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Two Party System as Polyarchy

News Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Books Recommended Links US Presidential Elections of 2016 Donald Trump Jeb "Wolfowitz Stooge" Bush Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Bernie Sanders
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite The Deep State Myth about intelligent voter  American Exceptionalism Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Predator state Media-Military-Industrial Complex Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Ethno-lingustic Nationalism Corporatism National Security State Neocons
Neoliberalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place US Presidential Elections of 2012 Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Mayberry Machiavellians Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

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

-- Leonard Pinkney

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

-- Daniel Estulin


Introduction

I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitles to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ?  Or  election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. 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. That is especially true for "export of democracy" efforts. See color revolutions for details. 

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 (not unlike it was the case in the USSR) including  labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80% or even 99% of population.  Neoliberalism tries to present any individual 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  wealth maximization for the top 1% (redistribution of wealth up - which is the stated goal of neoliberalism). 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 color workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-color workers that were affected. Times changed. 

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

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 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. 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.

The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance, "wealth maximization" for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80% 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.

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 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 (see Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges) which decide nothing but 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.

The problem of existence of "Deep State" and American democracy

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and means existence of  an interconnected network of  high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as

“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”

The term means an association of elements of government. security services, parts of top-level figures of financial oligarchy and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

The neoliberal transformation of state, which proceeded in parallel with the conversion of system of governance to "deep state" (which started during Truman presidency) was virtually complete at the time of Reagan left his post.  And this fact alone essentially makes elections optional, but they still continue to exist in an emasculated "two parties system" form to provide legitimacy to the ruling elite.

That legitimizing  role actually includes the US Presidential elections. The selection of two candidates who face each other in elections is made somewhere else at the top echelons of Republican and Democratic Parties. There can be surprises like Trump and Sanders in 2015 cycle, but they are exceptions that confirm the rule. Also after triumph of neoliberalism in 80th we saw the phenomenon of "puppet" or "pcket" Presidents" (Clinton-Bush II-Obama) which definitely looked by being controlled by outside of White house forces. That is especially ture about Bush Ii and Obama. Clinton was just a willing sellout to Wall Street interests himself. Any of them have very little of no influence on the direction of the country (aka "change we can believe in"). Amazing consistany of the USA foreign policy during this period (which ideologically charged members of Bush administrating promoted under Obama administration as was the case with Victoria Nuland) is strong confirmation of this hypothesis.   

In other words deep state is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving for such organization of Executive branch, President, Congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR (KGB and military in the USSR were a nice example of "deep state" which controlled  levels of power, while formaly not being in power), Turkey, China and many other countries.

In other words the current political system in the USA actually consists of two distinct governments. They are called "surface state" or Madisonians and "deep state" or Trumanites (national security establishment in alliance with selected members of financial oligarchy, media owners and technocrats). It was Truman who signed National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA).

Simplifying the complex relation between those two US governments (sometimes Madisonians fight back and have Trumanites to make a temporary retreat) we can say that:

Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" which happened in the USA almost immediately after 1947 essentially made elections optional, but they still continue to exist as a ceremonial function for the sake of providing the legitimacy in an emasculated "two parties system" form.  While relationship is more complex then simple dominance, in essence "deep state" is the tail that wag the dog. And JFK assassination meant first of all the triumph of "deep state" over "surface state". In this sense 9/11 was just the last nail in the coffin of democracy.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey (and actually Wikipedia discusses only it) but it is widespread modern phenomenon which can also be found in most other states. The term means a shadow alliance of elements of government. security services, selected top-level figures of financial oligarchy, media and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process. As any elite dominance project it is deeply anti-democratic although it uses fig leaf of democracy for foreign expansion via color revolutions and wars. 

Like in Third Reich this dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. There is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

Here is how The American Conservative covers this topic:

Steve Sailer links to this unsettling essay by former career Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, who says the “deep state” — the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment — is a far greater threat to liberty than you think. The partisan rancor and gridlock in Washington conceals a more fundamental and pervasive agreement.

Excerpts:

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.
 

More:

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy.

Lofgren goes on to say that Silicon Valley is a node of the Deep State too, and that despite the protestations of its chieftains against NSA spying, it’s a vital part of the Deep State’s apparatus. More:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.”

Read the whole thing.  Steve Sailer says that the Shallow State is a complement to the Deep State. The Shallow State is, I think, another name for what the Neoreactionaries call “The Cathedral,” defined thus:

The Cathedral — The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

You don’t have to agree with the Neoreactionaries on what they condemn — women’s suffrage? desegregation? labor laws? really?? — to acknowledge that they’re onto something about the sacred consensus that all Right-Thinking People share. I would love to see a study comparing the press coverage from 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War with press coverage of the gay marriage issue from about 2006 till today. Specifically, I’d be curious to know about how thoroughly the media covered the cases against the policies that the Deep State and the Shallow State decided should prevail. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here, not at all. I’m only thinking back to how it seemed so obvious to me in 2002 that we should go to war with Iraq, so perfectly clear that the only people who opposed it were fools or villains. The same consensus has emerged around same-sex marriage. I know how overwhelmingly the news media have believed this for some time, such that many American journalists simply cannot conceive that anyone against same-sex marriage is anything other than a fool or a villain. Again, this isn’t a conspiracy; it’s in the nature of the thing. Lofgren:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

When all you know is the people who surround you in your professional class bubble and your social circles, you can think the whole world agrees with you, or should. It’s probably not a coincidence that the American media elite live, work, and socialize in New York and Washington, the two cities that were attacked on 9/11, and whose elites — political, military, financial — were so genuinely traumatized by the events.

Anyway, that’s just a small part of it, about how the elite media manufacture consent. Here’s a final quote, one from the Moyers interview with Lofgren:

BILL MOYERS: If, as you write, the ideology of the Deep State is not democrat or republican, not left or right, what is it?

MIKE LOFGREN: It’s an ideology. I just don’t think we’ve named it. It’s a kind of corporatism. Now, the actors in this drama tend to steer clear of social issues. They pretend to be merrily neutral servants of the state, giving the best advice possible on national security or financial matters. But they hold a very deep ideology of the Washington consensus at home, which is deregulation, outsourcing, de-industrialization and financialization. And they believe in American exceptionalism abroad, which is boots on the ground everywhere, it’s our right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the result of that is perpetual war.

This can’t last. We’d better hope it can’t last. And we’d better hope it unwinds peacefully.

I, for one, remain glad that so many of us Americans are armed. When the Deep State collapses — and it will one day — it’s not going to be a happy time.

Questions to the room: Is a Gorbachev for the Deep State conceivable? That is, could you foresee a political leader emerging who could unwind the ideology and apparatus of the Deep State, and not only survive, but succeed? Or is it impossible for the Deep State to allow such a figure to thrive? Or is the Deep State, like the Soviet system Gorbachev failed to reform, too entrenched and too far gone to reform itself? If so, what then?

The second important thinker in this area is  Professor Michael J. Glennon who wrote the book  “National Security and Double Government.”

Here is how Amazon reviewer Mal Warwick summarized the book in his review written on December 22, 2014

Who makes national security decisions? Not who you think!

Why does Barack Obama's performance on national security issues in the White House contrast so strongly with his announced intentions as a candidate in 2008? After all, not only has Obama continued most of the Bush policies he decried when he ran for the presidency, he has doubled down on government surveillance, drone strikes, and other critical programs.

Michael J. Glennon set out to answer this question in his unsettling new book, National Security and Double Government. And he clearly dislikes what he found.

The answer, Glennon discovered, is that the US government is divided between the three official branches of the government, on the one hand — the "Madisonian" institutions incorporated into the Constitution — and the several hundred unelected officials who do the real work of a constellation of military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand. These officials, called "Trumanites" in Glennon's parlance for having grown out of the national security infrastructure established under Harry Truman, make the real decisions in the area of national security. (To wage the Cold War, Truman created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA, and the National Security Council.) "The United States has, in short," Glennon writes, "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy. . . . The perception of threat, crisis, and emergency has been the seminal phenomenon that has created and nurtures America's double government." If Al Qaeda hadn't existed, the Trumanite network would have had to create it — and, Glennon seems to imply, might well have done so.

The Trumanites wield their power with practiced efficiency, using secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and the ability to mask the identity of the key decision-maker as their principal tools.

Michael J. Glennon comes to this task with unexcelled credentials. A professor of international law at Tufts and former legal counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, he came face to face on a daily basis with the "Trumanites" he writes about. National Security and Double Government is exhaustively researched and documented: notes constitute two-thirds of this deeply disturbing little book.

The more I learn about how politics and government actually work — and I've learned a fair amount in my 73 years — the more pessimistic I become about the prospects for democracy in America. In some ways, this book is the most worrisome I've read over the years, because it implies that there is no reason whatsoever to think that things can ever get better. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the Borg on Star Trek, "resistance is futile." That's a helluva takeaway, isn't it?

On reflection, what comes most vividly to mind is a comment from the late Chalmers Johnson on a conference call in which I participated several years ago. Johnson, formerly a consultant to the CIA and a professor at two campuses of the University of California (Berkeley and later San Diego), was the author of many books, including three that awakened me to many of the issues Michael Glennon examines: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. Johnson, who was then nearly 80 and in declining health, was asked by a student what he would recommend for young Americans who want to combat the menace of the military-industrial complex. "Move to Vancouver," he said.

Here is how Christopher Bellavita in Homeland Security Watch summarize an interesting discussion at Cato think tank which I highly recommend to watch:

Why has American national security policy changed so little from the Bush administration to the Obama

That’s the question Michael J. Glennon asks in his book “National Security and Double Government.”

His answer: national security policy is determined largely by “the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints.” The president, congress and the courts play largely a symbolic role in national security policy, Glennon claims.

You can read a Harvard National Security Journal article that outlines Glennon’s argument at this link: http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Glennon-Final.pdf.  The paper is not an especially easy read, but I found it to be well researched and – for  me – persuasive.

His book adds more analysis to the argument, using (from Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision) the rational actor model, the government politics model, and the organizational behavior model. Glennon extends that framework by discussing culture, networks, and the myth of alternative competing hypotheses.  The book is richer, in my opinion.  But the core of Glennon’s position is in the paper.

This link takes you to a video of Glennon talking about his book at the Cato Institute: http://www.cato.org/events/national-security-double-government (the talk starts at the 5:20 mark).

From the Cato site:

In National Security and Double Government, Michael Glennon examines the continuity in U.S. national security policy from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Glennon explains the lack of change by pointing to the enervation of America’s “Madisonian institutions,” namely, the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. In Glennon’s view, these institutions have been supplanted by a “Trumanite network” of bureaucrats who make up the permanent national security state. National security policymaking has been removed from public view and largely insulated from law and politics. Glennon warns that leaving security policy in the hands of the Trumanite network threatens Americans’ liberties and the republican form of government.

Some blurb reviews:

“If constitutional government is to endure in the United States, Americans must confront the fundamental challenges presented by this chilling analysis of the national security state.”
Bruce Ackerman

“Glennon shows how the underlying national security bureaucracy in Washington – what might be called the deep state – ensures that presidents and their successors act on the world stage like Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”
John J. Mearsheimer

“National Security and Double Government is brilliant, deep, sad, and vastly learned across multiple fields–a work of Weberian power and stature. It deserves to be read and discussed. The book raises philosophical questions in the public sphere in a way not seen at least since Fukuyama’s end of history.”
David A. Westbrook

“In our faux democracy, those we elect to govern serve largely ornamental purposes, while those who actually wield power, especially in the realm of national security, do so chiefly with an eye toward preserving their status and prerogatives. Read this incisive and richly documented book, and you’ll understand why.”
Andrew J. Bacevich

“…Michael Glennon provides a compelling argument that America’s national security policy is growing outside the bounds of existing government institutions. This is at once a constitutional challenge, but is also a case study in how national security can change government institutions, create new ones, and, in effect, stand-up a parallel state….”
Vali Nasr

“Instead of being responsive to citizens or subject to effective checks and balances, U.S. national security policy is in fact conducted by a shadow government of bureaucrats and a supporting network of think tanks, media insiders, and ambitious policy wonks. Presidents may come and go, but the permanent national security establishment inevitably defeats their efforts to chart a new course….”
Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer

I’ve spoken to three people I consider to be members of the “shadow national security state.”   One person said Glennon’s argument is nothing new.  The second told me he’s got it exactly right.  The third said it’s even worse.

 

Hiding the rule of oligarchy

In a very deep sense the party system is a very elegant trick that conceals and project a single party of oligarchy as two distinct parties and distract voters from any serious issues with meaningless cat fight between two faction of the same party during elections. In Lifting the Veil they mention one of the meaning of the term polyarchy is the system where voters are limited to voting between two pre-selected representatives of the oligarchy:

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later.

So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

Hiding the rule of oligarchy is the essence of two party system as implemented in the USA, Great Britain, Canada and several other countries. When, in the 1940s, Joseph Schumpeter argued that ordinary citizens should limit their participation in a democracy to electing its leaders, he was effectively arguing for polyarchy. Here is how Wikipedia defined the term (polyarchy):

In a discussion of contemporary British foreign policy, Mark Curtis stated that "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad.

This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites." [8]

The whole idea (the rotation of the pre-selected representative of elite at the top) is somewhat similar to an intro marketing course on how to sell bogus products to gullible consumers forcing them to make adverse selection.

There is also related issue of information asymmetry between voters and elite (represented by Party functionaries). In reality, Democratic Party in not a separate party, but an integral part of the two prong bait-and-switch system with a special function of preventing meaningful reform. In other words in two party system both parties are essentially are two branches of a single party, the party of oligarchy.

But each branch in two party system (let's call them for simplicity Democrats and Republican parties as in the USA) has it's own "hidden" political function.

If the selection of candidates is performed strictly by the party machine (and according to the The Iron Law of Oligarchy, the party machine has innate tendency to self-organize into oligarchy), then subsequent elections is a pure formality, much like in the USSR. Or, more precisely, a political farce because the real voters are limited to top 1% who decide what candidates are selected within each party political machine (or, more correctly, the top 0.01%). In no way elections can be called democratic is public is completely disenfranchised in selection of the candidate. In this sense calling the US election democratic is pure hypocrisy of the ruling elite, who controls the MSM, and by extension the political discourse. This is a perfect trap, out of which there is no escape.

You are irrelevant: Instead of Trump's "you are fired",
 party apparatchiks create the situation in which regular members are really irrelevant

In this sense "regular" voters are irrelevant and play role of extras in the game of the elite (which might include power struggle between various factions). They will always face an adverse selection between between bad for their interests candidate and even worse, often disastrous candidate.

For example, between Obama (who in reality is closer to Bush III then many people think) and close to the Tea Party candidate. The choice is clear and wrong as neither candidate represents interests of the voters. So majority of "regular" voters is automatically disenfranchised by party machine in a very fundamental way. Exectly like in should be according to the The Iron Law of Oligarchy

Moreover, in this situation the vote for any third candidate automatically became a vote for Tea Party (remembers the role supporters of Ralph Nader played in the election if Bush II in Florida). So electorate is in not only held hostage by two (pre-selected by oligarchy) candidates and is allowed only to chose between them. They are royally punished for disobedience.

Again, the classic example of this mechanism in action was the role of Nader in Gore vs. Bush election. This is the key mechanism of “managed democracy” or, as it is also called, the “inverted totalitarianism”.

All mechanisms discussed about that "winner takes all" election system profoundly and fundamentally is nothing but a subtle and elegant way of enforcement of the rule of oligarchy in the form of polyarchy, with the only difference from military dictatorship (which represents the extreme form of the elite rule) that there is no dictator for life. But it's the same iron fist (in a velvet glove). Which is a definite improvement over military dictatorship, but this is not that big an improvement. You are still tightly controlled, but instead of brute force financial or other indirect methods are used. It is not an improvement even in comparison with Soviet Politburo election of the General Secretary of CPSU, although it definitely more entertaining and has better PR potential.

i would like to stress that in a very deep sense, so called "government by the people" in case of two party system is not that different than heredity monarchal or autocratic rule, or, for a change, rule of the Soviet Politburo. This also means that Constitution became just a peace fo paper, document which is optional and redundant for ruling elite as George Bush aptly demonstrated.

Constitutional provisions can't be controlled in any meaningful way if rulers are completely detached from the voters. So voters and their interests can be abused in whatever way oligarchy wishes. To lessen the pain they can be distracted by throwing them like a bone for the dog artificial issues like homosexual marriage and deciding key economic and political issues in private. Selection of the agenda is the privilege of ruling class and always was.

Ordinary people had no say then or now. and with two part system this is by design. According to John Jay, America’s first Supreme Court chief justice, the nation should be governed by people who owned it.

Illusion of democracy

The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called winner-takes-all or first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose.

Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this type of voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. And as we demonstrated above such system automatically means the rule of oligarchy. On the current stage of development of the USA political system this is financial oligarchy because the social system that exists in the USA now is neoliberalism. The latter automatically makes the whole social system prone to deep and devastating crises. And that increases demand for guard labor and militarization of police. In a very fundamental way rulers are much more afraid of proles in neoliberal regime then under New Deal regime.

Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

At the same time, a two party system provides a pretty realistic illusion of democracy and is actually remarkably effective both in enforcing the rule of oligarchy and preserving this illusion. A perfect system for a small group to rule, as all “mass participation” is confined to choosing between two preselected by party brass candidates. In other word elections are just a puppet show controlled by oligarchy much like elections controlled by party nomenklatura of the USSR when only a single candidate existed, but still elections were called and votes were counted. Actually the fact that they did not adopt a two party system this is a testament of the ideological rigidity of the USSR nomenklatura, as such a system is perfectly compatible with a totalitarian society and is essence is a small, insignificant (but very elegant and deceptive) variation of the one party rule.

In addition “Winner takes all” system automatically, by design, co-opts small parties into either Democratic Party or Republican Party camp, before they can get any level of maturity. That means that, unfortunately, within the “winner takes all” framework emergence of third party is temporal as they are quickly co-opted into one of two wings of the establishment party. The latter can well be "the War Party" as jingoism is the credo of both Democrats and Republicans, and in many cases it is difficult to understand who is more jingoistic.

A two party system as a mediator between conflicting interests of factions of the elite

In Golden Rule Thomas Ferguson argues the US two party system functions as a mediator between conflicting business interests. Between two parts of the ruling elite.

Rodolfo Lazo de la Vega

Democracy, Capitalism & the State, December 27, 2010

This review is from: Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (American Politics and Political Economy Series) (Paperback)

The central foundational principle of the capitalist nation-state is that it is a reflection of its economic constituencies. Those who own and control the means of production shape the state in the form that they desire. This truism - that money runs politics - is the central argument of Thomas Ferguson's "Golden Rule." He begins by asking what are political parties? They are organizations composed of blocs of major investors who come together to advance favored candidates in order to control the state. They do this through direct cash contributions and by providing organizational support through the making available of sources of contacts, fundraisers and institutional legitimation. Candidates are invested in like stocks. For them electoral success is dependent on establishing the broadest base of elite support. Candidates whom have best *internalized* investor values see their "portfolios" grow exponentially at the expense of candidates who have not internalized these values. So what you have is a filtering system in which only the most indoctrinated and business friendly of the intellectual class advance to state power. The higher you go up the ladder the more you've appealed to elite interests. Representatives of the major investors are also often chosen to fill political appointments after a favored candidate has achieved office. This political-economic model helps explain why the state largely functions to serve elite business interests on the domestic and international stages.

Of course, corporate interests vary and evolve. Capital-intensive corporations tend to invest in Democratic politicians. Labor-intensive corporations tend to invest in Republicans. That's because capital-intensive corporations can afford to sit in a party which also represent organized labor. The AFL-CIO rarely poses a threat to Wall Street; and vice-versa. So what would we expect from a system like this? One thing we would expect is that on issues which the public cares about but on which there is cross-party investor agreement no party competition will take place. That means that the issues the public is most interested in will not appear on the agenda. The polls have been pretty consistent on this point. Major public interest revolves around issues having to do with trade agreements, in favor of a single-payer health care system, increased spending for education, slashing the Pentagon budget and many other issues. At times the population has been able to organize successfully and force popular issues onto the agenda despite business opposition.

Ferguson details how the growth, development and fall of major industries correspond to the growth, development, and fall of their political parties. He examines the rise and fall of five major investment bloc party systems - the Federalist vs. Jeffersonian, the Jacksonian, the Civil War party system, the system of 1896 and the New Deal. The latter is dealt with in much detail.

The book, while highly informative, is not without its flaws. Ferguson's prose is obtuse and very, very dry. The charts are helpful but the ideas could have been presented in a more compact form. Regardless of these reservations, this book is very important for an understanding of how our political system functions and deserves a large audience, discussion and action.

One of early proponents of "elite [dominance] theory" James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings — two party system, illusion of "free press" and a controlled "circulation of the elites."

Notes on Republican Party

As Anatol Leiven noted:

...the Republican Party is really like an old style European nationalist party. Broadly serving the interests of the moneyed elite but spouting a form of populist gobbledygook, which paints America as being in a life and death, struggle with anti-American forces at home and abroad.

It is the reason for Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. That is the rhetoric of struggle acts as a cover for political policies that benefit a few and lay the blame for the problems of ordinary Americans on fictitious entities.

The main side effects of the nationalism are the current policies which shackles America to Israel uncritically despite what that country might and how its actions may isolate America from the rest of the world. It also justifies America on foreign policy adventures such as the invasion of Iraq.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion.

Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate "citizens" and transnational elite (becoming this way just another neoliberal party), systematically neglecting the needs of the middle class (lower classes never have any meaningful political representation, so nothing changed for them). That combination produces an apathetic electorate which completely lost hope in the political process. This is the essence of "inverted totalitarism".

Note on Democratic Party

Democratic Party after Clinton became Republican Party light, the party of Wall Street, that has nothing to do with labor movement, which previously was its base. The reasoning is that labor is nowhere to go in any case, so it is safe for democratic establishment to serve financial oligarchy.

The current democratic president would be viewed as a moderate republican just 30-50 years ago, as politically he is positioned to the right in comparison with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Just compare his famous warning about Military-Industrial Complex and Obama behavior during Snowden revelations of NSA total surveillance regime. Even Nixon, who finished Vietnam war is in some major aspects to the left of Clinton and Obama. Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor immediately after being reelected for the second term.

Essentially under Obama the USA two party system became undistinguishable in its major features from the USSR one party system, as behind the façade of two parties there is a single party, the party of oligarchy, the party of top 0.01% much like CPSU was the party of Soviet nomenklatura, which was hostile to the interests of middle class of the USSR (which is perfectly provable by the very low standard living of the middle class in the USSR).

Democracy promotion as used by the USA foreign policy
is actually a promotion of polyarchy

This oligarchy system was actively promoted in third world countries via so called color revolutions. Democracy promotion term in the US foreign policy is nothing but promotion of polyarchy. It is the policy that strives to put pro-Western elite groups and large international companies in power using variety of "grey area" methods which come short of armed apprising against the demonized "evil" regime. That was very successful policy in post USSR space with Ukraine and Georgia as two prominent examples.

After such a revolution a new, more pro-Western part of the elite (lumpenelite) comes to power and exercise often brutal monopoly power in the interests of the USA and transnational corporations. Typically privatization of the county is in the cards. Which regimes of Boris Yeltsin, Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili demonstrated all too well. Also important that as 1965 CIA report about Philippines stresses that "The similarity of the parties, nevertheless encourages moderation, readiness to compromise, and lack of dogmatism in the political elite". Philippines were a key client regime in 1950th and 1960th with Clark Air Base and Subtic Naval Base to be the largest military facilities outside US mainland (Promoting polyarchy globalization ... - William I. Robinson (p. 120))

Here is one Amazon review of the book:

Brilliant exposition of US policy and the global order June 12, 2001

By Geoff Johnson

Format:Paperback

In this difficult but extremely provocative and scholarly work, William I. Robinson presents a new model for understanding US foreign policy and the emergent global society as a whole. The crux of his thesis is this: US foreign policy has changed in the last twenty years or so from open support of authoritarian regimes in countries where the US has economic and/or strategic interests to a program of "democracy promotion" that strives to place minority elite groups who are responsive to the interests of the United States and transnational capital at the head of the political, economic, and civic structures of "third world" countries.

Contrary to popular opinion (and that of much of academia), the real goal of democracy promotion, or what Robinson refers to as "promoting polyarchy", is not the promotion of democracy at all, but rather the promotion of the interests of an increasingly transnational elite headed by the US who seek open markets for goods and an increase in the free flow of capital. This marks a conscious shift in foreign policy in which the US now favors "consensual domination" by democratically elected governments rather than authoritarian leaders and the type of "crony capitalism" made famous by the likes of Ferdinand Marcos and Anastacio Somoza.

The first sections of the book introduce numerous theoretical concepts (drawing heavily on the theories of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, in particular his theory of hegemony) that are crucial to the understanding of the text. I personally found these sections extremely difficult but well worth the time it takes to read certain parts several times. Robinson then goes on to document four case studies-- the Phillipines, Chile, Nicaragua, and Haiti-- each of which fleshes out his conceptual framework in much more concrete terms. The result is a disturbing picture of US foreign policy and the current direction of "globalization." I would highly recommend this to anyone with a strong interest in foreign affairs and/or the future of humanity.

Here is an interesting review of Wolin's book: Inverted Totalitarianism in the US

The US is a self-declared empire that scholars have labeled a “superpower” since it achieved military and cultural hegemony in a “unipolar moment” at the “end of history” while seeking “full-spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, cyberspace and outer space, as stated in the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020.

In order to impede the Soviet Union’s imperial projects, the US likewise slung itself astride the globe using multilateral institutions, spy networks and covert operations which produced a “Cold War” that eliminated the idea of peacetime and demanded permanent military mobilization bolstered by the military-industrial-congressional complex while placing citizens on high alert against nuclear threats and a domestic infestation of “reds” that excused the government’s surveillance of citizens.

The Constitution, which limits power, and a democracy, which requires local control and citizen empowerment, are both profaned by superpower, which defies limits in its quest for global supremacy, overshadowing localities and overpowering citizens while projecting power outward and inward simultaneously.

To describe this configuration, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism.”

In old totalitarianism, the state dominated the economy while iconic demagogues who permanently held office mobilized citizens and openly flaunted the blanketing power of the new order they were imposing. With inverted totalitarianism, the economy dominates the state wherein temporary “representatives” serve a permanent corporate regime that demobilizes citizens while claiming to protect individual liberty by reducing state power, thus concealing the totalitarian character.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion, and Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate “citizens” while systematically neglecting the needs of regular citizens, producing an apathetic electorate that’s lost hope in the political process.

State power is legitimated by media events called “elections” that elites have learned to control through finance, marketing and media ownership, while politicians accept bribes called “contributions” that are considered “speech” – as defined by the Supreme Court, effectively using “free speech” to silence the citizenry while replacing constituents with lobbyists.

Citizens fear job loss and benefit loss due to downsizing and outsourcing, which maximize “efficiency,” while the government shreds social safety nets for the sake of “efficiency,” leaving citizens vulnerable and yet unable to protect themselves when states outlaw collective bargaining, thus criminalizing worker self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, slashing federal programs enhances state power by making government less unwieldy and easier to control since it dilutes public involvement, thus depleting public power and solidifying executive power.

The idea of democracy is emptied of substance and used as a slogan to justify military invasion, occupation and torture while the doctrine of “preemptive war” renders all acts of aggression as defensive and undertaken for the sake of insuring “stability.” For example, deference to US demands and the protection of corporate assets – in a war against terrorism that lacks a specific geographic location and thus requires the globe-girdling ability to strike anywhere anytime.

Instead of a Politburo circulating state propaganda that touts one political ideology, the corporate media feigns democratic debate that features “both sides” who are portrayed as extreme opposites but actually reflect a slim range of political discourse, thus giving the appearance of freedom while relying on White House, State Department and Pentagon spokespeople to supply the “official” version of political affairs, which are broadcast into every home through television, thus manipulating the public rather than including them.

Democracy functions as a useful myth that obscures the totalitarian atmosphere in which citizens feel politically impotent and fearful as they are dwarfed by giant, rigid, top-heavy bureaucracies that respond to the protocols of a corporate state that collaborates with telecommunications companies to monitor the population and develop detailed digital profiles of citizens while local police forces cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies, augmenting the burgeoning prison industry as the state loosens laws that forbid army soldiers from patrolling US streets.

The corporate state defunds public programs and forces everything into the market, including health, education, social security, pensions, public broadcasting, prisons, water, soldiers, surveillance and national intelligence, while businesses commodify the environment and patent DNA.

Two Party System as an enabler of the Quiet Coup:
privatization by the elite of the whole country

In the “democracy” that America has evolved to, money counts more than people. In past elections, the votes were counted, now they are going to start weighing them.

America The Counter-Revolution - Salem-News.Com

“(T)he rich elites of (the USA) have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”

-- Mike Lofgren

Two party system also makes possible a very interesting recent phenomenon, which started under Reagan (or may be Nixon) and first fully demonstrated itself after the dissolution of the USSR: a deep split between the elite and the rest of population to the extent that the country because a hostage of the elite which now behave like a brutal occupiers, not as compatriots. In other work the self-serving(aka greedy) elite with its neoliberal ideology emerged as much more formidable threat to democracy then communist ideology of the past. Neoliberalism not only defeated Marxism, it also decimated the US labor movement. Neoliberalism is in essence transnational, so Marxist slogan "proletarians of all countries unite" materialized in a form "elite of all countries unite" ;-). and that spells deep troubles for the 99% of the USA population as labor arbitrage is used to lower their living standard.

Being transnational they treat their "host" country as occupiers. Their allegiance is with transnational elite not with old ("national") bourgeoisie. In some countries like Russia under Putin national bourgeoisie (and imprisonment of Khodorkovky was a watershed invent in this respect as it prevented sell-out of Russian oil reserves to the US corporations) managed partially displace transnational elite form command hights but it remain to be seen how stable this regime is.

They now crave for "materialization" of their status in a form of great wealth and reject moral and cultural values of the past. This was first noticed by Christopher Lasch in 1994 when he published his groundbreaking book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. This was partly due to the book prophetic recognition that the elites of this country (and indeed the developed world) -- the professionals, top managers (upper-middle class and higher) -- were pulling away from the rest of the pack, tacitly renouncing their stake in and responsibility to society social contract, and slowly changing the rules of the game to increate economic inequality and appropriate the large share of society wealth. Tyler Durden writes Zero Hedge on Feb. 15, 2013, that 1% of Americans control over 40% of the United States’ wealth. But those making $10 million or more a year pay an average income tax rate of only 19%, less then people who are making 60K a year. As an old-school conservative, Lasch considered excessive economic inequality to be intrinsically undesirable: the difficulty of limiting the influence of wealth suggests that wealth itself needs to be limited.

Since the Reagan administration the USA has indeed accomplished a successful transformation to an effective One Party State with the financial oligarchy instead of Soviet nomenklarura and Wall Street instead of the Communist Party of the USSR. As Soviet nomenklatura had shown to the surprised world at one moment the elite can just privatize the whole country (with active participation of KGB which in theory should protect the regime). In other words the objective of the elite and their political handmaidens became to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. This new ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact it appears to be associated with a powerful, almost psychopathic sense of entitlement. This transition of elite (which now is first and foremost financial elite) into brutal occupiers of their own country was recently popularized by Professor Simon Johnson under then name of "Quiet Coup":

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government -- a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. ...

…the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital -- a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

At least since Reagan years we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful — who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. As professor Reich noted:

Its techique is to inundate America with a few big lies, told over and over (for example, the debt is Obama’s fault and it’s out of control; corporations and the very rich are the “job creators” that need tax cuts; government is the enemy, and its regulations are strangling the private sector; unions are bad; and so on), and tell them so often they’re taken as fact.

Then having convinced enough Americans that these lies are true, take over the White House, Congress, and remaining states that haven’t yet succumbed to the regressive right (witness Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin).

Preventing meaningful reform

Two party system proved to be ideal instrument for preventing any meaningful social and political reform as recent political history of the USA aptly demonstrates. Here are some relevant comments from Naked Capitalism forums:

kievite

I am pretty pessimistic about the current situation. There are some tectonic forces at work and politicians can do only so much to try to prevent an earthquake.

One aspect of the problem is that the society became way too complex.

Tainter in his book suggested that as societies become more complex, the costs of meeting new challenges increase, until there comes a point where extra resources devoted to meeting new challenges produce diminishing and then negative returns.

The USA has an interesting twist in this regard which make some form of drastic change more plausible: Republican Party. The current Republican Party (aka wrecking crew) is a textbook demonstration of the forces that prevent any meaningful reform. Democratic Party is another part of the same bait-and-switch system.

The amount of resources diverted to military industrial complex and financial companies probably serve as another severe limitation on what can be done to prevent new crisis.

And with 40% of population believing that Saddam was instrumental in 9/11 the chances of political change are slim. Looks like country is pretty evenly divided and multi-year brainwashing can’t be reverted until the current generation pass away.

Rampant unemployment and absence of meaningful jobs creation are two features that make the current situation unsustainable.

Simple solutions like some form of fascism are definitely becoming more attractive in this atmosphere. So we can be sure that attempts to explore this opportunity will be made. Clerical fascism is one possibility.

High unemployment is a powerful catalyst of mass support of any radical ideology.

Actually the beginning of this century looks in many ways similar to the beginning of the previous century. And we know how things developed in the previous century. We just do not know the form “change we can believe in” will take.

kievite:

Actually splitting UR into two parties which are just replica of the USA structure with Democratic/Republican parties is a fascinating idea. As the USA experience proved it can be pretty stable politically as one branch of the same “united oligarchy party” would marginalise left and the other can marginalise extreme right.

As Gore Vidal said

“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.”

This might be an interesting political innovation for Russia: substituting single party regime with the “dualism without choice” (or “choice we can believe in” if we use politically correct language ;-) . This dual party structure can serve as a powerful force for marginalising opposition both on left and right. reform. In this case both parties are the necessary and vital parts of the same bait-and-switch system.

As for Medvedev actions I think that few people either in mass population or elite forgot economical and political rape of Russia under Yeltsin.

As unforgettable George W. Bush said: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

A popular mock word for “democrats” — “der’mokcats” and for “liberals” — “liberasts” reflects the common attitude after Yeltsin reforms.

Among interesting attempt to explain the current electoral situation provided in "American Revolution Today- First Principles and Basic Precepts " have some merits:

What does the prospect of Revolution mean today in The United States? Well, the very fact that today we are a nation, whereas in the late eighteenth century our forefathers were simply a collection of subject farmers and tradesmen inhabiting a colonial outpost of The British Empire, puts us in a very different set of circumstances than our predecessors. And yet some of the very same intolerable conditions that impelled our colonial ancestors to revolt against an arbitrary and unresponsive British crown exist today.

In fact, if anything, the tax burden you and I face now is greater by a substantial sum than what existed at the outset of The American Revolution when the cry "Taxation Without Representation" was the clarion call for defiance against The British Crown. More troubling perhaps is that those individuals that stand today at the head of our leading institutions of public life, whether they be the Treasury Secretary, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Senior Congressmen and women, and even The President, seem every bit as disinterested in honestly addressing our legitimate concerns, and in answering our probing questions, as any eighteenth century British Parliamentarian or exhalted royal head of state were in addressing the complaints of the colonialists.

Some might offer that the answer to such a lamentable state of affairs is to simply replace, via the ballot box, recalcitrant and unresponsive leaders. Regrettably, it is the opinion of American Revolution Today that the mechanisms of government are now so deeply flawed, so intractably corrupt, that no such simple remedy is possible were it even allowed. In truth, it is the view of American Revolution Today that:

  1. The United States Federal Government, functioning primarily on behalf of monied interests, particularly big banking and Wall Street, has become a nemesis of "We The People."
  2. The entrenched two party system comprised of Democrats and Republicans is, in the main, obstructive of reform, and, by definition, utterly opposed to anything resembling revolutionary change.
  3. At this juncture, traditional means of political self determination may not be the way forward, but in any case, we at American Revolution Today are convinced that no candidate from either the Democratic or Republican parties should receive support; any affiliation with the two party system almost assures that such a candidacy would ultimately be antithetical to government benefiting "We The People."

Following on from that, no candidate who runs for Federal public office that does not feature the following planks in their campaign platform will be deemed suitable for election.

A.) Term limits
B.) Campaign Finance Reform
C.) Shortened Election Cycles
D.) Cessation of "Redistricting"
E.) Full Audit of The Federal Reserve
F.) The restoration of constitutional mandate for congressional control of U.S. currency.
G.) An end to further raising of the debt ceiling
H.) Immediate removal of all troops, personnel, and material from Iran and Afghanistan
I.) Replacement of income tax and estate taxes with new levies on consumption, and amended levies on capital gains by individuals and corporations.
J.) Health care reform that is first and foremost free market based with no governmental bias towards "Big Pharma" or the insurance industry.
K.) A multi-generational program designed to return some "reasonable sum" of manufacture back to the United States
L.) The complete overhaul of such government agencies as the SEC, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and Homeland Security, to name but a few.
M.) Full investigations of those individuals in and out of government who are alleged to have engaged in criminal activity associated with the collapse of various large banking concerns and quasi government agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
N.) An end to the entire "alphabet soup" of programs funneling money to too big to be allowed to exist parasitic institutions such as AIG, BOA, GS, Citicorp, and JPM.
O.) A restoration of mark to market accounting standards, and the cessation of the writing of any more "standard performance contracts" aka OTC derivatives, until such time as a regulated exchange is instituted for their trade.
P.) A complete rollback of all cap and trade legislation.

If you are in agreement with the ideas and political initiatives expressed here, and feel as we do, join us in making the Second American Revolution a reality. Join us in reestablishing a nation where The Constitution is fully respected, and where good government is defined as one that governs least and always on behalf of the greater good.

Honest Elections Myth

Here is characterization by the USA MSM of the particular foreign election

They have the right to have an honest elections... We will have to disagree on the scale of the electoral fraud – from what I can see , the “elections”: were a total , crudely executed sham

In fact this characterization if perfectly applicable to the US elections as well. In fact elections are always stolen from people by oligarchy. There was an excellent observation here:

There’s no real skill in convincing people that they’re unhappy with the current state of affairs, and to set visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads (if I may be seasonal for a moment).

Everybody feels they’re entitled to something better, and the only thing left to do is identify the person or persons standing in the way of their getting it.

But everybody who isn’t a dolt usually says at some point, “Uhhh….how’s that going to work?”

I would add my two cents.

  1. When we face critic of elections who claim they are dishonest that classic Russian question arise " Who are the judges?" (Griboedov) .

    Judges are representatives of several political forces:

    Typically none of them is better then "current corrupt regime". That supports that statement that means that taking into account the alternative, the word democracy here is used as a Trojan force for regime change with the hope that the next regime will more suitable for geo-political security interests of the USA and Western Europe.

  2. Absolutization of the idea of "honest election" is nothing but dirty PR trick. I would remind here old, but still relvant work of Robert Michels who became famous for his formuation of "Iron law of oligarchies": He demostrated (in 1911 !) that the idea of "honest election" is a myth the covers the universal trend of democratic organizations towards oligarchy. And that elections are form of civilised struggle of different oligarchic groups represented by party functionaries for power. Which in turn represent so called "leading families". The latter is one (a) that develops, retains and renews its wealth over a number of generations; (b) in which some children in each generation secure good positions in the various elites of society; and (c) where the family holds together as a network for information on and influence over the development of a local community or ─ in certain cases ─ the country as a whole. More than one thinks, the history of Europe and America in the past century has consisted of the history of the leading families.

  3. It's natural that like after any dirty football game the fans of the winning team call it brutal but honest and fans of the losing team "dirty and dishonest". As there are some objective criteria of the level of "dirty tricks" played in election people who try to absolutize the idea of "honest election" are crooks who want to "rock the boat". .

Credibility trap of two party system

Credibility trap of one party system is well known. Two party system is more resilient in this respect but is not totally immune to credibility trap.

A credibility trap [in two party sytem] is a situation in which the regulatory, political and/or the informational functions of a society have been thoroughly taken in by a corrupting influence and a fraud, so that one cannot address the situation without implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure and the status quo who at least tolerated it, if not profited directly from it, and most likely continue to do so.

This lead to an interesting situation when voting became a special type of entertainment aptly described in John Chuckman Nov 6, 2013 essay HOW AMERICA LEARNED TO PLAY GOD

Just as there is a natural cycle in the life of great industries – the scores of early American car manufacturers are now reduced to a few functioning as an oligopoly, an historical pattern repeated in industry after industry – there appears to be a life cycle for a government organized like that of the United States. The duopoly which runs the American government consists of two parties which differ in almost no particulars except some social issues, but even that difference is rather a sham because the American government no longer has any interest in social issues. It is concerned overwhelmingly with representing and furthering the interests of the nation’s three great power centers of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Social issues now are soap-box stuff for street-corner politicians and members of NGOs.

But in any case, all players in this political duopoly, no matter to which office they may be elected, know they can never challenge the immense authority and virtual omnipresence of America’s military, intelligence, corporate hierarchies and special interests like the Israel Lobby, powerful anti-democratic institutions which literally shape the space America’s politicians must inhabit.

Americans today quite simply could not vote in an informed manner if they wanted to do so (and many are not interested in voting at all, as we shall see): they are completely in the dark as to what happens inside their government, both its operations within the country and in international affairs. No one knows the full extent of spending on intelligence, nor do they know what dark programs are underway. No one knows the full extent of spending on the military, nor do they know to what questionable tasks it is being put around the world. No one knows the immense extent and complexity of lobbying and special interests in the American government. And of course no one is privy to the planning and operations of the great corporations, nor do they know anything of the dealings and financing arrangements between those corporations (or the wealthy individuals who own and run them) and the people’s supposed representatives, who all must spend a substantial part of their time just raising money for the next election (the average American Senator is said to spend two-thirds of his or her time doing just that).

Americans’ votes in elections have become to a remarkable extent meaningless, although an elaborate political stage play keeps the appearance of meaning and keeps those interested in politics involved and entertained. Almost certainly as a result of sensing how little their votes count, Americans often simply do not vote and do so in increasing numbers. The further down the political totem pole you go from the presidential elections which generate the most noise owing to the obscene amounts of money spent on marketing and advertising, the greater is this truth. Maybe 60% vote for president, a minority vote in other national elections, and a tiny fraction vote in state and local elections.

This vacuum is filled with Big Intelligence which become one of the "king makers":

The record of arrogance and abuse by security organizations, such as CIA or the FBI, is long and costly, filled with errors in judgment, abuse of power, incompetence, and immense dishonesty. Owing to the black magic of classified secrecy, much of the record involves projects about which we will never know, but even what we do know about is distressing enough. And I’m not sure that it can be any other way so long as you have Big Intelligence. Apart from Big Intelligence’s own propensity towards criminal or psychopathic behavior, one of the great ironies of Big Intelligence is that it will always agree to bend, to provide whatever suppressions and fabrications are requested by political leaders working towards the aims of the other great anti-democratic institutions, the military and the corporations. This became blindingly clear in the invasion of Iraq and, even before that, in the first Gulf War.

Among other things they provide powerful filtering system so that none undesirable slips into important office:

America’s political system, honed and shaped over many decades, fits comfortably with these institutions. National elections are dominated by a two-party duopoly (being kept that way through countless institutional barriers deliberately created to maintain the status quo) , both these parties are dominated by huge flows of campaign contributions (contributions which form what economists call an effective barrier to entry against any third party seriously being able to compete), both parties embrace much the same policies except for some social issues of little interest to the establishment, and election campaigns are reduced to nothing more than gigantic advertising and marketing operations no different in nature to campaigns for two national brands of fast food or pop. It takes an extremely long time for a candidate to rise and be tested before being trusted with the huge amounts of money invested in an important campaign, and by that time he or she is a well-read book with no surprising chapters.

If for any reason this political filtering system fails, and someone slips through to an important office without having spent enough time to make them perfectly predictable, there still remains little chance of serious change on any important matter. The military-industrial-intelligence complex provides a molded space into which any newcomer absolutely must fit. Just imagine the immense pressures exerted by the mere presence of senior Pentagon brass gathered around a long polished oak table or a table surrounded by top corporate figures representing hundreds of billions in sales or representatives or a major lobbying group (and multi-million dollar financing source for the party). We see the recent example of popular hopes being crushed after the election of Obama, a man everyone on the planet hoped to see mend some of the ravages of George Bush and Dick Cheney. But the man who once sometimes wore sandals and bravely avoided a superfluous and rather silly flag pin on his lapel quickly was made to feel the crushing weight of institutional power, and he bent to every demand made on him, becoming indistinguishable from Bush. Of course, the last president who genuinely did challenge at least some of the great institutional powers, even to a modest extent, died in an ambush in Dallas.

Disenfranchised Voters

Here are pretty typical comments about the recent Congress election in The Guardian (Oct 30, 2014):

UNOINO

It makes no difference to our Handlers whether we vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum. None whatsoever because our Handlers own them both. Now, back to work.

jeni popa

All parties aside, the right hand still has to work with the left hand. Try using just one hand, not much gets done, right ? Now try together, thank you.

Stephen_Sean -> jeni popa

Sometimes one hand is all that is required, but I see your point.

UNOINO -> jeni popa

At the moment one force is controlling both hands. They are essentially both doing the same thing. What we need is a third hand, so to speak. A third party.

Wiscot -> UNOINO

If there is one thing that will always unite Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government, it is the desire to keep it a two-party system. Any third party will be marginalized by whatever means possible. They know that people hate Congress so much that any reasonable alternative would get votes. The Establishment will always protect itself.

"Myth about intelligent/rational voter"

"Myth about intelligent/rational voter" is pretty widespread despite many books that convincingly prove that this is a myth and that people are able consistently vote against their own interests including this virtual economic interests (in other words are easily brainwashed). There are some interesting facts on the ground that disprove this myth (Washington Post, ):

Two books on the subject that deserve attention are

There is one book with neoclassical perspective on the subject (and as such completely off the mark) but at least Amazon reviews (especially negative one start reviews ;-) are well worth reading:

The Myth of the Rational Voter Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan

Gaetan Lion:
The Myth Caplan is rational, July 20, 2010

Caplan's thesis seems sensible. The voters are irrational as they have systematic biases including anti-market bias, anti-foreigner bias, anti-trade (or pro-protectionism) bias, and pro make-work bias. In turn, the voters elect politicians that reflect their biases. And, politicians execute detrimental social policies that reflect the biases of the voters. However, Caplan thesis is wrong on numerous counts.

First, the voters are not irrational. They are ignorant of counter-intuitive economic concepts. Those are two different things. One entails voters are crazy; they are not. The other entails they don't know macroeconomics; and they truly don't.

Second, politicians govern to get reelected. And, their main master is the economy as measured by GDP growth, inflation, and unemployment. Whether they are responsible or not for such indicators, politicians will suffer the blame or get credit for them. The pressure of delivering a strong economic performance easily overcomes any of the biases Caplan mentions.

Third, on economic policy it is often technocrats, not elected by voters, who run the show. Politicians are mainly lawyers not economists. On complex macroeconomic policies technocrats control the agenda. The main two ones are the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. These two pretty much dictate fiscal and monetary policies respectively. They also work jointly in times of crisis. A good example is the recent financial crisis. The various bail outs, fiscal stimulus, TARP plan, etc... were not initiated by George Bush or Obama. They were orchestrated by Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury under Bush, and his successor Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Fed. The public's strong anti-bank populist sentiment had no influence whatsoever on the implementation of those bail outs. Thus, recent history represents a devastating blow to Caplan's theory.

Fourth, international trade is another area that trumps Caplan's theories. His favorite theoretical examples address voters bias for protectionism and import tariffs. But, matters of international trade are now almost entirely subordinated to supranational entities such as the WTO. Additionally, you can't find a nation more in favor of free trade than the U.S. The latter has signed bilateral free trade agreements with North America (NAFTA) and many other countries. This is another embarrassing rebuttal to Caplan's theories that voters' biases result into poor economic policies. They don't. Political leaders and technocrats ignore voters' sentiments whenever they have to.

Fifth, Caplan's faith in the markets appears delusional. In his view, because democracy results in poor policies reflecting irrational voters' biases, you need an alternative. And, his alternative is the market. Quoting Caplan: "If people are rational as consumers but irrational as voters, it is a good idea to rely more on markets and less on politics." The timing of his libertarian manifesto could not have been worse. It gets published in 2007 just as we experience two spectacular market failures. The first one had been brewing up for decades: the health care crisis. That's where we found out that an unrestrained for profit health care system does not work. The second market failure was the aftermath of financial deregulation that had taken place over a decade and resulted in the current financial crisis. We should also add the recent market failure of unregulated deep sea oil drilling (the BP incident). So, for Caplan to state we should replace government by markets whenever we can is irrational.

Sixth, another weakness of Caplan's theory is that he uses data that is often over 20 years out of date. Such is the case, when he states that the elderly are less supportive of Social Security than the remainder of the public. He also states that women are less pro-choice than men. Had Caplan used current findings, it is likely that the opposite would be true.

Additionally, Caplan trips himself over basic economic concepts. Just as he goes on that economists are so smart and the rest of us are not; he demonstrates he is himself not so clear on economic concepts. Thus, when he attempts to teach us the basics of labor specialization he immediately contradicts himself. Quoting him on page 17: "If Crusoe's belief is correct, he wisely specializes in agriculture and has Friday do other kinds of work. But, if Crusoe's belief is blind to prejudice, keeping Friday out of agriculture reduces total production and makes both men poorer." As you noticed, whether Crusoe is correct or prejudice, the result is exactly the same.

David Moore wrote a far superior book pretty much on the same subject: The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls. Moore's main point is that the public is often unqualified to answer polling questions. Meanwhile, such polls are mistaken for the voice of the Nation. But, again ignorance and craziness are not the same thing. Moore understands that. Caplan does not.

Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" (Phoenix, AZ.) 
  

1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Adds Nothing to Today's Issues, October 1, 2007

"The greatest obstacle to social economic policy is not entrenched special interests but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs and personal biases of ordinary voters." I thought that was a good introduction and eagerly dived in. Then it all fell apart, beginning with page 1 and Caplan's assumption that free trade is unequivocally good for America.

Clearly free trade was good for America just after WWII when we were the only industrial entity of any consequence standing. Want cars, steel, electronics, refrigerators, TVs - whatever, we had it and they probably didn't. So Americans made out like bandits.

Today, its the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Japanese, etc. who are raking in the benefits. While Americans lose jobs, pensions, health care coverage, and move to lower-paying jobs, economists remain isolated in their 18th century theories of free-trade developed in an era of only minor differences in standards of living, wage levels, and major limitations in communication speed and transportation.

On a macro level, Americans are also losing manufacturing capacity and skills. Shocked to see a senior Mattel executive publicly apologizing to the Chinese over issues leading to the recall of Chinese manufactured toys? Undoubtedly the Chinese have more than a little power over Mattel (and other toy makers), given that at least 75% of toys are now "Made in China" and we would have difficulty quickly substituting our own capabilities for theirs. In WWII the U.S. turned the tide of battle with its ability to mass-produce quality armaments. Today we have difficulty producing IED resistant vehicles and the most effective body armor.

The dollar's purchasing power is already another victim of today's free trade, with potentially far worse declines possible. Suppose we now suddenly decided to "bite the bullet," stop buying most low-cost items from China and reinvigorate our own manufacturing? Would China threaten retaliation by dumping the trillions of dollar IOUs they hold, wrecking our currency? Could we afford that risk?

Perhaps economists (including Caplan) will join the 21st century when Asian economists begin taking their jobs via Internet instruction in American colleges and universities. It is time to update their popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases.

Nicole

Don't confuse us with the facts!" June 8, 2007

Many people have noted that democracy seems not to work - policies are implemented that often are not in the best interest of voters, and when voters are surveyed they routinely lack even the most basic civic knowledge. The way people have typically answered this problem is to say that voters are uninformed, and that if they simply had more access to good information, they would use that information to make better choices. But even so, the tiny informed minority will sway elections because the uninformed majority will vote at random.

Here, Caplan directly challenges that view by asserting that voters are not simply ignorant but irrational, and that this is in fact predicted by economic theory. Voting is not like shopping - it is more like making use of a commons, because the costs of a "bad" vote are borne by the public at large, and the chance of an individual casting the deciding vote is tiny. Therefore, people will vote for what makes them feel good without bothering to find out whether it really is good - it simply doesn't matter.

... ... ...

The key idea here is that de facto educated people are not needed as voters so "diffusing" the vote to encompass a mass of uneducated people you get the situation similar when only top 1% has the right to elect. Intelligent voters are dangerous because they are heavier than control and manipulate (and if that means dismantling public education system so be it -- interest of oligarchy are more important).

What is important for elite is an illusion of choice not the choice itself. That simulates the sense of belonging for "shmaks" (aka red necks). Media, in this case is just a part of feedback control loop to manipulate the "dark masses" (aka shmaks), and the more ignorant people, the easier it is through such a control loop enables manipulation. Of course, neither of which involved such a dark reality of the population to the real issues of governance and the economy, it is not even going. After all we can't make happy all the people. So de facto, access to education is a powerful mean to make existing stratification of the society permanent. Of course, this policy creates  fundamental and unavoidable conflict with the requests for social justice. And as a result can lead to periodic shocks when masses slip out of control due to some gross injustice like financial crisis of 2008.

Actually this is what Russian elite (or at least part of Russian elite) openly proposes. Look at the transcript o Gref (the chairman of Sberbank). Recommended reading in order to better understand the real views of the ruling elite in the development and management and not to fall into some vain illusions. The second point here is that all those US cries about threats to democracy in Russia are the same cries that wolves do when they are deprived from guarding chickens. The was never democracy in Russia since 1991 and never will be as there is no democracy is the USA and never will be any.  The only differences is the methods of rotation of elite (and is this sense Russia is much more democratic then the USA).

 Yeltsin criminal regime was a dictatorship of comprador oligarchy centered around gangster syndicate of "Komsomol banksters" (Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Co.). Shock therapy, methods of privatization used (under the direction of Harvard academic skunks) and shelling parlament proves that 100%. It was just economic rape of the country from which it did not fully recover. Actually under Yeltsin GDP dropped to level lower then during invasion of Hitler armies in WW2.

Putin partially dismounted this in favor of energy and military-industrial complex oligarchy. In a way his regime somewhat similar to George W Bush regime but with different personality and less hate toward middle class and common folks. As well as without subservience to neo-conservatives. But it looks like the same energy and military-industrial oligarchy bonsais rules the country. Medvedev tried to sit between two chairs. I think that's why Kudrin opposed growing milirary expenditures.

And this hysterical circus about votes falsifications is actually a perfect method to push voters to vote again their own economic and political interests. Consensus is very fragile as the county has huge unsolved problems. And hostility of the USA toward Russia which was quite determined to kill wondered foe should not be underestimated.

We have an example in a struggle between corrupt and criminal comprador oligarchy leaded by Yutchshenko-Timoshenko allies and industrial part of the oligarchy led by Yanokovich. In this case voters were quite successfully brainwashed. With the help of western money and consultants Yanukovich criminal past became a huge factor.

In other words common folds are always duped. For example millions of Americans who were taken for a ride by Bush II presidential campaign scripted from the pages of Niccolo Machiavelli’s "The Prince." The father of Realpolitik famously observed that “politics have no relations to morals,” and this aphorism serves as the motto for George Bush and company.  Richard Nixon once remarked, “You can’t fool all of the people, all of the time, but if you fool them once, it lasts for four years.”

Quotes

"You've Got to Cozy Up" More Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics

Three weeks ago I posted a collection of quotes from politicians acknowledging the obvious reality that money has a huge impact on what they do, and asked anyone with more examples to send them to me .

You really came through. Here are 15 more great examples, with credit to the people who suggested them.

Please keep them coming; I'm looking specifically for working politicians who describe a tight linkage between money and political outcomes. And I'd still love to speak directly to current or former politicians who have an opinion about this.

I'll continue to add all of them to the original post , so you can bookmark that for the complete collection.

• "I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that's a broken system." - Donald Trump in 2015.

• "This is what's wrong. [Donald Trump] buys and sells politicians of all stripes. … He's used to buying politicians." - Sen. Rand Paul , R-Ky., in 2015.

• "The millionaire class and the billionaire class increasingly own the political process, and they own the politicians that go to them for money. … We are moving very, very quickly from a democratic society, one person, one vote, to an oligarchic form of society, where billionaires would be determining who the elected officials of this country are." - Sen. Bernie Sanders , I-Vt., in 2015. (Thanks to Robert Wilson in comments .)

Sanders has also said many similar things, including : "I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. … The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress." (Thanks to ND, via email.)

• "Today's whole political game, run by an absurdist's nightmare of moneyed elites, is ridiculous - a game in which corporations are people and money is magically empowered to speak; candidates trek to the corporate suites and secret retreats of the rich, shamelessly selling their political souls." - Jim Hightower , former Democratic agricultural commissioner of Texas, 2015. (Thanks to CS, via email.)

• "People tell me all the time that our politics in Washington are broken and that multimillionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling all the shots. … It's hard not to agree." - Russ Feingold , three-term Democratic senator from Wisconsin, in 2015 announcing he's running for the Senate again. (Thanks to CS, via email.)

• "I can legally accept gifts from lobbyists unlimited in number and in value … As you might guess, what results is a corruption of the institution of Missouri government, a corruption driven by big money in politics." - Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf , 2015. (Thanks to DK, via email.)

• "When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you're kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money." - Dale Schultz , 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader, in 2013 before retiring rather than face a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity.

Several months later Schultz said : "I firmly believe that we are beginning in this country to look like a Russian-style oligarchy where a couple of dozen billionaires have basically bought the government."

• "I was directly told, 'You want to be chairman of House Administration, you want to continue to be chairman.' They would actually put in writing that you have to raise $150,000. They still do that - Democrats and Republicans. If you want to be on this committee, it can cost you $50,000 or $100,000 - you have to raise that money in most cases." - Bob Ney , five-term Republican congressman from Ohio who pleaded guilty to corruption charges connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal, in 2013. (Thanks to ratpatrol in comments .)

• "American democracy has been hacked. … The United States Congress … is now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances." - Al Gore , former vice president, in his 2013 book The Future. (Thanks to anon in comments .)

• "I will begin by stating the sadly obvious: Our electoral system is a mess. Powerful financial interests, free to throw money about with little transparency, have corrupted the basic principles underlying our representative democracy." - Chris Dodd , five-term Democratic senator from Connecticut, in 2010 farewell speech. (Thanks to RO, via email.)

"Across the spectrum, money changed votes. Money certainly drove policy at the White House during the Clinton administration, and I'm sure it has in every other administration too." - Joe Scarborough , four-term Republican congressman from Florida and now co-host of "Morning Joe," in the 1990s. (Thanks to rrheard in comments .)

• "We are the only people in the world required by law to take large amounts of money from strangers and then act as if it has no effect on our behavior." - Barney Frank , 16-term Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, in the 1990s. (Thanks to RO, via email.)

• "Money plays a much more important role in what is done in Washington than we believe. … You've got to cozy up, as an incumbent, to all the special interest groups who can go out and raise money for you from their members, and that kind of a relationship has an influence on the way you're gonna vote. … I think we have to become much more vigilant on seeing the impact of money. … I think it's wrong and we've got to change it." - Mitt Romney , then the Republican candidate running against Ted Kennedy for Senate, in 1994. (Thanks to LA, via email.)

• "I had a nice talk with Jack Morgan [i.e., banker J.P. Morgan, Jr.] the other day and he seemed more worried about [Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rexford] Tugwell's speech than about anything else, especially when Tugwell said, 'From now on property rights and financial rights will be subordinated to human rights.' … The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson. … The country is going through a repetition of Jackson's fight with the Bank of the United States - only on a far bigger and broader basis." - Franklin D. Roosevelt in a 1933 letter to Edward M. House. (Thanks to LH, via email.)

• "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." - 1912 platform of the Progressive Party, founded by former president Theodore Roosevelt. (Thanks to LH, via email.)

 

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[Jan 30, 2016] Iowa: Des Moines Register poll sets up a mad Saturday night – campaign live

Notable quotes:
"... If youre relying on seeing your favorite candidates name the most times in a Google search, do keep in mind that only young low information voter relies on technology to determine whos popular. The old folks still rely on talk radio. ..."
"... Clinton is the Democratic Party candidate of the Military Industrial Complex ..."
"... Trump says insane things, of course every news outlet covers him, I dont really think he counts. MSNBC is by far the worst of the lot when it comes to spoon feeding. I dont like FOX any better when they bring on their Holy band of extreme right commentators either. ..."
"... As a young female undecided voter, its hard not to be fooled by the celebrity game show host. And on the other hand, its hard not to support my fellow gender and vote Hillary (until you look at the baggage). Now, if I listen to my brain as opposed to emotions, the common sense of Bernie on the one side or Rand Paul on the other has a distinct appeal. Theyre quite interesting to listen to and they do it without invoking terror, hatred, scare tactics or even biblical quotes. How refreshing! ..."
"... The bankruptcy argument is a bunch of bs. Hes a billionaire now. If I could become a billionaire by going bankrupt Id do it in a heartbeat. The truth is that he figured out how to rise out of bankruptcy and is now financing a presidential campaign and manhandling his opponents who have received millions in contributions. ..."
"... Ive been a democrat all my life and hope that Sanders wins. But if it comes down to Hillary and Trump, Im voting Trump. If it comes down to Hilary and any republican not named Trump, Ill hold my nose and vote for Hilary. I really dont care for her. ..."
"... Its heartening to see that Clinton is polling lower than Sanders when it comes to young women, perhaps indicative of the post-sexism ideal were going for; younger women are judging the candidates on their actual policies and character, as opposed to being swayed by the infantile because shes a woman appeal. ..."
"... Given TTP and TTIP, NAFTA, the actions of the IMF and World Bank, the moves by the EU and Anglosphere away from social democracy and the continuing prescription of liberal economic policy for all states, deregulation, plans to expand recourse to investor-state dispute settlement courts, and the overall small state philosophy, often enforced by military interventionism or sanctions, it seems as if pro-capital policy, deregulation and the resulting inequality havent obtained a status quo that will be maintained under Hilary or the GOP so much as an agenda that has been pushed globally, and will go further in the direction that many voters on the left and centre of politics and even the traditional conservative right and far-right, probably the majority of Americas and the worlds population, oppose. ..."
"... The Guardian and the rest of the UK media are giving Trump the same treatment as they gave Arthur Scargill in the 1980s. ..."
"... The UK Establishment and media and their overseas supporters (in the other direction) and we all know who that is. are schit scared in case Trump gets in. The British establishment has been bought. British 'informed democracy', is dead. Censorship, is rife. And the British People know it. ..."
"... Does any of this really matter? The United States is an empire and, regardless of who is anointed President by the Koch brothers and the rest of the American aristocracy, the empire will still require a military budget of at least $500,000,000,000 and American jobs will still go to China because that's profitable for the corporations and for the aristocrats who own and run those corporations. ..."
"... The far-left attacks again, well I have to give them credit, they are really trying harder than ever. Anyway, these polls are always adulterated by special interests ..."
"... We do not have a democracy. Freedom of speech democratic freedom of thought, yes. Democracy is an unfulfilled philosophical idea and wishful thinking. For decades, we have been under the total rule of organized business - as are many developed nations. ..."
"... I have been a lifelong Democrat and my first choice is Bernie Sanders. With my meagre income I will continue to contribute to his campaign. My alternate choice is, anyone but Hillary Clinton. For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone who reads the news can vote for this Wall St. puppet. ..."
"... Be that as it may, the US average voter owes to Donald Trump for standing up to the corporate media that we always criticise for influencing elections, while other candidates of both parties bend over backwards to curry their favor. ..."
"... Yes, the corporate media as a result are going after him, but he still gets votes. This election, the case the US Voter vs. Corporate Media, the Voter won thanks to Trump. ..."
"... People have unfavourable opinions of politicians they actually vote for. Nearly all Repubs will vote for trump if he is the nominee and whether it's Hillary or Sanders, a fair size of one time Obama voters are switching to the Repubs because they want action taken against the rapid erosion of what they consider to be American values. ..."
"... It appears that the Guardian continues to show it's bias toward Clinton. How about being balanced and reporting the news instead of trying to create the news and influence the outcome. If we want bias we can drift over to Fox Fake news ..."
"... Hillary Clinton is not on the left. She is right center. ..."
"... Cruz is genuinely dangerous. A religious zealot and a war monger, it would be a massive step back for America and the world if this man became president. ..."
"... It's because many people who are centrist or left leaning have a sense of morality and principles.. It's not about voting for who stinks less.. It's about standing up for what you consider right and if you can't do that during the election process then what's the bloody point of democracy.. Take the case of Occupy Wall Street.. supported by most left leaning people. ..."
"... the media wants us to frame everything into left wing or right wing. However I don't buy into that paradigm anymore. When Clinton was about to send the jobs away, I saw effectively Pat Buchanan (staunch conservative but poplulist) effectively joining forces with Ralph Nader (perhaps as far left as anyone can go but still populist). You think any democrat would be better than any republican. I think that if we don't fix something soon, this whole thing is going to collapse. For my money only 3 candidates are actually pledging to fix something (Sanders, Paul and Trump). ..."
"... Remember that socialist is a dirtier word in much of the U.S. than neo-liberal is in Western Europe. There's also the very pertinent question of whether the U.S. is ready to elect a Jewish president. ..."
"... Obama came in surrounded by Wall Street execs and stooges and from the outset had no intention of challenging the power of the capitalist class or affecting change that was anything other than rhetorical in nature. ..."
"... Clinton is the one candidate who can lose to Trump, and if she win's she will govern like Bush. It's disgusting how the establishment is pushing her so hard, but it does inform us that we should reject her. Clinton is a candidate like Obama - runs on hope and change, than nothing changes - same old attitude that Government exists to protect the profits of the 1% and **** Working Class Americans ..."
"... Sanders' mild social democratic policies - which require moderate and easily affordable sacrifices on the part of the rich - are of course very realistic and practical. Or at least they are realistic in countries that are at least reasonably politically sane. But since US politics is the very definition of insanity, Sanders policies are not realistic . ..."
The Guardian

sdkeller72 -> SeanThorp 30 Jan 2016 21:10

Let's not forget Bill Clinton's brother Roger's involvement in the Iran Contra affair. Clinton's have been involved in drugs and gun running for a long time.

skipsdad -> André De Koning 30 Jan 2016 21:03

Putin did more damage to Isis in 6 weeks, than Obama and Nato did in six years.

The Turkish fox, is in the Nato chicken coop. Turkey has been getting oil from Syria for years. Obama knew about it. The Russians were threatening to reveal the deceit, and that's why their plane was shot down.

Now Turkey is claiming another Russian violation. The fox is looking to start WWIII.

Obama has been dealing with 'moderate terrorists' for years, and Putin exposed him.

Obama and the US - Running with the foxes, and hunting with the hounds.

Trump will clean that cesspit of corruption out.

johnf1 30 Jan 2016 20:58

Who in God's name cares what anyone in Iowa thinks about who should be president. As far as I know neither Iowa nor New Hampshire has ever been important in any presidential election. Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, the voters in those states are important.

nnedjo 30 Jan 2016 20:56

The former first lady run in the elections for the Democratic presidential candidate for the second time, and claims to have a trump cards for it; "Only she is able to defeat Trump!"

However, the problem is that in addition to trump cards Hillary also has Trump's money. You remember that she took the money from Trump, as a fee for coming to his wedding.

Now it raises a hypothetical question: What if in the middle of the election campaign Trump decides to pay Clinton a little more than before, as "a fee for the lost elections"?

So, in my opinion it is not unthinkable at all that Hillary could sell elections to Trump in exchange for a certain sum of money, the only question is how much money would that be.

And after all, Trump himself has already stated that he is looking forward to get Hillary Clinton as an opponent in the presidential race, so draw your own conclusions?

André De Koning -> skipsdad 30 Jan 2016 20:50

Pity we only get a silly picture of Putin via western media. Reading his speeches, especially the last one at the UN (28th Sept.), he was the clearest and summed up the issues of western caused chaos with its invasions and claim of 'being special'(US, especially hypocritical and doing the opposite of what it preaches). Putin is thoughtful, strategic and a leader, while in the US there are no leaders and even more is done by the so-called intelligence agencies' that by the Russian FSB (more control over them than over the NSA). One debate with Putin would be more interesting than any of this American waffle that has never changed their superficial, cruel foreign policies. I discovered this by reading other literature about Putin than you can ever find in the misleading demonization of any leader who is opposed to US policies. The press lied about Gadaffi too, so take some trouble to find out what these so-called enemies are actually about.

RusticBenadar -> carson45 30 Jan 2016 20:42

Actually, if you had done your due diligence and researched Bernie's track record you would see he is a master of bipartisan success; it was said of his mayorship that he "out republicaned the republicans" achieving all the fiscal objectives they had long sought in Butlington but failed to accomplish until Bernie came along.

TettyBlaBla 30 Jan 2016 20:39

I find all the predictions of who will win the General Election in November quite amusing. Primary elections haven't even started and neither major political party has declared which candidates in the present fields will represent them. The choice of Vice Presidential candidates could well change the scenarios many are now presenting.

If you're relying on seeing your favorite candidate's name the most times in a Google search, do keep in mind that only young low information voter relies on technology to determine who's popular. The old folks still rely on talk radio.

atkurebeach 30 Jan 2016 20:34

if the democrats vote for Hillary, who is tight with Wall Street money, especially when there is such a clear alternative for the poor, to me that means there is no difference between the two parties. I might as well vote for Trump, at least he is less likely to start a war.

digitalspacey -> Calvert 30 Jan 2016 20:32

As an outsider looking in (from Australia) what you describe actually works in favour of the Democrats.

Think about it.

An intransigent Republican party continually blocks what the President wants to do. Now I'm assuming that if people vote in Bernie it's because they actually want what he has to sell.

So if the Republicans keep playing this game it's really gonna start to grate on people.

There will come a tipping point where people will say 'enough!' and the removal of the Republicans will commence.

It may take several terms but the Republicans are in egret signing their own death warrant.

Merveil Meok -> Logicon 30 Jan 2016 20:12


There are very powerful forces in America that would NEVER let Bernie Sanders win the White House. He has said stuff that has disqualified him (in the eyes of those forces) for the role of president.
You can't run against the military, cops, oil companies, Wall Street, the richest people on the planet, big pharma, and win. That only happens in movies.

SeniorsTn9 30 Jan 2016 20:09

The U.S. campaign is nearly over and two choices remain. Everyone knows America is broken. Candidates promoting staying the course and being politically correct have no place in America's future. They broke the America we have today. The realities are obvious; Clinton is to the past as Trump is to the future. After all the campaigning dust settles, Americans who want American back will vote for Trump. Trump will make America great again. It really is that simple.

redwhine -> Merveil Meok 30 Jan 2016 20:01

It's good that they have to win over people in Iowa and New Hampshire, and I say this as a Californian who only ever hears of politicians visiting my state to raise money at the homes of rich people before leaving the same day. The point is that politicians need to show that they are willing to work for their votes. They need to hit the pavement. They need to convince people to vote for them even if they know that the votes in those states don't amount to much. If politicians only campaigned in California, New York, Texas, and Florida and then skipped the rest, I'd see no evidence of grit and determination, just lazy opportunism.

ID4352889 30 Jan 2016 19:56

Clinton is a deeply unpleasant character, but Americans will vote for her over the decent Sanders. It's just the way they do things in the US. Clinton is the Democratic Party candidate of the Military Industrial Complex and will take the cake. Bernie is just there to make people think they have a choice. They don't.

redwhine consumerx 30 Jan 2016 19:52

Plenty of people have inherited millions and still ended up penniless. You can't call Trump an idiot even if you maintain that he could have become a billionaire merely by putting all his daddy's money into the bank and leaving it there (which we know he didn't, because he's built at least a dozen skyscrapers and golf courses). By the way, Fred Trump (Donald's dad) was rich but he was not astronomically rich. As for his lawyers, plenty of lawyers of rich men have done worse; in trying to denigrate Trump people are reflexively making his dad into some sort of financial wizard and everyone around Trump to magically have helped him in every step of the way like guardian angels surrounding him his whole life. It just doesn't work like that.


Merveil Meok 30 Jan 2016 19:42

The political system allows two states (Iowa and New Hampshire) to dictate the future the country. Some candidates are forced to quit after one or two Caucuses (as money sponsors quit on them), even if, only God knows, they could have picked up steam later.

I would be in favor of adding three or more states in the first round of the caucuses so that most of America is represented, not states which have no real power in American daily life - economically and otherwise.

These two states represent 1.5% of America's population and a ridiculously low percentage of national GDP.


ChiefKeef 30 Jan 2016 19:39

Sanders will be the best president theyve ever had. The lefts popularity is rocketing across the west in response to austerity and the endless cycle of imperialism and international crisis. A new generation of activists, unencumbered by the diminished confidence of past defeats, have risen spectacularly in defense of equality against the attacks of the right.


Steven Wallace 30 Jan 2016 19:33

Hillary is a devout psychopath whereas Trump is a total doughnut ,seriously who the hell would vote for these animals ?


Pinesap -> TaiChiMinh 30 Jan 2016 19:31

Trump says insane things, of course every news outlet covers him, I don't really think he counts. MSNBC is by far the worst of the lot when it comes to spoon feeding. I don't like FOX any better when they bring on their Holy band of extreme right commentators either. Like I've said before when your in the middle like me, your screwed. NO news outlets and NO candidates that could win. Screwed like deck boards I tell you.


WarlockScott -> carson45 30 Jan 2016 19:31

Sorry who was president before Bush? Bill Clinton? and who was Bush running against? Central figure in the Clinton administration Al Gore?.... oh, woops.
Experience as secretary of state? US foreign policy has got much better since Kerry took over. Healthcare? the woman that takes bundles of money from Big Pharma, who is now saying that UHC is fundamentally a pipe dream for the US?

She's a poor choice compared to Sanders imo, If she was running against Biden or another centrist democrat yeah sure but against a Sanders figure? nah


Jill McLean 30 Jan 2016 19:28

As a young female undecided voter, it's hard not to be fooled by the celebrity game show host. And on the other hand, it's hard not to support my fellow gender and vote Hillary (until you look at the baggage). Now, if I listen to my brain as opposed to emotions, the common sense of Bernie on the one side or Rand Paul on the other has a distinct appeal. They're quite interesting to listen to and they do it without invoking terror, hatred, scare tactics or even biblical quotes. How refreshing!

redwhine -> consumerx 30 Jan 2016 19:26

The bankruptcy argument is a bunch of bs. He's a billionaire now. If I could become a billionaire by going bankrupt I'd do it in a heartbeat. The truth is that he figured out how to rise out of bankruptcy and is now financing a presidential campaign and manhandling his opponents who have received millions in contributions.

redwhine 30 Jan 2016 19:19

I've been a democrat all my life and hope that Sanders wins. But if it comes down to Hillary and Trump, I'm voting Trump. If it comes down to Hilary and any republican not named Trump, I'll hold my nose and vote for Hilary. I really don't care for her.

JoePomegranate 30 Jan 2016 19:17

It's heartening to see that Clinton is polling lower than Sanders when it comes to young women, perhaps indicative of the post-sexism ideal we're going for; younger women are judging the candidates on their actual policies and character, as opposed to being swayed by the infantile "because she's a woman" appeal.

Logicon 30 Jan 2016 19:08

Bernie has to win the ticket -- the 'best' revolutionary will win the general election:

Trump vs Clinton = trump wins
Trump vs bernie = bernie wins

Cafael -> ponderwell 30 Jan 2016 19:06

Given TTP and TTIP, NAFTA, the actions of the IMF and World Bank, the moves by the EU and Anglosphere away from social democracy and the continuing prescription of liberal economic policy for all states, deregulation, plans to expand recourse to investor-state dispute settlement courts, and the overall 'small state' philosophy, often enforced by military interventionism or sanctions, it seems as if pro-capital policy, deregulation and the resulting inequality haven't obtained a status quo that will be maintained under Hilary or the GOP so much as an agenda that has been pushed globally, and will go further in the direction that many voters on the left and centre of politics and even the traditional conservative right and far-right, probably the majority of America's and the world's population, oppose.

Patrick Ryan 30 Jan 2016 18:58

Most polls are shite as extrapolating from relatively small samples never tells you the true story.... We'll know better after the Caucuses.... the fear factor and the worries of a nation will play a big part in the selective process - This is not a sprint and race is only beginning... Having Trump in the mix has shaken up system and he has clearly got the super conservative media's knickers in a twist...

skipsdad 30 Jan 2016 18:54

The Guardian and the rest of the UK media are giving Trump the same treatment as they gave Arthur Scargill in the 1980s.

The UK Establishment and media and their overseas supporters (in the other direction) and we all know who that is. are schit scared in case Trump gets in. The British establishment has been bought. British 'informed democracy', is dead. Censorship, is rife. And the British People know it.


Douglas Lees 30 Jan 2016 18:53

The is only one decent candidate and that's Bernie Sanders. The others are a collection of fruit loops and clowns (all deranged and dangerous) with the exception of Clinton who is experienced intelligent and totally corrupt. She will cause a war with Iran... Let's hope it's Bernie maybe a hope for some changes. The last 36 years have been fucked

Canuck61 30 Jan 2016 18:45

Does any of this really matter? The United States is an empire and, regardless of who is anointed President by the Koch brothers and the rest of the American aristocracy, the empire will still require a military budget of at least $500,000,000,000 and American jobs will still go to China because that's profitable for the corporations and for the aristocrats who own and run those corporations. Enjoy the show, but don't assume that it actually means anything.


LeftRightParadigm 30 Jan 2016 18:35

The far-left attacks again, well I have to give them credit, they are really trying harder than ever. Anyway, these polls are always adulterated by special interests, just look in the UK at IPSOS MORI with CEO who worked for the cabinet office - no bias there! IPSOS said the majority of British people want to remain in the EU... LOL

Trump is the best candidate, all the others are untrustworthy to the extreme due to who's funding them, namely Goldman Sachs.

ponderwell -> thedono 30 Jan 2016 18:35

We do not have a democracy. Freedom of speech & democratic freedom of thought, yes. Democracy is an unfulfilled philosophical idea and wishful thinking. For decades, we have been under the total rule of organized business - as are many developed nations.

jamesdaylight 30 Jan 2016 18:28

i so hope trump or sanders wins. the establishment needs a new direction.

AdrianBarr -> ID7004073 30 Jan 2016 18:26

I have been a lifelong Democrat and my first choice is Bernie Sanders. With my meagre income I will continue to contribute to his campaign. My alternate choice is, anyone but Hillary Clinton. For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone who reads the news can vote for this Wall St. puppet. The recent Guardian article by a Wall St. insider about Hillary's connections and the money she had received from Wall St. should make anyone shudder of her presidency. Let alone the money the Clinton Foundation had received from other countries when Hillary was the Secy. of State.

Be that as it may, the US average voter owes to Donald Trump for standing up to the corporate media that we always criticise for influencing elections, while other candidates of both parties bend over backwards to curry their favor.

Yes, the corporate media as a result are going after him, but he still gets votes. This election, the case the US Voter vs. Corporate Media, the Voter won thanks to Trump.

If Bernie is cheated out of the nomination process that the DNC had worked from the beginning to crown Hillary. I will vote for Trump to save what is left (pun intended) of the Democratic party. Hillary way far right of Trump. Hillary was a Goldwater Republican, while Trump is a Rockefeller REpublican. Take your !

elaine layabout -> sammy3110 30 Jan 2016 18:18

He doesn't care about them so long as they are unsubstantiated allegations. When the FBI announces the result of their investigation, he will give his opinion, so long as it is relevant to the welfare of the American people.

But using mid-investigation rumors and allegations against an opponent to distract the American people from the actual, fact-based issues is hardly a failing. I would say it demonstrates Sanders' commitment to fairness and truth and the best interests of the American people.

elaine layabout -> Philip J Sparrow 30 Jan 2016 18:12

That would be news to the folks in Burlington, who elected Bernie Sanders to 4 terms as mayor, during which time he cut their budget, streamlined city services, revitalized their commercial district and restored their lakefront, AND he was judged one of the top 20 mayors in the country.

The folks in the State of Vermont would also be surprised to hear this about the man who served them in the House of Representatives for 16 years. During that time, when the extreme right wing of the Republican party ruled Congress, Bernie (an Independent) passed more legislative amendments than any other congressman, even the Republicans themselves. And this was not watered-down legislation, it was pure, progressive gold.

Those same folks would be surprised to hear this about the Senator whom they last re-elected with 71% of their votes. I guess that they were thinking of his ability to, again, passed a series of progressive amendments in a Republican-controlled Congress, including the first-ever audit of the Federal Reserve -- you know that thing that Ron Paul had been trying to do for decades. And then there was the Veterans Administration Bill that Republican Jack Reed said would never have passed without Bernie Sanders' ability to build bi-partisan coalitions.

Bringing 30 Jan 2016 18:12

People have unfavourable opinions of politicians they actually vote for. Nearly all Repubs will vote for trump if he is the nominee and whether it's Hillary or Sanders, a fair size of one time Obama voters are switching to the Repubs because they want action taken against the rapid erosion of what they consider to be American values.

OurPlanet -> eveofchange 30 Jan 2016 18:06

"Does corporate supported Clinton, support gun/missile/bomb "control" of the Army, Police and state apparatus,or just ordinary people ?"

Took the words out of my mouth. I wonder if those folks who are thinking of voting for her will stretch their brain capacity to think seriously about the consequences of voting for her. Do they want more of their tax $ spent on even more wars?

peacefulmilitant 30 Jan 2016 17:50

But it's simple enough to point out that a minority of Americans are Republicans, and that even among Republicans about 30% have a negative opinion of Trump. You can see where the 60% might come from.

This is true but those 30% of Republicans who don't like Trump are nearly canceled by the 20% of Democrats who are considering defecting to vote for him.

WillKnotTell -> Fentablar 30 Jan 2016 17:50

The Kochs will forward his thoughts along to him in time.

Harry Bhai 30 Jan 2016 17:48

meanwhile: Iowa's long-serving senior senator, Chuck Grassley, who last weekend popped up at a Trump event

Rats are coming out of holes to pay respect to Trump the cat.

ID7004073 30 Jan 2016 17:46

It appears that the Guardian continues to show it's bias toward Clinton. How about being balanced and reporting the news instead of trying to create the news and influence the outcome. If we want bias we can drift over to Fox Fake news

Bernie has solutions that Fox feels is too boring but solutions about economic and national security are what America and our world needs. Boats that won't float right and F35 billionaire toys dressed up as the ultimate killing machine will never make America and our world strong. Economic policies that Bernie promotes that actually employ more people is the only solutions.

TaiChiMinh -> TheAuthorities 30 Jan 2016 17:36

Hillary Clinton is not "on the left." She is right center. Your attempt to put the debate between her advocates and those of Sanders into the realm of Stalin-Spanish Republicans-etc is delusional. Maybe, just maybe the people having this discussion are engaged in real disagreements, not dogmatic and factional maneuvering.

nnedjo 30 Jan 2016 17:08

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whose once-mighty lead in the Hawkeye state has narrowed to paper-thin margins, is focusing on rival Bernie Sanders' complicated history on gun control in the final days of the Iowa campaign. The former secretary of state will be joined by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a survivor of a 2011 mass shooting that claimed the lives of six people.

Hillary stands for a gun control in order "to disarm" Bernie, but voters say they would not vote for Hillary even if someone put a gun to their forehead.
The reason for this is obvious, she is able to exploit even the survivors of the mass shooting, just to satisfy her own selfish political interests.

Saltyandthepretz -> MasonInNY 30 Jan 2016 16:47

Except a circus is funny. The anti-human, repugnant policies put forward by these two are in fact quite serious. Trump is crazy, of the A grade variety, but Cruz is genuinely dangerous. A religious zealot and a war monger, it would be a massive step back for America and the world if this man became president.

Fentablar -> turnip2 30 Jan 2016 16:21

Rubio is terrible, he's pandering even more than Hillary does (well, if nothing else he does it just as much) and I'm not sure anyone knows what he actually stands for, even himself.

loljahlol -> godforbidowright 30 Jan 2016 16:15

Yeah, the Libyan people thank her

PlayaGiron -> SenseCir 30 Jan 2016 16:11

aka Wall Street's "progressive" voice as opposed to the Wall Street Journal its "conservative" voice. In the end two sides of the same neo-liberal beast. "There is no alternative"! Your corporatist elites have spoken!

elaine layabout -> greven 30 Jan 2016 16:05

True that.

Wall Street and it's lackey pols are playing with fire, because although many Americans had savings and assets and/or family members with savings and assets and/or access to the beneficence of local churches and charities, we are all tapped out.

The next time we fall, we fall hard. And we will be taking Wall Street down with us.

vishawish -> TheAuthorities 30 Jan 2016 15:53

It's because many people who are centrist or left leaning have a sense of morality and principles.. It's not about voting for who stinks less.. It's about standing up for what you consider right and if you can't do that during the election process then what's the bloody point of democracy.. Take the case of Occupy Wall Street.. supported by most left leaning people.

The only candidate who would support and encourage that is Sanders. So how do you expect people not to support him and go out to support someone who is basically a quasi republican?

Principles and ideologies matter.

marshwren -> GaryWallin 30 Jan 2016 15:19

Uh, it's not as if Iowans haven't had at least eight months to make up their minds, even with the advantage of being able to see ALL of the candidates up close and personal, unlike those of U.S. in late states (such as NJ, where i live, on June 7th or so). Besides, when people vote in primaries on machines, they have 2-3 minutes to mull things over in the booth.

I appreciate your disdain, but caucus season in IA is like beach season in NJ--a tiresome inconvenience, but an economic necessity given how many non-residents arrive to spend their money. And you only have to put up with it once every four years, while ours is an annual event.


curiouswes MartinSilenus 30 Jan 2016 15:14

Personally, I would prefer not to sit in either, wouldn't you?

Thanks for being logical. Now, the media wants us to frame everything into left wing or right wing. However I don't buy into that paradigm anymore. When Clinton was about to send the jobs away, I saw effectively Pat Buchanan (staunch conservative but poplulist) effectively joining forces with Ralph Nader (perhaps as far left as anyone can go but still populist). You think any democrat would be better than any republican. I think that if we don't fix something soon, this whole thing is going to collapse. For my money only 3 candidates are actually pledging to fix something (Sanders, Paul and Trump). Cruz says he wants to fix everything by using that same old tired republican bs, so he isn't really planning on fixing anything. Basically he is Steve Forbes without glasses and with a face lift. Paul would actually try to fix something, but at this stage, he is a long shot and barring any 11th hour surge, I don't need to discuss him much at this time. I would classify Trump as a populist, but a loose cannon that isn't "presidential".

Voting for Trump is sort of an act of desperation. It isn't quite like being a suicide bomber, but more like going all in just prior to drawing to an inside straight. Sanders is a populist also. Some people think we can't afford his programs. However the reason the nation is broke (financially) is because it is broke (as in broken). Sanders has vowed to fix this (it won't be easy but with the people standing behind him, it is possible). The rest of the candidates won't fix anything (just try to move the nation either to the left or the right as it continues it's downward spiral.

We have to stop that downward motion or it won't matter whether we move to the left or right. Unfortunately everybody doesn't see stopping this downward motion as job one.

For example: take Greece and their financial troubles. Even though our debt is higher, we aren't in as bad shape as the Greeks, however we really need to stop the bleeding. We really need to get a populist in there. I'm no economist but according to my understanding, there is this thing called the money supply which is a bit different than the money itself. While the government controls the money, it doesn't control the money supply. It needs to control both or else we are just one "bad" policy away from economic disaster because whoever controls the money supply controls the economy. If you remember in 2008 the credit dried up and that can happen again if somebody isn't happy.


WarlockScott 30 Jan 2016 14:33

Can any Clinton supporter cogently argue why they've plumped for her over Bernie? He's far closer to the social democracy the Democrats espouse (albeit have rarely put into action since 1992), polls show him to be more electable than Clinton, he has a far greater chance of passing his programs for numerous reasons (better bargaining position, not as hated by opposition, running a proactive rather than defensive campaign) and he has the popular touch... Which even Hillary would admit she lacks. I'm hoping perhaps vainly the first answer won't be about her gender.


TheAuthorities -> NotYetGivenUp 30 Jan 2016 14:12

I'm guessing you don't have a lifetime's experience observing U.S. presidential elections.

Sanders does well in the polls you cite because, so far, the Republicans haven't even begun to attack him. In fact, they're positively giddy that Clinton looks to be faltering and that Sanders actually seems closer to the nomination today than anyone would have thought 6 months ago. Nothing will make GOP strategists sleep more soundly than the prospect of a Sanders nomination.

In the still-unlikely event that Sanders gets the Democratic nomination, the Republicans will turn their heavy artillery on him and -- you can trust me on this -- the end result won't be pretty. Actually, I think it may not even take that much from the Republican character assassins to convince most Americans not to vote for someone with Sanders's convictions and political record. Remember that "socialist" is a dirtier word in much of the U.S. than "neo-liberal" is in Western Europe. There's also the very pertinent question of whether the U.S. is ready to elect a Jewish president.

Again, if you're unfamiliar with the American electoral process, you've never seen anything like the Republican attack machine. ESPECIALLY if your reference point is a British election. It's like comparing a church picnic with a gang fight.

Another factor to consider is that, just as the GOP establishment is trying to undercut Trump, so the Democratic Party leadership could possibly draft somebody else to run (Biden?) if Clinton does go down in flames.


TaiChiMinh -> Winner_News 30 Jan 2016 14:06

Obama came to office basically bragging that he had the key to a post-partisan, collaborative way of governing - above the issues, above parties, above rancor. During the crucial period, when he had momentum and numbers, he trimmed on issue after issue - starting with single payer. The Tea Party was perhaps an inevitable response but its strength, and the success of the intransigents in Congress, were not inevitable. But the Tea Party began with a protest of floor traders against protections for people in mortgage trouble - but its momentum really came with the movement against the ACA and in the off-year elections in 2010. A strong president reliant on a mobilized coalition of voters - rather than a pretty crappy deal maker (who liked starting close to his opponents' first offer) backed by corporate elites - would perhaps have seen different results. Obama never gave it a go. And here we are . . . I imagine that I join eastbayradical in some kind of astonishment at the extent to which "progressives" want to keep at what has shown itself a losing proposition . .

westerndevil -> Martin Screeton 30 Jan 2016 13:50

I spent 18 months in my twenties as a debt collector for people who defaulted on student loans...a soul crushing job. Virtually everybody who defaulted either...

We need to encourage more young people to work as electricians, plumbers, machinists and in other blue-collar occupations.

GaryWallin 30 Jan 2016 13:49

April Fool's Day comes two months early here in Iowa this year. The Iowa Presidential Caucuses are one of the greatest Political Hoaxes of all time. They are filling our newspapers, radio, and neighborhoods with an all time record appeal to nonsense.

As Iowan's we've had the endure nearly a full year of lying and misleading politicians, newspapers that give us the latest spin on the political horse-race (under the guise of journalism), phone calls from intrusive pollsters and political operatives, emails from assorted special and political interests; and we've even had to watch our mail carriers burdened with the task of delivering many oversized junk mail advertising pieces.

Let me make it clear that I am not opposed to political parties holding caucuses. I think it is a good idea for them to get together in formal and informal settings: caucuses, parties, picnics, and civic observances. But I think the choice for our next President is too important to be left to a voter suppressing, low turn-out, media event such as the Iowa Presidential Caucuses. The goal should be to be inclusive of all Iowans; not to have a record (but suppressed) turnout.

We've had to endure this nonsense for months, while the politicians are given multiple and varied means to get their message out. But the voters get only an hour or so to make their decisions, and even then in my party, the so-called 'Democratic' one, they don't even get the right to a secret ballot, or the right to cast an absentee ballot if they cannot attend. Instead of including all Iowans, this Circus gives special interests, establishment political operatives, and elites an unfair advantage. This is voter suppression and manipulation. Too few care if there might be a snow storm coming, or someone has to be up early the next morning for surgery at a local hospital, or if someone has to make a living by working at the time of the caucus. In this circus-like atmosphere it is all too important to our elites to bring in the millions of dollars in advertising money that this charade provides to local media. Dollars come before democratic principles.

I certainly hope that my party, the Democrats, have the courage to reject all delegates chosen by this non-democratic process when the National Convention comes around. It is time for Party members outside of Iowa to stand up for real democracy, free and fair candidate selection with secret ballots, and inclusive party processes that expand and grow the Political Party.

In Iowa we need to make a few changes. I suggest a few:

Requiring every television station, radio station, and newspaper to give daily public updates on how much and who bought political advertising.

Requiring every piece of political advertising mailed to people in Iowa to have the cost of that item listed on the mailing.

Requiring all politicians, political parties, and PACs to honor the 'Do Not Call' list. I often tell these callers I will not vote for anyone who annoys me with a phone call, but this seems to have little deterrence value to phone centers and robo-calls.

Requiring that all major political parties in the state give voters the right to choose candidates by secret ballot. No more forcing people to publicly declare for one candidate or another. People should have the right to make their individual choices known if they so choose; or keep them private if that is what they want.

Gary Wallin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 30 Jan 2016

eastbayradical -> Winner_News 30 Jan 2016 13:16

The capitalist system will surely attempt to "brick wall" any authentic attempt at change Sanders might try to implement.

But to compare him to Obama is off.

Obama came in surrounded by Wall Street execs and stooges and from the outset had no intention of challenging the power of the capitalist class or affecting change that was anything other than rhetorical in nature.

The Republicans' "brick walling" of his agenda was made far, far easier because he didn't articulate, let alone mobilize around, one that named the enemy and communicated specific progressive changes he sought to achieve.

This was seen vividly during the fight over health care reform, where Obama, in the face of widespread support for single-payer health care, took single-payer off the table from the outset and negotiated away the public option for nothing of substance in return. This allowed the Republicans an open field to attack his reform's unpopular and unprogressive features--the mandate and the general complexity of a system that retained the insurance cartel's power over health care.

Marcedward 30 Jan 2016 13:11

Clinton is the one candidate who can lose to Trump, and if she win's she will govern like Bush. It's disgusting how the establishment is pushing her so hard, but it does inform us that we should reject her. Clinton is a candidate like Obama - runs on hope and change, than nothing changes - same old attitude that "Government exists to protect the profits of the 1% and **** Working Class Americans"

JoePomegranate 30 Jan 2016 13:09

The feting of Clinton over a genuine, principled and subversive politician like Sanders - when subversion is exactly what is needed - reveals the complete paucity of argument behind so much "progressive" thought nowadays.

The idea that the lying, the patronisation, the cynicism, the cronyism and the ghastly thirst for power by any means can be simply offset by the fact that she's a woman is appalling. It's retrograde, sexist bollocks.

Sanders is the candidate people need and his nomination would put down a marker for real disenfranchised and impoverished Americans to fix their country. How anyone who purports to call themselves liberal or reformist can opt for Hillary over him, I have no idea.

James Eaton -> CurtBrown 30 Jan 2016 13:02

The myth of "American Exceptionalism" is cracking. Many folks are actually able to see how things work in other places around the globe and not simply react with the knee jerk "it ain't gonna work here, this is 'Murica!"


eastbayradical 30 Jan 2016 12:49

The NY Times' argument that Sanders' proposals for achieving change are unrealistic suggests that the differences between him and Clinton are chiefly tactical in nature.

This is a clever dodge that relieves the Times of the need to address the fact that, far from being an agent of change, Clinton, like her husband and Obama--both of whom it supported--has a consistent record of carrying water for Wall Street, the Pentagon, and the national security/police-state apparatus, one that that she will undoubtedly carry on as president if elected.

Madibo 30 Jan 2016 12:17

Sanders' mild social democratic policies - which require moderate and easily affordable sacrifices on the part of the rich - are of course very realistic and practical. Or at least they are realistic in countries that are at least reasonably politically sane. But since US politics is the very definition of insanity, Sanders policies are "not realistic".

[Jan 29, 2016] Trump just proved: its possible to win a debate you didnt attend

Notable quotes:
"... Bland, clichéd, and frankly boring. ..."
"... Spot on. The Republican party is about corporatism and the 1% . They are irrelevant to nearly all the American public apart from democrat haters. The GOP might as well be a corpse. ..."
"... Hillary Clintons always going on and on about her Proven track record at the State Dept....where she set Libya on fire, for example.....unlike her competitor, Bernie Sanders. ..."
"... Dear Lord, please let the American people not vote in anyone from the GOP side as president in 2016 ..."
"... Okay, my prayer skills are a bit rusty, I admit, but you get the idea. ..."
"... Anyhow, Donald Trump reminds me more and more of Italys media mogul/politician Silvio Berlusconi -- maybe its just my eyes playing tricks on me, but he is even starting to LOOK more and more like that man, what with the many faces he makes and the populist theatricality and all. Trump offers no substance in terms of policy, but he clearly has an intuitive grasp of how the major media outlets will respond to and cover his every move. ..."
"... I wonder if this column was written before or after the subject events. It is so trite meaningless and predictable he must have written it in his sleep. ..."
"... Trump is a centre-right, and possibly even slightly left candidate. His grandstanding is for the core base. All candidates walk back toward the middle once they have to appeal to the national electorate. Hes far more liberal than Cruz, who, I assure you, will set about undoing every last bit of progress for working people and women that managed to creep forward over the last eight years, starting with health care, Medicare, and Social Security. ..."
"... You have to separate out Trumps grandstanding with his east coast New York roots. Its actually Trump who has brought up single-payer health care and some brutal talk about Wall Street. I would wager a months salary that Trump and Mrs Clinton are not too far apart on how they would govern. And you forget that Congress is involved as well. ..."
"... The hyperbole is meaningless. So far, Jeb Bushs brother and his Vice President have done more damage to the US and the world than I would guess Trump would do in 20 years. ..."
"... And do remember on whose watch NAFTA, that infamous ending welfare as we know it , the equally infamous DOMA, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which paved the way for The Big Short were passed: dear old Bill Clinton. ..."
"... The media is trusted by the public about as much as bankers and politicians. Trump sticking it to FOX not only didnt get him sidelined it probably increased his support among the Republican base. ..."
"... Translation: Trump knows he already has the nomination locked up. Why should he give Cruz and Rubio an opportunity to attack him in a live debate? He made the smart move. Since 9/11 and the buildup to the war in Iraq, the medias only real job is political propaganda. ..."
"... As far as I know, Trump, Sanders and Obama were equally resentful because American businessmen are moving production abroad, thus leaving American workers out of work, and the state budget deprived of taxes that go also to foreign countries instead of remaining in the US. ..."
"... In addition, Trump also stands for a kind of economic protectionism, particularly in relation to China, bearing in mind the urgent need to reduce the trade deficit with China , which is now about $ 500 billion a year, if I remembered well. ..."
"... So, it is interesting that the current as well as two of the possible future US presidents are pushing for some kind of protectionism of domestic production and economic isolationism that are completely contrary to previous commitment of the United States to free markets and free flow of capital in the world.However, taking into account the current economic crisis in the world, that from acute increasingly turns into some kind of chronic phase, it is perhaps not so surprising. ..."
"... The vast majority of the political elite, from Bush to Clinton, are there to further the agenda, as well as their own careers. In this way, you have Obama brought into to finish by proxy what Bush started by direct force. I.e the wrecking of any Nation State that opposes the neo-liberal economic system. ..."
"... They only exist in the spotlight for as long as they are tolerated in terms of their persona, until the public wise-up. It is then they go into their background role; the cushy and lucrative consulting jobs they have been promised by the special interest think tanks they already belong to; be it the Council of Foreign Relations, or the Bilderberg group; all funded by international banking cartels. ..."
"... Supposed right or supposed left of the mainstream media are just part and parcel of the same ultimate deception. ..."
"... Trump, although not perfect in his persona, is certainly a problem for the agenda: thus their attack dogs in the media have been called to take him out. ..."
"... Its amusing to see the attacks on Trump; who just for speaking his mind is starting to steadily resonate with a growing demographic, both at home and abroad. ..."
"... You'd never hear about it here of course; but he harshly denounced the invasion of Iraq, and was a big critic of Bush. ..."
"... He also seems to be the only one who understands that the majority of Americans needs real jobs – not some laughable concept of an ideas economy. and is willing to fight for them on a trade level to ensure this. ..."
"... He is also the least likely to drag the US into dangerous conflicts, (proxy or otherwise) with those such as Russia – Sadly I can see some Guardian commentators already gunning for that. ..."
"... He is also not controlled by the usual financial ties to banking elites: Goldman Sachs just gave Hillary $3 million – whats that then? Just pocket money? ..."
"... America isnt better than this - this IS America. The land of political dynasties and limitless corporate donations. Where a movie star became the President and a body builder a Governor. It doesnt even have a one-man-one vote voting system for heavens sake. ..."
"... Its kind of like Iranian democracy, where the Ayatollah picks out and approves 4-5 candidates, and then the Iranian people get to vote for them. We do it a bit differently, in a society where we have freedom of speech, but the outcome always ends up the same, with 2 establishment, corporate, Wall street, military industrial complex, globalist free trade choices for president. All approved by corporate America, our corporate and mainstream media and by Wall street, it always ends up like that. Like right now, there is no difference between Hillary, and establishment corporate Democrats like the Clintons, and the establishment Republicans like Rubio, Kasich or Bush, on all those really big and truly important issues. ..."
"... That thing about Cruz labelling Trump a Democrat is interesting. Im sure most Democrats would be understandably offended by the suggestion, and Im pretty sure Cruz doesnt actually believe it either. I havent been following Trumps statements on policy closely at all, but from my general impression of him over the years, I always thought that, although he was clearly a dyed in the wool capitalist, he probably wasnt a social conservative. ..."
"... I cant help thinking hes just another wealthy, metropolitan businessman who probably didnt give a single toss about immigration, gay marriage, Islam or any of it, and if you pushed him probably would have been completely relaxed about all those issues. ..."
"... Tough for any GOP candidate to avoid the flip flops in fairness. Pro life gun nuts, military spending addicted defecit hawks, die hard defenders of the Constitution hell bent on removing church/state separation, defenders of the squeezed middle sucking on the teat of Murdoch and the Koch brothers.... A very high and skinny tight rope.... ..."
"... Trump won because these people have nothing people want to listen to. Nobody cares about Rubio or Bush flip flopping on immigration, because they have decided not to vote for them. ..."
"... People care about jobs and their dwindling opportunities. Trump talks populism. He talks about tariffs on manufacturers who moved jobs overseas. People like that. He said he thinks the US should have left Saddam Hussein in power. Every rational person today agrees with that. He says the US should have left Gaddafi in power. While not too many people think about that too much, if they do, they agree with that too. Especially once they learn about the domino effect it has had, such as the attack on the coffee shop in Burkina Faso a week ago or so. ..."
"... People have grown tired of war. All of the mainstream candidates want war because their campaigns depend on it. Bushs family has massive investment in the Carlisle Group and other players in the MIC. ..."
"... Trump made his money in real estate, not war. ..."
"... Not a Trump fan, but it is great to see someone with enough nous to tell Fox to go bite their bum. Good on him. We know from past experience what a sleazy old fart Rupert is and his fellow travelers in Fox are a good fit. The moderators are third rate journos out to polish their image and try the bigmouth on the guy that may become President. No need for Trump to take that kind of crap off of those sort of people. ..."
"... Cruz was attacked, got flustered and blew his opportunity. Trumps judgement turned out to be vindicated in not attending. Trump is currently the front runner and bearing in mind that the entire West is moving to the right it is quite likely that by the time of the election Trump may turn out to be closer to the mainstream. If there are further Islamic terrorist attacks on US soil then this will likely be a certainty. ..."
www.theguardian.com


TheBorderGuard 29 Jan 2016 12:58

You could tell the Trumpless debate was an almost normal presidential event by the nature of the closing statements.

Bland, clichéd, and frankly boring.


Zetenyagli -> benbache 29 Jan 2016 11:49

Trump won because these people have nothing people want to listen to.

Spot on. The Republican party is about corporatism and the "1%". They are irrelevant to nearly all the American public apart from democrat haters. The GOP might as well be a corpse.


tonybillbob -> Commentator6 29 Jan 2016 11:31

Trump is currently the front runner and bearing in mind that the entire West is moving to the right it is quite likely that by the time of the election Trump may turn out to be closer to the mainstream.

Mainstream of what? The conservative movement? America? The globe?


tonybillbob 29 Jan 2016 11:25

Jeb Bush insisted several times that he had "a proven record", begging the question why he needed to mention such a proven thing quite so many times.

Yeah!!! How come those who have a "proven track record" always have to remind folks that they have a proven track record and usually follow that claim with "unlike my competitor"?

Hillary Clinton's always going on and on about her "Proven track record" at the State Dept....where she set Libya on fire, for example.....unlike her competitor, Bernie Sanders.

And her "hands on experience" reforming banks....."Cut that out!!!!" ...another something she has over Bernie Sanders. Another thing Clinton can say about herself is that she's made a huge pile of 'speakin' fees' dough rubbin' elbows with bankers.....another something that Bernie can't say about himself. And don't forget: Hillary's gonna color inside the lines because she's a realist.

She knows what Wall Street will approve of and what Wall Street won't approve of......Hillary's unique in that regard....at least she thinks so, and claims that's why we should vote for her....because she already knows what Wall Street will and won't allow a president to do.


simpledino 29 Jan 2016 11:23

Okay, Ted Cruz -- I'll gladly pray on the nation's decision. (Kneeling humbly): "Dear Lord, please let the American people not vote in anyone from the GOP side as president in 2016. Lord, hear my prayer -- let them choose either HIllary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (or even thy faithful and honorable servant Martin O'Malley, who doesn't have a chance in .... oh never mind, Lord...)."

Okay, my prayer skills are a bit rusty, I admit, but you get the idea.

Anyhow, Donald Trump reminds me more and more of Italy's media mogul/politician Silvio Berlusconi -- maybe it's just my eyes playing tricks on me, but he is even starting to LOOK more and more like that man, what with the many faces he makes and the populist theatricality and all. Trump offers no substance in terms of policy, but he clearly has an intuitive grasp of how the major media outlets will respond to and cover his every move.

Lafcadio1944 29 Jan 2016 11:15

I wonder if this column was written before or after the subject events. It is so trite meaningless and predictable he must have written it in his sleep.

Cranios 29 Jan 2016 11:13

I was never warmly disposed toward Trump, but the more I hear him annoying the news media by refusing to be frightened and dance to their tune, the more I am starting to like him.

tklhmd 29 Jan 2016 11:11

Managing to outfox Fox news is no mean feat, I'll give him that.


Tearoutthehairnow -> hawkchurch 29 Jan 2016 11:11

Trump is a centre-right, and possibly even slightly left candidate. His grandstanding is for the core base. All candidates walk back toward the middle once they have to appeal to the national electorate. He's far more liberal than Cruz, who, I assure you, will set about undoing every last bit of progress for working people and women that managed to creep forward over the last eight years, starting with health care, Medicare, and Social Security.

You have to separate out Trump's grandstanding with his east coast New York roots. It's actually Trump who has brought up single-payer health care and some brutal talk about Wall Street. I would wager a month's salary that Trump and Mrs Clinton are not too far apart on how they would govern. And you forget that Congress is involved as well.

The hyperbole is meaningless. So far, Jeb Bush's brother and his Vice President have done more damage to the US and the world than I would guess Trump would do in 20 years.

And do remember on whose watch NAFTA, that infamous "ending welfare as we know it", the equally infamous DOMA, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which paved the way for The Big Short were passed: dear old Bill Clinton.

Try analysis instead of hyperbole. It works wonders.

Tearoutthehairnow -> lefthalfback2 29 Jan 2016 11:06

I have been nonplussed from this end of things by how lackluster J. Bush's performance has been - I can only assume that unconsciously, he really doesn't want it - because no one who really wants it and has the advantage of his experience, access, and background, could possibly be turning in this deadly a performance. It reeks of self-sabotage in the name of self-preservation. At of course a huge cost in funds . . .


Tearoutthehairnow 29 Jan 2016 11:02

I was able to catch some US news - Trump not only wasn't "sidelined" as the other Guardian article on last night's debate proclaimed, firstly he walked out of his own accord, and second, he cut FOX's debate audience in half. Last night's debate attracted the lowest audience ratings of all the Republican debates so far - approximately 11-12 million as opposed to the approximately 23 million the debates attracted when he participated. CNN did quite well covering the "other" event.

And he's still leading in the polls among Republicans - including among Republican women according to CNN, so the Guardian's recent article on these parties' only audience being "angry white men" was, again, off the mark by including Trump and the US Republicans.

The media is trusted by the public about as much as bankers and politicians. Trump sticking it to FOX not only didn't get him "sidelined" it probably increased his support among the Republican base. Jeb Bush is still pretending to be a candidate as is Ben Carson, and Cruz in the spotlight reinforced his reputation as so nasty a human being that even if he gets into the Oval Office, no one, including those on his own side of the aisle, will want to work with him.

It would be refreshing to see the media try to report rather than shape the news to its own liking.


JackGC -> ACJB 29 Jan 2016 10:34

Keeping people "scared" is a full time job for the government. It would be impossible to have a war without the "scared" factor.

"We are a nation in grave danger." George Bush.

In 'Merica, people need their guns just in case ISIS invades their town. It's like War of the Worlds only with Muslims, not Martians. That was a REALLY scary flick back in the 30s. 'Mericans really didn't know if New Jersey had been invaded and Christie is the guv. of Jersey.

Trump is a New Yorker, so those two are on the front lines of any potential outer space invasion. War of the Worlds II. 'Merica is ready.


Harry Bhai 29 Jan 2016 10:27

Be like......

This is Ted Cruz.
Cruz is a world-class question-dodger
When Cruz is asked about his votes against defense budgets, he launches into an extended diatribe against Barack Obama's defense budgets.
When Cruz is asked about his own position on issues, he talks about his idol: Ronald Reagan.
When Cruz is asked about why he flip-flopped on his feelings towards Trump, he pretends that he was asked to insult Trump

Cruz is a flip-flop politician.
Be like Cruz, NOT.


JackGC N.M. Hill 29 Jan 2016 10:22

Translation: Trump knows he already has the nomination locked up. Why should he give Cruz and Rubio an opportunity to attack him in a live debate? He made the smart move. Since 9/11 and the buildup to the war in Iraq, the media's only real job is political propaganda.


N.M. Hill 29 Jan 2016 09:48

Trump just proved: it's possible to win a debate you didn't attend

Translation: Media more obsessed with Trump than actual issues.


MeereeneseLiberation -> LiamNSW2 29 Jan 2016 09:24

he was chastised for saying he'd stop Muslims from entering the US

Because Muslim immigration is really the one thing that affects ordinary Americans the most. Not affordable health care, wealth distribution, labour rights ... Muslim immigration. Especially of those few thousand Syrian refugees that are vetted over months and months. (But oh yes, "the Muslims" hate the West, each and every one. Especially if he or she is fleeing from ISIS terror, I guess.)


Sweden, that paragon of migrant virtue

Sweden, like all Scandinavian countries, has extremely restrictive immigration and asylum policies. Calling Sweden a "paragon of migrant virtue" is about as accurate as calling Switzerland a 'paragon of banking transparency' (or the US a 'paragon of gun control').


nnedjo -> RusticBenadar 29 Jan 2016 08:59

Just curious, can anyone share some actual substance concerning any of Trump's policy plans?

As far as I know, Trump, Sanders and Obama were equally resentful because American businessmen are moving production abroad, thus leaving American workers out of work, and the state budget deprived of taxes that go also to foreign countries instead of remaining in the US.

In addition, Trump also stands for a kind of economic protectionism, particularly in relation to China, bearing in mind "the urgent need to reduce the trade deficit with China", which is now about $ 500 billion a year, if I remembered well.

So, it is interesting that the current as well as two of the possible future US presidents are pushing for some kind of protectionism of domestic production and economic isolationism that are completely contrary to previous commitment of the United States to free markets and free flow of capital in the world.However, taking into account the current economic crisis in the world, that from acute increasingly turns into some kind of chronic phase, it is perhaps not so surprising.


SeniorsTn9 29 Jan 2016 08:44

UPDATE: 2016/01/29 Trump won the debate he didn't even participate in. No surprise here.

Which debate will you focus on, the elephant walk or Trump? If you want to hear positive messages listen to Trump. Trump stood his ground. Trump is definitely different. When we look at the options there is simply no alternative. I prefer to watch the next president of the United States of America. I was on the fence but how I am definitely a Trump supporter. Trump will make America great again.

There is a personality conflict here and everyone knows it. This reporter definitely has a hate on for Trump. Trump was right to not participate in this debate. Replace the so called bias reporter. Fox News could have fixed this but choose not to. Call Trump's bluff and he will have no choice but to join the debate. This is not and should not be about reporters. The press, for some reason, always plays into Trump's hand. This is another Trump strategic move to force the debate to focus on him first. Seriously just look at what has already happened, All Trump's opponents and the media are talking about now is the fact that Trump is not participating in the debate. Brilliant!

Trump has changed the debating and campaigning rules. Trump will or will not be successful based on his decisions and his alone. Trump now has the focus on him and the debates haven't even startled. Trump is now winning debates he isn't even participating in. This has got to be a first in successful political debating strategies! Amazing! A win win for Trump. Smart man! Smart like a Fox.


ID0020237 -> NYcynic 29 Jan 2016 08:25

Methinks all this debate and chatter are nothing but distractions for the masses so those behind and above the scene can carry out their hidden agendas. Debates are like more opium for the masses, it keeps their brains churning while other issues are burning. I see no problems being solved here with all the empty rhetoric.


kaneandabel -> kodicek 29 Jan 2016 07:45

Well kodi, your comments are valid in it that ALL of these candidates are part of the revolving door irrespective of the supposed 'right' or supposed 'left'. Clinton is as much a compromised candidate as the entire bunch of the republican team. Trump may appear to be a different kind but that that's only because he is a good "talker" who seems to give 2 hoots to the establishment. But thats only talk. He would turn on a cent the moment he becomes President. A perfect example of that is Barack Obama. He talked the sweet talk and made people think a new dawn is coming in American politics. But as it turned out.... zilch!

But there is a slight ray of hope, a thin one. With Sanders. As he has walked the talk all along! Otherwise you van be sure to be in the grip of the wall street scamstars and plutocrats for the next decade.

RusticBenadar B5610661066 29 Jan 2016 06:02

Plutocracy; and all candidates are millionaires or billionaires being hoisted upon Americans by the establishment media/business/banks/politics- all, that is, with the single exception of Bernie Sanders, who alone has managed not to enrich himself with special interest bribery or financial exploitation during his unparalleled 45+ years of outstanding common sense public service.

kodicek -> LazarusLong42 29 Jan 2016 05:52

The vast majority of the political elite, from Bush to Clinton, are there to further the agenda, as well as their own careers. In this way, you have Obama brought into to finish by proxy what Bush started by direct force. I.e the wrecking of any Nation State that opposes the neo-liberal economic system.

They only exist in the spotlight for as long as they are tolerated in terms of their persona, until the public wise-up. It is then they go into their background role; the cushy and lucrative 'consulting' jobs they have been promised by the special interest 'think tanks' they already belong to; be it the Council of Foreign Relations, or the Bilderberg group; all funded by international banking cartels.

Supposed 'right' or supposed 'left' of the mainstream media are just part and parcel of the same ultimate deception.

Trump, although not perfect in his persona, is certainly a problem for the agenda: thus their attack dogs in the media have been called to take him out.

This is what first raised my suspicions: I thought for myself, rather than double clicking on a petition.

Best Regards, K


kodicek 29 Jan 2016 05:19

It's amusing to see the attacks on Trump; who just for speaking his mind is starting to steadily resonate with a growing demographic, both at home and abroad.

You'd never hear about it here of course; but he harshly denounced the invasion of Iraq, and was a big critic of Bush.

Despite all the allegations of racism, he has the largest support amongst the Black and Latino community; and is the most popular Republican candidate with Women.

He also seems to be the only one who understands that the majority of Americans needs real jobs – not some laughable concept of an 'ideas economy.' and is willing to fight for them on a trade level to ensure this.

He is also the least likely to drag the US into dangerous conflicts, (proxy or otherwise) with those such as Russia – Sadly I can see some Guardian commentators already gunning for that.

He is also not controlled by the usual financial ties to banking elites: Goldman & Sachs just gave Hillary $3 million – what's that then? Just pocket money?

We always drone on about democracy etc, but when someone is actually popular, from Corbyn to Trump, we denounce them and ridicule their supporters.

Funny thing is; if it wasn't for all these attacks I might never have noticed!


TheChillZone -> SteelyDanorak 29 Jan 2016 05:05

America isn't better than this - this IS America. The land of political dynasties and limitless corporate donations. Where a movie star became the President and a body builder a Governor. It doesn't even have a one-man-one vote voting system for heavens sake. The rise of Trump makes perfect sense - most of American culture has been relentlessly dumbed down; now it's Politics turn.


europeangrayling -> shaftedpig 29 Jan 2016 04:40

It's kind of like Iranian 'democracy', where the Ayatollah picks out and approves 4-5 candidates, and then the Iranian people get to 'vote' for them. We do it a bit differently, in a society where we have freedom of speech, but the outcome always ends up the same, with 2 establishment, corporate, Wall street, military industrial complex, globalist 'free trade' choices for president. All approved by corporate America, our corporate and mainstream media and by Wall street, it always ends up like that. Like right now, there is no difference between Hillary, and establishment corporate Democrats like the Clintons, and the establishment Republicans like Rubio, Kasich or Bush, on all those really big and truly important issues.


fanfootbal65 29 Jan 2016 04:20

At least with Trump you know where he stands unlike most politicians who just tell the voters what they want to hear. Then after getting elected, these lip service politicians just go off on their own agenda against the wishes of the people that voted for them.


SamStone 29 Jan 2016 03:55

Haha, Trump is tremendously astute and clever when it comes to tactics. It will be awesome if he actually becomes president.


boldofer 29 Jan 2016 03:46

That thing about Cruz labelling Trump a Democrat is interesting. I'm sure most Democrats would be understandably offended by the suggestion, and I'm pretty sure Cruz doesn't actually believe it either. I haven't been following Trump's statements on policy closely at all, but from my general impression of him over the years, I always thought that, although he was clearly a dyed in the wool capitalist, he probably wasn't a social conservative.

I can't help thinking he's just another wealthy, metropolitan businessman who probably didn't give a single toss about immigration, gay marriage, Islam or any of it, and if you pushed him probably would have been completely relaxed about all those issues. But I guess what he is above all else is a power hungry narcissist and a showman, and if he feels he needs to push certain buttons to get elected...


SGT123 29 Jan 2016 03:29

"Megyn Kelly, the Fox News anchor whose participation in the debate led to Trump's boycott, referred to him as "the elephant not in the room".

Which is both quite funny and accurate. I can see why Donald was so frightened of her!


Blaaboy 29 Jan 2016 03:03

Tough for any GOP candidate to avoid the flip flops in fairness. Pro life gun nuts, military spending addicted defecit hawks, die hard defenders of the Constitution hell bent on removing church/state separation, defenders of the squeezed middle sucking on the teat of Murdoch and the Koch brothers.... A very high and skinny tight rope....


benbache 29 Jan 2016 02:22

Trump won because these people have nothing people want to listen to. Nobody cares about Rubio or Bush flip flopping on immigration, because they have decided not to vote for them. And despite the press, no one I know cares about terrorism in the US. No one ever brings it up in any conversation, despite constant fear mongering.

People care about jobs and their dwindling opportunities. Trump talks populism. He talks about tariffs on manufacturers who moved jobs overseas. People like that. He said he thinks the US should have left Saddam Hussein in power. Every rational person today agrees with that. He says the US should have left Gaddafi in power. While not too many people think about that too much, if they do, they agree with that too. Especially once they learn about the domino effect it has had, such as the attack on the coffee shop in Burkina Faso a week ago or so.

People have grown tired of war. All of the mainstream candidates want war because their campaigns depend on it. Bush's family has massive investment in the Carlisle Group and other players in the MIC.

Trump made his money in real estate, not war.

ID1569355 29 Jan 2016 01:53

I have no vote in the U.S.A. I greatly respect it's people and achievements. President Obama has been a big disappointment to me. I really thought he could make some good changes for his citizens. Should Mr Trump actually win the Presidency life for many will be very, very interesting, perhaps not in a good way. Then again perhaps his leadership might be just what America needs.

A few years of Mr Trump as leader of the world's greatest super-power may give us all a new outlook on life as we know it, help us adjust our personal and National priorities. Give him the power as the Supreme Commander of Military Forces and we can all learn some lessons about the consequences of Americans votes on everyone else's lives. Americans may learn a thing or two also........Go Trump !

Oboy1963 29 Jan 2016 01:37

Not a Trump fan, but it is great to see someone with enough nous to tell Fox to go bite their bum. Good on him. We know from past experience what a sleazy old fart Rupert is and his fellow travelers in Fox are a good fit. The "moderators" are third rate journo's out to polish their image and try the bigmouth on the guy that 'may' become President. No need for Trump to take that kind of crap off of those sort of people.

Commentator6 29 Jan 2016 01:32

Cruz was attacked, got flustered and blew his opportunity. Trump's judgement turned out to be vindicated in not attending. Trump is currently the front runner and bearing in mind that the entire West is moving to the right it is quite likely that by the time of the election Trump may turn out to be closer to the mainstream. If there are further Islamic terrorist attacks on US soil then this will likely be a certainty.

[Jan 29, 2016] financing Koch brothers convene donor retreat as dark money spending set to soar

Notable quotes:
"... For sale, cheap, one POTUS puppet, strings firmly attached. Keep the kiddies entertained, good for four years worth of distraction. ..."
"... Where does most of the money, dark or obvious, go? Answer: The Main Stream Media (I include the Guardian in this). Do you now understand why theyre all having a bob-each-way? Morals, journalistic integrity, decency or the welfare of the public be damned, its raining wads of cash. ..."
"... Because of the SCOTUS Citizens united decision, it is just fine to bribe politicians IN PUBLIC. How could SCOTUS and the GOP do this to the United States. It is destroying our Democracy. ..."
"... Let the ass-kissing and groveling begin ..."
"... The undue influence of the rich over American politics is an absolute disgrace. How can those who claim to be conservatives justify their destruction of democratic processes? They conserve nothing but their own power. Traitors! ..."
"... Im afraid that the soul of America was lost with the scotus ruling. Corporations are just that, corporations. They are not people. They already had a disproportionate say in politics because of lobbying money. ..."
"... Now the princes of darkness have descended on the land like perpetual night. Leaving the populace longing for the light! The Kochs and their ilk are slaves to their ideology which is to destroy the federal government, destroy all social safety nets, even privatize our military. All this for the ideology of the extreme right wing corporate fascism. ..."
"... All Hail the Deep State! ..."
"... Check this out...It will blow you away: Dark Money: Jane Mayer on How the Koch Bros. Billionaire Allies Funded the Rise of the Far Right http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/20/dark_money_jane_mayer_on_how ..."
"... Dred Scott turned people into property....Citizens United turned property into people. ..."
"... One of the great sources of Trumps appeal has been the perception of his independence from the Kochs and other corporate manipulators. If he gets the nomination, they will of course attempt to co-opt him just as they did the tea party. It will be interesting to see how he responds. ..."
"... The Kochs didnt co-opt the Tea Party--they created it. They brainstormed it, branded it, funded it, propped it up, bought positive news coverage for it, and pulled its strings to keep the GOP voting base at a full boil for the fall elections in 2010. ..."
"... This was tactically necessary to enable them to take full advantage of the gorgeous opportunity John Roberts had created for them earlier that spring with Citizens United, rushed through precisely to help the oligarchs buy themselves Congress and as many state houses and governors mansions as they could reap. ..."
"... The best government money can buy...... Since the Supreme Court ruled unlimited corporate bribes to politicians would be considered free speech in the eyes of the law, people lost any chance they had of representation based on whats best for average citizen. Its -ALL- about big money now, a literal Corporatocracy. The idea that government should be Of the people, by the people and for the people is long lost, RIP. ..."
"... Dark money = Corruption.....period..!! Just because its not illegal doesnt make it right. What it is, is the continual demolition of democracy in the US where whoever has the biggest cheque-book has an advantage over everyone else. Totally wrong and the slippery slope to an end of government by the people... ..."
"... And the theft of the Presidency is underway. Does anyone not think that allowing millions, even a billion dollars to be donated to campaigns with the donor kept secret is a problem? Heck, foreign government can contribute to get the candidate that they want. So.......Who will be the one to kiss Koch butt? ..."
"... Hey look, theyre trying to buy the elections again. No surprises there... ..."
"... Not trying. Succeeding. The Koch brothers own many, many politicians who are beholding to Koch and will vote any way Koch wants. ..."
"... Their intentions are now plain: they aim the overthrow of democracy and the establishment of a modern feudal state/oligarchy. ..."
"... If money didnt work, people would not be spending over a billon dollars on the election. Of course money works. Think of it this way: The Koch brothers give almost a billion dollars to support most of the GOP candidates. Regardless of who wins, they will be completely owned by the Koch brothers. It doesnt matter who you vote for if they are all owned by Koch. ..."
"... Moneylenders own the temple. ..."
"... Not to mention that in their own minds and mirrors, the money-lenders are the temple. ..."
"... The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, youre still a rat. ..."
"... The pendulum has swung too far - the rich are too rich, and the poor are too poor. The Emperor we have been told has beautiful clothes will soon be found to have none. ..."
"... Or that famous Apalachin, NY, meeting of the five families in 1957. One difference: I bet the FBI wont be raiding the Koch compound, forcing all the big dogs to flee into the woods. More likely, the feds will be providing protection, writing down the license plate numbers of everyone who might object to billionaires dividing up their turf in America. ..."
www.theguardian.com

Dark money is the name for cash given to nonprofit organizations that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions without disclosing their donors. Under IRS regulations these tax-exempt groups are supposed to be promoting "social welfare" and are not allowed to have politics as their primary purpose – so generally they have to spend less than half their funds directly promoting candidates. Other so-called "issue ads" paid for by these groups often look like thinly veiled campaign ads.

The boom in dark money spending in recent elections came in the wake of the supreme court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which held that the first amendment allowed unlimited political spending by corporations and unions. That decision and other court rulings opened the floodgates to individuals, corporations and unions writing unlimited checks to outside groups, both Super Pacs and dark money outfits, which can directly promote federal candidates. Dark money spending rose from just under $6m in 2006 to $131m in 2010 following the decision, according to the CRP.

kus art , 2016-01-30 01:11:10
Well, there you have it. In the USA you can actually buy yourself a president. But for Real! No underhanded bribes, but openly buying. Would you like fries with that...? And here's the kicker - Everyone, from media outlets all the way down to the 'person on the street' just accepts it as is without any real protestations...
GeorgiaTeacher , 2016-01-30 00:22:27
Why is the left so afraid of these guys?

Look at the Billary Wall Street fund raisers. http://freebeacon.com/politics/all-hillary-clinton-wall-street-fundraisers /

I am sure all this money is legit, right?

(I know, I know feel the bern. He doesn't accept it. And unless there is an indictment he won't win)

Suga , 2016-01-30 00:08:59
Learn how Citizens United has allowed Billionaires like the Koch's to rabble-rouse, whip into a frenzy and influence one-half of America to vote against their own best interest!

The Billionaires' Created Tea Party : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKH2gRDkC5s

Itsrainingtin , 2016-01-30 00:01:51
For sale, cheap, one POTUS puppet, strings firmly attached. Keep the kiddies entertained, good for four years worth of distraction.

ps

Where does most of the money, dark or obvious, go? Answer: The Main Stream Media (I include the Guardian in this). Do you now understand why they're all having a bob-each-way? Morals, journalistic integrity, decency or the welfare of the public be damned, it's raining wads of cash.

babymamaboy , 2016-01-29 23:52:10
Until we have a system that makes sense, I guess we can only hope someone realizes that if they just paid a reasonable tax rate it would cost them less than funding Super PACs. Then again, money doesn't make you smart -- they just might spend a billion to save a million. Can we give crowd sourcing political decisions a chance?
MtnClimber , 2016-01-29 23:10:59
Because of the SCOTUS Citizens united decision, it is just fine to bribe politicians IN PUBLIC. How could SCOTUS and the GOP do this to the United States. It is destroying our Democracy.
woodyTX , 2016-01-29 22:36:47
Let the ass-kissing and groveling begin
kriss669 , 2016-01-29 22:30:41
The undue influence of the rich over American politics is an absolute disgrace. How can those who claim to be conservatives justify their destruction of democratic processes? They conserve nothing but their own power. Traitors!
blueterrace , 2016-01-29 22:09:26
America, get a good look at your "democracy" in action.
woodyTX blueterrace , 2016-01-29 23:30:44
Need infra-red night vision goggles to see it.
Washington1776 , 2016-01-29 21:55:40
Waste your blood money. This is a revolution.
Siki Georgevic , 2016-01-29 21:53:15
I'm afraid that the soul of America was lost with the scotus ruling. Corporations are just that, corporations. They are not people. They already had a disproportionate say in politics because of lobbying money.

Now the princes of darkness have descended on the land like perpetual night. Leaving the populace longing for the light! The Kochs and their ilk are slaves to their ideology which is to destroy the federal government, destroy all social safety net's, even privatize our military. All this for the ideology of the extreme right wing corporate fascism.

kevink , 2016-01-29 21:45:09
All Hail the Deep State!
Suga , 2016-01-29 21:30:47
Thank you, Peter Stone! So few Americans even know this is happening.
Check this out...It will blow you away: 'Dark Money: Jane Mayer on How the Koch Bros. & Billionaire Allies Funded the Rise of the Far Right'
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/20/dark_money_jane_mayer_on_how

Please Wake Up America.....Citizens United is the Mirror Image of Dred Scott.

"Dred Scott turned people into property....Citizens United turned property into people."

hardlyeverclever , 2016-01-29 21:27:13
Give Karl Rove the money: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/08/15007504-karl-roves-election-debacle-super-pacs-spending-was-nearly-for-naught
Stafford Smith , 2016-01-29 21:25:14
One of the great sources of Trump's appeal has been the perception of his independence from the Kochs and other corporate manipulators. If he gets the nomination, they will of course attempt to co-opt him just as they did the tea party. It will be interesting to see how he responds.
oldamericanlady Stafford Smith , 2016-01-29 21:41:28
The Kochs didn't co-opt the Tea Party--they created it. They brainstormed it, branded it, funded it, propped it up, bought positive news coverage for it, and pulled its strings to keep the GOP voting base at a full boil for the fall elections in 2010.

This was tactically necessary to enable them to take full advantage of the gorgeous opportunity John Roberts had created for them earlier that spring with Citizens United, rushed through precisely to help the oligarchs buy themselves Congress and as many state houses and governor's mansions as they could reap.

Trump is a different matter. They can't invent Trump the same way they invented the so-called Tea Party.

What they can do is flatter him and wheedle him and beguile him in hopes of making him more receptive to little things like, for instance, their nominations to the federal bench.

This, given Trump's pathetic grasp of reality and his monumental ego, shouldn't actually prove too complicated a feat for the Kochs and their worker bees to pull off.

After all, all Marla Maples had to do was say "Donald Trump--best sex I ever had" on Page 6 at the Post and she got to marry the schlub: the Kochs will surely be equally adept at figuring out the wizened, soulless old billionaire version of this time-honored tactic.

woodyTX Stafford Smith , 2016-01-29 23:37:23
The Donald is one of the oligarchs but with an immense ego. Instead of playing the political puppets from behind the curtain as the Koch's do, he thought he'd become the puppet show himself.

An oligarch in politician's clothing attempting to persuade America that he's on our side. How very Putinesque.

revelationnow Stafford Smith , 2016-01-30 00:31:06
They won't be able to co-opt Trump because he is only guided by his ego.
str8vision , 2016-01-29 20:56:28
The best government money can buy...... Since the Supreme Court ruled unlimited corporate bribes to politicians would be considered "free speech" in the eyes of the law, people lost any chance they had of representation based on what's best for average citizen. It's -ALL- about big money now, a literal Corporatocracy. The idea that government should be "Of the people, by the people and for the people" is long lost, RIP.
Christopher Aaron Jones , 2016-01-29 20:45:39
"How can we override the people's needs with money and influence?"
UzzDontSay Christopher Aaron Jones , 2016-01-30 01:42:36
Help pol get registered, informed & get you & those you have influenced to vote in EVERY ELECTION!!!
Totoro08 , 2016-01-29 20:37:46
Dark money = Corruption.....period..!! Just because its not illegal doesn't make it right. What it is, is the continual demolition of democracy in the US where whoever has the biggest cheque-book has an advantage over everyone else. Totally wrong and the slippery slope to an end of 'government by the people'...
MtnClimber , 2016-01-29 20:35:03
And the theft of the Presidency is underway. Does anyone not think that allowing millions, even a billion dollars to be donated to campaigns with the donor kept secret is a problem? Heck, foreign government can contribute to get the candidate that they want. So.......Who will be the one to kiss Koch butt?
Whatsup12 , 2016-01-29 20:29:52
Hey look, they're trying to buy the elections again. No surprises there...
MtnClimber Whatsup12 , 2016-01-29 20:54:23
Not trying. Succeeding. The Koch brothers own many, many politicians who are beholding to Koch and will vote any way Koch wants.
catch18 , 2016-01-29 20:27:51
Coming on pitchfork time.
Anthony Caudill , 2016-01-29 20:25:43
Their intentions are now plain: they aim the overthrow of democracy and the establishment of a modern feudal state/oligarchy.
UzzDontSay Anthony Caudill , 2016-01-30 01:45:53
Question is are we going to let them?
centerlane , 2016-01-29 20:11:43
Dark money cannot compete with the elephant on the block, the electorate. If any one has the finances to buy the oval office and or Congress it is "citizens united" ten dollars ahead should do it.
Anthony Caudill centerlane , 2016-01-29 20:30:12
What you are failing to reckon with is the scale of their organization and its capacity. This retreat probably has a trillion dollars backing it. That's a lot of high paying jobs...
MtnClimber centerlane , 2016-01-29 20:37:53
If money didn't work, people would not be spending over a billon dollars on the election. Of course money works. Think of it this way: The Koch brothers give almost a billion dollars to support most of the GOP candidates. Regardless of who wins, they will be completely owned by the Koch brothers. It doesn't matter who you vote for if they are all owned by Koch.

So, no, the power does NOT lie with the voters. SCOTUS has stolen our democracy and has given it to the richest 100 people in the US.

marshwren Anthony Caudill , 2016-01-29 20:46:05
And what you're failing to recognize is the scale and capacity of the internet--the people's MSM and Super PAC. Whatever the outcome of this year's election, the Sanders' campaign is creating the template by which guerrilla/insurgent campaigns will be modeled for the next 20 years or longer...depending on if and when the Kochs et al finally get to end net neutrality.
SiriErieott , 2016-01-29 20:05:00
Dark money - it's the undetectable dark matter of politics that bends and motivates political stars to the black hole of government. Ordinary people can't detect it or see it, but it's effect is to control the movement of money to the star clusters (otherwise known as tax havens).
groovebox1 , 2016-01-29 19:58:12
The Koch Brothers heads belong on a stick.
MtnClimber groovebox1 , 2016-01-29 20:38:32
I believe that would be a pike. It's also a great idea.
mikedow , 2016-01-29 19:53:45
Moneylenders own the temple.
marshwren mikedow , 2016-01-29 20:42:48
Not to mention that in their own minds and mirrors, the money-lenders are the temple.
onevote , 2016-01-29 19:48:14
Citizen's United, the gift that keeps on giving...

Sanders, 2016
One Person : One Vote

Gramercy , 2016-01-29 19:38:31
The Kochs are concentrating on State legislatures, the key to amending the Constitution.
By the time they're finished, the President will have less power than the Queen.
mikedow Gramercy , 2016-01-29 19:56:57
Hand in hand with ALEC.
Anthony Caudill Gramercy , 2016-01-29 20:31:42
Looks like Roberts is gonna have to decide whether or not he wants to endure the humiliation of having the next majority overturn his ruling.
JulianTurnbull , 2016-01-29 19:28:16
These people laugh in the face of democracy. I like particularly this quote - if I remember it correctly - by Lily Tomlin:

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."

The pendulum has swung too far - the rich are too rich, and the poor are too poor. The Emperor we have been told has beautiful clothes will soon be found to have none.

RedPanda JulianTurnbull , 2016-01-30 01:57:06
The Republicans moan, the Republicans bitch: The rich are too poor and the poor are too rich.
pconl , 2016-01-29 19:27:20
A genuine, and possibly naive, question. Is this reported in the States? If so, does anyone notice?
widdak pconl , 2016-01-29 19:42:35
Not really and definitely not.
sour_mash pconl , 2016-01-29 19:55:10
"A genuine, and possibly naive, question. Is this reported in the States?"

Yes. With few exceptions, the only bad question is the one not asked.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/01/29/koch-brothers-push-poverty-education-societal-change--initiative-republican/79468744 /

Voltairine pconl , 2016-01-29 19:58:19
I'm a U.S. citizen, and I don't know because I stopped watching U.S. "news" … although I'm not sure how much better The Guardian is … the people in comments seem a tad nicer … better grammar and spelling … did I answer the questions? Oh, a butterfly!
lefthalfback2 , 2016-01-29 19:22:03
They are already spending their money on negative ads against- wait for it- Hillary Clinton. They know who that have to beat- and it ain't Bernie.
marshwren lefthalfback2 , 2016-01-29 20:40:59
Good--let them blow billions (more) attacking Clinton; it'll only be more delicious when they find out they should have spent it against Sanders. You better hope Clinton wins IA big, because if she doesn't, she just might jump-start the process by which she loses the nomination. Like last time.
lefthalfback2 marshwren , 2016-01-29 20:49:48
could happen. I could live with Bernie as the nominee. Krugman had an interesting slant on it today in NYT.
callaspodeaspode , 2016-01-29 19:20:59
Several Koch network donors have voiced strong concerns about the rise of Trump, raising doubts about his conservative bona fides and his angry anti-immigrant rhetoric, which they fear could hurt efforts by the Koch network and the Republican party to appeal to Hispanics and minorities.

I wonder if they also worry about their lavishly-funded support of theocratic loudmouth Republican lunatics such as Tom Cotton, Sam Brownback and Joni Ernst potentially alienating moderate Christians or, heaven (literally) forbid, non-believers?

Only joking. No.

Apollo_11 , 2016-01-29 19:06:22
Don't let nobody give your guns to shoot down your own brother
Don't let nobody give your bombs to blow down my sweet mother
Tell me are you really feeling sweet when you sit down to eat
You eating blood money you spending blood money
You think you're funny living off blood money
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anjkSBQDRjc
snakeatzoes , 2016-01-29 19:01:31
Its funny to see them without Trump. You are so mesmerised by Trump and his hair that you haven't noticed what an incredibly weird looking bunch the rest are. Not that it matters given Bernie will *ump them all anyway ! :)
Whitt , 2016-01-29 18:56:52
"Several Republican congressional incumbents and candidates facing tough races are slated to attend the Koch retreat this weekend, and, if recent history is a guide, are expecting to gain support from Koch-backed dark money groups."
*
For some reason I'm reminded of the opening scene of The Godfather where supplicants meet with Don Corleone and present their requests on the occasion of his daughter's wedding, kissing his hand at the end.

Can't imagine why.

lefthalfback2 Whitt , 2016-01-29 19:23:02
"...Give this to Clemenza. Tell him to send responsible people. We don't want things to get out of hand...".
MtnClimber Whitt , 2016-01-29 20:45:10
That's exactly what it is. The Koch Brothers will own most of the GOP politicians. It doesn't matter which one you vote for because that person will likely be owned by Koch and will do their bidding.
NYbill13 Whitt , 2016-01-29 20:46:55
Or that famous Apalachin, NY, meeting of the five families in 1957. One difference: I bet the FBI won't be raiding the Koch compound, forcing all the big dogs to flee into the woods. More likely, the feds will be providing protection, writing down the license plate numbers of everyone who might object to billionaires dividing up their 'turf' in America.

[Jan 27, 2016] In the Age of Trump, Will Democrats Sell Out More, Or Less Rolling Stone

The truth is the Democratic Party is dominated by neoliberals and became just a left wing of Republican party. They sold themselves to Walll street and now they despite common folk much like republicans do. As gore vidal aptly noted: "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."
Notable quotes:
"... The Washington Post. ..."
www.rollingstone.com

"Donald Trump is Democrats' greatest gift," applauded The Globalist, via Salon. "As Donald Trump surges in polls, Democrats cheer," countered The Washington Post. Even before Trump surged in the polls, Democrats were smacking their lips, a la DNC spokeswoman Holly Schulman, who cheekily applauded Trump for bringing "seriousness" to the Republican debate.

... ... ...

But it turns out that mainstream Democrats believe just the opposite – that with the GOP spiraling, the party should now brook even less dissent within their ranks. They'd like a primary season with no debate at all, apparently.

We saw a preview of how this rotten dynamic will work last week, when former Democratic congressman and current Signature Bank board member Barney Frank wrote a piece for Politico entitled "Why Progressives Shouldn't Support Bernie."

This isn't about Hillary. The lesser evil argument has been a consistent feature of Democratic Party thought dating all the way back to the late Reagan years, long before Hillary Clinton was herself a candidate. The argument always hits the same notes:

Frank hit all of these notes in his piece, with special emphasis on point #3. He insisted that people like Hillary, John Kerry and Joe Biden didn't mean it when they voted for the Iraq War, that they only did it out of political expediency. "I regard liberal senators' support for the Iraq War as a response to a given fraught political situation," Frank wrote, "rather than an indication of their basic policy stance."

... ... ...

It's not an accident that The Daily Show turned into the most trusted political news program in America during the Bush years. When the traditional lefty media became so convinced by the "lesser evil" argument that it lost its sense of humor about the Democratic Party, people had to flee to comedy shows for objective news.

Even worse, a lot of Democratic-leaning campaign reporters are to this day so convinced by the lesser evil argument that they go out of their way to sabotage/ridicule candidates who don't fit their idea of a "credible" opponent for Republicans.

I've seen this countless times, usually with candidates like Dennis Kucinich who didn't have a real chance of winning the Democratic nomination (although early 2004 frontrunner Howard Dean also fell into this category). Sanders, who was ludicrously called the Trump of the left by bloviating Meet the Press hack Chuck Todd last week, is another longshot type getting the royal treatment by "serious" pundits now.

But framing every single decision solely in terms of its utility in beating the Republicans leads to absurdities. Not every situation is a ballot with Ralph Nader on it.

The Democrats insisted they had to support the Iraq War in order to compete with Bush, but they ended up not competing with Bush anyway and supporting a crappy war that no sane person believed in. All it won Democratic voters in the end was a faster trip into Iraq, and the honor of having supported the war at the ballot box.

When the Democrats had a legitimate electoral threat in the Republicans to wave in front of their voters, they used that as currency to buy their voters' indulgence as they deregulated Wall Street, widened the drug war, abandoned unions in favor of free-trade deals and other horrors, and vastly increased the prison population, among innumerable other things.

But now that the rival electoral threat is mostly gone, they want permission to take the whole primary season off so they can hoard their money for massive ad buys targeting swing votes in Tennessee or whatever. In other words, even though the road ahead is easier for them, they want increased latitude to take their core voters for granted.

The Democrats could take this godsend of a Trump situation and use it as an opportunity to finally have a healthy primary season debate about what they want to stand for in the future. But nah to that. They'll probably just hoover donor cash and use press surrogates to bash progressives the way they always have. Trump or no Trump, if politicians don't have to work for your vote, they won't.

[Jan 12, 2016] Deep State controls that county. Voting Is for Chumps

Notable quotes:
"... One of the more encouraging (?) developments in Acceptable American Discourse over the last five years or so has been the gradual acceptance, even among Serious Media Outlets, that American voters no longer have any real control over their own government, and more broadly, their collective destiny. ..."
"... In April 2014, Princeton University published a study which found that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. ..."
"... Theres the one we elect, and then theres the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy. ..."
"... Weve become now an oligarchy instead of a democracy. And I think thats been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards of the American political system that Ive ever seen in my life, the 90-year-old former president told Winfrey. ..."
"... And given the fact that people would rather know about Kim Kardashian than what makes up the budget or what the government is doing in Mali or Sudan or other unknown places, this is what you get: a disconnected, self-serving bureaucracy that is … simply evolving to do what its doing now. That is, to maintain and enhance its own power. ..."
"... The key institutions are exactly what people would think they are. The military-industrial complex; the Pentagon and all their contractors (but also, now, our entire homeland security apparatus); the Department of Treasury; the Justice Department; certain courts, like the southern district of Manhattan, and the eastern district of Virginia; the FISA courts. ..."
"... It is a complex mechanism, a take-over of key positions within the US power structure, a corporate government mix where the US government mission is to advocate, promote, and defend corporate interests worldwide. ..."
"... US National Security Strategy embodies those corporate interests and unfolds them into specific goals and objectives to be attained by means of foreign and domestic policies that presidents and other figureheads sell at home and abroad. ..."
"... @15 This is excuse making for falling for Obama who openly admired Reagan, claimed the right to bomb anything anywhere without working with local governments, surrounded himself with pigs, and even denounced Moveon for their ad about Petraeus. ..."
"... The system is totally corrupt. If you make it to Congress, youve got favors to pay back. If you dont work for the corporate interests (already aligned with deep state) you wont get the money to run a second term. Some other craven asshole will take your job whether you want it (by demonstrating total acquiescence) or not (by trying to be Mr.Smith in Washington). ..."
"... The very best thing about Donald Trump, is that he is an outsider - particularly when compared with the other contestants whom are machine politicians (corrupted in the system). BTW, Bernie is full of shit (as is Trump). ..."
"... Jimmy Carter seems like a real nice fellow. It should be remembered, however, that Brzezinski was Carters National Security Adviser. Now that was probably the deep state hanging that albatross around ol Peanut Boys neck (as a minder, perhaps). In any case, Carter didnt do anything to stop that son of a bitch from his evil doings in Afghanistan. ..."
"... You are soldiers of god. Your cause is right and god is on your side . - Brzezinski addressing the Mujahideen. ..."
"... Jane Mayers new book says Koch Brothers father built a major oil refinery for Hilter ..."
"... Ms. Mayer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, presents the Kochs and other families as the hidden and self-interested hands behind the rise and growth of the modern conservative movement. Philanthropists and political donors who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into think tanks, political organizations and scholarships, they helped win acceptance for anti-government and anti-tax policies that would protect their businesses and personal fortunes, she writes, all under the guise of promoting the public interest. ..."
"... The Kochs, the Scaifes, the Bradleys and the DeVos family of Michigan were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how the Americans thought and voted, the book says. ..."
"... You cant run a campaign to be elected President of the United States unless you can tap into billionaires who are willing to hand over $100 millions to your campaign. ..."
"... This is part of the reason why Trump is causing so much mayhem: he is a candidate who already has those $billions, and so he isnt beholden to anyone but himself and his own whacky ideas. ..."
"... Deep down I suspect that this is why he is the Republican frontrunner i.e. deep down Mr Joe Average knows that his democracy has been hijacked out from underneath him, so he is receptive to Trumps dogwhistle. ..."
"... The DS vetted Ike and discovered that he looked up to corporate CEOs and Wall Street financiers and their lawyers, he was sympathetic to those he fantasized as captains of industry and looked upon success as a marker of steady men, those of his imagined deep state. ..."
"... Ike bought the Whats good for GM is good for the country line, just as Engine Charley Wilson did. No need to assassinate Ike. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

Lone Wolf | Jan 11, 2016 3:56:12 PM | 9

For all of those who keep on arguing about the benefits of one US candidate over the other, they could save their energy for more constructive efforts.

Voting Is for Chumps: Veteran Congressional Staffer Says 'Deep State' Already Controls America

You still have to pay your taxes, though

One of the more encouraging (?) developments in Acceptable American Discourse over the last five years or so has been the gradual acceptance, even among Serious Media Outlets, that American voters no longer have any real control over their own government, and more broadly, their collective destiny.

In April 2014, Princeton University published a study which found that "economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

Then in October of the same year, a Tufts University professor published a devastating critique of the current state of American democracy, "National Security and Double Government," which catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term "double government": There's the one we elect, and then there's the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.

The Boston Globe's write-up of the book was accompanied by the brutal headline, "Vote all you want. The secret government won't change." Imagine a headline like that during the Hope and Change craze of 2008. Yeah, you can't. Because nobody's that imaginative.

Yes, people are beginning to smell the rot - even people who watch television in hopes of not having to confront the miserable reality that awaits them once they turn off their 36-inch flatscreens. In September, Jimmy Carter warned Oprah Winfrey:

"We've become now an oligarchy instead of a democracy. And I think that's been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards of the American political system that I've ever seen in my life," the 90-year-old former president told Winfrey.

The live audience were probably hoping for free Oprah cars. Instead, an ex-president told them that their democracy is in the gutter. What a bummer.

The latest canary in the coal mine is none other than ex-longtime GOP staffer turned best-selling author Mike Lofgren, whose new book, "The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government," confirms what is already painfully apparent:

The deep state has created so many contradictions in this country. You have this enormous disparity of rich and poor; and you have this perpetual war, even though we're braying about freedom. We have a surveillance state, and we talk about freedom. We have internal contradictions. Who knows what this will fly into? It may collapse like the Soviet Union; or it might go into fascism with a populist camouflage.

Some excerpts from Salon's recent interview with Lofgren:

On how the deep state operates:

Well, first of all, it is not a conspiracy. It is something that operates in broad daylight. It is not a conspiratorial cabal. These are simply people who have evolved [into] a kind of position. It is in their best interest to act in this way.

And given the fact that people would rather know about Kim Kardashian than what makes up the budget or what the government is doing in Mali or Sudan or other unknown places, this is what you get: a disconnected, self-serving bureaucracy that is … simply evolving to do what it's doing now. That is, to maintain and enhance its own power.

On who (and what) is part of the deep state:

The key institutions are exactly what people would think they are. The military-industrial complex; the Pentagon and all their contractors (but also, now, our entire homeland security apparatus); the Department of Treasury; the Justice Department; certain courts, like the southern district of Manhattan, and the eastern district of Virginia; the FISA courts. And you got this kind of rump Congress that consists of certain people in the leadership, defense and intelligence committees who kind of know what's going on. The rest of Congress doesn't really know or care; they're too busy looking about the next election.

Lofgren goes on to explain that the private sector works hand-in-hand with the deep state, regardless of which "party" is in power. According to Lofgren, "There are definable differences between Bush and Obama. However, the differences are so constrained. They're not between the 40-yard lines; they are between the 48-yard lines."

Of course, millions of Americans will still enjoy rooting for the candidate whom they would most enjoy drinking Bud Lite Lime with, but probably deep in their hearts they all know they're doomed.

The End.

lysias | Jan 11, 2016 4:05:02 PM | 10

What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?

john | Jan 11, 2016 4:31:03 PM | 12

What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?

well, there's always this

Zapruder Film Slow Motion (HIGHER QUALITY) - YouTube

lysias | Jan 11, 2016 4:41:29 PM | 14

@12, Only a coward would submit to such a threat, instead of regarding it as a challenge to be defied. If the worst came to the worst, one would at least have died heroically. And such a president, if he did die, could have taken steps before he died to make sure the public would learn how and why he died. So it would not be a death without purpose.

How does the deep state ensure that only cowards become president?

Lozion | Jan 11, 2016 4:58:21 PM | 15

@10 Blackmail?
Don't know if true but I remember reading something to the effect that after Obama was sworn in, he met with Bush sr. and co who told him that he now worked for them with threats to his family if he wouldn't submit..

Lone Wolf | Jan 11, 2016 5:22:54 PM | 17

@lysias@10

What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?

It is a complex mechanism, a take-over of key positions within the US power structure, a corporate government mix where the US "government" mission is to advocate, promote, and defend corporate interests worldwide.

US National Security Strategy embodies those corporate interests and unfolds them into specific goals and objectives to be attained by means of foreign and domestic policies that "presidents" and other figureheads sell at home and abroad.

That, in a nutshell, is how the Deep State works.

Bluemot5 | Jan 11, 2016 5:23:42 PM | 18

What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?
...and then there is this... https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1024-tjeerd-andringa-exposes-the-kakistocracy/

NotTimothyGeithner | Jan 11, 2016 5:45:15 PM | 23

@15 This is excuse making for falling for Obama who openly admired Reagan, claimed the right to bomb anything anywhere without working with local governments, surrounded himself with pigs, and even denounced Moveon for their ad about Petraeus.

People hate being conned more than con men, and they concoct rationalizations for being duped that often defy logic.

jo6pac | Jan 11, 2016 6:22:07 PM | 25

For everyone on deep state there is this.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/guest-post-obama-team-feared-revolt-if-he-prosecuted-war-crimes.html

#21 yep maybe the next pm for England. The candidate like obomber from the cia/m16.

#11 I Agree

jfl | Jan 11, 2016 7:00:06 PM | 28

@10 'What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?'

1. DS vets prospective candidates beforehand, only allowing candidates aligned with deep state authorities to begin with.
2. DS doesn't make the payoff until successful applicants have left office with an 'acceptable' record.
3. Assassination is always an option in extreme cases, real or imagined.

....

fast freddy | Jan 11, 2016 7:46:05 PM | 33

The system is totally corrupt. If you make it to Congress, you've got favors to pay back. If you don't work for the corporate interests (already aligned with deep state) you won't get the money to run a second term. Some other craven asshole will take your job whether you want it (by demonstrating total acquiescence) or not (by trying to be Mr.Smith in Washington).

Now, if you want to be President, you've got to have "experience" in Congress or in state gubmint.

The very best thing about Donald Trump, is that he is an outsider - particularly when compared with the other contestants whom are machine politicians (corrupted in the system). BTW, Bernie is full of shit (as is Trump).

juliania | Jan 11, 2016 8:50:00 PM | 37

Lone Wolf @ 9

That is a very good explanation of 'Deep State'. My only caveat is that it doesn't completely describe the oligarchy because it leaves out the corporate component. When money became speech a huge mountain of power devolved to the rich. They'd always had clout as the graphs describing the separation of the rich from the not-so-well off and the rest of us have made clear - but now the ugly truth is unavoidable and it all goes together to produce what President Carter described.

It's just plain awful.

ben | Jan 11, 2016 10:04:10 PM | 42

An excellent site with a deep look at the deep state: http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/UNWELCOME_GUESTS

V. Arnold | Jan 11, 2016 9:57:24 PM | 41

Lone Wolf @ 9 & 17: Yep, that about covers it. Thanks.

Stir this into the mix, and basically, America's system of governance is a fraud.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14545

fast freddy | Jan 11, 2016 10:05:02 PM | 43

Jimmy Carter seems like a real nice fellow. It should be remembered, however, that Brzezinski was Carter's National Security Adviser. Now that was probably the deep state hanging that albatross around ol' Peanut Boy's neck (as a minder, perhaps). In any case, Carter didn't do anything to stop that son of a bitch from his evil doings in Afghanistan.

"You are soldiers of god. Your cause is right and god is on your side". - Brzezinski addressing the Mujahideen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9RCFZnWGE0

Susan Sunflowe r | Jan 11, 2016 10:54:55 PM | 49

Jane Mayers new book says Koch Brothers father built a major oil refinery for Hilter ... It looks to be another corker ...

Ms. Mayer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, presents the Kochs and other families as the hidden and self-interested hands behind the rise and growth of the modern conservative movement. Philanthropists and political donors who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into think tanks, political organizations and scholarships, they helped win acceptance for anti-government and anti-tax policies that would protect their businesses and personal fortunes, she writes, all under the guise of promoting the public interest.

The Kochs, the Scaifes, the Bradleys and the DeVos family of Michigan "were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how the Americans thought and voted," the book says.

Many of the families owned businesses that clashed with environmental or workplace regulators, come under federal or state investigation, or waged battles over their tax bills with the Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Mayer reports. The Kochs' vast political network, a major force in Republican politics today, was "originally designed as a means of off-loading the costs of the Koch Industries environmental and regulatory fights onto others" by persuading other rich business owners to contribute to Koch-controlled political groups, Ms. Mayer writes, citing an associate of the two brothers.

NYT: Father of Koch Brothers Helped Build Nazi Oil Refinery, Book Says .

... ... ...

Yeah, Right | Jan 12, 2016 3:13:58 AM | 63

@10 "What is the mechanism that forces American presidents to go along with what the deep state decides?"

Money.

You can't run a campaign to be elected President of the United States unless you can tap into billionaires who are willing to hand over $100 millions to your campaign.

Without that largess you are not going to get elected, and people who have $billions are the going to be the very same people who make up the Deep State.

So you either get with the program or you get.... nothing. Not a cent. Not a hope.

This is part of the reason why Trump is causing so much mayhem: he is a candidate who already has those $billions, and so he isn't beholden to anyone but himself and his own whacky ideas.

Deep down I suspect that this is why he is the Republican frontrunner i.e. deep down Mr Joe Average knows that his "democracy" has been hijacked out from underneath him, so he is receptive to Trump's dogwhistle.

Which, basically, is this: why are you bothering with any of these chattering monkeys? Their votes will end up belonging to people like me anyway, so you may as well just cut out the middle-man.

jfl | Jan 12, 2016 3:30:05 AM | 64

Great story chipnik ... you should continue in that vein more often.

lysias @10 ... from guest77s recommended read ... @55 in the previous open thread ...

The Devil's Chessboard. Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government , chapter 10

Eisenhower's innate midwestern sense of decency initially made him recoil from backing Britain's colonial siege of Iran. He rebuffed the Dulles brothers' advice, suggesting that it might be a better idea to stabilize Mossadegh's government with a $100 million loan than to topple it. If Eisenhower had followed through on his original instincts, the bedeviled history of U.S.-Iran relations would undoubtedly have taken a far different course.

Realizing that Eisenhower was not inclined to defend British imperial interests, the Dulles brothers reframed their argument for intervention in Cold War terms. On March 4, 1953, Allen appeared at a National Security Council meeting in the White House armed with seven pages of alarming talking points. Iran was confronted with "a maturing revolutionary set-up," he warned, and if the country fell into Communist hands, 60 percent of the free world's oil would be controlled by Moscow. Oil and gasoline would have to be rationed at home, and U.S. military operations would have to be curtailed.

In truth, the global crisis over Iran was not a Cold War conflict but a struggle "between imperialism and nationalism, between First and Third Worlds, between North and South, between developed industrial economies and underdeveloped countries dependent on exporting raw materials," in the words of Ervand Abrahamian.

The author pours it on thick with zero references but, overall ...

1. The DS vetted Ike and discovered that he looked up to corporate CEOs and Wall Street financiers and their lawyers, he was sympathetic to those he fantasized as captains of industry and looked upon success as a marker of steady men, those of his imagined deep state.

2. Ike came cheap. He felt it was his duty to help out if the people he looked up to thought he was the right man at the right time.

3. Ike bought the 'What's good for GM is good for the country' line, just as Engine Charley Wilson did. No need to assassinate Ike.

The DS uses the same M.O. ... O tempora, o mores ... mutatis mutandis.

[Jan 09, 2016] Controversial DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz To Face Progressive Tim Canova In An August Primary

Triangulation is the term given to the act of a political candidate presenting their ideology as being above or between the left and right sides (or "wings") of a traditional (e.g. American or British) democratic political spectrum. It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one's political opponent. The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent's ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.
Notable quotes:
"... womens issues, LGBT issues, gun issues… but anything that involves economics ..."
"... Its like having a serial killer come out in support of you. ..."
"... These pols have played very successfully on out-groups fear that their hold on legitimacy and power is fragile. ..."
"... I understand that, but there is something in psychology called shared distinctiveness . LGBT groups are uniquely distinctive just as corrupt politicians are uniquely distinctive. And the more I see corrupt politicians talking about the importance of LGBT issues, etc, the more the two are starting to go together in my head. ..."
"... As I said thats not a rational process, but its real. The mental connections that are formed mean that whenever I see LGBT activities/people/whatever I immediately think of all the corrupt politicians theyre in bed with, and a lot of that aura of corruption brushes off on them. ..."
"... Lindsey Graham is a fine example….. ..."
"... Feminist concerns are not in themselves corrupt, but what the Dem party peddles is tame, second wave weak sauce feminism of the Betty Friedan kind. Basically, middle class housewives are oppressed by being withdrawn from equity within the workplace, which was even criticized at the time (notably by Germaine Greer) ..."
"... the DCCCs take that you can be liberal on social issues while hard right on political economy is not at all in line with contemporary feminist thinking, which holds, more or less, that the economy is a social issue just like reproductive rights, workplace equity, etc. ..."
"... Hillary is a woman despite Hillary losing young women in 2008. ..."
"... Your assessment is more spot on, perhaps, given we cant even get Dems to commit to something as broadly popular as paid family leave. ..."
"... Unfortunately, its become part of the professional centre-left playbook around the world – you see it in many countries. Genuflecting to identity politics has become like right wing politicians pretending to be religious. ..."
"... Its a classic bait and switch move, but it also reflects a professional political class who have completely lost contact with their supposed base. Ive met left wing activists who genuinely saw it as something more important than, say, protecting benefits for the poor. ..."
"... Unfortunately, its become part of the professional centre-left playbook around the world – you see it in many countries. Genuflecting to identity politics has become like right wing politicians pretending to be religious. ..."
"... They crunched the polling numbers, and strategised that they could replace them with the one big cohort that pollsters said were unclaimed by other parties – working educated females 25-45. So they quite deliberately refocused their policies from representing working class and poorer people, to focusing on progressive-lite policies. fortunately, it seems that most working educated females 25-45 are too smart to fall for the cynicism, most polls indicate they will be wiped out in the next election. ..."
"... I do see signs of political awakening around the Western world, including here in the epicenter of the neoliberal infestation. ..."
"... Bill Clinton proved how profitable triangulation can be, and Obama followed that model from even before taking his first oath as President in January, 2009. ..."
"... Bill Clinton proved how profitable triangulation can be, and Obama followed that model from even before taking his first oath as President in January, 2009. ..."
"... Bernie Sanders isnt perfect, but hes so much better than Hillary in every way. ..."
"... I dont think the the neolib Dems (aka DLC Dems) want to win full control of the federal government. They want the presidency and only one of the two houses of Congress. This allows them to remain on the money train while blaming the Republicans for their inability to pass progressive legislation which pisses off their paymasters. ..."
"... What drives me crazy about Hillary (though it can easily be extended to other Dems) is all her talk of women, children, gun control, and LGBT rights (remember her tweet when gay marriage was legalised) while as SofS she approved arms deals to Saudi Arabia and the Clinton Slush Foundation took donations from it - surely one of the most despotic, anti-women, anti-LGBT regimes in the world. Not to mention the ongoing US-supported Saudi genocide in Yemen. ..."
"... Hey Team Bernie, in the next debate, if HRC brings up control, just have Bernie quietly but clearly say something like: Forgive me Madame Secretary, but HOW DARE YOU criticise me on gun control when you were responsible for blowing up Libya and shipping arms to ISIS? ..."
"... Also re guns and politics, if he can win the nomination, Sanders position will help him in rural states. I have never seen a national politician address the differing needs between working people who feed their families with the help of a deer or two vs urban people whose primary concern is gang violence. All we hear is pro or anti gun and people have trouble imagining each others circumstances. ..."
"... She keeps getting re-elected because of weak opposition and a complicit local media. ..."
"... And all that cash she gets from the people she sells out to. ..."
"... And if she loses in the primary, so what? As far as I can tell, the head of the DNC does not have to be an elected official still in office. She of course is a superdelegate, and under DNC rules, wiki reports that The chairperson is a superdelegate for life. ..."
"... Isnt a name missing from the above rogues gallery: Nancy Pelosi. If Im not mistaken DWS was a bit of a protege. ..."
"... Obamas name is missing. Hes the one who picked her to head the DNC. ..."
"... Obama never gets blamed for anything. Keep your fingerprints off and find a villain to blame instead. Thats Obamas modus operandi and its worked his entire life. He is beyond Teflon. ..."
"... Great news! How do you get rid of neolib DLC-machine third-way triangulating Dems? One seat at a time. ..."
Jan 09, 2016 | naked capitalism

An Axis of Evil inside the Democratic Party is suddenly on the defensive. Steve Israel was forced to announce an early retirement for reasons that are still murky . Rahm Emanuel can barely show his face in Chicago and, with the exception of Hillary Clinton, all his cronies and allies are jumping off that sinking ship . And now it's looking like Debbie Wasserman Schultz's rotten self-serving career is finally catching up with her. As we mentioned, Tuesday, Roots Action has a petition drive to force her out of the DNC - with over 30,000 signatures already. And then yesterday, CREDO launched another petition drive to get her out of a position she never should have been in in the first place. I don't like signing petitions but I eagerly signed both of these. The Democratic Party will never be a force for real progressive change with careerist power mongers like Steve Israel, Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Chuck Schumer controlling it.

...There aren't that many Democrats as transactional as Debbie Wasserman Schultz when it comes to serving the interests of the wealthy people who have financed her political rise, from the sugar barons and private prison industry to the alcohol distillers .

...Wasserman Schultz's support for the dysfunctional corporate trade agreements like TPP very much motivated Canova to make the difficult decision to take on one of the House's most vicious gutter fighters. "People are just tired of being sold out by calculating and triangulating politicians," told us back in October when he was thinking about running. "Wasserman Schultz has become the ultimate machine politician. While she stakes out liberal positions on culture war issues, when it comes to economic and social issues, she's too often with the corporate elites. On too many crucial issues– from fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the war on drugs and medical marijuana and mass incarceration, to her support for budget sequestrations and austerity– Wasserman Schultz votes down the line with big corporate interests and cartels: Wall Street banks and hedge funds, Big Pharma, the private health insurers, private prisons, Monsanto, it goes on and on."

Clive , January 9, 2016 at 2:54 am

I know it's the Daily Mail (I always swore I'd never start a comment with that but needs must…), anyhow, I know it's the Daily Mail, but I never saw such an outpouring of consistent bile and outrage like the comments which were posted on this DWS article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2962331/Democratic-Party-chair-Debbie-Wasserman-Schultz-says-activist-s-allegations-tried-bribe-outrageous.html

jgordon , January 9, 2016 at 3:31 am

women's issues, LGBT issues, gun issues… but anything that involves economics

This is important. Initially I started out not having much of an opinion on LGBT and women's issues. However, the more I saw corrupt neoliberal politicians advocating for these issues (wasn't Obama trying to make Lloyd Blankfein the ambassador for LGBT issues or something a couple of years ago?) the more I started associating them with corruption and evil.

This isn't rational at all, but whenever I see HRC or Obama advocating for some particular culture war issue, the more I despise the groups and causes they're advocating for and the more I want to fight against them. Why aren't these people in the LGBT and women communities vocally and continually disowning these corrupt politicians? It's like having a serial killer come out in support of you.

Yves Smith Post author , January 9, 2016 at 4:29 am

These pols have played very successfully on out-groups' fear that their hold on legitimacy and power is fragile. That is particularly true with gay men, who outside a handful of big cities, face open discrimination and risk of physical harm.

jgordon , January 9, 2016 at 10:14 am

I understand that, but there is something in psychology called "shared distinctiveness". LGBT groups are uniquely distinctive just as corrupt politicians are uniquely distinctive. And the more I see corrupt politicians talking about the importance of LGBT issues, etc, the more the two are starting to go together in my head.

As I said that's not a rational process, but it's real. The mental connections that are formed mean that whenever I see LGBT activities/people/whatever I immediately think of all the corrupt politicians they're in bed with, and a lot of that aura of corruption brushes off on them.

polecat , January 9, 2016 at 11:34 am

Lindsey Graham is a fine example…..

Uahsenaa , January 9, 2016 at 8:04 am

Feminist concerns are not in themselves corrupt, but what the Dem party peddles is tame, second wave weak sauce feminism of the Betty Friedan kind. Basically, "middle class housewives are oppressed by being withdrawn from equity within the workplace," which was even criticized at the time (notably by Germaine Greer) .

bell hooks, on the other hand, doesn't mince words at all, when she shows how questions of racial and gender oppression are expressly linked to economics/class and militarism. You can't tackle any of them without tackling all of them, so the DCCC's take that you can be liberal on "social" issues while hard right on political economy is not at all in line with contemporary feminist thinking, which holds, more or less, that the economy is a social issue just like reproductive rights, workplace equity, etc.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 9, 2016 at 9:52 am

I wouldn't even say Team Blue is there. Pelosi and other prominent Team Blue women held a mock panel to get to the bottom of why Rush Limbaugh was mean to a Georgetown Law school student who was photogenic. This has been the sum total of Team Blue's defense of feminism since GDub except to cynically conclude young women will rush to Team Blue because Hillary is a woman despite Hillary losing young women in 2008.

Uahsenaa , January 9, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Your assessment is more spot on, perhaps, given we can't even get Dems to commit to something as broadly popular as paid family leave.

That said, I've noticed a denigrating tone directed toward what gets labeled as "identity politics" of late, and I just wanted to make clear that current proponents of things like critical race theory and what have you are more in line with the NC commentariat than I think people give them credit for.

PlutoniumKun , January 9, 2016 at 8:21 am

Unfortunately, its become part of the professional centre-left playbook around the world – you see it in many countries. Genuflecting to identity politics has become like right wing politicians pretending to be religious. Here in Ireland the Irish Labour party, in coalition with a centre right party, used up every bit of political credit they had to push for gay marriage. Like most people I was very happy it was legalised, but they were patting themselves on the back for this while simultaneously supporting vicious austerity.

Its a classic bait and switch move, but it also reflects a professional political class who have completely lost contact with their supposed base. I've met left wing activists who genuinely saw it as something more important than, say, protecting benefits for the poor.

wbgonne , January 9, 2016 at 9:11 am

Unfortunately, its become part of the professional centre-left playbook around the world – you see it in many countries. Genuflecting to identity politics has become like right wing politicians pretending to be religious.

I think the explanation is quite simple, at least in the U.S. (which has effectively exported its political dysfunction to other developed democracies). When the Washington Consenusus formed around corporatism (neoliberalism for the Democrats, conservatism/economic libertarianism for the Republicans), there was no longer meaningful economic distinction between the parties. So culture war/identity politics issues are all that remain for brand differentiation. Obama's recent Academy Award performance on guns is a harbinger of how the Democrats will run in 2016 if Clinton is the nominee. Plus Planned Parenthood and gay marriage and a few additional poll-tested non-economic issues that the professionals calculate will garner marginally more votes than they will cost. If the Democrats here truly wanted to win they would nominate Bernie Sanders and run on the wildly-popular platform of economic populism. (I'd say this is probably true in Britain with Corbyn and Labour as well, and probably in France and Italy as well, where the nominal leftists parties have been infected by neoliberalism.) It seems clear at this point that the Democratic Party is more committed to Wall Street than it is to the middle class, and is quite prepared to lose political power to keep its place at the financial trough. Obama's reign is solid evidence and the fact that Clinton remains the frontrunner and the establishment's darling shows they are doubling down, not changing course.

PlutoniumKun , January 9, 2016 at 10:21 am

You are quite right in what you say, even if the processes are slightly different in every country. In the UK in particular, I think there is a huge problem with the Labour Party in that it was effectively taken over by middle class left wing student activist types who have only the most theoretical notion how poor or working class people live. It is inevitable that they start to reinterpret 'left wing' and 'liberal' in a manner which suits the people they socialise with. I.e. seeing social progressivism as far more important than economic justice.

Back in the 1990's I shared a house in London with a lawyer who qualified in Oxford – many of her friends were the first generation of Blairites. They were intelligent, enthusiastic and genuinely passionate about change. But talking to them it was glaringly obvious the only connection they had with 'ordinary' people was when they first had to canvass on the streets. I remember one young woman expressing horror at the potential constituent who came and insisted that she sort out her welfare entitlements, because thats what a politician is supposed to do. She had simply never met someone from the 'underclass' if you want to put it that way. It was all too obvious that people like her would shift rapidly to the right as soon as they achieved power, they had no real empathy or feel for regular people.

In my own country, in Ireland, it is far more cynical. Its no secret that the traditional main centre left party, Labour, realised it would lose its core working class base if it supported austerity. They crunched the polling numbers, and strategised that they could replace them with the one big cohort that pollsters said were 'unclaimed' by other parties – working educated females 25-45. So they quite deliberately refocused their policies from representing working class and poorer people, to focusing on progressive-lite policies. fortunately, it seems that most working educated females 25-45 are too smart to fall for the cynicism, most polls indicate they will be wiped out in the next election.

wbgonne , January 9, 2016 at 11:40 am

it seems that most working educated females 25-45 are too smart to fall for the cynicism, most polls indicate they will be wiped out in the next election

I do see signs of political awakening around the Western world, including here in the epicenter of the neoliberal infestation. Can the forces of reform win? Can the people take control of the political systems back from the plutocrats? Can they do it in time to avoid catastrophic global warming and socially-destructive wealth inequality? We'll see.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© , January 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

Bill Clinton proved how profitable triangulation can be, and Obama followed that model from even before taking his first oath as President in January, 2009.

Bernie Sanders isn't perfect, but he's so much better than Hillary in every way.

wbgonne , January 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

Bill Clinton proved how profitable triangulation can be, and Obama followed that model from even before taking his first oath as President in January, 2009.

True, but there is one glaring difference between the 90s and today. In the 90s one could make a plausible if not persuasive case that the electorate did not want economic populism and was content with the Third Way's neoliberal economic royalism. So, Bill Clinton's "triangulation" was actually designed to secure votes and win elections (as well as pad Clinton's pockets, of course.). Today, things are very different, with the people since 2007 overwhelmingly clamoring for economic populism but the Democrats refusing to provide it and indeed castigating those who want the party to turn left.

Bernie Sanders isn't perfect, but he's so much better than Hillary in every way.

No doubt. And I am very pleased to say that I appear to have been wrong in thinking that Sanders was fading. I'm not saying Sanders will win, but it looks to me like he may stick around long enough for Hillary to (very possibly) implode, since she is and always has been a bad politician.

ex-PFC Chuck , January 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm

In re:

"If the Democrats here truly wanted to win they would nominate Bernie Sanders and run on the wildly-popular platform of economic populism."

I don't think the the neolib Dems (aka DLC Dems) want to win full control of the federal government. They want the presidency and only one of the two houses of Congress. This allows them to remain on the money train while blaming the Republicans for their inability to pass progressive legislation which pisses off their paymasters.

Pavel , January 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm

What drives me crazy about Hillary (though it can easily be extended to other Dems) is all her talk of women, children, gun control, and LGBT rights (remember her tweet when gay marriage was legalised) while as SofS she approved arms deals to Saudi Arabia and the Clinton Slush Foundation took donations from it - surely one of the most despotic, anti-women, anti-LGBT regimes in the world. Not to mention the ongoing US-supported Saudi genocide in Yemen.

So I guess HRC and the others think Americans need all these rights but people in the Mideast can just go stuff themselves. Because, you know, ISIS, and TERRORISM, and OIL…and arms sales.

Why the fsck doesn't Bernie point out these contradictions? Hillary apparently is blaming him for being "weak on gun control" while she has been a member of one of the most militaristic, bombing-and-droning administrations since, well, George W. Bush's.

Hey Team Bernie, in the next debate, if HRC brings up control, just have Bernie quietly but clearly say something like: "Forgive me Madame Secretary, but HOW DARE YOU criticise me on gun control when you were responsible for blowing up Libya and shipping arms to ISIS?"

/rant

Local to Oakland , January 9, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for saying this.

Also re guns and politics, if he can win the nomination, Sanders' position will help him in rural states. I have never seen a national politician address the differing needs between working people who feed their families with the help of a deer or two vs urban people whose primary concern is gang violence. All we hear is pro or anti gun and people have trouble imagining each others circumstances.

andyb , January 9, 2016 at 8:05 am

DWS is my Congressperson. She is adored by elderly Jewish women, reluctantly accepted by Democrats (an overwhelming majority in her District), and loathed by all others. Whenever she appears on local or national TV, she regurgitates an obvious rote memorized list of talking points that she refuses to stray from. She will never engage in a true debate, and avoids answering any substantive questions. She keeps getting re-elected because of weak opposition and a complicit local media.

I'm thrilled that there is a candidate that could derail her.

Readers should be aware that some years back a local politician used her picture as a target at a local gun range. There was considerable uproar in the media, somewhat offset by a cottage industry providing actual pictures of her superimposed over a standard target.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© , January 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

She keeps getting re-elected because of weak opposition and a complicit local media.

And all that cash she gets from the people she sells out to.

allan , January 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

It's hard to say exactly what you're referring to,
but saying that FDL's regulars and commenters were DWS fans is totally off base.
Typical coverage (from 2009):
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Won't Draw "Lines in the Sand" – Except When She Does

… when she says it's more important for her to be in a leadership position fighting for a public plan than it is to make a commitment to vote against a bill that doesn't have one, I think that's a luxury she can afford:

DWS: I'm planning to reform for a health care reform plan that includes a robust public option.

Mike Stark: Those are … we're calling them "weasel words" over at FDL just because it does give you a huge loophole to back out of .

DWS: Well I'm not someone who draws lines in the sand.

JTMcPhee , January 9, 2016 at 8:56 am

And if she loses in the primary, so what? As far as I can tell, the head of the DNC does not have to be an elected official still in office. She of course is a "superdelegate," and under DNC rules, wiki reports that "The chairperson is a superdelegate for life."

Wiki also reports that the DNC plays no role in "policy." Just writes the platform every so often. Really?

While they live, they rule, and to re-coin an old legal chestnut, we have buried the Rulers we unelect, but they rule us from their graves…

Carolinian , January 9, 2016 at 9:36 am

Isn't a name missing from the above rogue's gallery: Nancy Pelosi. If I'm not mistaken DWS was a bit of a protege.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 9, 2016 at 10:19 am

Nancy is a Lex Luthor caliber villain. She doesn't warrant being lumped with henchmen or the Kitemans of the world.

polecat , January 9, 2016 at 11:05 am

I can hardly wait for her grand-daughter to rise-up to the same level……..

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© , January 9, 2016 at 10:29 am

Obama's name is missing. He's the one who picked her to head the DNC.
~

wbgonne , January 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

Obama never gets blamed for anything. Keep your fingerprints off and find a villain to blame instead. That's Obama's modus operandi and it's worked his entire life. He is beyond Teflon.

Pavel , January 9, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Part of that strategy seems to be a definite preference for staying ignorant and uninformed. How many times has he claimed not to be aware of something going on until it's in the MSM? Of course hard to keep up when one is on the golf course so much of the time.

mad as hell. , January 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

You could see which way her wagon was headed almost four years ago if not longer from Greenwald's article.

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/20/wasserman-schultz-kill-list

Schultz's is one of those unfortunate people to have a bullshit aura circling her where ever she steps.

flora , January 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Great news! How do you get rid of neolib DLC-machine third-way triangulating Dems? One seat at a time.

[Jan 05, 2016] Paul Krugman: Elections Have Consequences

Notable quotes:
"... So self-identifying as a Republican now means associating yourself with a party that has moved sharply to the right since 1995. If you like, being a Republican used to mean supporting a party that nominated George H.W. Bush, but now it means supporting a party where a majority of primary voters **** support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Being a Democrat used to mean supporting a party that nominated Bill Clinton; it now means supporting a party likely to nominate, um, Hillary Clinton. And views of conservatism/liberalism have probably moved with that change in the parties. ..."
"... Yes the differences between candidates may not be nearly as great as you want it to be - but the idea that it makes no difference whether the GOP or Democratic candidate gets to be president is idiotic. Anybody who can be bothered looking through executive actions during Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama years will recognize a huge difference. ..."
"... The world of the NY Times, Wapo, the Atlantic, the New Republic, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, National Review - its all one intellectually gated community where the affluent talk among themselves at the club house about their slightly different approaches to maintaining order are protecting elite privileges and power. ..."
"... I didnt say they were either stupid or corrupt. They are intelligent people whose political orientation reflects the general predilections and interests of their class. Thats really not much different than most people in America. But the class divides are intensifying, which is why the discourse of that establishment group is of increasingly diminished relevance to what the other 80% of the country is talking about. ..."
"... The difference between Sanders and Clinton when it comes to income inequality, TBTF, and financial regulation is stark. These economic issues are studiously avoided by DeLong and Krugman because they are, and always have been, loyal insiders to the establishment. ..."
"... I took it that what Julio was mainly referring to was that the establishment discourse has moved so far to the right that someone like Krugman now represents the far left of what that establishment will tolerate. ..."
"... I think Krugman the columnist started as someone above the fray , engaged in an academic exercise; and has since learned he must support his allies, even if he has intellectual disagreements with them. ..."
"... However there is one key difference: Sanders has been able to energize the Democratic base in a way that Clinton the policy wonk simply cant. ..."
"... The studied failure of the fierce critic of the Washington Post and New York Times from the economics department of the University of California at Berkeley to so much as regret the firing of the only writer on labor affairs at either paper tells of just how little regard there is for the affairs of ordinary workers. ..."
"... Even Brookings is getting worried about whats going on with the growing cultural isolation of the relatively affluent: ..."
"... I had a very similar experience with the people I met at my Ivy League university. A depressing percentage of the student body consisted of spoiled trust fund babies, many of whom were apparently ignored or otherwise mistreated by their parents and exhibited a shocking array of psychological and substance abuse problems. ..."
"... But these people were of a distinctly different class than the many nominally upper-middle class people I encounter in daily life. Even now, high as my household income is, I would immediately be detected as a mere prole by them, a lower class person. ..."
"... Fitzgerald was absolutely right -- the truly well off are indeed different from you and me. Even if you dont realize it, rest assured that they do. ..."
"... The concept of class is also just a model, and not rigidly tied to economic markers. People in comparable occupational settings or type of economic participation can have very different incomes and ability to afford certain lifestyles. ..."
"... E.g. regardless of your pay level, if your occupational situation is such that you have to essentially show up for work every day and follow somebody elses directives (to make a relatively low-risk income), then it would be a stretch to consider you upper middle class. ..."
"... From what Ive observed, following the 2008 crash a lot of upper-middle class people suddenly realized that the differences between themselves and those living in poverty are actually much smaller than the differences between themselves and the truly wealthy. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
As the title says, elections matter:
Elections Have Consequences, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times : ...I'm a big geek... I was eagerly awaiting the I.R.S.'s tax tables for 2013... And what these tables show is that elections really do have consequences.

You might think that this is obvious. But on the left, in particular, there are some people who, disappointed by the limits of what President Obama has accomplished, minimize the differences between the parties. Whoever the next president is, they assert - or at least ... if it's not Bernie Sanders - things will remain pretty much the same, with the wealthy continuing to dominate the scene. ...

But the truth is that Mr. Obama's election ... had some real, quantifiable consequences. ...

If Mitt Romney had won, we can be sure that Republicans would have found a way to prevent these tax hikes. ...

Mr. Obama has effectively rolled back not just the Bush tax cuts but Ronald Reagan's as well..., about $70 billion a year in revenue. This happens to be in the same ballpark as both food stamps and ... this year's net outlays on Obamacare. So we're not talking about something trivial.

Speaking of Obamacare, that's another thing Republicans would surely have killed if 2012 had gone the other way. ... And the effect on health care has been huge...

Now, to be fair, some widely predicted consequences of Mr. Obama's re-election - predicted by his opponents - didn't happen. Gasoline prices didn't soar. Stocks didn't plunge. The economy didn't collapse..., and the unemployment rate is a full point lower than the rate Mr. Romney promised to achieve by the end of 2016.

In other words, the 2012 election didn't just allow progressives to achieve some important goals. It also gave them an opportunity to show that achieving these goals is feasible. No, asking the rich to pay somewhat more in taxes while helping the less fortunate won't destroy the economy.

So now we're heading for another presidential election. And once again the stakes are high. Whoever the Republicans nominate will be committed to destroying Obamacare and slashing taxes on the wealthy - in fact, the current G.O.P. tax-cut plans make the Bush cuts look puny. Whoever the Democrats nominate will, first and foremost, be committed to defending the achievements of the past seven years.

The bottom line is that presidential elections matter, a lot, even if the people on the ballot aren't as fiery as you might like. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

anne :
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/academics-and-politics/

January 4, 2015

Academics And Politics
By Paul Krugman

Via Noah Smith, * an interesting back-and-forth about the political leanings of professors. Conservatives are outraged ** at what they see as a sharp leftward movement in the academy:

[Graph]

But what's really happening here? Did professors move left, or did the meaning of conservatism in America change in a way that drove scholars away? You can guess what I think. But here's some evidence. First, using the DW-nominate measure *** - which uses roll-call votes over time to identify a left-right spectrum, and doesn't impose any constraint of symmetry between the parties - what we've seen over the past generation is a sharp rightward (up in the figure) move by Republicans, with no comparable move by Democrats, especially in the North:

[Graph]

So self-identifying as a Republican now means associating yourself with a party that has moved sharply to the right since 1995. If you like, being a Republican used to mean supporting a party that nominated George H.W. Bush, but now it means supporting a party where a majority of primary voters **** support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Being a Democrat used to mean supporting a party that nominated Bill Clinton; it now means supporting a party likely to nominate, um, Hillary Clinton. And views of conservatism/liberalism have probably moved with that change in the parties.

Furthermore, if your image is one of colleges being taken over by Marxist literary theorists, you should know that the political leanings of hard scientists are if anything more pronounced than those of academics in general. From Pew: *****

[Chart]

Why is this? Well, climate denial and hostility to the theory of evolution are pretty good starting points.

Overall, the evidence looks a lot more consistent with a story that has academics rejecting a conservative party that has moved sharply right than it does with a story in which academics have moved left.

Now, you might argue that academics should reflect the political spectrum in the nation - that we need affirmative action for conservative professors, even in science. But do you really want to go there?

* https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/683784992380424192

** http://heterodoxacademy.org/problems/

*** http://voteview.com/Political_Polarization_2014.htm

**** http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2016-national-gop-primary

***** http://www.people-press.org/2009/07/09/section-4-scientists-politics-and-religion/

anne -> anne...
Wild conservatives have been attacking supposed liberals at universities since the time of Joseph McCarthy. The attacks have changed in nuance now and again but been persistent since the close of the 1940s. Whether the attacks extend back before the late 1940s is a matter I have to look into.
DeDude :
Yes the differences between candidates may not be nearly as great as you want it to be - but the idea that it "makes no difference" whether the GOP or Democratic candidate gets to be president is idiotic. Anybody who can be bothered looking through executive actions during Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama years will recognize a huge difference.
Dan Kervick :
Elections matter. Nominations matter too. But the only nomination battle Paul Krugman is apparently interested in is the Republican one, which he trolls constantly to amuse himself. This despite the fact that there are very major policy difference, both foreign and domestic, present on the Democratic side - along with major differences in political alliances, monetary support bases and key constituencies.

Paul Krugman is a middle of the road, mainstream fellow who manages to line up on the "left" according to the austerely conservative economic standards of the establishment media. If Krugman were chief economic adviser - or even president - nothing very important in America would change economically. So when he tries to tell "progressives" about what would advance "their goals", his words are a good candidate for in one ear, out the other treatment.

Harold Meyerson, the Democratic Socialist op-ed columnist for Wapo, was just canned by Fred Hiatt. Apart from removing another left wing economic voice from the establishment public sphere, this helps clear the decks for a 2017 Middle East war after Clinton gets control of the war room from Obama. Not a word on that firing from sometime scourge of the Washington Post, Brad DeLong - who I guess is pretty cool with it.

The world of the NY Times, Wapo, the Atlantic, the New Republic, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, National Review - it's all one intellectually gated community where the affluent talk among themselves at the club house about their slightly different approaches to maintaining order are protecting elite privileges and power.

Dan Kervick -> EMichael...
I didn't say they were either stupid or corrupt. They are intelligent people whose political orientation reflects the general predilections and interests of their class. That's really not much different than most people in America. But the class divides are intensifying, which is why the discourse of that establishment group is of increasingly diminished relevance to what the other 80% of the country is talking about.
Dan Kervick -> EMichael...
That's what the elite is always going to do. People who are interested in significant social change should never count on elitists coming down out of the clouds to save them.
anne -> Dan Kervick...
Harold Meyerson, the Democratic Socialist op-ed columnist for Wapo, was just canned by Fred Hiatt.... Not a word on that firing from sometime scourge of the Washington Post, Brad DeLong - who I guess is pretty cool with it....

[ Telling and saddening, but this should not be a surprising silence by an academic who periodically wildly smashes liberals. ]

Julio -> Dan Kervick...
"Paul Krugman is a middle of the road, mainstream fellow..."

I am old enough to remember a time when he would have been one. But not now.

"So when he tries to tell "progressives" about what would advance "their goals", his words are a good candidate for in one ear, out the other treatment."

No: they are a candidate for a place to start a conversation with liberals, to expand their views of what's possible.

Dan Kervick -> Julio ...
Krugman is not interested in such discussions. As has been pointed out several times, he and DeLong have studiously avoided any engagement with the issues that are being hotly contested in the Democratic Party's primary campaign. They are bright and well-informed fellows, so this is no ignorant oversight and is certainly a deliberate, tactical political choice.
EMichael -> Dan Kervick...
Why in the world do you care why two economists who you disrespect on many levels have not discussed the Dem candidates?
yuan -> EMichael...
Funny how you skipped over the word "issues" and moved the goal post to "dem candidates".

The difference between Sanders and Clinton when it comes to income inequality, TBTF, and financial regulation is stark. These economic issues are studiously avoided by DeLong and Krugman because they are, and always have been, loyal insiders to the establishment.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/nothing-to-say/

Sanjait -> yuan...
"The difference between Sanders and Clinton when it comes to income inequality, TBTF, and financial regulation is stark."

Sanders shouts about income inequality but like Hillary has no real plan to impact it except at the margins.

On financial regulation also, Sanders makes the louder noises and trots out Glass Steagall often, but Hillary, not Bernie, is the one who actually has a coherent and plausible plan for limiting systemic financial risk. Bernie fans seem fundamentally incapable of unwilling to process this fact, to the detriment of everyone.

Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
I take exception to your (mis)use of Krugman to support your narrative. As Julio notes above (I think), Krugman's early writings were notably more middle of the road; he started off as a committed centrist, taking on left and right equally whenever he felt one side or the other was peddling nonsense. Over time I've seen his writing become more political and more consistently liberal, even as his paycheck has presumably increased.

As an example, back in the '90s Krugman was slamming Robert Reich as a nonsense-peddling "policy entrepreneur", but by 2015 he was writing a glowing review of Reich's book, "Saving Capitalism".

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
I took it that what Julio was mainly referring to was that the establishment discourse has moved so far to the right that someone like Krugman now represents the far left of what that establishment will tolerate.
Julio -> Dan Kervick...
That was indeed my point.
Julio -> Syaloch...
I would not call his review "glowing", but I agree with your example. I think Krugman the columnist started as someone "above the fray", engaged in an academic exercise; and has since learned he must support his allies, even if he has intellectual disagreements with them.
Julio -> Dan Kervick...
"Krugman is not interested in such discussions."

So? If I am correct in stating that he represents a lot of the liberal spectrum, then those are the people we need to move "left" or, as I prefer to put it, enlarge their view of what's possible.

Sanders IMO is doing a good job of this. He is being loudly ignored by Krugman, which makes your point; and also by a lot of liberals who think he cannot win because, um, he's unelectable -- which makes mine.

Dan Kervick -> Julio ...
It doesn't seem like we disagree much on the background facts. But if someone is engaging in a deliberate strategy of ignoring the left, there doesn't seem to be much point in pretending they are having a discussion with the left.

One way to try to move more people to the left is to encourage them to stop lending so much credence to establishment opinions. Krugman's ego is big enough that if he detects his relevance and popularity slipping away, he will move along with the zeitgeist to go where the people are.

Syaloch -> Julio ...
I don't think there's nearly as much of a separation between Krugman and Sanders as you guys seem to think.

At least Sanders doesn't seem to think so.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/05/bernie-sanders-cabinet_n_7730208.html

Bernie Sanders Hints At What A Sanders Administration Cabinet Could Look Like

Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) offered a first glimpse on Sunday of some of the people he might consider for his cabinet in a potential Sanders administration, and a few that he certainly won't.

"My cabinet would not be dominated by representatives of Wall Street," Sanders said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think Wall Street's played a horrendous role in recent years, in negatively impacting our economy and in making the rich richer. There are a lot of great public servants out there, great economists who for years have been standing up for the middle class and the working families of this country."

Prompted by host Jake Tapper, Sanders went on to praise Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist. Krugman is a vocal opponent of tax cuts for the rich, and he has warned readers for years about the dangers of income inequality. "Krugman does a great job," Sanders said.

Also doing a great job, Sanders said, is Columbia University economics professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, whose recent work has focused on the perils of radical free markets, such as those espoused by some in the libertarian wing of the GOP.

Sanders also singled out Robert Reich, the former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley: "I think [he] is doing a fantastic job." Reich has long been an influential backer of labor unions, which have come under attack from Republican governors in recent years.

Still, Sanders said, "it's a little bit too early, I must say, to be appointing a cabinet. Let me get elected first."

In recent weeks, Sanders' long shot campaign for the Democratic nomination has captured a swell of momentum on the left, drawing larger crowds in Iowa than Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner.

"All over this country, younger people, working people, elderly people, are moving in our direction, because they want a candidate to take on the establishment," Sanders said.

Julio -> Syaloch...
I don't think Krugman disagrees with Sanders, but he seems to ignore him. Like everyone else in the media, he's devoted much more time to the Republicans.
Syaloch -> Julio ...
But that's because it's always been his style to write that way. Krugman has always spent most of his effort attacking those who he perceives as peddling nonsense, or providing additional evidence to back up a position he has taken against a nonsense peddler. He rarely spends time talking about those he agrees with. Even in cases where he has written approvingly about Obama or the ACA, he's done so primarily as a counterweight to all those he sees taking the opposite (and incorrect) view.

While he hasn't said much about Sanders aside from praising his example of Denmark as a role model for change, he hasn't said a whole lot about Clinton either. Probably his most explicit comment on either was in his column comparing their proposed Wall Street reforms, where he concluded:

"If a Democrat does win, does it matter much which one it is? Probably not. Any Democrat is likely to retain the financial reforms of 2010, and seek to stiffen them where possible. But major new reforms will be blocked until and unless Democrats regain control of both houses of Congress, which isn't likely to happen for a long time.

"In other words, while there are some differences in financial policy between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders, as a practical matter they're trivial compared with the yawning gulf with Republicans."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/16/opinion/democrats-republicans-and-wall-street-tycoons.html

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
Yes, but there are clearly more differences between Clinton and Sanders than just differences over financial policy - the most obvious and large one being their differences over health care.
Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
In terms of what they're likely to be able to deliver in the current political climate there really doesn't seem to be that much difference between them.

However there is one key difference: Sanders has been able to energize the Democratic base in a way that Clinton the policy wonk simply can't.

But we digress.

pgl -> Dan Kervick...
Bernie is endorsing single payer. That was HillaryCare ala 1993. That was her position in 2008...
Dan Kervick -> pgl...
What the heck are you talking about? The Clinton health Care Plan of 1993 was not a single payer plan. The 2008 plan was also by no means a single payer plan. And single payer is certainly not her position now, since she has come out strongly against it on the oh-so-progressive grounds that it will ... (gasp) ... raise taxes! Good grief.
Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
Do you really think that the differences between Sanders and Clinton on how college education is to be paid for, to take one example, is trivial?

Painting the large differences between Clinton and Sanders as trivial seems like a case of dumbing down the debate so that people don't pay attention to it.

Krugman frequently devotes a great deal of time to people who are not peddling nonsense. He just participated in an involved debate with DeLong and Summers, two people he agrees with on most issues. And he has done the same in many past columns debating the views of various esteemed economics colleagues at length.

pgl -> Syaloch...
"Sanders went on to praise Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist. Krugman is a vocal opponent of tax cuts for the rich, and he has warned readers for years about the dangers of income inequality."

Even more places where Bernie Sanders has basically called JohnH a liar.

anne -> Julio ...
If I am correct in stating that he represents a lot of the liberal spectrum, then those are the people we need to move "left" or, as I prefer to put it, enlarge their view of what's possible.

Sanders IMO is doing a good job of this. He is being loudly ignored by Krugman...

[ Nicely expressed. ]

pgl -> Dan Kervick...
So go write these comments over at Paul's place. Oh wait - you are a coward. Never mind.
Julio -> pgl...
You know, of all the insults you freely toss about, this "cowardice" one is the dumbest. We're all here to discuss Thoma's selections, but we're cowards if we criticize them here?
Dan Kervick -> pgl...
I have written several comments at "Paul's" blog that were directly critical of his arguments. I have also posted many critical comments on Twitter directly @ Krugman. I have no problem going right at people. But I don't like the NY Times format as much because it is harder to have a live debate there.
anne -> Dan Kervick...
The word "troll" is used to intimidate and silence, and used to depict the writer in question is wildly false and mean-spirited.
Dan Kervick -> anne...
Lol... yeah, I know the feeling.
Sanjait -> pgl...
Delong isnt a socialist, democratic or otherwise.

And this bent of creating purity tests for commentators and politicians to define who is sufficiently progressive or more progressive or whatever, it reeks of Republicans and their conservative tribalism.

It's asinine and anti intellectual, and I condemn it unequivocally.

Dan Kervick -> Sanjait...
It's not a purity test of any kind. I don't know what "purity" means in this context. There is no sense in which democratic socialists are "purer" than liberals. They just have different values and goals. For socialists, a society based on sharing, solidarity, equality and cooperation is the highest ideal, where for liberals the highest idea is the expression of personal liberty, potential and individuality. There are certainly ways in which these outlooks can find specific expressions at a given point in time that involve significant overlap, but their chief governing ideals are different.


I agree with you completely that DeLong simply has a different ideology or social philosophy than someone like Sanders or Meyerson, and I object to the dumbing down of the debate between these two camps by such trite slogans as "Oh, you know after all, we are all on the same team". That's silly. It confuses the highly contingent, shifting and adventitious alliances that are part of the American party system with the coherence of a philosophical stance. These differences and disputes should be debated, instead of attempting to muddy and flatten them all under the foolish fantasy that it doesn't make a dime's worth of difference whether a society moves toward an ideal of progress fashioned from democratic socialist principles or one fashioned from liberal principles.

I brought DeLong in this context because he is a noted scourge of the Washington Post and its op-ed writers, so if he had any sympathy for Meyerson's views, this would be more low-hanging fruit for him. But nothing so far. And my guess is that the main reason is that Meyerson is just not DeLong's cup of tea. But who knows. the year is young.

Sanjait -> Dan Kervick...
Tl;dr

What I do notice is a lot of navel gazing talk about how "left" this or that commentator is, which as I said is asinine, anti-intellectual, and ironically very similar to the way conservatives operate.

Dan Kervick -> Sanjait...
Great. You think it's navel gazing. Easy for you to say from your desk writing insurance policies or whatever the hell it is you do. But it does make a real difference to millions and millions of people who don't have the lives you and I have, and whose lives aren't going to get *notably* better once Krugman, DeLong and Summers decide which particular version of capitalist oppression their best models point toward. Those people are dying of American capitalism, and their kids are going to die of it too, and whether the ruling class decides on one set of interest rates or a slightly higher set of interest rates only marginally affects the precise speed at which the barons who own their lives are able to kill them.

If people have the honestly to tell me, "Look, I'm a believer in good ol' American capitalism, and that lefty stuff just won't fly with me," that's one thing. But when they try to convince me that the kind of world they are after is really the same kind of world I want, just so I'll vote for their politicians - then I get ornery. Maybe I'd have an easier time with the conservatives because at least the look me in the face and say, "I hate your pinko guts".

The debate has gotten half crazy. Someone like Brad DeLong has called himself a "card-carrying neoliberal". And yet I get pilloried for calling DeLong a neoliberal - as though I libeled him - or for calling attention to the apparently uncomfortable fact that since neoliberals are obviously not leftists, then DeLong is no kind of leftist whatsoever. Or for noting that since DeLong is a loyal student of his mentor and adviser Larry Summers - who is about as mainstream a player as they come in the global capitalist system - that makes Delong a thoroughly establishment economist. (This isn't about "purity". DeLong is not an "impure" half-assed lefty. He's just a mainline capitalist.) Or for having the audacity to want to *debate* from the left the ideas that come up here instead of joining in with the yea-and-amen corner where everybody just agrees with one another. Oh no, we're all on the same team! Stop being such an annoying troll and criticizing the team! Larry Summers - that great man on the make who was the highest paid professor in the history of Harvard, and sold himself and his thoroughly mainstream "advice" to some Wall Street firm for $5 million/yr in between other gigs - he's also on the team bro!

I've made many good faith efforts in the past to calmly debate the ideas of people whose moral outlooks I disdain and whose best proposals amount to no more than marginal differences in a system I detest. In return, I get insulted routinely and asked to leave. But hey, we're all on the same team!

It seems to me that the liberals are having a crisis of faith and confidence because their late 20th century paradigm is crumbling apart from the inside, they don't know what to replace it with, and they don't know what side they are going to end up standing on when it falls. Look at poor pgl. He can't even remember what "single payer" means any more. I haven't encountered a single liberal Clinton supporter who is positively enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton. Frankly, they all seem defensive at best about her, and somewhat scared. But they fell in early with the TINA argument and the strategy of smothering debate under the Clinton machine, and now having let the Inevitability Express get so far down the tracks they don't know what else to do. And when that crazed, neocon-tilting fanatic launches her global military crusades in 2017, you guys will all be investing some sob story about how Bush is to blame, or Reagan is to blame, or Calvin Coolidge or William McKinley is to blame. A fat lot of good that will do the body parts she scatters all over the West Bank, Syria, Iran or whatever other places we're into by then.

Krugman had a meltdown last week - as he and the other chronic countercyclical stabilizers apparently do whenever anybody uses that dangerous and threatening word "structural", pointing at the possibility of changing the system and not just stabilizing it - because even a middle of the road guy like Tim Taylor had the audacity to "change the subject" and talk about something he actually wants talk about ... as though Paul Krugman gets to decide what the "subject" is, and everyone who doesn't talk about what Krugman demands they talk about is written up for changing that subject. Screw Krugman. He wouldn't know what "the subject" is if he tripped over it lying in the street on his way to some Manhattan train station. In fact, he probably has tripped over it.

I'm so tired of dealing with liberals with their chronic cases of double-think, unresolved intellectual conflicts, self-deluding irony and fuzzy, snarky ambivalence about everything. Pick a damn side. You are either with the plutocratic owners who dominate and run everyone else's lives - or you are on the side of taking them down and leveling the field.

anne -> Dan Kervick...
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/no-happy-new-year-at-the-washington-post-harold-meyerson-gets-the-boot

December 31, 2015

No Happy New Year at the Washington Post: Harold Meyerson Gets the Boot

The Washington Post opinion pages is not a place most people go for original thought, even if they do provide much material for Beat the Press. One major exception to the uniformity and unoriginality that have marked the section for decades was Harold Meyerson's column. Meyerson has been writing a weekly column for the Post for the last thirteen years. He was told by opinion page editor Fred Hiatt that his contract would not be renewed for 2016. *

According to Meyerson, Hiatt gave as his reasons that his columns had bad social media metrics and that he focused too much on issues like worker power. The first part of this story is difficult to believe. Do other Post columnists, like Beat the Press regulars Robert Samuelson and Charles Lane, really have such great social media metrics?

As far as the second part, yes Meyerson was a different voice. His columns showed a concern for the ordinary workers who make up the overwhelming majority of the country's population. Apparently this is a liability at the Post.

* http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2015/12/washington-post-harold-meyerson-columns-failed-to-attract-readers-217256

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne...
The studied failure of the fierce critic of the Washington Post and New York Times from the economics department of the University of California at Berkeley to so much as regret the firing of the only writer on labor affairs at either paper tells of just how little regard there is for the affairs of ordinary workers.

Not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.

Sanjait -> anne...
Oh please.

Delong has been writing loudly about the need for pro labor fiscal and monetary policy for the last 6 years. He's a leading voice on this topic, despite being "shrill."

To anyone that has been paying attention even a little, he has more than firmly established his concern for workers.

You're just weirdly upset because he called the Yale protesters stupid. Others here are upset because, like conservative tribalists, they think the best way to promote progressive causes is to ignore fact based debates and instead talk about who is or isn't an apostate. It's really very ugly.

ken melvin -> Dan Kervick...
Two states, maybe?
am -> Dan Kervick...
Harold Meyerson, the Democratic Socialist op-ed columnist for Wapo, was just canned by Fred Hiatt. Apart from removing another left wing economic voice from the establishment public sphere, this helps clear the decks for a 2017 Middle East war after Clinton gets control of the war room from Obama. Not a word on that firing from sometime scourge of the Washington Post, Brad DeLong - who I guess is pretty cool with it.

This is from your comment. You go from the sacking of a journalist to clearing the ground for a middle east war and then connect it all to Brad De Long. I hope you see the defects in your thinking.

Dan Kervick -> am...
OK, let's wait and see what DeLong says.

However, I stand by the idea that one of Hiatt's beefs with Meyerson is that Meyerson is a critic of the generally neoconservative foreign policies that Hiatt staunchly promotes. I think Hiatt is likely rubbing his hands in glee over the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, since her foreign policy will be much more aggressive and neocon-friendly than Obama's - and also much more so than a president Trump, for that matter, whom the neocons despise and fear.

djb -> Dan Kervick...
sorry to bother you dan but I couldn't help notice your comment to Egmont about consumption being greater than income

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=31Y0

"As you can see, consumption runs consistently and significantly higher than wages and salaries."

why do you think that is?

Dan Kervick -> djb...
djb, to be accurate, I pointed out that consumption was higher than wage and salary income. And clearly one reason for that is that is that wage and salary income is only one portion of national income. Besides other returns to labor like bonuses, a lot of income consists in profits and other returns to capital.
Dan Kervick :
Even Brookings is getting worried about what's going on with the growing cultural isolation of the relatively affluent:

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2015/09/03-separation-upper-middle-class-reeves?cid=00900015020089101US0001-0907

Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
This Brookings piece doesn't contribute much of anything to the conversation either. Mostly it just provides a working definition of upper middle class. The "getting worried" part is pretty much limited to the conclusion, and even then mostly outsourced to a conservative writer over at Slate:

The Upper Middle Class Is Ruining America

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/the_upper_middle_class_is_ruining_all_that_is_great_about_america.2.html

And if we go and read the Slate piece we find out that it's mostly BS -- even the Brookings article warns us in advance that it's "hyperbole, of course."

All of that said I do think there is an important point to be made, one that I was making the other day -- if you let a small number of people accumulate extreme levels of wealth, these people will tend to focus their philanthropic efforts on the sorts of problems that get discussed in their rather limited social circle, which may not be what the broader population views as the most pressing issues. However, I was talking about billionaires (and tech billionaires in particular, who tend to view things through an even narrower lens. In contrast, here we're talking about a much larger and more diverse group -- 15-20% of the working-age population according to the article -- many of whom came from middle class or lower-middle class backgrounds and who strongly identify with these groups and their concerns.

EMichael -> Syaloch...
Of course it doesn't contribute to the discussion, not unless you read between the kervick lines and understand that the separation is sinister, aided and abetted by pols and economists on both sides as they are all elites.


"When everyone is out to get you, paranoia is just being careful." Dan K, err, I mean Woody Allen.

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
The Brookings title for the article describes the separation as "dangerous". Isn't that an instance of worrying?

The point isn't that the upper middle class is engaged in some sort of sneaky, diabolical plot to "ruin" America, but rather that the emergence of growing cultural, educational and economic gaps between different classes of Americans is bad for the country, and that the greater the degree of class separations, the greater likelihood that the discourse of people who belong to a particular class will tend to reflect the preoccupations and values of that class alone.

At all times and in all societies the preoccupation of those who have most greatly benefited from a given social order will tend to be focused on how to defuse, appease or discipline dissenting elements without disrupting the social order.

Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
The Brookings title appears to be mere clickbait, with little in the article to back the claim up. The main thrust of the piece is that those who've managed to make it to the upper end of the middle class have been more successful than those with less income. Big surprise there.

I have no objection to the claim that growing economic gaps are bad for the country. However, I do think your attempt to cast this as an internal conflict within the middle class is nonsense.

I mean, Bernie Sanders' net worth is reportedly $700,000, which is roughly three times the median for someone his age ($232,100 as of 2013). Isn't he part of this elite class you describe, doing what elites always do? Does his political orientation reflect the general predilections and interests of his class?

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
It seems to me the article documents trends in several areas, all meant to back up the summary story told in the opening paragraph:

"The American upper middle class is separating, slowly but surely, from the rest of society. This separation is most obvious in terms of income-where the top fifth have been prospering while the majority lags behind. But the separation is not just economic. Gaps are growing on a whole range of dimensions, including family structure, education, lifestyle, and geography. Indeed, these dimensions of advantage appear to be clustering more tightly together, each thereby amplifying the effect of the other."

cm -> Syaloch...
Considering current real estate evaluations (I suppose Mr. Sanders owns a house), I don't think 700K is a net worth that confers any kind of elite status (where in this discussion "elite" must be understood as being able to set or influence policy, without necessarily holding public office).
Syaloch -> cm...
The current median sales price for homes in Burlington VT is around $270,000, so Sanders must be living in an "elite" home appropriate to his class.

More seriously, I don't think $700K necessarily confers elite status either, I'm just poking holes in the arguments of those who want to drive wedges between different segments of the middle class.

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
I don't think it's so much a matter of driving wedges, but recognizing the wedges that are already there.

Of course, some individual people who have lots of money are capable of adopting political stances that range outside their class interests. The similarity between political outlook and class interest is a strong general tendency, not an iron rule.

Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
Your understanding of class relationships is flawed.

Perhaps one has to actually be part of the upper middle class to see how these things actually work?

Julio -> Syaloch...
Here's a tidbit that seems relevant, though I'm not sure exactly how:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/income-and-voting/?_r=0
Syaloch -> Julio ...
Yeah, I don't know exactly how either.

The county where I live is one of the richest in the country, and it consistently votes Democrat. But then again the cost of living is very high here, so a lot of people who appear to have high incomes by national standards actually live quite modest lifestyles. And many people who live here came from other lower-income areas to find work, and probably relate most strongly with the places and backgrounds from which they came (even after 25 years of living in the DC suburbs my wife and I still tend to answer the question, "where are you from?" with the states we were born in).

The relationship between income and "class interest" is apparently quite complicated.

cm -> Syaloch...
**my wife and I still tend to answer the question, "where are you from?" with the states we were born in**

Isn't that what the questioner is actually asking? I always understood this question as "what is your cultural (often more specifically ethnic) background". The question often comes in the form "where's your *accent* from".

Syaloch -> cm...
Sometimes it's unclear, but generally the context is ah, so you're a visitor here, where is your home located?

We still have a hard time saying we're "from" Virginia, as the part of Virginia that borders DC bears little relationship culturally, politically, or economically with the rest of the state. Culturally we're still very much Northerners.

cm -> Syaloch...
Perhaps, though I often respond jokingly stating the city where I live, and then there is *always* the clarification "no where are you originally from". The larger area here has a lot of immigration from other places (inside and outside the US), and a lot of people with immigrant family background. It seems to be a common (and reliable) conversation opener.
cm -> Syaloch...
"The relationship between income and "class interest" is apparently quite complicated."

A large part of the complication is adjustment to local cost structures. Another is that "class" is a fairly abstract concept, which I define more by socioeconomic autonomy and participation in the societal decision making process (at higher or lower levels) than by income. Of course the former strongly correlates with income. E.g. when obtaining one's income absolutely requires personal daily commitment to some activity (e.g. employment), one cannot be consider "upper" of anything.

I would even question whether middle to upper corporate management falls in the upper middle class - let's say Director to VP levels. They are paid quite well and can generally afford living in "good neighborhoods" with higher end houses and cars, and perhaps even domestic "help", but can they influence policy outside their company?

anne -> Julio .. .
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/income-and-voting/

October 22, 2007

Income and Voting
By Paul Krugman

And one more before the day's round of media stuff begins.

Another weirdly persistent myth is that rich people vote Democratic, while working stiffs vote Republican. Here's Tucker Carlson: *

"OK, but here's the fact that nobody ever, ever mentions - Democrats win rich people. Over 100,000 in income, you are likely more than not to vote for Democrats. People never point that out. Rich people vote liberal. I don't know what that's all about."

Actually, people mention this alleged fact all the time - but the truth is just the opposite.

From the 2006 exit polls:

Vote by Income (Total) Democrat Republican

Less than $100,000 (78%) 55% 43%
$100,000 or more (22%) 47% 52%

And the fact that people with higher incomes are more likely to vote Republican has been consistently true since 1972. **

The interesting question is why so many pundits know for a fact something that simply ain't so.

* http://mediamatters.org/research/2007/10/19/media-matters-by-jamison-foser/140158

** http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/20041107_px_ELECTORATE.xls

anne -> Julio ...
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/even-more-on-income-and-voting/

October 24, 2007

Even More on Income and Voting
By Paul Krugman

As I pointed out in an earlier post, * there's a weird myth among the commentariat that rich people vote Democratic. There's another strange thing about that myth: the notion that income class doesn't matter for voting, or that it's perverse, has spread even as the actual relationship between income and voting has become much stronger.

Larry Bartels ** offers us these data, which I also provide in "Conscience of a Liberal," on white voting patterns in presidential elections by income:

Democratic Share of Vote
1952-1972

Bottom third ( 46)
Middle third ( 47)
Top third ( 42)

Democratic Share of Vote
1976-2004

Bottom third ( 51)
Middle third ( 44)
Top third ( 37)

As you can see, a 4-point difference between top and bottom became a 14-point difference.

Andrew Gelman et al *** offer us an election-by-election graph; the dots represent an estimate of the effect of income on the tendency to vote Republican, the whiskers the range of statistical uncertainty. Again, a weak link in the earlier period, except when Barry Goldwater was the candidate, and a much stronger link since then.

So the conventional pundit wisdom about the relationship between class and voting is, literally, the opposite of the truth.

* http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/income-and-voting/

** http://www.qjps.com/prod.aspx?product=QJPS&doi=100.00000010

*** http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/red_state_blue_state_revised.pdf

Dan Kervick -> Syaloch...
If you are trying to suggest that a mere prole couldn't possibly understand how the well-off people actually think, you may be comforted to know that my wife and I are comfortably part of that upper 20%.

The people I am criticizing are the kinds of people I have known all my life. I went to college and graduate school with them, and have known them socially and professionally. Quite the contrary to your suggestion, I think if people from humbler walks of life had a clearer idea of how knowledge class yuppies actually think and talk when they are not behaving themselves in public forums and trying to act like compassionate and concerned citizens, the resentment and determination to act on the part of the former would be even more intense than it is now.

I dearly recall the day one of my college friends told me that it was so unfair that smart college kids might be subject to the same kinds of military service requirements that less educated people faced, because the college kids "had so much more to lose." Their heads, after all, were stuffed with big, valuable, meaningful brains; while the existences of the plebs were so much less meaningful. Of course, she's probably running some health care outfit these days.

Syaloch -> Dan Kervick...
I had a very similar experience with the people I met at my Ivy League university. A depressing percentage of the student body consisted of spoiled trust fund babies, many of whom were apparently ignored or otherwise mistreated by their parents and exhibited a shocking array of psychological and substance abuse problems.

The most shocking incident I encountered was when a decent-seeming girl I met at the beginning of sophomore year calmly explained during a discussion with myself and a high school friend the "difference between black people and [n-word]s" as if this were a totally natural and uncontroversial position. And she wasn't from the Deep South, either -- she was from Columbia MD.

But these people were of a distinctly different class than the many nominally upper-middle class people I encounter in daily life. Even now, high as my household income is, I would immediately be detected as a "mere prole" by them, a "lower class" person.

Fitzgerald was absolutely right -- the truly well off are indeed different from you and me. Even if you don't realize it, rest assured that they do.

cm -> Dan Kervick...
Did your friend actually say these things about the brain value or are you extrapolating?

I had to go to military service *before* going to college, before the question of occupational deferments could even come up, and incidentally so that the conscripts could be coerced with the threat of having their college admission canceled. It was a good opportunity to purge our heads of some of the highschool knowledge and attitudes, and fill it with more practical things like avoiding or shirking work assignments, creative ways of procuring and hiding alcohol, and learning a bit about sizing up people and power dynamics as well as losing some illusions about the universality of human qualities. The latter part was actually useful.

cm -> Dan Kervick...
The concept of class is also just a model, and not rigidly tied to economic markers. People in comparable occupational settings or type of economic participation can have very different incomes and ability to afford certain lifestyles.

This is not only related to geographic differences, but jobs with similar skill profiles and job content can have significantly different pay/perk structures across public/private sector, different industries, and even within the same company. And by significantly I mean easily 2X.

E.g. regardless of your pay level, if your occupational situation is such that you have to essentially show up for work every day and follow somebody else's directives (to make a relatively low-risk income), then it would be a stretch to consider you upper middle class.

cm -> cm...
This is in response to your "wedges" comment, which may not be obvious in the web page layout.
Dan Kervick -> cm...
I definitely agree with those observations, although I have to say that following the crash in 2008 I was startled to realize just how much truth there is in the old Marxian idea that in an economic pinch, people will rapidly form coalitions with other people on the basis of economic affinities to protect their mutual interests.
cm -> Dan Kervick...
It is probably less about *mutual* interests and more about *common* interests. OTOH (but perhaps fundamentally the same phenomenon) I and others have observed how people switch (declared?) allegiances and ideological leanings and patterns of acting, as well the people they associate with, when changing occupational roles, e.g. from individual contributor to manager or lower to middle management. That usually comes with an income bump, but I don't think it is much related to income level.
Syaloch -> cm...
From what I've observed, following the 2008 crash a lot of upper-middle class people suddenly realized that the differences between themselves and those living in poverty are actually much smaller than the differences between themselves and the truly wealthy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/occupy-wall-street-report_n_2574788.html

[Dec 28, 2015] Clinton, Sanders, and the Progressive Give-Up Formula (with Clintons Warning of a Grand Bargain to Come)

Notable quotes:
"... SANDERS Now, when Secretary Clinton says, Im not going raise taxes on the middle class, let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing [how, exactly?] with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesnt provide paid family and medical leave. ..."
"... [A]ccepting the deficit hawks framing of the problem is to accept, for the indefinite future, the idea that every progressive Government spending initiative must be evaluated from the viewpoint of whether we can afford it or not, or whether it de-stabilizes the debt-to-GDP ratio, regardless of the benefit it will deliver to Americans. ..."
"... Government fiscal policy and the ideas of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility need to be viewed from the broad viewpoint of the employment of Government spending to fulfill Americas public purposes, and not from the narrow one of how Government fiscal activity will impact deficits, debts, and debt-to-GDP ratios. The reason for this is that for a nation like the United States with a fiat non-convertible currency, a floating exchange rate, and no debt denominated in any foreign currency, there is no risk of insolvency, however high the deficit, debt, or debt-to-GDP ratio may have grown in the past. Whatever the levels of these statistics are, the constitutional authority of the Government to spend on public purposes remains unimpaired and undiminished. ..."
"... A concrete example of the Progressive Give-Up Formula in action was the 2009-2010 health care policy debacle, where progressives focused with laser-like precision on the CBO scoring for ObamaCare, proudly proclaiming that their bill would be revenue neutral (that is, cheerfully adopting George H.W. Bushs talking point of no new taxes ). This prevented any consideration of how health care policy would impact the country as a whole. ..."
"... It may well be that the Democratic Party retains a deep, tribal collective trauma from Reagans defeat of Mondale, back when the neo-liberal dispensation was tightening its death grip on the American body politic. ..."
"... …The Reagan neoliberal program of small government, tax cuts, deregulation, free trade, and monetarist financial policies was more than just consolidated. In signing the Welfare Reform Bill of 1996 and the subsequent 1997 budget compromise, Clinton broke the back of the New Deal. ..."
"... …Clintonism made its peace with neoliberalism. When congressional wrangling blocked tax increases, the weight of deficit reduction had to fall on cuts to program spending. ..."
"... …The central policy disputes in Washington occur totally on the terrain of neoliberalism: the pace and degree of budgetary and tax cutting and debt reduction. ..."
"... Thats the rhetoric. That is not the actual policy implementation, though. The Reagan-Obama era of the past three plus decades has made government much bigger and trade much more restricted. And rather than balancing budgets via spending cuts, tax cuts were paid for by printing USD. Thats right, neoliberals are not deficit hawks. Theyre MMTers. ..."
"... On and on, small government is the anti-thesis of what contemporary neoliberals advocate. ..."
"... It isnt Healthcare inflation or the private sector spending too much money on health care that is the problem. The problem is the public / government not getting what it pays for. The problem is the obscene profits of the pharmaceutical and private medical insurance industries, the compensation of their top executive personnel. ..."
"... I agree, there is a problem when one uses the word health care system to describe how health care is delivered in the US. The proper term is Medical Extortion Racket. ..."
"... Obamacare is simply an extension of the racket. Rather than providing health care for people who were formerly unable to afford any care, It was designed as a way for the insurance companies to extract money from victims that they were formerly unable to reach. ..."
"... And for all this we get a health care system that the World Health Organization ranks far below any other wealthy industrialized country and behind many third world countries. In fact Cuba, where incomes are measured in pennies, ranks the same as the home of free enterprise and Exceptionalism. ..."
"... I dont include include the progressives who label themselves that way, but who are clearly within the Clinton wing of the Party, rather than the Warren/Sanders wing. I view the Clinton wing progressives such as John Podesta, Neera Tanden, Andy Stern, Larry Summers etc, as entirely faux progressives, ..."
"... Sanders did point out in the debate that characterizing single-payer as nothing but a tax increase was unfair– because it ignored the huge savings from not paying through the nose to the for-profit insurance/medical industry. ..."
"... I dont think the primary problem with the Sanders candidacy is that he himself is playing small-ball and doesnt offer anything better than Mondale redux for U.S. voters. The real problem is that 1) those that directly benefit from the status quo, and 2) those who have monetized discontent with the status quo on the left, by setting up phony progressive institutions funded by wealthy people with guilty consciences, want him to fail. ..."
"... I like your point about people who want Sanders to fail. They arent just the ones with a financial stake in the status quo. There are also people with an emotional stake in the status quo, whose self image depends on their ability to feel as though they are standing up to those in power. If Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination or the general election, it would disrupt their whole raison dêtre. ..."
"... The status quo is comforting to much of the declining middle class. The status quo has too many benefits for the so-called progressives in the upper-middle class to vote for real change. So the fear of change permeates much of the electorate, and the upper percentiles dont want change. So Sanders must fail. ..."
"... I also think that we are in a period of cultural stagnation (Matthew Barney, Jeff Koons, still around, as symptoms). So the economics of wanting Sanders to fail are firmly tied to a culture that is mired in a kind of failure. ..."
"... In the long game, the bully pulpit would win out. If Sanders were elected on progressive promises, and then a Democratic controlled legislature blocked its passage, he has vastly more public exposure as President and the opportunity to throw them under the bus en masse. It seems unlikely that Sanders himself has the will for that kind of realpolitik though. ..."
"... Bernie was not compelling and that was not due to lack of opportunity. Lambert zoomed in on the exact exchange where (I think) the most damage was done – where Sanders invoked FDR. I thought, here it comes , but no; a fizzle. ..."
"... Personally, I find this technique manipulating and odious, probably because I find Hillary odious, but it may be appealing to others; a sort of adult in the room stance. ..."
"... I always find it depressing to watch otherwise intelligent people argue about positions that candidates use in their election campaigns and discuss the political parties in Amerika as if they actually stood for some principle rather than just being organizations for the accumulation of positions of higher servitude. ..."
"... Come on People! There is only one political party in the USA- the Property Party. The Repugnant and Demothug teams hold circuses for your entertainment and to provide a break from football. What they say has absolutely no relationship to what they will do while in office. * As is only right, because the people who cast their votes dont own the politicians - that investment was made by your Overlords long before the election circus began. ..."
"... Perhaps the Establishment *already* fears the Left, and the hatred is a sign of this? Either way, I agree: Sanders needs to corner Clinton, hard and repeatedly for the remainder of the race. ..."
"... Did not the Supreme Court rule that The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a tax so to ensure it was in compliance with the Constitution of the United States? Does this mean that President Hillary Clinton will deny any premium increases during her administration to comport with her no new taxes pledge? To rephrase a current bumper sticker: Im ready for the Democratic Party collapse! . ..."
"... One thing I do know for about 99% certain is that Bernie is no neocon or neo-liberal and Ill continue to work for and contribute to his campaign. He does need to get tougher on HRC since theres sooo many things he can knock her down a peg or 5 on. Continuing to play nice-nice with this shark isnt going to get him the nomination. ..."
"... Observation…I think Sanders concentration is on courting independent or lapsed Democratic/liberal voters and not the voters who make up Clintons base. Clintons appeal is to conservatives – her base will never vote for Sanders. ..."
"... I agree that Bernie isnt hitting debate points very well, and its making Clinton look stronger. For crying out loud, hes the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. He knows very well where the money comes from and how it gets allocated. ..."
"... The Democrats have long mastered the give-up formula (negotiating against ones self before negotiating begins) and have been trying to drag progressives down with them. ..."
naked capitalism
Maybe George H. W. Bush saying "Read my lips: No new taxes?" (Never mind that the OECD has recently found that "The paper also finds no evidence that redistributive policies, such as taxes and social benefits, harm economic growth, provided these policies are well designed, targeted and implemented," and that "the United States, the cumulative growth rate would have been six to nine percentage points higher had income disparities not widened.") It's no wonder that some commentators have called out Clinton for using Republican talking points , not just in debate but on the trail generally[2]:

Instead of laying low and playing it cool, Clinton is running as though the race were very close, tax-baiting Sanders with Republican talking points… It's a mystifying and risky way to run a campaign.

Not all that mystifying. The Democratic establishment hates the left. Which is fine; the trick is for the left to get the establishment to fear them. That has yet to be done.

Let's run the tape. On policy, the Clinton campaign has been consistently tax-baiting Sanders over his support for single-payer healthcare and other moderate social-democratic programs. This not only plays into Republican narratives that taxes are always a simple decrease in income (rather than payment for valuable and desperately needed programs), but also boxes Clinton herself in on taxes. A promise of no tax increases means she cannot support Kirsten Gillibrand's paid leave proposal .

Clinton's stance also basically rules out badly needed increases in Social Security. At an Iowa townhall this month, Clinton spoke about the solvency of Social Security, and while she initially disavowed benefit cuts, she eventually ended up endorsing the possibility of raising the retirement age. Speaking about how it's harder for some workers to keep working to age 70, she said : "If we could figure out how to do it, I would be open to hearing about it, I've just never heard anybody tell me how we could do it."

In other words, Clinton is setting us up for a Grand Bargain fight again. Do we really want to go through that? But returning to the debate transcript, here is Sanders' riposte to Clinton's Republicans-style "tax baiting":

SANDERS Now, when Secretary Clinton says, 'I'm not going raise taxes on the middle class,' let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing [how, exactly?] with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn't provide paid family and medical leave.

What the legislation is is $1.61 a week. Now, you can say that's a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months paid family and medical leave for the working families of this country. I think, Secretary Clinton, $1.61 a week is a pretty good invest [sic].

Tactically, this is weak; picking a fight on "family leave" lets Clinton drag the argument onto her ground, as she responds: "I have been fighting for paid family leave for a very long time."[3] And strategically, it's weak, for two reasons. First, Sanders assumes ("it will provide") that Federal taxes pay for Federal spending; they don't . Second, Sanders' muddled invocation of FDR assumes ("pretty good invest") the same "Can we afford it?" frame that Clinton uses. Unfortunately, this is the "Progressive Give-Up formula, " described by Joe Firestone as follows:

[A]ccepting the deficit hawk's framing of the problem is to accept, for the indefinite future, the idea that every progressive Government spending initiative must be evaluated from the viewpoint of whether "we can afford it" or not, or whether it de-stabilizes the debt-to-GDP ratio, regardless of the benefit it will deliver to Americans.

Government fiscal policy and the ideas of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility need to be viewed from the broad viewpoint of the employment of Government spending to fulfill America's public purposes, and not from the narrow one of how Government fiscal activity will impact deficits, debts, and debt-to-GDP ratios. The reason for this is that for a nation like the United States with a fiat non-convertible currency, a floating exchange rate, and no debt denominated in any foreign currency, there is no risk of insolvency, however high the deficit, debt, or debt-to-GDP ratio may have grown in the past. Whatever the levels of these statistics are, the constitutional authority of the Government to spend on public purposes remains unimpaired and undiminished.

A concrete example of the "Progressive Give-Up" Formula in action was the 2009-2010 health care policy debacle, where progressives focused with laser-like precision on the CBO scoring for ObamaCare, proudly proclaiming that their bill would be "revenue neutral" (that is, cheerfully adopting George H.W. Bush's talking point of "no new taxes"). This prevented any consideration of how health care policy would impact the country as a whole. So, even though single payer would have saved the country at least $400 billion a year (not to mention many lives), those savings didn't show up in the Federal budget, and so single payer could not be shown to be revenue neutral. And so the "Progressive Give-Up Formula" produced a demonstrably worse - in fact, demonstrably lethal - policy outcome. As will any initiative undertaken by a President Sanders, if the Formula continues to be a part of Washington conventional wisdom.

It may well be that the Democratic Party retains a deep, tribal collective trauma from Reagan's defeat of Mondale, back when the neo-liberal dispensation was tightening its death grip on the American body politic.

Selected Skeptical Comments

washunate

It's interesting how Clinton is following Obama with the not so veiled appeals to Reagan. If Democrats do nominate her, it will hopefully mean actual leftists abandon the party for good.

But while I do have some concerns about Sanders, it doesn't bother me at all when he uses language amounting to 'can we afford it'. Firestone has gone way too far on his semantic crusade on that front. It doesn't mean, can the US print dollars in a deficit hawk sense? Of course the US can print dollars. It means, is it worth it? The MMT/SFB irony on healthcare in the US context is that a properly constructed single payer system will reduce GDP, not increase it. Healthcare inflation is the problem, not deflation. The private sector spends too much money on healthcare, not too little.

And more generally, the 'is it worth it' question is one we ought to be asking about a whole range of tax and spending policies.

likbez
Neocon is always a neoliberal. So for her like for Obama Reagan is a role model. As simple as that.

http://monthlyreview.org/2001/04/01/neoliberalism-from-reagan-to-clinton/

=== quote ===

The policy agenda is totally dominated by the consensus of the political and economic elites that there is no alternative to neoliberal policies supporting globalization under U.S. military domination. The neoliberal hegemony over public policy warrants careful scrutiny, for it is central to American capitalism, and to the dilemmas confronting the left inside the United States and beyond.

…The Reagan neoliberal program of small government, tax cuts, deregulation, free trade, and monetarist financial policies was more than just consolidated. In signing the Welfare Reform Bill of 1996 and the subsequent 1997 budget compromise, Clinton broke the back of the New Deal.

…Reagan propounded that "the most important cause of our economic problems has been the government itself." The cure prescribed combined tax cuts to increase market incentives and cuts in overall government spending (with the crucial exemption of the military). The Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1981 began a long series of program cuts, and expanded means testing of entitlements, while introducing across-the-board tax cuts that favored the redistribution of income to the rich. The key measure, whose legacy continues to this day in a process of competitive taxation pressures between jurisdictions, was the Recovery Tax Act of 1981. It cut personal income tax brackets, particularly in the highest brackets, and accelerated capital depreciation, substantively "shifting the burden away from capital income." Meeropol details other measures of the neoliberal counter-revolution of Reagan's first term: tax bracket indexation, deregulation of monopolistic industries, reversal of equal employment initiatives, reduction of welfare benefits, and cuts to food stamps and other welfare supports.

…Clintonism made its peace with neoliberalism. When congressional wrangling blocked tax increases, the weight of deficit reduction had to fall on cuts to program spending.

…The central policy disputes in Washington occur totally on the terrain of neoliberalism: the pace and degree of budgetary and tax cutting and debt reduction.

washunate, December 29, 2015 at 10:27 am

small government, tax cuts, deregulation, free trade

That's the rhetoric. That is not the actual policy implementation, though. The Reagan-Obama era of the past three plus decades has made government much bigger and trade much more restricted. And rather than balancing budgets via spending cuts, tax cuts were "paid for" by printing USD. That's right, neoliberals are not deficit hawks. They're MMTers.

It is hard to believe I know, but we used to be able to get a job without an I-9 form and E-verify online database. And greet an arriving family member at the gate at the airport. And the creepily named Department of Homeland Security didn't always exist (it does allow us to ponder fascinating questions like wondering whether Democratic politicians are more jealous of the Nazi Fatherland or the East German Ministry of State Security). Heck, at the height of the Cold War in the mid 1980s, the US defense budget was 'only' $300 billion. Oh, and IP law used to be for the purpose of encouraging the production of creative and inventive works rather than limiting them. And somehow we accidentally developed the largest prison system on the planet. Oops.

On and on, "small government" is the anti-thesis of what contemporary neoliberals advocate.

Left in Wisconsin, December 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

But that is part of the whole bait-and-switch. Keep fighting for something that, despite control of the govt apparatus for decades, is never quite attainable...

Steven, December 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

You make it so easy to comment! I could just say "Thumbs up!" but I do have a problem with

Healthcare inflation is the problem, not deflation. The private sector spends too much money on healthcare, not too little.

It isn't "Healthcare inflation" or the private sector spending "too much money on health care" that is the problem. The problem is the public / government not getting what it pays for. The problem is the obscene profits of the pharmaceutical and private medical insurance industries, the compensation of their top executive personnel. Health care costs what it costs. The nation's last real Democrat, FDR, would have called it a 'basic human right' if he was participating in the debate – a right transcending that of financial parasites to pile up more money by evading paying their fair share of the cost of maintaining the society from which they derived their wealth.

washunate, December 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Absolutely, I wouldn't disagree we are not getting what we pay for. But there's an additional element, too, where we pay so much that it exceeds the actual cost of universal care. We spend far more per capita than Germany, France, the U.K., or Canada. I have no quibble with using a different word to describe that phenomenon than inflation, but whatever word employed, it's important to note that healthcare does not cost what it costs. That is a unique creation of our system.

Crazy Horse, December 28, 2015 at 9:09 pm

I agree, there is a problem when one uses the word "health care system" to describe how health care is delivered in the US. The proper term is "Medical Extortion Racket."

Obamacare is simply an extension of the racket. Rather than providing health care for people who were formerly unable to afford any care, It was designed as a way for the insurance companies to extract money from victims that they were formerly unable to reach. So now low income Obamacare subscribers are reportedly spending 10% of their disposable income to support the bureaucracy that administers it and receive high deductible insurance that will still bankrupt them if any serious illness occurs.

And for all this we get a health care system that the World Health Organization ranks far below any other wealthy industrialized country and behind many third world countries. In fact Cuba, where incomes are measured in pennies, ranks the same as the home of free enterprise and Exceptionalism.

Joe Firestone, December 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

My book about the progressive give-up formula doesn't focus much on Bernie. It's mainly about progressives all over Washington who call themselves Democrats. Bernie is probably the least likely to give-up without at least an honorable fight. Also, I don't include include the "progressives" who label themselves that way, but who are clearly within the Clinton wing of the Party, rather than the Warren/Sanders wing. I view the Clinton wing "progressives" such as John Podesta, Neera Tanden, Andy Stern, Larry Summers etc, as entirely "faux" progressives, and I am writing about them in the second volume of my book series on the Peterson Network and Inequality.

kimsarah, December 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

You mean Democrats all over Washington who call themselves progressives. Those Democrats are not progressive. They tarnish the word.

efschumacher, December 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm

And I can't understand why any small to mid size employer wouldn't be demanding S.P. rather than dealing with the costs and complexities of ACA.

I think the success of the US Chamber of Commerce is in acting as an umbrella organization for all businesses, while promoting multinationals' causes and neutering small business. I can only assume that small/medium businesses (mis-)leadership is so foozled by the KoolAid they can't see the shaft the US C of C is perpetually delivering to them.

A real Occupy/TeaParty revolution would set up a Small/Medium Business Chamber of Main Street Commerce for local business aligned with the people. Anything that can be locally sourced can be locally controlled. Single payer Health Care, local employment guarantees, and secure pensions are cost externalizers that will very much ease the costs and risks of new business start-up.

kimsarah, December 29, 2015 at 3:49 am

The Chamber is a scummy lobbying mouthpiece for the Kochs.

Ulysses, December 28, 2015 at 11:15 am

Sanders did point out in the debate that characterizing single-payer as nothing but a tax increase was unfair– because it ignored the huge savings from not paying through the nose to the for-profit insurance/medical industry.

"I can tell you that adding up the fact you're not paying any private insurance, businesses are not paying any private insurance. The average middle-class family will be saving thousands of dollars a year."

(Bernie Sanders, I-VT)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/19/3rd-democratic-debate-transcript-annotated-who-said-what-and-what-it-meant/

I don't think the primary problem with the Sanders candidacy is that he himself is playing small-ball and doesn't offer anything better than Mondale redux for U.S. voters. The real problem is that 1) those that directly benefit from the status quo, and 2) those who have monetized discontent with the status quo on the left, by setting up phony "progressive" institutions funded by wealthy people with guilty consciences, want him to fail.

Vatch, December 28, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I like your point about people who want Sanders to fail. They aren't just the ones with a financial stake in the status quo. There are also people with an emotional stake in the status quo, whose self image depends on their ability to feel as though they are standing up to those in power. If Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination or the general election, it would disrupt their whole raison d'être.

I'm not saying that any of the commenters here at NC are in this category, but I strongly suspect that this is true of some of the leftist bloggers who habitually criticize Sanders.

DJG, December 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Ulysses and Vatch: I agree with your point: The status quo is comforting to much of the declining middle class. The status quo has too many benefits for the so-called "progressives" in the upper-middle class to vote for real change. So the fear of change permeates much of the electorate, and the upper percentiles don't want change. So Sanders must fail.

I also think that we are in a period of cultural stagnation (Matthew Barney, Jeff Koons, still around, as symptoms). So the economics of wanting Sanders to fail are firmly tied to a culture that is mired in a kind of failure.

tegnost, December 28, 2015 at 11:18 am

ACA is a massive tax increase on your 25k-50k slice of the population, and the Cadillac tax is gone with the wind, Those I know in the 200k bracket are literally rolling in dough. They've refinanced to 15 year mortgages and benefit mightily from cheap gas for the suv. That's where I thought up my argument (uber very popular among them) of ubering around patents…for some reason they become speechless….

allan, December 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

Scanning the issue pages of DCCC approved candidates in House races and DSCC backed candidates for the Senate shows how far down the ticket the "budgetary responsibility" rhetoric has permeated. Who do they think is going to vote for GOP-lite? Are the Dems counting on Third Way's GOTV operation? 2016 is going to be a disaster for the Dems, regardless of what happens in the presidential race.

sleepy, December 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

I doubt if the demrepub hierarchy much cares. It's always a win-win for them, no matter who loses or wins.

cwaltz, December 28, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Sanders is a bit of a pragmatist. He knows if he wins he'd need to work with the D party. I suspect that's why he's playing nice instead of pursuing a scorched earth policy.

Brooklin Bridge, December 28, 2015 at 5:49 pm

The standard pattern is to go into the primaries playing to one's base and then tone things down a little for the general. Perhaps Bernie is thinking about having to work with the Dems if he looses as well as if he wins, but at a certain point of playing nice, people start to wonder what's the point? It's difficult to ask the public to be sophisticated enough about inside politics to realize he isn't simply showing what a gentleman he can be. The question legitimately arises, Is this what he would do, or have to do, if elected?, and he is not clearly making the case that it isn't.

Banana Breakfast, December 28, 2015 at 3:50 pm

In the long game, the bully pulpit would win out. If Sanders were elected on progressive promises, and then a Democratic controlled legislature blocked its passage, he has vastly more public exposure as President and the opportunity to throw them under the bus en masse. It seems unlikely that Sanders himself has the will for that kind of realpolitik though.

Joe Firestone, December 29, 2015 at 12:12 am

Who, in the Congress, has shown more "will" to work for progressive legislation over the past 20 years than Bernie Sanders? I'd place a bigger bet on Bernie for having the "will" than on any other legislator in Congress! There are others outside who have a stronger will undoubtedly; but Bernie is the best bet at this point, isn't he?

Brooklin Bridge, December 28, 2015 at 8:38 am

Oddly, this was the one debate I did watch so far and I think the analysis is spot on. Bernie was not compelling and that was not due to lack of opportunity. Lambert zoomed in on the exact exchange where (I think) the most damage was done – where Sanders invoked FDR. I thought, "here it comes", but no; a fizzle.

The other technique that Hillary used several times was to group all three of the speakers together on a topic as if thier differences were small, they were all in a common cause against the Republicans with the implicit assumption that Hillary was the one confident enough, magnanimous enough and with enough leadership to rise above the Frey of the debate and join everyone together. Clinton did this at least three or four times during the debate and Sanders had zero response for it; it just went zing over his head though it did look a couple of times as if he had heard the whisshing sound.

Personally, I find this technique manipulating and odious, probably because I find Hillary odious, but it may be appealing to others; a sort of "adult in the room" stance.

kimsarah, December 29, 2015 at 4:01 am

She's tactically acting like the presumptive winner in waiting. Trump is using that tactic too. I think it's a bit risky.


Crazy Horse, December 28, 2015 at 9:53 pm

I always find it depressing to watch otherwise intelligent people argue about "positions" that candidates use in their election campaigns and discuss the political parties in Amerika as if they actually stood for some principle rather than just being organizations for the accumulation of positions of higher servitude.

Come on People! There is only one political party in the USA- the Property Party. The Repugnant and Demothug teams hold circuses for your entertainment and to provide a break from football. What they say has absolutely no relationship to what they will do while in office. * As is only right, because the people who cast their votes don't own the politicians - that investment was made by your Overlords long before the election circus began.

* People who label Obama a weak and indecisive president are the greatest fools of all. Rather he has been a master politician, managing to overcome the Hildabeast and get elected to the office of the President twice while failing to act on a single campaign promise, meanwhile delivering the biggest transfer of wealth in history for his Bankster masters.

Joe Firestone, December 29, 2015 at 12:16 am

I agree on all points. Bernie should have been waiting for that Clinton attack and been ready to lower the boom. Instead he seemed tentative and ill-confident about his ability to explain in a sound bite why the "regular" citizen would make money on his deal as well as safeguard her/his future.

SRW, December 28, 2015 at 9:18 am

One of the most frustrating thing for me is hearing how under a single payer would raise taxes.

Not so New York State were over 30% of the budget is spent on some form health care. That's not counting what municipalities pay in health care. Now I'm pretty sure that all the states in the union have similar budget percentage that is being spent on health care.

A single payer health care system would reduce the tax burden that citizens of the various states and counties pay.

Now under my way of thinking under a single payer system we would eliminate the Medicaid part of FICA saving working tax payers and employers money.
Having a single payer system could very much be a wash or even save the tax payer money.

neo-realist, December 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Sanders needs to make this kind of an intellectual argument in the debates insofar as how it would save working taxpayers money or consist of a minimal increase when he is confronted w/ Hillary's framing that it puts a greater tax burden on the middle class.

inode_buddha, December 28, 2015 at 9:21 am

Perhaps the Establishment *already* fears the Left, and the hatred is a sign of this? Either way, I agree: Sanders needs to corner Clinton, hard and repeatedly for the remainder of the race.


david lamy, December 28, 2015 at 10:51 am

Did not the Supreme Court rule that The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a tax so to ensure it was in compliance with the Constitution of the United States?
Does this mean that President Hillary Clinton will deny any premium increases during her administration to comport with her "no new taxes" pledge?
To rephrase a current bumper sticker: "I'm ready for the Democratic Party collapse!".

TedWa, December 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

One thing I do know for about 99% certain is that Bernie is no neocon or neo-liberal and I'll continue to work for and contribute to his campaign. He does need to get tougher on HRC since there's sooo many things he can knock her down a peg or 5 on. Continuing to play nice-nice with this shark isn't going to get him the nomination.

sd, December 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Observation…I think Sanders concentration is on courting independent or lapsed Democratic/liberal voters and not the voters who make up Clintons base. Clinton's appeal is to conservatives – her base will never vote for Sanders.


3.14e-9, December 28, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Thank you for this thought-provoking article, Lambert. I agree that Bernie isn't hitting debate points very well, and it's making Clinton look stronger. For crying out loud, he's the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. He knows very well where the money comes from and how it gets allocated.

A few days ago I dug up his opening speech for the mark-up session of the 2016 budget. He talked about the importance of clarifying national priorities before deciding how the money should be spent. That seems like kind of a "duh" statement, but I'd wager that the general public doesn't think of it in those terms.

I also just found a long interview he did a few months back with Iowa Press. He was much better in that format. One of the interviewers pretty much accused him of inciting class warfare, and he had a great answer. (The interview is 25 minutes long; class warfare starts around 15:00).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNU2t1Q4bkQ

I wish he would use some of this material in his debates with Clinton.

kimsarah, December 29, 2015 at 4:08 am

Thank you for this column. The Democrats have long mastered the give-up formula (negotiating against one's self before negotiating begins) and have been trying to drag progressives down with them.

jfleni, December 29, 2015 at 10:43 am

Hillary and Debbie are already in the "lawyer-gobble" mode: SS will be converted to a charity at best; the grand bargain will be essential because the "producers" (the dimwit Dems buddies) don't want it at all, they just want it all! If Hillary wins, kiss SS, jobs, and progress goodbye.

likbez,

Clinton democrats are actually "Third Way" neoliberals and as such a faction of Republican Party for all practical purposes.

The key attribute of this faction is the systematic use of deception ( see Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception ) . Their main task is no so much to win the election as to neutralize and possibly coopt any significant left movement. So the disconnect between their election rhetorics and actual behaviour when in office can't be wider. Hillary can promise anything she thinks will help her to win and then betray all those promises without minor doubt.

Classic example is Obama, the man without past who managed to win selling the color of his skin and posh but meaningless slogans like "change we can believe in"; and then betray his electorate on any significant matter during his office. There is such huge disconnect between campaign rhetoric and actual governance that it's naïve to believe any Hillary statement other then the statement about her gender. She is just another Obama in skirt. A warmongering neocon under the mask of a Democrat.

In reality any politician who voted for Iraq war should be disqualified from seeking any elected office.

That does not mean that Bernie has any chance against her despite all the background support he receives. He is a one man show, a man without a party at the time when party functionaries often exert the decisive power or at least can influence the selection of the candidate from the Party, no matter what is the will of the people. They clearly do not want Bernie and would prefer almost any Republican to him.

The key problem for them now is the same that faces Republican party establishment with Trump: most people who are ready to vote for Bernie will never vote for Hillary. They probably will not vote at all. And Bernie personal position will not change that. So much depends on how they plan to resolve this problem.

My guess that they will try to to play tha fact that people themselves are still pretty confused about what they actually want and do not understand what is the real source of thier impoverishment or too preoccupied with just struggle to survive. Add to this the constant brainwashing of MSM and it is clear that a considerable part of middle class wants and will vote for the continuation of the status quo. In no way there is something like mass "Restore the New Deal" movement in the USA now. Only "Restore the power of financial oligarchy" party.

jfleni, December 29, 2015 at 10:43 am

Hillary and Debbie are already in the "lawyer-gobble" mode: SS will be converted to a charity at best; the grand bargain will be essential because the "producers" (the dimwit Dems buddies) don't want it at all, they just want it all! If Hillary wins, kiss SS, jobs, and progress goodbye.

[Dec 02, 2015] When it comes to Wall Street buying our democracy you just need to follow the money

Notable quotes:
"... I hate things like this. No honesty whatsoever. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RGC, December 02, 2015 at 05:55 AM

Bernie's latest pitch:

When it comes to Wall Street buying our democracy, you just need to follow the money. Let's compare donations from people who work at Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton, has received $495,503.60 from people who work on Wall Street Bernie Sanders, has received only $17,107.72. Hillary Clinton may have Wall Street, But Bernie has YOU! Bernie has received more than 1.5 million contributions from folks like you, at an average of $30 each.

pgl -> RGC, December 02, 2015 at 05:58 AM
$17,107.72? Jamie Dimon spends more than that on his morning cup of coffee. Go Bernie!
EMichael -> RGC, December 02, 2015 at 06:03 AM
To be fair, don't you think we should count donations for this election cycle for Clinton?

Y'know, she was the Senator from New York.

pgl -> EMichael,
Some people think anyone from New York is in bed with Wall Street. Trust me on this one - not everyone here in Brooklyn is in Jamie Dimon's hip pocket. Of course those alleged liberals JohnH uses as his sources (e.g. William Cohan) are in Jamie Dimon's hip pocket.
EMichael -> pgl,
I hate things like this. No honesty whatsoever.

This cycle.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/contrib.php?cycle=2016&id=N00000019

RGC -> EMichael,
How is there no honesty whatsoever?

The total for Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Bank of America is $326,000.
That leaves Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to contribute $169,000.

EMichael -> RGC,
I stand corrected, somewhat.

Let me know how much comes from those organizations PACs.

reason said,
The false promise of meritocracy was most disappointing. It basically said that meritocracy is hard to do, but never evaluates whether it is the right thing to do. Hint - it isn't enough. We need to worry about (relative) equality of outcome not just (relative) equality of opportunity. An equal chance to starve is still an equal chance.
ilsm -> reason,
Making economies games is how you continued rigged distribution apparatus.

Question all "rules"!

von Neumann should have been censored.

[Nov 29, 2015] ANDREW NAPOLITANO What to be thankful for

Notable quotes:
"... What if the government's goal is to perpetuate itself? What if the real levers of governmental power are pulled by agents, diplomats and bureaucrats behind the scenes? ..."
"... What if the frequent public displays of adversity between the Republicans and the Democrats are just a facade and a charade? ..."
"... What if the congressional leadership and most of the membership from both major political parties believe in perpetual war and perpetual debt? ..."
"... What if the political class in America believes that war is the health of the state? ..."
"... What if the government demands transparency from all of us but declines to be transparent to us? ..."
"... Story Continues ..."
Nov 29, 2015 | Washington Times

What if the government's goal is to perpetuate itself? What if the real levers of governmental power are pulled by agents, diplomats and bureaucrats behind the scenes? What if they stay in power no matter who is elected president or which political party controls Congress?

What if the frequent public displays of adversity between the Republicans and the Democrats are just a facade and a charade? What if both major political parties agree on the transcendental issues of our day?

What if the leadership of both major political parties believes that our rights are not natural to our humanity but instead gifts from the government? What if those leaders believe that the government that gives gifts to the people can take those gifts back?

What if the leadership of both parties gives only lip service to Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence that all people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [and] among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" and that the purpose of government is to protect these rights? What if the leadership of both parties dismisses these ideas as just Jefferson's outdated musings? What if Jefferson's arguments have been enacted into the federal laws that all in government have sworn to uphold?

... ... ...

What if the congressional leadership and most of the membership from both major political parties believe in perpetual war and perpetual debt? What if the history of American government in the past 100 years is proof of this nearly universal belief among the political class?

What if the political class in America believes that war is the health of the state? What if the leadership of that class wants war so as to induce the loyalty of the voters, open the pocketbooks of the taxpayers and cause compliance among the people? What if the political class uses war to enrich its benefactors? What if the government has been paying for war by increasing its debt?

What if the political class has been paying for prosperity by increasing the government's debt? What if that class has controlled the cash-creating computers at the Federal Reserve, and the free cash the Fed creates is to bankers and traders what heroin is to addicts? What if the $18.6 trillion current federal government debt has largely been caused by borrowing to pay for war and false prosperity? What if 20 cents of every tax dollar collected by the feds today is spent on interest payments for the government's debt?

... ... ...

What if the government demands transparency from all of us but declines to be transparent to us? What if the government fosters the make-believe notion that it exists to serve us? What if the government denies that it works for us and thinks we work for it? What if it has access to all of our communications, bank accounts, health and legal records, and monthly utility and credit card bills? What if the government knows more about us than we know about it?

What if the government stays in power by bribery? What if it bribes the states with grants of cash, the rich with bailouts, the middle class with tax cuts and the poor with welfare? What if the courts have approved this bribery?

What if, on Thanksgiving Day, our gratitude is not to the government that assails our freedoms but to God, who gave us our freedoms? What if, on Thanksgiving Day, our gratitude is for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? What if we possess them despite the government?

Story Continues →

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:22

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

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:11

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

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

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

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

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

James H McDougall 25 Nov 2015 23:09

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

AtelierEclatPekin -> murati 25 Nov 2015 23:06

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

Shankman -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 23:02

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

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

Lyigushka -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 23:02

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

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

iusedtopost 25 Nov 2015 23:01

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

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

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

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

ianhassall -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 22:56

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

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

NikLot -> LordMurphy 25 Nov 2015 22:44

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

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

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

ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 22:38

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

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

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


luella zarf -> ArundelXVI 25 Nov 2015 22:28

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

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

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

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

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

idkak -> John Smith 25 Nov 2015 22:17

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

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

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

André De Koning 25 Nov 2015 22:11

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

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

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

EightEyedSpy -> Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 21:59

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

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

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

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

btt1943 25 Nov 2015 21:59

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


Jimmi Cbreeze -> Normin 25 Nov 2015 21:49

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


Jimmi Cbreeze EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 21:17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bosula trandq 25 Nov 2015 21:07

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

Now you have learned something.


Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 21:04

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

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

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


ozhellene -> trandq 25 Nov 2015 20:57

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


luella zarf -> ArundelXVI 25 Nov 2015 20:54

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

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

ozhellene 25 Nov 2015 20:35

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

WalterCronkiteBot 25 Nov 2015 20:32

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

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

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


ianhassall -> ianhassall 25 Nov 2015 20:13

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

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

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

You reap what you sow.

nnedjo 25 Nov 2015 19:49

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

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

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

Eugenios 25 Nov 2015 19:58

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

ianhassall -> EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 19:47

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

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

illbthr22 -> EightEyedSpy 25 Nov 2015 19:21

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

Andrew Nichols -> Jeremn 25 Nov 2015 19:14

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

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

Cecile_Trib -> Spiffey 25 Nov 2015 19:12

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

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

spitthedog -> centerline 25 Nov 2015 18:43

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

luella zarf -> TheOutsider79 25 Nov 2015 18:38

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

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

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

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

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

SallyWa -> HHeLiBe 25 Nov 2015 18:46

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


SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:45

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

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

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

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


midnightschild10 25 Nov 2015 18:33

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

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

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

HHeLiBe 25 Nov 2015 18:32

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

Branko Dodig 25 Nov 2015 18:26

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

SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:24

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

SallyWa -> FelixFeline 25 Nov 2015 18:23

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

centerline 25 Nov 2015 18:12

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

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

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

luella zarf -> TonyBlunt 25 Nov 2015 18:10

What a joke.

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

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


pfox33 25 Nov 2015 17:49

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

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

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

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


Geraldine Baxter -> SallyWa 25 Nov 2015 17:47

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

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


Liesandstats -> luella zarf 25 Nov 2015 17:47

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

jonsid 25 Nov 2015 17:33

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

Anette Mor 25 Nov 2015 17:29

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

aretheymyfeet -> psygone 25 Nov 2015 17:22

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

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

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


thatshowitgoes 25 Nov 2015 16:56

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

SallyWa -> psygone 25 Nov 2015 16:56

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

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

Bob Nassh -> keepithuman 25 Nov 2015 16:54

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


MRModeratedModerate 25 Nov 2015 16:50

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

luella zarf Jeremn 25 Nov 2015 16:45

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

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

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

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

Yury Kobyzev -> Valois1588 25 Nov 2015 16:41

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

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

Chummy15 25 Nov 2015 16:30

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

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

www.theguardian.com

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Nov 23, 2015] This Is The Most Dangerous Time Ever Ex-CIA Boss Says US To Blame For Scourge Without Parallel ISIS

Notable quotes:
"... Devine argued that dismantling ISISs command structure is crucial for minimizing the danger it presents, much like al Qaeda before them. We killed three-fourths of their leadership, he said of al Qaeda. We have to do the same thing with ISIS. We have to destroy their refuge over there. When they start to lose, their recruiting numbers start to fall. ..."
"... My guess is that Iran have done a deal with Putin in that once ISIS is swept away Iran gets to build a gas pipeline through Iraq (which it controls) and through Syria into Europe. Russia is allowing Iran into the European gas market because Bandar threatened Sochi, and Putin wants to end the House of Saud in retaliation. Two weeks from now the world is going to make laws that pushes countries towards natural gas and away from coal and oil. ..."
"... I would say thats accurate, since the U.S. put ISIS there to block the Iran - Iraq - Syria pipeline. When Russia destroys ISIS, the previously planned pipeline can proceed. It has nothing to do with Russian permission - Putin expects someone to eventually be sending gas up from the Middle East once the slaughter stops. He doesnt care who it is or how much. Its not going to displace more than a fraction of the Russian supply to Europe. Syria rejected the Qatari pipeline for its own reasons - probably because Qatar was planning on killing Assad and replacing him with a Western stooge well before the Qatari-Turkey pipeline was announced. In fact, the announcement was pretty much an insult to Syria. Qatar quite arrogantly announced that they WOULD be building the pipeline through Syria without bothering to ask them. ..."
"... Putin negotiates with everyone. He was even talking with Israel about helping them with the Leviathan pipeline. The U.S. seems to favor regime change as the preferred strategy to expand its oil interests where it has no business doing so. ..."
"... The CIA serves no master, it is the fucking master. It does deals that are anti American, and they dont care, because America is just a sugar daddy to them. We are the chumps who pay their bills, while they put half of all honest Americans on their enemies list. ..."
"... CIA is international, not American. They are the hit men for the biggest corporations on earth, and most especially the biggest energy firms. Oil and CIA go together, and there is the Saudi connection. ..."
"... CIA is the lead agent if world Islamic extremism, they dont fight it, they nurture it! Their long term goal is to use mass Islamic terror armies to do what the CIA and Corporate masters want done. Need a police state in America? Do a hit on America 9/11. Need to eliminate Russia? Create ISIS and direct them against Russias allies. And you can take it from there. It will continue on as before. Nobody left has the power to take down the CIA terror rings. ..."
"... No shit, sherlock, and it's because of you and the most vile mass murderer of all time, the CIA (and DIA, and NSA, and FBI, etc.), but predominantly the CIA and the Pentagon, that ISIS and such exists today! Whether it was Allen Dulles coordinating the escape of endless number of mass murderering Nazis, who would end up in CIA-overthrown countries, aiding and abetting their secret police (Example: Walter Rauff, who was responsible for at least 200,000 deaths, ending up as an advisor to Augusto Pinochet's secret police or DINA) or the grandson of the first chairman of the Bank for International Settlements, Richard Helms and his MKULTRA, you devils are to blame. ..."
"... The Devil's Chessboard ..."
Nov 23, 2015 | Zero Hedge

"I have never felt more uncomfortable than I do today," warns former CIA Director Jack Devine, saying that, with "frankly uncivilized" ISIS, there is a greater risk of violence worldwide than ever before.

According to The Hill,

"I think this is the most dangerous time in terms of sustained violence," he said on "The Cats Roundtable" in an interview airing Sunday on New York's AM-970.

"I have never felt more uncomfortable than I do today," he told host John Catsimatidis. "Some percentage of the world today is always either unbalanced or radicalized. When you have a small group of people who are willing to lose their lives and kill anyone they can, we're all vulnerable."

Devine cited the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as an unprecedented threat in terms of its wanton disregard for human life...

"I dealt with terrorists in South America in the 1970s, but they never attacked innocent women and children indiscriminately," he said.

"You have a group in ISIS today that is frankly uncivilized. These folks could get stronger and stronger. We basically have to destroy ISIS over there," Devine said.

Devine argued that dismantling ISIS's command structure is crucial for minimizing the danger it presents, much like al Qaeda before them. "We killed three-fourths of their leadership," he said of al Qaeda. "We have to do the same thing with ISIS. "We have to destroy their refuge over there. When they start to lose, their recruiting numbers start to fall."

Devine, who mainly served during the Cold War, said ISIS is a scourge without parallel because it has no concern for self-preservation.

"There is nothing that can be compared with nuclear weapons and their use," he said of tensions between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

"[But] people felt safe in the sense there was countervailing balance," he added. "Early in our contest with the Russians, it was clear we had checks and balances."

Finally Devine admits...

"If there's blame to be put, it's on our failure to have done that by this point."

Selected Skeptical Comments

i_call_you_my_base

"I dealt with terrorists in South America in the 1970s..."

"And by dealt I mean trained and funded."

Looney

John Kerry to the MSM:

Do not use "Al Qaeda" or "Al Nustra" - just call them "Allies" (pronounced Al Lies). ;-)

Looney

Vatican_cameo

"I have never felt more uncomfortable than I do today," he told host John Catsimatidis. "Some percentage of the world today is always either unbalanced or radicalized. When you have a small group of people who are willing to lose their lives and kill anyone they can, we're all vulnerable."

By small group he means CIA, Right? I thought he would have been a little clearer.

Occident Mortal

My guess is that Iran have done a deal with Putin in that once ISIS is swept away Iran gets to build a gas pipeline through Iraq (which it controls) and through Syria into Europe. Russia is allowing Iran into the European gas market because Bandar threatened Sochi, and Putin wants to end the House of Saud in retaliation. Two weeks from now the world is going to make laws that pushes countries towards natural gas and away from coal and oil.

Paveway IV

"...once ISIS is swept away Iran gets to build a gas pipeline through Iraq (which it controls) and through Syria into Europe..."

I would say that's accurate, since the U.S. put ISIS there to block the Iran - Iraq - Syria pipeline. When Russia destroys ISIS, the previously planned pipeline can proceed. It has nothing to do with Russian 'permission' - Putin expects someone to eventually be sending gas up from the Middle East once the slaughter stops. He doesn't care who it is or how much. It's not going to displace more than a fraction of the Russian supply to Europe. Syria rejected the Qatari pipeline for its own reasons - probably because Qatar was planning on killing Assad and replacing him with a Western stooge well before the Qatari-Turkey pipeline was announced. In fact, the announcement was pretty much an insult to Syria. Qatar quite arrogantly announced that they WOULD be building the pipeline through Syria without bothering to ask them.

The U.S. blocked the first Iran pipeline (called the Persian Pipeline) FROM IRAN to Iraq in 2010 by forcing the Swiss company that partnered with Iran to back out due to Israeli - ooops, 'Western' sanctions on Iran. The second Iran-sourced NG pipeline from Iran through Iraq and Syria - called the Friendship Pipeline - was agreed to in 2012 by the countries involved. That's when the U.S. launched it's failed coup attempt in Syria and let its ISIS mad-dogs loose in Iraq. Tyler usually refers to this by the derogatory label of "Islamic Pipeline" - a snide label that Kagan-PNAC and Western oil companies used. Tyler never refers to the Western-backed Qatari pipeline as the Jihadi Pipeline, nor does he refer to the Kirkuk-Haifa oil pipeline as the Jewish Pipeline. I'm not sure about the inconsistency - maybe he's trying to make some point.

Putin negotiates with everyone. He was even talking with Israel about helping them with the Leviathan pipeline. The U.S. seems to favor 'regime change' as the preferred strategy to expand its oil interests where it has no business doing so.

goldhedge

The CIA guy doesn't mention the House of Saud.

Pfft.

Jack Burton

Good catch! And there never do.

CIA and House of Saud have done a long term deal to look out for each other in this world. The CIA serves no master, it is the fucking master. It does deals that are anti American, and they don't care, because America is just a sugar daddy to them. We are the chumps who pay their bills, while they put half of all honest Americans on their enemies list.

CIA is international, not American. They are the hit men for the biggest corporations on earth, and most especially the biggest energy firms. Oil and CIA go together, and there is the Saudi connection.

CIA is the lead agent if world Islamic extremism, they don't fight it, they nurture it! Their long term goal is to use mass Islamic terror armies to do what the CIA and Corporate masters want done. Need a police state in America? Do a hit on America 9/11. Need to eliminate Russia? Create ISIS and direct them against Russia's allies. And you can take it from there. It will continue on as before. Nobody left has the power to take down the CIA terror rings.

scrappy

Somewhere it's 3:00 AM

Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Claims Saudi Arabia is the Largest Donor to "Salafism Terrorists" Worldwide

http://refreshingnews99.blogspot.in/2015/11/wikileaks-hillary-clinton-cl...

Clinton Foundation's Colombian 'Private Equity Fund' Deletes Website

http://investmentwatchblog.com/clinton-foundations-colombian-private-equ...

sgt_doom

"I dealt with terrorists in South America in the 1970s, but they never attacked innocent women and children indiscriminately," he said.

No shit, sherlock, and it's because of you and the most vile mass murderer of all time, the CIA (and DIA, and NSA, and FBI, etc.), but predominantly the CIA and the Pentagon, that ISIS and such exists today!

Whether it was Allen Dulles coordinating the escape of endless number of mass murderering Nazis, who would end up in CIA-overthrown countries, aiding and abetting their secret police (Example: Walter Rauff, who was responsible for at least 200,000 deaths, ending up as an advisor to Augusto Pinochet's secret police or DINA) or the grandson of the first chairman of the Bank for International Settlements, Richard Helms and his MKULTRA, you devils are to blame.

Recommended reading (to better understand why the USA is known as the Great Satan):

The Devil's Chessboard, by David Talbot

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=the+devil%27s+chessboard&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=78875381302&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2565125617248777980&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_34lcz93rcf_e_p4

logicalman
Funny how these fucks can come out and say this kind of shit and get away with it. The fucker's basically pleading guilty to murder, FFS.
Ms No
They didn't kill anybody in South America my ass.... The school of Americas, Operation Condor, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Guatamala, El Salvador .... who the hell are they kidding? The CIA has always been covered and nobody ever cared.
Perimetr
"If there's blame to be put. . ."

It's on the CIA for running its global terrorist operations, funded by the $1 trillion dollars a year coming from its Afghanistan heroin operation.

Noplebian

US Gives Their Proxy Army ISIS 45 Minute Warning Before Air Strikes......

http://beforeitsnews.com/conspiracy-theories/2015/11/us-gives-their-prox...

blindman

sirs and madams,
.
"Christmas celebration this year is going to be a charade because the whole world is at war. We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war.

It's all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war. A war can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war, piecemeal though that war may be-a little here, a little there-there is no justification.

What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now? What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers."

Francis I
.
http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2015/11/here-is-british-banned-...

Dinero D. Profit

Ladies and gentlemen of ZH.

In history, what must be, will be.

The discovery of America by Europe had to happen. The savages had to be eliminated and The Revolutionary War had to happen. Slavery had to begin, and after it, segregation had to begin, but, what must be, will be, slavery and segregation had to end. Old School colonization of poor nations had to happen. The Boer War had to happen. The Spanish American War had to happen. The Main had to be sunk. WWI had to happen. Calvary charges had to end. Totalitarian Communism had to happen. Germany's 20's depression had to happen, reactionary jingoism had to happen, and Kristallnacht and the Reichstag fire had to happen. The Allies had to win WWII, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to be publicity stunts, and the Cold War had to begin. JFK had to be wacked, the Vietnam War had to happen, the FED still was happening. Civil Rights laws had to be passed. Recognition of China had to happen, going off the gold standard had to happen, and Nixon had to be kicked out of office. Corporate Globalization had to begin. After Carter an actor had to be President. Unions had to be stifled. Perestroika and glasnost had to happen. The Berlin Wall had to come down. The MIC had to find another enemy, and suddenly 9/11 had to happen. …

Over population has to happen, poisoning the environment has to happen, and the NWO has to happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, the NWO is here, and there is nothing you can do, and nothing you could have done to stop it.

Edit. I see none of our supposed enemies 'truth bombing' 9/11, 7/7, and the 13th Paris attacks. I see no trade embagoes, I see no arguments in the Security Council over the illegality of US/Nato bombing in Syria.

blindman

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/jimmy-carter-is-correct-t_b_79...
Jimmy Carter Is Correct That the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy
Posted: 08/03/2015 11:48 am EDT
.
On July 28, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an afterthought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:

It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell." ...
.
it is the money "system", man.

blindman

corporations and hoodwink powers ride on the indifference of the damned, the silence of the dead and doomed.

Dinero D. Profit

The Satus Quo can rely upon the loyalty of their employees, Congress, the military, the military industrial contractors, their workers and family members, the crime control establishment, all Uniersity professors and employees, and every employee of all publically traded companies, and every person employed by the MSM.

The dead and doomed are irrelevant. If you have an establishment job, you'll obey and ask no vital questions.

Dick Buttkiss
Sunnis and Shiites hate each other far more than they hate Christians, Jews, or anyone else. If it weren't for oil, the USG wouldn't give a flyiing fuck if they anihilated each other. Instead, it conspires with them in ways far beyond its ability to comprehend, much less navigate. Thus is the US ship of state heading for the shoals of its destruction, the only question being how much of the country and the outside world it takes down with it.
ross81
thats bullshit Western propaganda that Shiites hate Sunnis and vice versa. In the same way that the Brits stirred up Protestant hatred of Catholics in Ulster for centuries, the US/Israel/Saudi does the same with Sunnis vs Shiites on a much bigger scale in the Middle East. Divide and Conquer.
geno-econ
This is getting scary in that one or two more attacks will result in travel freezes, flow of Middle East oil and result in huge increase in military as well as Homeland security costs. A depression or economic collapse a real possibility Perhaps time for a Peace Conference of all interested parties. The US started this shit and should be the first to call for a Peace Conference. Macho talk will only make things worse.
moonmac
We can print trillions out of thin air at the drop of a hat but we can't kill a small group of terrorists. Got it!
sgt_doom
Or, we pour billions of dollars every year into the CIA, NSA, and DIA, and only a poor old fart such as myself can figure out that Bilal Erdogan is the ISIS connection to oil trading (Turkish president, Erdogan's son) and Erdogan's daughter is with ISIS?
GRDguy
Ex-CIA boss gets it wrong, again.

"When you have a small group of people who are willing to lose their lives and kill anyone they can, we're all vulnerable."

should be:

"When you have a small group of financial sociopaths willing to lie-to, steal-from and kill anyone they can, we're all vulnerable."

and you'll probably be punished, jailed or shot for tryin' to protect yourself and your family.

Ban KKiller
War profiteer. That is it. Along wth James Comey, James Clapper, Jack Welch and the list is almost endless...
BarnacleBill
"When you have a small group of people who are willing to lose their lives and kill anyone they can, we're all vulnerable."

Simply take out the word "their", and the description perfectly fits the CIA, MI6 and their like. For them, it's all a business deal, nothing more - a massive slum-clearance project. Destroy people's houses, provide accommodation and food, ship them somewhere else; do it again and again until the money-printing machine conks out. It's money for old rope.

http://barlowscayman.blogspot.com/2015/11/slum-clearance-on-massive-scale.html

And, yes, we're all vulnerable. The man got that right.

Duc888
"You get the politicians you deserve."

CIA types are appointed, not elected.

Duc888
I do not know if there are any Catherine Austin Fitts fans on this web site but this is definitely worth the time. The FEDGOV came after her non stop for 6 years when she worked for HUD under Bush Sr. If nothing else this lady is tenacious. In this presentation she uncorks exactly HOW the deep black budgets are paid for...and it ain't your tax dollars. What she uncovered while at HUD was simply amazing..... and she made an excellent point. At the top... it's NOT "fraud" because that's how it was all deigned right from the get go after wwII. It brings to mind the funny computer saying....."it's a feature, not a bug".

She digs right into how the CIA was funded... Truly amazing stuff. ...of course the dick head brigade will come along here and deride her because of the conference she is speaking at.... well, who the fuck cares, her presentation is excellent and filled with facts.

Yes it is 1 hour 20 minutes long but imho it is well worth the watch...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0mimIp8mr8

Dragon HAwk
After reading all these posts my only question is why does the CIA allow Zero Hedge to Exist ?

except of course to collect names...

[Nov 22, 2015] The Political Aftermath of Financial Crises Going to Extremes

Notable quotes:
"... The typical political reaction to financial crises is as follows: votes for far-right parties increase strongly, government majorities shrink, the fractionalisation of parliaments rises and the overall number of parties represented in parliament jumps. ..."
"... In the light of modern history, political radicalization, declining government majorities and increasing street protests appear to be the hallmark of financial crises. As a consequence, regulators and central bankers carry a big responsibility for political stability when overseeing financial markets. Preventing financial crises also means reducing the probability of a political disaster. ..."
Nov 22, 2015 | Economist's View

mrrunangun:

Given that honesty in politics and government is relative, I wonder if relatively honest politics and relatively honest regulation of financial systems prevents financial crises.

pgl

Hillary Clinton hedges on a key issue:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/hillary-clinton-break-up-big-banks

She says she would break up the mega banks ... if needed. It is needed - so no hedging on this issue.

JohnH -> pgl...

Once again pgl shows how gullible he is...believing what Hillary says not what she has done.

What has she done? Well, Wall Street made her a millionaire.
http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/13/investing/hillary-clinton-wall-street/

Second, she announced her run for Senator from New York (Wall Street) immediately after bill did Wall Street the mother of all favors...ending Glass-Steagall. In his naivete, pgl certainly believes that there was no quid pro quo!!!

Third, lots of people doubt whether she can be trusted to rein in Wall Street.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/us/politics/wall-st-ties-linger-as-image-issue-for-hillary-clinton.html?_r=0

Of course, pgl believes lots of silly things...like his claim that Obama never proposed and signed off on austerity in 2011...or that he has proposed cutting Social Security...or that trickle down monetary policy hasn't overwhelmingly benefited the 1%.

I wonder when somebody will finally get to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge [better act now, pgl, get a really cheap loan while you still can!!!]

JohnH -> JohnH...

pgl thinks that Obama NEVER proposed cutting Social Security's! What a rube!

anne:

http://www.voxeu.org/article/political-aftermath-financial-crises-going-extremes

November 21, 2015

The political aftermath of financial crises: Going to extremes
By Manuel Funke, Moritz Schularick, and Christoph Trebesch

Implications

The typical political reaction to financial crises is as follows: votes for far-right parties increase strongly, government majorities shrink, the fractionalisation of parliaments rises and the overall number of parties represented in parliament jumps. These developments likely hinder crisis resolution and contribute to political gridlock. The resulting policy uncertainty may contribute to the much-debated slow economic recoveries from financial crises.

In the light of modern history, political radicalization, declining government majorities and increasing street protests appear to be the hallmark of financial crises. As a consequence, regulators and central bankers carry a big responsibility for political stability when overseeing financial markets. Preventing financial crises also means reducing the probability of a political disaster.

anne -> anne...

What strikes me, is that the political response to the short-lived international financial crisis but longer lived recession was quite restrained in developed countries. Leadership changes struck me as moderate, even moderate in beset Greece as the political stance of Syriza which looked to be confrontational with regard to the other eurozone countries quickly became accepting.

European developed country governments have been and are remarkably stable. Japan has been stable. There is political division in the United States, but I do not attribute that to the financial crisis or recession but rather to social divisions.

The essay is just not convincing.

likbez said...

"What strikes me, is that the political response to the short-lived international financial crisis but longer lived recession was quite restrained in developed countries"

If you mean that the goal of the state is providing unconditional welfare for financial oligarchy (which actually is true for neoliberalism), then I would agree.

But if you use any common sense definition of "restrained" this is a joke. Instead of sending criminals to jail they were awarded with oversized bonuses.

I think the authors are way too late to the show. There is no much left of the New Deal anyway, so radicalization of the US society was a fait accompli long before crisis of 2008.

If you look at the Republican Party and, especially, Republican candidates, now it is not the question of radicalization, but the question of sanity that arises. They are so completely detached from reality that Marxists look like "hard core" realists in comparison with them.

The whole party looks like an extreme and bizarre cult that intends to take over the country: another analogy with Marxists. Like Marx quipped: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Democrats are not that different either. With Sanders representing probably the only candidates which can be classified as "center-left" in European terms. For all practical reasons Hillary is a center-right, if not far-right (and as for foreign policy agenda she is definitely far right) candidate.

So the key question is about sanity of the US society under neoliberalism, not some form of "radicalization".

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

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

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

By Beverly Mann. Originally published at Angry Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Nov 19, 2015] Bernie Sanders defines democratic socialism

In Europe Sanders would center left, very moderate figure...
Notable quotes:
"... This has led to some debate over what, exactly, a democratic socialist actually is, and whether one can accurately or usefully call the man any kind of socialist at all, given that his views actually line up quite well with those of many fairly mainstream members of the American left. ..."
"... In short, Sanders believes in a basic market economy with a large welfare state and a healthy amount of regulation. He would like a $15 minimum wage. He would like free tuition at public colleges. He would like the wealthy and corporations to pay more taxes. He would like single-payer health care. ..."
"... "When I use the word socialist, and I know some people are uncomfortable with it, I say it is imperative that we create a political revolution, that we get millions of people involved in the political process, and we create a government that works for the many, not the few," he said during a question-and-answer session. It's a lot easier to talk about revolution and distinguish yourself in the eyes of voters when you're willing to rhetorically signify a hard break with the rules and mores of mainstream American politicking. And, given the way so many Democrats have responded, it's turned out to be surprisingly good branding. Strictly apt or not, calling himself a socialist might have been one of Sanders's smartest moves. ..."
www.slate.com

Calling Himself a Socialist Was One of Bernie Sanders' Smartest Moves

Bernie Sanders famously likes to refer to himself a "democratic socialist." Not content to label his views as merely liberal or progressive, the presidential candidate reaches all the way for the s-word, which has been basically verboten in post-World War II American national politics. This has led to some debate over what, exactly, a "democratic socialist" actually is, and whether one can accurately or usefully call the man any kind of socialist at all, given that his views actually line up quite well with those of many fairly mainstream members of the American left. The discussion has even sucked in the prime minister of Denmark, which Sanders has held up as a possible model for the United States. (Denmark, the prime minister would like us to know, is "far from a socialist planned economy.")

So today, during at speech at Georgetown University, Sanders defined his terms. His talk didn't contain any huge surprises. "I don't believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production," he said, thus disavowing the strict Marxist definition of socialism with a dose of grandfatherly humor. "But I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad."

In short, Sanders believes in a basic market economy with a large welfare state and a healthy amount of regulation. He would like a $15 minimum wage. He would like free tuition at public colleges. He would like the wealthy and corporations to pay more taxes. He would like single-payer health care.

... ... ...

"When I use the word socialist, and I know some people are uncomfortable with it, I say it is imperative that we create a political revolution, that we get millions of people involved in the political process, and we create a government that works for the many, not the few," he said during a question-and-answer session. It's a lot easier to talk about "revolution" and distinguish yourself in the eyes of voters when you're willing to rhetorically signify a hard break with the rules and mores of mainstream American politicking. And, given the way so many Democrats have responded, it's turned out to be surprisingly good branding. Strictly apt or not, calling himself a socialist might have been one of Sanders's smartest moves.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

[Nov 17, 2015] Links for 11-17-15

Notable quotes:
"... Faux and fiends are practicing extreme ODS, rolling out unnamed militarists claim that insufficient collateral damage caused the Paris assault and more trillions redoing Vietnam will assuage our fear of terrists. ..."
"... Fearmongering [for more trillion to dust up the sand boxes] is the egg or is ODS the egg? Obama Derangement Syndrome [ODS]. ..."
"... All politics is local and when Faux and Fiends can get the neocon, Christian, KKK members in the dank, impoverished, hollers of East Tn to see themselves as Francophiles... Who knows they may begin asking for french fries instead of freedom fries........ ..."
"... Bubbles is the new inflation, the product of government overreach when it comes to macro policy. Fiscal policy is sugar and monetary policy is opium. ..."
Nov 17, 2015 | Economist's View

anne said...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/serious-delusions/

November 16, 2015

Serious Delusions
By Paul Krugman

Greg Sargent * mocks pundits declaring that the attacks in Paris will finally convince Republican primary voters that they need to get serious, and deflate the Trump/Carson bubble. This time it will really happen!

Or not.

As Sargent says, these pundits have been wrong again and again - and with holidays coming up and then the start of actual voting, there isn't much time for bubble-deflation left. But there's more.

For one thing, who exactly are the serious candidates on national security? Jeb! who thinks that a relative handful of terrorists can destroy the West, one rock concert at a time? Rubio, who mumbled something about a clash of civilizations?

For another, pretty much the same people claiming that it's time to get serious are attacking Democrats for … not using the right catchphrases, out of petty concerns like trying not to insult a whole religion. Say it loud and proud: radicalIslamradicalIslamradicalIslam. See? Terrorism defeated.

Finally, remember how we got serious after 9/11?

[Mission Accomplished]

Given what we've seen in the past, this might even favor Trump, who can yell "You're fired!" at the terrorists, or Carson, who might be able to defeat them with the help of Klingon Jesus. **

(A reminder of how knowledgable Bush and Rubio are about foreign policy - remember Chang, the mystic warrior? *** )

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/11/16/morning-plum-donald-trump-and-ben-carson-are-refusing-to-go-away/

** https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/1572b65d16bde48d8cc552c8c9741f0fd5921616/0_476_4928_2804/master/4928.jpg?w=1920&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=14e92a0b293e8610920dfa4d438ad761

*** http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/10/unleash-chiang-kai-shek-neither-bush-nor-rubio-should-be-running-for-president-really-hoisted-from-the-archives-from-ten-y.html

anne said...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/the-farce-is-strong-in-this-one/

November 17, 2015

The Farce Is Strong In This One
By Paul Krugman

And that one, and that one, and, well, across the board.

It took no time at all for the right-wing response to the Paris attacks to turn into a vile caricature that has me feeling nostalgic for the restraint and statesmanship of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

Marco Rubio * says that we have to denounce radical Islam - as opposed to jihadists - because of Hitler; after all, making Islam the rhetorical equivalent of Nazism is just the right thing to win support from the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.

Niall Ferguson ** says that a terrorist attack on a couple of sites in a huge modern metropolis by a small number of gunmen is just likethe sack of Rome by the Goths.

Hugh Hewitt *** thinks that taking an Obama remark totally out of context will convince anyone except the right-wing base that the man who hunted down Osama bin Laden has been an anti-American terrorist sympathizer all along.

I've deliberately selected people who are sometimes portrayed as moderate, smart, or both. This is what the reasonable wing of the modern right looks like.

pgl said in reply to anne...

Fox and Friends was on a crusade this morning suggesting we are not letting Syrian Christians into this nation. Let's see - they count 2128 Syrian refugees let in so far but only 43 of them are Christians. Let's for a moment assume they did not lie about these numbers. Only 2% of the refugees are Christians? Shocking how that socialist Muslim President treats Christians isn't it?

But wait - what percentage of Syrians are Christian in the 1st place. Fox and Friends never said. One source says 10% and they are not likely living in the regions where ISIS is attacking right now.

Fox and Friends - "fair and balanced" dishonesty designed to scare the crap out of poor Christians!

ilsm said in reply to pgl...

Chicken nation voice box on Faux and Fiends.......

Faux and fiends are practicing extreme ODS, rolling out unnamed militarists' claim that insufficient collateral damage caused the Paris assault and more trillions redoing Vietnam will assuage our fear of terrists.

Fearmongering [for more trillion to dust up the sand boxes] is the egg or is ODS the egg? Obama Derangement Syndrome [ODS].

EMichael said in reply to ilsm...

No, it is just politics.

"I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112346/quotes


Course, it is a lot easier if "who's to blame for it" is a black guy.

Or a woman....

Or an old Jewish guy........

Course, sometimes you can do it to a white gentile guy that actually fought for his country. But that is an awful lot harder...

ilsm said in reply to EMichael...

Yes.

All politics is local and when Faux and Fiends can get the neocon, Christian, KKK members in the dank, impoverished, hollers of East Tn to see themselves as Francophiles... Who knows they may begin asking for french fries instead of freedom fries........

Bud Meyers said...

VOX reports: "Following a mass layoff, applications for disability insurance increase as well, particularly for workers over 55 years old. This finding is driven by a larger response to mass layoffs during the Great Recession. Our results show that this effect can explain five percent of the change in the labor force following a mass layoff."

First of all, "applications" for disability insurance shouldn't be confused with actual "awards" - and applications ALWAYS increase during recessions - but even so, both application and awards have been in decline.

Second, the LFPR (labor force participation rate) is higher for those 55-and-older than for prime-age people (25-to-54), because older workers are working longer and a great many younger people can't find employment after high school and college.

VOX mentions early retirements, but doesn't note that most are forced (taken at age 62 because most of those laid off during the recession were never rehired.)

Also, those with less education tend to work in labor intensive jobs, so after 30 years or longer, it's only natural that older workers (if they are laid off) would apply for disability - because employers tend to discriminate against hiring older workers, especially if they are unemployed (I know from personal experience).

It should also be noted, that those with a border-line disability, may have continued to work if they were not laid off and never re-employed again. But long-term unemployment can exacerbate someone's physical condition, and leave them no other choice but apply for SSDI benefits.

But even then, after someone applies, they are usually denied. Only about one third of all claims are eventually approved, and most, after going through a long appeal process - and sometimes can take up to 3 years or longer. (I know from personal experience).

All in all, I'm tired of hearing that those on disability and retirees are the main culprits for the declining LFPR -- it's simply not true. It's for a lack of jobs (Or pink squirrels).

Disability data from SSA...

https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/icp.html
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibStat.html
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibGraphs.html

LFPR 25-to-54 and LFPR 55-and-older
https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=l6Q
https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LNS11324230

Paine said in reply to EMichael...

We've lived in an era of asset markets out performing product markets since the early 80's

Macro nautics run principally thru Credit policy combined with a high target rate of optimal unemployment
..with one semi exception ...

Blew lots of bubbles while keeping median wage rates subdued

Are u suggesting we have we arrived at a new macro policy paradigm

and what is it

EMichael said in reply to Paine ...

I don't know a banker that wants customers that make low incomes.

Just because asset markets have out performed product markets does not mean it happened because of stagnating wages.

You've got two correlations and are trying to make it a strategy.

Better to look and see why product markets have under performed.

Peter K. said in reply to EMichael...

Bubbles is the new inflation, the product of government overreach when it comes to macro policy. Fiscal policy is sugar and monetary policy is opium.

But after years of crying wolf about inflation they've shamelessly switched to crying about bubbles.

They want to prevent bubbles? Fine, increase regulations on leverage etc and institute financial transaction taxes, lot taxes, etc.

There are ways to fight bubbles - most obviously calling them out with data as Dean Baker discusses and Alan Greenspan failed to do - which don't involve throwing the economy into recession.

Paine said in reply to Peter K....

I agree asset bubble watch is the new mania of affluent arm chair chicken littles

Paine said in reply to Paine ...

The meager results of QE have some how generated this new phobia

"The fed is about blowing asset price bubbles. And such bubbles are bad bad bad "

The usual poppycock moved into a new can

Peter K. said...

Sacco and Vanzetti on central bank accountability.

What accountability? Larry Summers:

"U.S. output is now about 10 percent below a trend estimated through 2007. If one attributes even half of this figure to the effects of recession and assumes no catch up on this component until 2030, the cost of the financial crisis in the U.S. is about one year's gross domestic product. And matters are worse in the rest of the industrial world."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/03/larry-summers-advanced-economies-are-so-sick-we-need-a-new-way-to-think-about-them/

[Nov 15, 2015] Machiavelli claim that in politics no one knows who you are but how you appear

Notable quotes:
"... More obviously, its about the discerning few (as the editors of one edition of The Prince say in a footnote) versus the gullible many. ..."
crookedtimber.org
from the OP:

This shift from the visually immediate to the distant and the abstract-one can see it in Machiavelli's claim that in politics, no one knows who you are but how you appear; in Hobbes's notion of the Leviathan-would be a recurring theme in Wolin's analysis

Interesting. That Machiavelli line ("everyone sees how you appear, few touch what you are") could be read that way. More obviously, it's about "the discerning few" (as the editors of one edition of The Prince say in a footnote) versus the gullible many.

Anyway, v. nice post.

[Nov 15, 2015] Rivals at Democratic Debate Attack Hillary Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... "Let me have one area of disagreement with the secretary... I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq - something that I strongly opposed - has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS." ..."
"... Mr. O'Malley, meanwhile, painted a dark portrait of Middle East policy under the Obama administration, in which Mrs. Clinton spent four years as secretary of state. "Libya is a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess," ..."
"... "Why over her political career has Wall Street been the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? Now maybe they're dumb and they don't know what they're going to get, but I don't think so." ..."
"... "We need to be much more far-thinking in this new 21st-century era of nation-state failures and conflict," he said. "It's not just about getting rid of a single dictator." ..."
"... "Secretary Clinton, you've been on three sides of this," he said. "When you ran in 2000, you said that we needed federal robust regulations. Then, in 2008, you were portraying yourself as Annie Oakley and saying that we don't need those regulations on the federal level. And now you come back around here." ..."
The New York Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had set out to use the second Democratic presidential debate to portray herself as the strongest potential commander in chief while France reeled from terror attacks, instead found herself pummeled by rivals on Saturday over her ties to Wall Street and her foreign policy record.

... ... ...

...Mr. Sanders and Mr. O'Malley unleashed pointed, yet polite, critiques of Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy stances, including her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, which Mr. Sanders tied to the rise of the Islamic State, which officials in Paris have said was responsible for the attacks.

"Let me have one area of disagreement with the secretary... I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq - something that I strongly opposed - has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS."

Mr. O'Malley, meanwhile, painted a dark portrait of Middle East policy under the Obama administration, in which Mrs. Clinton spent four years as secretary of state. "Libya is a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess," he said.

... ... ...

"Let's not be naïve about it," an increasingly animated Mr. Sanders said. "Why over her political career has Wall Street been the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? Now maybe they're dumb and they don't know what they're going to get, but I don't think so."

... ... ...

Mr. O'Malley ... assailed Mrs. Clinton's push to intervene in Libya. "We need to be much more far-thinking in this new 21st-century era of nation-state failures and conflict," he said. "It's not just about getting rid of a single dictator."

... ... ...

Mr. O'Malley sought to portray Mrs. Clinton as a flip-flopper on gun control. "Secretary Clinton, you've been on three sides of this," he said. "When you ran in 2000, you said that we needed federal robust regulations. Then, in 2008, you were portraying yourself as Annie Oakley and saying that we don't need those regulations on the federal level. And now you come back around here."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nomi Prins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The question remains: Is it possible to do this?

Granted, the Mediterranean Sea is an insufficient barrier.

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

The question remains: Is it possible to do this?

Granted, the Mediterranean Sea is an insufficient barrier.

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

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

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

[Nov 15, 2015] 200PM Water Cooler 11-13-2015

naked capitalism
Carolinian

No head scratching is needed. HRC was always going to win the nomination barring some medical or legal disaster. The truth is that she and the Democratic Party are made for each other plus–need one point out?–Sanders isn't even a Democrat. The notion that he would prevail out of sheer reasonableness was always a fantasy.

Of course there is a vast body of disaffected people wanting change but they don't have a place at the table under the current system. If Sanders isn't going to attack Hillary, or the Democratic party, then how exactly is he going to succeed? They are the ones standing in the way.

Hate to be the doom and gloomer but that's how it's looking.

Carla

…vast body of people wanting change but they don't have a place at the table…

that's not a bug, it's a baked-in feature of the two-party system and American politics.

[Nov 15, 2015] Economists View Links for 11-14-15

Notable quotes:
"... How about the French Revolution? OK, not necessarily the pitchforks and guillotines, but a period of increase civil disobedience and crime like our own Great Depression. When a lot of pissed off people band together then they do not always make the best decisions, but they do make change. ..."
"... What we have with Bernie, and really with Trump and Ben Carson, is a hero for an angry electorate that really has not gotten to the point that it is really ready to get up off the couch yet. They still want someone else to fix it for them and they are not very good at talking among themselves and finding consensus yet. ..."
"... "most condemned what they called "crony capitalism," by which they mean big corporations getting sweetheart deals from the government because of lobbying and campaign contributions. ..."
"... Most of the people I met in America's heartland want big money out of politics, and think the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision was shameful. Most are also dead-set against the Trans Pacific Partnership. ..."
"... Question is, why wont pgl and his gaggle of group thinkers ever criticize Obama, Reid an Pelosi for constantly pandering to corporate interests and ignoring the will of the voters? ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said...
The Regime Change Problem in American Politics

"...In the case of macroeconomics, fortunately, we had models that allowed us to make reasonably good predictions about how the regime would shift at the ZLB. If there's anything comparable in political science, I don't know about it (but would be happy to be enlightened.)..."

[How about the French Revolution? OK, not necessarily the pitchforks and guillotines, but a period of increase civil disobedience and crime like our own Great Depression. When a lot of pissed off people band together then they do not always make the best decisions, but they do make change.]

A Boy Named Sue -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
Bernie Sanders? Have you heard of him?
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> A Boy Named Sue...
Sure. I am all in for Bernie, but not exactly convinced that he will get the nomination. Bernie has caused Hillary to shift to the left and maybe that was his main intention. Nonetheless, a POTUS has limited powers. The electorate has to move together enough to reshape Congress in a significant way.

What we have with Bernie, and really with Trump and Ben Carson, is a hero for an angry electorate that really has not gotten to the point that it is really ready to get up off the couch yet. They still want someone else to fix it for them and they are not very good at talking among themselves and finding consensus yet.

Julio -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
Actually Bernie has been very explicit about the POTUS limitations. When deciding whether to run, he made it clear, publicly, that it depended on whether he thought lots of people would get involved enough to make a difference.

He's repeated that theme since in many of his speeches -- unless lots of people get more involved, nothing will change regardless of who becomes president.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Julio...
Good enough for Bernie, but I wonder how he will do at the numbers game nation wide? When I mention Bernie to people around here they generally take it to be because I retired from the state. The two things are related via the former state pension system, but lazy bureaucrat is what most of them tie to it. Even my wife says Bernie is too liberal for her while she does not like Hillary and the GOP ain't so grand in her eyes anymore. Well that is people in general.

There are actual progressives in central VA, but well less than 5% of the electorate here is like the tree hugging old hippies that I call my friends, at least in the over thirty population that I have greatest contact with. I get a much different read from millennials, but just do not encounter many. The younger people seem far more progressive for the most part, except for the jocks.

JohnH -> A Boy Named Sue...
The good thing about Bernie is that he appeals to a lot of people left behind by Democrats' affair with corporate America.

See how Robert Reich interviewed Southerners to find out that their economic views are not all that different from Bernie's...
http://robertreich.org/post/132819483625

"Heartland Republicans and progressive Democrats remain wide apart on social and cultural issues.

But there's a growing overlap on economics. The populist upsurge is real."

http://robertreich.org/post/132819483625

Corporate Democrats never fail to capitalize on an opportunity staring them in the face. Hillary will posture about economic populism then fail to reach out to the opportunity among heartland Republicans.

pgl -> JohnH...
"most condemned what they called "crony capitalism," by which they mean big corporations getting sweetheart deals from the government because of lobbying and campaign contributions.

I met with group of small farmers in Missouri who were livid about growth of "factory farms" owned and run by big corporations, that abused land and cattle, damaged the environment, and ultimately harmed consumers. They claimed giant food processors were using their monopoly power to squeeze the farmers dry, and the government was doing squat about it because of Big Agriculture's money….Whenever I suggested that big Wall Street banks be busted up – "any bank that's too big to fail is too big, period" – I got loud applause. In Kansas City I met with Tea Partiers who were angry that hedge-fund managers had wangled their own special "carried interest" tax deal…

Most of the people I met in America's heartland want big money out of politics, and think the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision was shameful. Most are also dead-set against the Trans Pacific Partnership. In fact, they're opposed to trade agreements, including NAFTA, that they believe have made it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs abroad. A surprising number think the economic system is biased in favor of the rich."

... ... ...

JohnH -> pgl...
Wow! pgl can cut and paste what Reich said, which shows that ordinary Republicans agree with ordinary Democrats on a lot of economic issues.

Question is, why won't pgl and his gaggle of group thinkers ever criticize Obama, Reid an Pelosi for constantly pandering to corporate interests and ignoring the will of the voters?

Come on, pgl. You can criticize Obama, Reid and Pelosi. It's a free country. Yet odds are that you will NEVER see pgl directly criticize Democratic leaders...question is, why not, if he's the 'progressive liberal' he claims to be?

ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

To the [GOP thuggee] truth talkers, US version of Weimar commenced in 1864 and Murdoch is their Goebbels.

ken melvin -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

'But the point was that the world had entered a different regime, in which historical relationships could be and were misleading.

And surely it's not too much of a stretch to say that something equally or more fundamental has happened to US politics.'

There's another fundamental change that has happened over the past 45 years. One in dire need of addressing; which means we're in need of a newer, more enlightened crop of politicians ... And no, I don't mean Bernie.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ken melvin...

I don't think we can have a more enlightened crop of politicians until we have a more enlightened electorate, which begins with a less insular individualistic society. We need more solidarity, comrade. Today we got to many smart asses and the emphasis ain't on smart.

I hope this is in the development of the millennial psyche as knowledge and public consciousness unfolds. There is not way for me to know though. An online world could go either way, separate or together. Divided we fall.

[Nov 14, 2015] Is Bernie Sanderss once electrifying campaign showing signs of burn out?

Notable quotes:
"... Somewhere I heard (think CNN?) that most political polls are conducted using land lines only. If this is true they are extremely bias. How many young people use a landline? My wife and I are baby boomers and even we gave up our landlines years ago. ..."
"... Cable news, outside of Fox which is nearly irrelevant to a Sanders voter, has no where near the power it did in 2004. ..."
"... Think about just how long the elite in the U.S. will entertain someone who might actually attempt to change the economic, social, and political status quo. It just doesnt happen here. When was the last Quixotic presidential campaign: 1972? ..."
"... experts=inside the Washington DC beltway thinkers in many cases. Larry Summers is an expert Obama consulted, how did that work out? ..."
"... Its a little disconcerting to see the extent to which the Guardians coverage has effectively been sold to the highest bidder for the primaries. Im not suggesting that Bernies campaign wont struggle, more that the number two newspaper in the worlds coverage will have had a great deal to do with that. ..."
"... A fringe candidate? A fringe candidate is who was it in the Republicans who polled zero percent. Bernie Sanders is a serious candidate, whose candidacy has shocked Hillary Clinton who thought she was a walk-in. Shes had to revise her policies in view of Sanders success. ..."
"... Obviously Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate. But despite all odds, and despite the pooh-pooh media treatment, Bernie today has 33% of Democratic support nationally, and 44% in New Hampshire (RealClearPolitics #s.) Any of the GOP candidates would kill for those numbers (probably shouldnt have said it that way...) Donald Trump and Ben Carson added together have less support than Sanders in New Hampshire. Come on, Guardian, enough with the cheap shots. ..."
"... The Guardian no more wants to see a Sanders victory than it did Corbyns. Its no better than the Daily Mail and Telegraph, in fact it may be worse...a true Establishment publication...just a bit more fancily dressed, cunning and nuanced. Designed to patrol the left flank. ..."
"... Anything that might actually challenge existing privilege is sneered at, undermined, smeared, misreported, while the Guardian pretends to a conscience and integrity it plainly lacks. They blatantly briefed against Corbyn and Scottish independence. Why wouldnt they brief against Sanders? ..."
"... Dont believe the media. You need to talk to folks, do your own research and decide for yourselves. Dont let the media do it for you. ..."
"... Like a script, apparently the Guardian has decided that its time for Sanders campaign to lose steam, so thats what they are now reporting. Regardless if its factual. Were all just pawns... ..."
"... Clinton has moved (if only rhetorically, and even then with pages of caveats and qualifiers) to the left on student loans, KXL, TPP, even deploring the excesses of Wall St. (conveniently enough without any specifics), etc. Of course she doesn't believe a word of it, and tonight is Sanders' opportunity to highlight the differences between her half-step/half-measure 'triangulating' and his straight-forward advocacy. That is, if CBS doesn't focus entirely on Paris, which (supposedly) plays to one of Clinton's few strengths. ..."
"... Maybe Hillary can boast about backing the creation of ISIS in Iraq by voting to allow Bush to invade. ..."
Nov 14, 2015 | The Guardian

confusion8 eternalhippie 14 Nov 2015 14:56

And still Sanders is doing well in the polls considering no one thought he had a chance of getting more than 10 percent when he declared.

J.K. Stevens eternalhippie 14 Nov 2015 14:54

If half of what Senator Sanders is calling for, policy-wise, is put on the DNC Platform call it a win and go home satisfied.

Les Becker bobthebuilder2016 14 Nov 2015 14:49

Cruz is nothing but a radical jihad Christian. He would severely hurt this country.

eternalhippie 14 Nov 2015 14:48

Somewhere I heard (think CNN?) that most political polls are conducted using land lines only. If this is true they are extremely bias. How many young people use a landline? My wife and I are baby boomers and even we gave up our landlines years ago.

Bernie's secret weapon are the 95 million millennials who previously only voted in small numbers. Get our amazing younger generation to the polls and Bernie will win.

confusion8 -> Szaephod 14 Nov 2015 14:42

Hey Colin,

Really, in the fall of 2007 Kucinich looked like he was going to win New Hamphire and was polling at 33 percent nationally?

And I say this having voted Kucinich in my state's primary. Dean, CNN trashed him. He likely would have handily beat Bush.

Cable news, outside of Fox which is nearly irrelevant to a Sanders voter, has no where near the power it did in 2004.

HowieLisnoff 14 Nov 2015 14:38

Think about just how long the elite in the U.S. will entertain someone who might actually attempt to change the economic, social, and political status quo. It just doesn't happen here. When was the last Quixotic presidential campaign: 1972?

confusion8 -> sherlockh 14 Nov 2015 14:38

Right, winning in New Hampshire and going from zero to 33 percent nationally within 6 months is running a weak campaign to the Guardian ditto heads.

confusion8 -> Eric Broadbent 14 Nov 2015 14:37

experts=inside the Washington DC beltway thinkers in many cases. Larry Summers is an expert Obama consulted, how did that work out?

Featherstone1 14 Nov 2015 14:36

It's a little disconcerting to see the extent to which the Guardian's coverage has effectively been sold to the highest bidder for the primaries. I'm not suggesting that Bernie's campaign won't struggle, more that the number two newspaper in the world's coverage will have had a great deal to do with that.

OpineOpiner -> Celtiberico 14 Nov 2015 14:33

The media really needs to stop interviewing itself and start interviewing people. Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont, progressive socialist, whose policies harken to the New Deal and even to Lincoln, who pointed out that labour is infinitely the more valuable of the two (labour and capital, that is). There, and I don't even live in the States . . . . . which might explain why I know about Bernie Sanders . .

OpineOpiner nataliesutler 14 Nov 2015 14:30

A fringe candidate? A fringe candidate is who was it in the Republicans who polled zero percent. Bernie Sanders is a serious candidate, whose candidacy has shocked Hillary Clinton who thought she was a walk-in. She's had to revise her policies in view of Sanders' success.

sherlockh 14 Nov 2015 14:22

Obviously Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate. But despite all odds, and despite the pooh-pooh media treatment, Bernie today has 33% of Democratic support nationally, and 44% in New Hampshire (RealClearPolitics #'s.) Any of the GOP candidates would kill for those numbers (probably shouldn't have said it that way...) Donald Trump and Ben Carson added together have less support than Sanders in New Hampshire. Come on, Guardian, enough with the cheap shots.

Julian1972 14 Nov 2015 14:18

The Guardian no more wants to see a Sander's victory than it did Corbyn's. It's no better than the Daily Mail and Telegraph, in fact it may be worse...a true Establishment publication...just a bit more fancily dressed, cunning and nuanced. Designed to patrol the left flank.

caverock 14 Nov 2015 14:15

Anything that might actually challenge existing privilege is sneered at, undermined, smeared, misreported, while the Guardian pretends to a conscience and integrity it plainly lacks. They blatantly briefed against Corbyn and Scottish independence. Why wouldn't they brief against Sanders?

curiouswes -> pretzelattack 14 Nov 2015 14:10

it's only a non issue for the people who condone the level of mendacity and corruption that has, over time, transformed our constitutional republic into a corporate oligarchy. Maybe you haven't noticed that transformation and think if we can just get the right person in the Whitehouse, everything will start to get better

Mary Sweeney 14 Nov 2015 14:10

Don't believe the media. You need to talk to folks, do your own research and decide for yourselves. Don't let the media do it for you.

confusion8 -> julianbook 14 Nov 2015 14:08

Right, the New York Times has an article sell 33% in polls as not strong for Sanders. Oddly there's an editorial giving Clinton the stupid advice to propose programs. (Once she does that Sanders supporters will have even more to use against her.)

FooBar21 -> Colin Coe 14 Nov 2015 14:01

Admittedly he has little chance of being the candidate, but only because he's not in the pockets of those who buy and sell the candidates. His age has nothing to do with it. He's of the same generation as Clinton (less than a decade age difference). But unlike Clinton, he's not a bought commodity.

freeluna 14 Nov 2015 13:59

It would've helped if the press had actually been covering his rallies and his view on the issues rather than focusing all their attention on the presumed democratic candidate, Hillary. By putting so much attention on who's leading or trailing in the poles, the press is complicit in the gaming of the political system, by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that ignores the information people need and reducing the election down to two people who are 'popular' but of whom we know next to nothing.

What voters need, more than anything, is a very clear idea of who the candidates are, what exactly they stand for, and who is paying (or who they are beholden to) for their presidential bid. They don't need to know who's winning this week.

Sean Williams 14 Nov 2015 13:52

Like a script, apparently the Guardian has decided that it's time for Sanders' campaign to lose steam, so that's what they are now reporting. Regardless if it's factual. We're all just pawns...

marshwren -> Zendjan 14 Nov 2015 13:20

Obviously you haven't been paying attention: the RNC (aka 'establishment') lost control over the GOP nominating process the moment it began. The base is absolutely convinced they were sold out by the Party after the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, when they faithfully voted for the tea baggers and nihilists promising to destroy Obama and the DP; and failing to do so means anyone who served in any elected office--even Cruz and his 2 years as Senator, not to mention the GOP governors like Walker, Jindal, Christie who actually succeeded in implementing the ALEC agenda -- is a lying, back-stabbing, base-ignoring RINO; and only a non-politician (Carson, Trump) will placate them.


marshwren -> Daniel Collins 14 Nov 2015 13:15

No, you're wrong: Clinton has moved (if only rhetorically, and even then with pages of caveats and qualifiers) to the left on student loans, KXL, TPP, even deploring the "excesses" of Wall St. (conveniently enough without any specifics), etc. Of course she doesn't believe a word of it, and tonight is Sanders' opportunity to highlight the differences between her half-step/half-measure 'triangulating' and his straight-forward advocacy. That is, if CBS doesn't focus entirely on Paris, which (supposedly) plays to one of Clinton's few strengths.

Szaephod -> supportbernie 14 Nov 2015 13:14

I largely agree, but deferring questions would likely not be wise. With regard to terrorism, the simple answer is what Sen. Sanders believes, and that is dealing with such vile acts requires good, smart, old-fashioned police detective work. Remember, that the FBI and some local police knew about, and were - at some level - following around the 12 hijackers. Had a fraction of the resources that the United States spends on high-tech NSA surveillance, and space black-ops been devoted to FBI and local police detective work, the Trade Towers attack could have been prevented (and if airlines hadn't had such ridiculously lax security policies). Similarly for France: suggesting a bolstering of internal conventional police work (more police detectives on the ground to follow ever-more infiltrators) would be a positive suggestion, applied to ourselves, France and to all Interpol members.

confusion8 -> MonotonousLanguor 14 Nov 2015 13:14

Maybe Hillary can boast about backing the creation of ISIS in Iraq by voting to allow Bush to invade. Which representative, the only one from Vermont, when casting his nay vote said toppling Saddam Hussein would lead to a power vacuum in Iraq?

marshwren eileen1 14 Nov 2015 13:09

No, if he ran as an independent, he'd get about as much coverage as Jill Stein (GP candidate in '12 and mostly again in '16)--which is to say, absolutely none. He's gotten more M$M coverage in any given week than all GP presidential candidates since 1996 have combined. It was only by running as a Democrat that he forced the M$M to give him what little (and grudging) coverage they have.

[Nov 14, 2015] The Regime Change Problem in American Politics

Notable quotes:
"... Studying what actually happens in elections, as opposed to spinning tales based on a few up-close-and personal interviews, is definitely the way to go. ..."
"... Yet I don't think I'm being unfair in saying that so far this cycle the political scientists aren't doing too well. In particular, standard models of how the nomination process works seem to be having trouble with the durability of clowns. Things don't seem to be working the way they used to. ..."
"... And surely it's not too much of a stretch to say that something equally or more fundamental has happened to US politics. Partisan divisions run deeper; establishment figures are widely distrusted; the GOP base has gone mad; and so on. History is just less of a guide than it used to be. ..."
Nov 13, 2015 | The New York Times

This post isn't about what you think it's about. I'm not talking about a looming coup; I'm talking about the problems facing political science, which - it recently occurred to me - are a bit like the problems facing macroeconomics after 2008.

First things first: I'm a big admirer of political science, and a fairly heavy consumer of the more quantitative end. Larry Bartels, McCarty/Poole/Rosenthal, Alan Abramowitz, Andrew Gelman, and more have helped shape my understanding of what is going on in this country; I get more out of any one of their papers than out of a whole election cycle's worth of conventional horse-race punditry. Studying what actually happens in elections, as opposed to spinning tales based on a few up-close-and personal interviews, is definitely the way to go.

Yet I don't think I'm being unfair in saying that so far this cycle the political scientists aren't doing too well. In particular, standard models of how the nomination process works seem to be having trouble with the durability of clowns. Things don't seem to be working the way they used to.

And this makes me think of the way some economic analysis went astray after 2008. In particular, I'm reminded of the way many fairly reasonable analysts underestimated the adverse effects of austerity. They looked at historical episodes, and this led them to expect around a half point of GDP contraction for every point of fiscal tightening. What actually seems to have happened was around three times that much.

Now, as it happens we know why - and some people (e.g., me) predicted this in advance: the conditions under which past austerity took place were different from the recent episode, in which monetary policy was constrained by the zero lower bound and unable to offset fiscal contraction. But the point was that the world had entered a different regime, in which historical relationships could be and were misleading.

And surely it's not too much of a stretch to say that something equally or more fundamental has happened to US politics. Partisan divisions run deeper; establishment figures are widely distrusted; the GOP base has gone mad; and so on. History is just less of a guide than it used to be.

In the case of macroeconomics, fortunately, we had models that allowed us to make reasonably good predictions about how the regime would shift at the ZLB. If there's anything comparable in political science, I don't know about it (but would be happy to be enlightened.)

I'll still take academic analysis over horserace punditry any day. But we really do know less than ever.

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

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

DeDude said...

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

ilsm said in reply to DeDude...

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

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

JohnH said in reply to ilsm...

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wealthy got a little leverage...

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

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

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

acerimusdux said...

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Groves said in reply to acerimusdux...

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

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

ilsm said...

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

[Nov 13, 2015] 10 Economic Facts that Power the Sanders Insurgency

Notable quotes:
"... Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice ..."
"... One of the most outrageous economics facts of life is the engorgement of too-big-to-fail banks. We are told that they now are under control. But nothing could be further from the truth. ..."
"... Sanders wants to tax Wall Street speculation and use the money to fund free higher education. And for good reason. Debt peonage is hitting college students as banks load them up with onerous loans. Sanders believes it's time for us to catch up with many other developed nations that already provide free higher education. ..."
"... the candidates just say a lot of words to make it appear they are going to do something different – yesterday's LINKS about how Obama didn't REALLY oppose Bush's policies ..."
"... At least with Paul, there was some evidence that he would TRY to dial back all the war mongering…. ..."
"... To be fair, plenty of people write books on topics of which they know nothing, or worse/less than nothing. All neo-liberal economists, for example. ..."
"... Ron Paul is anti-war. Who else is anti-war amongst the Repub/Dem tickets? Maybe Sanders. He did vote against the Iraqi invasion but wouldn't condemn Israel over the last air war on Gaza. Jury is still out on him. ..."
"... Are you saying that acting as the world's police force bombing civilian infrastructure in Serbia was a good idea and that things are hunky dory in Somalia today? Do you support the current effort to wage war on the Assad government in Syria? ..."
"... If you don't understand how a 2008 Ron Paul supporter could be interested in fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics, and power, then all I can surmise is that you don't want to understand. ..."
"... The rhetoric Occupy Wall Street was not usurped by the Democratic Party until it was crushed completed in an orchestrated multi-city police state take-down by Democratic and Republican mayors ..."
"... I did not see that sort of repression happen with the Tea Party, which was receiving massive financing from the start. ..."
"... This is an excellent list of problems in the U.S. economy (some of them affect other parts of the world, too). Whether or not a person currently supports Senator Bernie Sanders, one should ask which candidates for public office are most likely to sincerely try to solve these problems. ..."
"... A big problem is that Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic candidate if it's not him. ..."
"... Sanders voted against the war in Iraq and against the Patriot Act. See this for links and this for the Iraq vote in the House. ..."
"... Sanders has been very critical of Israel's behavior in Gaza. See this for more information and links. ..."
Nov 13, 2015 | naked capitalism
Here are 10 crucial economic facts that provide the glue for the Sanders message. (The charts are taken from Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice.)

1. The Rich are Getting Richer, The Rest of Us are Not.

There always has been a significant gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of America. But that gap was kept under control largely through governmental tax, banking and labor policies.

You could make a lot of money in this country, but after the New Deal, unions made sure you paid a decent wage to your workers, and government made sure the wealthy provided ample tax revenues. This allowed working people also to enjoy a rising standard of living.

But as the chart below shows the bond has been broken. After 1980, the incomes of the top 1% exploded while the wages of the bottom 90% stagnated….and not by accident.

average_income_of_top_1_percent

2. Wall Street/CEO Greed

Most of us haven't had a real raise (after inflation) for more than a decade. Meanwhile we see our CEOs and their Wall Street partners rake in astronomical sums. The data backs up what we see and sense. As this chart shows, the gap between the pay of the top CEOs and the average worker has jumped from 45 to 1 in 1970 to an astounding 829 to one today.

The game is rigged and Sanders is calling them on it.

wage_gap-top_100_ceos_vs_average_workers

3. The Biggest Banks are Getting Bigger.

One of the most outrageous economics facts of life is the engorgement of too-big-to-fail banks. We are told that they now are under control. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The top four banks have grown even larger since the Great Recession. No wonder crowds roar when Bernie says "If a bank is too big to fail, I think it's too big to exist."

percentage_of_all_banking_assets

4. Students are Crippled with Debt.

Sanders wants to tax Wall Street speculation and use the money to fund free higher education. And for good reason. Debt peonage is hitting college students as banks load them up with onerous loans. Sanders believes it's time for us to catch up with many other developed nations that already provide free higher education.

student_loans_1

5. We lead the developed world in child poverty

Nothing more clearly reflects the values of a country than how it treats its children. And nothing is more painful and inexcusable than children living in poverty.

The countries of northern Europe – Iceland, Finland, Nether­lands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden – have nearly eradicated childhood poverty. These also are the countries that have the lowest levels of inequality. They have made a conscious choice: less inequality, less child­hood poverty.

But in a country like ours so engulfed by runaway inequal­ity, child poverty becomes the responsibility of the poor. In other words, if your kids are poor it's your fault. Don't expect society to feed them.

Bernie does indeed expect society to feed the poor. And so should we.

percentage_of_children_living_in_poverty

6. You can't live on the minimum wage

America is the only country in the developed world in which you can work full time and still live in poverty. That's because our federal minimum wage is a disgrace. As the chart below shows, the real buying power of the minimum wage, after taking into account of inflation, has been on the decline since its peak in the 1960s. That's why one of Sanders' biggest applause lines is

"A minimum wage of $7 an hour is a starvation wage. I applaud those cities-Seattle, Los Angeles and others-that have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And that is exactly what we will do at the federal level."

rise_and_fall_of_minimum_wage

7. The tax system favors the rich

We all know that the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. They hire the best lawyers to help make their incomes vanish on IRS papers. They shift money abroad. They use their influence to create and abuse loopholes. And they sell us the lie that decreasing taxes on the rich make all boats rise.

The chart below shows the result on the state and local levels. The sad truth is that the poorer you are, the more you pay as a percent of your income.

rich_pay_lower_state_tax_rates

8. The Rich Buy the Political System

As our economy fractures under the weight of runaway inequality, so does our entire democracy. Money is pouring into politics, especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. As the chart below makes clear, corporations and financial institutions are taking full advantage as they flood the political process through Super PACS.

Sanders wants Super PACS outlawed and Citizens United overturned.

super_pac_contributions

9. "The American Dream" is Fading Away

Many Americans still believe in the American Dream - the idea of genuine upward mobility. We cherish the idea that our children will do as well or better than we have done.

But we're getting a wake up call.

The chart below shows that the odds of rising above your father's economic position in the U.S. is about 50/50. In Denmark, you have about a seven to one chance of doing better.

No wonder Bernie wants us to learn a thing or two from the Danes

odds_youll_be_stuck_in_same_class_as_your_parents

10. The Largest Police State in the World

Freedom pays the price for runaway inequality. Because we refuse to use government to provide decent paying work for all those who are willing and able to work, we leave vast tracks of our cities mired in poverty.

We allow institutional racist practices (especially in housing, education and criminal justice) to trap more people of color on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.

Instead of using government to create jobs, we use government to fund prisons.

Instead of a War on Poverty we have declared war on the poor.

As a result, we now have more prisoners both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any country in the world. And if you compare the chart below with the first chart in this article, you'll find that the incarceration surge started with the onset of runway inequality.

number_of_federal_and_state_prisoners

Taking Them On

Perhaps Bernie's biggest applause line is the one that sets us on our course. His campaign cannot succeed in one election. We need to connect with our neighbors and colleagues and help organize and mobilize for change.

"This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: Yes, we have the guts to take you on."

Let's hope he's right.

tim s

There is much more to a candidates platform than simply economics, which readers of NC know to be as much pseudo-science as anything, and the Fed, which fails to live up to ideals for the common good, and actually preserves the status quo which is such a problem these days.

RP is a mixed bag for certain, but you get a sense that he is at least honest, which is a radical change in itself, and there is much for readers of this blog to latch onto. For instance:

To be sure, many of his positions are headscratchers, for sure, such as his belief in privatization and "free markets". These are very idealistic, and as you probably focus on, the readers of NC will call BS on very quickly.

Still, when having to choose between the internally conflicted and the pathological liar, it is no surprise that many will choose the internally conflicted.

fresno dan, November 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I agree.
And one other point: Paul, and every one else elected, so far at least, is not a Napoleon or Caesar, so most platforms are 99.9% baloney. (well, more accurately, most platforms are the same as it ever was – the candidates just say a lot of words to make it appear they are going to do something different – yesterday's LINKS about how Obama didn't REALLY oppose Bush's policies, just that they didn't go through a process to make them legal)

At least with Paul, there was some evidence that he would TRY to dial back all the war mongering….

Jim Haygood, November 13, 2015 at 9:57 am

'Ron Paul knows nothing about the Fed and Economics for which he claims to be an expert.'

He only wrote a book about it:

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

Perhaps you don't agree with his conclusions.

Lambert Strether, November 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm

To be fair, plenty of people write books on topics of which they know nothing, or worse/less than nothing. All neo-liberal economists, for example.

Nigelk, November 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Ron Paul? Seriously? Did I drive through a wormhole this morning and arrive in Fall 2007?

jrs, November 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

That's what they'll be saying about Sanders in 4 years. I don't mind Sanders as the best choice there is perhaps. But come on folks, none of this stuff has any hope really. A revolution? Well I don't hope for one either, but at least movement building might work. Other than that it's 5 minutes in the voting booth and get on with your life.

Jagger, November 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I would be curious how anybody who reads this blog could possibly be for Ron Paul, let alone have voted for him.

Ron Paul is anti-war. Who else is anti-war amongst the Repub/Dem tickets? Maybe Sanders. He did vote against the Iraqi invasion but wouldn't condemn Israel over the last air war on Gaza. Jury is still out on him.

bob

Is this a different Ron Paul?

https://web.archive.org/web/20021212201652/http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2001/tst100801.htm

washunate

We should remember that the image of the United Nations as a benevolent peacemaker is a myth, as evidenced by the sad history of its military actions over the past 30 years. In virtually every instance its so-called "peacekeeping missions" have done nothing but intensify regional conflicts. Kosovo and Somalia are poignant examples of UN policy gone bad, creating lasting resentment and instability rather than peace.

Uh, that sounds like pretty classic Ron Paul. Are you saying that acting as the world's police force bombing civilian infrastructure in Serbia was a good idea and that things are hunky dory in Somalia today? Do you support the current effort to wage war on the Assad government in Syria?

You didn't answer Jagger's question.

washunate, November 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Maybe we don't need experts. Maybe the God of Authority is a False God. Maybe instead of trying to fight war better, we should stop trying.

That's the thing about the three biggest things Paul stood for (end the Fed, end the drug war, end the Iraq war): they were ends. Not new programs that require advanced degrees and subject matter expertise, but rather, stopping horrible programs run by horrible people for horrible purposes.

Now maybe you disagree that they're horrible, and that's fine. Personally, I vehemently oppose the drug war and the US empire, but I'm not opposed to the Fed. To me, it just does what politicians tell it to do. But the point is, that's a matter of personal opinion, not expertise.

I wonder only half-jokingly if your comment is satire, too. I assume it was unintentional, but it sounds exactly like the whiny Democratic pundit enforcers complaining about Alan Grayson and FDL working with evil Republicans like Grover Norquist on Audit the Fed legislation. The era in which people can be intimidated via guilt by association is over. There are far more independents than Democrats today.

If you don't understand how a 2008 Ron Paul supporter could be interested in fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics, and power, then all I can surmise is that you don't want to understand. If you are genuinely curious, this link might be a particularly useful refresher on the tone of the day to day politics of the time:

https://shadowproof.com/2010/05/06/video-transcript-ron-paul-says-sanders-switched-and-watered-down-audit-the-fed/


TarheelDem, November 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

The rhetoric Occupy Wall Street was not usurped by the Democratic Party until it was crushed completed in an orchestrated multi-city police state take-down by Democratic and Republican mayors. I see no candidates talking about the right of free speech and assembly to petition government for the redress of grievances. I did not see that sort of repression happen with the Tea Party, which was receiving massive financing from the start. The two movements are not equivalent in how they have been received by the two parties.


wbgonne, November 13, 2015 at 10:21 am

Given that OWS and the Tea Party have been usurped by the respective national parties, and both movements are anti-status quo, my opinion is they should join forces. Also, considering there is little difference at the end of the day, between the republican and democrat parties, that they play both sides against the middle, if Trump and Sanders had an ounce of humility between them, they would both quit their party and run on a split ticket.

A couple of quibbles. First, OWS was not usurped by the Democrats: it was opposed, undermined and ultimately crushed by the Democratic Establishment, starting at the top with the Obama Administration all the way down to the mayors, many of whom were Democrats too. The Tea Party began as a populist movement but was largely hijacked by the GOP corporatists. That said, there is clearly a lot of populist energy on both the Right and the Left. Sanders carries the ball forward almost without misstep. Trump, however, is a decidedly mixed bag: while he is anti-TPP - a huge plus - he also opposes wage increases and probably holds many other anti-populist views that just haven't surfaced yet.

But the biggest problem with the merger you propose, however, is the one that has bedeviled populism since the 70s: identity politics issues. While I generally try not to over-emphasize such issues, they should not be discounted either. They should certainly not be disparaged. Let me put it this way: no self-respecting progressive could collaborate with someone who wishes Operation Wetback were our national immigration policy. Overt racism, sexism and homophobia cannot be accepted but political correctness should be rejected too as the antagonizing and divisive factor it is. In order for the merger you posit to occur - which would be a wonderful development - both the Left and the Right must downplay identity politics issues because those are the wedges that keep the two ends of economic populism from joining.

Jagger, November 13, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Identity politics is in the DNA of the Democratic party. Abandoning identity politics is simply not going to happen for a few generations at best.

WindyCity, November 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

There is discontent on the left and the right. That's what feeding the candidacies of Tea Party darlings like Trump and Carson and the Democratic Socialist Sanders. Working- and middle-class folks across the political spectrum have been hit hard with unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure, debt-slavery, and on and on. Those on the right blame immigration, Obama, and big government; those on the left blame corporate tyranny and capitalist greed. It's probably naive of me, but I do see an opening for a Sanders to draw support from the right. His message ought to resonate with the disaffected, disenfranchised, and disillusioned in all quarters. I've already heard reports of some Tea Baggers throwing in with him. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a significant movement.

Eric Patton

But as the chart below shows the bond has been broken.

I don't like the passive voice here. Who broke the bond? And why?

I recommend Noam Chomsky. Pay attention to Chomsky's comments about the dismantling of the Bretton Woods system in the early 70s. Also pay attention when Chomsky talks about the "crisis of democracy" and the very conscious destruction of the US educational system.

cwaltz, November 13, 2015 at 7:03 am

I have to laugh at anyone who argues they don't like redistribution because it's the equivalent of saying I don't like an economy. The reality is in capitalism you have redistribution. Businesses don't keep the money you give it for goods and services, they redistribute it. The problem is they redistribute it poorly. They put an inordinately large emphasis on rewarding the guy on the top of the totem pole regardless of his contributions(that's why you have CEOs walking away with multimillion dollar parachutes) while paying peanuts to what is often the face of their organization.

The Tea Party has a real critical thinking issue if it thinks any of this has anything to do with winners and losers. You can be a hard worker spending 17 years busting your backside only to find a CEO like Trump has decided that the business isn't profitable enough. Guess what? When he files for bankruptcy he'll get to keep his house, and be insulated from economic consequences that led to the bankruptcy. Meanwhile the same couldn't be said for that worker whose major "bad decision" was placing his lot in with the wrong company at the wrong time under the wrong leadership.

Paul Tioxon, November 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

A Million Student March yesterday was the national day of protest across the nation by university students marching for the cancellation of student debt and $15/hr wages for student jobs. Locally, in Philly, they tied up traffic marching from North to South down Broad St and from West To East across Market St converging at City Hall for a rally against debt, for the $15/hr wage and in solidarity with Mizzou and Yale against racism on campus. Helicopter coverage and on site reporters interviewed the students, allowing them to get their message across in their own words. A Google news search shows similar coverage from Pittsburgh, Reno, Oakland, Vanderbilt etc etc. The report linked below references Bernie Sanders remarks as an inspiration. One student in front of City Hall demanding student debt cancellation presented the case that since a college degree is a necessity, why are they forced into debt for something that society requires of them to live any kind of life worth living? Necessities of life should not require you to borrow money and go into debt. That is similar to buying you supplies from the mining company so you can go down to the mines and work. Candles and picks are required to mine, so why does your paycheck have to cover that cost? The students are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

http://6abc.com/news/philly-students-hit-the-streets-for-million-student-march/1081368/

Vatch , November 13, 2015 at 11:06 am

This is an excellent list of problems in the U.S. economy (some of them affect other parts of the world, too). Whether or not a person currently supports Senator Bernie Sanders, one should ask which candidates for public office are most likely to sincerely try to solve these problems. There are other non-economic issues, but the average person won't have a say in solving other problems unless most of the 10 problems in the list are, at the very least, partly solved.

3.14e-9, November 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm

This article won't convince anyone with half a brain of anything. It's a bunch of opinion, with weasel words such as "My strong impression is." That he cites Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank is all anyone needs to know. They've been hammering on the same opinion over and over with pretty much the same set of "facts," including inaccuracies such as Sanders's alleged support for the bombing of Gaza last summer. Sanders was one of a small minority of senators who actually didn't sign on to that resolution (S. Res. 498) and he didn't vote for it, because there is no vote on resolutions. They are approved by an arcane Senate rule called "unanimous consent," which is not what it sounds like, but it makes a great story for Chris Hedges and others who are just pissed off that Sanders chose to run as a Democrat.

Ultimately, this article is just more of the same ol' - which is ironic, given that that's what most of this crowd says about Sanders.

WindyCity, November 13, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Chris Hedges takes the same view. I am fully sympathetic with the harsh criticisms leveled at Sanders regarding his support for empire and his relative indifference to foreign policy. Also, he's clearly not a socialist (nor could he be, considering his support for US militaristic hegemony). He is a liberal social democratic in the FDR tradition, and what he advocates is the restitution and strengthening of New Deal restraints on capitalism aimed at reducing inequality. He does support worker self-directed enterprises (cooperative businesses owned and run by workers) and has introduced legislation to provide federal support for such endeavors. This does suggest he's mindful of what genuine socialism is about, though he hasn't highlighted these ideas in the campaign.

My own view is that Sanders could provide an impetus for more movement-led change, provided that the energy and hope that he has generated, especially among young people, be channeled into organizing efforts and civil disobedience after the election process has concluded. I have little doubt that Clinton will win the nomination, but if, instead of succumbing to depression and disillusionment after Sanders has been defeated, his enthusiastic supporters take their anger and commitment into movement-building, his campaign will have made an important contribution.

A big problem is that Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic candidate if it's not him. I don't see how he could really get behind the cynical, opportunistic neocon, neoliberal Clinton, but we'll see. It does look like he'll push the less worse argument on his supporters, and that would be unfortunate.

Vatch, November 13, 2015 at 12:37 pm

The article misrepresents some things. For example, these statements are false, or at the very least, exaggerations:

1) support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including President Obama's recent decision to maintain a troop presence; 2) blank-check support of Israel, including its savage bombing campaign in Gaza last year;

1 ) Sanders voted against the war in Iraq and against the Patriot Act. See this for links and this for the Iraq vote in the House.
2 ) Sanders has been very critical of Israel's behavior in Gaza. See this for more information and links.

Meant as a reply to Linda J.

Tom Stone, November 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Since reform is not going to happen we need to provide local police departments with more armored vehicles and finish doing away with the 2nd amendment.
The 1st and 4th are gone, it's time for sensible people to get with the program.
Wesley Clarke is calling for FEMA camps to be opened to hold "Extremists".
And he's considered a moderate…
The system is broken, get in line or get hurt.

[Nov 13, 2015] GOP Hits 'Romney' Panic Button Establishment Fears Nominating Someone Unfit To Be President

Notable quotes:
"... After the performance of Obama I'm curious to see what Someone Unfit To Be President would be. ..."
"... Clinton, Bush, Obama? And Trump is unfit? What are these guys smoking? Maybe they're taking crazy pills, or just well paid to do their job. ..."
"... What a surprise! The GOPe, the Kountry Klub™, the Old Guard , Wall Street, US CoC crowd is in a panic because they are not in control of the front runner in the GOP race ..."
"... This is just pulling the curtain back a little bit and revealing that there's really only one party with two factions that publically vocally oppose each other, but privately when it comes to any threat to their power or money, absolutely belong to the same team. ..."
"... I think it would be hilarious to see him debate Shillary and say You really want to vote for her? You want to hear that voice over the course of the next eight years? I mean look at her..... . It will have been worth it just to hear those words. I may just vote to help him along. ..."
Zero Hedge

"We're potentially careening down this road of nominating somebody who frankly isn't fit to be president in terms of the basic ability and temperament to do the job," this strategist said. "It's not just that it could be somebody Hillary could destroy electorally, but what if Hillary hits a banana peel and this person becomes president?"

nuubee

Translation: We career sociopaths, who thought we had perfect control of the situation, realize that we might lose control to a non-sociopathic egotist. This is frightening to us, we need someone who will play ball like we play ball, otherwise our careers are threatened.

0b1knob

After the performance of Obama I'm curious to see what "Someone Unfit To Be President" would be.

Transformer

Clinton, Bush, Obama? And Trump is unfit? What are these guys smoking? Maybe they're taking crazy pills, or just well paid to do their job.

I don't like Trump. But I would vote for him over the standard issue bought off and owned, criminal politician.

cheka

trump is the one - import tariff, social security payments to the ones who actually paid in, toughest on illegals

even if they are all controlled - the message needs to be sent

might slow the pigmen's roll a little

SILVERGEDDON

Republicans are red, and Democrats are blue,

And neither one of them, gives a fuck about you.

... ... ...

Theosebes Goodfellow

What a surprise! The GOPe, the Kountry Klub™, the "Old Guard", Wall Street, US CoC crowd is in a panic because they are not in control of the front runner in the GOP race, and they are not in control by a whole lot. Trust me when I say they would rather see Hillary win than Trump, Carson, Cruz or Paul.

So there is a fight for the very soul of the GOP going on right now. The upside to this is that that is more than can be said about what is going on within the Democratic Party. Those asshats are still looking for signs they a) aren't zombies and b) have a soul at all. Good shit, kiddies. Stoke up the popcorn, sit back because this show is going to be a doozy.

seek

This is just pulling the curtain back a little bit and revealing that there's really only one party with two factions that publically vocally oppose each other, but privately when it comes to any threat to their power or money, absolutely belong to the same team.

My guess is The One Party is shitting bricks for two reasons -- one is that the #2 challengers in both factions aren't establishment, and the #1 in the Republican faction isn't either, meaning everything depends on Hillary, two, that everything depends on Hillary.

At this point all it takes is one FBI agent to go rogue and Snowden all the docs they have on her (shit, not even all, it could just be a low-level guy involved in one of many investigations) and Hillary is done.

This is why I said what I did last week, that I have a strong feeling this election goes sideways in a significant way in 2016. TPTB's plans have been crumbling for a long time, and while they'll probably still get their Quisling into office, their hold has never been shakier.

If Trump, Carson, or Bernie have a serious shot at getting in, they better make fucking sure their VP isn't sanctioned by TPTB or they have a target on them so big they might not even make it to the inauguration.

1stepcloser

These cocksucers don't give a fuck about you!

-G. Carlin

Bush Baby

People are voting Trump because of they are sick of Political Power Brokers and Special Interest Money choosing the candidate.

Don't these morons get it?

Colonel Klink

Oh they get it, which is what has them spooked, because the people are getting it.

Which is why they have the media on ludicrous speed trying to rebrainwash the populace.

Dr. Engali

Personally I think Trump would be a disaster, which is why I hope he gets the nomination. He is the perfect caricature of what this country has become. I think it would be hilarious to see him debate Shillary and say "You really want to vote for her? You want to hear that voice over the course of the next eight years? I mean look at her....." . It will have been worth it just to hear those words. I may just vote to help him along.

Edit: Just to be clear, Romney is a douche and they'd all be a disastor, because nothing would change policy wise, but Trump would at least be entertaining to watch as the country goes down the tubes.

I Write Code

Patience, grasshoppers.

There is nobody running in either party who looks like they are "fit to be president" by any rational standard, so that is not even an issue. You don't win by opposition, you win by guidance. Jeb! looked like a willing mule so the money guys loved him, but the public just ain't buying it. You don't think Trump is corruptible? Ha!

The RINO establishment should worry that Trump and Carson will blow themselves up, or out, or whatever, because that's probably just what will happen and that will leave them with nada. If the Republican "elite" had any brains they'd be offering Trump bj's about now not insulting him. Though in the end it probably won't matter anyway.

Bazza McKenzie

This "strategist" is not a strategist's jockstrap - unless of course he is actually working for Clinton, and given this is a WaPo story he may well be.

First we have the people who "knew" Trump and Carson were going to flame out now admitting they were wrong BUT they "know" Trump or Carson will be beaten by Clinton (and like all the people claiming Clinton will win, they ignore the fact that the economy is bad for most Americans and will continue to deteriorate and, as the first Clinton said, "it's the economy, stupid").

Then they imagine that if they just appoint a candidate who has no grass roots support, over candidates who have massive grass roots support, all those supporters are going to line up like lemmings to vote for whoever they appoint. In reality that would not happen, at best most of those supporters would stay home on voting day and at worst Trump would run as an independent and thrash their appointee.

Romney is actually smart enough to understand this, which is why he wants no part of it.

The only person this "strategy" would benefit would be Clinton, since it's probably her only chance to win. So no wonder WaPo is pushing it.

Winston Smith 2009

All religions are based upon BS, but the Mormons have brought their stupidity into the 19th century, making them easier to investigate and reveal as a con game. Anyone who even claims to believe this crap shouldn't be allowed to serve in public office in other than a state filled with like "minded" individuals:

South Park - Joseph Smith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu4y7x9LRyY

[Nov 12, 2015] Bush Begins His 'Jeb Can Fix It' Tour

nyti.ms

Fred C. Dobbs

(Just remember who can fix it.)

Bush Begins His 'Jeb Can Fix It' Tour http://nyti.ms/1GYGZGI via @NYTPolitics
NYT - Matt Flegenheimer - Nov 2

The much-discussed Jeb Bush campaign reset has come with an unsubtle name: the "Jeb Can Fix It" tour.

Though the campaign appears to be referring to the country's intractable problems, the subtext is thick. Mr. Bush is straining to reassure donors and other supporters after another underwhelming debate performance last week and persistently low poll numbers.

In what his team has previewed as "an important speech" on Monday about the direction of the campaign and the messages he plans to promote going forward, Mr. Bush is returning to Florida, where he served eight years as governor.

During an address in Tampa, aides say, Mr. Bush will discuss his rejection of what he calls the "competing pessimisms" of the Obama era and will cite his experience as governor overcoming obstacles to conservative overhauls. He is expected to point to examples from his new book, "Reply All," which will be released on Monday and details his prolific email habits as governor. ...

Bill Maher gives sarcastic endorsement of
"Jeb Can Fix It" slogan https://t.co/Pmbr3Mbql3

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
And Senator Ted Cruz is chopped liver?)

GOP senators desert Bush for Rubio http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/259449-gop-senators-desert-bush-for-rubio
The Hill - Nov 8

Republican senators are coming around to the view that Jeb Bush is unlikely to win the party's nomination for president and that freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) is the most viable prospect for the general election.

Rubio has had plenty of support among Beltway pundits since the outset of his campaign but Bush's poor performance in the last Republican debate, together with his declining poll numbers, have begun to shift sentiment in even the upper echelons of the GOP's establishment.

"Marco's in the driver's seat. There's a lot of disappointment in Bush's performance," said one Republican senator, who requested anonymity to discuss the race candidly.
The lawmaker, however, left the door ajar to the possibility of a Bush comeback, noting that "expectations for Jeb are so low that it won't be hard to exceed them.

"He just needs a little momentum," the lawmaker added.

Most GOP senators are waiting for the race to shake out before venturing to make a public endorsement, in case there's a late reversal of fortune, which has happened in previous election cycles.

But one pro-Rubio senator said "it's nearly unanimous" in the Republican conference that Bush is floundering and Rubio is on the rise.

"You can't look at the overall picture and not think it," said the senator. "The polling shows it. It's just amazing what's happened."

Rubio picked up three Senate endorsements last week - Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) - matching Bush, who so far has thee: Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Polls show Rubio surging and Bush dropping since the last debate in Boulder, Colo., on Oct. 28. ...

[Nov 10, 2015] The Rise Of Trump Sanders - Distrust Anger Ripples Across America

Notable quotes:
"... People are supporting Trump and/or Sanders because they are fed up with all three branches of gubmint ..."
"... The fact that people like Jeb can publicly claim his brothers disaster in Iraq was a success and not be laughed [or hissed] off the podium or called out by reporters shows how screwed up our nation is right now and why people are desperate for someone to save them. ..."
"... Increasing inequality (rising GINI coefficient) leading to polarisation. ..."
"... Increasing real costs. The Real rate of inflation is far higher than the Hedonically adjusted one. Shadowstats is but one useful guide to reality. ..."
"... The worst thing about Hillary is she takes in millions of dollars from Wall Street donors. She's nothing but a puppet for the 1% and Wall Street. ..."
"... Don't you dare take any polls seriously. They're even allowed to lie about polls. After all, a poll is just an opinion. ..."
"... It started with Bill Clinton. He was For Sale like no other American President. Clinton had NAFTA passed and Glass Steagal repealed on his watch and that is how he earned $240MM from the years 2000 to 2010 after leaving the WH broke. ..."
"... It continues with Hillary and the Clinton Fund. ..."
"... Millenial is a marketing term used to manipulate people. You can be born in a range of years and not identify as a Millenial , Baby Boomer , or whatever. If you pick up those labels, you get all the shit that goes with them and must carry other people's water. For that matter, the term Baby Boomer originally meant people born right after the war and only later grew and grew to encompass millions of people that had no common experiences with those from 1945-50. Marketing and social engineering. ..."
Nov 10, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Authored by Paul Brandus, originally posted Op-Ed via MarketWatch.com,

The 'wasted generation' may not bother voting, for good reason

One year from now, we'll elect a new president. It'll be the first opportunity for what I call the wasted generation to vote - not that many will bother. What do I mean by wasted generation?

I'm talking about the 15.6 million Americans born between 1995 and 1999 - the first generation of the post-World War II era to grow up in a land of diminished economic expectations, corrosive cynicism and institutional distrust.

Think about it. Born during the petty, partisan end of the Clinton era, they were barely out of their diapers when the towers fell on 9/11 and elementary, middle school and high schoolers while their country fought, at the same time, the two longest wars in its history. They came into the world just as their parents' incomes were probably peaking - median wages, adjusted for inflation, topped out in 1998 and 1999 - and their Moms and Dads have since been squeezed by the two most devastating stock collapses since the Great Depression and a housing collapse of historic proportions. Now they're heading off to college or already there, and can expect to rack up nearly $29,000 in debt before even graduating.

Older Americans may remember better times. But for this group-and tens of millions born after them-it's all they've known. Cynicism, war, economic stagnation-this is their "normal." This is what we have bequeathed them. Is it any wonder polls show that young Americans don't trust government or big corporations? They don't trust organized religion. They don't trust us-the media-either, and I don't blame them.

They don't trust the financial system, either. When you're 20 and have a 40-to-50 year investment horizon, you should be plowing cash into stocks-but when the market crashes 50% like it did between March 1999 and October 2002-only to be eclipsed just five later by a 57% bloodbath, it makes it easier to understand their skittishness. No surprise, then, that anti-establishment candidates like Democrat Bernie "the markets are rigged" Sanders and Republican Donald "make America great again" Trump are popular with this young, emerging slice of the electorate.

On Facebook, for example, nearly two million people like Sanders's page - 600,000 more than Hillary Clinton. As for Trump, one poll showed Republican millennials backing him by a 3-to-1 margin over anyone else.

This may sound like one of those generation gap stories, where older folks complain about the "kids" doing their own thing and the kids not trusting "anyone over 30." It's not. From sea to shining sea, distrust and anger ripples across America: Only about a quarter of us think the country is on the right track; it hasn't topped 50% since December 2003.

But it's the corrosive effect on the millennials that's most bothersome. Based on two decades worth of data, the Pew Research Center, a respected Washington think tank, notes that "generations carry with them the imprint of early political experiences." In other words, it's going to be awfully hard for millions and millions of young Americans to overcome the wide distrust they have-and again, the only thing they've known-of establishment institutions; the economic and political implications in the years ahead could be huge.

Here's the way millennials see it:

Those that can scrape together the means to go to college know there's now a school shooting once a week in this country.

Thanks to that average $29 grand in debt and uncertain job prospects, an increasing number of them will move back in with Mom and Dad when they graduate.

Invest in stocks? Even if millennials didn't think the market was fixed they don't have the dough.

Buy a home? What a joke: the number of first-time home buyers is at its lowest level in three decades.

Only a handful of these kids will have steady employment with the same company over the course of their careers; many will have multiple employers - few of which will offer pensions.

Millennials don't expect Social Security to be around in 40 years and unless painful changes are made to shore up the system, it won't be.

... ... ...

Older age groups like to criticize millennials: they're spoiled, have a sense of entitlement. Actually, the rest of us should look in the mirror. We're leaving those who will follow one hell of a mess.

Handful of Dust

People are supporting Trump and/or Sanders because they are fed up with all three branches of gubmint. With crap like, "If you want to keep your insurance you can keep it" and the hundreds of other lies vomiting out of DC. The fact that people like Jeb can publicly claim his brothers disaster in Iraq was a success and not be laughed [or hissed] off the podium or called out by reporters shows how screwed up our nation is right now and why people are desperate for someone to save them.

Enter Trump and Carson.

Middle Class Americans are slowly waking to the biggest punking over in history.

Parrotile

Even if one stoll regards the "Electoral System" as credible, voting this time around might not be meaningful.

1. Increasing inequality (rising GINI coefficient) leading to polarisation.

2. Increasing unavoidable taxes (Obamacare is a tax despite the rhetoric. Being "obliged" to pay up front for "Insurance" that comes with very hefty deductables is "not" insurance!)

3. Increasing "real" costs. The "Real" rate of inflation is far higher than the "Hedonically adjusted" one. Shadowstats is but one useful guide to reality.

4. National Debt: Not $18.5 Trillion, more like $66 Trillion (Unfunded liabilities are still liabilities).

5. "Civility" being replaced by "incivility", and a National hardening of the attitudes to those regarded as "outsiders".

6. Known, and flagrant abuse of position / power by the "Better Connected"

7. Crumbling infrastructure, and neither plans nor "money" (Ha, Ha!) to replace it.

And to top it all, the MIC are planning to start yet ANOTHER war, this time with Russia / China / Whoever seems a "threat" to their comfortable system

Time to sit back, enjoy the (not yet Nuclear) sunset, and wait for the microwaved popcorn to be ready . . .

lester1

I am a millenial, and I am sick and tired of the failed status quo. I want a better life for myself and my future children. Bernie Sanders knows how to protest, but he is weak and does not know how to execute the way Donald Trump does.

I am voting for Trump because he wants to bring our jobs back from overseas, end NAFTA, and kick out the illegal immigrants. A vast majority of Americans want these things to happen. Hopefully Trump wins the Presidency.

silverer

I support Trump for one reason and one reason only. It's the ONLY reason you can really trust, that hasn't been bent, distorted, or manipulated by the bought and paid for MSM: The Republicans hate him. So he has to be real, at least about some things he says. Beyond that, you're waist deep in MSM bullshit.

greenskeeper carl

If you really believe that about trump, I can get you a great deal on a used bridge....

NidStyles

Dudes whole life required him to play ball with the tribe, and they think he's going to turn it around to kick them out? They are all tribe advocates, every single one of them. The tribe controls the elections.

BarkingCat

He's the only one in politics that has screwed the tribe members good and hard. What do you think those corporate bankruptcies were? Signs of love and admiration?

Groundhog Day

You Millenials don;t know trump too well. He is a sneaky clever businessman. research how many companies he has bankrupted and how many vendors and contractors he's screwed over his career. You will be amazed. Now he has a chance to do it on a national scale.

Sanders is not much better. taking from the rich to give to the poor does not solve fundamental problems either. What you need to do is start a 3rd party that represent you otherwise it will only get worse. Good luck !

Wait What

Agreed. Wait What is a Millenial also, but he sees through Trump's bullshit. Apparently Lester thinks Trump is 'not part of' the status quo. A guy who has made his name in the media and made his fortune from the current system is nothing short of the status quo. That the MSM color both Sanders and Trump as 'instigators' who speak 'uncomfortable truths' is propaganda 101. There is only one way to put an end to this disgusting crony capitalist system, and no one is going to like how it happens... so everyone will keep going along to keep getting along.

silverer

Take a look at the kids Trump raised. That should tell you something about his values. Now take a look at the Hillaryious family. "I can't understand why anyone wouldn't love my mother." - Chelsea Clinton. Vote the "D" column. "D" for dysfunctional.

lester1

Hillary has so many Democrats fooled. It is amazing to me she is winning in the polls, given the fact she's a known liar and under FBI investigation.

What has Hillary ever accomplished for the middle class ? Black people adore her, bit what just she ever done to help them?

The worst thing about Hillary is she takes in millions of dollars from Wall Street donors. She's nothing but a puppet for the 1% and Wall Street.

I expect voter turnout for Hillary to be extremely low. There is no way she will get the same turnout Obama got.

silverer

Whoa, dude! Don't you dare take any polls seriously. They're even allowed to lie about polls. After all, a poll is just an opinion.

Clowns on Acid

It started with Bill Clinton. He was For Sale like no other American President. Clinton had NAFTA passed and Glass Steagal repealed on his watch and that is how he "earned" $240MM from the years 2000 to 2010 after leaving the WH broke.

It continues with Hillary and the Clinton Fund.

PoasterToaster

"Millenial" is a marketing term used to manipulate people. You can be born in a range of years and not "identify as" a "Millenial", "Baby Boomer", or whatever. If you pick up those labels, you get all the shit that goes with them and must carry other people's water. For that matter, the term "Baby Boomer" originally meant people born right after the war and only later grew and grew to encompass millions of people that had no common experiences with those from 1945-50. Marketing and social engineering.

Maybe it's better to be your own person than to try to obey a set of rules concocted for your slave group.

By the way, this isn't the first "wasted generation" that wasn't going to do as well as their parents. You can go all the way back to the first post-Baby Boomer years of the late 1950's to find the decline. Douglas Coupland wrote his "Generation X" about those late 50's/early 60's birthyear kids during the late 80's to describe the phenomenon of coming in after the anointed ones had passed through the system and everything was shut down behind them.

And certainly no one born in the late 60's or 1970's believed it would be a cinch that they would have it better than their parents. That group saw the collapse of every social institution from Unions, to Welfare programs, and the rise of the police state during their youth and continuing to the present day.

This pandering to the slavegroup "Millenials" is intended to divide and conquer. The idiots who think they own this country want a softer version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. They want to remove those that have historical memory and critical thinking skills from any kind of authority, and replace them with "Millenial" types. They think they will have generations of compliant slaves ad infinitum. To be a "Millenial" is to accept your place under the foot of your betters, while they tell you how great you are for doing so. Those who impose the label on you think you are a bunch of stupid tools.

That's what Collectivism is all about.

divedivedive

I guess I'm a boomer - but I was too young to go to Vietnam. When I got out of high school people were waiting in line for many hours to fill their cars with gas.

When I graduated college I had 2 student loans which I paid off - but the interest rate was really really low - perhaps 1-2 %.

My wife and I are now retired. We have no pensions - just our savings. We have not yet filed for social security.

Over my 30 year career I was probably a sub-contractor half the time. Perhaps I had 10 different positions over the years - kind of funny but I was a contractor for 5 years with one company and they hired me as an employee for another 5. I worked for one tech startup three times over 10 years. Another mid-sized tech company for 2 stints. Sometimes I left perfectly good positions (some great) just to push myself to stay current. Somehow I managed to not burn bridges - well not many anyway.

We have managed to save some money. We never really made any money in the market - but we also didn't lose any - well not much. What really helped us was earning 5% or so on our savings for a lot of years.

If you are young - you don't need to buy a house - buy a condo/townhouse and save (don't rent) - stay away from the credit cards.

kelley805

TRUST. It is not just a millenial issue.

But the President cannot do much with a corrupt Congress that makes the laws.

WE NEED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LIMITS. WE NEED TO ELIMINATE SUPER PACS.

TO DO THAT WE NEED A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

See MoveToAmend.org

Grandad Grumps

Obama ... worst president EVER... and we have had some very bad ones.

[Nov 10, 2015] Isnt Third Way a Euphemism for Fifth Column

Third way is another nickname of neoliberalism. Third Way - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Major Third Way social democratic proponent Tony Blair" Clinton, Blair, Prodi, Gerhard Schröder and other leading Third Way adherents organized conferences to promote the Third Way philosophy in 1997 at [45] The Third Way think tank and the Democratic Leadership Council are adherents of Third Way politics.[46] ... William K. Black said that "Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort."[15]
Notable quotes:
"... Buried inside the annual report for Third Way is a revelation that the group relies on a peculiar DC consulting firm to raise half a million a year: Peck, Madigan, Jones Stewart. Peck Madigan is no ordinary nonprofit buckraiser. The group is, in fact, a corporate lobbying firm that represents Deutsche Bank, Intel, the Business Roundtable, Amgen, AT T, the International Swaps Derivatives Association, MasterCard, New York Life Insurance, PhRMA and the US Chamber of Commerce, among others. ..."
"... notably the teleological belief in progress and the idea that capitalism is the wellspring of modernity. ..."
"... Where it diverges is in its ahistoricity (which is the product of post-modernism rather than Austrian economics), which leads to both its annihilation of the past and its inability to envisage a future other than an endless present. ..."
"... The biggest political danger to the Democrats is, and has been, liberals who let elected Democrats purse a neoliberal agenda with nary a criticism. I call them appeasers. Defeatists is another good description. ..."
"... There is no BS attack on liberals. Liberals thoroughly deserve criticism for coddling and appeasing a neoliberal president. ..."
"... Correct. I guess what they mean is these things are unpopular with the people who count: the ones who give the big bucks and run the important corporate and media institutions. ..."
"... Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism ..."
"... LEAKED INTERNAL EMAILS from the powerful Democratic think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) shed light on several public controversies involving the organization, particularly in regard to its positioning on Israel. They reveal the lengths to which the group has gone in order to placate AIPAC and long-time Clinton operative and Israel activist Ann Lewis - including censoring its own writers on the topic of Israel. ..."
"... Right, this is exactly the republican platform: stop complaining about inequality -- thats class warfare. Lets focus on get job skills and growth and wealth creation without adding to the deficits or raising taxes on the middle class things are they way they due to greed its just technology technology makes us have more inequality, this is ALL right wing supply side republican platform ideas... ..."
"... Yes, they say they want to focus on income inequality rather than wealth inequality, but then they say they want to talk about growing wealth (rather than income). ..."
"... Third Way seems to have the naive idea... Nothing naive about these cynical vultures. ..."
"... When Elizabeth Warren says the game is rigged , thats not rhetoric, its just truth-telling - and has IT HAS been a winning political message. ..."
"... The Third Way = Obama and Hillary. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have a more populist and more popular appeal than the pro-corporate/moderate/centrist/Third Way types. ..."
"... Seems to me the left will help Hillary get elected and then she will break their hearts. Rubinomics will be necessary to pay off all of those foundation donors. The Clintons may not understand integrity, but they do understand politics. ..."
"... Focus groups are excellent sources of information about what the participants think the researchers want to hear. ..."
"... Wikipedia: The board of the Third Way is made up almost entirely of investment bankers and other Wall Street executives. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way_(think_tank) ..."
"... Third Way, a centrist think tank that portrays itself as a Democratic group, has some advice for the party: avoid economic populism at all costs. In a column for The Wall Street Journal today, the group argues that the party should steer clear of creating a strong safety net, and criticizes Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's call for universal pre-K funded through an upper-income tax increase as a foolhardy idea for national Democrats. ..."
"... Third Way, backed by Wall Street titans, corporate money, and congressional allies, is publicly warning against divisive "soak-the-rich" politics voiced by populist Democrats. Its target: Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator whose rise to power two years ago helped galvanize Democratic grass roots against Wall Street and pushed the issue of income inequality to the forefront. ..."
"... You got it. But this is by design not because of some payoff needed. This trick is called Change we can believe in . And Obama already demonstrated pretty polished execution of this trick. The lower 80% of population will be taken for ride again. Maintaining the neoliberal empire is an expensive business... No money left for common folks. Sorry about that. ..."
EconoSpeak

Isn't "Third Way" a Euphemism for Fifth Column?

The "Washington Wire" blog at the resolutely non-partisan Wall Street Journal features an article about "a new 52-page report from centrist Democratic think tank the Third Way" that warns against populist, redistributionist messages.

Who is this Third Way? According to Wikipedia: "The board of the Third Way is made up almost entirely of investment bankers and other Wall Street executives." Wikipedia cites as their source a Nation article from 2013, "GOP Donors and K Street Fuel Third Way's Advice for the Democratic Party."

Buried inside the annual report for Third Way is a revelation that the group relies on a peculiar DC consulting firm to raise half a million a year: Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart. Peck Madigan is no ordinary nonprofit buckraiser. The group is, in fact, a corporate lobbying firm that represents Deutsche Bank, Intel, the Business Roundtable, Amgen, AT&T, the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, MasterCard, New York Life Insurance, PhRMA and the US Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Comments from Economist's View 'Economic Policy Splits Democrats'

Carol:

The Third Way is perfectly punctured here:
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2015/11/blairism-vs-the-left.html although he discusses the UK version, the critique is the same.

Marko | November 07, 2015 at 09:42 PM

Blairites are just like Clintonites - they're doing quite well for themselves , thank you very much , and would like to keep it that way. So , "education" , "training" , "upward mobility" , and " positive thinking " , but forget about restraining predatory finance , or taxing the oligarchs. That stuff ain't gonna happen'.

And , deep down , they think Maggie and Ronnie were just super.

From Arse To Elbow | November 07, 2015 at 11:11 PM

It's worth remembering that neoliberalism (of which Blairism is clearly a flavour) owes much to Marxism in its theory, if not its praxis, notably the teleological belief in progress and the idea that capitalism is the wellspring of modernity.

Where it diverges is in its ahistoricity (which is the product of post-modernism rather than Austrian economics), which leads to both its annihilation of the past and its inability to envisage a future other than an endless present. This is why its apologists are not speaking the same language as social democrats such as Krugman.

Basically, the Blairites are stuck, hence their increasing bewilderment. Contrary to the propaganda, most lefties are cynics (in the original Greek sense of the word) rather than dreamers. Blairites in contrast believe in fairy stories. WMD wasn't the half of it.

acerimusdux

Listening to the Third Way would be political suicide. Never mind the economics, they are getting things completely backwards on the politics. Look at actual polls, and the very things they are criticizing, the minimum wage, social security, and government provided health care, are all generally popular with voters. As is, especially, a focus on addressing economic unfairness and inequality.

The biggest political danger to Democrats would be if they were to lose their political edge on those issues. Last presidential election, President Obama had large margins over Mitt Romney amongst voters who earned under $50k (a huge portion of voters). But that was perhaps made easier by Romney himself being an obvious Wall Street Republican. If Democrats were to go more in the direction of adopting the Third Way/Wall Street agenda, while Republicans were to nominate someone with some populist appeal (like a Trump), you might see that vote split, and the Democrats lose.

There is going to be some increasing division in the Democratic Party on economic issues, but I would attribute that mainly to some degree of economic success. When the economy was in recession, nearly all Democrats agreed on the need for more spending, and the madness of austerity.

But where the economy is today, this is exactly when traditional Keynesian economics calls for spending cuts, not increases. Especially when one considers the lag with fiscal policy, and where the economy is likely to be in a year. In the U.S. at least, true Keynesians should now really be "Austerians".

That is maybe going to cause some division between those with overall value preferences for more vs. less government. But if Democrats are potentially going to be asking some on the left to make compromises on these issues, they damned well better still be doing something to aggressively address inequality and the rigged economic system. Otherwise, a lot of those voters will stay home.

JohnH ->EMichael...

The biggest political danger to the Democrats is, and has been, 'liberals' who let elected Democrats purse a neoliberal agenda with nary a criticism. I call them 'appeasers.' Defeatists is another good description.

How do you expect elected Democrats to act in the common good when 'good Democrats' believe whatever their leaders tell them and accept whatever they do?

JohnH ->JohnH...

There is no BS attack on liberals. Liberals thoroughly deserve criticism for coddling and appeasing a neoliberal president.

It's not just Fox News How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street - Salon.com

Dan Kervick ->acerimusdux...

"Look at actual polls, and the very things they are criticizing, the minimum wage, social security, and government provided health care, are all generally popular with voters."

Correct. I guess what they mean is these things are unpopular with the people who count: the ones who give the big bucks and run the important corporate and media institutions.

anne

https://theintercept.com/2015/11/05/leaked-emails-from-pro-clinton-group-reveal-censorship-of-staff-on-israel-aipac-pandering-warped-militarism/

November 5, 2015

Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism
By Glenn Greenwald

LEAKED INTERNAL EMAILS from the powerful Democratic think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) shed light on several public controversies involving the organization, particularly in regard to its positioning on Israel. They reveal the lengths to which the group has gone in order to placate AIPAC and long-time Clinton operative and Israel activist Ann Lewis - including censoring its own writers on the topic of Israel.

The emails also provide crucial context for understanding CAP's controversial decision to host an event next week for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That event, billed by CAP as "A Conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," will feature CAP President Neera Tanden and Netanyahu together in a Q&A session as they explore "ways to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States." That a group whose core mission is loyalty to the White House and the Democratic Party would roll out the red carpet for a hostile Obama nemesis is bizarre, for reasons the Huffington Post laid out when it reported on the controversy provoked by CAP's invitation.

The emails, provided to The Intercept by a source authorized to receive them, are particularly illuminating about the actions of Tanden (right), a stalwart Clinton loyalist as well as a former Obama White House official. They show Tanden and key aides engaging in extensive efforts of accommodation in response to AIPAC's and Lewis' vehement complaints that CAP is allowing its writers to be "anti-Israel." Other emails show Tanden arguing that Libyans should be forced to turn over large portions of their oil revenues to repay the U.S. for the costs incurred in bombing Libya, on the grounds that Americans will support future wars only if they see that the countries attacked by the U.S. pay for the invasions.

For years, CAP has exerted massive influence in Washington through its ties to the Democratic Party and its founder, John Podesta, one of Washington's most powerful political operatives. The group is likely to become even more influential due to its deep and countless ties to the Clintons. As the Washington Post's Greg Sargentput it earlier this year: CAP "is poised to exert outsized influence over the 2016 president race and - should Hillary Clinton win it - the policies and agenda of the 45th President of the United States. CAP founder John Podesta is set to run Clinton's presidential campaign, and current CAP president Neera Tanden is a longtime Clinton confidante and adviser." ...


reason said...

Sorry for quoting a longer passage - but it just seems incoherent to me ...

" The left, meanwhile, is too focused on "redistribution to address income inequality."

Third Way says a better agenda focuses on growth by promoting skills, job growth and wealth creation without adding to deficits or raising taxes on the middle class. Its report outlines a series of policies it says can do this...

The gist of the report concludes that the economic problems facing the American middle class have less to do with unfairness-or the idea that the system is fundamentally "rigged" against workers-and more to do with technological and globalization forces that can't be reversed."

Huh???

How does redistribution not have to do with inequality? If changes in income distribution are cause by technology and globalization forces - how can that be solved (within a country and within a generation) WITHOUT redistribution. For crying out loud - does this guy think about what he is saying?

djb ->reason...

Right, this is exactly the republican platform: stop complaining about inequality -- that's class warfare. Lets focus on get job skills and "growth" and "wealth creation" without adding to the deficits or raising taxes "on the middle class" things are they way they due to greed its just technology technology makes us have more inequality, this is ALL right wing supply side republican platform ideas...


acerimusdux ->reason...

Yes, they say they want to focus on income inequality rather than wealth inequality, but then they say they want to talk about growing wealth (rather than income).

This ignores that you can really only increase net wealth in the aggregate if you increase production of real long term assets, like housing. But most wealth is held in the form of financial assets, which only mean in the end that one person owes another money. One person's asset is another's debt.

Third Way seems to have the naive idea that you can increase overall well being by growing wealth through an increase in financial assets. They ignore that this really means an equal increase elsewhere in either individual or government debt.

In reality, we should probably be talking instead about increasing worker incomes, and reducing excess accumulations of wealth. With the economy now producing jobs, we should be talking about reducing government debt, and doing so by taxing those who are holding excess financial wealth. A financial asset tax of 1.5% for example, would raise over $1 trillion. And would be very progressive, considering that near to half the country has under $10,000 in financial assets.

Conservatives seem to forever be proposing bold new ways to make the tax system more regressive. Flat taxes, consumption taxes, cutting capital gains, etc., ad nauseum.

I wonder why Progressives can't seem to generate the same kind of enthusiasm for something as simple and bold as a financial asset tax?

If you look at the Third Way program, a lot of what they are proposing isn't bad, in itself, but it ends up a laundry list of small solutions which avoids addressing any of the really big problems. Their proposed $500 contribution to private retirement or other long term savings accounts for example ends up similarly being a small benefit for each family that would receive it, but a rather significant amount of money in the aggregate that would likely end up managed by their Wall Street constituents.

Sandwichman ->acerimusdux...

"Third Way seems to have the naive idea..." Nothing "naive" about these cynical vultures.

Bud Meyers said...

"Third Way says a better agenda focuses on growth by promoting skills, job growth and wealth creation without adding to deficits or raising taxes on the middle class."

How to THEY define "middle-class" - $250,000 a year, like many in Congress believe - when the "median wage" is $28,000 a year?
https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2013

When Elizabeth Warren says "the game is rigged", that's not rhetoric, it's just truth-telling - and has IT HAS been a winning political message.

The Third Way = Obama and Hillary. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have a more populist and more popular appeal than the pro-corporate/moderate/centrist/Third Way types.

We need another FDR, not another George W. Bush or Bill Clinton (aka Hillary).

("I'm Bud Meyers, and I approve this message.")

Peter K. said...

The problem with the Third Way policies is that they don't work. They'be been tried these past 40 years and we've seen the results: growing inequality and wage stagnation.

There are many policies which can attack these problems but one of the main ones is full employment and stronger worker bargaining power.

As Jared Bernstein wrote:

"...since the late 1970s, we've been at full employment only 30 percent of the time (see the data note below for an explanation of how this is measured). For the three decades before that, the job market was at full employment 70 percent of the time."

We need to go back to the policies of the post-war years to create a fair, functioning economy.

That means good macro policy. Globalization and technology are just used as excuses and alibis, they're not the real causes. It's political.

As Bernie Sanders says the campaign finance system and corporate media are corrupt. It will take a large mobilization of everyday citizens to help change things.

That's not to say that reforms like Obamacare and better monetary policy are not worthwhile. They can create more room for more mobilization.

Tom aka Rusty said...

Seems to me the left will help Hillary get elected and then she will break their hearts. Rubinomics will be necessary to pay off all of those foundation donors.

The Clintons may not understand integrity, but they do understand politics.

Sandwichman said...

"The report cites focus group research..."

That's definitive. Focus groups are excellent sources of information about what the participants think the researchers want to hear.

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman...
Wikipedia: "The board of the Third Way is made up almost entirely of investment bankers and other Wall Street executives." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way_(think_tank)
Sandwichman -> Sandwichman...
Third way is a euphemism for FIFTH COLUMN.

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

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman...
GOP Donors and K Street Fuel Third Way's Advice for the Democratic Party

http://www.thenation.com/article/gop-donors-and-k-street-fuel-third-ways-advice-democratic-party/

"Third Way, a centrist think tank that portrays itself as a Democratic group, has some advice for the party: avoid economic populism at all costs. In a column for The Wall Street Journal today, the group argues that the party should steer clear of creating a strong safety net, and criticizes Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's call for universal pre-K funded through an upper-income tax increase as a foolhardy idea for national Democrats.


"As many have noted today, in reaction to the column, Third Way's attacks on Social Security and Medicare fail on the merits. It's bad policy, and it's equally bad politics.

"But for Third Way, a group founded in 2005 that is highly active on Capitol Hill, the think tank is merely defending the special interest groups that allow it to exist.

"Buried inside the annual report for Third Way is a revelation that the group relies on a peculiar DC consulting firm to raise half a million a year: Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart. Peck Madigan is no ordinary nonprofit buckraiser. The group is, in fact, a corporate lobbying firm that represents Deutsche Bank, Intel, the Business Roundtable, Amgen, AT&T, the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, MasterCard, New York Life Insurance, PhRMA and the US Chamber of Commerce, among others.

"The two organizations complement each other well. Peck Madigan signs as a lobbyist for the government of New Zealand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal; Third Way aggressively promotes the deal. Peck Madigan clients push for entitlement cuts, and so does Third Way.

"Notice that Humana, a major health insurance company, lists its $50,000 donation to Third Way not as a donation to a think tank but as part of its yearly budget spent on lobbying activity, up there with the Florida Chamber and other trade associations. The company views financial gifts to Third Way as part of its strategy for increasing its profit-making political influence.

"What's more, Third Way's leadership has tenuous connections to the Democratic Party it hopes to shape. Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager listed as a trustee on Third Way's 2012 annual disclosure, bundled $556,031 for Mitt Romney last year. Third Way board member Derek Kaufman, another hedge fund executive, also gave to Romney.

"There is a long and storied tradition of corporate, right-wing interests seeking to shape the economic policies of the Democratic Party. The DLC, another Third Way–style group that folded in 2011, was funded by none other than Koch Industries. Richard Fink, a strategist to the Koch brothers who helped found what is now known as Americans for Prosperity, was on the DLC's board.

"Washington's Big Business–friendly press has greeted the Third Way column as a "game changer." But these arguments aren't new, and neither are the strategies. Large corporations have many ways of finding useful surrogates, and Third Way is a prime example.

"UPDATE: Daily Kos's Hunter has a nice post noting how Third Way's hatred of Senator Elizabeth Warren may relate to the fact that Third Way's board is made up almost entirely of investment bankers and other Wall Street executives. Also worth considering, the anti-privatization drive of those "economic populism" types might rub some Third Way board leaders the wrong way-especially the one who sits on Correction Corporation of America's board."

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman...
Third Way in struggle for the Democratic Party's soul

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/10/06/struggle-for-soul-democratic-party-pits-wall-street-backed-think-tank-against-elizabeth-warren/pYk3SXRnZDmpi7C7N4ZpXN/story.html

"Third Way, backed by Wall Street titans, corporate money, and congressional allies, is publicly warning against divisive "soak-the-rich" politics voiced by populist Democrats. Its target: Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator whose rise to power two years ago helped galvanize Democratic grass roots against Wall Street and pushed the issue of income inequality to the forefront."

likbez

Tom aka Rusty said "Seems to me the left will help Hillary get elected and then she will break their hearts. Rubinomics will be necessary to pay off all of those foundation donors."

You got it. But this is by design not because of some "payoff" needed. This trick is called "Change we can believe in". And Obama already demonstrated pretty polished execution of this trick. The lower 80% of population will be taken for ride again. Maintaining the neoliberal empire is an expensive business... No money left for common folks. Sorry about that.

[Nov 06, 2015] There's no party any more. It's chaos. Anybody can just decide they want to be the Republican nominee, and make a run for it

peakoilbarrel.com

Boomer II, 11/06/2015 at 5:35 pm

Aside from the fact that the Republican Party has some questionable candidates, there are two other factors which may shape whether or not they care about the same issues as today:

1. Their core voters continue to get older. They will die off. I can't see too many younger voters becoming Republicans to replace them.

2. Money in politics will come from other sources. Many of America's younger wealthy don't care about the same issues as Fox News and the Kochs. If that money buys politicians, it's going to be politicians with different priorities than those currently on the right.

I just saw this the other day. Now Reich is a Democrat, so you need to factor that into what he is writing about. But he is quoting a Republican (or maybe a former Republican) who is saying what I know other moderate Republicans (now former Republicans) also think. This isn't a party they recognize.

Robert Reich (Reality Check): The other night I phoned a former Republican member of Congress with whom I'd worked in the 1990s on various pieces of legislation. …

Him: "… There's no party any more. It's chaos. Anybody can just decide they want to be the Republican nominee, and make a run for it. Carson? Trump? They're in the lead and they're both out of their f*cking minds."

[Nov 05, 2015] How Bernie Sanders Can Save the Democrats

Nov 03, 2015 | Observer

... ... ...

Bernie Sanders is the ultimate conviction politician, taking stands of principle that he has long championed.

The first truism is that every dollar that Mr. Sanders raises from small donors for his campaign, and every day he campaigns, and every speech he makes, and every presidential debate he participates in, and every vote he ultimately receives in primaries and caucuses, makes the Democrats more progressive and increases the chances of a Democratic victory in 2016.

The second truism is that the issues at the heart of progressive populism are more popular with voters than the issues at the heart of what is called the conservatism of Republicans today. The more Democrats champion the progressive populist agenda the more votes they will receive from the general electorate, and the greater the voter turnout they will receive from Democratic-friendly voters.

The third truism is a phenomenon that is outside my experience in national politics, which is that the frontrunner candidate (Ms. Clinton) is almost entirely following the philosophical lead of the challenging candidate (Mr. Sanders).

... ... ...

Mr. Sanders has great appeal to everyone who wants to end corruption and increase the fairness of the financial system and the world economy.

To understand the importance of the Sanders campaign, and the power and appeal of his message, and why it is so important to Democratic success in 2016, consider the following. Mr. Sanders is the most authentic heir to the great Democratic legacy of the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Frontier of John F. Kennedy, and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson. His major progressive positions happen to be highly popular with voters and more popular with voters than opposing conservative positions. I would argue that the better Mr. Sanders does in his campaign the more Ms. Clinton follows his lead in taking progressive positions that are both right and popular, and the more the Democrats are identified with these positions the better their chances of prevailing in 2016.

By contrast without the appeal of the Sanders campaign there is every reason to believe, and much evidence to suggest, that Ms. Clinton would "move to the right" and reposition herself yet again in ways that would increase her levels of distrust from voters generally, and depress Democratic turnout on Election Day.

Consider how Mr. Sanders is offering a sweeping platform that makes him the heir to FDR and the New Deal.

The Sanders platform includes raising the minimum wage for all workers to $15 an hour, establishing a single payer healthcare system that would be similar to a Medicare for all program, increasing Social Security payments at a time when there will soon be outrage from seniors who discover they will receive zero cost-of-living increases next year, offering free college education for students at public colleges, and breaking up big banks by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act.

On almost all of these major issues Mr. Sanders first took the strong position, followed by Ms. Clinton who then took her own positions where she moved in ways progressives would generally approve, though often not as far as supporters of Mr. Sanders would wish.

Regarding the environment, Mr. Sanders was unequivocally opposed to the Keystone pipeline from the beginning, unlike Ms. Clinton who first took no position and ultimately followed his lead opposing it.

Regarding protecting workers from losing jobs through unfair foreign trade, Mr. Sanders was unequivocally opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership from the beginning, unlike Ms. Clinton who first called it the "gold standard" of trade deals and then followed his lead in opposing it.

The full range of reforms championed by Mr. Sanders has great appeal to workers, seniors, students, parents, healthcare consumers and everyone who wants to end corruption and increase the fairness of the financial system and the world economy. These constituencies taken together comprise a wide swath of American voters and offer the potential to create a new form of the New Deal coalition that brought Democrats to power for generations.

To the degree that Bernie Sanders prospers politically by championing these causes it is good for Democrats. To the degree that his success incentivizes Hillary Clinton`to move to more progressive positions it helps all Democrats.

Elections are won by the candidates and parties that motivate more of their voters to come to the polls on Election Day. The reason that Democrats were annihilated in the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014 was that conservative voters were super-motivated to vote while many liberal voters became depressed and stayed home.

When Mr. Sanders says that a key to victory for Democrats in the 2016 elections is to expand the electorate by inspiring more citizens to vote for them he is absolutely right.

For these reasons in the close election that is likely in November 2016, no matter who is nominated as their candidate for president the causes championed by Bernie Sanders, and the people he inspires to vote, could save the Democrats by helping them eke out a narrow victory in one of the most important elections in generations.

[Nov 04, 2015] Take note Bernie fans

Notable quotes:
"... I have two words for this: Hillary Clinton. ..."
"... Good point. Some think salvation lies with the left, but consider Obama (whom some on the right see as the anti-Christ). Contrary to the spirit and word of his campaign, upon entry into office, he chose Emmanuel for his chief; Geithner/Rubin/Summers for banking; and Baucus with sidekick Liz Fowler (formerly VP of Wellness) for health policy. Subsequent outcomes were predictably consistent. Right and left fight mightily against perceived threats from the other, but both find themselves inadvertently supporting the very policies they both despise. ..."
"... The Dem party appears more fascist, in the Mussolini corporatist sense, but only by a matter of degrees. ..."
"... As an outsider looking in, what USA defines as "left" seems to lie to the right of all but the most extreme right wing in Europe. ..."
"... I have mentioned Peronism before and if you look at Peronism it is basically fascism. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peronism ..."
"... What I disagree with is calling fascism conservativism. There was a recent interview I read by a person who was a young girl in Austria when fascism arose there. What did she discuss, well when it started it seemed very "neo-liberal" (the original liberalism is what our founding fathers outlined – individualism and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) with the Nazi's handing out lots of freebies to the general population. People do not just stand up and give their freedom away. They have to be conned out of it and it usually sounds something like "Want some candy little girl well just give up your freedoms." ..."
November 3, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the US by Yves Smith

David, November 3, 2015 at 11:04 am

Why didn't Wallace become President when Roosevelt died? From the St. Petersburg Times,

The Gallup Poll said 65 percent of the voting Democrats wanted Wallace and that 2 percent wanted Senator Truman. But the party bosses could not boss Wallace. They made a coalition with the Roosevelt-haters and skillfully and cynically mowed down the unorganized Wallace forces.

Take note Bernie fans.

James Levy, November 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

I don't think it was a matter of bossing Truman around. He thought what they wanted thought, and that was quite sufficient. Truman's was a case of cognitive capture, not gutlessness.

Synoia, November 3, 2015 at 11:22 am

Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself "conservativism."

Oh really? I have two words for this: Hillary Clinton.

cassandra, November 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Good point. Some think salvation lies with the left, but consider Obama (whom some on the right see as the anti-Christ). Contrary to the spirit and word of his campaign, upon entry into office, he chose Emmanuel for his chief; Geithner/Rubin/Summers for banking; and Baucus with sidekick Liz Fowler (formerly VP of Wellness) for health policy. Subsequent outcomes were predictably consistent. Right and left fight mightily against perceived threats from the other, but both find themselves inadvertently supporting the very policies they both despise.

participant-observer-observed, November 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Yes, the Dems now are unabashedly "Corpos." The GOP, at least in the aggregate, retains a semblance of allegiance to principles transcendent of sheer corporatism, and their electorate. The Dem party appears more fascist, in the Mussolini corporatist sense, but only by a matter of degrees.

digi_owl, November 4, 2015 at 4:19 am

As an outsider looking in, what USA defines as "left" seems to lie to the right of all but the most extreme right wing in Europe.

Ishmael, November 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

I do not agree with Naked Capitalism on all issues but this is one that I believe we see eye to eye.

I have mentioned Peronism before and if you look at Peronism it is basically fascism. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peronism

What I disagree with is calling fascism conservativism. There was a recent interview I read by a person who was a young girl in Austria when fascism arose there. What did she discuss, well when it started it seemed very "neo-liberal" (the original liberalism is what our founding fathers outlined – individualism and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) with the Nazi's handing out lots of freebies to the general population. People do not just stand up and give their freedom away. They have to be conned out of it and it usually sounds something like "Want some candy little girl well just give up your freedoms."

Fascism/Corporatism and its partner Corruption are the two major problems of this country.

andyb, November 4, 2015 at 9:30 am

A true Conservative believes in the Constitution (as originally written, not as historically bastardized by SCOTUS), free markets (as envisioned by Adam Smith, but destroyed by the banking cartel), and States' Rights.

No one leading candidate in either party fits the bill.

diptherio, November 4, 2015 at 1:26 am

No sh*t. If Hartmann could wasn't such a hack (which I believe he is, even if he does write the occasional decent article), he would have noticed that Obama and Hillary and Rahm and the rest of 'em are exactly as corporatist/fascist as any self-styled conservatives. Perhaps he should read his own writing a little more closely:


But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.

Like prejudices against conservatives, for instance? "[P]laying upon the fears…of different groups in order to gain power" is the first (and only) page in both parties play-books, as anyone who has been paying any attention at all can confirm.

I was actually liking the article right up until that sentence about conservatives. No, Thom, follow the money you jack@ss. The Democratic and Republican parties are both working for the corporatists. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see, and Thom utterly refuses. And given that the intent of his article is, apparently, to play up fears and prejudices against "conservatives" in the media, I suppose that makes him one of the fascist tools that Wallace decried. The only question is whether he knows that he's a tool, or if he's really just that dumb. I vote for dumb.

Jess,

Unfortunately, Hartmann's solution for this and other socio-economic ills is to vote for Democrats. He has Bernie on his show every Friday but mark my words, if Bernie wins the popular vote but the Dem party apparatchnik super-delegates steal the nomination for Hillary, good 'ol Thom will be out there urging everyone to vote for the Hildabeast.

Barmitt O'Bamney,

And so will Bernie.

participant-observer-observed,

Yet neither mention the prospect of Bernie supporters Not voting Dem. Somebody somewhere must be running the numbers. Dems function better for socialists in opposition, that is what 8 years of Obama has shown.

Massinissa,

And 8 years of Bush.

I miss those days, you know? Back when we had a president that didnt get accused of being a gay muslim communist by the right every day. Worked out so much better for the left.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL,

Bernie should read the writing (super-delegate count), take stock of his career and his age, and go full bore opposing the machine. The best legacy he could leave would be well and truly calling a spade a spade once and for all, loud, clear, and unrestrained. Like most Dems he still thinks politics is some kind of gentleman's game, only to be played under polite rules of engagement. But "polite" didn't work in the 70's when we stopped a war, threw a crook president out, and completely changed the society. Sometime prior to Hilary's WW III we need a very, very different answer and we're not going to get it with niceties.

Tom Allen,

Hartmann has said as much on his show. Here, for example. He's a big Hillary fan - "I love Hillary. I think Hillary Clinton would make a great president." - though he likes Bernie too. Like a lot of career progressives, he's straddling the fence during the primary and concentrating his attacks solely on the Republicans.

tim s,

How can someone write such a damning piece, and hit the mark so well, and then seemingly obliviously screw up the conclusion stating that IT'S THE REPUBLICANS???

If it is deliberate obfuscation in trying to paint the DEMS as the good guys, he is dangerously close to exposing too much of the dark side with his efforts.

Oregoncharles,

Hartmann has long been a temporizer who can't face the Democrats' collusion in our long slide into authoritarianism. I actually wrote to him about it years ago, when he sounded approachable; no response. With a TV show, he now has a big stake in staying in line.

He's hardly the only one who can make the case but never quite grasp his own argument.

[Nov 02, 2015] Hillary and Banks

Oct 29, 2015 | Peak Prosperity

pyranablade


Good Point Hotrod

It goes without saying that people in politics - even when well-intentioned - aren't "showing all their cards."

And Reich is certainly well-intentioned.

In a related thought.... Although Hillary Clinton recently told Stephen Colbert that she would let the big banks fail "if" another crisis comes, a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi reveals that she is actually onboard with Goldman Sachs and that her "comprehensive plan" only gives regulators the "ability" to enforce things - in other words, Hillary's plan has no automatic mechanism to punish the banksters instead of the taxpayers when things go down the tubes.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/hillary-clintons-take-on-banks-wont-hold-up-20151014

So if you are a democrat, and you don't want another bankster bailout, you should be pulling for Bernie Sanders. I haven't researched the Republican candidates on this issue, maybe somebody has some input on that.

Hotrod

Pyranablade,

Hillary not siding with the TBTF banks? Laughable. I don't think Bernie could stop the corruption either-even if he'd like to. No Republican candidate has mentioned anything regarding the banks that I know of with the possible exception of Rand Paul. The stench of corruption and the power of influence only step aside when the people are in the streets and demand change. I wish I could be more optimistic.

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

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

Josh26

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

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

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

Oscargo, 9:38 PM EST [Edited]

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

Bye Bye EU!

Steve Willer

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

realityboy

The great experiment in "westernized" Islam is dead.

byetki

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

ed_bx__

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

MACLANE

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

FalseProphet

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

ed_bx__, 4:14 PM EST

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

ed_bx__, 4:06 PM EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEDGES: Including Marx.

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

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

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

WOLIN: Oh, yeah.

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

HEDGES: You mean coming from within the system itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOLIN: Yeah, he did. He did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

HEDGES: So it's just like today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 29, 2015] Sheldon Wolin, 1922-2015

Sheldon S. Wolin, died on Oct 21, 2015 at the age of 93...
"... Probably of the best ways to understand Wolin's democratic political theory is to read Wendy Brown's recent important critique of neoliberalism as a political and ethical project, rather than simply as an economic policy that has failed in the ways that David Kotz lays bare. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... the political art is to see things from multiple positions and places, to adopt the vantage of one, then the other, to see (and draw) the whole as a composite of perspectives. ..."
"... Wolins hope was always in democracy, and what might get us there changed between his writings. In his later essays on democracy in ancient Greece, he mentions an institution, a form, that was able to house democracy, although only briefly. Yet, also in his later essays and books, he seems to claim that democracy cannot be housed in any institution because the patterns they create end up excluding, ritualizing, and taming the indeterminable becoming of political life. More importantly, in the context in which we live, he emphasized that political institutions can be studied and thus manipulated by those with the power to do so: think how the venues for inclusion and private property rights that are solidified in the American constitution make way for lobbyists, news media corporations, super PACs, etc., to cement the power of specific interests at everyone elses expense. ..."
"... Probably of the best ways to understand Wolins democratic political theory is to read Wendy Browns recent important critique of neoliberalism as a political and ethical project, rather than simply as an economic policy that has failed in the ways that David Kotz lays bare. ..."
October 23, 2015 | Crooked Timber
Sheldon Wolin, the political theorist, has died.

In the last five years or so, we've seen the exit of an entire generation of scholars: David Montgomery, Carl Schorske, Peter Gay, Marshall Berman. This was the generation that taught me, sometimes literally. But Wolin's death hits me hardest. I took two courses with him as an undergraduate: Modern Political Theory (Machiavelli to Smith) and Radical Political Thought (Paine to Foucault). The first in my freshman year, the second in my sophomore year. I would have taken more, but Wolin retired the following year. Those courses set me on my way. I would never have become a political theorist were it not for him.

There will be many texts and appreciations in the days and months to come. Wolin taught generations of students, many of whom are now leaders of the field, and their students are now teaching other students. At CUNY, we're always swimming in his seas: Robyn Marasco, at Hunter, was the student of Wendy Brown and Nick Xenos, both of whom were students of Wolin. John Wallach, also at Hunter, and Uday Mehta, at the Graduate Center, were both students of Wolin. There's probably no more powerful a demonstration of Wolin's vision of political theory as a tradition of continuity and innovation, as a transmission across time, than these students of students of students.

While many of these texts and appreciations will focus, and rightly so, on the political side of Wolin-as mentor and participant and commentator on the student movements of the 1960s, particularly at Berkeley; as leader of the divestment movement at Princeton in the 1970s and 1980s; as searching public critic of technocratic liberalism, market conservatism, and American imperialism, in the pages of the New York Review of Books and his wondrous though short-lived journal democracy ; as a theorist of radical or "fugitive" democracy-I want to focus here on the way he did political theory. Less the substance (though I'll come to that at the end) than the style.

The first thing to note about Wolin's approach is how literary it was. It's hard to see this in some of his texts, but it was on full display in his lectures. I don't know if Wolin was at all trained in New Criticism-I seem to recall him citing I.A. Richards's Practical Criticism somewhere-but he read like a New Critic. The opening paragraph or page of every text was the site of an extended exploration and explication, as if the key to all of the Second Discourse was to be found in that arresting image of the statue of Glaucus which Rousseau mentions at the outset.

Chekhov has a line somewhere about how if you put a gun on the wall in the first act, you damn well better make sure it goes off in the second. Wolin paid attention to those guns, especially when they didn't go off. He was endlessly curious about a theorist's metaphors, asides, slips, and allusions, and mined them to great effect. Long before we were reading de Man and Derrida, he was reading like them. But without all the fuss. He just did it.

One moment I remember in particular. In his lecture on The Prince, Wolin stopped and stayed with the dedicatory letter to Lorenzo de' Medici that precedes the text. These two paragraphs in particular:

I hope it will not be thought presumptuous for someone of humble and lowly status to dare to discuss the behavior of rulers and to make recommendations regarding policy. Just as those who paint landscapes set up their easels down in the valley in order to portray the nature of the mountains and the peaks, and climb up into the mountains in order to draw the valleys, similarly in order to properly understand the behavior of the lower classes one needs to be a ruler, and in order to properly understand the behavior of rulers one needs to be a member of the lower classes.

I therefore beg your Magnificence to accept this little gift in the spirit in which it is sent….And if your Magnificence, high up at the summit as you are, should occasionally glance down into these deep valleys, you will see I have to put up with the unrelenting malevolence of undeserved ill fortune.

Most readers, if they pay attention at all, focus on that last sentence, where Machiavelli lands, making the passage little more than an extended case of special pleading: cast out of office (Machiavelli had been an adviser to the Florentine republic) after the Medicis came to power in 1512, arrested and tortured, and then exiled to his country estate, Machiavelli wanted nothing so much as to be of use to the men who had ruined him.

Wolin read things differently. First, he noticed the subtle dig at Lorenzo and rulers more generally: standing on the summit, they could only see one side of the art of rule. To truly understand the art of rule, however, one had to see it from both perspectives: that of the ruler and that of the ruled. And who could see both perspectives? The theorist, like the landscape artist who painted from the vantage of the valley and the peaks. Seemingly a humble plea from a humble servant, the dedicatory letter is in fact a brazen elevation of the letter writer, the theorist, over the ruler, the prince. By attending to the metaphor, Wolin found a deeper statement about the relationship between the political theorist and the political actor.

But then Wolin stepped back even further, asking us to think about that notion of perspective embedded in Machiavelli's metaphor. Most theorists ask us to look upon the political world sub specie aeternitatis. To properly see things as they are, they ascend or exit to the view from nowhere. Plato leaves the cave, Rousseau (an imperfect example here, I know) is locked outside the gates of Geneva, Rawls removes himself to the original position, to a place where there are no positions. Machiavelli, said Wolin, takes a different tack: the political art is to see things from multiple positions and places, to adopt the vantage of one, then the other, to see (and draw) the whole as a composite of perspectives. Perspectivalism is the fancy word for this, and it's usually traced to Nietzsche (who, perhaps not coincidentally, in his notebooks described Machiavelli's teaching as "perfection in politics.") But Wolin identified it with Machiavelli-and as a result, incidentally, came up with a far more interesting reading of the incommensurability of views in Machiavelli than that which we find in Isaiah Berlin's famous essay on Machiavelli.

I remember Wolin doing something similar when we read The Wealth of Nations. He asked what it meant for a political text to open with men making pins in a factory, what it means to make these the leading figures in a political drama. He even might have compared it to the opening of The Prince, asking us to focus on the literary characters that people the one text versus the other. I can't remember what conclusions he drew from that question, but it was a kind of reading that I was not used to. And that many theorists and philosophers, focused as they are on the formal logic and propositions of an argument, don't really do.

The second thing to note about Wolin as a reader is his historicism. Historicism today, at least in political theory, is primarily identified with Quentin Skinner and his contextualist method. Political theorists, it's said, are not in a dialogue across the ages. They are instead local, situated political actors, engaging in a series of moves and counter-moves that are structured by the rules of the game they happen to be playing. That game is the political discourse of the day. Its players are the lesser and greater polemicists and pamphleteers of an argument. To understand what Machiavelli, Hobbes, or Locke is doing when he writes a text, you have to read the hundreds if not thousands of local interlocutors he is responding to. Pace the claims of many readers, the Second Treatise is not a response to Hobbes, who was dead by the time Locke started to write it. Political theory, like politics itself, is a situated enterprise. To understand it historically, we have to disaggregate it into a series of local, often disconnected enterprises. That's what it means to recover the pastness of the past.

(Though Skinner in his more recent work has suggested that Hobbes may be directly responding to Machiavelli. That very notion-that a theorist could be reaching across a century, not to mention a continent, in writing a text-is a great no-no among Skinner's followers, which is why some of them seem so scandalized by it, as I discovered at a seminar last year. Hell hath no fury like an acolyte scorned.)

Wolin was called by a similar historical impulse as Skinner. He too sought to recover the discrete languages of the past, the situatedness of theory and action. But Wolin's historicism was different. Without resorting to those thousands of interlocutors, he managed to contrive a much more radical and bracing sense of the past than most contextualists (it should be said that Skinner himself actually manages to do this with great aplomb), in part because he remains loyal to a notion of movement across time, of a dialogue across the ages.

There are so many instances of this sensibility at work in Politics and Vision, Wolin's greatest book, but one in particular stands out for me. It comes early on, in the third chapter, where he's discussing the move of political theory from ancient Greece to ancient Rome.

Already, you're invited into a historicist frame. Wolin was a big one for the specificity of theory's location in time and space. What effect did it have that political theory arises in the context of the polis, the city-state; moves to an empire radiating out of Rome; resides (and lives a covert life) for hundreds of years in the Church; and suddenly revives in the form of the modern nation-state? At each step, Wolin was attentive to how the location in time and space alters the vocabulary, the questions, the categories of theoretical inquiry.

Wolin opens his discussion of the move from the Greek city-state to the Roman empire with a quote from Tacitus, where Tiberius contrasts the austere virtue of the early days of Rome with the decadence of the imperium, and ascribes the shift to the fact that originally "we are all members of one city. Not even afterwards had we the same temptations, while our dominion was confined to Italy."

For Wolin, the passage is filled with intimation: the suspicion that our understanding of politics is inescapably tied to the experience of the ancient city-state, with its "civic intimacy" and "nervous intensity" and "compelling urgency," such that any alteration of that "spatial dimension" becomes a sign of political dilution and loss.

The essential questions raised by these political thinkers were: how far could the boundaries of political space be extended, how much dilution by numbers could the notion of citizen-participant withstand, how minor need be the "public" aspect of decisions before the political association ceased to be political?
Setting aside what might be seen as an implicit normative claim underlying these questions-this relentlessly local and immediatist understanding of the "political" would dog Wolin's work on radical democracy for years, though I don't think we need to accept that understanding in order to see the power of the historicism at play here-what he was pointing to was how significant an effect it was to be confronted, physically, concretely, by such a vast tract of land as that which was contained by Rome, and to attempt to conduct politics on that new terrain.

For Wolin, the vastness of the imperium helped make sense of the extended and elaborated codexes of law, administration, and jurisprudence that entered the theoretical canon with Rome, but even more interesting, the newfound attention to symbols and personae.

In large entities like…the Roman Empire, the methods of generating loyalties and a sense of personal identification were necessarily different from those associated with the Greek idea of citizenship. Where loyalty had earlier come from a sense of common involvement, it was now to be centered in a common reverence for power personified. The person of the ruler served as the terminus of loyalties, the common center linking the scattered parts of the empire. This was accomplished by transforming monarchy into a cult of and surrounding it with an elaborate system of signs, symbols, and worship. These developments suggest an existing need to bring authority and subject closer by suffusing the relationship with a religious warmth. In this connection, the use of symbolism was particularly important, because it showed how valuable symbols can be in bridging vast distances. They serve to evoke the presence of authority despite the physical reality being far removed….

…The "visual politics" of an earlier age, when men could see and feel the forms of public action and make meaningful comparisons with their own experience, was giving way to "abstract politics," politics from a distance…

This shift from the visually immediate to the distant and the abstract-one can see it in Machiavelli's claim that in politics, no one knows who you are but how you appear; in Hobbes's notion of the Leviathan-would be a recurring theme in Wolin's analysis, even a lament. (As Bonnie Honig pointed out to me in an email, Wolin was the master of the in-between: he was at his best when he understood how political beings are located in these in-between modes. He was especially attuned to this in-between-ness when the in-between was temporal. When it became spatial, he tended to be more of a catastrophist, seeing the move from one space to another, or one mode of space to another, as absolute, the portent or picture of a complete loss.)

But if we can step outside the lamentation, we can see in it a stunning reminder of the situatedness and historical specificity of theory. Not in the formal polemical arguments of the Romans or the Greeks (though there's plenty of that in Wolin, too). But in these deeper idioms and unspoken grammars, in the almost unnoticed backgrounds of space and time (his discussion of the effect of introducing the category of an afterlife, of eternal time, on Christian thought is equally resonant), in the guns that don't go off in the second act.

And, again, the only reason Wolin can notice them is that he's willing to do what the contextualists say you can't do: reach across time, force thinkers who never knew each other (maybe never even heard of each other) into a conversation. That is the way we can get at the specificity of their language, through comparison and confrontation. That is the way we can understand the ruptures of historical experience. With the exception of Nietzsche and Hegel, maybe Lukács (those passages on the effect of the changing mode of warfare in The Historical Novel are pretty incredible), I can't think of a single theorist who understood this, who did this, so well.

The last thing to note about Wolin's approach is how interested he was in translation. Not the translation from French to German or ancient Greek to English, but the translation of one language of politics into another. While Wolin is often, and justly, associated with the claim that we have lost the language of politics-again, in the style of a lament-what was always more interesting about his approach was how attuned he was to ways in which a political vocabulary or idiom gets translated in a new setting.

We've already seen a little of this in his account of the transposition of political concepts from the city-state of Greece to the imperium of Rome, but the most exciting moment, for me, occurs when Wolin turns to the rise of Christianity and its impact on political thought. Where most commentators, says Wolin, treat the political dimensions and elements of Christianity solely in those moments when the religion is forced to confront the polity, Wolin takes a different tack:

The significance of Christian thought for the Western political tradition lies not so much in what it had to say about the political order, but primarily in what it had to say about the religious order. The attempt of Christians to understand their own group life provided a new and sorely needed source of ideas for Western political thought.
What follows is an attempt to reconstruct the politicalness of the early and later Christians' ideas of membership in the Church, of schism and heresy, of priesthood and papacy, and so on. It's as if the entirety of the ancient political canon had been sublimated into a religious idiom and context; the task of reading was to recover the modes of that sublimation and to see what remained from the ancients and what was lost.

I can't say how generative these notions of transposition and sublimation have been for me. In my first book on fear, I looked at how later, more psychological approaches to fear were sublimations of earlier, more political understandings of fear. More recently, I've been fascinated by the idea that economics is a sublimation of an earlier political vocabulary of action, glory, and greatness, how even someone as mathematically inclined as Ricardo may, in his idea of the margin, be transposing and transforming Machiavelli's ideas of the founding and time. Where most theorists identify the political moments of these writings in the passages where an economist considers the state, I take my cues from Wolin and look for them in those moments where an economist deals with questions of exchange, risk, interest, profit, and so forth.

Sublimation is also the word Wolin uses when he reaches the nineteenth century and looks at the rise of "organization" as the central element of contemporary political life. In the last chapter of the book (in the first edition), Wolin takes us from Saint-Simon to Lenin to Elton Mayo and Peter Drucker, and sees in each of these writers and moments of theorizing, an attempt to escape from politics. Again in a declensionist mode, Wolin sets his sights on the ascendance of economistic modes of thinking. His clear target is the modern corporation and the managerialist discourse of human relations. These are political languages, practices and institutions; they are the result of centuries of displacement from ancient Greece to the modern nation-state. Yet they evade their politicalness or fail to understand it.

What's interesting to me about this last chapter is how much it may have missed in its conflation of the economic with the organization and the corporation. Of course, it makes sense that it did. Wolin wrote Politics and Vision in 1960, on the heels of a decade that had seen the publication of such titles as The Hidden Persuaders, The Organization Man, White Collar, and the like. It was the age of the corporation and middle management; naturally, that was Wolin's endpoint, which shouldn't in any way diminish just how surprising and innovative it was for him to write a history of the Western political canon that ends with Peter Drucker!

But what it missed, I think, was the very insight that powered his earlier chapters on the Christians: not that the political vocabulary was lost or eclipsed, but that it got transposed into a new key. For that, to my mind, is how we should be reading thinkers like Schumpeter, Hayek, Coase, Mises, Friedman, even Jevons and Ricardo. Little in the way Wolin dealt with economistic modes of thinking could prepare us for the ferocity of the political assault that economics was about to visit upon us. But that ill-preparedness was baked into the lament for the lost language of politics.

Politics, even the Grosse Politik of Nietzsche's imaginings-which lurks, in a quieter, more quotidian vein, in the background of Wolin's writing-never really goes away. It just assumes, as Wolin was the first to teach us, a new key. Always in-between.

LFC 10.24.15 at 1:26 am

from the OP:
This shift from the visually immediate to the distant and the abstract-one can see it in Machiavelli's claim that in politics, no one knows who you are but how you appear; in Hobbes's notion of the Leviathan-would be a recurring theme in Wolin's analysis

Interesting. That Machiavelli line ("everyone sees how you appear, few touch what you are") could be read that way. More obviously, it's about "the discerning few" (as the editors of one edition of The Prince say in a footnote) versus the gullible many.

Anyway, v. nice post.

Tyler Schuenemann 10.24.15 at 8:57 am

@James Schmidt: Wolin wrote two articles on Arendt, one of which was on her approach to history and reading of Marx, if I remember correctly. The other article attacks her notion of the political, and so you might enjoy it: "Hannah Arendt: Democracy and the Political" (1983). There he argues that her notion of the political excludes concepts like friendship and economic inequality that are, for him, essential to the political.

I think Arendt and Wolin both have a great deal in common in their emphasis on experience as a source of the political, as opposed to an institutional form. I think this comes out strongest if you look at Arendt's Preface to Between Past and Future, and Wolin's various invocations of "demontic moments," "fugitive democracy," and "the political," in his later works.

Regarding hopes, it's important to ask, "hope for what?" because they didn't have the same ends in mind. I think Arendt comes down on the side of a republic, and thus put her hope in elites guided by proper institutions and principles, thus creating a safe home for change and participation. (Though I can already hear the retorts on Arendt's radicalism as I write!) But my impression is that these statements were ideas that she was pitching in the moment, and that they changed throughout her life.

Wolin's hope was always in "democracy," and what might get us there changed between his writings. In his later essays on democracy in ancient Greece, he mentions an institution, a "form," that was able to house democracy, although only briefly. Yet, also in his later essays and books, he seems to claim that democracy cannot be housed in any institution because the patterns they create end up excluding, ritualizing, and taming the indeterminable becoming of political life. More importantly, in the context in which we live, he emphasized that political institutions can be studied and thus manipulated by those with the power to do so: think how the venues for inclusion and private property rights that are solidified in the American constitution make way for lobbyists, news media corporations, super PACs, etc., to cement the power of specific interests at everyone else's expense.

A reoccurring hope that I think that you can find in Wolin's work is the ability of the demos to rediscover itself, and learn how to wield power through a process of political education. He drew from Tocqueville and Dewey on this, seeing the potential of collective activity outside of official institutions. This included what we normally think of as the radical politics of street demonstrations, but also, in Democracy Inc. he interestingly cites the civic coordination of aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. To Wolin, all this "fugitive" activity allows people to learn how to wield power together. This might sound Arendtian again, and in some ways it is. But Wolin wanted to keep the ends radically open, while also finding a way for the demos to wield power over collective life. The seduction to then appeal to some institution for this level of coordination and governance over such a large commons is at tension with his suspicion of formalizing power. (On this last point, see Nick Xenos' "Momentary Democracy.") Thus I don't think it's a coincidence that we find chapter 3 of Politics and Vision so relevant to today. The sheer scale of today's polis is immense and abstract. How can we comprehend and participate in such a behemoth? Wolin tries to answer this more directly in his essay "Agitated Times," but his answer is hedged and tellingly in tension with his earlier attacks on constitutions.

Rakesh Bhandari 10.24.15 at 10:56 pm

Two Wolin essays for which I don't have the cites and which I read long ago come to mind:

  1. A brilliant interpretation of Weber's Protestant Work Ethic as an exploration of nihilism.
  2. A re-reading of Locke as a theorist of revolution. I think it was in democracy.

magari 10.25.15 at 10:22 am

Agreed, although Cicero originates the concern over appearance and public perception (see De Officiis), with Machiavelli reworking/inverting Cicero's argument. Indeed, Cicero's treatment of perception and appearances precisely originates in the desire to be politically effective in a large, extended republic. In a polis, social relations are so intimate that one merely needs to attend to one's inner character. Such intimacy means one is transparent, everyone knows the 'real' you. In imperial Rome, this was not case. Cicero argues that being virtuous was necessary but insufficient, you must project virtuousity to others as they may only have a shallow understanding of who you are.

Rakesh Bhandari 10.26.15 at 2:53 pm

Probably of the best ways to understand Wolin's democratic political theory is to read Wendy Brown's recent important critique of neoliberalism as a political and ethical project, rather than simply as an economic policy that has failed in the ways that David Kotz lays bare.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/booked-3-what-exactly-is-neoliberalism-wendy-brown-undoing-the-demos

Rakesh Bhandari 10.26.15 at 3:02 pm

I can't think about Berkeley political theory and Machiavelli without thinking about Hanna Pitkin's Fortune is a Woman, which I read thirty years ago. I think that autonomy was one of the central ideas–autonomy as both a psychological achievement and a social result of politics. I'll have to find my copy somewhere. Schaar and Jacobson were great teachers too.

GK 10.26.15 at 7:17 pm

Thank you for writing that, Corey.

On Wolin's influence on his students, from an essay by (my teacher) Wilson Carey McWilliams: "Wolin was my first teacher of political theory, and there is no way to disentangle my thinking from his; at every reading of Wolin's work, I am shocked to discover how many of my best ideas have made their way into his writing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOLIN: Sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEDGES: Of both corporate capitalism and superpower.

WOLIN: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEDGES: Thank you.

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

[Oct 29, 2015] Noam Chomsky Abby Martin Electing The President of an Empire

YouTube

Stefan Adler 4 days ago

Excellent interview. Personally I've been listening to so-called alternative media for a very long time now, more or less since about I finished school (I was reading books by Erich Fromm, Hans A. Pestalozzi and others at that time) and I read occasionally alternative newspapers and magazines.

But this has rather dramatically changed now. In fact I more or less completely abandoned the so-called mainstream media, because at least in my opinion a big part of the mass media here in Germany has begun to turn into agencies for very radical and destructive policies designed in part by Brussels and in part by the German government. It doesn't matter which political issue you look at: The so-called refugee crisis, economical topics, the rise of right wing extremism in Germany and so on: A big part of the mainstream media systematically shifts attention away from the really interesting issues.

Take for example the stream of refugees coming to Germany and other European countries. It could have been a starting point for the German media to discuss what the real reasons for this so-called crisis are: For example the German, British, French and other weapons exports and what they are used for. Or the ecomical policies of the European Union, which severely damages the economies of countries like Senegal or Burkina Faso. But this just doesn't happen. When you turn on the publicly financed radio stations you hear them discussing technical terms of Germans policies shutting down the European borders to stop the flow of refugees, but almost no word about what this means for the desperate people who end up there. It's a very shocking experience to basically see that even publicly financed media (which we are supposed to be proud of) stay diligently within the limits of discussion, which according to Noam's and Edward Herman's work you would expect for commercial media.

Of course you can find journalism here which does not follow these restrictions, but in case of the publicly financed radio and news programmes you mostly have to wait until late in the evening (when most of the working population doesn't watch TV or listen to radio anymore) or turn to newspapers which are sold at only very few places. The media is in a terrible condition here nowadays, at least in my opinion.

coldflame 1 day ago

-1 philosophers theory says that human cultures demonstrate severe & increasingly polarizing cycles where the rich get richer & the poor get poorer until the poor are so extremely desperate that a revolution is inevitable....Then there is a massive redistribution of wealth & things even out for awhile & then the cycle begins again.
-It seems to me that this theory is massively sped up by technology & industry & finance abuses.

-My guess about it is that the power-wacko-wealthy will abuse science & technology to destroy many billions of people, leaving various levels of slaves to serve them & theirs. Ultimately it won't work for them but the ego of humanity is so short-sighted & narcissistic that it's very hard to imagine otherwise. God I hope I'm wrong. We do have a chance at solving major problems of energy, extinction, food, education, so let's hope for the best.

Siddharth Sharma 3 days ago

Chomsky hits the nail on Bernie's campaign. The energy behind the campaign is great, but it's very likely to die after the election. Which Bernie also understands as his major hurdle. He has stated many times, about creating a political revolution, and said that Obama's biggest mistake was, that he let the mass movement that elected him die. Bernie wants people to be actively involved in politics, and take rational decisions. When asked how he intends to tackle Republicans while pushing for his progressive reforms, he replied(on the lines of), if his campaign was successful there won't be many Republicans to deal with. While I hope that to happen, it's rather optimistic of Bernie to think so. Many people are completely missing the point of his campaign, rather worshiping him as an idol, without understanding the ideals that he stands for. Sanders supporters need to be more mature and serious, as electing him President will not be a panacea; much will remain to be done.

HenryDavidT 9 hours ago (edited)

In a fair, intelligent world, this man would be the first in line to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

America's "exceptionalism" is not what right wing conservative Christian tribal babbles about; rather, it is that this society is able to NURTURE and PROTECT a man like this, while the Athenians put theirs to death by making him drinking poison ... and the Chinese castrated theirs...

Callme Ishmael 5 hours ago

Chomsky is always off the mark on American Libertarianism. To begin with, the Libertarians are not a united front. It's not a consolidated party or philosophy. It's based on the non-aggression principle, but after that, opinions vary widely. His argument about environmental destruction are countered by arguments by Libertarians about private property and prosecution of fraud and the behavior of informed consumers in a free market. The corporation itself is based on an anti-free market principle--limited liability--so the whole legal definition of a corporation is called into question by some forms of Libertarianism. The master-servant relationship is not advocated by most Libertarians. That's absurd. And why does he think there wouldn't be any private bus systems? And no empathy or private forms of welfare? One of the main arguments of Libertarians is there wouldn't be anywhere near as many impoverished people. In theory, a free market and free enterprise undermines monopoly and the power to oppress and distributes wealth more even. It's corruption through government force that enables corporations to monopolize and move wealth to the top.

Rodrigo Rodrigues 3 days ago

Bush destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. Two countries.

Obama destroyed Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine. Four countries.

The US's military industrial complex works around any president, sadly, When President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize I was shocked.

He admitted he didn't deserve the prize at the presentation. He went on to praise militarism, and gave tepid support for preventive wars, a war crime. I would like to know Chomsky's opinion on Donald Trump being a candidate .

EnnoiaBlog 2 days ago (edited)

"The Democrats have shifted to the right as well. Today's mainstream Democrats are pretty much what used to be called 'moderate Republicans.' -- Noam Chomsky, in interview with Abby Martin, Oct. 24ish 2015.

MY HERO!!!!!!!

Chris Neglia 1 day ago (edited)

10:00 -- "If a major financial institution gets in trouble, the government will bail it out, which happens repeatedly--only during the illiberal periods [not free / rights lacking] incidentally. There were no major failures during the 50s and 60s. When the illiberal policies began to be instituted--deregulation and so on--then you start getting a series of financial crises and every time the public bails them out. >>> Well that has consequeces. For one thing that means the credit agencies understand these corporations are high value beyond the level of what they actually do because they're gonna be bailed out. So they get good credit ratings, means they can get cheap credit, means they can get cheap loans from the government, they can undertake risky transactions which are profitable because if something goes wrong the tax payer will take care of it. >>>> Net result is: that amounts to practically all their profits. Is that Capitalism?"

Nailed it Noam.

[Oct 29, 2015] Hillary Clinton We Lied. The Aim Of Our War On Libya Was Regime Change

Notable quotes:
"... People that she surrounds herself with are rabid neo-cons. Hand chosen ones no less. ..."
"... Hillarys state department minions had hands in Egypt, Ukraine, Libya, and Syrias uprisings. No denying. imo. ..."
"... even Hillarys admission of regime change, in regard to Libya, flew over our American heads. ..."
"... why is no one grilling David Petraeus. After all, it was Petraeuss CIA compound, where four Americans met their fatal fate. ..."
"... This whole Benghazi episode has the feel of a Brzezinski inspired, Petraeus implemented plan, gone wrong. ..."
"... Although, Im not completely sold on the Romney involvement, I will buy into a CIA double cross, which brought the revengeful crazies out in force that day. Brzezinski, and Petraeus, love using the bad guy, to fight the other bad guy, and this is where one conniving nobleman could find themselves in a really tight squeeze. ..."
"... Contrary to what most here seem to believe, poll after poll after poll have indicated for years that a majority of Americans do not want overseas military interventions, invasions, or military meddling. The majority of Americans want overseas military bases closed. The majority of Americans want the money spent on senseless foreign wars spent instead on infrastructure and improvements within the US. ..."
"... But like citizens of most every other country, Americans are primarily concerned with their domestic affairs and economy and that is what determines elections, not foreign policy as stupid as most Americans know it to be. Issues such as social security and the unemployment rate take precedence. ..."
"... " Competent opponents dont make any difference in that US 4-yearly circus called an election. It doesnt bring any change in foreign policy and hardly noticeable change in domestic policy. The only thing the circus brings is a new face, lots of promises that never materialize and a brief impression of hope; of change."? ..."
"... So the question we should all ask is why? Why does it not make a difference that a leftist such as Obama has promulgated the same kinds of policies as a republican, say, Bush, the younger? Why did Holland in France promoting the same kind of policies as Sarkozy? ..."
"... Why do we berate the politicians? They are paid servants. They are to do what they are told. The "invisible hands" of control – the shadow government, with the aid of the military and security services, sees to it, through various processes, the leading one of which, being blackmail (remember when the Wikileaks came out where it was evident that Mrs. Clinton was demanding the bank accounts numbers, and other very personal information of diplomats from other nations?) I find it odd that so many of you, as intelligent, well-informed, and savvy as you all are, still keep berating politicians as if seemingly believing that the politicians have any choices once they decide to run for office! Mr. Sanders cannot speak against the Empire altogether. Should he so do, he may find himself in "hole lot of trouble", -- as in being able to stay alive. ..."
"... I actually think that Mr. Obama is the Manchurian Candidate that the CIA had been working towards, already since decades ago. New technologies are available to selectively brain-wash the human mind – so, when he says certain things, he may very well have been brainwashed to say them – hereto, the genuine sincerity with which he says them, however out-of-character that these pronouncements might be. ..."
"... Hillary is primarily a warrior for the rational self-interest of the US financial oligarchy, i.e., basically Wall Street. That oligarchy wants to have good and eventually domineering relations with any country that is moving towards open economic borders and neoliberal rule. Both Libya and Syria were doing that prior to their invasions, so destroying them is irrational from an I represent Wall Street perspective. On the other hand Hillary is _also_ a warrior for the neoconservative constituency, the military-industrial complexes of the US and Israel. That constituency requires chaos and terrorism, scary enemies, in order to justify its massive size. So for that constituency it is rational to produce failed states. ..."
"... As many here have said, all mainstream Presidential candidates represent both constituencies and sometimes choices have to be made between the needs of one and the other. Hillary, especially compared to Obama, _does_ seem to lean to the neoconservative side ... ..."
M of A

Micah Zenko finds a nugget in yesterday's Benghazi hearing of Hillery Clinton:

When asked by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) about a video clip that read, "We came, we saw, he died [meaning former Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi]. Is that the Clinton doctrine?" Clinton replied, "No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end."

The video clip in question is here and should be watched by everyone to understand what an evil character Hillary Clinton is.

But the point, Zenko says, is that she admits that Obama and Clinton as his Secretary of State lied when they claimed to wage war on Libya for some "humanitarian reasons":

What is now totally forgotten is that regime change WAS NOT the intended military mission of the Libya intervention in March 2011. As President Barack Obama stated in a speech to the nation on March 28, 2011, "The task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone," adding explicitly, "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."

... ... ...

Posted by b on October 24, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

shadyl | Oct 24, 2015 1:37:59 PM | 4

People that she surrounds herself with are rabid neo-cons. Hand chosen ones no less.

AND Bernie??? MUM on Mideast policies...

So, when will WallStreet Hillary declare war on Iceland? When they start printing debt free money?

Icelandic Bankers Are Not Too Big To Jail: Face 74 Years In Prison As US Bankers Bask In Bailouts

As TheAntiMedia's Claire Bernish exclaims, you could ice skate in Hell sooner than see the United States follow in Iceland's footsteps with this move: the 26th banker was just sentenced to prison for a combined 74 years between them - each of them jailed for their roles in the 2008 economic collapse.

Five top bankers from Iceland's two largest banks - Landsbankinn and Kaupþing - were found guilty of embezzlement, market manipulation, and breach of fiduciary duties. Though the country's maximum penalty for financial crimes currently stands at six years, the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments to extend the limit. Most of those convicted have so far been sentenced to between two and five years.

Do those sentences sound light to you? Perhaps. Until you consider the curious method of punishment the U.S. employed for its thieving bankers.

While Iceland allowed its government to take total financial control when the 2008 crisis took hold, American bankers - in likely the only bail handout given to criminals of mass destruction - received $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

snip
Iceland's president, Olafur Ragnar Grimmson, described how his country not only weathered the storm, but has been labeled the first European country to fully recover from the crisis:

"We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn't introduce austerity measures like you're seeing in Europe."

MORE:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-24/icelandic-bankers-are-not-too-big-jail-face-74-years-prison-us-bankers-bask-bailouts

Hillary's state department minions had hands in Egypt, Ukraine, Libya, and Syria's uprisings. No denying. imo.

What would happen to our economy without Wall Street gambling and military weapon sales? Would we even have an economy left?

From The Hague | Oct 24, 2015 3:05:06 PM | 18

By the way: Lybia would not be destroyed if Putin had been in charge.
Just one MSM Source:
http://www.ibtimes.com/medvedev-putin-clash-over-libya-rare-moment-public-discord-276513
vendet | Oct 24, 2015 3:27:32 PM | 19

"If there are any competent opponents to her candidacy for president they should pick up on this and use it to destroy her"

Competent opponents don't make any difference in that US 4-yearly circus called an election. It doesn't bring any change in foreign policy and hardly noticeable change in domestic policy. The only thing the circus brings is a new face, lot's of promises that never materialize and a brief impression of hope; of change.

How was Obama who seemed the total opposite of Bush any different from Bush? Guantanamo is still there, the US military occupation footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan is still there and has even expanded to many other countries preceded by different kinds of propaganda scams like the Koni scam; the EU needs protection from Russia scam; ... , he has made highly needed anti global warming measures a joke, domestically general welfare is a failure, banksters and rating agencies have been awarded not punished by the government, although a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and law professor at University of Chicago he converted international law into a worthless piece of toilet paper where only the exceptionalist country is supposed to decide, the ultra secret national eves dropping programme by the NSA wasn't curtailed but expanded it's surveillance to the point that you can talk of a global panopticon, the slowmotion genocide of Palestinians by Zionists remains well on track and finally he has expanded the extra judicial killing programme through drones. The current POTUS also ventured into new roads like the persecution of whistle blowers (Manning, Snowden, Assange and those that never got a name).

His predecessor (Bush) or his predecessor (Clinton) or his predecessor (Bush) or his predecessor (Reagan) wouldn't have done it any different.

Whether a perceived pacifist is chosen, a lunatic or a psychopathic banshee, the end result is still the same.

Susan Sunflower | Oct 24, 2015 4:39:41 PM | 29

Americans are thoroughly brainwashed to believe in American exceptionalism and the mission of "making the world safe for democracy" and America as upholder of human and civil rights (except when we "need" exceptions) ... even people who "should know better" fall into believing that as the world's "one remaining superpower" there is some sort of noblesse obliges mandating America "rescuing" the downtrodden, etc. etc. etc.

Americans are taught -- if not in school, in life -- that were it not for Americans saving the day, Hitler would have won ... nuf said. (cue mighty mouse theme song) ...

Despite rather embarrassing facts/evidence to the contrary they also believe Americans are the most generous people on earth and that our "justice system" is at least better than everyone else's.... add in an extraordinary willingness to give "our leaders" the benefit of the doubt and to believe that corruption does not factor in American business or society ... and you have Disneyland.... or other fantasy-land.
As it was with Vietnam, with Iraq and Afghanistan, the only thing we did "wrong" was to fail.... (having never articulated a plan or vision is overlooked) ...
I'm still waiting for someone to notice that 30-50 years of democracy promotion throughout the middle east (particularly in Egypt, Mubarak objected strenuously) produced such a lack of results when Arab Spring rolled around ... seriously ... these hotbeds of wannabe color-revolutionaries failed pretty resoundingly ... even though we knew Mubarak would not last forever ...

VietnamVet | Oct 24, 2015 4:54:04 PM | 33

As b pointed out earlier, Hillary Clinton also called for the implementation of a no fly zone in Syria after Russia intervened along with 7 other Presidential Candidates. The shock and awe attack required to be successful would start world war III with nuclear armed Russia. It would also trash the memorandum of understanding that regulates flights over Syria between Russia and the USA agreed to four days ago. The fact that the media and her opponents don't point this out means that Americans perceive risking a nuclear war as a plus or else they are blissfully ignorant.

tom | Oct 24, 2015 5:55:04 PM | 39

If we take Sanders on his word alone, and lets assume for the argument that he will implement without much restriction far more socially beneficial policies in the US if he wins the presidency, he is still committed to the US empire and will condemn the rest of humanity to war, depredation and misery. That's if we take his words as accurate.

If you choose that, your choosing condemnation to world wide evil so you and the US population will have a better life. That is evil itself and a world sacrificial evil that no decent human could ever advocate.

Neretva'43 | Oct 24, 2015 6:22:27 PM | 40

"Nature" of the US society: Pathological Lies.

http://www.salon.com/2012/12/30/silencers_the_nras_latest_big_lie/

"Billions of dollars are spent every year in our healthcare system for hearing loss conditions, such as shooting-related tinnitus," explained the NRA. It was a very important point that had long been overlooked in the gun control debate; because if there is a single pressing gun safety issue in America today, it is the hearing, comfort and convenience of recreational shooters who find orange earplugs unsightly. The NRA is also extremely concerned about the fright children may receive from shooting or standing near the reports of high-caliber weapons. These jolts could have a lasting and detrimental developmental impact, possibly imbuing America's impressionable and tender young brains with the notion that guns are loud, dangerous things. The NRA firmly believes that American freedom is best served by giving 9mm gunfire the feel and sound of a toy cap gun. As the NRA's Lacey Biles put it during last April's Dallas Silencer Shoot, silencers are good for "getting younger folks involved [in guns]. They're less afraid of the loud bang."

Do not forget eyeglasses while shooting, NRA did not say this.
http://www.captreeopticians.com/shooting-glasses/ranger-classic

So, people do get what they deserve. USAians deserve Hilary, Trump, Carson, Jindal, etc

"Majority Of Americans Believe US Would Be Safer If More People Carried Guns"

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-23/majority-americans-believe-us-would-be-safer-if-more-people-carried-guns

Penelope | Oct 24, 2015 6:36:36 PM | 41

I guess Gladio has become mainstream; it's no longer necessary to kill govts unacceptable to the oligarchy; now they can just invent the legal right to set them aside. Amazing.

"Portugal has entered dangerous political waters. For the first time since the creation of Europe's monetary union, a member state has taken the explicit step of forbidding eurosceptic parties from taking office on the grounds of national interest.

Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal's constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika. "

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11949701/AEP-Eurozone-crosses-Rubicon-as-Portugals-anti-euro-Left-banned-from-power.html

We are just ants to the oligarchy-- and we can't seem to figure out what to do about it.

Penelope | Oct 24, 2015 6:56:32 PM | 44

Rg and LG @ 24, "Has it, does it, ever occur to anyone that maybe the Obama's, the Bushes, the Clinton's ARE what Americans want for their presidents? People who will attempt to preserve and expand the empire?"

No, it is NOT what Americans want. There seem to be no instrumentalities by which we can affect the power structure. Since the more important aspects of local govt have become national our primary constitutional right is the vote. And as you can see that's hopeless.

I always wonder why people seem to think it enhances their moral stature to complain to Americans about the Indians. No one living today is guilty of any bad treatment of the Indians. I do get tired of all the guilt-slinging. I expect if you go back far enough most countries had somebody else living there before the ancestors of the present citizenry.

Why don't you try being more just to the present occupants of this continent by not accusing us of being in favor of the gangsters who presently have the US in their pocket?

Neretva'43 | Oct 24, 2015 7:07:27 PM | 48
Paraphrasing Nietzsche, "A certain belief or idea might be absolutely essential for survival and still be false."
cronetoo | Oct 24, 2015 7:23:18 PM | 49

I don't think the Democratic nominee will be elected president... whether it is Clinton or Sanders.

A lot of independents and great many Republicans see Trump the same way so many Democrats and Independents saw Obama... the enthusiasm is there for Trump. If he gets the nomination I believe he will beat Clinton. That is if someone doesn't shoot him first.

wendy davis | Oct 24, 2015 7:29:53 PM | 51

I've been trying to cover WikiLeaks cable aggregations in some (broad) locations at my small website, most recently (US democracy project™) NGOs attempting/helping to overthrow leftist governments in Latin America. But Hillary looms large in Honduras.

'Hillary Clinton's Emails and the Honduras Coup', by Alexander Main at CEPR.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Denies-WikiLeaks-Claims-of-Plot-To-Topple-Bolivian-President-20151006-0019.html

But far more damning re: Clinton/Honduras, but some you likely know about Syria: 'WikiLeaks cables shed light on US foreign policy failures'

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/10/wikileaks-cables-shed-light-on-us-foreign-policy-failures.html

Bernie? Okay, but from the horse's mouth, and this doesn't speak to his 'well, Israel's response in Gaza is...disproportionate... but I didn't go to the joint session with Bibi!' schtick. Well, you decide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMhJn4EYbQI

Penelope | Oct 24, 2015 8:15:59 PM | 53
Explains the conduct of the battle in Syria. Informative, worth reading.
The most alarming part:

In its turn, the US will likely increase the delivery of weapons to ISIS. I would not exclude that, to enable ISIS to strike Russian aircrafts, the US will supply more powerful anti-aircraft guns, not only mobile ones, but also those with higher power. Just like the US supplied heavy long-range anti-tank complexes, even though usually they supplied only short-range ones. The US might also supply more powerful rocket-launching systems, which, from Turkish territory, can "accidentally" fall into terrorist hands, where "accidentally" will be well-trained personnel, and can act against our aircrafts at heights up to 20 kilometers. This would mean serious casualties. After these losses, our air force will have to suppress these anti-aircraft systems, which will lead to gradual escalation of the conflict. Thus, I believe that in the next two weeks the tensions will increase, the intensity of actions of the Russian and ISIS forces will increase.

I also think that greater ISIS military force will be deployed at the frontlines. I think they will be redeployed from other areas, such as Afghanistan, and they will be transported