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

Version 2.4 (Nov  21, 2016)

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

News Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Books Recommended Links Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite US Presidential Elections of 2016 Democratic Party Neoliberals Monday morning quarterbacking The Deep State Predator state
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite New American Militarism Electoral College Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Demexit Myth about intelligent voter
Neocons Obama: a yet another Neocon Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neoliberalism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Protestant church on danger of neoliberalism
Donald Trump Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin National Security State  American Exceptionalism Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Paleoconservatism Corporatism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism Non-Interventionism "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry  Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
Bernie Sanders Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention Jeb "Wolfowitz Stooge" Bush US Presidential Elections of 2012  Mayberry Machiavellians Politically Incorrect Humor Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

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

-- Leonard Pinkney

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

-- Daniel Estulin

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

Summary

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

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

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

Revolutionary situation after 2008 is connected with discreditation of neoliberal ideology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The myth about intelligent voters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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[Feb 21, 2017] The Term "Deep State" in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... The Atlantic ..."
"... derin devlet ..."
"... Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now! ..."
"... Peggy Noonan, Patriot Post ..."
"... Breitbart ..."
"... Jefferson Morley, Alternet ..."
"... Greg Grandin, The Nation ..."
"... Benjamin Wallace, The New Yorker ..."
"... Counterpunch ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Marc Ambinder, NPR ..."
"... Marc Ambinder, Foreign Policy ..."
"... "Deep State Blooper" ..."
"... "Deep State Operation" ..."
"... "Deep State Actor" ..."
"... "Deep State Faction" ..."
"... That's ..."
"... Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq ..."
"... Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich ..."
"... within the territory of the State ..."
"... Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics ..."
"... "permanent government" ..."
"... "permanent government", ..."
"... "permanent government", ..."
"... "conducting killings" ..."
"... The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government ..."
Feb 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on February 20, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

Since today is President's Day, there will be no Water Cooler. Which is a good thing, because this puppy took forever to write. –lambert

* * *

"It's called the ruling class because it rules." –Arthur Silber

Readers know that I've been more than dubious about that incredibly virulent earworm of a term, "deep state" ( December 1, 2014 ). However, in the last week or so, "deep state" is all over mainstream discourse like kudzu, and so it's time to look at it again. As we shall see, it's no more well-defined than before, but I'm hoping that if we aggregate a number of usage examples, we'll come up with a useful set of properties, and a definition. Following the aggregation, I'll propose a number of phrases that I hope can attenuate deep state 's virulence, and render it a sharper and more subtle analytical tool in posts and comments.

While the usage of "deep state" exploded last week after General Flynn's defenestration by Trump, it seems likely to me that the term had been spreading in the recent past before that, given that a series of politically motivated leaks by the "intelligence community" (IC) from summer 2016 onwards could colorably be attributed to such an entity. The examples are in no particular order; I haven't had the time to find a "patient zero."

Usage Examples of "Deep State"

1. The Atlantic . Since "deep state" as a term originated in Turkey ( derin devlet ), I'll start with a Turkish analyst:

There Is No American 'Deep State'

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish sociologist and writer at the University of North Carolina, tweeted a string of criticisms about the analogy Friday morning. " Permanent bureaucracy and/or non-electoral institutions diverging with the electoral branch [is] not that uncommon even in liberal democracies," she wrote. "In the Turkey case, that's not what it means. There was a shadowy, cross-institution occasionally *armed* network conducting killings, etc. So, if people are going to call non electoral institutions stepping up leaking stuff, fine. But it is not 'deep state' like in Turkey."

Comment: One danger I always face is projecting American politics onto other countries. Tufekci warns us the opposite is a bad idea too!

Properties: Permanent bureaucracy and/or non-electoral institutions; "shadowy," cross-institutional. We cross out "conducting killings" for the American context (or do we?).

2. Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now! . Greenwald thinks the term is sloppy too (though "scientific" is a high bar):

The deep state, although there's no precise or scientific definition , generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions . They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret , in the dark, and so they're barely subject to democratic accountability, if they're subject to it at all. It's agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world's worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from-in fact, in opposition to-the political officials to whom they're supposed to be subordinate.

Comment: Later in the show, Greenwald says that the deep state is "almost engag[ing] in like a soft coup." Here's the Kristol tweet to which Greenwald alludes, explicitly applauding that coup with the bracing clarity so foreign to most Democrats:

I characterized Greenwald's soft coup - and Kristol's - more delicately as "a change in the Constitutional Order" ( "Federalist 68, the Electoral College, and Faithless Electors" ) but the sense is the same.

Properties: Kristol, not normal, not democratic, not constitutional; Greenwald: permanent power factions, agencies, especially intelligence agencies, which specialize in deception and require secrecy.

3. Peggy Noonan, Patriot Post :

Is [the current chaos], as some suggest, "deep state" revenge for the haughty, dismissive way Donald Trump spoke of the U.S. intelligence community during and after the campaign? Is it driven by the antipathy of the permanent government toward Mr. Putin, and a desire to bring down those, like Mr. Trump, who hope for closer relations with Russia?

It is a terrible thing if suddenly, in America, there is a government within the government that hates the elected government - and that secretly, silently, and with no accountability , acts on it.

Properties: Government within a government; secret; not accountable.

4. Breitbart . I don't normally cite to Breitbart, but since they're in the heart of the battle and have a usage example:

The "deep state" is jargon for the semi-hidden army of bureaucrats, officials, retired officials, legislators, contractors and media people who support and defend established government policies .

Comment: Interestingly, Breitbart finds it necessary to define the term for its readership, meaning it didn't originate on the right. Even more interestingly, Breitbart - very much unlike the more staid Peggy Noonan - urges, in my view correctly, that actors outside the alphabet agencies need to be considered.

Properties: Bureaucrats, officials (some retired), legislators, contractors, media. Brietbart doesn't use Janine Werel's term, Flexian - retired officials become talking heads, for example - but the concept is implicit.

5. Jefferson Morley, Alternet :

What Is the 'Deep State'-And Why Is It After Trump?

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress . While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the armed forces.

With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most-perhaps the only-credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump's "wrecking ball presidency."

And Roger Stone, a man who knows his memes:

"This is an effort by the Deep State to destabilize the president," Stone said.

Comment: Morley, then, agrees with Kristol (the "only check" in Trump).

Properties: Intelligence agencies; permanent.

6. Greg Grandin, The Nation . A useful review of the literature:

What Is the Deep State?

So at least as long as there has been private property, there has been private plotting, and talk of a "deep state" has been a vernacular way of describing what political scientists like to call "civil society," that is, any venue in which powerful individuals, either alone or collectively, might try to use the state to fulfill their private ambitions, to get richer and obtain more power .

Much of the writing frames the question as Trump versus the Deep State, but even if we take the "deep state" as a valid concept, surely it's not useful to think of the competing interests it represents as monolithic , as David Martin in an e-mail suggests. Big Oil and Wall Street might want deregulation and an opening to Russia. The euphemistically titled "intelligence community" wants a ramped-up war footing. High-tech wants increased trade. In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote that "the conception of the power elite and of its unity rests upon the corresponding developments and the coincidence of interests among economic, political, and military organizations." If nothing else, the "Trump v. Deep State" framings show that unity is long gone.

Comment: Grandin does give an early usage example, but I'm totally unpersuaded by his identification of the "deep state" with "civil society." Rather - as Breitbart, amazingly enough, suggests - the deep state more plausibly includes components of civil society (media, contractors, etc.).

Properties: Not monolithic; includes (components of) civil society.

7. Benjamin Wallace, The New Yorker :

The Deep-State Theory Cuts Both Ways

This pattern of dissent ["#TheResistance"], and its early successes, has brought about a vogue for the theory of the deep state, usually used in analyzing authoritarian regimes, in which networks of people within the bureaucracy are said to be able to exercise a hidden will of their own

The federal government employs two million people; its sympathies move in more than one direction. While many federal employees may want to oppose the White House, others (especially border-patrol and immigration agents, whose support Trump often cited on the campaign trail) have already been taking some alarming liberties to advance the President's politics.

Comment: Wallace urges that some Federal employees in the permanent bureaucracy are, in essence, "working toward the Fuhrer," which is a consequence of the deep state not being monolithic. He attributes the "vogue" for "deep state" to the resistance, but I (and most others cited here) think it's the Flynn firing.

Properties: Bureaucratic networks; hidden.

8. Counterpunch

A Deep State of Mind: America's Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup

So who or what is the Deep State?

It's the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It's the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects. It's the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It's the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It's the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, 'a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.' It's what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as 'a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies': the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees."

Comment: Seems pretty big to be deep

Properties: Law enforcement, contractors, agencies, the courts.

9. New York Times

As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a 'Deep State' in America

Though the deep state is sometimes discussed as a shadowy conspiracy, it helps to think of it instead as a political conflict between a nation's leader and its governing institutions.

That can be deeply destabilizing, leading both sides to wield state powers like the security services or courts against one another, corrupting those institutions in the process.

In countries like Egypt, Mr. El Amrani said, the line is much clearer.

There, "the deep state is not official institutions rebelling," he said, but rather "shadowy networks within those institutions, and within business, who are conspiring together and forming parallel state institutions."

Comment: Weird all around: The President is the President , the Chief Magistrate of the United States. He's not the "nation's leader," like in the title of sone kinda hardback in the "Business" section of your airport bookstore. And quite frankly, the description of the deep state in Egypt ("shadowy network," "parallel state institutions") jibes with a several of the other usage examples I've collected, right here in the United States.

Properties: I'll use Egypt's! Network, shadowy, businesses forming parallel state institutions.

10. Marc Ambinder, NPR :

With Intelligence Leaks, The 'Deep State' Resurfaces

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how do you define the deep state?

AMBINDER: Well, I try to define it simply – maybe the national security and intelligence bureaucracy , the secret-keepers in the United States, people who have security clearances, who have spent 10 to 20 to 30 years working in and around secrets.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So when we're hearing about this term this week to do with Michael Flynn, what do we – what are people making that connection with potentially a huge group of people and this particular case?

AMBINDER: They're essentially alleging that the national security state, this metastate that exists and, again, traffics totally in secret – used its collective power in order to bring down a duly chosen national security adviser because they disagreed with him or they disagreed with his president or they disagreed with his policies. It is a term of derision, a term that suggests people are using their power for ill-begotten ends. And that, if true, sets up a crisis.

Comment: Ambinder, then, rejects putting a "civil society" construction on "deep state." (He also rejects Greenwald, and Kristol's, "soft coup.")

Properties: National security and intelligence bureaucracy; long-term.

11. Marc Ambinder, Foreign Policy . Ambinder gives an example of the deep state in action:

Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works

The fact the nation's now-departed senior guardian of national security was unmoored by a scandal linked to a conversation picked up on a wire offers a rare insight into how exactly America's vaunted Deep State works. It is a story not about rogue intelligence agencies running amok outside the law, but rather about the vast domestic power they have managed to acquire within it.

Sometime before January 12, the fact that these [Flynn's] conversations [with the Russian ambassador] had occurred was disclosed to David Ignatius, who wrote about them. That day, Sean Spicer asked Flynn about them. Flynn denied that the sanctions were discussed. A few days later, on January 16, Vice President Mike Pence repeated Flynn's assurances to him that the calls were mostly about the logistics of arranging further calls when Trump was President.

Comment: Note the lack of agency in "was disclosed." Had the deep state not been able to use David Ignatius as a cut-out, the scandal would never have occured. Therefore, a media figure, a member of civil society, was essential to the operation of the Deep State, even though Ambinder's definition of the deep state doesn't reflect this.

Properties: Network; civil society.

* * *

So now I'm going to aggregate the properties suggested by these 10 sources, and make some judgements about what to keep and what to throw away. Throwing out Noonan's concept of "a government within a government", I get this. The deep state:

1. Gains power through (legal) control of state functions of secrecy and deception

2. Is "permanent"

3. Is not monolithic

4. Is composed of "cross-institutional" networks of individuals in both state (agencies, law enforcement) and civil society (media, contractors)

5. Is not democratic in its operation; and (potentially) is not accountable, not normal, not constitutional.

(Individuals within the deep state belong to factions that compete and cooperate, often in addition to their "day jobs," rather as in a "matrix management" construct.)

So, what'd I miss?

A "Deep State" Phrasebook

So, here are some phrases to use that reflect the above - very tentative - understanding. What I really want to do - and who know, maybe I'm trying to shovel back the tide here, too - is get away from the notion of "the" deep state. The deep state is not monolithic! Factional conflict within the deep state exists! So, in my view, the definite article is in this case disempowering; it prevents you from, as it were, knowing your enemy. So, if I have to join the chorus of people using the term, I'm going to think carefully about how do it. This list is a step toward doing that. (I'm going to use examples from the run-up to the Iraq War because it's less tendenitious and way less muddled than the Flynn defenestration.)

1. "Deep State Blooper" . I'm putting this first as an antidote to CT. Quoting Frank Herbert's Dune :

" [I]t occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error."

It's important to put into our thinking right from the start that Deep State actors are not all-powerful, and that Deep State operations are not invariably successful. I mean, can anybody look at the foreign and nationally security outcomes from what these guys are doing and urge that the baseline for performane is very high? I don't think so. Accidents happen all the time, and these guys, for all the power their positions bring them, are accident-prone. (After all, they're not accountable, so they never get accurate feedback, in a typical Banana Republic power dynamic.

Example: "The Iraq WMD's yellowcake uranium episode was a Deep State Blooper." ( See here for details; the yellowcake uranium was part of the Bush administration's WMD propaganda operation to foment the Iraq War.)

2. "Deep State Operation" . I think it's important to view the Deep State (as defined above) as able to act opportunistically; although many Deep State Actors work for agencies, their operations are not bureaucratic in nature.

Example: "The White House Iraq Group was a Deep State propaganda operation that succeeded tactically but failed strategically" (See here for details ; the WHIG planted stories in the press to foment the Iraq War. They succeeded in that narrow goal, but the war itself was a debacle, and the damage to the credibility of the press as an institution took a hit.)

3. "Deep State Actor" . An individual can be a member of the Deep State as an official, and then later as media personality or contractor. (It also seems to me that once you have been within the intelligence community, you can never be said to have left it, since how could anyone know you have really left?

Example: "Leon Panetta is a consummate Deep State Actor." ( Panetta has been OMB Director, CIA Director, White House Chief of Staff, and Secretary of Defense. "[Panetta] regularly obtains fees for speaking engagements, including from the Carlyle Group.[55] He is also a supporter of Booz Allen Hamilton."

4. "Deep State Faction" . This is a no-brainer:

Example: "The Neoconservatives are a Deep State Faction."

Conclusions

I apologize for the length as I fought my way through the material, and I hope I haven't made any gross errors - especially political science-y ones! And any further additions to the Deep State Phraseology will be very welcome (but watch those definite articles!).

1 0 27 0 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Politics on February 20, 2017 by Lambert Strether . About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism ("Because markets"). I don't much care about the "ism" that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don't much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue - and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me - is the tens of thousands of excess "deaths from despair," as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics - even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton's wars created - bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow - currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press - a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let's call such voices "the left." Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn't allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I've been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

View all posts by Lambert Strether → Subscribe to Post Comments 109 comments Carolinian , February 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Gee you didn't even mention California's Bohemian Grove meeting where CEOs romp in togas and such.

And taken literally Deep State would presumably mean a secretive (deep) and more or less permanent ruling apparatus. We may have the latter but it doesn't seem all that secretive since they love to join think tanks and talk about their loony ideas. The term is often used to bolster conspiracy theories about how the CIA killed Kennedy and are secretly running the country. While recent movies like to portray CIA operatives as super human martial arts specialists they are just as likely boobs who make many mistakes but nevertheless don't mind ratting out Trump's phone calls as petty revenge. I'd say it's the not so secretive but still behind the scenes state we have to worry about. Think the CFR or that Kristol guy. In other words if the term means anything it could be the secondary tier of influencers who have the ear of our MSM.

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Nothing theoretical about elements within the CIA (such as the fired Allen Dulles, and his still-in-the CIA cousin, Tracy Barnes - oopsy, Fake News never told you they were cousins, now did they?) - just requires a bit of reading and cross-referencing with declassified documents from the CIA, State and the FBI.

Deep State is really the financial-intelligence-complex who believes they are running things - the intel establishment was originally founded by the super-rich and their minions (such as Lovett and McCloy, etc.). When JFK was assassinated the Deputy Director of the CIA was Gen. Marshall Carter, recommended to McCone for that position by Nelson Rockefeller. And the fellow in charge of the reorganization of the CIA at the same time was Gen. Schuyler, Nelson Rockefeller's assistant.

You just have to look a bit . . .

Direction , February 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Juicy comment! Can you recommend any books or favorite articles?

James McFadden , February 20, 2017 at 11:42 pm

Some book recommendations about the deep state:

C. Wright Mills "The Power Elite" – describes how the indoctrination mechanisms create the deep state (military industrial political complex).

David Talbot "The Devil's Chessboard" – about the rise of the CIA and Allan Dulles

Laurence Shoup "Wall Street's Think Tank" – about the Council on Foreign Relations – the deep state's premier think tank

Michael Parenti "Dirty Truths" – about empire

John Perkins "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" – CIA coups and soft coups

I'm sure other readers can recommend many more on this subject.

Caveat Emptor , February 21, 2017 at 12:39 am

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government
Mike Lofgren

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
Peter Dale Scott

WhatsNotToLike , February 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

James Galbraith, Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government

nonsense factory , February 21, 2017 at 12:55 am

There are a couple of books by Dan Briody that are very illuminating about how Deep State actors in government interface with corporate agendas:
The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money (2004)
The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group (2003)

I think of the Deep State as the military-industrial-intelligence-Congressional long-term national-security complex that grew up after World War II, there are perhaps four major elements:
(1) military and intelligence contractors who rely on the massive $600 billion military budget for their profits.
(2) executive branch bureaucrats who develop the contracts that are delivered to contractors (State/Pentagon/CIA/NSA/NRO/FBI/DOE etc.)
(3) Congressmembers (long-serving) on appropriations, intelligence, etc. committees who sign off on budget requests.
(4) Elements of mass media and think tanks who work overtime to promote the interests of the Deep State elements of the above actors.

It's a kind of self-perpetuating system that's primary agenda is to keep their budget from being cut by a healthy 50% – which is what we'd need to do to rebuild infrastructure, set up high-quality public education, and create a first-world health care system, i.e. to get up to German or Japanese standard-of-living norms.

Some have also pointed out that there's an element of the judicial branch that can be included in "Deep State" definitions (such as FISA Court); note that judicial review of executive foreign policy decisions is very rare in the American court system.

It's also factionalized; i.e. there's the nuclear weapons sector (DOE/NNSA and their contractors), the various Pentagon branches and their suppliers, NSA and their contractors, CIA and their contractors, etc. So they compete with each other for a share of the pie, but they all have a shared interest in preventing the overall pie from shrinking.

jo6pac , February 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Please a little help as Direction ask just to get us started. The dulles bros were truly evil and have trained their puppets well.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 7:18 pm

he intel establishment was originally founded by the super-rich and their minions (such as Lovett and McCloy, etc.).

Wow, Robert Lovett and John J. McCloy. For about three decades they were at the pinnacle of the United States Establishment. They were like Sejanus during the reign of Tiberius or Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. Very, very influential behind the scenes.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Yeah, and they totally missed Davos.

I always thought the original deep state was the networks of the Knights Templar, Masons, and Illuminati.

However, I was wrong – according to the definitions above, it is probably Treadstone and Blackbriar.

Enquiring Mind , February 20, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Rex Tillerson's dealing with the seventh floor apparatchiks at the State Department is another productive step in calling out the nomenklatura . Russian themes seem so popular these days.

Cat's paw , February 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Perhaps helpful to know the original provenance of the term it comes from Turkish journalism when one fine evening a sedan was involved in a nasty wreck. Passengers in said sedan included a high ranking military official, a state or federal(?) representative/official, a crime boss, and a beauty queen.

My understanding: trying to comprehend what such a collection of worthies were doing in the same car led journalists to coin the term deep state. A networked web of power interests/relations across sectors and institutions that operate beyond above below out of sight of normative or visible politics.

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Here are more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susurluk_scandal

Charles Tuttle , February 20, 2017 at 2:41 pm

David Chibo in Unz Review Political Science's "Theory of Everything"
http://www.unz.com/article/political-sciences-theory-of-everything/

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 9:05 pm

I checked out that article from a previous post of the link and thought it was a very valuable, terrific and detailed explanation of Deep State theories w/ some fine literature recommendations.

Grebo , February 20, 2017 at 10:45 pm

The totality of truths is that the US "elephant" consists of a power elite hierarchy overseeing a corporatocracy, directing a deep state that has gradually subverted the visible government and taken over the "levers of power."

Complete with tables and diagrams! A must read IMHO.

oh , February 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

It's a good recommendation and well worth reading.

Qufuness , February 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm

People within the American Deep State are said to have compassed the removal of General Flynn, who was a prominent member of DS organizations himself, so yes, the DS is not a monolith. But are there powerful "permanent" factions with the DS that pursue long-term strategies?

There is another way of asking this. Much of what is now labelled "DS" grew out of the investment-banker+intelligence nexus in the immediate postwar period, or at least came to the surface around that time. America has made a series of disastrous unforced errors in the past 70 years, Vietnam and Iraq being the most prominent examples. While these errors have been harmful to the American people at large, is there a clique (besides the Military Industrial Complex) that benefits from these "errors," that has far-reaching goals that completely diverge from those of American constitutional democracy?

Minh , February 20, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Both Kennedy's and Diem brothers' assasinations and 911 mass murders were deep events to sell and organize war for the Empire part of American democracy. Not mentioning Peter Dale Scott is a minus of the listing of properties. What does the Deep state did ? 911 and JFK so Afghan Iraq and Vietnam wars.

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm

It's my understanding that the investment banking crowd served as the government's intelligence arm on an informal, sub rosa basis well before WW II. Prescott Bush, GHWB's father, was involved in that.

Mark P , February 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Lambert, there is a Deep State in the U.S. as distinct from the mere ruling class (and yes, by definition, it has competing factions and power centers at different agencies).

A clarifying example of that is this guy, Andy Marshall, aka Yoda, who arguably had more effect on the direction of U.S. policy than any U.S. president over the last half-century and was finally removed from heading the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment just before his 95th birthday. That's power.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marshall_(foreign_policy_strategist)#cite_note-5

Yet most people have never heard of Marshall and he never enriched himself particularly. You won't be able to tell the influence he exerted from his Wiki page either, except perhaps for the mention of Marshall 'proteges' being the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc. Furthermore, before Nixon installed him at the Pentagon, in the 1950s and 60s Marshall was at the RAND corporation helping to formulate nuclear strategy.

Here's an old trove of press material from over the years.
https://web.archive.org/web/20070309161816/http://portland.indymedia.org:80/en/2004/02/281049.shtml

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Interesting. And taking into account the comment from Cat's Paw above, I'd suggest to Lambert there are two distinct components to the term 'Deep State'. One element comprises the majority ie. the facilitators who foster the deep state, while the other element consists of the all-important minority ie. the instigators or 'deep state en nom propre' .

michael hudson , February 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I think the key to the "Deep state" is simply COVERT.
It is all covert activities that a public relations officer for the neocons and neoconservatives would not acknowledge in their fairy-tale view of the state.

Mark P. , February 20, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Yes.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Technical note – for CIA/Pentagon, a *covert* activity is something that is known, but where US influence or the extent of that is supposed to stay hidden – e.g. a coup d'etat. And a *clandestine activity* is something where the entire activity is supposed to stay hidden – e.g. CIA running Heroin and Cocaine, unlicensed human experimentation, or controlling the editorial desk & ownership if the Washington Post. In that sense, the clandestine activity are even deeper, and the set of people in the know, is even smaller.

Jim Haygood , February 20, 2017 at 3:58 pm

" barely subject to democratic accountability, if they're subject to it at all " - Glenn Greenwald

The $50 billion-plus black budget for the IC, covering many clandestine projects and activities, is not even subject to Congressional accountability. It is discussed verbally with the majority and minority leaders, and the ranking members of the intelligence committees.

Then the other 427 members (or at least a majority of them) are obliged on instructions from their caucus to whoop it through, without a clue (or even a right to ask) what is in it. To paraphrase the great stateswoman Nancy Pelosi, " We have to pass it to avoid finding out what's in it. "

Secret funding via this procedure is unconstitutional and illegitimate. Yet neither the president, the judiciary, nor anyone in Congress appears able to stop it. The IC is a fourth-stage cancer devouring the guts of the former republic.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Secret funding is a huge unknown. Everything from mostly legitimate front companies, to business donations for favors, to drug running. One would think, incorrectly, that the drug running is some kind of big secret the following links show it is not:
Collection of quotes from DEA agents, John Kerry, etc:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5878115
Video with Robert Bonner, ex-head of DEA, on 60 minutes in 1993, just after he stepped down:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx1bL_Gp03g

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 5:37 pm

YES!

Crazy Horse , February 20, 2017 at 7:42 pm

50 billion? That is just the cost of coffee and donuts. A week before 911 Rumsfeld acknowledged that 2.3 TRILLION dollars was missing and unaccounted for in the DOD budget.

" CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.
"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.
$2.3 trillion - that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.
"We know it's gone. But we don't know what they spent it on," said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-war-on-waste/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4GdHLUHwU

Conveniently the accounting records that might have made possible an investigation of that little error were located in Building 7 of the WTC and in the exact section of the Pentagon which the skilled Saudi pilots targeted and and then vaporized their airliner leaving only a few token pieces on the lawn.Of course 911 is ancient history that nobody cares about anymore. Apparently we are in need of another accounting cleansing, since the Inspector General reports that an additional 6.5 TRILLLION has gone missing since then.

http://www.newstarget.com/2016-08-18-how-did-the-pentagon-lose-over-6-5-trillion-in-taxpayer-money.html

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 8:46 pm

What, me worry? those are all MMT dollars, after all plenty more where that came from.

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Susan Lindauer, in her memoir of her role as a CIA asset serving as a go-between in the failed negotiations to avert the Iraq War ( Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq ), recounts that in the desperate last few weeks before March 20, 2003, she was paying her considerable expenses out-of-pocket. Her handler was having trouble getting her reimbursement approved, and by the time he did she was making a pest of herself about the fact that the negotiations had been deliberately sabotaged, and had become a pariah. At that point the handler had no difficulty, not to mention compunction, about simply stiffing her and diverting the funds to the McMansion he was building.

How much of that $50B black budget is similarly diverted?

Elasmo Branch , February 20, 2017 at 4:28 pm

"Covert" means the activity is against the law. "Clandestine" means the activity is secret but within the confines of the law. The military undertakes clandestine activity authorized by law, not covert activity. A US soldiers cannot break the law. On the other hand paramilitary activity is often covert.

For example, a US soldier on a clandestine mission is captured. Since the soldier is acting legally, albeit in secret, he is afforded all of the rights as a prisoner of war if he id's himself as a US soldier in uniform, name, rank, serial number. A CIA agent [likely a contractor and not a gov't employee] is captured on a covert mission, he can be summarily executed, legally, on the spot for a number of reasons: conducting warfare in civilian clothes and not in uniform, espionage, piracy, etc. There is grey area, for instance, if soldiers ingress to an area in civilian clothes [or the enemy's uniform] then put on their own uniforms before conducting an attack, as the SS did in the Ardenne.

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm

This article: Joseph Berger III. "Covert Action – Title 10, Title 50, and the Chain of Command." Joint Force Quarterly 67 (Q4 2012). http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-67/JFQ-67_32-39_Berger.pdf . is exactly on this topic. I take my definitions from there. The article does note that it takes some doing to resolve the different usages within CIA and DOD.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Sounds like the Koch Brothers network.

SerenityNow , February 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm

It seems to me that the Canadian "poet, academic and diplomat" author Peter Dale Scott should be included in any mention of "Deep State" Activities.

Here is an excerpt from his well foot-noted book:

"The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy"

He has many more interesting excerpts and articles on the same site :

Lambert Strether Post author , February 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm

I bought, read, and reviewed one of Scott's books; link in the first para .

NotSoSure , February 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Don't forget the final property of Deep State: "No objections to Goldman Sachs". At least in that one they see eye to eye with Trump.

ebr , February 20, 2017 at 3:12 pm

No Illuminati ? - but I jest.

It would be good if we could separate 'what is the deep state' and 'what are the factions of the deep state' and 'who belongs to the deep state' I suspect that Cambridge Analytics & their Facebook scraping could answer the question 'who belongs to the deep state' as they could they easier track a social network of people more loyal to each other than to the US Gov or the POTUS of the day. Asking the 'Deep State' to define itself could be an exercise in futility as members of the 'Deep State' likely mix ideology & the opportunity to make money in ways that blind them to the full implications of their actions.
Slate magazine today had an article up of a doctor who tried the revolving door and then wrote about it
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/02/going_undercover_through_washington_s_revolving_door.html
If you all need a fun book to read, try Interface by Neal Stephenson (written after Snow Crash and before Cryptonomicon)

UserFriendly , February 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm

IMO: Deep State: Anyone who will be in DC regardless of who is president and can still have some degree of power. They are sometimes well known people like Neera Tanden and sometimes they work in the IC. They are the people who no matter how many times they fuck up, destroy lives, lose a campaign, or completely fail at whatever task they are given, they can always count on a nice cushy paycheck and a new gig where they can [Family Blog} it up some more. The entire class of DC insiders who just can't fail down no matter what.

Carla , February 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

A couple more books of interest: "National Security and Double Government" by Michael J Glennon (2014) and "The Deep State" by Mike Lofgren (2016).

ewmayer , February 20, 2017 at 6:33 pm

A PDF version of Glennon's book is freely available online at the Harvard National Security Journal website.

REDPILLED , February 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm

DEEP STATE READING LIST:

The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government by David Talbot

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the attack on U.S. Democracy by Peter Dale Scott

The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government by Mike Lofgren

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World by Tom Engelhardt and Glenn Greenwald

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

The New Media Monopoly: A Completely Revised and Updated Edition With Seven New Chapters by Ben H. Bagdikian

They Rule: The 1% VS. Democracy by Paul Street

NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Contemporary Security Studies) by Daniele Ganser

An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King (Updated Edition) by William F. Pepper

The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by Daniel Estulin

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass

9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed by David Ray Griffin (2011)

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Fletcher L. Prouty (2011)

The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World by Fletcher L. Prouty (2011)

Mounting Evidence: Why We Need A New Investigation Into 9/11 by Paul W. Rea (2011)

The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War by Peter Dale Scott (2013)

JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State by Laurent Guyenot (2014)

All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (2014)

The Orwellian Empire by Gilbert Mercier (2015)

The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Global Violence and War
by Marc Pilisuk (2015)

Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (American Empire Project) by David Vine (2015)

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (2016)

The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire by James Petras (2016)

Two web sites:

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth: http://www.ae911truth.org/

Patriots Question 9/11 – Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report: http://patriotsquestion911.com/

Jim Haygood , February 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Excellent list.

Don't forget the late, great Chalmers Johnson, who coined the term blowback and left us with guides such as The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.

Lambert Strether Post author , February 20, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Chalmers Johnson is great.

Emma , February 20, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Another suggestion for your list of additional reading material:
https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:Democratic_State_v_Deep_State
It's a document/paper by Ola Tunander ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ola_Tunander ) who is quite familiar with the topic (see his experience/research of US/UK PSYOPs naval activities in Scandinavian waters ..).

Ulysses , February 21, 2017 at 9:21 am

Good book!!

dbk , February 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Yes, thanks for that list, much appreciated.

As long as we're on the subject, more or less, I have a question about Dark Money (I'm reading Mayer's book these days) and the Deep State: Do they overlap, or are they rivals? Or are their goals sometimes in sync and sometimes at odds with one another?

Another way of posing this question is this: If we assume that the President is not the preference of the Deep State, are we also to assume he was not the preference of Dark Money?

I'm having a hard time figuring out who's going after whom these days, and what short- and long-term objectives are being fought out, almost – but not quite – before our eyes.

Here's a case from a different field, education, which is the one I follow most closely. A blogger has recently identified the "blueprint" for the new Sec of Education to follow, laid out in a planning document by a Dark Money group which is below the radar (well, below my radar, anyway). It's pretty clear that the Sec is their cabinet member, but are there others? Were these appointments made in the form of favors called in? For what, though, if the Pres isn't part of this network?

The Sec of Education, it emerged in the course of contentious hearings, had contributed to no less than 23 Republican Senators' campaign war chests. What are we to conclude about them?

Anyway, here's the link to the post (link to the actual document through it – it was removed from the organization's own site, so is no longer available there):
http://www.eclectablog.com/2017/02/chilling-this-is-why-weve-been-trying-to-warn-the-usa-about-betsy-devos-destroying-the-wall-between-church-state.html

Josh Stern , February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Another good book to mention, which plays a different role, is "Legacy of Ashes" by Tim Weiner. It covers a lot of CIA dirt – coups, assassinations, defying/lying to Presidents, etc. – but it is different because basically all of it is drawn from the CIA's own files. So it is purely historical and outside of any "conspiracy" controversy. The files are not complete. Richard Helms ordered the most incriminating ones destroyed in a giant purge in the early '70s – this is described in the book too. But what is there and was saved is often pretty dirty.

Scott Noble's film series is entertaining on free video: http://metanoia-films.org/counter-intelligence/

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm

To add: Family of Secrets : The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, by Russ Baker (2010).

JCC , February 20, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Definitely a good list. I've read a few of these books and want to read more on the list. And don't forget any of Sheldon Wolin's recent books and essays. This one is 13 to 14 years old and still appropriate – https://www.thenation.com/article/inverted-totalitarianism/

He points out the basic structure, I think, in which following the money makes the most sense.

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Pepper's last book on the MLK assassination, The Plot to Kill King: The Truth behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King would also be a worthy addition to the list.

Excellent discussion about it on this podcast.

https://kpfa.org/episode/guns-and-butter-june-29-2016/

ex-PFC Chuck , February 20, 2017 at 9:56 pm

I second your recommendation of Pepper's book.

Kim Kaufman , February 20, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Imo, a must read: Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance Between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia by Paul Williams. I think it's newer than most of the books above and connects a lot of dots.

peter , February 21, 2017 at 6:24 am

I've always throught that 'Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky' should be mandatory on high school curriculum as a speed course on intellectual self-defense.

nobody , February 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

Another for the list:

Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich , by Guido Giacomo Preparata

nobody , February 21, 2017 at 10:24 am

Three essays by Charles Hollander: "Pynchon's Inferno," "Pynchon's Politics: The Presence of an Absence," and "Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49."

PlutoniumKun , February 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

I would put it simpler and define a 'Deep State' as a major (i.e. not minority rogue) element within the existing government structures (or quasi-government structures) which is willing to commit serious illegal acts or unauthorised acts of violence within the territory of the State to achieve its aims independent of the legally constituted government. In other words, I'd not define it by its structure or nature, but by what it actually does.

I'd define it this way to distinguish it from the sort of bureaucratic plotting which takes place within any large institution which finds itself led by someone who doesn't buy into the organisations core consensus. An example I would use would be Operation Gladio . If Operation Gladio had simply operated as designed, as a secretive military operation which government leaders may not have been aware of, then it was not an example of Deep State. But if, as alleged (but never proved), it carried out acts of terrorism and false flag operations with the specific aim of forcing elected governments to do what they didn't want to do, and this was part of a deliberate high level strategy (i.e. not just the act of a rogue element), then it would be an example of the Deep State at work within democratic western governments.

Put into contemporary terms, if the internal resistance to Trump takes the form of leaks, internal manoeuvres to slow down his agenda, etc., then that is 'normal' bureaucratic operations. If it takes the form of blackmail, false flag terrorist attacks, assassinations, etc., then it is the Deep State in operation.

Given that we know parts of the US and allied intelligence communities have for decades been involved in highly illegal operations around the world which has included torture, murder, blackmail and high level assassinations, is it really so far fetched that there is an element willing to do the same thing within the US?

Greg Taylor , February 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Defining "Deep State" by its actions is appealing. Would the military veto of Kerry-negotiated ceasefire in Syria count? Some officers acted without apparent authority and were not reprimanded as a result. Would this have transpired "within the territory of the State" and, thus, meet this definition? Should it?

PlutoniumKun , February 21, 2017 at 3:34 am

Thats an interesting question. There can be a fine line between bureaucratic infighting and actual illegal and anti-democratic actions. On my definition I would say 'no', its not Deep State in that the actions were insubordinate and dangerous, but they took place outside the US so arguably were more the result of a power struggle between government factions. It was the result I think of Obama's weakness as a leader, not an actual Deep State action.

Quentin , February 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Wouldn't any so-called Deep State be supported by factions in Congress? Sure. For instance, John McCain is in my view the epitome of the Deep State, one of its chief representatives, out in the open, a vanguard. The Clintons too, doubtless, though now outside government. If Congress gives no pushback, it bestows tacit/active agreement. Congress can rescind the privileges and power of all the organisations observers ascribe to the Deep State. So what's so mysterious? The notion of a Deep State's existence might just serve as a way to avoid responsibility, accountability, deny agency. Some shadowy bunch is running things, anything else new? On the other hand think tanks, contractors and subcontracters are less easily kept in place. Yet Congress can put an end to prisons for profit and erase one element of the deception, reduce the numbers if security clearances by defunding, etc. not things were are about to do. Eminence grise, one two buckle my shoe

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

McCain is too stupid. To better understand the Deep State, one must go a bit higher up the ladder.

Look into the membership of the Bretton Woods Committee - the lobbyist group for the international super-rich (www.brettonwoods.org), and the Group of Thirty (www.group30.org).

Once you understand these two groups, you'll be more aware.

Persona au gratin , February 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Loved the Group of Thirty pictorials on their home page. I counted exactly one genuine person of color (aka, "token negro") among the melange, with a handful of "half and halfs" of former British colonial heritage who of course have had time to assimilate and duly "see the light" as to the wisdom of continued perpetual white northern European supremacy. As for the few token Asians, they'll come around soon enough as well, although they ARE amazing students, aren't they?

Kim Kaufman , February 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm

Politicians are the puppets not the puppetmasters.

Steve H. , February 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm

We can avoid definite articles, but this is a defining article, and could become the definitive article.

The most curious fact is that the phrase is showing up in the msm. I take it as confirmation of Lambert's point: 'Factional conflict within the deep state exists!'

roger gathmann , February 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm

I always attributed the use of the word to Peter Dale Scott. The Turkish phrase seems to me more of a parallel usage than the place from which the phrase is derived. In my cursory reading, the phrase originated in conspiracy theory – particularly around the assassination of JFK. I am not using conspiracy theory in a disparaging sense, since I don't think a belief in conspiracies (which is legally recognized, and was long one of the great themes of political science, from Aristotle to Montesquieu) is per se disqualifying. Scott, in the preface to Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, has a good take on the prototype of the Deep State – in his theory, there is always a deep political practice that is unacknowledged officially. For instance, Tammany New York of the late 19th century operated, on the surface, according to the legal order with a mayor and a bureaucracy, etc., but in practice, it was run by an elaborate system of kickbacks and the investment of certain private players with enormous governmental power. The Deep State, under this p.o.v., shouldn't be confused with bureaucrats and those invested with public power, but instead, is a collaboration between such bureaucrats and those in private positions who retain unacknowledged public power. To quote Scott: " A deep political system or process is one which habitually resorts to decision making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those publicly sanctioned by law and society." By this definition, the endorsement of Trump by the National Border Patrol Council and the way in which, under Obama, certain Border Patrol officials sought to impede or change processes for taking in and giving due process to refugees are evidences of a deep political process.

Cat's paw , February 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Well, Scott's Deep Politics is published in 93. The Turkish term Deep State appears in print around 96 (maybe as late as 98–I'd have to look around for a cite). While the terms are relatively synonymous they are by no means equal. Best I can tell, Scott's starts using the word Deep State widely in the mid-2000's.

Additionally, as I've come to understand it the term did not originate in conspiracy theory. Rather the term was picked up by conspiracy theorists from Turkish journalism as a useful shorthand for the alleged (and hidden) events and actors they were trying to describe. Personally, not that it matters, I think it's important to keep the original usage/meaning in mind. 1. b/c it was coined to describe a real yet inexplicable event–not speculation or a theory of some conspiracy: i.e., the JFK assassination. Wherein agents of military, representative government, and criminality (along with a "bimbo" straight out of central casting) who have no legitimate business doing business were obviously doing business–but what kind of business? Who knows, that's why it's Deep. 2. The term itself can easily drift into being an amorphous, ill-defined, but overdetermined and overly unified signifier on the order of "cabal" which is likely to happen anyway now that its wound its way into common parlance.

I may just be quibbling, but I don't see deep political processes like Tammany or Border Patrol shenanigans as being of the same phenomena as the so-called Deep State. Deep State would usually imply elements of the military or, more especially, elements of the security apparatus (public and private) at times coordinating with, at other times interfering with, known political/institutional actors, corporate power, and criminal concerns that might involve money laundering or drug and human trafficking. As most here are noting, it is factional and adversarial–a network of several or many discreet entities that coordinate, align, and conflict according to shifting interests. It's paralegal, parapolitical, paraeconomic (or paramarket), and parainstitutional.

And all of that to say that such a definition is wholly contingent upon there being empirical and on-going phenomena which corresponds approximately to the term itself.

Yves Smith , February 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Lambert debunked Scott's sloppy and internally inconsistent analysis, per the link he provided at the very top of the post. That's why he kept arguing against its use.

DonCoyote , February 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Lambert. Here's a bit more grist for this particular mill/passages from the rabbit hole (depending on what set of metaphors you like)

1) Paranoia , a tabletop RPG game from the 80's. "The game's main setting is an immense, futuristic city called Alpha Complex. Alpha Complex is controlled by The Computer, a civil service AI construct The Computer employs Troubleshooters, whose job is to go out, find trouble, and shoot it. Player characters are usually Troubleshooters The player characters frequently receive mission instructions from the Computer that are incomprehensible, self-contradictory, or obviously fatal if adhered to, and side-missions (such as Mandatory Bonus Duties) that conflict with the main mission each player character is generally an unregistered mutant and a secret society member (which are both termination offenses in Alpha Complex), and has a hidden agenda separate from the group's goals, often involving stealing from or killing teammates."

So: big on non-monolithic, also big on double/triple identities (troubleshooter/mutant/secret society), which we associate with the intelligence agencies, but also with revolving door politicians/lobbyists.

2) The "incomprehensible/self-contradictory/conflict with the main mission" made me think of seven/eleven/twelve (depending on scholarship/personal preference) chess, most recently attributed to BHO–that is, actions who on the surface don't seem to make sense given the situation, but which conspiracy theorists/true believers think are actually directed at a future/buried/hidden/alternative problem. Although this would seem to fit better with at least a semi-monolithic Deep Society, because it is strategy, and a non-monolithic Deep Society would presumably be less organized/more tactically inclined.

3) The Final Reflection , and especially the Klingon "equivalent" of chess, klin zha , and it's reflective version. Reflective klin zha is played with only one set of pieces. "The Reflective is not so much a variation but a strategic approach to an otherwise tactical game Once set up, the first to place is also the first to move. During each turn, the player chooses one piece, making all others the enemy. The player who captures the Goal on his turn is the victor." So I kill a piece protecting (next to) the goal, but on your turn you now control that piece, use it to capture the goal, and beat me.

So: a smaller (but still non-monolithic) Deep State, with a large unitary set of "pieces" (the non-Deep State?). Again, while there are two sides playing, they are both using the same pieces to try to do the same thing, and they only have "control of the board" some of the time.

So my takeaways: non-monolithic (and especially more than two sides), partial control (whether because of multiple/hidden identities or non-monolithic is unknown), and given the pathetic state of most of our media, most motives are "hidden", at least from casual view (cf for the media's "hidden" motives in today's links

sgt_doom , February 20, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Globalists against (non-deep state capitalists) economic nationalists?

susan the other , February 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Here's a reminder (from NC a while back). It is a waste of time to deliberate over the existence of the deep state. What's important is participating in a state – a society – that is well run; where inequality is always exposed; where propaganda is always obvious. It's impossible to define "the deep state." I think Lambert was right when he said the definition of the deep state always turned out to be a big hairball.

hemeantwell , February 20, 2017 at 8:15 pm

I agree with the spirit of what you're saying, but try this: I think that factional conflict, occurring during periods of systemic strain/crisis, is what leads otherwise contented and inertial sections of the state to act in ways that require concealment, either of actor or action. Reading a bit from the Glennon book linked above, wherein he makes much of Bagehot, reminded me of how the French political system used to be described as having something like a bureaucratic ballast keeping the ship of state from capsizing. That sort of conservative, continuity-maintaining function can grow claws, and that's what we're seeing now, particularly when US elites are trying to cobble a revised foreign/imperial policy to deal with China and Russia and the president is having trouble intoning the verities of US exceptionalism.

barrisj , February 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Well, that lengthy disquisition seems to indeed "validate" – as it were – the "deep state" terminology if not its epistemological derivation(s) at the very least, readers keeping to the various formulae offered for "correct usage" won't be whacked upside their haids by the moderators if the term appears in a comment.
Cheers.

Michael , February 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm

My first encounter with the idea of the Deep State was from Mike Lofgren's 2014 essay, "Anatomy of the Deep State", based upon his 25 year career as a Capitol Hill staffer. Here is the link:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Maybe worth a footnote or something? Is Charlie Wilson "deep state" in any way? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Wilson_(Texas_politician) And his apparently occasional bed partner, Joanne Herring? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanne_Herring

How about those little quiet gatherings of the Koch-convened sort, that attract so little "press" attention, at Palm Springs and etcetera? Is the "deep state" limited to Great Game and globalism, or is the long steady erosion of even the myth of "democracy" and the transformation of that word into its opposite, via the efforts of all those very small number of people who profit from killing public education and regulatory capture and ascension to elected positions in everything from little town councils and school boards to state legislatures and statehouses, constitute part of what might qualify as some sort of "deep state?" ALEC is not on everyone's tongue, after all, but the power the people in it exert, through long application, sure forks over a whole lot of what maybe most people would think of as "the general welfare" and "public goods." IS Davos "over?" Is Bilderburg?

Interesting how many of what would seem to me to be deep-staters are tied to Afghanistan, and of course Israel. One might even posit the Israelites have their own deep state, that has interlocking membership with players and factions and elements of the unelected and maybe public but mostly invisible thing that the phrase calls up in the minds of many of us.

Having named the demon, if there is ever any agreement on a name and frame, does that give us mopes any power over the demon, or just another opening for its immanence in our sad little lives?

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

The first step would seem to be forcing the demon out from the shadows and into the sunlight so everyone can get a good look at it. I imagine it will then lash out with everything it has like a cornered animal, which will harden public opinion against it, and then it will be game on for real. A very dangerous game, to be sure, but what is the alternative?

Horsewithnoname , February 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

From http://www.oftwominds.com/blogfeb14/dollar-deep-state2-14.html [Charles Hugh Smith, 02/2014]
I have been studying the Deep State for 40 years, before it had gained the nifty name "deep state." What others describe as the Deep State I term the National Security State which enables the American Empire, a vast structure that incorporates hard and soft power–military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education–in a system of global domination and influence.

Back in 2007 I drew a simplified chart of the Imperial structure, what I called the Elite Maintaining and Extending Global Dominance (EMEGD):

stockbrokher , February 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

1. "Example: "The Iraq WMD's yellowcake uranium episode was a Deep State Blooper." (See here for details; the yellowcake uranium was part of the Bush administration's WMD propaganda operation to foment the Iraq War.)"

How is this an example of a blooper? It helped to achieve its intended goal. That it was exposed much later as a fabrication didn't vitiate its effect.

2. Surprised so many examples/references (especially here) but none with Wall Street as a primary Deep State actor. Read something revelatory ( to me, anyway) recently re the CIA ( post WWII) being engineered mostly by Wall Street for the sole purpose of protecting big U.S Corporate interests. Sorry no time to dig it up, but I'm sure others more knowledgeable can expound. (As SerenityNow notes, Scott's book puts WS in the title.)

Skip Intro , February 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

Good points.
What is interesting to me is the similarity of the modus operandi revealed in the yellowcake episode, where privileged information was 'leaked' to a tame 'journalist' to take out an enemy. In the case of the yellowcake, we generally accept the narrative that blowing Joe Wilson's wife's Non-Official Cover, but as part of a non-proliferation team, Valerie Plame was also in a position to directly interfere with WMD claims from the administration. OTOH, the WHIG and OVP are not very deep.
In addition, it is easy to point to the Iraq debacle as a failure on the part of the 'deep state' that contrived it, but a more cynical view would consider that a quick victory is less profitable than a slow defeat. In that light, apparently glaring errors, like the disbanding of the Iraqi Army, may be understood to be insurance that has paid off with a successful insurgency, a weakened state where oil can be bought or taken without any pesky national government interference, and eventually, trained military leaders for IS, the next-gen enemy with actual ground troops and conquered territory.

I was surprised that there wasn't a reference to Ike's warning about the Military Industrial Complex, which seems like the original American reference to an extra-democratic coalition of interests that could influence or control policy.
Another milestone would be the Iran-Contra affair, where we heard North and Poindexter drooling over an 'off the shelf operational capacity' to circumvent constitutional control of foreign policy (a market niche now filled by Erik Prince and Blackwater/Xe/Academi). In connection with this scheme, we also witnessed intelligence officials colluding with arms merchants to influence a US election by arming enemies, as well as running drugs into the US to fund said independent foreign policy. I think the illegality is well established, as for killings within the US territory, we can ask Orlando Letelier.

scraping_by , February 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Ran into an interesting passage in Kevin Phillips's 1994 book Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics . He speaks of an 'iron triangle' of politics, interest groups, and media that turns aside the cyclic outsider revolutions that would otherwise renew American political institutions. If Trump has this view of his populism, it makes sense he spends so much time disparaging the MSM; not just a celebrity feud, not just annoyance about bitchiness, but a reasoned effort to break an elite power tool.

If Phillips's iron triangle fits the description of a Deep State, and it can, this may be an actual conflict over principles and convictions. Because the elite believe deeply in their own position, and are convinced they're doing God's work.

PhilM , February 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

To me this is the kind of synthetic journalism that really sifts meaning from noise. And uniquely, on this site, the reading lists and comments are sophisticated and thoughtful additions and refinements, like the peer review offered from any scholarly community. This article is not definitive; but it could grow and grow, and then one could easily call it "seminal." This is work that I happily pay for.

From the history of the 1930s: one notes that for Heydrich to consolidate his bosses' power over Germany, he felt it necessary to "declare war" on the existing German civil service in 1935–not just the police force, but the entire bureaucracy; and to seize control of the foreign intelligence services as well as the domestic. The only successful hold-out was the Abwehr, the military intelligence service, which succeeded in preserving its independence in a very much more closely circumscribed field.

So Heydrich definitely felt there was a "state within the state" that needed to be co-opted and ideologically purified and above all surveilled, before Hitler's power was secured. That, in my humble view, is what the "deep state" is. It's the most important part of the question "quis custodiet custodes ipsos," and why Plato had a philosopher king instead of just a bunch Guardians, and why a nobility requires a monarchy.

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm

Yes it's great to see this issue being given the attention it deserves and being subjected to serious analysis by NC and the commentariat. Thanks Lambert!

witters , February 21, 2017 at 2:22 am

A philosopher king who was poor, lived on public provision, owned no property, had no family, and lived in accomodation from whom none could be forbidden. And so just & virtuous.

Gman , February 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Only relatively recently having become aware of the term, 'deep state' I would assume, in its most basic form, it refers to those mostly 'unseen' and 'unknown' conservative we know best types who wield uninterrupted, often disproportionate influence without having to suffer the dreadful inconvenience or potential indignity of seeking a periodic democratic mandate.

Watt4Bob , February 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

It seems to me that there was a lot of talk about the birth of the DHS being the biggest reorganization of the federal government since the New Deal.

That talk included concerns that Bush was putting thousands of dead-enders in bureaucratic positions, and that they would be impossible to remove in the future.

From Occupy.com (May 2013);

But here's the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever - even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on "homeland security" since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

We've been talking around here about the breaking of rice bowls and its affect on the credentialed class, the implication being the hysterical, unorganized revolt of people who feel their well-being threatened by the rise of Trump.

Bush II broke a lot of rice bowls when he leveraged the fearful post 9/11 environment to bring about the reorganization of the federal government under the DHS;

From Legislating Civil Service Reform:
The Homeland Security Act of 2002
; (emphasis mine)

The Administration presents their strategy as one that requires them
to have more control over federal personnel in order to provide national
security and protect America. For example, President Bush argued that he needed the freedom "to put the right people at the right place at the right
time to protect the American people."

The metaphor of physical placement-to "put" federal workers in particular places at particular times-is rationalized as a strategy to protect America,
much like one would move a Bishop or Knight in a chess game to protect
the King.

This physical placement metaphor was also picked up by the news
media. In one summary of the issues, an article in the Washington Post
noted, "The White House wants to retain the ability to remove
some employees from unions for national security reasons," and "Bush
wants the ability to move workers from one part of the department to
another to meet rapidly changing needs.

This metaphor of physical placement suggests that the Administration requires a particularly high degree of power and control over personnel,
but that degree of power is presented as rational and justified in light of national security.

To the extent that the audience is concerned about national security, then
they are invited to see the Administration strategy-in this case,
its need for power over personnel-as one that is consistent with that concern.

From the same paper, the other side of the argument ; (emphasis mine)

Union leaders saw this issue in a different light; they disputed the details of the proposal and also questioned the motives behind them.
Brian DeWyngaert, Assistant to the President of AFGE, saw the reforms
as an attempt by the administration to weaken the civil service system, to shift from "public administration" to "political administration."

DeWyngaert cites a paper, written by two former Republican personnel
management officials, that asserts, " The President can expect opposition
from official Washington's 'permanent government ,' a network that includes the career civil service, and its allies in Congress, the leaders of federal
unions, and the chiefs of managerial and professional associations
representing civil servants."

DeWyngaert expresses union distrust of the administration, arguing that
the real goal of the administration was to "control what agencies do
[ ] to change some of the personnel rules [ ] to the point where they are going to follow your line because you control their pay, their determination at will,
their layoff.

W4B;

What I'm pointing out, is that what we're calling the Deep State includes the "permanent government" mentioned above, and that in reorganizing the government under the control of the new DHS, the right, in the person of Bush II was attempting to replace a unionized, independent, New Deal flavored government bureaucracy with one that could be more easily controlled, because it was more politicized.

I'm saying that both the democratic, and the republican wings of the republican party have made peace with the notion of a more politicized "permanent government", and that more politicized "permanent government", is now showing its loyalty to the status quo by doing what's expected of it, joining the resistance.

PhilM , February 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm

This is exactly what I think, too, and what Heydrich recognized in 1935: that a large government has a hive mind. Without the SD ("Security Services"), the SS, and the Nazi Party organization, he could never have bent that hive mind, made of all those entrenched, entitled, relatively law-abiding functionaries, to his will.

Trump has none of those tools at his disposal, so there's no reason to expect his lasting very long or getting much done.

That's what makes the hysteria about his being like Hitler so very misplaced. If Trump had an organization like the Nazi party hundreds of thousands strong, ready to die in the streets for him, with operatives ready to put into place to take over the management of the government effectively at all upper levels, it would be another matter. As it is, he's grasping at straws from other talent pools. No wonder the bookies are giving him lower odds.

schultzzz , February 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Chris Hedges, on his RT show, recently defined it almost exclusively in terms of big business. I think the quote was something very short like, "It's Raytheon, Goldman, and Exxon!!!"

Which complicates things, as Trump's cabinet has reps from Goldman and Exxon in it.

neo-realist , February 20, 2017 at 10:36 pm

On that tip more or less, I recall watching a video of Dick Gregory and Mark Lane talking about the MLK Assassination, and Gregory made a point of saying more or less that the intelligence apparatus doesn't act unilaterally, but that it acts at the direction of the aristocrats, i.e., oligarchs, big business, etc. The aristocrats tells the apparatus to go after those governments and politicians that are acting against their interests.

In a documentary called King–Montgomery to Memphis (GREAT DOCUMENTARY), Harry Belafonte said that when King antagonized the "money power" , he was pretty much marked for death.

Anonymous , February 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Anecdotally, I was working with a former Senator at the time of the DHS formation who was still highly involved with the Bush administration. in fact Cheney had them on speed dial. I can tell you flat out that despite spouting the same garbage about freedom to reorganize on the fly, if you talked with them long enough the ability to fire employees at will ALWAYS ended up being the reason when anyone pinned him down about how departments would be reorganized on the fly. Very clearly it was about making sure that employees would know that they should show no integrity at all in doing their job most particularly in regards to either upholding the Constitution or recognizing the legal rights of any person, citizen of America or not.

Dave in Austin , February 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Deep state versus deep government

All modern states are bureaucratic. So the surface state which the public can replace, what we usually call "the government", is underpinned by a deep and essentially invisible substrate of people and institutions. The characteristics of the deep government are 1) opaque bureaucratic decision-making and written output designed to mislead not inform, 2) invisibility because the press cant easily turn the story into a narrative with individuals who represent good and evil, and because the national press (NYT, WP, and even the WSJ) no longer reports the news but filters the policies to either spark outrage or encourage cooperation, 3) The deep government employees are smart, educated and have come up through the ranks (think Bob Gates). They are great people, fun to be with but often incredibly insular and sure that "You people out there don't understand". And they are often right about that. Don't underestimate their knowledge.

Under most conditions the surface government, the deep government and the parts of the deep state outside the government (ie the press) are in general agreement and work together smoothly. Today the surface state (President, congress and soon probably the courts) are trying to bring about change that the individuals within the deep government fundamentally disagrees with on issues like immigration, national self-sufficiency and overseas threats. All major changes (our entry into WWI and WWII, the civil rights movement, tax and subsidy law, Obama's immigration program) generate resistance. Sometimes I agree with the deep, sneaky part of the government (entering WWII); other times, I don't (Vietnam, Bush in Iraq, Obama's immigration policy).

Our deep state is like that of most democracies and differs from authoritarian deep states in a number of fundamental ways: 1) our military is adamantly apolitical. All officers take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, not the government (in the late 1960s, as the military got sucked into domestic policing, many senior officers started reading and discussing the Constitution among themselves), 2) No U.S. deep state emerged out of our two formative struggles, the revolution and the Civil War . Much of the world (China, Russia and the colonies that became free in the 1950s and 60s) had a different history, 3) We have no ethnic and religious deep states- no Moslem Brotherhood, no Burmese Buddhist nationalist, although we do have passionate ethnic groups that prefer to operate out-of-sight (Jewish, Irish Catholic, Cuban, Indian to name a few) . 4) Countries that fight overseas wars or that fear internal revolutions all develop a deep state. All the ex-colonies that didn't (Iraq, Egypt, Guatemala and a hundred more) had the weak state overthrown and replaced with a strong and deep state. In the US the first deep state hints came after WWI (not WWII) with large caches of unappropriated money going into the hands of Naval Intelligence (who do you think paid for the Flying Tigers?). The original sin of our liberal deep state was the campaign to get us into WWII. A good cause- and a terrible precedent.

Finally, the deep government and the national elite are not the same. The deep government is largely a meritocracy filled with alert people who know which way the wind is blowing. If real Communists or real Fascists took over they would either stay inside, keep getting paid, and quietly try to undermine the new leaders or they would take early retirement. They don't write biographies or make statements because they are essentially private people immersed in their private lives, what the Communists used to call Careerists. The national elites are something else. They either feel independent (the hereditary rich, celebrities and Trump and the self-made billionaires) or are the insecure product of upper middle class families, Ivy League and second-level private colleges and good social backgrounds. They work in large institutions they don't own or control. The latter group wants to exercise power because it gives meaning to their otherwise uninteresting lives (think, academics, the non-profit sector and Federal judges). The self-made rich exercise power to become richer and because they love to control organizations that compete (Who owns all the NFL teams?). Both the deep state and the deep government are open to people of education, good breeding, ambition, discretion and good luck.

Is there any way to fix this? Probably not but nobody seems to bother the countries that don't do foreign adventures To roughly quote from the Bin Laden interview after 9/11, when he as asked "Why did you attack America?" he laughed and said "We didn't attack Switzerland". A better national press would help. If there are any billionaires out there interested in providing $100K salaries to real smart MBA students who like to dig, let me know. A few platoons of young I.F. Stones of various political hews might go a long way. But deep states are here to stay. The best we can do is monitor. analyze and publicize them.

Patricia , February 20, 2017 at 8:03 pm

What a fascinatingly bland presentation, revering deep state careerists for their solid private lives and good-breeding, while others are power-hungry insecure product searching for a cure to their dullness.

And calling for "platoons" of new IF Stones from among MBAs, of all places!

Thanks for the entertainment.

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:31 pm

+1

Tomonthebeach , February 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm

As a retired member of the Deep State, I find it amusing at the imbecility of right- (or left) wing conspiracy nuts who can invent amazing chains of undermining collaboration across agency lines orchestrated by some powerful shadow demons.

If federal employees were really that effective, there would be no private sector wage gap, the VA and DOD would share a seamless electronic record system, and Snowden would have the Medal of Freedom, and HRC's fingerprints would have been all over the gun that killed Vince Foster.

The Deep State, if you want to call it that, exists so the people get the support and services they need despite confusing and often conflicting legislation, presidential directives, and agency regulations.

DH , February 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm

I generally apply Occam's Razor to conspiracy theories. It is generally more likely that events occur due to incompetence, lack of attention, or emotional reactions than conspiracy. To pull a secret conspiracy off successfully over a long time, you need to be really smart, really focused and not have many people, otherwise it is no longer secret.

The bigger the organization, the more likely you are to have a reversion to the mean of most of the population, and most people are more likely to turn a blind eye than participate in something that means they could lose their pension as well as getting home late for dinner.

So the biggest issue that Trump has with the bureaucracy is how to manage Parkinson's Law. He did in the private sector by running around saying "You're fired" but he can't do that to career civil servants. http://www.economist.com/node/14116121

I am sure that there are a bunch of bureaucrat top dogs that don't like the invasion of their turf. They are, after all, fundamentally political animals very jealous of their territory. Some of them might even talk to each other, but probably half of them despise the other half.

The biggest threat to us is that we slowly acquiesce to security theater that quietly gets more and more invasive. The police etc. are the most likely to be organized as some sort of "deep state" as some departments already have an us vs. them attitude.

JTMcPhee , February 20, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Tom, maybe one part of the bigger thing called "federal service" does that. I spent 13 years with the US EPA through the Reagan Revolution (and it was an amazing coup). A number of EPA employees, despite the threats of "RIFs" (reductions in force, or wholesale politically motivated firings), worked hard and quietly to do everything they could to slow the assault on "regulation" of sh!tty corporate behavior that threatened human health and the environment. There were a lot of go-alongs, usually later comers who were looking to get their resumes padded before moving to the dark side, but there were a lot who were serious in their commitment, and aware of their vulnerability, who continued to press for enforcement actions, regulations with teeth that required industries to spend money ("internalize") to install process changes and end-of-pipe-or-stack controls (which often resulted in increased profits for the corpos who had an excuse and tax deductions to update their plants. And there was continued insistence on doing the data gathering that supported the proofs of harm that pollution and toxics cause. There was an 'environmental justice" initiative despite the "f__k the poor" administration attitudes and policies, and a criminal enforcement operation that actually put corporate officers in jail and at least made them take notice of potential consequences. There are obviously still a lot of employees at EPA to take their mission to be protection of public health and the environment, preserving decades of data collection and soldiering on despite the "Mandate for Leadership" quackery and fear-and-loathing fomenting.

But your limiting the definition as you do is incomplete at best. The state security overlords, the oligokleptocracy, and the other inimical factions and parties that have been described in this post and comments, seem to me the real nuts and bolts of what 'deep state' is getting at. Not the many federal employees who, despite all the sh!t that flows down from above and laterally from the culture inside and outside the agencies, actually try to do the job of "positive governance," like a few people I have dealt with in the Social Security Admin, the VA, the CMS behemoth and a few others. I often wonder how people persist in those jobs and don't burn out or get fired. I was close to both while doing my thing at EPA, 1980-90 (the Reagan years - I had two-plus with Carter as president before that, to see how a less hostile-to-regulation-in-the-best-sense admin might operate.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Tom, I'm curious. In which department of the federal government were you employed?

integer , February 20, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Hard to take your comment seriously. Do you really think that the Deep State consists of federal employees who are concerned with VA and the rank and file of the DOD, or that they are interested in providing "support and services" to the people? I think it's likely that your belief that you were part of the Deep State is incorrect.

Mothy , February 20, 2017 at 8:01 pm

No discussion of the Deep State would be complete without reading "Spooks," by Jim Hougan. It was a seminal book written in 1980 (I believe) that introduced the notion of retiring IC operatives joining private company security apparati. Tell your compatriots you're acting on behalf of the government and a patriot will do ANYTHING. "The Conversation" was a depiction of one of the main characters in the book who had previously wiretapped most of Manhatten back in the early Sixties; he worked for either Hoffa or the Kennedy brothers or both. Really an unbelievable book getting more and more difficult to find. Ironically– or not– I believe it was Hougan's last piece of investigative journalism.

No Idea , February 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm

We cross out "conducting killings" for the American context (or do we?).

"Character assassination. What a wonderful idea. Ordinary assassination only works once, but this one works every day."
― Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Fool , February 20, 2017 at 10:02 pm

A succinct way that i like to think of the "deep state" is whoever the CIA works for.

Vatch , February 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm

"It's called the ruling class because it rules." –Arthur Silber

The rulers are the ones who rule. The ruling class includes non-rulers who are in the same socio-economic class as most of the people who rule.

buermann , February 21, 2017 at 12:48 am

I'd always assumed the concept originated with Peter Dale Scott, who, before he wrote the book "The American Deep State", used it all over the place in 2007's "The Road to 9/11". I've read neither but for excerpts, the concept merely referred to covert agencies acting outside the scope of democratic oversight - whether it's local police departments running out of control torture squads and black sites or national intelligence agencies acting as the private armies of the executive. That such groups might oust a sitting executive is of course the heart and soul of all his conspiracy mongering about the JFK assassination (I like his poetry an awful lot, but I remember trying to get through Cocaine Politics and either the sources didn't check out or they were untraceable, in any case I gave up on it).

https://books.google.com/books?id=op39ymd2um0C&printsec=frontcover&q=%22deep%20state%22

H. Alexander Ivey , February 21, 2017 at 1:18 am

If you want to find a consistent, broad, and useful meaning of a concept, and a phase or 'name' for that concept, look for books written on the subject. Postings, blogs, and even published articles do not have the authority that books have (it's not just because being hit upside the head with a book will hurt a lot more than with a blog posting, har,har).

My recommendation is Deep State, based on my understanding on Mike Lohgren's The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government .

I must say I personally don't like the term. When I use it with people who believe that Rep & Dem describe the US government, I get the old eye roll, tin foil hat outfitting treatment. Humm, maybe I'll lead in with the term 'Washington Consensus'. They get that one around here in Southeast Asia. They haven't forgotten or forgiven the IMF about the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

St Jacques , February 21, 2017 at 4:03 am

I hate the term deep state because, unlike the mic, for example, which has a clarity about it, it is so vague and malleable a term as to be almost useless except for Hollywood films and conspiracy nutters, but if there is such a thing, here is what it might look like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8IvKx0c19w

Damson , February 21, 2017 at 6:56 am

It goes back to 9/11.

A must-read is the 'Collateral Damage' investigation in which the Office Of Naval Intelligence features as the main exposing agency of exactly this issue – a parallel power structure operating on a black budget:

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/File:Collateral_Damage_-_part_1.pdf

fairleft , February 21, 2017 at 7:36 am

The central task of the U.S. 'deep state' is to maintain or expand the permanent war economy. So it is the military-industrial complex. The top-of-food-chain spy agencies - whose primary task within the MIC is to create enemies and paranoia - are the brains and mouthpiece of the deep state.

begob , February 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

Didn't see any mention of organised crime. And does the DS distinguish between unlawful and illegal?

PH , February 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

Think kaleidoscope in motion. Colors are real but hard to predict. Preset patterns, but affected by outside movement.

I love histories, but I know they simplify and often mislead. Anyway, the trick is to spot the power emerging, not how it turned out with the last generation.

I suggest that the best approach looking forward is to start with the existing visible power bureaucracies both inside govt and outside govt but on its periphery.

For each behemoth, daily routine is the biggest driver. And with that usually goes shared values. Such things usually push events.

Offhand, I can think of a few starting points. If these separate bureaucracies are subject to some common control, I would like to know exactly who and exactly how.

Military/defense contractors. Mostly consumed with myopic concerns. Top generals and bureaucrats do think tank type stuff, but mostly technical. Obvious collusion with industry over defense budgets.

Not sure what attitude is toward Donald.

NSA and tech contractors. Foreign world to me, but obvious iceberg.

State Dept and White House and press chattering class. Propaganda organizations, basically. I am sure they have clubs and secret handshakes, but not sure should've called organized.

Main CIA. Narrow bureaucrats.

Off-the-books CIA intersecting with business. These have been the most spectacular stories and escapades. Edwin Wilson. Air America. Coups in the 50s. Maybe CIA assassination of Kennedy.

Did these operations drive history? Maybe. If those types of connections drive events today, what are they?

I do not see a unitary deep state.

Steven Greenberg , February 21, 2017 at 9:10 am

Nobody has raised the issue of COG. Here is one excerpt from Peter Dale Scott's book that talks about and somewhat defines it. Much more in the book of course.

One factor linking Dallas, Watergate, the 1980 "October Surprise" plot to prevent Carter's reelection, Iran-Contra, and 9/ 11 has been the background involvement in all these deep events of personnel from America's highest-level emergency planning, that is, Continuity of Government (COG) planning, known inside the Pentagon as "the Doomsday Project." The implementation of COG plans on 9/ 11 was the culmination of decades of such planning, and has resulted in the permanent militarization of the domestic United States, and the imposition at home of institutions and processes designed for domination abroad.

Scott, Peter Dale. The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (War and Peace Library). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Mattski , February 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

"Seems pretty big to be deep "

Not logical. The Deep State is those elements of the establishment that direct the course of government irrespective of e pluribus.

Perfectly good term, arising from popular usage, whose boundaries–hopefully needless to say–people who know better will not dictate anyway. Would have been much better, rather than to attack its use at the outset, just to investigate it. Elitist exercise, shaped like this.

[Feb 20, 2017] Republicans as the party of a better yesterday

Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ken melvin : , February 20, 2017 at 02:49 PM
The Nostalgia of Trump: Remembering the days when birds fell from the sky from the polluted air in L.A., When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland, death from black lung desease, death from white lung desease, death by crushing, ...

I don't ever see nostalgia for Trump. I wish to see him expunged from the Nation's as quickly as possible.

cm -> ken melvin... , February 20, 2017 at 03:06 PM
I'm not sure what any of that has to do with nostalgia for Trump.

Quite a while back Paine (who seems to be back here) characterized contemporary Republicans as "the party of a better yesterday". This refers to many people's impression that when they were younger, at least looking back things were more hopeful and remembered quality of life better. This is independent from the things you mentioned. In my own observation the same phenomenon could be observed in prior generations of family and their acquaintances that experienced in various degrees WW1 and WW2 and the postwar fallouts. Life had always been better when they were young, war or not.

[Feb 20, 2017] Why Extreme Inequality Causes Economic Collapse naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Fig. 3a Income Share of U.S. Top 1% (Reich, 2013) & 3b Reich notes that the two peaks look like a suspension bridge, with highs followed by precipitous drops. (Original Source: Piketty & Saez, 2003) ..."
"... Paying for policy favors ..."
"... Removing constraints on dangerous behavior ..."
"... Increasing the public's vulnerability ..."
"... Increasing their own intake ..."
"... financial intermediaries. ..."
"... Or Ben Bernanke in his book "The Courage to Act": "Money is fungible. One dollar is like any other". ..."
"... "I adapted this general idea to show how, by affecting banks' loanable funds, monetary policy could influence the supply of intermediated ..."
"... no longer depend exclusively on insured deposits for funding, nondeposit sources of funding are likely to be relatively more expensive than deposits" ..."
"... The first channel worked through the banking system By developing expertise in gathering relevant information, as well as by maintaining ongoing relationships with customers, banks and similar intermediaries ..."
"... and thus hurt borrowers" (Bernanke [1983b]). ..."
"... A herding started by William McChesney Martin Jr, that thought "banks actually pick up savings and pass them out the window, that they are intermediaries ..."
"... obviously not so in any human activity. ..."
"... We believe Regenerative Economics can provide a unifying framework capable of galvanizing a wide array of reform groups by clarifying the picture of what makes societies healthy. But, this framework will only serve if it is backed by accurate theory and effective measures and practice. This soundness is part of what Capital Institute and RARE are trying to develop. ..."
"... haha, unfortunately it's the apex predator species that is in danger of sudden extinction as its prey declines. Of course the Darwinian analogy doesn't hold up well because Darwinian selection works on all individuals of a species without distinction. A much better analogy is a rigged game. ..."
Feb 20, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
According to a recent study by Oxfam International, in 2010 the top 388 richest people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population– a whopping 3.6 billion people. By 2014, this number was down to 85 people. Oxfam claims that, if this trend continues, by the end of 2016 the top 1% will own more wealth than everyone else in the world combined. At the same time, according to Oxfam, the extremely wealthy are also extremely efficient in dodging taxes, now hiding an estimated $7.6 trillion in offshore tax-havens.[3]

Why should we care about such gross economic inequality?[4] After all, isn't it natural? The science of flow says: yes, some degree of inequality is natural, but extreme inequality violates two core principles of systemic health: circulation and balance.

Circulation represents the lifeblood of all flow-systems, be they economies, ecosystems, or living organisms. In living organisms, poor circulation of blood causes necrosis that can kill. In the biosphere, poor circulation of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. strangles life and would cause every living system, from bacteria to the biosphere, to collapse. Similarly, poor circulation of money, goods, resources, and services leads to economic necrosis – the dying off of large swaths of economic tissue that ultimately undermines the health of the economy as a whole.

In flow systems, balance is not simply a nice way to be, but a set of complementary factors – such as big and little; efficiency and resilience; flexibility and constraint – whose optimal balance is critical to maintaining circulation across scales. For example, the familiar branching structure seen in lungs, trees, circulatory systems, river deltas, and banking systems (Fig. 1) connects a geometrically constant ratio of a few large, a few more medium-sized, and a great many small entities. This arrangement, which mathematicians call a fractal, is extremely common because it's particular balance of small, medium, and large helps optimize circulation across different levels of the whole. Just as too many large animals and too few small ones creates an unstable ecosystem, so financial systems with too many big banks and too few small ones tend towards poor circulation, poor health, and high instability.

In his documentary film, Inequality for All, Robert Reich uses virtuous cycles to clarify how robust circulation of money serves systemic health. In virtuous cycles, each step of money movement makes things better. For example, when wages go up, workers have more money to buy things, which should increase demand, expand the economy, stimulate hiring, and boost tax revenues. In theory, government will then spend more money on education which will increase worker skills, productivity and hopefully wages. This stimulates even more circulation, which starts the virtuous cycle over again. In flow terms, all of this represents robust constructive flow, the kind that develops human and network capital and enhances well-being for all.

Of course, economies also sometimes exhibit vicious cycles, in which weaker circulation makes everything go downhill – i.e., falling wages, consumption, demand, hiring, tax revenues, government spending, etc. These are destructive flows, ones that erode system health.

Both vicious and virtuous cycles have occurred in various economies at various times and under various economic theories and policy pressures. But, for the last 30 years, the global economy in general and the American economy in particular has witnessed a strange combination pattern in which prosperity is booming for CEOs and Wall Street speculators, while the rest of the economy – particularly workers, the middle class, and small businesses – have undergone a particularly vicious cycle. Productivity has grown massively, but wages have stagnated. Consumption has remained reasonably high because, in an effort to maintain their standard of living, working people have: 1) added hours, becoming two-income families, often with two and even three jobs per person; and 2) increased household debt. Inequality has skyrocketed because effective tax rates on the 1% have dropped (notwithstanding a partial reversal under Obama), while their income and profits have risen steeply.

We should care about this kind of inequality because history shows that too much concentration of wealth at the top, and too much stagnation everywhere else indicate an economy nearing collapse. For example, as Reich shows (Figure 1a & b), both the crashes of 1928 and 2007 followed on the heels of peaks in which the top 1% owned 25% of the country's total wealth.

Fig. 3a Income Share of U.S. Top 1% (Reich, 2013) & 3b Reich notes that the two peaks look like a suspension bridge, with highs followed by precipitous drops. (Original Source: Piketty & Saez, 2003)

What accounts for this strange mix of increasing concentration at the top and increasing malaise everywhere else? Putting aside the parallels to 1929 for a moment, most common explanations for today's situation include: the rise of technology which makes many jobs obsolete; and globalization which puts incredible pressures on companies to lower wages and outsource jobs to compete against low-wage workers around the world.

But, while technology and globalization are clearly creating transformative pressures, neither of these factors completely explains our current situation. Yes, technology makes many jobs obsolete, but it also creates many new jobs. Yet, where the German, South Korean and Norwegian governments invest in educating their workforce to fill those new jobs, the American government has been cutting back on education for decades. A similar thought holds for globalization. Yes, high-volume industrialism – that is, head-to-head competition over price of mass-produced, uniform goods – leads to a race to the bottom; that's been known for a long time. But in The Work of Nations (2010), Robert Reich also points out that the companies that are flourishing through globalization and technology are ones pursuing what he calls high-value capitalism, the high-quality customization of goods and services that can't be duplicated by mass-produced uniformity at cheap places around the world.

So, while the impacts of globalization and technology are profound, the real explanation for inequality lies primarily with an economic belief that, intentionally or not, serves to concentrate wealth at the top by extracting it from everywhere else. This belief system is called variously neoliberalism, Reaganomics, the Chicago School, and trickle-down economics. It is easily recognized by its signature ideas: deregulation; privatization; cut taxes on the rich; roll back environmental protections; eliminate unions; and impose austerity on the public. The idea was that liberating market forces would cause a rising tide that lifted all boats, but the only boat that actually rose was that of the .01%. Meanwhile, instability has grown.

The impact this belief system has had on the American economy and its capacities can be seen in American education. Trickle-down theories are all about cutting taxes on the wealthy, which means less money for public education, more young people burdened with huge college debt, and fewer American workers who can fill the new high-tech jobs.

To be fair, this process is not just about greed. Most of the people who participate in this economic debacle do not realize its danger because they believed what they were told by the saints and sages of economics, and many are rewarded for following its principles. So, what really causes the kind of inequality that drives economies toward collapse? The basic answer from the science of flow is: economic necrosis. But, let me flesh out the story.

Institutional economists talk about two main types of economic strategies: extractive and solution-seeking. (Hopefully, these names are self-explanatory.) Most economies contain both. But, if the extractive forces become too powerful, they begin to use their power to rig the rules of the economic game to favor themselves. This creates what scientists call a positive feedback loop, one in which "the more you have, the more you get." Seen in many kinds of systems, this loop creates a powerful pull that sucks resources to the top, and drains it away from the rest of the system causing necrosis. For example, chemical runoff into the Gulf of Mexico accelerates algae growth. This creates an escalating, "the more you have, the more you get" process, in which massive algae growth sucks up all the oxygen in the surrounding area, killing all of the nearby sea life (fish, shrimp, etc.) and creating a large "dead zone."

Neoliberal economics set up a parallel situation by allowing the wealthy to use their money to extract ever more money from the overall economy. The uber-wealthy grow wealthier by:

All of these processes help the already rich concentrate more, and circulate less. In flow terms, therefore, gross inequality indicates a system that has: 1) too much concentration and too little circulation; and 2) an imbalance of wealth and power that is likely to create ever more extraction, concentration, unaccountability, and abuse. This process accelerates until the underlying human network becomes exhausted and/or the ongoing necrosis reaches a point of collapse. When this point is reached, the society will have three choices: learn, regress, or collapse.

What then shall we do? Obviously, we need to improve our "solution seeking" behavior in realms from business and finance to politics and media. Much of this is already taking place. From socially-responsible business and alternative forms of ownership, to democratic reform groups, alternative media, and the new economy movement – reforms are arising on all sides.

But, the solutions we need are also often blocked by the forces we are trying to overcome, and impeded by the massive merry-go-round momentum of "business as usual." Today's reforms also lack power because they are taking place piecemeal, in a million separate spots with very little cross-group unity.

How do we overcome these obstacles? The science of flow offers not so much a specific strategy, as an empowering change of perspective. In essence, it provides a more effective way to think about the processes we see every day.

The dynamics explained above are very well known; they are basic physics, just like the law of gravity. Applying them to today's economic debates can be extremely helpful because the latter have devolved into ideological debates devoid of any scientific foundation.

We believe Regenerative Economics can provide a unifying framework capable of galvanizing a wide array of reform groups by clarifying the picture of what makes societies healthy. But, this framework will only serve if it is backed by accurate theory and effective measures and practice. This soundness is part of what Capital Institute and RARE are trying to develop.

55 0 0 3 11 This entry was posted in Banana republic , CEO compensation , Doomsday scenarios , Economic fundamentals , Guest Post , Income disparity , The destruction of the middle class on February 18, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 69 comments Disturbed Voter , February 18, 2017 at 6:18 am

System Dynamics of Steve Keene is clearly more useful than equilibrium dogma. He predicted the 2008 crash, though I think he was only lucky .. modeling is always only good for interpolation, never for extrapolation, unless you are lucky enough to only be dealing with linear changes over time.

Spencer , February 18, 2017 at 7:02 am

POSTED: Dec 13 2007 06:55 PM |
The Commerce Department said retail sales in Oct 2007 increased by 1.2% over Oct 2006, & up a huge 6.3% from Nov 2006.
10/1/2007,,,,,,,-0.47,,,,,,, -0.22 * temporary bottom
11/1/2007,,,,,,, 0.14,,,,,,, -0.18
12/1/2007,,,,,,, 0.44,,,,,,,-0.23
1/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.59,,,,,,, 0.06
2/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.45,,,,,,, 0.10
3/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.06,,,,,,, 0.04
4/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.04,,,,,,, 0.02
5/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.09,,,,,,, 0.04
6/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.20,,,,,,, 0.05
7/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.32,,,,,,, 0.10
8/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.15,,,,,,, 0.05
9/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.00,,,,,,, 0.13
10/1/2008,,,,,,, -0.20,,,,,,, 0.10 * possible recession
11/1/2008,,,,,,, -0.10,,,,,,, 0.00 * possible recession
12/1/2008,,,,,,, 0.10,,,,,,, -0.06 * possible recession
Trajectory as predicted:
BERNANKE SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. IN DEC. 2007 I COULD.

Disturbed Voter , February 18, 2017 at 10:39 am

With a simple spreadsheet projection of flows one can see a lot, without fancy mathematics, using just simple difference equation models, even models that display cyclical behavior. For example, with any internal software development, the quantity of legacy applications increase as they are created, unless retirement of legacy applications is more rapid.

More often replacement occurs, rather than actual retirement. But retirement of legacy applications is harder than you might think, because of real dependency one can't retire them by fiat. The cost of maintaining legacy applications, isn't zero. So with a fixed software development/maintenance budget, the percentage of expenditures to legacy applications approaches saturation, even without figuring in the cost of replacement (similar to the rolling over of loans vs retiring of loans). Short term maintenance using patches, can only continue for so long, eventually wholesale replacement is necessary.

Usually the only way to retire a legacy application is to produce a newer and more expensive application, that itself has higher maintenance costs. We dig the problem well deeper. Thus the exponential decay of funds available for new development, or replacement development, not only strangles new initiatives, but even strangles the ability to maintain operations long term. That is why there are still millions of lines of Cobol still working every day.

There is no free lunch, entropy reigns unless countered by new forms of initiative. Usually the end result is an extension and dilution of the problem, which then resumes decay on a larger scale. This is what happens with the attempt to allay insurance costs by ever larger pools, but there is a limit to the size of the pool, once that limit is reached, the gambit no longer works. Long term problems overwhelm short term solutions.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , February 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

That's Joseph Tainters rap if I remember it right.

Disturbed Voter , February 18, 2017 at 1:33 pm

An exponentially increasing real economy covers all sins. In absence of that, an exponentially increasing debt economy covers all sins, temporarily because interest has a way of catching up with you. See Greece.

Mattski , February 18, 2017 at 6:38 pm

"An exponentially increasing real economy covers all sins." Not if you're Mother Nature–or maybe only for another 10-40 years.

kimsarah , February 18, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Banks turned off the money spigot to developers by the start of '07, if I recall. Developers and policy makers knew then there was a recession, but the public was kept in the dark. After the market crash, the consumers were punished instead of the Wall Street looters.

John , February 19, 2017 at 7:23 am

The only people who predicted the crisis were a handful of post-Keynesians and Marxists. I'm more familiar with the work of the latter, but for them it wasn't luck. They identified structural problems with the economy that could not be fixed by simply utilizing stabilizers (fiscal/monetary policy) and knew a massive crisis would occur once the bubbles popped and exposed the real economy's underlying weakness. Some believed that this crisis was the result of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and simultaneous downturns in the business cycle and the profit cycle. I think the more convincing view is that low profit rates in the manufacturing sector caused by a global crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity has meant that the real economy has been weak since the 70's and that growth since then has come from asset bubbles (Japanese real estate in the 80's, US stock market in the 90's, US real estate in the 00's). These are problems that no amount of fiscal stimulus can fix in the long run.

Spencer , February 18, 2017 at 6:58 am

The author briefly touched on it. It's ALL about the circular flow of savings. And the flow's stopped beginning in 1981, though really in 1966 (also Larry Summer's start of secular strangulation). That's why N-gDp decelerated and there was a 35 year bull market in bonds.

You have to retain the capacity, like Albert Einstein, to hold two thoughts in your mind simultaneously – "to be puzzled when they conflicted, and to marvel when he could smell an underlying unity". "People like you and me never grow old", he wrote a friend later in life. "We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born".

The smartest man to walk on earth was Leland Pritchard, Ph.D. Chicago, 1933, Economics, MS, Syracuse, statistics.

All bank-held savings originate, and are impounded and ensconced, within the commercial banking system. Say what? Yes, the CBs do not loan out existing deposits, saved or otherwise. The CBs always create new money whenever they lend/invest (loans + investments = deposits). Thus bank-held savings are un-used and un-spent. They are lost to both consumption and investment. From the standpoint of an individual bank, the institution is an intermediary (micro-economics), however, from the standpoint of the collective system of member banks (macro-economics), the institution is a deposit taking, money creating, financial institution, DFI.

The upshot is profound. The welfare of the CBs is dependent upon the welfare of the non-banks (the CB's customers). I.e., money (savings) flowing through the NBs never leaves the CB system. Consequently the expansion of "saved" deposits, in whatever deposit classification, adds nothing to a total commercial bank's liabilities, assets, or earning assets (nor the forms of these earning assets). And the cost of maintaining interest-bearing deposit accounts is greater, dollar for dollar, than the cost of maintaining non-interest-bearing demand deposits. Interest collectively for the commercial banking system, is its' largest expense item (and thus its' size isn't necessarily synonymous with its profitability).

This is the source of the pervasive error (and our social unrest, e.g., higher murder rates), that characterizes the sui generis Keynesian economics (the Gurley-Shaw thesis), that there is no difference between money and liquid assets.

Spencer , February 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

The CBs & NBs have a symbiotic relationship. And so do the have's and have not's. Unless the upper quintile's savings are expeditiously activated, a corrosive degenerative economic impact is subsequently fostered.

The Golden Era in U.S. economics (Les trente glorieuses) was where democratized pooled savings were expeditiously activated (put back to work) and matched with real-investment, non-inflationary, outlets by the thrifts, MSBs, CUs, and S&Ls (principally investments in long-term residential mortgages). And in the good ol days, we had gov't incentivized, FSLIC safety nets for non-bank conduits. Now we only have FDIC safety nets for the commercial bank clientele (which further retards savings velocity).

I.e., "risk on" is not higher FDIC insurance coverage (the FDIC formally modified the assessment base in 2011 to include all bank liabilities – which along with the LCR, contracted the E-$ market), not increased Basel bank capital adequacy provisioning (which literally destroys the money stock), not an increased FDIC assessment fee on 1/1/2007, or 4/1/2009, or 4/1/2011, or an increased churn in speculative stock purchases (the transfer of ownership in existing assets).

digi_owl , February 18, 2017 at 7:39 am

"uses recent scientific advances – specifically, the physics of flow[2″

Ye deities

craazyman , February 18, 2017 at 7:53 am

This post laudably critiques wealth inequality, but it suffers from the "Newtonia Delusion" that confuses economic thought in general through metaphorical malapropism.

Physcial systems possess a determinism and time-invariant structure that enables mathematical modelling. Economic systems are cultural artificacts that are not time-invariant. Money is a cultural construct, a form of social imagination and lacks any sort of deterministic attributes. Newtonian metaphors of flow and accumulation restrict analytical illlumination even though they enable quick and simple calculation.

Money is only one form of a "coordinate system" that enables the measurement of forms of social interaction and cooperation. And it's one-dimensional. This makes it useful given its parsimonious simplicity but it badly restricts complete explanatory power. Physicists know the choice of a coordinate systems influences measurements of phenomenon, and they developed math techniques to neutralize that influence - I think use of tensors in relativity is one example. Economics relies on "money" and resultant ideas of "growth" or 'recessionn" because that's all it knows how to do.

First, what does "collapse" mean in the context of the post. The word is vague, undefined and subject to a multitude of interpretations - that's not "scientific" at all. "Wealth" is also vague. Presumably it means possession of assets that can be converted into money, so in effect is uses "money" as a sole coordinate basis, and that's reasonable as a form of dimensional reduction, but it fails to measure the implied asset value of any sort of social safety net available to those without assets. That's no rationale for inequality - and anybody wants a job more than a safety net - but it's a logical flaw. Third, the nature of economic structures and cultural relations isn't easily quantifiable or translateable into money; living in a just, fair and inclusive society has an intrinsic value that defies easy measurement through the "money basis". Measuring relies instead on application of a sense of justice and honest sensibility.

It would be bettter to start analysis with a non-monetary vision of the social rights any citizen of a community should have access to. This form of thinking in fact was the normal and dominant form over most of human history, when people lived in non-monetary tribal structures. And what their implied responsibilities are to gain that accesss. Use that as a time-invariant basis and then introduce money but only as one method of measurement of economic change, there could be other social indicators that might be used as coordinate systems too; use of these could result in very different measurements of ecoonomic phenomeenon than result with the money basiis. That would force the sort of thinking that's required for analytical clarity and ompleteness, but that doesn't exist in economics

(See I can bang out a comment that doesn't mention jungle boogie butts or hot women! Calling women hot isn't bad, as long as it's respectful and flattering and inclusive. Women in general are hot! What do you want? to live in a world full of gay guys or what? Hahaha. Sorry I can't help it.)

Steve H. , February 18, 2017 at 11:46 am

Turchin has been working on proxies, to get some measures of well-being and political instability. One measure of social rights could be the right to live, so life expectancy could be used. Dead is dead and is a hard number. Chicago police historically have a different criteria of what my rights are than I do, so the ecological measures can avoid such definitional fuzziness.

Another Turchin point relevant to the post is that in-group variance is only meaningful used as a multiplier of in-group selection, and in context of other groups. Extreme inequality does not necessarily cause economic collapse, and coherent elites consistently crush popular revolts. The "the more you have, the more you get" feedback loop can also be seen as a consolidation and success of a certain trait ("rich"), and a re-sort of within-group dynamics (national citizenry) to between-group dynamics (haves & nots).

(Also, economics does not concern itself with ompleteness, as rational actors cannot be omplete, and an agent who is omplete often withdraws from economic systems.)

Vedant Desai , February 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I believe that biggest problem in economics is not the dogma created by money(though its a problem of Course) , but rather biggest problem is lack of a clearly defined goal. "Economic development" ,which is generally termed as goal of economics , is very ambiguous and this ambiguity is creating problems.

susan the other , February 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Thanks Craazy – that was very coherent. more please.

UserFriendly , February 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Physcial systems possess a determinism and time-invariant structure that enables mathematical modelling. Economic systems are cultural artificacts that are not time-invariant.

Very, very few physical systems involve time invariant modeling. Almost every physical system represented by a mathematical model describes how that system changes with time. Otherwise it wouldn't be a very useful model. Few things can be said to be at steady state and even when they are it is usually a simplification, not an outgrowth of time invariance. For example a chemical reaction A + B-> C at rate k1 and C -> A + B at rate k2 is said to be at equilibrium (steady state) when k1=-k2. Even at steady state the reaction is proceeding in both directions and can be thrown out of equilibrium by a change in concentration, temperature, volume, or any host of other factors. After the shock the system will again tend towards an equilibrium but there is no requirement that the new equilibrium be the same as the last one. And all the equations that describe how we went from equilibrium 1 to 2 all involve time. Neoclassical morons obsessed with equilibrium seam to be confused by this and assume time is irrelevant and that full employment will always return.

Economists are pretty much the only people I see that try to use time invariant models. I think it is a great step forward that economists like Keen have been trying to use the full spectrum of time variant models. The fact that the models are relatable to models of other physical systems is more an outgrowth of calculous than anything else.

craazyman , February 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm

I actually was out today doing stuff & plan to go star gazing tonite!

What I meant is the equations that map the movement of the moon and planets or heat diffusion or chemical reactions or sound propagation worked in November 1887 the same way they'll work in July 2020.

Of course experimental measurements change through time, depending on the phenomenon being measured. But the natural phenomenon modeled by the equations themselves are time invariant as are the equations, or science wouldn't work. That's why they're called natural laws.

UserFriendly , February 18, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Ah. You mean Frame Invariant , not time invariant.

craazyman , February 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Timeframe invariant! :-)

H. Alexander Ivey , February 19, 2017 at 3:25 am

Now wait a minute here. While I appreciate getting my terms correct and such – frame invariant, yeah, that's what I need to know – craazyman is a gift not to be distracted or encouraged wrongly. Yes, his posting clarified the great lie of most economic theory and its teaching and modeling, but his calling is greater than that. "jungle boogie butts or hot women" are rare on this site and should not be lightly diverted. Not that I'm implying that our hostess or commentators of the female persuasion aren't "hot women" or that jungle boogie butts aren't finance, economics, politics, or power, but based on past personal history, if I tried a craazyman, or even a craazyboy, posting, I would be forever marked as hopeless.

Ruben , February 19, 2017 at 12:36 am

Physical systems can be time-variant in that way too, it's called a regime shift. We have observed that in several real natural systems. In some cases apparent randomness actually is very complicated but fully deterministic dynamics. Look up "bifurcation diagram". Mathematical analysis can deal with that too.

Instead of the monetary system and flow, the analysis of human populations, including the production and exchange of the fruits of their labour, should start with the amount of cooperation as the driving variable (or coordinate as you prefer to say)?

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Sam F , February 18, 2017 at 8:01 am

Odd that education investment is shown in the article as part of the loop between employment and consumer spending. That is a very slow regenerative path compared with the direct effect of employment, spending, and labor demand.

The article wastes time extolling circulation merely because it resembles that in natural systems such as tigers, but these do not necessarily serve human interests. It benefits most people simply because they need the inputs and outputs.

oho , February 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

>>> But this sounds an awful lot like a new improved version of system dynamics,

One of the board members from Capital Institute (sounds like the "Human Fund") is from Soros-backed the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

And Soros loves reflexivity, which is basically repackaged system dynamics.

not being aluminum foil-y. just interesting how Soros has his fingers in so many pots.

http://capitalinstitute.org/board/

oho , February 18, 2017 at 9:12 am

just institute a progressive tax on bank assets above-say-$700 billion. would literally only affect a handful of banks and do much to rein in the seize of the megabanks.

oh wait, all these banks are blue state banks (JPM, C, WFC, BAC) and friends w/Schumer, Pelosi and Uncle Warren owns big chunks in WFC and AXP.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

Capitalism is a balance between supply and demand but we only put in half a system.

1) Money at the top is mainly investment capital as those at the top can already meet every need, want or whim. It is supply side capital.

2) Money at bottom is mainly consumption capital and it will be spent on goods and services. It is
demand side capital.

Marx noted the class struggle between the two sides that neither can win, to do so destroys the system, either supply or demand will cease to exist.

The balance has yet to be recognised and we flick between the two sides until everything crashes into the end stops.

Before the 1930s – Supply Side, Neoclassical Economics

By the 1920s, productivity has reached a stage where supply exceeds demand and extensive advertising is required to manufacture the demand for the excess supply.

Taxes are lowered on the wealthy and there is an excess of investment capital which pours into the US stock market. The banks get in on the act and use margin lending to fuel this boom in US stocks.

There is a shortage of consumption capital and the necessary consumption can only be maintained with debt.

1929 – Wall Street Crash

The investment capital was used to blow an asset bubble and not for productive investment, it all ends in tears. The Great Depression is the debt deflation that follows from an economy saturated with debt.

After the 1930s – Demand Side, Keynesian Economics

The New Deal starts the turnaround of the US economy and after the Second World War there is the Golden Age of the 1950s and 1960s. Redistributive capitalism looks after the demand side of the equation.

With the target of full employment, the unions start to abuse their power and by the 1970s we enter into stagflation. There is a shortage of investment capital and demand exceeds supply leading to inflation, there is not enough investment capital to redress the balance.

After the 1980s – Supply Side, Neoclassical Economics

Taxes are lowered on the wealthy and there is an excess of investment capital which pours into various different asset classes and the first round of crashes occur in the late 1980s. Leading to an early 1990s recession.

There is a shortage of consumption capital and the necessary consumption can only be maintained with debt.

After the early 1990s recession the speculative, investment capital look for another bubble to blow and finds the new dot.com companies.

Housing booms take off around the world, a speculative bubble for everyone to get involved with and the UK and Japan have already been through their first boom/bust by 1989.

Wall Street get's into 1920s mode and leverages up the speculative bubble that is occurring there.

2008 – Wall Street Crash

The West is laid low and growth is concentrated in the East but they start to use debt to keep things running.

Even with the Central Banker's best efforts the global economy falls into the new normal of secular stagnation, the debt repayments are a constant drag on the global economy.

2017 – World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

All that investment capital with almost nowhere to invest due to the lack of demand.

We just swing from the supply side, to the demand side and back again until we crash into the end stops.

We could recognise the system requires a balance between supply and demand.

Jabawocky , February 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm

An interesting idea, which adds economics itself to the dynamics of the economic system.

susan the other , February 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm

a balance in real time, not over decades with crashes and booms harder to do globally than nationally which is prolly why nationalism is rising it was China imploding c. 2008 that brought the growth of the global economy to a stop, I read somewhere .anyway the growth-forever premise of globalism was nuts. Not even the push for austerity by the neoliberals could make the required adjustments – and not for lack of trying. Yes a new balance (good shoes ;-) is what we need. One that understands the old saying 'form follows function' and create a functioning economy, the scaffold of a new sustainable human society. One in which banking actually follows the economy.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Bankers should be servants of the real economy and nothing more.

flow5 , February 19, 2017 at 11:28 am

It's not a math error, it's an accounting error. It wasn't precipitated as Alan Greenspan pontificated in his book "The Map and the Territory", viz., FDR's Social Security Act. It wasn't Nixon who introduced "indexing". It wasn't because from 1959 to 1966 the federal gov'ts net savings was in a rare surplus. It wasn't because between 1965 & 2012 total gross domestic savings (as a percent of gDp) declined from 22% to 13% (9 percentage points).

No, the New York Times sobriquet, the "Three-Card Maestro's" error, like all other Keynesian economists, is the macro-economic persuasion that maintains a commercial bank is a financial intermediary (conduit between savers and borrowers matching savings with investment):

Greenspan: "Much later came the evolution of finance, an increasingly sophisticated system that enabled savers to hold liquid claims (deposits) with banks and other financial intermediaries. Those claims could be invested by banks in in financial instruments that, in turn, represented the net claims against the productivity enhancing tools of a complex economy. Financial intermediation was born"

Or Ben Bernanke in his book "The Courage to Act": "Money is fungible. One dollar is like any other".

"I adapted this general idea to show how, by affecting banks' loanable funds, monetary policy could influence the supply of intermediated credit" (Bernanke and Blinder, 1988)."

For example, although banks and other intermediaries no longer depend exclusively on insured deposits for funding, nondeposit sources of funding are likely to be relatively more expensive than deposits"

The first channel worked through the banking system By developing expertise in gathering relevant information, as well as by maintaining ongoing relationships with customers, banks and similar intermediaries develop "informational capital."

"that the failure of financial institutions in the Great Depression increased the cost of financial intermediation and thus hurt borrowers" (Bernanke [1983b]).

A herding started by William McChesney Martin Jr, that thought "banks actually pick up savings and pass them out the window, that they are intermediaries in the true sense of the word."

From the standpoint of an individual bank (micro-economics), a bank is an intermediary, however, from the standpoint of the entire economy, the system process (macro-economics), a bank is a deposit taking, money creating, financial institution.

The promulgation of commercial bank interest rate deregulation (banks introducing liability management, buying their liquidity, instead of following the old fashioned practice of storing their liquidity), i.e., the removal of Reg. Q ceilings (the non-banks were already deregulated until 1966), by the oligarch – the ABA, (public enemy #1), or an increasing proportion of time to transaction deposits liabilities within the DFIs, metastasized stagflation and secular strangulation. Remunerating IBDDs exacerbates this phenomenon (as subpar R-gDp illustrates).

I.e., every time a commercial bank buys securities from, or makes loans to, the non-bank public it creates new money – deposit liabilities, somewhere in the system. I.e., deposits are the result of lending, and not the other way around. Bank-held savings are un-used and un-spent. They are lost to both consumption and investment. Unless savings are expeditiously activated outside of the system (and all savings originate within the payment's system), thru non-bank conduits, said savings exert a dampening economic impact (destroying saving's velocity & thus AD). I.e., savings flowing thru the non-banks, never leaves the CB system.

LT , February 19, 2017 at 12:28 am

I've never believed a country joining the casino economy was a sign of strength.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 19, 2017 at 5:36 am

Debt based consumption is always unsustainable, people max. out on debt.

Greece was happy with debt based consumption until it maxed. out on debt.

Anything that relies on debt based consumption in the long term can only fail.

Neoliberalism relies on debt based consumption, it works until it doesn't.

witters , February 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm

"With the target of full employment, the unions start to abuse their power."

Yeah, sure.

Actually full employment is experienced by capital as an abuse of its power.

Here is Kalecki in 1943 explaining beforehand how this generates neoliberalism.

http://delong.typepad.com/kalecki43.pdf

tongorad , February 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Yes, I'd like to see what this abuse of union power looked like. Any evidence of this?
Landlords and bosses were reduced to beggars?

PhilM , February 18, 2017 at 10:13 am

Craazyman says it all, but I have to say it too, just for my own mental health.

How often do social "scientists" have to make this same mistake? Biology is not physics, and human society is biology, and economics is not even close to accurately describing human society, not even the economics part of it.

Equilibria are achieved, and thermodynamic laws obeyed, on much greater and on much smaller scales than an economy, which is not even a system, per se. Life is anti-entropic, but the universe, the solar system, is not. Communities are not "social networks." Terry Pratchett as usual brings common sense to bear on metaphors like this. Metaphor, you know, using words to convey something like the truth, but not exactly: "Oh, so it's a lie, then."

Vedant Desai , February 18, 2017 at 12:50 pm

How economy is not a system?

Jabawocky , February 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm

You have just lost me. Of course economics is a complex system but it is a system nonetheless. Wynne Godley's sectoral balance model is an excellent example of a systems approach to economics, and it's precisely the systems peoperties that attract me to it. MMT is a systems approach by design and easily approached mathematically in that way if desired. I have often considered how I would do it but no doubt there is someone more able to do it than me.

The bonus of a systems approach would be the possibility of a multitude of possible equilibrium states, some could be fixed, some oscillatory if they include feedback with delay.

The author could also consider adding futile cycles to her list of cycles, long recognised by biochemists.

PhilM , February 19, 2017 at 4:10 am

Craazyman says it above. A "system of pulleys" is a system. A "solar system" is a system. A galaxy, a liter of sodium bicarbonate solution under defined temperature and pressure conditions, these are systems. How is "economics" a system? What is it even a system of? Can you define the parameters of even one of the aspects of economics in some way that does not "leak energy" through every other aspect of human activity, which is not accounted for in some way by the "system" of economics? You can try, but you can't do it. That is why economics is scientific just like astrology: it describes and explains everything, but its only prediction is more jobs for its practitioners.

Foppe , February 19, 2017 at 6:28 am

There are "closed" and "open" systems. The behavior of the former can be modeled and understood; the latter, less so (possible only to some extent, and heavily dependent on the intellectual framework that you bring to the table).

Jabawocky , February 19, 2017 at 7:24 am

My experience is opposite. Usually in systems approaches most of the detail can be ignored until it becomes important. They do not require knowing the details of the system, instead they try to simplify as far as is practical. Systems approaches attempt to infer micro from gross macro behaviour. This is fundentally opposite to orthodox economics. Godley's model illustrates this well. You don't need to know details about every transaction because parameters for aggregated transactions can be inferred from macro data. You don't need to assume anything about motivations of individuals or firms, but if necessary you could try to infer them.

PhilM , February 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm

I clearly need to go and do reading on open systems, because understanding them makes for a richer intellectual life, like poetry, or skimming rocks. For me, the chafing starts when people try to apply a rigorous, mathematically based scientifically accepted reproducible set of theories like those of fluid dynamics (itself by no means fully elaborated) to a field where the described system cannot be even be defined by consensus.

What, for instance, exactly constitutes an "economic system," or a "system of economics," or an "economy"? Where is the universally accepted definition of something even as basic as money, a definition with scientific reliability, like the definition of an atom in 1930? They just aren't there. You can tell me yours, but it will not be the same as his, or hers. If real scientists behaved that way, there could be no breakthroughs: without a definition, there is nothing even solid enough to break through.

And by scientific, I just have to fall back on Popper, however old-fashioned that may seem. The propositions of economics, like those of astrology and sociology, and also of human nutrition, and so many other fields flogged by their practitioners, remain unaccompanied by experimental methodologies that result in reliable predictions of reproducible results. They are therefore prolific with unfalsifiable claims. They are, therefore, fraudulent at worst and noisy at best, at a time where the direction of the public discourse is increasingly controlled by central authorities with agendas. A signal among the noise is harder and harder to distinguish without the further impediment of additional publish-or-perish verbiage which will be, more often than not, weaponized by an interest group, if that was not actually the reason for its creation to begin with.

Systematizers of non-scientific systems are either virtuous "pre-scientists" or frauds. What they claim as the wider social value of their work is the discriminating test. Alchemy and astrology of yore ultimately evolved into chemistry and astronomy, without actually contributing much information as such: but without the need to make magic or gold from powders, alembics, crucibles, and retorts, those tools moved into hands directed by serious, patient minds, where they produced useful and reliable information. (Not that circus entertainment, handwaving, and noise were not great disseminators and motivators of science, and remain so today!)

Until the dynamics of human society and psychology have been fully described by anthropology, there will not be a "fundamental atomic theory" for Economics to use to underpin its scientific pretensions. It still rests completely on demonstrably untrue assumptions, rules that can be proven not to apply to human behavior. Most recently, the use of the "normal curve" as generally applicable to economic "systems," because of its near-universal employment in statistics, had catastrophic results. This was easily predicted by anyone who has worked with the normal curve; the Central Limit Theorem that underpins the normal curve assumes that the assembled variables are independent, not related functions of each other; and this is obviously not so in any human activity. So much of the use of the normal curve is nothing more than hand-waving hocus-pocus.

No serious reputable historian would claim any longer to be a scientist, and if he did, he would be no true Scotsman, either. But then, despite what I seem to be doing on these forums, neither would a professionally trained historian think to dictate public policy by appealing to the systematic rigor of his craft.

Economists today should modestly retreat from their claims to exercise any influence on public policy and direct their efforts elaborating a true science. I believe that may never happen; and I personally fear the unintended consequences that will result from the political use of the kind of knowledge about human motivations and collective activity that will be required to bring it about; maybe less, however, than I fear nuclear war or planetary desolation through aggressive environmental destruction, which may be the alternative outcomes to that kind of advance.

Bam_Man , February 18, 2017 at 10:16 am

"Flow Dynamics" of Money Supply are a BIG tell.
Velocity of MZM Money Supply (Money of Zero Maturity) is falling like a rock and at an ALL-TIME low.

flow5 , February 19, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Money velocity falls because more and more savings are impounded and ensconced within the payment's system. This started in 1981 with the plateau in deposit financial innovation, the widespread introduction of ATS, NOW, and MMDA accounts. Thus money velocity, formally a monetary offset, started decelerating dropping N-gDp with it (and producing the 35 year bull market in bonds).

This should be evident with the remuneration of IBDDs beginning in Oct. 2008. I.e., the 1966 S&L credit crunch is the economic paradigm and precursor (lack of funds, not their cost). The "complete evaporation of liquidity" on 8/9/2007 for BNP Paribas, "runs on ABCP money funds", "shortage of safe, liquid, assets", "the funding crunch forced fire sales", "efforts to replace funding that had evaporated in the panic", i.e., non-bank dis-intermediation (an outflow of funds or negative cash flow).

"Our goal was to increase the supply of short-term funding to the shadow banking system"
Ben Bernanke, August 10, 2007:

"Our goal is to provide liquidity not to support asset prices per se in any way. My understanding of the market's problem is that price discovery has been inhibited by the illiquidity of the subprime-related assets that are not trading, and nobody knows what they're worth, and so there's a general freeze-up. The market is not operating in a normal way. The idea of providing liquidity is essentially to give the market some ability to do the appropriate repricing it needs to do and to begin to operate more normally. So it's a question of market functioning, not a question of bailing anybody out."

I.e., Bankrupt u Bernanke doesn't know a credit from a debit. Bad Ben was solely responsible for the world-wide GR. My "market zinger" forecast of Dec. 2012 foretold of the expiration of unlimited transaction deposit insurance (putting savings back to work), not a "taper tantrum, not budget "sequestration".

Jesper , February 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

Seems like a sales-pitch to the 1% trying to convince the 1% that sharing would be good .. I have my doubts about that strategy, the 1% respects power and care very little (if anything at all) for the common good. Use the power of the many in an democracy and force through the needed changes.

Disturbed Voter , February 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

Continuing the model of a firm that requires software to function. If the executives of the firm keep taking expensive vacations at the expense of the firm, starving the software development/maintenance department of resources .. then even if there were no other systemic problems, the firm will fail (unless bailed out by a greater entity, as happened in 2008/2009). But in the end, who will be big enough, after we have extended the risk pool to the entire planet, to bail out the planet, from foolish management? I would suggest that the Roman Empire failed because it was unable to overcome either long term systemic trends, nor irresponsible management.

Robert NYC , February 18, 2017 at 11:11 am

Inequality is directly correlated to corruption and the U.S. has an exceeding corrupt political economy, hence the extreme inequality. Germany and Japan, to take two prime examples, are part of the same global system and are subject to the same forces, technology, corporate tax arbitrage strategies, etc but neither of them have any where near the inequality of the U.S. It's also worth noting they don't have financial grifters like Mitt Romney and Steven Schwarzman amongst their most esteemed citizens.

So yes, it is all pretty complicated but at the end of the day the U.S. is one of the most corrupt countries on Earth, certainly the most corrupt of the Western democracies so our problems are no surprise. All this talk about globalization, tax policy, education and technology are all distractions. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the subject of our monetary system which is at the root of the corruption.

Dick Burkhart , February 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Right on! – And the corruption is permitted, even encouraged, by the "greed is good" philosophical basis of mainstream economics, and the concentration of both media ownership and campaign finance and lobbying in the hands of the wealthy.

David , February 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

Yes, this does deserve some kind of award for expressing a simple idea in a pointlessly complicated way. When I was studying economics in the paleolithic era, we were taught about the "propensity to consume" – in other words the idea that the poorer you were the more of any extra income you would spend as opposed to save. So if you give everyone on the minimum wage 20% more, then they will probably put it straight back into the economy. If you give billionaires 20% more they probably won't. The more widely wealth is spread, the more of it will be spent. This isn't a scientific law, but it's an observation borne out by common sense.

Gman , February 19, 2017 at 4:06 am

Hallelujah!

Even Henry Ford, not exactly known for his altruism or philanthropy, knew it made sense to give his workers a significant rise so that they could afford the cars they were building for him.

Denis Drew , February 18, 2017 at 11:22 am

I can't read this whole post this morning - but - my one note tune: 6% labor union density in non-gov work is like 20/10 blood pressure : it starves every other healthy process - even while starving the employee herself.

Easy way back: if the 1935 Congress had intended (they didn't) to leave any criminal enforcement of NLRA prohibited union busting to individual states - Congress would not have had to change one word of the NLRA. States in fact were left to make any form of collective bargaining (NLRA connected or not) muscling an economic felony. There is no problem of federal preemption when the area has been left blank.

Nor may the fed force local labor down an impassable road to union organizing - because rules of road unenforceable and unenforced - when a First Amendment protected right is at stake. To state that clearly: the First Amendment is violated when government insists on a mode of action that dismembers freedom of economic association before it starts.

JEHR , February 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Sometimes metaphors bring clarity to a vision and sometimes metaphors befuddle: I am befuddled.

heresy101 , February 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I'll second that. He is either a scab and Pinkerton employee or provides a confused argument in support of unions?

Grebo , February 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I think he's saying more unions are needed, but the Federal Government left it up to the states to stop the union busting, which they have declined to do. The Feds can't enforce union membership or collective bargaining as that would violate the first amendment right to free association.

Denis Drew , February 18, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Let's try again - maybe it was too compressed

[cut-and-paste]
America should feel perfectly free to rebuild labor union density one state at a time - making union busting a felony. Republicans will have no place to hide.

Suppose the 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) intending to leave any criminal sanctions for obstructing union organizing to the states. Might have been because NLRB(b) conducted union elections take place local by local (not nationwide) and Congress could have opined states would deal more efficiently with home conditions - or whatever. What extra words might Congress have needed to add to today's actual bill? Actually, today's identical NLRA wording would have sufficed perfectly.

Suppose, again, that under the RLA (Railroad Labor Act - covers railroads and airlines, FedEx) - wherein elections are conducted nationally - that Congress desired to forbid states criminalizing the firing of organizers - how could Congress have worded such a preemption (assuming it was constitutionally valid)? Shouldn't matter to us. Congress did not!

Dick Burkhart , February 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

"Renewable energy" is obviously the foundation of Regenerative Economics, simply because energy itself is the foundation of all economics (as well as of all life and of the "active" part of the universe). Yet all the focus on renewable energy in recent years has done little or nothing to stop escalating economic inequality.

I think a big thing missing from RARE is a theory and program for power. What we need are institutional values and structures that will keep greed under control without much effort. This means not just getting the incentives right, but also the "political revolution" that will be needed to implement them.

So I think not just about limits-to-growth but about the need for partial universal ownership of all the major sources of wealth, combined with limited stakeholder ownership (fossil fuels, large corporations, etc).

susan the other , February 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm

flow is entropy

HotFlash , February 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

We believe Regenerative Economics can provide a unifying framework capable of galvanizing a wide array of reform groups by clarifying the picture of what makes societies healthy. But, this framework will only serve if it is backed by accurate theory and effective measures and practice. This soundness is part of what Capital Institute and RARE are trying to develop.

Accuracy of analytical method aside, who will implement it? Who can? Not those 8 dudes with 1/2 the world's wealth.

Hilario , February 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm

And what does extreme economic equality lead to?

witters , February 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Give me all your income and wealth and let us find out

Steve Roth , February 19, 2017 at 4:42 am

Not really a salient issue for us at the moment, is it?

Carla , February 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Equality–economic or any other kind–cannot be extreme. Equality exists, or it does not.

Temporarily Sane , February 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm

That depends on what kind of inequality you're talking about. Men being paid $10/hr and women $8/hr to perform the same task is an example of "binary" inequality. Either everyone is paid the same wage (before the first performance review anyway) or they are not.

Income inequality is a bit different. If a CEO takes home 20 x more per year than the lowest paid worker in the company income equality is low (way lower than in any modern capitalist economy) if the CEO makes 300 x as much as the lowest paid worker, it is high. Income equality – everyone being paid the same wage regardless of what they're doing to earn it – is not the goal. Rather, it is reducing the gap between the lowest and highest paid members of society.

Scott , February 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Only jet settesr get the advantages of civilization at its heights. My own partial solution has been an airport nation that advances flying literacy and availability.
There is an amorphous factor arising out of the defined structure and standard rights afforded travelers & businesses based on a separate airport nation. (I admit this amorphous factor which causes me some presentation problems.)
No human system will function without a common committed belief in it.
Airport movement of people & parcels is simpler to make comprehensive.
For example I have difficulty in attempting to expand passenger service in NC because the corporation Norfolk Southern was given power to inhibit it while getting the advantages of state responsibilities created with a buyout of a rail company state company where it was controlled by shareholders.
A trick was done on us with the collusion of legislators.
We can simply say the RR as analogous is a matured industry to the point of immaturity compared to an international airport accommodating both freighters & passenger airliners.
These things will not directly make an economic theory, but are about economic activity as enabled from basic port theory & the sociology of ports.
For instance I advise women in nations prone to put them at a disadvantage to put business offices on international airports which tend to be more culturally neutral.

Chauncey Gardiner , February 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

Appreciated the author's thought-provoking observations about the effects of extreme concentration of wealth, with its enormous feedback loops and low circulation of money that materially reduce the overall debt servicing capacity of the private sector. But I also felt that she understated the roles that private sector debt growth, central bank monetary policy, asset price speculation and manipulation, and financial fraud have historically played in causing economic collapse.

Gman , February 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

Playing Devil's Advocate I suppose you could argue that there is something Darwinian about the way things are nowadays.

Apex predators are indeed flourishing and in a curious way they are searching further afield and adapting to new 'food sources' as those closer to home become less appealing, less nourishing and less worth the effort of expending the energy trying to exploit, particularly when other tastier morsels are so plentiful and readily available elsewhere.

Maybe we should just all get with the programme, know our places in the grand scheme of things and resign ourselves to our evolutionary fate?

;-)

LT , February 19, 2017 at 12:10 pm

If it's Darwinian, it's an example of artificial selection – nothing natural about it.

Gman , February 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm

'Life is like a box of chocolates. More and more people know what they're gonna git'

Darwin's artificial selection.

St Jacques , February 19, 2017 at 5:20 pm

haha, unfortunately it's the apex predator species that is in danger of sudden extinction as its prey declines. Of course the Darwinian analogy doesn't hold up well because Darwinian selection works on all individuals of a species without distinction. A much better analogy is a rigged game.

Altandmain , February 19, 2017 at 10:09 am

We basically have an economic system where the very rich steal the productive capacity of the rest of us and add it to their own wealth.

That is the dirty not so secret truth. As the Spirit Level demonstrates, inequality is as bad for the rich at times as it can be for the rest of us.

There is also this:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/secret-fears-of-the-super-rich/308419/

Our problem is that the rich really suck. They are greedy and I would not be surprised if many were psychologically diagnosed with anti social personality disorder. They are without integrity and would fight tooth and nail for their pilfered money.

But the status quo is like the Congo under Mobut Sese Seko. It is a society build on kleotocracy. Like any such society, it is inherently unstable with money going to a few.

The late 1960s had problems. The costs of the Vietnamese War, the excess deficit spending, and the dependence on Middle Eastern oil all lead to problems in the 1970s.

Ruben , February 19, 2017 at 12:24 pm

"As Paul Samuelson stressed, that assumption [propensity to equilibrium] is necessary for economics to be science, as in mathed up, and the dominance that economists have achieved is due to their scientific appearances and the fact that their mathematical exposition enables them to dismiss lay critics."

Why? Non-equilibrium is accessible to maths.

In branching systems such the one imagined for monetary flow in this article, growth in the number of nodes at the terminals (and thus necrosis of excess of nodes) is controlled/limited by the number of terminals of the branching, let's call these capillaries, that can be accommodated inside the volume of the whole versus the number of nodes than can be accommodated inside the whole. Since the total number of capillaries grow at a lower rate than the number of nodes as the volume of the whole increases, growth is limited and excess growth in times of higher volume of the whole suffers necrosis when the volume of the whole shrinks.

IHTH

[Feb 19, 2017] The 2016 election was part Mad Magazine What, me Worry?

Feb 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
JohnH -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 18, 2017 at 07:41 AM
'Obama and others have handed him (Trump) a pretty well functioning economy'...not the only way that Obama set the table for Trump. We also have a terrifying NSA to thank Obama for. With SCOTUS in hand, all the pieces are in place for a police state.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> JohnH... , February 18, 2017 at 07:56 AM
I am not that worried yet. The 2016 election was part Mad Magazine "What, me Worry?" And the other part was "What Hillary? You got to be kidding me!"

It was also a backlash reaction to globalization and persistently low wages, both accumulating over a long time now. There are a lot of kinds of backlash and we have the potential for all of them in our American diversity. Which one will be next?

ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 18, 2017 at 12:27 PM
I am less worried now we got Trump and not apparatchik (experienced in deep state and catering to Jihadis) Clinton.
ilsm -> JohnH... , February 18, 2017 at 12:25 PM
The faux librul side is all Joe McCarthy phony red scaring and surveillance of the opposition activists sort of like what Army Intell did to hippies protesting the liberals' debacle in Southeast Asia.

Deep state surveillance and trashing the Bill of Rights is a legacy of the past 8 years.

Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 18, 2017 at 07:58 AM
There was also the unprecedented austerity forced on the economy by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

The Obama years were worse for some people than the Bush years even if the numbers look pretty good today. That's partly why Trump won.

8 years of 1.7 averaged annual growth? I think Rosser is suffering from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 07:59 AM
But the stock market is up, so, hey all good!
Barkley Rosser -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 09:53 AM
There is no question that at least some policies Trump is proposing will boost corporate profits at least in the short run. Not irrational at all for stock market to be up, especially backed up for now by steadily growing non-inflationary economy that Trump has inherited.

And you thought you were being ironic, didn't you, Peter K.? :-)

Peter K. -> Barkley Rosser ... , February 18, 2017 at 10:32 AM
lol well I agree with Larry Summers that it's mostly a "sugar high."

:>)

ilsm -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 12:29 PM
As a predictor the Dow and S&P are up til they are down.......

[Feb 19, 2017] The Anti-Trump Deep State Color Revolution Coup Targets Flynn

Feb 19, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Published on Feb 15, 2017

Russian Insider quotes an old joke goes like this: "Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States?

Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States."

Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.

It is a coup. That simple. It's not a leak. It's a coup. Direct from the Deep State. The naive Trump never saw it coming.

Kucinich says it's a Deep State move to remove Flynn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j_Zf...

The Anti-Flynn Deep State Coup
http://thesaker.is/the-anti-flynn-dee...

A 'Color Revolution' Is Now Underway in the United States
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics...

Sign up for Lionel's Newsletter and Truth Warrior manifestos. http://lionelmedia.com/2015/05/04/inf...

First Amendment3 days ago (edited)

What Trump did was uncover the deep State by using Flynn as a soldier to ferret-out the deep dark places....what you are seeing is the enemy being uncovered. Trump made this happen and now you will see who is in charge....the deep State has now been exposed. We will now see the eradication of this foul 5th column.

[Feb 19, 2017] The swamp fights back

The "neoliberal establishment" (aka Washington Swamp) is deeply unpopular with American people. Trump is not that popular, but he definitely less unpopular. Such statements s of "the national media is the enemy" would be unthinkable a decade or two ago.
Notable quotes:
"... The National Media is the enemy. They are minor birds, repeaters of what the establishment wants parroted. They can no longer be considered American citizen friendly. They are indeed part of the Swamp to be drained. ..."
Feb 19, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Barbara waters 2 days ago (edited)

The National Media is the enemy. They are minor birds, repeaters of what the establishment wants parroted. They can no longer be considered American citizen friendly. They are indeed part of the Swamp to be drained.

Like former, despise current president matters not. We are still a nation of laws. The people have spoken. We want the laws followed period. CNN, MSNBC, and others who continue to go after our president will be met with an unbridled wave of conservative determination to restore law and order.

[Feb 18, 2017] what's your solution to the lesser evil dilemma?

Feb 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris Lowery -> Peter K.... , February 16, 2017 at 07:22 AM
Peter, what's your solution to the "lesser evil" dilemma? I sympathize with your frustration, and I'm on board with your complaint over how Bernie was treated. But when it actually comes time vote in the general election, what's the solution? I keep thinking that if progressive voters had held their noses in 2000 and voted for Gore, we'd almost certainly have never gratuitously invaded Iraq, avoided squandering hundreds of thousands of lives and saved trillions of dollars.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris Lowery ... , February 16, 2017 at 08:25 AM
You pose a very tough question. If we stick with the lesser evil then lacking any competition they will stick it to us. That is what happens when you have no choice. We have seen it already. One can hardly consider the Republican Party a choice if one works for a living and is well informed.

The only thing that I have ever come up with is an anti-incumbency solidarity movement that holds re-election of all politicians at both the state and Federal level hostage until they deliver on ratified constitutional amendments that provide real campaign finance reform, an absolute end to gerrymandering, a ranked/preferential/instant-runoff style replacement for first past the post voting, legislative term limits of reasonably long but well short of lifetime duration, and popular election petition and referendum power to overturn select SCOTUS decisions (notable citizens unite - but who knows what would be next).

Peter K. -> Chris Lowery ... , February 16, 2017 at 08:27 AM
The solution is to have an open and honest debate.

I agree that we shouldn't hold Democrats to impossible standards but we should hold them accountable.

There are too many economists who just give Democrats a pass and don't present an unvarnished history of what happened policy-wise. They spin and present alternative facts.

Look, I voted for Hillary in the general. Sanders campaigned hard for her and he was easy on her during the primary. He didn't go after her e-mails, etc. I think that was the proper approach, even if Hillary supporters treated Bernie unfairly.

Because of 9/11 I think Bush turned out a lot worse than people expected. Still, now with President Trump people look back fondly on Bush.

Chris Lowery -> Peter K.... , February 16, 2017 at 09:23 AM

All good points.

Chris Lowery

RGC -> Chris Lowery ... , February 16, 2017 at 09:22 AM
When the plutocrats found themselves losing the political battle back in the 60s, Lewis Powell suggested a plan of action:

" Businessmen of the World, Unite!

The organizational counterattack of business in the 1970s was swift and sweeping - a domestic version of Shock and Awe. The number of corporations with public affairs offices in Washington grew from 100 in 1968 to over 500 in 1978. In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in Washington, but by 1982, nearly 2,500 did. The number of corporate PACs increased from under 300 in 1976 to over 1,200 by the middle of 1980.[5] On every dimension of corporate political activity, the numbers reveal a dramatic, rapid mobilization of business resources in the mid-1970s.

What the numbers alone cannot show is something of potentially even greater significance: Employers learned how to work together to achieve shared political goals. As members of coalitions, firms could mobilize more proactively and on a much broader front. Corporate leaders became advocates not just for the narrow interests of their firms but also for the shared interests of business as a whole.
.....................
http://billmoyers.com/content/the-powell-memo-a-call-to-arms-for-corporations/
.......................................

Bernie Sanders showed that a populist message could resonate with a yuuuge number of people. And those people would respond via the internet.

Unfortunately the DNC quashed that movement in the primaries and Sanders has not followed through since.

I would guess that Bernies's message is still valid but isn't being broadcast effectively. A focusing organization is needed to marshall the anger and upset among the populace. Our Revolution was supposed to do that but hasn't taken off. An effective focusing organization is needed and progressives need to get behind it.

Chris Lowery -> RGC... , February 16, 2017 at 12:15 PM
People should absolutely read and understand Powell's memo - it's the clear game plan that the pro-business/anti-government crowd has faithfully followed to reverse the progressive tide of the '60's. Where we are now is no accident, nor the result of unintended consequences of policies.

What progressives lack is such a clear strategy - and an organizational framework - for taking back the initiative from these reactionary forces. There are multiple polls and studies that document the fact that the majority of Americans back progressive policies, whether they be progressive taxation, preservation and enhancement of entitlement programs, humane immigration policies, and non-discriminatory employment and law enforcement policies, among others. What progressives generally lack is crisp and coherent messaging that shows their commitment to these policies, demonstrates the right's opposition to them, and doesn't get lost in the minutiae of a plethora of policy proposals.

Sanjait -> Chris Lowery ... , February 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM
Fight it out in the primaries and then quit your bitching in the general.

That is how you will get the best policy outcome you can get.

If Bernie had won the primary and Hillary PUMAs came out in force, they would be as worthy of derision as are the Busters and the cynical More Progressive Than Thous are currently.

Chris Lowery -> Sanjait... , February 16, 2017 at 11:17 AM
Hmmm... I get, and agree with, the recommendation embedded in your first two sentences - though I think the force of the language is a bit over the top. It's a bit naive to expect that people who hold strong opinions will simply fall into line with a choice that they're not necessarily enthusiastic about. This is consistent with the solution suggested by Peter K, and largely consistent I suspect with RC AKA Darryl, Ron's views, as well (if I can speak for both of them).

However, I have no idea what you mean in your last paragraph. If you're suggesting that Bernie backers, as a group, are worthy of derision then I strongly disagree. I was a strong Bernie backer during the primaries, and campaigned and contributed to his effort. Then, when he lost I held my nose and did the same for Hillary. I'm pretty sure a majority of Bernie voters did the same, while acknowledging many did not. However, the evidence supports the view that the DNC skewed the process to favor Hillary - and I think progressives have a legitimate complaint over that. Would Bernie have won in an open, democratically run primary process? We'll never know - and that's the point. What we do know is that a enough otherwise Democratic voters were sufficiently unenthusiastic over the anointed choice to stay home (and enough others voted for the opposition) to allow a disastrously unqualified and deranged individual to win the election. I think those who did will share a major part of the blame for what this will cause; but that certainly doesn't absolve the Democratic leadership for their share of the blame - and since they're supposed to be the "grown ups" in the room, with charged with managing a process to produce a result that best advances the interests and views of Democratic voters, I think they bear the major share of blame...

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris Lowery ... , February 16, 2017 at 02:02 PM
THANKS!

[Feb 16, 2017] Hatchet job ordered by whom? - The New York Times neocons try to destrory Flynn

Notable quotes:
"... The Washington Post is complicit in a treasonous betrayal of trust by unelected, arrogant and truly dangerous intelligence agents. It is long past due to have a TOTAL house cleaning of these agencies with dire penalties imposed on such malevolent enemies of democracy. If that then includes the Post itself, let the Post clean up its act. ..."
"... The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that details the fine and/or imprisonment of unauthorized citizens who negotiate with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. ..."
"... This Russian nonsense is not going to fly. Why should anyone believe a word of this story? So what if Flynn discussed sanctions anyway! Who are these traitors in the State Department, and why are they still on the payroll? The majority of the public is not going to buy this nonsense , you are still in denial that you lost the election. ..."
"... This reminds me of Obama getting caught on a hot mic telling the Russian president, "I'll have more flexibility after the election." Signaling that the hardline against Russia would soften if he won reelection. (Clearly a national security issue.) ..."
"... But of course, it's only when the perpetually-outraged left don't like somebody holding different views than them that it becomes a 'dire constitutional crisis.' ..."
"... This is just another Left wing hit job with no real substance, that elevates innuendo and a passing brushed off question to the level of "negotiation". The article uses the requisite obscure language of "officials" who in turn offer little up. This is politics pure and simple. ..."
Feb 16, 2017 | www.nytimes.com
Note how skillfully NYT presstitutes present Russians as the next incarnation of Satan, contact with which is prohibited for Christians.
Who are those nine officials... Looks like Jeff Bezos is just a puppet. Taking on Flynn is a serious game which is far above his head. I do not remember any fuss over Bill Clinton getting Russian money (really outrageous honorarium for the speech) which if you think about it is even more clear violation of Logan act.
Didn't Obama do a similar thing before running for election?

From the start, Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant general, was a disturbing choice as President Trump's national security adviser. He is a hothead with extremist views in a critical job that is supposed to build consensus through thoughtful, prudent decision-making. The choice is now growing more unnerving every day.

A conspiracy theorist who has stoked dangerous fears about Islam, Mr. Flynn was fired by the Obama administration as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and led anti-Hillary Clinton chants of "lock her up" at the 2016 Republican Convention. He raised eyebrows by cultivating a mystifyingly cozy relationship with Russia, which the Pentagon considers a major threat.

Now we have learned that in the weeks before the inauguration, Mr. Flynn discussed American sanctions on Russia, and areas of possible cooperation, with Moscow's ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak. They spoke a day before President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for hacking the Democrats' computers, probably in an effort to sway the election in Mr. Trump's favor.

Mr. Flynn's underhanded, possibly illegal message was that the Obama administration was Russia's adversary, and that would change under Mr. Trump and that any sanctions could be undone. The result seems to be that Russia decided not to retaliate with its own sanctions.

We know this not from Mr. Flynn or the administration, but from accounts first provided to The Washington Post (aka CIA Pravda) by nine current and former government officials who had access to reports from American intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Bizarrely, Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday afternoon that he was unaware of the Post report, but would "look into that."

jburack, 6:01 AM EST

The Washington Post is complicit in a treasonous betrayal of trust by unelected, arrogant and truly dangerous intelligence agents. It is long past due to have a TOTAL house cleaning of these agencies with dire penalties imposed on such malevolent enemies of democracy. If that then includes the Post itself, let the Post clean up its act.

ausmth, 2/14/2017 8:02 PM EST

Who leaked classified telephone intercepts of a foreign diplomat to the Post? Why isn't that person in jail?

Cecile Pham, 2/14/2017 1:34 PM EST

Flynn would not dare to go ahead with telling Russia not having to worry about sanctions and that the future would be better with Trump without Trump direction.

So Flynn's resignation is just an appeasement. The real story is Trump relationship with Russia.

Mike Mitchell, 8:12 AM EST

As though Flynn is just an idiot who would have never suspected the NSA was listening in on his phone call to ... a Russian Ambassador. Yeah right.

SittingOnThePotty, 2/14/2017 12:29 AM EST

People make reference to the Logan Act and brushing it off as nothing that will be used against Flynn. But the law is on the books, regardless. So I gather now we pick and chose which laws to apply and which not to apply? Am I a bit confused? It was placed as a law for a good reason, just because no one has ever been prosecuted under this law do we dismiss it as "old" and pretend it is not there?

The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that details the fine and/or imprisonment of unauthorized citizens who negotiate with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. It was intended to prevent the undermining of the government's position.[2]

The Act was passed following George Logan's unauthorized negotiations with France in 1798, and was signed into law by President John Adams on January 30, 1799. The Act was last amended in 1994, and violation of the Logan Act is a felony.

To date, only one person has ever been indicted for violating the act's provisions.[2] However, no person has ever been prosecuted for alleged violations of the act.[2]

Joe Smith, 2/13/2017 3:00 PM EST

Yet ANOTHER fake news story based on "anonymous sources". The media is now nothing more than a means for distributing rumors, dressed up to look like "news" by labeling the rumor mongers as "anonymous sources".

Stan Lippmann , 2/13/2017 2:27 PM EST

This Russian nonsense is not going to fly. Why should anyone believe a word of this story? So what if Flynn discussed sanctions anyway! Who are these traitors in the State Department, and why are they still on the payroll? The majority of the public is not going to buy this nonsense , you are still in denial that you lost the election.

moonshadow168, 2/13/2017 5:45 PM EST

Looks like a preemptive set up so that Obama's historic legacy-building tough-guy sanctions, in response to imaginary "election hacking", will not be touched. If anyone dares question Obama's historic legacy-building tough-guy sanctions, in response to imaginary "election hacking", then they must be "in cahoots" with those darn Russians who "hacked the election".

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to do good work for all Americans.

Scott Cog, 2/13/2017 1:30 PM EST

Americans want to know if kickbacks are/were being offered (by Russians) to Flynn and other Trump-team members in positions to push for rollback of trade sanctions against Russia.

moonshadow168, 2/13/2017 1:34 PM EST

"Americans want to know"... you mean like Bill C's "speaking fees" or "donations" (cough-cough) to the family foundation? LOL!

moonshadow168, 2/13/2017 5:52 PM EST [Edited]

Is that an attempt to get Hillary off the hook?

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-...

Sure looks like a distraction!

moonshadow168, 2/13/2017 12:16 PM EST

Funny how the words of anonymous Obama administration "current and former U.S. officials", apparently fellow Hillary supporters, are treated as unbiased, indisputable and fact.

Laugh out loud at this, it is revealing: "Those officials were already alarmed by what they saw as a Russian assault on the U.S. election." Just so so you know what planet they are coming from. Hillary lost. You can't blame it on Russia. Get over it.

In addition to not questioning the words of anonymous Obama administration "current and former U.S. officials" there appears to be obvious discrimination and bias against the Trump administration.

Typhon , 2/13/2017 3:02 AM EST

This is going to turn out to be another nothing-burger. All Trump has to do is wait it out for any proof to come up, and if it is just unsubstantiated rumors, then to just write it off as more fake news by frothy Dems ... Regarding Russian "hacking" the election, all Trump has to do is get Brennan and Clapper on the hot seat, and have them talk for hours and hours about John Podesta's Gmail password. Then ask "What else?" only to find that Big Ed at RT TV is a Russian spy!! And so is Tucker Carlson. And probably Mel Gibson too, leading to the conclusion that the Dems are a bunch of loons. Then ask "Who taught you this?" only to find out that Obama ordered an in-depth sabotage of the incoming administration

wesevans, 2/12/2017 9:33 PM EST

Didn't Obama do a similar thing before running for election?

NVCardinalfan , 2/12/2017 3:22 PM EST

Typical Washington Post, running a story without confirmed sources to back up the story. Just speculation as usual.

clewish09, 2/12/2017 11:42 AM EST

Russia hacked the DNC with Iraq's WMDs...

Tyler.Woods99, 2/11/2017 3:20 PM EST

This reminds me of Obama getting caught on a hot mic telling the Russian president, "I'll have more flexibility after the election." Signaling that the hardline against Russia would soften if he won reelection. (Clearly a national security issue.)

But of course, it's only when the perpetually-outraged left don't like somebody holding different views than them that it becomes a 'dire constitutional crisis.'

JungleTrunks, 2/11/2017 11:17 AM EST

Approach the logic of the accusation in reverse, any Russian official meeting an American official will be pressed to finding an opening to discuss sanctions. Any American official knows a Russian diplomat will bring sanctions up and have a deflection to handle it. This doesn't represent a "discussion" on a diplomatic level.

This is just another Left wing hit job with no real substance, that elevates innuendo and a passing brushed off question to the level of "negotiation". The article uses the requisite obscure language of "officials" who in turn offer little up. This is politics pure and simple.

KingMax, 2/11/2017 11:34 AM EST

He spoke with Kislyak the same day the sanctions were announced and then lied about what was discussed (oh, right, suddenly "couldn't remember" because, you know, it was over a month ago). But good job rationalizing his deceit.

JungleTrunks, 2/11/2017 11:50 AM EST

And yours is the typical cry of left wing malcontents that create as much controversy as you can from what signifies nothing. No reporter ha disclosed what actually was said. It's a virtual certainty that expected overtures were made, and typical brush off language was reciprocated. You know nothing but innuendo backed by a desire of extreme prejudice to prosecute any opportunity to defame anyone in the administration, this much is certain, the only certainty frankly.

[Feb 15, 2017] Its Over Folks The Neocons The Deep State Have Neutered The Trump Presidency

Trump wants to tell Russia to do what? ( https://www.rt.com/usa/377346-spicer-russia-return-crimea/ ) ? To return Crimea? Is this what opposition to neocons means in Trumpspeak ???
Notable quotes:
"... "It's Over Folks" The Neocons & The "Deep State" Have Neutered The Trump Presidency ..."
"... For one thing, Flynn dared the unthinkable: he dared to declare that the bloated US intelligence community had to be reformed. Flynn also tried to subordinate the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to the President via the National Security Council. ..."
"... Put differently, Flynn tried to wrestle the ultimate power and authority from the CIA and the Pentagon and subordinate them back to the White House. ..."
"... Ever since Trump made it to the White House, he has taken blow after blow from the Neocon-run Ziomedia, from Congress, from all the Hollywood doubleplusgoodthinking "stars" and even from European politicians. And Trump took each blow without ever fighting back. Nowhere was his famous "you are fired!" to be seen. But I still had hope. I wanted to hope. I felt that it was my duty to hope. ..."
"... It's over, folks, the deep state has won. From now on, Trump will become the proverbial shabbos-goy , the errand boy of the Israel lobby. Hassan Nasrallah was right when he called him 'an idiot '. ..."
"... The Chinese and Iranian will openly laugh. The Russians won't – they will be polite, they will smile, and try to see if some common sense policies can still be salvaged from this disaster. Some might. But any dream of a partnership between Russia and the United States has died tonight. ..."
"... Trump, for all his faults, did favor the US, as a country, over the global Empire. Trump was also acutely aware that 'more of the same' was not an option. He wanted policies commensurate with the actual capabilities of the USA. With Flynn gone and the Neocons back in full control – this is over. Now we are going to be right back to ideology over reality. ..."
"... I am quite sure that nobody today is celebrating in the Kremlin. Putin, Lavrov and the others surely understand exactly what happened. It is as if Khodorkovsy would have succeeded in breaking Putin in 2003. In fact, I have to credit Russian analysts who for several weeks already have been comparing Trump to Yanukovich, who also was elected by a majority of the people and who failed to show the resolve needed to stop the 'color revolution' started against him. But if Trump is the new Yanukovich, will the US become the next Ukraine? ..."
"... Flynn was very much the cornerstone of the hoped-for Trump foreign policy. There was a real chance that he would reign in the huge, bloated and all-powerful three letter agencies and that he would focus US power against the real enemy of the West: the Wahabis. With Flynn gone, this entire conceptual edifice has now come down. We are going to be left with the likes of Mattis and his anti-Iranian statements. Clowns who only impress other clowns. ..."
Feb 14, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
"It's Over Folks" The Neocons & The "Deep State" Have Neutered The Trump Presidency

Submitted and Authored by The Saker

Less than a month ago I warned that a 'color revolution ' was taking place in the USA . My first element of proof was the so-called "investigation" which the CIA, FBI, NSA and others were conducting against President Trump's candidate to become National Security Advisor, General Flynn. Last night, the plot to get rid of Flynn has finally succeeded and General Flynn had to offer his resignation . Trump accepted it.

Now let's immediately get one thing out of the way: Flynn was hardly a saint or a perfect wise man who would single handedly saved the world. That he was not.

However, what Flynn was is the cornerstone of Trump's national security policy . For one thing, Flynn dared the unthinkable: he dared to declare that the bloated US intelligence community had to be reformed. Flynn also tried to subordinate the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to the President via the National Security Council.

Put differently, Flynn tried to wrestle the ultimate power and authority from the CIA and the Pentagon and subordinate them back to the White House. Flynn also wanted to work with Russia. Not because he was a Russia lover, the notion of a Director of the DIA as a Putin-fan is ridiculous, but Flynn was rational, he understood that Russia was no threat to the USA or to Europe and that Russia had the West had common interests. That is another absolutely unforgivable crimethink in Washington DC.

The Neocon run 'deep state' has now forced Flynn to resign under the idiotic pretext that he had a telephone conversation, on an open, insecure and clearly monitored, line with the Russian ambassador.

And Trump accepted this resignation.

Ever since Trump made it to the White House, he has taken blow after blow from the Neocon-run Ziomedia, from Congress, from all the Hollywood doubleplusgoodthinking "stars" and even from European politicians. And Trump took each blow without ever fighting back. Nowhere was his famous "you are fired!" to be seen. But I still had hope. I wanted to hope. I felt that it was my duty to hope.

But now Trump has betrayed us all.

Remember how Obama showed his true face when he hypocritically denounced his friend and pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. ? Today, Trump has shown us his true face. Instead of refusing Flynn's resignation and instead of firing those who dared cook up these ridiculous accusations against Flynn, Trump accepted the resignation. This is not only an act of abject cowardice, it is also an amazingly stupid and self-defeating betrayal because now Trump will be alone, completely alone, facing the likes of Mattis and Pence – hard Cold Warrior types, ideological to the core, folks who want war and simply don't care about reality.

Again, Flynn was not my hero. But he was, by all accounts, Trump's hero. And Trump betrayed him.

The consequences of this will be immense. For one thing, Trump is now clearly broken. It took the 'deep state' only weeks to castrate Trump and to make him bow to the powers that be . Those who would have stood behind Trump will now feel that he will not stand behind them and they will all move back away from him. The Neocons will feel elated by the elimination of their worst enemy and emboldened by this victory they will push on, doubling-down over and over and over again.

It's over, folks, the deep state has won. From now on, Trump will become the proverbial shabbos-goy , the errand boy of the Israel lobby. Hassan Nasrallah was right when he called him 'an idiot '.

The Chinese and Iranian will openly laugh. The Russians won't – they will be polite, they will smile, and try to see if some common sense policies can still be salvaged from this disaster. Some might. But any dream of a partnership between Russia and the United States has died tonight.

The EU leaders will, of course, celebrate. Trump was nowhere the scary bogeyman they feared. Turns out that he is a doormat – very good for the EU.

Where does all this leave us – the millions of anonymous 'deplorables' who try as best we can to resist imperialism, war, violence and injustice?

I think that we were right in our hopes because that is all we had – hopes. No expectations, just hopes. But now we objectively have very little reasons left to hope. For one thing, the Washington 'swamp' will not be drained. If anything, the swamp has triumphed. We can only find some degree of solace in two undeniable facts:

  1. Hillary would have been far worse than any version of a Trump Presidency.
  2. In order to defeat Trump, the US deep state has had to terribly weaken the US and the AngloZionist Empire. Just like Erdogan' purges have left the Turkish military in shambles, the anti-Trump 'color revolution' has inflicted terrible damage on the reputation, authority and even credibility of the USA.

The first one is obvious. So let me clarify the second one. In their hate-filled rage against Trump and the American people (aka "the basket of deplorables") the Neocons have had to show they true face. By their rejection of the outcome of the elections, by their riots, their demonization of Trump, the Neocons have shown two crucial things: first, that the US democracy is a sad joke and that they, the Neocons, are an occupation regime which rules against the will of the American people. In other words, just like Israel, the USA has no legitimacy left. And since, just like Israel, the USA are unable to frighten their enemies, they are basically left with nothing, no legitimacy, no ability to coerce. So yes, the Neocons have won. But their victory is removes the last chance for the US to avoid a collapse.

Trump, for all his faults, did favor the US, as a country, over the global Empire. Trump was also acutely aware that 'more of the same' was not an option. He wanted policies commensurate with the actual capabilities of the USA. With Flynn gone and the Neocons back in full control – this is over. Now we are going to be right back to ideology over reality.

Trump probably could have made America, well, maybe not "great again", but at least stronger, a major world power which could negotiate and use its leverage to get the best deal possible from the others. That's over now. With Trump broken, Russia and China will go right back to their pre-Trump stance: a firm resistance backed by a willingness and capability to confront and defeat the USA at any level.

I am quite sure that nobody today is celebrating in the Kremlin. Putin, Lavrov and the others surely understand exactly what happened. It is as if Khodorkovsy would have succeeded in breaking Putin in 2003. In fact, I have to credit Russian analysts who for several weeks already have been comparing Trump to Yanukovich, who also was elected by a majority of the people and who failed to show the resolve needed to stop the 'color revolution' started against him. But if Trump is the new Yanukovich, will the US become the next Ukraine?

Flynn was very much the cornerstone of the hoped-for Trump foreign policy. There was a real chance that he would reign in the huge, bloated and all-powerful three letter agencies and that he would focus US power against the real enemy of the West: the Wahabis. With Flynn gone, this entire conceptual edifice has now come down. We are going to be left with the likes of Mattis and his anti-Iranian statements. Clowns who only impress other clowns.

Today's Neocon victory is a huge event and it will probably be completely misrepresented by the official media. Ironically, Trump supporters will also try minimize it all. But the reality is that barring a most unlikely last-minute miracle, it's over for Trump and the hopes of millions of people in the USA and the rest of the world who had hoped that the Neocons could be booted out of power by means of a peaceful election. That is clearly not going to happen.

I see very dark clouds on the horizon.

* * *

  • UPDATE1 : Just to stress an important point: the disaster is not so much that Flynn is out but what Trump's caving in to the Neocon tells us about Trump's character (or lack thereof). Ask yourself – after what happened to Flynn, would you stick your neck out for Trump?
  • UPDATE2 : Just as predicted – the Neocons are celebrating and, of course, doubling-down:
  • Son of Captain Nemo , Feb 14, 2017 10:12 PM

    Trump wants to tell Russia to do what? ( https://www.rt.com/usa/377346-spicer-russia-return-crimea/ )

    Here is the REAL United States of America President ( https://www.israelrising.com/bibi-netanyahu-president-trump-see-eye-eye-... ) Booby!!!

    Smell the fetid gas coming out of this "Gluteal Cleft with horns" that owns the U.S. military!

    [Feb 15, 2017] Google, Youtube and net neutarality

    Feb 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Eureka Springs , February 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Net neutrality has always been confined to the narrowest of meanings to a point of being self-defeating by simply self-kettling ourselves into such limited fights/expectations. I know you coastal and big city elites (that's half snark) will never understand much more empathize or rally with us flyover deplorables who are limited to 10 gigs a month no matter what provider we use, no matter how much we pay. I recently read that most homes with fiber now utilize over a thousand gigs a month that one HD movie can be much more bandwidth than my entire monthly 70 bucks can buy.

    Over twenty years ago the entire U.S. should have established high speed affordable unlimited fiber to every home on the grid and that's where the argument should be today. It covers the neutrality issue and so, so very much more. And it is far more inclusive of many more people who would benefit in so many ways. It's way past time to remove the internet highway system. Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin.

    So yes, point out the most egregious hypocrites in the misleadership class, but don't let them all win by keeping us divided and losing within the extremely limited confines of their argument.

    oh , February 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Among the many promises that Barry broke was the one to provide hi speed internet. One grifter follows another!
    We the people need to set some discrete goals and protest. Calling or writing to the Congress critters will not work. We need to storm their office on behalf each issue.

    Sally , February 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    "Separate the content providers, the monitors, data mining, from the public highway system itself. That's where the beginning of neutrality should begin."

    That is the key point.

    Trump would be an idiot if he allowed the likes of Google/UTube, Facebook, big tech boys to be able to start rigging the content because his campaign relied hugely on the Internet. A lot of his support by-passed the traditional TV/Newspaper media. I heard that Twitter are apparantly using ways and means to make his Twitter acccount only see hostile responses for the first 100 or so responses. Have no idea if that's true but some of these firms are getting very close to utility status.

    Anti trust laws should be wheeled out. They are already on the books.

    likbez , February 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Companies such as Netflix are essentially subsidized by telecom providers. So this is a model that somewhat reminds me of Uber.

    The same is true for Google (especially YouTube part of it) and Facebook. When somebody tries to download 4.7Gb movie that affects other people on the same subnet,

    On the other hand if, for example, popular blogs are forced to pay per gigabyte of consumed bandwidth, that is as close to censorship as we can get. 1000 gigabytes per month that is consumed by a medium site even at $1 per gigabyte is $1000 per month rent. And guess who will be able to afford it.

    There are a lot complex nuances here. For example, everybody who use wireless at home are not in the same group as who are using landlines (fiber or cable) even if they live in metropolitan areas. They are closer to flyover country residents.

    Also as soon as something is not metered some sophisticated forms of abuse emerge. For example, some corporations are abusing public networks by switching to "home office" model which dramatically cuts the required office and parking space. Several corporations built their new headquarters with the assumption that only half of employees are present at any given day (so called hotel model). When employees view some clueless corporate video conference via VPN that affects their neighborhood the same way as heavy Netflix users. Excessive WebEx videoconferences have a similar effect.

    Quanka , February 15, 2017 at 8:08 am

    +1 to Eureka Springs.

    Go back to Bill Clinton's administration when Verizon was a fledgling company and the government gave massive subsidies to the Telecoms to do exactly what Eureka Springs notes: bring fast, reliable internet service across the country. Fast forward to today - those companies took all the subsidies, didn't build out shit for network capacity, and now spend all their money lobbying to give themselves more power and limit net neutrality.

    If there were a microcosm for this whole problem, this is it. Dems give big subsidies to corporate players, dont track the work/take for granted that they "did something" and then get caught flat footed. Now we are all left to battle it out for the scraps. Exactly where we were 20 years ago.

    Watching the Oroville Dam, juxtaposing with all this "infrastructure spending" talk - everyone should be weary b/c we've been here before with Telecoms.

    cocomaan , February 15, 2017 at 9:12 am

    +1 to both of you!

    It reminds me of the land grant system that enabled the railroad industry to thrive.

    Guess what happened to Southern Pacific Railroad Company, who benefited greatly from this government intervention? Later, they turned into Sprint ( S outhern P acific R ailroad I nternal N etworking T elephony)!

    Scott , February 15, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I really wish I could get more worked up about Net Neutrality, but I can't. I'm deeply concerned about the high prices and lack of availability in much of the country, but I find that much of the debate boils down to conflict between Silicon Valley and the Telcos about who controls the internet. Content providers (Facebook, Google, Netflix) want to use the network effects to manipulate public opinion in their favored version of Net Neutrality, which seems to involve universal unmetered broadband, which ISPs must build out to meet demand, shifting costs from the providers to the ISPs, while profits go the other way. Meanwhile the ISPs do the tricks described in the post and overchange customers for poor service. I have little sympathy for either group.

    My general belief is that broadband should be cheap, universal, regulated, and, yes, metered. The latter would encourage high volume users and content providers to change their behavior and technology to use bandwidth more efficiently, which would reduce the size of the infrastructure needed over the long-term. I would also include search neutrality at the same time, but for some reason that doesn't have the same level of support among the technology industry.

    [Feb 15, 2017] Americans arent as attached to democracy as you might think

    Notable quotes:
    "... Statistics can be made to slant any way you intend. ..."
    "... Stupid survey leads to dumber article and fucking ridiculous headline. Standard Guardian opinion I guess. ..."
    "... Seriously can you perhaps stop being so clickbaity? I've already lost the Independent because it went full on lefty Buzzfeed listical "you won't believe what they did to Trump when the lights went out". Don't follow them downwards. ..."
    "... On both side of the Atlantic, we don't have a 'democracy', we have an elected monarchy. The trouble is, this monarchy gets itself elected on the basis of lies, money and suppression. For a few brief years after WWII, there was an attempt to hold executives to account, but neoliberals put paid to all that. Nowadays, it's just as if nothing had changed since Henry VIII's time. ..."
    "... What we gave the ordinary Russian was neo-liberalism and they got screwed by it. Capitalisms greatest trick was to convince the many that it & democracy are the same thing. When actually, on many levels, they are totally at odds with each other. ..."
    Feb 15, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
    Statistics can be made to slant any way you intend. Essentially can be be used as another form of lie and propganada

    Lawrence Douglas

    But, the result changed when the data were narrowed to those who identified themselves as Trump supporters: 51% agreed that Trump should be able to overturn court decisions. 33% disagreed. 16% were not sure.

    It is tempting to attribute this difference between Trump supporters and others simply to the fact that the president's supporters prefer a more authoritarian style of government, prioritize social order, like strong rulers, and worry about maintaining control in a world they perceive to be filled with threats and on the verge of chaos.


    As the PPP's survey reveals, Trump is appealing to a remarkably receptive audience in his attempts to rule by decree – and many are no longer attached to the rule of law and/or democracy. Other studies confirm these findings. One such study found a dramatic decline in the percentage of people who say it is "essential" to live in a democracy.

    When asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how "essential" it is for them "to live in a democracy," 72% of Americans born before World War II check "10," the highest value. But, the millennial generation (those born since 1980) "has grown much more indifferent." Less than 1 in 3 hold a similar belief about the importance of democracy.

    And, the New York Times reports that while 43% of older Americans thought it would be illegitimate for the military to take power if civilian government was incompetent, only 19% of millennials agreed.

    While millennials may be politically liberal in their policy preferences, they have come of age in a time of political paralysis in democratic institutions, declining civility in democratic dialogue, and dramatically increased anxiety about economic security.

    These findings suggest that we can no longer take for granted that our fellow citizens will stand up for the rule of law and democracy. That's why, while President Trump's behavior has riveted the media and the public, our eyes should not only be focused on him but on this larger – and troubling - trend.

    If the rule of law and democracy are to survive in America we will need to address the decline in the public's understanding of, and support for both. While we celebrate the Ninth Circuit's decision on Trump's ban, we also must initiate a national conversation about democracy and the rule of law. Civics education, long derided, needs to be revived.

    Schools, civic groups, and the media must to go back to fundamentals and explain what basic American political values entail and why they are desirable. Defenders of democracy and the rule of law must take their case to the American people and remind them of the Founders' admonition that: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

    We need to remember that our freedom from an arbitrary or intrusive government depends on the rule of law and a functioning democracy. We need to rehabilitate both – before this crisis of faith worsens.

    Austin Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College

    , greatapedescendant , 11 Feb 2017 11:29

    "There is much to celebrate in the court decision against President Trump's immigration ban. It was a stirring victory for the rule of law and reaffirmation of the independence of the judiciary."

    A stirring victory of the rule of law? Hardly. More like an extraordinary act of politicised justice. And an orchestrated one at that. In my opinion that is, and as I see it at this point in time and from what I am able to discern.

    No. I do not see not see any stirring victories for the rule of law here here. Certainly no courage of truth or justice. Nor, as it happens, do I like this travel ban. Nevertheless, the court's ruling seems to me to be wrong since the constitution gives the president the power to enforce blanket bans against countries believed to pose a threat.

    I cannot see how the ban could justifiably be said to be aimed specifically at Muslims since it does not concern some 90 percent of the world's Muslim population. So it looks very much like a political decision from the 9th Circuit Court – and now San Francisco - in a tug of war between Democrats and Republicans.

    I am somehow reminded of the final "Yes we can" in Obama's farewell speech and of a sore loser – the vindictive Mrs Clinton. Some smooth transfer of power.

    The very fact that expert analysts are already sizing up what will be the Supreme Court's decision in terms of breaking the stalemate between 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats provides a perfect illustration of the politicisation of the judiciary at the highest level. Compatibly with this, Democrats are continuing to block Gorsuch's nomination.

    And compatibly with this the illusion of salutary Rawlsian** apolitical amnesiacs on the part of the judiciary disperses like Scotch mist.

    Somehow I have a clear mental picture of a newspaper editor, no one in particular, sitting back in his chair with a smug smile 'Look how we managed to swing that one', I hear him say. The principal protagonists here, overshadowing the US lawcourts, are the mainstream media. A power never to be underestimated, especially when the choir is singing in full maledictory and mephitic unison.

    **The reference is to A Theory of Justice, the monumental work on philosophy of law by John Rawls. It casts damning light on judicial impartiality by focusing on distorting criteria affecting juries. Worth reading in the context of attacks on the impartiality of the judiciary in US lawcourts taking place right now. And also in the wake of recent attacks on the judiciary in Britain over Brexit.

    , sam0412 imperium3 , 11 Feb 2017 11:53
    This,

    Interesting that Clinton's 52% is regarded as a God-given mandate where as the 52% for Leave is unfair as the voters were "too old/uneducated/outside London"

    In both campaigns if more people my age (26) had actually bothered to vote then the results would probably be very different.

    , Bluthner , 11 Feb 2017 11:34

    Only 53% of those surveyed said that they "trust judges more than President Trump to make the right decisions for the United States."

    But that is an utterly assinine question to ask anyone!

    "Making decisions for the United States" suggests setting policy. The judges Trump is so angry with aren't making policy decisions, they are interpreting the laws that already exist.

    Laws without and independent judiciary are not laws at all, they are just whims of whoever or whatever is in power. Might as well ask people do you prefer to live in a country that follows its laws or do you want to live at the whim of an irrational despot with irresponsible power who can do whatever the hell he pleases.

    This survey is clearly a case of garbage in garbage out. Which is a pity, because the subject is an important one.

    , LithophaneFurcifera Bluthner , 11 Feb 2017 12:03
    In a common law system, like those of Britain and the US, judges do make law. If there is no relevant legislation and no precedent, the judge is required to make new law in order to rule on the case, which will then be cited as precedent by future courts. In a civil law system, like those of continental Europe, judges merely interpret (and generalise, where necessary) the rules set out in statutes and codes, and have less scope to innovate.

    Of course, the recent case over Trump's immigration plans has been based on interpretations of the constitution though, but even interpretations are political (hence why the balance of power between liberals and conservatives on the Supreme Court is considered such a big issue).

    , Veryumble , 11 Feb 2017 11:35
    After nearly 40 years of corporate, lobbyist controlled politics, it's little surprise the younger generation have no faith in democracy. What on earth is the point in voting for two shades of the same shit?
    , YoungMrP , 11 Feb 2017 11:36
    You could argue that the US has never been a democracy. It is a strange democracy that allowed slavery, or the later segregation in the south, or that has systematically overlooked the rust belt taking all the gold for the liberal coasts.

    It seems democracy is simply a way of deciding who the dictator should be. Not unlike the U.K. Either.

    , YoungMrP therebythegrace , 11 Feb 2017 14:15
    If you were black in Alabama in the early 60s I don't think you would have enjoyed any more freedom, respect or control than your Russian counterpart at that time
    , jan oskar Hansen , 11 Feb 2017 11:38
    democracy is, of course, the best form of governance but in practice we see it benefit the wealthy who unhindered can rob
    the poor, only a socialist government can
    usher in a true government to do so it may
    be needed to have an authoritarian regime
    , Cape7441 jan oskar Hansen , 11 Feb 2017 11:55
    True socialism is a form of government which sounds wonderful in theory. In practice it has never successfully worked anywhere in the world. It does not take account of human nature.
    , Captain_Smartypants jan oskar Hansen , 11 Feb 2017 12:00
    Sorry but in the authoritarian nominatively socialist governments of the past the poor were as robbed off the fruit of their labour and their dignity as they are today.
    , BonzoFerret , 11 Feb 2017 11:39
    It's effectively a FPTP system that means you have a choice from only two parties. Even if someone could challenge they'd need to be a billionaire to do so. America is no democracy.
    , Andy Wong Ming Jun therebythegrace , 11 Feb 2017 14:22
    Germany under Adolf Hitler before he started WWII was not a zillion times worse than any of the contemporary powers in Western Europe. Neither was Franco's Spain. Looking in other areas of the globe and further away from the West, what about South Korea under Park Chung Hee? Would you call his dictatorship bad when he brought South Korea up to become one of the Asian 5 Tigers?
    , therebythegrace Andy Wong Ming Jun , 11 Feb 2017 15:14

    Germany under Adolf Hitler before he started WWII was not a zillion times worse than any of the contemporary powers in Western Europe

    Is that supposed to be a joke? If so, it's in very poor taste.

    My parents grew up in Nazi Germany. Yes, it was a zillion times worse. Political opponents were routinely murdered. There was no rule of law. Minorities, gay people etc were imprisoned, tortured, murdered, expelled.

    WTF are on you on about?

    , Metreemewall Andy Wong Ming Jun , 11 Feb 2017 15:50
    Clueless.

    Germany was broke, following their defeat in WWI; people were poor, humiliated,insecure and frightened for the future. In other words, the classic breeding ground for demagogues and extremists.

    After WWII, the Allies had learned their lesson and made sure that Germany should, for everyone's security, be helped to prosper.

    , Wehadonebutitbroke Andy Wong Ming Jun , 11 Feb 2017 16:05
    what about South Korea under Park Chung Hee? Would you call his dictatorship bad when he brought South Korea up to become one of the Asian 5 Tigers?

    The Friemanite right adored him and many of his equally repressive and dictatorial successors (just as they did Pinochet, Suharto (deemed by Transparency International to be the most corrupt leader in modern history to boot) and endless South American juntas etc).

    Every one else saw him for what he was - an authoritarian who had political opponents tortured and killed and who banned any form of protest.

    , John Favre praxismakesperfec , 11 Feb 2017 16:11

    And is it particularly surprising that Trump voters tend towards anti democratic authoritarianism?

    My dad and two of my brothers voted for Trump. Like most Americans, they detest authoritarian governments. I sincerely doubt you know any Trump voters - let alone ones who favor authoritarianism.

    , fauteuilpolitique , 11 Feb 2017 11:42
    How to misdirect readers with a BUT :

    In a cross-section of Americans, only 53% of those surveyed said that they "trust judges more than President Trump to make the right decisions for the United States." 38% said they trusted Donald Trump more than our country's judges, and 9% were undecided.

    But , the result changed when the data were narrowed to those who identified themselves as Trump supporters: 51% agreed that Trump should be able to overturn court decisions. 33% disagreed. 16% were not sure.

    The results are significantly the same, the But implies something different.

    , Paul B tenthenemy , 11 Feb 2017 13:32
    besides, the results are *not* significantly the same. Fauteuil's first sentence suggests that 53% (more than a Brexit majority, hence Will of the People) of Americans support the judiciary over the presidency. In contrast, a majority of Trump supporters, not unnaturally, take the opposite view.
    , sewollef , 11 Feb 2017 11:45
    Statistics can be made to slant any way you intend.

    So let's break this down: 51% of Trump supporters think he can do what he pleases. 51% means one quarter of those who voted in the US general election.

    If we estimate that only two-thirds of the electorate voted, that means in reality, probably less than 16% of total potential voters think this way.

    Not so dramatic now is it?

    , bananacannon , 11 Feb 2017 11:45
    Stupid survey leads to dumber article and fucking ridiculous headline. Standard Guardian opinion I guess.

    Seriously can you perhaps stop being so clickbaity? I've already lost the Independent because it went full on lefty Buzzfeed listical "you won't believe what they did to Trump when the lights went out". Don't follow them downwards.

    , Jympton , 11 Feb 2017 11:45
    On both side of the Atlantic, we don't have a 'democracy', we have an elected monarchy. The trouble is, this monarchy gets itself elected on the basis of lies, money and suppression. For a few brief years after WWII, there was an attempt to hold executives to account, but neoliberals put paid to all that. Nowadays, it's just as if nothing had changed since Henry VIII's time.
    , therebythegrace , 11 Feb 2017 11:46
    Sad that a new, stupid generation have to learn the truth of Churchill's dictum that 'Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others'.

    Sincerely hope for all of us that they don't have to learn this the hard way.

    I say this speaking as someone whose parents fled Nazi Germany, and who also spent time with relatives in the former East Germany prior to the wall coming down. Life under a dictatorship, whether of the right or left, is no picnic.

    , wikiwakiwik olderiamthelessiknow , 11 Feb 2017 12:32
    'Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others'.

    But is it democracy's fault when the option as to which kind of government we can choose is so narrow? Scary as it may sound, I think that the majority of young people would swap democracy just for some stability & safety. But what they fail to realize is that it's not democracy that's at the fault - but our form of capitalism. Look what happened in Russian when the wall came down & the free market rushed in & totally screwed over the ordinary Russian. Putin was, to some extent, a reaction to this. His strong man image was something they thought would help them. What we gave the ordinary Russian was neo-liberalism and they got screwed by it. Capitalisms greatest trick was to convince the many that it & democracy are the same thing. When actually, on many levels, they are totally at odds with each other.

    , NadaZero , 11 Feb 2017 11:47
    "Democracy is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted." --Walt Whitman
    , EpicHawk , 11 Feb 2017 11:47
    Laws aren't final, they evolve with the needs of society. While I support this decidion I find all of this a bit silly and typical of that strange world.. "this is the law, therefor blabla.." I don't get why people even decide to study it in university. Most law students are like : "Yeah I don't know what to pick. Lets do Law, it'll give me a good job". Empty stuff really..
    , Brexit_to_Democracy , 11 Feb 2017 11:47
    Can someone please explain how the court has over ruled the executive order? From what I understand it's because it would harm some Americans - but does that mean using the same logic courts can undo tax increases, spending cuts, changes in abortion law? Or if the travel ban was instead passed by congress it would then be beyond the remit of judges?
    , Brexit_to_Democracy Brexit_to_Democracy , 11 Feb 2017 11:51
    And guns!! Surely judges could determine the second amendment can lead to a lot of harm?!
    , referendum Brexit_to_Democracy , 11 Feb 2017 12:21
    One example given was schools. Banning students from state universities, or professors, by preventing them from entering the country, was damaging to the schools capacity to earn money ( in tuition fees) and provide state education. Then there was the example of forcibly separating families.

    But this part of the ruling does not exist on it's own, it goes together with another part of the ruling, which was that there was no good reason for this action, since the Government had failed to provide that any person from any of these countries was a threat - which was the reason given in the executive order. For this and other reasons the Executive order was deemed to be not legally enforceable.

    Another problem is that this was an executive order, just a piece of paper signed by Trump, and the President does not have sole authority to make laws, there is also the judiciary and legislative branches - the courts and congress. If the travel ban had been passed by congress then the courts would probably have not been able to overturn it. In this game of stone scissors paper, the executive doesn't beat the other two - it needs one of them to rubber-stamp the decision if challenged. The argument that a presidential order should be all powerful and must be obeyed regardless of whether it was legal or not, was deemed by the judges to be anti constutional and thrown out of court.

    The other examples you give of tax increases or spending cuts or abortion might indeed cause harm, but providing they are not anti-constitutional, and they get through congress, and are not illegal, the harm wouldn't be taken into account.

    , Treflesg , 11 Feb 2017 11:48
    I would not have voted for Trump. I would not have voted for quite a few American Presidents before him either.
    But the hyperbole about Trump is being overdone.
    The USA is one of the oldest democracies on earth, and, one of only ten nations that have lasted as democracies for more than a century.
    By overstating Trump's impact, you are not helping.
    , mondopinion Treflesg , 11 Feb 2017 12:12
    It is actually a kind of hysteria. I remember Senator McCarthy's communist hysteria, and also the marijuana hysteria which swept through schools when I was a child in the 1950s.
    , Tongariro1 , 11 Feb 2017 11:48
    I'm a little surprised that there seems to be less debate in the USA about the electoral college for the presidency than I thought likely. Of course, the electoral college is a completely redundant if it never leads to a different result from a straightforward popular vote. As I understand it, the electoral college is designed to ensure that smaller states have a voice greater than their population size alone would deliver.

    But in a nationwide poll, on a binary issue, such as the election of the president or Brexit, I would have thought that each vote should count equally. SNP supporters might differ in this view, as would presumably US Democratic Party supporters.

    , unclestinky , 11 Feb 2017 11:48
    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.- H. L. Mencken.

    Working so far.

    , MightyBuccaneer , 11 Feb 2017 11:49

    Public support for the rule of law and democracy can no longer be taken for granted.


    "no longer"?

    There was a mysterious absence of support for the rule of law when Obama used drones to extrajudicially assassinate American citizens.

    , MightyBuccaneer , 11 Feb 2017 11:51

    Only 53% of those surveyed said that they "trust judges more than President Trump to make the right decisions for the United States." In this cross-section of Americans, 38% said they trusted Donald Trump more than our country's judges. 9% were undecided.

    This means absolutely nothing regarding whether people support democracy and the rule of law.

    Were the results about Obama, the very same result would probably be interpreted as racism by the liberal media.

    , innnn , 11 Feb 2017 11:51
    Another poll from Public Polling Policy says that by a margin of 51/23 Trump supporters agree that the Bowling Green massacre shows that Trump's travel ban is a good idea.

    That's shows what you're up against and also why both Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer 'misspeak' so often.

    , cidcid , 11 Feb 2017 11:51

    A new national survey suggests that we can no longer take for granted that our fellow citizens will stand up for the rule of law and democracy

    Dear Austin, let me educate you a bit about the basics. The rule of law and democracy cannot both exist simultaneously in one society. The former has never been an American tradition. Read Tocqueville.

    The rule of law is characteristic of a totalitarian state where it is enforced by civil servant. The basic principle of such a state were described by Shang Yang 2400 years ago: a civil servant obeys the law, regardless of the will of his superior. Everyone obeys the law from top to bottom.

    In democracy people are judged by courts of jury. Which rule as they like, representing the public opinion, not the written law. Constitution doesn't exist either. Teddy Roosevelt explained when asked if his orders are constitutional: "The constitution was created for the people, not the people for the constitution".

    One nice example: the famous "Affirmative Action". It is obviously inconsistent with the most basic constitutional principle, that people are born equal. But it existed because the public didn't mind.

    , MathiasWeitz , 11 Feb 2017 11:52
    It makes me really wonder if americans (and other nations) are feeling something like a 'weimar' moment, when the germans in 1933 lost trust in their very young democracy after living for years under economic hardship and political pariah.
    There is so much that resembles the nazi-era, this xenophobia, that started with a slow decay of civil rights, the erosion of check and balances without the need to change the constitution.
    When we are heading for the similar kind of fascism like germany eighty years ago, at what point people should be held responsible for making a stand ?
    , MightyBuccaneer , 11 Feb 2017 11:54

    Schools, civic groups, and the media must to go back to fundamentals and explain what basic American political values entail and why they are desirable.

    Agreed. Special emphasis should be placed on accepting the results of elections, there appears to have been a recent surge in undemocratic sentiment on that front.

    , MrHubris MightyBuccaneer , 11 Feb 2017 11:57
    How about special emphasis on debunking lies from people like the cowardly, liar Trump? Share Facebook Twitter
    , therebythegrace MightyBuccaneer , 11 Feb 2017 12:48
    Are you confusing "accepting the results of elections' with 'denying people the right to peacefully protest'?

    If so, I think you are the one who could do with going back to the fundamentals and learning about what democracy entails.

    Share Facebook Twitter
    , eltonbraces MrHubris , 11 Feb 2017 12:50
    Perhaps sweet, caring, sharing Hillary could visit and put them straight.
    , CortoL , 11 Feb 2017 11:54
    Democracy? What democracy? Share Facebook Twitter
    , Streona25 , 11 Feb 2017 11:55
    Can you have a democratic plutocracy?
    , michaelmichael , 11 Feb 2017 11:56
    "Americans aren't as attached to democracy as you might think"

    you only just realised?? Wow

    'Democracy' is just a handy label for when the US wants to bomb another sovereign state

    , ErikFBerger , 11 Feb 2017 11:56
    "... trust judges more than President Trump to make the right decisions for the United States."

    This question is badly worded. It is not judges role to lead the country. The question should have been:

    "Should judges uphold the law to the best of their understanding, even if that means nullifying an order by president Trump?"

    , UnashamedPedant , 11 Feb 2017 11:59
    That link to the Federalist of 1788 on Checks & Balances is wrong. Here is the correct version:
    http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa51.htm
    , ayupmeduck2 , 11 Feb 2017 11:59
    I suspect that it's a change in what the word democracy means to people. Even the older generation are starting to understand that the 'democracies' that we live under in the western world are horribly distorted. Big corporations, even foreign ones, have far more access to the elected executive than the actual voters. Governments dance to the tune of powerful media. Votes don't often count for much at all.

    With this background it's no wonder that the Brexit voters feel drunk with power. For once they voted on something and believe that they will get exactly what they voted for. The final irony is that for most of them they don't realise that they were turkeys voting for Christmas. Brexit could have possibly bought them some benefits, but the Tories seem determined to deny them even that. Once the realise they have been swindled, what then for democracy?

    , sd0001 ayupmeduck2 , 11 Feb 2017 13:31
    People have lost faith in democracy, politics, the judicial system and, yes, economics.

    Voting to remain in the EU, is a vote for the status quo...if you're lucky. They want more government, not less. It is not a 20-50 year project. It is forever, and they will not stay still. It will evolve, and not regress politically.

    The UK government will have to change, and they have the chance. They may not succeed, but I believe they will try, and the pressure from the people will be more direct.

    The EU don't want to change. If it was an economic union and not a political one, then it would be a great organisation.

    Forget the garbage about wars and instability. That comes from economic success, with NATO providing any security until that comes to fruition to the developing countries.

    , FCBarca , 11 Feb 2017 12:00
    No surveys needed to arrive at these conclusions I am afraid, apathy and mistrust of govt has been eroding for decades. US government is a cesspool of corruption and in no small way is aided by the fact that its citizens have given tacit approval for the erosion of their own civil liberties and rights while celebrating the war machine that has increasingly rolled on for more than 3 decades

    The abyss looming for the US, and by extension the world, can be traced back to a populace that abandoned democracy and freely gifted the cronies the mandate to accelerate the erosion.

    Solution? Kill apathy and not only get back involved but remain vigilant to preserve checks & balances

    , Knapping , 11 Feb 2017 12:00
    Forty years ago, democracy was more or less synonymous with prosperity. Given it's now wider spread to many poorer states across the world, as well as the incredible increase in the standard of living in non-democratic countries, principally China, this is no longer the case. I suspect we have not made the case for democracy as an end in itself, nor as a route to distributing prosperity more widely, or as a corollary of 'The Free Market'.
    , J092939 Knapping , 11 Feb 2017 12:13
    This (democracy relates to prosperity) is insightful. Will we all be able to operate democratically when climate issues and exhaustion of resources vs. population force us to manage the decline?
    , timiengels , 11 Feb 2017 12:02
    A thought provoking article. Like many things it comes down to terminology .what, for example is democracy? Are the US or UK systems really democracies when it is clear that laws are enacted in the interests of a narrow group of citizens and corporations who have the power to lobby, especially in the US where bribery has been legalized with respect to lobbying.

    Beyond this, look at US attempts to come up with some sort of climate change plan. All of these flounder on the twin rocks of democracy with its lobbying (we'll never get voted in again) or economic cost to the tax payer (we'll get voted out next time).

    Democracy is always presented in our schools, TVs, books and newspapers as a universal good, when in reality there are good democracies and bad democracies with the US and UK versions actually being on the bad side what with an unelected second chamber of grandees in the UK and the US in a state of perpetual wars of choice.

    Countries are what they do. The US starts wars. The UK follows the US into wars. Most countries whether democratic or not, don't start many wars (Germany hasn't started too many wars since 1939). Many countries that don't start wars are actually controlled by non democratic governments or military juntas .and personally I would prefer non democracies that don't start wars. It's not a difficult concept to grasp.

    The main problems with all forms of government is abuse of power and it goes on in democracies as much as any other type of government. Look at Tony Blair astride the globe hoover-ing up millions instead of being sitting next the Bush in a 6X8 feet cell. When Britain and America fell asleep and accepted total state surveillance as the price they had to pay to stop a handful of terrorist deaths each year, they set themselves up for this power to be abused in the future and badly abused.
    What's the answer? Really it begins at home with lessons in honesty, modesty, selflessness and the like. The reality and the kids are plonked down in front of the TV watching the avarice of the Kardashians there is little hope.

    , uuuuuuu , 11 Feb 2017 12:02
    After the horrors of WWII most people in the developed world understood both, the dangers and merits of democracy. In fact there is a conventional wisdom that it is totalitarian regimes which start wars, never democracies. By and large that may be true, but I don't think it is true in every instance.

    But the major motivation for people is to press their own advantage, even it is to the detriment of somebody else. Even if it is quite evident that it is to the fatal detriment of somebody else. I guess religion describes this as our original sin. If that goal of personal advantage is better secured by a dictatorship then people (e.g. in 1930s Germany) will support that. Democracy is not a value in itself for the majority, but just a means to an end. After all, I suspect many would prefer to be rich in a totalitarian state, rather than poor in a democracy (especially those people who have never lived under a totalitarian regime).

    What people like Trump do is to legitimise this drive/desire/greed as something positive (greed is good, greed works), when all of our upbringing has told us otherwise. Otherwise we could just take to killing our siblings to acquire their larger bedrooms.

    I suspect the horrors of WWII have to be repeated to re-learn that lesson.

    , Peter55 , 11 Feb 2017 12:03
    oh well who cares. let the US rip itself apart from the inside, we all knew it was gonna happen sooner or later.

    there will be no need for a terrorist attack to destroy the US ,they manage that fine on their own. a 50/50 split in the population over values and believes? Regardless of who's right and who's wrong. Its so damaging that by the end of Trump Pax America will be history.

    US cant even keep control in their own backyard atm, thousands are killed within their own boarders every year by their own people, most average people will never get enough paid to sustain a adequate living condition, they struggle heavily with race and race related problems. They struggle heavily with females and female right.
    But most importantly they are not united, americans hate americans now. Many americans hate their fellow americans more than they hate outside enemies. And thats a fact. How can a society like that survive?

    The US will eat itself and Trump will probably earn a billion on it, he is after all a business man. He does what suits him best. But did anyone actually expect something els?

    , baxterb , 11 Feb 2017 12:03
    Make them afraid, then exploit that fear like there's no tomorrow. Heartening that people don't fall for it though.
    , Bluejil , 11 Feb 2017 12:04
    It does correlate with research that says one third of US residents believe you must be Christian to be American ( http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/02/01/what-it-takes-to-truly-be-one-of-us /). Jesus makes the laws.

    Take it a step further and apparently the word of Jesus is that you pull the ladder up after you and you look to the demagogue giving false praise to fantastical notions and mocking democracy.

    , Fred Ducleaux Bluejil , 11 Feb 2017 12:17
    There is much confusion between "Christian" America and America's Judeo-Christian Heritage. Books have been written.

    The heritage is what gave America, and Europe, Liberal Democracy and freedoms understood as "self-evident." That is, embedded and safe from lawyers and politicians. You do not need to be a "Christian" to enjoy the freedomos the heritage gives to all.

    , nottaken Fred Ducleaux , 11 Feb 2017 15:57
    "self-evident" is a strong clue that the constitution was informed more by man-centred Enlightenment than by residual Judeo-Christian Heritage.
    The majority of the framers were Atheists or Deists; any reference to God was part of the necessary legitimizing and marketing process. Since then it has been a process of Christianity (read: Protestantism) being merged with the civic religion, to the point where they are indistinguishable. Both have been mightily degraded in the process.

    More recently, corporate America's propaganda campaign to merge Christianity with Capitalism, fronted by Rev. J Fifield, was hugely successful, and has brought us to the present pass.

    , mikedow , 11 Feb 2017 12:04
    Sitting politicians create the laws the judges interpret.

    That seems to be a necessary reminder.

    Share Facebook Twitter
    , AgainstDarkness , 11 Feb 2017 12:05
    "While millennials may be politically liberal in their policy preferences... "

    They are not politically liberal. They might be vaguely called "socially liberal", supporting the causes prescribed to them by a new "progressivism" in the name of ill-defined tolerance, diversity etc.

    None of the above implies an understanding of liberal democracy.

    There have been many strains of the "left" in the past that would be classified as "liberal" under current American terminology but were totally undemocratic. That was why the term "democratic left" was invented to separate left-wing people that really believe in democracy.

    The modern "progressive identarian" is not a liberal.

    , Fred Ducleaux , 11 Feb 2017 12:08
    If you are a Green Card holder and leave the US you can incure tax liability for up to 10 years. Taxation without representation.

    But........the most flagrant departure from Democracy is giving the lawyers the final say on what is, or is not, the law. The legislature can pass whatever bills they may like but if the lawyers say it is offensive or phobic it will be struck down. The "Supreme" Court is the ultimate power in the USA and none are elected by the people and none can be removed by the people. The only way they go is in a box.

    Sad to say, Tony Blair (surprise surprise!) created the same undemocratic monster in our country and even labelled it the same way: "Supreme." Unelected, unaccountable and as politically motivated as its US counterpart.

    , Jack Taylor Fred Ducleaux , 11 Feb 2017 12:20
    By lawyers I guess you mean judges?
    , snavep Fred Ducleaux , 11 Feb 2017 12:22
    No the SC in the US can decide a law is contrary to the constitution.
    Can you give a single example where the UK SC has 'struck down' any legislation? They have declared govt decisions contrary to existing law including common law. You do seem to have a habit of coming on here making stuff up.
    , lochinverboy , 11 Feb 2017 12:08
    In the context of first past the post, democracy is a total con. If you examine those democracies with FPTP you wintness the most right wing governments on the planet that use this system. PR as is used across Europe prevents these extremes and all votes count. Do you think the Tories OR Labour will rush to change to this? No chance. Lastly, here and in the US, you have a choice of two broadly similar parties who serve the rich and powerful who have engineered democracy largely by contolling the press, to suit their own ends. By definition therefore, democracy here and in the US is a caricature of what was originally intended for the people and not fit for purpose.
    , Graz100 lochinverboy , 11 Feb 2017 12:20
    I support the introduction of PR, but it is a mistake to assume that any kind of voting system or institution will stop the collapse of democracy/ democratic institutions Economic and social strife will tend to overcome all safeguards when the public starts to feel desperate. A good example and warning from history is the rise of the Nazi party in pre WW2 Germany. Trump and the republicans have yet to destroy democracy and I see no suggestion that T will refuse to stand fro reelection.
    , Zojo lochinverboy , 11 Feb 2017 12:32
    I agree that the reason democracy has lost its lustre is because both her and in the US we are offered no real choice. In terms of economic policy, the "There is No Alternative" party always wins. Unsurprisingly, people start to believe that there IS no alternative, and therefore the choice on offer is not genuine. They then either lose interest in voting altogether, or look for more extreme offerings which seem to be truly different.
    , brightheart , 11 Feb 2017 12:14
    Bringing up the 'law and order' issues combined with blaming it on immigrants is typical of far right regimes that want to undermine democratic values and move towards dictatorship.
    , IanPitch , 11 Feb 2017 12:19 Guardian Pick
    By casting aspersions on the judiciary, Trump is echoing past dictators. First, he questions their independence and then, when another terrorist incident occurs (whether white or non-white) he can say 'I told you so, this atrocity is all the judge's fault'. America has truly entered a new dark age. Let's pray that good men and women will continue to uphold and defend the Constitution and the rule of law... Share
    , politicsblogsuk IanPitch , 11 Feb 2017 12:33
    An independent judiciary and a free press are considered the pillars or cornerstones of a properly functioning democracy.

    Once you undermine them or the public's trust in them, it is much easier to move the political centre of gravity towards fascism.

    So, why is Trump attacking the judiciary and fee press?

    , mondopinion politicsblogsuk , 11 Feb 2017 13:08
    I for one no longer think the mainstream 'free press' is balanced or impartial.
    , AgeingAlbion , 11 Feb 2017 12:23
    Democracy has been in decline in the west for some time now, and it isn't just the right or the left which has abandoned it. Nearly every western country has a bill of rights (either a strong version eg the US which can strike down legislation or a weaker one eg the U.K. where the courts award damages for breaches and make declarations of incompatibility). The EU has pros and cons but no one could pretend it is democratic. The UK still has the House of Lords. The Canadian academic James Allen has written a good book on it - how elites have now decided they know best.

    We need to be wary of this endless erosion of majority rule. Tin pot dictators the world over have always had an excuse for ignoring the majority. Latin American military Juntas always explained that they had to have power to ensure security. Human rights lawyers say they are needdd to uphold the ever evolving concept of human rights. The Church used to insist it should have power to enforce God's rule. The Fijian army in 1987 made an openly racist coup (attracting minimal opprobrium and next to no action from the international community). Even those who think there are sound reasons to ignore the majority have to admit they're not in great historical company

    , Philip J Sparrow AgeingAlbion , 11 Feb 2017 12:40
    "those who think there are sound reasons to ignore the majority"

    People like Socrates/Plato, John Stuart Mill, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville...

    , emmasdad AgeingAlbion , 11 Feb 2017 12:49

    The EU has pros and cons but no one could pretend it is democratic.

    The EU is not a state; it is 28 member states acting collaboratively in a number of specified policy areas. As such, the appropriate comparison is not between the EU and a state but between the EU and other collective bodies through which states cooperate with one-another such as the UN or NATO. In terms of giving representation to ordinary citizens of its member states, I would say the EU compares extremely favourably.

    Moreover, the only two bodies in the EU that are able to enact legislation (and can only do so through the agreement of both bodies) are the EU Parliament, which is directly elected by the citizens of the member states and the Council, which consists of members of the Governments of the member states, which, in turn, have been put in place by the citizens of the member states through whichever electoral system is employed in each member state. We don't need to 'pretend' that the EU is democratic; it's system of governance IS democratic in the same way that the governance structures of western democracies are democratic.

    , Vintage59 emmasdad , 11 Feb 2017 15:01
    To put that more succinctly, no one can pretend the EU is democratic but many will still argue that it is if it fits their purposes.

    Amusing.

    , Gilbert3 , 11 Feb 2017 12:23
    Fewer people believe in the importance of democracy because we're several generations on from almost having lost it. In the same vein we're more likely to have a major war than we were 40/50 years ago because none of the major world leaders have experience of one. It's cyclic. We become complacent and smug until it happens again.
    , Gilbert3 , 11 Feb 2017 12:23
    Fewer people believe in the importance of democracy because we're several generations on from almost having lost it. In the same vein we're more likely to have a major war than we were 40/50 years ago because none of the major world leaders have experience of one. It's cyclic. We become complacent and smug until it happens again.
    , Andy Wong Ming Jun Gilbert3 , 11 Feb 2017 14:28
    History is a cycle. In this respect I agree with Steve Bannon. He's not nuts, he's just someone who knows how to read the winds very well like a wolf.
    , theshining , 11 Feb 2017 12:35
    "It was a stirring victory for the rule of law and reaffirmation of the independence of the judiciary."
    It most certainly was NOT anything of the kind. It was an act of judicial arrogance and a deliberate attempt to undermine the long upheld power of the President to take actions that HE considers required for the safety of the nation. What the ruling basically did was substitute judicial preferences for Presidential preferences no matter that the Constitution was clearly not supportive of this usurpation of power. you can review LOTS of legal opinions that state precisely this. An horrendously POLITICAL decision that will come back to haunt the courts.
    A defense of 'democracy' that begins with a defense of an arbitrary and demonstrably BAD court ruling is pretty much fatally flawed from the jump.
    Democracy works for as long as the fracture points in society are papered over with a commonality of basic interests. When that is not the case, democracy cannot endure. The US (and others will follow) is fracturing into pieces that simply don't like each other for VERY fundamental reasons, including the definition of a Nation State and what it means.
    Democracy works when things go well. It cannot work when it all falls apart. Oh and it also of course fails when the majority have a vested interest in getting stuff 'free', and can vote to have their demands enacted no matter the consequences.
    LOTS of places are not democracies. It really isn't the future. Too many fault lines coming up.
    , kristinezkochanski , 11 Feb 2017 12:35
    Only 53% of those surveyed said that they "trust judges more than President Trump to make the right decisions for the United States."

    One of the reasons why I am very sceptical of opinion polls or surveys is that they often ask the wrong questions. It is not for judges to make decisions about what is best for the country which this question clearly implies. Their job is to judge what complies with the law.

    Judges do not make political decisions about what is right for the United States any more than they do about what is right for the UK. It is this lack of understanding which leads to them being called enemies of the people.

    , ennCarey , 11 Feb 2017 12:38
    Here is the great George Carlin summing it all up in just 3 minutes and 14 seconds.

    It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it - George Carlin

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

    , dv420uk , 11 Feb 2017 12:38
    It all boils down to education. Democracy can't work when you have so many people prepared to believe and base their vote on 'fake news' (a nicer way to say lie).

    Governments in a democracy need to make having a well educated public a priority. Provide a high standard education for all the population up to secondary school level for free (or at a rate affordable to everyone) and you greatly diminish the chances of another Trump/Brexit.

    , therebythegrace dv420uk , 11 Feb 2017 12:52
    And that's why both the Tories and the Republicans have placed so much effort in undermining our education systems.

    They do not want an educated populace who are capable of critical thinking.

    , CyrusA dv420uk , 11 Feb 2017 12:59
    And hopefully diminish the chances of more "moderate" alternatives bringing the Population to its knees? Was Thatcher more "moderate" than Trump or did the Me Generation that she created usher in May and Trump.
    , Budanevey , 11 Feb 2017 12:39
    One person's victory is another's defeat. Politicians and voters are divided on judicial appointments to the Supreme Court, and the 4-4 split in the current court illustrates that the rule of law is simply another reflection of politics.

    I think the Ninth Court made a big mistake. Why? Because playing politics with the law can have serious unintended consequences. American Presidents have been resorting to shock and awe against Muslims because they can't use tough domestic security measures to protect Americans at home for fear of US judges taking an uncompromising view of constitutional rights. Trump's predecessors have not only resorted to foreign military action, but they have taken risks with extra-legal measures like Rendition, Secret Prisons, Torture and Drone attacks.

    The Ninth Court may uphold the constitutional rights of people coming from war zones to attend universities in Washington State, but the real world consequence of their hostility to domestic security measures will be to corner existing and future presidents in to bombing suspected terrorists abroad, making the world infinitely less safe with regime-changing wars.

    , SkiSpy Budanevey , 11 Feb 2017 12:45
    They have a hostility to unlawful, unconstitutional presidential edicts. That's a good thing. Share Facebook Twitter
    , Budanevey SkiSpy , 11 Feb 2017 12:55
    Congress gave the President the power to exclude people from the US on national security grounds. The University of Maryland maintains the Global Terrorism Database which lists more than 150,000 attacks since it began.

    96% of current terrorism killing more than 7000 people each year is claimed by jihadis. President Trump first mentioned his proposed temporary ban after the murders in San Bernardino.

    I don't think its unreasonable to restrict people coming from these war zones when they've been murdering people elsewhere, including Paris, Brussels, Berlin etc. It seems that US judges can't be persuaded that the right to life is more important than the temporary inconvenience of not being able to attend universities in Washington State unless and until such people murder Americans on American soil. I wouldn't call that 'constitutional'. It's offensive stupidity and irresponsible.

    How man

    , Joe Soap Budanevey , 11 Feb 2017 13:17
    If Americans were so concerned about the right to life they would do something about their almost non-existent gun laws. Terrorists don't have to kill Americans since Americans are doing such a good job of it on their own.
    , brap123 , 11 Feb 2017 12:40
    Americans are waking up to the fact that the elite and establishment don't care about the them. The media lies, the courts are trying to let in terrorists. TRump is the only one who is fighting for the people. Trump is fighting for truth, Trump is fighting for our safety, even though the establishment is desperate to make us less safe (my guesss do the 1% can profit somehow). Fake news by the media is only continue to push this

    Trump is fighting for Americans, we need to unite behind him. He will never let us down, and never lie to us.

    , c23e , 11 Feb 2017 12:40
    It's funny how Americans use Christianity as a weapon and are always quoting an eye for an eye etc instead of love your neighbour. If you are a Christian then surely you should realise that the old testament which is The Torah is all about revenge and anger whereas the New Testament is all about forgiveness and love and if the two come from the same God then that God has a spilt personality!

    Also looking at history if you remember that Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity ask yourself what were Christians doing 600 years ago and you will see a lot of it was the same as what Jihardis are doing today - torture, beheadings and killing of those seen as apostates in the name of religion.

    And remember American was founded by those seeking religious freedom despite the fact they oppressed the religions of the Native Americans and then went on to break more than 400 treaties with the Native Americans over the years.

    Even the declaration of independence was signed mainly by slave owners ( which is surely anti-christian) and apartheid reigned in the US until Martin Luther King.

    Land of the free and home of the brave is some king of joke played on the people but only noted by historians.

    , PureReason2017 , 11 Feb 2017 12:44
    To an important degree extensive, well-understood and articulately defended democracy only "matters" if you ascribe a large role to the [nation/federal] state - if you think it should spend very large amounts of money, address all manner of social problems, and regulate everything people do to reduce risk and enforce equality/diversity. If you believe in a minimal state (as most of the US founders did) then a much clearer and less pressing kind of democracy for national affairs is fully adequate. It is at the local level - in the states and counties, the towns and cities - that regular and engaged democracy is essential. And this report does not look at that at all. It is only bothered about who gets to drive forward the all-powerful state. If Pres Trump - and it is a very big if - wants to reduce the role of the state, then the significance of his actions through that state become clearer and more capable of control.
    , Paul B PureReason2017 , 11 Feb 2017 13:00
    surely the problem is that so much of what happens in a modern democracy cannot be carried out at a local level. You cannot have a local level internet. You cannot decide where your highways and trains are going to go purely at the local level. You cannot, in most cases, feed and clothe and support your population at the local level and any form of trade requires agreements that take place at a much higher level.
    , Junkets , 11 Feb 2017 12:46
    It's a very interesting phenomenon. The 'attraction' of Trump is that he's a loose cannon and doesn't seem to have that much control over a lot of what he says. The remarks about Putin and America's own predilection for killing people - which caused him to be called anti-American for actually speaking the truth - is a case in point. He is the precise opposite of your usual buttoned up on-message politician and that, quite frankly, is refreshing. He is precisely where our democracy itself has led to. Because of its reliance on professional politicians who say one thing and mean another, his tendency to blabber and say just what's on his mind, must be perceived as a virtue. Where this will lead, I have no idea, but he is definitely opening up new unexplored territory and what we might find in it is anyone's guess. As the old Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times."
    , Junkets Junkets , 11 Feb 2017 12:57
    For those thinking of impeaching Trump, think what the alternative will be. Pence. Now that guy really is scary - scarier even than Bannon.

    [Feb 12, 2017] How to Use rsync to Synchronize Files Between Servers Linux Server Training 101

    Feb 12, 2017 | www.youtube.com
    soundtraining.net

    Keith Pawson 2 years ago

    Great demonstration and very easy to follow Don! Just a note to anyone who might come across this and start using it in production based systems is that you certainly would not want to be rsyncing with root accounts. In addition you would use key based auth with SSH as an additional layer of security. Just my 2cents ;-) curtis shaw 11 months ago Best rsync tutorial on the web. Thanks.

    [Feb 12, 2017] The neocon godfather Leo Strauss would be proud as king of bait and switch Obama promoting lying to people telling them what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected as an official Democratic Party policy

    Notable quotes:
    "... Obama: "[O]ne of the issues that Democrats have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere, we have to show up everywhere." Throwing Clinton under the bus ..."
    "... I yelled at the radio after hearing this, because he means just showing up, telling people what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected. Not one word about actually meeting peoples needs. EFF OBAMA and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY!! ..."
    "... If you didn't read this (linked yesterday), you should consider both reading and sharing far and wide. The entire system is designed to be anti-representative. Don't just get/stay mad, quit expecting a bunch of gangsters to function democratically. Get out of their box. ..."
    Feb 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    mk , November 16, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Where the Democrats went wrong CNBC.

    Obama: "[O]ne of the issues that Democrats have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere, we have to show up everywhere." Throwing Clinton under the bus
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I yelled at the radio after hearing this, because he means just showing up, telling people what they want to hear, then doing whatever the hell you want after getting elected. Not one word about actually meeting peoples needs. EFF OBAMA and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY!!

    Eureka Springs , November 16, 2016 at 8:21 am

    If you didn't read this (linked yesterday), you should consider both reading and sharing far and wide. The entire system is designed to be anti-representative. Don't just get/stay mad, quit expecting a bunch of gangsters to function democratically. Get out of their box.

    [Feb 12, 2017] Reply

    Feb 12, 2017 | onclick="TPConnect.blogside.reply('6a00d83451b33869e201b8d25ed1c1970c'); return false;" href="javascript:void 0">
    Friday, February 10, 2017 at 11:12 AM Peter K. said in reply to sanjait... Many of us were warning that Hillary's $275 billion in infrastructure over 5 years wasn't enough.

    Now we have Trump.

    Thanks a lot.
    Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 12:09 PM pgl said in reply to Peter K.... I'm disappointed that you did not add your insight of the decade - calling him a stupid little troll. For the record - I don't like yuan. He actually writes reasoned comments rather calling people "stupid little trolls". Snicker. T here is no liberals in the USA per se. Most are in reality neoliberals and as such are the part of the right, if we define right as those who want to increase the power of capital vs. labor.

    Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 01:07 PM Yikes said in reply to Peter K.... This is actually a good point. If only Hillary had made extravagant unkeepable promises she could have duped more people like you into voting for her. Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 01:58 PM ilsm said in reply to Yikes... The DNC and HRC thought they had the needed number of dupes, PeterK was not needed! Reply Friday, February 10, 2017 at 04:55 PM libezkova said in reply to Yikes... No. the train left the station. Obama was a sellout who used to speak right things and did completely opposite to please his sponsors.

    Now the majority of the people do not believe anything coming from two major parties. The proper term is alienated. That's why Trump. Reply Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 06:02 AM libezkova said in reply to sanjait... Sanjait,

    The problem with your views is that there is no liberals in the USA per se. Most are in reality neoliberals and as such are the part of the right, if we define right as those who want to increase the power of capital vs. labor.

    This flavor of democracy for top 1% the they promote (one dollar one vote) should be property called "oligarchy" or at best "polyarchy" (the power of the top 10%).

    The rest (aka "Debt slaves") are second class citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses"). In a way US election is the ultimate form of "bait and switch" maneuvers of the ruling elite.

    The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11. Reply Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 11:30 AM

    [Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

    Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

    Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

    On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

    The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

    Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

    U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

    That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

    (bold italics added)

    It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

    One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

    The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

    As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

    Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

    It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

    It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

    Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

    This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

    The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

    As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

    However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

    It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

    This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

    Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
    Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
    Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
    One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
    boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
    " as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

    A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

    HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
    This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
    HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
    The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

    The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

    FAKE NEWS:

    On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

    How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

    shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
    Pissgate II...

    Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

    Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
    Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

    [Feb 10, 2017] Ilargi The Media – Fake and False and Just Plain Nonsense naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth ..."
    "... British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: "An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor.." It's an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism. ..."
    "... The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless. ..."
    "... my favorite dump on trump was the times article about the special ops raid in yemen. the obama team planned it, trump pulled the trigger. now we learn the yemen government is against special ops raid. (yemen has a government?) we also learn from the times that obama wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So saint obama is the good killer, trump the bad killer. it makes you sympathetic to trump. but i think alot of us thought trump would calm down some once in office. calling judiciary names, saying they can't even understand concepts that a "bad high school student" can, is not, what's the word, adult? and you can't ignore the sinister intent behind the muslim ban–it's based on propaganda and fear–it's provenance is neocon. ..."
    "... In complete agreement with you about the dump trump article praising saint obama to the skies because obama allegedly "refused" to OK the special ops raid on Yemen, but Trump did. LIke, THIS time obama "refused" to do it? Why? Speculation is futile, but my speculation is that Obama held off in order to have it fall on Trump. Then Obama could skippity do dah off into the sunset with his burnished halo in tact. ..."
    "... Following Disturbed Voter's comment above – we can usefully distinguish 3 different levels of dishonesty by how hard they are to detect: ..."
    "... Level 1 – the everyday liar/hypocrite whose dishonesty we notice over time by observing that what they do is not consistent with what they say, ..."
    "... Level 2- the regular criminal who hides his honesty from public view, to profit from it, but can be caught by effective law enforcement, and ..."
    "... Level 3- the State Intelligence agency with extreme levels of funding, novel tech. capabilities, secrecy, & ability to ignore or even control law enforcement and large chunks of the public mass media. ..."
    "... It's the Level 3 category that society has become relatively defenseless against. Alternative media carries report after report on how the Iraq War was phony, how the US created al Qaeda and ISIS, how Cheney planned to invade Iraq and 6 other Middle East nations on Sept. 20, 2 ..."
    "... One word that describes our precious country is incompetence. We have gone from being the 'we-can-do-it' nation that put a man on the Moon to the 'hire a Mexican to do it' nation that cannot find its ass with both hands. The fact of our dysfunction and the country's reliance on migrant labor are what gives form to the efforts of Donald Trump. Yet he acts against himself: he is the lazy-man of American politics who requires others to do his heavy lifting. This does not mean physical labor but instead the struggle to become clear in the mind, to craft out of disparate- and contradictory elements a policy outline or philosophy of governing. This is never attempted, it is too difficult, instead there is the recycling of old, bankrupt memes. The candidate's absence of effort leaves a residue of personality: Trump is a blank page upon which others paint in the sketch, an actor who aims to meet (diminished) public expectations and nothing more, sound and fury significant of nothing in particular. ..."
    "... . But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination ..."
    Feb 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on February 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. In keeping with the spirit of this post, an Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media . And if I interpret him correctly, Ilargi's post has a small off-key note: a tomato is indeed a fruit.

    By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

    Two and a half weeks after the inauguration, and yes it's only been that long, the media still don't seem to have learned a single thing. They help the Trump campaign on an almost hourly basis by parroting whatever things, invariably judged as crazy, he says. One day it's that negative polls are all fake news, the next it's some list of underreported terror events. All of it gets an avalanche of attention provided by the very people who claim to be against Trump, but greatly help his cause by doing so.

    Not a single thing learned. If Trump tweets tomorrow that tomatoes are really fruits and he's going to have someone draw up a law to make them so, or that Lego should be recognized as an official building material in order to have the Danes, too, pay for the wall, it will be on the front page of every paper and the opening item for every TV news show. The crazier he makes them, the more serious they are taken. The echo chamber is so eager to incessantly repeat to itself and all its inhabitants that he's a crazy dude, it's beyond embarrassing.

    And it takes us ever further away, and rapidly too, from any serious discussion about serious issues, the one very thing that the Trump empire desperately calls for. The press should simply ignore the crazy stuff and focus on what's real, but they can't bring themselves to do so for fear of losing ratings and ad revenues. All Trump needs to do, and that's not a joke, is to fart or burp into their echo chamber and they'll all be happy and giddy and all excited and self-satisfied. A spectacle to behold if ever there was one.

    British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: "An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor.." It's an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism.

    The racism part ostensibly is a reaction to Trump's Muslim ban, which, nutty though it is, is not a Muslim ban because most Muslims are not affected by it, and besides, 'Muslim' is not a race. So maybe Bercow would care to explain the 'racism' bit. Has anyone seen the British press pressuring him to do so? Or, alternatively, has anyone seen a thorough analysis of the British role, though its military and its weapons manufacturers, in the premature deaths in the Middle East and North Africa of many thousands of men, women and children belonging to the Muslim 'race'? Not me.

    The 'sexism' accusation refers to Trump's utterances on for instance the Billy Bush tape(s), and by all means let's get the Donald to comment on that. But this comes from a man who speaks as an official representative of the Queen of a country where child sex abuse is a national sport, from politics to churches to football, where literally thousands of children are trying to speak up and testify, after having been silenced, ignored and ridiculed for years, about the unspeakable experiences in their childhood. Surely someone who because of his job description gets to speak in the name of the Queen can be expected to address the behavior of her own subjects before that of strangers.

    Yeah, that Trump guy is a real terrible person. And he should not be allowed to speak to a chamber full of people directly responsible for the death of huge numbers of children in far away sandboxes, for or the abuse of them at home. After all, we're all good Christians and the good book teaches us about "the beam out of thine own eye". So we're good to go.

    What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of 'righteousness' and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

    Child sex abuse has been a staple of British society for a long time, we're talking at least decades. Only now is it starting, but only starting, to be recognized as the vile problem it is. But still many Britons feel entirely justified in demonizing a man who once talked about touching the genitals of grown women. If that did happen against their will, it's repulsive. But still, there's that beam, guys. Read your bible.

    The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless.

    Whether you call the menu the people have been fed, fake or false or just plain nonsense, it makes no difference. The British House of Commons Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside, he's probably just another victim of the falsehoods, denials and deceit spread 24/7. The difference between them and ordinary citizens is that Her Majesty's representatives in the political field MUST know. They get paid good salaries to represent the Queen's subjects, and looking the other way as children get assaulted and raped does not fit their job description.

    That goes for representatives of the church (i.e. Jesus) just as much of course, and for the execs at the BBC, but about as many of those people are behind bars as there are bankers. For anyone at all at any of these institutions to now speak with great indignation about Trump's alleged racism and sexism is the very core of all of their problems, the very reason why so many turn their backs on them. It shows that the very core or our societies is rotten, and the rot is spreading.

    We are facing a lot of problems, all of us, in many different ways, financially, politically, morally. But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination.

    The longer this braindead attitude prevails, the worse things will get, and the more Trumps will surface as leaders of their respective countries. And the longer the attitude prevails, the more anger we will spread in those parts of the world that do not belong to our 'chosen' societies. And for that we will have only ourselves to blame. Not Trump.

    Disturbed Voter , February 9, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Citizens and politicians are in a social compact, so it is said. Both sides may have defaulted on the agreement, something the Enlightenment didn't anticipate. In the modern era of triangulation, opposition parties, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. In the modern era of media consolidation, opposition newspapers, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. Be are being suffocated by de facto bi-partisanship, that is just a shadow play of its former partisanship. The status quo has gone stale.

    geoffrey gray , February 9, 2017 at 3:37 am

    my favorite dump on trump was the times article about the special ops raid in yemen. the obama team planned it, trump pulled the trigger. now we learn the yemen government is against special ops raid. (yemen has a government?) we also learn from the times that obama wouldn't have gone through with the raid because too risky! So saint obama is the good killer, trump the bad killer. it makes you sympathetic to trump. but i think alot of us thought trump would calm down some once in office. calling judiciary names, saying they can't even understand concepts that a "bad high school student" can, is not, what's the word, adult? and you can't ignore the sinister intent behind the muslim ban–it's based on propaganda and fear–it's provenance is neocon.

    RUKidding , February 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

    In complete agreement with you about the dump trump article praising saint obama to the skies because obama allegedly "refused" to OK the special ops raid on Yemen, but Trump did. LIke, THIS time obama "refused" to do it? Why? Speculation is futile, but my speculation is that Obama held off in order to have it fall on Trump. Then Obama could skippity do dah off into the sunset with his burnished halo in tact.

    Gah.

    Agree with the second part of your comment, too. I wish Trump would behave differently. The comment about the judiciary was incredibly wrong and also very stupid. His fervent fans may well clap and cheer for that, but Trump is painting himself into some corners by behaving that way. The Judiciary and lawyers – a powerful group in this nation, for better or worse – simply aren't going to take that laying down. Although I'm sure the judiciary will (mostly) strive for objective impartiality.

    The stupid media would serve themselves, their Oligarch owners, and the nation better if they ignored the bulk of Trump's dumb tweets and focus more closely on what he and his Admin are doing.

    Josh Stern , February 9, 2017 at 3:39 am

    Following Disturbed Voter's comment above – we can usefully distinguish 3 different levels of dishonesty by how hard they are to detect:

    • Level 1 – the everyday liar/hypocrite whose dishonesty we notice over time by observing that what they do is not consistent with what they say,
    • Level 2- the regular criminal who hides his honesty from public view, to profit from it, but can be caught by effective law enforcement, and
    • Level 3- the State Intelligence agency with extreme levels of funding, novel tech. capabilities, secrecy, & ability to ignore or even control law enforcement and large chunks of the public mass media.

    It's the Level 3 category that society has become relatively defenseless against. Alternative media carries report after report on how the Iraq War was phony, how the US created al Qaeda and ISIS, how Cheney planned to invade Iraq and 6 other Middle East nations on Sept. 20, 2001 – not because of any links to US created al Qaeda – and a big chunk of that plan is still being carried out today, 4 Presidential terms later.

    Disturbed Voter , February 9, 2017 at 7:10 am

    While we don't know much about what the intelligence agencies do, by design, we do know a few things. That in the conditions of the early Cold War, and given the mandate against all enemies foreign and domestic (the oath the military takes) that narrative control is a vital weapon. We know that journalists, clergy and even rock stars have been actual agents, so the number of fellow travelers must be considerable. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been necessary, so it was thought by some, to manufacture new enemies on a Vietnam scale. And the exercise and paranoia against domestic enemies has returned to 1960s levels as well. For the old men nostalgic for the 60s, from the neocon side, these last few decades have been sweet.

    Moneta , February 9, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Actually it's the level 1 that leads to level 3.

    Materially, all we really need is to cover and protect our body from the elements and food. Everything else is gravy.

    Psychologically, we need a lot more than what North American society offers most of us today but for some reasons we keep on lying to ourselves thinking that if we had a little more stuff we'd be happier.

    We all have to lie to ourselves thousands of times a day to keep our routines and lifestyles and all these lies make society.

    Jos Oskam , February 9, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Hey Yves, the tomato question does seem to have something to it: "Nix v. Hedden (1893) was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that, under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit". From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nix_v._Hedden .

    Note to Ilargi: re tomatoes, somebody got there before Trump :-)

    Gaylord , February 9, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I think a great number of people in the US and in Europe do not trust the MSM any more, even though they may continue to pay attention as a spectator sport (people do enjoy yelling at their TV sets). Activism is another ball game that is still being played, but in the US it has become nearly futile because of the restrictions and police tactics used to squelch them or shut them down. It can also be impossible to distinguish between genuine protesters, paid participants, and shit-disturbers or agents-provocateurs, which dilutes the message (questionable intent by those who want to promote or discredit the demonstration).

    Having read the comments here and on other independent sites for a long time, I've noticed the tremendous increase in articulate and aware commenters that can see through the tissues of lies from the MSM and take even a lot of the "serious" stuff with a grain of salt, knowing that some things don't change much and people tend to overreact based on shock-value news designed to stir resentment and "us vs. them" divisiveness. This is encouraging because it shows people are wising up, thinking more critically about who is really running the show (it is not Trump by-and-large), and not allowing their views to be manipulated.

    european , February 9, 2017 at 4:57 am

    I think Ukraine was a turning point, as the lying of the media was just way too obvious. That opened a lot of eyes. The reporting on Greece and Merkel/Schäuble's austerity terror was equally bad, but not many people understand that.

    Syria: The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time

    KurtisMayfield , February 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I believe it was Iraq. When they named the 2003 invasion Operation Iraqi Liberation, or O.I.L. , all the pretense of it being for any legit reason was gone.

    Arizona Slim , February 9, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Ah, yes. The Iraq invasion. Wasn't it supposed to be about our freedom?

    RUKidding , February 9, 2017 at 10:45 am

    We citizens were also supposed to get our Iraqi oil dividend back, which allegedly would pay for that many trillion dollar exercise in futility.

    Guess that got syphoned right up into Dick Cheney's pockets. Ya snooze, ya lose.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Huh? Iraq? Did I miss something?
    I heard about some thingy where we wasted trillions of dollars and killed millions of people. But all of the people who thought THAT was a good idea are gone now, hiding their heads in shame and hoping they don't get summoned to a war crimes tribunal. Right?

    polecat , February 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    No. They HAVE NO shame !

    BeliTsair , February 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I believe it was the Gnadenhutten massacre. The 96 Moravian Lenape, brained with mallets, by Washington's Virginia Militia were probably too busy clawing through their former frozen fields, looking for corn kernels to feed their children, to pose much of a threat as terrorists?

    VietnamVet , February 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, what got to me was the Western instigated coup in Ukraine. I voted for Barrack Obama twice but could not vote for Hillary Clinton. I rationalized that the Iraq Invasion was an isolated crazy GOP debacle. Denial is powerful defense mechanism. If the media lies, America is a not so innocent killer, and the Cold War 2.0 with Russia has reignited; we are screwed. Austerity, scapegoating Russia and the flood of millions of refugees into Europe are proof that this is the awful truth.

    running dog lackey , February 9, 2017 at 4:31 am

    It's about ratings people. The president of NBC himself said it during the campaign when someone asked why he was televising everything the Insane Clown was saying. You all need to watch Network again. Nothing's changed. Which means they brought him up and now they will take him down.

    Tom , February 9, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Ratings are to broadcast or print media as shareholder value is to corporation - the overriding metric that blots out any reponsibility to the commons.

    Chris G , February 9, 2017 at 5:45 am

    "The Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside". Ah, not so. Check out this Pat Lang post,

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/02/the-mother-of-all-parliaments.html

    and the long trenchant comment by LondonBob including these paras:

    "The Twitter-cheering for John Bercow, the transformation of him into a Love, Actually-style hero of British middle-class probity against a gruff, migrant-banning Yank, could be the most grotesque political spectacle of the year so far. Not because it's virtue-signalling, as claimed by the handful of brave critics who've raised their heads above the online orgy of brown-nosing to wonder if Bercow is really promoting himself rather than parliamentary decency. No, it's worse than that. It's the lowest species of cant, hypocrisy of epic, eye-watering proportions, an effort to erase Bercow's and Parliament's own bloody responsibility for the calamities in the Middle East that Trump is now merely responding to, albeit very badly.

    "Bercow, you see, this supposed hero of the refugees and Middle Eastern migrants temporarily banned from the US, voted for the bombing of Iraq. He green-lighted that horror that did so much to propel the Middle East into the pit of sorrow and savagery it currently finds itself. As his profile on the They Work For You website puts it, 'John Bercow consistently voted for the Iraq War'. On 18 March 2003, he voted against a motion saying the case for war hadn't been made, even though it hadn't. On the same day he voted for the government to 'use all means necessary' to ensure the destruction of Iraq's WMD.

    "As everyone knows now, and as many of us knew back then, Iraq's WMD capacity had been vastly exaggerated by the black propaganda of the New Labour government, by myth and misinformation cynically whipped up to the end of providing Britain's leaders with the thrill of an overseas moral crusade against evil. Bercow voted in favour of these lies. And he voted for the use of 'all means necessary' to tame Saddam's regime. We know what this involved: Britain joined the bombing campaign and courtesy of an ill-thought-through war by Western allies, Iraq was ripped apart and condemned to more than a decade of bloodshed. And refugee crises. Bercow was one of the authors of this calamity, one of the signatories to the Middle East's death warrant, and now we're going to let him posture and preen against Trump's three-month ban on certain Middle Eastern migrants? What is wrong with us?"

    But kudos to kind-hearted Ilargi for willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to one of these preening monsters!

    jackiebass , February 9, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Trump loves any kind of publicity. The media is playing right into his hand by printing all of the garbage he generates.I know many Trump voters and supporters. They all complain that the media is picking on Trump. None of them look seriously at what he says or does. There universal reaction is give him a chance and quit picking on him.The media would be better off focusing on his and congreses policy decisions and how that effect the average person. Turning he's presidency into a big soap opera is actually helping Trump keep his supporters. I have not heard a single Trump voter say they regret voting for Trump.

    Eustache de Saint Pierre , February 9, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Good to see some focus on Britain's version of the Augean stables. In terms of the so called Westminster paedophile ring – the last I heard on this it was that, Ooops .we appear to have lost a substantial amount of vital evidence. I imagine that MI6 have on record most if not all of the disgusting details, which I also imagine are useful assets that can be used to control certain people.

    In my opinion, this is a good explanation from 2015, of the behaviour of the BBC & the Guardian, from journalist Jonathon Cook.

    http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-03-03/hsbc-and-the-sham-of-guardians-scott-trust/

    The Trumpening , February 9, 2017 at 7:54 am

    So far Trump has only really accomplished two things: he shut down the TPP and he inspired Lena Dunham to lose some weight. Everything thing else has been more or less noise.

    I've always thought this first two years of Trump's reign will involve him in bringing to heal the establishment GOP (GOPe) Obviously during the confirmation process, Trump has to be on his best behavior. But I don't like the pattern of Trump issuing useless EO's, and then the Democrats going ballistic, and then Trump supporters being satiated by all the Dem whining. That's a recipe for two years of nothing.

    On the Muslim ban, there are two parts to it. The current NeoCon / NeoLib tag-team play is to kill a million Muslims in their nations and then to offer the survivors the weak reach around of letting a million Muslims emigrate to the West. Trump seems to be offering a different deal. The West stops killing Muslims in Muslim nations and in return Muslims stay in Muslim nations and stop coming to the West. We have yet to see if Trump can hold off the temptation to start slaughtering Muslims in their nations like the NeoCons do.

    I get the feeling from Trump's over-the-top reaction to the courts staying his Muslim ban that he actually doesn't want it reinstated. I read on a pro-Trump legal blog that the Justice Department lawyers were super weak in their arguments before the 9th Circuit court, in what should be a super easy case to argue. Activist judges halting the ban means when the inevitable next terrorist attack comes, Trump can blame it on the judges and make some sort of move to purge their power.

    On Iran, Trump has zero leverage and so I do not see how this is going to end well. The only thing we can hope for is this is a bit of Kabuki being regulated by Putin. In the end a US-Russian alliance, as Trump is proposing, means a closer relationship between the US and Iran. Israel will not be pleased.

    My theory on Trump's relationship to Israel is that he is giving them enough rope for them to hang themselves. In Europe particularly the Israeli brand is getting fatally interwoven with the Trump brand. So far the only thing saving Israel is diaspora Jews being able to shame their local populations away from the BDS movement. But the diaspora is 98% anti-Trump. There is currently a huge increase of oxygen being given to the BDS movement, which means it should soon spring back to life.

    Can Trump be allies with Israel and Russia (and Iran)? The only way I can see this happening is a deal where Iran gets to go nuclear and become fully integrated into the global community in exchange for allowing Hezbollah to be wiped out by Israel.

    Trump is at his anti-NeoLiberal best when he is in deep trouble. I was happy when that Access Hollywood tape came out because I knew he would have to double down on Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and go full-on butch economic nationalist. And it won him the election. Hopefully the seas will get very rough soon and we can all enjoy the spectacle of full combat between Team Trump and the GOPe.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I like the "offer the survivors a weak reacharound". Reminds me of Vietnam, where we would napalm a village and then fall over ourselves making sure the burn victims all got Band-Aids

    Fiver , February 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    The entire Trump military/security team is wildly anti-Muslim, so the thought they are not going to keep on killing Muslims all over the map is just plain silly.

    Bannon is just plain dangerous. Here's a piece on his favorite books. Not surprisingly, he hates Muslims. Also, he appears to imagine himself a brilliant strategist for the ages who just happens to be the right man for 'The Fourth Turning', one of those ideas and books that purports the existence of an historical pattern based on a cycle of generations, each generation of every group of 4 having its own 'character', taken together claiming to explain a long cycle of great crises and/or turning points of US history. He believes we are now in such a critical period. It's one of those notions that has superficial appeal but quickly falls apart when engaged critically:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/02/07/daily-202-five-books-to-understand-stephen-k-bannon/58991fd7e9b69b1406c75c93/

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/William_Strauss_and_Neil_Howe

    Bannon is now running stuff via Briebart's network that will make your hair stand on end:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/02/06/the-left-hates-you-act-accordingly-n2281602?utm_source=TopBreakingNewsCarousel&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=BreakingNewsCarousel

    As for Israel, there is not the remotest chance Trump will do something Israel doesn't like – even if he doesn't appoint Elliot Abrams to #2 at State.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/elliott-abrams-state-department/

    Here's what Ron Paul thought of that idea:

    http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/february/07/elliott-abrams-to-state-dept-you-cant-be-serious/

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/elliott-abrams-state-department/

    Abrams would be an absolute disaster.

    TPP? Globalization? I see no evidence whatever that Trump has any intention of rolling back US-dominated corporate globalization, rather, he wants to create trade flows that are even more wildly skewed in favour of US financial/corporate power internationally even while effectively transferring wealth from the periphery to core of Empire to support some minor job creation – of course in the meantime granting outlandish tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy at large.

    I'm sorry, but Trump et al have played millions and millions of well-meaning Americans like a fiddle.

    UnhingedBecauseLucid , February 9, 2017 at 8:44 am

    The best description of the "Trump Situation" ever written was penned by 'Steve from Virginia' author of the blog Economic Undertow:

    One word that describes our precious country is incompetence. We have gone from being the 'we-can-do-it' nation that put a man on the Moon to the 'hire a Mexican to do it' nation that cannot find its ass with both hands. The fact of our dysfunction and the country's reliance on migrant labor are what gives form to the efforts of Donald Trump. Yet he acts against himself: he is the lazy-man of American politics who requires others to do his heavy lifting. This does not mean physical labor but instead the struggle to become clear in the mind, to craft out of disparate- and contradictory elements a policy outline or philosophy of governing. This is never attempted, it is too difficult, instead there is the recycling of old, bankrupt memes. The candidate's absence of effort leaves a residue of personality: Trump is a blank page upon which others paint in the sketch, an actor who aims to meet (diminished) public expectations and nothing more, sound and fury significant of nothing in particular.

    bbrawley , February 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I'm surprised no one seems to see a serious side to the reporting of Trump's antics. Is it not important to keep hammering home that the man is unhinged and that this is something pulling at the social frabric, something crying out to be dealt with? I seriously doubt that we'll be able to address the "real issues" adequately until we find ways come to terms with him not as a buffoon but as a deeply flawed human being.

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Another false note–"Muslim is not a race." True, but being Jewish is not a racial characteristic and yet it is obvious that antisemitism is very similar to racism in its irrationality and hatred. Antisemites a hundred years ago would in some cases point to radicals who were Jewish as their excuse, just as Islamophobes would point to Islamic extremism as theirs. Racists I grew around would point to Idi Amin's Uganda ( yes, I am old) and other African countries with horrible human rights records as proof that American blacks should be grateful to be here.

    This "Islam is not a race" is mainly a tiresome distraction used by bigots and not a prelude to a deeper discussion on the wide varieties of human bigotries. Bigots can use almost any category they wish and concoct pseudo- rational propositions to buttress their hatred. We even have lefties hating blue collar white males as a group for Trump support. We don't have to join the people who use nitpicking phrases not to analyze, but to justify their hatreds. I don't think the writer intends to do this, but he is using a standard Muslim blame cannon phrase.

    After all this, I actually liked the rest of this piece, but that part was nails on a chalkboard to me. I am glad the liberal mainstream is siding with Muslims against Trump. There are some liberals ( Maher, Sam Harris etc..) who have been pushing a Muslim bashing agenda. And yes, as usual the mainstream which is so solicitous of Muslim rights cared little when Obama bombed Muslim countries. But I would rather that liberals be right if hypocritical then consistently wrong.

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 10:50 am

    As far as the term Racism, i think https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism oretty well captures contemporary common use.

    You forgot to mention Zionist racism directed toward Palestinians. An equally equivalent contemporary application of the term

    On the subject of Trump i believe his executive order is directed toward travelers from seven countries that the previous Potus identified in an anti-terrorist executive order.
    If I have it correctly, Neither Trump or BHO e orders are directed against muslims or any other religion for thats matter.

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 10:56 am

    As well do we need to take a deerpath in the woods debate about the legitimacy of the term race?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with you on Zionist racism towards Palestinians.

    On the deep path on the definition of racism, it depends. Given the prevalence of Islamophobia in the US, some of it on the left ( including the kneejerk supporters of Israel), I don't think it is helpful to use the "Islam is not a race" phrase as some sort of rebuttal. Islamophobia is a form of bigotry– whether one wants to nitpick about exactly what form should depend on the circumstances.

    Yves Smith Post author , February 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I do not believe in the corruption of language. Confucius said that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.

    Are you by the same sloppy logic going to cal bias against women and gays "racism"?

    Islamophobia is indeed not racist. Arabs, many American and African blacks, Persians (who are not Arabians) and Indonesians among others are followers of Islam.

    We already have perfectly good works, like "bigotry," "bias," and "discrimination".

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I probably shouldn't have said anything, since the original poster clearly isn't a bigot, but it set me off because in most cases this "Islam is not a race" phrase is used by Islamophibes and they of course do not follow up by pointing out that it is a form of bigotry, like antisemitism. If the poster here only means we should call it bigotry and not racism, I agree.

    But that meme is used a lot and usually by Islamophobes who won't cop to being bigots either. They aren't trying to have a deep conversation about different forms of bigotry. They are trying to argue that it is rational to fear Muslims because Islam is, in their view, an inherently evil ideology. But in practice Islamophobes are not rational or necessarily even consistent. That's why I wrote my comment, pointing out that bigotry in any form is generally not some carefully thought out logical train of thought, but some pseudo- rational set of propositions often garbled together. This is why a Sikh can get beaten up by Islamophobes. It is also why antisemites are often so confused about whether they hate Jews as a religion, as an alleged race, or as some group of scary communist bankers. It's not like racism itself is usually based on a clear understanding of biology.

    So if we are going to push back on Islamophobia as racism, it should be so people see it as like antisemitism, which is what it most closely resembles.

    I have written enough today, so I am going to stop.

    optimader , February 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Re Confucius, George Orwell had his thoughts along those lines. re: intentional corruption of language.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language

    The reality is language evolves, often for the worse making clarity of message a casualty, unless a tedious definition of terms is invoked which can easily end up being a form of deflection from the original point.. ..
    File under :Liberal/Conservative/Neoliberal/Progressive. I find all these Identity Labels can be very loosely applied for reasons other than clarity.

    In the case of the word Race, it is, some would correctly contend, archaic terminology while simultaneously being convenient shorthand for "red meat" identity invectives.

    River , February 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Muslim isn't a race. If the ban had been about Arabs not being allowed in you'd have a point. However, a person from Indonesia is allowed in and that country is almost entirely Muslim.

    Plus, complaining about the US exercising boarder control is ridiculous. That is one the jobs of a nation. No one bat an eye when Japan stated we're not allowing anyone in wrt to any refugee problem. Yet when any Western nation does it, the sky falls and the charges of bigotry come out.

    No one has the right to move to another country.

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here. Yemen, for instance, is bombed by the US and much more heavily by the Saudis with our help and keeping refugees from Yemen out is an extreme form of ugly Americanism. If we don't want the refugees, then we should stop causing or contributing to the chaos and death in the countries which produce the refugees.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    >People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here.

    And where are these rights enumerated? I don't recognize "moral rights" beyond those associated with copyright (and I am not particularly fond of those, either).

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    So the fact that we are bombing civilians and helping the Saudis plunge Yemen into a famine is something you don't question, just the right of our victims to come here?

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Not fond of herring, either.

    "Our victims"?

    The legacy of Obama's incompetence in foreign policy does not obligate American citizens to accept - or to foist upon their posterity - changes in the demographic make-up of our populace.

    I'm still interested in learning where you discovered this moral right to move here

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Not fond of herring either?

    In other words, morality is a matter of preference and your number one moral value in this context is keeping out refugees, people who suffer precisely because of our foreign policy. Demographic balance is somewhere near the top of your own personal list of flavors. Anyway, my notion of moral right involves the crazy idea that if you help destroy a country you have moral obligations to the victims.

    And by the way, Trump is likely to escalate our support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 9, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    LOL it certainly was a matter of preference for our recently departed Drone-Bomber-In-Chief, and for all of the people who (thought/think) he was a really moral and upstanding kind of guy. Just like our former Secretary of State, who threatened to cut off Sweden if they didn't accept Monsanto poison.
    "You're black!" said the pot to the kettle

    Optimader , February 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    "People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here."

    Bullsht.
    The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a "just war" context if at all

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Meaningless. The US frequently bombs innocent people or helps others like the Saudis or the Israelis do so. You say it is wrong, as do I, but apparently there are no consequences allowed in your moral universe which might inconvenience us. We really have no moral obligations at all– we can bomb people and if the survivors wish to come here to escape then we have the right to keep them out according to you. All this boils down to is that we have the strongest military. Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard. The people who control the military want to use it to bomb other countries, so they do. Might makes Right.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    " Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard."

    "The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a "just war" context if at all"

    Can't read, or don't want to?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway, creating refugees, we have no obligation to help them. It is like saying that it was wrong for some Wall Street guys to steal people's money, but if they do, they have no obligation to give it back.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    "I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway"

    If we go ahead and assume that the earth is flat, why shouldn't "we" all relocate another planet?

    It's just that simple, and your keyboard strawmanning is making all the difference, for "we".

    Ground rules- am I arguing with "Donald" or the Royal We, or a heap of straw that you, pardon We(?), keep producing?

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    The US does bomb countries, so your flat earth analogy doesn't really work here. We aren't discussing hypotheticals. There are real refugees from real policies and Trump is likely to continue them or make them worse. We are directly responsible for the misery of vast numbers of people and the numbers are likely to grow. Set aside the internet squabble we are having, because you are so wrapped up in it you are losing touch with what we are arguing about.

    Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough.

    bob , February 9, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    "Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough."

    That we'll agree on. Maybe another day you can elucidate on why you bother writing when you could find an airbase and stand on the runway, to stop the bombing.

    Anon , February 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    No one has the right to move to another country.

    Even after their homeland has been bombed, invaded, population tortured, social structure crushed?

    River , February 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    No they don't have that right. It falls under "that's your problem".

    Now, as harsh as that is I think from a humanitarian view and basic decency another nation should show some compassion and allow them succor. However, nations and the people of those nations are under no obligation to do so.

    Moral rights are meaningless. And yes, I do agree that another nation shouldn't create the refugees to begin with. As I find war to be a tool that is to be used as last resort. What has been occurring in the mid-East has been so far from a last resort that I can't even come up with a decent metaphor or simile.

    But that still doesn't change the fact that people do not have the right to enter another nation if the nation decides to say "No".

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    So if we go ahead and bomb Yemen or help the Saudis bomb Yemen, it really doesn't matter at all. We are responsible for war crimes, but we have zero obligation to help the victims.

    You switch back and forth between talk of morality and the law of the strongest. You say we shouldn't bomb other countries for no good reason, but that is as much a meaningless platitude as you say moral rights are in general. Basically you find it distasteful that we bomb other countries, but what really exercises you is the possibility that some refugees might come here. That will not stand.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Have you ever heard of the Melian Dialogue?

    There is a nice little re-enactment of it over at the Youtubes

    Donald , February 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Yep. The strong do what they can and the weak do what they must. Nihilistic, but certainly a viewpoint I expect would be popular with the powerful.

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    You miss the point. Realism is not nihilism.

    The Athenians had no good reason to suppose that the Gods would not favor them.

    There was nothing in their laws or beliefs to suggest otherwise.

    Similarly, there is nothing in our laws that requires us to accept population transfers because this or that President drops bombs in a far away country on people of whom we know nothing.

    Yves Smith Post author , February 9, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Anon is correct. We can be obligated to bomb other countries by treaty. For instance, we bombed France to oust the Nazis as a result of treaty obligations. It is also correct to say that the US has been flagrantly ignoring what were considered to be international norms (pretty much no one notices here, but Russia has been making a stink on a regular basis in the UN).

    PKMKII , February 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Any day since 1/20, you could look at the front page of WaPo, NYT, CNN, etc., and see op-eds about how Trump is very very non-professional, sullying the good name of the office of the President. Denigrating the institution and the very very serious role it plays in American society, nay, the world! And yet the same front page will also cover, in-detail, whatever halfbaked Trump tweet or Spicer's performance-art-as-press-conference has been served up that day. They recognize that it's become a farce, but like someone who can't stop poking the tooth that hurts, they present the farce as being very very important news. The establishment press has become too enamored of the pomp and circumstance, the ceremonial of the White House media operation and their visible, although largely pointless, role in the whole thing. They're too scared of giving that up, lest they lose prominence or, le horror, have to do real reporting. So the Washington press corp prop up their end of the ceremony in the vain hopes of a return to the way things were, in denial of how their function is quickly becoming redundant. If all they're going to do is talk about Trump's latest tweet, we might as well just stop reading their sites and just read his tweets ourselves. Social media can just give us the press releases directly, we don't need the press to act as town criers, screeching out Trump's decree in the town squares.

    flora , February 9, 2017 at 10:24 am

    an aside re Yves intro:

    "Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media. "

    The WaPo's attempt to turn readers away from great sites like NC with their "fake news" story has backfired spectacularly. Thanks to NC and others furious initial pushback, including well crafted letters from NC's atty and the recipients responses published on NC, the term "fake news" has become a joke in the court of public opinion. It's become a subject for comedy skits. This is no small thing. Actually, it's a pretty big thing. McCarthist witch hunts live and die in the court of public opinion, imo. See: Joseph Welch, "Have you no sense of decency sir?"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1eA5bUzVjA

    And with that exchange the court of public opinion turned against McCarthy and the witch hunt. Now where was I going with this ?

    john bougearel , February 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Ha! How dare ya attack my favorite cooking shows! LOL

    Gorgar Laughed , February 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    >After all, we're all good Christians

    Who's "We" Paleface? Bercow's not a Christian.

    And it looks as though we may finally be seeing the worm turn on the kiddie rape: the Rochdale rape gang is now set to be deported to Pakistan.

    Local MP Simon Danczuk: "Foreign-born criminals should not be able to hide behind human rights laws to avoid deportation."

    I suspect this line of thinking is going to be picked up in other countries on the Continent, and sooner rather than later.

    Once we start seeing child sex investigations target the English ruling class, we will know that we are getting somewhere

    Blurtman , February 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Hispanic isn't a race, nor is Latino, but that has not stopped the MSM, bleeding hearts and SJW's from emoting.

    PKMKII , February 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I was a census worker in 2010, and the forms didn't include Hispanic/Latino as a race; rather, it was put as a separate identity category with sub-answers for specific country of ancestral origin. However, 9 times out of 10 Hispanic responds would have me put "Hispanic" in the write-in box for the "Other" race option (the other 10% would have me write-in their ancestral country). The smarties with the degrees can say it's not a race, but if the people say that's their race, who are we to say otherwise?

    Blurtman , February 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Ask Rachel Dolezal. Or perhaps Elizabeth Warren, an undocumented Native American (i.e., Indian). And yes, Pew Research would agree that folks who consider themselves to be Latino consider Latino to be a race. But most are Native American.

    But not anyone can be recognized as Native American in the USA unless they are on a tribal register, which is odd, as the USG seems to subject Native American citizens to a higher level of proof than Native Americans from south of the border.

    Anon y Mouse , February 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    " . But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we've been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination." .

    Dear Raul,

    Yes, the media creates distortions in our perceptions. Yes, the orange one plays that terrain like a pro. Yes the British MP is hypocritical. I am with you there.

    "We are the problem." This kind of reasoning may be correct on a cosmic scale but it always seems to run to one of two conclusions. 1) Become a Buddhist and try to improve yourself. 2) Humans are too dumb to survive; wait until nature takes its course and humans kill themselves off playing Russian Roulette.

    I am not sure what your are recommending here. Do we let the orange sacred clown run this imperialist project into the ground? (To be replaced by what?) Or in opposing Trump do we clarify what we do want = i.e. a government that does not torture, a government that does not protect gotcha game mortgage lenders, a government that does not arm the world, a government that does not subsidize old suicidal fossil fuels, a government that is not run by a hysterical 3 AM tweeting 16 year old Marie Antoinette, your issue here .

    I don't know the answer here. The orange bull in the china shop is useful in so far as he reveals certain truths = ex: waterboarding is torture, congressmen are for sale, America has killed a lot of people, etc. If he stops the NeoCon project of invading other countries he might even be a benefit to world peace. But he's also likely to get people killed with his impulsive decisions and his ginning up the rubes.

    Irrational , February 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Not reporting on tweets would free up a lot of time .

    Jeff N , February 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    a tomato is a fruit, but you can't use it in "fruit salad" :D

    Waking Up , February 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of 'righteousness' and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

    On a recent interview with Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly stated in regards to Vladimir Putin "But he's a killer". Donald Trump responds with a truth rarely heard in the media today, "There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?"

    I may not be a fan of Donald Trumps, but, how can we put down that level of honesty? Imagine if we actually had an honest nationwide discussion on what we are doing in the rest of the world .

    [Feb 08, 2017] The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this eventwere obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself

    Notable quotes:
    "... Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods . ..."
    "... Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization. ..."
    "... It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within. ..."
    "... In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership. ..."
    "... And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables.. ..."
    Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    February 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    An over extended Soviet Empire collapsed in no small part due to its obsession with winning a war, albeit one that thankfully remained 'cold', that it never could.

    A corrupt, nepotistic distant, paranoid elite that instead of dividing its efforts into looking after its own society's well-being, as well a apparently just defending it, opted for near as dammed bankrupting itself attempting to feed an insatiable military machine it could ill afford (and would mostly never use) at its increasingly disaffected, divided, restive people's expense.

    Mind you, they were just dumb Commies.

    JTMcPhee, February 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    First, did the Soviet state "bankrupt itself damm near" mostly by trying to feed an "insatiable military machine," or did the wealth of the Soviets get dissipated into other ratholes as well, alongside various external pressures and effects? And what scale applied to each political-decision "allocation"? One view, among a flood of intersecting and competing interpretations, of course:

    The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this event were obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself. Fiery political speeches and tough diplomatic postures make good theater, but they are ineffective at forcing political transformation in totalitarian nations, as is proven by the persistence of far less powerful Communist regimes in Cuba and east Asia in the face of punishing trade embargos. The key to understanding the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union is to be found not in the speeches or policies of Western politicians, but in internal Soviet history.

    1. Stagnation in the 1970s

    The Soviet Union was already in decline as a world power well before 1980. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. As the Nixon administration improved American relations with an increasingly independent China, the Soviets saw a strategic need to scale down the nuclear arms race, which placed enormous strains on its faltering economy. The threat of a nuclear confrontation was reduced considerably by the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) contracted with the Nixon administration in 1972. This détente, or easing of tensions, allowed Leonid Brezhnev to focus on domestic economic and social development, while boosting his political popularity.

    Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods .

    Foreign trade and mild economic reforms were not enough to overcome the inefficiencies of the Soviet command economy, which remained technologically backward and full of corruption. Economic planners were frequently unable to diagnose and remedy problems, since they were given false reports by officials who only pretended to be productive.

    Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization.

    In his radio broadcasts during the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan complained that the capitalist nations propped up the intrinsically flawed Soviet regime, instead of allowing it to naturally collapse from its own inefficiency and inhumanity.[2] In contrast to his later hagiographers, Reagan did not envision defeating the Soviet Union by forceful action, but instead he perceived that the regime would collapse from its own failings once the West removed its financial life support system. It is this early Reagan, far more thoughtful than he is generally credited, who proved to be most astute in diagnosing the state of the USSR. It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within.
    http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/histpoli/soviet.htm

    And I recall the Soviet military leadership was largely (no, not exclusively of course, humans being what they are) reacting to the clear and present danger that "the West" presented. Among many other considerations, of course. In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership.

    Seems to me that all of us ordinary people, many of whom would gladly take advantage of opportunities to do some looting themselves, to "get ahead" in the "rat race," if only those opportunities were presented, have insufficient collective concern about the many systems, living and political-economy, that apparently are collapsing or running out of control. And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables..

    But yeah, the halls of history are full of echoes and shadows and reflections in a glass darkly And I wonder if London bookies are running a line on when history, as recorded and debated and acted out by humans, will REALLY end, thanks to our wonderful unbridled inventiveness and lack of that genetic predisposition to survive as a species that ants and termites and rats and cats and other "lesser creatures" seem to have

    Anon , February 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Commies? That last paragraph sounds like post-WWII history in the US.

    Gman , February 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    ;-)

    [Feb 08, 2017] How Universities Are Increasingly Choosing Capitalism Over Education naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Henry Heller, a professor of history at the University of Manitoba, Canada and the author of The Capitalist University. Cross posted from Alternet ..."
    "... The following is an excerpt from the new book ..."
    "... by Henry Heller (Pluto Press, December 2016): ..."
    "... Inside Higher Education ..."
    "... The University, State and Market: The Political Economy of Globalization in the Americas ..."
    "... New Left Review ..."
    "... The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature ..."
    "... Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher ..."
    "... Anti-Communism in Twentieth-Century America ..."
    "... Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States. ..."
    "... As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. ..."
    Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    How Universities Are Increasingly Choosing Capitalism Over Education Posted on February 7, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Some further observations. First, the author neglects to mention the role of MBAs in the reorientation of higher education institutions. When I went to school, the administrative layer of universities was lean and not all that well paid. Those roles were typically inhabited by alumni who enjoyed the prestige and being able to hang around the campus. But t he growth of MBAs has meant they've all had to find jobs, and colonizing not-for-profits like universities has helped keep them off the street.

    Second, this post focuses on non-elite universities, but the same general pattern is in play, although the specific outcomes are different. Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached.

    By Henry Heller, a professor of history at the University of Manitoba, Canada and the author of The Capitalist University. Cross posted from Alternet

    The following is an excerpt from the new book The Capitalist University: The Transformations of Higher Education in the United States since 1945 by Henry Heller (Pluto Press, December 2016):

    The fact that today there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States represents an unparalleled educational, scientific, and cultural endowment. These institutions occupy a central place in American economic and cultural life. Certification from one of them is critical to the career hopes of most young people in the United States. The research produced in these establishments is likewise crucial to the economic and political future of the American state. Institutions of higher learning are of course of varying quality, with only 600 offering master's degrees and only 260 classified as research institutions. Of these only 87 account for the majority of the 56,000 doctoral degrees granted annually. Moreover, the number of really top-notch institutions based on the quality of their faculty and the size of their endowments is no more than 20 or 30. But still, the existence of thousands of universities and colleges offering humanistic, scientific, and vocational education, to say nothing of religious training, represents a considerable achievement. Moreover, the breakthroughs in research that have taken place during the last two generations in the humanities and social sciences, not to speak of the natural sciences, have been spectacular.

    But the future of these institutions is today imperiled. Except for a relatively few well-endowed universities, most are in serious financial difficulty. A notable reason for this has been the decline in public financial support for higher education since the 1980s, a decline due to a crisis in federal and state finances but also to the triumph of right-wing politics based on continuing austerity toward public institutions. The response of most colleges and universities has been to dramatically increase tuition fees, forcing students to take on heavy debt and putting into question access to higher education for young people from low- and middle-income families. This situation casts a shadow on the implicit post-war contract between families and the state which promised upward mobility for their children based on higher education. This impasse is but part of the general predicament of the majority of the American population, which has seen its income fall and its employment opportunities shrink since the Reagan era. These problems have intensified since the financial collapse of 2008 and the onset of depression or the start of a generalized capitalist crisis.

    Mounting student debt and fading job prospects are reflected in stagnating enrollments in higher education, intensifying the financial difficulties of universities and indeed exacerbating the overall economic malaise.[1] The growing cost of universities has led recently to the emergence of Massive Online Open Courses whose upfront costs to students are nil, which further puts into doubt the future of traditional colleges and universities. These so-called MOOCs, delivered via the internet, hold out the possibility, or embody the threat, of doing away with much of the expensive labor and fixed capital costs embodied in existing university campuses. Clearly the future of higher education hangs in the balance with important implications for both American politics and economic life.

    The deteriorating situation of the universities has its own internal logic as well. In response to the decline in funding, but also to the prevalence of neoliberal ideology, universities-or rather the presidents, administrators, and boards of trustees who control them-are increasingly moving away from their ostensible mission of serving the public good to that of becoming as far as possible like private enterprises. In doing so, most of the teachers in these universities are being reduced to the status of wage labor, and indeed precarious wage labor. The wages of the non-tenured faculty who now constitute the majority of teachers in higher education are low, they have no job security and receive few benefits. Although salaried and historically enjoying a certain autonomy, tenured faculty are losing the vestiges of their independence as well. Similarly, the influence of students in university affairs-a result of concessions made by administrators during the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s-has effectively been neutered. These changes reflect a decisive shift of power toward university managers whose numbers and remuneration have expanded prodigiously. The objective of these bureaucrats is to transform universities as much as possible to approximate private and profit-making corporations, regarded as models of efficient organization based on the discipline of the market. Indeed, scores of universities, Phoenix University for example, have been created explicitly as for-profit businesses and currently enroll millions of students.

    Modern universities have always had a close relationship with private business, but whereas in the past faculty labor served capital by producing educated managers, highly skilled workers, and new knowledge as a largely free good, strenuous efforts are now underway to transform academic employment into directly productive, i.e., profitable, labor. The knowledge engendered by academic work is accordingly being privatized as a commodity through patenting, licensing, and copyrighting to the immediate benefit of universities and the private businesses to which universities are increasingly linked. Meanwhile, through the imposition of administrative standards laid down in accord with neoliberal principles, faculty are being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny through continuous quantified evaluation of teaching and research in which the ability to generate outside funding has become the ultimate measure of scholarly worth. At the same time, universities have become part of global ranking systems like the Shanghai Index or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in which their standing in the hierarchy has become all important to their prestige and funding.

    Several intertwined questions emerge from this state of affairs. In the first place, given the rising expense and debt that attendance at university imposes and declining employment prospects especially for young people, will there continue to be a mass market for higher education? Is the model of the university or college traditionally centered on the humanities and the sciences with a commitment to the pursuit of truth compatible with the movement toward converting the universities into quasi- or fully private business corporations? Finally, what are the implications of changes in the neoliberal direction for the future production of objective knowledge, not to speak of critical understanding?

    Universities during the Cold War produced an impressive amount of new positive knowledge, not only in the sciences, engineering, and agriculture but also in the social sciences and humanities. In the case of the humanities and social sciences such knowledge, however real, was largely instrumental or tainted by ideological rationalizations. It was not sufficiently critical in the sense of getting to the root of the matter, especially on questions of social class or on the motives of American foreign policy. Too much of it was used to control and manipulate ordinary people within and without the United States in behalf of the American state and the maintenance of the capitalist order. There were scholars who continued to search for critical understanding even at the height of the Cold War, but they largely labored in obscurity. This state of affairs was disrupted in the 1960s with the sudden burgeoning of Marxist scholarship made possible by the upsurge of campus radicalism attendant on the anti-war, civil rights, and black liberation struggles. But the decline of radicalism in the 1970s saw the onset of postmodernism, neoliberalism, and the cultural turn. Postmodernism represented an unwarranted and untenable skepticism, while neoliberal economics was a crude and overstated scientism. The cultural turn deserves more respect, but whatever intellectual interest there may be in it there is little doubt that the net effect of all three was to delink the humanities and social sciences from the revolutionary politics that marked the 1960s. The ongoing presence in many universities of radicals who took refuge in academe under Nixon and Reagan ensured the survival of Marxist ideas if only in an academic guise. Be that as it may, the crisis in American society and the concomitant crisis of the universities has become extremely grave over the last decade. It is a central contention of this work that, as a result of the crisis, universities will likely prove to be a key location for ideological and class struggle, signaled already by the growing interest in unionization of faculty both tenured and non-tenured, the revival of Marxist scholarship, the Occupy Movement, the growing importance of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and heightening conflicts over academic freedom and the corporatization of university governance.

    The approach of this work is to examine the recent history of American universities from the perspective of Marxism, a method which can be used to study these institutions critically as part of the capitalist economic and political system. Despite ongoing apologetics that view universities as sites for the pursuit of disinterested truth, we contend that a critical perspective involving an understanding of universities as institutions based on the contradictions of class inequality, the ultimate unity of the disciplines rooted in the master narrative of historical materialism, and a consciousness of history makes more sense as a method of analysis. All the more so, this mode of investigation is justified by the increasing and explicit promotion of academic capitalism by university managers trying to turn universities into for-profit corporations. In response to these policies scholars have in fact begun to move toward the reintegration of political economy with the study of higher education. This represents a turn away from the previous dominance in this field of postmodernism and cultural studies and, indeed, represents a break from the hegemonic outlook of neoliberalism.[2] On the other hand, most of this new scholarship is orientated toward studying the effects of neoliberalism on the contemporary university, whereas the present work takes a longer view. Marxist political economy demands a historical perspective in which the present condition of universities emerged from the crystallization of certain previous trends. It therefore looks at the evolution of the university from the beginning of the twentieth century, sketching its evolution from a preserve of the upper-middle class in which research played almost no role into a site of mass education and burgeoning research, and, by the 1960s, a vital element in the political economy of the United States.

    In contrast to their original commitment to independence with respect to the state up to World War II, most if by no means all universities and colleges defined their post-war goals in terms of the pursuit of the public good and were partially absorbed into the state apparatus by becoming financially dependent on government. But from start to finish twentieth-century higher education also had an intimate and ongoing relationship with private business. In the neoliberal period universities are taking this a step further, aspiring to turn themselves into quasi- or actual business corporations. But this represents the conclusion of a long-evolving process. The encroachment of private business into the university is in fact but part of the penetration of the state by private enterprise and the partial privatization of the state. On the surface this invasion of the public sphere by the market may appear beneficial to private business. We regard it, on the contrary, as a symptom of economic weakness and a weakening of civil society.

    The American system of higher education, with its prestigious private institutions, great public universities, private colleges and junior colleges, was a major achievement of a triumphant American republic. It provided the U.S. state with the intellectual, scientific, and technical means to strengthen significantly its post-1945 power. The current neoliberal phase reflects an America struggling economically and politically to adapt to the growing challenges to its global dominance and to the crisis of capitalism itself. The shift of universities toward the private corporate model is part of this struggle. Capitalism in its strongest periods not only separated the state from the private sector, it kept the private sector at arm's length from the state. The role of the state in ensuring a level playing field and providing support for the market was clearly understood. The current attempt by universities to mimic the private sector is a form of economic and ideological desperation on the part of short-sighted and opportunistic university administrators as well as politicians and businessmen. In our view, this aping of the private sector is misguided, full of contradictions, and ultimately vain if not disastrous. Indeed, it is a symptom of crisis and decline.

    The current overwhelming influence of private business on universities grew out of pre-existing tendencies. There is already an existing corporate nature of university governance both private and public, as well as an influence of business on universities in the first part of the twentieth century. In reaction there developed the concept of academic freedom as well as the establishment of the system of tenure and the development of a rather timid faculty trade unionism. This underscores the importance of private foundations in controlling the development of the curriculum and research in both the sciences and humanities. In their teaching, universities were mainly purveyors of the dominant capitalist ideology. Humanities and social science professors imparted mainly liberal ideology and taught laissez-faire economics which justified the political and economic status quo. The development of specialized departments reinforced the fragmentation of knowledge and discouraged the emergence of a systemic overview and critique of American culture and society. There were, as noted earlier, a few Marxist scholars, some of considerable distinction, who became prominent particularly in the wake of the Depression, the development of the influence of the Communist Party, and the brief period of Soviet-American cooperation during World War II. But the teaching of Marxism was frowned upon and attacked even prior to the Cold War.

    The post-1945 university was a creation of the Cold War. Its expansion, which sprang directly out of war, was based on the idea of education as a vehicle of social mobility, which was seen as an alternative to the equality and democracy promoted by the populism of the New Deal. Its elitist and technocratic style of governance was patterned after that of the large private corporation and the American federal state during the 1950s. Its enormously successful research programs were mainly underwritten by appropriations from the military and the CIA. The CIA itself was largely created by recruiting patriotic faculty from the universities. Much of the research in the social sciences was directed at fighting Soviet and revolutionary influence and advancing American imperialism abroad. Marxist professors and teaching programs were purged from the campuses.

    Dating from medieval times, the curriculum of the universities was based on a common set of subjects including language, philosophy, and natural science premised on the idea of a unitary truth. Although the subject matter changed over the centuries higher education continued to impart the hegemonic ideology of the times. Of course the notion of unitary truth was fraying at the seams by the beginning of the twentieth century with the development of departmental specialization and the increasingly contested nature of truth, especially in the social sciences in the face of growing class struggle in America. However, the notion of the idea of the unity of knowledge as purveyed by the university was still ideologically important as a rationale for the existence of universities. Moreover, as we shall demonstrate, it was remarkable how similarly, despite differences in subject matter and method, the main disciplines in the humanities and social sciences responded to the challenge of Marxism during the Cold War. They all developed paradigms which opposed or offered alternatives to Marxism while rationalizing continued loyalty to liberalism and capitalism. As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. Indeed, this work will focus on these disciplines because they defended the capitalist status quo at a deeper cultural and intellectual level than the ubiquitous mass media. As Louis Althusser pointed out, the teaching received by students from professors at universities was the strategic focal point for the ideological defense of the dominant class system. That was as true of the United States as it was of France, where institutions of higher learning trained those who would later train or manage labor. Criticizing the recent history of these disciplines is thus an indispensable step to developing an alternative knowledge and indeed culture that will help to undermine liberal capitalist hegemony.[3]

    The approach of this work is to critically analyze these core academic subjects from a perspective informed by Pierre Bourdieu and Karl Marx. Bourdieu points out that the deep involvement of the social sciences (and the humanities) with powerful social interests makes it difficult to free their study from ideological presuppositions and thereby achieve a truly socially and psychologically reflexive understanding.[4] But such reflexive knowledge was precisely what Marx had in mind more than a century earlier. Leaving a Germany still under the thrall of feudalism and absolutism for Paris in 1843, the young Marx wrote to his friend Arnold Ruge that

    reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form but, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.[5]

    His task as he saw it was to criticize the existing body of knowledge so as to make it as reasonable as possible, i.e., to undermine its illusory and ideological character and substitute knowledge which was both true and helped advance communism. Such a project entailed deconstructing the existing body of knowledge through rational criticism, exposing its ideological foundations and advancing an alternative based on a sense of contradiction, social totality, and a historical and materialist understanding. It is our ambition in surveying and studying the humanities and social sciences in the period after 1945 to pursue our investigation in the same spirit. Indeed, it is our view that a self-reflexive approach to contemporary knowledge, while woefully lacking, is an indispensable complement to the development of a serious ideological critique of the crisis-ridden capitalist society of today.

    Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States. As a matter of fact, anti-Marxism in American universities was not merely a defensive response to McCarthyism as some allege. Anti-communism was bred in the bone of many Americans and was one of the strongest forces that affected U.S. society in the twentieth century, including the faculty members of its universities. An idée fixe rather than an articulated ideology, it was compounded out of deeply embedded albeit parochial notions of Americanism, American exceptionalism and anti-radicalism.[6] The latter was rooted in the bitter resistance of the still large American middle or capitalist class to the industrial unrest which marked the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and which had a strong bed of support among the immigrant working class. Nativism then was an important tool in the hands of this class in fighting a militant if ethnically divided working class. Moreover, the anti-intellectual prejudices of American society in general and the provincialism of its universities were ideal terrain for fending off subversive ideas from abroad like Marxism. Later, this anti-communism and hostility to Marxism became the rationale for the extension of American imperialism overseas particularly after 1945. The social origins of the professoriate among the lower middle class, furthermore, and its role as indentured if indirect servants of capital, strengthened its position as inimical to Marxism. Just as careers could be lost for favoring Marxism, smart and adroit academics could make careers by advancing some new intellectual angle in the fight against Marxism. And this was not merely a passing feature of the height of the Cold War: from the 1980s onward, postmodernism, identity politics, and the cultural turn were invoked to disarm the revolutionary Marxist politics that had developed in the 1960s. Whatever possible role identity politics and culture might have in deepening an understanding of class their immediate effect was to undermine a sense of class and strengthen a sense of liberal social inclusiveness while stressing the cultural obstacles to the development of revolutionary class consciousness.

    This overall picture of conformity and repression was, however, offset by the remarkable upsurge of student radicalism that marked the 1960s, challenging the intellectual and social orthodoxies of the Cold War. In reaction to racism and political and social repression at home and the Vietnam War abroad, students rebelled against the oppressive character of university governance and by extension the power structure of American society. Overwhelmingly the ideology through which this revolt was refracted was the foreign and until then largely un-American doctrine of Marxism. Imported into the universities largely by students, Marxism then inspired a new generation of radical and groundbreaking scholarship. Meanwhile it is important to note that the student revolt itself was largely initiated by the southern civil rights movement, an important bastion of which were the historically black colleges of the South. It was from the struggle of racially oppressed black students in the American South as well as the growing understanding of the anti-colonial revolutionaries of Vietnam that the protest movement in American colleges and universities was born. Equally important was the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Indeed, it is the contention of this work that the issues raised at Berkeley over democracy in the universities and the free expression of ideas not only shaped the student movement of that time but are still with us, and indeed are central to the future of universities and intellectual life today.

    At the heart of the Berkeley protest lay a rejection of the idea of a university as a hierarchical corporation producing exchange values including the production of trained workers and ideas convertible into commodities. Instead the students asserted the vision of a democratic university which produced knowledge as a use value serving the common good. It is our view that this issue raised at Berkeley in the 1960s anticipated the class conflict that is increasingly coming to the fore over so-called knowledge capitalism. Both within the increasingly corporate neoliberal university and in business at large, the role of knowledge and knowledge workers is becoming a key point of class struggle. This is especially true on university campuses where the proletarianization of both teaching and research staff is in process and where the imposition of neoliberal work rules is increasingly experienced as tyrannical. The skilled work of these knowledge producers, the necessarily interconnected nature of their work, and the fundamentally contradictory notion of trying to privatize and commodify knowledge, have the potential to develop into a fundamental challenge to capitalism.

    Notes:

    1. Paul Fain, "'Nearing the Bottom': Inside Higher Education," Inside Higher Education , May 15, 2014.

    2. Raymond A. Morrow, "Critical Theory and Higher Education: Political Economy and the Cul-de-Sac of the Postmodernist Turn," in The University, State and Market: The Political Economy of Globalization in the Americas , ed. Robert A. Rhoads and Carlos Alberto Torres, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006, pp. xvii‒xxxiii.

    3. Perry Anderson, "Components of the National Culture," New Left Review , No. 50, July‒August, 1968, pp. 3–4.

    4. Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature , New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 86–7.

    5. Karl Marx, Letter to Arnold Ruge, Kreuznach, September 1843, Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher , at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/letters/43_09.htm

    6. Larry Ceplair, Anti-Communism in Twentieth-Century America , Santa Barbara: Clio, 2011, pp. 1–2, 12.

    0 0 30 1 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Guest Post , Politics , Social policy , Social values on February 7, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 31 comments Jim , February 7, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Capitalism requires that total strangers be on the hook for student loans? And if this is Capitalism then why didn't this trend emerge 100+ years ago? Why now?

    Trout Creek , February 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    It is a function of the adaption of NeoLiberalism as a governing principle which you can basically start around the time of Reagan.

    Steve Sewall , February 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Because a) the market for a college degree is vastly bigger today than it was 100+ years ago b) tuitions were affordable so there was no way for high-interest lenders ("total strangers") to game the system as they do today.

    Plus I wonder if the legal system or tax code would have let them get away with anything like what they get away with today.

    schultzzz , February 7, 2017 at 1:58 am

    I agree with everything dude says, but the way he says it is so deathly dull and needlessly technical . . .

    it's a shame that someone so openly critical of the university system and culture nonetheless unquestioningly obeys the tradition of: "serious writing has to turn off 99% of the people that might be otherwise interested in the subject."

    Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 8:57 am

    And here I thought I was the only one

    John Wright , February 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Yes, his writing caused this reader to do a MEDGO ("my eyes doth gloss over")

    It was technical in its assertions, but has few metrics to quantify the trends such as inflation adjusted administrative cost or inflation adjusted government college funding now vs then.

    There is a mention that the USA government has touted the "upward mobility" or excess value, AKA "consumer surplus", of a college degree to students and their families for years.

    The US government further encouraged the student loan industry with guarantees and bankruptcy relief de-facto prohibited.

    The current system may illustrate that colleges raised their prices to capture more of this alleged consumer surplus, a surplus that may no longer be there..

    If one looks at the USA's current political/economic/infrastructure condition, and asserts that the leaders and government officials of the USA were trained, overwhelmingly, over the last 40 years, in the USA's system of higher education, perhaps this is an indication USA higher education has not served the general public well for a long time.

    The author mentions this important point "These so-called MOOCs, delivered via the internet, hold out the possibility, or embody the threat, of doing away with much of the expensive labor and fixed capital costs embodied in existing university campuses. Clearly the future of higher education hangs in the balance with important implications for both American politics and economic life."

    Maybe the MOOCs are the low cost future as the 4 year degree loses economic value and the USA moves to a life-long continuous education model?

    Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 11:06 am

    ISTR reading that the completion rate for MOOCs is pretty low. As in, 10% of the students who start the course end up finishing it.

    Pete , February 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    And that rate doesn't even mention what scores they achieved. MOOCs are hopeless especially since college is now less about getting an education and more about a statement about a young person's lifestyle or identity.

    http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2015/10/college-as-part-of-lifestyle.html

    JustAnObserver , February 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Now sure about the `now' bit. I maybe a bit cynical but I've always thought, even when I was at one, that colleges/universities major function was as a middle-class finishing school for those unable to afford the real deal in Switzerland.

    julia , February 7, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I do not agree and it is deathly dull and needlessly technical. In fact it remains me off the marxistic education I enjoyed growing up in East Germany.
    Maybe it is time to rethink after school education. Physical Labor should loose its stain of being for loosers and stupid people. A whole lot of professions could be better taught through apprentiships and technical college mix.( many younge people would maybe enjoy being able to start qualified work after only 3 additional years of education).
    And do we really need 12 years of standard school education? There are so many kids that do not function well in school.
    Universities should be for the really eager and talented who want to spend a big part of
    their youth learning.
    I guess we need a lot of new ideas to get away from the old paradigma ( anti- marxist or marxist)

    John Wright , February 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I took a couple of classes at the local junior college in automotive smog testing and machining.

    One of the instructors told me the JC administration viewed this Junior College as having two parts, College Prep + vocational education.

    He suggested the administration looked down on the vocational education portion, saying "But we get the jobs".

    Steve , February 7, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I don't know how you read other works from academics if you think that this was dull.

    Do you or anyone thinking this was "dull" have any examples of academic essays or books that contain useful knowledge but also consider them "shiny?"

    Personally, I thought this was a very good essay as it explains some things I've been thinking about American higher education and quite a few things about my personal university education at a tier-1 research school.

    Altandmain , February 7, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Basically universities have become a cog in the machine of neoliberalism.

    Rather than anything resembling an institution for the public good, it has taken on the worst aspects of corporate America (and Canada). You can see this in the way they push now for endowment money, the highly paid senior management contrasted with poorly paid adjuncts, and how research is controlled these days. Blue skies research is cut, while most research is geared towards short-term corporate profit, from which they will no doubt milk society with.

    I tremble when I think about what all of this means:
    1. Students won't be getting a good education when they are taught by adjuncts being paid poverty wages.
    2. Corporations will profit in the short run.
    3. The wealthy and corporations due to endowment money have a huge sway.
    4. Blue skies research will fall and over time, US leadership in hard sciences.
    5. The productivity of future workers will be suppressed and with it, their earning potential.
    6. Related to that, inequality will increase dramatically as universities worsen the situation.
    7. There will be many "left behind" students and graduates with high debt, along with bleak job prospects.
    8. State governments, starving for tax money will make further cuts, worsening these trends.
    9. Anything hostile to the corporate state (as the article notes) will be suppressed.
    10. With it, academic freedom and ultimately democracy will be much reduced.

    What it means is decline in US technological power, productivity gains, and with it, declining living standards.

    All of these trends already are happening. They will worsen.

    I'd agree that a more readable version of this should be made for the general public.

    James McFadden , February 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Well said.

    But your description suggests an inevitable bleak dystopic future – a self-fulfilling prophesy. The future is not written – we can help determine its course. It starts with grass roots movement building in your neighborhood and community. And I can't think of a more rewarding task then creating a better future for our children.

    But perhaps my farmer's work ethic, my inclination to side with the underdog and stand up to the bully capitalists, are notions that most Americans no longer possess. Perhaps Cornel West is correct when he states: "The oppressive effect of the prevailing market moralities leads to a form of sleepwalking from womb to tomb, with the majority of citizens content to focus on private careers and be distracted with stimulating amusements. They have given up any real hope of shaping the collective destiny of the nation. Sour cynicism, political apathy, and cultural escapism become the pervasive options."

    However, it is my observation that Trump's election has woken this sleepwalking giant, and that his bizarre behavior continues to energize people to resist. So why not rebel and help bring down the neoliberal fascists. Is there any cause more worthy? And for those who won't try because they don't think they can win, consider the words of Chris Hedges: "I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists."

    Jason , February 7, 2017 at 2:14 am

    I'm going to complain about your headline. A lot of stuff on this blog is obviously relevant only to the USA, and when it's obvious it doesn't need to be mentioned in the headline. But it's not at all obvious that this topic is only about the USA (or North America, since the author is in Canada?), so maybe you could edit the headline to reflect that it is in fact only about the USA?

    My observation of Australian universities is that they have similar problems, although maybe to a lesser extent. But I doubt the same things happen in all countries. I'd be interested to know more about mainland European universities, and ex-Soviet-bloc universities, and Chinese universities, and Third World universities.

    As for "Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached", I think the rich universities in the UK (i.e. the richer residential Oxbridge colleges, if you count them as universities – Oxford and Cambridge Universities themselves are not particularly rich – plus maybe Imperial College?) have very little invested in hedge funds and a lot in property. Can anyone confirm or deny that?

    Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Thank you, Jason.

    In the past two decades, the UK's top universities, often called the Russell Group after the Russell Hotel in Russell Square where they met to form a sort of lobby group, have made money and started hiring rock star academics. I don't know how much these academics teach, but they often pontificate in the media.

    Big business, oligarchs and former alumni (often oligarchs) donate money, allowing them to build up their coffers. Imperial is developing an area of west London.

    Oxbridge colleges own a lot of property. Much of the land between Cambridge and London is owned by Cambridge colleges. This goes back to when they were religious institutions and despite Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

    London Business School has expanded from its Regent's Park base to Marylebone as the number of students, especially from Asia, grow. I have spoken to students from there and Oxford's Said Business School and know people who have guest lectured there. They were not impressed. Plutonium Kun has written about that below.

    Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Correction: number of students grows :-)

    bmeisen , February 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Oxford and Cambridge are British state universities as I understand it. The Russell Group consists primarily of state institutions that have assumed / been given / been restored to an elite role in the British system of higher education, which is overwhelmingly public. Oxford and Cambridge are at the peak of a relatively flat hierarchy of elite public higher education. Higher ed's role in the constitution of British elites is characterized by 3 features: association with an institutional reputation and thereby access to a network, a financial hurdle, and a meritocratic process of selection. Of these the financial hurdle is the least problematic – tuition is still peanuts compared to that at American elite institutions.

    Things have gotten better – you no longer have to be a male member of the church of England to get in – and the system is more democratic than the French system of elite public higher ed, i.e. the ruling elite in the UK can be penetrated by working people, e.g. Corbyn.

    Winston Smith , February 7, 2017 at 3:07 am

    My son is half Japanese and half American and holds a passport with both countries, he is still in elementary school, but my wife and I are encouraging him to go to school in Japan or to Germany (ancestral home) and seek his fortunes outside of the US as the crapification of the US roller coasters out of control.

    Japanese universities are still affordable compared to the US and it's administrative layer, modestly paid, isn't run by MBAs, corporate hacks and neoliberal apologists and others who would better serve the public by decorating a lamp post somewhere with piano wire tightly wrapped around their necks!

    My niece attended Kyoto University, one of the best schools in Japan and it cost her and her parents about 7500.00 a year. She commuted from Nara City and Finished her degree in just under three years and had a job waiting for her in the middle of her third year.

    Now, I agree that Japanese universities have their fare share of problems and insanity, but the thought of dealing with US universities nauseates my wife and me.

    The only school in the US that I would want my son to attend would be Caltech, if he could ever successfully get accepted. They still do great science there, much of it blue sky research. LIGO is still running!
    https://eands.caltech.edu/random-walk-3/

    * disclaimer, I used to be a Caltech employee.

    Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:35 am

    An increasing number of British students are going to the Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, Germany for courses taught in English and for under EUR2000 per annum. Leiden and Maastricht are particularly favoured. Apparently, some Spanish universities are cottoning on to that market.

    Half a dozen years ago, a clown masquerading as a BBC breakfast news reporter went to have a look and condescend. Her concluding remark was, "The question is are continental universities as good as British ones."

    Arizona Slim , February 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I have studied at a Spanish university. The courses were excellent.

    Jake , February 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    But but Japan has sooooo much government debt and must cut cut cut unless it implodes!

    Out of curiosity, may I ask you to elaborate on what you mean when you say japanese universities have 'their fare share of problems and insanity'?

    schultzzz , February 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    re: japanese universities.

    The university system is not set up for education. it's a reward to the conformists who studied 12 hours a day all through jr high/highschool to pass the university entrance exams (which notoriously don't test for any useful knowledge). The idea being that if you waste your whole childhood studying for a phoney test, you won't dare question the system once you're in the workforce, as it would mean admitting your whole childhood was wasted!

    Since college is viewed as a reward, rather than a challenge, there's very little learning going on. it's about developing relationships (and drinking problems) with future members of this elite class.

    So most Japanese corporations wind up having to teach the grads everything on the job anyway.

    A Japanese degree doesn't mean 'i know things' it means 'i have already by age 20 sacrificed so much that i don't dare ever rock the boat', which is exactly how the corporations and govt bureaucracies want it.

    You might say "oh but science! Japanese are good at that!"

    But my wife, a nurse, says that it's considered rude to flunk an incompetent student, providing she/he's respectful of the professor. There are doctors who routinely botch surgeries, but firing them would be rude. These doctors would have flunked out of regular (i.e. non-Japanese) universities.

    End rant!

    PlutoniumKun , February 7, 2017 at 3:55 am

    Having on more than one occasion suffered through management restructuring organised by MBA's which did nothing other than reduce productivity in favour of meaningless metrics and increase the power of managers who had no idea how to actually do the job, I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that the MBA was a clever invention by an anarchist determined to create a virus to undermine capitalism from within. At least, thats the only possible theory that makes sense to me.

    templar555510 , February 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I agree . Putting it more bluntly the MBA is a clever con to get would-be students to sign up in the belief it'll teach them something that can't be taught – how to make money. I've said this on this blog before – the ability to make money is a knack ; it doesn't matter what the field is it's all akin to someone selling cheap goods on a market stall .

    Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 4:19 am

    Thank you, Yves, for posting.

    Some observations from the UK:

    Many UK universities are targeting foreign, especially Asian, students for the purpose of profit, not education. Some universities refer to students as clients.

    Some provincial universities are opening campuses in London as foreign students only want to study in London.

    There are many Chinese would be students in London this week. Some universities have open days at the moment. When the youngsters and their parents are not attending such days, they go shopping at Bicester Village, just north of Oxford. It's odd to see commuters arriving from Buckinghamshire at Marylebone for work and Chinese and Arab tourists going shopping in the opposite direction, and the reverse in the evening.

    The targeting of rich Asian students, often not up to academic standard, has led to a secondary school in mid-Buckinghamshire, where selective education prevails at secondary / high school, to take Chinese students for the summer term and house them with well to do (only) local parents. The experiment went well for the "grammar" school, i.e. it made money. As for the families who housed the kids, not so much. There were complaints that the children could speak little or no English, which is not what they expected, so the host families could barely interact with the visitors. The school wants to repeat the programme and expand it to a full year. That is the thin end of a wedge as the school will scale back the numbers of local children admitted and probably expand the programme to the entire phase of secondary / high school. It's like running a boarding school by stealth. The school is now an "academy", so no longer under government control and similar to charter schools, and can do what it wants.

    David Barrera , February 7, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Yves Smith,
    I like your introduction to the article. "Universities with large endowments are increasingly hedge funds with an educational unit attached" A recent and very simple but eye opener interview on the subject-Richard Wolff-http://www.rdwolff.com/rttv_boom_bust_for_profit_schools_are_making_money_but_failing_the_grade

    As Henry Heller mentions Bourdieu, I can not find among his bibliography much on the specific increasing dominance of the "free market" over learning institutions. The Field of Cultural Production focuses mainly on the opposition market/art,cultural field and the rules of art. Some of his other works elaborate very well on the transformed reproduction of social agents with different economic and cultural capital weights. His major works on higher learning are The State Nobility and Academic Discourse, which are about the homologies between the hierarchy of higher learning centers and the market position occupiers which the latter produce. All of it within the French context. The great late Bourdieu certainly denounced the increasing free market ideology presence and dominance on "everything human"(i.e Free Exchange, Against the Tyranny of the Market and elsewhere); yet not much in that regard-to my knowledge-on the centers with the granted power to issue higher learning degrees. I guess my point is that Heller's reference to Bourdieu strikes me as a bit odd here.
    Nevertheless, I like Heller's article. Just as incidental evidence: my town's community college President is a CPA and MBA title holder, the Economics 101 class taught does not deviate the slightest from economic orthodoxy doctrine and I must add that, despite-or because of- a 75% tutoring fee increase in the last eight years, the center has consistently generated a surplus aided by the low wages from the vastly non-tenured teachers.

    Colonel Smithers , February 7, 2017 at 6:38 am

    The students from China, Singapore and the Middle East often live in the upscale areas of London, often at home rather than rent. Parents are often in tow. They also drive big and expensive cars.

    It's amazing to see what is driven and by whom around University, Imperial and King's colleges and the London School of Economics in central London. This was remarked upon by US readers a couple of years ago. Parking is not cheap, either.

    A friend and former colleague was planning to rent at Canary Wharf where he was a contractor. He put his name down and was getting ready to move in. The landlord got in touch to say sorry, a family from Singapore was coming and paying more. Apparently, Singaporeans reserve well in advance, even before the students know their exam results.

    A golf course was put up for sale near home. The local authority tipped off some upscale estate agents / realtors from London. A Chinese buyer has acquired the thirty odd acre property. Without planning (construction) permission, the property is worth £1.5m. With planning permission, it's worth £1m per acre. A gated community / rural retreat for the Chinese student community is planned. Oxford, London, Shakespeare Country, Clooney Country and Heathrow are an hour or less away.

    Left in Wisconsin , February 7, 2017 at 10:45 am

    My favorite line:
    Marxism is still regarded with suspicion in the United States.

    I love a good Marxist and I know that a totalizing perspective such as Marxism requires a certain amount of generalization, but I found more to criticize in this post than to recommend it. Apparently entire disciplines have agency ( As if on cue, sociology, psychology, literature, political science, and anthropology all took sides by explicitly rejecting Marxism and putting forward viewpoints opposed to it. History itself stressed American exceptionalism, justified U.S. expansionism, minimized class conflict, and warned against revolution. ).

    It is clearly true that the modern university is overly focused on money-making – both the university enterprise itself and the selling of higher ed to students – but, from my long experience with one big Tier One and lesser knowledge of several others, it is wrong to say that the modern university looks to operate as a business. Indeed, the top heaviness of bureaucratic administration in the modern university is not very business-like.

    IMO what declining public funding has done is allow/force the modern university to aim it's giant vacuum sucker in any and every direction. By the way, if Wisconsin is any example, there are enough Chinese students interested in American university degrees to keep it in business for quite a long time.

    But my biggest complaint is with the history. After first laying out an ideal (but not very) historical vision of the utopian university, in contrast with today's money grubber, he later admits that the mid-century university was not all that open to leftism. Then the miracle of the 1960s, which seems to spring from social protest alone. The real story of the 1960s was the huge expansion of higher ed in the U.S., which led to considerable faculty hiring, which allowed a lot of leftists to get hired in the 1960s and early 1970s (often at second or third-tier schools) when they would not have in the 1950s. This was always going to be a one-time event.

    The author also seems to suggest that universities owe it to Marxists to hire them if their analysis is good. This is a weird argument for a Marxist to make, seemingly entirely oblivious to the overall political economy he otherwise emphasizes. It ends up sounding more than a bit self-serving. I'm not sure lecturing in History on the public dime is Marx's idea of praxis.

    cojo , February 7, 2017 at 11:52 am

    The same can be said about administrative costs in medicine. Seems the parasitic infection is everywhere!

    [Feb 08, 2017] Trade and Political Power: The Past and Possible Ways Forward

    Notable quotes:
    "... We are loosing global power not due to military projection but, that military projection is in support of financial projection which is a plague ..."
    Feb 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    February 7, 2017 by Yves Smith By Arthur MacEwan, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a co-founder and associate of Dollars & Sense magazine. This is the final part of a three-part series on the era of economic globalization, the distribution of power worldwide, and the current crisis. It was originally published in the January/February issue of Dollars & Sense, commencing the magazine's year-long "Costs of Empire" project. Parts 1 and 2 are available here and here . Cross posted from Triple Crisis

    The rhetoric of free trade, in any case, is simply one of the tools that the U.S. government, its allies, international agencies, and large firms use in shaping the world economy. Economic and political-military power is the foundation for this shaping. Following World War II, when the U.S. accounted for more than a quarter of world output, it had tremendous economic power-as a market, an investment source, and a source of new technology. U.S. firms had little competition in their global operations and were thus able to penetrate markets and control resources over a wide range (outside of the U.S.S.R., the rest of the East Bloc, and China). Along with this economic power, the military power of the United States was immense. In the context of the Cold War and the rise of democratic upsurges and liberation movements in many regions, the role of the U.S. military was welcomed in many countries-especially by elites facing threats (real or imagined) from the Soviet Union, domestic liberation movements, or both.

    This combination of economic and military power, far more than the rhetoric of free trade, allowed the U.S. government to move other governments toward accepting openness in international commerce. The Bretton Woods conference was a starting point in this process; U.S. representatives at the conference were largely able to dictate the conference outcomes. In terms of international commerce, things worked quite well for the United Sates for about 25 years. Then, however, various challenges to the U.S. position emerged. In particular, the war in Indochina and its costs, competition from firms based in Japan and Europe, and the rise of OPEC and increase in energy costs began to disrupt the dominant U.S. role by the early 1970s.

    Still, while the period after the 1970s saw slower economic growth, both in the United States and in several other high-income countries, the United States continued to hold its dominant position. In part, this was due to the Cold War-the Soviet threat, or at least the perceived threat, providing the glue that attached other countries to U.S. leadership. Yet, by the 1990s, the U.S.S.R. was no more, and China was becoming a rising world power.

    In spite of the changes in the world economy, the United States at first appears to have almost the same share of world output in 2016, 24.7%, as it had in the immediate post-World War II period, and is still considerably ahead of any other country. Yet this figure evaluates output in the rest of the world's countries at market exchange rates. When the figures are recalculated, using the real purchasing power of different currencies, the U.S. share drops to 15.6%, behind China's 17.9% of world output. Of course, as China has a much larger population than the United States, even using the purchasing power figures, per person GDP in the U.S. is almost four times greater than in China; it would be almost 7 times greater using the market exchange rates.

    The rise of China has not moved the United States off its pedestal as the world's dominant economic power. Moreover, U.S. military strength remains dominant in world affairs. Yet the challenge is real, even to the point that China has recently created an institution, providing development loans to low-income countries, to be an alternative to the (U.S.-dominated) World Bank. Investment by Chinese firms, too, is spreading worldwide. Then there are the military issues in the South China Sea.

    At the same time, the United States is engaged in seemingly intractable military operations in the Middle East, and has continued to maintain its global military presence as widely as during the Cold War. Having long taken on the role of providing the global police force, for the U.S. government to pull back from these operations would be to accept a decline in U.S. global power. But, further, the extensive and far flung military presence of U.S. forces is necessary to preserve the rules of international commerce that have been established over decades. The rules themselves need protection, regardless of the amount of commerce directly affected. The real threat to "U.S. interests" posed by the Islamic State and like forces in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of East Asia is not their appalling and murderous actions. Instead, their threat lies in their disruption and disregard for the rules of international commerce. From Honduras and Venezuela to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, if U.S. policy were guided by an attempt to protect human rights, the role of U.S. military and diplomatic polices would be very different.

    Continuing to operate on a global level to halt threats to the "rules of the game"-in a world were economic power is shifting away from the United States-this country is threatening itself with imperial overreach. Attempting to preserve its role in global affairs and to maintain its favored terms of global commerce, the U.S. government may be taking on financial and military burdens that it cannot manage. In the Middle East in particular, the costs of military operations during the 21st century have run into the trillions of dollars. Military bases and actions are so widespread as to limit their effectiveness in any one theater of operations.

    The potential danger in this situation is twofold. On the one hand, the costs of these operations and the resulting strain on the U.S. government's budget can weaken the operation of the domestic economy. On the other hand, in the context of the rising challenges to the U.S. role in global affairs and the rising role of other powers, especially China but also Russia, U.S. forces may enter into especially dangerous attempts to regain U.S. power in world affairs-the treacherous practice of revanchism.

    Are There Alternatives?

    Although globalization in the broad sense of a geographic expansion of economic, political, social, and cultural contacts may be an inexorable process, the way in which this expansion takes place is a matter of political choices-and political power . Both economic and political/military expansion are contested terrain. Alternatives are possible.

    The backlash against globalization that appeared in 2016, especially in the U.S. presidential campaign, has had both progressive and reactionary components. The outcome of the election, having had such a reactionary and xenophobic foundation, is unlikely to turn that backlash into positive reforms, which would attenuate economic inequality and insecurity. Indeed, all indications in the period leading up to Trump's inauguration (when this article is being written) suggest that, whatever changes take place in the U.S. economic relations with the rest of the world, those changes will not displace large corporations as the principal beneficiaries of the international system.

    Nonetheless, the Sanders campaign demonstrated the existence of a strong progressive movement against the current form of globalization. If that movement can be sustained, there are several reforms that it could push that would alter the nature of globalization and lay the foundation for a more democratic and larger changes down the road (Sanders' "revolution"). Two examples of changes that would directly alter U.S. international agreements in ways that would reduce inequality and insecurity are:

    Changing international commercial agreements so they include strong labor rights and environmental protections. Goods produced under conditions where workers' basic rights, to organize and to work under reasonable health and safety conditions, are denied would not be given unfettered access to global markets. Goods whose production or use is environmentally destructive would likewise face trade restrictions. (One important "restriction" could include a carbon tax that would raise the cost of transporting goods over long distances.) Effective enforcement procedures would be difficult but possible.

    Establishing effective employment support for people displaced by changes in international commerce. Such support could include, for instance, employment insurance funds and well funded retraining programs. Also, there would need to be provisions for continuing medical care and pensions. Moreover, there is no good reason for such support programs to be limited to workers displaced by international commerce. People who lose their jobs because of environmental regulations (such as coal miners), technological change (like many workers in manufacturing), or just stupid choices by their employers should have the same support.

    Several other particular reforms would also be desirable. Obviously, the elimination of ISDS is important, as is cessation of moves to extend U.S. intellectual property rights. The reforms would also include: global taxation of corporations; taxation of financial transactions; altering the governance the IMF, World Bank, and WTO to reduce their role as instruments of the United States and other high income countries; protections for international migrants and protection of their rights as workers. The list could surely be extended. Changes in international economic relations, however, cannot be separated from political changes. The ability of the United States and its allies to shape economic relations is tied up with military power. Military interventions and the threat of military interventions have long been an essential foundation for U.S. power in the global economy. These interventions and threats are often cloaked in democratic or humanitarian rhetoric. Yet, one need simply look at the Middle East to recognize the importance of the interests of large U.S. firms in bringing about these military actions. (Again, see the box on Smedley Butler.) It will be necessary to build opposition to these military interventions in order to move the world economy in a positive direction- to say nothing of halting the disastrous humanitarian impacts of these interventions.

    No one claims that it would be easy to overcome the power of large corporations in shaping the rules of international commerce in agreements or to reduce (let alone block) the aggressive military practices of the U.S. government. The prospect of a Trump presidency certainly makes the prospect of progressive change on international affairs-or on any other affairs-more difficult. There is, however, nothing inevitable about the way these central aspects of globalization have been organized. There are alternatives that would not undermine the U.S. economy (or other economies). Indeed, these alternatives would strengthen the U.S. economy in terms of improving and sustaining the material well-being of most people.

    The basic issues here are who-which groups in society-are going to determine basic economic policies and by what values those policies will be formulated.

    Gman , February 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    An over extended Soviet Empire collapsed in no small part due to its obsession with winning a war, albeit one that thankfully remained 'cold', that it never could.

    A corrupt, nepotistic distant, paranoid elite that instead of dividing its efforts into looking after its own society's well-being, as well a apparently just defending it, opted for near as dammed bankrupting itself attempting to feed an insatiable military machine it could ill afford (and would mostly never use) at its increasingly disaffected, divided, restive people's expense.

    Mind you, they were just dumb Commies.

    JTMcPhee , February 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    First, did the Soviet state "bankrupt itself damm near" mostly by trying to feed an "insatiable military machine," or did the wealth of the Soviets get dissipated into other ratholes as well, alongside various external pressures and effects? And what scale applied to each political-decision "allocation"? One view, among a flood of intersecting and competing interpretations, of course:

    The stunning collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989-91 has often been heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism and democracy, as though this event were obviously a direct result of the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. This self-congratulatory analysis has little relation to measurable facts, circumstances, and internal political dynamics that were the real historical causes of the deterioration of the Soviet empire and ultimately the Soviet state itself. Fiery political speeches and tough diplomatic postures make good theater, but they are ineffective at forcing political transformation in totalitarian nations, as is proven by the persistence of far less powerful Communist regimes in Cuba and east Asia in the face of punishing trade embargos. The key to understanding the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union is to be found not in the speeches or policies of Western politicians, but in internal Soviet history.

    1. Stagnation in the 1970s

    The Soviet Union was already in decline as a world power well before 1980. Any illusions of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1960s. As the Nixon administration improved American relations with an increasingly independent China, the Soviets saw a strategic need to scale down the nuclear arms race, which placed enormous strains on its faltering economy. The threat of a nuclear confrontation was reduced considerably by the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) contracted with the Nixon administration in 1972. This détente, or easing of tensions, allowed Leonid Brezhnev to focus on domestic economic and social development, while boosting his political popularity.

    Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it would never emerge. Increasingly, the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the U.S. became a major supplier of grain.[1] Despite moments of anti-Communist grandstanding, the Americans and Western Europeans maintained trade relations with the cash-strapped Soviet Union, which dipped into its Stalin-era gold reserves to increase availability of consumer goods .

    Foreign trade and mild economic reforms were not enough to overcome the inefficiencies of the Soviet command economy, which remained technologically backward and full of corruption. Economic planners were frequently unable to diagnose and remedy problems, since they were given false reports by officials who only pretended to be productive. Soviet living standards remained poor by Western standards. By 1980, only 9 percent of Soviets had automobiles, which was actually a vast improvement under Brezhnev. Very little was computerized, due to state paranoia about the use of telecommunications for counterrevolutionary purposes. The USSR was able to endure this technological lag because its closed economy protected it from competition, but its ability to maintain military superiority increasingly depended on the ability to keep pace with Western modernization.

    In his radio broadcasts during the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan complained that the capitalist nations propped up the intrinsically flawed Soviet regime, instead of allowing it to naturally collapse from its own inefficiency and inhumanity.[2] In contrast to his later hagiographers, Reagan did not envision defeating the Soviet Union by forceful action, but instead he perceived that the regime would collapse from its own failings once the West removed its financial life support system. It is this early Reagan, far more thoughtful than he is generally credited, who proved to be most astute in diagnosing the state of the USSR. It did not need a foreign enemy to "defeat" it, for it was deteriorating from within.
    http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/histpoli/soviet.htm

    And I recall the Soviet military leadership was largely (no, not exclusively of course, humans being what they are) reacting to the clear and present danger that "the West" presented. Among many other considerations, of course. In the Great Game of "chicken," in which we all are mostly passengers in the speeding cars with loony drivers ya-hooing out the windows, I recall the Soviets were the ones to veer off from that head-on collision that might have ended it all earlier than it seems increasingly likely to end anyway. And Russian leadership seems more concerned about the survival of the nation than our own clown-car leadership.

    Seems to me that all of us ordinary people, many of whom would gladly take advantage of opportunities to do some looting themselves, to "get ahead" in the "rat race," if only those opportunities were presented, have insufficient collective concern about the many systems, living and political-economy, that apparently are collapsing or running out of control. And patently the military-security monkey that's riding our backs is doing a p!ss-poor job of "defending us" in any ordinary sense of the term, and not even a vary good job of playing Imperial Forces. Though of course the net effects of military and political chaos-building and destabilization do blast out a nice open-pit mine for corporate looters to get at the extractables..

    But yeah, the halls of history are full of echoes and shadows and reflections in a glass darkly And I wonder if London bookies are running a line on when history, as recorded and debated and acted out by humans, will REALLY end, thanks to our wonderful unbridled inventiveness and lack of that genetic predisposition to survive as a species that ants and termites and rats and cats and other "lesser creatures" seem to have

    Anon , February 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Commies? That last paragraph sounds like post-WWII history in the US.

    Gman , February 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    ;-)

    jsn , February 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Training people for jobs does not create jobs for them. Training would be an organic function of profitable businesses seeking employees. I'm old enough to remember what that was like.

    The issue is JOBS pure and simple for everyone that wants or needs one.

    Prosperous, secure people make progressive change possible: desperate, insecure people don't. If you want security, make people secure.

    Jonf , February 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Gotta chime in here. You are right on the money here.

    dragoonspires , February 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    There's the rub. Because the only way in the future to ensure enough of these jobs may be by using tax money from the well off to at least partially fund the scarce and missing jobs that won't be created otherwise. How willing do you think they will be to see their tax dollars funding progressive causes? We say progressive/they say socialist.

    Until we convince enough people of these ideas and they actually vote (if their vote is still possible as suppression intensifies), this won't likely happen. If you have a better idea on how to create these well paying secure jobs in the face of automation, etc. outside of winning elections the old fashioned way and using policies, I'm open minded and listening.

    Marilyn Delson , February 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Been down this "protections for workers" road before and the TPP (Obama, Clinton). Sorry neolib-neocon globalist oligarchs. Rewording the messaging still has the same shit outcome for the middle class.

    Synoia , February 7, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    The potential danger in this situation is twofold. On the one hand, the costs of these operations and the resulting strain on the U.S. government's budget can weaken the operation of the domestic economy.

    Really? When the US can just issue the dollars to pay the bills? How does this weaken the economy?

    TomDority , February 7, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    "Following World War II, when the U.S. accounted for more than a quarter of world output, it had tremendous economic power -- as a market, an investment source, and a source of new technology. U.S. firms had little competition in their global operations and were thus able to penetrate markets and control resources over a wide range (outside of the U.S.S.R., the rest of the East Bloc, and China)."

    IMHO

    – Of course we did because our investments were in technology, industry and production which was tightly coupled with investment in infrastructure with a "market" much more free from economic rent. Economic rent pushes all production costs up particularly where property prices (farm land, indutrial land and home land use) surge or boom.

    "U.S. government to pull back from these operations would be to accept a decline in U.S. global power."

    IMHO

    We are loosing global power not due to military projection but, that military projection is in support of financial projection which is a plague – responsible for global destitution in all the plenty the planet offers – we are obviously doing something wrong? yes. Further to that, we should not have weaponized finance and unleashed it on ourselves or anybody else. Yes, let us cede all to private interests – look how well that goes..snarc.

    "The potential danger in this situation is twofold. On the one hand, the costs of these operations and the resulting strain on the U.S. government's budget can weaken the operation of the domestic economy. "

    IMHO

    The costs of these (assume military) operations have not put a strain on US government budget but, the biggest strain on the budget is our unjust revenue system and finacialization of our economy where "investment" drives asset appreciation, making everything more expensive for living and working but, in no way involves the employment of labor to produce something worth having .say something like a habitable planet.
    So the real issue is we believe our own hubris to the point of mostly extincting the planet.

    Sorry for the sad rant we need to look at the basis for prosperity and of the opposite, instead we see the results and assume it to be a natural cause when in fact it is not natural.

    Below is a quote from near a hundred years ago

    GETTING SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

    ...The/reat sore spot in our modern commercial life is found on the speculative side. Under present laws, which foster and encourage speculation business life is largely a gamble, and to "get something for nothing" is too often considered the keynote to "success." The great fortunes of today are nearly all speculative fortunes; and the ambitious young man just starting out in life thinks far less of producing or rendering service than he does of "putting it over" on the other
    fellow This may seem a broad statement to some; but thirty years of business life in the heart of American commercial activity convinces me that it is absolutely true. If, however, the speculative incentive in modern commercial life were eliminated, and no man could become rich or successful unless he gave
    "value received" and rendered service for service, then indeed a profound change would have been brought in our whole commercial system, and it
    would be a change which no honest man would regret.-John Moody, Wall Street Publisher, and President of Moody's Investors' Service. Circa 1924

    Left in Wisconsin , February 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Goods produced under conditions where workers' basic rights, to organize and to work under reasonable health and safety conditions, are denied would not be given unfettered access to global markets.

    American goods, too?

    steelhead23 , February 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    For policy-makers, decisions made on the basis of power, prestige, and profit are far more palatable than those made on the basis of human rights and the environment. This may seem simple, and the right thing to do morally, but it really is difficult. Your counterparties (let's say, the Saudis) are known to punish minor crimes severely and they routinely abuse foreign workers. So, you want to add a few dinars to the price of oil. "Not so fast," says the sheikh. "You have the largest prison population in the world, so we're adding a tax to the price of wheat," and midwest farmers are up in arms.

    Don't get me wrong. I happen to think that trying to even the playing field and improve the lot of workers and the environment worldwide is a great idea. I just think it would be very hard in reality and would create both domestic and international tensions.

    Dana , February 7, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    In this factual and historical state of affairs, is it necessary to prove in detail that there is no room today for any so-called political neutrality – the neutrality of the trade unions with regard to political parties and political struggles?

    Altandmain , February 7, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    There needs to be a push to reshore manufacturing into the US.

    I don't agree with Trump's other policies, but he's got an important point on this one. The US began to lose its middle class as the worst of the outsourcing happened.

    [Feb 07, 2017] Don't Side With Neoliberalism in Opposing Trump

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, who is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts. Originally published at Alternet ..."
    "... Thin Reed? Authoritarian rule for the oligarchs ..."
    "... Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing. ..."
    "... wasn't ..."
    Feb 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on February 6, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. As reader John Z pointed out, the policy program described in this post is very much in synch with the recommendations Lambert has been making. One small point of divergence is that Leopold reinforces the idea that taxes fund Federal spending. Taxes serve to create incentives, and since income inequality is highly correlated with many bad social outcomes, including more violence and shorter lifespans even for the rich, progressive taxation is key to having a society function well. However, he does get right (as very few do) that the purpose of a transaction tax is to discourage the activity being taxed, rather than raise money (aside from the MMT issue, the tax would shrink the level of transactions in question, making it not very productive in apparent revenue terms).

    By Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, who is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts. Originally published at Alternet

    During the Bernie Sanders campaign I heard a high-level official give a powerful speech blasting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Act for the harm it would bring to workers, environmentalists and to all who cared about protecting democracy.

    Donald Trump now has signed an executive order pulling out of the TPP negotiations.

    Is this a victory or a defeat for the tens of thousands of progressives who campaigned to kill the TPP?

    On the same day Trump killed the TPP, he met with corporate executives saying he would cut taxes and regulations to spur business development. But he also warned that "a company that wants to fire all of the people in the United States and build some factories someplace else and think the product is going to flow across the border, that is not going to happen." He said he would use "a substantial border tax" to stop those practices.

    Is this a victory or a defeat for workers and unions who for three decades have been begging politicians to stop the outsourcing of decent middle-class jobs?

    Breaking the Spell of Neoliberalism

    Our answers may be clouded by four decades of the neoliberal catechism-tax cuts on the wealthy, Wall Street deregulation, privatization of public services and "free" trade. Politicians, pundits and overpaid economists long ago concluded that such policies will encourage a "better business climate," which in turn will lead to all boats rising. Instead those very same policies led to a massive financial crash, runaway inequality and a revolt against neoliberalism which fueled both the Sanders and Trump insurgencies. (See enough facts to make you nauseous.)

    This ideology is so pervasive that today no one is shocked or surprised to see Democratic governors on TV ads trying to lure business to their states by promising decades of tax holidays. No one gags when politicians lavish enormous tax gifts on corporations-even hedge funds-in order to keep jobs from leaving their states .

    Similarly, we have grown accustomed to the neoliberal notion that we should go deeply into debt in order to gain access to higher education. Free higher education, which was the norm in New York and California until the 1970s, was "unrealistic" until Sanders rekindled the idea.

    More troubling still, elites propagated the idea that public goods should not be free and available to all via progressive taxation. Rather public goods were denigrated and then offered up for privatization. Even civil rights icon Representative John Lewis used the neoliberal framework to attack Bernie Sanders' call for free higher education and universal health care: "I think it's the wrong message to send to any group. There's not anything free in America. We all have to pay for something. Education is not free. Health care is not free. Food is not free. Water is not free. I think it's very misleading to say to the American people, we're going to give you something free."

    Obama/Clinton Didn't, Trump did

    Ironically, while Lewis is defending neoliberalism, Trump actually is attacking two of its foundational elements-free trade and unlimited capital mobility. Not only is Trump violating neoliberal theory, he also is clashing with the most basic way Wall Street cannibalizes us. Without the free movement of capital, assisted by trade deals, financial elites and their corporate partners would not be able to slash labor costs, destroy unions and siphon off wealth into their own pockets.

    In particular, we should be extremely worried about how Trump is approaching the loss of manufacturing jobs. The neoliberal fog should not cause us to miss the obvious: presidents Obama and Clinton did absolutely nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of middle-class manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries. (U.S. manufacturing fell from 20.1 percent of all jobs in 1980 to only 8.8 percent by 2013.) Not only did Obama and Clinton fail to stop even one factory from moving away, but they truly believed that capital mobility and free trade were good for America and the world. In other words they had sipped plenty of the neoliberal Kool-Aid.

    Meanwhile, Trump is all in. He is saying that jobs in the U.S. are more important than the long-run benefits of capital mobility and TPP/NAFTA agreements. If he keeps bashing corporations for moving jobs abroad and if he manages to ignite even a mini U.S. manufacturing jobs boom, Trump could be with us for eight long years.

    But What About the Poor in Other Countries?

    To many progressives, saving American jobs sounds jingoistic and "protectionism" is a bad word. Isn't global trade helping the poor become less so around the world? Isn't it selfish only to protect American jobs? Isn't it more moral to share scarce manufacturing jobs with the poor in Mexico and Asia? After all, even if a plant closes in the Rust Belt, service sector jobs can be found at wages that still are far higher than what the poor can hope for in low-wage countries.

    You can be sure corporations will be playing this tune if Trump tightens the screws on capital mobility.

    These arguments however have little to do with how the world actually functions.

    No, it's not possible to make a credible progressive case for outsourcing your neighbor's job

    What Do We Do?

    The progressive instinct, and rightfully so, is to trash Trump. If he's for it, we must be against it. When it comes to immigration, civil rights, abortion, freedom of the press and many, many other issues, that's a sound strategy.

    But trashing Trump for saving jobs in the U.S. is suicidal.

    In opposing Trump, we must not slip into defending neoliberalism. It's not okay for corporations to pack up and leave. We should have some control over our economic lives and not leave all the crucial decisions to Wall Street and their corporate puppets. Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards. And those measures must be enforceable by all the parties. The race to the bottom is real and must stop.

    In the U.S. We Should Be Mobilizing the Following Areas:

    1. Organize the outsourced : We should identify and organize all those at risk from off-shoring. We need to make sure Trump and Congress hear from these actual and potential victims. Trump needs to be reminded each and every day that there are millions of jobs he must protect. At the same time we should be rounding up support for the Sanders bill to stop off-shoring .

    2. Resist: Trump has made it clear to corporate America that in exchange for job creation in the U.S. he will cut their taxes and regulations. We should demand that all tax "reforms" include a new financial speculation tax ( Robin Hood Tax ) on Wall Street to slow down their insatiable greed. Also, we need to fight tooth and nail against any weakening of workplace health, safety and environmental regulations. We have to destroy the Faustian bargain where jobs are protected but the workers and the communities are poisoned.

    3. Connect: More than 3 million people protested against Trump. But it is doubtful that dislocated workers and those facing outsourcing were involved in these marches. That's because the progressive movement has gotten too comfortable with issue silos that often exclude these kinds of working-class issues. That has to change in a hurry. We need to reach out to all workers in danger of off-shoring-blue and white collar alike.

    4. Expand: Many key issues-from having the largest prison population in the world to having one the lowest life-spans-are connected through runaway inequality . Outsourcing is deeply connected to the driving force behind runaway inequality-a rapacious Wall Street and its constant pressure for higher returns. We need to broaden the outsourcing issue to include stock buybacks and the other techniques used by Wall Street to strip-mine our jobs and our communities. It's time for a broad-based common agenda that includes a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street, free higher education, Medicare for All, an end to outsourcing, fair trade and a guaranteed job at a living wage for all those willing and able.

    5. Educate: In order to build a sustained progressive movement we will need to develop a systematic educational campaign to counter neoliberal ideology. We need reading groups, study groups, formal classes, conferences, articles and more to undermine this pernicious ideology. Some of us are fortunate to be part of new train-the-trainer programs all over the country. We need to expand them so that we can field thousands of educators to carry this message.

    Yes, all of this is very difficult, especially when it seems like a madman is running the country. It is far easier to resist than to tear apart neoliberalism. But we have to try. We need to recapture the job outsourcing issue and rekindle the flames that ignited Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders campaign.

    34 0 191 0 2 Gerard Pierce , February 6, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Les Leopold explained some of his beliefs on the Smirking Chimp. I made a comment to that article that I think should be repeated here ==>

    At the moment, it's hopeless because we do not have a platform.

    Most of the supposed liberals out there cannot defend welfare of any kind, cannot defend Social Security and cannot defend most of what they supposedly stand for in any kind of intelligent way.

    There are circumstances where "welfare" is a moral necessity. There are also circumstances where you tell the claimants to get a job. Sometimes you help them to get that job.

    It's necessary to be able to tell the difference and to be able to explain the difference.

    Too many supposed liberals do not understand how the labor movement became corrupt enough that "right to work" looked good to people who were paying dues and getting little back.

    If you do not understand your own "liberal" beliefs, some uneducated red-state buffoon will make you look like the bad guy

    You not only need to understand your own beliefs, but you need to be able to debate them with other wanna-be liberals until you have a platform that means something.

    flora , February 6, 2017 at 3:41 am

    "we do not have a platform ."

    The Sanders' campaign platform works for me.

    BeliTsari , February 6, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Yep, everything Trump will do to bait Liberal "resistance," they will eagerly fall for. It leaves a LOT of wiggle room for a movement to get between DC's Kleptocrats and Trump's supposed constituency (victims? marks?) about to lose their jobs, homes, equity, retirements & kids to imperialistic wars. If there's a Left in this country, it simply HAS to be more than white kids on TV, in black face masks we need to dodge Trump's trolling and fight unremittingly FOR living wages, job safety, healthcare, upwards mobility & AGAINST a predatory FIRE sector, ALEC kleptocracy & their media's 24/7 reality infomercial. For way too long, the whole good cop/ bad cop scam has been Yuppie liberals vs Oligarch's running dogs, we've tried to live off any chunks that'd trickle down through the maelstrom above our heads, to which we were not invited

    nycTerrierist , February 6, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Same here.

    Katharine , February 6, 2017 at 10:04 am

    +1

    Mel , February 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Quite. No reason Sanders' platform can't be used. There's also a 5-point platform right in plain sight at the end of Leopold's article.
    Some people seem to have this urge to outsource the platform to somebody else - the Democrat Party, or maybe others. No. No need to go elsewhere. There's two platforms right here. Use them.

    b1daly , February 6, 2017 at 5:53 am

    The problem is that economic systems are complex, emergent phenomena. They influenced by culture, chance, ideas, tribal instincts, technology (including financial technology), geography, tradition, the environment, human nature, migration, religion, and on and on.

    This notion that something as complex as human society can be analyzed under an intellectual construct, whether neo-liberalism, socialism, or Rastafarianism defies common sense. Centuries of intense theorizing by some very smart people have led to an understanding of parts of social systems. But, for example, economists disagree profoundly on basic aspects of macroeconomics.

    Neo-liberalism is not even a well defined concept. I don't know of any politician in the US who declare themselves "neo-liberal." Read the Wikipedia article to see just how poorly this concept is defined.

    Among some self-imagined progressives it's become a perjorative term to apply to leaders who they disagree with. IMO, politicians do not govern according to abstract concepts. The honest ones are simply trying to govern, in the context of the society they live in. At times, historically unique situations arise, and political leaders are stumped for solutions. At such a time, some kind of think tank might propose their pet theory to be considered as a factor in making decisions (the "neo-cons" had their chance in the build up to the Iraq war).

    I want Trumps ability to wreak havoc on the economy and civil infrastructure minimized, and him gone as President as soon as possible. This is not going to be easy. If, at the same time, think you can throw in the reform of global economic structures, and succeed, you're delusional.

    FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas. People can change their mind, or have it changed, on things like this. Quickly. In contrast to something like pro-Zionist policies, to which a polician might have a deeper attachment, very resistant to change.

    Outis Philalithopoulos , February 6, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I was a bit confused by this comment.

    The first two paragraphs are making a broad sort of argument, which if taken with its full force seems to mean that any attempt to use theoretical generalizations to understand the world is oversimplifying and therefore questionable.

    The third and fourth paragraphs take issue more specifically with the term "neoliberalism."

    However, the fifth paragraph seems to imply that anti-neoliberalism involves "reform of global economic structures," and therefore maybe isn't as poorly defined as the previous paragraphs would have led one to assume.

    Meanwhile, the sixth paragraph undercuts the fifth. The fifth implies that opposing Trump is so important that we should temporarily abandon any attempt to move the discourse on the overall economic direction of the country or the world. The reason given is that moving said discourse is supposed to be a herculean, nearly impossible task. The sixth paragraph, instead, suggests that Schumer and HRC can have their mind changed "quickly" on these sorts of issues, and so maybe the overall project isn't so infeasible after all.

    Vatch , February 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

    "FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas."

    I'm skeptical about this. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas at the level of massive donations to their campaign committees or family foundation.

    jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    If you just get Trump gone, another Trump or worse will be produced in a decade or so (never mind Pence in the meantime, that we could endure, I'm focusing longer term). An awful system, that makes everyone poor (mass impoverishment), stupid, and exhausted, produces awful results in terms of governance (money in politics does not help of course).

    old flame , February 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I always took neo-liberalism to mean world domination by banks FIRE sector and neoconservatism by the military and their suppliers and also oil which greases the military wheels. Farms fall into the latter I guess for the defense of the "landed gentry". Watched the farm reports lately and they are quite upset by the non-passage of the TPP which would have given them higher price supports. All of it is ruled by multi-nationals' money and clout so there is overlap.

    flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Don't equate the giant corporate agri-biz sector – Monsanto, ADM, IBP, et al – with small family farms. Factory farms might be for TPP. The small family farm, the independent farmer, not so much.

    see, for example:
    http://www.sraproject.org/2014/11/unfair-trade-ttp-and-ttip-vs-family-farms/

    flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    adding: Wall St speculates in grain and farm/food commodities. Wall St isn't happy with the demise of TTP. This from a few years back, but still relevant.

    " Futures markets traditionally included two kinds of players. On one side were the farmers, the millers, and the warehousemen, market players who have a real, physical stake in wheat .

    "On the other side is the speculator. The speculator neither produces nor consumes corn or soy or wheat, and wouldn't have a place to put the 20 tons of cereal he might buy at any given moment if ever it were delivered. Speculators make money through traditional market behavior, the arbitrage of buying low and selling high. And the physical stakeholders in grain futures have as a general rule welcomed traditional speculators to their market, for their endless stream of buy and sell orders gives the market its liquidity and provides bona fide hedgers a way to manage risk by allowing them to sell and buy just as they pleased.

    "But Goldman's index perverted the symmetry of this system. The structure of the GSCI paid no heed to the centuries-old buy-sell/sell-buy patterns. This newfangled derivative product was "long only," which meant the product was constructed to buy commodities, and only buy. At the bottom of this "long-only" strategy lay an intent to transform an investment in commodities (previously the purview of specialists) into something that looked a great deal like an investment in a stock - the kind of asset class wherein anyone could park their money and let it accrue for decades (along the lines of General Electric or Apple). Once the commodity market had been made to look more like the stock market, bankers could expect new influxes of ready cash. But the long-only strategy possessed a flaw, at least for those of us who eat. The GSCI did not include a mechanism to sell or "short" a commodity. "

    More neoliberalism in action. It doesn't benefit either the small farmer or the person buying groceries.

    flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    oh, link:
    Foreign Policy
    How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, 2011
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/04/27/how-goldman-sachs-created-the-food-crisis/

    Wall St. certainly wants the TTP.

    Brad , February 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Either reality is an unknowable fog, or it isn't. I say its knowable, however complex.

    PH , February 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I agree many people here get caught up in labels. I think there is value in iconoclasm, but ultimately we have to take practical actions if we want to avoid trouble. Or, at least, avoid the worst trouble.

    Many who comment do not seem to take seriously the danger of right wing fanaticism. I am not sure what would convince them.

    Unfortunately, we may find out someday.

    that guy , February 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    You might be right. I certainly don't take right wing fanaticism seriously. Moreover I don't think it should be taken seriously, and unless things seriously changed recently, I live in a state that, statistically, has a lot of right wing fanatics.

    They're not organized, they don't have a message that truly appeals, they don't have messengers with mass appeal, there's nothing there anyone can build on. Moreover, anti-immigrant sentiment comes and goes. In the 1840's we were having riots and people were beating Irishmen in the street because the economy sucked. But when things don't suck so bad economically, that evaporates like the morning fog.

    Until right wing fanaticism can look like anything other than some angry guy with too many tattoos shouting angry slogans, or some weird dude who wants to actually create White America that srsly nobody listens to, y'know, until there's some unifying figurehead who can take it further and make it sensible-sounding and mainstream to the folks at home who work a 9-to-5, it's not even worth worrying about. I'm more worried about left wing extremists who show up in huge mobs and cause property damage, personally.

    Altandmain , February 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

    They are liberals, not left wing people.

    By that I mean, they want neoliberal econoimcs with a socially left wing platform. No wonder they hate the left and supported Clinton so much. They want the status quo. Many are safely in the upper middle class, as the comments on the Women's March in Washington DC have revealed. They will never have to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism.

    The Sanders base by contrast wants left wing economics and socially.

    NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

    The neoliberals don't even want left wing social identity progress. They just use it as a tool to capture voters. Team Blue types did jack to advance social issues until they were forced too or were simply bypassed. Obama's "personal endorsement" of gay marriage was covered by his support of state rights.

    Allegorio , February 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Remember "Don't ask, don't tell."? Oh so socially liberal!

    jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Is anyone all that safely in the middle class these days? Even if they have a nice middle class job, so much that they don't have to worry about age discrimination as they get older? I don't think so. So much that even if they have a nice plum insurance plan at work, they never have to worry about healthcare for themselves or their loved ones? I'm not so sure

    But sure it's not as immediate a threat, doesn't have the immediacy of say facing immediate eviction for the lack of a rent payment or something.

    Michael Berger , February 6, 2017 at 4:44 am