can we live with ourselves and our arrogance of power? Fulbright is a bright as ever.

munchmaquchi269, 10/16/2016 4:49 AM EDT

https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-o...

Overthrowing other people's governments: The Master List
By William Blum – Published February 2013

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)

China 1949 to early 1960s
Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
Syria 1956-7
Egypt 1957
Indonesia 1957-8
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
France 1965
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Zaire 1975
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Suriname 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Iraq 1991
Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Honduras 2009
Libya 2011 *
Syria 2012
Ukraine 2014 *

Lucky Barker, 10/15/2016 3:11 PM EDT

American experts officially helped Boris Yeltsin to organize massive fraud in the 1996 president elections in Russia.
There were now published payment documents!!!

Imho these was the US experts that would later become to falsify US elections in Florida (Bush vs Gore)

Ludovici, 10/15/2016 12:03 AM EDT

"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it..." You're kidding, right? The US gov just took out Libya, helped in the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and are right now trying to overthrow the secular Assad in Syria. Whatever the US State Dept's true aims, they haven't changed a bit in a hundred years. Still up to the same skullduggery that the propaganda machine accuses other nations of.

M Stirner, 10/14/2016 11:09 PM EDT

The irony.
The WaPo writes about US government fabricated sex scandals to influence foreign elections, and totally ignores EXACTLY the same behavior by Obama/Clinton and the rest of the ruling elite against Trump.

Robert Clark, 10/14/2016 10:24 PM EDT

you left out the last Haitian election in which the Clinton State Dept. team was instrumental in getting the third most popular candidate elected, as per the NYT article of 15 MAR 2016...."The night of the runoff, which Mr. Martelly won, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl D. Mills, wrote a congratulatory note to top American diplomats in Haiti.

"You do great elections," Ms. Mills wrote in a message released by the State Department among a batch of Mrs. Clinton's emails. She wrote that she would buy dinner the next time she visited: "We can discuss how the counting is going! Just kidding. Kinda. Smile"

nestormakhno, 10/14/2016 1:47 PM EDT

So Kissinger, the thug responsible for Pinochet, has endorsed Hillary Clinton. But I'm totally out of my mind for voting for Jill Stein for President, huh?

And for the record, the recent parliamentary coup in Brazil has Obama's fingerprints all over it

rap n fly, 10/14/2016 11:48 AM EDT [Edited]

Thank you for this reality check. When we look at the problems in the world, we should remember that a key reason democratic institutions are so fragile in many of these countries is because of our meddling over the years. It was perceived to be in our direct national interest to undermine democratic institutions and install and support "freindly" leaders, no matter their policies towards their people.

The blowback has and will continue. We should remember this when making "holier than thou" pronouncements about countries around the world, and acting as thou the problems of these countries in the modern era are not our responsibility.

Doug Wenzel, 10/14/2016 11:32 AM EDT [Edited]

As Tom Lehrer said over fifty years ago:

"For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
'Till someone we like can be elected.
Members of the corps
All hate the thought of war,
They'd rather kill them off by peaceful means.
Stop calling it aggression,
O we hate that expression.
We only want the world to know
That we support the status quo.
They love us everywhere we go,
So when in doubt,
Send the Marines!"

SKYDIVER, 10/14/2016 11:04 AM EDT

Thank you WAPO! I've been saying this for years: The U.S. has regularly done its worst to interfere not only with elections in foreign countries, but also with other functions in these sovereign nations. Most blatant was the Bush-Chaney attack on Iraq. It had zero to do with WMD and lots to do with trying to farm out democratic governance to a country that was not interested in or ready for democracy. Of course, Bush also wanted to take over their oil fields - a failed effort - and to avenge perceived threats against HW Bush. What Iraq had before Bush was simply a civil war - absolutely none of our business - and we've often interfered with civil wars in other countries. Democracy is great, but not all nations - whose entire populations are quite comfortable with the systems they grew up under - like or want democracy. We are wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of such countries, and we need to stop doing it.

zixu, 10/14/2016 8:25 AM EDT

It is a good reminder that the usg is a basic thug in the world. This whole anti russian campaign and the sabre rattling that goes with it are part of a classic smear campaign. It has been supported by most of the msm including the wp. this warmongering has no basis in fact. It serves a purpose for the victoria nulands and the neocons in the usg.

steveh46, 10/14/2016 10:31 AM EDT

Ummm. Just because the usg has been thuggish doesn't mean the current Russian gov't isn't thuggish.

JMater, 10/14/2016 8:24 AM EDT

US under the neocons and AIPAC went to war in Iraq based on lies, killing 5,000 US soldiers and over 500,000 Iraqi civilians.

You_Really_Believe_That, 10/16/2016 7:26 PM EDT [Edited]

We also had the Johnson Vietnam war after the Kennedy assassination of Diem. In Vietnam we had over 58,000 American deaths and over 1.3 million non-American deaths. Proportion.

JMater, 10/14/2016 8:22 AM EDT

Israel has been trying to influence our government for decades using its proxies at AIPAC and other spy agencies. It is time to expose these traitors and prosecute them.

Ma123456, 10/14/2016 8:16 AM EDT

And don't forget the most recent example: Obama said he wouldn't meet with Netanyahu because he didn't want to influence the upcoming Israeli election, yet US operatives were on the ground in Israel doing just that (led by "the architect of the grass-roots and online organizing efforts behind both of Obama's presidential campaigns") www.newsmax.com/JohnFund/israel-netanyahu-election-hillary/2015/03/18/id/630817/#ixzz4N3pX2Qyo

EdFladung, 10/13/2016 4:53 PM EDT

So here's the list of US invasions of sovereign nations since 1776: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050713.htm

HenryAbroad, 10/13/2016 4:46 PM EDT

"Naive" and "short-sighted" is the red thread.

Marilyn Miller, 10/13/2016 1:53 PM EDT

This is so interesting, because wikileaks has just come out and said........... that the Clinton political camp knew all about the emails links, months before they came out to the public. According to Wikileaks the Clinton camp decided to use this theft on who ever was Hillary's political rival . Poor Trump he never saw it coming.

Please also : that Hillary was originally going to run against J. Bush. It was set in stone by the special interest groups that own America. Since both political parties knew about this theft ( This group also owns both political parties) it was really no big deal. IF this theft information had to be used.....it would be fruitless. Hillary was going to have a easy breezy run and, then become president. Bush would then go back to his wealthy lifestyle and life would go on. They did not expect Trump to get as far as he did this election. So the big theft would have to be blamed on him.

According to Hillary.......Donald Trump is UNFIT to become president:

[Oct 27, 2017] Angry people vote. Complacent people sometimes vote and sometimes don't. And dispirited or disillusioned people stay home.

Oct 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

L , October 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Regarding this piece: "Politics is not all that complicated. It is a game of incentives. And, right now there is no incentive for Republicans to split from the President" [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report].

I have to say thank you for putting me on to her writing. To my mind though the most important point in the piece is this one:

Here's why this matters: Angry people vote. Complacent people sometimes vote and sometimes don't. And dispirited or disillusioned people stay home.

That is the basics of all victories. If the DNC cared about winning as opposed to fundraising they would take that to heart. But signing up voters it seems,is just not what they *do* only slinging tote bags.

[Oct 23, 2017] Why Trump Is Releasing the JFK Files by Adrienne LaFrance

Looks like Atlantic honchos are really worrying at the possibility of the release of the JFK assassination documents. I like the line "One, that the press is "the enemy of the American people" working in cahoots with the deep state, and, two, by lending credibility to the idea that the official story of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect."
Notable quotes:
"... The phrase "conspiracy theory" was invented by the CIA to cover up what they were doing. It shouldn't take much smarts to see that LHO was just a patsy. ..."
"... Here's a smarts question for you: did Bush try to launch a rightwing military coup in the USA, yes or no? ..."
"... I don't think there's any doubt that the CIA has and had assets in the media who did and do perpetuate disinformation and distraction. ..."
"... Of course they've tried to hide the fact, but the Church Committee hearings on the plots and assassinations and other criminal behavior by The Agency back in the 1950s and 1960s exposed all sorts of similar schemes. ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com
Trump tweeted Saturday morning, "I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."

Trump's announcement came a day after his longtime confidant Roger Stone went on Infowars , a radio show and website known for spreading conspiracy theories, and announced that Trump would not block the release of the documents, which are set to be issued by the National Archives in the coming days. Earlier that day, Politico Magazine had published an in-depth piece saying that Trump would likely block the release of the files.

Here's the thing that happens, apparently, when a conspiracy theorist becomes president of the United States: The lines between decision and reaction blur. The American people are accustomed to public officials spinning their way through public office. No president has been truly forthcoming with the electorate. Many have misled the American people.

... ... ...

Regardless of the files, though, Trump's attention to them is a window into how he wants to be seen. In one dashed-off tweet, Trump positions himself as doing something noble -- advocating for transparency, against the warnings of the intelligence community -- while feeding at least two major conspiracies. One, that the press is "the enemy of the American people" working in cahoots with the deep state, and, two, by lending credibility to the idea that the official story of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect.

"The best conspiracy theories have all the trappings of a classic underdog story," wrote Rob Brotherton in his book, Suspicious Minds . "We want to see top dogs taken down a peg; we want the downtrodden underdog to triumph. And when it comes to conspiracy theories, unfair disadvantage is par for the course

Nikolas Bourbaki SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 5:36 PM

The best initial attitude to have is one of skepticism...not only of conspiracy theories but of denials of conspiracy theories. Until, that is, definitive evidence is revealed. You are a fool to believe in conspiracy theories without credible evidence You are also a fool for denying them without evidence. The fact is that we know through credible records including the CIA's own internal records that they have been involved with many conspiracies with foreign militias, dictatorships, corporations, thugs, gangsters and assassins. You are a damn fool not to take an allegation seriously and to blanket dismiss new allegations unless proven false. In fact, the CIA had (has?) a campaign to discredit any criticism of its policies as "conspiracy theory". Gaslighting is a common tool they have used against anyone who dares critiques or questions them.

24AheadDotCom SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 10:37 PM

The phrase "conspiracy theory" was invented by the CIA to cover up what they were doing. It shouldn't take much smarts to see that LHO was just a patsy.

Here's a smarts question for you: did Bush try to launch a rightwing military coup in the USA, yes or no?

David Ticas Polite Democrat , October 22, 2017 1:32 PM

The files were due to be released on this day after 25 years. In 1992, after the movie JFK came out, people were intrigued and wanted the files released. The president ordered them sealed for another 25 years (Oct 2017) and President Trump happens to be President. He will release the files, if no conspiracy there, we will FINALLY get the transparency we the people have been asking for. Nothing more, nothing less.

Richard Turnbull David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:50 PM

How exactly will the files show there was "no conspiracy there"? Do you expect somehow the files will erase the numerous eyewitness accounts of shots from in front of the motorcade?

Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 3:02 PM

Not only that, but the Parkland doctors said JFK's wounds ran contrary to what the Warren Report concluded. And the only doctor who saw both the assassination, the Parkland Hospital work, and the Bethesda autopsy, Dr. Burkley, was never consulted by the Warren Commission, and when asked later whether he thought shots may have hit Kennedy from more than one direction, replied: "I don't care to comment on that."

Richard Turnbull Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 5:44 PM

That's exactly why Vincent Bugliosi buried "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" as Endnote 404 on a CD-ROM accompanying his part of the coverup.

Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:20 PM

Bugliosi was intellectually dishonest in his massive tome. He hid inconvenient facts in order to push his agenda; i.e. that a lone gunman did all of the work alone. Serious scholars like Newman and DiEugenio have revealed his omissions for all to see.

Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 3:52 PM

I can't say for sure how the Clintons did it, but we should recall that Bill met JFK in 1963 and used that opportunity to plant a miniature tracking device. Hillary, using one of her witch spells, then met Bill earlier than officially recorded, and the two of them recruited Oswald and Ruby, with the help of Soviet agents using Vince Foster as a temporal go-between. Foster killed himself over his guilt in the assasination. They were desperate to get Hillary elected to stop the release of the files, but of course they failed. Now we will get another reason to lock her up. I have no proof but know this in my heart to be true.

Richard Turnbull Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 4:42 PM

They would have had to recruit Jack Ruby from organized crime --- see Who Was Jack Ruby? by Scripps-Howard White House correspondent Seth Kantor for more on "the mob's front man when they moved into Dallas."

Edit: Kantor was previously a reporter in Dallas-Ft. Worth and before that, a veteran of Guadalcanal --- he played a key role in testifying that Jack Ruby, who he knew well, was at Parkland Hospital while JFK was in Trauma Room One, which Ruby denied. The circumstances indicate a strong possibility Ruby planted the so-called "Magic Bullet" on an unattended stretcher.

@disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 2:53 PM

The lame stream news media are forever searching for ways to attack Trump. You'd think he would get some credit for releasing the 3,000 documents. But no, once again he has ulterior motives.

I remember Walter Cronkite saying that it's difficult for people to come to the conclusion that one man could have affected history to the extent that Oswald did.

Richard Turnbull @disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 6:08 PM

That's a fine thought, but has nothing to do with an actual murder case in which Oswald is supposed to have killed Patrolman Tippit and then President Kennedy, despite not one single shred of concrete, credible evidence tying him to either of the weapons supposedly used. In fact, even worse, the weapon or weapons used don't even consistently show up in the chain-of-custody by the Dallas police, bullets don't match, wounds are seen by attending physicians which had to be fired from the front, etc.

"How could Oswald shoot Kennedy in the front from the back?" is one reductio of the Warren Commission fantasies, which is why they assiduously avoided calling scores of eyewitnesses of the assassination to testify, and mucked up the autopsy evidence. I mean, their whole "case" amounted to "Well, Oswald was a communist" (not correct) "who hated Kennedy" (wrong again!) "and killed a policeman" (this is completely bogus, with key Tippit-killing witness Helen Markham described by a WC attorney as a "crackpot" among other problems) and "Oswald was at the Texas School Book Depository" (True, he worked there in a job arranged by Ruth Paine) "so he must have shot JFK" ---

(Wrong, the eyewitness testimony --- see The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for a Missing Witness to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Barry Ernest, for example -- places him in the "wrong place" to have shot anyone down in the motorcade from the sixth floor, and that's just the first major problem, it would take too long to recount them all, as in HUNDREDS OF PAGES, so that's just a few hints about what faces anyone investigating and/or reading about the JFK assassination, as well as the murders of Tippit and Oswald, or Jack Ruby's extensive ties as an organized crime factotum in Dallas and Cuba. Yes, Cuba.

David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:26 PM

Adrienne Lagrange, being the highly intellectual you try and portray. Why don't you see that by writing this negative story about President Trump you not only make yourself sound foolish, but you push neutral people to the President's side. Why do you think former President Bush came out after 9 years of silence to condemn "conspiracy theorist" days before President Trump announced the release of the JFK files? President Bush sr WAS involved with the CIA in Texas during the JFK assasination in 1963. Obviously, he does not want the truth to come out and so he got out in front of story to discredit what the files will show. Corruption is common in the U.S Government, President Trump is dismantling this corruption a little bit at a time. This is only the beginning.

Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:33 PM

I don't think Bush's "role" is really necessarily in question.

Frankly, even with the documents coming out (IF they actually do, and IF we actually get them all) I doubt the truth will be really revealed.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 1:40 PM

What more do you need? The JFK literature is voluminous, and maybe you need to actually try to read some of the key source material and critics and go from there.

Try reading Accessories after the Fact by Sylvia Meagher or On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, or Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. If you have the time to deal with over 1200 pages about the JFK assassination, read Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History , and THEN read the ferocious debunkings of Bugliosi available online.

N.B. Some of the most important discussions in Bugliosi's massive tome are in the Endnotes, especially but not only "What the Parkland Doctors Saw." Conspiracy of Silence by Parkland M.D. Dr. Charles Crenshaw is another useful text, as is Mafia Kingfish by John Davis.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 6:21 PM

Ok: my honest opinion is that you can't summarize anything as complex as the planning, execution, and subsequent coverup of the JFK assassination (including extensive use of media assets for DECADES afterward) in anything short of a manuscript of hundreds of pages, and many of the best work is already available, "just google it" ---but again, you have to be willing to read those hundreds of pages with some sense of other background facts about the Cold War and spy agencies.

This is one of the most intricate and far reaching events or set of interconnected events in modern history --- just take a look at the "tags" on the front page of kennedysandking.com and you'll see what I mean.

On the only occasion in which I had time in tutorials with Chomsky, I asked him first about his views on the nexus of players at 544 Camp Street. That question and his answer might not even make much sense to you without extensive background reading. Sorry, but that's just the facts.

Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:08 PM

I truly understand your point regarding the complexity of the issue and I apologize for my earlier comment.

I'm aware of the massive inconsistencies in the examination of his body, how it was "handled", "magic bullets", and lots of other stuff I once knew but have forgotten. There's a LOT of stuff, that's for sure.

I'm also very aware of how certain agencies (especially intel agencies) operate. Their allegience to the truth is suspect at best.

I guess I was asking for was something like "It was basically an effort by (a list such as... certain elements in the FBI/CIA/NSA/government... and/or foreign governments... and/or the Mafia... or Cuba... or it was basically a coup driven by the MIC... (which I think it was) or whatever combination it may be)." Basically the 100k foot view, a very simplistic view. And I realize my opinion is not _nearly_ as informed as yours.

But that would certainly open up much noise from people like that moron I blocked earlier. And certainly no one needs more of that....

I'll check out the links. Thanks.

By the way... I met Jim Marrs twice when I lived in Texas, actually around a campfire. It was interesting meeting him, and he was a very interesting man regarding the JFK assassination. I didn't know he passed, apparently quite recently.

I hope these documents get released and I hope they answer a lot of the open questions still remaining.

truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:10 PM

JFK was murdered by the CIA......he wanted to "to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds"......he fired Allen Dulles. Dulles was one of seven commissioners of the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy..oh and he had no problem murdering people....

This Trump?

Who hasn't even been a republican since 1999?

2008 Trump: 'I Support Hillary; I Think She's Fantastic' - YouTube
▶ 2:00
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

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Richard Turnbull truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 10:01 PM

Correction: "rogue elements" of the CIA with some complicity by very high-level officials.

Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:23 PM

I don't believe a single word from a politician. They are professional liars. It's their job to lie and spin webs of deception. I watch and judge them by their actions.

truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:27 PM

1.JFK fired Dulles and top generals. He was pulling out of Vietnam and working secretly to make a deal with Castro..

2.Trump wasnt even a republican....and ran against Bush and the GOP...

Trump in 1999: GOP is 'just too crazy' | MSNBC

▶ 6:42

www.msnbc.com/.../trump-in-... ...

Aug 17, 2015The last time Donald Trump was on 'Meet the Press' he announced he was quitting the GOP. Plus, Trump .

Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:33 PM

I couldn't care less what color orange TrumPutin wears. He declared war on corporate media and that is good enough for me. I don't support him because of his position on Snowden but I agree with him on many issues.

JFK was a naive fool. He moved against forces he did not fully understand. I don't blame him for trying. He was a patriot.

truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:41 PM

Trump may be a baboon but he made the right enemies....the DNC ad GOP and neocons all hate him.

Those forces JFK tried to reign in are in complete control today. Trump threw them through a loop.......

Ayna Иван , October 22, 2017 7:35 PM

But some politicians lie more than others. That's why Madame Never President became Madame Never President.

Иван , October 22, 2017 4:12 PM

Atantuc reasserting it's superior newsmaking capabilities with click-bait headlines, unsupported assumptions and trolling. Well done. You fall below tabloid, yellow journalism.

basarov , October 22, 2017 3:15 PM

LOL---americans are little antagonistic children that prefer lies to truth...see comments below! and are gullible enough to believe anything told them...who needs conspiracy theories when people are so stupid...everyone in Europe understood that americans were idiots when they accepted the impossible claim that 1 shooter killed JFK...and now they are more stupid believing that 1 gambler shot 500 people in las vegas...a nation of dimwits

Richard Turnbull basarov , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM

The American public had to wait TWELVE YEARS to see the Zapruder film of the assassination, showing the effect of the kill shot from in front of the motorcade. But by the time Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane had become a best seller a few years after the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission's hearings and exhibits were published (with no index --- it was left to United Nations-employed scientist Sylvia Meagher to assemble that, which spurred critics of the WC fantasies and outright lies to expose the multiple flaws and fallacies in the first "official investigation," i.e., the first attempted coverup) the credibility of the Krazy Kid Oswald nonsense was already held in disrepute by informed observers.

The article above can't whitewash the mainstream media's role in the coverup, of course --- search "Operation Mockingbird" or "Walter Sheridan and the Garrison investigation" or " Jim Di Eugenio critique of Phil Shenon's JFK books" etc,

Иван basarov , October 22, 2017 6:14 PM

If you like conspiracy theories, there were claims that Soviets did it.

and please ease up on anti-Americanism.

Johnny Burnette Иван , October 22, 2017 8:42 PM

Any claims that the Soviets or Cubans did it have been thoroughly debunked. It was an American domestic coup. If you believe the Warren Commission, I've got Indian treaties to show you.

Michael Kosanovich basarov , October 22, 2017 3:22 PM

No one has presented evidence that there was another shooter. Clint Black, the secret service agent at the scene adamantly say's no other gunshots from the grassy knoll area. Simply no proof. As for the Vegas shooting as well.

Johnny Burnette Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 4:00 PM

I disagree with your faith-based following of Bugliosi. I think Dr. Cyril Wecht blows Bugliosi out of the water, from a forensics standpoint.
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

This guy debunks Bugliosi's position too: https://www.youtube.com/wat...

As for the Vegas guy? Yeah, he did it alone. That's pretty much in the forensics bag.

wmlady Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM

I agree with you about Bugliosi and Wecht. Wecht pokes sufficient holes in the pristine "magic bullet" theory that it's simply unbelievable.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:03 PM

See the book Reclaiming Parkland for an extended dismantling of Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, or just search "critical reviews of Bugliosi's JFK assassination book." It's an embarrassment that Bugliosi wrote such fine books on the Simpson case and on the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision, but was apparently either blackmailed into writing obvious lies or somehow convinced himself "no one with sufficient familiarity with the JFK assassination in the requisite granular detail will ever read my book and expose my silly attempts to distort the historical record." It took enormous chutzpah on his part to title the book "Reclaiming History."

Search "Reclaiming History? Or Re-framing Oswald?" at reclaiminghistory.org , which has links to a series of reviews of Bugliosi, none of which you will ever see discussed on CNN or any other corporate mass media outlet. Instead, without bothering to read the book much less deal with hundreds and hundreds of footnotes and "Endnotes," some of bear on crucial points about the JFK assassination (such as "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" ---see the Endnotes from 404-408} the corporate media is happy to perpetuate as best they can the "one lone nut with no ties to the CIA killed two days later by another lone nut with no relevant ties to the mob" confabulations.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:23 PM

"Reclaiming Parkland" is not one I've read, but I will. I don't think there's any doubt that the CIA has and had assets in the media who did and do perpetuate disinformation and distraction.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:31 PM

Of course they've tried to hide the fact, but the Church Committee hearings on the plots and assassinations and other criminal behavior by The Agency back in the 1950s and 1960s exposed all sorts of similar schemes.

Search "MKUltra" and "Operation Artichoke" or just "The CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald" and you can run across all sorts of interesting facts. not wild speculation, but facts, some of it from CIA documents etc. etc.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 6:02 PM

I did manage to slog through Newman's "Oswald and the CIA."

Johnny Burnette wmlady , October 22, 2017 8:44 PM

Newman did his homework. He has combed through the declassified records and published his findings on Oswald and the CIA, and on what really happened in Vietnam.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:34 PM

I have read about Bolden.

In my view the Miami and Chicago plans being aborted make the existence of multiple shooters in Dallas-- such as Files -- more believable; the conspirators were simply not going to miss another chance. Interestingly, Files himself says his superior told him the Dallas plot was supposed to be called off, but they ignored the order.

wmlady Guest , October 22, 2017 3:09 PM

Did you know that Gerald Posner, who wrote the definitive book concluding that Oswald acted alone ("Case Closed"), is fully in favor of releasing the remainder of the documents -- in agreement with Pres. Trump's friend Roger Stone, who is a "conspiracy theorist"?

Did you know that the original "conspiracy theorist" -- the late Mark Lane -- was a leftist and ardent supporter of JFK?

For the educated, this is about transparency, not ignorance.

Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:06 PM

Posner? Are you posting this as some kind of joke? Posner fabricated, altered, distorted evidence on practically EVERY key point about the supposed role of Oswald, and totally ignored all the revelations about Oswald's connections which exposed the role he played as an intelligence agency asset.
Try reading some "critical reviews" of Case Closed, they are devastating and some are maliciously funny, as well.

wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:29 PM

I was being sarcastic. I was pointing out that if a guy like Posner is in favor of releasing the rest of the documents, it's a non-controversial issue.

Michael Kosanovich wmlady , October 22, 2017 3:36 PM

I can promise you this; Vincent Buglioti wrote THEE masterpiece. Reclaiming history, The JFK assassination. 1612 pages, twenty year's of research, and he embarrassed every other JFK assassination writer' I've read Posner's book. Very well researched. But truthfully, it cannot compare to Bugliotis " opus"

Richard Turnbull Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 5:15 PM

Get real --- Bugliosi has been thoroughly debunked. One of his favorite tricks is to partially quote the FBI reports from Sibert and O'Neill out-of-context and ignore contradictory witness testimony from witnesses (and there were dozens) not called to testify before the Warren Commission. His book (and yes, I read ALL of it but with the advantage of having ALSO read the WC report (the 26 volumes in large part, although not the part where they had dental x-rays from Jack Ruby's mother --- I kid you not --- so much as the inadvertently revelatory portions) as well as dozens and dozens of other books on the assassination, so I could immediately spot some of Bugliosi's howlers) is considered essentially a fraud on the public by informed critics of the JFK assassination.

Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:38 PM

"Conspiracy theories are a way to stand up, through disbelief, against the powerful. Those who spread conspiracy theories in earnest are, whether they mean to or not, partaking in an act of defiance against established institutions as much as they are questioning accepted truths."

I disagree. Conspiracy theories are a way for the ignorant and stupid to delude themselves that they are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Conspiracy theories provide a way of feeling smart and shrewd without bothering with all that evidence and logic stuff.

Richard Turnbull Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:49 PM

Your comment makes no sense, since there are political assassinations like that of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, for example, which have been both officially and "unofficially" found to be the result of conspiracies. The House Select Committee on Assassinations is one "official theory" that posits a conspiracy in the killing of President Kennedy. You could also search "The Lincoln Conspiracy the book" and read that. In fact, you don't have any idea at all about any of this, do you? You're just parroting some supposed sage advice from the usual suspects.

Maud Pie Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 2:59 PM

Learn to read. I didn't say conspiracies never exist, My remarks were addressed to conspiracy "theories" not supported by evidence and logic.

Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:30 PM

"[L]ending credibility to the idea that the official story (sic) of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect" is the incontrovertible fact that there are multiple "official stories," and at least one of them posits the probability of a conspiracy behind JFK's assassination.

Since Oswald cannot even be tied to the supposed murder weapon by a credible chain-of-evidence, nor placed in the so-called "sniper's nest" at the time shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, nor be credibly rigged up as the killer of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, it is hardly surprising that anyone stuck trying to defend the relentlessly debunked Warren Commission fantasies about the JFK-Tippit-Oswald murders is up against equally relentless debunking right up to today.

See jfkfacts.org , Jefferson Morley's website and kennedysandking.com for various paths into the maze.

julianpenrod , October 22, 2017 7:31 PM

A fact that the Democratic Party toadies try to push is that Trump does not tell the truth.

He says things that are at variance with the claims the "press" try to toss at the people, but that doesn't make them untrue.

The "press" was determined to tell people that the U.S.S. Maine was sunk by Spain, even though it made no sense for them to be engage in aggressive actions that the New York Journal claimed would then escalate into overt military action. If they felt that way, they would have acted militarily from the start. Morons never questioned this and the U.S. easily entered war with Spain. Even though the explosion on the Maine seems to have been the result of a carelessly disposed of cigar.

Similarly with R.M.S. Lusitania. Imbeciles wouldn't ask why the Germans would engage in something like murdering innocent civilians on an ocean liner if they wanted war. Why not just carry out an invasion or declare war? Only now it's being admitted that Lusitania was illegally carrying war supplies and ammunition from the U.S. to the Allies, making it a legitimate target. Indeed, it is not necessarily proved that it actually carried civilian passengers.

Similarly for the claims the the U.S. spied on the USSY with U-2 spy planes. The same with the failure of the government and the "press" to admit the suspicious nature of claims of the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident".

The fact is, Trump and others in the Republican Party have said many things that the "press" denied, only to have the "press" shown to be lying later.

Hillary Clinton supporters were carrying out acts of violence after the election in Trump's name to try to undermine him. Germany didn't pay its agreed upon amount for the maintenance of NATO. Obama did bug Trump's campaign headquarters. Puerto Rico's sorry condition is the result of massive corruption in its government. There are many women who, as Trump asserted, will let a man with money and power take liberties. In fact, climate isn't changing. "Climate" is the massive, interconnected, self regulating system comprised of things like land, ocean, sky, solar energy, life. Land, ocean, solar energy, life are no different from fifty years ago. Only the weather is changing, and that is caused by chemtrails, the program of doping the air with weather modification chemicals from high flying jets, producing long, non dissipating vapor lanes that stretch from horizon to horizon and can last for an hour or more. Stop chemtrails and everything will return to normal.

Todd Akin was criticized for saying that, in "legitimate rape" women's bodies will fight being impregnated. Democratic Party followers insisted Akin was saying rape was legal. He was referring to rapes that actually occurred, not lies that many women do lodge against rich and powerful men to get money.

J. Edgar Hoover said that "civil rights" marches and such were tools of the Kremlin to try to undermine democracy. In their desperate attempt to rescue the claim that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election, none other than The Atlantic has taken up Hoover's insistence that such demonstrations were a means used by the USSR to try to destroy democracy. And the dullards of the Democratic Party's target audience won't realize they are now agreeing with the Republicans.

Trump and the politicians come from rarefied levels that know facts that government and the "press" lies to the public about. One fact, that there may be actual sections of government, or "government", that act independently of any rules and can even roll over the rest of "government". "Government" is just a sleazy swindle to make the rich richer. No one controls them! Not even elections! They publish fake "vote tallies", then put who they want in. Trump speaks of the Deep State of power mongering going on behind the scenes. Hillary Clinton operated her own shadow government with a system of unregistered servers only one of which has been acknowledged. It's been suspected for a long time that the "intelligence network" acted solely on its own recognizance, answerable to no one. Questions Trump raises can point people to the truth.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:40 PM

"My" research? Look, just GO ONLINE to another website like JFKfacts.org or kennedysand king.com , or search "James Di Eugenio on the JFK assassination," I have read around 150 books and articles and much of the Warren Report (the volumes not the summary) and the House Select Committee hearings reports, but compared to "serious researchers" I am a dilletante. Besides, you really NEED to study this either for yourself as a kind of "research project" or if possible, in a university level course environment.

There are THOUSANDS of really interesting books about aspects of the JFK assassination --- search "Reclaiming Parkland" by Di Eugenio and go from there, whatever.

Follow the links, and expect it to take many many hours to get the beginning of an understanding.

Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:54 PM

Ok, why don't you at least realize it's FAR more complex than any possible "avionics system," it's something akin to people on Quora asking me to "summarize Hamlet," or "summarize King Lear." It's just absurd. Besides which, the subject matter is far too important for anyone to take their views from a few summarized paragraphs, whether about Hamlet or Lear or the JFK assassination.

So yeah, I did "research" and I think the facts speak for themselves, as you would learn by delving into the posts at jfkfacts.org or kennedysandking.com , or reading Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. The thing is, it's one of the most complicated interlocking sets of topics in modern history, not something that can be scrawled on a postcard.

[Oct 22, 2017] What Facebook Did to American Democracy by Alexis C. Madrigal

The danger is that intelligence agencies cause Facebook to influence elections.
Notable quotes:
"... Fowler told Rosen that it was "even possible that Facebook is completely responsible" for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook's GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems. ..."
"... In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic ..."
"... The Filter Bubble, ..."
"... The Filter Bubble ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post, ..."
"... the Pope himself ..."
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... The New York Times Magazine ..."
"... 340 million times ..."
"... Information Operations and Facebook ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... sat with the Obama tech team ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Prototype Politics , ..."
"... The Huffington Post ..."
"... But the point isn't that a Republican beat a Democrat. The point is that the very roots of the electoral system -- the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest -- had been destabilized. ..."
"... Chaos Monkeys ..."
"... The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn't just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of "dark ads." ..."
"... Update: After publication, Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, sent an email describing some of the work that Facebook is doing in response to the problems during the election. They include new software and processes "to stop the spread of misinformation , click-bait and other problematic content on Facebook." ..."
"... "The truth is we've learned things since the election, and we take our responsibility to protect the community of people who use Facebook seriously. As a result, we've launched a company-wide effort to improve the integrity of information on our service," he wrote. "It's already translated into new products, new protections, and the commitment of thousands of new people to enforce our policies and standards... We know there is a lot more work to do, but I've never seen this company more engaged on a single challenge since I joined almost 10 years ago." ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com

And why it was so hard to see it coming

In the media world, as in so many other realms, there is a sharp discontinuity in the timeline: before the 2016 election, and after.

Things we thought we understood -- narratives, data, software, news events -- have had to be reinterpreted in light of Donald Trump's surprising win as well as the continuing questions about the role that misinformation and disinformation played in his election.

Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election. Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. Every component of the chaotic digital campaign has been reported on, here at The Atlantic , and elsewhere: Facebook's enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of "viral" hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.

But no one delivered the synthesis that could have tied together all these disparate threads. It's not that this hypothetical perfect story would have changed the outcome of the election. The real problem -- for all political stripes -- is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump's victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.

* * *

We've known since at least 2012 that Facebook was a powerful, non-neutral force in electoral politics. In that year, a combined University of California, San Diego and Facebook research team led by James Fowler published a study in Nature , which argued that Facebook's "I Voted" button had driven a small but measurable increase in turnout, primarily among young people.

Rebecca Rosen's 2012 story, " Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand? " relied on new research from Fowler, et al., about the presidential election that year. Again, the conclusion of their work was that Facebook's get-out-the-vote message could have driven a substantial chunk of the increase in youth voter participation in the 2012 general election. Fowler told Rosen that it was "even possible that Facebook is completely responsible" for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook's GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems.

The research showed that a small design change by Facebook could have electoral repercussions, especially with America's electoral-college format in which a few hotly contested states have a disproportionate impact on the national outcome. And the pro-liberal effect it implied became enshrined as an axiom of how campaign staffers, reporters, and academics viewed social media.

In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic called, " Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out ," in which he called attention to the possibility of Facebook selectively depressing voter turnout. (He also suggested that Facebook be seen as an "information fiduciary," charged with certain special roles and responsibilities because it controls so much personal data.)

In late 2014, The Daily Dot called attention to an obscure Facebook-produced case study on how strategists defeated a statewide measure in Florida by relentlessly focusing Facebook ads on Broward and Dade counties, Democratic strongholds. Working with a tiny budget that would have allowed them to send a single mailer to just 150,000 households, the digital-advertising firm Chong and Koster was able to obtain remarkable results. "Where the Facebook ads appeared, we did almost 20 percentage points better than where they didn't," testified a leader of the firm. "Within that area, the people who saw the ads were 17 percent more likely to vote our way than the people who didn't. Within that group, the people who voted the way we wanted them to, when asked why, often cited the messages they learned from the Facebook ads."

In April 2016, Rob Meyer published " How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election " after a company meeting in which some employees apparently put the stopping-Trump question to Mark Zuckerberg. Based on Fowler's research, Meyer reimagined Zittrain's hypothetical as a direct Facebook intervention to depress turnout among non-college graduates, who leaned Trump as a whole.

Facebook, of course, said it would never do such a thing. "Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community," a spokesperson said. "We as a company are neutral -- we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote."

They wouldn't do it intentionally, at least.

As all these examples show, though, the potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade before Donald Trump was elected. But rather than focusing specifically on the integrity of elections, most writers -- myself included , some observers like Sasha Issenberg , Zeynep Tufekci , and Daniel Kreiss excepted -- bundled electoral problems inside other, broader concerns like privacy , surveillance , tech ideology , media-industry competition , or the psychological effects of social media .

The same was true even of people inside Facebook. "If you'd come to me in 2012, when the last presidential election was raging and we were cooking up ever more complicated ways to monetize Facebook data, and told me that Russian agents in the Kremlin's employ would be buying Facebook ads to subvert American democracy, I'd have asked where your tin-foil hat was," wrote Antonio García Martínez, who managed ad targeting for Facebook back then. "And yet, now we live in that otherworldly political reality."

Not to excuse us, but this was back on the Old Earth, too, when electoral politics was not the thing that every single person talked about all the time. There were other important dynamics to Facebook's growing power that needed to be covered.

* * *

Facebook's draw is its ability to give you what you want. Like a page, get more of that page's posts; like a story, get more stories like that; interact with a person, get more of their updates. The way Facebook determines the ranking of the News Feed is the probability that you'll like, comment on, or share a story. Shares are worth more than comments, which are both worth more than likes, but in all cases, the more likely you are to interact with a post, the higher up it will show in your News Feed. Two thousand kinds of data (or "features" in the industry parlance) get smelted in Facebook's machine-learning system to make those predictions.

What's crucial to understand is that, from the system's perspective, success is correctly predicting what you'll like, comment on, or share. That's what matters. People call this "engagement." There are other factors, as Slate' s Will Oremus noted in this rare story about the News Feed ranking team . But who knows how much weight they actually receive and for how long as the system evolves. For example, one change that Facebook highlighted to Oremus in early 2016 -- taking into account how long people look at a story, even if they don't click it -- was subsequently dismissed by Lars Backstrom, the VP of engineering in charge of News Feed ranking , as a "noisy" signal that's also "biased in a few ways" making it "hard to use" in a May 2017 technical talk.

Facebook's engineers do not want to introduce noise into the system. Because the News Feed, this machine for generating engagement, is Facebook's most important technical system. Their success predicting what you'll like is why users spend an average of more than 50 minutes a day on the site, and why even the former creator of the "like" button worries about how well the site captures attention. News Feed works really well.

But as far as " personalized newspapers " go, this one's editorial sensibilities are limited. Most people are far less likely to engage with viewpoints that they find confusing, annoying, incorrect, or abhorrent. And this is true not just in politics, but the broader culture.

That this could be a problem was apparent to many. Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble, which came out in the summer of 2011, became the most widely cited distillation of the effects Facebook and other internet platforms could have on public discourse.

Pariser began the book research when he noticed conservative people, whom he'd befriended on the platform despite his left-leaning politics, had disappeared from his News Feed. "I was still clicking my progressive friends' links more than my conservative friends' -- and links to the latest Lady Gaga videos more than either," he wrote. "So no conservative links for me."

Through the book, he traces the many potential problems that the "personalization" of media might bring. Most germane to this discussion, he raised the point that if every one of the billion News Feeds is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to?

"The most serious political problem posed by filter bubbles is that they make it increasingly difficult to have a public argument. As the number of different segments and messages increases, it becomes harder and harder for the campaigns to track who's saying what to whom," Pariser wrote. "How does a [political] campaign know what its opponent is saying if ads are only targeted to white Jewish men between 28 and 34 who have expressed a fondness for U2 on Facebook and who donated to Barack Obama's campaign?"

This did, indeed, become an enormous problem. When I was editor in chief of Fusion , we set about trying to track the "digital campaign" with several dedicated people. What we quickly realized was that there was both too much data -- the noisiness of all the different posts by the various candidates and their associates -- as well as too little. Targeting made tracking the actual messaging that the campaigns were paying for impossible to track. On Facebook, the campaigns could show ads only to the people they targeted. We couldn't actually see the messages that were actually reaching people in battleground areas. From the outside, it was a technical impossibility to know what ads were running on Facebook, one that the company had fought to keep intact .

Pariser suggests in his book, "one simple solution to this problem would simply be to require campaigns to immediately disclose all of their online advertising materials and to whom each ad is targeted." Which could happen in future campaigns .

Imagine if this had happened in 2016. If there were data sets of all the ads that the campaigns and others had run, we'd know a lot more about what actually happened last year. The Filter Bubble is obviously prescient work, but there was one thing that Pariser and most other people did not foresee. And that's that Facebook became completely dominant as a media distributor.

* * *

About two years after Pariser published his book, Facebook took over the news-media ecosystem. They've never publicly admitted it, but in late 2013, they began to serve ads inviting users to "like" media pages. This caused a massive increase in the amount of traffic that Facebook sent to media companies. At The Atlantic and other publishers across the media landscape, it was like a tide was carrying us to new traffic records. Without hiring anyone else, without changing strategy or tactics, without publishing more, suddenly everything was easier.

While traffic to The Atlantic from Facebook.com increased, at the time, most of the new traffic did not look like it was coming from Facebook within The Atlantic 's analytics. It showed up as "direct/bookmarked" or some variation, depending on the software. It looked like what I called "dark social" back in 2012. But as BuzzFeed 's Charlie Warzel pointed out at the time , and as I came to believe, it was primarily Facebook traffic in disguise. Between August and October of 2013, BuzzFeed 's "partner network" of hundreds of websites saw a jump in traffic from Facebook of 69 percent.

At The Atlantic, we ran a series of experiments that showed, pretty definitively from our perspective, that most of the stuff that looked like "dark social" was, in fact, traffic coming from within Facebook's mobile app. Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people who thought about these kinds of things: Damn, Facebook owns us . They had taken over media distribution.

Why? This is a best guess, proffered by Robinson Meyer as it was happening : Facebook wanted to crush Twitter, which had drawn a disproportionate share of media and media-figure attention. Just as Instagram borrowed Snapchat's "Stories" to help crush the site's growth, Facebook decided it needed to own "news" to take the wind out of the newly IPO'd Twitter.

The first sign that this new system had some kinks came with " Upworthy -style " headlines. (And you'll never guess what happened next!) Things didn't just go kind of viral, they went ViralNova , a site which, like Upworthy itself , Facebook eventually smacked down . Many of the new sites had, like Upworthy , which was cofounded by Pariser, a progressive bent.

Less noticed was that a right-wing media was developing in opposition to and alongside these left-leaning sites. "By 2014, the outlines of the Facebook-native hard-right voice and grievance spectrum were there," The New York Times ' media and tech writer John Herrman told me, "and I tricked myself into thinking they were a reaction/counterpart to the wave of soft progressive/inspirational content that had just crested. It ended up a Reaction in a much bigger and destabilizing sense."

The other sign of algorithmic trouble was the wild swings that Facebook Video underwent. In the early days, just about any old video was likely to generate many, many, many views. The numbers were insane in the early days. Just as an example, a Fortune article noted that BuzzFeed 's video views "grew 80-fold in a year, reaching more than 500 million in April." Suddenly, all kinds of video -- good, bad, and ugly -- were doing 1-2-3 million views.

As with news, Facebook's video push was a direct assault on a competitor, YouTube . Videos changed the dynamics of the News Feed for individuals, for media companies, and for anyone trying to understand what the hell was going on.

Individuals were suddenly inundated with video. Media companies, despite no business model, were forced to crank out video somehow or risk their pages/brands losing relevance as video posts crowded others out.

And on top of all that, scholars and industry observers were used to looking at what was happening in articles to understand how information was flowing. Now, by far the most viewed media objects on Facebook, and therefore on the internet, were videos without transcripts or centralized repositories. In the early days, many successful videos were just "freebooted" (i.e., stolen) videos from other places or reposts. All of which served to confuse and obfuscate the transport mechanisms for information and ideas on Facebook.

Through this messy, chaotic, dynamic situation, a new media rose up through the Facebook burst to occupy the big filter bubbles. On the right, Breitbart is the center of a new conservative network. A study of 1.25 million election news articles found "a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world."

Breitbart , of course, also lent Steve Bannon, its chief, to the Trump campaign, creating another feedback loop between the candidate and a rabid partisan press. Through 2015, Breitbart went from a medium-sized site with a small Facebook page of 100,000 likes into a powerful force shaping the election with almost 1.5 million likes. In the key metric for Facebook's News Feed, its posts got 886,000 interactions from Facebook users in January. By July, Breitbart had surpassed The New York Times ' main account in interactions. By December, it was doing 10 million interactions per month, about 50 percent of Fox News, which had 11.5 million likes on its main page. Breitbart 's audience was hyper-engaged.

There is no precise equivalent to the Breitbart phenomenon on the left. Rather the big news organizations are classified as center-left, basically, with fringier left-wing sites showing far smaller followings than Breitbart on the right.

And this new, hyperpartisan media created the perfect conditions for another dynamic that influenced the 2016 election, the rise of fake news.

Sites by partisan attention ( Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman )

* * *

In a December 2015 article for BuzzFeed , Joseph Bernstein argued that " the dark forces of the internet became a counterculture ." He called it "Chanterculture" after the trolls who gathered at the meme-creating, often-racist 4chan message board. Others ended up calling it the "alt-right." This culture combined a bunch of people who loved to perpetuate hoaxes with angry Gamergaters with "free-speech" advocates like Milo Yiannopoulos with honest-to-God neo-Nazis and white supremacists. And these people loved Donald Trump.

"This year Chanterculture found its true hero, who makes it plain that what we're seeing is a genuine movement: the current master of American resentment, Donald Trump," Bernstein wrote. "Everywhere you look on 'politically incorrect' subforums and random chans, he looms."

When you combine hyper-partisan media with a group of people who love to clown "normies," you end up with things like Pizzagate , a patently ridiculous and widely debunked conspiracy theory that held there was a child-pedophilia ring linked to Hillary Clinton somehow. It was just the most bizarre thing in the entire world. And many of the figures in Bernstein's story were all over it, including several who the current president has consorted with on social media.

But Pizzagate was but the most Pynchonian of all the crazy misinformation and hoaxes that spread in the run-up to the election.

BuzzFeed , deeply attuned to the flows of the social web, was all over the story through reporter Craig Silverman. His best-known analysis happened after the election, when he showed that "in the final three months of the U.S. presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election-news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times , The Washington Post , The Huffington Post , NBC News, and others."

But he also tracked fake news before the election , as did other outlets such as The Washington Post, including showing that Facebook's "Trending" algorithm regularly promoted fake news. By September of 2016, even the Pope himself was talking about fake news, by which we mean actual hoaxes or lies perpetuated by a variety of actors.

The longevity of Snopes shows that hoaxes are nothing new to the internet. Already in January 2015 , Robinson Meyer reported about how Facebook was " cracking down on the fake news stories that plague News Feeds everywhere ."

What made the election cycle different was that all of these changes to the information ecosystem had made it possible to develop weird businesses around fake news. Some random website posting aggregated news about the election could not drive a lot of traffic. But some random website announcing that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump definitely could . The fake news generated a ton of engagement, which meant that it spread far and wide.

A few days before the election Silverman and fellow BuzzFeed contributor Lawrence Alexander traced 100 pro–Donald Trump sites to a town of 45,000 in Macedonia . Some teens there realized they could make money off the election, and just like that, became a node in the information network that helped Trump beat Clinton.

Whatever weird thing you imagine might happen, something weirder probably did happen. Reporters tried to keep up, but it was too strange. As Max Read put it in New York Magazine , Facebook is "like a four-dimensional object, we catch slices of it when it passes through the three-dimensional world we recognize." No one can quite wrap their heads around what this thing has become, or all the things this thing has become.

"Not even President-Pope-Viceroy Zuckerberg himself seemed prepared for the role Facebook has played in global politics this past year," Read wrote.

And we haven't even gotten to the Russians.

* * *

Russia's disinformation campaigns are well known. During his reporting for a story in The New York Times Magazine , Adrian Chen sat across the street from the headquarters of the Internet Research Agency, watching workaday Russian agents/internet trolls head inside. He heard how the place had "industrialized the art of trolling" from a former employee. "Management was obsessed with statistics -- page views, number of posts, a blog's place on LiveJournal's traffic charts -- and team leaders compelled hard work through a system of bonuses and fines," he wrote. Of course they wanted to maximize engagement, too!

There were reports that Russian trolls were commenting on American news sites . There were many, many reports of Russia's propaganda offensive in Ukraine. Ukrainian journalists run a website dedicated to cataloging these disinformation attempts called StopFake . It has hundreds of posts reaching back into 2014.

A Guardian reporter who looked into Russian military doctrine around information war found a handbook that described how it might work. "The deployment of information weapons, [the book] suggests, 'acts like an invisible radiation' upon its targets: 'The population doesn't even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn't switch on its self-defense mechanisms,'" wrote Peter Pomerantsev.

As more details about the Russian disinformation campaign come to the surface through Facebook's continued digging, it's fair to say that it's not just the state that did not switch on its self-defense mechanisms. The influence campaign just happened on Facebook without anyone noticing.

As many people have noted, the 3,000 ads that have been linked to Russia are a drop in the bucket, even if they did reach millions of people. The real game is simply that Russian operatives created pages that reached people "organically," as the saying goes. Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, pulled data on the six publicly known Russia-linked Facebook pages . He found that their posts had been shared 340 million times . And those were six of 470 pages that Facebook has linked to Russian operatives. You're probably talking billions of shares, with who knows how many views, and with what kind of specific targeting.

The Russians are good at engagement! Yet, before the U.S. election, even after Hillary Clinton and intelligence agencies fingered Russian intelligence meddling in the election, even after news reports suggested that a disinformation campaign was afoot , nothing about the actual operations on Facebook came out.

In the aftermath of these discoveries, three Facebook security researchers, Jen Weedon, William Nuland, and Alex Stamos, released a white paper called Information Operations and Facebook . "We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam, and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people," they wrote.

One key theme of the paper is that they were used to dealing with economic actors, who responded to costs and incentives. When it comes to Russian operatives paid to Facebook, those constraints no longer hold. "The area of information operations does provide a unique challenge," they wrote, "in that those sponsoring such operations are often not constrained by per-unit economic realities in the same way as spammers and click fraudsters, which increases the complexity of deterrence." They were not expecting that.

Add everything up. The chaos of a billion-person platform that competitively dominated media distribution. The known electoral efficacy of Facebook. The wild fake news and misinformation rampaging across the internet generally and Facebook specifically. The Russian info operations. All of these things were known.

And yet no one could quite put it all together: The dominant social network had altered the information and persuasion environment of the election beyond recognition while taking a very big chunk of the estimated $1.4 billion worth of digital advertising purchased during the election. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of dark ads doing their work. Fake news all over the place. Macedonian teens campaigning for Trump. Ragingly partisan media infospheres serving up only the news you wanted to hear. Who could believe anything? What room was there for policy positions when all this stuff was eating up News Feed space? Who the hell knew what was going on?

As late as August 20, 2016 , the The Washington Post could say this of the campaigns:

Hillary Clinton is running arguably the most digital presidential campaign in U.S. history. Donald Trump is running one of the most analog campaigns in recent memory. The Clinton team is bent on finding more effective ways to identify supporters and ensure they cast ballots; Trump is, famously and unapologetically, sticking to a 1980s-era focus on courting attention and voters via television.

Just a week earlier, Trump's campaign had hired Cambridge Analytica. Soon, they'd ramped up to $70 million a month in Facebook advertising spending. And the next thing you knew, Brad Parscale, Trump's digital director, is doing the postmortem rounds talking up his win .

"These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people on the west and east coasts," Parscale said. "And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values. I don't think they thought that would ever happen."

And that was part of the media's problem, too.

* * *

Before Trump's election, the impact of internet technology generally and Facebook specifically was seen as favoring Democrats. Even a TechCrunch critique of Rosen's 2012 article about Facebook's electoral power argued, "the internet inherently advantages liberals because, on average, their greater psychological embrace of disruption leads to more innovation (after all, nearly every major digital breakthrough, from online fundraising to the use of big data, was pioneered by Democrats)."

Certainly, the Obama tech team that I profiled in 2012 thought this was the case. Of course, social media would benefit the (youthful, diverse, internet-savvy) left. And the political bent of just about all Silicon Valley companies runs Democratic . For all the talk about Facebook employees embedding with the Trump campaign , the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, sat with the Obama tech team on Election Day 2012.

In June 2015, The New York Times ran an article about Republicans trying to ramp up their digital campaigns that began like this: "The criticism after the 2012 presidential election was swift and harsh: Democrats were light-years ahead of Republicans when it came to digital strategy and tactics, and Republicans had serious work to do on the technology front if they ever hoped to win back the White House."

It cited Sasha Issenberg, the most astute reporter on political technology. "The Republicans have a particular challenge," Issenberg said, "which is, in these areas they don't have many people with either the hard skills or the experience to go out and take on this type of work."

University of North Carolina journalism professor Daniel Kreiss wrote a whole (good) book, Prototype Politics , showing that Democrats had an incredible personnel advantage. " Drawing on an innovative data set of the professional careers of 629 staffers working in technology on presidential campaigns from 2004 to 2012 and data from interviews with more than 60 party and campaign staffers," Kriess wrote, "the book details how and explains why the Democrats have invested more in technology, attracted staffers with specialized expertise to work in electoral politics, and founded an array of firms and organizations to diffuse technological innovations down ballot and across election cycles."

Which is to say: It's not that no journalists, internet-focused lawyers, or technologists saw Facebook's looming electoral presence -- it was undeniable -- but all the evidence pointed to the structural change benefitting Democrats. And let's just state the obvious: Most reporters and professors are probably about as liberal as your standard Silicon Valley technologist, so this conclusion fit into the comfort zone of those in the field.

By late October, the role that Facebook might be playing in the Trump campaign -- and more broadly -- was emerging. Joshua Green and Issenberg reported a long feature on the data operation then in motion . The Trump campaign was working to suppress "idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans," and they'd be doing it with targeted, "dark" Facebook ads. These ads are only visible to the buyer, the ad recipients, and Facebook. No one who hasn't been targeted by then can see them. How was anyone supposed to know what was going on, when the key campaign terrain was literally invisible to outside observers?

Steve Bannon was confident in the operation. "I wouldn't have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn't known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine," Bannon told them. "Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power."

Issenberg and Green called it "an odd gambit" which had "no scientific basis." Then again, Trump's whole campaign had seemed like an odd gambit with no scientific basis. The conventional wisdom was that Trump was going to lose and lose badly. In the days before the election, The Huffington Post 's data team had Clinton's election probability at 98.3 percent. A member of the team, Ryan Grim, went after Nate Silver for his more conservative probability of 64.7 percent, accusing him of skewing his data for "punditry" reasons. Grim ended his post on the topic, "If you want to put your faith in the numbers, you can relax. She's got this."

Narrator: She did not have this.

But the point isn't that a Republican beat a Democrat. The point is that the very roots of the electoral system -- the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest -- had been destabilized.

In the middle of the summer of the election, the former Facebook ad-targeting product manager, Antonio García Martínez, released an autobiography called Chaos Monkeys . He called his colleagues "chaos monkeys," messing with industry after industry in their company-creating fervor. "The question for society," he wrote, "is whether it can survive these entrepreneurial chaos monkeys intact, and at what human cost." This is the real epitaph of the election.

The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn't just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of "dark ads."

The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook. And so, during the most significant shift in the technology of politics since the television, the first draft of history is filled with undecipherable whorls and empty pages. Meanwhile, the 2018 midterms loom.

Update: After publication, Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, sent an email describing some of the work that Facebook is doing in response to the problems during the election. They include new software and processes "to stop the spread of misinformation , click-bait and other problematic content on Facebook."

"The truth is we've learned things since the election, and we take our responsibility to protect the community of people who use Facebook seriously. As a result, we've launched a company-wide effort to improve the integrity of information on our service," he wrote. "It's already translated into new products, new protections, and the commitment of thousands of new people to enforce our policies and standards... We know there is a lot more work to do, but I've never seen this company more engaged on a single challenge since I joined almost 10 years ago."

[Oct 17, 2017] The Lobby British Style by Philip M. Giraldi

Maybe, instead of Russia-Gate, we have is Israel-Gate. This time Netanyahu discreetly interfering in US Presidential Election ..Chilling thought though!
Notable quotes:
"... To be sure, my observations are neither new nor unique. Former Congressmen Paul Findley indicted the careful crafting of a pro-Israel narrative by American Jews in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby , written in 1989. Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy said much the same thing nine years ago and discussions of Jewish power do emerge occasionally, even in the mainstream media. In the Jewish media Jewish power is openly discussed and is generally applauded as a well-deserved reward bestowed both by God and by mankind due to the significant accomplishments attributed to Jews throughout history. ..."
"... That many groups and well-positioned individuals work hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to advance Israeli interests should not be in dispute after all these years of watching it in action. Several high level Jewish officials, including Richard Perle , associated with the George W. Bush Pentagon, had questionable relationships with Israeli Embassy officials and were only able to receive security clearances after political pressure was applied to "godfather" approvals for them. Former Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Frank Lautenberg were, respectively, referred to as Israel's Congressman and Senator, while current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as Israel's "shomer" or guardian in the U.S. Senate. ..."
"... The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ..."
"... That's the money shot, Phil. I'm okay with Jews, okay with the existence of Israel, all that, but I think we were massively had by Iraq II. When Valerie Plame spoke in my area, she talked disgustedly about a plan to establish American military power throughout the Middle East. She used the euphemism "neocons" for the plan's authors, and seemed about to burst with anger. ..."
"... I recall the basic idea was for the U. S. to do Israel's dirty work at U. S. expense and without a U. S. benefit, and I think there was the usual "God talk" cover in it about "democratization", "development", blah-blah. ..."
"... I'd also add Adlai E. Stevenson III and John Glenn. Stevenson was crucial in getting compensation -- paltry sum though it was– payed to "Liberty" families for their loss. The Israelis had been holding out. Something for which the Il Senator was never forgiven (especially by The Lobby). ..."
"... Netanyahu should not have been allowed to address the joint session. No foreign leader should be speaking in opposition to any sitting President (in this case Obama). It only showed the power of "The Lobby." Netanyahu who knew that Iran didn't have the weapons the Bush Adm. had claimed, was treated like a trusted ally. He shouldn't have been. ..."
"... Maybe, instead of Russia-Gate, we have is Israel-Gate. This time Netanyahu discreetly interfering in US Presidential Election ..Chilling thought though! ..."
"... And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open. ..."
"... All embassies try to further their national interest through political machinations and all people in politics tend to use hyperbolic language to describe what they are doing. I don't know if your shock is just for show or you are just a bit dim. The same applies to Buzzfeed's 'expose' of Bannon and the gasps the article let out at his use of terms like #War. ..."
"... The British government attitude was that everything was fine because the Israeli government "apologised" and the "rogue individual" responsible was taken out of the country, and the British media mostly ignored the story after an initial brief scandal. Indeed the main substantive response was the Ofcom fishing expedition against Al Jazeera looking for ways to use the disclosure of these uncomfortable truths as a pretext for shutting that company's operations down. ..."
"... The supreme irony behind all this is that Trump has been prevented by his own personal and family/adviser bias from using the one certain way of removing all the laughably vague "Russian influence" nonsense that has been used against him so persistently. All he had to do was to, at every opportunity, tie criticism and investigation of Russian "influence" to criticism and investigation of Israel Lobby influence under the general rubric of "foreign influence", and almost all of the high level backing for the charges would in due course have quietly evaporated. ..."
"... WASP culture has always been philo-Semitic. That cannot be stated too much. WASP culture is inherently philo-Semtic. WASP culture was born of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism, which was a Judaizing heresy. ..."
"... You cannot solve 'the Jewish problem' unless you also solve 'the WASP problem.' ..."
"... The Israeli lobby is more powerful throughout the Anglosphere than the Saudi/Arabic lobby, but the Saudi lobby is equally detestable and probably even a more grave threat to the very existence of Western man. ..."
"... That the intelligence services of many countries engage in such conduct is not really news. Indeed, you could say that it's part of their normal job. They usually don't get caught and when accused of anything they shout "no evidence!" (now, where have I heard that recently?) Of course, if the Israelis engage in such conduct, then, logically, other countries' services do so too. ..."
"... Not surprising that the Jewish public gets gamed by Israeli political elites, just as the American public keeps getting gamed by our own cabal of bought politicians. Trying to fool enough of the people, enough of the time, contra Lincoln (who was not exactly a friend of critical dissent against war either .) ..."
Oct 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

One month ago, I initiated here at Unz.com a discussion of the role of American Jews in the crafting of United States foreign policy. I observed that a politically powerful and well-funded cabal consisting of both Jewish individuals and organizations has been effective at engaging the U.S. in a series of wars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests. This misdirection of policy has not taken place because of some misguided belief that Israeli and U.S. national security interests are identical, which is a canard that is frequently floated in the mainstream media. It is instead a deliberate program that studiously misrepresents facts-on-the ground relating to Israel and its neighbors and creates casus belli involving the United States even when no threat to American vital interests exists. It punishes critics by damaging both their careers and reputations while its cynical manipulation of the media and gross corruption of the national political process has already produced the disastrous war against Iraq, the destruction of Libya and the ongoing chaos in Syria. It now threatens to initiate a catastrophic war with Iran.

To be sure, my observations are neither new nor unique. Former Congressmen Paul Findley indicted the careful crafting of a pro-Israel narrative by American Jews in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby , written in 1989. Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy said much the same thing nine years ago and discussions of Jewish power do emerge occasionally, even in the mainstream media. In the Jewish media Jewish power is openly discussed and is generally applauded as a well-deserved reward bestowed both by God and by mankind due to the significant accomplishments attributed to Jews throughout history.

There is undeniably a complicated web of relationships and networks that define Israel's friends. The expression "Israel Lobby" itself has considerable currency, so much so that the expression "The Lobby" is widely used and understood to represent the most powerful foreign policy advocacy group in Washington without needing to include the "Israel" part. That the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu receives 26 standing ovations from Congress and a wealthy Israel has a guaranteed income from the U.S. Treasury derives directly from the power and money of an easily identifiable cluster of groups and oligarchs – Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, Haim Saban – who in turn fund a plethora of foundations and institutes whose principal function is to keep the cash and political support flowing in Israel's direction. No American national interest, apart from the completely phony contention that Israel is some kind of valuable ally, would justify the taxpayers' largesse. In reality, Israel is a liability to the United States and always has been.

And I do understand at the same time that a clear majority of American Jews, leaning strongly towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, are supportive of the nuclear agreement with Iran and do not favor a new Middle Eastern war involving that country. I also believe that many American Jews are likely appalled by Israeli behavior, but, unfortunately, there is a tendency on their part to look the other way and neither protest such actions nor support groups like Jewish Voice for Peace that are themselves openly critical of Israel. This de facto gives Israel a free pass and validates its assertion that it represents all Jews since no one important in the diaspora community apart from minority groups which can safely be ignored is pushing back against that claim.

That many groups and well-positioned individuals work hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to advance Israeli interests should not be in dispute after all these years of watching it in action. Several high level Jewish officials, including Richard Perle , associated with the George W. Bush Pentagon, had questionable relationships with Israeli Embassy officials and were only able to receive security clearances after political pressure was applied to "godfather" approvals for them. Former Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Frank Lautenberg were, respectively, referred to as Israel's Congressman and Senator, while current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as Israel's "shomer" or guardian in the U.S. Senate.

A recent regulatory decision from the United Kingdom relates to a bit of investigative journalism that sought to reveal precisely how the promotion of Israel by some local diaspora Jews operates, to include how critics are targeted and criticized as well as what is done to destroy their careers and reputations.

Last year, al-Jazeera Media Network used an undercover reporter to infiltrate some U.K. pro-Israel groups that were working closely with the Israeli Embassy to counter criticisms coming from British citizens regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. In particular, the Embassy and its friends were seeking to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become increasingly effective in Europe. The four-part documentary released late in 2016 that al-Jazeera produced is well worth watching as it consists mostly of secretly filmed meetings and discussions.

The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It also confirms that tagging someone as an anti-Semite has become the principal offensive weapon used to stifle any discussion, particularly in a country like Britain which embraces concepts like the criminalization of "hate speech." At one point, two British Jews discussed whether "being made to feel uncomfortable" by people asking what Israel intends to do with the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. They agreed that it might be.

The documentary also describes how the Embassy and local groups working together targeted government officials who were not considered to be friendly to Israel to "be taken down," removed from office or otherwise discredited. One government official in particular who was to be attacked was Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Britain, unlike the U.S., has a powerful regulatory agency that oversees communications, to include the media. It is referred to as Ofcom. When the al-Jazeera documentary was broadcast, Israeli Embassy political officer Shai Masot, who reportedly was a Ministry of Strategic Affairs official working under cover, was forced to resign and the Israeli Ambassador offered an apology. Masot was filmed discussing British politicians who might be "taken down" before speaking with a government official who plotted a "a little scandal" to bring about the downfall of Duncan. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is the first head of a political party in Britain to express pro-Palestinian views, had called for an investigation of Masot after the recording of the "take down" demand relating to Duncan was revealed. Several Jewish groups (the Jewish Labour Movement, the Union of Jewish Students and We Believe in Israel) then counterattacked with a complaint that the documentary had violated British broadcast regulations, including the specific charge that the undercover investigation was anti-Semitic in nature.

On October 9 th , Ofcom ruled in favor of al-Jazeera, stating that its investigation had done nothing improper, but it should be noted that the media outlet had to jump through numerous hoops to arrive at the successful conclusion. It had to turn over all its raw footage and communications to the investigators, undergoing what one source described as an "editorial colonoscopy," to prove that its documentary was "factually accurate" and that it had not "unfairly edited" or "with bias" prepared its story. One of plaintiffs, who had called for critics of Israel to "die in a hole" and had personally offered to "take down" a Labour Party official, responded bitterly. She said that the Ofcom judgment would serve as a "precedent for the infringement of privacy of any Jewish person involved in public life."

The United States does not yet have a government agency to regulate news stories, though that may be coming, but the British tale has an interesting post script. Al-Jazeera also had a second undercover reporter inserted in the Israel Lobby in the United States, apparently a British intern named James Anthony Kleinfeld, who had volunteered his services to The Israel Project, which is involved in promoting Israel's global image. He also had contact with at least ten other Jewish organizations and with officials at the Israeli Embassy,

Now that the British account of "The Lobby" has cleared a regulatory hurdle the American version will reportedly soon be released. Al-Jazeera's head of investigative reporting Clayton Swisher commented "With this U.K. verdict and vindication past us, we can soon reveal how the Israel lobby in America works through the eyes of an undercover reporter. I hear the U.S. is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won't take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate."

Americans who follow such matters already know that groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) swarm over Capitol Hill and have accomplices in nearly every media outlet. Back in 2005-6 AIPAC Officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were actually tried under the Espionage Act of 1918 in a case involving obtaining classified intelligence from government official Lawrence Franklin to pass on to the Israeli Embassy. Rosen had once boasted that, representing AIPAC and Israel, he could get the signatures of 70 senators on a napkin agreeing to anything if he sought to do so. The charges against the two men were, unfortunately, eventually dropped "because court rulings had made the case unwinnable and the trial would disclose classified information."

And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open. And ask Congressmen like Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Charles Percy and, most recently, Cynthia McKinney, what happens to your career when you appear to be critical of Israel. And the point is that while Israel calls the shots in terms of what it wants, it is a cabal of diaspora American Jews who actually pull the trigger. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to watch the al-Jazeera documentary on The Lobby in America.

Rurik , October 17, 2017 at 4:29 am GMT

Philip Giraldi is a rare American treasure. A voice of integrity and character in a sea of moral cowardice and corruption. If there is any hope for this nation, it will be due specifically to the integrity of men like Mr. Giraldi to keep speaking truth to power.
googlecensors , October 17, 2017 at 5:00 am GMT
One is unable to open the documentary – all 4 parts – on YouTube suggesting that google/YouTube are censoring it and have caved into the Jewish Lobby
Malla , October 17, 2017 at 5:03 am GMT
When the Jewish Messiah comes, all of us goyim (Black, White, Yellow, brown or Red) will be living like today's Palestinians. Our slave descendant will be scurrying around in their ghettos afraid of the Greater Israeli Army military andriod drones in the sky.

But if I was a Westerner, I would support Israel any day. Because if the Israeli state were to be ever dismantled, all of them Israelis would go to the West. Why would you want that?

Frankie P , October 17, 2017 at 5:42 am GMT
@Rurik

He has been set free by the truth, proving the old maxim.

wayfarer , October 17, 2017 at 5:43 am GMT
Understand a Spoiled Child, and You Will Understand Israel. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoiled_child

Discipline the Spoiled Child, and Boycott Israel. source: https://bdsmovement.net/

Israel Anti-Boycott Act – An Attack on Free Speech?

Dan Hayes , October 17, 2017 at 5:48 am GMT
Philip,

My admittedly subjective impression is that your UR reports are becoming more open/unbounded after your release from the constraints of the American Conservative . In other word, you're now being enabled to let it all hang out. In my book that's all to the good.

Of course your work and those of the other UR writers are enabled by the beneficence of its patron, Ron!

Uebersetzer , October 17, 2017 at 6:14 am GMT
There may be limits to their power in Britain. Jeremy Corbyn is hated by them, and stories are regularly run in the MSM, in Britain and also (of course!) in the New York Times claiming that under Corbyn Labour is a haven of anti-Semitism. Corbyn actually gained millions of votes in the last election. Perhaps they will nail him somewhere down the road but they have failed so far.
JackOH , October 17, 2017 at 6:59 am GMT
" . . . [W]ars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests (emphases mine).

That's the money shot, Phil. I'm okay with Jews, okay with the existence of Israel, all that, but I think we were massively had by Iraq II. When Valerie Plame spoke in my area, she talked disgustedly about a plan to establish American military power throughout the Middle East. She used the euphemism "neocons" for the plan's authors, and seemed about to burst with anger. I looked up the plan, but don't recall the catch phrase for it.

I recall the basic idea was for the U. S. to do Israel's dirty work at U. S. expense and without a U. S. benefit, and I think there was the usual "God talk" cover in it about "democratization", "development", blah-blah.

Cloak And Dagger , October 17, 2017 at 7:43 am GMT
I remain skeptical that the Al-Jazeera undercover story in the US will be able to be viewed. I anticipate a hoard of Israel-firster congress critters to crawl out from under their respective rocks and deem Al-Jazeera to be antisemitic and call for it being banned as a foreign propaganda apparatus, much as is being done with RT and Sputnik.

I fear that we are long past the point of being redeemed as a nation. We can only watch with sorrow as this great nation crumbles under the might of Jewish power – impotent in our ability to arrest its fall.

Mark James , October 17, 2017 at 9:32 am GMT
ask Congressmen like Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Charles Percy

I'd also add Adlai E. Stevenson III and John Glenn. Stevenson was crucial in getting compensation -- paltry sum though it was– payed to "Liberty" families for their loss. The Israelis had been holding out. Something for which the Il Senator was never forgiven (especially by The Lobby).

Netanyahu should not have been allowed to address the joint session. No foreign leader should be speaking in opposition to any sitting President (in this case Obama). It only showed the power of "The Lobby." Netanyahu who knew that Iran didn't have the weapons the Bush Adm. had claimed, was treated like a trusted ally. He shouldn't have been.

Kevin , October 17, 2017 at 9:37 am GMT
And the point is that while Israel calls the shots in terms of what it wants, it is a cabal of diaspora American Jews who actually pull the trigger. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to watch the al-Jazeera documentary on The Lobby in America.

Maybe, instead of Russia-Gate, we have is Israel-Gate. This time Netanyahu discreetly interfering in US Presidential Election ..Chilling thought though!

Tyrion , October 17, 2017 at 9:53 am GMT

And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open.

London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan, actually went to America to campaign for Hillary. Numerous European leaders endorsed her, while practically all denounced Trump. Exactly the same can be said of the Muslim world, only more so.

The problem with criticism of Israel is not that it lacks basis in truth. It is that it is removed from the context of the rest of the world. Israel's actions do not make Israel an outlier. Israel fits very much within the norm. Even with the recording this is the case.

All embassies try to further their national interest through political machinations and all people in politics tend to use hyperbolic language to describe what they are doing. I don't know if your shock is just for show or you are just a bit dim. The same applies to Buzzfeed's 'expose' of Bannon and the gasps the article let out at his use of terms like #War.

Unfortunately, contemporary idiots of all stripes seem to specialise in removing context so that they can further their specious arguments.

Randal , October 17, 2017 at 9:58 am GMT

"so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won't take our findings in America as seriously as the British did"

Sadly, Clayton Swisher is probably correct that the US establishment will take their findings in America just as "seriously" as the British media and political establishment, and government, did.

The British government attitude was that everything was fine because the Israeli government "apologised" and the "rogue individual" responsible was taken out of the country, and the British media mostly ignored the story after an initial brief scandal. Indeed the main substantive response was the Ofcom fishing expedition against Al Jazeera looking for ways to use the disclosure of these uncomfortable truths as a pretext for shutting that company's operations down.

But there's no "undue influence" or bias involved, and if you say there might be then you are an anti-Semite and a hater.

The supreme irony behind all this is that Trump has been prevented by his own personal and family/adviser bias from using the one certain way of removing all the laughably vague "Russian influence" nonsense that has been used against him so persistently. All he had to do was to, at every opportunity, tie criticism and investigation of Russian "influence" to criticism and investigation of Israel Lobby influence under the general rubric of "foreign influence", and almost all of the high level backing for the charges would in due course have quietly evaporated.

geokat62 , October 17, 2017 at 9:59 am GMT
@Rurik

Philip Giraldi is a rare American treasure.

Rare, indeed, Rurik.

And in this rare company I would place former congressman, Ron Paul.

Here's an excerpt from his latest article, President Trump Beats War Drums for Iran :

Let's be clear here: President Trump did not just announce that he was "de-certifying" Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal. He announced that Iran was from now on going to be in the bullseye of the US military. Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/october/16/president-trump-beats-war-drums-for-iran/

animalogic , October 17, 2017 at 10:54 am GMT
This state of affairs, where the Zionist tail wags -- thrashes -- the US dog is bizarre to the point of laughter. Absent familiarity with the facts, who could believe it all? Is there a historical parallel ? I can't think of one that approaches the sheer profundity of the toxic embrace the Zionists have cover the US & west generally.
The Alarmist , October 17, 2017 at 11:01 am GMT
So how is using money we give them as foreign aid (it's fungible by any definition of the US Treasury and Justice Department) to lobby our legislators not a form of money laundering? Somebody ought to tell Mnuchin to get FINCEN on this yeah, I know, it sounded naive as I typed it. FINCEN is only there to harass little people like you and me.
Bardon Kaldian , October 17, 2017 at 11:05 am GMT
@googlecensors

Not true.

jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:15 am GMT
@Malla

Abby Martin is amazingly sharp. Many of the things she says can be confirmed by Uri Avnery, both his books and articles.

Here's a link to his weekly columns.

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery

Incredible stuff there; thanks for posting it.

jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:21 am GMT
@Malla

Our slave descendant will be scurrying around in their ghettos afraid of the Greater Israeli Army military andriod drones in the sky.

According to the first vid, those drones will be built by the goyim.

Maybe there's a message there for us.

jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:32 am GMT
@Cloak And Dagger

I fear that we are long past the point of being redeemed as a nation. We can only watch with sorrow as this great nation crumbles

We are long past that point.

I myself am watching with joy, because this supposedly "great nation" was corrupt to the core from its inception.

For evidence, all one has to do is read the arguments of the anti-federalists who opposed the ratification of the constitution* such as Patrick Henry, Robert Yates and Luther Martin. Their predictions about the results have come true. Even the labels, "federalist" and "anti-federalist" are misleading and no doubt intentionally so.

Those who spoke out against the formation of the federal reserve bank* scheme were also correct.

The only thing great about the US in a moral sense are the high sounding pretenses upon which it was built. As a nation we have never adhered to them.

*Please note that I intentionally refrain from capitalizing those words since I refuse to show even that much deference to those instruments of corruption.

ISmellBagels , October 17, 2017 at 11:45 am GMT
Philip, glad to see you undaunted after the recent attacks on you. We can maybe take solace in the fact that their desire for MORE will finally pass a critical point, and dumbass Americans will finally wake up.
jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:47 am GMT

"She said that the Ofcom judgment would serve as a "precedent for the infringement of privacy of any Jewish person involved in public life."

I have news for that twister of words.

In my opinion, if you choose to put yourself in the limelight, you have no private life. That is especially true for those who think they're entitled to a position of power.

In other words, if you think you're special, then you get judged by stricter standards than the rest of us.

It's called accountability.

BTW, speaking of Netanyahu, why do we hear so little about the scandal involving the theft of nuclear triggers from the US?

"The Israeli press is picking up Grant Smith's revelation from FBI documents that Benjamin Netanyahu was part of an Israeli smuggling ring that spirited nuclear triggers out of the U.S. in the 80s and 90s."

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/netanyahu-implicated-in-nuclear-smuggling-from-u-s-big-story-in-israel.html

jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:58 am GMT
Thank you Mr Giraldi. You covered an amazing number of issues in such a well written and compact article.

Thanks also to Mr Unz for publishing these sorts of things.

ISmellBagels , October 17, 2017 at 12:30 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

What she really meant by that was HOLOCAUST ALERT HOLOCAUST ALERT!!

Anon , Disclaimer October 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm GMT
@Malla

When you listen to Abby Martin describe her experience regarding this brutal apartheid system in Israel and the genocide of the Palestinian people, remember, Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic , was a prison guard in the Israeli Defense Forces guarding the West Bank death camp. And David Brooks, political and cultural commentator for The New York Times and former op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal , has a son in the Israel Defense Forces helping to perpetuate this holocaust of the Palestinian people. I hope I live to see the day when some Palestinian Simon Wiesenthal hunts these monsters down and brings them to trial in The Hague.

iffen , October 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm GMT
NPR Morning Edition 10/17/17

Rachel Martin talks to Vahil Ali, the communications director for the Kurdish president.

In which she tries to steer him into calling for armed American intervention in Kurdistan to resist the Iranian sponsored militia.

LondonBob , October 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm GMT
The lobby is not as powerful in Britain as it is the US, we can talk about it and someone like Peter Oborne is still a prominent journalist, but I don't see that it makes that much difference. We seem to end up in the same places the US does.
Sherman , October 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm GMT
I had my meeting with the Rothschilds, Goldman Sachs and the Israeli Department of Hasbara last week and we discussed how our plan to suppress both the US and British governments is progressing.

Apparently we are meeting our targets and everything is going according to plan.

Thanks for update Phil!

ChuckOrloski , October 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm GMT
@geokat62

Hey geokat62,

Speaking about how greatly rare a treasure are the P.G.'s words, below is linked a deliberately rare letter written by Congressman Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of the AZC.

http://www.israellobby.org/azcdoj/congress/defaultZAC .

Also, re, "Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another M.E. war?"

(Sigh)

History shows that, in order for ZUSA to start M.E. wars, Americans are routinely fed Executive Branch / Corporate Media-sauteed lies. Such deceit is par-for-the-course.

At present, it would be foolish for me to not realize there is a False Flag Pentagon plan "on the table" & ready for a war with Iran.

Jake , October 17, 2017 at 1:27 pm GMT
What is playing out in the UK, and is in early stages in America, is the fight between the two side of Victorian WASP pro-Semtiism.

WASP culture has always been philo-Semitic. That cannot be stated too much. WASP culture is inherently philo-Semtic. WASP culture was born of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism, which was a Judaizing heresy. Judaizing heresy naturally and inevitably produces pro-Jewish culture. No less than Oliver Cromwell made the deal to get Jewish money so he could wage culture war to destroy British Isles natives were not WASPs.

WASP culture has always been allied with Jews to destroy white Christians who are not WASPs. You cannot solve 'the Jewish problem' unless you also solve 'the WASP problem.'

By the beginning of the Victorian era, virtually all WASP Elites in the Empire – who then had a truly globalist perspective – were divided into two pro-Semitic camps. The larger one was pro-Jewish. It would give the world the Balfour Declaration and the state of Israel.

The smaller and growing one was pro-Arabic and pro-Islamic. It would give the world the people who backed Lawrence of Arabia and came to prop up the House of Saud.

Each of these philo-Semitic WASP Elites groups was more than happy to keep the foot on the pedal to destroy non-WASP European cultures while spending fortunes propping up its favorite group of Semites.

And while each of those camps was thrilled to ally to keep up the war against historic Christendom and the peoples who naturally would gravitate to any hope of a revival of Christendom, they also squabbled endlessly. Each wished, and always will wish, to be the A-#1 pro-Semitic son of daddy WASP. Each will play any dirty trick, make any deal with the Devil himself, to get what he wants.

The Israeli lobby is more powerful throughout the Anglosphere than the Saudi/Arabic lobby, but the Saudi lobby is equally detestable and probably even a more grave threat to the very existence of Western man.

It is impossible to take care of a serious problem without knowing its source and acting to sanitize and/or cauterize and/or cut out that source. The source of this problem is WASP culture.

Michael Kenny , October 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm GMT
That the intelligence services of many countries engage in such conduct is not really news. Indeed, you could say that it's part of their normal job. They usually don't get caught and when accused of anything they shout "no evidence!" (now, where have I heard that recently?) Of course, if the Israelis engage in such conduct, then, logically, other countries' services do so too.

Thus, Mr Giraldi's argument lends credibility to the claims that Russia interfered in the US election and to the proposition that US intelligence agents are seeking to undermine the EU.

Since those two operations are part of the same transaction, i.e. maintain US global hegemony by breaking the EU up into its constituent Member States or even into the regional components of the larger Member States, using Putin as a battering ram and a bogeyman to frighten the resulting plethora of small and largely defenseless statelets back under cold war-era American protection, could it be that US and Russian intelligence services collaborated to manipulate Trump into the White House? If that were true, it would be quite a scandal! Overthrowing foreign governments is one thing, collaborating with a foreign power to manipulate your own country's politics is quite another! But of course, there's "no evidence"

Fran Macadam , Website October 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm GMT
Not surprising that the Jewish public gets gamed by Israeli political elites, just as the American public keeps getting gamed by our own cabal of bought politicians. Trying to fool enough of the people, enough of the time, contra Lincoln (who was not exactly a friend of critical dissent against war either .)
Anon , Disclaimer October 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm GMT
@wayfarer

Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed both local thieves and the CIA-Azerbaijan cooperation in supplying ISIS with arms:

https://www.rt.com/news/406963-assange-reward-caruana-galizia-death/ https://www.newsbud.com/2017/10/16/breaking-gladio-b-assassinates-journalist-with-car-bomb/

"Azerbaijan considers Malta to be "one of its provinces": https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2017/09/azerbaijan-considers-malta-one-provinces/
The Middle Eastern wars have repercussion .

[Oct 16, 2017] C Wright Mills called the US state a plutocracy all fifty years ago

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes. ..."
"... The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds. ..."
"... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US. ..."
"... They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in... ..."
"... There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together. ..."
"... Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation. ..."
"... With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. ..."
"... Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds. ..."
"... The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these. ..."
"... Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation. ..."
"... If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves. ..."
"... Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. ..."
"... Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing. ..."
"... As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle. ..."
"... However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

cognitivedissonance1 , 15 Oct 2017 13:25

Nothing new here, C Wright Mills, the US state as a plutocracy , government by the few , said it all fifty years ago , especially the economic oligarchs

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/theory/mills_critique.html

http://plutocratsandplutocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-power-elite.html

imipak -> NoBets , 15 Oct 2017 13:21
I would again point to Plato. Those whose affluence exceeds the critical threshold stagnate. They have no need to work, no need to hold anything as valuable, they contribute nothing and take everything.

What is the point in being so rich? There's nothing you can gain from it, other than bank account pinball.

The purpose of being rich is to enable you. It is the only purpose. Once you are fully enabled, money has no value.

Those who are poor can't afford the tools to work well, the education/training needed, anything by which they could better themselves and be upwardly mobile.

There are some who are poor by choice. Voluntary hermits are common enough. They're not included in here because they're self-sufficient and have the tools they need so fall out of scope.

The middle band, where prone work the best, function the best, are mentally and physically the best, is very very big. Nothing stops you cramming society into there because they've plenty of room to stretch out.

But people always want to improve. No big. Make tax follow a curve, so that you always improve but the game gets harder not easier. Would you play a computer game where level 100 was easier than level 1? No, you'd find it boring. As long as it's a single curve, nobody gets penalized.

You now get to play forever, level billion is better than level million is better than level thousand, but it's asymptotic so infinite improvement never breaks outside the bounds.

"Asymptotic" is a word that meets your objection AND my rebuttal. You do not have to have either a constant, infinity or hard ceilings. Leave straight lines to geometers and enter the world of inflection points.

Viddyvideo , 15 Oct 2017 13:19
Elites exist the world over -- East, West, North and South. Question is how do we create a world where power is shared -- Plato and his Guardians perhaps or are we doomed to be ruled by elites until the end of time?
handygranny -> R Zwarich , 15 Oct 2017 13:14
Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes.
memo10 -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 13:11

Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds.

RecantedYank -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 13:09
Rapid is still quite right... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US.
CommanderMaxil -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 13:08
jessthecrip's comment was clearly not calling for JRM to be imprisoned or in any way punished for his views , but for his votes . Specifically his votes in the House of commons to support benefit cuts for disability claimants. Admittedly that a pretty extreme position from my point of view, but nonetheless you are misrepresentating what was said, whether deliberately or because you genuinely have not understood only you can know
Spudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 13:05
More people should simply look up from time to time and quit living in fantasy books. The whole and real truth is not written in a book its all around you if you are willing to except what you see.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 13:04
Form a government in same way we select juries. No entrenchment of the same old guard, no lobbyists,no elite, no vested interests.Just people like you,and you.People like your children.People like your parents.People like your neighbors
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 13:03
The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.
mjmizera -> voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 13:00
Not anymore, as conspiracy nuts are now serving their new masters, the altRight. They joined the enemy.
theseligsussex -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 12:59
Not really driven by the oligarch, more looted. And there's normally 1 greedy bugger, Sulla or Pompey, who has to have it all and upsets the apple cart, and then you get Augustus.
mjmizera -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:58
There is never the right far enough that one can't be to the left of.
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:55
All the good/bad labels lose their meaning without a qualifier - for whom.
winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 12:54
The US and it being a democracy, the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same, where the missed people in this country are further conned by the elite and the rich. Then on top of it all we f or sure not practice what we preach. To that end our political system with two senators from each of 50 states m irrespective to the population is lot to be desired in terms of any real democratic process, let alone equality in representation. To add insult to injury, the US House of Representatives where Congressional Districts are gerrymandered just about every two years, is even worst. Just as the US Congress in which over 90% of the people have no confidence.
sejong -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:50
Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

Liberal MSM has been emasculated. It doesn't know it's dead. It doesn't move any needles. It just brays on in ineffective anti-Trump outrage and one identity politics issue after another.

Rightwing media is king in USA.

makingalist , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
One way they get away with it is by having their own separate education system. It's high time private schools were closed down.
handygranny -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
Who was it again who said he loves the undereducated and uninformed during the campaign season of 2016?
laerteg -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Yes- the demonization of liberalism on the right and the turning away from liberalism on the left *has* paved the way for oligarchy.

Divide and conquer, as usual, is working.

Shrimpandgrits -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Slavery -- chattel slavery -- was an element.

Socialist, mass slavery was not.

Leon Sphinx , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The House of Lords in the U.K. and the Senate in the US were originally there to prevent poor people - always the majority - from voting to take away wealth and lands from the rich. Basically, if such a vote was cast, the HoL and Senate - filled with the elites of society - had the power to block it.
ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
This is a fascinating dissection of how the "leftist/liberal" media was completely disrupted by Trump. It is a long read and quite difficult (so not likely to appeal to most of the knee-jerk commentators) but, whatever your politics it is well worth a look
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502 /
Laurence Bury , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The human (and probably animal) world is made up of oligarchies that deal with each other. History has shown that only lone soldiers can upset established orders: Alexander, Napoleon, Lenin, Castro and Bin Laden come to mind.
laerteg -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
I agree with the article's premise. We have allowed the oligarchs to consolidate power.

Why? Because Americans revere wealth and power. We have bought into the capitalist model hook, line, and sinker. We willingly elect candidates and sign on to policies that allow oligarchs to consolidate their power, increase their wealth and income inequality, pomote greed and selfishness, and undermine democracy - the power of the people.

We have been busy electing agents of oligarchy to Congress since 1980. Buying ino the "small government" con, the "taxes are theft" con, "the business is overregulated" con, the "corporations are the job creators" con and its twin the "government never created jobs" con, the anti-union con, etc, etc, etc.

Our political system would be a lot more representative of the people if the people would get off their butts and start participating in it. Our electoral ststem is open to anyone who wants to participate.

But who and how many participate any more?

When the people create a vacuum with their apathy and cynicism, the oligarchs fill it with their greed.

Oligarchs will always be attracted to power, no matter what system is in place. What's needed to minimize their ability to entrench themselves is vigilance in defending our institutions against corruption.

And vigilance is something that the American people seem to have less and less of every day.

Matt Quinn , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
Maximise aggregate happiness as John Nash suggested. Cooperation beats competition in almost every sphere. Uniting the 99% will happen after the 1% have brought civilisation to a standstill and a billion people starve.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 12:38
The biggest impediment to true and real democracy is the existence of political parties.
RapidSloth -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:27
Denial is a powerful mental mechanism, that and also people tend to associate oligarchy with brutal, straight forwards autocratic rule.
US has a very sophisticated socio-political system that has isolated the elite and the common man through many filters rather than one solid brick wall - so people dont see it. This paired with large enough populations who are cretinous enough to actually vote for somebody like Trump or give a second term to the likes of G.W Bush makes fooling extremely easy.

There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible. A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech. Everybody is keen to point out that one can publicly criticize politicians without fear of prosecution but nobody seems to notice how useless that speech is and how effectively the political elite shelters itself from negative opinion and is able to proceed against the public will. I find it quite fascinating.

RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
ALL oligarchies are bad...they just function from a different starting point.
In the US, we have an oligarchy based on wealth,who then uses their money to buy the political animals.
In Communist countries, you had a political oligarchy, who used their political powers to corner the wealth.
And in religious oligarchies you have a few selected "high priests" using religious fervor/special communication lines with whatever deity, to capture both wealth and politics.

None of these are preferable over the other as they all concentrate power into the hands of the few (1-2%), against the interests of the many.

virgenskamikazes , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
The fact is Western Democracy (democratic capitalism) is not and was never a true democracy.

Historians from at least 300 years from now, when studying our historical time, will state our system was capitalism, whose political system was plutocracy -- the rule of the capitalist class from behind the curtains, through puppet governors.

Sure, the same historians will, through archaeological evidence, state, correctly, that we called and considered ourselves to live in a democracy. But they will also find evidence that this claim was always contested by contemporaries. Emperor Augustus restored the façade of the Republic and called himself princeps instead of king, and, officially, Rome was still a Republic until the time of Marcus Aurelius to Diocletian (maybe the first emperor to openly consider himself a monarch) -- it doesn't fool today's historians, and it seems it didn't fool the Roman people also.

sejong , 15 Oct 2017 12:15
Oligarchy in USA is secure. For a generation, it has leveraged rightwing media to get unquestioning support from white America based on aggrieved truculence toward the liberal, the brown, and the black. And that was pre-Trump.

Now Trump rampages against the very symbol of the grievance: Obama.

It's midnight in the world's leading third world country

voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 12:10
Anyone who's been accusing united states of being an oligarchy so far was branded as a conspiracy nut. So does this article rehabilitates them and confirms their assertions?
j. von Hettlingen , 15 Oct 2017 12:07
In ancient Greece: "While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors." Today the oligarchs aren't always united, because they see each other as rivals. But they have nothing against dividing and weakening the people in order to prevent them from rising up to "their oppressors."
Mass indoctrination is the answer. Oligarchs around the world seek to build up a media empire to brainwash a gullible public and sow discord in the society. The most notorious members of a civil oligarchy in the West are Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch. Like oligarchs in ancient Greece, their modern counterparts need democratic support to legitimise their goals. And they support candidates in elections who will do their bidding once in office.
Oligarchy and plutocracy will continue to rule America, because the worship of money is a popular faith. As long as an individual is well off, he/she sees little incentive to help improve social equality. A revolution will only be possible if a critical mass is behind it.
PeterlooSunset -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 12:06
The current US education system was put in place by the oligarch foundations of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Guggenheims . It exists to keep the majority of the citizenry misinformed, thus docile workers and passive consumers.
ID3924525 -> 37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 12:05
Sounds about right - a least some, a very small minority, realise they're being suckered - the overwhelming majority die pig ignorant, whether they believe they've made it or live in a trailer park.
lasos2222 , 15 Oct 2017 12:03
it's very rare that an article in the Guardian doesn't have an obvious agenda. Simple click bait stuff. This article is different, and worthwhile reading. Excellent.
RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:02
I am only surprised that anyone would still be in the dark about whether or not the US is an oligarchy. It's been obvious now for at least the past three-four decades.
RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 12:01
If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, yep sure... too elections held in the last two decades contradict that statement.
37Dionysos -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 12:01
Yep---for where very few have very much and most have nothing, you have a pressure-cooker. The property-police must indeed grow in number and brutality.
37Dionysos -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:58
And the other half of it is what Ben Franklin warned about, "the corruption of the people." The gangsters really sense and know how to play people against themselves---arousing appetites, appealing to short-term pleasure, to short-term feel-good thinking and acts, and to greed and lust for seemingly easy power. When you realize you're had, it's too late: "In every transaction, there's a sucker. If you're wondering who that is, it's you."
Feindbild -> PSmd , 15 Oct 2017 11:55
Yep sure. The 'big white kid' pritecting the brown kid does tend to be working class or middle class Jewish, and indeed, more likely to be socialist than liberal (in my experience).

I wouldn't limit credit for this kind of thing to any particular ethnicity. But I will say that most major successful reform 'crusades' of modern Western history were inspired by Christian ideals, and often led by Christian clergy, including the anti-slavery Abolition movement in 19th-century America, the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and '60s, and the anti-Communist revolutions in 1980's Eastern Central Europe. Even in the anti-Apartheid movement, the churches played a leading role, personified, of course, by Bishop Tutu.

MTorrespico -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:52
Correct, because that would be too easy . . . for 'Muricans, because Other people might benefit, and because it is too, too logical a solution for the Turd World USA.
37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 11:51
In the Oxford English Dictionary you find that "profit" and "advantage" are close cousins etymologically. Makes sense, since "profit" (the word for value you did not put into an exchange) creates "advantage"---and then you use advantages to give even less and take even more profit. Round and round she goes, and there's no bottom. "Advantage" of course is also inherently relative to somebody else's "DIS-advantage": hence our planet full of "disadvantaged" working people.
OldTrombone -> rg12345 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50
No, I think the Democrats are the ones most successful at diverting the people from their own power in favor of the banks. The Republicans are far less successful by their own control, instead benefitting only from luck such as Wasserman-Schultz denying Elizabeth Warren from her rightful place in the Oval Office. Sanders was the consolation candidate for Warren voters. Warren would have beaten Trump 50-nil.
MTorrespico -> Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50
Correct. Two equal evils from the same nest-egg, a political party with two right-wings. At the least, the public know why the First Nazi of Great America has an aura of flies.
name1 -> Skip Breitmeyer , 15 Oct 2017 11:46
Divisions or hijacking? I suspect the latter.
PeterlooSunset , 15 Oct 2017 11:39

a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

Thanks for the cracking joke. That was hilariously funny.

teamofrivals , 15 Oct 2017 11:38
There's a term on everything and a rhythm to all things and its an impertinence to think that any political system lasts forever for our security.
brianBT , 15 Oct 2017 11:34
full and transparent disclosure of all finical and gift transactions between elected official and anyone not in govt.. this include "payments" to family, friends their charities.. etc.. if you cant see the lie no one fight to have the laws and rules changed... additionally lobbyist must no longer be allowed to have the type of closed door access to our leaders.. all these conversations must be moderated or flat out banned and a new form of communication is developed.... put it this way I have never been able to get a meeting with my leading politician yet big business can at almost any time.. I'm glad this issues is being more openly discussed.. we need more of the same
ID3924525 -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:32
Karl Marx, in The Communist Manifesto , indentified this in his concept, "False Consciousness", and Orwell, taking Stalinism to exemplify it, points to the same in Animal Farm , though I bet they weren't the first, and hope they won't be the last.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:31
Machiavelli was right, when you need political favors to get to the top, then you will always owe the favor-givers when you get there. Machiavelli also said this:

Sortition works!

When the most powerful person has literally zero interest in the outcome, they will defer to moral utilitarianism every time. Ask Canada's John Ralton Saul "The Unconcious Civilization" and Australia's Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party [seriously] who scuppered Aussie right-wingers from bringing US-style education-loans to rent-seek our economy to death.

laerteg , 15 Oct 2017 11:29
The problem is that today's so-called "populists" have been so propagandized into despising the liberalism that could fight the oligarchs, and buying into the very policies and philosophies that allow the oligarchs to consolidate their power (endless tax cuts, undermined government, deregulation, big money in politics, destruction of unions, etc, etc.) that they play right into their hands.

They've mistaken a demagogue for a man of the people and continue to cheer on the dismantling of the checks on oligarchy that our system provides.

This country is in a world of hurt and those who should be exercizing their democratic power to diminish the power of the oligarchs are busy dismantling it, thanks to decades of right wing media propaganda.

All I see is more oligarchy, more autoctacy, and less power to the people. We just keep sticking it to ourselves.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:28
I literally copy pasted the comments in order, how have I twisted anything?

The person complained about some reaction to Rees-Mogg for having different political views being over the top and you promptly justified their claim.

OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:25
Capitalist oligarchies = bad, right?

So... communism, then, right?

It's time for SORTITION

When anyone could instantly become president, then everyone has to be educated as much as possible. Right? Hey classical policy scholars, sortition worked in Ancient Greece too! As well as everywhere else ever since. Ever heard of court juries?

ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:22
Divide and rule - the oldest trick in the book, and incredibly easy, as long as people are kept ignorant by propaganda (currently known as The Media) and education.
rg12345 -> Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 11:21
Many (most?) Of us do understand it, that's why we're opposed to Citizens United, whereas the Republicans are for it.
Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:20
Hillary Clinton lost because the working class (correctly) perceived her to be a supporter of oligarchy in the USA. Her ties to Wall Street, corporate power, and the upper class were too obvious.

Yes, Trump fooled many voters into believing that he was populist, but their perception of Clinton was still accurate.

If the Democratic party leaders had chosen Sanders as their candidate, they would have won the election. But the "Democratic" party leaders (ironically) feared what he offered: real democracy.

jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:19
You are an expert twister and no mistake. I can only salute you
SoxMcCarthy -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 11:18
"The Bad Hayek emerged when he aimed to convert a wider public. Then, as often happens, he tended to overreach, and to suggest more than he had legitimately argued. The Road to Serfdom was a popular success but was not a good book. Leaving aside the irrelevant extremes, or even including them, it would be perverse to read the history, as of 1944 or as of now, as suggesting that the standard regulatory interventions in the economy have any inherent tendency to snowball into "serfdom." The correlations often run the other way. Sixty-five years later, Hayek's implicit prediction is a failure, rather like Marx's forecast of the coming "immiserization of the working class.""
fivefeetfour , 15 Oct 2017 11:18
Lenin has written that politics is a concentrated economy more than a century ago.
rg12345 -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:16
Do you think Democrats are the only ones trying to consolidate wealth and power? You must have missed the part about keeping people divided.
Lafcadio1944 , 15 Oct 2017 11:15
This of course is a simplified version and can't really touch on everything, however he glaringly leaves out the deliberate human suffering results from the oligarchy protecting its wealth and aggressively taking over ever more markets. Yes, of course, what today is called "alignment of interests" among the oligarchy is necessary but that alone is not enough they mus also be ruthless beyond that of others. Nothing stands in the way of profits nothing stands in the way of ever greater control. The oligarchy has decided that nature itself is just another obstacle profit making - there is no room for empathy in the world of the oligarchy poverty suffering from curable disease mutilation from bombs are acceptable external consequences to their obsessive accumulation of wealth.

The real reason the oligarchy wins is because they are willing to be ruthless in the extreme and society rewards ruthlessness and ridicules the empathetic.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
"Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint..."

Nobody was proposing that, it was hyperbole from rjm2017.

Well it was hyperbole until your comment calling on punishment for those with different political views.

R Zwarich -> Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
This may be true, they often seem so blinded by their raw greed that their powers of reason become dysfunctional. I don't think, however, that the stupid things they do to slake their greed means that they are stupid. When the chips are down, they are capable of bringing their considerable powers of reason to bear.

However stupid or smart they might be, we surely must realize that they have been at least smart enough to gain total ownership and control of all our mass media. They use this tool, the most powerful tool of social control that has ever existed, with consummate skill in pursuit of their agenda(s).

If you look at the overall content of our mass media, you can see an impressive level of 'mind' at work, 'behind the curtain'. This 'mind' is constantly manipulating our consciousness, using very highly sophisticated, highly skilled techniques.Their understanding of human psychology, and their ability to manipulate us using our most basic appetites and desires, is characterized by true genius, even ig that genius is diabolical in its designs.

'They' choose what movies get made. Which TV shows are produced. Which songs get airplay. Which social and political issues are sensationalized and which are buried.

Most of the citizens of our ostensible 'democracy' have been 'trained', just as any animals are trained to any behavior, to be 'consumers' rather than 'citizens'. We are well trained by an omnipresent mass media that assaults us constantly. In any direction that we turn our gaze, or our attention, 'they' are there, to direct our thoughts as they think serves their purposes.

I sure wouldn't sell these people's intelligence short. They may often do stupid things to serve their greed, but they did not acquire the power that they have through any lack of intelligence.

fragglerokk , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
what everyone seems to forget is that whilst ancient Greece was the cradle of democracy it was not only a slave state (whose slaves had no rights to vote) but that only an elite minority were eligible to vote themselves - power very much rested with the vested interests of the few.

I agree that societies are a reflection of the 'will' of the people these days, even if that will is ill informed, reactionary or, as seems to be the case, largely uninterested in voting. You get the governments you deserve and people in the West have become lazy, permanently distracted, often ignorant and usually in the grip of one addiction or another, thus allowing 'democracy' to be subverted. The media have had their role in this by allowing themselves to be manipulated and owned by vested interests, rarely reporting the truth and doing as they are told by various govt offices and departments. Uninformed people make poor decisions.

OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
What the Black Lives Matter movement is telling us is that the Oligarch's enforce their rules of 'law' precisely at the barrels of guns, and by the words of one man after one man, each with a uniform on and a camera off.
TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
National Anthems only make sense in context of International Games
Where 2 anthems are played out of respect for each other
Elgrecoandros -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:11
Further, you stated above that you were "...responding to a poster who called for imprisonment for those concerned", when in fact the quote shows they were complaining about people calling for imprisonment, not calling for it.

That shows you are twisting what was said, it is incredibly disingenuous of you.

Skip Breitmeyer -> sparkle5nov , 15 Oct 2017 11:09
It's the divisions of the left that allow Tory and Republican minority rule to prevail. In the US the divide is quite bitter between Hillary and Bernie wings of the Dems- at the moment I don't really see where reconciliation can emerge. And of course in Great Britain you actually have two major parties competing rather self-destructively for the available votes on the left. (As well as the mighty Greens...). Divided and conquered, indeed. And such a bloody cliche!
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:06

Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality

And yet Marx doesn't rate a single mention in the entire article...

jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:06
No, even though you've quoted me you have misunderstood what was perfectly plain. I stated 'like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits'. Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint, but that was not and is not where I'm coming from.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:05

At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes.

Here is the exact reason why the Democratic Party is lost now. The Clintons, Wasserman-Schultz, and their new Goldman Sachs alumni hero in New Jersey, and now Kamala Harris seeking the same money from the same bankers.

And who did Hillary blame? Bernie, of course.

PSmd -> Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 11:02
It's sort of worked against the right though. Take a look at the last election. Yes, the Tories got most votes, but they've pretty much lost all ethnic minorities, including asian professionals, hindus and sikhs. Why is this, especially when Labour moved to left and are now more socialist than left liberal?

Purely because the right has been subsumed by angry grievance mentality, or aggreived entitlement. The internet is awash by people who hate assertive blacks and asians, Dianne Abbott received half of all abuse of female MPs. And so.. the Labour pick up votes that Tories had gained under Cameron. If you are a prosperous hindu dentist or stockbroker, sure you might have shrugged off your parents labour voting tendencies and might be Tory. But also, you might be seeing this sort of stuff, the bile on the internet, the resentment expressed behind internet anonymity. And you might be thinking that deep down underneath that expensive suit of yours, you are your father and mother, a tentative, slightly frightened, cheaply dressed immigrant who has arrived as an outsider and are visibly aware that half the population likes you, but the other half doesn't.
And so you vote Labour.

Divisiveness actually divides the core group you are aiming to win. If you do white chauvinism, well, you end up unite everyone who is not white. Black, brown, yellow, all huddle together scared, back under the labour fold. And you end up dividing the whites into the patriotic and the 'self hating libtard'.

Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:01
The sequence of comments was...

Rjm2017

"Just read the language of many in here...apparent JRM should be banished and locked away. You don't need to look to far to find odeous beliefs."

Your reply to that:

"Not locked away. Prison is expensive for the taxpayer. Assets sequestered for the good of the commons and put to work cleaning - streets, hospitals, care homes - on workfare. Like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits, causing what the UN has described as a 'catastrophe' for disabled people in this country"

My reply to you:

"You are advocating confiscation of private property and forced physical labour for people who hold different political views to you. Is Stalin a hero of yours?"


Yours is a call to punish people for holding different political views to you.

Yours is an extremist position and, like all extremists, you think it is justified.

barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:57

e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.


Like I said, benignish. He took a third world basket case (which is what South Korea was up until his seizure of power) and set it on the way to becoming a first world economy.
Skip Breitmeyer -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:56
One of the most interesting mini-discourses I've read anywhere. I would only add that the 'mob' currently in charge of the polity of the House is actually a minority that has gamed the system.
AladdinStardust -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 10:56
which is exactly what the author did when her ill health meant that she no longer had medical insurance. Ain't life a bitch?
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:55

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods

Like Wine-stine? (Wine-stain?)

Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 10:55
"Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality."

No democrat with two working brain cells to rub together could honestly suppose that great concentrations of wealth, which necessarily confer political power on the wealthy class, can fail to undermine democracy. A capitalist democracy is an oxymoron and a delusion.

ChesBay -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:52
They admire the rich, and the lifestyles of the rich, although it is out of their reach.
They do not admire the wise, and the experienced.
They don't know who are their state and federal representatives.
They don't know the reason for the Civil War.
They don't know much about our history, our constitution, or anything about civics.
They don't know much about world history.
They don't read much, and are suspicious of education, and the properly educated.
They are easy marks for lies, and negative influence, because they never question.
They refuse to address, or even admit, their own irrational prejudices.
They don't vote, but they do plenty of complaining, and like to blame others for the problems of our nation.
AveAtqueCave , 15 Oct 2017 10:51
Good luck with that.
FrankLittle -> barciad , 15 Oct 2017 10:45
I do not think that benign or even benign(ish) suits the majority of the above e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.

Not sure how Carl Mannerheim gets to be on your list? He was appointed Military chief during the Finnish civil war and he was elected President of Finland

DammedOutraged , 15 Oct 2017 10:44
Oh you mean a bit like all those plebs going out and voting to wreck the EU oligarchy's vision as to whats best?
vastariner , 15 Oct 2017 10:44

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power.


That was more because there was no income tax regime - something difficult to impose when there was no centralized collection from a single consistent professional government. So if the Athenian navy wanted a ship, it got a rich chap to pay for it. Rather than out of general taxation.

Athens got rich on levies it imposed on its allies by way of protection money, which eventually collapsed in acrimony, but that's a different story.

StephenR45 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 10:43
You'll be first "over the top" then?
Alfandomega -> timiengels , 15 Oct 2017 10:41
Owen Jones ? ......a man of high minded principle and unblemished
virtue . Don't think he would object to a spot of terror........in defence
of his liberal principles , of course..
somebody_stopme , 15 Oct 2017 10:41
I guess we are seeing some of oligarchy break down. Many oligarchs support many socialist policies to avoid tension between classes. For eg: many rich support universal basic income and some even support single payer healthcare.
imperium3 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:41

You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.

All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.

All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.

All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.

The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.

OK, I'll concede that. Which makes for an interesting perspective on things overall, actually. One can see the advantage of an oligarchy - wealth and power is concentrated in few enough hands to achieve great things, but not so few that, like in a monarchy or dictatorship, the leader must spend most time and effort on keeping their power. Whereas a more equal democracy lacks the capacity to make bold steps or drive through unpopular new ideas. But this also means the oligarchs have the power to grind down those underneath them, and therefore in order to enjoy the fruits of that development, the oligarchy needs to be destroyed.

In other words, oligarchies deliver growth, democracies deliver prosperity. I would certainly not like to live under an oligarchy (assuming I'm not an oligarch) but it would be beneficial for a country to have had one in the past.

Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 10:40
I have come to the conclusion that the oligarchy which rules the world are complete imbeciles who haven't a clue that the whole Neoliberal system they built in the 1970's is collapsing and they are clueless on how to handle it. Just because they are wealthy and greedy doesn't mean they are intelligent.
J.K. Stevens -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:40
In order to prevent the protests from going out over the airwaves Fox (sports) in all their 'logic' started excluding broadcast of the Anthem. Early on I said I would not watch any of these sporting events with, as you say, these jingoistic displays going out and Fox has obliged me but I wont say thanks.
desertrat49 -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:39
Yes....Nothing in current affairs would surprise the ancient political philosophers who were students of real human nature ...and real history!
yule620 , 15 Oct 2017 10:37
Understanding Greece is not something you associate comfort with.
desertrat49 -> DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 10:36
It serves as a relieve valve...just as it did in Ancient Greece and Rome.
Obfusgator , 15 Oct 2017 10:36
It's very simple really. The law system makes a complete mockery of democracy and the judiciary is comprised of a bunch of laissez-faire twits.
desertrat49 -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:35
The last recourse of scoundrels is patriotism!...always been thus because it always works...see H.L. Mencken et. al. !
Postconventional -> SenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:34
Britain isn't different. Oligarchy is built into our system of governance, e.g. royals and house of lords. We even have special oligarch schools where children are sent to be educated for leadership
desertrat49 -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 10:33
You do not think the pomp and circumstance of Oligarchs, Monarchs and Military Dictators is without purpose or effect, do you?
StephenR45 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:32
Ban Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Gunsarecivilrights -> ID059068 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
Or in other words, "I can't take care of myself, so I demand the government take money from others and give it to me!"
maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
"An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy." - Thomas Jefferson

We have Americans who don't know when the Civil War was fought, or even who won, but insist we must stand for the national anthem before a ballgame.
So much for 'the Land of the Free'.

EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
Saying life can only get better if we are all collectively greedy together is not a logical argument. Ask the polar bears.
StephenR45 -> davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
It didn't start with Trump.
Gunsarecivilrights -> DirDigIns , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
More people need to read Atlas Shrugged.
desertrat49 -> MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 10:30
All of the wishful thinking is hugely naive.....they have not been studying the lessons of history.
J.K. Stevens -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:29
And in the older grades, they prescribe (hand out) adderall, CSN stimulants, like chiclets to help student study (cram) and with comprehensive test taking.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/why-are-so-many-college-a_b_8331958.html

desertrat49 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:28
This is the rub.....and the mob does not value education while the rulers value propaganda. Notice the close association between Autocratic and Oligarchic systems and religion, historical mythology and hyper-patriotism!
EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:28
Or that's the evil of it. Economic inequality rises until people die. Like homeless on the streets, starving food banks, grenfell tower, waiting on hospital beds instead of famine and pitchfork wars.
The idea is to progress and solve problems before they escalate to pitchfork wars. Praising grotesque inequality is not part of the solution, it's the cause of the problems.
desertrat49 -> Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 10:25
H. L. Mencken is a must read on this!
Alfandomega -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
Very remote possibility . I think you'll find their over inflated salaries
weigh more heavily in the balance than their " principles ".
SenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
This article should be required reading for all Americans. I am posting a link to Twitter and Facebook to get as many Yank eyeballs on it as possible.
desertrat49 -> Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
What emerges from Plutocracy is Oligarchy...what emerges from Oligarchy is Autocracy. Autocracy is one form or another is the natural state of human society....all the others are ephemeral systems...or systems that disguise the actual Oligarchy or Autocracy!
davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:23
The biggest contributor to America's plutocracy is our abysmally uninformed electorate.
HL Mencken knew this nearly a century ago when he said:
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
desertrat49 , 15 Oct 2017 10:20
Just exactly when was it that "democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece"?
What proportion of the population in Ancient Athens, for example, were actually citizens...and what proportion of those actually held the franchise?...I believe that you would find the numbers surprising!
Also ...when these (and other) writers speaks of Ancient Greece.....it is usually Athens that they are mythologizing....most the Ancient Greek world had little by way of representative government...let alone "Democracy"!
jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 10:18
No I wasn't. I already responded to you regarding this. To remind you, I said

when people in positions of power take £28 billion (at least) off one of the most powerless and already impoverished groups in our country (disabled people), resulting in hundreds of suicides, enormous suffering, worsened isolation, serious lack of care support, and thousands dying soon after being found 'fit to work' (a situation the UN has described as a 'catastrophe') then I think it perfectly reasonable to favour some punishment for those politicians who inflicted such suffering on their fellow citizens

I was not suggesting punishment for 'thought crime' or for expressing views, but for actions seriously damaging to our citizens.
OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:17
I have worked in several of the American rich's schools where they charge $30k per kid, families have 3-5 kids there, plus they donate another $30k per kid per year. These schools shame their $50k/year teachers into donating hundreds and thousands per year to their own schools in order to prompt further donations from parents, who expect the poor teachers to prove their fidelity to these rich kids by giving their own money to them. I have seen these schools' principals fire teachers who teach "how to change things". I have seen them promote teachers who teach absolutely nothing, because then the rich kids enjoy insulting and demeaning those teachers' weaknesses. I have heard rich $chool principals tell Harvard psychology lecturers that grade inflation is a marketplace necessity. I have seen rich principals tell school inspectors that the curriculum presented for verification is supplied by a currently-employed teacher (who was awfully bad at teaching) when in fact it was written and prepared by a teacher who had just been fired "for methodology problems"...

American rich schools are the sickest schools on earth, even sicker than British boarders, even sicker than other countries' orphanages.

davshev -> ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 10:15
Yes, but we now have the consummate...emphasis on "con"...bullshit artist in the White House whose first order of business has been to discredit the media whenever it exposes him for what he truly is. Trump has thousands of people believing that any media story about him which is negative is "fake."
Sailor25 -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 10:14
Yes they did and in all those political systems there where rich bastards at the top making the decisions.

They may have been bastards but on balance they actually made some pretty good decisions.

RutherfordFHEA , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
In his book Culture Inc. , Herbert Schiller quoted a recent study on neoliberal deregulation in the US which began with the question:

"Is deregulation... a strategy on the part of corporations to re-appropriate the power lost to democratic reforms of the mid-20th century?"

Sailor25 -> Dan2017 , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
So you are in favour of populism?

I consider populism an important part of the process as it creates a balance for oligarchy.

I would consider that the greedy big picture thinking of oligarchy drives growth while the greedy small picture thinking of the plebs (of which I am one) tries to get that growth more equally distributed.

ID50611L -> debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 10:12
Spot on
MoonMoth -> Tenthred , 15 Oct 2017 10:10
It is perhaps unlikely that a radical Athenian democrat from ancient Greece would recognise any current form of government as genuinely democratic.

The cleverest way to maintain a long term oligarchy in these enlightened times might be to have an elective one, only dressed up as something like say a 'parliamentary democracy'. Luckily no-one has come up with this idea yet.

Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 10:10
Exactly that is going on now - we have 'workers' and 'benefit scroungers', British against 'immigrants' who exactly are not immigrants as having legal rights to live in the UK (EU citizens), 'deserving' poor and 'undeserving' poor.
Divide and rule.
Without knowing the past, it is impossible to understand the true meaning of the present and the goals of the future.
It's so annoying that is has been so easy to manipulate with our society - Tories and UKIP say 'hate!' and people do as if they are trained animals - hate people on benefits, EU citizens, immigrants, asylum seekers, a conflict between Brexiters/Remainers...
Sailor25 -> Swoll Man , 15 Oct 2017 10:09
Laughing at the fact that you chose to write an insult rather than engage in debate.
barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:08
Benign(ish) dictators of the 20th Century:-
Tito (Yugoslavia)
Carl Mannerheim (Finland)
Kemal Ataturk (Turkey)
Fidel Castro (Cuba)
Nasser (Egypt)
Park Chung-hee (South Korea)
Like I said, benign(ish). Each one the subject for a debate within themselves.
Sailor25 -> Boghaunter , 15 Oct 2017 10:07
There is always winners and losers but the worst loser in modern British society had a better standard of living than a winner of a century ago.

The key to human development is driving sustainable progress not worrying about who losses out today.

Of course there must be balance because morally we must consider who loses our today. The question is how much do we hamstring the children of tomorrow to help the losers of today.

Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:06
To war on the Oligarchs is to war on our own nature.
whitman100 , 15 Oct 2017 10:03
The super rich conservative oligarchy, currently running the UK, get away with it because enough of the British people vote against their own economic interest.

Parents, for example, effectively vote for the food to be taken from their children's mouths, converted to cash and given in tax cuts to the super rich conservative elite so they can send their children to £30k a year private schools.

Political economy and political science should be compulsory in primary and secondary school so that the ripping-off of the British people is made obvious through education and ended through democratic revolution.

GKB507 -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 10:02
.. it's scary though.. automation will eliminate the economic support line for many, while companies like Google have eyes and ears in every household.
JamesKeye -> webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 10:02
Definition of democracy: "a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives." You are presenting an anti-Democratic party talking point, not an enlightened understanding of subtle political differences. Of course, the intention was a democracy in the USA, as compromised as it was and is. What we are not, and never have been, is an absolute direct democracy -- a form of governance appropriate only to small communities.
dcroteau -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 10:01
Considering that "the people" are not that much more enlightened than they were in ancient Greece, yes it is the will of the people that allowed the US to become an oligarchy.

Considering the voting turnout around 56%, that means that 44% decided that they didn't care whether or not their leader would be a good or a bad one.

That's more than 1 in 3 people who couldn't care less about the outcome of the elections.

So political apathy is the will of the people.

KK47 , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space.

When I read this I think: why am I reminded of the words 'gentrification' and 'privately-owned public spaces'?

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/sep/26/its-really-shocking-uk-cities-refusing-to-reveal-extent-of-pseudo-public-space

Excerpt from the above link:
the spread of pseudo-public space in London – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers

And I'm also reminded of Attlee's great words about the attitudes of oligarchs in general:

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/688837

Excerpt from the above link:
Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim. - Attlee

J.K. Stevens -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
I know that it's just geography but it appears that the 'left coast (west coast) teams (players))' are taking a leadership role in this struggle. Unlike other professional sports systems, the NFL players are at a disadvantage in terms of career length and working conditions (eg, head injuries). I believe they're going to need some outside help (in whatever form) to be successful which doesn't give me hope. There are a bunch of chicken s____ outfits and power players out there at present that, as an example, allowed (contributed) the Executive Branch takeover by a Russian backed interloper.
ID50611L -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
agree 100%
Sailor25 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.

All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.

All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.

All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.

The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.

I recognise that it takes a plebeian revolt now and again to get the wealth shared out fairly but the engine that drives the wealth so it can be shared often seem to be oligarchy.

sparkle5nov -> FE Lang , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
Agree! I've been saying for years; cheap fast food, cheap ale and cheap television have replaced religion as the opiate of the people.
ID50611L -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:57
Trump is using the toolbox created by the Bush & Obama administrations.
Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 09:57
A free educated and honest press may be the answer to a true democracy ?
DolyGarcia -> Hector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:55
And how do you keep the people informed and educated when the oligarchs control the media?
ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 09:54
how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government? ...consequence of a lap dog media who lick the ass rather than expose and speak the truth to power elites.
TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:53
Now is the right time to ban the National Anthem

Brainwashing jingoist nonsense is a bandwagon platform for wet farts

W.a. Thomaston , 15 Oct 2017 09:50
The captured author/minions have obviously not had full access to the reading room
*And the secret writings of
Part of a small cache of loose leaf scrolls smuggled out of Alexandria before the fire
Last entrusted to a small elite 13th century band of chainsaw wielding warrior...
Comedy writing nuns
Hector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:49
Is about education, oligarchy wins to ignorant people. In order to have a healthy democracy the people must be informed and educated other wise oligarchies groups will inundate everything with cheap adds, will manipulate and will win control, methinks
Id1649 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 09:45
And all brought down when the elites forgot that they were only the top of a pyramid and that they ultimately relied on those below. We at the foot of the monolith can see that the oligarchs serve only themselves so no longer buy into their project. We see that it is one big club and we - unlike our political masters - ain't in it. So empires fall.
MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 09:45
Sitaraman's colleague sounds worryingly naive.
Sailor25 -> EquilibriaJones , 15 Oct 2017 09:44
True, perhaps that's the beauty of it.

The senators have to supply the bread and circuses the plebs want or out come the pitchforks.

webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 09:44
The author demonstrates his ignorance of the American system of government. He uses the word "democracy" no less than 8 times, yet American is not a democracy and never has been a democracy. You will find no form of the word "democracy" in any of the founding documents. The Founding Fathers knew very well the dangers of democracies, and so they created the American government as a constitutional republic. Not once does the author mention that; I doubt he even knows what it means, let alone the difference.
NoBets -> imipak , 15 Oct 2017 09:43
If you're complaining because prices are (inevitably) regressive on the "poor" (however defined), what do you say to the obvious retort that this is indeed the main difference between being "poor", being comfortable, being affluent and being rich?

What is the point of working and earning if it isn't aimed at making oneself less "poor" or more affluent?

FrankieOwen -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 09:38
Dunno, doesnt appear that they do in the rough parts of Chicago.
furryandrew -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:38
Or as Mayer Amschel Rothschild correctly summed up the situation in 1790 - "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws"

What this article fails to draw our attention to , and they never do, is that private banks CREATE 97% of our entire money supply (look up "fractional reserve banking"). Whilst that remains the case the "oligarchy" will always have firm control over the rest of us.

Peter Martin -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:36
Wonder what would happen if all players took a knee, if they all stood together then the owners would start to fret.
nhickman -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 09:32
There was a time when the deadliest military weapon was the longbow. It could only be handled by men who had been trained up since infancy.
It enabled the English to rout a numerically superior French force at Agincourt, 1415.
The notion that the early 15th century was a period of democratic government is an interesting reading of history.
zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:32
imo
In the US today, the oligarchy cannot win without an assist from a significant segment -- not necessarily a majority -- of the overall population.
9/11 taught us that many people are willing to give up freedoms for the myth of security.
The Trump presidency is teaching us that many people are willing to give up their voice -- democracy -- for the myth of returning to a perceived better way of life (group superiority over racial, gender, religious, etc equality) from some bygone era.
imo
Newmacfan , 15 Oct 2017 09:30
We are currently experiencing a destabalisation of our nation and fellow Western Nations by the dominant Western Nation to try to halt the failure of this vastly endebted bigger brother......how do we stop this?
J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:28
On this NFL Sunday it is not hard to imagine the secret meetings that owners and/or their representatives had to coalesce against Kaepernick's 'taking a knee' to stop this form of protest in its tracks as a oligarchical institution. On Tuesday, when Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones declared that any player taking a knee would not play today, the circle of the objective to chill dissent was complete.

And the plutocratic beat goes on.

TheLibrarianApe -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:27
Top post.
DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 09:26
Democracy was always like this. What is that famous quote, by Earl Grey or Sandwich or someone, in Parliament, about allowing peasants to have the vote? "I do this, not to weaken our power, but to preserve it"

Democracy in the UK and the US has always been a forum for the oligarchy to resolve their own disputes rather than rule for the people by the people. Brexit is an example, a referendum held essentially because of the split in conservative party.

FE Lang -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:25
And conservatives are going to save us all from done minded feel good policies of the left, is that it?
Since the 80's American politics had swing do far to the right liberals are capitalists monied elites, but the right had an army of simple minded uneducated lemmings on thier side, people that will be against thier own personal interests because of 12th century religious horse spit or group think. Thier are more Right winners in State houses, leadership positions then ever before, they control the Congress, the courts, the Presidency and yet dolts like you still say the country is going in the wrong directions and listen to son misters tell you its the fault of the left. Somewhere in your reptilian brain you know this makes no sense, but you lack of depth, you inability to comprehend what you read or to shake free from the group think or right wing ideology will never let you understand that the bet people you vote in time after time are the very ones whom have sold your job to the Chinese, profited from your child's illnesses, war, chaos in some far off land.
Keeping voting Republicans, it's working out so well for you tailer, Nascar types...
BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 09:21
The article obfuscates a distinction laid out by Aristotle, in The Politics: aristocracy - rule by the few, focused on the common good; and oligarchy - rule by the few (wealthy), focused on their selfish good. He argues that aristocracy, rule by the best, inevitably turns into oligarchy, rule by the wealthy. In Aristotle's three forms of government - rule by one, by few, by many - the three legitimate forms (monarchy, aristocracy, polity) degenerate into their evils twins (tyranny, oligarchy, democracy). For Aristotle, Democracy was not a legitimate form of government, but a corrupted form: mob rule, we might call it. The US Constitution deliberately set out to create a mixed form of government: monarchy (president); aristocracy (Senate and Supreme Court); polity (House of Reps.). From the beginning, Americans have focused on the potential for our "monarch" (president) to turn into a tyrant: Trump is the poster child for a single executive ruling on his own, selfish behalf. We have been less aware of the fact that the Senate has become a simple oligarchy, while the House has degenerated into a bastion of deputies chosen by what Aristotle would have called democracy, that is, a corrupted form of rule by the many. Aristotle's citizens - those who rule and are ruled in turn - can constitute about 10% of the population; in today's US that would mean 20+ million people actively and continuously involved in politics (i.e., not simply showing up every four years to mark a ballot). Millions of Americans have long done such things, and political life remains active at the local level in many areas. On the national level, the Tea Party has shown how this level of enhanced involvement can transform politics, and has further shown that a coherent, organized minority can demolish what we think of as democratic norms. They are about to elect a Senator in Alabama who has twice been removed as a judge on the state's Supreme Court (an elective body), for violations of judicial norms. Here in the US, all three forms of our original government - monarchy, aristocracy, polity - have degenerated into their evil twins. Yes, the wealthy 1% will always game the system in their favor, but until we restore each of the parts of our forma mixta, we can never reduce their advantages to a level consonant with a decent form of society. Under W Bush, the oligarchs got the tax rates (above all on capital gains) reduced to their 1929 levels. That legislation had a time limit, and Obama chose not to continue it: indeed, he raised capital gains rates a further 3.8% [making the rate 23.8% as against the 15% of Bush]. Now, the two greatest goals of the oligarchs are a return to the 15% rate and the abolition of the estate tax, so all of the fantastically rich Baby Boomers (say, Sec'y of Commerce Ross, net worth $2.5 billion) can leave their wealth unencumbered to their heirs, solidifying the oligarchy's control. The Tea Party, through all the yahoos now in the House, can focus on creationism, climate change denial, immigration, etc., while the oligarchs quietly change the tax system to perpetuate their dominance. Over here, we are already in fiscal year 2018 (started on Oct 1), so tax changes would really go into effect in 2019, that is, after the mid-term election. If Mnuchen and Co. get their changes to capital gains rates and other technical loopholes aimed at the 0.1% [sic], and eliminate the estate tax, we'll know that the oligarchs have eliminated any barriers to their collective dictatorship.
TheLibrarianApe -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:20
This is a blindingly excellent article.

What's new is, like this article, we have the vocabulary to frame both the problem and the solution. Oligarchy is no longer inevitable and whilst the means of control are greater, the means for derogation are too and there are fewer oligarchs than plebs.

Its now easier to spot bad behaviour and harder to keep secrets. Oligarchs have to use force more often to hold into power and that tips their hand.

This article has left me (an avowed pessimist) feeling rather more optimistic.

BlueberryMuffin -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:17
Liberalism is about freedom. Personal and economic. Not about "proletariat solidarity" and totalitarian Marxist regimes.
FE Lang -> GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:15
They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in...
Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:12
There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together.

Democracy is not enough and besides democracy we also need reason, facts,and fighting spirit.

W.a. Thomaston -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:09
As the inventor of the "hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica" once said: " you have a Republic if you can keep it"
amwink -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:06
Sparta was more than just militarism, and slavery was also practised in Athens, as well as in Rome and quite much everywhere else in the ancient world.

Sparta did something that today's democracies have forgotten: it cared about protection of its citizens. That's the most elementary reason why a State exists, not to provide health or education.

Now, regarding a replacement, epistocracy has yet to be tried. And the same democracy, but with census suffrage, or via election of electors, who in turn elect the ones who will hold office, have worked quite well in many places, producing better politicians, less inclined to populism (take the Venetian Republic, for example).

logos00 -> apacheman , 15 Oct 2017 09:05

Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation.

One must have already broken, or at least sufficiently loosened, the oligarchic grip on politics to institute such a policy.

Here in the UK, things are the darkest they have been in my lifetime, including the Thatcher years, but we are in a moment of possibilities that can lead in opposite directions.

The author is surely right when he says

With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.

Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds.

We had a Labour government that won convincingly under Blair while declaring itself relaxed about the accumulation of great wealth.

richard160458 -> MattSpanner , 15 Oct 2017 09:05
And democracy failed after generations of poor decisions and war
richard160458 , 15 Oct 2017 09:02
Greece had a long period of decline at the hands of democracy. Plato wrote his Republic as a protest, and to put forward an alternative. Eventually the romans took control.

There are indeed parallels with today but given the external challenges I for one believe that western society will be overtaken by q new set of rules.

debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 09:01
Very good, interesting article. You know, every now & then this paper, for all it's faults, serves up an article that is quite enlightened/ing.

The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these.

And revolving door arrangements is one of the ways this pool retains a certain cohesion, or as in the article "homogeneity in culture and values".

As for division, how many times have I read, "oh, we are so divided .. blah, blah", as though some journalists have an almost unconscious need to promote it.

Interesting article.

GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:00
Bit too late, really. Not to mention it's super easy to take what they want while we're all so distracted by arguing about who is the most racist misogynist, defending ourselves from the accusations or applauding comic book movies. Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation.

If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves.

Maybe if we didn't bicker like kids we'd beat them.

PhilJoMar -> ConBrio , 15 Oct 2017 08:53
Either you've not read the article attentively enough or your bias is irremediable. Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. The genetic impulse you mention is a spurious concept in itself. If there were such a genetic impulse we would not have seen such a change as the major advances of women in the last half century. Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing.

As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle.

However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always.

Lastly private schooling needs to be looked at. I mean FFS Eton has charitable status!

[Oct 16, 2017] The Guardian by Ganesh Sitaraman

Those who have economic power also have political power. Is this sop difficult to understand.
Notable quotes:
"... The system, in other words, can't really be "rigged" to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government? ..."
"... To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn't lead to greater conflict within their cadre. ..."
"... While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government. ..."
"... These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city. ..."
"... They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. Reading Simonton's account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out. ..."
"... Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity? ..."
"... To understand that, we can turn to an instant classic from a few years ago, Jeffrey Winters' Oligarchy. Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is that a set of elites have enough material resources to spend on securing their status and interests. He calls this "wealth defense," and divides it into two categories. "Property defense" involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. "Income defense" is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes. ..."
"... The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don't normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality. ..."
"... Winters argues that there are four kinds of oligarchies, each of which pursues wealth defense through different institutions. These oligarchies are categorized based on whether the oligarchs rule is personal or collective, and whether the oligarchs use coercion. ..."
"... Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people. ..."
"... Even with compulsory voting Australia still funnels votes to those we don't want to elect in the form of transferable 1st pass the post single member electorates. True democracy would grant proportional representation, and allow citizen initiated binding referenda. ..."
"... By these measures you could say America has been an oligarchy from its very conception. Look at the robber-barons of the 19th c. There are occasional "raisings of the veil" such as new deal or great society when the general public gets a fair go. The industrial boom of ww2 is what gave the working class a shot at living a decent life - and of course offshoring industry is precisely closing that door again. ..."
"... Tens of millions of Americans waited patiently for a Dem candidate to talk about our stacked decks, D.C. swamps, and broken systems -- instead, they gave us a Hillary coronation and expected us to embrace the pantsuit. ..."
"... After university econ training, and a long business career, I now consider education a terrible thing. Knowing what I know now about how our systems really work, when I observe our Congressional leaders looking into the camera with point-blank lies day in and day out, I feel they deserve execution; literally, I am feeling like heads should roll. ..."
"... In America, oligarchs win when Dems are center right (in practice, not rhetoric) and are sold out to the oligarchs. Case in point, HC. There is no counterbalance to those who are even further to the right. Oligarchs win without a legit 3rd party. ..."
"... Obama and the Dems lost 1,000 elected positions before Trump came along. It's because he sold out to the big banks. ..."
"... Small D Democrats. Not big D Democrats. The Clintons are clearly in the oligarch class, much like Trump. It is rather hilarious to hear Trump supporters talk about how he cares for the poor. ..."
"... Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people. In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. ..."
"... It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy. ..."
"... They don't come by it naturally. Their delusion is pushed along by very well oiled propaganda machines, probably mostly financed by the taxpayers themselves. ..."
"... Can't recommend Requiem For The American Dream highly enough, absolutely required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the mockery of democracy under which we live. ..."
Oct 15, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

The system, in other words, can't really be "rigged" to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?

The question was a good one, and while I had my own explanations, I didn't have a systematic answer. Luckily, two recent books do. Oligarchy works, in a word, because of institutions.

In his fascinating and insightful book Classical Greek Oligarchy, Matthew Simonton takes us back to the ancient world, where the term oligarchy was coined. One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.

To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn't lead to greater conflict within their cadre.

Appropriately for a scholar of the classics, Simonton focuses on these specific ancient practices in detail. But his key insight is that elites in power need solidarity if they are to stay in power. Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today's meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles.

The ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power

While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city.

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. Reading Simonton's account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out.

The most interesting discussion is how ancient oligarchs used information to preserve their regime. They combined secrecy in governance with selective messaging to targeted audiences, not unlike our modern spinmasters and communications consultants. They projected power through rituals and processions.

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power. Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity?

An assistant professor of history at Arizona State University, Simonton draws heavily on insights from social science and applies them well to dissect ancient practices. But while he recognizes that ancient oligarchies were always drawn from the wealthy, a limitation of his work is that he focuses primarily on how oligarchs perpetuated their political power, not their economic power.

To understand that, we can turn to an instant classic from a few years ago, Jeffrey Winters' Oligarchy. Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is that a set of elites have enough material resources to spend on securing their status and interests. He calls this "wealth defense," and divides it into two categories. "Property defense" involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. "Income defense" is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes.

The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don't normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.

Winters argues that there are four kinds of oligarchies, each of which pursues wealth defense through different institutions. These oligarchies are categorized based on whether the oligarchs rule is personal or collective, and whether the oligarchs use coercion.

Warring oligarchies, like warlords, are personal and armed. Ruling oligarchies like the mafia are collective and armed. In the category of unarmed oligarchies, sultanistic oligarchies (like Suharto's Indonesia) are governed through personal connections. In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms.

Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.'

With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.

They build a legal system that is skewed to work in their favor, so that their illegal behavior rarely gets punished. And they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy. In a civil oligarchy, these actions are sustained not at the barrel of the gun or by the word of one man, but through the rule of law.

If oligarchy works because its leaders institutionalize their power through law, media, and political rituals, what is to be done? How can democracy ever gain the upper hand? Winters notes that political power depends on economic power. This suggests that one solution is creating a more economically equal society.

The problem, of course, is that if the oligarchs are in charge, it isn't clear why they would pass policies that would reduce their wealth and make society more equal. As long as they can keep the people divided, they have little to fear from the occasional pitchfork or protest.

Indeed, some commentators have suggested that the economic equality of the late 20 th century was exceptional because two World Wars and a Great Depression largely wiped out the holdings of the extremely wealthy. On this story, there isn't much we can do without a major global catastrophe.

Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.

In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.

The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.

Ganesh Sitaraman is the author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution

curiouswes -> antdog , 16 Oct 2017 00:37

I think the USA is a republic and not a democracy. I also think the distinction isn't a subtle one. Many think we'd be better off as a democracy. I don't. In a democracy, the majority rules. That means when you are in the minority, you don't have a say. The electoral college prevents the larger states from squeezing out the smaller states. However some don't think that is necessarily a problem. Urban life is very different from rural life and we can't make all of the rules based on urban life.
hardmoney -> trundlesome1 , 16 Oct 2017 00:27
They're too busy being distracted with Bread and Circuses.
gregwani , 16 Oct 2017 00:24
Whilst the suggestion of "creating a more economically equal society" is obviously desirable, it's not exactly a practical recommendation against the context of the rest of the article.

Herein lies the key: "...they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy."

Possible solution? No vote; no donation.

Curtail corporate funding of political parties, Super PACs, Unions, etc. and have election campaigns financed from public funds ONLY. If you can't vote as an individual person/citizen, you can't contribute.

This would remove a big barrier to reform - lobbyists and political patronage - and ensure that elected leaders are unshackled, with the freedom to govern based on evidence-based policy and long-term planning rather than just rewarding the corporate elite who put them there.

BrunoForestier -> Hypatia415 , 16 Oct 2017 00:19
Even with compulsory voting Australia still funnels votes to those we don't want to elect in the form of transferable 1st pass the post single member electorates. True democracy would grant proportional representation, and allow citizen initiated binding referenda.
BrunoForestier -> FLanzy61 , 16 Oct 2017 00:12
White nationalism wasn't necessary when you were 90% of the population - it has only emerged with the mass immigration era, when socially engineered policies threaten to make you a minority in your own nation-state. (yes, I am aware that the indigenous population was here first and was disposessed - but America the nation state was clearly built predominantly on European settlement)

There used to be an effective form of identity politics - based on working class common interest - that brought a high standard of living to most people (even the oppressed Black minority). It is the splitting of that identity that has allowed the neoliberals to sideline class as a divider of common interest.

curiouswes -> nonsensefactory , 16 Oct 2017 00:07
regarding (1): not sure it is feasible and I don't think we should do it if it is. The market is a weird animal imho. Both the hedgers and the speculators can drive a market share price up or down and contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe the speculators are to blame when a company does well. A lot of people got financially devastated because they had holdings in Enron. I wouldn't want to punish those investors even further because they invested in a bad company.

regarding (2): I agree. The concept of globalism is a good concept. However the way it is being implemented isn't.

regarding (3): Again I agree. Most of the regular posters who agree with the media nonsense don't post on articles like this one because a paid troll sticks out like a sore thumb on articles like this.

BrunoForestier , 16 Oct 2017 00:00
By these measures you could say America has been an oligarchy from its very conception. Look at the robber-barons of the 19th c. There are occasional "raisings of the veil" such as new deal or great society when the general public gets a fair go. The industrial boom of ww2 is what gave the working class a shot at living a decent life - and of course offshoring industry is precisely closing that door again.
functor , 15 Oct 2017 23:56
I am not an expert on Greek history but wouldn't the example of Alcibiades suggest that when an oligarchy falls-- due to war and plague in the case of Athens -- dangerous demagogues who break away from the same oligarchy ride the "democratic" wave and cause even more misery like the idiotic invasion of Sicily? Weren't the democratic people-- the landless poor of Athens-- more inclined to war at that point than the oligarchs? In some sense aren't we seeing what happens when a member of the oligarchy breaks away in present day U.S-- Trump rode a populist wave that was very democratic and people powered-- and where has that got us? Sometimes true democracy can be a messy and frightening affair.

I offer no defense of oligarchies, but the older I get, the more I wonder whether democracy of the people, by the people, is really for ALL the people.

Take Brexit, Trump, or for a more remote example, the Fascist inspired Hindu right wingers in India. All of them are in many ways a truer representation of the voice of the people, but that voice is so ugly, so exclusionary, so narrow, that one might be forgiven to want the sedate stability of an oligarchy back.

Bewareofnazihippies -> ChesBay , 15 Oct 2017 23:55
I'm afraid I have to agree. When thinking on these issues, I have a recurring mental image, it's the crowd scene at Brian's window, in the greatest cinematic example of satire, Life of Brian.

Brian -"You are all individuals. You are all different! "

The crowd -"YES! WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS! WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! "

Man -"I'm not"

The crowd -"Ssh! Ssh! "

antdog -> sejong , 15 Oct 2017 23:41
......ahhh, reclining in the facetious lounge; unfortunately, this amusement left us with a candidate ignoring the masses of the American population opening the door for Trump.

Tens of millions of Americans waited patiently for a Dem candidate to talk about our stacked decks, D.C. swamps, and broken systems -- instead, they gave us a Hillary coronation and expected us to embrace the pantsuit.

Meanwhile, tens of millions then voted for Trump, knowing point-blank he was lying; they happily voluntarily deceive themselves (current/active); how sad is this reality ?

mrkris -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 23:40
As someone already said, instead of treating poor people unequally well, why not treat rich people the same as everyone else- don't let them hide their money from the taxman, don't give the rich unfair breaks and handouts
curiouswes -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:40

Do you think that is going to inspire Americans to get out and vote?

When the choice for the most powerful office in the world comes down to a choice between Donald J Trump and Hillary R Clinton (who were friends before the election started), I tend to think that our problem is not due to voter apathy, but rather voter apathy is due to our problem.

Those who still participate, still think this is all about the left vs the right because they think they still have a choice. They do. they get to choose between neoliberalism and fascism.

Alex Cardosa -> koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 23:38
The way its always been done. At the end of a pike. The rest is just fantasy.
antdog -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:31
After university econ training, and a long business career, I now consider education a terrible thing. Knowing what I know now about how our systems really work, when I observe our Congressional leaders looking into the camera with point-blank lies day in and day out, I feel they deserve execution; literally, I am feeling like heads should roll.

Our systems have been hijacked, and the interests of the masses of our populations are being completely ignored--what should be the penalty for selling out, via acute sophisticated engineering, the population of an entire nation ?

hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
"Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."

Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking.

hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
"Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."

Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking.

PGNEWC -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
I dont think its a belief in 2 parties but a belief in a type of fixed yin and yang that drives this

Opposites like Good v Evil , the Unknown Others (like Foreigners) v the known (your Family /Friends ) etc . We see things as Either/Or because it is the simplest way of making sense of our world. But the world is far more complex and nuanced than this and there are degrees of rightness and wrongness and we as you say take on board the whole rigid structure of one side or the other -- it plays right into the oligarchs hands

Bewareofnazihippies -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 23:18
Your instant dismissal of zaarth's point of view is the essential problem of modern democracy - casual demeaning and disregarding attitude from the ruling elites towards an informed citizen expressing concerns of inequality and systemic concentration of political power to the oligarchs.

Typical.

There maybe no political will to address these issues, but there sure as hell is plenty of social will! As for your last sentence "- So redistributionist policies have no future. ", well, considering that we've had 40years of global wealth being redistributed to the 1%, it's about time it was spread around a bit more equitably, don't you think?

Be Gold , 15 Oct 2017 23:02
In America, oligarchs win when Dems are center right (in practice, not rhetoric) and are sold out to the oligarchs. Case in point, HC. There is no counterbalance to those who are even further to the right. Oligarchs win without a legit 3rd party.
koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 22:39
A article. A case in point - Iceland, where the elite owns the fishing fleet and controls the financial industry, whereas the majority of the population barely scrape by. People are furious but how do you overturn centuries of oligarch 'rule and law'?
vr13vr -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 22:38
Disagree. "Why" is always a question. If you don't know and understand "why," the original intent of a law, you can't interpret and apply it properly. As a result, it gets perverted to the point that it does no longer make sense. We have plenty of examples in the US.

Without why you can't adapt to the changing environment either.

vr13vr -> Wolframite , 15 Oct 2017 22:35
But how successfully? And with how much resources, compared to various industrial and other deep pocket lobbies?
franklin100 -> kizbot , 15 Oct 2017 22:34
Yes, it's the same wh