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[Dec 25, 2016] Debt is about power as it affect social relationships, alter social norms, and affect relationships among individuals

Notable quotes:
"... That 'political pressure' turned out to be the bait and switch for a system that shifted power via debt creation. ..."
"... What we have not yet come to terms with are the implications of David Graeber's anthropological insights: how does debt affect social relationships, alter social norms, and affect relationships among individuals? ..."
"... Debt is a form of power, but by failing to factor this into their equations, the Central Bankers are missing the social, political, and cultural consequences of the profound shifts in 'credit market architecture'. In many respects, this is not about 'money'; it's about power. ..."
"... The Central Bankers' models can include all the parameters they can dream up, but until someone starts thinking more clearly about the role and function of money, and the way that 'different kinds of money' create 'different kinds of social relationships', we are all in a world of hurt. ..."
"... At this point, Central Bankers should also ask themselves what happens - socially, personally - when 'debt' (i.e., financialization) shifts from productivity to predation. That shift accelerated from the 1970s, through the 1990s, into the 2000s. ..."
"... Now, maybe it is just a coincidence, but it is hard for me not to notice that the explosion in consumer credit matches up nicely with the rise in inequality. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

readerOfTeaLeaves , December 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

Of the structural changes, the evolution and revolution of credit market architecture was the single most important . In the US, credit card ownership and instalment credit spread between the 1960s and the 2000s; the government-sponsored enterprises – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – were recast in the 1970s to underwrite mortgages; interest rate ceilings were lifted in the early 1980s; and falling IT costs transformed payment and credit screening systems in the 1980s and 1990s. More revolutionary was the expansion of sub-prime mortgages in the 2000s, driven by rise of private label securitisation backed by credit default obligations (CDOs) and swaps. The 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) made derivatives enforceable throughout the US with priority ahead of claims by others (e.g. workers) in bankruptcy. This permitted derivative enhancements for private label mortgage-backed securities (PMBS) so that they could be sold on as highly rated investment grade securities. A second regulatory change was the deregulation of banks and investment banks . Similar measures to lower required capital on investment grade PMBS increased leverage at commercial banks. These changes occurred in the political context of pressure to extend credit to poor.

That 'political pressure' turned out to be the bait and switch for a system that shifted power via debt creation.

What we have not yet come to terms with are the implications of David Graeber's anthropological insights: how does debt affect social relationships, alter social norms, and affect relationships among individuals?

Debt is a form of power, but by failing to factor this into their equations, the Central Bankers are missing the social, political, and cultural consequences of the profound shifts in 'credit market architecture'. In many respects, this is not about 'money'; it's about power.

After Brexit, Trump, and the emerging upheaval in the EU, it's no longer enough to just 'build better economic models'.

The Central Bankers' models can include all the parameters they can dream up, but until someone starts thinking more clearly about the role and function of money, and the way that 'different kinds of money' create 'different kinds of social relationships', we are all in a world of hurt.

At this point, Central Bankers should also ask themselves what happens - socially, personally - when 'debt' (i.e., financialization) shifts from productivity to predation. That shift accelerated from the 1970s, through the 1990s, into the 2000s.

Allowing anyone to charge interest that is usurious is the modern equivalent of turning a blind eye to slavery.

By enabling outrageous interest, any government hands their hard working taxpayers over to what is essentially unending servitude.

This destroys the political power of any government that engages in such blind stupidity.

Frankly, I'm astonished that it has taken so long for taxpayers to show signs of outrage and revolt.

fresno dan , December 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

readerOfTeaLeaves

December 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

I think you have come up with a good insight – I very much agree its about power and not money.

Now, maybe it is just a coincidence, but it is hard for me not to notice that the explosion in consumer credit matches up nicely with the rise in inequality.

And one other thing I would point out – it doesn't take usurious interest rates. If squillionaires have access to unlimited, essentially cost free money in which the distributors of money are guaranteed a profit, NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY HAVE LOST, while the debts on non-squillionaires are collected with fees, penalties, and to the last dime, than it doesn't matter if interest rates are essentially zero.

Who gets bailed out is not due to logic or accounting that says that the banks' losses have to be made whole, but not home owners – that is an ideology called economics .

[Dec 22, 2016] Arming Ukraine Is a Bad Idea The American Conservative

Dec 22, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The first several months of a new administration are inevitably seen as an opening for those who hope to influence the White House over the next four years. The Senate Ukraine Caucus-a bipartisan group of senior lawmakers who have lobbied intensively for a closer U.S.-Ukraine relationship-hopes to take advantage of this sensitive period, in which the new president will order policy reviews, modifications in existing programs, or even a clean break from the past.

In a letter to President-elect Trump, the caucus writes that it is absolutely critical for the United States to enhance its support to Kiev at a time when Vladimir Putin's Russia continues to support a separatist movement on Ukrainian soil. "Quite simply," the group claims , "Russia has launched a military land-grab in Ukraine that is unprecedented in modern European history. These actions in Crimea and other areas of eastern Ukraine dangerously upend well-established diplomatic, legal, and security norms that the United States and its NATO allies painstakingly built over decades."

On this score, the senators are correct. Russia's stealth invasion, occupation, and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula was for all intents and purposes a land-grab denounced not only by the United States but by the United Nations as a violation of state sovereignty and self-determination.

But let's not kid ourselves; this isn't the first time a stronger power will attempt to change the borders of a weaker neighbor, nor will it be the last. The Russians saw an opportunity to immediately exploit the confusion of Ukraine's post-Viktor Yanukovych period. Moscow's signing of the Minsk accords, an agreement that was designed to de-escalate the violence in Eastern Ukraine through mutual demobilization of heavy weapons along the conflict line and a transfer of border control from separatist forces back to the Ukrainian government, has been stalled to the point of irrelevance.

It is incontrovertible that, were it not for Russia's military support and intervention in the summer of 2014, the Ukrainian army would likely have been able to defeat the separatist units that were carving out autonomous "peoples' republics" in the east-or at the very least, degrade rebel capabilities to such an extent that Kiev would be able to win more concessions at the negotiating table.

Yet while we should acknowledge Russia's violations of international law and the U.N. Charter, U.S. and European policymakers also need to recognize that Ukraine is far more important for Moscow's geopolitical position than Washington's.

There is a reason why Vladimir Putin made the fateful decision in 2014 to plunge Russian forces into Ukraine, and it wasn't because he was itching for a war of preemption. He deployed Russian forces across the Ukrainian border-despite the whirlwind of international condemnation and the Western financial sanctions that were likely to accompany such a decision-because preserving a pro-Russia bent in the Ukraine body politic was just too important for Moscow's regional position.

Grasping this reality in no way excuses Moscow's behavior. It merely explains why the Russian government acted the way it did, and why further U.S. military assistance to the Ukrainian security forces would be ill-advised. In fact, one could make a convincing case that providing hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to the Ukrainian government wouldn't help the situation at all, and might lead Kiev to delude itself into thinking that Washington will come to its immediate military aid in order to stabilize the battlefield.

Since 2015, the United States Congress has authorized $750 million to improve the defensive capabilities of the Ukrainian military and security forces. Congress has followed up those funds with an additional $650 million earmarked for the Ukrainians over the next two years, a hefty sum that the next administration would probably use as a message to the Russians that further territorial encroachment on Ukrainian territory would produce more casualties in their ranks.

What the next administration needs to ask itself, however, is whether more money thrown at the Ukraine problem will be more or less likely to cause further violence in the country and turmoil for Ukraine's elected government. Russia has demonstrated consistently that it will simply not permit a pro-Western democratic government from emerging along its western border-and that if a pro-Western government is formed in Kiev, Moscow will do its best to preserve a pro-Russian bent in Ukraine's eastern provinces. Hundreds of millions of dollars in appropriations haven't forced Russia to change that calculation so far; it's not likely that hundreds of millions more will be any more successful. Indeed, every time Washington has escalated its rhetoric or authorized money for Ukraine's military, the Russians have responded in equal terms.

The political crisis in Ukraine is far from resolved, in large measure because of Russia's own actions on the ground and its nonexistent implementation of the Minsk peace agreement. But the situation in the east, while not fully peaceful by any means, is far less violent than it was at the war's peak in 2015. Sometimes, not weighing in can be just as smart for the U.S. national interest as getting involved-a reflex that is has been the forte of Washington's foreign policy establishment since the end of the Cold War.

Daniel DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

[Dec 22, 2016] Kremlin Warns Of Response To Latest US Sanctions, Says Almost All Communication With US Is Frozen Zero Hedge

Dec 22, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
In response to the latest imposition of US sanctions on Russia, the Kremlin said on Wednesday that the new sanctions would further damage relations between the two countries and that Moscow would respond with its own measures. "We regret that Washington is continuing on this destructive path," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

As a reminder, on Tuesday the United States widened sanctions against Russian businessmen and companies adopted after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the conflict in Ukraine.

"We believe this damages bilateral relations ... Russia will take commensurate measures."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Then again, it is difficult to see how sanctions between the two administration could be any more "damaged": also on Wednesday, the Kremlin said it did not expect the incoming U.S. administration to reject NATO enlargement overnight and that almost all communications channels between Russia and the United States were frozen, the RIA news agency reported.

" Almost every level of dialogue with the United States is frozen. We don't communicate with one another, or (if we do) we do so minimally ," Peskov said.

Additionally, RIA said that according to Peskov "he did not know whether President Vladimir Putin would seek re-election in 2018."

"Everyone's heads are aching because of work and with projects and nobody is thinking or talking about elections," Peskov said.

Then again, the sanctions may soon be history. According to a Bloomberg report , the U.S. will start easing its penalties, imposed over the showdown in Ukraine in 2014, during the next 12 months, according to 55 percent of respondents in a Bloomberg survey, up from 10 percent in an October poll. Without the restrictions, Russia's economic growth would get a boost equivalent to 0.2 percentage point of gross domestic product next year and 0.5 percentage point in 2018, according to the median estimates in the poll.

"It's still a toss-up whether the U.S. will ease sanctions quickly, with the EU lagging, but the direction of travel is toward easier sanctions or less enforcement, which could reduce financing costs," said Rachel Ziemba, the New York-based head of emerging markets at 4CAST-RGE. "We think the macro impact would be greater in the medium term than short term as it facilitates a rate easing trend that is already on course. In the longer term, it gives more choice of investment."

Trump, who's called President Vladimir Putin a better leader than Barack Obama, has said he may consider recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and lifting the curbs. While dogged by concerns that Russia intervened to tip this year's elections in the Republican candidate's favor, Trump has already showed his hand by planning to stack his administration with officials supportive of closer cooperation with the Kremlin, from Michael Flynn, the president-elect's national security adviser, to Exxon Mobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson, a candidate for secretary of state.

An equally important consequence of any policy change by Trump would be its affect on the EU's own penalties on Russia, with more economists saying the bloc will follow suit. Forty percent of respondents said in the Dec. 16-19 survey that the EU will begin easing sanctions in the next 12 months, compared with 33 percent in October.

"If the U.S. eases sanctions, it won't be possible to achieve a consensus among EU member states to keep their sanctions regime in place as currently formulated," said Charles Movit, an economist at IHS Markit in Washington.

The Count , Dec 21, 2016 10:42 AM
And yet another fantastic foreign policy blunder from Obummer. He's trying real hard to start WWIII before he leaves office.

That a guy with a shady past and forged documents could be come president shows how powerful the Zionists +Deep State are.

Boris Alatovkrap The Count , Dec 21, 2016 10:43 AM
Boris is somewhat look forward to post-Obama Amerika, where Russia can negotiate with adult.
carbonmutant Boris Alatovkrap , Dec 21, 2016 10:45 AM
We all are... :)
hedgeless_horseman carbonmutant , Dec 21, 2016 10:51 AM

And we sanction them?

Boris Alatovkrap hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 10:51 AM
Only 14 year?! Is feel like lifetime since Russia is learn painful lesson to avoid land war in Asia.
chunga Pinto Currency , Dec 21, 2016 11:38 AM
Is Obama a Russian Agent?

http://cluborlov.com/

And although it is always possible to claim that all of Obama's failures stem from mere incompetence, at some point this claim begins to ring hollow; how can he possibly be so utterly competent at being incompetent?

BarkingCat chunga , Dec 21, 2016 12:06 PM
Obama is not a Russian agent but could very well be a Soviet agent.

Being a dumb fuck whose only skill is reading a teleprompter, he has no idea how to resolve the change in the world since the Soviet Union disintegrated.

chunga BarkingCat , Dec 21, 2016 12:53 PM
Orlov was being sarcastic.
BullyBearish chunga , Dec 21, 2016 3:17 PM
It could be worse:

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on March 26, 2012, Mr. Romney said that Russia is "without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe."

Oracle 911 chunga , Dec 21, 2016 3:32 PM
The agent part is true, not so much the Russian part.

So, whose agent he is? I don't know for sure, but he ruined the US and made it unable to wage the 3rd WW with weapons or profiting from it.

hedgeless_horseman Boris Alatovkrap , Dec 21, 2016 10:58 AM

Why is the USA and Europe sanctioning Russia?

7thGenMO Pinto Currency , Dec 21, 2016 1:54 PM
A Russian in Crimea told me of a recent past winter near disaster when Ukraine shut off the power (and water) - somewhat covered here on ZH. Only a truly heroic effort by Russia to bring in generators kept them from living in dangerous conditions. Crimea is more solidly pro-Russian than it was before the vote to secede.

All Ukrainians should understand that the NWO (controlled by the elite and their Western banks) will subjugate the Ukraine. Evidence for this is abundant, but the most striking example is the willingness to accept millions of non-European refugees, while few Ukrainians are allowed into Western countries.

Yes, there is genuine reason for resentment (Holodomar), but this terror was executed by the Bolshevik Lazar Kaganovich (which means son of Kagan - as in Ron Kagan - husband of Nudelman - understand the connection?). More Russians died under this same type of Bolshevik terror than any other ethnicity in the USSR.

Russia is no longer the USSR, and seeks to return to a society of Christian values. Ukrainians should seek peace with their Russian brothers. It would be to the benefit of all Western countries, which is why the NWO is trying everything to prevent it.

X_in_Sweden CuttingEdge , Dec 21, 2016 12:57 PM
"The Zionists invented terrorism in 1948. Read some fucking history."

That's right

CuttingEdge

The UN Mediator for Palestine, "The U.S. appointed Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden" was assassinated in 1948 in Jerusalam by the likudnik-future izraeli Prime Ministers Begin & Shamir....

FACT:

"Folke Bernadotte , Count of Wisborg ( Swedish : Greve af Wisborg ; 2 January 1895 – 17 September 1948) was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman. During World War II he negotiated the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps including 450 Danish Jews from the Theresienstadt camp. They were released on 14 April 1945. [1] [2] [3] In 1945, he received a German surrender offer from Heinrich Himmler , though the offer was ultimately rejected.

After the war, Bernadotte was unanimously chosen to be the United Nations Security Council mediator in the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1947–1948. He was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948 by the militant Zionist group Lehi while pursuing his official duties. Upon his death, Ralph Bunche took up his work at the UN, but was removed from the post around six months after Bernadotte was assassinated, at the critical period of recognition of the fledgling state. ....."

Likudniks like present-day murderer & chief Benny-Boy Nutandyahoo!!!

It's 100% bonefide fuckin' TERRORISTS that are the leaders of the rothschild colony & real estate project in the eastern Mediterranean.

SOURCES:

TheQuay X_in_Sweden , Dec 21, 2016 4:09 PM
Wow! Those are some stringent sources! Wikipedia, where you can edit the text to read however you wish before citing it, ...great source! ( Seriously? A wiki cite ends the discussion for me every single time. Dead. (Kind of like interviewing an architect who says Fisher-Price is his inspiration). Next up is the legendary duckduckgo. Move over Library of Congress! And of course WhatReallyHappened is the next up on the hit parade. Jeeze, I spent a cargoload of time and money earning a masters in history. I wish I had had wiki. It would have been so much easier, AND I would be as smart as this guy telling us all about how stupid we all are. LOL!. X_in_Sweden, go to Wiki and look up "Useful Idiot" while standing in front of a mirror.
Fractal Parasite TheQuay , Dec 21, 2016 4:32 PM
Wikipedia a.k.a. the info-police ...
HowdyDoody CuttingEdge , Dec 21, 2016 4:38 PM
Zionists are also behind the use of Saudi wahabbists. It's a twofer. It clears land that Israel covets and is part of the plan to get Christians to fight Muslims, wipping each other out.
Luc X. Ifer chumbawamba , Dec 21, 2016 1:04 PM
Well Mr Chumbawamba let me congratulate you on joining the big club of anti-jewish fascism, you share a honorable position together with Nazism and Islamic Fascism. Fuck off paranoid religitard.
Pliskin Luc X. Ifer , Dec 21, 2016 12:41 PM
I don't see you post here very often Luc X. Ifer, the shekels must be drying up?
Manthong hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 11:32 AM

I have done business with Israelis Most of them think that they are in a crunch existential mess.

The reality is that the tech and arms business is pretty cushy and they are reluctant to give it up.

If they get a decent guarantee of their space (and maybe a couple more settlements) they might scale down a tad.

They can do an up-front deal with the head choppers in Riyadh any time they want because the princes do not want to live on a sea of radioactive glass.

For me, I just want the Basilica at Sophia back.

two hoots hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 1:20 PM
Obama and the current congress already locked this in until 2026 (see below) which takes us past 2 terms of Trump. Doubt Trump could change/drain this if he wanted (?) as current congress not only did the deal but added $500M per year to the previous Bush 10 year deal which was set to expire in 2018. Dem/Rep... it is going to happen no matter.

"The United States has finalized a $38 billion package of military aid for Israel over the next 10 years, the largest of its kind ever, and the two allies plan to sign the agreement on Wednesday, American and Israeli officials said". NY Times Sept 2016,

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/world/middleeast/israel-benjamin-netan...

Davy Crockett two hoots , Dec 21, 2016 2:06 PM
When I was a kid, we had a pump to fill the water trough for the animals. There was a coffee can near it, that you used to take some of the water that was left in the water trough and pour it into the pump. This was known as "priming the pump". You had to do this to allow the pump to pump more water into the trough from the well.

America is a money-well for Israel. They take a little bit of the money that we flood them with, and they donate to enough politicians campaign to insure that those politicians will vote to turn on the money spigot, filling up Israels trough with money. Don't worry, they'll save a coffee can or two of it to prime the pump again next time.

I really don't care if Israel lives or dies. If they live and prosper, that's just fine with me. But what pisses me off is this system that allows them to pump money from us, just by using a tiny portion of it to bribe our politicians with campaign contributions. This bribing results in not just lost treasure, but also lost blood, as we fight wars to weaken Israels neighbors, again, only because our politicians are being bribed with foreign donations.

I would prefer we find ways to jail any politician that gets money from foreign countries. I would also prefer we put an end to Super PACs, since the foreign money will simply migrate to those. It is bullshit that our system is set up so that the honest politicians that refuse to sell out are promptly voted out of office because their competitor, who is willing to sell out, is flooded with campaign money. This ends up giving us representatives who do not represent our interests at all.

general ambivalent hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 11:50 AM
My greatest fear in Trump being a plant is that he is supposed to calm relations with Russia, which will open up the opportunity for the big event. This gives them more time on the surface while the deep state continues spreading chaos along Russia's borders.

I suspect Russia would be aware of this possibility however.

Mustafa Kemal hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 12:26 PM
hh, with David Friedman as ambassador, it looks like they may move Israels capitol to Jerusalem. Lots of fun then.
Justin Case hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 3:24 PM
Trump is going to keep allowing Israelis to bribe American politicians.

Aid money goes full circle. The tax payers are the losers as usual. Trump needs to look into the dual citizanship of congress stoolies. Drain that swamp first to put that coin into merican infrastructure renewal/upgrades.=.jobs.

dizzyfingers Manthong , Dec 21, 2016 4:19 PM
DEVELOPING -- Federal Judge Orders Release of Search Warrant from Clinton Email Case http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines-2016/developing-federal-judge-orders-release-of-search-warrant-from-clinton-email-case?mc_cid=a6207925cf&mc_eid=18ffccb24c

EXPOSED: Michelle SCREWED Taxpayers, Illegally Giving Our Cash To Daughters http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines-2016/exposed-michelle-screwed-taxpayers-illegally-giving-our-cash-to-daughters?mc_cid=a6207925cf&mc_eid=18ffccb24c

ParkAveFlasher Boris Alatovkrap , Dec 21, 2016 10:53 AM
Biden's son in Ukraine couldn't help things much. How cool was the "invasion" of Crimea? I thought it was cool. I was kind of wishing Texas would pull something like that, maybe with NJ.
Manthong ParkAveFlasher , Dec 21, 2016 11:20 AM
I think that the coke-head Navy reject's gig is going to be gone pretty soon.
reload ParkAveFlasher , Dec 21, 2016 12:23 PM
I know you have "invasion" written in a way that shows you know it was NOT an invasion. The speed a decisiveness was certainly impressive, shame the Donbass has been relegated to the roll of dead buffer zone though. I understand the strategic benefit of letting the Ukrainian `Army` bog down there and bleed resources, but a lot of Ethnic Russians are dying and suffering as a result.
HowdyDoody reload , Dec 21, 2016 5:28 PM
The Ukro-Nazis have just tried to re-run the attack on Debaltsevo, where there were put through the meat grinder last winter. Guess what, they ended up in the grinder again, even though the Novorossians are following Minsk rules on sending heavy armor away from the front. The Ukrops lost up to 100 dead, a large number just left on the ground as the survivors fled. The wounded were airlifted to Kharkov military hospital.

One Ukrop unit reported 25 dead in 3 hours of fighting.

http://novorossia.today/154366-2/

Airlift landing in Kharkov

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-efMU3Cl1o

Meanwhile in west Ukraine, far away from the fighting, there have been around 400 desertions from the Ukraine military.

https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/colonelcassad.livejournal.com/31...

The Ukrops are still shelling civilian areas of Novorssia for sport.

Luc X. Ifer hedgeless_horseman , Dec 21, 2016 10:52 AM
Obama's main task now is to damage to the max possible the relations with Russia to make it impossible to be amended later by Trump.

[Dec 22, 2016] Regulatory Capture 101

It's not regulation per se is deficient, it is regulation under neoliberal regime, were government is captured by financial oligarchy ;-). But that understanding is foreign to WSJ with its neoliberal agenda :-(.
Notable quotes:
"... Impressionable journalists finally meet George Stigler. ..."
"... The secret recordings were made by Carmen Segarra, who went to work as an examiner at the New York Fed in 2011 but was fired less than seven months later in 2012. She has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the regulator and says Fed officials sought to bury her claim that Goldman had no firm-wide policy on conflicts-of-interest. Goldman says it has had such policies for years, though on the same day Ms. Segarra's revelations were broadcast, the firm added new restrictions on employees trading for their own accounts. ..."
"... On the recordings, regulators can be heard doing what regulators do-revealing the limits of their knowledge and demonstrating their reluctance to challenge the firms they regulate. At one point Fed officials suspect a Goldman deal with Banco Santander may have been "legal but shady" in the words of one regulator, and should have required Fed approval. But the regulators basically accept Goldman's explanations without a fight. ..."
"... The journalists have also found evidence in Ms. Segarra's recordings that even after the financial crisis and the supposed reforms of the Dodd-Frank law, the New York Fed remained a bureaucratic agency resistant to new ideas and hostile to strong-willed, independent-minded employees. In government? ..."
"... "as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit." ..."
"... Once one understands the inevitability of regulatory capture, the logical policy response is to enact simple laws that can't be gamed by the biggest firms and their captive bureaucrats. ..."
"... And it means considering economist Charles Calomiris's plan to automatically convert a portion of a bank's debt into equity if the bank's market value falls below a healthy level. ..."
Oct 05, 2014 | Casino Capitalism and Crapshoot Politics
Regulatory Capture 101

Impressionable journalists finally meet George Stigler.

The financial scandal du jour involves leaked audio recordings that purport to show that regulators at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York were soft on Goldman Sachs . Say it ain't so.

... ... ...

The secret recordings were made by Carmen Segarra, who went to work as an examiner at the New York Fed in 2011 but was fired less than seven months later in 2012. She has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the regulator and says Fed officials sought to bury her claim that Goldman had no firm-wide policy on conflicts-of-interest. Goldman says it has had such policies for years, though on the same day Ms. Segarra's revelations were broadcast, the firm added new restrictions on employees trading for their own accounts.

The New York Fed won against Ms. Segarra in district court, though the case is on appeal. The regulator also notes that Ms. Segarra "demanded $7 million to settle her complaint." And last week New York Fed President William Dudley said, "We are going to keep striving to improve, but I don't think anyone should question our motives or what we are trying to accomplish."

On the recordings, regulators can be heard doing what regulators do-revealing the limits of their knowledge and demonstrating their reluctance to challenge the firms they regulate. At one point Fed officials suspect a Goldman deal with Banco Santander may have been "legal but shady" in the words of one regulator, and should have required Fed approval. But the regulators basically accept Goldman's explanations without a fight.

The sleuths at the ProPublica website, working with a crack team of investigators from public radio, also seem to think they have another smoking gun in one of Ms. Segarra's conversations that was not recorded but was confirmed by another regulator. Ms. Seest means. For example, a company offering securities is exempt from some registration requirements if it is only selling to accredited investors, such as people with more than $1 million in net worth, excluding the value of primary residences.

The journalists have also found evidence in Ms. Segarra's recordings that even after the financial crisis and the supposed reforms of the Dodd-Frank law, the New York Fed remained a bureaucratic agency resistant to new ideas and hostile to strong-willed, independent-minded employees. In government?

***

Enter George Stigler, who published his famous essay "The Theory of Economic Regulation" in the spring 1971 issue of the Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science. The University of Chicago economist reported empirical data from various markets and concluded that "as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit."

Stigler knew he was fighting an uphill battle trying to persuade his fellow academics. "The idealistic view of public regulation is deeply imbedded in professional economic thought," he wrote. But thanks to Stigler, who would go on to win a Nobel prize, many economists have studied the operation and effects of regulation and found similar results.

A classic example was the New York Fed's decision to let Citigroup stash $1.2 trillion of assets-including more than $600 billion of mortgage-related securities-in off-balance-sheet vehicles before the financial crisis. That's when Tim Geithner ran the New York Fed and Jack Lew was at Citigroup.

Once one understands the inevitability of regulatory capture, the logical policy response is to enact simple laws that can't be gamed by the biggest firms and their captive bureaucrats. This means repealing most of Dodd-Frank and the so-called Basel rules and replacing them with a simple requirement for more bank capital-an equity-to-asset ratio of perhaps 15%. It means bringing back bankruptcy for giant firms instead of resolution at the discretion of political appointees. And it means considering economist Charles Calomiris's plan to automatically convert a portion of a bank's debt into equity if the bank's market value falls below a healthy level.

GS4

[Dec 10, 2016] Possible connection between Ukraian Diaspora in the USA and

Typically Diaspora is more nationalistic the "mainland" population. This is very true about Ukrainian Diaspora, which partially is represented by those who fought on the side of Germany in the WWII. They are adamantly anti-Russian.
Notable quotes:
"... Here it also bears mentioning that it has been established that Yanukovych's Party of Regions transferred $200,000 to the far right Svoboda party and about $30,000 to the nationalist UNA-UNSO. This is serious money in Ukraine. ..."
"... Firstly, most Ukrainians don't give a shit about Bandera and the OUN. So if they're not speaking out against people using those symbols or slogans it's not because they support them, but because they're more concerned with issues of pure survival. ..."
"... And then these same fascists were whitewashed as noble freedom fighters by Western MSM simply because their interests happen to allign with the interests of the US, for the moment. ..."
"... Uh, no. I haven't noticed anyone here thinking that Russia is some sort of fighter for social and economic justice. Rather, we as a group are sick of noxious propaganda driven by American Exceptionalism. ..."
"... And speaking for myself, I find the rise of Russia to be potentially a very good thing for the US itself, if it manages to curtail the MIC-driven hegemonic drive, weakens its relative power, and forces it to focus its money and energies on pressing domestic issues. ..."
"... The idea of considering Putin to be anticapitalist is risible. Putin represents a limit on a US hegemonized economic order and the greater likelihood that some portion ..."
"... This is some insidious strawman and dishonest argumentation, speaking of "BS." Nowhere does this article state that the entire Maidan revolution was a "fascist coup"-that's you putting words in the author's mouth to make his article appear to be Russian propaganda. The author specifies names of top figures in power today with seriously disturbing neo-Nazi backgrounds-the speaker of Ukraine's parliament, its Interior Minister, and head of National Police. He never once calls it a "fascist coup". Using strawman to avoid having to answer these specific allegations is bad faith commenting. ..."
"... The false analogy to Occupy shows how dishonest your comment is. No one disputes that neo-Nazi leader Parubiy was in charge of Maidan's "self-defense"; and that neo-Nazi Right Sektor played a lead role in the confrontations with the Yanukovych authorities. ..."
"... I suspect that Mr. Kovpak is a member of the Ukrainian diaspora that first infested this country starting around 1945, and has since been trying to justify the belief that the wrong side won WWII. ..."
"... "The appalling corruption of Yanukovich was replaced by the appalling corruption of Yats and Poroschenko " ..."
"... Paruiby (Neo Fascist) was in charge before and after the Maidan for security – the trajectory of the bullets came from his peoples positions that shot the cops – analyzed over and over ..."
"... The Nazi Asov Battalion among other organizations supporting the Regime in Kiev has Nazi symbols, objectives and is one of the main forces armed and trained by American Military. ..."
"... The entire corrupt Kiev administration is Nazi and now it appears the Clinton Campaign has direct ties well beyond the $13 million she received in her Slush Fund from the Oligarchs in 2013. The driving force behind this entire Fake News Initiative and support for Hillary is becoming more visible each day. ..."
"... Not to mention the Ukrainian Nazis penchant for shelling civilians. Or will Kovpak (Ukrainian school perhaps? Did his grandfather emigrate with the other Ukrainian SS?) will repeat the canard that unbeknownst to the locals, the rebels are shelling themselves, using artillery shells that can 180 mid-flight? ..."
"... What is the liberals' talking point these days? "Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn't a deal-breaker. End of story." Hillary's SoS-designate Nuland and Barry 0 decided that Ukie nazism wasn't a deal breaker. End of story. ..."
"... Ukrainian neo-fascists were an integral part of the Maidan (trained in Poland, US, and Canada). ..."
"... Yes, ordinary Ukrainians protested against corruption – but every U. government since 1991 has been corrupt. Yanukovich was no exception – but he was also not the worst one (do some research on J. Timoshenko). ..."
"... There is enough actual footage from Maidan that shows the presence of neo-nazi members on the square from the beginning. They were also the one who completed the violent overthrow of the government that happened on 2/21-22/14 – after a deal had been signed calling for early elections. The burning of 48 people in Odessa was probably done by angels, according to your likely analysis. ..."
"... So perhaps in the future instead of repeating a bunch of Russian talking points ..."
"... I was going to say something about how the CIA made Ukraine's Social Nationalist party change its name to Svoboda (freedom), to obscure the obvious Nazi connection, but instead I will just laugh at you. ..."
"... What a shocker that Jim Kovpak, the commenter who tries smearing this article as "repeating a bunch of Russian talking points" -- works for CIA-founded Voice of America and is a regular with Ukraine's "StopFake.org" which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy , the CIA's color revolution "soft" arm - in other words, PropOrNot's folks. Can't make this stuff up. ..."
"... Wait, so in Kovpak's case our tax dollars are used to fund and disseminate propaganda to America's public, too? I am not shocked or anything, but rather amused that the vaunted American democracy and famously free media is beginning to resemble communist Bulgaria. ..."
"... Okay, but isn't it the case that many far-right leaders have migrated to parties closer to the center, such as People's Front? Svoboda's leaders have done this. Andriy Parubiy, Tetiana Chornovol, and Oleksandr Turchynov, for example, hold high positions in People's Front, but started out as members or Svoboda. If I'm not mistaken, People's Front also has strong connections to the far-right Volunteer Battalions. I believe People's Front has its own paramilitary branch too. ..."
"... What this tells me is that much of Ukraine's far-right may be masquerading as right-center. That's kind of like a political Trojan Horse operation. This way the fascists avoid standing out as far-right, but at the same time, move closer to the mechanisms of power within Ukraine's government. ..."
"... Here's an article by Lev Golinkin commenting on the far-right's strong and dangerous influence on Ukraine today. A fascist presence like this could easily be a powerful element in Ukrainian elections, very suddenly and unpredictably too. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-ukrainian-far-right-and-the-danger-it-poses/ ..."
"... This is getting darker and darker. As much as I dislike Trump I feel happier that Clinton didn't make it. The TINA party is the most reactionary thing by far! ..."
"... Sanders might have had a hard time driving as far left on FP as he did on domestic issues. I'm his constituent, and I have a letter from him from mid-'15 reiterating all the mainstream lies about Russia and Ukraine. ..."
"... and/or incontinence ..."
Dec 09, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Jim Kovpak December 9, 2016 at 3:45 am

Hello, I'm the blogger of Russia Without BS, a site you cited once in the stories about PropOrNot. As I have recently written on my blog , I believe PropOrNot is most likely one person who is not linked to any real organization group or intelligence agency. The individual is most likely what I call a cheerleader, which is basically a person with no reasonable connection to some conflict, yet who takes a side and sort of lives vicariously through their imagined "struggle."

That being said, you're probably not going to do yourself any favors claiming that Maidan was a fascist coup and that fascists are in charge in Ukraine. Euromaidan was not started by right-wingers (quite the opposite, actually), and they were not the majority of people there. Basically you condemning Maidan is like someone condemning Occupy just because of the presence of neo-Nazis and racists who were sometimes involved in certain Occupy chapters (this is well documented).

Without actually bothering to look at the issues involved, you are basically telling millions of Ukrainians that they should have tolerated a corrupt, increasingly authoritarian government that was literally stealing their future all because some right-wingers happened to latch on to that cause too. Here it also bears mentioning that it has been established that Yanukovych's Party of Regions transferred $200,000 to the far right Svoboda party and about $30,000 to the nationalist UNA-UNSO. This is serious money in Ukraine.

As for the slogan, yes, Slava Ukraini, Heroiam Slava! has its origins in the OUN, but there are some important things to consider when discussing Ukrainian history.

Firstly, most Ukrainians don't give a shit about Bandera and the OUN. So if they're not speaking out against people using those symbols or slogans it's not because they support them, but because they're more concerned with issues of pure survival. Look at the average salary in Ukraine and look into some of the instances of corruption (some of which continue to this day), and you'll understand why a lot of people aren't going to get up in arms about someone waving the red and black flag. Most people have become very cynical and see the nationalists as provocateurs or clowns, and thus they don't take them seriously enough.

... ... ...

olga December 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Before you call this good points, please familiarize yourself with the (accurate) history of the Maidan, Ukraine, neo-nazi presence in that country, and Russian history. Please Kovpak seems to be an embodiment of what Ames tries to convey.

dk December 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm

"You're a poseur!"
"No, you're poser!"

The more experienced observer listens to all sides; and all sides lie at least a little, if only for their own comfort. Beyond that, subjectivity is inescapable, and any pair of subjectives will inevitably diverge. This is not a malign intent, it's existential circumstance, the burden of identity, of individual life.

My own (admittedly cursory) analysis happens to coincide with Jim Kovpak's first para (PropOrNot being primarily a lone "cheerleader"). And I can see merit, and the call for dispassionate assessment, in some of his other points. This does not mean I endorse Kovpak over Ames, or Ames over Kovpak; both contribute to the searching discussion with cogent observation (and the inevitable measure of subjective evaluation).

I thank both for their remarks, and also thank our gracious hosts ;).

hemeantwell December 9, 2016 at 9:23 am

Euromaidan was not started by right-wingers

No, but it was hijacked by fascists. It is sad that more democratic/progressive forces lost out, but that's what happened. You seem to be trying to avoid recognizing this fact by affirming the rightfulness of those who began the revolt. Their agency was removed not by Naked Capitalism or Mark Ames, but by fascists who out maneuvered, spent, and gunned them. It's time to mourn, not to defend a parasitic Frankenstein that is trying to develop a European fascist movement. Goons from that movement assaulted and injured May Day demonstrators in Sweden this year and then fled back to the Ukraine. They are dangerous and should not be protected with illusions.

OIFVet December 9, 2016 at 10:08 am

Their agency was removed not by Naked Capitalism or Mark Ames, but by fascists who out maneuvered, spent, and gunned them

And then these same fascists were whitewashed as noble freedom fighters by Western MSM simply because their interests happen to allign with the interests of the US, for the moment. Thus we have the ridiculous situation where supposedly reputable media like NYT and WaPoo cheer on the Azov battalion and its brethren, and deny the very symbolism of the various Nazi insignia and regalia featured on their uniforms. Jim makes some very good points, but he fell way short in ignoring the role of the US MSM in this travesty.

And just in case someone tries to claim that we all make mistakes at times and that the MSM made an honest mistake in regards to these neo-Nazi formations, the same thing has been happening in Syria, where the US and its Gulf allies have armed extremists and have whitewashed their extremism by claiming even Al Qaeda and its offshoots are noble freedom fighters.

hemeantwell December 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Good on the parallel with Syria. The evolution, or distortion, of revolutionary movements as they struggle to gain support and offensive power and then either are modified or jacked by "supporting" external powers is not a cheering subject. The tendency to ignore that this has happened takes two forms. One is what we are here discussing. The other is its opposite, as seen in, for example, the way some writers try to maintain that there never was a significant democratic/progressive/humane etc. element to the Syrian opposition.

flora December 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

Ukraine, as I understand it, is not monolith but has roughly 2 interest areas – western and eastern – divided by the River Dnieper. The Western half is more pro-European and EU, the Eastern half is more pro-Russia. The word "fascist" in Ukraine means something slightly different than in means in the US and the EU. So I take your comment with a grain of salt, even though it is interesting.

Ukraine's geographical location as the land "highway" between Europe and Asia has created a long and embattled history there.

OIFVet December 9, 2016 at 10:17 am

So perhaps in the future instead of repeating a bunch of Russian talking points because you mistakenly think Russia is somehow opposed to US capitalism,

Uh, no. I haven't noticed anyone here thinking that Russia is some sort of fighter for social and economic justice. Rather, we as a group are sick of noxious propaganda driven by American Exceptionalism.

And speaking for myself, I find the rise of Russia to be potentially a very good thing for the US itself, if it manages to curtail the MIC-driven hegemonic drive, weakens its relative power, and forces it to focus its money and energies on pressing domestic issues.

Soulipsis December 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

Seconded.

hemeantwell December 9, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Thirded. The idea of considering Putin to be anticapitalist is risible. Putin represents a limit on a US hegemonized economic order and the greater likelihood that some portion of the fruits of the Russian oligarchic capitalist effort will benefit Russians, not elites tied to the US, because of his self-interested nationalism. Not much to cheer about but better than where things were headed when Yeltsin was in power.

KRB December 9, 2016 at 10:49 am

This is some insidious strawman and dishonest argumentation, speaking of "BS." Nowhere does this article state that the entire Maidan revolution was a "fascist coup"-that's you putting words in the author's mouth to make his article appear to be Russian propaganda. The author specifies names of top figures in power today with seriously disturbing neo-Nazi backgrounds-the speaker of Ukraine's parliament, its Interior Minister, and head of National Police. He never once calls it a "fascist coup". Using strawman to avoid having to answer these specific allegations is bad faith commenting.

The false analogy to Occupy shows how dishonest your comment is. No one disputes that neo-Nazi leader Parubiy was in charge of Maidan's "self-defense"; and that neo-Nazi Right Sektor played a lead role in the confrontations with the Yanukovych authorities. There is absolutely no equivalent to this with Occupy at all. Where does this false analogy even come from? No where does the author state that Maidan was ONLY fascists, that is again your strawman response. Maidan had a lot of support from pro-western, pro-european, pro-liberal forces. But to deny the key and often lead roles played by neo-fascists in the actual organization, "self defense" and violent confrontations with the Yanukovych goons is gross whitewashing.

Much worse is the way you rationalize the fascist OUN salute by arguing that it means something else now, or it's become normalized, etc. These are all the same bullshit arguments made by defenders of the Confederate flag. "It means something different now." "it's about heritage/being a rebel!/individualism!" There is no "but" to this, and anyone who claims so is an asshole of the first order. The salute descends directly from collaborators in the Holocaust and mass-murder of Jews and Poles and collaboration with Nazis. If people claim they don't understand its origins, then educate them on why it's so fucked up, don't make excuses for them. Really disgusting that you'd try to rationalize this away. There is no "but" and no excuse, period.

"Russia Without BS" is one hell of an ironic name for someone bs-ing like this. Your failure to actually engage the article, setting up and knocking down strawmen instead, and evading, using false analogies-reveal your own intellectual pathologies. Try responding to the actual text here, and maybe you'll be taken seriously.

Martin Finnucane December 9, 2016 at 2:47 pm

+1

My thought was that this post was an example of the strawman fallacy. Yet certainly Mr. Kovpak wasn't just shooting from the hip. That is, he thought about this thing, wrote it, looked it over, and said "well enough" and posted it. Poor logic, or bad faith?

I think the tell was his characterization of the article as "repeating a bunch of Russian talking points." What the hell is a "Russian talking point"? How do Ames' contentions follow said talking points? Are he saying, perhaps, that Ames is another one of those Kremlin agents we've been hearing about, or perhaps another "useful idiot"? Perhaps Ames – of all people – is a dupe for Putin, right?

Hasbara, Ukrainian style. Bringing this junk onto NS, either this guy is alot of dumber than he gives himself credit for, or he actually has no familiarity with NS, outside of the now- and rightly-notorious WP/ProporNot blacklist. Probably the latter, since it looks like his comment was a pre-masticated one-and-done.

sid_finster December 9, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I suspect that Mr. Kovpak is a member of the Ukrainian diaspora that first infested this country starting around 1945, and has since been trying to justify the belief that the wrong side won WWII.

AD December 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

I'm glad Jim Kovpak provided this background. I was very troubled to see Ames breezily smear the Ukrainian uprising as "fascist," essentially writing off the protesters as U.S. proxies and dismissing their grievances as either non-existent or irrelevant. Something similar has happened in Syria, of course. Yes, the U.S. ruling blocs try to advance their interests in such places, but if you ignore the people on the ground or dismiss them as irrelevant, you're just playing into the hands of other tyrannical interests (in Syria: Assad, Putin, Hezbollah, etc.).

OIFVet December 9, 2016 at 12:06 pm

$5 billion spent over the past 25 years by the US in Ukraine (per Nuland). Yeah, they ain't US proxies. Gla that you straightened that out for us.

The grievances in Ukraine are many and are legitimate. But that the people's anger was hijacked by US-financed proxies is a fact. Nuland was caught dictating that Yats would be the new PM, and darned if he didn't become just that. The appalling corruption of Yanukovich was replaced by the appalling corruption of Yats and Poroschenko, and the country was plunged into a civil war. But Yats and Porky are freedom-loving democrats! The old saying remains true: "They may be corrupt SOBs, but they are our corrupt SOBs!"

Heck, for all the crocodile tears shed by the West about corruption and democracy, it has nurtured corruption in Eastern Europe and looked the other way as democracy has been trampled. Including in my native Bulgaria, where millions of dollars spent by the US and allied NGOs on promoting and financing "free press" have seen Bulgaria's freedom of media ranking slip to third world levels. But Bulgaria is a "democracy" because it is a member of the EU and NATO, and as such its elites have done the bidding of its Western masters at the expense of Bulgaria's national interests and the interests of its people. Ukraine is headed down that road, and all I can say to regular Ukrainians is that they are in for an even bigger screwing down the road, cheer-led by the Western "democracies" and "free" media.

Meddling by US hyperpower in the internal affairs and the replacement of one set of bastahds with another set of bastahds that is beholden to the US is not progress, which is why we call it out. After all the spilled blood and destruction sponsored by the US, can you honestly say that Ukraine and Syria and Libya and Iraq are now better off, and that their futures are bright? I can't, and I can't say that for my native country either. That's because this new version of neocolonialism is the most destructive and virulent yet. And it is particularly insidious because it fools well-meaning people, like yourself, into believing that it actually helps improve the lives of the natives. It does not.

lyman alpha blob December 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

"The appalling corruption of Yanukovich was replaced by the appalling corruption of Yats and Poroschenko "

That pretty much sums it up. Jim Kovpak does make some excellent points which help to understand what the Ukranians are thinking. The discussion regarding the poor education system and potential lack of knowledge of what certain symbolism refers to was really good. Sort of reminds me of the Southerners in the US who still claim that the Stars and Bars is just about Southern heritage and pride without bothering to consider the other ramifications and what the symbol means for those who were persecuted at one time (and continuing to today). But yeah, I'm sure there are those who think that that flag was just something the Duke boys used on the General Lee when trying to outrun Roscoe.

All that being said, I don't believe anybody here thinks that Yanukovich was some paragon of virtue ruling a modern utopia. The problem is that the new boss looks surprisingly familiar to the old boss with the main difference being that the fruits of corruption are being funneled to different parties with the people likely still getting the shaft.

If your a(just as many in the US are), it's quite possible they are also unaware of the current US influence in their country, just as most US citizens are unaware of what the US has done in other countries.

I'd be very interested in Jim Kovpak's thoughts on this.

RMcHewn December 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

$5 billion spent over the past 25 years by the US in Ukraine (per Nuland). Yeah, they ain't US proxies. Gla[d] that you straightened that out for us.

Yes, it doesn't get any more blatant than that, and if anyone believes otherwise they are obviously hooked on the officially sanctioned fake news, aka the MSM.

Damian December 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

"Euromaidan was not started by right-wingers / Ukraine certainly does not have more right-wingers than other Eastern European nations" silly at best!

Paruiby (Neo Fascist) was in charge before and after the Maidan for security – the trajectory of the bullets came from his peoples positions that shot the cops – analyzed over and over

The Nazi Asov Battalion among other organizations supporting the Regime in Kiev has Nazi symbols, objectives and is one of the main forces armed and trained by American Military.

The entire corrupt Kiev administration is Nazi and now it appears the Clinton Campaign has direct ties well beyond the $13 million she received in her Slush Fund from the Oligarchs in 2013. The driving force behind this entire Fake News Initiative and support for Hillary is becoming more visible each day.

Your statements are pure propaganda and I would assume you work indirectly for Alexandra Chalupa!

sid_finster December 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

Not to mention the Ukrainian Nazis penchant for shelling civilians. Or will Kovpak (Ukrainian school perhaps? Did his grandfather emigrate with the other Ukrainian SS?) will repeat the canard that unbeknownst to the locals, the rebels are shelling themselves, using artillery shells that can 180 mid-flight?

Young Ex-Pat December 9, 2016 at 11:28 am

"Basically you condemning Maidan is like someone condemning Occupy just because of the presence of neo-Nazis and racists who were sometimes involved in certain Occupy chapters (this is well documented)."

You must be kidding. Where to begin? Can we start with the simple fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry wasn't handing out baked goods to Occupy protesters in NYC, egging them on as they tossed molotov cocktails at police, who, strangely enough, refrained from shooting protesters until right after a peaceful political settlement was reached? Coincidence or fate? Or maybe there is strong evidence that right wing fanatics were the ones who started the shooting on that fateful day? http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31359021

And sorry, no matter how much Kovpak denies it, the muscle behind the "glorious revolution" was a bunch of far-right thugs that make our American alt-right look like girl scouts. Andrei Biletsky, leader of Azov Battalion and head of Ukraine's creatively named Social-National Assembly, says he's committed to "punishing severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man." http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28329329 - Just like those hippies at Zuccotti Park, right?! Oh,and this guy received a medal from Poroshenko.

I can keep going, but your "Maidan was just like Occupy!" argument pretty much speaks for itself. Glory to the heroes indeed.

p.s. "Russia Without the BS" is awful.

sid_finster December 9, 2016 at 11:30 am

As someone who lived many years in Ukraine, speaks Ukrainian and Russian and knows personally many of the people involved, yes, Ukrainians know full well the origin of the Nazi slogans that the local Nazis spout.

That doesn't mean that the average frustrated euromaidan supporter is a Nazi, but Nazis bussed in from Galicia did eventually provide the muscle, as it were, and the rest of the country were willing to get in bed with them, appoint them to run ministries, and let them have independent military units.

Those Nazis are perfectly happy to call themselves Nazis.

OIFVet December 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm

What is the liberals' talking point these days? "Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn't a deal-breaker. End of story." Hillary's SoS-designate Nuland and Barry 0 decided that Ukie nazism wasn't a deal breaker. End of story.

Foppe December 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm

To be fair, there is a fairly wide gap between 'racist' and 'violent racist of the KKK/Nazi variety'.

Also (yes, partly preaching to the choir, but with a purpose), liberals are perfectly happy to stay quiet about enormous income/prosecution/incarceration/kill rate differences, so long as those targeted/affected can (bureau-/meritocratically) be described as 'druggies/criminals/"extremists"/uneducated-thus- undeserving '. And to ignore drone bombing of brown people. Etc. So all the pearl-clutching/virtue-signaling concerning racism is pretty easy to shrug off as concerning little more than a plea to express one's support for racist policy in a PC fashion.

(Highly recommend The New Jim Crow , which I've only recently started reading, for no good reason. Bizarre to realize that all of the stuff that's being reported on a little bit now has been going on for 30 years now (30y of silence / wir-haben-es-nicht-gewusst wrt the structural nature; note that any/all reporting that im/explicitly describes these issues as "scandals"/"excesses" is part of the problem.)

Gareth December 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm

The whole Fake News world is a house of mirrors:

http://www.stopfake.org/en/stopfakenews-98-eng-with-jim-kovpak/

olga December 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm

WOW I guess we have democracy, so your comment got through. In a way, your post confirms the existence of rabidly anti-Russian entities – the very point that Mark Ames makes. But you know, there are people who know a thing or two about Russia and Ukraine, and can easily refute much of your diatribe. (1) Ukrainian neo-fascists were an integral part of the Maidan (trained in Poland, US, and Canada).

Yes, ordinary Ukrainians protested against corruption – but every U. government since 1991 has been corrupt. Yanukovich was no exception – but he was also not the worst one (do some research on J. Timoshenko).

Corruption persists in U. today – and based on the now-required property disclosures by U. politicians – may be even worse. It is likely correct that most U. don't give a damn about Bandera – but most U. also do not have any power to do anything about the neo-nazis, as they are (at least in the western part of the country) numerous, vocal, and prone to violence.

There is enough actual footage from Maidan that shows the presence of neo-nazi members on the square from the beginning. They were also the one who completed the violent overthrow of the government that happened on 2/21-22/14 – after a deal had been signed calling for early elections. The burning of 48 people in Odessa was probably done by angels, according to your likely analysis.

(2) But it is your comments about the U. neo-nazi participation in the war that seem to clarify who you really represent. This participation was not much discussed during the soviet times – I only found out that they continued to fight against the soviet state long after the war ended recently – from family members who witnessed it (in Belorussia, west. Ukr., and eastern Czechoslovakia). Some of them witnessed the unspeakable cruelty of these Ukr. "troops" against villagers and any partisans they could find. White-washing this period (or smearing soviet educational system) will not help – there is plenty of historical evidence for those who are interested in the subject.

(3) What you say about the Russian state promoting this or that is just a scurrilous attack, with no proof. Not even worth exploring. On the other hand, there are plenty of documented murders of Ukr. journalists (google Buzina – a highly intelligent and eloquent Ukr. journalist, who was gunned down in front of his home; there are quite a few others).

Ukr. in 2014 may have been protesting inept government, but what they ended up with is far worse – by any measure, Ukr. standard of living has gone way down. But now, the industrial base of the country has been destroyed, and the neo-nazi genie will not go back into the bottle any time soon. Ukr. as a unified place did not exist until after WWI, and the great divisions – brought starkly into contrast by the 2014 destruction of the state – cannot be papered over anytime soon.

lyman alpha blob December 9, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Appreciate the points you bring up but if the Ukranians truly want an end to an exploitative system, they probably are not going to get it by allying themselves with Uncle Sugar. The US provided billions of dollars to foment the coup and our oligarchs expect a return on that investment – they aren't going to suddenly start trust funds for all Ukranians out of the goodness of their hearts. You are aware of that aren't you?

integer December 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm

So perhaps in the future instead of repeating a bunch of Russian talking points

I was going to say something about how the CIA made Ukraine's Social Nationalist party change its name to Svoboda (freedom), to obscure the obvious Nazi connection, but instead I will just laugh at you.
Hahahahahaha!

Reply
KRB December 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

What a shocker that Jim Kovpak, the commenter who tries smearing this article as "repeating a bunch of Russian talking points" -- works for CIA-founded Voice of America and is a regular with Ukraine's "StopFake.org" which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy , the CIA's color revolution "soft" arm - in other words, PropOrNot's folks. Can't make this stuff up.

Rhondda December 9, 2016 at 5:22 pm

It was patently obvious from his comment that he's a pro shill but very good to have the proof. Thanks, KRB.

OIFVet December 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Wait, so in Kovpak's case our tax dollars are used to fund and disseminate propaganda to America's public, too? I am not shocked or anything, but rather amused that the vaunted American democracy and famously free media is beginning to resemble communist Bulgaria. The good news is that by the 80's nobody believed the state and its propagandists, even on the rare occasion they were telling the truth, and America's people seem to be a bit ahead of the curve already, which may explain the "fake news" hysteria from the creators and disseminators of fake news.

Eddie Anderson December 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Ukraine certainly does not have more right-wingers than other Eastern European nations, but if you look at their polls and elections you see that the far-right in Ukraine does far worse than it does in other Eastern and even Western European countries

Okay, but isn't it the case that many far-right leaders have migrated to parties closer to the center, such as People's Front? Svoboda's leaders have done this. Andriy Parubiy, Tetiana Chornovol, and Oleksandr Turchynov, for example, hold high positions in People's Front, but started out as members or Svoboda. If I'm not mistaken, People's Front also has strong connections to the far-right Volunteer Battalions. I believe People's Front has its own paramilitary branch too.

What this tells me is that much of Ukraine's far-right may be masquerading as right-center. That's kind of like a political Trojan Horse operation. This way the fascists avoid standing out as far-right, but at the same time, move closer to the mechanisms of power within Ukraine's government.

Here in America we saw something like that in the early 1990s, when KKK leader David Duke migrated to the political mainstream by running for office as a Republican in Louisiana. Of course Duke never changed his views, he just learned to dissemble himself in the way he sold his politics to the public.

Here's an article by Lev Golinkin commenting on the far-right's strong and dangerous influence on Ukraine today. A fascist presence like this could easily be a powerful element in Ukrainian elections, very suddenly and unpredictably too. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-ukrainian-far-right-and-the-danger-it-poses/

Ignacio December 9, 2016 at 4:22 am

This is getting darker and darker. As much as I dislike Trump I feel happier that Clinton didn't make it. The TINA party is the most reactionary thing by far!

Benedict@Large December 9, 2016 at 7:32 am

Yes, these are dangerous people, as are most "true believers". I'm also becoming even more disappointed at Ms, Clinton. For a while, she seemed to be keeping a little distance from her dead-enders, but now that her and Bill are out back on the money trail (How much is enough?), it doesn't look good.

Selling fear? Really? Isn't there a shelf life on that?

notabanker December 9, 2016 at 7:56 am

Ahhh, but it's not money they accumulate, its power. And time is their only constraint. This is what they do.

Jim Haygood December 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

William Banzai7 on "Prop or Nuts." Hillary's "Childen of the Rainbow" button (look carefully) is to die for.

https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/601/30710973103_365b8e0b4d_b.jpg

Clive December 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

There's a crock of something at the end of that rainbow, but I doubt very much that it contains any gold.

ambrit December 9, 2016 at 11:07 am

I'm not certain about the contents of that crock, good sir. We now live in a "culture" where s–t IS gold. Otherwise, why are we now enduring a "popular press" full of "wardrobe malfunctions," new amazing bikini bodies, salacious gossip, and equally salacious "news?" (The Page Three was shut down really because there was too much competition.)

Oh tempura, oh s'mores! (Latinate for "We're crisped!")

Carolinian December 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

Indeed. The above article is great, great stuff and shows why some of us found Hillary more disturbing than Trump. Therefore Ames' final assumption

And the timing is incredible-as if Bezos' rag has taken upon itself to soften up the American media before Trump moves in for the kill.

seems a bit off. It's certainly true that Trump said news organizations should face greater exposure to libel laws but one suspects this has more to do with his personal peevishness and inability to take criticism than the Deep State-y motives described above. Clearly the "public versus private" Hillary–Nixon in a pant suit–would have been just the person to embrace this sort of censorship by smear and her connection with various shadowy exiles and in her own campaign no less shows why Sanders' failure to make FP the center of his opposition was, if not a political mistake, at least evidence of his limited point of view.

It's unlikely that anyone running this time would be able to change our domestic trajectory but this fascism from abroad is a real danger IMO. In Reagan times some of us thought that Reagan supported reactionary governments abroad because that's what he and his rogue's gallery including Casey and North wished they could do here. The people getting hysterical over Trump while pining for Hillary don't seem to know fascism when it's right in front of them. Or perhaps it's just a matter of whose ox is going to be gored.

Soulipsis December 9, 2016 at 11:59 am

Sanders might have had a hard time driving as far left on FP as he did on domestic issues. I'm his constituent, and I have a letter from him from mid-'15 reiterating all the mainstream lies about Russia and Ukraine.

Disturbed Voter December 9, 2016 at 6:45 am

No surprise, ever since the US, and Biden, got involved in Ukraine. And it is even probable, that people like that were behind the Kennedy assassination, that the US has admitted was a conspiracy, that is still protected from "journalistic sunshine" under lock and key by the US government.

integer December 9, 2016 at 6:49 am

Thanks for giving this article its own post, and thanks to dcblogger for providing the link in yesterday's Water Cooler.

Seems to me that this little bout of D-party/CIA incompetence, and/or incontinence, will finally sound the death knell for the Operation Paperclip gang's plan. Good riddance.

integer December 9, 2016 at 7:01 am

and/or incontinence

I'm looking at you, Soros!

[Dec 06, 2016] What price the new democracy Goldman Sachs conquers Europe

Dec 06, 2016 | independent.co.uk
&Stephen Foley

November 17, 2011 | The Independent

While ordinary people fret about austerity and jobs, the eurozone's corridors of power have been undergoing a remarkable transformation

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

This is the most remarkable thing of all: a giant leap forward for, or perhaps even the successful culmination of, the Goldman Sachs Project.

It is not just Mr Monti. The European Central Bank, another crucial player in the sovereign debt drama, is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Until Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund's European division was also run by a Goldman man, Antonio Borges, who just resigned for personal reasons.

Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. The political decisions taken in the coming weeks will determine if the eurozone can and will pay its debts – and Goldman's interests are intricately tied up with the answer to that question.

Simon Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund economist, in his book 13 Bankers, argued that Goldman Sachs and the other large banks had become so close to government in the run-up to the financial crisis that the US was effectively an oligarchy. At least European politicians aren't "bought and paid for" by corporations, as in the US, he says. "Instead what you have in Europe is a shared world-view among the policy elite and the bankers, a shared set of goals and mutual reinforcement of illusions."

This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close. Every business wants to advance its interests with the regulators that can stymie them and the politicians who can give them a tax break, but this is no mere lobbying effort. Goldman is there to provide advice for governments and to provide financing, to send its people into public service and to dangle lucrative jobs in front of people coming out of government. The Project is to create such a deep exchange of people and ideas and money that it is impossible to tell the difference between the public interest and the Goldman Sachs interest.

Mr Monti is one of Italy's most eminent economists, and he spent most of his career in academia and thinktankery, but it was when Mr Berlusconi appointed him to the European Commission in 1995 that Goldman Sachs started to get interested in him. First as commissioner for the internal market, and then especially as commissioner for competition, he has made decisions that could make or break the takeover and merger deals that Goldman's bankers were working on or providing the funding for. Mr Monti also later chaired the Italian Treasury's committee on the banking and financial system, which set the country's financial policies.

With these connections, it was natural for Goldman to invite him to join its board of international advisers. The bank's two dozen-strong international advisers act as informal lobbyists for its interests with the politicians that regulate its work. Other advisers include Otmar Issing who, as a board member of the German Bundesbank and then the European Central Bank, was one of the architects of the euro.

Perhaps the most prominent ex-politician inside the bank is Peter Sutherland, Attorney General of Ireland in the 1980s and another former EU Competition Commissioner. He is now non-executive chairman of Goldman's UK-based broker-dealer arm, Goldman Sachs International, and until its collapse and nationalisation he was also a non-executive director of Royal Bank of Scotland. He has been a prominent voice within Ireland on its bailout by the EU, arguing that the terms of emergency loans should be eased, so as not to exacerbate the country's financial woes. The EU agreed to cut Ireland's interest rate this summer.

Picking up well-connected policymakers on their way out of government is only one half of the Project, sending Goldman alumni into government is the other half. Like Mr Monti, Mario Draghi, who took over as President of the ECB on 1 November, has been in and out of government and in and out of Goldman. He was a member of the World Bank and managing director of the Italian Treasury before spending three years as managing director of Goldman Sachs International between 2002 and 2005 – only to return to government as president of the Italian central bank.

Mr Draghi has been dogged by controversy over the accounting tricks conducted by Italy and other nations on the eurozone periphery as they tried to squeeze into the single currency a decade ago. By using complex derivatives, Italy and Greece were able to slim down the apparent size of their government debt, which euro rules mandated shouldn't be above 60 per cent of the size of the economy. And the brains behind several of those derivatives were the men and women of Goldman Sachs.

The bank's traders created a number of financial deals that allowed Greece to raise money to cut its budget deficit immediately, in return for repayments over time. In one deal, Goldman channelled $1bn of funding to the Greek government in 2002 in a transaction called a cross-currency swap. On the other side of the deal, working in the National Bank of Greece, was Petros Christodoulou, who had begun his career at Goldman, and who has been promoted now to head the office managing government Greek debt. Lucas Papademos, now installed as Prime Minister in Greece's unity government, was a technocrat running the Central Bank of Greece at the time.

Goldman says that the debt reduction achieved by the swaps was negligible in relation to euro rules, but it expressed some regrets over the deals. Gerald Corrigan, a Goldman partner who came to the bank after running the New York branch of the US Federal Reserve, told a UK parliamentary hearing last year: "It is clear with hindsight that the standards of transparency could have been and probably should have been higher."

When the issue was raised at confirmation hearings in the European Parliament for his job at the ECB, Mr Draghi says he wasn't involved in the swaps deals either at the Treasury or at Goldman.

It has proved impossible to hold the line on Greece, which under the latest EU proposals is effectively going to default on its debt by asking creditors to take a "voluntary" haircut of 50 per cent on its bonds, but the current consensus in the eurozone is that the creditors of bigger nations like Italy and Spain must be paid in full. These creditors, of course, are the continent's big banks, and it is their health that is the primary concern of policymakers. The combination of austerity measures imposed by the new technocratic governments in Athens and Rome and the leaders of other eurozone countries, such as Ireland, and rescue funds from the IMF and the largely German-backed European Financial Stability Facility, can all be traced to this consensus.

"My former colleagues at the IMF are running around trying to justify bailouts of €1.5trn-€4trn, but what does that mean?" says Simon Johnson. "It means bailing out the creditors 100 per cent. It is another bank bailout, like in 2008: The mechanism is different, in that this is happening at the sovereign level not the bank level, but the rationale is the same."

So certain is the financial elite that the banks will be bailed out, that some are placing bet-the-company wagers on just such an outcome. Jon Corzine, a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, returned to Wall Street last year after almost a decade in politics and took control of a historic firm called MF Global. He placed a $6bn bet with the firm's money that Italian government bonds will not default.

When the bet was revealed last month, clients and trading partners decided it was too risky to do business with MF Global and the firm collapsed within days. It was one of the ten biggest bankruptcies in US history.

The grave danger is that, if Italy stops paying its debts, creditor banks could be made insolvent. Goldman Sachs, which has written over $2trn of insurance, including an undisclosed amount on eurozone countries' debt, would not escape unharmed, especially if some of the $2trn of insurance it has purchased on that insurance turns out to be with a bank that has gone under. No bank – and especially not the Vampire Squid – can easily untangle its tentacles from the tentacles of its peers. This is the rationale for the bailouts and the austerity, the reason we are getting more Goldman, not less. The alternative is a second financial crisis, a second economic collapse.

Shared illusions, perhaps? Who would dare test it?

[Dec 05, 2016] Capitalism Requires World War by Cathal Haughian via TheSaker.ie,

www.zerohedge.com

It has been our undertaking, since 2010, to chronicle our understanding of capitalism via our book The Philosophy of Capitalism . We were curious as to the underlying nature of the system which endows us, the owners of capital, with so many favours. The Saker has asked me to explain our somewhat crude statement 'Capitalism Requires World War'.

The present showdown between West, Russia and China is the culmination of a long running saga that began with World War One. Prior to which, Capitalism was governed by the gold standard system which was international, very solid, with clear rules and had brought great prosperity: for banking Capital was scarce and so allocated carefully. World War One required debt-capitalism of the FIAT kind, a bankrupt Britain began to pass the Imperial baton to the US, which had profited by financing the war and selling munitions.

The Weimar Republic, suffering a continuation of hostilities via economic means, tried to inflate away its debts in 1919-1923 with disastrous results-hyperinflation. Then, the reintroduction of the gold standard into a world poisoned by war, reparation and debt was fated to fail and ended with a deflationary bust in the early 1930's and WW2.

The US government gained a lot of credibility after WW2 by outlawing offensive war and funding many construction projects that helped transfer private debt to the public book. The US government's debt exploded during the war, but it also shifted the power game away from creditors to a big debtor that had a lot of political capital. The US used her power to define the new rules of the monetary system at Bretton Woods in 1944 and to keep physical hold of gold owned by other nations.

The US jacked up tax rates on the wealthy and had a period of elevated inflation in the late 40s and into the 1950s – all of which wiped out creditors, but also ushered in a unique middle class era in the West. The US also reformed extraction centric institutions in Europe and Japan to make sure an extractive-creditor class did not hobble growth, which was easy to do because the war had wiped them out (same as in Korea).

Capital destruction in WW2 reversed the Marxist rule that the rate of profit always falls. Take any given market – say jeans. At first, all the companies make these jeans using a great deal of human labour so all the jeans are priced around the average of total social labour time required for production (some companies will charge more, some companies less).

One company then introduces a machine (costed at $n) that makes jeans using a lot less labour time. Each of these robot assisted workers is paid the same hourly rate but the production process is now far more productive. This company, ignoring the capital outlay in the machinery, will now have a much higher profit rate than the others. This will attract capital, as capital is always on the lookout for higher rates of profit. The result will be a generalisation of this new mode of production. The robot or machine will be adopted by all the other companies, as it is a more efficient way of producing jeans.

As a consequence the price of the jeans will fall, as there is an increased margin within which each market actor can undercut his fellows. One company will lower prices so as to increase market share. This new price-point will become generalised as competing companies cut their prices to defend their market share. A further n$ was invested but per unit profit margin is put under constant downward pressure, so the rate of return in productive assets tends to fall over time in a competitive market place.

Interest rates have been falling for decades in the West because interest rates must always be below the rate of return on productive investments. If interest rates are higher than the risk adjusted rate of return then the capitalist might as well keep his money in a savings account. If there is real deflation his purchasing power increases for free and if there is inflation he will park his money (plus debt) in an unproductive asset that's price inflating, E.G. Housing. Sound familiar? Sure, there has been plenty of profit generated since 2008 but it has not been recovered from productive investments in a competitive free market place. All that profit came from bubbles in asset classes and financial schemes abetted by money printing and zero interest rates.

Thus, we know that the underlying rate of return is near zero in the West. The rate of return falls naturally, due to capital accumulation and market competition. The system is called capitalism because capital accumulates: high income economies are those with the greatest accumulation of capital per worker. The robot assisted worker enjoys a higher income as he is highly productive, partly because the robotics made some of the workers redundant and there are fewer workers to share the profit. All the high income economies have had near zero interest rates for seven years. Interest rates in Europe are even negative. How has the system remained stable for so long?

All economic growth depends on energy gain. It takes energy (drilling the oil well) to gain energy. Unlike our everyday experience whereby energy acquisition and energy expenditure can be balanced, capitalism requires an absolute net energy gain. That gain, by way of energy exchange, takes the form of tools and machines that permit an increase in productivity per work hour. Thus GDP increases, living standards improve and the debts can be repaid. Thus, oil is a strategic capitalistic resource.

US net energy gain production peaked in 1974, to be replaced by production from Saudi Arabia, which made the USA a net importer of oil for the first time. US dependence on foreign oil rose from 26% to 47% between 1985 and 1989 to hit a peak of 60% in 2006. And, tellingly, real wages peaked in 1974, levelled-off and then began to fall for most US workers. Wages have never recovered. (The decline is more severe if you don't believe government reported inflation figures that don't count the costof housing.)

What was the economic and political result of this decline? During the 20 years 1965-85, there were 4 recessions, 2 energy crises and wage and price controls. These were unprecedented in peacetime and The Gulf of Tonkin event led to the Vietnam War which finally required Nixon to move away from the Gold-Exchange Standard in 1971, opening the next degenerate chapter of FIAT finance up until 2008. Cutting this link to gold was cutting the external anchor impeding war and deficit spending. The promise of gold for dollars was revoked.

GDP in the US increased after 1974 but a portion of end use buying power was transferred to Saudi Arabia. They were supplying the net energy gain that was powering the US GDP increase. The working class in the US began to experience a slow real decline in living standards, as 'their share' of the economic pie was squeezed by the ever increasing transfer of buying power to Saudi Arabia.

The US banking and government elite responded by creating and cutting back legal and behavioral rules of a fiat based monetary system. The Chinese appreciated the long term opportunity that this presented and agreed to play ball. The USA over-produced credit money and China over-produced manufactured goods which cushioned the real decline in the buying power of America's working class. Power relations between China and the US began to change: The Communist Party transferred value to the American consumer whilst Wall Street transferred most of the US industrial base to China. They didn't ship the military industrial complex.

Large scale leverage meant that US consumers and businesses had the means to purchase increasingly with debt so the class war was deferred. This is how over production occurs: more is produced that is paid for not with money that represents actual realized labour time, but from future wealth, to be realised from future labour time. The Chinese labour force was producing more than it consumed.

The system has never differed from the limits laid down by the Laws of Thermodynamics. The Real economy system can never over-produce per se. The limit of production is absolute net energy gain. What is produced can be consumed. How did the Chinese produce such a super massive excess and for so long? Economic slavery can achieve radical improvements in living standards for those that benefit from ownership. Slaves don't depreciate as they are rented and are not repaired for they replicate for free. Hundreds of millions of Chinese peasants limited their way of life and controlled their consumption in order to benefit their children. And their exploited life raised the rate of profit!

They began their long march to modern prosperity making toys, shoes, and textiles cheaper than poor women could in South Carolina or Honduras. Such factories are cheap to build and deferential, obedient and industrious peasant staff were a perfect match for work that was not dissimilar to tossing fruit into a bucket. Their legacy is the initial capital formation of modern China and one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. The Chinese didn't use net energy gain from oil to power their super massive and sustained increase in production. They used economic slavery powered by caloric energy, exchanged from solar energy. The Chinese labour force picked the World's low hanging fruit that didn't need many tools or machines. Slaves don't need tools for they are the tool.

Without a gold standard and capital ratios our form of over-production has grown enormously. The dotcom bubble was reflated through a housing bubble, which has been pumped up again by sovereign debt, printing press (QE) and central bank insolvency. The US working and middle classes have over-consumed relative to their share of the global economic pie for decades. The correction to prices (the destruction of credit money & accumulated capital) is still yet to happen. This is what has been happening since 1971 because of the growth of financialisation or monetisation.

The application of all these economic methods was justified by the political ideology of neo-Liberalism. Neo-Liberalism entails no or few capital controls, the destruction of trade unions, plundering state and public assets, importing peasants as domesticated help, and entrusting society's value added production to The Communist Party of The People's Republic of China.

The Chinese have many motives but their first motivation is power. Power is more important than money. If you're rich and weak you get robbed. Russia provides illustrating stories of such: Gorbachev had received a promise from George HW Bush that the US would pay Russia approximately $400 billion over10 years as a "peace dividend" and as a tool to be utilized in the conversion of their state run to a market based economic system. The Russians believe the head of the CIA at the time, George Tenet, essentially killed the deal based on the idea that "letting the country fall apart will destroy Russia as a future military threat". The country fell apart in 1992. Its natural assets were plundered which raised the rate of profit in the 90's until President Putin put a stop to the robbery.

In the last analysis, the current framework of Capitalism results in labour redundancy, a falling rate of profit and ingrained trading imbalances caused by excess capacity. Under our current monopoly state capitalism a number of temporary preventive measures have evolved, including the expansion of university, military, and prison systems to warehouse new generations of labour.

Our problem is how to retain the "expected return rate" for us, the dominant class. Ultimately, there are only two large-scale solutions, which are intertwined .

One is expansion of state debt to keep "the markets" moving and transfer wealth from future generations of labour to the present dominant class.

The other is war, the consumer of last resort. Wars can burn up excess capacity, shift global markets, generate monopoly rents, and return future labour to a state of helplessness and reduced expectations. The Spanish flu killed 50-100 million people in 1918. As if this was not enough, it also took two World Wars across the 20th century and some 96 million dead to reduce unemployment and stabilize the "labour problem."

Capitalism requires World War because Capitalism requires profit and cannot afford the unemployed . The point is capitalism could afford social democracy after the rate of profit was restored thanks to the depression of the 1930's and the physical destruction of capital during WW2. Capitalism only produces for profit and social democracy was funded by taxing profits after WW2.

Post WW2 growth in labour productivity, due to automation, itself due to oil & gas replacing coal, meant workers could be better off. As the economic pie was growing, workers could receive the same %, and still receive a bigger slice. Wages as a % of US GDP actually increased in the period, 1945-1970. There was an increase in government spending which was being redirected in the form of redistributed incomes. Inequality will only worsen, because to make profits now we have to continually cut the cost of inputs, i.e. wages & benefits. Have we not already reached the point where large numbers of the working class can neither feed themselves nor afford a roof over their heads?13% of the UK working age population is out of work and receiving out of work benefits. A huge fraction is receiving in work benefits because low skill work now pays so little.

The underlying nature of Capitalism is cyclical. Here is how the political aspect of the cycle ends:

If Capitalism could speak, she would ask her older brother, Imperialism, this: "Can you solve the problem?" We are not reliving the 1930's, the economy is now an integrated whole that encompasses the entire World. Capital has been accumulating since 1945, so under- and unemployment is a plague everywhere. How big is the problem? Official data tells us nothing, but the 47 million Americans on food aid are suggestive. That's 1 in 7 Americans and total World population is 7 billion.

The scale of the solution is dangerous. Our probing for weakness in the South China Sea, Ukraine and Syria has awakened them to their danger.The Chinese and Russian leadershave reacted by integrating their payment systems and real economies, trading energy for manufactured goods for advanced weapon systems. As they are central players in the Shanghai Group we can assume their aim is the monetary system which is the bedrock of our Imperial power. What's worse, they can avoid overt enemy action and simply choose to undermine "confidence" in the FIAT.

Though given the calibre of their nuclear arsenal, how can they be fought let alone defeated? Appetite preceded Reason, so Lust is hard to Reason with. But beware brother. Your Lust for Power began this saga, perhaps it's time to Reason.

Uncle Sugar

Seriously - Having a Central Bank with a debt based monetary system requires permanent wars. True market based capitalism does not.

Father Thyme

Your logical fallacy is no true scotsman
http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/no-true-scotsman

Wed, 03/02/2016 - 23:21 | 7264475 Seek_Truth

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

If wealth were measured by creating strawmen- you would be a Rothschild.

gwiss

That's because they don't understand the word "capitalism."

Capitalism simply means economic freedom. And economic freedom, just like freedom to breed, must be exposed to the pruning action of cause and effect, otherwise it outgrows its container and becomes unstable and explodes. As long as it is continually exposed to the grinding wheel of causality, it continues to hold a fine edge, as the dross is scraped away and the fine steel stays. Reality is full of dualities, and those dualities cannot be separated without creating broken symmetry and therefore terminal instability. Freedom and responsibility, for example. One without the other is unstable. Voting and taxation in direct proportion to each other is another example.

Fiat currency is an attempt to create an artificial reality, one without the necessary symmetry and balance of a real system. However, reality can not be gamed, because it will produce its own symmetry if you try to deny it. Thus the symmetry of fiat currency is boom and bust, a sine wave that still manages to produce equilibrium, however at a huge bubbling splattering boil rather than a fine simmer.

The folks that wrote this do not have a large enough world view. Capitalism does not require world wars because freedom does not require world wars. Freedom tends to bleed imbalances out when they are small. On the other hand, empire does require world war, which is why we are going to have one.

Wed, 03/02/2016 - 23:27 | 7264485 GRDguy

Capitalism becomes imperialism when financial sociopaths steal profits from both sides of the trade. What you're seeing is an Imperialism of Capital, as explained very nicely in the 1889 book "The Great Red Dragon."

AchtungAffen

Really? I thought that was the re-prints of Mises Canada, Kunstler or Brandon Smith. In comparison, this article is sublime.

Caviar Emptor

Wrong. Capitalism needs prolonged directionless wars without clear winners and contained destruction that utilize massive amounts of raw materials and endless orders for weapons and logistical support. That's what makes some guys rich.

Wed, 03/02/2016 - 22:56 | 7264423 Jack's Raging B...

That's was a very long-winded and deliberately obtuse way of explaining how DEBT AS MONEY and The State's usurpation of sound money destroyed efficient markets. The author then goes to call this system Capitalism.

So yeah, the deliberate destruction of capital, in all its forms, is somehow capitalism. Brilliant observation. Fuck you. There are better terms for things like this. Perhaps....central banking? The State? Fiat debt creation? Evil? Naw, let's just contort and abuse language instead. That's the ticket.

My Days Are Get...

From Russia News Feed:

Cathal Haughian Bio :

I've spent my adult life in 51 countries. This was financed by correctly anticipating the Great Financial Crisis in 2008. I was studying Marx at that time. I'm presently an employee of the Chinese State. I educate the children of China's best families. I am the author, alongside a large international team of capitalists, of Before The Collapse : The Philosophy of Capitalism.

I also have my own business; I live with my girlfriend and was born and grew up in Ireland.

===============

Why would anyone waste time to read this drivel, buttressed by the author's credentials.

The unstated thesis is that wars involve millions of actors, who produce an end-result of many hundreds of millions killed.

Absent coercion ("the Draft"), how is any government going to man hundreds of divisions of foot soldiers. That concept is passé.

Distribute some aerosol poisons via drones and kill as many people as deemed necessary. How in the hell will that action stimulate the world economy.

Weapons of mass-destruction are smaller, cheaper and easier to deploy. War as a progenitor of growth - forget it.

The good news is that this guy is educating the children of elite in China. Possibly the Pentagon could clone him 10,000 times and send those cyborgs to China - cripple China for another generation or two.

slimycorporated...

Capitalism requires banks that made shitty loans to fail

Ms No

The term cyclical doesn't quite cover what we have being experiencing. It's more like a ragdoll being shaken by a white shark. The euphoria of bubble is more like complete unhinged unicorn mania anymore and the lows are complete grapes of wrath. It's probably always been that way to some extent because corruption has remained unchallenged for a great deal of time. The boom phases are scarier than the downturns anymore, especially the last oil boom and housing boom. Complete Alfred Hitchcock stuff.

I don't think it's capitalism and that term comes across as an explanation that legitimizes this completely contrived pattern that benefits a few and screws everybody else. Markets should not be behaving in such a violent fashion. Money should probably be made steady and slow. And downturns shouldn't turn a country into Zimbabwe. I could be wrong but there is really no way to know with the corruption we have.

Good times.

o r c k

And War requires that an enemy be created. According to American General Breedlove-head of NATO's European Command-speaking to the US Armed Services Committee 2 days ago, "Russia and Assad are deliberately weaponizing migration to break European resolve". "The only reason to use non-precision weapons like barrel bombs is to keep refugees on the move". "These refugees bring criminality, foreign fighters and terrorism", and "are being used to overwhelm European structures". "Russia has chosen to be an adversary and is a real threat." "Russia is irresponsible with nuclear weapons-always threatening to use them." And strangely, "In the past week alone, Russia has made 450 attacks along the front lines in E. Ukraine".

Even with insanity overflowing the West, I found these comments to be the most bizarrely threatening propaganda yet. After reading them for the first time, I had to prove to myself that I wasn't hallucinating it.

[Dec 05, 2016] Spanish civil war nostalgics join fight alongside Ukrainian rebels by Kazbek Basayev

Notable quotes:
"... That star and a ribbon around Munez's wrist hint at the Spaniards' motivation for joining a war thousands of miles from home. The ribbon's red, yellow and purple are the colors of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, a conflict in the 1930s where thousands of foreigners joined the leftists against right-wing foes who eventually prevailed. ..."
"... More than 1,100 people have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine since mid-April, according to the United Nations, in a civil conflict that has dragged ties between Russia and the West to their lowest since the Cold War. ..."
"... Davilla-Rivas blamed the West - which has imposed sanctions on Moscow, accusing it of backing the rebels - for stoking the war. "The United States is trying to provoke a third (world war) against Russia here with your people," he said. "Ordinary people are suffering because they are caught in between three imperial powers - the Russian Federation, the European Union and, certainly, the United States, which is putting money into all this." ..."
"... Civil war in Ukraine is going more then 4 months. 30 000 Ukrainians was killed, and 1 million expelled from their homes. ..."
"... Volunteers, revolutionaries, zealots, idealist, mercenaries are all drawn to conflicts all over the globe. ..."
Aug 08, 2014 | Yahoo/Reuters

Angel Davilla-Rivas, a Spaniard who came to east Ukraine to fight alongside pro-Russian rebels, proudly shows off two big monochrome portraits of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, tattooed on the right and left side of his torso.

Davilla-Rivas and his comrade Rafa Munez, both in their mid-twenties, traveled by train from Madrid to eastern Ukraine where they joined the Vostok battalion, the most prominent and heavily armed unit fighting Ukrainian troops.

"I am the only son, and it hurts my mother and father and my family a lot that I am putting myself at risk. But ... I can't sleep in my bed knowing what's going on here," said Davilla-Rivas, sporting a cap with the Soviet red star pinned to it.

That star and a ribbon around Munez's wrist hint at the Spaniards' motivation for joining a war thousands of miles from home. The ribbon's red, yellow and purple are the colors of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, a conflict in the 1930s where thousands of foreigners joined the leftists against right-wing foes who eventually prevailed.

Angel said he wanted to return the favor after the Soviet Union, under Stalin, supported the Republican side in Spain.

More than 1,100 people have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine since mid-April, according to the United Nations, in a civil conflict that has dragged ties between Russia and the West to their lowest since the Cold War.

The Spaniards are not the first foreigners to enter the fight.

Men from Russia, its former rebel republic of Chechnya and the Caucasus region of North Ossetia have fought on the rebel side along with volunteers from a Russian-backed separatist enclave of Georgia and natives of Serbia.

Russians have also taken top positions among the rebels, though a local took over at the helm of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk Peoples' Republic" on Thursday, in a move aimed at blunting Western accusations the rebellion is run by Moscow.

Moscow said last month there were reports that citizens from Sweden, Finland, France and the former Soviet Baltic states had joined pro-Kiev volunteer battalions in the east as "mercenaries".

Davilla-Rivas blamed the West - which has imposed sanctions on Moscow, accusing it of backing the rebels - for stoking the war. "The United States is trying to provoke a third (world war) against Russia here with your people," he said. "Ordinary people are suffering because they are caught in between three imperial powers - the Russian Federation, the European Union and, certainly, the United States, which is putting money into all this."

A Vostok fighter said he was happy to have the Spaniards. "We need support now, we need fighters. An additional automatic gun will do no harm, to support, to cover one's back," said the young, brown-haired man who did not give his name. The Spanish embassy in Moscow was not immediately available for comment.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

blazo 6 months ago

Civil war in Ukraine is going more then 4 months. 30 000 Ukrainians was killed, and 1 million expelled from their homes. Not too bad for only 4 months. But it could be better.

Commander in chief of glorious Kiev army, Mr Porkoshenko, and his sponsor in killings and expulsions, Mr Obama are not satisfied. For money spent, much higher pace of killing should be #$%$ured. What is their reference? In Babin Yar during WW 2, 1200 Ukrainian #$%$, with help of 300 Germans, managed to kill 60 000 Ukrainians for only two days. So Mr Porkoshenko ask from Chef of all Ukrainian security forces, Mr Paruby to explain discrepancy in efficiency in Babin Yar, and in Donbas killings. Mr Paruby said: In Babin Yar Ukrainians to be killed were civilized and unarmed. They even smiled for photographs during killing. But in Donbas they are barbaric armed people, they don t allow us to kill them in peace. They turned arms on us, and killed 10 000 of our brave soldiers. They burned our tanks, APCs, and shot down our jet bombers. And as a extreme barbarism, they captured from us multiple rocket launchers, and fired on us, killing our 25th, 72nd, 79th motorized brigades. Mr Porkoshenko said: You are fired, and kicked him with foot to his #$%$.

The great strategist and visionary, Mr Porkoshenko said on 25th of May: It is not a question of days, weeks, or months, when rebellion in East Ukraine will be defeated. It is the question of hours.... .

Ricardo 6 months ago

Volunteers, revolutionaries, zealots, idealist, mercenaries are all drawn to conflicts all over the globe. Muslims are headed to Syria and Iraq from Europe and North Africa to fight either Assad or along side ISIS, now those that believe the days of the old USSR are returning are headed to eastern Ukraine to fight. If you look at some of the countries mentioned in this article it will not surprise anyone that they are all from Soviet/Russian supported countries that even after the collapse of the USSR still follow the Russians, no matter the consequences to their country.

[Dec 04, 2016] Nuclear war our likely future as Russia China would not accept US hegemony, Reagan official warns

Notable quotes:
"... "confronted with the Pivot to Asia and the construction of new US naval and air bases to ensure Washington's control of the South China Sea, now defined as an area of American National Interests." ..."
"... "for the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine and for its use as anti-Russian propaganda." ..."
"... "How America Was Lost" ..."
"... "aggression and blatant propaganda have convinced Russia and China that Washington intends war, and this realization has drawn the two countries into a strategic alliance." ..."
"... "vassalage status accepted by the UK, Germany, France and the rest of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia." ..."
"... "price of world peace is the world's acceptance of Washington's hegemony." ..."
"... "On the foreign policy front, the hubris and arrogance of America's self-image as the 'exceptional, indispensable' country with hegemonic rights over other countries means that the world is primed for war," ..."
"... "unless the dollar and with it US power collapses or Europe finds the courage to break with Washington and to pursue an independent foreign policy, saying good-bye to NATO, nuclear war is our likely future." ..."
"... "historical turning point," ..."
"... "the Chinese were there in their place," ..."
"... "Russian casualties compared to the combined casualties of the US, UK, and France make it completely clear that it was Russia that defeated Hitler," ..."
"... "in the Orwellian West, the latest rewriting of history leaves out of the story the Red Army's destruction of the Wehrmacht." ..."
"... "expressed gratitude to 'the peoples of Great Britain, France and the United States of America for their contribution to the victory.'" ..."
"... "do not hear when Russia says 'don't push us this hard, we are not your enemy. We want to be your partners.'" ..."
"... "finally realized that their choice is vassalage or war," ..."
"... "made the mistake that could be fateful for humanity," ..."
May 13, 2015 | RT News
The White House is determined to block the rise of the key nuclear-armed nations, Russia and China, neither of whom will join the "world's acceptance of Washington's hegemony," says head of the Institute for Political Economy, Paul Craig Roberts.

The former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy, Dr Paul Craig Roberts, has written on his blog that Beijing is currently "confronted with the Pivot to Asia and the construction of new US naval and air bases to ensure Washington's control of the South China Sea, now defined as an area of American National Interests."

Roberts writes that Washington's commitment to contain Russia is the reason "for the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine and for its use as anti-Russian propaganda."

The author of several books, "How America Was Lost" among the latest titles, says that US "aggression and blatant propaganda have convinced Russia and China that Washington intends war, and this realization has drawn the two countries into a strategic alliance."

Dr Roberts believes that neither Russia, nor China will meanwhile accept the so-called "vassalage status accepted by the UK, Germany, France and the rest of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia." According to the political analyst, the "price of world peace is the world's acceptance of Washington's hegemony."

"On the foreign policy front, the hubris and arrogance of America's self-image as the 'exceptional, indispensable' country with hegemonic rights over other countries means that the world is primed for war," Roberts writes.

He gives a gloomy political forecast in his column saying that "unless the dollar and with it US power collapses or Europe finds the courage to break with Washington and to pursue an independent foreign policy, saying good-bye to NATO, nuclear war is our likely future."

Russia's far-reaching May 9 Victory Day celebration was meanwhile a "historical turning point," according to Roberts who says that while Western politicians chose to boycott the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, "the Chinese were there in their place," China's president sitting next to President Putin during the military parade on Red Square in Moscow.

A recent poll targeting over 3,000 people in France, Germany and the UK has recently revealed that as little as 13 percent of Europeans think the Soviet Army played the leading role in liberating Europe from Nazism during WW2. The majority of respondents – 43 percent – said the US Army played the main role in liberating Europe.

"Russian casualties compared to the combined casualties of the US, UK, and France make it completely clear that it was Russia that defeated Hitler," Roberts points out, adding that "in the Orwellian West, the latest rewriting of history leaves out of the story the Red Army's destruction of the Wehrmacht."

The head of the presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov, told RT earlier this month that attempts to diminish the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany through rewriting history by some Western countries are part of the ongoing campaign to isolate and alienate Russia.

Dr Roberts has also stated in his column that while the US president only mentioned US forces in his remarks on the 70th anniversary of the victory, President Putin in contrast "expressed gratitude to 'the peoples of Great Britain, France and the United States of America for their contribution to the victory.'"

The political analyst notes that America along with its allies "do not hear when Russia says 'don't push us this hard, we are not your enemy. We want to be your partners.'"

While Moscow and Beijing have "finally realized that their choice is vassalage or war," Washington "made the mistake that could be fateful for humanity," according to Dr Roberts.

Read more Perverted history: Europeans think US army liberated continent during WW2

Read more US mulls sending military ships, aircraft near South China Sea disputed islands – report

[Nov 20, 2016] The Field of Fight How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies by Michael T. Flynn, Michael Ledeen

Trump essentially betrayed Flynn, who tried to did the billing of Kushner and persuade Russia to abstain from anti-Israel vote.
Notable quotes:
"... The big takeaways from this book is the (1) systemic manipulation of intelligence analysts' conclusions to fit political narratives (I have personally seen my work modified to "soften" the message/conclusions for x, y, or z reasons) and (2) Radical Islam is not a new phenomenon that spawned as a response to "American imperialism" as often preached from the lecterns of western universities. ..."
"... There is no love lost between Lt Gen Flynn and President Obama, and Flynn's frustration with Obama's lack of leadership is clear throughout this work. ..."
"... General Flynn is a career Army combat intelligence officer with extensive hard experience mostly in the Middle East, a lifetime Democrat, who seems to understand and is able to clearly and concisely define the threat of Radical Islam (NOT all Islam) far better than both the Bush ("W") and Obama administrations politicos in Washington were willing to hear or accept. ..."
"... in contrast to what his detractors might opine, General Flynn is speaking of Radical Islam as a "tribal cult," and not taking aim at the religion itself. ..."
"... The general's comments on human intelligence and interrogation operations being virtually nonexistent makes one wonder if all the Lessons Learned that are written after every conflict and stored away are then never looked at again - I suspect it's true. ..."
"... My unit, the 571st MI Detachment of the 525th MI Group, ran agents (HUMINT) throughout I Corps/FRAC in Vietnam. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was actually known and reported by our unit before and during the NVA's invasion of the South. We were virtually the only intelligence source available for the first couple of weeks because of weather. Search the internet for The Easter Offensive of 1972: A Failure to Use Intelligence. ..."
"... I totally concur with Lt. General, Michael T. Flynn, US Army, (ret), that any solution to "Radical Islamic Terrorism" today has to also resolve the ideology issue, along side the other recommendations that he discusses in his book. ..."
"... Provocative, bellicose, rhetorical, and patriotic, the author leaves the reader wondering if his understanding of the enemy is hubris or sagacity. Much of that confusion can be attributed to conditioning as a an American and seeing prosecution of American wars as apolitical and astrategic. General Flynn's contribution to the way forward, "Field of Fight" is certainly political and at a minimum operational strategy. His practical experience is normative evidence to take him at his word for what he concludes is the next step to deal with radicals and reactionaries of political Islam. ..."
"... One paradox that he never solved was his deliberate attempt to frame terrorist as nothing more that organized crime, but at the same respect condemn governments that are "Islamic Republics," whom attempt to enforce the laws as an ineffective solution, and attempting to associate the with the other 1.6 billion Muslims by painting them as "Radical Islam." ..."
Nov 20, 2016 | www.amazon.com

SomeRandomGuy July 17, 2016

We're at war, but few people know it... or are willing to accept it.

When I had heard in the news that Lt Gen Flynn might be chosen by Donald Trump as his Vice Presidential nominee, I was quick to do some research on Flynn and came across this work. Having worked in the intelligence community myself in the past several years, I was intrigued to hear what the previous director of the DIA had to say. I have read many books on the topic of Islam and I am glad I picked this up.

The big takeaways from this book is the (1) systemic manipulation of intelligence analysts' conclusions to fit political narratives (I have personally seen my work modified to "soften" the message/conclusions for x, y, or z reasons) and (2) Radical Islam is not a new phenomenon that spawned as a response to "American imperialism" as often preached from the lecterns of western universities.

If you have formed your opinion of Islam and the nature of the West's fight in the Middle East on solely what you hear in the main steam media (all sides), you would do well to read this book as a starting point into self-education on an incredibly complex topic.

There is no love lost between Lt Gen Flynn and President Obama, and Flynn's frustration with Obama's lack of leadership is clear throughout this work. Usually this political opining in a work such as this is distracting, but it does add much-needed context to decisions and events. That said, Lt Gen Flynn did a great job addressing a complex topic in plain language. While this is not a seminal work on

Amazon Customer on November 11, 2016

A critically important work for western civilization.

General Flynn is a career Army combat intelligence officer with extensive hard experience mostly in the Middle East, a lifetime Democrat, who seems to understand and is able to clearly and concisely define the threat of Radical Islam (NOT all Islam) far better than both the Bush ("W") and Obama administrations politicos in Washington were willing to hear or accept.

He supports what he can tell us with citations. Radical Islam has declared war on Western democracies, most of all on the US. Its allies include Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and others. Their war against us is a long-term effort, and our politicians (except Trump?) don't want to hear it. We need to demand that our politicos prepare for this assault and start taking wise, strong steps to defeat it.

Western Europe may already have been fatally infiltrated by "refugees" who will seek to Islamize it, and current birth rates suggest that those nations will have Muslim majorities in 20 years. General Flynn details what we must do to survive the assault. I bought the Kindle version and began reading it, but then paid more for the audible version so that I could get through it faster. Please buy and read this book!

David Firester on September 2, 2016

Looking Inward First, is What Generates the Strategy-Shifting Process. Flynn Gets This. Few Others Do.

To begin with, I will say that the book is not exactly what one might expect from a recently retired General. For starters, there were numerous spelling errors, an assortment of colloquialisms and some instances in which the prose took on a decidedly partisan tone. The means of documenting sources was something akin to a blog-posting, in that he simply copied and pasted links to pages, right into the body of the work. I would have liked to have seen a more thoroughly researched and properly cited work. All of this was likely due to the fact that General Flynn released his book in the days leading up to Donald J. Trump's announcement of his Vice Presidential pick. As Flynn is apparently a close national security advisor to Trump, I can understand why his work appears to be somewhat harried. Nonetheless, I think that the book's timeliness is useful, as the information it contains might be helpful in guiding Americans' election choices. I also think that despite the absence of academic rigor, it makes his work more accessible. No doubt, this is probably one of Mr. Trump's qualities and one that has catapulted him to national fame and serious consideration for the office he seeks. General Flynn makes a number of important points, which, despite my foregoing adverse commentary, gives me the opportunity to endorse it as an essential read.

In the introductory chapter, General Flynn lays out his credentials, defines the problem, and proceeds to inform the reader of the politically guided element that clouds policy prescriptions. Indeed, he is correct to call attention to the fact that the Obama administration has deliberately exercised its commanding authority in forbidding the attachment of the term "Islam" when speaking of the threat posed by extremists who advocate and carry out violence in the religion's name. As one who suffered at the hands of the administration for speaking truth to power, he knows all too well what others in the Intelligence Community (IC) must suffer in order to hold onto their careers.

In chapter one, he discusses where he came from and how he learned valuable lessons at home and in service to his country. He also gives the reader a sense of the geopolitical context in which Radical Islamists have been able to form alliances with our worst enemies. This chapter also introduces the reader to some of his personal military heroes, as he delineates how their mentorship shaped his thinking on military and intelligence matters. A key lesson to pay attention to in this chapter is what some, including General Flynn, call 'politicization of intelligence.' Although he maintains that both the present and previous administration have been guilty of this, he credits the Bush administration with its strategic reconsideration of the material facts and a search for better answers. (He mentions this again in the next chapter on p.42, signifying this capability as a "leadership characteristic" and later recalls the president's "insight and courage" on p. 154.)

Chapter two of The Field of Fight features an excellent summary of what transpires in a civil war and the manner in which Iraqis began to defect from al-Qa'ida and cooperate with U.S. forces. In this task, he explains for the layperson what many scholars do, but in far fewer pages. Again, this makes his work more accessible. He also works through the process of intelligence failures that are, in his opinion, produced by a superordinate policy failure housed in the upper echelons of the military structure. In essence, it was a misperception (willful or not) that guided thinking about the cause of the insurgency, that forbade an ability to properly address it with a population-centric Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy. He pays homage to the adaptability and ingenuity of General Stanley McChrystal's Task Force 714, but again mentions the primary barrier to its success was bureaucratic in nature.

The main thrust of chapter 3, aptly named "The Enemy Alliance," is geared toward tying together the earlier assertion in chapter regarding the synergy between state actors like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the like. It has been documented elsewhere, but the Iranian (non-Arab Shi'a) connection to the al-Qa'ida (Arab Sunni) terrorist organization can't be denied. Flynn correctly points out how the relationship between strange bedfellows is not new in the Middle East. He briefly discusses how this has been the case since the 1970s, with specific reference to the PLO, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, Bosnia and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's. He also references President Obama's "curious sympathy" (p. 92) for enemies in places such as Venezuela and Cuba.

General Flynn then reminds readers of some facts that have either been forgotten, or virtually unknown, by most Americans. Namely, the role that Saddam Hussein actually played with regard to the recruitment of foreign terrorists, the internal policies of appeasement for Islamists in his army and the support he lent to Islamists in other countries (e.g., Egypt, Sudan and Afghanistan). He also reminds the readers of the totalitarian mindset that consumes Islamist groups, such as al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State. All the while, and in contrast to what his detractors might opine, General Flynn is speaking of Radical Islam as a "tribal cult," and not taking aim at the religion itself. This chapter is perhaps the most robust in the book and it is the sort of reading that every American should do before they engage in conversations about the nature of political Islam.

Chapter four is a blueprint for winning what used to be called the 'global war on terror.' Although such a phraseology is generally laughed at in many policy circles, it is clear, as General Flynn demonstrates, that some groups and countries are locked in combat with us and our partners in the West. Yet, as he correctly points out, the Obama administration isn't willing to use global American leadership in order to defeat those who see us, and treat us, as their collective enemy. General Flynn's prescription includes four strategic objectives, which I won't recite here, as I'm not looking to violate any copyright laws. The essence of his suggestions, however, starts with an admission of who the enemy is, a commitment to their destruction, the abandonment of any unholy alliances we have made over the years, and a counter-ideological program for combating what is largely an ideologically-based enemy strong suit. He points to some of the facts that describe the dismal state of affairs in the Arab world, the most damning of which appear on pages 127-128, and then says what many are afraid to say on page 133: "Radical Islam is a totalitarian political ideology wrapped in the Islamic religion." Nonetheless, Flynn discusses some of the more mundane and pecuniary sources of their strength and the means that might be tried in an effort to undermine them.

The concluding chapter of General Flynn's work draws the reader's attention to some of the works of others that have been overlooked. He then speaks candidly of the misguided assumptions that, coupled with political and bureaucratic reasons, slows adaptation to the changing threat environment. Indeed, one of the reasons that I found this book so refreshing is because that sort of bold introspection is perhaps the requisite starting point for re-thinking bad strategies. In fact, that is the essence of both the academic and practical work that I have been doing for years. I highly recommend this book, especially chapter 3, for any student of the IC and the military sciences.

Bob Baker on August 4, 2016
It's ironic that the general wrote about Pattern Analysis, ...

It's ironic that the general wrote about Pattern Analysis, when DIA in late-1971 warned that the Ho Chi Minh Trail was unusually active using this technique.

The general's comments on human intelligence and interrogation operations being virtually nonexistent makes one wonder if all the Lessons Learned that are written after every conflict and stored away are then never looked at again - I suspect it's true.

My unit, the 571st MI Detachment of the 525th MI Group, ran agents (HUMINT) throughout I Corps/FRAC in Vietnam. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was actually known and reported by our unit before and during the NVA's invasion of the South. We were virtually the only intelligence source available for the first couple of weeks because of weather. Search the internet for The Easter Offensive of 1972: A Failure to Use Intelligence.

Amazon Customer on August 1, 2016
A GREAT BOOK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE WAR ON TERROR

At a time when so much is hanging in the balance, General Flynn's book plainly lays out a strategy for not only fighting ISIS/ISIL but also for preventing totalitarianism from spreading with Russia, North Korea and Cuba now asserting themselves - again.

Sadly, because there is some mild rebuke towards President Obama, my fear is people who should read this book to gain a better understanding of the mind of the jihadist won't because they don't like their president being called out for inadequate leadership. But the fact remains we are at war with not just one, but several ideologies that have a common enemy - US! But this book is not about placing blame, it is about winning and what it will take to defeat the enemies of freedom.

We take freedom for granted in the West, to the point where, unlike our enemies, we are no longer willing to fight hard to preserve those freedoms. General Flynn makes the complicated theatre of fighting Radical Islam easier to understand. His experience in explaining how we can and have won on the battlefield gives me great comfort, but also inspires me to want to help fight for the good cause of freedom.

My sincerest hope is that both Trump and Clinton will read this book and then appoint General Flynn as our next Defense Secretary!

Amazon Customer DCC on July 30, 2016
recommend you read " Heretic

I totally concur with Lt. General, Michael T. Flynn, US Army, (ret), that any solution to "Radical Islamic Terrorism" today has to also resolve the ideology issue, along side the other recommendations that he discusses in his book. All of the radical fighting that has taken place in the world, ever since the beginning evolution of the Islamic religion over 1400 years ago, has revolved around radical interpretations of the Qur'an.

Until there is an Islamic religious reformation, there will never be a lasting resolution to the current "Radical Islamic Terrorist" problem. It is a religious ideology interpretation issue. Until that interpretation is resolved within the Islamic world, there will always be continuing radical interpretation outbreaks, from within the entire Islamic world, against all other forms of non-Islamic religions and their evolving cultures.

If you require further insight, recommend you read " Heretic, Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now" , by Ayaan Hirisi Ali. DCC

Aaron Rudroff on July 26, 2016
To be continued...

Provocative, bellicose, rhetorical, and patriotic, the author leaves the reader wondering if his understanding of the enemy is hubris or sagacity. Much of that confusion can be attributed to conditioning as a an American and seeing prosecution of American wars as apolitical and astrategic. General Flynn's contribution to the way forward, "Field of Fight" is certainly political and at a minimum operational strategy. His practical experience is normative evidence to take him at his word for what he concludes is the next step to deal with radicals and reactionaries of political Islam.

One paradox that he never solved was his deliberate attempt to frame terrorist as nothing more that organized crime, but at the same respect condemn governments that are "Islamic Republics," whom attempt to enforce the laws as an ineffective solution, and attempting to associate the with the other 1.6 billion Muslims by painting them as "Radical Islam."

As if there is any relationship to relationship to Islam other than it is the predominant religion in a majority of the area where they commit their criminal activity. As if the political war with terrorist is a function of a label that is of itself a oversimplification of the issues. Indeed, suggesting it is a nothing more than 'political correctness" and ignoring the possibility that it might be a function of setting the conditions in an otherwise polygon of political justice. This argument alone is evidence of the his willingness to develop domestic political will for war with a simple argument. Nevertheless, as a national strategy, it lacks the a foundational argument to motivate friendly regional actors who's authority is founded on political Islam.

In 2008 a national election was held and the pyrrhic nature of the war in Iraq adjudicated via the process of democratic choice that ended support for continued large scale conventional occupation. That there is some new will to continue large scale conventional occupation seems unlikely, and as a democratic country, leaders must find other means to reach the desired end state, prosecuting contiguous operations to suppress, neutralize, and destroy "ALL" who use terrorism to expand and enforce their political will with a deliberate limited wars that have methodological end states. Lastly, sounding more like a General MacArther, the General Flynn's diffuse strategy seems to ignore the most principles of war deduced by Von Clausewitz and Napoleon: Concentration of force on the objective to be attacked. Instead, fighting an ideology "Radical Islam" seems more abstract then any splatter painting of modern are in principle form it suggests a commitment to simplicity to motivate our nation to prepare for and endure the national commitment to a long war.

Since we can all agree there is no magical solution, then normative pragmatism of the likes that General. Flynn's assessment provides, must be taken into account in an operation and tactical MDMP. Ignoring and silencing Subject Matter Experts (SME's) will net nothing more than failure, a failure that could be measured in innocent civilian lives as a statistical body count. I could see General Flynn's suggestions and in expertise bolstering a movement to establish a CORP level active duty unit to prepare, plan, and implemented in phases 0, IV, & V (JP 5-0) . Bear in mind, Counter Insurgency (COIN) was never considered a National strategy but instead at tactical strategy and at most an operational strategy.

William Struse TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 17, 2016
The Crossroads of Our Republic

Several times in its nearly 250 years of existence our Nation has been at a crossroads. Looking back on our War for Independence, the Civil War, and WWII we know the decisions made in those tumultuous times forever altered the destiny of our Republic.

We are once again at one of those crossroads where the battle lines have been drawn, only this time in an asymmetrical war between western democracy and the radical Islamists and nation states who nurture them. In his timely book Field of Fight, Lt. General Michael T. Flynn provides a unique perspective on this war and what he believes are some of the steps necessary to meet this foe.

Field of Fight begins as an autobiography in which the author gives you a sense of who he is as a man and a soldier. This background information then provides the reader with a better perspective through which to evaluate his analysis of the challenges we face as well as the course of action he believes we need to take to meet those challenges.

The following are a few of the guidelines General Flynn proposes for developing a winning strategy in our war with radical Islam and other potential foes:

1. Properly assess your environment and clearly define your enemy;
2. Face reality – for politicians, this is never an easy thing to do;
3. Understand the social context and fabric of the operational environment;
4. Recognize who's in charge of the enemy's forces.

In Field of Fight General Flynn makes the case that we are losing this war with radical Islam because our nation's leadership has failed to develop a winning strategy. Further he opines that our current leaders lack the clarity of vision and moral certitude that understands American democracy is a "better way", that not all forms of human government are equal, and that there are principled reasons worth fighting for - the very basic of those being, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I'll admit I'm concerned about the future of our country. As a husband and a father of five I wonder about the world we leaving for our children to inherit. I fear we have lost our moral compass thus creating a vacuum in which human depravity as exemplified by today's radical Islamists thrives.

Equally concerning to me is what happens when the pendulum swings the other way. Will we have the moral and principled leaders to check our indignation before it goes too far? When that heart rending atrocity which is sure to come finally pushes the American people to white hot wrath who will hold our own passions in check? In a nation where Judeo-Christian moral absolutes are an outdated notion what will keep us from becoming that which we most hate?

As I stated at the start of this review, today we are at a crossroads. Once again our nation needs principled men and women in positions of leadership who understand the Field of Fight as described by General Flynn and have the wisdom and courage to navigate this battlefield.

* * *

In summary, although I don't agree with everything written in this book I found it to be an educational read which will provided me with much food for thought over the coming months. As a representative republic choosing good leadership requires that we as citizens understand the problems and challenges we face as a nation. Today radical Islam is one of those challenges and General Flynn's book Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies gives a much needed perspective on the subject.

Terry M Petty on July 16, 2016
Flynn does great with military intelligence, needs more cultural intelligence

Gen Flynn has been in the news a lot lately. He apparently did not get on well in DC with his views on fighting terrorism. That is very relevant now as we are seeking better ways to fight ISIS and terror in general. I read his book today to learn what is on his mind. Flynn had a lot of experience starting in the 82nd Airborne and was almost always in intelligence work. Army intelligence is narrowly focused - where is the enemy, how many of them are there, how are they armed and what is the best way to destroy them. Undoubtedly he was good at this. However, that is not the kind of intelligence we need to defeat ISIS. Flynn's book shows no sign of cultural awareness, which is the context by which we must build intelligence about our opponent. In Iraq, he did learn the difference between who was Sunni and who was Shia but that was it. He shows no sign of any historical knowledge about these groups and how they think and live. In looking at Afghanistan, he seems unaware of the various clans and languages amongst different people. The 2 primary languages of Afghanistan are Pashto and Dari. Dari is essentially the same as Farsi, so the Persian influence has been strong in the country for a long time. Flynn seems totally unaware. Intelligence in his world is obtained from interrogation and captured documents. They are processed fast and tell him who their next target should be. This kind of work is not broad enough to give him a strategic background. He sees USA's challenges in the world as a big swath of enemies that are all connected and monolithic. North Korea, China, Iran, Russia, Syria, ISIS, and so forth. All need to be dealt with in a forceful manner. He never seems to think about matching resources with objective.

This monlithic view of our opponents is obviously wrong. Pres George W Bush tried it that way with the Axis of Evil. The 1950's Cold War was all built in fear of the monolithic Soviet Union and China. All these viewpoints were failures.
Flynn does not see it though. In the book, Flynn says invading Iraq in 2003 might have been the wrong choice. He would have invaded Iran. The full Neocon plan was for 7 countries in 5 years, right after knocking down Iraq, then we would do the same to Iran. I hope we have lost a lot of that hubris by now. But with poor vision by leaders like Flynn, we might get caught up again in this craziness.

To beat ISIS and Al Qaeda type groups we need patience and allies. We have to dry up the source of the terrorists that want to die. That will be done with a combination of cultural outreaches as well as armed force.
I am sure the Presidential candidates will both see that Flynn does not have that recipe. Where is a General that does? We have often made this mistake. Sixty Six years ago, we felt good that Gen Douglas MacArthur "knew the Oriental mind" and he would guid us to victory in Korea. That ended up as a disaster at the end of 1950. I think we are better off at working with leaders that understand the people that are trying to terrorize us. Generals don't develop those kinds of empathic abilities.

[Nov 19, 2016] What Did Draghi Know About Potential Loss And Abuses At Italys Largest Bank

Notable quotes:
"... Apparently lax and/or incompetent regulation of systemically important banks by bureaucrats, central bankers, and politicians may not be just a recent American phenomenon. ..."
"... He related how he was not only ignored by his bank, the Irish regulator but also all the major political parties. He then pointed out that the Irish regulator claims that it always – and it is the law after all – informs the regulator of the home country of banks which have subsidiaries in Ireland, about any serious problems. ..."
"... Mr Sugarman suggested Mr Draghi should be asked point-blank of he did or if he did not know . If he did not then the Irish regulator was at least incompetent, and may have lied, misled and perhaps even broken Irish laws. If he was told and did know, then Mr Draghi has serious questions to answer regarding his own dereliction of duty. ..."
Nov 19, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
Via Jesse's Cafe Americain blog,

Apparently lax and/or incompetent regulation of systemically important banks by bureaucrats, central bankers, and politicians may not be just a recent American phenomenon.

As we read this, it could imperil the soundness of the financial system in Europe as well, as is still apparently the case with The Banks in the states, despite assurances to the contrary.

Golem XIV asks some very good questions in the article below, recently posted on his blog here.

Whistleblowers Testify in EU Parliament

Yesterday a very high-powered panel of international banking whistleblowers met and told their stories in the European parliament . The questions raised were important. Among them was the Irish Whistleblower, Jonathan Sugarman, who when UniCredit Ireland was breaking the law in very serious ways reported it to the Irish regulator.

He related how he was not only ignored by his bank, the Irish regulator but also all the major political parties. He then pointed out that the Irish regulator claims that it always – and it is the law after all – informs the regulator of the home country of banks which have subsidiaries in Ireland, about any serious problems.

In the case of UniCredit that would mean the Italian Central bank would have been told that Italy's largest Bank was in serious breach of Irish law in ways that could endanger the whole banking system. The head of the Italian Central Bank at the time was a certain Mr Mario Draghi.

Mr Sugarman suggested Mr Draghi should be asked point-blank of he did or if he did not know . If he did not then the Irish regulator was at least incompetent, and may have lied, misled and perhaps even broken Irish laws. If he was told and did know, then Mr Draghi has serious questions to answer regarding his own dereliction of duty.

Surely not I hear you say. Well perhaps someone might ask him? Or is he above the law?

http://www.guengl.eu/news/article/whistleblower-protection-what-must-be-done

[Nov 15, 2016] Over half of Ukraines population lives below poverty level

Nov 15, 2016 | eadaily.com
Nearly 60% (58.3%) of the population in Ukraine lives below the poverty line, according to data of the M.V. Ptukha Institute of Demography and Social Surveys, the National Academy of Science of Ukraine.

In 2015, this indicator was half as much – 28.6%. "The poverty index has increased twofold along with the actual cost of living," says Svetlana Polyakova , the leading research fellow at the Living Standard Department at the Demography Institute. "In addition, within the past year, we saw a growth of the poverty level defined by the UN criteria for estimation of internationally comparable poverty line in Central and Eastern Europe."

The highest poverty line was registered among the families having at least one child – 38.6% and pensioners – 23%. The situation may deteriorate this year. According to the State Service of Statistics, savings of Ukrainians in April-June fell by 5.297billion hryvnias (more than $200 million at the current exchange rate).

The cost of living in Ukraine in 2016 makes up 1,544 hryvnias (about $60).

Earlier, Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman said the previous policy of populism and "money printing and distribution to people" made the country weaker and the people poorer.

[Nov 15, 2016] Suspected 5th Column blogger Streetwise Professor Defends Elites

Notable quotes:
"... Earning your living in finance or the related co-dependent fields such as economics, business management, certain areas of law and, most especially, information technology, you quickly pick up on the cult mentality that pervades it. ..."
"... When, like so many of us, you're desperate to try to cling onto some semblance of middle class status, you're an easy and, although I'd strongly qualify this statement, understandable, target for buying into the group-think. ..."
"... " Markets " do not " demand " anything. ..."
"... But a "market" can - at the very most, through the use of pricing signals - induce actors to consider entering into a transaction. ..."
"... They provided credit to low income customers because it was insanely profitable. The reason it was insanely profitable was that the loans to the low income customers could be securitised and the commissions the banks earned on the sale of those securities paid for massive bonus pools which directly benefitted bank employees. ..."
"... Yes, I'd always be the first to agree with the proverb "In Heaven you get justice, here on Earth we have the law". The law and our legal systems are not perfect. But they are not that shabby either. ..."
"... If it is regulatory interventions, rather than criminal indictments, that the Streetwise Professor is referring to, the banks can and do leave no political stone unturned in their efforts to water down, delay and neuter regulatory bodies. Look , if you can do so without wincing, at what has happened to the SEC. ..."
"... It wasn't a " pre-crisis political bargain " that caused the Global Financial Crisis. It was financial innovation that was supposed to "free" the financial services industry to allow it to soar to ever greater heights, heights that couldn't be reached with cumbersome "legacy" thinking. If that sounds a lot like Mike Hearn's Blockchain justifications, it's because it is exactly the same thing. ..."
"... Innovation must never be viewed only through separate, disconnected lenses of "technology", "politics", "ethics", "economics", "power relationships" and "morality". Each specific innovation is subject to and either lives or dies by the interplay between these forces." ..."
"... I agree - however, "I don't mind people doing dangerous things" should require a little elucidation. What you likely meant to say was you don't mind people doing dangerous things, WITHIN REASON. ..."
"... Also, there is the rank unwillingness on the part of regulators to, you know, actually do their jobs. I can no longer count the number of times Yellen has sat in front of the Senate banking committee like a deer in headlights ..."
"... Excellent points, I thought that the Bush Wars were initiated to alleviate an oncoming recession as well as ensure W's reelection ..."
"... It did take them a while to get the pieces in place, the Banksters Real Estate Fraud Appraisals were identified as early as 2000, then the Banksters Fraudulent Loans peaked in 2006, and then we had the Banksters Fraudulent Reps and Warranties . ..."
"... Ah, the neo-liberals and the libertarians make their arguments by redefining terms and eliding facts. Once the audience agrees that up is down, why then their arguments are reasonable, dispassionate, and offered in dulcet tones of humble sincerity and objectivity. ..."
"... What a pleasure, then, to read your cold water smack-down of their confidence game. Perhaps they believed their own nonsense. Who knows. ..."
"... A third consequence of modern-day liberals' unquestioning, reflexive respect for expertise is their blindness to predatory behavior if it comes cloaked in the signifiers of professionalism. ..."
"... The difference in interpretation carries enormous consequences: Did Wall Street commit epic fraud, or are they highly advanced professionals who fell victim to epic misfortune? modern day liberals pretty much insist on the later view . Wall Street's veneer of professionalism is further buttressed by its technical jargon, which the financial industry uses to protect itself from the scrutiny of the public ..."
Nov 15, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on November 14, 2016 by Clive

Earning your living in finance or the related co-dependent fields such as economics, business management, certain areas of law and, most especially, information technology, you quickly pick up on the cult mentality that pervades it.

When, like so many of us, you're desperate to try to cling onto some semblance of middle class status, you're an easy and, although I'd strongly qualify this statement, understandable, target for buying into the group-think. Or at least going along with it on the promise of continued employment. While I'm letting myself off the hook in the process, I think that's forgivable. I and others like me need the money. Besides, in our spare time, we might try to atone for our misdeeds by using whatever means we have available, such as contributing to Naked Capitalism in whatever way we can, to try to set the record straight.

Not quite so easily forgivable, though, are the members of an altogether different cadre who don't give the impression of having to live paycheck to paycheck. What is it that motivates them? Why do they willingly devise clever - and, I have to say it, some are exceptionally adept - ruses to defend and further the causes of our élites?

... ... ...

As readers with not-so-long memories will recall, in the run-up to the Global Financial Crisis, the TBTFs did indeed exercise the " FU Option ". As asset prices for the securities they held fell precipitously, they held more and more of those assets on their balance sheets, refusing to - or unable to - off-load them into a market that was shunning them. Eventually their capital cushions were so depleted because of this, they became insolvent. Staring catastrophe in the face, governments were put into a double-bind by the TBTFs: Rescue us through bail-outs or stand by and see our societies suffer major collateral damage (bank runs, a collapse of world trade, ruining of perfectly good and solvent businesses with the likelihood of mass unemployment and civil unrest).

In that situation, who was the " U " who was being " F "'ed? It was governments and the public.

Faced with an asymmetry of power, in a reverse of the scenario painted by the Streetwise Professor for OTC trading (where a notional seller tells a theoretical buyer they can go to Hell if they don't want to pay the price the seller is asking), governments - and us - found themselves on the buy-side of an " FU Option ". "F the-rest-of-us By Necessity" was a better description as we were turned into forced buyers of what no other "market participant" would touch.

My dear Professor, allow me to give you , if I may risk the label of being impudent, a lesson. If I am selling my prized Diana, Princess of Wales tea cups in a yard sale and you make me a offer for them, that - I'm sure we'd agree on this point - is an OTC transaction. There's no exchange (mercifully) for Diana, Princess of Wales tea cups. I put a price sticker on them. If you want them, you pay the price I'm asking. Or else, you make me a different offer. If you don't pay the price I want, or I don't accept the price you're offering, we do, indeed, have a genuine " FU Option " scenario. But if instead my mother-in-law threatens to saw your face off with her cheese grater if you don't buy my Diana, Princess of Wales tea cups at the price shown on the sticker, then we no longer have an OTC transaction. We have extortion. See the difference?

That's not all. The piece discusses the differences between a proposed smart-contract based settlement compared with a centralised counterparty which brings up some very valid points. But then it makes a serious blunder which is introduced with some subtly but is all the more dangerous because of it. I'll highlight the problem:

So the proposal does some of the same things as a CCP, but not all of them, and in fact omits the most important bits that make central clearing central clearing. To the extent that these other CCP services add value–or regulation compels market participants to utilize a CCP that offers these services–market participants will choose to use a CCP, rather than this service. It is not a perfect substitute for central clearing, and will not disintermediate central clearing in cases where the services it does not offer and the functions it does not perform are demanded by market participants , or by regulators.

Did you catch what is the most troubling thing in that paragraph? The technicalities of it are fine, but the bigger framing is perilous. "Market participants" is given agency. And put on the same level as actions taken by regulators. This is at best unintentionally misleading and at worse an entirely deliberate falsehood.

The fallacious thinking which caused it is due to a traditional economist's mind-set. But this mind-set is hopelessly wrong and every time we encounter it, we must challenge it. Regardless of what other progressive goodies it is being bundled up with.

" Markets " do not " demand " anything.

A regulator or central bank can demand that a bank hold more capital and open its books to check the underlying asset quality. The CFPB can demand that Wells Fargo stops opening fake accounts. Even I can demand a pony. The power structures, laws, enforcement and levels of trust (to name the main constraints) governing who is demanding what from whom determine how likely they will be to have their demands met.

But a "market" can - at the very most, through the use of pricing signals - induce actors to consider entering into a transaction. The pricing signal cannot make any potential actor participate in that transaction. Not, probably, that it would have helped her much, but Hillary Clinton could have created a market for left-wing bloggers to shill for Obamacare by offering Lambert $1million to start churning out pro-ACA posts on his blog. But that market which Hillary could create could not "demand" Lambert accept her offer. Lambert would not take that, or any other monetary amount, and would never enter such a transaction. Markets have limits.

Whether unintentionally or by design, we have a nice example of bait and switch in the Streetwise Professor's Blockchain article. If you run a critique of Blockchain, you'll likely attract an anti-libertarian audience. It's a classic example of nudge theory . If you can lure readers in with the promise of taking a swipe at disruptive innovation nonsense but then lead them to being suckered into a reinforcement of failed conventional free-market hogwash, that can be a powerful propaganda tool.

But perhaps the Blockchain feature was an aberration, just a one-off? No.

Take, for example, this feature on Deutsche Bank from earlier this month which I'll enter as Exhibit B - It's not the TBTFs Fault, the Regulators / Governments / Some Guy / Made Us Do It

I'll leave the worst 'til last, but for now let's start with this little treasure:

the pre-crisis political bargain was that banks would facilitate income redistribution policy by provide credit to low income individuals. This seeded the crisis (though like any complex event, there were myriad other contributing causal factors), the political aftershocks of which are being felt to this day. Banking became a pariah industry, as the very large legal settlements extracted by governments indicate.

No, Streetwise Professor, banks did not provide credit to low income individuals as part of some "political bargain". They provided credit to low income customers because it was insanely profitable. The reason it was insanely profitable was that the loans to the low income customers could be securitised and the commissions the banks earned on the sale of those securities paid for massive bonus pools which directly benefitted bank employees.

Almost unimaginable wealth could be generated by individuals (the Naked Capitalism archive details the full sordid story of the likes of Magnetar). The fact that this would all blow up eventually was certainly predicable and even known by many actors in the prevailing milieu but they didn't care. They knew they'd have already set themselves up for life financially even after just a few years in that "game". Politics, for once, had nothing to do with it, save perhaps that regulators, which are the politicians' responsibility, should have been better able to spot what was going on.

But the Streetwise Professor is only just getting started with the counterfactual misinformation:

It is definitely desirable to have mechanisms to hold financial malfeasors accountable, but the Deutsche episode illustrates several difficulties. The first is that even the biggest entities can be judgment proof, and imposing judgments on them can have disastrous economic externalities. Another is that there is a considerable degree of arbitrariness in the process, and the results of the process. There is little due process here, and the risks and costs of litigation mean that the outcome of attempts to hold bankers accountable is the result of a negotiation between the state and large financial institutions that is carried out in a highly politicized environment in which emotions and narratives are likely to trump facts. There is room for serious doubt about the quality of justice that results from this process.

A casual skim could leave the reader with the impression that the Streetwise Professor is lamenting, rightly, the persistency of the TBTF model. But there's something really dastardly being concocted here - the notion that in our societies, the rule of law is always and inevitably fallible and not fit for the purpose of bringing errant TBTFs to justice. And that, if a case is brought against a TBTF like Deutsche, then it can't help but become a political football.

Yes, I'd always be the first to agree with the proverb "In Heaven you get justice, here on Earth we have the law". The law and our legal systems are not perfect. But they are not that shabby either. Any quick parse through the judgments which the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.K. Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice (to name only a few) hand down on complex cases - often running to hundreds or even a thousand pages - demonstrates that courts can and do consider fairly and justly the evidence that prosecutors present and make balanced rulings. And banks can utilize the same legal safeguards that the law provides - they're not likely to be short of good legal advice options. Trying, as the Steetwise Professor does, to claim that the TBTFs can't get justice is an insult to our judicial systems and acceptance of this notion followed by any routine repetition serves to undermine faith in the rule of law.

If it is regulatory interventions, rather than criminal indictments, that the Streetwise Professor is referring to, the banks can and do leave no political stone unturned in their efforts to water down, delay and neuter regulatory bodies. Look , if you can do so without wincing, at what has happened to the SEC.

It wasn't a " pre-crisis political bargain " that caused the Global Financial Crisis. It was financial innovation that was supposed to "free" the financial services industry to allow it to soar to ever greater heights, heights that couldn't be reached with cumbersome "legacy" thinking. If that sounds a lot like Mike Hearn's Blockchain justifications, it's because it is exactly the same thing.

In summary, when you throw brickbats at a fellow blogger, it seems to me that you have a moral obligation to put your cards on the table, to explain your motivations. I don't have to write for a living ("just as well", I hear forbearing readers shout back). I don't take a penny from Naked Capitalism's hard-wrung fundraisers, although Yves has generously offered a very modest stipend in line with other contributors, I cannot conscientiously take anything for what I submit. I write in the hope that I have some small insights that would help to undo some of the damage which big finance has done to our cultures, our shared values and our aspirations for what we hope the future will be for us and others.

That's what motivates me, anyway. After reading his output, I'm really still not at all sure what is motivating the Streetwise Professor. Certainly there is nothing at all to suggest that he is interested in rebuking or revising any of the traditional thought-forms which pass for the so-called science of economics. Conventional economic theory is the ultimate in betrayal of the use of rational methodology to provide air-cover for élite power grabs. It'll take more than a refutation of Blockchain spin to convince me that the Streetwise Professor is ready to kick away the more odious ladders - like being a professional economist - that have given him the leg-ups to the lofty perch he enjoys occupying.

About Clive

Survivor of nearly 30 years in a TBTF bank. Also had the privilege of working in Japan, which was great, selling real estate, which was an experience bordering on the psychedelic. View all posts by Clive →

vlade November 14, 2016 at 7:15 am

I disagree on the first bit. Even at this blog, Yves mentiones not quite rarely the dangers of tight coupling. The central exchanges create exactly that. Yes, the FU option of OTC is dangerous. But then, everything is dangerous, and if I have to choose between tight coupling dangerous option and loose coupling one, I'll chose the lose coupling one.

The problem is that the regulators refused to recognise that the institutions gamed the regulations – moving stuff from trading to banking books. It is recognised now, under the new regulation, although I still have some doubts about its effectivness.

To me all the para says is: markets demand services, and CCP don't offer them – and don't have to. Regulators demand services (to be offered by CCP), and CCP deliver.

And sorry, I also disagree with your "markets participants demand". The text says "services [ ] are demanded [by potential clients and by regulators]". I can't honestly see what's the problem with that. Of course, regulatory demand, and a client demand are two different things – the former you ignore at your peril, the second you can ignore to your heart's content.

But markets (or, I'd say agents that want to purchase – or sell) _always_ demand something, and always offer something – otherwise there would not be any market or exchange of services (it doesn't have to be there even with offer and demand, but in the absence of one it definitely won't be there).

You could happily change the word to "require" "want" etc. and the meaning of the para would remain unchanged.

Clive Post author November 14, 2016 at 8:20 am

The problem I had with the notion that OTC reduces tight coupling is that it gives the appearance of reducing tight couple but doesn't actually do this. While "the market" is functioning within its expected parameters, OTC is less tightly coupled than an Exchange. But as we saw first-hand in the GFC, those markets function, right up until the point where they don't. By continuing to function, or certainly giving the appearances of continuing to be functioning, they hide the stresses which are building up within them but no-one can see. Unless you are deeply plumbed in to the day-to-day operational activities of the OTC market and can spot signs - and that's all they are, signs, you don't get to take a view of the whole edifice - you simply don't have a clue. There were, at most, only a couple of dozen people in the organisation itself and outside it who knew that my TBTF was a day away from being unable to open for business. That was entirely down to information asymmetry and that asymmetry was 100% down to OTC prevalence.

And all the while TBTF isn't fixed, then as soon as the OTC market(s) fall off a cliff, the public provision backstops can be forced to kick in. Yes, everything is dangerous. I don't mind people doing dangerous things. But I do mind an awful lot being asked to pick up the pieces when their dangerous things blow up in their faces and they expect me to sort the mess out. If that is the dynamic, and to me, it most definitely is, then I want the actors who are engaged in the dangerous things to be highly visible, I want them right where I can see them. Not hiding their high-risk activities in an OTC venue that I'm not privy to.

And I stick by my objection to the - what I can't see how it isn't being deliberate - fuzziness or obfuscation about who gets to "demand" and who is merely allowed "invite" parties to a transaction to either perform or not perform of their own volition. This isn't an incidental semantic about vocabulary. It goes to the heart of what's wrong with the Streetwise Professor's assessment of innovation.

Innovation must never be viewed only through separate, disconnected lenses of "technology", "politics", "ethics", "economics", "power relationships" and "morality". Each specific innovation is subject to and either lives or dies by the interplay between these forces. My biggest lambaste of the Streetwise Professor's commentaries is that he examines them only in terms of "technology" and "economics". In doing so, he reaches partial and inaccurate conclusions.

A 10 year old child might "demand", "require", "ask for", "insist", "claim a right to have" (use whatever word or phrase you like there) a gun and live ammunition. But they are not, and should not be, permitted to enter into a transaction to obtain the said gun and ammo based only on the availability of the technology and the economics that would allow them to satisfy the seller's market clearing sale price if they saved their pocket money for a sufficient amount of time. The other forces I listed in my above paragraph are also involved, and just as well.

Ulysses November 14, 2016 at 9:30 am

"Innovation must never be viewed only through separate, disconnected lenses of "technology", "politics", "ethics", "economics", "power relationships" and "morality". Each specific innovation is subject to and either lives or dies by the interplay between these forces."

Very well said. I would argue further that "power relationships" structure how all the other lenses actually operate. In the early sixteenth century the power relationship between the Church, and Martin Luther, was such that the latter had an opening to redefine "morality"– in such a way that the Pope's moral opinion was eventually no longer dispositive for Protestants.

In other words, the French invasion of Italy, late in the fifteenth century, weakened the papal states enough to allow for defiance.

Ulysses November 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

That last sentence, is of course a gross over-simplification! Anyone wishing to know the nitty-gritty details of how foreign domination over the Italian peninsula was established by the middle of the sixteenth century should read Machiavelli and Guicciardini.

The latter author's appeal to skepticism, when interpreting the actions and motivations of powerful people, rings very true five centuries later:

" perché di accidenti tanto memorabili si intendino i consigli e i fondamenti; i quali spesso sono occulti, e divulgati il più delle volte in modo molto lontano da quell che è vero."

( Storia d'Italia , XVI, vi)

animalogic November 15, 2016 at 5:12 am

"Yes, everything is dangerous. I don't mind people doing dangerous things. But I do mind an awful lot being asked to pick up the pieces when their dangerous things blow up in their faces".

I agree - however, "I don't mind people doing dangerous things" should require a little elucidation. What you likely meant to say was you don't mind people doing dangerous things, WITHIN REASON.

And let's face it, much of the prior GFC behaviour was unreasonably dangerous. As it turned out, not that dangerous to its perpetrators .

Danger, like risk, is a cost-benefit calculation. When that calculation ONLY includes benefits for its originator & suppresses any (real & calculatable) cost for the community it's already looking suspiciously like an unreasonable danger .

Uahsenaa November 14, 2016 at 9:04 am

The problem is that the regulators refused to recognise that the institutions gamed the regulations – moving stuff from trading to banking books. It is recognised now, under the new regulation, although I still have some doubts about its effectivness.

Also, there is the rank unwillingness on the part of regulators to, you know, actually do their jobs. I can no longer count the number of times Yellen has sat in front of the Senate banking committee like a deer in headlights as Warren tries to get her to give anything like a straight answer as to why, to this day, many if not most TBTFs have no rapid selloff/solvency plan (which is required by the Dodd-Frank law) or why those banks that fail their stress tests (again and again) suffer no consequences as a result.

How is any of this supposed to work when so many are clearly acting in bad faith?

bmeisen November 14, 2016 at 9:06 am

Bravo bravo encore encore! Especially the characterization of Sorkin and the account of the crisis at the start of exhibit B. Clive for President!

Synoia November 14, 2016 at 9:44 am

Earning your living in finance or the related co-dependent fields such as economics, business management, certain areas of law and, most especially, information technology, you quickly pick up on the cult mentality that pervades it.

If you do not subscribe to the "cult mentality," although I'd prefer to call it a dogma, because it is a unswerving belief in an unproven fact in the face of evidence the fact is not only unproven, but wrong, one is "not a team player" and then penalized.

If these libertarian want "open markets" and innovation they have to shed the human response to proof. In their behavior they are no better than the medieval pope, and his court, who did not want to believe a the earth travels around the sun.

WJ November 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Medieval popes were probably more open to Pythagorean/Copernican cosmologies than early 17th century Jesuits (i.e. Bellarmine); the opposition of the latter to Galileo had nothing to do with science and everything to do with Protestantism and Protestant biblical interpretation. Bellarmine was wrong and what happened to Galileo was shameful. But many of the best astronomers of the time were in fact Jesuits, and the traditional way the story is told is inaccurate on almost every level (and a product of late 19th century Italian nationalism).

susan the other November 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm

this was very interesting stuff. Since a lot of things were coming together in the 90s and 2000s that were all connected in a mess too big to understand simply as immoral banking (freeing up capital like that was crazy but there must have been a reason to try it besides windfall profiteering and flat-out gambling), I imagine the following: Greenspan and the TBTFs knew returns were diminishing and set out to do something about it. Because growth and expanding markets were the only thing that could keep up with a demand by pension funds (and then little Bush's idiotic war) for a minimum 8% return. But growth was slowing down so the situation required clever manipulations and incomprehensible things like financial derivatives. Makes sense to me. And if this is even partially true then there was a political mandate all mixed up with the GFC. The banks really did crazy stuff, but with the blessing of the Fed. Later when Bernanke said about QE and nirp: "now we are in uncharted territory" he was fibbing – the Fed had been in uncharted territory, trying to make things work, for almost 20 years. And failing.

madame de farge November 14, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Excellent points, I thought that the Bush Wars were initiated to alleviate an oncoming recession as well as ensure W's reelection

It did take them a while to get the pieces in place, the Banksters Real Estate Fraud Appraisals were identified as early as 2000, then the Banksters Fraudulent Loans peaked in 2006, and then we had the Banksters Fraudulent Reps and Warranties .

WORSE then a bunch of Used Car Salesman, but what else would you expect from people who KEEP the State Income taxes withheld from their employees checks

Lambert Strether November 15, 2016 at 12:00 am

> "how long does that take" and he said "minimum of ten years, 15 is better"

Via Extra, Extra – Read All About It: Nearly All Binary Searches and Mergesorts are Broken Google Research, 2006:

This bug can manifest itself for arrays whose length (in elements) is 230 or greater (roughly a billion elements). This was inconceivable back in the '80s, when Programming Pearls was written, but it is common these days at Google and other places. In Programming Pearls, Bentley says "While the first binary search was published in 1946, the first binary search that works correctly for all values of n did not appear until 1962." The truth is, very few correct versions have ever been published, at least in mainstream programming languages.

Sorting is, or ought to be, basic blocking and tackling. Very smart, not corrupt people worked on this. And yet, 2006 – 1946 = 60 years later, bugs are still being discovered.

The nice thing about putting your cash in a coffee can in the back yard is that it won't evaporate because some hacker gets clever about big numbers.

flora November 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Ah, the neo-liberals and the libertarians make their arguments by redefining terms and eliding facts. Once the audience agrees that up is down, why then their arguments are reasonable, dispassionate, and offered in dulcet tones of humble sincerity and objectivity.

What a pleasure, then, to read your cold water smack-down of their confidence game. Perhaps they believed their own nonsense. Who knows.

flora November 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

What is the Streetwise Professor's (note the word "professor") real view? Has he thought much about it or simply imbibed his "owners'" views, making him a useful tool. I don't know.

From the book "Listen, Liberal."

" A third consequence of modern-day liberals' unquestioning, reflexive respect for expertise is their blindness to predatory behavior if it comes cloaked in the signifiers of professionalism. Take the sort of complexity we saw in the financial instruments that drove the last financial crisis. For old-school regulators, I am told, undue financial complexity was an indication of likely fraud. But for the liberal class, it is the opposite: an indicator of sophistication. Complexity is admirable in its own right. The difference in interpretation carries enormous consequences: Did Wall Street commit epic fraud, or are they highly advanced professionals who fell victim to epic misfortune? modern day liberals pretty much insist on the later view . Wall Street's veneer of professionalism is further buttressed by its technical jargon, which the financial industry uses to protect itself from the scrutiny of the public. "
-Thomas Frank

[Nov 02, 2016] Veterans, Feeling Abandoned, Stand by Donald Trump by NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

Notable quotes:
"... The roster of retired military officers endorsing Hillary Clinton in September glittered with decoration and rank. One former general led the American surge in Anbar, one of the most violent provinces in Iraq. Another commanded American-led allied forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan . Yet another trained the first Iraqis to combat Islamic insurgents in their own country. ..."
"... After 15 years at war, many who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are proud of their service but exhausted by its burdens. They distrust the political class that reshaped their lives and are frustrated by how little their fellow citizens seem to understand about their experience. ..."
"... "When we jump into wars without having a real plan, things like Vietnam and things like Iraq and Afghanistan happen," said William Hansen, a former Marine who served two National Guard tours in Iraq. "This is 16 years. This is longer than Vietnam." ..."
Nov 02, 2016 | www.nytimes.com

The roster of retired military officers endorsing Hillary Clinton in September glittered with decoration and rank. One former general led the American surge in Anbar, one of the most violent provinces in Iraq. Another commanded American-led allied forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan . Yet another trained the first Iraqis to combat Islamic insurgents in their own country.

But as Election Day approaches, many veterans are instead turning to Donald J. Trump , a businessman who avoided the Vietnam draft and has boasted of gathering foreign policy wisdom by watching television shows.

Even as other voters abandon Mr. Trump, veterans remain among his most loyal supporters, an unlikely connection forged by the widening gulf they feel from other Americans.

After 15 years at war, many who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are proud of their service but exhausted by its burdens. They distrust the political class that reshaped their lives and are frustrated by how little their fellow citizens seem to understand about their experience.

Perhaps most strikingly, they welcome Mr. Trump's blunt attacks on America's entanglements overseas.

"When we jump into wars without having a real plan, things like Vietnam and things like Iraq and Afghanistan happen," said William Hansen, a former Marine who served two National Guard tours in Iraq. "This is 16 years. This is longer than Vietnam."

In small military towns in California and North Carolina, veterans of all eras cheer Mr. Trump's promises to fire officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs . His attacks on political correctness evoke their frustrations with tortured rules of engagement crafted to serve political, not military, ends. In Mr. Trump's forceful assertion of strength, they find a balm for wounds that left them broken and torn.

"He calls it out," said Joshua Macias, a former Navy petty officer and fifth-generation veteran who lives in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where he organized a "Veterans for Trump" group last year. "We have intense emotion connected to these wars. The way it was politicized, the way they changed the way we fight in a war setting - it's horrible how they did that."

[Oct 30, 2016] After the attacks Americas new cold war

Notable quotes:
"... Now the threat is real; and for the foreseeable future we will have to live with and seek to reduce two closely interlinked dangers: the direct and potentially apocalyptic threat posed by terrorists, mainly (though by no means exclusively) based in the Muslim world, and the potential strengthening of those terrorists' resolve by misguided US actions. ..."
"... The most unilateralist Administration in modern American history has been forced to recognise, in principle at least, the country's pressing need for allies ..."
"... Apart from the fact that most European armies are useless when it comes to serious warfare, they are already showing great unwillingness to give the US a blank cheque for whatever military action the Bush Administration chooses to take. ..."
"... A strong sense of righteousness has always been present in the American tradition; but until 11 September, an acute sense of victimhood and persecution by the outside world was usually the preserve of the paranoid Right. ..."
Sep 28, 2001 | guardian.co.uk

"Who says we share common values with the Europeans? They don't even go to church!" Will the atrocities of September 11 push America further to the right or open a new debate on foreign policy and the need for alliances? In this exclusive online essay from the London Review of Books, Anatol Lieven considers how the cold war legacy may affect the war on terrorism

Not long after the Bush Administration took power in January, I was invited to lunch at a glamorous restaurant in New York by a group of editors and writers from an influential American right-wing broadsheet. The food and wine were extremely expensive, the decor luxurious but discreet, the clientele beautifully dressed, and much of the conversation more than mildly insane. With regard to the greater part of the world outside America, my hosts' attitude was a combination of loathing, contempt, distrust and fear: not only towards Arabs, Russians, Chinese, French and others, but towards 'European socialist governments', whatever that was supposed to mean. This went with a strong desire - in theory at least - to take military action against a broad range of countries across the world.

Two things were particularly striking here: a tendency to divide the world into friends and enemies, and a difficulty verging on autism when it came to international opinions that didn't coincide with their own - a combination more appropriate to the inhabitants of an ethnic slum in the Balkans than to people who were, at that point, on top of the world.

Today Americans of all classes and opinions have reason to worry, and someone real to fear and hate, while prolonged US military action overseas is thought to be inevitable. The building where we had lunch is now rubble. Several of our fellow diners probably died last week, along with more than six thousand other New Yorkers from every walk of life. Not only has the terrorist attack claimed far more victims than any previous such attack anywhere in the world, but it has delivered a far more damaging economic blow. Equally important, it has destroyed Americans' belief in their country's invulnerability, on which so many other American attitudes and policies finally rested.

This shattering blow was delivered by a handful of anonymous agents hidden in the wider population, working as part of a tightly-knit secret international conspiracy inspired by a fanatical and (to the West) deeply 'alien' and 'exotic' religious ideology. Its members are ruthless; they have remarkable organisational skills, a tremendous capacity for self-sacrifice and self-discipline, and a deep hatred of the United States and the Western way of life. As Richard Hofstader and others have argued, for more than two hundred years this kind of combination has always acted as a prompt for paranoid and reactionary conspiracy theories, most of them groundless.

Now the threat is real; and for the foreseeable future we will have to live with and seek to reduce two closely interlinked dangers: the direct and potentially apocalyptic threat posed by terrorists, mainly (though by no means exclusively) based in the Muslim world, and the potential strengthening of those terrorists' resolve by misguided US actions.

The latter danger has been greatly increased by the attacks. The terrorists have raised to white heat certain smouldering tendencies among the American Right, while simultaneously - as is usually the case at the start of wars - pushing American politics and most of its population in a sharply rightward direction; all of which has taken place under an unexpectedly right-wing Administration. If this leads to a crude military response, then the terrorists will have achieved part of their purpose, which was to provoke the other side to indiscriminate retaliation, and thereby increase their own support.

It is too early to say for sure how US strategies and attitudes will develop. At the time of writing Afghanistan is the focus, but whatever happens there, it isn't clear whether the US Administration will go on to launch a more general campaign of military pressure against other states which have supported terrorist groups, and if so, what states and what kind of military pressure? US policy is already pulled in two predictable but contradictory directions, amply illustrated in the op-ed pages of US newspapers and in debates within the Government.

The most unilateralist Administration in modern American history has been forced to recognise, in principle at least, the country's pressing need for allies. There are the beginnings, too, of a real public debate on how US policy needs to be changed and shaped to fight the new 'war'. All this is reminiscent of US attitudes and behaviour at the start of the Cold War, when Communism was identified as the central menace to the US and to Western capitalism and democracy in general.

On the other hand, the public desire for revenge has strengthened certain attitudes - especially in the Republican Party and media, as well as parts of the Administration - which, if they prevail, will not only be dangerous in themselves, but will make the search for real allies difficult. And real allies are essential, above all in the Arab and Muslim worlds. In the longer run, only the full co-operation of Arab regimes - along with reform and economic development - can prevent the recruitment, funding and operations of Arab-based terrorist groups.

As for Europe, British military support may be unconditional, but most European countries - Russia among them - are likely to restrict their help to intelligence and policing. Apart from the fact that most European armies are useless when it comes to serious warfare, they are already showing great unwillingness to give the US a blank cheque for whatever military action the Bush Administration chooses to take.

Yet a blank cheque is precisely what the Administration, and the greater part of US public opinion, are asking for. This is Jim Hoagland, veteran establishment foreign correspondent and commentator, in the generally liberal Washington Post:

"Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and many of the other Arab states Powell hopes to recruit for the bin Laden posse have long been part of the problem, not part of the solution to international terrorism. These states cannot be given free passes for going through the motions of helping the United States. And European allies cannot be allowed to order an appetiser of bin Laden and not share in the costs of the rest of a meal cooked in hell."

If this is the Post, then the sentiments in the right-wing press and the tabloids can well be imagined. Here is Tod Lindberg, the editor of Policy Review, writing in the Washington Times:

"The United States is now energetically in the business of making governments pick a side: either with us and against the terrorists, or against us and with them... Against the category of enemy stands the category of 'friend'. Friends stand with us. Friends do whatever they can to help. Friends don't, for example, engage in commerce with enemies, otherwise they aren't friends."

A strong sense of righteousness has always been present in the American tradition; but until 11 September, an acute sense of victimhood and persecution by the outside world was usually the preserve of the paranoid Right. Now it has spread and, for the moment at least, some rather important ideas have almost vanished from the public debate: among them, that other states have their own national interests, and that in the end nothing compels them to help the US; that they, too, have been the victims of terrorism - in the case of Britain, largely funded from groups in the United States - but have not insisted on a right of unilateral military retaliation (this point was made by Niall Ferguson in the New York Times, but not as yet in any op-ed by an American that I have seen); and that in some cases these states may actually know more about their own part of the world than US intelligence does.

Beyond the immediate and unforeseeable events in Afghanistan - and their sombre implications for Pakistan - lies the bigger question of US policy in the Arab world. Here, too, Administration policy may well be a good deal more cautious than the opinions of the right-wing media would suggest - which again is fortunate, because much opinion on this subject is more than rabid. Here is AM Rosenthal in the Washington Times arguing that an amazing range of states should be given ultimatums to surrender not only alleged terrorists but also their own senior officials accused by the US of complicity:

"The ultimatum should go to the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan and any other devoted to the elimination of the United States or the constant incitement of hatred against it... In the three days the terrorists consider the American ultimatum, the residents of the countries would be urged 24 hours a day by the United States to flee the capital and major cities, because they would be bombed to the ground beginning the fourth."

Rosenthal isn't a figure from the lunatic fringe ranting on a backwoods radio show, but the former executive editor of the New York Times, writing in a paper with great influence in the Republican Party, especially under the present Administration.

No Administration is going to do anything remotely like this. But if the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has emerged as the voice of moderation, with a proper commitment to multilateralism, other voices are audible, too. Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defence, has spoken of "ending states which support terrorism", and in the case of Iraq, there are those who would now like to complete the work of the Gulf War and finish off Saddam Hussein.

Here, too, the mood of contempt for allies contributes to the ambition. Thus Kim Holmes, vice-president of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, argued that only deference to America's Arab allies prevented the US from destroying the Iraqi regime in 1991 (the profound unwillingness of Bush Senior to occupy Iraq and take responsibility for the place also played its part in the decision): "To show that this war is not with Islam per se, the US could be tempted to restrain itself militarily and accommodate the complex and contradictory political agendas of Islamic states. This in turn could make the campaign ineffectual, prolonging the problem of terrorism."

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is not in itself a bad idea. His is a pernicious regime, a menace to his own people and his neighbours, as well as to the West. And if the Iraqi threat to the Gulf States could be eliminated, US troops might be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia: it was their permanent stationing on the holy soil of Islam that turned Osama bin Laden from an anti-Soviet mujahid into an anti-American terrorist.

But only if it were to take place in the context of an entirely new policy towards Palestine would the US be able to mount such a campaign without provoking massive unrest across the Arab world; and given what became of promises made during the Gulf War, there would first of all have to be firm evidence of a US change of heart. The only borders between Israel and Palestine which would have any chance of satisfying a majority of Palestinians and Arabs - and conforming to UN resolutions, for what they are worth - would be those of 1967, possibly qualified by an internationalisation of Jerusalem under UN control. This would entail the removal of the existing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, and would be absolutely unacceptable to any imaginable Israeli Government. To win Israeli agreement would require not just US pressure, but the threat of a complete breach of relations and the ending of aid.

There may be those in the Administration who would favour adopting such an approach at a later stage. Bush Sr's was the most anti-Israeli Administration of the past two generations, and was disliked accordingly by the Jewish and other ethnic lobbies. His son's is less beholden to those lobbies than Clinton's was. And it may be that even pro-Israeli US politicians will at some point realise that Israel's survival as such is not an issue: that it is absurd to increase the risk to Washington and New York for the sake of 267 extremist settlers in Hebron and their comrades elsewhere.

Still, in the short term, a radical shift is unlikely, and an offensive against Iraq would therefore be dangerous. The attacks on New York and the Pentagon and the celebrations in parts of the Arab world have increased popular hostility to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular, a hostility assiduously stoked by Israeli propaganda. But when it comes to denouncing hate crimes against Muslims - or those taken to be Muslims - within the US, the Administration has behaved decently, perhaps because they have a rather sobering precedent in mind, one which has led to genuine shame: the treatment of Japanese Americans during world war two.

This shame is the result of an applied historical intelligence that does not extend to the Arab world. Americans tend - and perhaps need - to confuse the symptoms and the causes of Arab anger. Since a key pro-Israel position in the US has been that fundamental Palestinian and Arab grievances must not be allowed legitimacy or even discussed, the only explanation of Arab hostility to the US and its ally must be sought in innate features of Arab society, whether a contemporary culture of anti-semitism (and anti-Americanism) sanctioned by Arab leaderships, or ancient 'Muslim' traditions of hostility to the West.

All of which may contain some truth: but the central issue, the role of Israeli policies in providing a focus for such hatred, is overwhelmingly ignored. As a result, it is extremely difficult, and mostly impossible, to hold any frank discussion of the most important issue affecting the position of the US in the Middle East or the open sympathy for terrorism in the region. A passionately held nationalism usually has the effect of corrupting or silencing those liberal intellectuals who espouse it. This is the case of Israeli nationalism in the US. It is especially distressing that it should afflict the Jewish liberal intelligentsia, that old bedrock of sanity and tolerance.

An Administration which wanted a radical change of policy towards Israel would have to generate a new public debate almost from scratch - which would not be possible until some kind of tectonic shift had taken place in American society. Too many outside observers who blame US Administrations forget that on a wide range of issues, it is essentially Congress and not the White House or State Department which determines foreign policy; this is above all true of US aid. An inability or unwillingness to try to work on Congress, as opposed to going through normal diplomatic channels, has been a minor contributory factor to Britain's inability to get any purchase on US policy in recent years.

The role of Congress brings out what might be called the Wilhelmine aspects of US foreign and security policy. By that I do not mean extreme militarism or a love of silly hats, or even a shared tendency to autism when it comes to understanding the perceptions of other countries, but rather certain structural features in both the Wilhemine and the US system tending to produce over-ambition, and above all a chronic incapacity to choose between diametrically opposite goals. Like Wilhelmine Germany, the US has a legislature with very limited constitutional powers in the field of foreign policy, even though it wields considerable de facto power and is not linked either institutionally or by party discipline to the executive. The resulting lack of any responsibility for actual consequences is a standing invitation to rhetorical grandstanding, and the pursuit of sectional interests at the expense of overall policy.

Meanwhile, the executive, while in theory supremely powerful in this field, has in fact continually to woo the legislature without ever being able to command its support. This, too, encourages dependence on interest groups, as well as a tendency to overcome differences and gain support by making appeals in terms of overheated patriotism rather than policy. Finally, in both systems, though for completely different reasons, supreme executive power had or has a tendency to fall into the hands of people totally unsuited for any but the ceremonial aspects of the job, and endlessly open to manipulation by advisers, ministers and cliques.

In the US, this did not matter so much during the Cold War, when a range of Communist threats - real, imagined or fabricated - held the system together in the pursuit of more or less common aims. With the disappearance of the unifying threat, however, there has been a tendency, again very Wilhelmine, to produce ambitious and aggressive policies in several directions simultaneously, often with little reference at all to real US interests or any kind of principle.

The new 'war against terrorism' in Administration and Congressional rhetoric has been cast as just such a principle, unifying the country and the political establishment behind a common goal and affecting or determining a great range of other policies. The language has been reminiscent of the global struggle against Communism, and confronting Islamist radicalism in the Muslim world does, it's true, pose some of the same challenges, on a less global scale, though possibly with even greater dangers for the world.

The likelihood that US strategy in the 'war against terrorism' will resemble that of the Cold War is greatly increased by the way Cold War structures and attitudes have continued to dominate the US foreign policy and security elites. Charles Tilly and others have written of the difficulty states have in 'ratcheting down' wartime institutions and especially wartime spending. In the 1990s, this failure on the part of the US to escape its Cold War legacy was a curse, ensuring unnecessarily high military spending in the wrong fields, thoroughly negative attitudes to Russia, 'zero-sum' perceptions of international security issues in general, and perceptions of danger which wholly failed, as we now see, to meet the real threats to security and lives.

The idea of a National Missile Defense is predicated on a limited revival of the Cold War, with China cast in the role of the Soviet Union and the Chinese nuclear deterrent as the force to be nullified. Bush's foreign and security team is almost entirely a product of Cold War structures and circumscribed by Cold War attitudes (which is not true of the President himself, who was never interested enough in foreign policy; if he can get his mind round the rest of the world, he could well be more of a free-thinker than many of his staff).

The collapse of the Communist alternative to Western-dominated modernisation and the integration (however imperfect) of Russia and China into the world capitalist order have been a morally and socially ambiguous process, to put it mildly; but in the early 1990s they seemed to promise the suspension of hostility between the world's larger powers. The failure of the US to make use of this opportunity, thanks to an utter confusion between an ideological victory and crudely-defined US geopolitical interests, was a great misfortune which the 'war against terrorism' could in part rectify. Since 11 September, the rhetoric in America has proposed a gulf between the 'civilised' states of the present world system, and movements of 'barbaric', violent protest from outside and below - without much deference to the ambiguities of 'civilisation', or the justifications of resistance to it, remarked on since Tacitus at least.

How is the Cold War legacy likely to determine the 'war against terrorism'? Despite the general conviction in the Republican Party that it was simply Reagan's military spending and the superiority of the US system which destroyed Soviet Communism, more serious Cold War analysts were always aware that it involved not just military force, or the threat of it, but ideological and political struggle, socio-economic measures, and state-building. The latter in particular is an idea for which the Bush team on their arrival in office had a deep dislike (if only to distance themselves from Clinton's policies), but which they may now rediscover. Foreign aid - so shamefully reduced in the 1990s - was also a key part of the Cold War, and if much of it was poured into kleptocratic regimes like Mobutu's, or wasted on misguided projects, some at least helped produce flourishing economies in Europe and East Asia.

The Republican Party is not only the party of Goldwater and Reagan, but of Eisenhower, Nixon and Kissinger. Eisenhower is now almost forgotten by the party. 'Eisenhower Republicans', as they refer to themselves, are usually far closer to Tony Blair (or perhaps more accurately, Helmut Schmidt) than anyone the Republican Party has seen in recent years, and I'd wager that the majority of educated Americans have forgotten that the original warning about the influence of the 'military industrial complex' came from Eisenhower.

Kissinger is still very much alive, however, and his history is a reminder that one aspect of the American capacity for extreme ruthlessness was also a capacity for radical changes of policy, for reconciliation with states hitherto regarded as bitter enemies, and for cold-blooded abandonment of close allies and clients whose usefulness was at an end. It would not altogether surprise me if we were now to see a radical shift towards real co-operation with Russia, and even Iran.

In general, however, the Cold War legacies and parallels are discouraging and dangerous. To judge by the language used in the days since 11 September, ignorance, demonisation and the drowning out of nuanced debate indicate that much of the US establishment can no more tell the difference between Iran and Afghanistan than they could between China and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s - the inexcusable error which led to the American war in Vietnam. The preference for militarised solutions continues (the 'War on Drugs', which will now have to be scaled back, is an example). Most worryingly, the direct attack on American soil and American civilians - far worse than anything done to the US in the Cold War - means that there is a real danger of a return to Cold War ruthlessness: not just in terms of military tactics and covert operations, but in terms of the repulsive and endangered regimes co-opted as local American clients.

The stakes are, if anything, a good deal higher than they were during the Cold War. Given what we now know of Soviet policymaking, it is by no means clear that the Kremlin ever seriously contemplated a nuclear strike against America. By contrast, it seems likely that bin Laden et al would in the end use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons if they could deliver them.

There is also the question of the impact of US strategies (or, in the case of Israel, lack of them) on the unity of the West - assuming that this is of some importance for the wellbeing of humanity. However great the exasperation of many European states with US policy throughout the Cold War, the Europeans were bound into the transatlantic alliance by an obvious Soviet threat - more immediate to them than it was to the US. For the critical first decade of the Cold War, the economies of Europe were hopelessly inferior to that of the US. Today, if European Governments feel that the US is dragging them into unnecessary danger thanks to policies of which they disapprove, they will protest bitterly - as many did during the Cold War - and then begin to distance themselves, which they could not afford to do fifty years ago.

This is all the more likely if, as seems overwhelmingly probable, the US withdraws from the Balkans - as it has already done in Macedonia - leaving Europeans with no good reason to require a US military presence on their continent. At the same time, the cultural gap between Europeans and Republican America (which does not mean a majority of Americans, but the dominant strain of policy) will continue to widen. 'Who says we share common values with the Europeans?' a senior US politician remarked recently. 'They don't even go to church!' Among other harmful effects, the destruction of this relationship could signal the collapse of whatever hope still exists for a common Western approach to global environmental issues - which would, in the end, pose a greater danger to humanity than that of terrorism.

· Anatol Lieven is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC.

[Oct 25, 2016] Mergers Raise Prices, Not Efficiency

Oct 25, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

RC AKA Darryl, Ron : October 25, 2016 at 04:56 AM RE: Mergers Raise Prices, Not Efficiency

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-10-24/mergers-raise-prices-not-efficiency

[IMO, Noah muddles the message, but it is a important topic that gets muddled by everyone else too. Economists with a financial bent had no problem apparently with the bank mergers that started in the seventies and everyone loved the auto maker mergers of the first half of the 2oth century.

Efficiency itself is an amorphous term. Mergers can be an efficient use of capital since they deliver lower competition and higher profits. JP Morgan did not want to be in a industry that he could not dominate. Efficiency is different for a fish than a capital owner. Mergers are good for regulatory capture and ineffishient for fish. Mergers are inefficient for workers that want higher wages or the unemployed that want jobs. Market power and regulatory capture can be efficient vehicles for taking advantage of trade agreements to offshore production and increase returns to capital all while lowering both prices and quality as well as reducing domestic wages. Efficiency is in the eyeballs of the beholder especially if they make good soup.] Reply Tuesday, reason -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 25, 2016 at 06:58 AM

But Keynes was saying something quite different - he wasn't actually talking about policy but about economics (the task of economists). He was saying that understanding short term fluctuations was as important as predicting the long term. Still relevant in this age of irrelevant general equilibrium models.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason ... , October 25, 2016 at 09:56 AM
Sorry, I thought that the whole purpose of the study of macroeconomics was to guide policy decisions. I stand corrected.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 25, 2016 at 10:02 AM
I always looked at Keynes as a fellow traveler, one who wrote obtusely at times for the express purpose of couching his meaning in sweetened platitudes that at a second glance were drenched in cynicism and sarcasm, at least when it came to his opinions of economists and politicians and the capital owning class that they both served.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 25, 2016 at 10:39 AM
OK, "obtusely" was a poor choice of words, at least with regards to Keynes. Keynes realized WWI was a big mistake, the Treaty at Versailles was an abomination with regards to German restitution, and he was accused of anti-Semitism just for being honest about Jewish elites in the Weimar Republic. It was not that Keynes was insensitive, unpatriotic, or anti-Semitic, but that Keynes was just correct on all counts.
JohnH -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , -1
This is a good example of economists working in lock step with investors: "Economists with a financial bent had no problem apparently with the bank mergers that started in the seventies and everyone loved the auto maker mergers of the first half of the 2oth century."

I think it has been questioned for decades whether increased efficiency in banking actually materialized in the wake of industry consolidation. Local market oligopolies may well have generated higher profits and the appearance of more efficiency. And concentration certainly facilitated collusion as we have seen in many markets, including LIBOR.

What concentration indisputably caused was a dramatic increase in the political power of the Wall Street banking cartel, which owns not only the Federal Reserve but also a lot of powerful politicians...a subject on which 'liberal' economists are generally agnostic, since politics is outside their silo.

point -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 25, 2016 at 10:26 AM
The article ignored the effect of mergers on supplier relationships, often one of near monopsony (oligopsony?). DOJ seems to be focused on unit pricing to consumers(though perhaps not with cable) to the point that most managements understand that they have free rein to squeeze suppliers. And so they merge to do so.

It may be that more contribution to increasing margins is from purchase prices than selling prices.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> point... , October 25, 2016 at 10:41 AM
Doubly so with global supply chaining.

[Oct 25, 2016] Grand Strategy What is America's Most Pressing Foreign Policy Issue

Notable quotes:
"... There are a variety of potential threats around the world today: tensions in the South China Seas, a nuclear North Korea, conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and civil wars in the Middle East are just a few. In order to better think about these challenges and how they relate to U.S. national security, the Center for the National Interest partnered with the Charles Koch Institute to host a foreign policy roundtable which addressed the question: What is the most pressing issue for America's foreign policy? ..."
"... Mearsheimer argues that the second problematic dimension of U.S. foreign policy is that the United States is "heavily into transformation." By "transformation," Mearsheimer means that "We believe that what we should do in the process of running the world is topple governments that are not liberal democracies and transform them into [neo]liberal democracies." ..."
"... according to Mearsheimer, the United States is pursuing "a hopeless cause; there is a huge literature that makes it clear that promoting democracy around the world is extremely difficult to do, and doing it at the end of a rifle barrel is almost impossible." ..."
"... "It's remarkably difficult to understand why we still continue to think we can dominate the world and pursue the same foreign policy we've been pursuing at least since 2001, when it has led to abject failure after abject failure." ..."
"... Andrew Bacevich opines that the United States needs to "come to some understanding of who we are and why we do these things – a critical understanding of the American identity." Notre Dame's Michael Desch agrees: "That cuts to the core of American political culture. I think the root of the hubris is deep in the software that animates how we think about ourselves, and how we think about the world." ..."
Oct 24, 2016 | The National Interest Blog

There are a variety of potential threats around the world today: tensions in the South China Seas, a nuclear North Korea, conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and civil wars in the Middle East are just a few. In order to better think about these challenges and how they relate to U.S. national security, the Center for the National Interest partnered with the Charles Koch Institute to host a foreign policy roundtable which addressed the question: What is the most pressing issue for America's foreign policy? Watch the rest of the videos in the "Grand Strategy" series.

John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago doesn't shy away from a bold answer: The most pressing issue is that the United States has a "fundamentally misguided foreign policy." Mearsheimer argues that there are two dimensions to U.S. foreign policy that get the United States into "big trouble." First, he says, "We believe that we can dominate the globe, that we can control what happens in every nook and cranny of the world." The problem with this is that "the world is simply too big and nationalism is much too powerful of a force to make it possible for us to come close to doing that."

Mearsheimer argues that the second problematic dimension of U.S. foreign policy is that the United States is "heavily into transformation." By "transformation," Mearsheimer means that "We believe that what we should do in the process of running the world is topple governments that are not liberal democracies and transform them into [neo]liberal democracies."

The United States has engaged in numerous international military interventions over the past fifteen years, primarily in the Middle East. Proponents of these interventions argue that they are necessary in order to build stable democracies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. However, according to Mearsheimer, the United States is pursuing "a hopeless cause; there is a huge literature that makes it clear that promoting democracy around the world is extremely difficult to do, and doing it at the end of a rifle barrel is almost impossible."

So why has the United States continued to pursue policies and strategies that fail to convert U.S. military might into political ends?

Eugene Gholz of the University of Texas at Austin suggests that the root of the issue could be American hubris. The United States has made the mistake of "thinking we can control things we can't control." Mearsheimer agrees with Gholz, although he finds the situation perplexing: "It's remarkably difficult to understand why we still continue to think we can dominate the world and pursue the same foreign policy we've been pursuing at least since 2001, when it has led to abject failure after abject failure."

Several other scholars chime in to offer their own thoughts on this thorny issue. Boston University's Andrew Bacevich opines that the United States needs to "come to some understanding of who we are and why we do these things – a critical understanding of the American identity." Notre Dame's Michael Desch agrees: "That cuts to the core of American political culture. I think the root of the hubris is deep in the software that animates how we think about ourselves, and how we think about the world."

Harvard University's Stephen Walt offers yet another possibility. Walt asks if the U.S. commitment to its current misguided and damaging foreign policy is due to "deep culture" or if it is result of "the national security apparatus we built after World War II." Walt thinks it is the latter: the United States "was not a highly interventionist country until after the Second World War." After World War II, "we built a large national security state, we had bases everywhere, and then we discovered that we can't let go of any of that, even though the original reason for building it is gone."

Did the other panelists agree with Walt? Did anyone suggest a different problem as a candidate for the most pressing issue? Watch the full video above to see and be sure to check out the other videos of CNI and CKI's panel of nationally acclaimed foreign policy scholars addressing additional questions.

[Oct 24, 2016] Hillary might be a symptom of degenerate neoliberal aristocracy clinging to irresponsible power. Gen. Butler book War Is A Racket is still a classic book on the subject

Oct 24, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> to pgl ... October 23, 2016 at 04:10 AM

Ruling elite has a crook for a candidate appealing to fears and prefers her wars for oil to be with Russia.

DrDick -> ilsm ... October 23, 2016 at 08:54 AM , 2016 at 08:54 AM

More stupidity. First off, the American elite (like all elites) is far from unitary and most of them back Republicans, though they hedge their bets by also supporting centrist Democrats.
ilsm -> DrDick... , October 23, 2016 at 11:25 AM
Greed is a unifier. What they said on SNL opening skit...... Klinton is the republican.
anne : , October 23, 2016 at 05:23 AM
https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/790154851682545665

Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald

Exploiting Cold War rhetoric & tactics has helped her win the election. I guess the idea is: deal with the aftermath and fallout later.

Katrina vandenHeuvel @KatrinaNation

How does new Cold War-- which ends space for dissent, hurts women & children, may lead to nuclear war--help what Clinton claims she is for?

4:36 AM - 23 Oct 2016

EMichael -> anne... , October 23, 2016 at 05:28 AM
I would submit that there are very few voters that will vote from Clinton because of this "cold war rhetoric" schtick. Greenwald keeps falling and cannot get up.
ilsm -> EMichael...
Few "will [move the] vote from Clinton because of this "cold war rhetoric" schtick.

Those "few" were awake during the 80's and see the nuclear/neocon dystopian horror behind Clinton. While Trump mentioned using nukes, Hillary's nuke policy is 'well' laid out by Robert Kagan and the hegemon interests.

Recall Mao said "go ahead......' Nukes are just another form of the pointless body count strategy.

likbez -> ilsm...
Like before WWI, Hillary might be "a symptom of degenerate [neoliberal] aristocracy clinging to irresponsible power." Gen. Butler, "War Is A Racket." is still a classic book on the subject.

See an interesting discussion at

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/10/22/unnecessary-wars/#comments

Here are a couple of comments
== quote ===

greg 10.22.16 at 11:02 pm ( 29 )

All war is for profit. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought for profit. The profit from Iraqi oil and whatever was expected from Afghanistan were irrelevant. Weapons of mass destruction, the Taliban, even Isis, were and are all issues that could have been more efficiently handled, but instead were pretexts to convince the credulous of the necessity of war.

The real profit was the profit taken by the military-political-industrial complex in the treasure and stolen rights of the American people. That is the bottom line for why we went to war, and why we are still there, and why, if our elites persist, we might go to war with Russia or China.

The good news is that, because of the unrelenting depredations by American elites on the treasure and rights of the people, the United States is increasingly unable to wage war effectively. The bad news is that our elites are too blind to see this.

America: Consuming your future today.

====

Peter T 10.23.16 at 8:56 am

faustusnotes

fear of "socialism" – meaning, broadly, greater popular participation in politics – was explicitly a major factor in the German and Russian decisions for war. In both cases, they hoped victory would shore up increasingly fragile conservative dominance. It also underlay British and French attitudes. 1870-1914 was a very stressful time for elites.

1915 was too early for any of the combatants to settle. By mid-late 1916 there were some voices in favour of negotiations, but the Germans would have none of it then or in 1917. By the time the Germans were prepared to talk (mid 1918), they had lost. Fear of socialism was again a major factor in the post-war settlements.

Liberals of today see World War I as the great disaster that shattered the pre-war liberal order. In the same way, the generation post 1815 saw the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as the great disaster that shattered the happy old order. The extent of the damage and loss was much the same in each, although World War I took 5 years to do what the French wars did in 25.

===

Omega Centauri 10.23.16 at 1:13 am ( 33 )

The decision to continue it seems to be a natural consequence of the human proclivity towards doubling down. This operates on many levels, some of which are related to the need for vindication of those involved in the decision to start the conflict.

There is also the horror that if you end a war without achieving something the masses can identify with as victory, then the families of those killed will see that their loved ones died in vain -- for someone else's mistake (very bad for your political future).

And of course if you quit, what is to stop the enemy from extracting reparations or worse from you, because in his eyes, you are the criminal party. Much easier to try yet one more offensive, or to lure a formerly neutral party into joining in and opening up another front, which you hope will break the stalemate.

The thing that appalls me so much about the Great War, is how so many nations were dragged in, by promises of booty . In many ways it resembles the Peloponnisian war, in its inability to allow neutrals to be neutrals.

[Oct 24, 2016] New generation forget about the horrors of previous wars and internationalist idea does not survive the new war first hours, let alone first weeks

Notable quotes:
"... Continuing the war, once the bloodbath is underway and its futility is fully evident (which surely is objectively the case as early as 1915), seems to me to be the point where moral culpability on all sides applies most forcibly. ..."
"... It was a symptom of degenerate aristocracy clinging to irresponsible power. Continuing to turn the crank on the meat grinder without any realistic strategic hope or aim should have condemned the military establishment as well as the political establishment in several countries where it didn't. Hindenburg was there to appoint Hitler; Petain to surrender France. ..."
"... And, before the war? Are the arguments against war really connecting? ..."
"... That internationalist idea doesn't seem to survive the war's first hours, let alone first weeks. ..."
"... Universal conscription in France and Germany created a common experience. Several generations learned not so much the horror of mass slaughter as war as the instant of national glory in dramatic crises and short-lived conflicts with a decisive result. ..."
"... Certainly, there had been arguments made before the war and even several disparate political movements that had adopted ideas critical of imperialism by military means. I question, though, how engaged they were with mainstream politics of the day and therefore how fully developed we can say their ideas or arguments were. ..."
"... Consider the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 as examples of the state of the practical politics of a program for peace. The first Conference was called by the Czar and the second by Theodore Roosevelt - no little irony in either case. ..."
"... the 1907 Conference as an illustration of the growing war fever gripping western (so-called) civilization, as many of the delegates apparently sat around discussing how they longed for a cleansing war. ..."
"... I cannot pretend to understand the psychology, but I accept that it was prevalent, as least for a certain class. Morally reprehensible this glorification of war? I certainly think so. Was it engaged by fully developed argument? When? ..."
"... It was against the background of this Great Game of elite diplomacy and saber-rattling and brief, limited wars that efforts had been made to erect an arguably more idealistic apparatus of liberal international peace thru international law, limitations of armaments and the creation of formal mechanisms for the arbitration of disputes. ..."
"... If this was the institutional program produced by "the fully developed and strongly argued" case against war, it wasn't that fully developed or strongly argued, as demonstrated by the severe shortcomings of the Hague Conferences. ..."
"... The consequences were horrific as mass mobilization and industrialized warfare combined with primitive means of command-and-control and reactionary often incompetent leadership to create a blood-bath of immense scale. (See my first comment.) ..."
crookedtimber.org

bruce wilder 10.22.16 at 8:46 pm ( 25 )

The case against war was fully developed and strongly argued in the years before 1914 . . .

Was it? I wonder about that.

Continuing the war, once the bloodbath is underway and its futility is fully evident (which surely is objectively the case as early as 1915), seems to me to be the point where moral culpability on all sides applies most forcibly. It is on this point that I think arguments from before the war cannot have the weight the horror of experience must give them. Elite leadership across Europe failed.

It was a symptom of degenerate aristocracy clinging to irresponsible power. Continuing to turn the crank on the meat grinder without any realistic strategic hope or aim should have condemned the military establishment as well as the political establishment in several countries where it didn't. Hindenburg was there to appoint Hitler; Petain to surrender France.

It is inexplicable, really, unless you can see that the moral and practical case against war is not fully developed between the wars; if there's a critique that made use of experience in its details in the 1920s and 1930s and made itself heard, I missed it - it seems like opposites of such an appreciation triumph.

And, before the war? Are the arguments against war really connecting? There's certainly a socialist argument against war, based on the illegitimacy of war's class divisions, which were conveniently exemplified in military rank and reactionary attitudes among the officer class. That internationalist idea doesn't seem to survive the war's first hours, let alone first weeks.

Universal conscription in France and Germany created a common experience. Several generations learned not so much the horror of mass slaughter as war as the instant of national glory in dramatic crises and short-lived conflicts with a decisive result.


bruce wilder 10.22.16 at 8:47 pm.26

Certainly, there had been arguments made before the war and even several disparate political movements that had adopted ideas critical of imperialism by military means. I question, though, how engaged they were with mainstream politics of the day and therefore how fully developed we can say their ideas or arguments were.

Consider the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 as examples of the state of the practical politics of a program for peace. The first Conference was called by the Czar and the second by Theodore Roosevelt - no little irony in either case.

Without looking it up I recall Barbara Tuchman using the 1907 Conference as an illustration of the growing war fever gripping western (so-called) civilization, as many of the delegates apparently sat around discussing how they longed for a cleansing war.

I cannot pretend to understand the psychology, but I accept that it was prevalent, as least for a certain class. Morally reprehensible this glorification of war? I certainly think so. Was it engaged by fully developed argument? When?

The long effort by reactionary forces to assemble a coalition capable of defeating Napoleon had created in Europe what for a time was called the Concert of Europe. Austria, Prussia and Russia initially cooperated in suppressing liberal and nationalist aspirations and that effort gradually morphed into efforts to harness or channel rising liberalism and nationalism and industrial power.

It was the evolved apparatus descended from Metternich's Congress of Vienna thru Bismarck's Congress of Berlin that made wars brief and generally decisive in regard to some policy end.

The long list of successive crises and brief wars that stevenjohnson references above - often cited as evidence of the increasing fragility of the general peace - could just as well be cited as evidence for the continued effectiveness of the antique Concert of Europe in containing and managing the risk of general war. (Fashoda 1898, Venezuela 1902, Russo-Japanese War 1905, Agadir 1911, Balkan Wars 1911-1912 - it can be a very long list).

It was against the background of this Great Game of elite diplomacy and saber-rattling and brief, limited wars that efforts had been made to erect an arguably more idealistic apparatus of liberal international peace thru international law, limitations of armaments and the creation of formal mechanisms for the arbitration of disputes.

If this was the institutional program produced by "the fully developed and strongly argued" case against war, it wasn't that fully developed or strongly argued, as demonstrated by the severe shortcomings of the Hague Conferences.

It was one of the mechanisms for peace by international law - the neutrality of Belgium mutually guaranteed by Britain and Germany in the Treaty of London 1839 - that triggered Britain's entry as an Allied Power and general war. There is, of course, no particular reason Australia should have taken an interest in Belgium's neutrality, but it was that issue that seemed to compel the consensus of opinion in favor of war in Britain's government.

The consequences were horrific as mass mobilization and industrialized warfare combined with primitive means of command-and-control and reactionary often incompetent leadership to create a blood-bath of immense scale. (See my first comment.)

What I don't find is the alternative lever or mechanism at the ready, put in place by this fully developed argument against war. The mechanism in place was the neutrality of Belgium guaranteed by international law (arguably reinforced in the stipulations of the Hague Conference of 1907). If Germany doesn't violate Belgian neutrality, the result in the West at least is stalemate as France and Germany are evenly matched across their narrow and mostly impassable frontier; in the East, Russia must concede to Germany even as Austria must concede to Russia; - instead of a general conflagration, the result is another negotiated settlement of some sort, perhaps arbitrated by Britain or the U.S.

The urgent questions of the day regarding the organization of modern liberal polities in the territories of Ottoman Turkey, Hapsburg Austria and Czarist Russia - what is the strongly argued and fully developed case there? How is the cause of Polish nationalism, or Finnish nationalism or Yugoslav nationalism to be handled or managed without violence and war?

The antique system of a Concert of Europe had kinda sorta found a way by means of short and decisive engagements followed by multi-power negotiation, a pattern that had continued with the gradual emergence of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania. But, where was the argument for managing irredentism and nationalist aspiration peacefully?

[Oct 23, 2016] In a remarkable conflict-of-interest, Fox News analyst and former Clinton operative Douglas E. Schoen has failed to disclosed to readers that hes been paid millions of dollars from Ukrainian agents to incite a war between the United States and Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Just a re-post from the last thread to the new . "In a remarkable conflict-of-interest, Fox News analyst and former Clinton operative Douglas E. Schoen has failed to disclosed to readers that he's been paid millions of dollars from Ukrainian agents to incite a war between the United States and Russia. ..."
Oct 23, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org
Terry | Oct 22, 2016 11:28:30 AM | 1
Just a re-post from the last thread to the new . "In a remarkable conflict-of-interest, Fox News analyst and former Clinton operative Douglas E. Schoen has failed to disclosed to readers that he's been paid millions of dollars from Ukrainian agents to incite a war between the United States and Russia.

Before inciting war with Russia, Schoen worked for Bill Clinton and brokered meeting (for $40,000 a month) between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire oligarchs." http://www.dangerandplay.com/2016/09/09/fox-news-analyst-and-clinton-operative-douglas-e-schoen-accepted-millions-of-dollars-to-agitate-for-war-with-russia/

rg the lg | Oct 22, 2016 11:29:52 AM | 2
Personally I don't know if I 'trust' RT any more than I 'trust' American media ... but I do pay attention to both.

Here's an article to get the ball rolling: what is propaganda? Who is guilty of propagandizing news?

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/363737-rt-uk-msm-hysteria-russia/

Of course, I truly think that Telesur is about as balanced as we can get.

[Oct 23, 2016] The USA now is in the political position that in chess is called Zugzwang

Notable quotes:
"... I would agree that Trump is horrible candidate. The candidate who (like Hillary) suggests complete degeneration of the US neoliberal elite. ..."
"... But the problem is that Hillary is even worse. Much worse and more dangerous because in addition to being a closet Republican she is also a warmonger. In foreign policy area she is John McCain in pantsuit. And if you believe that after one hour in White House she does not abandon all her election promises and start behaving like a far-right republican in foreign policy and a moderate republican in domestic policy, it's you who drunk too much Cool Aid. ..."
"... In other words, the USA [workers and middle class] now is in the political position that in chess is called Zugzwang: we face a choice between the compulsive liar, unrepentant, extremely dangerous and unstable warmonger with failing health vs. a bombastic, completely unprepared to governance of such a huge country crook. ..."
Oct 23, 2016 | angrybearblog.com
likbez October 22, 2016 11:20 pm

The key problems with Democratic Party and Hillary is that they lost working class and middle class voters, becoming another party of highly paid professionals and Wall Street speculators (let's say top 10%, not just 1%), the party of neoliberal elite.

It will be interesting to see if yet another attempt to "bait and switch" working class and lower middle class works this time. I think it will not. Even upper middle class is very resentful of Democrats and Hillary. So many votes will be not "for" but "against". This is the scenario Democratic strategists fear the most, but they can do nothing about it.

She overplayed "identity politics" card. Her "identity politics" and her fake feminism are completely insincere. She is completely numb to human suffering and interests of females and minorities. Looks like she has a total lack of empathy for other people.

Here is one interesting quote ( http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/10/how-trump-and-clinton-gave-bad-answers-on-us-nuclear-policy-and-why-you-should-be-worried.html#comment-2680036 ):

"What scares me is my knowledge of her career-long investment in trying to convince the generals and the admirals that she is a 'tough bitch', ala Margaret Thatcher, who will not hesitate to pull the trigger. An illuminating article in the NY Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/magazine/how-hillary-clinton-became-a-hawk.html ) revealed that she always advocates the most muscular and reckless dispositions of U.S. military forces whenever her opinion is solicited. "

Usually people are resentful about Party which betrayed them so many times. It would be interesting to see how this will play this time.

Beverly Mann October 23, 2016 12:00 pm

It will be interesting to see if yet another attempt to "bait and switch" working class and lower middle class works this time?

Yup. The Republicans definitely have the interests of the working class and lower middle class at heart when they give, and propose, ever deeper tax cuts for the wealthy, the repeal of the estate tax that by now applies only to estates of more than $5 million, complete deregulation of the finance industry, industry capture of every federal regulatory agency and cabinet department and commission or board, from the SEC, to the EPA, to the Interior Dept. (in order to hand over to the oil, gas and timber industries vast parts of federal lands), the FDA, the FTC, the FCC, the NLRB, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Justice Dept. (including the Antitrust Division)-to name only some.

And OF COURSE it's to serve the interests of the working class and lower middle class that they concertedly appoint Supreme Court justices and lower federal court judges that are unabashed proxies of big business.

And then there's the incessant push to privatize Social Security and Medicare. It ain't the Dems that are pushing that.

You're drinking wayyy too much Kool Aid, likbez. Or maybe just reading too much Ayn Rand, at Paul Ryan's recommendation.

beene October 23, 2016 10:31 am

I would suggest despite most of the elite in both parties supporting Hillary, and saying she has the election in the bag is premature. In my opinion the fact that Trump rallies still has large attendance; where Hillary's rallies would have trouble filling up a large room is a better indication that Trump will win.

Even democrats are not voting democratic this time to be ignored till election again.

likbez October 23, 2016 12:56 pm

Beverly,

=== quote ===
Yup. The Republicans definitely have the interests of the working class and lower middle class at heart when they give, and propose, ever deeper tax cuts for the wealthy, the repeal of the estate tax that by now applies only to estates of more than $5 million, complete deregulation of the finance industry, industry capture of every federal regulatory agency and cabinet department and commission or board, from the SEC, to the EPA, to the Interior Dept. (in order to hand over to the oil, gas and timber industries vast parts of federal lands), the FDA, the FTC, the FCC, the NLRB, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Justice Dept. (including the Antitrust Division) -- to name only some.

And OF COURSE it's to serve the interests of the working class and lower middle class that they concertedly appoint Supreme Court justices and lower federal court judges that are unabashed proxies of big business.
=== end of quote ===

This is all true. But Trump essentially running not as a Republican but as an independent on (mostly) populist platform (with elements of nativism). That's why a large part of Republican brass explicitly abandoned him. That does not exclude that he easily will be co-opted after the election, if he wins.

And I would not be surprised one bit if Dick Cheney, Victoria Nuland, Paul Wolfowitz and Perle vote for Hillary. Robert Kagan and papa Bush already declared such an intention. She is a neocon. A wolf in sheep clothing, if we are talking about real anti-war democrats, not the USA brand of DemoRats. She is crazy warmonger, no question about it, trying to compensate a complete lack of diplomatic skills with jingoism and saber rattling.

The problem here might be that you implicitly idealize Hillary and demonize Trump.

I would agree that Trump is horrible candidate. The candidate who (like Hillary) suggests complete degeneration of the US neoliberal elite.

But the problem is that Hillary is even worse. Much worse and more dangerous because in addition to being a closet Republican she is also a warmonger. In foreign policy area she is John McCain in pantsuit. And if you believe that after one hour in White House she does not abandon all her election promises and start behaving like a far-right republican in foreign policy and a moderate republican in domestic policy, it's you who drunk too much Cool Aid.

That's what classic neoliberal DemoRats "bait and switch" maneuver (previously executed by Obama two times) means. And that's why working class now abandoned Democratic Party. Even unions members of unions which endorses Clinton are expected to vote 3:1 against her. Serial betrayal of interests of working class (and lower middle class) after 25 years gets on nerve. Not that their choice is wise, but they made a choice. This is "What's the matter with Kansas" all over again.

It reminds me the situation when Stalin was asked whether right revisionism of Marxism (social democrats) or left (Trotskyites with their dream of World revolution) is better. He answered "both are worse" :-).

In other words, the USA [workers and middle class] now is in the political position that in chess is called Zugzwang: we face a choice between the compulsive liar, unrepentant, extremely dangerous and unstable warmonger with failing health vs. a bombastic, completely unprepared to governance of such a huge country crook.

Of course, we need also remember about existence of "deep state" which make each of them mostly a figurehead, but still the power of "deep state" is not absolute and this is a very sad situation.

Beverly Mann, October 23, 2016 1:57 pm

Good grace.

Two points: First, you apparently are unaware of Trump's proposed tax plan, written by Heritage Foundation economists and political-think-tank types. It's literally more regressively extreme evn than Paul Ryan's. It gives tax cuts to the wealthy that are exponentially more generous percentage-wise than G.W. Bush's two tax cuts together were, it eliminates the estate tax, and it gives massive tax cuts to corporations, including yuge ones.

Two billionaire Hamptons-based hedge funders, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, have been funding a super PAC for Trump and since late spring have met with Trump and handed him policy proposals and suggestions for administrative agency heads and judicial appointments. Other yuge funders are members of the Ricketts family, including Thomas Ricketts, CEO of TD Ameritrade and a son of its founder.

Two other billionaires funding Trump: Forrest Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil and reportedly Trump's choice for Interior Secretary if you and the working class and lower middle class folks whose interests Trump has at heart get their way.

And then there's Texas oil billionaire Harold Hamm, Trump's very first billionaire mega-donor.

One of my recurring pet peeves about Clinton and her campaign is her failure to tell the public that these billionaires are contributing mega-bucks to help fund Trump's campaign, and to tell the public who exactly they are. As well as her failure to make a concerted effort to educate the public about the the specifics of Trump's fiscal and deregulatory agenda as he has published it.

As for your belief that I idealize Clinton, you obviously are very new to Angry Bear. I was a virulent Sanders supporter throughout the primaries, to the very end. In 2008 I originally supported John Edwards during the primaries and then, when it became clear that it was a two-candidate race, supported Obama. My reason? I really, really, REALLY did not want to see another triangulation Democratic administration. That's largely what we got during Obama's first term, though, and I was not happy about it.

Bottom line: I'm not the gullible one here. You are.

likbez, October 23, 2016 2:37 pm

You demonstrate complete inability to weight the gravity of two dismal, but unequal in their gravity options.

All your arguments about Supreme Court justices, taxes, inheritance and other similar things make sense if and only if the country continues to exist.

Which is not given due to the craziness and the level of degeneration of neoliberal elite and specifically Hillary ("no fly zone in Syria" is one example of her craziness). Playing chickens with a nuclear power for the sake of proving imperial dominance in Middle East is a crazy policy.

Neocons rule the roost in both parties, which essentially became a single War Party with two wings. Trump looks like the only chance somewhat to limit their influence and reach some détente with Russia.

Looks like you organically unable to understand that your choice in this particular case is between the decimation of the last remnants of the New Deal and a real chance of WWIII.

This is not "pick your poison" situation. Those are two events of completely difference magnitude: one is reversible (and please note that Trump is bound by very controversial obligations to his electorate and faces hostile Congress), the other is not.

We all should do our best to prevent the unleashing WWIII even if that means temporary decimation of the remnants of New Deal.

Neoliberalism after 2008 entered zombie state, so while it is still strong, aggressive and bloodthirsty it might not last for long. And in such case the defeat of democratic forces on domestic front is temporary.

That means vote against Hillary.

[Oct 22, 2016] Congress does not declare war, which is its constitutional responsibility. Instead, a few buttons are pressed and, with only a brief and quickly forgotten spurt of news stories that obscure more than they reveal, we are at war

Oct 22, 2016 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Northern Star ,

October 20, 2016 at 11:44 am
Succinct exposure of continuing American psycho militaristic aggression in ME:
"The United States no longer enters wars as we did in earlier eras. Our president does not announce that we have taken up a new cause in a distant land. Congress does not declare war, which is its constitutional responsibility. Instead, a few buttons are pressed and, with only a brief and quickly forgotten spurt of news stories that obscure more than they reveal, we are at war."
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/10/19/plunges-into-war-with-yemen/STkGyrSwoHiCvIeP2gm6CM/story.html
yalensis , October 20, 2016 at 5:55 pm
But we have always been at war with Eastasia.
Or was that Oceania?
I forget marknesop , October 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm
That's a good piece; reasonable, and well-substantiated. I think a lot of Americans today do not realize what a deliberate and considered process becoming involved in war is supposed to be. He's absolutely correct that the doctrine has evolved from 'advise and consent' to 'it's easier to obtain forgiveness than permission'.

[Oct 22, 2016] Andrew Mitchell was not alone in rattling the rusty sabre by suggesting we shoot down Russian jets over Syria. We also had Boris Johnson, our Foreign Secretary, demanding - in the manner of a clownish ayatollah - that people should protest outside the Russian embassy

Notable quotes:
"... Boris said this in response to the Russian and Syrian government air attacks upon Aleppo, which were certainly brutal. Then, about a week later, the West began, with clinical precision, to identify people in the last Iraqi Isis stronghold of Mosul with really radical beards and bomb them to smithereens, mercifully and humanitarianly sparing the local, decent, democratically minded citizens, who of course escaped the bombardment without so much as a graze. ..."
"... In Ukraine, Russia was the designated fall-guy for having NATO snuggled right up against its cheek, an overtly hostile military alliance which has advertised itself as Russia's enemy. ..."
"... In Crimea, similarly, Russia was looking at the probability of a NATO naval base right next door. The reasons for Russia's intervention in Syria are more complicated and were both geostrategic and economic, but had nothing whatever to do with belligerence. The USA was never invited into Syria, yet had been bombing in Syria – ostensibly against ISIS, but making no secret of Washington's desire that Assad be overthrown – for nearly two years before Russia stepped in, and few suggested the USA was being belligerent. ..."
"... The problem, then, is not that they are spreading misinformation, but that Russia Today is spreading truthful information which the UK government finds extremely unhelpful. Is it non-biased and non-partisan, does it always give balance and right of reply? No, no and thrice no. Does the BBC? ..."
Oct 22, 2016 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Jeremn , October 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

Oh, this is good. And the comments.

"Andrew Mitchell was not alone in rattling the rusty sabre by suggesting we shoot down Russian jets over Syria. We also had Boris Johnson, our Foreign Secretary, demanding - in the manner of a clownish ayatollah - that people should protest outside the Russian embassy.

Boris said this in response to the Russian and Syrian government air attacks upon Aleppo, which were certainly brutal. Then, about a week later, the West began, with clinical precision, to identify people in the last Iraqi Isis stronghold of Mosul with really radical beards and bomb them to smithereens, mercifully and humanitarianly sparing the local, decent, democratically minded citizens, who of course escaped the bombardment without so much as a graze."

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/10/stop-this-stupid-sabre-rattling-against-russia/

marknesop , October 20, 2016 at 8:03 pm
Still full of shite, of course – Britain cannot seem to write anything which is not, and it's only a matter of degree. Putin is neither overtly homophobic (I have no idea what his personal beliefs are, which is as it should be, you should not be able to tell) nor belligerent. In Ukraine, Russia was the designated fall-guy for having NATO snuggled right up against its cheek, an overtly hostile military alliance which has advertised itself as Russia's enemy.

This was meant to be brought about by means of a political coup, because NATO did not want to risk putting it to a vote, although it deliberately exaggerated the broadness of Ukrainian enthusiasm for a European future.

In Crimea, similarly, Russia was looking at the probability of a NATO naval base right next door. The reasons for Russia's intervention in Syria are more complicated and were both geostrategic and economic, but had nothing whatever to do with belligerence. The USA was never invited into Syria, yet had been bombing in Syria – ostensibly against ISIS, but making no secret of Washington's desire that Assad be overthrown – for nearly two years before Russia stepped in, and few suggested the USA was being belligerent.

yalensis , October 20, 2016 at 5:42 pm

The problem, then, is not that they are spreading misinformation, but that Russia Today is spreading truthful information which the UK government finds extremely unhelpful. Is it non-biased and non-partisan, does it always give balance and right of reply? No, no and thrice no. Does the BBC?

Ha ha – This is a good writing!

[Oct 21, 2016] A Desperate Obama Administration Resorts To Lying And Maybe More by Moon of Alabama

Oct 08, 2016 | ronpaulinstitute.org
On September 28 the French mission to the UN claimed that two hospitals in east-Aleppo had been bombed. It documented this in a tweet with a picture of destroyed buildings in Gaza. The French later deleted that tweet.

It is not the first time such false claims and willful obfuscations were made by "western" officials. But usually they shy away from outright lies.

Not so the US Secretary of State John Kerry. In a press event yesterday, before talks with the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault about a new UN resolution, he said (vid @1:00) about Syria:

Last night, the regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded. And Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women.These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions.
No opposition group has claimed that such an extremely grave event happened. None. No press agency has a record of it. The MI-6 disinformation outlet SOHR in Britain, which quite reliably notes every claimed casualty and is frequently cited in "western" media", has not said anything about such an event anywhere in Syria.

The grave incident Kerry claimed did not happen. Kerry made it up. (Was it supposed to happen, got canceled and Kerry missed the memo?) Kerry used the lie to call for war crime investigations and punishment. This in front of cameras, at an official event with a foreign guest in the context of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

This is grave. This is nearly as grave as Colin Powell's false claims of WMD in Iraq in front of the UN Security Council.

Early reports, like this one at CBSNEWS, repeat the Kerry claim:

Kerry said Syrian forces hit a hospital overnight, killing 20 people and wounding 100, describing what would be the latest strike by Moscow or its ally in Damascus on a civilian target.
But the New York Times write up of the event, which includes Kerry's demand for war crime investigations, does not mention the hospital bombing claim. Not at all. For the self-acclaimed "paper of record", Kerry's lie did not happen. Likewise the Washington Post which in its own write up makes no mention of the false Kerry claim.

The latest AP write up by Matthew Lee also omits the lie. This is curious as Matt Lee is obviously aware of it. The State Departments daily press briefing yesterday had a whole section on it. Video (@3:30) shows that it is Matt who asks these questions:

QUESTION: Okay. On to Syria and the Secretary's comments earlier this morning, one is: Do you know what strike he was talking about in his comments overnight on a hospital in Aleppo?

MR KIRBY: I think the Secretary's referring actually to a strike that we saw happen yesterday on a field hospital in the Rif Dimashq Governorate. I'm not exactly positive that that's what he was referring to, but I think he was referring to actually one that was --

QUESTION: Not one in Aleppo?

MR KIRBY: I believe it was – I think it was – I think he – my guess is – I'm guessing here that he was a bit mistaken on location and referring to one --
...
QUESTION: But you don't have certainty, though?

MR KIRBY: I don't. Best I got, best information I got, is that he was most likely referring to one yesterday in this governorate, but it could just be an honest mistake.

QUESTION: If we could – if we can nail that down with certainty what he was talking about --

MR KIRBY: I'll do the best I can, Matt.
...

This goes on for a while. But there was no hospital attack in Rif Dimashq nor in Aleppo. Later on DoS spokesman Kirby basically admits that Kerry lied: "I can't corroborate that."

It also turns out that Kerry has no evidence for any war crimes and no plausible way to initiate any official international procedure about such. And for what? To bully Russia? Fat chance, that would be a hopeless endeavor and Kerry should know that.

Kerry is desperate. He completely lost the plot on Syria. Russia is in the lead and will do whatever needs to be done. The Obama administration has, apart from starting a World War, no longer any way to significantly influence that.

Kerry is only one tool of the Obama administration. Later that day the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, made other accusations against Russia:

The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directedthe recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow-the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.
Translation: "WE DO NOT KNOW at all ("we are confident", "we believe", "directed") who did these hacks and WE DO NOT HAVE the slightest evidence ("consistent with","based on the scope and sensitivity") that Russia is involved, so let me throw some chaff and try to bamboozle you all."

The former British ambassador Craig Murray calls it a blatant neocon lie. It was obviously the DNC that manipulated the US election by, contrary to its mandate, promoting Clinton over Sanders. The hackers only proved that. It is also easy to see why these accusations are made now. Murray:

That the Obama administration has made a formal accusation of Russia based on no evidence is, on one level, astonishing. But it is motivated by desperation. WikiLeaks have already announced that they have a huge cache of other material relating to Hillary's shenanigans. The White House is simply seeking to discredit it in advance by a completely false association with Russian intelligence.
The Obama administration is losing it. On Syria as well as on the election it can no longer assert its will. Trump, despite all dirty boy's club talk he may do, has a significant chance to catch the presidency. He (-44%) and Clinton (-41%) are more disliked by the U.S electorate, than Putin (-38%). Any solution in Syria will be more in Russia's than the Washington's favor.

Such desperation can be dangerous. Kerry is gasping at straws when he lies about Russia. The president and his colleagues at the Pentagon and the CIA have more kinetic means to express themselves. Could they order up something really stupid?

[Oct 20, 2016] Guest-post-essential-rules-tyranny

Notable quotes:
"... At bottom, the success of despotic governments and Big Brother societies hinges upon a certain number of political, financial, and cultural developments. The first of which is an unwillingness in the general populace to secure and defend their own freedoms, making them completely reliant on corrupt establishment leadership. For totalitarianism to take hold, the masses must not only neglect the plight of their country, and the plight of others, but also be completely uninformed of the inherent indirect threats to their personal safety. ..."
"... The prevalence of apathy and ignorance sets the stage for the slow and highly deliberate process of centralization. ..."
"... People who are easily frightened are easily dominated. This is not just a law of political will, but a law of nature. Many wrongly assume that a tyrant's power comes purely from the application of force. In fact, despotic regimes that rely solely on extreme violence are often very unsuccessful, and easily overthrown. ..."
"... They instill apprehension in the public; a fear of the unknown, or a fear of the possible consequences for standing against the state. They let our imaginations run wild until we see death around every corner, whether it's actually there or not. When the masses are so blinded by the fear of reprisal that they forget their fear of slavery, and take no action whatsoever to undo it, then they have been sufficiently culled. ..."
"... The bread and circus lifestyle of the average westerner alone is enough to distract us from connecting with each other in any meaningful fashion, but people still sometimes find ways to seek out organized forms of activism. ..."
"... In more advanced forms of despotism, even fake organizations are disbanded. Curfews are enforced. Normal communications are diminished or monitored. Compulsory paperwork is required. Checkpoints are instituted. Free speech is punished. Existing groups are influenced to distrust each other or to disintegrate entirely out of dread of being discovered. All of these measures are taken by tyrants primarily to prevent ANY citizens from gathering and finding mutual support. People who work together and organize of their own volition are unpredictable, and therefore, a potential risk to the state. ..."
"... Destitution leads not just to hunger, but also to crime (private and government). Crime leads to anger, hatred, and fear. Fear leads to desperation. Desperation leads to the acceptance of anything resembling a solution, even despotism. ..."
"... Autocracies pretend to cut through the dilemmas of economic dysfunction (usually while demanding liberties be relinquished), however, behind the scenes they actually seek to maintain a proscribed level of indigence and deprivation. The constant peril of homelessness and starvation keeps the masses thoroughly distracted from such things as protest or dissent, while simultaneously chaining them to the idea that their only chance is to cling to the very government out to end them. ..."
"... When law enforcement officials are no longer servants of the people, but agents of a government concerned only with its own supremacy, serious crises emerge. Checks and balances are removed. The guidelines that once reigned in police disappear, and suddenly, a philosophy of superiority emerges; an arrogant exclusivity that breeds separation between law enforcement and the rest of the public. Finally, police no longer see themselves as protectors of citizens, but prison guards out to keep us subdued and docile. ..."
"... Tyrants are generally men who have squelched their own consciences. They have no reservations in using any means at their disposal to wipe out opposition. But, in the early stages of their ascent to power, they must give the populace a reason for their ruthlessness, or risk being exposed, and instigating even more dissent. The propaganda machine thus goes into overdrive, and any person or group that dares to question the authority or the validity of the state is demonized in the minds of the masses. ..."
"... Tyrannical power structures cannot function without scapegoats. There must always be an elusive boogie man under the bed of every citizen, otherwise, those citizens may turn their attention, and their anger, towards the real culprit behind their troubles. By scapegoating stewards of the truth, such governments are able to kill two birds with one stone. ..."
"... Citizen spying is almost always branded as a civic duty; an act of heroism and bravery. Citizen spies are offered accolades and awards, and showered with praise from the upper echelons of their communities. ..."
"... Tyrannies are less concerned with dominating how we live, so much as dominating how we think ..."
"... Lies become "necessary" in protecting the safety of the state. War becomes a tool for "peace". Torture becomes an ugly but "useful" method for gleaning important information. Police brutality is sold as a "natural reaction" to increased crime. Rendition becomes normal, but only for those labeled as "terrorists". Assassination is justified as a means for "saving lives". Genocide is done discretely, but most everyone knows it is taking place. They simply don't discuss it. ..."
www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt Market

The Essential Rules Of Tyranny

As we look back on the horrors of the dictatorships and autocracies of the past, one particular question consistently arises; how was it possible for the common men of these eras to NOT notice what was happening around them? How could they have stood as statues unaware or uncaring as their cultures were overrun by fascism, communism, collectivism, and elitism? Of course, we have the advantage of hindsight, and are able to research and examine the misdeeds of the past at our leisure. Unfortunately, such hindsight does not necessarily shield us from the long cast shadow of tyranny in our own day. For that, the increasingly uncommon gift of foresight is required…

At bottom, the success of despotic governments and Big Brother societies hinges upon a certain number of political, financial, and cultural developments. The first of which is an unwillingness in the general populace to secure and defend their own freedoms, making them completely reliant on corrupt establishment leadership. For totalitarianism to take hold, the masses must not only neglect the plight of their country, and the plight of others, but also be completely uninformed of the inherent indirect threats to their personal safety. They must abandon all responsibility for their destinies, and lose all respect for their own humanity. They must, indeed, become domesticated and mindless herd animals without regard for anything except their fleeting momentary desires for entertainment and short term survival. For a lumbering bloodthirsty behemoth to actually sneak up on you, you have to be pretty damnably oblivious.

The prevalence of apathy and ignorance sets the stage for the slow and highly deliberate process of centralization. Once dishonest governments accomplish an atmosphere of inaction and condition a sense of frailty within the citizenry, the sky is truly the limit. However, a murderous power-monger's day is never quite done. In my recent article 'The Essential Rules of Liberty' we explored the fundamentally unassailable actions and mental preparations required to ensure the continuance of a free society. In this article, let's examine the frequently wielded tools of tyrants in their invariably insane quests for total control…

Rule #1: Keep Them Afraid

People who are easily frightened are easily dominated. This is not just a law of political will, but a law of nature. Many wrongly assume that a tyrant's power comes purely from the application of force. In fact, despotic regimes that rely solely on extreme violence are often very unsuccessful, and easily overthrown. Brute strength is calculable. It can be analyzed, and thus, eventually confronted and defeated.

Thriving tyrants instead utilize not just harm, but the imminent THREAT of harm. They instill apprehension in the public; a fear of the unknown, or a fear of the possible consequences for standing against the state. They let our imaginations run wild until we see death around every corner, whether it's actually there or not. When the masses are so blinded by the fear of reprisal that they forget their fear of slavery, and take no action whatsoever to undo it, then they have been sufficiently culled.

In other cases, our fear is evoked and directed towards engineered enemies. Another race, another religion, another political ideology, a "hidden" and ominous villain created out of thin air. Autocrats assert that we "need them" in order to remain safe and secure from these illusory monsters bent on our destruction. As always, this development is followed by the claim that all steps taken, even those that dissolve our freedoms, are "for the greater good". Frightened people tend to shirk their sense of independence and run towards the comfort of the collective, even if that collective is built on immoral and unconscionable foundations. Once a society takes on a hive-mind mentality almost any evil can be rationalized, and any injustice against the individual is simply overlooked for the sake of the group.

Rule #2: Keep Them Isolated

In the past, elitist governments would often legislate and enforce severe penalties for public gatherings, because defusing the ability of the citizenry to organize or to communicate was paramount to control. In our technological era, such isolation is still used, but in far more advanced forms. The bread and circus lifestyle of the average westerner alone is enough to distract us from connecting with each other in any meaningful fashion, but people still sometimes find ways to seek out organized forms of activism.

Through co-option, modern day tyrant's can direct and manipulate opposition movements. By creating and administrating groups which oppose each other, elites can then micromanage all aspects of a nation on the verge of revolution. These "false paradigms" give us the illusion of proactive organization, and the false hope of changing the system, while at the same time preventing us from seeking understanding in one another. All our energies are then muted and dispersed into meaningless battles over "left and right", or "Democrat versus Republican", for example. Only movements that cast aside such empty labels and concern themselves with the ultimate truth of their country, regardless of what that truth might reveal, are able to enact real solutions to the disasters wrought by tyranny.

In more advanced forms of despotism, even fake organizations are disbanded. Curfews are enforced. Normal communications are diminished or monitored. Compulsory paperwork is required. Checkpoints are instituted. Free speech is punished. Existing groups are influenced to distrust each other or to disintegrate entirely out of dread of being discovered. All of these measures are taken by tyrants primarily to prevent ANY citizens from gathering and finding mutual support. People who work together and organize of their own volition are unpredictable, and therefore, a potential risk to the state.

Rule #3: Keep Them Desperate

You'll find in nearly every instance of cultural descent into autocracy, the offending government gained favor after the onset of economic collapse. Make the necessities of root survival an uncertainty, and people without knowledge of self sustainability and without solid core principles will gladly hand over their freedom, even for mere scraps from the tables of the same men who unleashed famine upon them. Financial calamities are not dangerous because of the poverty they leave in their wake; they are dangerous because of the doors to malevolence that they leave open.

Destitution leads not just to hunger, but also to crime (private and government). Crime leads to anger, hatred, and fear. Fear leads to desperation. Desperation leads to the acceptance of anything resembling a solution, even despotism.

Autocracies pretend to cut through the dilemmas of economic dysfunction (usually while demanding liberties be relinquished), however, behind the scenes they actually seek to maintain a proscribed level of indigence and deprivation. The constant peril of homelessness and starvation keeps the masses thoroughly distracted from such things as protest or dissent, while simultaneously chaining them to the idea that their only chance is to cling to the very government out to end them.

Rule #4: Send Out The Jackboots

This is the main symptom often associated with totalitarianism. So much so that our preconceived notions of what a fascist government looks like prevent us from seeing other forms of tyranny right under our noses. Some Americans believe that if the jackbooted thugs are not knocking on every door, then we MUST still live in a free country. Obviously, this is a rather naïve position. Admittedly, though, goon squads and secret police do eventually become prominent in every failed nation, usually while the public is mesmerized by visions of war, depression, hyperinflation, terrorism, etc.

When law enforcement officials are no longer servants of the people, but agents of a government concerned only with its own supremacy, serious crises emerge. Checks and balances are removed. The guidelines that once reigned in police disappear, and suddenly, a philosophy of superiority emerges; an arrogant exclusivity that breeds separation between law enforcement and the rest of the public. Finally, police no longer see themselves as protectors of citizens, but prison guards out to keep us subdued and docile.

As tyranny grows, this behavior is encouraged. Good men are filtered out of the system, and small (minded and hearted) men are promoted.

At its pinnacle, a police state will hide the identities of most of its agents and officers, behind masks or behind red tape, because their crimes in the name of the state become so numerous and so sadistic that personal vengeance on the part of their victims will become a daily concern.

Rule #5: Blame Everything On The Truth Seekers

Tyrants are generally men who have squelched their own consciences. They have no reservations in using any means at their disposal to wipe out opposition. But, in the early stages of their ascent to power, they must give the populace a reason for their ruthlessness, or risk being exposed, and instigating even more dissent. The propaganda machine thus goes into overdrive, and any person or group that dares to question the authority or the validity of the state is demonized in the minds of the masses.

All disasters, all violent crimes, all the ills of the world, are hoisted upon the shoulders of activist groups and political rivals. They are falsely associated with fringe elements already disliked by society (racists, terrorists, etc). A bogus consensus is created through puppet media in an attempt to make the public believe that "everyone else" must have the same exact views, and those who express contrary positions must be "crazy", or "extremist". Events are even engineered by the corrupt system and pinned on those demanding transparency and liberty. The goal is to drive anti-totalitarian organizations into self censorship. That is to say, instead of silencing them directly, the state causes activists to silence themselves.

Tyrannical power structures cannot function without scapegoats. There must always be an elusive boogie man under the bed of every citizen, otherwise, those citizens may turn their attention, and their anger, towards the real culprit behind their troubles. By scapegoating stewards of the truth, such governments are able to kill two birds with one stone.

Rule #6: Encourage Citizen Spies

Ultimately, the life of a totalitarian government is not prolonged by the government itself, but by the very people it subjugates. Citizen spies are the glue of any police state, and our propensity for sticking our noses into other peoples business is highly valued by Big Brother bureaucracies around the globe.

There are a number of reasons why people participate in this repulsive activity. Some are addicted to the feeling of being a part of the collective, and "service" to this collective, sadly, is the only way they are able to give their pathetic lives meaning. Some are vindictive, cold, and soulless, and actually get enjoyment from ruining others. And still, like elites, some long for power, even petty power, and are willing to do anything to fulfill their vile need to dictate the destinies of perfect strangers.

Citizen spying is almost always branded as a civic duty; an act of heroism and bravery. Citizen spies are offered accolades and awards, and showered with praise from the upper echelons of their communities. People who lean towards citizen spying are often outwardly and inwardly unimpressive; physically and mentally inept. For the average moral and emotional weakling with persistent feelings of inadequacy, the allure of finally being given fifteen minutes of fame and a hero's status (even if that status is based on a lie) is simply too much to resist. They begin to see "extremists" and "terrorists" everywhere. Soon, people afraid of open ears everywhere start to watch what they say at the supermarket, in their own backyards, or even to family members. Free speech is effectively neutralized.

Rule #7: Make Them Accept The Unacceptable

In the end, it is not enough for a government fueled by the putrid sludge of iniquity to lord over us. At some point, it must also influence us to forsake our most valued principles. Tyrannies are less concerned with dominating how we live, so much as dominating how we think. If they can mold our very morality, they can exist unopposed indefinitely. Of course, the elements of conscience are inborn, and not subject to environmental duress as long as a man is self aware. However, conscience can be manipulated if a person has no sense of identity, and has never put in the effort to explore his own strengths and failings. There are many people like this in America today.

Lies become "necessary" in protecting the safety of the state. War becomes a tool for "peace". Torture becomes an ugly but "useful" method for gleaning important information. Police brutality is sold as a "natural reaction" to increased crime. Rendition becomes normal, but only for those labeled as "terrorists". Assassination is justified as a means for "saving lives". Genocide is done discretely, but most everyone knows it is taking place. They simply don't discuss it.

All tyrannical systems depend on the apathy and moral relativism of the inhabitants within their borders. Without the cooperation of the public, these systems cannot function. The real question is, how many of the above steps will be taken before we finally refuse to conform? At what point will each man and woman decide to break free from the dark path blazed before us and take measures to ensure their independence? Who will have the courage to develop their own communities, their own alternative economies, their own organizations for mutual defense outside of establishment constructs, and who will break under the pressure to bow like cowards? How many will hold the line, and how many will flee?

For every American, for every human being across the planet who chooses to stand immovable in the face of the very worst in mankind, we come that much closer to breathing life once again into the very best in us all.

[Oct 20, 2016] This is the smoking gun behind the corruption of the Fed during the 2008 crisis

Oct 20, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian | Oct 19, 2016 8:29:29 PM | 99

I just read this posting at ZH and believe that this information when fully grokked will take the market down.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-19/never-seen-secret-memo-aig-bailout-feds-tarullo-obama-revealed-podesta-emails

This is the smoking gun behind the corruption of the Fed during the 2008 crisis. I want to see how they tell the world that this was all legal.

END PRIVATE FINANCE! The folks that own private finance also own the US and many other governments.....with or without vote rigging as one of their tools.

[Oct 18, 2016] The Clinton Goldman Speeches No Smoking Guns, but a Munitions Dump Instead

Notable quotes:
"... First, Clinton's neoliberalism is so bone deep that she refers to Medicare as a "single market" rather than "single payer"; ..."
"... Clinton frames solutions exclusively ..."
"... Policy Sciences ..."
"... Stalin spent his early days in a seminary. Masters of broken promises. I'm more interested in Clinton's Chinese connections. Probably tied through JP Morgan. The Chinese are very straightforward in their, dare I say, inscrutible way. The ministers are the ministers, and the palace is the palace. ..."
"... SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don't feel particularly courageous. I mean, if we're going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street. ..."
"... Because she wont pay for quality speechwriters or coaching. Because she is a shyster, cheapskate and a fraud. They hired the most inept IT company to 'mange' their office server who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) hired an inept IT client manager who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) asked Reddit for a solution. ..."
"... One can say a lot of justifiable bad things about Ronald Reagan, but, he had competent advisors and he used them! With Hillary, Even if she knows she has accessed the best advice on the planet her instinct it to not trust it because "she knows better" and she absolutely will not tolerate dissent. Left to her own devices, she simply copies other people's thinking/ homework instead of building her own ideas with it. ..."
"... What surprises me is that Goldmans paid her for these speeches, you know? Hillary C typically pays "the audience" to listen to, and come to her speeches. You know? You know! ..."
"... I heard Hillary speak in summer '92, when Bill was running for Prez. She. was. amazing. No joke. Great speech, great ideas, great points. I thought then she should be the candidate. But there was in her speech just a tiny undercurrent of "the ends justify the means." i.e. 'we need to get lots of money so we can do good things.' Fast forward 20+ years. Seems to me that for the Clintons the "means" (getting lots of money) has become the end in itself. Reassuring Wall St. is one method for getting money – large, large amounts of money. ..."
"... A fine illustration of the maxim that "crime makes you stupid." ..."
"... in that context ..."
"... So I guess the moral of the story is (a) more deterioration, this time from 2008 to 2016, and (b) Clinton can actually make a good decision, but only when forced to by a catastrophe that will impact her personally. Whether she'll be able to rise to the occasion if elected is an open question, but this post argues not. ..."
"... Bingo! Think about it: She was speaking to a group of people whose time is "valued" at 100's if not 1,000's of dollars per hour. She took up their "valuable" time but provided nothing except politics-as-usual blather tailored to that particular audience. Yet she was paid $225k for a single speech… ..."
"... Hillary is a remarkably inarticulate person, which calls into question her intellectual fitness for the job (amidst many other questions, of course). I entirely agree with your depiction of her speeches as mindless drivel. ..."
"... Not to otherwise compare them, but Bush I's inarticulateness made him seem a buffoon, and that was not the case, either. ..."
"... Matt Tiabbi, Elizabeth Warren, Benie Sanders, Noam Chompsky–all those used to seem like bastions of integrity have, thanks to Hillary, been revealed as slimy little Weasels who should henceforth be completely disregarded. I'd have to thank Hillary for pulling back the nlindets on that; if not for this election I might have been still foolishly listening to these people. ..."
"... What scares me most about Clinton is her belligerence towards Russia and clamoring for a no-fly zone in Syria. The no-fly zone will mean war with Russia. If only Clinton were saying this, we might be safe, but the entire Washington deep state seems to be of one mind in favor of a war. During the cold war this would have been inconceivable; everyone understood a nuclear war must not be allowed. This is no longer true and it is terrifying. Every war game the pentagon used to simulate a war with the U.S.S.R. escalated into an all out nuclear war. What is the "plan B" Obama is pursuing in Syria? ..."
"... The current fear/fever over nuclear war with Russia requires madness in the Kremlin - of which there is no evidence. Our Rulers are depending on Putin and his cohorts being the sane ones as rhetoric from the US and the West ratchets ever upwards. ..."
"... But then, the Kremlin is looking for any hint of sanity on US and NATO side and is finding little… ..."
"... Curtis LeMay tried to provoke a nuclear war with the Soviets in the 1950's. By and large, however, the American state understood a nuclear war was unwinnable and avoided such a possibility. A no-fly zone in Syria would start a war with Russia. William Polk, who participated in the Cuban missle crisis and U.S. nuclear war games, argues in this article ..."
"... both of which present a clinical assessment that Hillary suffers from Parkinson's. Seems like an elephant in the room. ..."
"... The absolute vacuousness of Clinton's remarks, coupled with her ease at neoliberal conventional wisdom, make it clear that Goldman's payments were nothing more (or less) than a $675,000 anticipatory "so no quid pro quo ..."
"... The leaked emails confirm - even though she herself never writes them, which is really odd, when you consider that Podesta is her Campaign Chair and close ally going back decades - that she is compulsively secretive, controlling, and resistant to admitting she's wrong. The chain of people talking about how to get her to admit she was wrong about Nancy Reagan and AIDS was particularly fascinating that way; she was flat out factually inaccurate, and it had the potential to do tremendous harm to her campaign with a key donor group, and it was apparently still a major task to persuade her to say "I made a mistake." ..."
"... basically, every real world policy problem is related to every other real world policy problem ..."
"... Most noticeable thing is her subservience to them like a fresh college grad afraid of his boss at his first job ..."
Oct 18, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
As readers know, WikiLeaks has released transcripts of the three speeches to Goldman Sachs that Clinton gave in 2013, and for which she was paid the eyewatering sum of $675,000. (The link is to an email dated January 23, 2016, from Cllinton staffer Tony Carrk , Clinton's research director, which pulls out "noteworthy quotes" from the speeches. The speeches themselves are attachments to that email.)

Readers, I read them. All three of them. What surprises - and when I tell you I had to take a little nap about halfway through, I'm not making it up! - is the utter mediocrity of Clinton's thought and mode of expression[1]. Perhaps that explains Clinton's otherwise inexplicable refusal to release them. And perhaps my sang froid is preternatural, but I don't see a "smoking gun," unless forking over $675,000 for interminable volumes of shopworn conventional wisdom be, in itself, such a gun. What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for?

WikiLeaks has, however, done voters a favor - in these speeches, and in the DNC and Podesta email releases generally - by giving us a foretaste of what a Clinton administration will be like, once in power, not merely on policy (the "first 100 days"), but on how they will make decisions. I call the speeches a "munitions dump," because the views she expresses in these speeches are bombs that can be expected to explode as the Clinton administration progresses.

With that, let's contextualize and comment upon some quotes from the speeches

The Democrats Are the Party of Wall Street

Of course, you knew that, but it's nice to have the matter confirmed. This material was flagged by Carrk (as none of the following material will have been). It's enormously prolix, but I decided to cut only a few paragraphs. From Clinton's second Goldman speech at the AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium:

MR. O'NEILL: Let's come back to the US. Since 2008, there's been an awful lot of seismic activity around Wall Street and the big banks and regulators and politicians.

Now, without going over how we got to where we are right now , what would be your advice to the Wall Street community and the big banks as to the way forward with those two important decisions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it, but I do - I think that when we talk about the regulators and the politicians, the economic consequences of bad decisions back in '08, you know, were devastating, and they had repercussions throughout the world.

That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of '09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that's an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom [really?!].

And I think that there's a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing [!] what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let's make sure that we do it right this time .

And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn't that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later .

I mean, it's still happening, as you know. People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached.

There's nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry .

And we need banking. I mean, right now, there are so many places in our country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they're scared of regulations , they're scared of the other shoe dropping, they're just plain scared, so credit is not flowing the way it needs to to restart economic growth.

So people are, you know, a little - they're still uncertain, and they're uncertain both because they don't know what might come next in terms of regulations, but they're also uncertain because of changes in a global economy that we're only beginning to take hold of.

So first and foremost, more transparency, more openness, you know, trying to figure out, we're all in this together , how we keep this incredible economic engine in this country going. And this [finance] is, you know, the nerves, the spinal column.

And with political people, again, I would say the same thing, you know, there was a lot of complaining about Dodd-Frank, but there was also a need to do something because for political reasons , if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing, but what you do is really important.

And I think the jury is still out on that because it was very difficult to sort of sort through it all.

And, of course, I don't, you know, I know that banks and others were worried about continued liability [oh, really?] and other problems down the road, so it would be better if we could have had a more open exchange about what we needed to do to fix what had broken and then try to make sure it didn't happen again, but we will keep working on it.

MR. O'NEILL: By the way, we really did appreciate when you were the senator from New York and your continued involvement in the issues (inaudible) to be courageous in some respects to associated with Wall Street and this environment. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don't feel particularly courageous. I mean, if we're going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street.

And there's a big disconnect and a lot of confusion right now. So I'm not interested in, you know, turning the clock back or pointing fingers , but I am interested in trying to figure out how we come together to chart a better way forward and one that will restore confidence in, you know, small and medium-size businesses and consumers and begin to chip away at the unemployment rate [five years into the recession!].

So it's something that I, you know, if you're a realist, you know that people have different roles to play in politics, economics, and this is an important role, but I do think that there has to be an understanding of how what happens here on Wall Street has such broad consequences not just for the domestic but the global economy, so more thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don't kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.

"Moving forward." And not looking back. (It would be nice to know what "continued liability" the banks were worried about; accounting control fraud ? Maybe somebody could ask Clinton.) Again, I call your attention to the weird combination of certainty and mediocrity of it; readers, I am sure, can demolish the detail. What this extended quotation does show is that Clinton and Obama are as one with respect to the role of the finance sector. Politico describes Obama's famous meeting with the bankster CEOs:

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees - and, by extension, to themselves.

"These are complicated companies," one CEO said. Offered another: "We're competing for talent on an international market.".

But President Barack Obama wasn't in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public's reaction to such explanations. "Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that.".

"My administration," the president added, "is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

And he did! He did! Clinton, however, by calling the finance sector the "the nerves, the spinal column" of the country, goes farther than Obama ever did.

So, from the governance perspective, we can expect the FIRE sector to dominate a Clinton administration, and the Clinton administration to service it. The Democrats are the Party of Wall Street. The bomb that could explode there is corrupt dealings with cronies (for which the Wikileaks material provides plenty of leads).

Clinton Advocates a "Night Watchman" State

The next quotes are shorter, I swear! Here's a quote from Clinton's third Goldman speech (not flagged by Carrk, no doubt because hearing drivel like this is perfectly normal in HillaryLand):

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I tell you, I see any society like a three-legged stool. You have to have an active free market that gives people the chance to live out their dreams by their own hard work and skills. You have to have a functioning, effective government that provides the right balance of oversight and protection of freedom and privacy and liberty and all the rest of it that goes with it . And you have to have an active civil society. Because there's so much about America that is volunteerism and religious faith and family and community activities. So you take one of those legs away, it's pretty hard to balance it. So you've got to get back to getting the right balance.

Apparently, the provision of public services is not within government's remit -- What are Social Security and Medicare? "All the rest of it"? Not only that, who said the free market was the only way to "live out their dreams"? Madison, Franklin, even Hamilton would have something to say about that! Finally, which one of those legs is out of balance? Civil society? Some would advocate less religion in politics rather than more, including many Democrats. The markets? Not at Goldman? Government? Too much militarization, way too little concrete material benefits, so far as I'm concerned, but Clinton doesn't say, making the "stool" metaphor vacuous.

From a governance perspective, we can expect Clinton's blind spot on government's role in provisioning servies to continue. Watch for continued privatization efforts (perhaps aided by Silicon Valley). On any infrastructure projects, watch for "public-private partnerships." The bomb that could explode there is corrupt dealings with a different set of cronies (even if the FIRE sector does have a finger in every pie).

Clinton's Views on Health Care Reflect Market Fundamentalism

From Clinton's second Goldman Speech :

MR. O'NEILL: [O]bviously the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the supreme court. It's clearly having limitation problems [I don't know what that means]. It's unsettling, people still - the Republicans want to repeal it or defund it. So how do you get to the middle on that clash of absolutes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is not the first time that we rolled out a big program with the limitation problems [Clinton apparently does].

I was in the Senate when President Bush asked and signed legislation expanding Medicare benefits, the Medicare Part D drug benefits. And people forget now that it was a very difficult implementation.

As a senator, my staff spent weeks working with people who were trying to sign up, because it was in some sense even harder to manage because the population over 65, not the most computer-literate group, and it was difficult. But, you know, people stuck with it, worked through it.

Now, this is on - it's on a different scale and it is more complex because it's trying to create a market. In Medicare, you have a single market , you have, you know, the government is increasing funding through government programs [sic] to provide people over 65 the drugs they needed.

And there were a few variations that you could play out on it, but it was a much simpler market than what the Affordable Care Act is aiming to set up.

Now, the way I look at this, Tim, is it's either going to work or it's not going to work.

First, Clinton's neoliberalism is so bone deep that she refers to Medicare as a "single market" rather than "single payer"; but then Clinton erases single payer whenever possible . Second, Clinton frames solutions exclusively in terms of markets (and not the direct provision of services by government); Obama does the same on health care in JAMA , simply erasing the possibility of single payer. Third, rather than advocate a simple, rugged, and proven system like Canadian Medicare (single payer), Clinton prefers to run an experiment ("it's either going to work or it's not going to work") on the health of millions of people (and, I would urge, without their informed consent).

From a governance perspective, assume that if the Democrats propose a "public option," it will be miserably inadequate. The bomb that could explode here is the ObamaCare death spiral.

The Problems Are "Wicked," but Clinton Will Be Unable to Cope With Them

Finally, this little passage from the first Clinton Goldman speech caught my eye:

MR. BLANKFEIN: The next area which I think is actually literally closer to home but where American lives have been at risk is the Middle East, I think is one topic. What seems to be the ambivalence or the lack of a clear set of goals - maybe that ambivalence comes from not knowing what outcome we want or who is our friend or what a better world is for the United States and of Syria, and then ultimately on the Iranian side if you think of the Korean bomb as far away and just the Tehran death spot, the Iranians are more calculated in a hotter area with - where does that go? And I tell you, I couldn't - I couldn't myself tell - you know how we would like things to work out, but it's not discernable to me what the policy of the United States is towards an outcome either in Syria or where we get to in Iran.

MS. CLINTON: Well, part of it is it's a wicked problem , and it's a wicked problem that is very hard to unpack in part because as you just said, Lloyd, it's not clear what the outcome is going to be and how we could influence either that outcome or a different outcome.

(I say "cope with" rather than "solve" for reasons that will become apparent.) Yes, Syria's bad, as vividly shown by Blankfein's fumbling question, but I want to focus on the term "wicked problem," which comes from the the field of strategic planning, though it's also infiltrated information technology and management theory . The concept originated in a famous paper by Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber entitled: "Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning" (PDF), Policy Sciences 4 (1973), 155-169. I couldn't summarize the literature even if I had the time, but here is Rittel and Webber's introduction:

There are at least ten distinguishing properties of planning-type problems, i.e. wicked ones, that planners had better be alert to and which we shall comment upon in turn. As you will see, we are calling them "wicked" not because these properties are themselves ethically deplorable. We use the term "wicked" in a meaning akin to that of "malignant" (in contrast to "benign") or "vicious" (like a circle) or "tricky" (like a leprechaun) or "aggressive" (like a lion, in contrast to the docility of a lamb). We do not mean to personify these properties of social systems by implying malicious intent. But then, you may agree that it becomes morally objectionable for the planner to treat a wicked problem as though it were a tame one, or to tame a wicked problem prematurely, or to refuse to recognize the inherent wickedness of social problems.

And here is a list of Rittel and Webber's ten properties of a "wicked problem" ( and a critique ):

There is no definite formulation of a wicked problem Wicked problems have no stopping rule Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem. Every solution to a wicked problem is a "one-shot operation"; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan. Every wicked problem is essentially unique. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another [wicked] problem. The causes of a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem's resolution. [With wicked problems,] the planner has no right to be wrong.

Of course, there's plenty of controversy about all of this, but if you throw these properties against the Syrian clusterf*ck, I think you'll see a good fit, and can probably come up with other examples. My particular concern, however, is with property #3:

Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad

There are conventionalized criteria for objectively deciding whether the offered solution to an equation or whether the proposed structural formula of a chemical compound is correct or false. They can be independently checked by other qualified persons who are familiar with the established criteria; and the answer will be normally unambiguous.

For wicked planning problems, there are no true or false answers. Normally, many parties are equally equipped, interested, and/or entitled to judge the solutions, although none has the power to set formal decision rules to determine correctness. Their judgments are likely to differ widely to accord with their group or personal interests, their special value-sets, and their ideological predilections. Their assessments of proposed solutions are expressed as "good" or "bad" or, more likely, as "better or worse" or "satisfying" or "good enough."

(Today, we would call these "many parties" "stakeholders.") My concern is that a Clinton administration, far from compromising - to be fair, Clinton does genuflect toward "compromise" elsewhere - will try to make wicked planning problems more tractable by reducing the number of parties to policy decisions. That is, exactly, what "irredeemables" implies[2], which is unfortunate, especially when the cast out amount to well over a third of the population. The same tendencies were also visible in the Clinton campaigns approach to Sanders and Sanders supporters, and the general strategy of bringing the Blame Cannons to bear on those who demonstrate insufficient fealty.

From a governance perspective, watch for many more executive orders acceptable to neither right nor left, and plenty of decisions taken in secret. The bomb that could explode here is the legitimacy of a Clinton administration, depending on the parties removed from the policy discussion, and the nature of the decision taken.

Conclusion

I don't think volatility will decrease on November 8, should Clinton be elected and take office; if anything, it will increase. A ruling party in thrall to finance, intent on treating government functions as opportunities for looting by cronies, blinded by neoliberal ideology and hence incapable of providing truly universal health care, and whose approach to problems of conflict in values is to demonize and exclude the opposition is a recipe for continued crisis.

NOTES

[1] Matt Taibbi takes the view that "Speaking to bankers and masters of the corporate universe, she came off as relaxed, self-doubting, reflective, honest, philosophical rather than political, and unafraid to admit she lacked all the answers." I don't buy it. It all read like the same old Clinton to me, and I've read a lot of Clinton (see, e.g., here , here , here , here , here , and here ).

[2] One is irresistibly reminded of Stalin's "No man, no problem," although some consider Stalin's methods to be unsound.

oho October 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Slow motion coup. Wish I was being histrionic.

Vatch October 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Your notion is a lot like Simon Johnson's thoughts about the Quiet Coup from 2009:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/

ocop October 17, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Oh my god.

I had never read this article before. Near perfect diagnosis and even more relevant today than it was then. For everyone's benefit, the central thesis:

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.

Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world's most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.

In a primitive political system, power is transmitted through violence, or the threat of violence: military coups, private militias, and so on. In a less primitive system more typical of emerging markets, power is transmitted via money: bribes, kickbacks, and offshore bank accounts. Although lobbying and campaign contributions certainly play major roles in the American political system, old-fashioned corruption-envelopes stuffed with $100 bills-is probably a sideshow today, Jack Abramoff notwithstanding.

Instead, 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.

A hypothesis (at least for "Main Street") proven true between 2009 and 2016:

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money -- or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world's most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years-as Japan did during its lost decade-never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering.

Lastly, the "bleak" scenario from 2009 that today looks about a decade too early, but could with minor tuning (Southern instead of Eastern Europe, for example) end up hitting in a big way:


It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and-because eastern Europe's banks are mostly owned by western European banks-justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration's current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks' balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression-because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:34 am

That's a good reminder to us at NC that not all our readers have been with us since 2009 and may not be familiar with the great financial crash and subsequent events. I remember reading the Johnson article when it came out. And now, almost eight years later…

There's a reason that there's a "Banana Republic" category. Every time I read an article about the political economy of a second- or third-world country I look for how it applies to this country, and much of the time, it does, particularly on corruption.

Synoia October 17, 2016 at 1:16 pm

She told them what they wanted to hear. "No surprises."

craazyboy October 17, 2016 at 2:17 pm

We truly must consider the possibility Goldman wrote the 3 speeches, then paid Hillary to give them.

Next, leak them to Wiki. Everything in them is pretty close to pure fiction – but it is neolib banker fiction. Just makes it all seem more real when they do things this way.

Yike's, I'm turning into a crazy conspiracy theorist.

ambrit October 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Don't fall for the 'status quo's' language Jedi mind trick crazyboy. I like to call myself a "sane conspiracy theorist." You can too!
As for H Clinton's 'slavish' adherence to the Bankster Ethos; in psychology, there is the "Stockholm Syndrome." Here, H Clinton displays the markers of "Wall Street Syndrome."

Praedor October 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Ugh. Mindless drivel. Talking points provided by Wall St itself would sound identical.

Then there's this: She did NOT represent Wall St and the Banks while a Senator. They cannot vote. They are not people. They are not citizens. She represented the PEOPLE. The PEOPLE that can VOTE. You cannot represent a nonexistent entity like a corporation as an ELECTED official. You can ONLY represent those who actually can, or do, vote. End of story.

Portia October 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

You cannot represent a nonexistent entity like a corporation

you are forgetting, of course, that Corporations are people, too. And a corporation's voting is done with a corporation's wallet.

Roger Smith October 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

I saw a video in high school years back that mentioned a specific congressional ruling that gave Congress the equivalent to individual rights. I swear it was also in the 30s but I cannot recall and have never been able to find what it was I saw. Do you have any insight here?

Portia October 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm

could this be related?

Historical Background and Legal Basis of the Federal Register / CFR Publications System

Why was the Federal Register System Established ?

New Deal legislation of the 1930's delegated responsibility from Congress to agencies to regulate complex social and economic issues
Citizens needed access to new regulations to know their effect in advance
Agencies and Citizens needed a centralized filing and publication system to keep track of rules
Courts began to rule on "secret law" as a violation of right to due process under the Constitution

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/tutorial/online-html.html

Antoine October 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Third paragraph : WikiLeaks, not Wikipedia :)

Lambert Strether Post author October 17, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Thanks, fixed!

Roger Smith October 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm

tl;dr - Clinton has terrible judgement

But don't forget. She is the most qualified candidate… EVER . Remind me again how this species was able to bring three stranded Apollo 13 astronauts back from the abyss, the vacuum of space with some tape and tubing.

This is like watching a cheap used car lot advertisement where the owner delivers obviously false platitudes as the store and cars collapse, break, and burst into flames behind them.

john October 17, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Stalin spent his early days in a seminary. Masters of broken promises. I'm more interested in Clinton's Chinese connections. Probably tied through JP Morgan. The Chinese are very straightforward in their, dare I say, inscrutible way. The ministers are the ministers, and the palace is the palace.

The show is disappointing, the debaters play at talking nuclear policy, but have *nothing* to say about Saudi Arabia's new arsenal.

When politicos talk nuclear, they only mean to allege a threat to Israel, blame Russia, or fear-monger the North Koreans.

We're in the loop, but only the quietest whispers of the conflict in Pakistan are available. It sounds pretty serious, but there is only interest in attacking inconvenient Arabs.

On Trump, what an interesting study in communications. The no man you speak of. Even himself caught between his own insincerity towards higher purpose and his own ego as 'the establishment' turns on him.

The proles of his support are truely a silent majority. The Republicans promised us Reagan for twenty years, and it's finally the quasi-Democrat Trump who delivers.

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:37 am

> This is like watching a cheap used car lot advertisement where the owner delivers obviously false platitudes as the store and cars collapse, break, and burst into flames behind them.

+100

With a wall of American flags waving in the background as the smoke and flames rise.

optimader October 17, 2016 at 1:35 pm

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don't feel particularly courageous. I mean, if we're going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street.

this all reads like a cokehead's flow of consciousness on some ethereal topic with no intellectual content on the matter to express. I would have said extemporaneous, but you know it was all scripted, so that's even worse.

Her rap kinda reminds me of a banal form of the photojournalist in
http://hartzog.org/j/apocalypsenowtranscript.html

PHOTOJOURNALIST
"Do you know what the man is saying? Do you? This is dialectics.
It's very simple dialectics. One through nine, no maybes, no
supposes, no fractions - you can't travel in space, you can't go out
into space, you know, without, like, you know, with fractions - what
are you going to land on, one quarter, three-eighths - what are you
going to do when you go from here to Venus or something - that's
dialectic physics, OK? Dialectic logic is there's only love and hate, you
either love somebody or you hate them."

Andy October 17, 2016 at 11:42 pm

NICE ref. Always like's me that redux.

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:42 am

"Da5id's voice is deep and placid, with no trace of stress. The syllables roll off his tongue like drool. As Hiro walks down the hallway he can hear Da5id talking all the way. 'i ge en i ge en nu ge en nu ge en us sa tu ra lu ra ze em men….'" –Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

ambrit October 17, 2016 at 1:41 pm

H Clinton's speaking 'style' reeks. Partial thoughts follow half baked pronouncements, all lacking clarity or coherence, you know?

grayslady October 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Completely agree. When I first read excerpts from her speeches, I was appalled at the constant use of "you know" peppering most of her sentences. To me, people who constantly bifurcate sentences with "you know" are simply blathering. They usually don't have any in-depth knowledge of the subject matter on which they are opining. Compare Hillary being asked to comment on a subject with someone such as Michael Hudson or Bill Black commenting on a subject and she simply sounds illiterate. I have this feeling that her educational record is based on an ability to memorize and parrot back answers rather than someone who can reach a conclusion by examining multiple concepts.

Arizona Slim October 17, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Here's what I don't understand: The lady (and her husband) have LOADS of money. Yet this is the best that she can do?

Really?

Heck, if I had half the Clintons' money, I'd be hiring the BEST speechwriters, acting coaches, and fashion consultants on the planet. And I'd be taking their advice and RUNNING with it. Sheesh. Some people have more money than sense.

uncle tungsten October 18, 2016 at 12:23 am

Because she wont pay for quality speechwriters or coaching. Because she is a shyster, cheapskate and a fraud. They hired the most inept IT company to 'mange' their office server who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) hired an inept IT client manager who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) asked Reddit for a solution.

Its in the culture: Podesta does it, Blumenthal does it

And now they blame the Russians!!!! Imagine the lunacy within the white house if this fool is elected.

fajensen October 18, 2016 at 12:33 am

I think she is just not that smart. Maybe intelligent but not flexible enough to do much with it.

Smart people seek the advice of even smarter people and knowing that experts disagree, they make sure that there is dissent on the advisory team. Then they make up their mind.

One can say a lot of justifiable bad things about Ronald Reagan, but, he had competent advisors and he used them! With Hillary, Even if she knows she has accessed the best advice on the planet her instinct it to not trust it because "she knows better" and she absolutely will not tolerate dissent. Left to her own devices, she simply copies other people's thinking/ homework instead of building her own ideas with it.

Code Name D October 17, 2016 at 4:24 pm

I don't think so. The "you know" has a name, it's called a "verbal tick" and is one of the first things that is attacked when one learns how to speak publicly. Verbal ticks come in many forms, the "ums" for example, or repeating the last few words you just said, over and over again.

The brain is complex. The various parts of the brain needed for speech; cognition, vocabulary, and vocalizations, actually have difficulty synchronizing. The vocalization part tends to be faster than the rest of the brain and can spit out words faster than the person can put them together. As a result, the "buffer" if you will runs empty, and the speech part of the brains simply fills in the gaps with random gibberish.

You can train yourself out of this habit of course – but it's something that takes practice.

So I take HRC's "you know" as evidence that these are unscripted speeches and is directly improvising.

David Carl Grimes October 17, 2016 at 10:07 pm

How come her responses during the debates are not peppered with these verbal ticks. At least, I don't recall her saying you know so many times. Isn't she improvising then?

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:43 am

No, she's not improvising in the debates. It's all scripted, all gamed out.

Code Name D October 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

As Lambert said, HRC doesn't do unscripted. The email leaks even sends us evidence that her interviews were scripted and town hall events were carful staged. Even sidestepping that however, dealing with verbal ticks is not all that difficult with a bit of practice and self-awareness.

Vatch October 17, 2016 at 4:27 pm

You know, you could have a point there! :-)

Optimader October 17, 2016 at 6:30 pm

"You know" is an insidious variation on "like" and "andum", the latter two being bias neutral forms of mental vapor lock of tbe speech center pausing for higher level intellectual processes to refill the speech centers tapped out RAM.

The "you know" variant is an end run on the listener's cognitive functions logic filters. Is essence appropriating a claim to the listener.

I detest "you knows" immediately with "no i dont know, please explain."
The same with "they say" i will always ask "who are they?"
I think this is important to fo do to ppl for no ofher reason thanto nake them think critically even if it is a fleeting annoyance.

Back on HRC, i have maintai we that many people overrate her intellectual grasp. Personally I think she is a hea ily cosched parrot. "The US has achieved energy independence"…. TILT. Just because you state things smugly doesnt mean its reality.

Rhondda October 17, 2016 at 11:13 pm

I think what I call the lacunae words are really revealing in people's speech. When she says "you know" she is emphasizing that she and the listener both know what she is "talking around." Shared context as a form of almost - encryption, you could say. "This" rather than '"finance" Here rather than at Goldman.I don't know what you'd call it exactly- free floating referent? A habit, methinks, of avoiding being quoted or pinned down. It reminds me of the leaked emails…everyone is very careful to talk around things and they can because they all know what they are talking about. Hillary is consistently referred to, in an eerie H. Rider Haggard way, as "her" - like some She Who Must Not Be Named.

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:46 am

That would be interesting. A list of all the "you knows" in context. Maybe I should do that.

clarky90 October 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm

What surprises me is that Goldmans paid her for these speeches, you know? Hillary C typically pays "the audience" to listen to, and come to her speeches. You know? You know!

sharonsj October 17, 2016 at 1:42 pm

This election cycle just proves how bad things have become. The two top presidential candidates are an egotistical ignoramus and the quintessential establishment politician and they are neck and neck because the voting public is Planet Stupid. Things will just continue to fall apart in slow motion until some spark (like another financial implosion) sets off the next revolution.

flora October 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm

"Now, without going over how we got to where we are right now, what would be your advice to the Wall Street community and the big banks as to the way forward with those two important decisions?

"SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I represented all of you [Wall St] for eight years."

I heard Hillary speak in summer '92, when Bill was running for Prez. She. was. amazing. No joke. Great speech, great ideas, great points. I thought then she should be the candidate. But there was in her speech just a tiny undercurrent of "the ends justify the means." i.e. 'we need to get lots of money so we can do good things.' Fast forward 20+ years. Seems to me that for the Clintons the "means" (getting lots of money) has become the end in itself. Reassuring Wall St. is one method for getting money – large, large amounts of money.

ekstase October 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm

I heard similar impressions of her at the time, from women who had dealt with her: Book smart. Street smart. Likeable. But what might have been the best compromise you could get in one decade, may have needed re-thinking as you moved along in time. The cast of players changes. Those who once ruled are now gone. Oh, but the money! And so old ideas can calcify. I'm not suggesting that Trump is even in the ballpark in terms of making compromises, speeches, life changes or anything else to have ever been proud of. Still, the capacity to grow and change is important in a leader. So where are we going now?

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:54 am

A fine illustration of the maxim that "crime makes you stupid."

I've said this once, but I'll say it again: After the 2008 caucus debacle, Clinton fired the staff and rejiggered the campaign. They went to lots of small venues, like high school gyms - in other words, "deplorables" territory - and Clinton did her detail, "I have a plan" thing, which worked really well in that context because people who need government to deliver concrete material benefits like that, and rightly. They also organized via cheap phones, because that was how to reach their voters, who weren't hanging out at Starbucks. And, history being written by the winners, we forget that using that strategy, Clinton won all the big states and (if all the votes are counted) a majority of the popular vote. So, good decision on her part. And so from that we've moved to the open corruption of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton campaign apparatus that takes 11 people to polish and approve a single tweet.

So I guess the moral of the story is (a) more deterioration, this time from 2008 to 2016, and (b) Clinton can actually make a good decision, but only when forced to by a catastrophe that will impact her personally. Whether she'll be able to rise to the occasion if elected is an open question, but this post argues not.

allan October 17, 2016 at 1:52 pm

"Apparently, the provision of public services is not within government's remit! What are Social Security and Medicare? "

What is the US Post Office? Rumor has it that the PO is mentioned in the US Constitution, a fact that is conveniently forgotten by Strict Constructionists.

Vatch October 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

There's a book with a great title that I haven't read, but maybe some Naked Capitalism readers have read: How the Post Office Created America: A History , by Winifred Gallagher.

Anne October 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

With respect to regulation, I think it should be less a case of quantity, and more one of quality, but Clinton seems to want to make it about finding the sweet spot of exactly how many regulations will be the right amount.

In general, when companies are willing to spot you $225,000 to speak for some relatively short period of time, willing to meet your demands regarding transportation, hotel accommodations, etc., why would you take the chance of killing the goose that's laying those golden eggs by saying anything likely to tick them off?

I'd like to think she's kind of embarrassed to have people see how humdrum/boring her speeches were for how much she was paid to give them, but I think there's got to be more "there" somewhere that she didn't want people to be made aware of – and it doesn't necessarily have to be Americans, it could be something to do with foreign governments, foreign policy, trade, etc.

After learning how many people it takes to send out a tweet with her name on it, I have no idea how she managed this speech thing, unless one of her requirements was that she had to be presented with all questions in advance, so she could be prepared.

I am more depressed by the day, as it's really beginning to sink in that she's going to be president, and it all just makes me want to stick needles in my eyes.

Will there even be a debate on Wednesday?

Roger Smith October 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Also the "Wicked Problems" definitions are very, very interesting. Thank you for bringing those in! I would add that these wicked problems lead to more wicked problems. It is basically dishonesty, and to protect the lie you double down with more, and more, and more…. Most of Clinton's decisions and career seem to be knots of wicked problems.

The wicked problem is quickly becoming our entire system of governance. Clinton has been described as the malignant tumor here before, but even she is a place holder for the rot. One head of the Hydra that I feel Establishment players would generally be okay with sacrificing if it came to it (and maybe I am wrong there–but it seems as if a lot of the push fro her comes from her inner circle and others play along).

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 12:59 am

Hail Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb and two more shall take its place! We serve the Supreme Hydra, as the world shall soon serve us!

JohnnyGL October 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Re: your conclusion,

I've heard/read in some places Hillary Clinton described as a "safe pair of hands". I don't understand where this characterization comes from. She's dangerous.

If she wins with as strong of an electoral map as Obama in '08, she'll take it as a strong mandate and she'll have an ambitious agenda and likely attempt to overreach. I've been meaning to call my congressional reps early and say "No military action on Syria, period!"

She might use a "public option" as an ACA stealth bailout scheme, but I don't think the public has much appetite to see additional resources being thrown at a "failed experiment". I worry that Bernie's being brought on board for this kind of thing. He should avoid it.

Is she crazy enough to go for a grand bargain right away? That seems nutty and has been a "Waterloo" for many presidents.

Remember how important Obama's first year was. Bailouts and ACA were all done that first year. How soon can we put President Clinton II in lame duck status?

philmc October 17, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Not really surprised by the intellectual and rhetorical poverty demonstrated by these speeches. Given the current trajectory of our politics, the bar hasn't really been set very high. In fact it looks like we're going to reach full Idiocracy long before originally predicted.

Jim Thomson October 17, 2016 at 2:09 pm

You ask, " What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for? "

But I think you know. Corruption has become so institutionalized that it is impossible to point to any specific Quid Pro Quo. The Quo is the entire system in which GS operates and the care and feeding of which the politicians are paid to administer.

We focus on HRC's speeches and payments here but I wonder how many other paid talks are given to GS each year by others up and down the influence spectrum. As Bill Black says, a dollar given to a politician provides the largest possible Return on Investment of any expenditure. It is Wall Street's long-term health insurance plan.

Thank you for slogging through all of this.

Rory October 17, 2016 at 6:20 pm

It seems to me that the message of these speeches is straightforward: "I'm bought and willing to stay bought for the right price."

DolleyMadison October 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Yeah we know which part of the "stool" we'll be getting.If the finance sector is "the nerves, the spinal column" of the country, I suggest the country find a shallow pool in which to shove it – head first.

Foppe October 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

I skimmed the /. comments on a story about this yesterday; basically everyone missed the obvious and went with vox-type responses ("she's a creature of the system / in-fighter / Serious Person").

Gee October 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Care to know what they are buying? This :

"So I'm not interested in, you know, turning the clock back or pointing fingers, but I am interested in trying to figure out how we come together to chart a better way forward and one that will restore confidence in, you know, small and medium-size businesses and consumers and begin to chip away at the unemployment rate [five years into the recession!]."

Basically, even better than a get out of jail free card, in that it is rather a promise that we won't go back and ever hold you responsible, and we have done the best we could so far to avoid having you own up to anything or be held accountable in any way beyond some niggling fines, which of course, you are happy to pay, because in the end, that is simply a handout to the legal industry, who are your best drinking buddies.

The latter part of that quote is just mumbo jumbo non-sequitir blathering. Clinton appears to know next to nothing about finance, only that it generates enormous amounts of cash for the oh so deserving work that God told them to do.

uncle tungsten October 18, 2016 at 12:35 am

+1 exactly: There will be no retrospective prosecutions and none in the future either, trust me! Not the she is any better than Eric Holder but she is certain she should be paid more than him.

PapaBear October 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm

"What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for?"

Influence, plain and simple

shinola October 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Bingo! Think about it: She was speaking to a group of people whose time is "valued" at 100's if not 1,000's of dollars per hour. She took up their "valuable" time but provided nothing except politics-as-usual blather tailored to that particular audience. Yet she was paid $225k for a single speech…

I've only skimmed through the speech transcripts; did I miss something of substance?

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 1:00 am

That was irony…

phred October 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Hillary is a remarkably inarticulate person, which calls into question her intellectual fitness for the job (amidst many other questions, of course). I entirely agree with your depiction of her speeches as mindless drivel.

However, you may be overthinking the "wicked problem" language. While it is certainly possible that she is familiar with the literature that you cite, nothing else in her speeches suggests that she commands that level of intellectual detail. This makes me think that somewhere along the line she befriended someone from the greater Boston area who uses "wicked" the way Valley Girls use "like". When I first heard the expression decades ago, I found it charming and incorporated it into my own common usage. And I don't use it anything like you describe. To me it is simply used for emphasis. Nothing more or less than that, but I am amused to see an entire literature devoted to the concept of a "wicked problem".

I remain depressed by this election. No matter how it turns out, it's going to wicked suck ; )

Michael Fiorillo October 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I think the inarticulateness/cliche infestation is a ploy and a deflection; this is a very intelligent woman who can effectively marshall language when she feels the need. That need was more likely felt in private meetings with the inner cabal at Goldman.

Not to otherwise compare them, but Bush I's inarticulateness made him seem a buffoon, and that was not the case, either.

Finally, as a thought experiment, I'd like to suggest that, granting that Clintonismo will privilege those interests which best fortify their arguments with cash, it's also true that Bill and Hillary are all about Bill and Hillary. In other words, it could be that she has the same hustler's disregard toward the lumpen Assistant Vice Presidents filling that room at GS as she does for the average voter. Thus, the empty, past-their-expiration-date calories.

Sure, she'll take their money and do their bidding, but why even bother to make any more effort than necessary? On a very primal level with these two, it's all about the hustle and the action, and everyone's a potential rube.

Big River Bandido October 17, 2016 at 8:27 pm

As in, when Bill put his presidency on the line, the base were expected to circle the wagons. As in, "I'm With Her". Not "She's With Us", natch. It's *always* about the Clintons.

pretzelattack October 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm

"Speaking to bankers and masters of the corporate universe, she came off as relaxed, self-doubting, reflective, honest, philosophical rather than political, and unafraid to admit she lacked all the answers."

seriously, matt taibbi? next, i would like to hear about the positive, feelgood, warmfuzzy qualities of vampire squids (hugs cthulhu doll).

jgordon October 17, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Matt Tiabbi, Elizabeth Warren, Benie Sanders, Noam Chompsky–all those used to seem like bastions of integrity have, thanks to Hillary, been revealed as slimy little Weasels who should henceforth be completely disregarded. I'd have to thank Hillary for pulling back the nlindets on that; if not for this election I might have been still foolishly listening to these people.

hreik October 17, 2016 at 7:34 pm

agree w you except about Bernie. he always said he'd support the nominee. the suddenness of his capitulation has led many of us to believe he was threatened. somewhere I read something about "someone" planting kiddieporn on his son's computer if he didn't do…… I dunno. I reserve judgement on Sanders until I learn more,…. if i ever do

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

Let's see what happens after November 8, which is not far away.

Edward October 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Clinton's remarks were typically vague, as one might expect from a politician; she doesn't want to be pinned down. This may be part of the banality of her remarks.

What scares me most about Clinton is her belligerence towards Russia and clamoring for a no-fly zone in Syria. The no-fly zone will mean war with Russia. If only Clinton were saying this, we might be safe, but the entire Washington deep state seems to be of one mind in favor of a war. During the cold war this would have been inconceivable; everyone understood a nuclear war must not be allowed. This is no longer true and it is terrifying. Every war game the pentagon used to simulate a war with the U.S.S.R. escalated into an all out nuclear war. What is the "plan B" Obama is pursuing in Syria?

In the Russian press every day for a long time now they have been discussing the prospect of a conflict. Russia has been conducting civil defense drills in its cities and advised its citizens to recall any children living abroad. This is never reported in our press, which only presents us with caricatures of Putin. Russians are not taken seriously.

Ché Pasa October 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm

During the cold war this would have been inconceivable; everyone understood a nuclear war must not be allowed.

No it wasn't. Far from it. By some miracle, the globe escaped instant incineration but only barely. The Soviets, to their credit, were not about to risk nuclear annihilation to get one up on the US of Perfidy. Our own Dauntless Warriors were more than willing, and I believe it's only through dumb luck that a first strike wasn't launched deliberately or by deliberate "accident."

Review the Cold War concept of Brinkmanship.

The current fear/fever over nuclear war with Russia requires madness in the Kremlin - of which there is no evidence. Our Rulers are depending on Putin and his cohorts being the sane ones as rhetoric from the US and the West ratchets ever upwards.

But then, the Kremlin is looking for any hint of sanity on US and NATO side and is finding little…

Edward October 17, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Curtis LeMay tried to provoke a nuclear war with the Soviets in the 1950's. By and large, however, the American state understood a nuclear war was unwinnable and avoided such a possibility. A no-fly zone in Syria would start a war with Russia. William Polk, who participated in the Cuban missle crisis and U.S. nuclear war games, argues in this article

http://www.williampolk.com/assets/the-cuban-missile-crisis-in-reverse.pdf

that a war with Russia would escalate.

Starveling October 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

If high finance is our nervous system, does the American body politic have a terminal case of Parkinsons?

oho October 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm

With some CJD/mad cow disease.

Oregoncharles October 17, 2016 at 3:23 pm

" "the nerves, the spinal column" of the country, goes farther than Obama ever did."

But this description is technically true. That is finance's proper function, co-ordinating the flow of capital and resources, especially from where they're in excess to where they're needed. It's a key decision-making system – for the economy, preferably not for society as a whole. That would be the political system.

So on this basic level, the problem is that finance, more and more, has put its own institutional and personal interests ahead of its proper function. It's grown far too huge, and stopped performing its intended function – redistributing resources – in favor of just accumulating them, in the rather illusory form of financial instruments, some of them pure vapor ware.

So yes, this line reflects a very bad attitude on Hillary's part, but by misappropriating a truth – pretty typical propaganda.

Yves Smith October 17, 2016 at 5:26 pm

No, finance does NOT "channel resources". Wash your mouth out. This is more neoliberal cant.

Financiers do not make investments in the real economy. The overwhelming majority of securities trading is in secondary markets, which means it's speculation. And when a public company decides whether or not to invest in a new project, it does not present a prospectus on that new project to investors. It runs the numbers internally. For those projects, the most common source of funding is retained earnings.

Sluggeaux October 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Clinton shows that she is either a Yale Law grad who does not have the slightest idea that Wall Street does very little in the economy but fleece would-be investors, or that she is an obsequious flatterer of those from whom she openly takes bribes.

Or both.

aab October 18, 2016 at 1:25 am

Both.

DolleyMadison October 17, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Wash your mouth out! Hahaaa I love you Yves…

timotheus October 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Having heard Hillary, Chelsea (yes, she's being groomed) and many, many other politicians over the years, including a stint covering Capitol Hill, Mme C's verbal style does not surprise to me at all but rather strikes me as perfectly serviceable. It is a mellifluous drone designed to lull the listener into thinking that she is on their side, and the weakness of the actual statements only becomes clear when reading them on the page later (which rarely happens). The drowsy listener will catch, among the words strung together like Christmas lights, just the key terms and concepts that demonstrate knowledge of the brief and a soothing layer of vague sympathy. Those who can award her $600K can assume with some confidence that, rhetoric aside, she will be in the tank when needed. The rest of us have to blow away the chaff and peer into the yawning gaps lurking behind the lawyerly parsing. In all fairness, this applies to 90% of seekers of public office.

xformbykr October 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm

has the commentariat seen these from paul craig roberts?
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/10/15/is-hillary-well-enough-for-the-job/

it doesn't say anything but contains links to these:
http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/wikileaks-just-dropped-bombshell-hillarys-health-truth-revealed/

https://newrepublic.com/article/137798/important-wikileaks-revelation-isnt-hillary-clinton

both of which present a clinical assessment that Hillary suffers from Parkinson's. Seems like an elephant in the room.

polecat October 17, 2016 at 7:09 pm

There's so many elephants in the room, i'd be willing to call it a herd …..

Sluggeaux October 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm

The absolute vacuousness of Clinton's remarks, coupled with her ease at neoliberal conventional wisdom, make it clear that Goldman's payments were nothing more (or less) than a $675,000 anticipatory "so no quid pro quo here" bribe.

Who on earth gives up their vote to a politician who is so shameless an corrupt that she openly accepts bribes from groups who equally shamelessly and corruptly are looting the commons? Apparently many, but not me.

LT October 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm

"Public-private partnerships"
That's higher taxes for pleebs to subsidize corporations.
Mussolini would be proud.

Ché Pasa October 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Nothing like making lemons out of lemonade, is there?

There really is a question why she didn't do this doc dump herself when Bernie asked. Yeah, sure, she would have been criticized ("damned if you do, damned if you don't") but because of who she is she'll be criticized no matter what. There is nothing she can do to avoid it.

Not only is there no smoking gun, it's almost as if she's trying to inject a modicum of social conscience into a culture that has none. And no, she isn't speaking artfully; nor is she an orator.

Oh. Not that we didn't know already.

The most galling aspect is her devotion to the neoLibCon status quo. Steady as she goes. Apparently a lot of people find the status quo satisfactory. Feh.



Anon October 17, 2016 at 7:17 pm

If this document dump came out during the primary campaign, then HRC may have lost. Even Black, Southern ladies can smell the corrupting odor clinging to these "speeches".

Ché Pasa October 18, 2016 at 6:11 am

Given the way DNC protected her during the primaries, and what looked like a pretty light touch by Bernie and (who? O'Malley was it?) toward her, I doubt these speeches would have been her undoing.

Dull and relatively benign, and policy-wise almost identical to Obama's approach to the bankers' role in the economic unpleasantness. "Consensus" stuff with some hint of a social conscience. 

Not effective and not enough to do more than the least possible ("I told them they ought to behave better. Really!") on behalf of the Rabble.

But not a campaign killer. Even so, by not releasing transcripts during the primary, she faced - and still faces - mountains of criticism over it. No escape. Not for her.

Lambert Strether Post author October 18, 2016 at 1:04 am

> Steady as she goes

I'm not sure that's an appropriate strategy for dealing with multiple interlocking wicked problems, but I'm not sure why. Suppose we invoke the Precautionary Principle - is incremental change really the way to avoid harm?

Ché Pasa October 18, 2016 at 6:14 am

The Consensus (of Opinions That Matter) says it is. On the other hand, blowing up the System leads to Uncertainty, and as we know, we can't have that. Mr. Market wouldn't like it…

aab October 18, 2016 at 2:32 am

The leaked emails confirm - even though she herself never writes them, which is really odd, when you consider that Podesta is her Campaign Chair and close ally going back decades - that she is compulsively secretive, controlling, and resistant to admitting she's wrong. The chain of people talking about how to get her to admit she was wrong about Nancy Reagan and AIDS was particularly fascinating that way; she was flat out factually inaccurate, and it had the potential to do tremendous harm to her campaign with a key donor group, and it was apparently still a major task to persuade her to say "I made a mistake."

So while I think you are wrong that the speeches wouldn't have hurt her in the primary, I also think Huma would have had to knock her out and tie her up (not in a fun way) to get those speeches released.

I can't imagine a worse temperament to govern, particularly under the conditions she'll be facing. But she'll be fully incompetent before too long, so I don't suppose it matters that much. I'm morbidly curious to see how long they can keep her mostly hidden and propped up for limited appearances, before having to let Kaine officially take over. Will we be able to figure out who's actually in power based on the line-up on some balcony?

Ché Pasa October 18, 2016 at 6:24 am

Fair points, though the "temperament" issue may be one that follows from the nature of the job - even "No Drama Obama" is said to have a fierce anger streak, and secrecy, controlling behavior, and refusing to admit error is pretty typical of presidents, VPs, and other high officials. The King/Queen can do no wrong, dontchaknow. (cf: Bush, GW, and his whole administration for recent examples. History is filled with them, though.)

As for Hillary's obvious errors in judgment, I think they speak for themselves and they don't speak well of her.

Blurtman October 17, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Wall Street fraud = "bad decisions"

Alex morfesis October 17, 2016 at 7:25 pm

TINA vs WATA (we are the alternative)…the next two years are gonna be interesting…evil is often a cover for total incompetence and exposure…our little tsarina will insist brigades that dont exist move against enemies that are hardly there…when she & her useless minions were last in/on the seat of power(j edger version of sop) the netizens of the world were young and dumb…now not so much…

Don Midwest USA October 17, 2016 at 10:44 pm

I got into wicked problems 35 years ago in the outstanding book by Ian Mitroff and R. O. Mason, "Challenging Strategic Planning Assumptions." First page of Chapter One has subsection title COMPLEXITY, followed by "A Little Experiment" Lets try the experiment with current problems.

One could come up with a list of major problems, but here is the one used by C. West Churchman mentioned along with Horst Riddle. Churchman back in the 80's said that the problems of the world were M*P**3, or M, P cubed, or M * P * P *P with the letters standing for Militarism, Population, Poverty and Pollution.

Here is how they ran the exercise

1. Suppose there were a solution to any of these 4 problems, would that solution be related to the other problems. Clearly.

2. Thus 'whenever a policy maker attempts to solve a complex policy problem, it is related to all the others

Repeated attempts in other contexts give the same result: basically, every real world policy problem is related to every other real world policy problem

This is from page 4, the second page of the book.

I ran this exercise for several years in ATT Bell Labs and ATT.

  1. List major problems
  2. How long have they been around? (most for ever except marketing was new after breakup in '84
  3. If one was solved, would that solution be related in any way to the other ones?
  4. Do you know of any program that is making headway? (occasionally Quality was brought up)

This could be done in a few minutes, often less than 5 minutes

5. Conclusion: long term interdependent problems that are not being addressed

Thus the only grade that matters in this course on Corporate Transformation that now begins is that you have new insights on these problems. This was my quest as an internal consultant in ATT to transform the company. I failed.

Moby October 18, 2016 at 1:27 am

Most noticeable thing is her subservience to them like a fresh college grad afraid of his boss at his first job

Phil October 18, 2016 at 1:35 am

I was a Sanders supporter. Many here will disagree, but if Clinton wins I don't think she's going to act as she might have acted in 2008, if she had won.

Clinton is a politician, and *all* politicians dissemble in private, unless they're the mayor of a small town of about 50 people – and even then! Politicians – in doing their work – *must* compromise to some degree, with the best politicians compromising in ways that bring their constituents more benefit, than not.

That said, Clinton is also a human being who is capable of change. This election cycle has been an eye opener for both parties. If Clinton wins (and, I think she will), the memory of how close it was with Sanders and the desperate anger and alienation she has experienced from Trump supporters (and even Sanders' supporters) *must* have already gotten her thinking about what she is going to have to get done to insure a 2020 win for Democrats, whether or not she is running in 2020.

In sum, I think Clinton is open to change, and I don't believe that she is some deep state evil incarnate; sge's *far* from perfect, and she's not "pure" in her positioning – thank god!, because in politics, purists rarely accomplish anything.

If Clinton reverts to prior form (assuming she makes (POTUS), 2020 will make 2016 look like a cakewalk, for both parties – including the appearance of serious 3rd party candidates with moxy, smarts, and a phalanx of backers (unlike the current crop of two – Johnson and Stein).

[Oct 12, 2016] The French are major proliferisers of modern weapon systems. They and the Russians have put a lot of weapons out there which are affordable for small States but have the potential even to worry the biggest militaries

Notable quotes:
"... into the field of battle ..."
"... Nirvana in Fire ..."
"... Game of Thrones ..."
"... "The drama was a commercial and critical success, surpassing ten million views by its second day,[4] and receiving a total number of daily internet views on iQiyi of over 3.3 billion by the end of the series.[5][6] Nirvana in Fire was considered a social media phenomenon, generating 3.55 billion posts on Sina Weibo that praised its characters and story-line." ..."
Oct 12, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Science Officer Smirnoff October 12, 2016 at 11:58 am

As you recall the French Exocet , a souped-up V1 in respects, has been "out there" a long time.

. . . In the years after the Falklands War, it was revealed that the British government and the Secret Intelligence Service had been extremely concerned at the time by the perceived inadequacy of the Royal Navy's anti-missile defenses against the Exocet and its potential to tip the naval war decisively in favor of the Argentine forces. A scenario was envisioned in which one or both of the force's two aircraft carriers (Invincible and Hermes) were destroyed or incapacitated by Exocet attacks, which would make recapturing the Falklands much more difficult.

Actions were taken to contain the Exocet threat. A major intelligence operation was also initiated to prevent the Argentine Navy from acquiring more of the weapons on the international market.[16]

The operation included British intelligence agents claiming to be arms dealers able to supply large numbers of Exocets to Argentina, who diverted Argentina from pursuing sources which could genuinely supply a few missiles. France denied deliveries of Exocet AM39s purchased by Peru to avoid the possibility of Peru giving them to Argentina, because they knew that payment would be made with a credit card from the Central Bank of Peru. British intelligence had detected the guarantee was a deposit of two hundred million dollars from the Andean Lima Bank, an owned subsidiary of the Banco Ambrosiano.[17][18] wiki

PlutoniumKun October 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Yes, and it was an Exocet that put a big hole in the side of the USS Stark in 1987 .

The French are major proliferisers of modern weapon systems. They and the Russians have put a lot of weapons out there which are affordable for small States but have the potential even to worry the biggest militaries.

Much of world history depends on the relative availability of defensive/offensive weaponry. Back when the castle was the apex of military might any local thug with the money to build one could become a lord and rule his little kingdom. Then when cannons became powerful enough to reduce them to rubble empires came back into vogue. When battleships ruled the waves, this allowed the great seagoing nations to dominate, but the invention of the torpedo along with submarines and long range bombers levelled things up for smaller nations such as Japan. Then the aircraft carrier swung things back to empires in the post war years. But now I think high speed sea skimming and ballistic missiles along with long distance torpedoes have swung things back to 'weaker' nations. Even the Houthi's in Yemen seem to have obtained missiles capable of knocking out an ex-US combat vessel.

Mark P. October 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm

The democratization of missile technology is the big military story of the last three decades. Look at, for instance, at how Hezbollah's Sheik Nasrullah kicked off the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict by striking an Israeli warship during a TV presentation. Very slick.

In fac, talking of the USS Stark, all those ships with their big aluminum superstructures will burn down to their waterline when hit. The Emirates even recently banned aluminum in tower buildings recently.

Aluminum's vulnerability didn't matter during the decades of the Cold War when if the Big One started the surface navy wouldn't really do any fighting because it would all be up anyway, and meanwhile smaller groups and nations - especially those with brown skins - didn't have access to serious missile technology.

The big transition point came with the Falklands War when the UK's admirals smartly stood their aircraft carriers beyond range till Margaret Thatcher phoned to Mitterand and intimated that the British might use their Polaris submarine to nuke Buenos Aires unless Mitterand gave up the Exocet codes. Think I'm kidding? Thatcher got the codes; they didn't call her Mad Maggie for nothing.

As for why they're still building surface warships with aluminum superstructures, it's military Keynesianism and everybody would have to be submariners otherwise, which wouldn't be fun..

JohnnyGL October 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm

+1 to this

I think the Pentagon did an analysis under GW Bush about attacking Iran and buried the idea.

I believe this is why Iran made a big dash for surface-to-surface missiles to defend themselves, and DID NOT have to go for nukes. If you've got anti-ship missiles, you can push those carriers far enough out to sea which limits the ability to launch airstrikes.

Plus, with anti-ship missiles, you can put the Persian Gulf on total lockdown and watch the Saudis suffocate. Iran has already been dealing with sanctions for years, so it's no sweat to them!

If the USA ever has an aircraft carrier sunk, the unipolar moment is indisputably over.

Felix_47 October 12, 2016 at 4:59 am

I suspect that for the money put out the Chinese get a lot more defense. In fact, if they are spending 200 billion and we are spending 600 billion we can be sure that they are close to parity. Of course, we are spending a lot more than 600 billion when you add in VA, disability and retirement costs as well as current war outlays. The entire defense industry in both China and the US is obsolete given modern communications and immigration trends anyway. How are you going to bomb Yemen when the excess population in Yemen ends up driving taxis in Washington D.C. or why bomb Syria when all it does is encourage the Syrians to move to the west? What is the difference between a Syrian or Afghan in Idaho or Berlin and one in Damascus or Kabul? The national state is becoming obsolete and military action is powerless against demography.

PlutoniumKun October 12, 2016 at 6:40 am

The key paradox for the US military is that wars are won not by who has the greatest number of tanks, ships or aircraft, but by the country that can put the greatest number of tanks, ships and aircraft into the field of battle . The US has by far the biggest military in the world, but it has also put itself in the position of needing a military a multiple of everyone elses because of the sheer geographical spread of commitments. China's military is tiny and primitive compared to the US, but in reality any war is likely to be geographically limited – to (for example) the South China Sea. China has every chance of being able to match the US in this kind of war.

As for China's blue sea commitments, I actually doubt they have any intention of really pursuing a long range war capacity. The Chinese know their history and know that a military on this scale can be economically ruinous. But there is a naval military concept known as fleet in being , which essentially means that even a theoretical threat can force an enemy to pour resources into trying to neutralise it. China I think is using this concept – continually setting off rumours of new strike missiles, long range attack aircraft, new aircraft carriers, etc., to force the US (aided and abetted by the defence industry) to spent countless billions on phantom threats. Some of these rumours may be true – many I suspect are simply deliberate mischief making by the Chinese, with the serious aim of dissipating America's military strength.

Colonel Smithers October 12, 2016 at 8:09 am

A new theatre for that mischief and dissipation is Africa. My parish has a Nigerian priest. When he's away, we usually get another Nigerian. At supper for the Bishop last Saturday, our priest, an Ibo, and another, a Hausa from Kano, said that many, if not, most Nigerians think Boko Haram is assisted by the US and, to a lesser extent, France as it gives the pair an excuse to maintain troops in the region and keep their client state governments in line.

PlutoniumKun October 12, 2016 at 11:25 am

Whether or not its true, the fact that intelligent people think that way shows everything you need to know about how US and Western soft power has been frittered away the past few years through stupidity and cynicism.

JohnnyGL October 12, 2016 at 3:31 pm

I recall a NYT or WaPo article saying those Iraqis were convinced the US was in bed with ISIS, too.

Is there a pattern here?

readerOfTeaLeaves October 12, 2016 at 11:25 am

+10

Yes, and I still take taxis, so I hear a fair amount of Amharic and other African dialects.

Unsure what the Uber drivers speak.

lyman alpha blob October 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Why bomb? Because then Uncle Sugar gets to take their stuff after they all leave their war torn countries. If some of the refugees are pissed off and blow up some people in their new homelands, why that's just a little collateral damage and when has the establishment ever cared about that? It just gives them an excuse to surveil everyone.

Ka-ching! – that's why the bombs.

Mark P. October 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?

The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

The worst is atomic war.

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

- that crazy commie madman, Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953 on military Keynesianism.

Christopher Fay October 12, 2016 at 5:17 am

ClubOrlov argues that the difference in military spending between the U. S. and Russia is lessened as our spending is bloated and misspent due to corruption.

The Russians are treating spending as a scarce natural resource. In the U. S. we spend as McCain says like drunken sailors.

http://cluborlov.blogspot.tw/2016/08/a-thousand-balls-of-flame.html#more

PlutoniumKun October 12, 2016 at 7:24 am

I'd be very sceptical that the Russian military somehow avoids the rampant corruption in other parts of the Russian economy.

By necessity, the Russian military has always been parsimonious and has had to get more firepower for its rouble than other wealthier countries. Much of their weaponry is very simple, effective and robust, and Russian tactics are as good if not better than any other major military. However, they've had their white elephants too – their new Yasen Class attack submarines are far too expensive as an example, and poor quality control in manufacturing has meant that many of their more advanced weapons have dubious real world utility. Their large ships are generally a disaster, a complete waste of money (this is why they were buying assault ships from France).

Cry Shop October 12, 2016 at 5:49 am

USA military power is just as great as it has ever been, if not greater. What's changed is the traction it had in forcing alignment from partners who held very little cultural/common ground with the USA.

Biggest factor in that loss of traction is that Russia (and to a lesser extent China) is not exporting revolution anymore. Both China and Russia engage in real politic with limited military power that makes them a far less threatening partner than the USA for any state that is willing to transfer some of the wealth to them that the USA formerly extracted (and usually these new players pay much better price with less interference). Even Vietnam, which has real historical reasons to be Sinophobic, probably fears China less than it does a US Government which attempts to subvert Vietnam's economy through currency dependency. How so Russia, which is no threat to any of Vietnam's interests.

What constrains Russia's power isn't the military, but it's relatively minuscule consumer market. Similarly, China's trade protectionism for semi-finished and finished goods has constrained it's ability to project power to those nations, like Australia, Argentina & Russia, which subsist primarily on raw material exports. China is in a better situation than Russia to change this situation and expand it's power into Europe, though I doubt Xi is the man for it.

fajensen October 12, 2016 at 6:45 am

What's changed is the traction it had in forcing alignment from partners who held very little cultural/common ground with the USA.

I'd claim that the alignment came not so much from US military might but rather from the US offering better terms – at least to "white countries"; plenty of brutal regime change and CIA skulduggery was applied on brown folks, still is, in fact.

Now, it seems to the world that the US have become so bloated with it's own military and perceived cultural/economic superiority that the US offers pretty much nothing in return to anyone, regardless of the favors asked. Everyone are treated as colonies and vassals, except perhaps a few leaders and decision makers (Or maybe it was always like that but now we got the Internet and we know).

This state of affairs pisses people off.

In addition, people are beginning to understand that what is applied to brown people abroad today can happen to them also tomorrow. That in the US world order, everyone who is not an American have no value compared to an American* and can be killed, tortured, disappeared with no consequences what so ever. Because fuck Nürenberg.

Therefore, everyone else being in some way enemies of the US merely by belonging to another tribe than America, has realized that there is no good thing coming from aligning with America, sooner or later the "military option" or "the regime change" will come out and we will be knifed in the back. Those who can actively resist, those who have the option aligns with other powers, those who cannot do this, will drag their feet and try to avoid direct confrontation, maybe something will show up?

Stupid, weak, nations like Denmark and Sweden go all in with 110% effort on the fantasy that they will be seen as good people with an American core, struggling to claw it's way out, from inside their unworthy un-American bodies and therefore they will be protected – at least for a while*.

*)
Americans themselves are beginning to realize that anyone who isn't rich & covered in lawyers can be fined, jailed or even killed right in the street by the police for basically nothing at all. This is beginning to grate on their understanding of their place in the pecking order. But, everyone still blame Whites, Latinos, Blacks, Feminists identity politics works, keeps the contraption from falling off the road.

This also shows why the silly idea of escape by being super-American will not work: Americans are treated like shit too.

Colonel Smithers October 12, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thank you. I like your point about "stupid, weak nations". French is my second language. English is my third. I watch French TV news most days and visit the place regularly, business and pleasure, and studied there. I am surprised, but may be should not be, at how American France has become / is becoming. Hollande and Sarko, who has American connections by way of his stepmother and half brothers, have made the country a poodle in a way that de Gaulle and Chirac would not. Most French people I know seem ok or indifferent to that. Part of that Americanisation seems to be the English / Americanised English forenames given to French children. I have observed that trend in (western) Germany and even francophone communities well away from the French mainland.

Synoia October 12, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I am reminded of a friend of mine in South Africa, who was somewhat older than s 20 years Olds.

Adolf, my friend, was born before WW II, and the name was quite popular then. It became less popular of after WW II.

OIFVet October 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

Bravo! Sorry but I can't resists linking to an old comment of mine to reinforce the point about stupid and weak nations. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/10/links-101215.html#comment-2501325 .

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best example of what being a loyal US "ally" entails: corrupt local elites working against their country's own best interests lest they become a target for a color revolution. Meanwhile their much-suffering subjects don't know which way to turn to hide their collective embarrassment.

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm

More current samples for your file sir:
(1)
Hungary: MP Questioned Over Fraud Allegations
https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/5715-hungary-mp-questioned-over-fraud-allegations
Published: Wednesday, 12 October 2016 12:31
(2)
Ukrainian Top Officials Involved in Secret Offshore Deals
Published: Tuesday, 04 October 2016 09:00
by Graham Stack
https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/5691-ukrainian-top-officials-involved-in-secret-offshore-deals
======================
OCCRP: (MORE ARTICLES) https://www.occrp.org/index.php
ORGANIZED CRIME and CORRUPTION REPORTING PROJECT

OIFVet October 12, 2016 at 12:47 pm

My files are bulging to the bursting point. The latest fiasco in Colonia Bulgaria was the election of the new GenSec of the UN. Bulgaria had a leading candidate, until Merkel decided that she wanted Germany to play an outsized role in the UN, and bring EU politics into the UN. Disaster ensued:

So the initial Bulgarian candidate Bokova looked like the ideal choice. Here was a chance for little old Bulgaria to shine on the world stage for the first time in over a millenium, possibly since the Bulgars burst out of Central Asia on horseback. Add this to the background context: it is unprecedented for a country to nominate a candidate officially, a front-runner no less, and then do a public switcheroo before the world's eyes. But that's exactly what Bulgaria did just a week ago. Bokova was dumped and Georgieva spooned up. Disaster ensued, as I predicted it would in previous columns .

Bulgaria lost its once-in-a-millenium chance at shaping the world. As the record shows, Gutteres won.

If Bulgaria were a normal healthy country, the Prime Minister would now resign and the government would fall. Because, it was the Prime Minister's decision to switch candidates. He did so despite knowing that two-thirds of Bulgarian citizens preferred his first candidate. Boyko Borissov is his name, a deeply underachieving dull-witted schemer-survivor in the wooden tradition of the region. A short-fingered Bulgarian if ever there was one. He first came to the fore as the bodyguard of the last Bulgarian Communist leader. That should give you a clue to the man's qualities. So why did Boyko 'switch horses'? Why did he do it?

Brutal, just brutal kick in the butt from the ally's MSM. And that's only one of many reactions. Because even the bosses don't like grovelling toadies. They want to control them, but they will never invite them for an afternoon tea. Particularly a marionette whose mafia ties the Congressional Quarterly wrote about. Not that these organized crime ties are a disqualifier, if anything the US likes that because it makes Borissov easy to control.

At least Merkel's scheming and Bulgaria's humiliation had an unexpected positive effect: Power and Churkin managed to put on a BFF act in front of the cameras and allied to get Gutteres elected as SecGen, while delivering a massive kick in Merkel's ample backside. Takes some doing to get the US and Russia to not only see eye to eye on anything, but to also work in concert. Bravo!

PS This also proves a historical truth: doing Germany's bidding never ends well for Bulgaria. Or for any other nation.

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

OIFVet (compliments) You may need a new file
Somewhere over / under the rainbow
(orchestrated social media unrest)
(1)
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-secretly-created-cuban-twitter-stir-unrest
By ALBERTO ARCE and DESMOND BUTLER and JACK GILLUM Apr. 4, 2014 4:25 AM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - In July 2010

(2)
White House denies 'Cuban Twitter' ZunZuneo programme was covert
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/03/white-house-cuban-twitter-zunzuneo-covert
Paul Lewis and Dan Roberts in Washington
Thursday 3 April 2014 14.26 EDT
--------------–

hemeantwell October 12, 2016 at 8:36 am

global scenario that the down-to-earth presidents of China and Russia seem to have in mind resembles the sort of balance of power that existed in Europe.

The article floats away here. China and Russia might want to have something that "resembles" that time, but the analogy overlooks the fact that the relatively calm state of affairs - Franco-Prussian war? - on the European continent after Napoleon coexisted with savage colonial expansion. The forms of superexploitation thereby obtained did much to help stabilize Europe, even as competition for colonial lands became more and more destabilizing and were part of what led to WW1.

Now we're in a situation in which superexploitation options are largely gone. Routine profit generation has become difficult due to global productive overcapacity, leading to behavioral sinkish behavior like the US cannibalizing its public sector to feed capital. Since the late 19th century US foreign policy has been organized around the open markets mantra. It may be possible for the Chinese, with their greater options for economy manipulation, to avoid the crashes the US feared from lack of market access. But the current situation on its face does not have anything like the colonial escape valve available in the 19th century.

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Of course,duplicitous political COPORATISM means systems over a systemic characterized by marked or even intentional deception that is now sustained and even spearheaded by state systems. Many contemporary liberal idealists living in urban strongholds of market mediated comfort zones will not agree to assigning such strong description to an Obama administration. It is too distant and remote to assign accountability to global international finance and currency wars that have hegemonic hedge funds pumping and dumping crisis driven anarchy over global exploit (ruled by market capital fright / fight and flight). To the extent that colonialism or neocolonialism does not actually hold fixed boundary ground is irrelevant, since assets are more differential and flexible needing only corporate law to sustain strict boundaries on possession or instruments that convert to the same power over assets. No one, of course, wants to assess stocks and bonds as instruments of global oppression or exploitation that far exceeds 19th century's crude colonial rule. Recall, however, how "joint stock" corporations first opened chartered exploit at global levels under East and West Trading power aggregates that were profit driven enter-prize. So in reality the current cross border market system of neoliberal globalization is, in fact, a stealth colonialism on steroids. TPP is part of that process in all its stealthy dimensions.

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm

(TPP In a Nutshell http://labornotes.org/2016/09/october-all-hands-deck-stop-tpp )

"The TPP is a corporate power grab, a 5,544-page document that was negotiated in secret by big corporations while Congress, the public, and unions were locked out.
Multinationals like Google, Exxon, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, UPS, FedEx, Apple, and Walmart are lobbying hard for it. Virtually every union in the U.S. opposes it. So do major environmental, senior, health, and consumer organizations.
The TPP will mean fewer jobs and lower wages, higher prices for prescription drugs, the loss of regulations that protect our drinking water and food supply, and the loss of Internet freedom. It encourages privatization, undermines democracy, and will forbid many of the policies we need to combat climate change."

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/30/ttp-ttip-map-shows-
how-trade-deals-would-enable-polluter-power-grab
TTP & TTIP: Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable 'Polluter Power-Grab'
by Andrea Germanos
The new, interactive tool 'gives people a chance to see if toxic trade is in their own backyard'

John Rose October 12, 2016 at 3:04 pm

From a long range view, 19th Century compitition using black and brown property and lives was an improvement over battling face to face with neighbors. It was an expansion of tribal boundaries, somewhat.
Now, few argue openly (except in presidential debates) against those boundaries encompassing brown and black members of the human race. We engage our ruthlessness less openly in covert operations, corporate predations and financial hegemony.
Even awful behavior can be seen as an advance.

Dead Squashed Kissinger October 12, 2016 at 8:54 am

This is very handy, thanks. However the conclusion stops short of what the SCO is saying and doing. They have no interest in an old-time balance of power. They want rule of law, a very different thing. Look at Putin's Syria strategy: he actually complies with the UN Charter's requirement to pursue pacific dispute resolution. That's revolutionary. When CIA moles in Turkey shot that Russian jet down, the outcome was not battles and state-sponsored terror, as CIA expected. The outcome was support for Turkey's sovereignty and rapprochement. Now when CIA starts fires you go to Russia to put them out.

While China maintains its purist line on the legal principle of non-interference, it is increasingly vocal in urging the US to fulfill its human rights obligations. That will sound paradoxical because of intense US vilification of Chinese authoritarianism, but when you push for your economic and social rights here at home, China is in your corner. Here Russia is leading by example. They comply with the Paris Principles for institutionalized human rights protection under independent international oversight. The USA does not.

When the USA goes the way of the USSR, we'll be in good hands. The world will show us how developed countries work.

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 1:26 pm

"RULE OF LAW" up front and personal (again?)
Now why would the USA be worried about global rule of law?
An Interesting ideal. No country above the law.

" US President Barack Obama has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.

In a statement accompanying his veto message, Obama said on Friday he had
"deep sympathy" for the 9/11 victims' families and their desire to seek justice for
their relatives.

The president said, however, that the bill would be "detrimental to US national interests" and could lead to lawsuits against the US or American officials for actions taken by groups armed, trained or supported by the US.

"If any of these litigants were to win judgements – based on foreign domestic laws as applied by foreign courts – they would begin to look to the assets of the US government held abroad to satisfy those judgments, with potentially serious financial consequences for the United States," Obama said."
-----------------------
To the tune of "Moma said " by The Shirelles –
.Oh don't you know Obama said they be days like this,
..they would be days like this Obama said

BRUCE E. WOYCH October 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

One interesting irony is that in Obama's TPP "The worst part is an Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision, which allows a multinational corporation to sue to override any U.S. law, policy, or practice that it claims could limit its future profits."
(source: http://labornotes.org/2016/09/october-all-hands-deck-stop-tpp )
"Though the Obama administration touts the pact's labor and environmental protections, the official Labor Advisory Committee on the TPP strongly opposes
it, arguing that these protections are largely unenforceable window dressing."

Braden Smith October 12, 2016 at 10:07 am

I think you're overstating the Russian military advantage in Syria and Ukraine, while ignoring the real dysfunction in US foreign policy. Key policy thinkers at State and Defense still believe that it's worth the time and effort for the US to project military influence in Syria. This is a policy position entirely driven by Israel's existential concern over Iran. There are no substantial US interests in Syria right now. We aren't actually fighting ISIS, because if we were, we would be targeting the foreign funding coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As a consequence, if we simply withdrew from Syria, Russia would be left propping up a regime that would be fighting an ongoing insurgency against foreign jihadists.

In other words, it would be wasting its time and resources on a pointless fight to build a state in the Middle East (sounds familiar). Russia is the one with a military base in Syria that they need to protect. Let them waste the time and energy defending their military assets.

Instead, the US should be reducing its Middle East footprint and selectively engaging in key diplomatic efforts. The Saudis and the Gulf States are committed to fighting it out with Iran for Middle East influence. There's no reason for us to pick sides in this fight. Let them engage in proxy wars without US military assistance and then, when the time is right, we can offer our role as a neutral broker and negotiate terms that actually benefit our strategic interests.

The reason we can't play this role in the region is because we are so myopically focused on policies that are pro-Israeli. Eliminate Israel's interests from the calculations, and our policies would change dramatically.

NotSoSure October 12, 2016 at 10:37 am

It's a good thing. The US has become that quote in The Dark Knight: "you die a hero or live long enough to become the villain."

Adams October 12, 2016 at 11:43 am

Great article and comments. Surprised there has been no speculation here about what HRC will do with the geopolitical hash created by neo-lib economics and neo-con foreign and military policies. We know what Obama did (not) do with what was really a political mandate. Certainly he has been constrained politically and, perhaps, personally ( shame what happened to those nice Kennedy boys, they had so much "promise.") However, as has been ably pointed out in comments above, his actions where he was not constrained are the flag in the wind. You don't have to be a weatherman .

Hillary, of course, has already shown her colors. There will be no Nobel based on promises and high expectations. She will relentlessly pursue the PNAC programme and the "exceptional, essential nation" fantasy, contra the analysis above. You can take the girl out of the Goldwater, but you can't take the Goldman out of the girl.All that glitters ..

readerOfTeaLeaves October 12, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Fascinating thread, thanks.
I stream a lot of Korean dramas, and lately Chinese dramas have also been showing up in my video feeds; it is clear that Taiwan and China are trying to access eyeballs globally, as a means to gain soft power – and revenue.

The earlier Chinese dramas seeking a global audience seemed shrill, melodramatic, and approximately the production quality of the old static BBC costume dramas of the 1970s. I found them unwatchable.

However, China has recently put out something that is quite possibly a masterpiece of storytelling. " Nirvana in Fire " [NiF] is an epic story of betrayal, treachery, loyalty, and trust, with some incredible martial arts into the mix. NiF is described as the Chinese Game of Thrones . (I am unable to make a good comparison, as I have not watched GoT). However, I'd argue that NiF is every bit as good as the BBC's brilliant " The Tudors " (2007, with Jonathon Rhys Meyers).

I take NiF as a sign that despite what sounds like a hideous housing bubble, China's cultural endeavors are developing at a level that is as outstanding as anything that any nation can produce. And in a world where the Internet seems to be morphing into a vast, global video distribution service (woohoo!!), that is no small thing. Judging from social media stats, it appears to be quite formidable.

This new Silk Road is often spoken of as physical, and I do not take it lightly; nevertheless, the silkier threads are probably the telecom infrastructure carrying subtitled dramas to mobiles, desktops, and smart TVs around the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_In_Fire
From the wiki page: "The drama was a commercial and critical success, surpassing ten million views by its second day,[4] and receiving a total number of daily internet views on iQiyi of over 3.3 billion by the end of the series.[5][6] Nirvana in Fire was considered a social media phenomenon, generating 3.55 billion posts on Sina Weibo that praised its characters and story-line."
I searched for 'Facebook posts on GoT' but could not get any results that I trusted enough to include here. It's a fair guess, however, they did not amount to 3,550,000,000 comments. Whoever gets to stream their dramas across Africa and S. America will develop a formidable 'soft power' resource.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tudors

PlutoniumKun October 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm

That series sounds very interesting, I must look for it.

I think the Chinese are quite serious about using film and TV as soft power, but they face a paradox in that it is hard to promote quality drama while also indulging in heavy censorship. The Chinese are very good at using carrots and sticks to 'tame' artists – just look at how a formerly great film maker like Zhang Yimou has gone from making beautiful and subtle allegories about Chinese society to now just making big empty commercial epics which are little more than propaganda pieces. I doubt Chinese film makers will ever have the freedom to make the sort of challenging work that Korean film makers do all the time (Japanese film makers once did this too, but seem to have given up). But they probably have enough talent to make plenty of entertaining fantasy TV and film, but whether it will travel so well I'm not sure.

NotSoSure October 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm

LOL, I watched that drama too, and I'd agree. Most Chinese dramas are unwatchable, but as NiF showed, it's not because there are no capable series makers, etc, because there are plenty of those in China. The problem is rather the producers for whatever reason think that local audiences are only interested in melodramas and idols dressed in ridiculous costumes.

And please, NiF is better than GoT. I am a big fan of the books, and the TV series to me is laughable.

sgt_doom October 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

I just find this difficult to believe that America's diplomatic power is in decline.

After all, is the great-grandson of what was once the top dope dealer on the planet, Francis Blackwell Forbes, now the SecState (that would be John "Forbes, Winthrop, Dudley" Kerry)?

Color me confused . . .

[Oct 11, 2016] The US Surrendered Its Right To Accuse Russia Of War Crimes A Long Time Ago

Looks like Obama in working overclock to ensure the election of Trump ... anti-Russian hysteria might have results different that he expects. Whether we are to have a world of sovereign nation-states or one in which a single imperial superpower contends with increasingly fragmentary post-national and sub-national threats around the globe will depend on the decisions that are made in the near future: in the next few years.
Oct 11, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

Renowned journalist Glenn Greenwald recently tweeted the three rules of American exceptionalism :

3 rules of US Exceptionalism: 1) Our killing is better than theirs; 2) Nothing we do can be "terrorism"; 3) Only enemies are "war criminals"

- Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 6, 2016

Greenwald's astute observations were presumably made in response to Secretary of State John Kerry's recent remarks that both Russia and Syria should face war crimes investigations for their recent attacks on Syrian civilians.

"Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals, and medical facilities, and women and children," Mr. Kerry said in Washington, where he spoke alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, as reported by the Independent .

Unsurprisingly, Russia responded by urging caution regarding allegations of war crimes considering the United States has been waging wars in a number of countries since the end of World War II. It has picked up a number of allegations of war crimes in the process.

Kerry's continuous accusations that Russia bombed hospital infrastructure are particularly hypocritical in light of the fact the United States has bombed hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan on more than one occasion over past decade.

Further, former congressman Ron Paul's Institute for Peace and Prosperity hit back at Kerry, accusing him of completely fabricating the most recent alleged hospital attack. As the Institute noted :

" In a press event yesterday, before talks with the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault about a new UN resolution, he said ( vid @1:00) about Syria:

"'Last night, the regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded. And Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions.'

" No opposition group has claimed that such an extremely grave event happened. None. No press agency has a record of it. The MI-6 disinformation outlet SOHR in Britain, which quite reliably notes every claimed casualty and is frequently cited in 'western media,' has not said anything about such an event anywhere in Syria. "

However, the most disturbing aspect of Kerry's allegation is that the accusations against Russia run in tandem with Saudi Arabia's brutal assault on Yemen. Saudi Arabia, with the aid of a few regional players - and with ongoing American and British assistance (not to mention billion dollar arms sales ) - has been bombing Yemen back into the Stone Age without any legal basis whatsoever. Often, the Saudi-led coalition has completely decimated civilian infrastructure, which has led a number of groups to accuse the coalition of committing war crimes in the process.

Civilians and civilian infrastructure have been struck so routinely that the world has become increasingly concerned the actual targets of the coalition strikes are civilians (what could be a greater recruitment tool for al-Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen?) As noted by Foreign Policy :

"The Houthis and their allies - armed groups loyal to Saleh - are the declared targets of the coalition's 1-year-old air campaign. In reality, however, it is the civilians, such as Basrallah and Rubaid, and their children, who are predominantly the victims of this protracted war. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in airstrikes while asleep in their homes, when going about their daily activities, or in the very places where they had sought refuge from the conflict. The United States, Britain, and others, meanwhile, have continued to supply a steady stream of weaponry and logistical support to Saudi Arabia and its coalition."

Yemen is the poorest , most impoverished nation in the Arab world . The Saudi-led coalition has been striking refugee camps , schools , wedding parties and well over 100 hospitals to date . The coalition has been strongly suspected of using banned munitions such as cluster bombs. The country now has more than half a million children at serious risk of malnutrition . More than 21 million out of the total population of 25 million are in serious need of basic humanitarian assistance .

Just take one example of the cruel and disproportionate use of force that Saudi Arabia has used in Yemen (using American-made and supplied aircraft and weapons) - against Judge Yahya Rubaid and his family. As Foreign Policy reported in March of this year:

"According to family members, Rubaid was a judge on a case against Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, for treason in absentia. It is unclear whether his house was attacked for this reason. What is clear, however, is that there was no legally valid basis for bombing his home, as he and his family were civilians and under international law should not have been deliberately targeted."

At the time this article's publication, over 140 Yemenis had been killed and another 500 injured in a Saudi-coalition aerial attack on a funeral over the weekend. The civilian death toll continues to rise in Yemen, completely unchallenged by any major players at the U.N. When the U.N. does attempt to quell Saudi actions , the Saudis threaten severe economic retaliation.

How Kerry can accuse Russia of committing war crimes in Syria with a straight face is unclear, as reports of atrocious crimes committed in Yemen continue to surface.

This is not to say Russia and Syria should not be investigated for war crimes – but maybe, just maybe, we could live in a world where everyone responsible for committing these gross acts could be held accountable, instead of just those who pose an economic threat to the West . Mango327 38BWD22 Oct 11, 2016 3:47 PM

If Russia Acted Like The USA...
http://youtu.be/uhqZFWDeaB4
SidSays 38BWD22 Oct 11, 2016 3:50 PM
All wars are, well...

All wars are banker's wars .

Katos 38BWD22 Oct 11, 2016 4:35 PM
Madeline Albright, "Yes, I think the death of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 years old by US sanctions, was a good price that had to be paid so we could get to Sadam Hussein "??? This bitch along with Kissinger, Soros, Rice, Clinton, Obama, Kerry, and all the news organizations who have been cheerleaders for the slaughter of innocents should all be charged with Crimes against humanity and SHOT!
PrayingMantis Oct 11, 2016 3:39 PM

... US: "Who you gonna believe, us or your own eyes" ~ Groucho Marx

Ignatius PrayingMantis Oct 11, 2016 3:58 PM

"Who wants to be the last man to die for a mistake?" -- John Kerry, 197x

That was the supposed anti-war Kerry speaking of the Vietnam War, who rode such comments into a congressional seat. We didn't know then that he was Skull and Bones or what it might mean. Now we know it in spades.

Now it's clear he's just a lying sack of war mongering, deep state shit.

crazybob369 Oct 11, 2016 3:45 PM
To quote Goebbels:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie."

Chupacabra-322 crazybob369 Oct 11, 2016 4:44 PM
Goebbels used "Gas Lighting" as a form of Psychological manipulation on a population on a mass scale. Operation Mocking Bird. It continues on today. 365 days a year, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. The Psyche Warefare / PsyOp War does not clos
Felix da Kat Oct 11, 2016 4:03 PM
There is an assumption that Russia would never go to war with the US over the Syrian dispute. But yet, Russia is preparing for war. It has both first-strike and counter-strike capability in the event the west (US State Dept.) continues with its bullying tactics and further escalates its hostility. Russia is a sovereign nation; it has both the right and the power to do what is in the best interests of its citizenry and its allies (Assad).

The US used to be that way until it was over-run in a silent, but effective liberal-coup that has taken full control and stupidly re-newed the cold war with Russia.

And now America has been left more vulnerable that it ever has been. A simple shut-down of the electric grid for several months, will, by itself, cut the population in half.

Ultra-liberalism is ultra self-destructive... we're about to see just how destructive that really is.

Kyddyl Oct 11, 2016 4:07 PM
Well this is a refreshing start, but only a start. Russia certainly had nothing to do with the gunships that bombed the hospitals in Afghanistan into powder, killing patients including children, doctors, nurses and other personell.

I for one would like to know who it was who flew those planes and have them explain to all of us why they did not refuse orders? What sort of morals have Americans got to behave ths way? The hospitals bombed in Syria, ditto. The Saudis are the beasts they are and somebody needs to bomb them into oblivion. (Perhaps take out some other smug financial centers too!) But Yemen is a very poor sandy country to begin with and Saudi must think there's oil or something there. If some of the weapons used there weren't tactical nukes they sure looked like them. Gee. Wonder where they got them?

. . . _ _ _ . . . Oct 11, 2016 4:16 PM
Chomsky's been saying it for decades, "If they do it, they're terrorists; if we do it, we're freedom fighters."

My take is that if you are the head of a government, you are a psychopath and any categorization beyond this is moot.

Clinton / Trump, Obama / Putin, Assad / Erdogan, UN / Nationalism, whoever it may be, they're all playing the same game, and we're not even allowed to watch, much less comment.

The only thing trickling-down (through a historical perspective) should be blood.

taketheredpill Oct 11, 2016 4:26 PM

A cynical person might suggest that the volume of US War Drums is inversely proportional to the strength of the US economy.

It's as if the boys at the top

1) know the economy is already in the toilet

2) know that the next financial meltdown is going to be a real hum-dinger

3) know that the unwashed masses will need a really big distraction when the next meltdown hits

[Oct 09, 2016] Ukraine Is Going to Be a Big Problem for the Next U.S. President by Mark Pfeifle

That was all about debt slavery and a successful attempt to encircle Russia with a belt of hostile state. Standard of living dropped more then twice since Maydan. Nationalist proved to be reliable neoliberal tools who can fooled again and again based on their hate of Russia and help to enslave their own people ("fool me once"...) Classic divide and conquer. Nothing new. Yatsenyuk was despicable corrupt neoliberal with fake flair of nationalism from the very beginning. he helped to sell country assets for pennies on the a dollar and completely destroyed economic relations with Russia (why you need to love the county to trade with it is beyond any sane person comprehension; capitalism is actually about the ability to trade with people we hate and that's one of its strong points). Emigrant community in Canada and USA (due to typical for emigrants heightened level of nationalism) also played a role in destruction of economics of Ukraine. this is a very sad story of creating an African country in Europe where many people live of less then a dollar a day and pensioners starve.
foreignpolicy.com

Ukraine has faded from the American national consciousness as other, even more recent and far more spectacular foreign policy fiascos - Syria, Libya and the Islamic State - overwhelm our capacity to catalog them.

... ... ...

Obama's delicate carrot-and-stick approach hasn't worked, and the long-simmering Ukrainian kettle threatens to boil into the worst crisis in relations between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War.

... ... ...

The optimism created by the 2013-2014 "EuroMaidan" street demonstrations was short-lived. Prime Minister Arseniy Petrovych Yatsenyuk was forced to resign in April against a backdrop of permanent political crisis and high-profile charges of corruption.

... ... ...

Perhaps most dispiriting of all, even those Ukrainian activists, politicians, and journalists who are portrayed as true reformers appear likewise unable to resist the temptation to engage in the systemic looting of the Ukrainian economy.

In early September, the New Yorker magazine dedicated several thousand words to three citizen-journalists who now serve in the Ukrainian Parliament. Like other western media outlets, the New Yorker portrayed Sergei Leshchenko, Svitlana Zalishchuk, and Mustafa Nayem as dedicated journalists - new faces who sought election to parliament as part of President Poroshenko's bloc in the wake of the Maidan street protests, which Nayem helped organize.

Now, however, Leshchenko's post-election acquisition of high-end housing has attracted the attention of the Anti-Corruption Agency of Ukraine, an investigatory body that was established at the urging of the United States. Last week, the Anti-Corruption Agency forwarded the Leshchenko file to the special prosecutor's office tasked with corruption fighting. Leshchenko could not explain the source of the income that allowed him to buy the residence, loan documents are missing, and the purchase price was allegedly below market

The owner of the building, according to Ukrainian media accounts, is Ivan Fursin, the partner of mega-oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

Recent reports have revealed that Leshchenko's expenses for attending international forums were paid for by the oligarch Viktor Pinchuk who also contributed $8,6 million to the Clinton Foundation While Leshchenko remains the toast of the western media and Washington think tanks, back at home, his fellow reformers in the Parliament are calling on him to resign until his name is cleared.

Meanwhile, the next president is sure to find Ukraine besieged on all sides: With Russian troops and pro-Russian rebels at its throat and corruption destroying it from within -and as the Leshchenko scandal suggests, not all in Ukraine is what it appears to be.

The new president must learn to discern Ukraine's true reformers from those who made anti-corruption crusades into a lucrative business, and be able to distinguish real action from empty words.

If not, the two and a half decades-long Ukrainian experiment with independence may boil over completely.

[Oct 08, 2016] Ignorance and Dishonesty Trump, Hillary, and Nuclear Genocide

Notable quotes:
"... It's shameful that this country hasn't rejected the first use of nuclear weapons. It's also shameful that instead of working to eliminate nuclear weapons, the U.S. is actually planning to spend nearly a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to upgrade that arsenal. For what possible strategic purpose, one must ask? America's current nuclear deterrent is the most powerful and survivable in the world. No other country comes close. There's no rational reason to invest more money in nuclear weapons, unless you count the jobs and money related to building new nuclear submarines, weaponry, bombs, and all the other infrastructure related to America's nuclear triad of Trident submarines, land-based bombers, and fixed missile silos. ..."
"... Next time, Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton, let's have some rigor, some honesty, and some wisdom on the issue of nuclear weapons. Not only America deserves it – the world does. ..."
Antiwar.com

... ... ...

It's shameful that this country hasn't rejected the first use of nuclear weapons. It's also shameful that instead of working to eliminate nuclear weapons, the U.S. is actually planning to spend nearly a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to upgrade that arsenal. For what possible strategic purpose, one must ask? America's current nuclear deterrent is the most powerful and survivable in the world. No other country comes close. There's no rational reason to invest more money in nuclear weapons, unless you count the jobs and money related to building new nuclear submarines, weaponry, bombs, and all the other infrastructure related to America's nuclear triad of Trident submarines, land-based bombers, and fixed missile silos.

Neither Trump nor Hillary addressed this issue. Trump was simply ignorant. Hillary was simply disingenuous. Which candidate was worse? When you're talking about nuclear genocidal death, it surely does matter. Ignorance is not bliss, nor is a lack of forthrightness and honesty.

Next time, Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton, let's have some rigor, some honesty, and some wisdom on the issue of nuclear weapons. Not only America deserves it – the world does.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.

[Oct 08, 2016] The United States as Destroyer of Nations by Daniel Kovalik

www.counterpunch.org
In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – an invasion which many Iraqis believe left their country in the worst condition it has been since the Mongol invasion of 1258 -- there was much discussion in the media about the Bush Administration's goal for "nation-building" in that country. Of course, if there ever were such a goal, it was quickly abandoned, and one hardly ever hears the term "nation-building" discussed as a U.S. foreign policy objective anymore.

The stark truth is that the U.S. really has no intentions of helping to build strong states in the Middle East or elsewhere. Rather, as we see time and again – e.g., in Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Ukraine – the goal of U.S. foreign policy, whether stated or not, is increasingly and more aggressively the destruction and balkanization of independent states. However, it is important to recognize that this goal is not new.

More

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

[Oct 01, 2016] Peres stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran 2 years ago

Oct 01, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc : September 30, 2016 at 09:01 AM

Peres stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran 2 years ago

http://www.businessinsider.com/shimon-peres-netanyahu-iran-2016-9

"Shimon Peres 2 years ago: I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran, and you can talk about it when I'm dead"

by Natasha Bertrand...9-30-2016...36m

" Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday at the age of 93, told the Jerusalem Post two years ago that current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "was ready to launch an attack" on Iran, and "I stopped him."

Peres, speaking to the Post's Steve Linde and David Brinn in a meeting at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa on August 24, 2014, apparently said he didn't want to go into details about the conversation he had had with Netanyahu..."

[Sep 28, 2016] Flawed as he may be, Trump is telling more of the truth than politicians of our day Most important, he offers a path away from constant war, a path of businesslike accommodation with all reasonable people and nations

Notable quotes:
"... Flawed as he may be, Trump is telling more of the truth than politicians of our day. Most important, he offers a path away from constant war, a path of businesslike accommodation with all reasonable people and nations, concentrating our forces and efforts against the true enemies of civilization. Thus, to dwell on his faults and errors is to evade the great questions of war and peace, life and death for our people and our country. You and I will have to compensate for his deficits of civility, in return for peace, we may hope as Lincoln hoped, among ourselves and with all nations. ..."
"... No doubt, clinton supporters will snicker and deride efforts to treat Trump's positions seriously as this essay does. ..."
Sep 25, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Katniss Everdeen

RE: I Was RFK's Speechwriter. Now I'm Voting for Trump. Here's Why. Politico (RR)

Flawed as he may be, Trump is telling more of the truth than politicians of our day. Most important, he offers a path away from constant war, a path of businesslike accommodation with all reasonable people and nations, concentrating our forces and efforts against the true enemies of civilization. Thus, to dwell on his faults and errors is to evade the great questions of war and peace, life and death for our people and our country. You and I will have to compensate for his deficits of civility, in return for peace, we may hope as Lincoln hoped, among ourselves and with all nations.

No doubt, clinton supporters will snicker and deride efforts to treat Trump's positions seriously as this essay does.

But for anyone who is the slightest bit aware of how the maniac imperialists have hijacked the public means of persuasion for a generation to the detriment of countless foreign countries as well as our own, the obsession with turning Trump into a cartoon character with joke "policies" should sound an alarm.

No "politician" was ever going to buck this system. Bernie Sanders, fiery and committed though he was, proved that. It was always going to take an over-sized personality with an over-sized ego to withstand the shit storm that a demand for profound change would create, and some "incivility" seems a small price to pay to break the vice grip of the status quo.

I, for one, have no intention of squandering this opportunity to throw sand in the gears. There has never been a third candidate allowed to plead their case in a presidential "debate" since Ross Perot threw a scare into TPTB in 1992. Should clinton manage to pull this one out, the lesson of Trump will be learned, and we may not be "given" the opportunity to choose an "outsider" again for a very long time. It's worth taking a minute to separate the message from the messenger.

subgenius September 25, 2016 at 11:33 am

No doubt, clinton supporters will snicker and deride efforts to treat Trump's positions seriously as this essay does.

[Sep 26, 2016] War as a Business Opportunity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money. ..."
"... Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.antiwar.com
A good friend passed along an article at Forbes from a month ago with the pregnant title, "U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years - But Lacks The Money To Prepare." Basically, the article argues that war is possible - even likely - within five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran, or maybe all three, but that America's army is short of money to prepare for these wars. This despite the fact that America spends roughly $700 billion each and every year on defense and overseas wars.

Now, the author's agenda is quite clear, as he states at the end of his article: "Several of the Army's equipment suppliers are contributors to my think tank and/or consulting clients." He's writing an alarmist article about the probability of future wars at the same time as he's profiting from the sales of weaponry to the army.

As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money.

But back to the Forbes article with its concerns about war(s) in five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran (or all three). For what vital national interest should America fight against Russia? North Korea? Iran? A few quick reminders:

#1: Don't get involved in a land war in Asia or with Russia (Charles XII, Napoleon, and Hitler all learned that lesson the hard way).

#2: North Korea? It's a puppet regime that can't feed its own people. It might prefer war to distract the people from their parlous existence.

#3: Iran? A regional power, already contained, with a young population that's sympathetic to America, at least to our culture of relative openness and tolerance. If the US Army thinks tackling Iran would be relatively easy, just consider all those recent "easy" wars and military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria

Of course, the business aspect of this is selling the idea the US Army isn't prepared and therefore needs yet another new generation of expensive high-tech weaponry. It's like convincing high-end consumers their three-year-old Audi or Lexus is obsolete so they must buy the latest model else lose face.

We see this all the time in the US military. It's a version of planned or artificial obsolescence . Consider the Air Force. It could easily defeat its enemies with updated versions of A-10s, F-15s, and F-16s, but instead the Pentagon plans to spend as much as $1.4 trillion on the shiny new and under-performing F-35 . The Army has an enormous surplus of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, but the call goes forth for a "new generation." No other navy comes close to the US Navy, yet the call goes out for a new generation of ships.

The Pentagon mantra is always for more and better, which often turns out to be for less and much more expensive, e.g. the F-35 fighter.

Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views . He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu . Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.

[Sep 26, 2016] It has been particularly infuriating to see the Chanel-suited Berkeley types be the ones to embrace imperial fascist war-making with such glee.

Sep 26, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

HBE September 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

Just watched Samantha Powers speak at the emergency UN security counsel meeting on Syria, how she managed to keep a straight face is completely beyond me.

Basically Russia needs to take responsibility for its actions in Syria and the war would be over if those damn Russians would GTFO and quit disrupting the US and GCC regime change operations.

It appears everything would be going swimmingly if Russia would just leave the "rebels" alone and let the US turn Syria into Libya, I mean is that so much to ask for? /S

tgs September 25, 2016 at 12:37 pm

The people Obama has chosen to represent him are almost all fanatics. Samantha Power and Ash Carter stand out as true psychopaths. Carter actually openly defied Obama on the Syria ceasefire.

Robert Parry has an excellent piece out today on the rush to judgment about the attack on the humanitarian convoy.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm

It has been particularly infuriating to see the Chanel-suited Berkeley types be the ones to embrace imperial fascist war-making with such glee.
I happened to recognize Susan Rice travelling sans bodyguard with her girlfriend at the airport in Chiang Mai Thailand and had a delicious time giving her a full piece of my mind. Unedited truth to power with nowhere to hide, she reacted with a glaze that said "you are just an idiot peon" but I could see she was shaken.

[Sep 24, 2016] US started Ukraine civil war

Jan 30, 2015 | english.pravda.ru
30.01.2015

US started Ukraine civil war. War in Donbass continues

It has been over a year of blood, tears and destruction in Ukraine especially in SE Ukraine. The new country now called Novorossia, has been fighting the puppet government in Kiev, USA who is committing genocide in the Donbass region. America's new addition to its Empire is funded with billions and millions supported by NATO and other mercenaries. Yet, Kiev still cannot complete its mission the US trained it for. Oleg Tsarov warned about the impish activities the US was performing before the protests began in Kiev. America started the war in Ukraine but like Goliath was slain by little David.

US Started Ukraine Civil War *PROOF* Nov 20, 2013

Oleg Tsarov, who was then the People's Deputy of Ukraine, talks about US preparations for civil war in Ukraine, November 2013 in Kiev parliament. Major protests began the day after his speech. You can hear the paid protesters chanting "Ukraine" in the background trying to keep him from speaking the truth. Later, April 14, 2014, Oleg was beaten by a mob when he was running for president but fortunately survived. His face was badly beaten as shown here. Remember, his speech was the day before the Maidan Protests. See the Timeline. In his speech he said:

"...activists of the organization 'Volya' turned to me providing clear evidence that within our territory with support and direct participation of the US EMBASSY (in Kiev) the 'Tech Camp' project is realized under which preparations are being made for a civil war in Ukraine.

The project is currently overseen and under the responsibility of the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt. After the conversation with the organization 'Volya'. I have learned they succeeded to access the facilities of 'Tech Camp' disguised as a team of IT specialists. To their surprise, briefings on the peculiarities of modern media were held. AMERICAN instructors explained how social networks and Internet technologies can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion as well as to activate protest potential to provoke violent unrest in the territory of Ukraine; radicalization of the population triggering infighting.

American instructors presented examples of successful use of social networks used to organize protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Recent conference took place Nov 14-15, 2013, in the heart of Kiev in the Embassy of the United States of America!

Is it conceivable that representatives of the US Embassy which organize the 'Tech Camp' conferences misuse their diplomatic mission? UN resolution of December 21, 1965 regulates inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of a state to protect its independence and its sovereignty in accordance with paragraphs 1,2 and 5. I ask you to consider this as an official supplication to pursue an investigation of this case."

Well, no investigation was ever made especially by the "land of the free". Vladimir Putin has asked the UN for help but they drag their feet. The US embassies have caused more damage than the Soviet Union has ever done. In the video, we can see Oleg and others knew about America's interference in Ukraine affairs. He wanted to stop the civil war and courageously ran for president to stop the impending bloodshed. Thousands of deaths could have been avoided if people had listened to him. He could not fight the tide of billions of dollars from Obama and the US Congress. The Nazis in Kiev had their way while Poroshenko sent men to their deaths. What a waste into a whirlpool of misery.

Obama and Poroshenko told the army they were going to fight terrorists. The "terrorists" were innocent civilians. Kiev POW's were later paraded in front of the bombarded people as they got a dose of REALITY. If only Obama or Poroshenko had told them the truth that they were bombing civilians they thought. The Ukrainian army is full of city boys who are inexperienced, fighting in unknown territory. The Novorossia militia is filled with coal miners and other blue collar workers with many who have had combat experience in Chechnya or older men with experience from the Soviet-Afghanistan war.

The militia has seen their children, wives, Mothers, Fathers, grandparents and close friends killed but their faith, as this touching video shows, helps them defend their land. The Ukrainian army was drafted and sent by seedy Obama and Poroshenko under the penalty of 5 yrs in jail if they did not fight. If you feel sorry for them as POW's then I hope you see the bodies or graves of the thousands of civilians who were killed by them. It is a tragedy for everyone involved. Even for Soros, Obama, Poroshenko, Kerry, Nuland, members of US Congress who approved this, the Nazis in Kiev, all will suffer far worse on Judgment Day unless they repent.

The civil war continues in Ukraine but despite Kiev's effort to mask the number of their dead soldiers and POW's, Novorossia continues victory after victory on the battlefield. Ukraine army focuses on shelling civilians while Novorossia kills Kiev's soldiers or captures them. Sometimes they are returned to their Mothers as seen in this film.

Donetsk Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko from Novorossia argues with Kiev army officer in this powerful video. He said that the Kiev army succumbed to the coup:

"To give away our own country to be looted by Americans and other European countries"

That video is by Graham Phillips who does the job that the impotent lame stream media won't do in America. Bravo Graham! Many thanks to Kazzura for her translation of most of the videos.

Notice in the West the so called journalists are nowhere to be found on the battlefield in Ukraine as this man was here. I am certainly not addressing the media like CNN, FOX, CBS and the other court jesters who are paid clowns in the freak show called "US government". They dare tell America lies about the war. I would force them to dig the graves of the dead. How quickly the mainstream media goose steps in unison blaming Russia as Hitler did. Showing them the truth would be like showing a burnt building to a pyromaniac. The US media is in the business of making money not telling the truth. Peace and truth don't make billions of dollars they say. Were they bribed or are they true liars? "The liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else." - George Bernard Shaw

Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland was back in the news recently. In her efforts to support the US program against "Russia Today". "Noodle Head Nuland" belittled RT by saying "RT's tiny, tiny audience in the United States". Remember her? The Benghazi gal was first talking about Democracy in Ukraine with Chevron. Their version of "democracy and freedom" means war to the rest of the world. She was seen handing out food to protesters and police in Kiev. How nice she is sounding so sweet and so kind. She was later caught on tape saying "Fuck the EU" when discussing the setup of the Ukraine government. Later she was grilled by Republican Dana Rohrabacher where she admitted there were Nazis on Maidan. Yeah, I really trust that evil witch who learned her craft from Hillary.

It is obvious to the world, but not to the West, that Kiev was overthrown by the US and EU. Although the US propaganda blames Russia for everything the OSCE has already disproven their claims. We wanted to show in our main video that Kiev was actually warned before Pandora's Box was opened. The blame is clearly on the US as instigators. They sowed the devil's seed.

Nevertheless, those who were deceived by the US or went along with the evil knowingly are also to blame and bear the responsibility of misleading Ukraine. Kiev has now become the newest suffering colony in America's empire. The only real "Hope and Change" for the people of Donbass is fighting against Obama's tyranny and becoming the independent country of Novorossia. "Let Freedom Ring!" America has forgotten its meaning.

Xavier Lerma. Contact Xavier Lerma at xlermanov@swissmail.org

[Sep 24, 2016] UKRAINE Surrounded Donetsk- Ukraine General Staff applies experience of the Spanish Civil War

Notable quotes:
"... an operation to encircle Donetsk is nearly complete! ..."
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UKRAINE: Surrounded Donetsk- Ukraine General Staff applies experience of the Spanish Civil War
http://hvylya.org/analytics/politics/okruzhennyiy-donetsk-genshtab-ukrainyi-primenyaet-opyit-grazhdanskoy-voynyi-v-ispanii.html ^ | 03.08.14, 18:06

Posted on ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2014‎ ‎8‎:‎22‎:‎10‎ ‎PM by UMCRevMom@aol.com

Ukrainian Interior Ministry forces ATO Main news of recent days: an operation to encircle Donetsk is nearly complete!

This radically changes the entire operational environment at the front. Let's already stop hiding behind a fig leaf is an abbreviation of ATU and will be referred to as a war-torn, and advanced-front.

Many people ask how the war, which, by its type refers to the type of maneuver, formed wheel built? After all, in the civil wars there is no front line. What do the schemes that appear on the Internet, which clearly outline the front line?

First, the schemes are not reflected front and border control zones. Please note that the scheme is not solid and dotted line .

Secondly, in the civil wars of the twentieth century in key areas formed a solid front.

Third, in these days we are recognizing a century of the First World War. This grand massacre marked by the fact that the war for the first time in human history has become a purely positional. On the western front rows of trenches stretched linear continuum from the North Sea to Switzerland. And before the war were maneuverable. However, the basic principles of the strategy work as a maneuver, and as the positional constructions. Therefore the environment in Donetsk - is now a decisive factor that will help determine the subsequent course of events.

1919 defeat of Denikin. Future Marshal Yegorov spends quite a front operation at significantly discharged constructions than we are now seeing in the Donbas.

But the most accurate historical analogy of what is happening in the East of the country, is the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, a rehearsal for WWII.

Three months ago, when the ATO was just beginning, with Yuri Romanenko, we discussed what it will be for operation from a military point of view, with what does it compare? Spain! - Even then we came to this conclusion.

One side holds successive offensives against disparate unsaturated builds on the other hand, in the end it all comes down to a struggle for basic megacities - Barcelona and Madrid in the years 1938-1939 and for the Donetsk and Lugansk in 2014. We see that during the Spanish Civil War also called the control zone - fronts.

As then, leading the offensive side of the wire successive offensives in various sectors of the front. General Franco did not immediately come to such a strategy. But, he quickly enough proved its effectiveness.

The Spanish Civil War

Another connecting factor - and in Spain, and in the Donbass defensive side had and has the ability to constantly replenish their strength. I mean the International Brigades in Spain and Russian mercenaries in the Donbass. Just do not make direct analogies and remember Hemingway. Ideology, morality and culture here is not the point, only comparison is the strategic and military experience.

Based on the study of the history of strategic decisions during the Spanish Civil War. The General staff of Ukraine has abandoned an ambitious but totally inappropriate, in terms of strategy, the plan of encirclement throughout the territory occupied by the enemy.

General Staff of Ukraine refused ambitious but completely wrong, in terms of strategy, plan the environment throughout the territory To carry out such an operation is necessary to introduce martial law and full mobilization. The economic crisis - Ukraine needs to live and work. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko demanded to find less radical solutions. The General staff was to develop private operations against individual enemy factions. And immediately came to fruition!

Today, we are seeing a decline IAF combat capability, as they are forced to operate in disparate groups. The actions of terrorists is completely dictated by the operational environment. Given the fact that the strategic initiative is fully on the side of the APU, the actions of illegal armed groups cropped, are predictable and can be controlled. While the IAF will not solve the problems with communications around Donetsk, they have no opportunity for meaningful operations on other sites.

Maneuver warfare strategy can be compared to the battle in zero gravity, when one of the opponents, getting zubodrobilny kick gets a chance to continue the fight, that only lasts with some kind of support. In our case, this leg is large metropolitan areas. Having lost the strategic initiative, the IAF will be forced to pull their main forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk, allowing the APU, if necessary, to conduct the operation on the closure of the border with Russia. Everything is good in its season!

[Sep 15, 2016] Elizabeth Warren on Thursday requested a formal investigation into why the Obama administration did not bring criminal charges individuals and corporation involved in the 2008 financial crisis

www.nakedcapitalism.com
L

"Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Thursday requested a formal investigation into why the Obama administration did not bring criminal charges individuals and corporation involved in the 2007-2008 financial crisis" [International Business Times]. Why now? Liz edging her hat toward the ring if Clinton comes up lame?

I can see two possible interpretations for this.

First, as much as I hate to draw the analogy, she could be positioning herself to take the reigns after a loss in the way that Richard Nixon, Paul Ryan, and later Bill Clinton did. Richard Nixon sat back and concentrated on building up credibility as Barry Goldwater melted down and then quietly stepped in to take over the party after the loss to set up his eventual run. Paul Ryan quietly permitted or perhaps aided the coup against Boehner. And Bill Clinton, through the DLC teed up his control of the party after Dukakis lost.

Second, with Wells-Fargo and bank fraud once again in the news she could be working to keep prior decisions current both to force better action this time or to nudge the Clinton and Trump into making promises of stronger action in the future.

Lambert Strether Post author

It seems to me that both those objectives would be served by continuing to hammer on Wells Fargo, so the question "Why now?" isn't really answered in your comment.

But if you wanted to take out an option on running a full-throated populist campaign - and throwing bankers in jail would be wildly popular across the entire political spectrum (except Clinton's 10%-ers on up) - in the unhappy event that the party's candidate came up lame, then calling for an account of regulatory decision making in 2009 would be one way to signal that. Note also that would call Obama's "legacy" into question, too; the whole "stand between you and the pitchforks" thing. This is a big deal.

[Sep 15, 2016] American Antitrust Is Having a Moment: Some Reactions to Commissioner Ohlhausen's Recent Views

Sep 14, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris Sagers at ProMarket:
American Antitrust Is Having a Moment: Some Reactions to Commissioner Ohlhausen's Recent Views : Over the summer, Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen took me and several others to task in a speech , subsequently published as a journal article ... The theme we'd all written about is whether we in the United States have a "monopoly problem," and whether federal policy should try to do something about it. ...

Commissioner Ohlhausen had some pretty strong words. ... Specifically, she implies a very strong presumption against public interference in private markets, as indicated by her argument that there is not yet sufficient evidence that we have a monopoly problem. The argument seems to be that we must wait until we are very, very sure, beyond any reasonable econometric doubt, apparently, that there's something wrong before we step in. ...

She is mistaken, and she ignores roughly a library-full of well-known..., sophisticated empirical work. ...

In the end, the irony of these remarks is captured in this point: Commissioner Ohlhausen is pretty witheringly dismissive of a certain kind of evidence of market power, and implies that it would not support increased enforcement unless it can overcome a high methodological bar. But for her own countervailing evidence that in fact American markets are "fierce[ly] competiti[ve]," she says this: "Consider the new economy, which is a hotbed of technological innovation. That environment does not strike me as one lacking competition."

In other words, the presumption against antitrust is so strong that evidence of harm must meet the most exacting standards of social science. To prove that markets are in fact competitive, however, needs nothing more than seat-of-the-pants anecdotes. Again, I mean no disrespect, and I think we have an honest difference of opinion. But this stance is not social science, and it is not good, empirically founded public policy. It is just ideology. ...

It's definitely true that the agencies have brought a bunch of challenges to a bunch of nasty mergers, and perhaps total enforcement numbers have gone up a bit. But that is because we are in the midst of a merger wave in which parties have been proposing breathtakingly massive, overwhelmingly consolidating horizontal deals. While there is a track record to be proud of in the administration's enforcement, especially, as the commissioner observes, in the Commission's campaign against hospital mergers, reverse-payment deals, SEP problems, and patent trolls, and who knows how many other matters, the fact remains that by and large the administration has mostly not taken action that any administration would not have taken, including the Reagan and both Bush administrations. ...

DrDick : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:13 AM

If we were actually serious about antitrust, which we very much should be, we would not only block most of these mergers, but break up many of existing behemoths (like the big banks, the media giants, Comcast, and many others).
pgl -> DrDick... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:18 AM
I'm all for breaking up the behemoths when they are indeed stifling competition. The Reagan Revolution to anti-trust was based on a contention that some mergers were about efficiency effects. I think this argument is sometimes overblown but it is not per se false. I do object (see below) to the weak evidence that goes like this. Collective shareholder value rose so ergo the merger is about efficiency effects. Anyone who argues that (see Don Luskin and the premium ice cream proposed merger) is not very bright.
DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:49 AM
Exactly. Corporations being able to suck more profit out of the costumers (and as a result share prices rising) is the proof that anti-trust has failed. In a fully functional competitive market companies do not make much profit.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM
Accounting profits? Maybe you should read that paper by the commissioner as she makes a very clear statement about what accounting profit would look like in a competitive market. And it is not zero. Return to capital? Hello?
DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM
No if it was zero the whole thing breaks down. However, a small return on capital is an indication that companies are forced to cut prices because of competition- and that is a healthy market. So yes there is (some but) not much profit in a fully functional competitive market.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:36 PM
Let's define "small return". Standard financial economics puts this at the risk-free rate plus a premium for bearing systematic risk. OK - the risk-free return now is quite small. Say 2%. But if the risk premium is say 4%, then we are talking about a 6% expected return to assets. If that is what you mean by small - cool.

Of course I have seen a lot of "professionals" argue for much higher returns. Of course these professionals would flunk a Finance 101 class.

DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:49 PM
I don't think the risk premium needs to be more than about 2% unless/until the economy enter a phase where demand outstrips supply (and more investment money needs to be attracted). If there is a glut of investment money then the price of it (=risk free returns) should go down.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 02:05 PM
This is the kind of thinking that got Hassett and Glassman to tell us about DOW 36000. Some people overestimate the risk premium but 2% is what a regulated utility or a leasing company gets. And neither bears commercial risk. Dude - you can make up whatever number your heart desires but there is market evidence on these things.
DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 06:25 PM
Exactly - even those are hugely overcompensated for this supposed risk.
Gibbon1 -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 04:14 PM
Ability to better suck profit out of a captive base of customers is an efficiency of a sort. Instead of investing in risky new business processes or technologies one merely has to buy out your competitors. This is practically risk free.
pgl : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:15 AM
A comment about this:

"Though she says that "[e]fficiencies are real"-citing no evidence for it in a speech critical of everyone else for failure to supply evidence-there is in fact no meaningful proof that consolidation generates social benefits. Especially in the case of mergers, a large and sophisticated empirical literature has been hunting for decades for evidence that mergers produce "efficiencies" or other benefits. The evidence has not been found. At least with respect to deals among publicly traded firms, the evidence tends to suggest that mergers do no good on average for shareholders of either acquiring or target firms, and if there were some efficiencies or larger social benefits, they should be measurable as benefits to shareholders. The empirical evidence has therefore confirmed the popular wisdom shared on Wall Street for years-that all this activity is not serving any good social purpose, though it might be helping executives and their bankers quite a lot."

The conservative (Reagan) approach to anti-trust did indeed ask DOJ and FTC to consider whether the merger was about beneficial efficiency effects v. anti-competitive effects. But let's suppose two firms merged and their collective value did rise benefiting shareholders. That does not prove the efficiency effects dominate. No – mergers that lead to less competition will often raise shareholder value even if there are no efficiency effects. Those mergers should be disallowed.

kurt : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:21 AM
Proof of Monopoly Power - Verizon and ATT's pricing and apparent lack of any interest in maintaining or even knowing where their physical plant is installed. Also - see directTV's recent price increases.
pgl -> kurt... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM
Can you hear me now? Oh wait - the Verizon dude now works for Sprint.
El Epicúreo Del Taco : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:26 AM
American markets are "fierce[ly] competiti[ve]," she says this: "Consider the new economy, which is a hotbed of technological innovation. That environment does not strike me as one lacking competition."

In other words, the presumption against antitrust is so strong
"

You are assumed properly competing until proved monopoly-based. The burden of proof is on the victims. Tell me something!

Does the government always appear as crystal clear as the mirror of Alice? When we look at local, county, state, and federal rulers, do we always see ourselves? Our own bias? Our own agenda? The government apes its voters.

Do you see how today's polity is begging for less competition? Less free trade from our trading partners? Do you see how we want to make a monopoly out of America? Build a fence around it so that nobody is allowed to buy anything from anyone other than our monopoly?

" We have identified the enemy, ourselves. " ~~Pogo~

DeDude : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:46 AM
Yes you need at least a dozen independent businesses delivering the same (substitutable) products to ensure that there is indeed a competitive market that will not be gamed against the consumers. This is not just needed to ensure that consumers will be offered a fair price, but also to ensure that companies will be forced to continue to innovate and offer better and better products. The oversight of mergers has been a scandal and needs to be tightened by new laws. Obviously we have to make the "dozen rule" a law rather than just common sense guidance.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:10 PM
The dozen rule? Where did that come from? Depends on the market but I would hope we have more than 12 suppliers of beer. BTW - it would be nice to have 12 health insurance companies but we could break up this oligopoly with such one more - the government aka the public option.
DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:34 PM
Yes some products can benefit from more variation, but at least with 12 suppliers you would not have anybody able to corner the market. The dozen rule is mine, that is how I get my eggs. If Ohlhausen can just make it up - so can I.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:37 PM
Do you remember the 1970's? Something called OPEC? But yea - I buy my eggs by the dozen too.
pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:39 PM
Speaking of breakfast, consider the maple syrup cartel:

http://fortune.com/2016/02/26/maple-syrup-cartel

DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:52 PM
Yes cartels (regardless of number of members) also have to be broken up - for markets and capitalism to work properly.
Tom aka Rusty : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:59 PM
The FTC has ignored a many major health care mergers but has gone litigation guns a blazin' into small mergers in such less-than-major metro centers as Moscow Idaho and Toledo Ohio.

Is there a "too big to litigate" standard?

pgl -> Tom aka Rusty... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 02:06 PM
Rusty calling for rational regulation as in the FTC doing its job. Stop the presses!
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to pgl... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 04:53 AM
I'm just asking for coherent policy, something often missing from the Obama administration.
Anon : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 08:30 PM
The sad fact is that the right-wing Law and Economics scholars have literally been trained to believe that the only correct null hypothesis is "free markets are good". When the null is not rejected with a 95% confidence interval, they actually think they've won the argument, while you're sitting there scratching your head saying, but when the null hypothesis is "free markets are bad", we can't reject that either. I've never seen logic get much traction with this crowd, because they are literally willing to tell you that economics demonstrates that "free markets are good", so that's the correct null.

It's very sad, but also very common when talking to lawyers. In fact, I often wonder whether the right-wing didn't create the "Law and Economics" movement in order to slow the exposure of the legal profession to the actual tools of modern economic analysis.

reason : , -1
It would be a start if we would simply stop seeing hostile takeovers as something positive (you know ex-ante efficiency improvements) and start seeing them for the interference in natural selection that they actually are (no 40-40 foresight exists).

[Sep 15, 2016] Whats Behind The Revolt Against Global Integration?

Notable quotes:
"... Elites can continue on the current path of pursuing integration projects and defending existing integration, hoping to win enough popular support that their efforts are not thwarted. On the evidence of the U.S. presidential campaign and the Brexit debate, this strategy may have run its course. ... ..."
"... I think some fellows already had this idea: "Much more promising is this idea: The promotion of global integration can become a bottom-up rather than a top-down project" -- "Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!" ~Marx/Engels, 1848 ..."
"... Krugman sort of said this when he saw that apparel multinationals were shifting jobs out of China to Bangladesh. Like $3 an hour is just way too high for workers. ..."
"... The "populists" are raging against global trade which benefits the world poor. The Very Serious economists know what is really going on and have to interests of the poor at heart. Plus they are smarter than the "populists" who are just dumb hippies. ..."
"... And what about neocolonialism and debt slavery ? http://historum.com/blogs/solidaire/245-debt-slavery-neo-colonialism-neoliberalism.html ..."
"... International debtors are the modern colonialists, sucking the marrow of countries; no armies are needed anymore to keep those countries subjugated. Debt is the modern instrument of enslavement, the international banks, corporations and hedge funds the modern colonial powers, and its enforcers are instruments like the Global Bank, the IMF, and the corrupt, collaborationist governments (and totalitarian regimes) of those countries, supported and propped up by these neo-colonials. ..."
"... Cover your a$$ much Larry? No mention of mass immigration? No mention of the elites' conscious, planned attack on homogeneous societies in Western Europe, the US, and now Japan? ..."
"... The US was 88% European as of 1960. As of 1800 it was like 90% English. So yes, it was basically a homogeneous society prior to the immigration act of 1965. Today it is extremely hard for Europeans to get into the US -- but easier for non-Europeans. Now why would that be? Hmm .... ..."
"... The only trade that is actually free is trade not covered by laws and/or treaties. All other trade is regulated trade. ..."
"... Here's a good rule to follow. When someone calls something the exact opposite of what it is, in all probability they are trying to hustle your wallet. ..."
"... ISIS was invented by Wall Street who financed them. ISIS is a scam, just like Bin Laden's group, just like "COMMUNISM!!!!" to control people. To manipulate them. ..."
"... Guys, the bourgeois state is a protection racket and always has been. It makes you feel safe, secure and "feel like man". So we can enjoy every indulgent individual lust the world has to offer. Then comes in dialectics of what that protection racket should do. ..."
"... To me, the bourgeois state is nothing more than a protection racket for the rich, something you should not forget. ..."
"... I find it rather precious that Summers pretends not to understand why people hate TPP. I do not think there is any real widespread antipathy toward global integration, though it does pose some rather substantial systemic dangers, as we saw in the global financial collapse. What people, including me, oppose is how that integration is structured. These agreements are about is not "free trade", but removing all restrictions on global capital and that is a big problem. ..."
"... TPP is not free trade. It is protectionism for the rich. ..."
"... All or most modern "free trade" agreements are like that. What people oppose is agreements which impoverish them and enrich capital. ..."
"... More free trade arrangement are not always better trade arrangements. People have seen the results of the labor race to the bottom caused by earlier free trade agreements; and now they are guessing we're going to get the same kind of race to the bottom with TPP when we have to put all of our environmental laws and other domestic regulations into capitalist competition with backward countries. ..."
"... progressive states (WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, NY, MD) could simply treat union busting the same way any OTHER major muscling or manipulation of the free market is treated: make it a felony. ..."
"... Summers: "Pie in the Sky" So trade negotiations would have to be lead by labor advocates and environmental groups -- sounds great to me, but I can't for the life of me figure out why the goods and service producers (i.e. capital owners) would have any incentive to promote trade under such a negotiated trade agreement... or that trade would actually occur. You'd have to eliminate private enterprise incentives to profit I think.. not something the U.S.'s "individualism" god can't tolerate. ..."
"... Alas, the Kaiser, the Tsar, and the Emperor did not act in accord with its tenets. Either increased global trade is irrelevant to war and peace, or World War I didn't happen. Your pick which to believe. ..."
Apr 11, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Larry Summers:
What's behind the revolt against global integration? : Since the end of World War II, a broad consensus in support of global economic integration as a force for peace and prosperity has been a pillar of the international order. ...

This broad program of global integration has been more successful than could reasonably have been hoped. ... Yet a revolt against global integration is underway in the West. ...

One substantial part of what is behind the resistance is a lack of knowledge. ...The core of the revolt against global integration, though, is not ignorance. It is a sense - unfortunately not wholly unwarranted - that it is a project being carried out by elites for elites, with little consideration for the interests of ordinary people. ...

Elites can continue on the current path of pursuing integration projects and defending existing integration, hoping to win enough popular support that their efforts are not thwarted. On the evidence of the U.S. presidential campaign and the Brexit debate, this strategy may have run its course. ...

Much more promising is this idea: The promotion of global integration can become a bottom-up rather than a top-down project. The emphasis can shift from promoting integration to managing its consequences. This would mean a shift from international trade agreements to international harmonization agreements, whereby issues such as labor rights and environmental protection would be central, while issues related to empowering foreign producers would be secondary. It would also mean devoting as much political capital to the trillions of dollars that escape taxation or evade regulation through cross-border capital flows as we now devote to trade agreements. And it would mean an emphasis on the challenges of middle-class parents everywhere who doubt, but still hope desperately, that their kids can have better lives than they did.

Tom aka Rusty : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:15 AM
Is Summers really this naive?
Jedgar Mihelic : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:21 AM
I think some fellows already had this idea: "Much more promising is this idea: The promotion of global integration can become a bottom-up rather than a top-down project" -- "Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!" ~Marx/Engels, 1848
pgl -> Jedgar Mihelic ... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:28 AM
Krugman sort of said this when he saw that apparel multinationals were shifting jobs out of China to Bangladesh. Like $3 an hour is just way too high for workers.
pgl : Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:32 AM
A large part of the concern over free trade comes from the weak economic performances around the globe. Summers could have addressed this. Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker - both sensible economists - for example recently called on the US to do its own currency manipulation so as to reverse the US$ appreciation which is lowering our net exports quite a bit.

What they left out is the fact that both China and Japan have seen currency appreciations as well. If we raise our net exports at their expense, that lowers their economic activity. Better would be global fiscal stimulus. I wish Larry had raised this issue here.

Peter -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 08:12 AM
The "populists" are raging against global trade which benefits the world poor. The Very Serious economists know what is really going on and have to interests of the poor at heart. Plus they are smarter than the "populists" who are just dumb hippies.
likbez -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 04:48 PM
pgl,

And what about neocolonialism and debt slavery ? http://historum.com/blogs/solidaire/245-debt-slavery-neo-colonialism-neoliberalism.html

=== quote ===

One of the most fundamental reasons for the poverty and underdevelopment of Africa (and of almost all "third world" countries) is neo-colonialism, which in modern history takes the shape of external debt.

When countries are forced to pay 40,50,60% of their government budgets just to pay the interests of their enormous debts, there is little room for actual prosperity left.

International debtors are the modern colonialists, sucking the marrow of countries; no armies are needed anymore to keep those countries subjugated. Debt is the modern instrument of enslavement, the international banks, corporations and hedge funds the modern colonial powers, and its enforcers are instruments like the Global Bank, the IMF, and the corrupt, collaborationist governments (and totalitarian regimes) of those countries, supported and propped up by these neo-colonials.

In reality, not much has changed since the fall of the great colonial empires. In paper, countries have gained their sovereignty, but in reality they are enslaved to the international credit system.

The only thing that has changed, is that now the very colonial powers of the past, are threatened to become debt colonies themselves. You see, global capitalism and credit system has no country, nationality, colour; it only recognises the colour of money, earned at all cost by the very few, on the expense of the vast, unsuspected and lulled masses.

Debt had always been a very efficient way of control, either on a personal, or state level. And while most of us are aware of the implementations of personal debt and the risks involved, the corridors of government debt are poorly lit, albeit this kind of debt is affecting all citizens of a country and in ways more profound and far reaching into the future than those of private debt.

Global capitalism was flourishing after WW2, and reached an apex somewhere in the 70's.

The lower classes in the mature capitalist countries had gained a respectable portion of the distributed wealth, rights and privileges inconceivable several decades before. The purchasing power of the average American for example, was very satisfactory, fully justifying the American dream. Similar phenomena were taking place all over the "developed" world.

Kgaard : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:32 AM
Cover your a$$ much Larry? No mention of mass immigration? No mention of the elites' conscious, planned attack on homogeneous societies in Western Europe, the US, and now Japan?
anne -> Kgaard... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:44 AM
There is of course no reasonable answering to prejudice, since prejudice is always unreasonable, but should there be a question, when was the last time that, say, the United States or the territory that the US now covers was a homogeneous society?

Before the US engulfed Spanish peoples? Before the US engulfed African peoples? Before the US engulfed Indian peoples? When did the Irish, just to think of a random nationality, ruin "our" homogeneity?

I could continue, but how much of a point is there in being reasonable?

Kgaard -> anne... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM
The US was 88% European as of 1960. As of 1800 it was like 90% English. So yes, it was basically a homogeneous society prior to the immigration act of 1965. Today it is extremely hard for Europeans to get into the US -- but easier for non-Europeans. Now why would that be? Hmm ....

Also ... What is your definition of prejudice?

Benedict@Large -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 08:56 AM
The only trade that is actually free is trade not covered by laws and/or treaties. All other trade is regulated trade.

Here's a good rule to follow. When someone calls something the exact opposite of what it is, in all probability they are trying to hustle your wallet.

Has anyone been trying to hustle the wallets of the people who became ISIS? Oh please. That's a stupid question to even ask.

So is free trade, as in regulated trade that is called the opposite of what it is, responsible for ISIS? Of course it is.

Ben Groves -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 10:10 AM
ISIS was invented by Wall Street who financed them. ISIS is a scam, just like Bin Laden's group, just like "COMMUNISM!!!!" to control people. To manipulate them.

It is like using the internet to think you are "edgy". Some dudes like psuedo-science scam artist Mike Adams are uncovering secrets to this witty viewer............then you wonder why society is degenerating. What should happen with Mike Adams is, he should be beaten up and castrated. My guess he would talk then. Boy would his idiot followers get a surprise and that surprise would have results other than "poor mikey, he was robbed".

This explains why guys like Trump get delegates. Not because he uses illegal immigrants in his old businesses, not because of some flat real wages going over 40 years, not because he is a conman marketer.........he makes them feel safe. That is purely it. I think its pathetic, but that is what happens in a emasculated world. Safety becomes absolute concern. "Trump makes me feel safe".

Guys, the bourgeois state is a protection racket and always has been. It makes you feel safe, secure and "feel like man". So we can enjoy every indulgent individual lust the world has to offer. Then comes in dialectics of what that protection racket should do.

To me, the bourgeois state is nothing more than a protection racket for the rich, something you should not forget.

DrDick : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:35 AM
I find it rather precious that Summers pretends not to understand why people hate TPP. I do not think there is any real widespread antipathy toward global integration, though it does pose some rather substantial systemic dangers, as we saw in the global financial collapse. What people, including me, oppose is how that integration is structured. These agreements are about is not "free trade", but removing all restrictions on global capital and that is a big problem.
pgl -> DrDick ... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:57 AM
OK - some substance finally. TPP is not free trade. It is protectionism for the rich.
DrDick -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 11:10 AM
Actually, this is my first actual response to the post itself, but you were too busy being and a*****e to notice. All or most modern "free trade" agreements are like that. What people oppose is agreements which impoverish them and enrich capital.
Dan Kervick -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:33 PM
This has become a popular line, and it's not exactly false. But so what if it were a "free trade" agreement? More free trade arrangement are not always better trade arrangements. People have seen the results of the labor race to the bottom caused by earlier free trade agreements; and now they are guessing we're going to get the same kind of race to the bottom with TPP when we have to put all of our environmental laws and other domestic regulations into capitalist competition with backward countries.
Denis Drew : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:38 AM
" The promotion of global integration can become a bottom-up rather than a top-down project. "

" ... whereby issues such as labor rights and environmental protection would be central ... "

+1

Now if we could just adopt that policy internally in the United States first we could then (and only then) support it externally across the world.

Easy approach: (FOR THE TEN MILLIONTH TIME!) progressive states (WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, NY, MD) could simply treat union busting the same way any OTHER major muscling or manipulation of the free market is treated: make it a felony. FYI (for those who are not aware) states can add to federal labor protections, just not subtract.

A completely renewed, re-constituted democracy would be born.

Biggest obstacle to this being done in my (crackpot?) view: human males. Being instinctive pack hunters, before they check out any idea they, first, check in with the pack (all those other boys who are also checking in with the pack) -- almost automatically infer impossibility to overcome what they see (correctly?) as wheels within wheels of inertia.

Self-fulfilling prophecy: nothing (not the most obvious, SHOULD BE easiest possible to get support for actions) ever gets done.

Peter : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 08:31 AM
http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/new_path_forward/

I'm not the only one seeking a new path forward on trade.

by Jared Bernstein

April 11th, 2016 at 9:20 am

"...

Here's Larry's view of the way forward:

"The promotion of global integration can become a bottom-up rather than a top-down project. The emphasis can shift from promoting integration to managing its consequences. This would mean a shift from international trade agreements to international harmonization agreements, whereby issues such as labor rights and environmental protection would be central, while issues related to empowering foreign producers would be secondary. It would also mean devoting as much political capital to the trillions of dollars that escape taxation or evade regulation through cross-border capital flows as we now devote to trade agreements. And it would mean an emphasis on the challenges of middle-class parents everywhere who doubt, but still hope desperately, that their kids can have better lives than they did.

Good points, all. "Bottom-up" means what I've been calling a more representative, inclusive process. But what's this about "international harmonization?""

It's a way of saying that we need to reduce the "frictions" and thus costs between trading partners at the level of pragmatic infrastructure, not corporate power. One way to think of this is TFAs, not FTAs. TFAs are trade facilitation agreements, which are more about integrating ports, rail, and paperwork than patents that protect big Pharma.

It's refreshing to see mainstreamers thinking creatively about the anger that's surfaced around globalization. Waiting for the anger to dissipate and then reverting back to the old trade regimes may be the preferred path for elites, but that path may well be blocked. We'd best clear a new, wider path, one that better accommodates folks from all walks of life, both here and abroad."

anne : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 09:12 AM
"What's Behind The Revolt Against Global Integration?" -- Washington Post editors title.

"Global trade should be remade from the bottom up" -- Lawrence Summers title.

I find the difference in titles important in showing just how slanted Washington Post editors are.

Longtooth : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 01:41 PM
Summers: "Pie in the Sky" So trade negotiations would have to be lead by labor advocates and environmental groups -- sounds great to me, but I can't for the life of me figure out why the goods and service producers (i.e. capital owners) would have any incentive to promote trade under such a negotiated trade agreement... or that trade would actually occur. You'd have to eliminate private enterprise incentives to profit I think.. not something the U.S.'s "individualism" god can't tolerate.
pgl -> Longtooth... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 01:46 PM
Imagine a trade deal negotiated by the AFL-CIO. Labor wins a lot and capital owners lose a little. We can all then smile and say to the latter - go get your buddies in Congress more serious about the compensation principle. Turn the table!
kthomas -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:01 PM
Not being rude, but I fail to understand your response.

AFL-CIO? turn the table?

Peter -> kthomas... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:51 PM
It's okay. He's drunk again.
New Deal democrat : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:07 PM
"consensus in support of global economic integration as a force for peace and prosperity " -- "The Great Illusion" ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Illusion )
That increased trade is a bulwark against war rears its ugly head again. The above book which so ironically delivered the message was published in 1910.

Alas, the Kaiser, the Tsar, and the Emperor did not act in accord with its tenets. Either increased global trade is irrelevant to war and peace, or World War I didn't happen. Your pick which to believe.

George H. Blackford :
Our problems began back in the 1970s when we abandoned the Bretton Woods international capital controls and then broke the unions, cut taxes on corporations and upper income groups, and deregulated the financial system. This eventually led a stagnation of wages in the US and an increase in the concentration of income at the top of the income distribution throughout the world: http://www.rwEconomics.com/Ch_1.htm

The export-led growth model that began in the 1990s seriously exacerbated this problem as it proved to be unsustainable: http://www.rwEconomics.com/htm/WDCh_2.htm

When combined with tax cuts and financial deregulation it led to increasing debt relative to income in the importing countries that caused the financial catastrophe we went through in 2008, the economic stagnation that followed, and the social unrest we see throughout the world today. This, in turn, created a situation in which the full utilization of our economic resources can only be maintained through an unsustainable increase in debt relative to income: http://www.rwEconomics.com/htm/WDCh3e.htm

This is what has to be overcome if we are to get out of the mess the world is in today, and it's not going to be overcome by pretending that it's just going to go away if people can just become educated about the benefits of trade. At least that's not the way it worked out in the 1930s: http://www.rwEconomics.com/LTLGAD.htm

[Sep 15, 2016] On Views Of The War On Syria by Debs is Dead>

A pretty devious scheme -- creating difficulty for the government neoliberal wanted to depose by pushing neoliberal reforms via IMF and such. They channeling the discontent into uprising against the legitimate government. Similar process happened with Yanukovich in Ukraine.
Notable quotes:
"... the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians ..."
"... it doesn't make President Assad virtuous of himself and neither does it reflect the reality that when push came to shove Assad put his position ahead of the people of Syria and kissed neoliberal butt. ..."
"... President Assad revealed his stupidity when he didn't pay attention to what happens to a leader who has previously been featured as a 'tyrant' in western media if he lets the neoliberals in: They fawn & scrape all the while developing connections to undermine him/her. If the undermining is ineffective there is no backing off. The next option is war. The instances are legion from President Noriega of Panama to President Hussein of Iraq to Colonel Ghaddaffi of Libya - that one really hurts as the Colonel was a genuinely committed and astute man. Assad is just another hack in comparison. ..."
"... Syrian leaders are politicians, they suffer the same flaws of politicians across the world. They are power seekers who inevitably come to regard the welfare of their population as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. ..."
"... No one denies that the opposition have been used and abused by FUKUSi, but that of itself does not invalidate the very real issues that persuaded them to resist an austerity imposed from above by assholes who weren't practicing what they preached. ..."
"... According to the European model of diplomacy imposed upon the globe, countries have interests not friends. ..."
"... A solution which reduces numbers of humans killed is worth attempting. ..."
"... Just because someone chooses an option that you disagree with does not make them evil or headchoppers or Islamofacist. ..."
"... On balance I would rather see Assad continue as leader of Syria but I'm not so naive as to believe he is capable of finding a long term resolution, or that there are not a good number of self interested murderous sadists in his crew. ..."
"... This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed. ..."
"... you make some good points concerning Assad flirting with neoliberalism however, i don't know how you call an opposition 'moderate' when its toting firearms. ..."
"... The protests against Assad were moderate, and to his credit Assad was willing to meet them halfway. However, this situation was exploited by (((foreign powers))) ..."
"... This is not about "good or evil", this is about TOW missiles made in USA against T-55, Saudi money for mercenaries, Israeli regional ambitions and so on. Syria is another country that the US wants to destroy. Six years ago Syria was a peaceful country. ..."
"... Allegedly president Assad is a bad guy but Erdogan, Netanyhu and bin Saud are noble and good men. Who believes in such nonsense? The US has become similar to Israel and this is the reason why "Assad must go". Sick countries do sick things. ..."
"... no, because one side is so simplistically evi l(armed to the fucking teeth and resolved to violent insurrection!!!), if Assad didn't have the backing of the vast majority of his people and of his overreached army it would have ended a long time ago and Syria would be a failed state flailing away in the grip of anarchy. perhaps your Syrian 'friends' should meditate on this naked truth. ..."
"... when that shitty little country called Israel was squeezed onto the map in 1948, Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees with open arms by the hundreds of thousands. no, they didn't grant them citizenship, but prettty much all other rights. ..."
"... This whole nightmare was dreamed up from within the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. Bashir al Assad was too popular in the country and the region for America's liking, so they plotted to get rid of him. Near all the organ eating, child killing, head chopping "moderate" opposition are from other countries, those that are Syrian, as was the case in Iraq, mostly live outside the country and are not in touch with main stream opinion, but very in touch with US, Saudi etc $$$s. ..."
"... I consider Bashar al-Assad the legitimate Syrian President and attempts to remove him by external interests as grounds for charges of crimes against humanity, crimes of war. ..."
"... As one of the bloggers rightly stated Wesley Clarke spilled the whole beans and revealed their true ilk. 7 countries in 5 years. How coincidental post 9/11. ..."
"... If you say "Assad was flirting with Neo Liberalism" then this is actually a compliment to Assad. Why? Because he wanted to win time. He wanted to prevent the same happening to Syria that has happened to Iraq. At that time there was no other protective power around. Russia was still busy recovering. ..."
"... As demeter said Posted by: Demeter @14, the flirrting with neoliberalism bought them time as neocons were slavering for a new target. It also made the inner circle a ridiculous amount of money. Drought made life terrible for many rural syrians. When the conflict started, if you read this website you'd notice people wondering what was going on and as facts unfolded. realizing that Assad was the lesser of two evils, and as the war has gone on, look like an angel in comparison to the opposition. ..."
"... Salafism is Racism. It de-egitimizes the entire anti Assad revolution. ..."
"... Wesley Clark's "seven countries in five years" transcript for anyone who has forgotten: http://genius.com/General-wesley-clark-seven-countries-in-five-years-annotated ..."
"... the armed conflict originated with scheming by foreign governments to use extremists as a weapon. ..."
"... Furthermore, Debsisdead sets up the same "binary division" that he says he opposes by tarnishing those who oppose using extremists as a weapon of state as Assad loving racists. The plot was described by Sy Hersh in 2007 in "The Redirection" . ..."
"... The fight IS "binary". You support Assad and his fighters, the true rebels, or you don't. Calling Assad a "hack" is a slander of a veritable hero. Watch his interviews. Assad presides over a multi-cultural, multi-confessional, diverse, secular state, PRECISELY what the Reptilians claim they cherish. ..."
"... "the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians." - on that we can agree. ..."
"... It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger for the civil war in Syria has been totally censored from the press. The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids. The population doubled every 18 years, from 5 million to 10 million to 20 million and then at 22 the water ran out and things fells apart. Syria is a small country mostly arid plateau, in principle it could be developed to support even more people just not in that amount of time and with the resources that the Syrians actually had. ..."
"... It doesn't mean he's a saint that Assad is leading the very popular 'secular/multi-confessional Syria' resistance against an extremely well-funded army primarily of non-Syrians who are mainly 'headchoppers' who will stop at nothing to impose Saudi-style religious dictatorship on Syria. ..."
"... The 'moderate' opposition to Assad has largely disappeared (back into the loyal opposition that does NOT want a Saudi-style state imposed on Syria), but those who remain in armed rebellion surely must know that they are a powerless, very small portion of what is in fact mercenary army completely subservient to the needs and directives of its primary funders/enablers, the US and Saudi Arabia. So whatever their original noble intentions, they've become part of the Saudi/US imperial problem. ..."
"... All that land, all that resource...and a unifying language. Amazing. If only the Arab world could unite for the collective good of the region we might witness a rogue state in an abrupt and full decline. A sad tactic of colonial powers over the years, setting the native tribes upon each other. We've not evolved here. ..."
"... t in recent history the foreign policy of powerful nations is aimed at sponsoring social disintegration within the borders of targeted countries. ..."
"... Ethnic cleansing means destruction of culture, of historical memory, the forced disappearance of communities that were rooted in a place. ..."
"... Compare President Assad's leadership to that of the western, or Saudi, sponsors of terror; or measure his decisions against those of the hodgepodge of rebels and mercenaries, with their endless internal squabbles and infighting. Assad is so much more of a spokesman for the rights of sovereignty, and his words carry more weight and outshine the banalities that spring from the mouths of those who are paying the bills, and supplying weapons, and giving all kinds of diplomatic comfort to the enemies of the Syrian government. ..."
"... There is no need for sorting things into absolutes of good and evil. But there is a condition under which fewer, a lot fewer, humans would have died in Syria, Without foreign interference--money, weapons, and training--Assad's government would have won this war quite a while ago. ..."
"... And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live. ..."
"... Fundamentalism is never satisfied until it can become a tyranny over the mind. Racism and fundamentalism are as American as apple pie. You have to take a close look at who is pouring oil on this fire! ..."
"... I disagree with you in that neoliberalism is seriously not difficult to define. It boils down to belief that public programs are bad/'inefficient' and that society would be better served by privatizing many things(or even everything) and opening services up to 'competition'. It's mainly just cover for parasites to come in and get rich off of the masses misery. The 'neoliberalism is just a snarl word' meme is incredibly stupid, since plenty of books and articles have been written explicitly defining it. ..."
"... American economic hegemony is inherently neoliberal, and has been for decades. The IMF is essentially an international loan shark that gives countries money on the condition that they dismantle their public spending apparatus and let the market run things. ..."
"... The situation is different now. One Syrian lady, who came to see me in April, who lives in California, told me that her father, who was a big pre-war oppositionist, now just wants to return to Syria to die. There's no question. if you want peace in Syria, Asad is the only choice. The jihadis, who dominate the opposition, don't offer an alternative. ..."
"... The lesson of Viet Nam was to keep the dead and wounded off the six o'clock news. ..."
"... The jackals are going in. Another coup. Syria was on the list. Remap the Middle East. Make it like Disney World. Israel as Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein. ..."
"... I don't think anyone who comments here regularly ever assumed that Bashar al Assad was a knight in white shining armour. Most of us are aware of how he came to be President and that his father did rule the country from 1971 to 2000 with an iron fist. Some if not most also know that initially when Bashar al Assad succeeded to the Presidency, he did have a reformist agenda in mind. How well or not he succeeded in putting that across, what compromises he had to make, who or what opposed him, how he negotiated his way between and among various and opposed power structures in Syrian politics we do not know. ..."
"... Yes, I have trouble reconciling the fact that Bashar al Assad's government did allow CIA renditioning with his reformist agenda in my own head. That is something he will have to come to terms with in the future. I don't know if Assad was naive, under pressure or willing, even eager in agreeing to cooperate with the CIA, or trying to buy time to prepare for invasion once Iraq was down. Whether Assad also realises that he was duped by the IMF and World Bank in following their advice on economic "reforms" (such as privatising Syria's water) is another thing as well. ..."
"... I don't see why you call the problem "Islamic fundamentalism" when in fact it is Sunni fundamentalism. ..."
"... Manifest Destiny is fundamentalism. ..."
"... "Full Spectrum Dominance" and other US Military doctrines are fundamentalist in nature. ..."
"... I have no doubt that Assad was little more than a crude Arab strongman/dictator prince back in the 2011 when the uprising started. Since then, he has evolved into a committed, engaged defender of his country against multilateral foreign aggression, willingly leaving his balls in the vice and all. ..."
"... He could have fled the sinking ship many times so far. Instead, he decided to stay and fight the Takfiri river flowing in through the crack, and risk going down with the ship he inherited. The majority of the Syrians know this very well. ..."
"... Bashar of 2016 (not so much the one of 5 1/2 years ago) would not only win the next free elections, but destroy any opposition. The aggressors know that as a fact. ..."
"... if Syria had control over its borders with Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Iraq would the war have ended a long time ago ? Answer honestly. ..."
"... If yes, then the so-called "opposition" of the union of headchoppers does not represent a significant portion of the Syrian people. Were it otherwise Assad wouldnt be able to survive a single year, let alone 5. With or without foreign help. ..."
"... OK here is an interesting article from 2011 on Abdallah Dardari, the fellow who persuaded Bashar al Assad to adopt the disastrous neoliberal economic reforms that not only ruined Syria's economy and the country's agriculture in particular but also created an underclass who resented the reforms and who initially joined the "rebels". http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2097 ..."
"... And where is Dardari now? He jumped ship in 2011 and went to Beirut to work for the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). He seems like someone to keep a watchful eye on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Dardari ..."
"... of COURSE assad flirted with the west. between housing cia rendition houses and the less-than-flattering aspects of the wikileaks "syria files", assad and/or his handlers (family and/or military) have tried a little too hard to "assimilate" to western ideals (or the lack thereof). ..."
"... i seriously doubt they will make that mistake again. they saw what happened to al-qaddafi after he tried to play nice and mistook western politicians for human beings. they've learned their lesson and become more ruthless but they were always machiavellians because they have to be. not an endorsement, just an acceptance of how the region is. ..."
"... also: israel, the saudis (along with qatar and the other GCC psychopaths in supporting capacity) and the US are the main actors and throwing european "powers" into the circle of actual power does them an undue favor by ignoring their status as pathetic vassal states. "FrUkDeUSZiowhatever" isn't necessary. ..."
"... Look I know the MSM is utterly controlled - but the extent of that control still shocks at times. It is simply not possible to be "informed" by any normal definition of the word anymore without the alternative media - and for that reason this site serves a valuable purpose and I once again thank the host and contributors. ..."
"... The irony is, Assad is 10x smarter and bigger person than Debs. Yes, he made some mistakes, but if not "flirting with neoliberalism", war against Syria would have started many years earlier, when Resistance wasnt ready one bit (neither Russia, nor Iran, while on the other hand US was more powerful). ..."
"... Support for rebel groups was misguided at best at the beginning of the war. One could conceivably not appreciate the capacity of the KSA/USA/Quatar/Israel to influence and control and create these groups. Jesus it's hard for me to think of a single local opposition group that isnt drenched in fanaticism besides the Kurds. ..."
"... There's no way to a solution for the Syrian people, the population not imported that is, if these groups win. I hate to be so binary but its so naive in my eyes to think anything good will come from the long arm of the gulf countries and the USA taking control. ..."
"... As I've said repeatedly, the GOAL of the Syria crisis for the Western elites, Israel and the ME dictatorships is to take Syria OUT by any means necessary in order to get to IRAN. Nothing else matters to these people. In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc. ..."
"... So, yes, right NOW the whole story is about US elites, Zionist "evil", corrupt monarchs, and scumbag fanatics, etc., etc. Until THAT is resolved, nothing about how Syria is being run is going to matter. ..."
"... Copeland @60: No, I don't think the problem is fundamentalism. It's the warring crusade method of spreading a belief's 'empire' that is the problem. This is a problem uniquely of the Saudi 'do whatever it takes' crusade to convert the entire 'Arab and Muslim world' to their worst, most misogynist form of Islam. ..."
"... Just want to mention that from the beginning there were people who took up arms against the government. This is why the situation went out of control. People ambushed groups of young soldiers. Snipers of unknown origin fired on police and civilians. ..."
"... I rather like Assad. I won't lie. But, he is not the reason for the insurrection in Syria ~ well, except for his alliances with Russia and Iran and his pipeline decisions and his support for Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. What happened in Syria is happening all over the globe because the nation with the most resources in the world, the self-declared exceptionalist state thinks this is the way to rule the world. . . . because they want to rule and they don't care how much destruction it takes to do so. And lucky for us there is no one big enough and bad enough to do it to us - except for our own government. ..."
"... There were a lot of people posting how Bashar al Assad was doing full neoliberalism. And at was true. ..."
"... So Assad was hit by a Tri-horror: global warming, dwindling cash FF resources, and IMF-type pressure, leaving out the trad. enemies, KSA, pipelines , etc. MSM prefer to cover up serious issues with 'ethnic strife' (sunni, shia, black lives matter, etc.) ..."
Sep 15, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org

lifted from a comment

It is sad to see so many are so locked into their particular views that they see any offering of an alternative as 'neoliberal' or laughable or - if it weren't so serious - Zionist.

1/ I do not see the Syrian civil war as racist or race based, I do believe however that the rejection of all Islamic fundamentalism as being entirely comprised of 'headchoppers' is racist down to its core. It is that same old same old whitefella bullshit which refuses to consider other points of view on their own terms but considers everything through the lens of 'western' culture which it then declares wanting and discards.

2/ Noirette comes close to identifying one of the issues that kicked off the conflict, that the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians. I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue - mostly because he is seen to be standing up to American imperialism. That is a virtuous position but it doesn't make President Assad virtuous of himself and neither does it reflect the reality that when push came to shove Assad put his position ahead of the people of Syria and kissed neoliberal butt.

3/ President Assad revealed his stupidity when he didn't pay attention to what happens to a leader who has previously been featured as a 'tyrant' in western media if he lets the neoliberals in: They fawn & scrape all the while developing connections to undermine him/her. If the undermining is ineffective there is no backing off. The next option is war. The instances are legion from President Noriega of Panama to President Hussein of Iraq to Colonel Ghaddaffi of Libya - that one really hurts as the Colonel was a genuinely committed and astute man. Assad is just another hack in comparison.

4/ These Syrian leaders are politicians, they suffer the same flaws of politicians across the world. They are power seekers who inevitably come to regard the welfare of their population as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

5/ My Syrians friends are an interesting bunch drawn from a range of people currently living inside and outside of Syria. Some longer term readers might recall that I'm not American, don't live in America and nowadays don't visit much at all. The first of the 'refugee' Syrians I got to know, although refugee is a misnomer since my friend came here on a migrant's visa because his skills are in demand, is the grandchild of Palestinian refugees - so maybe he is a refugee but not in the usual sense. Without going into too many specifics as this is his story not mine, he was born and lived in a refugee camp which was essentially just another Damascus suburb. As he puts it, although a Palestinian at heart, he was born in Syria and when he thinks of home it is/was Damascus. All sides in the conflict claimed to support Palestinian liberation, yet he and his family were starved out of their homes by both Syrian government militias and the FSA.

When he left he was initially a stateless person because even though he was born in Syria he wasn't entitled to Syrian citizenship. He bears no particular grudge against the government there but he told me once he does wish they were a lot smarter.

On the other hand he also understands why the people fighting the government are doing so. I'm not talking about the leadership of course (see above - pols are pols) but the Syrians who just couldn't take the fading future and the petty oppression by assholes any longer.

6/ No one denies that the opposition have been used and abused by FUKUSi, but that of itself does not invalidate the very real issues that persuaded them to resist an austerity imposed from above by assholes who weren't practicing what they preached.

I really despair at the mindset which reduces everything to a binary division - if group A are the people I support they must all be wonderful humans and group B those who are fighting Group A are all evil assholes.

If group A claim to support Palestinian self determination (even though they have done sweet fuck all to actually advance that cause) then everyone in Group B must be pro-Zionist even though I don't know what they say about it (the leadership of the various resistance groups are ME politicians and therefore most claim to also support Palestinian independence). Yes assholes in the opposition have done sleazy deals with Israel over Golan but the Ba'ath administration has done similar opportunist sell outs over the 40 years when the situation demanded it.

I fucking hate that as much as anyone else who despises the ersatz state of Israel, but the reality is that just about every ME leader has put expedience ahead of principle with regard to Palestine. Colonel Ghadaffi would be the only leader I'm aware of who didn't. Why do they? That is what all pols and diplomats do not just Arab ones. According to the European model of diplomacy imposed upon the globe, countries have interests not friends.

As yet no alternative to that model has succeeded since any attempt to do so has been rejected with great violence. The use of hostages offered by each party to guarantee a treaty was once an honorable solution, the hostages were well treated and the security they afforded reduced conflict - if Oblamblam had to put up one of his daughters to guarantee a deal does anyone think he would break it as easily as he currently does? Yet the very notion of hostages is considered 'terrorism' in the west. But I digress.

The only points I wanted to make was the same as those I have already made:

If you want to call me a Zionist lackey of the imperialists or whatever it was go right ahead - it is only yourself who you tarnish, I'm secure in the knowledge of my own work against imperialism, corporate domination and Zionism but perhaps you, who have a need to throw aspersions are not?

Posted by b on September 12, 2016 at 03:33 AM | Permalink

papa | Sep 12, 2016 3:51:57 AM | 1
Plus one more - it is humorous and saddening to see people throw senseless name-calling into the mix. It is the method preferred by those who are too stupid and ill informed to develop a logical point of view.

why you think your article is different from others senseless name-calling, i see exactly the same.

This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed.

lemur | Sep 12, 2016 4:30:41 AM | 2
you make some good points concerning Assad flirting with neoliberalism however, i don't know how you call an opposition 'moderate' when its toting firearms.

The protests against Assad were moderate, and to his credit Assad was willing to meet them halfway. However, this situation was exploited by (((foreign powers)))

ash123 | Sep 12, 2016 5:43:53 AM | 3
If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago.
This is not about "good or evil", this is about TOW missiles made in USA against T-55, Saudi money for mercenaries, Israeli regional ambitions and so on. Syria is another country that the US wants to destroy. Six years ago Syria was a peaceful country.

Allegedly president Assad is a bad guy but Erdogan, Netanyhu and bin Saud are noble and good men. Who believes in such nonsense? The US has become similar to Israel and this is the reason why "Assad must go". Sick countries do sick things.

john | Sep 12, 2016 5:47:26 AM | 4

Debsisdead says:

If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago

no, because one side is so simplistically evi l(armed to the fucking teeth and resolved to violent insurrection!!!), if Assad didn't have the backing of the vast majority of his people and of his overreached army it would have ended a long time ago and Syria would be a failed state flailing away in the grip of anarchy. perhaps your Syrian 'friends' should meditate on this naked truth.

If group A claim to support Palestinian self determination (even though they have done sweet fuck all to actually advance that cause)...

when that shitty little country called Israel was squeezed onto the map in 1948, Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees with open arms by the hundreds of thousands. no, they didn't grant them citizenship, but prettty much all other rights.

so thanks, b, for headlining this obfuscatory drivel. thus, for posterity.

Felicity | Sep 12, 2016 6:04:27 AM | 5
This whole nightmare was dreamed up from within the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. Bashir al Assad was too popular in the country and the region for America's liking, so they plotted to get rid of him. Near all the organ eating, child killing, head chopping "moderate" opposition are from other countries, those that are Syrian, as was the case in Iraq, mostly live outside the country and are not in touch with main stream opinion, but very in touch with US, Saudi etc $$$s.

Here again is the reality of where this all started, article from 2012 (below.). And never forget Wesley Clark's Pentagon informant after 9/11 of attacking "seven countries in five years." Those in chaos through US attacks or attempted "liberation" were on the list, a few more to go and they are a bit behind schedule. All responsible for this Armageddon should be answering for their actions in shackles and yellow jump suits in The Hague.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-and-conspiracy-theories-it-is-a-conspiracy/29596

Formerly T-Bear | Sep 12, 2016 6:23:51 AM | 6
|~b~ Thank you for putting Debsisdead's comment @ 135 prior post into readable form. Failing eyesight made the original in its extended format difficult to read.

Reference Debsisdead comment:

Your definition of neoliberal would be nice to have. Usually it is used as ephemerally as a mirage, to appear in uncountable numbers of meaning.

Having determined your definition of neoliberal, are you sure it WAS neoliberal rather than a hegemonic entity? Neoliberal seems best used as the reactionary faux historic liberalism as applied to economic agendas (neocon is the political twin for neoliberal, libertarian had been previously been co-opted).

Instead of F•UK•US•i, maybe a F•UK•UZoP would suffice (France•United Kingdom•United Zionist occupied Palestine) given the spheres of influence involved.

Agree with your observations about the limited mentality of dualism; manichaeism is a crutch for disabled minds unaware and blind to subtle distinctions that comprise spectrums.

Though not paying close attention to Syrian history, it was Hafez al-Assad who became master of the Syrian Ba'athist coup d'état and politically stabilised Syria under Ba'athist hegemony. In the midst of the 'Arab-spring' zeitgeist, an incident involving a child with security forces led to a genuine public outcry being suppressed by state security forces. This incident, quickly settled became cause célèbre for a subsequent revolt, initially by SAA dissidents but soon thereafter by external interests having the motive of regime overthrow of Syrian Ba'athists and their leadership. Other narratives generally make little sense though may contain some factors involved; the waters have been sufficiently muddied as to obscure many original factors - possibly Bashar al-Assad's awareness of his security forces involvement in US rendition and torture as to compromise his immediately assuming command of his security forces in the original public protest over the child. Those things are now well concealed under the fogs of conflict and are future historians to sort.

I consider Bashar al-Assad the legitimate Syrian President and attempts to remove him by external interests as grounds for charges of crimes against humanity, crimes of war.

The opinions expressed are my own.

falcemartello | Sep 12, 2016 6:41:48 AM | 7
Classic western sheeple disconnect. As one of the bloggers rightly stated Wesley Clarke spilled the whole beans and revealed their true ilk. 7 countries in 5 years. How coincidental post 9/11. This total disconnect with global realities is a massive problem in the west cause the 86000 elite /oligarchs r pushing for a war with both the bears/ Russian and Chinese along with Iran. These countries have blatantly stated they will not be extorted by fascism. All western countries r all living a Corporate state. Just look all around every facet of our society is financialised. Health ,education , public services.
Wake up cause if we dont we will be extinct Nuclear winter
Mikael | Sep 12, 2016 6:41:56 AM | 8
I am of syrian origin, born in Beirut Lebanon. My family lived a happy life there, but shortly after I was born, Israel invaded Lebanon, and my family fled and emigrated to Europe, I was 1 year old. I call major bullshit on your piece.
Demeter | Sep 12, 2016 8:00:26 AM | 9
If you say "Assad was flirting with Neo Liberalism" then this is actually a compliment to Assad. Why? Because he wanted to win time. He wanted to prevent the same happening to Syria that has happened to Iraq. At that time there was no other protective power around. Russia was still busy recovering.

What do you think would have happened had Assad not pretended he would go along? Syria would have been bombed to pieces right then. Why did Assad change his mind later and refused to cooperate with Qatar, Saudi and US? Because the balance of power was about to change. Iran and Russia were rising powers (mainly in the military field).

I could say so much more. I stopped reading your post when you mentioned that your Palestinian friend ( I know the neighbourhood in Damascus, it is called Yarmouk and it is indeed a very nice suburb) does not have Syrian citizenship. Do you know why Palaestinians don't get Syrian citizenship? Because they are supposed to return to their homeland Palestine.

And they can only do that as Palestinians and not as Syrians. That is why.

And that so many (not all!) Palestinians chose to backstab the country that has hosted them and fed them and gave them a life for so many years, and fought side by side with islamist terrorists and so called Free Syrian Army traitors is a human error, is based on false promises, is lack of character and honour and understanding of the broader context and interests. How will some of these fools and misguided young men feel when they realise that they have played right into the hand of their biggest enemy, the Zionists.

I would like to remind some of you who might have forgotten that famous incident described by Robert Fisk years ago, when a Syrian Officer told him upon the capture of some of these "freedom fighters' on Syrian soil, one of them said: "I did not know that Palestine was so beautiful", not realising that he was not fighting in Palestine but in Syria.

And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live.

Here is racism for you debsisdead.

AtaBrit | Sep 12, 2016 8:00:59 AM | 10
Though reluctant to get involved in what seems to be for some a personal spat, I would like to point out one fundemental point that renders the above published and counter arguments difficult to comprehend which is that they lack a time frame.
The 'Syrian opposition' or what ever you wish to call it is not now what it was 6 years ago. Thus, for me, at least, it is not possible to discuss the make up of the opposition unless there are some time frames applied.

An example is a Syrian who was an officer in the FSA but fled to Canada last year. He fled the Syrian conflict over 3 years ago to Turkey -which is how I know him - where he did not continue ties with any group. He simply put his head down and worked slavishly living at his place of work most of the time to escape to Canada - he feared remaining in Istanbul. He claimed that he and others had all been taken in by promises and that the conflict had been usurped by extremists. He was not a headchopper, he was not the beheader of 12 year old children. He was and is a devout Muslim. He was a citizen of Aleppo city. I know him and of him through other local Syrians in Istanbul and believe his testimony. I mention him only to highlight that the conflict is not what it was, not what some intended it to be ... Nor is it what some paint it to be. There are many who fight whomever attacks their community be they pro / anti Government. - Arabs especially have extended village communities/ tribes and pragmatically they 'agree' to be occupied as long as they are allowed to continue their lives in peace. If conflict breaks out they fight whomever is necessary.

DebIsDead makes some very excellent points in his/her comments. They deserve appraisal and respectful response. It is also clear thar he/she is writing defensively in some parts and those detract from what is actually being said.

Cresty | Sep 12, 2016 8:41:04 AM | 12
The piece suffers from several errors. As demeter said Posted by: Demeter @14, the flirrting with neoliberalism bought them time as neocons were slavering for a new target. It also made the inner circle a ridiculous amount of money. Drought made life terrible for many rural syrians. When the conflict started, if you read this website you'd notice people wondering what was going on and as facts unfolded. realizing that Assad was the lesser of two evils, and as the war has gone on, look like an angel in comparison to the opposition.

You can't change the fact that it took less than 2 years for the opposition to be dominated by both foreign and domestic takfiris who wanted to impose saudi style culture on an open relatively prosperous cosmopolitan country. They've succeeded in smashing it to pieces. Snuff your balanced account and your bold anti racism

Northern Observer | Sep 12, 2016 8:52:18 AM | 14
Salafism is Racism. It de-egitimizes the entire anti Assad revolution.
Felicity | Sep 12, 2016 9:22:01 AM | 15
Wesley Clark's "seven countries in five years" transcript for anyone who has forgotten: http://genius.com/General-wesley-clark-seven-countries-in-five-years-annotated
Jackrabbit | Sep 12, 2016 10:06:55 AM | 17
Debsisdead sets up a strawman - racism against Islamic fundamentalists and validity of opposition against Assad - and uses this to sidestep that the armed conflict originated with scheming by foreign governments to use extremists as a weapon.

Furthermore, Debsisdead sets up the same "binary division" that he says he opposes by tarnishing those who oppose using extremists as a weapon of state as Assad loving racists. The plot was described by Sy Hersh in 2007 in "The Redirection" .

ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 10:10:18 AM | 18
"If you want to call me a Zionist lackey of the imperialists or whatever it was go right ahead - it is only yourself who you tarnish, I'm secure in the knowledge of my own work against imperialism, corporate domination and Zionism but perhaps you, who have a need to throw aspersions are not?" Passive-aggressive much?

The fight IS "binary". You support Assad and his fighters, the true rebels, or you don't. Calling Assad a "hack" is a slander of a veritable hero. Watch his interviews. Assad presides over a multi-cultural, multi-confessional, diverse, secular state, PRECISELY what the Reptilians claim they cherish.

TG | Sep 12, 2016 10:22:59 AM | 20
"the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians." - on that we can agree.

It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger for the civil war in Syria has been totally censored from the press. The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids. The population doubled every 18 years, from 5 million to 10 million to 20 million and then at 22 the water ran out and things fells apart. Syria is a small country mostly arid plateau, in principle it could be developed to support even more people just not in that amount of time and with the resources that the Syrians actually had.

No the issue was not 'climate change'. The aquifers in Syria had been falling for years, even when rainfall was above normal. Don't blame the weather.

"The more the merrier" - tell me exactly how people having more children than they can support creates wealth? It doesn't and it never has.

Whenever governments treat their people as if they were cattle, demanding that they breed the 'correct' number of children rather than making the decision based on their own desires and judgement of how many they can support, the result is always bad.

Assad treated the people of Syria as if they were cattle. Surely this deserves mention?

Diana | Sep 12, 2016 10:23:43 AM | 21
Cultural "left" bullshit at its best. Cultural "leftists" don't need to know any hostory or have any understanding of a political issue: it's sufficient to pull out a few details from the NATO press and apply their grad school "oppression" analysis.
juliania | Sep 12, 2016 10:26:32 AM | 22
Thanks to b for posting the comment of Debs is Dead. The point I would take issue with is where he states "I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue. . ."

I don't believe this is a correct realization. I think the many to whom he refers know very well that any person in leadership of a country can be found to have flaws, major and minor, and even to have more of such than the average mortal. The crucial counterpoint, however, which used to be raised fairly often, is that it is the acceptance of the majority of the people governed by such leaders that ought to be the international norm for diplomatic relations.

I respect the knowledge DiD has gained from his Syrian friends and contacts. But I also remember a man called Chilabi and am very leery of destabilization attempts this country has been engaged in lo these many generations, using such displaced persons as surrogates. And rather than properly mourn the 9/11 victims and brave firemen and rescuers of that terrible day, I find myself mourning the larger tragedy of unnecessary wars launched as a consequence of our collective horror at that critical moment in our history.

Can we please stop doing this?

Wizzy | Sep 12, 2016 10:35:49 AM | 23
After making sound point about black-and-white worldview being unrealistic, the guy goes full retard. Position towards Palestinians as the one and only criteria to judge ME developments... C'mon, it's not even funny.

And while started from a "My Syrian friends" then he goes on reasoning on behalf of one single ex-Palestinian ex-Syrian guy...
Looks like self-revelation of a kind. Some guy, sitting in Israel, or whatever, waging informational warfare for the Mossad/CIA/NGO who pays his rent.

ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 10:38:01 AM | 24
"The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids."

Cite?

fairleft | Sep 12, 2016 10:58:51 AM | 25
DiD: "I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue. . ." The big reveal is that DiD can't name a single contributor here who has written that Assad is "some sort of model of virtue."

It doesn't mean he's a saint that Assad is leading the very popular 'secular/multi-confessional Syria' resistance against an extremely well-funded army primarily of non-Syrians who are mainly 'headchoppers' who will stop at nothing to impose Saudi-style religious dictatorship on Syria.

The 'moderate' opposition to Assad has largely disappeared (back into the loyal opposition that does NOT want a Saudi-style state imposed on Syria), but those who remain in armed rebellion surely must know that they are a powerless, very small portion of what is in fact mercenary army completely subservient to the needs and directives of its primary funders/enablers, the US and Saudi Arabia. So whatever their original noble intentions, they've become part of the Saudi/US imperial problem.

Krollchem | Sep 12, 2016 11:35:06 AM | 28
@ rg the lg 33

Thanks for addressing the problem of angry comments by some posters who just want to throw verbal grenades is unacceptable. I hope this site continues to be a great source for sharing information and ideas.

paul | Sep 12, 2016 11:40:49 AM | 29
Why in God's name was this pointless comment by Debs is Dead promoted this way?!!! The only point being made, that I can see, is that the war in Syria does have some legitimate issues at its root. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES. The Hegemon rarely to never makes up civil unrest in countries it wants to overthrow out of whole cloth. They take some dispute that is already there and ramp it up; this process escalates until it turns into some form of a proxy war or coup. In other words, the domestic political process is DISTORTED until it is no longer remotely recognizable as a domestic process.

So sure, if the US and its allies had not stoked political factionism in Syria into a global proxy war, we could discuss the fine details of the Syrian domestic process very usefully. At this point, though, IT IS IRRELEVANT.

I do agree on one point: Assad joins the horrendous list of overlords who thought they could make a deal with the Hegemon on their own terms. Assad will pay for that mistake with his life very soon I would guess and I think that Putin will too, though that might take a little longer. If they had chosen to stand on principle as Chavez did, maybe they would be dead as Chavez is (possibly done in, who knows), but they'd be remembered with honor as Chavez is.

MadMax2 | Sep 12, 2016 12:16:07 PM | 33
It is a shame no one stood up for Libya, for a surviving Gaddafi would have emerged considerably stronger - as Assad eventually will.

Whatever genuine opposition there was has long been hijacked by opportunistic takfiris, wahabbists and there various paymasters. And so as ruralito says @25: "The fight IS "binary...". The fight is indeed binary, the enemy is plural. Assad versus the many appearances of both the first and fourth kind.

Appearances to the mind are of four kinds.
Things either are what they appear to be;
or they neither are, nor appear to be;
or they are, and do not appear to be;
or they are not, and yet appear to be.
Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.

~Epictetus

Where there is obfuscation lay the enemy, hence Russia's long game of identification.

FecklessLeft | Sep 12, 2016 12:54:18 PM | 36
Does anyone remember the essay posted on this site a while back titled "The Feckless Left?" I don't believe B posted it, but if memory serves it's posted front and centre on the navigation bar beside this piece?

It really hammers those people like Tariq Ali, who while surely having legitimate grievances against the Assad govt, opened the door for legitimation of foreign sponsored war. They thought that funneling millions of dollars worth of training, weapons and mercs would open the door for another secular govt, but this time much 'better.' Surely.

No one thinks Assad is great. I really have trouble understanding where that notion comes from. It's just that the alternative is surely much worse. Lots of people didn't like Ghaddafi but jesus, I'm sure most Libyans would wish they could turn back the clock (at the risk of putting words in their mouths). It's not binary, no one sees this as good vs evil, its just that its become so painfully obvious at this point that if the opposition wins Syria will be so fucked in every which way. Those with real, tangible grievances are never going to have their voices heard. It will become the next Libya, except the US and it's clients will actually have a say in what's left of the political body in the country if you could even label it that at that point (which is quite frightenening in my eyes. Libya is already a shit show and they don't have much of a foothold there besides airstrikes and that little coastal base for the GNA to have their photo ops).

I find it ironic that when criticisms are levelled at Assad from the left they usually point out things that had he done more of, and worse of, he probably would be free of this situation and still firmly in power. If he had bowed down to Qatar and the KSA/USA I wonder if the 'armed opposition' would still have their problems with him? That's the ultimate irony to me. If he had accepted the pipelines, the privatization regimes, etc. would they still be hollering his name? It's very sad that even with the balancing act he did his country has been destroyed. Even if the SAA is able to come out on top at this point, the country is wholly destroyed. What's even the point of a having a 'legitimate' or 'illegitimate' opposition when they're essentially fighting over scraps now. I'd be surprised if they could rebuild the country in 120 years. Libya in my eyes will never be what it once was. It'll never have the same standards of living after being hit with a sledgehammer.

I don't mean to be ironic or pessimistic, its just a sad state of affairs all around and everyday it seems more and more unlikely that any halfway decent solution for the POPULATION OF SYRIA, not Assad, will come out of this.. It's like, I'm no nationalist, but in many countries I kind of would rather that than the alternative. Ghaddafi wasn't great but his people could've been a lot worse of - and ARE a lot worse of now. I'm no Assad fan, but my god look what the alternative is here. If it wasnt 95% foreign sponsored maybe id see your point.

Read the essay posted on the left there. "Syria, the Feckless Left" IIRC. I thought that summed up my thoughts well enough.

And guys, even if you agree with me please refrain from the name calling. It makes those of you with a legitimate rebuttal seem silly and wrong. I've always thought MoA was so refreshing because it was (somewhat) free of that. At least B is generating discussion. I kind of appreciate that. It's nice to hear ither views, even if they are a little unrealistic and pro violent and anti democratic.

FecklessLeft | Sep 12, 2016 1:01:58 PM | 37
QUICK DOUBLE POST

An example of an armed opposition with legitimate grievances that is far from perfect but still very sympathetic (in my eyes) is hizbollah. They have real problems to deal with. While they recieve foreign sponsorship they aren't a foreign group the way the Syrian opposition is. And they will be all but destroyed when their supply lines from Syria are cut off. I wonder how that fits in with OPs post.

Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 12, 2016 1:02:25 PM | 38
What makes Debs is Dead's turgid comment so irrational is that it endorses Regime Change in Syria as an ongoing, but necessary and inevitable, "good". But in doing so it tip-toes around the fact that it doesn't matter how Evil an elected President is, or is not, it's up to the the people who elected him to decide when they've had enough. It most certainly is NOT Neoconned AmeriKKKa's concern.

Debs also 'forgot' to justify totally wrecking yet another of many ME countries because of perceived and imaginary character flaws in a single individual.

It does not compute; but then neither does "Israel's" 70 year (and counting) hate crime, The Perpetual Palestinian Holohoax.

ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 1:07:59 PM | 39
@Shh, since you're so conveniently ensconced above the fray, perhaps you can see something we "nattering fuck wits" can't. Do tell.
Stillnottheonly1 | Sep 12, 2016 1:47:35 PM | 40
Whatever happened to the age old expression that one has to walk in someone else's shoes to understand their walk in life?

In an all too obvious fashion, another arm chair expert is blessing the world with his/her drivel.

To make it as concise as possible:

What would you have done in Assad's position? The U.S. is trying to annex Syria since 1948 and never gave up on the plan to convert it to what the neo-fascists turned Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and the Republic of Yugoslavia - whereas Yemen is still in the making, together with Ukraine, Turkey and Africa as a whole.

In the light of U.S. 'foreign policy', the piece reeks of the stench of obfuscation.

MadMax2 | Sep 12, 2016 2:02:43 PM | 41
@47 Hoarsewhisperer

Debs also 'forgot' to justify totally wrecking yet another of many ME countries because of perceived and imaginary character flaws in a single individual.

We shouldn't be surprised. Even a basic pragmatic approach to this conflict has been lost by many in the one sided, over the top shower of faeces that is the western MSM.

It does not compute; but then neither does "Israel's" 70 year (and counting) hate crime, The Perpetual Palestinian Holohoax.

All that land, all that resource...and a unifying language. Amazing. If only the Arab world could unite for the collective good of the region we might witness a rogue state in an abrupt and full decline. A sad tactic of colonial powers over the years, setting the native tribes upon each other. We've not evolved here.

Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 3:26:34 PM | 43
It is impossible for any one of us to possess the whole picture, which is why we pool our experience, and benefit from these discussions. The thing I see at the root of the Syrian war is the process of ethnic cleansing. In many cases that involve murderous prejudice, it erupts as civil war; but in recent history the foreign policy of powerful nations is aimed at sponsoring social disintegration within the borders of targeted countries.

Ethnic cleansing means destruction of culture, of historical memory, the forced disappearance of communities that were rooted in a place.

The objectives of the perpetrators have nothing to do with the convictions of the fundamentalists who do the dirty work; and the sectarian and mercenary troops are merely the tools of those who are creating hell on earth.

I agree with what papa wrote at the top of this thread:

why you think your article is different from others senseless name-calling,[?] i see exactly the same. This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed.
Compare President Assad's leadership to that of the western, or Saudi, sponsors of terror; or measure his decisions against those of the hodgepodge of rebels and mercenaries, with their endless internal squabbles and infighting. Assad is so much more of a spokesman for the rights of sovereignty, and his words carry more weight and outshine the banalities that spring from the mouths of those who are paying the bills, and supplying weapons, and giving all kinds of diplomatic comfort to the enemies of the Syrian government.

Debsisdead has always brought much food for thought to this watering hole. I have always respected him, and I think he has a fine mind. Nonetheless, despite the valuable contribution of this piece as a beginning place, in which we might reevaluate some of our presumptions, I maintain there are a few errors which stand out, and ought to be discussed.

I call into question these two points:

(1) Just because someone chooses an option that you disagree with does not make them evil or headchoppers or Islamofacist.
Up thread @14, we were reminded of Robert Fisk's report about misdirected, misinformed "freedom fighters" naively wandering around in Syria, while thinking that they were fighting in Palestine. In this ruin of Syria, where the well-intentioned are captured, or co-opted into evil acts against the civilian population, --is it really incumbent upon us, --from where we sit, to agonize over the motives of those who are committing the actual atrocities against the defenseless? What is the point?
(2) On balance I would rather see Assad continue as leader of Syria but I'm not so naive as to believe he is capable of finding a long term resolution, or that there are not a good number of self interested murderous sadists in his crew. By the same token I don't believe all of those resisting the Ba'athist administration are headchopping jihadists or foreign mercenaries. This war is about 5 years old. If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago.

There is no need for sorting things into absolutes of good and evil. But there is a condition under which fewer, a lot fewer, humans would have died in Syria, Without foreign interference--money, weapons, and training--Assad's government would have won this war quite a while ago.

Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 4:01:33 PM | 46
I very much agree with what Demeter wrote @ 14:
And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live.
Fundamentalism is never satisfied until it can become a tyranny over the mind. Racism and fundamentalism are as American as apple pie. You have to take a close look at who is pouring oil on this fire!
Kuma | Sep 12, 2016 4:05:35 PM | 47
@9
I disagree with you in that neoliberalism is seriously not difficult to define. It boils down to belief that public programs are bad/'inefficient' and that society would be better served by privatizing many things(or even everything) and opening services up to 'competition'. It's mainly just cover for parasites to come in and get rich off of the masses misery. The 'neoliberalism is just a snarl word' meme is incredibly stupid, since plenty of books and articles have been written explicitly defining it.

"Having determined your definition of neoliberal, are you sure it WAS neoliberal rather than a hegemonic entity?"

American economic hegemony is inherently neoliberal, and has been for decades. The IMF is essentially an international loan shark that gives countries money on the condition that they dismantle their public spending apparatus and let the market run things.

Laguerre | Sep 12, 2016 4:11:58 PM | 48
I usually enjoy DiD's rants (rant in the nice sense), but in this case he is wrong. His remarks are out of date.

No doubt he has Syrian friends in NZ, including the Syro-Palestinian he mentions. They will have been living their past vision of Syria for some time. Yes, back in 2011, there was a big vision of a future democratic Syria among the intellectuals. However those who fight for the rebellion are not middle class (who left) but rural Islamist Sunnis, who have a primitive al-Qa'ida style view.

The Syrian civil war is quite like the Spanish civil war. It started with noble republicans, including foreigners like Orwell, fighting against nasty Franco, but finished with Stalin's communists fighting against Nazi-supported fascists.

The situation is different now. One Syrian lady, who came to see me in April, who lives in California, told me that her father, who was a big pre-war oppositionist, now just wants to return to Syria to die. There's no question. if you want peace in Syria, Asad is the only choice. The jihadis, who dominate the opposition, don't offer an alternative.

john | Sep 12, 2016 4:18:12 PM | 50
james says:

must be a '''slow''' news day...

yeah, did you read that the American Imperium bombed 6 Muslim countries last Saturday?

Laguerre | Sep 12, 2016 4:51:42 PM | 51
Noirette comes close to identifying one of the issues that kicked off the conflict, that the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians.
The Ba'thist regime is a mafia of the family, not a dictatorship of Bashshar. Evidently their own interest plays a premier role, but otherwise why not in favour of the Syrian people? There's lot of evidence in favour of Syrian peace.
fast freddy | Sep 12, 2016 4:53:30 PM | 52
The lesson of Viet Nam was to keep the dead and wounded off the six o'clock news.

The jackals are going in. Another coup. Syria was on the list. Remap the Middle East. Make it like Disney World. Israel as Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein.

Islam and its backward dictates, and Christianity with its backward dictates and Manifest Destiny are problematic.

Curtis | Sep 12, 2016 7:22:18 PM | 55
I may be white and I may be a fella but don't believe I'm in the fold as described. Fundamentalists of any sort are free to believe as they will but when they force it on others via gun, govt, societal pressures, violence there's trouble. I've seen comparisons to the extremes from Christianity's past with the excuse of Islam as being in its early years. No excuses. Fundies out. But we don't see that in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Facts on the ground rule. Iran had a bit more moderation but only under the tyrant Shah. A majority may have voted for the Islamic Republic and all that entails but what of the minority?
BTW, where are the stories (links) that show Bashar has embraced neoliberalism? In the end, DiD reduced to pointing to two evils (with multi-facets) and it looks like Assad is the lesser. But who can come up with a solution for a country so divided and so infiltrated by outsiders? And here in the US, look at the choice of future leaders that so many do not want. Where is the one who will lead the US out of its BS? And who will vote for him/her?
Jen | Sep 12, 2016 7:39:57 PM | 57
Thanks to B for republishing the comment from Debsisdead. The comment raises some issues about how people generally see the war in Syria, if they know of it, as some sort of real-life video game substitute for bashing one side or another.

I am not sure though that Debsisdead realises the full import of what s/he has said and that much criticism s/he makes about comments in MoA comments forums could apply equally to what s/he says and has said in the past.

I don't think anyone who comments here regularly ever assumed that Bashar al Assad was a knight in white shining armour. Most of us are aware of how he came to be President and that his father did rule the country from 1971 to 2000 with an iron fist. Some if not most also know that initially when Bashar al Assad succeeded to the Presidency, he did have a reformist agenda in mind. How well or not he succeeded in putting that across, what compromises he had to make, who or what opposed him, how he negotiated his way between and among various and opposed power structures in Syrian politics we do not know.

Yes, I have trouble reconciling the fact that Bashar al Assad's government did allow CIA renditioning with his reformist agenda in my own head. That is something he will have to come to terms with in the future. I don't know if Assad was naive, under pressure or willing, even eager in agreeing to cooperate with the CIA, or trying to buy time to prepare for invasion once Iraq was down. Whether Assad also realises that he was duped by the IMF and World Bank in following their advice on economic "reforms" (such as privatising Syria's water) is another thing as well.

But one thing that Debsisdead has overlooked is the fact that Bashar al Assad is popular among the Syrian public, who returned him as President in multi-candidate direct elections held in June 2014 with at least 88% of the vote (with a turnout of 73%, better than some Western countries) and who confirmed his popularity in parliamentary elections held in April 2016 with his Ba'ath Party-led coalition winning roughly two-thirds of seats.

The fact that Syrians themselves hold Assad in such high regard must say something about his leadership that has endeared him to them. If as Debsisdead suggests, Assad practises self-interested "realpolitik" like so many other Middle Eastern politicians, even to the extent of offering reconciliation to jihadis who lay down their weapons and surrender, how has he managed to survive and how did Syria manage to hold off the jihadis and US-Turkish intervention and supply before requesting Russian help?

fairleft | Sep 12, 2016 8:03:18 PM | 59
Copeland @58: I don't see why you call the problem "Islamic fundamentalism" when in fact it is Sunni fundamentalism. Admittedly it's tough to 'name' the problem. I'm sure I speak for most here that the problem isn't fundamentalism but 'warring imperialist fundamentalist and misogynist Sunni Islam' that is the problem.

It'd be nice to have a brief and accurate way of saying what this is: 'Saudi Arabia violently exporting its worst form of Islam'.

Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 8:28:41 PM | 60
fairleft, @75

When people refer to Christian fundamentalism they use the broad term as well. Nothing is otherwise wrong with denominational belief, if past a certain point it is not fundamentalist. You say the problem is not fundamentalism, but something else. Indeed, the problem is fundamentalism.

Manifest Destiny is fundamentalism. There are even atheist fundamentalists. "Full Spectrum Dominance" and other US Military doctrines are fundamentalist in nature. We are awash in fundamentalism, consumerist fundamentalism, capitalist fundamentalism. If we are unlucky and don't succeed in changing the path we are on; then we will understand too late the inscription that appeared in the Temple of Apollo: "Nothing too much".

Kalen | Sep 12, 2016 8:31:13 PM | 61
They say that the first casualty of war is truth and from what I read in comments such a mental state prevails among readers, they see Assad, quite reasonably, as the only one who can end this horrible war and the only one who is really interested in doing so while US and even seemingly Russia seems to treat this conflict as a instrument of global geopolitical struggle instigated by US imperial delusions.

But of course one cannot escape conclusion that although provoked by the CIA operation Bashir Assad failed years befor 2011 exactly because, living in London, did not see neoliberalism as an existential threat ad his father did but a system that has its benefits and can be dealt with, so for a short while Saddam, Gaddafi and Mubarak thought while they were pampered by western elites.

Now Assad is the only choice I'd Syrians want to keep what would resemble unified Syrian state since nobody else seems to care.

Another interesting element that was touched upon is attitude to Israel and its US perceived role, but for that one needs deeper background starting from before 1948.
https://contrarianopinion.wordpress.com/history-revisited/

Quadriad | Sep 12, 2016 8:42:29 PM | 62
I have no doubt that Assad was little more than a crude Arab strongman/dictator prince back in the 2011 when the uprising started. Since then, he has evolved into a committed, engaged defender of his country against multilateral foreign aggression, willingly leaving his balls in the vice and all.

He could have fled the sinking ship many times so far. Instead, he decided to stay and fight the Takfiri river flowing in through the crack, and risk going down with the ship he inherited. The majority of the Syrians know this very well.

Bashar of 2016 (not so much the one of 5 1/2 years ago) would not only win the next free elections, but destroy any opposition. The aggressors know that as a fact.

Which is precisely why he "must go" prior to any such elections. He would be invincible.

redrooster | Sep 12, 2016 9:01:21 PM | 63
Dear Debs is Dead,

you wrote:

"This war is about 5 years old. If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago."

Question to you:

if Syria had control over its borders with Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Iraq would the war have ended a long time ago ? Answer honestly.

If yes, then the so-called "opposition" of the union of headchoppers does not represent a significant portion of the Syrian people. Were it otherwise Assad wouldnt be able to survive a single year, let alone 5. With or without foreign help.

Quadriad | Sep 12, 2016 10:00:23 PM | 65
#46 FecklessLeft

And that, my friend, may be the biggest oft ignored cui bono of the entire Syrian war.

If Assad goes:

  1. Syria falls apart. Western Golan has no more debtor nation to be returned to as far as the UN go. It immediately becomes fee simple property of the occupying entity, for as long as the occupier shall exist (and, with Western Golan included, that might be a bit longer perchance...).
  2. Hizbullah loses both its best supply line and all the strategic depth it might have as well as the only ally anywhere close enough to help. It becomes a military non-entity. Who benefits?

I think this cui bono (and a double one at that!) is a $100 difficulty level question, although it feels like a $64k one.

Bill Hicks | Sep 12, 2016 10:31:21 PM | 66
Best opinion post I've yet read on this site. "Binary division," also very much affects the U.S. election. If you hate Hillary, you must just LOVE Trump, even though many of the best reasons to hate her--her arrogance, her incompetence, her phoniness, her lies, her and Bill's relentless acquisition of great wealth, etc.--are also reasons to hate Trump. Assad is a bastard, Putin is a bastard, Saddam was a bastard--but so are Obama, Netanyahu, Hollande, etc. Is it REALLY that hard to figure out?
james | Sep 12, 2016 11:09:45 PM | 67
@ 62 john... we'll have to wait for debs to explain how all that (in your link) adds up, so long as no one calls him any name/s.... i'd like to say 'the anticipation of debs commenting again is killing me', but regardless, killing innocent people in faraway lands thanks usa foreign policy is ongoing..
Jen | Sep 13, 2016 1:17:04 AM | 71
OK here is an interesting article from 2011 on Abdallah Dardari, the fellow who persuaded Bashar al Assad to adopt the disastrous neoliberal economic reforms that not only ruined Syria's economy and the country's agriculture in particular but also created an underclass who resented the reforms and who initially joined the "rebels".
http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2097

And where is Dardari now? He jumped ship in 2011 and went to Beirut to work for the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). He seems like someone to keep a watchful eye on.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Dardari

the pair | Sep 13, 2016 2:12:09 AM | 72
not even sure where to begin...this article is barely worthy of a random facebook post and contains a roughly even mix of straw men and stuff most people already know and don't need dictated to them by random internet folks.

of COURSE assad flirted with the west. between housing cia rendition houses and the less-than-flattering aspects of the wikileaks "syria files", assad and/or his handlers (family and/or military) have tried a little too hard to "assimilate" to western ideals (or the lack thereof).

i seriously doubt they will make that mistake again. they saw what happened to al-qaddafi after he tried to play nice and mistook western politicians for human beings. they've learned their lesson and become more ruthless but they were always machiavellians because they have to be. not an endorsement, just an acceptance of how the region is.

and then there's "just about every ME leader has put expedience ahead of principle with regard to Palestine. Colonel Ghadaffi would be the only leader I'm aware of who didn't". that might be a surprise to nasrallah and a fair share of iran's power base. i'd also say "expedience" is an odd way to describe the simple choice of avoiding israeli/saudi/US aggression in the short term since the alternative would be what we're seeing in syria and libya as we speak. again, not an endorsment of their relative cowardice. just saying i understand the urge to avoid salfist proxy wars.

[also: israel, the saudis (along with qatar and the other GCC psychopaths in supporting capacity) and the US are the main actors and throwing european "powers" into the circle of actual power does them an undue favor by ignoring their status as pathetic vassal states. "FrUkDeUSZiowhatever" isn't necessary.]

as for "calling all islamic fundamentalism" "headchopping" being "racist", be sure not to smoke around all those straw men. never mind the inanity of pretending that all islamic "fundamentalism" is the same. never mind conflating religion with ethnicity. outside of typical western sites that lean to the right and are open about it few people would say anything like that. maybe you meant to post this on glenn beck's site?

whatever. hopefully there won't be more guest posts in the future.

bigmango | Sep 13, 2016 2:20:54 AM | 73
I read this site regularly and give thanks to the numerous intelligent posters who share their knowledge of the middle east and Syria in particular. Still, I do try to read alternative views to understand opposition perspectives no matter how biased or damaging these might they appear to the readers of this blog. So in the wake of recent agreements, I try find out what the mainstream media is saying about the Ahrar al-Sham refusal to recognize the US/Russia sponsored peace plan....and type that into google.......and crickets. All that comes up is a single Al-Masdar report.

Look I know the MSM is utterly controlled - but the extent of that control still shocks at times. It is simply not possible to be "informed" by any normal definition of the word anymore without the alternative media - and for that reason this site serves a valuable purpose and I once again thank the host and contributors.

Harry | Sep 13, 2016 2:28:44 AM | 74
The irony is, Assad is 10x smarter and bigger person than Debs. Yes, he made some mistakes, but if not "flirting with neoliberalism", war against Syria would have started many years earlier, when Resistance wasnt ready one bit (neither Russia, nor Iran, while on the other hand US was more powerful).

The other ironic point, Debs is guilty of many things he blames other for, hence comments about his hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness.

FecklessLeft | Sep 13, 2016 3:11:57 AM | 77
The essay I refered to earlier at 45/46 from this site I'll post below. I think it has a lot of bearing on what DiD is implying here. It's DEFINITELY worth a read and is probably the reason why I started appreciating this site in the first place.

Support for rebel groups was misguided at best at the beginning of the war. One could conceivably not appreciate the capacity of the KSA/USA/Quatar/Israel to influence and control and create these groups. Jesus it's hard for me to think of a single local opposition group that isnt drenched in fanaticism besides the Kurds. But now that we understand the makeup and texture of these groups much more and to continue support, even just in the most minor of ways, is really disheartening.

There's no way to a solution for the Syrian people, the population not imported that is, if these groups win. I hate to be so binary but its so naive in my eyes to think anything good will come from the long arm of the gulf countries and the USA taking control.

WORTH A READ. ONE OF THE BEST THINGS EVER POSTED ON MoA.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2013/05/syria-the-feckless-left-.html

Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79
The problem with this post is simple: all this might have been true back when the insurgency STARTED. TODAY it is UTTERLY IRRELEVANT.

As I've said repeatedly, the GOAL of the Syria crisis for the Western elites, Israel and the ME dictatorships is to take Syria OUT by any means necessary in order to get to IRAN. Nothing else matters to these people. In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc.

So, yes, right NOW the whole story is about US elites, Zionist "evil", corrupt monarchs, and scumbag fanatics, etc., etc. Until THAT is resolved, nothing about how Syria is being run is going to matter.

I don't know and have never read ANYONE who is a serious commenter on this issue - and by that I mean NOT the trolls that infest every comment thread on every blog - who seriously thinks Assad is a "decent ruler". At this point it does not matter. He personally does not matter. What matters is that Syria is not destroyed, so that Hizballah is not destroyed, so that Iran is not destroyed, so that Israel rules a fragmented Middle East and eventually destroys the Palestinians and that the US gets all the oil for free. This is what Russia is trying to defend, not Assad.

And if this leaves a certain percentage of Syrian citizens screwed over by Assad, well, they should have figured that out as much as Assad should have figured out that he never should have tried to get along with the US.

Frankly, this is a pointless post which is WAY out of date.

somebody | Sep 13, 2016 5:07:06 AM | 80
Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79

In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc.

This obviously is not the case. A recent take of the BBC with some real information on the realities of the war .

"We had to be fighters," he said, "because we didn't find any other job. If you want to stay inside you need to be a part of the FSA [Free Syrian Army, the group that has closest relations with the West]. Everything is very expensive. They pay us $100 a month but it is not enough.

"All this war is a lie. We had good lives before the revolution. Anyway this is not a revolution. They lied to us in the name of religion.

"I don't want to go on fighting but I need to find a job, a house. Everything I have is here in Muadhamiya."

Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 13, 2016 5:18:29 AM | 81
...
.. who seriously thinks Assad is a "decent ruler". At this point it does not matter. He personally does not matter.
...
Frankly, this is a pointless post which is WAY out of date.
Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79

Well, according to RSH, who specialises in being wrong...

Assad does matter because he is the ELECTED leader chosen by the People of Syria in MORE THAN ONE election.
Did you forget?
Did you not know?
Or doesn't any of that "democracy" stuff matter either?

AtaBrit | Sep 13, 2016 5:24:44 AM | 82
@TG | 20

"It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger ..."
And yet you fail to mention the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish water wars ...

okie farmer | Sep 13, 2016 6:34:41 AM | 84
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-syria-idUSKCN11J0EY

Israel said its aircraft attacked a Syrian army position on Tuesday after a stray mortar bomb struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, and it denied a Syrian statement that a warplane and drone were shot down.

The air strike was a now-routine Israeli response to the occasional spillover from fighting in a five-year-old civil war, and across Syria a ceasefire was holding at the start of its second day.

Syria's army command said in a statement that Israeli warplanes had attacked an army position at 1 a.m. on Tuesday (2200 GMT, Monday) in the countryside of Quneitra province.

The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked targets in Syria hours after the mortar bomb from fighting among factions in Syria struck the Golan Heights. Israel captured the plateau from Syria in a 1967 war.

The Syrian army said it had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone after the Israeli attack.

Denying any of its aircraft had been lost, the Israeli military said in a statement: "Overnight two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission to target Syrian artillery positions. At no point was the safety of (Israeli) aircraft compromised."

The seven-day truce in Syria, brokered by Russia and the United States, is their second attempt this year by to halt the bloodshed.

fairleft | Sep 13, 2016 9:33:38 AM | 89
Copeland @60: No, I don't think the problem is fundamentalism. It's the warring crusade method of spreading a belief's 'empire' that is the problem. This is a problem uniquely of the Saudi 'do whatever it takes' crusade to convert the entire 'Arab and Muslim world' to their worst, most misogynist form of Islam. T

here are of course many fundamentalists (the Amish and some Mennonites are examples from Christianity) that are not evangelical, or put severe (no violence, no manipulation, no kidnapping, stop pushing if the person says 'no') limits on their evangelism.

Only the Saudis, or pushers of their version of Islam, seem to put no limits at all on their sect's crusade.

brian | Sep 13, 2016 9:55:45 AM | 90
president Assad is a 'decent ruler' and thats the view of most syrians
papillonweb | Sep 13, 2016 10:01:56 AM | 92
Just want to mention that from the beginning there were people who took up arms against the government. This is why the situation went out of control. People ambushed groups of young soldiers. Snipers of unknown origin fired on police and civilians.

There are plenty of people in the United States right now who are just as oppressed - I would wager more so - than anyone in Syria. Immigrants from the south are treated horribly here. There are still black enclaves in large cities where young men are shot by the police on a daily basis for suspicious behavior and minor driving infractions. And then there are the disenfranchised white folks in the Teaparty who belong to the NRA and insist on 'open carry' of their weapons on the street and train in the back woods for a coming war. Tell me what would happen if there were a guarantor these people found believable who promised them that if they took up arms against the government (and anyone else in the country they felt threatened by) they would be guaranteed to win and become the government of a 'New America'. What if that foreign guarantor were to pay them and improve their armaments while providing political cover.

I rather like Assad. I won't lie. But, he is not the reason for the insurrection in Syria ~ well, except for his alliances with Russia and Iran and his pipeline decisions and his support for Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. What happened in Syria is happening all over the globe because the nation with the most resources in the world, the self-declared exceptionalist state thinks this is the way to rule the world. . . . because they want to rule and they don't care how much destruction it takes to do so. And lucky for us there is no one big enough and bad enough to do it to us - except for our own government.

TheRealDonald | Sep 13, 2016 10:08:27 AM | 93
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/un-condemns-assad-syria-abuse_us_57d7c49ce4b0fbd4b7bb50d8?section=&

Now look what you've done, Debs.

On to Sebastopol for the One Party!

fairleft | Sep 13, 2016 10:25:10 AM | 94
OT, but that was an interesting Sunni Islam conference in Grozny , because it excluded and then 'excommunicated' Salafism and Wahabbism. Amazing!

"All of the petrodollars Saudi Arabia spends to advance this claim of leadership and the monopolistic use of Islam's greatest holy sites to manufacture a claim of entitlement to Muslim leadership were shattered by this collective revolt from leading Sunni Muslim scholars and institutions who refused to allow extremism, takfir, and terror ideology to be legitimized in their name by a fringe they decided that it is even not part of their community. This is the beginning of a new era of Muslim awakening the Wahhabis spared no efforts and no precious resources to ensure it will never arrive."

okie farmer | Sep 13, 2016 11:04:04 AM | 96
Josh Landis Syria Comment
There were a lot of people posting how Bashar al Assad was doing full neoliberalism. And at was true.
Noirette | Sep 13, 2016 12:25:52 PM | 99
Assad (=> group in power), whose stated aim was to pass from a 'socialist' to a 'market' economy. Notes.

> a. unemployment rose 'n rose (to 35-40% youth? xyz overall?), and social stability was affected by family/extended f/ district etc. organisation being smashed. education health care in poor regions suffered (2)

> b. small biz of various types went under becos loss of subs, competition from outsiders (free market policy), lack of bank loans it is said by some but idk, and loss of clients as these became impoverished. Syria does not have a national (afaik) unemployment scheme. Assad to his credit set up a cash-transfer thingie to poor families, but that is not a subsitute for 'growing employment..'

*opened up the country's banking system* (can't treat the details..)

So Assad was hit by a Tri-horror: global warming, dwindling cash FF resources, and IMF-type pressure, leaving out the trad. enemies, KSA, pipelines , etc. MSM prefer to cover up serious issues with 'ethnic strife' (sunni, shia, black lives matter, etc.)

1. all nos off the top of my head.

2. Acceptance of a massive refugee pop. (Pals in the past, Kurds, but numerically important now, Iraqis) plus the high birth rate

2011> 10 year plan syria in arabic (which i can't read) but look at images and 'supporters' etc.

http://www.planning.gov.sy/index.php?page=show&ex=2&dir=docs&lang=2&ser=2&cat=172&

[Sep 10, 2016] Poroshenko is the richest among the leaders of Europe, while he leads what must be just about Europes poorest country

Notable quotes:
"... "Anastasia Krasnosilska of the Anti-Corruption Action Center of Ukraine, said Poroshenko has only tackled abuses because of foreign pressure and then only after lengthy foot-dragging. ..."
"... "All recent successes in the fight against corruption were made possible because of pressure from the EU, IMF, and civil society," she said to CBC News. "If it weren't for the conditionalities the foreign donors and lenders imposed, and the feeling that the eye of foreign governments is on Ukraine, there would have been no reform." ..."
"... "According to the Kyiv Post, the IMF is planning to reduce a loan to Ukraine from a planned $1.7 billion to $1 billion over corruption concerns. ..."
"... Valeria Gontareva, Poroshenko's Porsche-driving political ally and business partner who now heads the National Bank of Ukraine, says she isn't concerned. "It's not a big deal for us," she told the publication, although the shortfall is equal to the total amount Canada has given to Ukraine since the Maidan rebellion ended in February 2014." ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
marknesop , July 24, 2016 at 8:05 pm
Wow; there's still endemic corruption in Ukraine – who knew? And Poroshenko is the richest among the leaders of Europe, while he leads what must be just about Europe's poorest country. Ordinarily, the press would be all over a dichotomy like that. I guess reporting on Ukraine requires a suspension of curiosity.

"Anastasia Krasnosilska of the Anti-Corruption Action Center of Ukraine, said Poroshenko has only tackled abuses because of foreign pressure and then only after lengthy foot-dragging.

"All recent successes in the fight against corruption were made possible because of pressure from the EU, IMF, and civil society," she said to CBC News. "If it weren't for the conditionalities the foreign donors and lenders imposed, and the feeling that the eye of foreign governments is on Ukraine, there would have been no reform."

And it's starting to have an effect.

"According to the Kyiv Post, the IMF is planning to reduce a loan to Ukraine from a planned $1.7 billion to $1 billion over corruption concerns.

Valeria Gontareva, Poroshenko's Porsche-driving political ally and business partner who now heads the National Bank of Ukraine, says she isn't concerned. "It's not a big deal for us," she told the publication, although the shortfall is equal to the total amount Canada has given to Ukraine since the Maidan rebellion ended in February 2014."

And yet the Ukrainian government still keeps on mouthing it up to the country's most likely saviour – Russia. Although things have probably gone too far for that now, thanks to the west trying to muscle into a position where whatever Russia does to benefit Ukraine benefits the west.

[Sep 09, 2016] Deep roots of the chaos in Ukraine

Notable quotes:
"... I hope that Jonathan Steele's excellent critique of Richard Sakwa's book Frontline Ukraine ( Review , 21 February) will be widely read. It is the first piece I have discovered in the UK press to provide a realistic synopsis of the background to current events. ..."
"... the process was deliberately sabotaged by US intelligence agencies, working from the hypothesis that a tie-up between the EU and a democratic Russia would pose a major threat to American long-term economic interests. ..."
"... (Lieut Cdr, Ret'd; Former Nato intelligence analyst), Deddington, Oxfordshire ..."
Feb 25, 2015 | The Guardian

I hope that Jonathan Steele's excellent critique of Richard Sakwa's book Frontline Ukraine (Review, 21 February) will be widely read. It is the first piece I have discovered in the UK press to provide a realistic synopsis of the background to current events.

The real ending of the cold war was in 1986, when the USSR leadership resolved on a five-year programme to move to parliamentary democracy and a market economy. The intention in Moscow was to use that period to achieve a progressive convergence with the EU.

There could have been huge benefits to Europe in such convergence, but the process was deliberately sabotaged by US intelligence agencies, working from the hypothesis that a tie-up between the EU and a democratic Russia would pose a major threat to American long-term economic interests.

The chaos that we now have, and the distrust of America which motivates Russian policy, stems primarily from decisions taken in Washington 30 years ago.

Martin Packard
(Lieut Cdr, Ret'd; Former Nato intelligence analyst), Deddington, Oxfordshire

[Sep 04, 2016] Our Warped Debates About War by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Our leaders are shallow on the subject of war. No, worse than shallow-they're silent. Which is one reason they will likely not be fully trusted should they make rough decisions down the road on Syria, or Iran, or elsewhere. ..."
"... War is terrible. That should be said over and over, not because it's a box you ought to check on the way to the presidency but because you're human and have a brain. ..."
"... War is always terrible, and it is made even more so when it is waged when it doesn't have to be. Most wars are avoidable and unnecessary, and yet most of our political leaders are reliably in favor of every U.S. military intervention around the world when it matters. Some may later say they regret their support for a previous war, especially if it was a much costlier one than they expected, but at the time the "safe" and "smart" position for ambitious politicians to take is to be for bombing and/or invading. Almost all of the political incentives at least since Desert Storm have flowed in the direction of supporting military action, and so most of the people that seek the presidency have learned not to be an early opponent of any proposed intervention. ..."
"... While there is near-constant U.S. warfare somewhere in the world, hardly anyone in politics talks about the need for peace. Just as our candidates don't express their hatred of war, they typically don't profess their desire for peace for fear that they will be pilloried as "weak." ..."
Sep 04, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
August 30, 2016, 11:13 AM

Peggy Noonan wrote a thoughtful column on the horrors of war last week:

Our leaders are shallow on the subject of war. No, worse than shallow-they're silent. Which is one reason they will likely not be fully trusted should they make rough decisions down the road on Syria, or Iran, or elsewhere.

War is terrible. That should be said over and over, not because it's a box you ought to check on the way to the presidency but because you're human and have a brain.

War is always terrible, and it is made even more so when it is waged when it doesn't have to be. Most wars are avoidable and unnecessary, and yet most of our political leaders are reliably in favor of every U.S. military intervention around the world when it matters. Some may later say they regret their support for a previous war, especially if it was a much costlier one than they expected, but at the time the "safe" and "smart" position for ambitious politicians to take is to be for bombing and/or invading. Almost all of the political incentives at least since Desert Storm have flowed in the direction of supporting military action, and so most of the people that seek the presidency have learned not to be an early opponent of any proposed intervention.

Noonan recounts a telling exchange with a politician in which she asked him if he hated war. After being reassured that he wasn't walking into a trap, he said yes, but still qualified the answer by saying that war is sometimes necessary. The trouble is that most of our politicians, and almost all of our presidential candidates, have never seen a war that they thought was unnecessary. Reflexive interventionists may sometimes include the caveat that they don't want war, but in the next breath they are keen to tell you why "action" is imperative. Sometimes they dress this up with euphemisms. They don't talk about going to war, but say that that the U.S. shouldn't be standing "on the sidelines" or that the U.S. needs to "lead," but invariably this amounts to a demand that force be used in another country. Sometimes they dress up calls for war with technical terms, such as the much-abused "no-fly zone" phrase, that obscure what they are talking about. At other times, they simply acquiesce in a policy of lending support to a client state's horrific war, and that way they don't have to say anything and can pretend to have nothing to do with it.

It is in this environment that relatively dovish candidates have to emphasize their readiness to use force while hawkish candidates are under much less pressure to prove that they aren't warmongers. While there is near-constant U.S. warfare somewhere in the world, hardly anyone in politics talks about the need for peace. Just as our candidates don't express their hatred of war, they typically don't profess their desire for peace for fear that they will be pilloried as "weak."

Despite the fact that U.S. forces have been engaged in hostilities for Obama's entire presidency, the loudest and most frequent criticisms of his foreign policy are that he is supposedly too reluctant to use force and didn't bomb Syria. If one of the most activist, militarized presidencies in modern U.S. history is being portrayed in the media as insufficiently aggressive, we aren't likely to hear our leaders regularly condemning the evils of war.

[Aug 21, 2016] Ukraine Releases More Details on Payments for Trump Aide, Paul Manafort

What a bunch of neoliberal piranha, devouring the poorest country in Europe, where pernneers exist on $1 a day or less, with the help of installed by Washington corrupt oligarchs (Yanukovich was installed with Washington blessing and was controlled by Washington, who was fully aware about the level of corruption of its government; especially his big friend vice-president Biden).
Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Kalyuzhny was also a founding board member of a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, that hired the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm that received $1.02 million to promote an agenda generally aligned with the Party of Regions. ..."
"... Because the payment was made through a nongovernmental organization, the Podesta Group did not register as a lobbyist for a foreign entity. A co-founder of the Podesta Group, John D. Podesta, is chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and his brother, Tony Podesta, runs the firm now. ..."
"... The Podesta Group, in a statement, said its in-house counsel determined the company had no obligation to register as a representative of a foreign entity in part because the nonprofit offered assurances it was not "directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party." ..."
"... On Monday, Mr. Manafort issued a heated statement in response to an article in The New York Times that first disclosed that the ledgers - a document described by Ukrainian investigators as an under-the-table payment system for the Party of Regions - referenced a total of $12.7 million in cash payments to him over a five-year period. ..."
"... In that statement, Mr. Manafort, who was removed from day-to-day management of the Trump campaign on Wednesday though he retained his title, denied that he had personally received any off-the-books cash payments. "The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical," he said. ..."
Aug 18, 2016 | The New York Times

MOSCOW - The Ukrainian authorities, under pressure to bolster their assertion that once-secret accounting documents show cash payments from a pro-Russian political party earmarked for Donald J. Trump's campaign chairman, on Thursday released line-item entries, some for millions of dollars.

The revelations also point to an outsize role for a former senior member of the pro-Russian political party, the Party of Regions, in directing money to both Republican and Democratic advisers and lobbyists from the United States as the party tried to burnish its image in Washington.

The former party member, Vitaly A. Kalyuzhny, for a time chairman of the Ukraine Parliament's International Relations Committee, had signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who has studied the documents. The ledger covered payments from 2007 to 2012, when Mr. Manafort worked for the party and its leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, Ukraine's former president who was deposed.

Mr. Kalyuzhny was also a founding board member of a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, that hired the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm that received $1.02 million to promote an agenda generally aligned with the Party of Regions.

Because the payment was made through a nongovernmental organization, the Podesta Group did not register as a lobbyist for a foreign entity. A co-founder of the Podesta Group, John D. Podesta, is chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and his brother, Tony Podesta, runs the firm now.

The role of Mr. Kalyuzhny, a onetime computer programmer from the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, in directing funds to the companies of the chairmen of both presidential campaigns, had not previously been reported. Mr. Kalyuzhny was one of three Party of Regions members of Parliament who founded the nonprofit.

The Associated Press, citing emails it had obtained, also reported Thursday that Mr. Manafort's work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington that he operated with an associate, Rick Gates, and that was aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials.

Mr. Gates noted in the emails that he conducted the work through two lobbying firms, including the Podesta Group, because Ukraine's foreign minister did not want the country's embassy involved. The A.P. said one of Mr. Gates's campaigns sought to turn public opinion in the West against Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister who was imprisoned during Mr. Yanukovych's administration.

The Podesta Group, in a statement, said its in-house counsel determined the company had no obligation to register as a representative of a foreign entity in part because the nonprofit offered assurances it was not "directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party."

Reached by phone on Thursday, a former aide to Mr. Kalyuzhny said he had lost contact with the politician and was unsure whether he remained in Kiev or had returned to Donetsk, now the capital of a Russian-backed separatist enclave.

Ukrainian officials emphasized that they did not know as yet if the cash payments reflected in the ledgers were actually made. In all 22 instances, people other than Mr. Manafort appear to have signed for the money. But the ledger entries are highly specific with funds earmarked for services such as exit polling, equipment and other services.

On Monday, Mr. Manafort issued a heated statement in response to an article in The New York Times that first disclosed that the ledgers - a document described by Ukrainian investigators as an under-the-table payment system for the Party of Regions - referenced a total of $12.7 million in cash payments to him over a five-year period.

In that statement, Mr. Manafort, who was removed from day-to-day management of the Trump campaign on Wednesday though he retained his title, denied that he had personally received any off-the-books cash payments. "The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical," he said.

Mr. Manafort's statement, however, left open the possibility that cash payments had been made to his firm or associates. And details from the ledgers released Thursday by anticorruption investigators suggest that may have occurred. Three separate payments, for example, totaling nearly $5.7 million are earmarked for Mr. Manafort's "contract."

Another, from October 2012, suggests a payment to Mr. Manafort of $400,000 for exit polling, a legitimate campaign outlay.

Two smaller entries, for $4,632 and $854, show payments for seven personal computers and a computer server.

The payments do not appear to have been reported by the Party of Regions in campaign finance disclosures in Ukraine. The party's 2012 filing indicates outlays for expenses other than advertising of just under $2 million, at the exchange rate at the time. This is less than a single payment in the black ledger designated for "Paul Manafort contract" in June of that year for $3.4 million.

Ukrainian investigators say they consider any under-the-table payments illegal, and that the ledger also describes disbursements to members of the central election committee, the group that counts votes.


Correction: August 20, 2016

Because of an editing error, an article on Friday about the political activities in Ukraine of Donald J. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, misidentified the office once held by Yulia V. Tymoshenko, a rival of Mr. Manafort's client, the former president Viktor F. Yanukovych. Ms. Tymoshenko served as prime minister of Ukraine, not its president.

[Jul 28, 2016] the number of Ukrainian citizens has been reduced by approximately 3 million people over a period of 5 years

marknesop.wordpress.com
Moscow Exile , July 26, 2016 at 9:34 am
... ... ...

The other day on the pages of "Correspondent" that quoted figures given by the State Statistics Service there was published data on the Ukrainian demographic catastrophe. It turns out that the population of the Ukraine (excluding the Crimea) as of January 1, 2016, amounted to 42,76,500 people, which is 6.3% or 2,873,000 persons fewer than there were in January 1, 2012 .

That is to say, the number of Ukrainian citizens has been reduced by approximately 3 million people over a period of 5 years. If this sad trend continues, then in 70 years no "Ukrainians" will remain.

[Jun 18, 2016] Greenspan Shocked Disbelief by Robert Borosage

Greenspan phony "Shocked disbelief" reminds classic "...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca. Compare with "... "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," he said. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," ..."
"... Greenspan spurned the Republican acolytes trying desperately to defend the faith and blame the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act and the powerful lobby of poor people who forced powerless banks to do reckless things. ..."
"... Private greed, not public good, caused this catastrophe: "The evidence now suggests, but only in retrospect, that this market evolved in a manner which if there were no securitization, it would have been a much smaller problem and, indeed, very unlikely to have taken on the dimensions that it did. It wasn't until the securitization became a significant factor, which doesn't occur until 2005, that you got this huge increase in demand for subprime loans, because remember that without securitization, there would not have been a single subprime mortgage held outside of the United States, that it's the opening up of this market which created a huge demand from abroad for subprime mortgages as embodied in mortgage-backed securities. ..."
"... But having admitted the failure of his faith, Greenspan could not abandon it. Credit default swaps had to be "restrained," he admitted. Those who create mortgages should be mandated to retain a piece of them to insure responsible lending. Otherwise, the old faith still applied. No new regulations were needed, because the markets "for the indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime." ..."
"... The only Guantanamo that the United States has any business running is a concentration camp for the hundreds of wall street executives and their cronies in Bushland that conspired to defraud the American people from their hard earned dollar. ..."
"... There are no free markets in America, any more than there is free lunch. ..."
"... So it wasn't the military-industrial complex that did us in after all . . . ..."
"... It's clear from comments on this contribution that few readers of Truthout believe Alan Greenspan's sorry testimony before Congress. What has faith in something to do with enforcing the policies of fiduciary responsibility already on the books? All these so-called "experts" on capitalism are now coming out to say "I'm sorry." Well, I won't be sorry for them until they are held monetarily and criminally responsible for their actions, inept or not. ..."
"... If it looks like class warfare, as David Harvey, author of Neoliberalism, has stated, call it class warfare and act accordingly. ..."
"... it doesn't take a genius to understand that when financial instruments are created based on crap (subprime mortgages), that eventually problems will occur with those instruments. In fact, Greenspan and his cronies knew that, which is why they resisted these instruments being regulated by the SEC or even the CFTC. ..."
"... Sounds like the "maestro" hit a flat note in his orchestra of greed and deregulation. ..."
"... Did anybody even bother to consult the Math PhDs who created these instruments to run possible scenarios -- just in case? why bother when you know you can scare congress, the president and the treasury and ultimately the people into bailing your ass out of worldwide collapse? ..."
"... Shocked Disbelief is a ploy. When they were all riding high, they didn't give a crap. They were going to come out richer than hell anyway. ..."
"... Where's Ayn Rand when you need her? Give me a break Mr Greenspan. Never let history and reality get in the way of the big unregulated celebration of greed like we have had since "Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan", and the other "Free Market" "government is the problem" ideologues ..."
"... What about the 1994 Act of Congress that required the Fed to monitor and regulate derivatives? The Act Greenspan ignored? ..."
"... "...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca ..."
Oct 24, 2008 | truthout.org

by: Robert Borosage, The Campaign for America's Future

On October 23, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the role of federal regulators in the current financial crisis.

It marks the end of an era. Alan Greenspan, the maestro, defender of the market fundamentalist faith, champion of deregulation, celebrator of exotic banking inventions, admitted Thursday in a hearing before Rep. Henry Waxman's House Committee and Oversight and Government Reform that he got it wrong.

"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," he said.

As to the fantasy that banks could regulate themselves, that markets self-correct, that modern risk management enforced prudence: "The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year."

Greenspan spurned the Republican acolytes trying desperately to defend the faith and blame the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act and the powerful lobby of poor people who forced powerless banks to do reckless things. Greenspan dismissed that goofiness in response to a question from one of its right-wing purveyors, Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., noting that subprime loans grew to a crisis only as the unregulated shadow financial system securitized mortgages, marketed them across the world, and pressured brokers to lower standards to generate a larger supply to meet the demand. Private greed, not public good, caused this catastrophe:

"The evidence now suggests, but only in retrospect, that this market evolved in a manner which if there were no securitization, it would have been a much smaller problem and, indeed, very unlikely to have taken on the dimensions that it did. It wasn't until the securitization became a significant factor, which doesn't occur until 2005, that you got this huge increase in demand for subprime loans, because remember that without securitization, there would not have been a single subprime mortgage held outside of the United States, that it's the opening up of this market which created a huge demand from abroad for subprime mortgages as embodied in mortgage-backed securities.

But having admitted the failure of his faith, Greenspan could not abandon it. Credit default swaps had to be "restrained," he admitted. Those who create mortgages should be mandated to retain a piece of them to insure responsible lending. Otherwise, the old faith still applied. No new regulations were needed, because the markets "for the indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime."

Now hung over from their bender, the banks could be depended upon to remain sober "for the indefinite future." Or until taxpayers' money relieves their headaches, and they are free to party once more.


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Comments

This is a moderated forum. It may take a little while for comments to go live.

The only Guantanamo that the

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 23:37 - Captain America (not verified)

The only Guantanamo that the United States has any business running is a concentration camp for the hundreds of wall street executives and their cronies in Bushland that conspired to defraud the American people from their hard earned dollar.

What they did dwarfs the damage caused to this country by 911, (no disrespect for the many innocents who died). However, here, every single citizen is a victim of fraud and corruption on a scale that was heretofore inconceivable. Greenspan, Bush and now Paulson have done more than Bin Laden and his hordes could do in a 100 years.

By the way, if you protest YOU wind up locked up for being un-American. What happened America ?

There are no free markets in

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 19:27 - pink elephant (not verified)

There are no free markets in America, any more than there is free lunch. The game was always fixed and Greenspan was the ultimate shill for the fixers. The past thirty years have been an orgy of greed with common sense shoved aside for the sake of uncommon expediency. Americans became infatuated by arcane formulas and dense incomprehensible mathematics to the point that they forget simple arithmetic. America wake up it was only a dream, and a bad one at that.

So it wasn't the

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 19:07 - Anonymous (not verified)

So it wasn't the military-industrial complex that did us in after all . . .

It's clear from comments on

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 15:40 - afrothethics (not verified)

It's clear from comments on this contribution that few readers of Truthout believe Alan Greenspan's sorry testimony before Congress. What has faith in something to do with enforcing the policies of fiduciary responsibility already on the books? All these so-called "experts" on capitalism are now coming out to say "I'm sorry." Well, I won't be sorry for them until they are held monetarily and criminally responsible for their actions, inept or not. The truth is as plain as the nose on your face: Greenspan, the Federal Reserve, the investment banks, the Bush administration and several members of Congress unobtrusively acted to consciously and knowingly to rob the national treasury for the sake of capitalism's sacred cow: capital accumulation on behalf of the nation's political and economic elite. If it looks like class warfare, as David Harvey, author of Neoliberalism, has stated, call it class warfare and act accordingly.

We have heard statements

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 10:11 - DJK (not verified)

We have heard statements like "the mathematical models used for knowing the behavior of derivatives based on subprime mortgages were too difficult to understand", etc. But it doesn't take a genius to understand that when financial instruments are created based on crap (subprime mortgages), that eventually problems will occur with those instruments. In fact, Greenspan and his cronies knew that, which is why they resisted these instruments being regulated by the SEC or even the CFTC. And this is why they turned a blind eye to many of the rating agencies giving many of these instruments AAA ratings. I am sure that a real investigation will reveal numerous instances of fraudulent activity in conjunction with this debacle. Those perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice. While this will not fix our current problem, it hopefully should serve as a deterrent to those who would in the future attempt to again engage in such activities.

Well here you have it a

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 08:13 - Robert Iserbyt (not verified)

Well here you have it a confessional lie from the biggest fraud perpetrator in the history of American finance Why the markets ever listened to this criminal in the first place is evidence that our entire nation should be required to take a full year of real unfettered economics just in case they don't understand what is going on now. All the pundits on MSNBC and all the talking heads should be removed from the airwaves. The Bailout what will that do? the answer lies before you.

Sounds like the "maestro"

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 02:02 - Anonymous (not verified)

Sounds like the "maestro" hit a flat note in his orchestra of greed and deregulation. Come on, do you really think we are all so stupid to buy into the story that you couldn't predict a melt down knowing that those writing the subprimes held no responsibility for their actions? That's like giving a "get out of jail card" to someone who just created a felony! Did anybody even bother to consult the Math PhDs who created these instruments to run possible scenarios -- just in case? why bother when you know you can scare congress, the president and the treasury and ultimately the people into bailing your ass out of worldwide collapse?

I'm a former real estate

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 00:24 - two7five7one (not verified)

I'm a former real estate broker and my son is a mortgage broker. From about 2004 through the beginning of this "greatest financial crisis since '29", we frequently talked on the phone about the disaster which would ensue when the real estate value appreciation stopped, and people were no longer fueling the economy with money borrowed against their equity, and the sub-prime loan fiasco would end. We knew it would be disastrous, and both of us were astonished that neither the FED nor congress was willing to say or do anything about it. Anyone who has witnessed over the years the cycle of boom/bust/boom/bust in the real estate market knew that after eleven years of unprecedented "boom" -- '96 through '2007 -- the "bust" would be like an earthquake. Paulson and Greenspan and their ilk now denying that they suspected this is just is just their lying to protect the GOP which was benefitting from the booming economy. They should both end up in prison, with all of the GOP members of congress who have had their hands in the cash register.

Dance clown, dance. First

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 23:48 - mysterioso (not verified)

Dance clown, dance. First you were against the FED until you became head of the FED. Then you were for trickle down economics and letting the "system" regulate itself until you saw the inevitable destruction it caused. Dance clown, dance. You should be the first one sent to prison under the "Un-American activities act". The arrogance of your testimony before the committee was appalling. You honestly couldn't believe you were wrong !!!

Shocked disbelief, my foot.

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 23:35 - slw (not verified)

Shocked disbelief, my foot. Many of us predicted EXACTLY this outcome.

This is like telling the Fox

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 22:43 - topview (not verified)

This is like telling the Fox to watch the Hens and then walking away and trusting him to do the right thing. Government has to return to regulation and see that there is no hanky, Banky going on anymore. Monopolies have to be busted up, like the Communication industry's, the Drug industries and any other Corporations that control to much of the way the Country operates. No more Outsourcing any Government duties.

Shocked Disbelief is a ploy.

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 22:00 - radline9 (not verified)

Shocked Disbelief is a ploy. When they were all riding high, they didn't give a crap. They were going to come out richer than hell anyway.

Where's Ayn Rand when you

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:53 - anglohistorian (not verified)

Where's Ayn Rand when you need her? Give me a break Mr Greenspan. Never let history and reality get in the way of the big unregulated celebration of greed like we have had since "Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan", and the other "Free Market" "government is the problem" ideologues. We can spend trillions on war and corporate bailouts, but we can't have a single payer health system? We can't rebuild our infrastructure? Say it again- give me a break!

What about the 1994 Act of

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:41 - Jtmonrow (not verified)

What about the 1994 Act of Congress that required the Fed to monitor and regulate derivatives? The Act Greenspan ignored?

"...I am shocked - shocked,

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:29 - Anonymous (not verified)

"...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca

This would be the same

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 19:50 - dtroutma (not verified)

This would be the same "shocked disbelief" expressed by Willie Sutton's mother?

shouldn't Greenspan give his

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 18:06 - Anonymous (not verified)

shouldn't Greenspan give his salary and bonus back to taxpayers?

[May 01, 2016] Why I (Belatedly) Blew the Whistle on the SECs Failure to Properly Investigate Goldman Sachs

Notable quotes:
"... By James A. Kidney, former SEC attorney. Originally published at Watch the Circus ..."
"... Pro Publica ..."
"... Pro Publica's ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Dodd-Frank at best imposes generalized rules about bank size and other generic issues, rather than addressing the kinds of fraudulent actions that actually occurred. It is appropriate for the SEC or Federal Reserve to impose narrower changes in corporate practice to address specific kinds of fraud. They are called "undertakings" and are often imposed by civil settlements with the SEC or in litigated relief. It did not happen with the Big Bank frauds. ..."
"... The only reason to keep the information secret is to prevent embarrassment to the SEC or to those people who made decisions for the agency. Most of them left the SEC years ago. For public consumption, I have tried to redact all names of the non-supervisory personnel in the Division of Enforcement who worked on Goldman. I also must add that, as the emails show, for a period of time those dedicated investigators were excited about the notion of bringing at least a slightly broader action than their supervisors wanted. As is the case with much of the Division of Enforcement, the worker bees try hard and usually are fearless. It is their bosses who frequently suppress their enthusiasm for policy, political, or personal reasons. ..."
"... The author is trying very hard to be nice to the point of being delusional. This is criminality and corruption through and through, and it didn't end in '08. Don't be sad… get mad. ..."
"... This man has risked a lot to do what he did. He's lost more than many of you will realize. If he can't just crap on the old life and the old profession, please, cut the man a little slack. You don't want to be him. ..."
"... James A. Kidney, former trial attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, retired from the SEC in 2014 at the age of 66 after 24 years working there. Looks like he had a full career, although had to put up with a lot of bullshit, and possibly soured some relationships on his way out. ..."
"... Very similar situation here. Going on 50, unemployed in my chosen field, etc. And yes, its hard to just walk away sometimes… I have to keep my mind focused ahead instead of looking back. ..."
"... I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing). ..."
"... (other whistleblowers) ..."
"... (other whistleblowers) ..."
"... (other whistleblowers) ..."
"... (other whistleblowers) ..."
"... the system in which they operated ..."
"... (some employees) ..."
"... 'investigating fraud' ..."
April 24, 2016

Yves here. Two things struck me about Jim Kidney's article below. One is that he still wants to think well of his former SEC colleagues. I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing). Kidney does criticize corrosive practices, particularly the SEC stopping developing its own lawyers and becoming dependent on the revolving door, but his criticisms seem muted relative to the severity of the problems.

Number two, and related, are the class assumptions at work. The SEC does not want to see securities professionals at anything other than bucket shops as bad people. At SEC conferences, agency officials are virtually apologetic and regularly say, "We know you are honest people who want to do the right thing." Please tell me where else in law enforcement is that the underlying belief.

By James A. Kidney, former SEC attorney. Originally published at Watch the Circus

The New Yorker and Pro Publica websites today posted an article by Pro Publica's Jesse Eisinger about the de minimis investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the conduct of Goldman Sachs in the sale of derivatives based on mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008. The details of the SEC's failure to aggressively pursue Goldman in the particular investigation, Abacus, and its refusal to investigate fully misconduct by Goldman and other "Too Big to Fail" banks, stands not only as a historic misstep by the SEC and its Division of Enforcement, but undermines the claim that the Obama Administration has been "tough on Wall Street." The Pro Publica version contains links to a few of the documents I provided.

No one in authority who was involved in the Goldman investigation ever gave me an explanation for why the effort was so slight. Mr. Eisinger's article doesn't offer any explanation from the one investigation participant brave enough to comment. The details of the investigation into Abacus at my level as trial counsel, which I provided to Pro Publica earlier this year, compels the conclusion that the SEC, its chairman at the time, Mary Schapiro, and the leadership of the Division of Enforcement were more interested in a quick public relations hit than in pursuing a thorough investigation of Goldman, Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan and other large Wall Street firms.

Although the emails and documents I produced to Pro Publica stemming from my role as the designated (later replaced) trial attorney for the Division of Enforcement are excruciatingly boring to all but the most dedicated securities lawyer, even a lay person can observe that the Division of Enforcement was more anxious to publicize a quick lawsuit than to follow the trail of clues as far up the chain-of-command at Goldman as the evidence warranted. Serious consideration also never was given to fraud theories in any of the Big Bank cases stemming from the Great Recession that would better tell the story of how investors were defrauded and who was responsible, due either to dereliction or design.

Instead, the SEC restricted its investigation to the narrowest theory of liability, had to be pressed (by me) to go even one short rung above the lowest level Goldman supervisor in its investigation (which took months to push through, though investigative subpoenas are frequently issued on far less in far smaller cases) and finally dropped other investigations of Goldman in return for a $550 million settlement announced July 15, 2010. To my knowledge (I retired in March 2014), the SEC never again pursued Goldman for its mortgage securities fraud or other major fraud. There is no evidence on the SEC website that it did so.

Nearly six years later, long after the statute of limitations for securities fraud expired and individuals, pension funds and corporate entities are no longer able to bring private actions against the Big Banks, the Department of Justice announced another settlement with Goldman for its deceptive conduct in the sale of mortgage-backed securities. In this one, Goldman agreed to pay more than $5 billion "in connection with its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities."

At a minimum, it can be said that the SEC left 90 percent of the money on the table at a time when a more aggressive investigation of the company, as well as others, could have counted for something by disclosing, in a detailed court complaint, Wall Street wrongs that might have helped policy makers better address the subject and allow damaged individuals and entities to bring their own lawsuits.

It is very important to emphasize emphatically several points. First, I have zero evidence, and would be very surprised, if any of the individuals at the Division of Enforcement, including senior supervisors or the SEC chairman or associate commissioners, acted unlawfully or were motivated principally to protect Goldman and other big banks. All of these people appeared well-intentioned from their point of view, even they never really explained, to me, or to many others at the Commission, their motives in limiting investigations. The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was. Its range was clearly limited from the outset: we will sue the bank and not look hard for evidence of individual participation beyond the lowest levels.

By the same token, it is unfair to assume as a fact that any of the individuals at Goldman not sued, or anyone at Paulson & Co., violated the securities laws, civilly or criminally. Like any citizen, they are entitled to a day in court. Absent such opportunity, they are innocent of any wrongdoing. Arguments in my internal correspondence that evidence was sufficient to sue should be viewed only as that - arguments.

So my point in releasing these documents to Pro Publica is not to chastise or hold up to public criticism those involved at the SEC, Paulson & Co. or Goldman, though criticism of the process and of the underlying financial conduct certainly is inevitable. All of these institutions have substantial influence in the investment industry. Rather, it is to bring to light the actual conduct of one of several SEC investigations into Big Bank fraud leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

As I told Mr. Eisinger when I met him, I hoped he would go to the individuals in charge of the SEC investigation at the time and find out why the investigation was so limited. I have spent six years wondering what is the true answer to that question. Perhaps there were sound reasons, other than the urge to get out a quick press release, which led experienced criminal prosecutors with histories in Wall Street to smother a major investigation by limiting it to the lowest level employee possible, to express total resistance to even investigating further up the chain of command, and ignoring without serious explanation and analysis what I and others, including my own immediate supervisors, viewed as the more appropriate theory for civil prosecution. I hope there are such reasons. As a trial attorney at the SEC for over 20 years, I bled SEC blue. I believed that the agency usually tried to do the best it could, using analog era procedures and processes to combat fraud in a digital age. I am saddened to release this information. But the notion that "the Administration was tough on Wall Street" must be addressed by facts, not press releases and self-serving interviews, else the system's problems cannot be adequately addressed and repaired to deal with the next financial crisis.

Not only is the issue of how the financial sector enforcement agencies handled the wrongs of the Great Recession an important political issue, but it is important to history. It is important that the facts not be shielded from the public so that we can all learn for the future. And it is a melancholy thought that, presented with the opportunity for a rigorous investigation and airing of facts in civil or criminal proceedings gone, history will be denied a fairer story of both the financial crisis itself and how the government responded.

As many news organizations have noted , the taxpayer and Goldman shareholders will pay the combination of penalties and repayments in the DOJ settlement. No individual was named as liable in the civil settlement with Goldman nor in any of the other similar, and even larger, financial settlements entered into with the Department of Justice, all of which are vastly greater than what the SEC obtained in its "quick hit, one and done" enforcement actions. DOJ must be credited with what appears to have been a far more thorough investigation of wrongdoing than the SEC performed, but the public is properly mystified that no individuals were charged, criminally or civilly, although the DOJ press releases contains the usual caveat that "the investigation continues."

The settlements with Goldman and other Big Banks were resolved under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which allows the Feds to ignore the normal five-year statute of limitations for fraud, but does not permit suit by private party victims. As has been the practice with DOJ when dealing with Wall Street, no criminal charge was brought. In fact, no complaint was filed in any of these cases. Instead, DOJ entered into contractual arrangements with the banks. Failing to fulfill their obligations under the contract would subject them to civil enforcement as a breach of contract matter, not a contempt charge in federal District Court.

Contrary to claims by politicians, it is clear that the Obama Administration has not been hard-hitting on Wall Street fraudsters. The large fines obtained by the Department of Justice, while a short-term pinch, are simply a cost of doing business. Relying on fines to penalize rich Wall Street banks, which, after all, specialize in making money and do it well, if not always honestly, is like fining Campbell Soup in chicken broth. It costs something, but doesn't change anything in the way of operations or personnel.

Despite billions in fines representing many more billions in fraud, the enforcement agencies of the United States have been unable to find anyone responsible criminally or civilly for this huge business misconduct other than a janitor or two at the lowest rung of the companies. Nor have they sought to impose systemic changes to these banks to prevent similar frauds from happening again.

Yessir, according to the Obama administration, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank and other institutions made their contributions to tearing down the economy, but no one was responsible. They are ghost companies. And nothing needs to be done to prevent such intent or dereliction in the future.

Law enforcement by contract? Clearly, the banks made it a condition of settlement that no complaint, civil or criminal, be filed. That might gum up the works by requiring state regulators to take action under their own rules, or cause other collateral consequences.

Ah, say the defenders of the status quo, don't forget about Dodd-Frank, the unwieldy legislation passed by feckless Democrats influenced by big money contributors and their own fear of appearing too aggressive (a particular Democratic Party contagion). Dodd-Frank was and is a virtual chum pool for Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists, leaving most of the substance to regulatory agencies such as the SEC and the Federal Reserve, who for years have been significantly captured by those they are supposed to regulate. The private sector lawyers and lobbyists have open doors to these places to "help" write the rules and add complexity, which they later complain about in court, challenging those same rules as too complex.

Dear citizen, just remember this: complexity favors fraud, and certainly favors Wall Street and corporate America. You can't understand the rules and neither can Congress or all but the most dedicated experts. That's a lot of room to disguise misdeeds. To take a current example, which came to my attention just before completing this post, Congress is trying to use sentencing reform, generally thought of as intending to remove inequities from the criminal justice system, to also make it even tougher to prosecute and punish white-collar crime. Is this why the Koch Brothers suddenly show such public attention to the poor and needy by favoring such legislation? See this discussion of adding the "mens rea" requirement to such legislation. Burying an important but legalistic issue in otherwise liberal leaning legislation is a current example of disguising lax enforcement of white-collar crime in a complicated package. As one Democratic congressman suggested, how can a liberal vote against sentencing reform? The explanation of the badger buried in the woodpile is too complicated for the average voter.

Not coincidentally, adding a requirement to the law that it is a defense to either the crime itself or to sentencing that "I didn't know my acts were against the law" is a get out of jail free card as the complexity of laws addressed to ever more sophisticated business misconduct grows. Wall Street clearly has shown no shame in using the defense that "no one knew". Can't blame them. It has worked so far. Maybe they don't even need new legislation.

I was told repeatedly when I entered the Goldman investigation that synthetic CDOs were just too complex for me to understand. Of course, it appeared to be plain vanilla fraud selling a product designed to fail but nicely packaged for chumps to buy. Claims of complexity hide many easily understood sins.

At least for the major sins, we don't need even more complex regulations. Instead, put leadership in place who will aggressively enforce the laws we have already. That would raise plenty of eyebrows and put some bums in prison, or at least make them pay civil and criminal penalties personally. As many have noted, prison or, at least, personal financial liability, beats corporate concessions every time and pays back in future reluctance to break the law. The country should try it sometime.

So back to little me, a small and ineffective cog in the larger system. Why is this release of documents so long after the investigation?

My friends know that I have been upset since 2010 about the way the SEC handled the Goldman case and, in my view (confirmed by other trial lawyers), that it became a template for other SEC civil suits against the Big Banks. In 2011 I wrote an anonymous letter to The New York Times complaining about the lack of investigative effort by the Division of Enforcement and the impact of the "revolving door" bringing Wall Street defense lawyers into the highest reaches of the SEC. This is a practice that Obama has continued at most departments and agencies having to do with the financial system, following in Bill Clinton's footsteps. The New York Times letter was based entirely on publicly available information.

I was dismayed to not find any follow-up to my letter in The New York Times . I gave up trying to bring attention to the investigative lassitude of the agency. Interest appeared to be over.

A year after I retired, I sent a copy of the letter to The Times , under a cover letter identifying myself. One of the addressees on the original letter called and told me the original letter never was received. The caller suggested that was because I misaddressed it to the old location of The New York Times . I felt foolish, of course, but I guess that in 2014, when the letter was finally received, The Times didn't see fit to follow-up the information even knowing its source. This was another indication to me that the time for debate over the law enforcement treatment of wrong doers on Wall Street had passed.

Once, years earlier and only for a brief time, the SEC was an agency that was at least sometimes fearless of Wall Street institutions. In those days, the directors of the Division of Enforcement were home-grown, not imported from Wall Street law firms. After 1996, that ended. Every director since has been nurtured as a Wall Street defense lawyer. The decline in performance has followed an expected arc. No one has seemed bothered by this. It seems the phrase "lawyers represent client interests" is sufficient explanation to insulate this practice from critics. In this view (pushed by lawyers), lawyers are the only people in America who are not influenced by their work experience, including friendships and defense of client practices. They are SO exceptional! So give it up, Jim, I finally told myself. It's the nature of Washington to put foxes in hen houses and claim they are protecting the fowl.

But in April 2015, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his presidential candidacy, based principally on anger over how Wall Street has escaped being held seriously responsible for its misdeeds. If you credit Sanders with nothing else, praise him for not letting go of the notion of justice for those who suffered and those who caused pain and anger for millions. Yes, the banks are not solely responsible for the Great Recession, but they contributed more than their fair share and leveraged immensely the damage initially caused by others.

Sanders was not treated seriously. The publications I read made it clear that Sanders was, like Donald Trump, a flash in the pan. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would be nominated. Anger against Wall Street and inequality were issues, but not worthy vehicles for a political campaign. Nothing here. Move on.

It turns out that the ravages caused by Wall Street are the gift that keeps on giving. As Sanders campaigned with far more success than predicted, and Secretary of State Clinton defended President Obama as "tough on Wall Street," it was evident that my small contribution to correcting the record might be timely.

So here it is.

Do I think Obama is responsible for the ineffective and embarrassing lay downs at the SEC and DOJ? Yes, I do. I have no idea if the President communicated to his law enforcement appointees that they should "go easy on Wall Street." Rarely is such overt instruction necessary in Washington. But it is not hard to believe that in some fashion he did send such signals, since he came into office with a mantra of letting bygones be bygones, including in the far more important arena of the false narratives for invading Iraq.

In any event, the chairman of the SEC and the attorney general are appointed by the President. At a minimum, we can say with certainty that Obama was satisfied with their performance. It is difficult to conceive that, as a Harvard educated lawyer who also taught law at the University of Chicago, it never crossed his mind how massive civil or criminal misconduct could go on without the supervision or knowledge of at least mid-level executives. Certainly, the public criticism was brought to his attention. His response was to create a joint task force on the subject of fraud in general. Its main visible public function is to collect all the press releases on fraud prosecutions, including small-time fraud, on one website . It also offers advice to "elders" on how to avoid fraudulent scams. The pro forma mention of the task force in DOJ's announcement of the Goldman settlement signals that the Task Force doesn't do much. Again, law enforcement by press release.

The alternative possibility, never mentioned because it is preposterous, is that big Wall Street firms so lack supervision of their lower level employees that fraud on a huge scale can be conducted without the knowledge of even mid-level executives. At the SEC, at least, such a conclusion should call for application of its "regulatory" function to impose supervisory conditions on the banks. No such action was ever undertaken. Instead, it was "pay up some money and nevermind."

Dodd-Frank at best imposes generalized rules about bank size and other generic issues, rather than addressing the kinds of fraudulent actions that actually occurred. It is appropriate for the SEC or Federal Reserve to impose narrower changes in corporate practice to address specific kinds of fraud. They are called "undertakings" and are often imposed by civil settlements with the SEC or in litigated relief. It did not happen with the Big Bank frauds.

I believe that the American public is entitled to accurate information about how their government works, including the important regulatory agencies. One way to do this is to fully disclose how the sausage is made, especially when the process is defective. Self-promoting press releases swallowed by a fawning business press is not sufficient. I knew I would not disclose any non-public information about the Goldman investigation while the lawsuit against Fabrice Tourre was pending. He was the one guy at Goldman the SEC sued personally. In fact, I think he was the only guy employed by any of the big banks sued personally. (Another fellow who worked with the banks - not for the banks - was sued in another case. He was found not liable, with the jury asking how come higher-ups were not in the dock and urging the investigation to continue. It wasn't.) The Tourre case concluded a few years ago with a verdict against the defendant. All appeals are exhausted. The statute of limitations has expired for private actions. Disclosure of the information I had can do no harm to the public or to pending litigation.

The only reason to keep the information secret is to prevent embarrassment to the SEC or to those people who made decisions for the agency. Most of them left the SEC years ago. For public consumption, I have tried to redact all names of the non-supervisory personnel in the Division of Enforcement who worked on Goldman. I also must add that, as the emails show, for a period of time those dedicated investigators were excited about the notion of bringing at least a slightly broader action than their supervisors wanted. As is the case with much of the Division of Enforcement, the worker bees try hard and usually are fearless. It is their bosses who frequently suppress their enthusiasm for policy, political, or personal reasons.

As final egotistical end note, I must say that, despite all of my personal reservations about his dedication to effective law enforcement in the financial sector, I voted for the President twice. I will vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee. But I ask myself: Is this the best that two political parties given de facto monopoly over selection of presidential candidates can do?

Whoever is nominated and elected, Republican or Democrat, I hope that he or she will recognize the need to end the practice of hiring Wall Street personnel to run our financial enforcement agencies. They should begin by looking to home-trained personnel to lead the major departments and agencies, such as Treasury, the SEC and the Department of Justice, including the chief of the Antitrust Division. These are the people who are responsible for these institutions on a daily basis and also understand the nature and importance of their mission. They have a career stake in doing an effective job. Outsiders are, in general, more interested in resume polishing for the next private job. Additionally, much great talent leaves these agencies for their own more lucrative private careers when they see their own chances for advancement blocked by outsiders or their energies trying to fairly but aggressively enforce the law sapped by timid leadership.

One party has chastised our government on every occasion for nearly 40 years and shows no intention of reining in Big Business or Wall Street. Directly or by implication, these attacks tarnish government employees in general, making a public service career less attractive to our most talented citizens. The other party has been indifferent or ineffective in its defense of civil service and has addressed financial sector wrongs by adding to the complexity of the system rather than cutting through it. As a result, some of our businesses are above the law.

Something has got to change. It will. The question is, will it be for the better?

Gaylord , April 24, 2016 at 4:40 am

The author is trying very hard to be nice to the point of being delusional. This is criminality and corruption through and through, and it didn't end in '08. Don't be sad… get mad.

James Levy , April 24, 2016 at 6:24 am

When it's your career, you get sad.

A little history: I was hired, first as an adjunct, then a tenure-track professor, by the interdisciplinary Freshman teaching unit at my old university. Two years before I would have come up for tenure (and gotten it) they axed the program and switched me, against its will, to the History Department. And they reset my tenure clock to zero. Long story short, they were never going to tenure me. So I slogged on and earned my pay and got my two kids through high school. By then, my wife wanted out of the suburbs and said she was leaving, preferably with me, but leaving. So we moved to the country. This cut me off from the academic life (and nice $72,000 a year paycheck) that I had struggled for years to enter and excel in.

So what? So, It's gone. I'm cut off. My intended life's work is ruined. At 51 I'm an unemployed naval historian with two books and seven refereed journal articles and I can't get an interview for a full-time job at a community college. How painful is this? It's murder. Hurts all the time. No more exciting lectures to give. No more university library at my beck and call. No more access to journals. No more conferences. It's an occasional one-off course and driving a delivery van.

This man has risked a lot to do what he did. He's lost more than many of you will realize. If he can't just crap on the old life and the old profession, please, cut the man a little slack. You don't want to be him.

H. Alexander Ivey , April 24, 2016 at 6:58 am

Mr Levy, I am very sympathetic to your situation – long story short, I was in the forefront of the late 70s to the present, layoffs in various industries where I found myself game-fully employed. I too, no longer believe I will ever be employed full time at any job.

But I argue that it is not that the gods do not favour us; it is that we are the outcome of bad gov't policies and unregulated (regulated for the consumer) businesses practices. Hence, my lack of sympathy or willingness to tolerate breast beating (see my April 24, 2016 at 6:44 am posting) by those who put us here.

ahimsa , April 24, 2016 at 7:48 am

@James Leavy

Not sure I follow you?

James A. Kidney, former trial attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, retired from the SEC in 2014 at the age of 66 after 24 years working there. Looks like he had a full career, although had to put up with a lot of bullshit, and possibly soured some relationships on his way out.

From Bloomberg: SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds

inode_buddha , April 24, 2016 at 7:57 am

Very similar situation here. Going on 50, unemployed in my chosen field, etc. And yes, its hard to just walk away sometimes… I have to keep my mind focused ahead instead of looking back.

Are there any yacht clubs nearby you? There is like 4 of them within 10 minutes of me (I'm on the Great Lakes) You could teach sailing and rigging no doubt. Bonus: Union crane operators are required to know their rigging – they may need teachers too.

Norb , April 24, 2016 at 10:54 am

More than ever, I am convinced the capitalist system needs to be rejected as the means determining how goods and services are delivered. The injustice and inequality generated are too great. Finding a positive expressive outlet for this dissatisfaction will require leadership- and a new vision for the future.

The amount of social damage being inflicted by the elite is almost beyond comprehension. Since they have successfully insulated themselves form the consequences of their actions, they remain aloof and uncaring for the plight of ordinary people, not to mention the health of the planet. This system will continue to cut more and more people off from the benefits of collective social action and effort. The work of the many, supporting the desires of the few cannot stand.

We all have to decide the level of inequality we are willing to live with. How people answer this question will naturally sort them into common communities. Leave the isolated gated communities to the elite. Careerism, like capitalism, is a dead end if your position cannot be guaranteed. The amount of talent and passion for work wasted under the current system is another undercounted fact. Sustainability and democracy are not compatible with capitalism.

Getting mad is only the beginning. The anger must be directed in some productive fashion. Any resistance to the current order must have broad social support and that support only has strength if self-reliant. Building these self-reliant structures is what the future will hold. If the plutocrats can build a world for themselves, why can't the common man. It only takes work,discipline, and control over the means of production.

Workers without power, influence, and the means to obtain life necessities are slaves. Is the best the human mind can conceive a life of benevolent serfdom?

By the way, I believe I would enjoy sitting in on one of your lectures. I'm sure I would learn much- and be a better man for it.

local to oakland , April 24, 2016 at 11:43 am

@James Levy … sorry to hear. I know a few who have been chewed up by the academic meat grinder. I hope you can find a productive outlet for your scholarship. Exile is hard.

I have been helped by the stoics, and Dante.

Ben , April 24, 2016 at 10:01 am

And now GS is caught in the middle of 1MDB bond issue scandal using fraudulent and information.

H. Alexander Ivey , April 24, 2016 at 6:44 am

"The explanation of the badger buried in the woodpile is too complicated for the average voter."

That's it! Stop right there! I will not let you (speaking to the author) BS your guilty conscience over my internet link. The average voter clearly knows they are getting screwed, that Wall Street and the voter's own bank is ripping the voter off, and most clearly, that the justice department, from state and local to federal, is enabling this injustice.

You sir, are swimming with sharks. Your morality is "is it legal?", your justification is "for the shareholder". Therefore, you refuse to see the mendacity and instead excuse it for ignorance.

JACK SKWAT , April 24, 2016 at 7:39 am

I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing).

Wow, that's a mouthful – and it's only one sentence. Whilst I love your pieces, I've noticed that many of the articles – at least the run up summation to the articles – tend to be written in a stream-of-consciousness style that, frankly, is hard to digest. This seems to be the case more now than in the past. I don't know if you're harried or on an impossible schedule, but could you please make your syntax easier to read? Thanks from a long-time reader and donator.

readerOfTeaLeaves , April 24, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Because it's a Sunday and I have time to goof off, one potential revision - b/c I believe what Mr Kidney has to say is important enough for me to spend a few minutes on one potential suggestion. I've amended and added what I hope are accurate meanings:

----
Focusing on these as the key subject /verb pairs:
I know (other whistleblowers)
(other whistleblowers) [lost their jobs]
(other whistleblowers) [blamed themselves – initially]

(other whistleblowers) [finally… accept]
the system in which they operated … [was corrupt]
… even if… (some employees) tried to [be competent]

(It - there's a problem with 'it' as the subject, because we are unclear what 'it' refers back to - I'll interpret 'it' as 'investigating fraud' ) was bound to…
-------------–

I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters. They wound up losing their jobs.
Initially, they blamed themselves, until they finally came to accept that the system in which they operated was so fundamentally corrupt that they could not retain a sense of their own integrity while working within the organization.

Despite the fact that some people really were trying to do the right thing, for reasons that I will explain, investigating fraud was bound to go in one of only three directions:
1. fraud would not be investigated at all,
2. fraud investigation would serve the agency's need for better public relations - in other words, the appearance of fraud investigation would be allowed to proceed, but only if it was merely cosmetic (or served some larger political purpose), or else
3. fraud investigation became temporarily elevated, but only because the organization* was suddenly in trouble – and consequently, needed to burnish its credibility by actually investigating fraud.

(Although 3 is a variant of 2, in the third option, credible fraud investigation could occur if, and only if, political necessity enabled competent SEC employees to actually investigate fraud in order to maintain the reputation of the SEC).

[NOTE: *It's not entirely clear here whether 'the organization' is the target business, or whether it is the SEC (which would need to burnish it's cred in the face of bad publicity)]
------------

Not sure how close I came to the author's intended meanings, but I thought that I'd give it a shot.

Yves Smith Post author , April 24, 2016 at 4:25 pm

The sentence parses correctly even though it is long. Stream of consciousness often does not parse correctly, plus another characteristic is the jumbling of ideas or observations. The point is to try to recreate the internal state of the character.

For instance, from David Lodge's novel "The British Museum Is Falling Down":

It partook, he thought, shifting his weight in the saddle, of metempsychosis, the way his humble life fell into moulds prepared by literature. Or was it, he wondered, picking his nose, the result of closely studying the sentence structure of the English novelists? One had resigned oneself to having no private language any more, but one had clung wistfully to the illusion of a personal property of events. A find and fruitless illusion, it seemed, for here, inevitably came the limousine, with its Very Important Personage, or Personages, dimly visible in the interior. The policeman saluted, and the crowd pressed forward, murmuring 'Philip', 'Tony', 'Margaret', 'Prince Andrew'.

More generally:

The Stream of Consciousness style of writing is marked by the sudden rise of thoughts and lack of punctuations.

The sentence may be longer than you like but this is not stream of consciousness. A clear logical structure ("first, second, third") is the antithesis of stream of consciousness.

fiscalliberal , April 24, 2016 at 8:13 am

I fail to see why fraud is not prosecuted. We can get cute with fancy words but fraud is clear and simple. Also – Enron results in SARBOX which seems to be clearly ignored. Yves – do we know of any SARBOX prosecutions? Clinton started deregulation, Bush implemented deregulation and Obama maintains it. No wonder the kids are mad. The financial industry makes the Koch brothers look like pikers.

Yves Smith Post author , April 24, 2016 at 4:30 pm

There is actually a high legal bar to prosecuting fraud.

I have written at length re Sarbox and the answer is no. And under Sarbox, you don't need to prosecute, you can start with a civil case and flip it to criminal if you get strong enough evidence in discovery. There was only one case (IIRC, with Angelo Mozilo) where the SEC filed Sarbox claims, one in which it also filed securities law claims. The judge threw out the Sarbox claims with no explanation. I assume it was because the judge regarded that as doubling up: you can do Sarbox or securities law (the claims to have some similarity) but not both. But the SEC as it so often does seems to have lost its nerve after that one.

afisher , April 24, 2016 at 9:22 am

Interestingly, the SEC has been warned about more of the same type of fraud: https://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-16-15/s71615-60.pdf

I don't know if an election would have consequences and if a new administration headed by Sanders would make it the SEC more responsible to the taxpayers and not the investors / banks.

It only took a decade for Markopolos to have his ponzi scheme information read by SEC.

diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 9:48 am

I want to like this guy, I really do. But then he goes and says stuff like this:

The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was.

So he doesn't understand how the revolving door works…or he does but he's being purposefully obtuse about it. Sacrifice my ass! Gentleman my heiny! And claiming that there's no proof of criminality when, as is pointed out above, Sarbanes-Oxley was obviously violated isn't helping things either.

Listen dude, pick a side. It's either the American people or Wall Street crooks and their abettors in government. You don't get to have it both ways. This kind of minimization and wishy-washyness is only helping the crooks. More disappointing than I exepected.

diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

I mean, at least he lays blame at Obama's feet, and calls the fraud what it is: fraud. Good on him!

…But then he pulls out the "vote for Dems no matter what they do!" line and I just shake my head….

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

diptherio……. excuse me for a momen--BARFFFF!!!!!!-- Whew ……… that felt better !! ……….

yes …I agree….these kinds of articles are nothing more than defensive measures against a growing public rage !!!

bu…bu…but Just Us !!

diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

these kinds of articles are nothing more than defensive measures against a growing public rage !!!

I don't actually agree. I think the guy feels a little guilty for not doing more, now he's trying to salve his conscience. Still, he can't quite bring himself to admit that the people he was working for may well have been criminals. They were just so nice!

Self-reflection is not comfortable, and most people don't have much tolerance for it. I think this guy's legitimately trying to do the right thing (not cover up for criminality) it's just that it's really psychologically difficult to admit certain aspects of reality. It's not like he's the only one.

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

I find it telling that suddenly now (within the last year or so) that all these people ( people in high finance, their underlings, traders, hedge funders, and other assorted enablers of massive fraud upon the general public, are suddenly having a 'come to hayzeus' epiphany! I'm not buying whatever faux sincerity they're trying to project…….

They've screwed millions of trusting people with their fraudulent grifting!

reslez , April 24, 2016 at 7:09 pm

> I find it telling that suddenly now (within the last year or so) that all these people […], are suddenly having a 'come to hayzeus' epiphany!

Especially when it comes after a fat retirement and a lengthy career of going along. I have much more respect for people who really did put their daily bread on the line, and there are plenty of those people, a lot of whom Obama sent to jail. So, yeah, great, you finally told the truth… but where were you when the country needed you to speak out?

perpetualWAR , April 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

How about where the guy said "until proven guilty, they are innocent." Hahahahahahaha

Crooks, the lot of them.

diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Couldn't we use civil forfeiture to go after them regardless of whether we can prove any actual crime? What's good for the average citizen is surely good for the elite banker…

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

…but you just might need some of those 'Yehadis' to back you up ;-)

reslez , April 24, 2016 at 7:06 pm

It's a good thing they're gentlemen. I don't know if I could handle all the looting and self-dealing if it came from common ruffians. Truly we are fortunate to be in such hands, my fellow countrymen!

ChrisPacific , April 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

Yes, I had trouble getting past that line as well. Either he is being ironic or he has a massive blind spot on that point.

Lars Jorgensen , April 24, 2016 at 10:00 am

According to Bill Black in a ted talk 2014. After the Savings and loans debacle, where the regulators went after the worst of the worst criminals, they made 30.000 criminal referrals and 1000 procecutions with a 90% succes rate.

Now after the 2008 crisis, which was 70 times bigger causing 10 million job losses and costing 11 trillion dolllars, the Obama administration has not made one single criminal referral. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JBYPcgtnGE

Today I fell over some information about the IMF, that the organization is exempt from legal prosecutions and taxes. Can this be true?

From the article: "The employees who bare the IMF badge are pretty much exempt from all forms of government intervention. And, according to LisaHavenNews, the IMF "law book," the Articles of Agreement lists the reasons and requirements for exclusion from government mandate."

http://www.truthandaction.org/revealed-imf-granted-complete-immunity-form-legal-prosecution-taxation/

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm

…..criminals are, as criminals do, as criminals take…..

Steve in Dallas , April 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Thank you, I was hoping someone would mention Bill Black.

I'm a software/hardware product/business development engineer. In 2008, after 20 years of reading the WSJ and stunned by the sellout to Murdoch, I went to the internet independent media (IM) to follow the 'economic crisis'. Within a few months it was clear to me 1) I had learned nothing of substance reading the WSJ, 2) the U.S. MSM, education system, and government are thoroughly captured/corrupt.

Being a 'reader' (note: I don't know anyone who reads non-fiction) for me this 'worldview transition' was quite natural, nothing really surprised me, and it was a big relief to discover such good information/analysis so easily available on the internet. However, eight years later, I have yet to meet a single person who has rejected the MSM or tuned in to what's happening, via the IM or otherwise. In fact, after leaving the university in 1990, I have yet to meet a single person with any basic understanding of (or the slightest interest in, or concern about) the extreme institutional criminality of the the Savings & Loan Crisis, Asian Economic Crisis, Technology Bubble, the 2008 crisis, or the many economic/military wars-of-aggression methodically destroying one government/economy/country after another.

To me, nothing made the global/economic/organized/mafia criminality more clear than the 2008/2009 articles by Bill Black. Back then I again foolishly assumed people would rally behind Dr. Black to reestablish basic law enforcement against yet another obvious largest-ever "epidemic" of organized crime. Looking back, the highly organized (and very successful) criminality of the Paulson/Obama/Geithner/Bernanke/etc. cabal was truly an amazing operation to behold. Perhaps the most shocking news came in 2010 when numerous studies confirmed that the top 7% of Americans had already "profited" from the economic crisis, that the criminally organized upper class had not only increased their net wealth but, more importantly, had increased their rate of wealth accumulation relative to the bottom 93%. Still, to me, infinitely more amazing, the bottom 93% didn't, and still don't, seem to care, or if they do, they've done absolutely nothing to even start to fight back.

Today, when reading these articles, I'm astounded how completely meek and 'unorganized' the bottom 93% are compared to the extremely vicious and organized top 7%. Year after year the wealthy elite, who's core organizing philosophy is "take or be taken, kill or be killed", increasingly wallow in dangerously high and unprecedented levels of wealth accumulated by blatant/purposeful/methodical/criminal/vicious looting while their victims, the bottom 93% 'working class', do absolutely nothing (what are they doing?…. other than playing with their phone-toys, facebook, video games, movies?). At this point, the main (only?) reason I continue to 'read' is to perhaps someday 'behold' the working class 93% attempting to educate themselves and consequently 'organize' to defend themselves.

lightningclap , April 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

+1

diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Dude, you need to move to Austin, stat!

lyman alpha blob , April 24, 2016 at 10:11 am

I sympathize with Mr. Kidney and applaud him for doing what he can to try to rectify this abhorrent situation. I also applaud him for placing the blame squarely on Obama and his reasons for doing so are solid.

What I find much harder to understand is why he would vote for Obama even in 2012 after it became apparent that Obama was ultimately responsible for stonewalling his investigation, and his complete willingness to vote for the corrupt Democrat party no matter what going forward.

As long as enough people continue to have that attitude things will never change until the whole system comes crashing down. I'd much rather see an FDR-type overhaul of the system rather than a complete collapse as I'm rather fond of civilization. But I've come to expect the latter rather than the former so I'll be reading my weekly Archdruid report for the foreseeable future.

Carolinian , April 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was.

Yes poor babies for that "significant personal sacrifice" that resulted in "even more lucrative" private employment. The author explains the problem then scratches his head over what it might be.

In a rational world there would be a strict separation between the regulated and the regulators. The government would hire professional experts at decent salaries and they never ever would be allowed to then move on to jobs with the regulated. Clearly the assumption underlying our current–irrational–system is that these high status technocrats are "gentlemen" with a code of honor. Welcome to the 19th century. Those long ago plutocrats in their stately English mansions were all gentlemen and therefore entitled to their privileges by their superior breeding. They were the better sort.

Meanwhile for lesser mortals it seems totally unsurprising when laws are ignored because you hire your police from the ranks of the criminal gangs. No head scratching needed.

Alex morfesis , April 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Reid Muoio (boss of kidney @ $EC) has a brother at a major tall bldg law firm whose job is to help fortune 500 companies deal with D & O insurance issues…so when in the article Muoio says "He" did not go thru the revolving door…it was fraud by omission…his brother sits on the opposite side of these private settlement agreements…

so is Kidney unaware…leaving us to maybe accept he was never much of an investigator…or just forgot to point it out for us…

The world is full of govt types who tell us TINA…

The wealthy Elliott Spitzer told us he would have loved to help "the little people" but the OCC and then scotus with waters v wachovia…except scotus ruled only direct subsidiaries get protection and the OCC specifically said the trustee operations of OCC regulated entities are also not covered/protected…

A really big shoe
as Ed used to remind us….

susan the other , April 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Does anyone else think this was insider demolition – not just the failure to prosecute, but the whole financial implosion in the first place? Who writes up nothing but "shitty deals" – all the while saying to each other: IBGYBG and survives to slink away? They must have had a heads up that the financial system as we had known it in the 20th c. was done. They had a heads up and then they got free passes. My only question is, Wasn't there a better way to bring down the system, an honest way that protected us all? By the end of the cold war money itself had become an inconvenience because of diminishing returns. And now the stuff is just plain dangerous because everyone who got screwed (99%) wants their fair share still. It is paralyzing our thinking. Obama maintains he personally "prevented another depression". I honestly think he might be insane. What we need is a recognition that the old system was completely irrational and it isn't coming back. And most of us are SOL. Somebody is going to figure out how to maintain both the value and usefulness of money very soon, because we've got work to do.

cnchal , April 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm

The GFC was the first great financial crime of this millenium, and Goldman Sachs was at the epicenter. A heist of gargantuan proportions, they didn't even need a safecracker after Bernanke spun the dials and opened the door wide.

Imagine if the FBI and the Mafia exchanged their top leaders every few months. That's what we have here with the SEC and Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders: The business of Wall Street is fraud and greed.
We can add to that. The business of the SEC is to provide cover.

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 2:10 pm

It's all about 'their protection'….not ours!

and Obama………..

He's a f#cking psychopathic peacock!

KYrocky , April 24, 2016 at 2:17 pm

In Yves intro she shares her views, first, that Kidney still wants to think well of his former SEC colleagues and his criticisms seem muted relative to the severity of the problems, and second, that there are class assumptions at work.

The first is obvious, as the SEC is an utter failure in its responsibility to investigate and prosecute financial criminals. While Mr. Kidney devotes a fair amount of his passages pondering how it can be that no individuals within these financial institutions bear personal responsibility, Mr. Kidney fails to see the SEC through that same lens. To say Kidney's criticism of his coworkers is muted is an understatement. The individuals at the SEC are corrupt. The individuals at the Justice Department are corrupt. Probably all nice people: husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, etc. Just like those folks at the financial institutions. Mr. Kidney cuts them slack because of his personal relationships with them. Mr. Kidney chooses to give them the benefit of doubt when the totality of their professional performance at the SEC make clear this cannot be true.

With respect to class assumptions at work, Yves illustrates with the deference shown by SEC officials and investigators toward these financial criminals and their presumption that these individuals are honest. Mr. Kidney does share some of his disappointment in President Obama and Obama's administration but fails to properly connect the dots. In short, the lack of financial crime prosecutions is the result of a deliberate, planned and orchestrated effort.

Mr. Kindney's investigations were prevented in going forward by his superiors. He was never given an explanation for this despite his asking. But Kidney believes his superiors are all good people.

No, they are not. They are compromised people who have placed their career employment above their sworn duty. The fact that their bosses have done the same, as have those in the Justice Department as well as President Obama, should not diminish this fact. The phrase "class assumptions" is too euphemistic when describing a system where there is no justice for the victims of financial crimes, a system where the Justice Department and Administration coordinate to shield financial criminals based on where they work.

This is America. In today's America the fact is certain individuals are above the law because our elected officials at all levels accept that this is okay. Victims of these individuals will be prevented access to their legal recourse, and that these criminals are protected from the highest level of our government down. This goes way, way beyond class assumptions.

readerOfTeaLeaves , April 24, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Yves has written extensively about how corporate interests have funded academic sinecures, as well as continuing legal education seminars attended by attorneys and judges. This is part of the fallout; if you want more, check out her section of ECONned where she explains how legal thinking was perverted by business interests.

flora , April 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for this post. Glad to see the SEC story is still alive. I'm sure the SEC and Obama would prefer it quietly go away.

dk , April 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm

As someone who has fallen on their sword more than once (and again recently), I just want to say that "placed their career employment above their sworn duty" is accurate but also oversimplifies the situation.

People with families tell themselves that they balance performance of most (some?) of those duties, while shirking the balance in order to protect their families (a "good" (as in, expensive) college for the kids)… this actually comes down to sustaining their social status, in a culture (political as well as corporate) where loyalty is valued equal to and above performance, and honorable action is diminished, trivialized, even ridiculed; and not just within the context of the financial industry.

This is not at all a defense of the choice, but the choice is made in a very class-stratified social context, and arises in that general context. People take out loans to buy cars and houses, they squirrel earnings away into investments (to avoid taxes) which they are reluctant to draw from… they feel less ready to abandon their addictive income streams for honor, and fudge their responsibilities. It's not isolated to regulators, or government, or even finance. It occurs so constantly and on so many fronts that addressing specific cases doesn't make a dent in the compromise of the entire culture. And that compromise is fueled and maintained by a very twisted set of ideas about money, and career, and social status (not to mention compromises in journalism, education, science, you name it).

Synoia , April 24, 2016 at 3:37 pm

I read Mr kidney as being very sarcastic. I could not write this with a serious sarcastic (Lawsuit Avoiding) view:

The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.)

taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice

Oh really? Must have hurt. And from a legal point of view does not appear libelous.

polecat , April 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Yeah…stubbed toes only…….

[Mar 11, 2016] WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Grenada, Cuban Bay of Pigs, Libya, Syria, Yemen, that is what the Democrats have done

Notable quotes:
"... What wars are you citing? WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Grenada, Cuban Bay of Pigs, Libya, Syria, Yemen,....that is what the Democrats have done. ..."
"... The Reps are no peackeniks but somehow Democrats are better able to initiate and conduct war because people like you build myths that Democrats are more peace loving. Sorry, history does not support your view. ..."
"... Hillary is by far the most dangerous because she has both Administration and Senatorial experience and knows how to muster support for her war mongering ways with the likes of Neo-cons and AIPAC'ers. ..."
"... The RTP doctrine was born with the Balkan war, driven by Clinton and Blair, the latter advocating a ground assault, and Blair's military intervention in Sierra Leone, rebirthing the whole idea of British expeditionary forces ..."
"... The proportion of superdelegates has actually increased from 14% to 20% of the total delegate count over the years since this was introduced (in 1982). So the Democratic Party have been adding more slots for party cronies and making the results less and less democratic. ..."
"... Slick Willy/Obama moderate centrists running Dem establishment, same sleaze bags that did the welfare and justice reforms of 90s and deregulated WS in the first place ..."
discussion.theguardian.com

Ussurisk chrisbrown, 10 Mar 2016 08:48

What wars are you citing? WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Grenada, Cuban Bay of Pigs, Libya, Syria, Yemen,....that is what the Democrats have done.

The Reps are no peackeniks but somehow Democrats are better able to initiate and conduct war because people like you build myths that Democrats are more peace loving. Sorry, history does not support your view.

Trump is impetuous and dangerous but he would be a lame duck president like Jimmy Carter; unable to muster Congressional support to do much of anything.

Hillary is by far the most dangerous because she has both Administration and Senatorial experience and knows how to muster support for her war mongering ways with the likes of Neo-cons and AIPAC'ers.

FrankBnov14 -> ID8020624 ,

Since the Oligarchy supposedly control the media, the corporations, the money, the congress, the bureaucracy, the states, the armed forces, etc, why on earth would one alleged Lefty in the White House be 'very dangerous' for them? Even assuming he really wanted to be a real threat to them (as distinct from merely saying the things that get him votes), he simply wouldn't have the power to do any more than a few minor things that marginally protect the interests of the 99.9% of us who are not so-called Oligarchs.
ID8020624 -> twistsmom ,
Did you watch the debate tonight? He brought up all the coups. He is a Social Democrat, so was Allende and Albeniz.
Cruz is a political whore, I am a simple Dem Socialist Bernie supporter.
Cruz is a phony Jesus freak (was Catholic), I am an Atheist, like all Dem Socialists.
Cruz is a Canadian, I am an American.
Cruz is a transgender, I am straight.
Cruz is a racist teabagger, who made fame by opposing even the most conservative Obama policies. I have Dr. King's portrait in my office and a fierce enemy of social injustice.
Cruz is a demagogue, I simply pointed some historical facts (bloody Coups) and some of our historical atrocities around the globe.

Super delegates are almost completely with HRC, the WS call girl. Why...do you think it is so?

Again, Bernie is very dangerous for the ruling few that run this Oligarchy. He used the term Oligarchy again in this debate. And he stated again that this is not a democracy.

PearsonGooner -> Christopher3175 ,
All US presidents are owned by corporations and bankers, not just Hillary, her and Bill have their own criminal enterprise.

All US presidents are war criminals at worst and blatant liars at best.

Bernie will get lead poisoning from as assassins bullet if, in the unlikely event he becomes POTUS

PearsonGooner -> Mei P ,
Hillary and Bill are murderers, rapists, thieves, fraudsters and drug dealers. A long history of criminal violence. Google "Mena Airport" and take it from there, you will be busy for days.

The elite don't care about you, they only care about their own access to your tax dollar.

Do not vote for Hillary, the world will be a better place when she and rapist Bill swing from the end of a rope

subgeometer -> john7appleyard ,
Pally with Clinton , then with Bush.

The RTP doctrine was born with the Balkan war, driven by Clinton and Blair, the latter advocating a ground assault, and Blair's military intervention in Sierra Leone, rebirthing the whole idea of British expeditionary forces

Kira Kinski ,
This is a cause worth fighting for. America is crumbling under our feet, yet the Uniparty continues to point us towards a downward spiral. But, the People have awakened. They realize the game is rigged. Nothing illustrates this better than Big Media and the DNC that marginalize Sanders and his message every chance it gets. Why? They obviously support the official Uniparty pick, Clinton. America is fortunate that Sanders has stepped up to face the Clinton campaign machine. Sanders wants to do what is best for America. Not the elite. But the People. Sanders has fought for civil rights and equality his entire political career. Name anyone else who has done this over decades. We can use them on the good ship Reclaim America.

Join the political revolution of the People, for the People, by the People. Vote for Bernie. He is the only candidate running who is for all of us, because he cares...

>>> www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpm4rjejFgQ

If nothing else, America, please stop voting for the same crowd, the Uniparty; they are literally sucking the life out of the People and have been for decades (going back to Bill Clinton and beyond)...

>>> www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/09/04/opinion/04reich-graphic.html

Let's fix America together. Now is a once in a lifetime chance for a reboot.

Jerome Fryer -> DracoFerret ,
The proportion of superdelegates has actually increased from 14% to 20% of the total delegate count over the years since this was introduced (in 1982). So the Democratic Party have been adding more slots for party cronies and making the results less and less democratic.
ID8020624 ,
Corporate media and Dem establishment campaign against Bernie's chances have completely backlashed. And the more he stays in the race, the more likely he will get the max number of pledged delegates or nomination.

And the longer the race for nomination is, the more likely that the WS speeches, Sec of State emails, and bribes by foreign sleazy regimes to the Foundation will be exposed before nomination.

Slick Willy/Obama moderate centrists running Dem establishment, same sleaze bags that did the welfare and justice reforms of 90s and deregulated WS in the first place, wanted Bernie out by last night;...thanks to Michigan...we will see them all in Philadelphia!

The WS(Ruben, Summers, Geithner,...)/Clinton/Obama wing of the party will be buried by Uncle Bernie when all this is said and done, and with it the D-establishment media: msnbc athews, the executive Wolffe and te corporate-feminist Maddows!

I am toasting over here,...Feeling the Bern!

MaxBoson ,
The truth is that before Tuesday's elections, Clinton was ahead of Sanders by 673 to 477 pledged delegates, and her lead is now 745 to 540-by no means insurmountable, as a recent NBC-Washington Post poll shows (the numbers don't sum to 100% because 'Other' and 'No opinion' replies were included): In December Clinton led Sanders 59% to 28%; in January 55% to 36%; in March 49% to 42%. These figures show that Hillary's lead is slowly but steadily evaporating.

Anyone who believes that superdelegates can hand Clinton the nomination even if she loses the primary fight is betting the Democratic Party is willing to commit suicide: Sanders supporters already loathe Hillary Clinton, and if she is carried to the coronation throne on the backs of superdelegates, that loathing will multiply, and many of them will stay home or participate in a write-in campaign for Bernie, enough to cause Hillary to lose the general election. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her friends in the DNC will have achieved their goal: a woman will have been nominated, but at the price of making Donald Trump President, and having to find another name for their party-"Democratic Party" would hardly be fitting after such a betrayal.

Martin Thompson -> smudge10 ,
free trade is unfair trade it is like these subsidies on food where people pay tax and then farmers get money from govt to grow what they are told. Then there is free trade deal such as with europe where the american subsidised food too compete with the european subsidised food but there are differences in regulations so too compete fairly the europeans would have to reduce the regulations in a race to the bottom with the Americans who are already suffering from obesity.
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2015/12/ttip-disaster-left-brexit-would-be-worse

amacd2 ,
Here's my comment finally allowed to be published in the NYT today 3/8 after Michigan

Bernie is on the Bern across America --- and he hasn't even fired a 'shout heard round the world' yet.

When Bernie fires a non-violent 'shout heard round the world' to further ignite his & our "Political Revolution against Empire" the Bern will burn through the rest of the primary states.

Understand that Bernie will increase both the enthusiasm and the education of Americans in evolutionary ways of understanding the essential need for the "Political Revolution against Empire".

Initially, Bernie can point to the flaws and failures of a 'foreign policy' that does not serve the interests of Americans nor peace in our world, any better than domestic economic tyranny at home, because our country is being pushed by the same corrupted politics to "act like a global Empire abroad".

Even the most trusted elder anchorman and author of "Greatest Generation", Tom Brokaw, on "Meet the Press" shocked Chuck Toad and other young pundits at the 'Round Table' when he explained, "When Trump and Cruz are talking about three year old orphans and refugees [from Syria to Europe], what we're really talking about is three year old orphans and refugees, caused by
American policy".

Such truth telling by older and politically experienced people like Bernie, Tom, and the late Walter Cronkite is what has radically changed, even Revolutionized the political landscape as it did half a century ago when such truthful shocks caused LBJ not to run and admit, "If I've lost Cronkite, we've lost the war"

Quartz001 ,
Looks like the corporate media attempts to keep Bernie Sanders coverage down, and making any attention they do give him negative isn't totally working... what will they try next?

Corporate Media to Begin Adding Fangs to Images of Bernie Sanders
http://www.theniladmirari.com/2016/03/corporate-media-to-begin-adding-fangs-to-all-images-of-bernie-sanders-and-push-narrative-storyline-fantasy-secretary-hillary-clinton-inevitable-democratic-presidential-candidate.html

antipodes -> jambin ,
I just don't like the slaughter of half a million Syrians and Libyans and 10 million refugees facing devastation of their lives just so the USA and NATO can control oil supplies out of the Middle East. Its not a good look Hillary.
I'm not all that happy about the splitting up of Syria just to isolate Iran and destroy the Russian economy while risking a nuclear war.
illary needs to explain why we can't have world peace because the insecurity and armaments industry makes so much money for the 1%. In fact Hilary needs to prove she cares about the worlds ordinary people like the Palestinians living under the yoke of the cruel oppresive Israeli Gogernment. And she would need to demonstrate her concern with policies to help the people living on the streets of America before I would support her.
Junnie Quorra Lee -> Junnie Quorra Lee ,
(Can Hillary be trusted? Also See:)

Reich Risked getting fired from Clinton Admin by slamming Corporate Welfare
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffmvPuGxmzA&feature=youtu.be

(RECENT!) Hillary Clinton's Email About Gay Parents Should Seriously Trouble Her LGBT Supporters
http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/10/01/hillary_clinton_on_gay_rights_a_new_email_is_troubling.html
Looks like she hasn't really "evolved" on LGBT acceptance, but is simply taking on positions that she thinks is politically beneficial to her, as usual. Much of her campaign platform (specifically her sudden focus on social and civil issues) is pretty much copied over from Sander's after all.

Bernie Sanders Was For Transgender Rights Before It Was A Thing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0kCDFxODx4

Hillary Paid Herself $250000 From Campaign Funds
http://freebeacon.com/politics/hillary-paid-herself-250000-from-campaign-funds /

Hillary Clinton says outsourcing jobs is good for America (top 1%)
http://realprogress.online/2016/03/05/hillary-clinton-told-crowd-outsourcing-good-america /

Her shock when he says he supports Bernie Sanders (the "socialist", rather than Hillary, on Fox News) is priceless!
https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats/videos/1080899312003122/?pnref=story

Why I Switched My Support From Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders
https://www.thewrap.com/carole-mallory-bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-swtich-support-president-guest-blog /

Hillary Calls for Michigan Gov's Resignation an Hour After Her Spox Slammed Bernie for Same (This pretty much sums up her dis-ingenious campaign)
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/hillary-calls-for-michigan-govs-resignation-an-hour-after-her-spox-slammed-bernie-for-same /

---

Racism is still alive. Black lives DO matter, and the things BLM activists are doing may look excessive, but I find it necessary if they are EVER to be heard by the government. Things are desperate now, and the Clintons has a hand in the current sad sate of things for African Americans due to the policies that they have pushed. Bernie have repeatedly highlighted how Black people in America is oppressed. Just look at the % of black vs white jobless rate, and % of black vs white people being jailed for weed possession. Something needs to be done. "Enough is Enough" as Bernie says.

Clinton confronted for calling black kids 'super predators'
http://nypost.com/2016/03/01/clinton-confronted-for-calling-black-kids-super-predators /
Activist Ashley Williams Confronts Hillary Clinton On Calling Black People Super Predators
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwFii9IYTIw&feature=youtu.be
Prominent Black Activists Want to Set The Record Straight On Hillary Clinton!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pACLnwDe7Ms

[Mar 10, 2016] The Brazilian Earthquake The Empire Of Chaos

Notable quotes:
"... Brazil is corrupt to the core - from the comprador elites down to a great deal of the crass "new" elites, which include the PT. The greed and incompetence displayed by an array of PT stalwarts is appalling - a reflection of the lack of quality cadres. Corruption and traffic of influence involving Petrobras, construction companies and politicians is undeniable, even if it pales compared to Goldman Sachs shenanigans or Big Oil and/or Koch Brothers/Sheldon Adelson-style buying/bribing of US politicians. ..."
"... The Central Bank still keeps its benchmark interest rate at a whopping 14.25%. A disastrous Rousseff neoliberal "fiscal adjustment" actually increased the economic crisis. Today Rousseff "governs" - that's a figure of speech - for the banking cartel and the rentiers of Brazilian public debt. Over $120 billion of the government's budget evaporates to pay interest on the public debt. ..."
"... It's no coincidence that three major BRICS nations are simultaneously under attack - on myriad levels: Russia, China and Brazil. The concerted strategy by the Masters of the Universe who dictate the rules in the Wall Street/Beltway axis is to undermine by all means the BRICS's collective effort to produce a viable alternative to the global economic/financial system, which for the moment is subjected to casino capitalism. It's unlikely Lula, by himself, will be able to stop them. ..."
"... These oligarchs,.. GOOD. Those oligarchs.... BAD. ..."
"... The Oligarchs of the BRICS have been duped and co-opted by TPTB in the US. Their foot-dragging and lack or decisive and timely action means that their Window Of Opportunity is probably gone. The various Trans-Oceanic Trade Deals that the US has cooking is front-running their indecisiveness and lack of action. ..."
"... They are 'toast', because these Trade Deals have the USD baked into them, and the combined GDPs of each Pact is far bigger than that of the BRICS. ..."
www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Pepe Escobar, originally posted at SputnikNews.com,

Imagine one of the most admired global political leaders in modern history taken from his apartment at 6 am by armed Brazilian Federal Police agents and forced into an unmarked car to the Sao Paulo airport to be interrogated for almost four hours in connection with a billion dollar corruption scandal involving the giant state oil company Petrobras.

This is the stuff Hollywood is made of. And that was exactly the logic behind the elaborate production.

The public prosecutors of the two-year-old Car Wash investigation maintain there are " elements of proof " implicating Lula in receiving funds - at least 1.1 million euros - from the dodgy kickback scheme involving major Brazilian construction companies connected to Petrobras. Lula might - and the operative word is "might" - have personally profited from it mostly in the form of a ranch (which he does not own), a relatively modest seaside apartment, speaking fees in the global lecture circuit, and donations to his charity.

Lula is the ultimate political animal - on a Bill Clinton level. He had already telegraphed he was waiting for such a gambit, as the Car Wash machine had already arrested dozens of people suspected of embezzling contracts between their companies and Petrobras - to the tune of over $2 billion - to pay for politicians of the Workers' Party (PT), of which Lula was leader.

Lula's name surfaced via the proverbial rascal turned informer, eager to strike a plea bargain. The working hypothesis - there is no smoking gun - is that Lula, when he led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, personally benefited from the corruption scheme with Petrobras at the center, obtaining favors for himself, the PT and the government. Meanwhile, inefficient President Dilma Rousseff is herself under attack engineered via a plea bargain by the former government leader in the Senate.

Lula was questioned in connection to money laundering, corruption and suspected dissimulation of assets. The Hollywood blitz was cleared by federal judge Sergio Moro - who always insists he's been inspired by the Italian judge Antonio di Pietro and the notorious 1990s Mani Pulite ("Clean Hands") investigation.

And here, inevitably, the plot thickens.

Round up the usual media suspects

Moro and the Car Wash prosecutors justified the Hollywood blitz insisting Lula refused to be interrogated. Lula and the PT vehemently insist otherwise.

And yet Car Wash investigators had consistently leaked to mainstream media words to the effect, "We can't just bite Lula. When we get to him, we will swallow him." This would imply, at a minimum, a politicization of justice, the Federal Police and the Public Ministry. And would also imply that the Hollywood blitz may have been supported by a smoking gun. As perception is reality in the frenetic non-stop news cycle, the "news" - instantly global - was that Lula was arrested because he's corrupt.

Yet it gets curioser and curioser when we learn that judge Moro wrote an article in an obscure magazine way back in 2004 (in Portuguese only, titled Considerations about Mani Pulite , CEJ magazine, issue number 26, July/September 2004), where he clearly extols "authoritarian subversion of juridical order to reach specific targets " and using the media to intoxicate the political atmosphere.

All of this serving a very specific agenda, of course. In Italy, right-wingers saw the whole Mani Pulite saga as a nasty judicial over-reach; the left, on the other hand, was ecstatic. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) emerged with clean hands. In Brazil, the target is the left - while the right, at least for the moment, seems to be composed of hymn-singing angels.

The pampered, cocaine-snorting loser candidate of the 2014 Brazilian presidential election, Aecio Neves, for instance, was singled out for corruption by three different accusers - and it all went nowhere, without further investigation. Same with another dodgy scheme involving former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso - the notoriously vainglorious former developmentalist turned neoliberal enforcer.

What Car Wash has already forcefully imprinted across Brazil is the perception that corruption only pays when the accused is a progressive nationalist. As for Washington consensus vassals, they are always angels - mercifully immune from prosecution.

That's happening because Moro and his team are masterfully playing to the hilt Moro's self-described use of the media to intoxicate the political atmosphere - with public opinion serially manipulated even before someone is formally charged with any crime. And yet Moro and his prosecutors' sources are largely farcical, artful dodgers cum serial liars. Why trust their word? Because there are no smoking guns, something even Moro admits.

And that leads us towards the nasty scenario of a made in Brazil media-judicial-police complex possibly hijacking one of the healthiest democracies in the world. And that is supported by a stark fact: the right-wing Brazilian opposition's entire "project" boils down to ruining the economy of the 7 th largest global economic power to justify the destruction of Lula as a presidential candidate in 2018.

Elite Plundering Rules

None of the above can be understood by a global audience without some acquaintance with classic Braziliana. Local legend rules that Brazil is not for beginners. Indeed; this is an astonishingly complex society - which essentially descended from a Garden of Eden (before the Portuguese "discovered" it in 1500) to slavery (which still permeates all social relations) to a crucial event in 1808: the arrival of Dom John VI of Portugal (and Emperor of Brazil for life), fleeing Napoleon's invasion, and carrying with him 20,000 people who masterminded the "modern" Brazilian state. "Modern" is an euphemism; history shows the descendants of these 20,000 actually have been raping the country blind for the past 208 years. And few have ever been held accountable.

Traditional Brazilian elites compose one of the most noxious arrogant-ignorant-prejudiced mixes on the planet. "Justice" - and police enforcement - are only used as a weapon when the polls do not favor their agenda.

Brazilian mainstream media owners are an intrinsic part of these elites. Much like the US concentration model, only four families control the media landscape, foremost among them the Marinho family's Globo media empire. I have experienced, from the inside, in detail, how they operate.

Brazil is corrupt to the core - from the comprador elites down to a great deal of the crass "new" elites, which include the PT. The greed and incompetence displayed by an array of PT stalwarts is appalling - a reflection of the lack of quality cadres. Corruption and traffic of influence involving Petrobras, construction companies and politicians is undeniable, even if it pales compared to Goldman Sachs shenanigans or Big Oil and/or Koch Brothers/Sheldon Adelson-style buying/bribing of US politicians.

If this was a no-holds-barred crusade against corruption - which the Car Wash prosecutors insist it is - the right-wing opposition/vassals of the old elites should have been equally exposed in mainstream media. But then the elite-controlled media would simply ignore the prosecutors. And there would be nothing remotely on the scale of the Hollywood blitz, with Lula - pictured as a lowly delinquent - humiliated in front of the whole planet.

Car Wash prosecutors are right; perception is reality. But what if it backfires?

No consumption, no investment, no credit

Brazil couldn't be in a gloomier situation. GDP was down 3.8% last year; probably will be down 3.5% this year. The industrial sector was down 6.2% last year, and the mining sector down 6.6% in the last quarter. The nation is on the way to its worst recession since…1901.

There was no Plan B by the - incompetent - Rousseff administration for the Chinese slowdown in buying Brazil's mineral/agricultural wealth and the overall global slump in commodity prices.

The Central Bank still keeps its benchmark interest rate at a whopping 14.25%. A disastrous Rousseff neoliberal "fiscal adjustment" actually increased the economic crisis. Today Rousseff "governs" - that's a figure of speech - for the banking cartel and the rentiers of Brazilian public debt. Over $120 billion of the government's budget evaporates to pay interest on the public debt.

Inflation is up - now in double-digit territory. Unemployment is at 7.6% - still not bad as many a player across the EU - but rising.

The usual suspects of course are gloating, spinning non-stop how Brazil has become "toxic" for global investors.

Yes, it's bleak. There's no consumption. No investment. No credit. The only way out would be to unlock the political crisis. Maggots in the opposition racket though have a one-track obsession; the impeachment of President Rousseff. Shades of good ol' regime change; for these Wall Street/Empire of Chaos vassals, an economic crisis, fueled by a political crisis, must by all means bring down the elected government of a key BRICS player.

And then, suddenly, out of left field, surges…Lula. The move against him by the Car Wash investigation may yet backfire - badly. He's already on campaign mode for 2018 - although he's not an official candidate, yet. Never underestimate a political animal of his stature.

Brazil is not on the ropes. If reelected, and assuming he could purge the PT from a legion of crooks, Lula could push for a new dynamic. Before the crisis, Brazilian capital was going global - via Petrobras, Embraer, the BNDES (the bank model that inspired the BRICS bank), the construction companies. At the same time, there might be benefits in breaking, at least partially, this oligarchic cartel that control all infrastructure construction in Brazil; think of Chinese companies building the high-speed rail, dams and ports the country badly lacks.

Judge Moro himself has theorized that corruption festers because the Brazilian economy is too closed to the outside world, as India's was until recently. But there's a stark difference between opening up some sectors of the Brazilian economy and let foreign interests tied to the comprador elites plunder the nation's wealth.

So once again, we must go back to the recurrent theme in all major global conflicts.

It's the oil, stupid

For the Empire of Chaos, Brazil has been a major headache since Lula was first elected, in 2002 (for an appraisal of complex US-Brazil relations, check the indispensable work of Moniz Bandeira).

A top priority of the Empire of Chaos is to prevent the emergence of regional powers fueled by abundant natural resources, from oil to strategic minerals. Brazil amply fits the bill. Washington of course feels entitled to "defend" these resources. Thus the need to quash not only regional integration associations such as Mercosur and Unasur but most of all the global reach of the BRICS.

Petrobras used to be a very efficient state company that then doubled as the single operator of the largest oil reserves discovered in the 21 st century so far; the pre-salt deposits. Before it became the target of a massive speculative, judicial and media attack, Petrobras used to account for 10% of investment and 18% of Brazilian GDP.

Petrobras found the pre-salt deposits based on its own research and technological innovation applied to exploring oil in deep waters - with no foreign input whatsoever. The beauty is there's no risk; if you drill in this pre-salt layer, you're bound to find oil. No company on the planet would hand this over to the competition.

And yet a notorious right-wing opposition maggot promised Chevron in 2014 to hand over the exploitation of pre-salt mostly to Big Oil. The right-wing opposition is busy altering the juridical regime of pre-salt; it's already been approved in the Senate. And Rousseff is meekly going for it. Couple it to the fact that Rousseff's government did absolutely nothing to buy back Petrobras stock - whose vertiginous fall was deftly engineered by the usual suspects.

The meticulous dismantling of Petrobras, Big Oil eventually profiting from the pre-salt deposits, keeping in check Brazil's global power projection, all this plays beautifully to the interests of the Empire of Chaos. Geopolitically, this goes way beyond the Hollywood blitz and the Car Wash investigation.

It's no coincidence that three major BRICS nations are simultaneously under attack - on myriad levels: Russia, China and Brazil. The concerted strategy by the Masters of the Universe who dictate the rules in the Wall Street/Beltway axis is to undermine by all means the BRICS's collective effort to produce a viable alternative to the global economic/financial system, which for the moment is subjected to casino capitalism. It's unlikely Lula, by himself, will be able to stop them.

Alok , Thu, 03/10/2016 - 21:04

Pepe precise! Very good analysis...

Kirk2NCC1701, Thu, 03/10/2016 - 21:04

I warned you about this last year, when neither Russia nor China had their version of BIS/SWIFT online.

Newsboy, Thu, 03/10/2016 - 21:04

The Ides of March approaches. Ceaser's health is good.

Relax!

tarabel, Thu, 03/10/2016 - 21:04

I see Pepe the Unrequited Leninist is still banging his drum. These oligarchs,.. GOOD. Those oligarchs.... BAD.

As if Brazil needs ANYBODY else to show it how to play the corruption game.

Kirk2NCC1701, Thu, 03/10/2016 - 21:12

The Oligarchs of the BRICS have been duped and co-opted by TPTB in the US. Their foot-dragging and lack or decisive and timely action means that their Window Of Opportunity is probably gone. The various Trans-Oceanic Trade Deals that the US has cooking is front-running their indecisiveness and lack of action.

They are 'toast', because these Trade Deals have the USD baked into them, and the combined GDPs of each Pact is far bigger than that of the BRICS.

Math + Action beats Hope + Hype every time, kiddies. (Those of you who can't handle the Truth or the Cognitive Dissonance, had best go to their "Safe Space".)

[Feb 16, 2016] Ukraines Poroshenko asks embattled PM to resign

news.yahoo.com

Recent opinion polls show 70 percent of Ukrainians supporting Yatsenyuk's ouster and only one percent backing his People's Front parliamentary bloc.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned last week that it was "hard to see" how the bailout could continue without Ukraine pushing through the economic restructuring and anti-corruption measures it had signed on to when the package was agreed.

Ukraine's economy shrank by about 10 percent last year while annual inflation soared to more than 43 percent even with the Western assistance in place.

[Feb 12, 2016] Central Banks Are Trojan Horses, Looting Their Host Nations

Notable quotes:
"... less than 20% ..."
"... corrupt and riddled with conflicts of interest ..."
Zero Hedge

A Nobel prize winning economist, former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, and chairman of the President's council of economic advisers (Joseph Stiglitz) says that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank loan money to third world countries as a way to force them to open up their markets and resources for looting by the West.

Do central banks do something similar?

Economics professor Richard Werner – who created the concept of quantitative easing – has documented that central banks intentionally impoverish their host countries to justify economic and legal changes which allow looting by foreign interests.

He focuses mainly on the Bank of Japan, which induced a huge bubble and then deflated it – crushing Japan's economy in the process – as a way to promote and justify structural "reforms".

The Bank of Japan has used a heavy hand on Japanese economy for many decades, but Japan is stuck in a horrible slump.

But Werner says the same thing about the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB has used loans and liquidity as a weapon to loot European nations.

Indeed, Greece (more), Italy, Ireland (and here) and other European countries have all lost their national sovereignty to the ECB and the other members of the Troika.

ECB head Mario Draghi said in 2012:

The EU should have the power to police and interfere in member states' national budgets.

***

"I am certain, if we want to restore confidence in the eurozone, countries will have to transfer part of their sovereignty to the European level."

***

"Several governments have not yet understood that they lost their national sovereignty long ago. Because they ran up huge debts in the past, they are now dependent on the goodwill of the financial markets."

And yet Europe has been stuck in a depression worse than the Great Depression, largely due to the ECB's actions.

What about America's central bank … the Federal Reserve?

Initially – contrary to what many Americans believe – the Federal Reserve had admitted that it is not really federal (more).

But – even if it's not part of the government – hasn't the Fed acted in America's interest?

Let's have a look …

The Fed:

Moreover, the Fed's main program for dealing with the financial crisis – quantitative easing – benefits the rich and hurts the little guy, as confirmed by former high-level Fed officials, the architect of Japan's quantitative easing program and several academic economists. Indeed, a high-level Federal Reserve official says quantitative easing is "the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time". And see this.

Some economists called the bank bailouts which the Fed helped engineer the greatest redistribution of wealth in history.

Tim Geithner – as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – was complicit in Lehman's accounting fraud, (and see this), and pushed to pay AIG's CDS counterparties at full value, and then to keep the deal secret. And as Robert Reich notes, Geithner was "very much in the center of the action" regarding the secret bail out of Bear Stearns without Congressional approval. William Black points out: "Mr. Geithner, as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since October 2003, was one of those senior regulators who failed to take any effective regulatory action to prevent the crisis, but instead covered up its depth"

Indeed, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office calls the Fed corrupt and riddled with conflicts of interest. Nobel prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz says the World Bank would view any country which had a banking structure like the Fed as being corrupt and untrustworthy. The former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said said he worried that the failure of the government to provide more information about its rescue spending could signal corruption. "Nontransparency in government programs is always associated with corruption in other countries, so I don't see why it wouldn't be here," he said.

But aren't the Fed and other central banks crucial to stabilize the economy?

Not necessarily … the Fed caused the Great Depression and the current economic crisis, and many economists – including several Nobel prize winning economists – say that we should end the Fed in its current form.

They also say that the Fed does not help stabilize the economy. For example:

Thomas Sargent, the New York University professor who was announced Monday as a winner of the Nobel in economics … cites Walter Bagehot, who "said that what he called a 'natural' competitive banking system without a 'central' bank would be better…. 'nothing can be more surely established by a larger experience than that a Government which interferes with any trade injures that trade. The best thing undeniably that a Government can do with the Money Market is to let it take care of itself.'"

Earlier U.S. central banks caused mischief, as well. For example, Austrian economist Murray Rothbard wrote:

The panics of 1837 and 1839 … were the consequence of a massive inflationary boom fueled by the Whig-run Second Bank of the United States.

Indeed, the Revolutionary War was largely due to the actions of the world's first central bank, the Bank of England. Specifically, when Benjamin Franklin went to London in 1764, this is what he observed:

When he arrived, he was surprised to find rampant unemployment and poverty among the British working classes… Franklin was then asked how the American colonies managed to collect enough money to support their poor houses. He reportedly replied:

"We have no poor houses in the Colonies; and if we had some, there would be nobody to put in them, since there is, in the Colonies, not a single unemployed person, neither beggars nor tramps."

In 1764, the Bank of England used its influence on Parliament to get a Currency Act passed that made it illegal for any of the colonies to print their own money. The colonists were forced to pay all future taxes to Britain in silver or gold. Anyone lacking in those precious metals had to borrow them at interest from the banks.

Only a year later, Franklin said, the streets of the colonies were filled with unemployed beggars, just as they were in England. The money supply had suddenly been reduced by half, leaving insufficient funds to pay for the goods and services these workers could have provided. He maintained that it was "the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament which has caused in the colonies hatred of the English and . . . the Revolutionary War." This, he said, was the real reason for the Revolution: "the colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction."

(for more on the Currency Act, see this.)

And things are getting worse ... rather than better. As Professor Werner tells Washington's Blog:

Central banks have legally become more and more powerful in the past 30 years across the globe, yet they have become de facto less and less accountable. In fact, as I warned in my book New Paradigm in Macroeconomics in 2005, after each of the 'recurring banking crises', central banks are usually handed even more powers. This also happened after the 2008 crisis. [Background here and here.] So it is clear we have a regulatory moral hazard problem: central banks seem to benefit from crises. No wonder the rise of central banks to ever larger legal powers has been accompanied not by fewer and smaller business cycles and crises, but more crises and of larger amplitude.

Georgetown University historian Professor Carroll Quigley argued that the aim of the powers-that-be is "nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole." This system is to be controlled "in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements," central banks that "were themselves private corporations."

Given the facts set forth above, this may be yet another conspiracy theory confirmed as conspiracy fact.

[Jan 10, 2016] Neoliberalism Raises Its Ugly Head in South America: Washington Targets Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina by Jack Rasmus

Notable quotes:
"... The USA used to complain about Japan Inc. Of course now it's USA as Neolibraconia Inc. and it's business is war along all lines : military, economic, environmental, social ... ..."
www.counterpunch.org

After 9-11, the United States focused its most aggressive foreign policy on the Middle East – from Afghanistan to North Africa. But the deal recently worked out with Iran, the current back-door negotiations over Syria between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the decision to subsidize, and now export, U.S. shale oil and gas production in a direct reversal of U.S. past policy toward Saudi Arabia – together signal a relative shift of U.S. policy away from the Middle East.

With a Middle East consolidation phase underway, U.S. policy has been shifting since 2013-14 to the more traditional focus that it had for decades: first, to check and contain China; second, to prevent Russia from economically integrating more deeply with Europe; and, third, to reassert more direct U.S. influence once again, as in previous decades, over the economies and governments in Latin America.

... ... ...

Argentina & Brazil: Harbinger of Neoliberal Things to Come

Should the new pro-U.S., pro-Business Venezuela National Assembly ever prevail over the Maduro government, the outcome economically would something like that now unfolding with the Mauricio Macri government in Argentina. Argentina's Macri has already, within days of assuming the presidency, slashed taxes for big farmers and manufacturers, lifted currency controls and devalued the peso by 30 percent, allowed inflation to rise overnight by 25 percent, provided US$2 billion in dollar denominated bonds for Argentine exporters and speculators, re-opened discussions with U.S. hedge funds as a prelude to paying them excess interest the de Kirchner government previously denied, put thousands of government workers on notice of imminent layoffs, declared the new government's intent to stack the supreme court in order to rubber stamp its new Neoliberal programs, and took steps to reverse Argentine's recent media law. And that's just the beginning.

Politically, the neoliberal vision will mean an overturning and restructuring of the current Supreme Court, possible changes to the existing Constitution, and attempts to remove the duly-elected president from office before his term by various means. Apart from plans to stack the judiciary, as in Argentina, Venezuela's new business controlled National Assembly will likely follow their reactionary class compatriots in Brazil, and move to impeach Venezuela president, Maduro, and dismantle his popular government – just as they are attempting the same in Brazil with that country's also recently re-elected president, Rousseff.

What happens in Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil in the weeks ahead, in 2016, is a harbinger of the intense economic and political class war in South America that is about to escalate to a higher stage in 2016.

jfl | Jan 8, 2016 6:08:12 PM | 10

The USA used to complain about Japan Inc. Of course now it's USA as Neolibraconia Inc. and it's business is war along all lines : military, economic, environmental, social ... Jack Rasmus has an excellent survey at Neoliberalism Raises Its Ugly Head in South America: Washington Targets Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina .

The war on the homefront seems won as far as Neolibraconia is concerned, at least the lock-up, see A Minimal Demand: Roll Back Incarceration to 1970 Levels , and here are pictures: animated and still .

That report from FARS seems worrisome indeed.

Our man b called Merkel's move for what it was before it was : After Creating Migration Flood Merkel Throws Up Emergency Dikes .

I'm still unconvinced that 1,000 rapists ran rampant in Cologne on New Years Eve. Where's Penelope and her fraud analysis when it seems most needed?

2016 will be the year when all this comes to a head. Perhaps Russia and the BRICS should preemptively repudiate their dollar denominated debts? It all seems to be going south at this particular point in time anyway.

jfl | Jan 8, 2016 6:45:14 PM | 11

Trying to follow nmb's link @1 without actually being shortened and sold myself led me to Pepe Escobar of 29 Dec

The lame duck Obama administration – whatever rhetorical and/or legalistic contortions – still sticks to the Cold War 2.0 script on Russia, duly prescribed by Obama mentor Dr. Zbigniew "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski.

That follows a "tradition" Bill Blum , for instance, has extensively documented, as since the end of WWII Washington attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments – the absolute majority full democracies; dropped bombs on the civilian population of over 30 nations ; attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders ; attempted to suppress nationalist movements in 20 nations ; interfered on countless democratic elections; taught torture through manuals and "advisers"; and the list goes on.

The key front though is the Russian economy; sooner or later there's got to be a purge of the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry, but Putin will only act when he has surefire internal support, and that's far from given.

The fight to the death in Moscow's inner circles is really between the Eurasianists and the so-called Atlantic integrationists, a.k.a. the Western fifth column. The crux of the battle is arguably the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry – where some key liberalcon monetarist players are remote-controlled by the usual suspects, the Masters of the Universe.

The same mechanism applies, geopolitically, to any side, in any latitude, which has linked its own fiat money to Western central banks. The Masters of the Universe always seek to exercise hegemony by manipulating usury and fiat money control.

So why President Putin does not fire the head of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiulina, and a great deal of his financial team - as they keep buying U.S. bonds and propping up the U.S. dollar instead of the ruble? What's really being aggressed here if not Russian interests?

[Jan 05, 2016] http://www.unz.com/akarlin/new-year-predictions-for-2016/

www.unz.com
And make no doubt about it – a collapse is exactly what it is, and it afflicts way more of the country than just the war-wracked Donbass. Ukraine now vies with Moldova for the country with the lowest average wages in Europe.

Gabon with snow ? Saakashvili is hopelessly optimistic. That would actually be a big improvement!

GDP is at 60% of its 1990 Level

ukraine-gdp-1990-2015

As of this year, the country with the most pro-Western revolutions is also the poorest performing post-Soviet economy bar none. This is a not unimpressive achievement considering outcomes here have tended to disappoint rather than elate. Russia itself, current GDP at about 110% of its 1990 level, has nothing to write home about (though "statist" Belarus, defying neoliberal conventional wisdom, at a very respectable 200% does have something to boast about).

Back in 2010 , although by far the worst performing heavily industrialized Soviet economy, Ukraine was still performing better relative to its position in 1990 than Moldova, Tajikistan, and Georgia. In the intervening 5 years – with a 7% GDP decline in 2014 which has widened to a projected 9% in 2015 – Ukraine has managed to slip to rock bottom .

How does this look like on a more human level?

Housing Construction is Similar to That of 5 Million Population Russian Provinces

housing-construction-russia-ukraine-in-2014

With a quarter of its population, Belarus is constructing as much new accomodation as is Ukraine. 16 million strong Kazakhstan is building more. Russia – more than ten times as much, even though it has less than four times as many people.

The seaside Russian province of Krasnodar Krai, which hosted the Sochi Winter Olympics, with its 5 million inhabitants, is still constructing more than half as much housing as all of Ukraine. No wonder the Crimeans were so eager to leave.

New Vehicle Sales Collapse to 1960s Levels

ukraine-automobile-sales

The USSR might have famously concentrated on guns over butter, yet even so, even in terms of an item as infamously difficult to acquire as cars under socialism, Ukrainian consumers were better off during the 1970-1990 period than today. Now Ukrainians are buying as few new cars as they were doing in the catastrophic 1990s, and fewer even than during the depth of the 2009 recession.

And even so many Maidanists continue to giggle at "sovoks" and "vatniks." Well, at least they now make up for having even less butter than before with the Azovets "innovative tank." Armatas are quaking in fear looking at that thing.

Debt to GDP Ratio at Critical Levels

ukraine-debt-to-gdp-ratio

And this figure would have risen further to around 100% this year.

Note that 60% is usually considered to be the critical danger zone for emerging market economies. This is the approximate level at which both Russia and Argentina fell into their respective sovereign debt crises.

To be fair, the IMF has indicated it will be partial to flouting its own rules to keep Ukraine afloat, which is not too surprising since it is ultimately a tool of Western geopolitical influence. And if as projected the Ukrainian economy begins to recover this year, th