Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Intercept — The FBI's Secret Rules

Special report.

The Intercept
The FBI's Secret Rules

Scott Adams — Is President Trump Doing Management Wrong?

The interesting question to me is this: How do we know whether President Trump is doing a good job or a bad one? What standard do we use for comparison? If you are not comparing Trump’s performance to some objective standard, you’re not saying anything at all.
Does it make sense to compare President Trump’s performance to an imaginary president who didn’t get elected? I don’t think science recognizes your imagination as the base case for an experiment. It just feels like it should be. That’s an illusion.…
There are two basic styles of management. One is the cautious style of Fortune 500 companies. The other is the rapid-iteration and A/B testing style of entrepreneurs. Trump is bringing the latter style to the office.…
Scott Adams' Blog
Is President Trump Doing Management Wrong?
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert®

It's Neil Gorsuch

Neil McGill Gorsuch (born August 29, 1967)[1] is a United States Supreme Court Judge .[2] On January 31, 2017, Gorsuch was nominated for a position as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism and of textualism in interpreting the constitution.
DJT delivers on nominating a legal fundamentalist to fill Scalia's SCOTUS seat.

Neil Gorsuch

Nafeez Ahmed — How global economic growth will drown in Trump’s oil glut after 2018

Précis of Nafez M. Ahmed's new book, Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence (Springer 2017).

"It's the energy, stupid."

About oil.

But not just about oil
When a complex adaptive system is particularly challenged by its environmental conditions, it enters a stage of crisis. The crisis challenges the existing structures, the existing relationships and patterns of behaviour in a system. If the crisis intensifies, it can reach a threshold that undermines the integrity of the whole system. Eventually, either the system adapts by re-structuring, leading to a ‘phase shift’ to a new system, a new equilibrium — or it regresses.
In a civilisational context, the capacity to process information in such a way that it is distributed effectively across the system to contribute to resilient relationships is crucial to the system’s ability to survive, and adapt. The media institutions and processes that drive our behaviour are, in this sense, an interesting barometer of the health of the ‘DNA’ of our civilization.
The state of information overload and polarisation we are now experiencing therefore speaks to the fact that we are rapidly approaching a crisis threshold. The crisis has overwhelmed the existing structures of the global system. Our prevailing institutions and systems of power are in informational disarray as they struggle to make sense of what appears to be an overload of information signalling this systemic crisis.
At this point of threshold, the system faces a crisis of information overload, and an inability to meaningfully process the information available into actionable knowledge that can advance an adaptive response. Hence, for instance, the increasingly toxic polarisation of all political discourse....
Rather than an adaptive response based on a whole systems understanding, information overload — along with a deeply inadequate approach to understanding global systemic crises — allows short-sighted reactionary thinking to take the lead. Thus, the blame falls on particular groups of people identified as ‘the problem’, rather than diagnosing the structures of the system itself.
Rather than a transformative systemic response into a new adaptive ‘phase-shift’, we see a powerful cross-sector political economic faction with vested interests in the current structure of the global system engaged in efforts at systemic consolidation.
Their reaction is based on the erroneous view that the ‘crises’ now escalating are external to the system in question — in this case, these externalities are constructed simply as problematic group identities, perceived as having a parasitical impact on an otherwise optimal system.
In reality, this narrow reaction, by reinforcing the very deep structures that are escalating the processes of global system failure described, escalates the threshold of crisis. This maladaptive response represents a serious systemic regression, that heightens the risk of crisis and collapse....
INSURGE intelligence - Medium
How global economic growth will drown in Trump’s oil glut after 2018
Nafeez Ahmed | Visiting Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University’s Faculty of Science and Technology

Christelle Neant — Blood bath at north front of Donbass; Ukrainian Army continually attacking, intending to relaunch larger war

War in Eastern Ukraine heating up again, no doubt to blame Russia.

Fort Russ
Blood bath at north front of Donbass; Ukrainian Army continually attacking, intending to relaunch larger war
Christelle Neant in DØNiPRESS, translated by Tom Winter

See also

The Trump Effect in Donbass: Poroshenko juggles heavy losses and failed diplomacy
Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski

Steven Hall — Explainer: what is modern monetary theory?

Good MMT "elevator speech."

The Conversation
Explainer: what is modern monetary theory?
Steven Hall | Lecturer in Economics, University of Adelaide

Tyler Cowen — The Left Underestimates Trump's Economic Plan

While the first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency have brought plenty of chaos, some underlying themes are emerging. I think of the economic policy so far -- call it Trumponomics -- as a new approach to the redistribution of wealth, working through jobs and regions rather than income transfers. To be sure, I don’t see any single architect of Trumponomics, not even Trump himself, but even without a master plan, there are some common threads.
It’s easy to underrate Trumponomics, because so often it sounds, frankly, stupid or misinformed. In a wide variety of areas, including health-care reform and the border tax adjustment, experts struggle to describe the plans, much less evaluate them. Still, Trumponomics, though highly flawed, will probably not crash the economy, and might steal a lot of the left’s thunder....
Bloomberg View
The Left Underestimates Trump's Economic Plan
Tyler Cowen | Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center

Don Quijones — A New Twitter Account, For a Whole New Blog

Make a note:
As RGBS prepares to go dark (T minus 5 hours), here’s the address of our new twitter account, which will feature regular links to our new posts as well as anything else worth highlighting:
Raging Bull-Shit
A New Twitter Account, For a Whole New Blog
Don Quijones

Bill Black — When will the EU and the ECB Stop Torturing the Greeks?

The troika refers to the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF, traditionally, was the greatest proponent of any international entity of inflicting extreme austerity on nations suffering economic crises. The IMF’s economists have increasingly reviewed the evidence and concluded that austerity reduces growth and that putting nations into inescapable debt traps is stupid and harmful. The EU and the ECB, however, have been impervious to these economic studies and intent on hammering the Greeks. The purported EU “bailout” of Greece is an exercise in EU propaganda. Overwhelmingly, EU aid involving Greece goes to Greek banks – and the bank bailout bails out the creditors of Greek banks. Those creditors, overwhelmingly, are EU banks.
The EU and the ECB have forbidden Greece to use stimulus and locked Greece into a debt trap that will crush the Greek economy for over a half-century....
The troika is the EC, the ECB and the IMF. Should be "European Commission" instead of EU?

New Economic Perspectives
When will the EU and the ECB Stop Torturing the Greeks?
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

Bill Mitchell — Another Milton Friedman legacy bites the dust

Milton Friedman and his gang at Chicago, including the ‘boys’ that went back and put their ‘free market’ wrecking ball through Chile under the butcher Pinochet, have really left a mess of confusion and lies behind in the hallowed halls of the academy, which in the 1970s seeped out, like slime, into the central banks and the treasury departments of the world. The overall intent of the literature they developed was to force governments to abandon so-called fiscal activism (the discretionary use of government spending and taxation policy to fine-tune total spending so as to achieve full employment), and, instead, empower central banks to disregard mass unemployment and fight inflation first. Several strands of their work – the Monetarist claim that aggregate policy should be reduced to a focus on the central bank controlling the money supply to control inflation (the market would deliver the rest (high employment and economic growth, etc); the promotion of a ‘natural rate of unemployment’ such that governments who tried to reduce the unemployment rate would only accelerate inflation; and the so-called Permanent Income Hypothesis (households ignored short-term movements in income when determining consumption spending), and others – were woven together to form a anti-government phalanx. Later, absurd notions such as rational expectations and real business cycles were added to the litany of Monetarist myths, which indoctrinated graduate students (who became policy makers) even further in the cause. Over time, his damaging legacy has been eroded by researchers and empirical facts but like all tight Groupthink communities the inner sanctum remain faithful and so the research findings haven’t permeated into major shifts in the academy. It will come – but these paradigm shifts take time.

The latest research effort to wipe Friedman’s theoretical legacy off the map was presented to the ASSA Annual Meetings (in Chicago, this year) at a session on January 8, 2017 by two young Harvard economists.…
Arguably, "Friedmanism" led to the Global Financial Crisis (system failure) that is still unfolding around the world, resulting in a discrediting of conventional economics, the unwinding of the post-WWII liberal order, and the inception of a new world order that is now in the making, unfortunately led by the right since the left is absorbed in navel-gazing and blaming.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Another Milton Friedman legacy bites the dust
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

VW overtakes Toyota

Europe offering a better deal than Japan.

Trump priority to repatriate international supply chains

Navarro makes the statement.

Its down to Trump v. multinationals on how to organize production.  "Labor" is gone from the scene in all of this; "labor" now an anachronism.

Ben Norton — Trump and the Saudi King Engage in a Major Pact to Confront Iran

President Donald Trump and the monarch of the repressive Saudi regime spoke on the phone for more than an hour on Sunday. According to a White House statement, "The two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding friendship and strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia."
The official Saudi Press Agency reported that Trump and Saudi King Salman stressed the "depth and strength of the strategic relations between the two countries."
The two agreed to greater military intervention in the Middle East, and the creation of so-called safe zones in Syria and Yemen. The details of how such zones would be created are not clear, but if they were instituted, it would likely take direct U.S. military involvement.
Looking like DJT is headed down the slippery slope that leads straight to the snake pit.

Trump and the Saudi King Engage in a Major Pact to Confront Iran
Ben Norton

Sputnik — US Study on 'Decapitating' Russia, China May Raise Fear of Surprise Nuke Attack

US Congress choses to up the ante while also undercutting Trump's attempt to negotiate nuclear arms reduction with Russia. This will just move the hands of the doomsday clock closer to midnight and the onset of nuclear winter.


Meanwhile, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are doing their best to start WWIII.

And people are obsessing about Donald Trump being crazy and irresponsible?

Sputnik International
US Study on 'Decapitating' Russia, China May Raise Fear of Surprise Nuke Attack

Monday, January 30, 2017

CNN — Donald Trump fired on Monday US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce the president's immigration order.

"You're fired."

Donald Trump fired on Monday US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce the president's immigration order.
Tyler Durden

Keith Hart — Full scholarships – two-year MA in Anthropology (English language) – Shanghai

The Research Institute of Anthropology of the East China Normal University offers full scholarships for an all-English language Master’s program in Anthropology. The program is two years long, and can be extended one more year. All courses are in English, taught by Chinese and international faculty....
The Memory Bank
Full scholarships – two-year MA in Anthropology (English language) – Shanghai
Keith Hart

Sputnik International — Charges Dropped Against RT Reporter Arrested on Inauguration Day

You knew this was coming. It was transparent intimidation and harassment. Authorities regularly do this as projection of power even in a "free country."
Felony riot charges against three journalists arrested while covering the Inauguration Day protests in Washington DC, were dropped by the US Attorney’s office on Monday.
Among those who were cleared was Alexander Rubinstein of RT whose charges included “incitement of riots,” independent journalist Matthew Hopard, and documentary producer John Keller....

Germany "inflation!"

Short term pick-up...

Leonid Bershidsky — How Russian Hackers Became a Kremlin Headache

Leonid Bershidsky adds some more (possible) pieces to the puzzle.

Bloomberg View
How Russian Hackers Became a Kremlin Headache
Leonid Bershidsky

Trump interview on CBN

Trump provides a nice interview opportunity with the Pat Robertson people at CBN.

MSM really on the outs with Trump... Kellyanne dropping the hint that they are minimally looking for terminations in the MSM corps.

Fabius Maximus — Listen to Trump’s inaugural speech: words that could overthrow the 1%

Summary: Tens of millions of Americans have heard, read, or watched those on the Left misrepresent what Trump said in his inaugural speech. Here are the opening paragraphs. They are pure populism, with populism’s usual overlap with the progressives’ agenda. The one percent cannot let you see that overlap, which might lead to recreation of the New Deal alliance — the only possible threat to their power.
Read the opening of Donald Trump’s inaugural speech. This is pure populism. This might be, as Paul Krugman said (which I also believe) “Trump plays a populist on TV”. But the Left’s commentators and journalists misrepresented what he said. For an obvious reason: they cannot admit that much of what Trump said is true — and worse, that they agree with him. (See another analysis below, by an anthropologist). Trump could become a great president if he follows through on his inaugural speech....
Populism versus progressivism in America.

The so-called progressive left is indulging in the well-known "not-invented-here" syndrome.

Fabius Maximus
Listen to Trump’s inaugural speech: words that could overthrow the 1%

Norman Solomon — Rachel Maddow Plays Glenn Beck

When Rachel Maddow finished a 26-minute monologue that spanned two segments on her MSNBC program last Thursday night, her grave tones indicated that she thought she’d just delivered a whale of a story. But actually it was more like a minnow — and a specious one at that.
Convoluted and labored, Maddow’s narrative tried to make major hay out of a report from Moscow that a high-ranking Russian intelligence official had been dragged out of a meeting, arrested and charged with treason. Weirdly, Maddow kept presenting that barebones story as verification that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had directly ordered the hacking and release of Democratic campaign emails in order to get Donald Trump elected president.
It was a free-associating performance worthy of Glenn Beck at a whiteboard. Maddow swirled together an array of facts, possible facts, dubious assertions and pure speculation to arrive at conclusions that were based on little more than her zeal to portray Trump as a tool of the Kremlin. Even when sober, Joe McCarthy never did it better.
We might dismiss her performance as just another bit of stagecraft on “MSDNC,” but Maddow was in sync with widespread fear-mongering by pundits and Democratic Party loyalists who think they’re picking some low-hanging fruit to throw at Trump. But what they’re doing is poisonous — and extremely dangerous....
Keith Olbermann has jumped the shark, too.

They have strayed into conspiracy theory in their zeal to delegitimize the president.

"Lame-stream media" indeed.

The opposition needs to get a grip.

Consortium News
Rachel Maddow Plays Glenn Beck
Norman Solomon | co-founder of RootsAction.org

See also

This Philosophy Legend Has Some Hard Truths To Tell You About Our "Democracy"
Ben Schiller

Brian Romanchuk — Released: Abolish Money (From Economics)!

My latest report - Abolish Money (From Economics)! - has been released in ebook format. (The paperback edition will be published within a few weeks.) The ebook is available at the same online booksellers as my previous books.
A big problem with conventional economics lies in integrating economics, which is concerned with the real or actual, that is, production, distribution and consumption of real goods, with finance, which is concerned with the nominal — money, cost, price, accounting, and financial assets.

The problem arises in economics as result of aggregation based on nominal value (costs, prices, etc.) without adequate consideration of the relationship of the nominal and the actual. The assumption is that this can be disaggregated by going back to journal entries to determine the prices of specific units and the number of units of various goods involved.

This is to treat money simply as a veil over barter, as conventional economists do, and to miss the role that money itself plays in the integrated economic-financial system owing to the specific dynamics of finance and the creation and use of financial assets along with real assets.

This approach is simplistic, as Keynes observed, and it leads to modeling that is not realistic enough to be very useless. In fact, the modeling can mislead, especially at junctures that are financially and economically crucial to a society.

It should be obvious that Brian is not calling for abolishing money but rather rethinking how conventional economists use the term as a key concept in economic modeling, in particular with respect to monetarisms in which interest rates are assumed to be determinative and monetary policy by the central bank rules. This is a failed approach.

Bond Economics
Released: Abolish Money (From Economics)!
Brian Romanchuk

Lars P. Syll — The origins of MMT

Knut Wicksell on credit money, and J. M. Keynes on state money aka "chartal"money, where "chartal" means a token. States issue tokens that they alone are permitted to issue whose nominal value the state sets in the unit of account it establishes. "Modern" money is both credit and chartal money rather than a commodity used as a numeraire in barter.

Max Weber also discusses this in Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, p. 76 (available at Archive.org).
"Money" we call a chartal means of payment which is also a means of exchange. An organization will be called a "means of exchange," "means of payment," or "money" group insofar as it effectively imposes within the sphere of authority of its orders the conventional or legal (tormol) validity of a means of exchange, of payment, or money; these will be termed "internal", means of exchange, etc. Means used in transactions with non-members will be called "external" means of exchange.

Means of exchange or of payment which are not chartal are "natural", means. They may be differentiated (a) in technical terms, according to their physical characteristic— they may be ornaments, clothing, useful objects of various sorts — or according to whether their utilization occurs in terms of weight or not. They may also (b) be distinguished economically according to whether they are used primarily as means of exchange or for purposes of social prestige, the prestige of possession. They may also be distinguished according to whether they are used as means of ex- change and payment in internal or in external transactions.

Money, means of exchange or of payment are "tokens" so far as they do not or no longer possess a value independent of their use as means of exchange and of payment. They are, on the other hand, "material" means so far as their value as such is influenced by their possible use for other purposes, or may be so influenced.
This distinguishes money as the nominal unit of account from tokens that represent it. Randy Wray call this money versus the money thing.

Money is a cultural institution. Credit is based on contract, which was first established in custom and later in law. State money is a legal institution established by the state.

These concepts and conventions long predate contemporary analysis in the theory of money, including MMT.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
The origins of MMT
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

US Consumer Spending up 0.5% in December

Very solid report.  Release from Commerce here.

Ended up a record year for autos.

Consumers flocked to auto dealerships last month to top off a record year for the industry. Sales of cars and light trucks jumped to a 18.3 million annualized rate in December, pushing the year’s total purchases to a record 17.55 million,

Wall Street banks speak out against Trump's travel ban

Loonie left now find themselves in cahoots with Wall Street banks...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Brian Krebs — A Shakeup in Russia’s Top Cybercrime Unit

Update in the cyber situation in Russia. There has been some more information coming out but the translations from Russian have been rough, so I haven't put it up. This is an American cyber security guy familiar with the situation. It's the most comprehensive report available so far.

Warning. It's Byzantine and still a labyrinth. Not clear yet what is going on.

Krebs on Security
A Shakeup in Russia’s Top Cybercrime Unit
Brian Krebs, Krebs Security

Zero Hedge — Trump Slams McCain, Graham: "Stop Trying To Start World War III"

The grandaddy of all smackdowns. And it was well-deserved.

(sound of more heads exploding.)

Suisheng Zhao — A time of test for the China model of economic growth

This is an ideal time for Chinese leaders to move the country’s growth model focus from exports and investment to qualitative internal development. It is also the time for the Chinese government to build institutional checks on state authority and boost accountability.
If China can complete this transition on both fronts, the China model will stand. But a sustained economic downturn or a lost decade or two could mark the end of the China model....
East Asia Forum
A time of test for the China model of economic growth
Suisheng Zhao | Professor and Director of the Center for China–US Cooperation at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver and Editor of the Journal of Contemporary China

Moon of Alabama — Outrage About Trump Exposes "Librul" Hypocrisy

More, "It's OK when we do it, but not when you do it."

The real "outrage" is about jettisoning political correctness, which Trump is doing because his base of "deplorables" hates PC, viewing it as rank hypocrisy.

DJT is "grandstanding," "hotdogging," or "throwing red meat" to the base immediacy after the election, both to pump up the base and rub the noses of the losers in the dirt.

Of course, it Trump hadn't said he was going to do this during the campaign people could claim to be surprised now.

Scott Adams — Be Careful What You Wish For (especially if it is Hitler)

Now you have literally millions of citizens in the United States who were either right about Trump being the next Hitler, and we will see that behavior emerge from him soon, or they are complete morons. That’s a trigger for cognitive dissonance. The science says these frightened folks will start interpreting all they see as Hitler behavior no matter how ridiculous it might seem to the objective observer. And sure enough, we are seeing that…
But lately I get the feeling that Trump’s critics have evolved from expecting Trump to be Hitler to preferring it. Obviously they don’t prefer it in a conscious way. But the alternative to Trump becoming Hitler is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons. No one wants to be a confirmed moron.…

I can think of dozens of ways the protesters could cause the thing they are trying to prevent. In other words, they can wish it into reality even though it is the very thing they are protesting.
In the 3rd dimension of persuasion, the protesters need to be proven right, and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. So you might see the protesters inadvertently create the police state they fear....
Scott Adams' Blog
Be Careful What You Wish For (especially if it is Hitler)
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert®

See also
President Trump has issued temporary immigration orders that ban citizens from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This is a good opportunity to test the Persuasion Filter against what you might call the Hitler Filter....
How Trump negotiates.

The Persuasion Filter and Immigration

For new readers of this blog, my starting point is the understanding that human brains did not evolve to show us reality. We aren’t that smart. Instead, our brains create little movies in our heads, and yours can be completely different from mine.
This is very important as a verification of the relativity of human experience and knowledge based on it. Humans are programmed to survive and reproduce, not to explain reality objectively (scientifically). Science was developed as means of doing this, but the overwhelming tendency is to construct narratives that favor survival and evolution rather than furthering understanding as a goal.

There are other strong arguments for epistemological relativism also, logical, philosophical, psychological, sociological and anthropological.

Reuters — Commando dies in U.S. raid in Yemen, first military op OK'd by Trump

A U.S. commando died and three others were wounded a deadly dawn raid on the al Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen on Sunday, which was the first military operation authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The U.S. military said 14 militants died in the attack on a powerful al Qaeda branch that has been a frequent target of U.S. drone strikes. Medics at the scene, however, said around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed....
Commando dies in U.S. raid in Yemen, first military op OK'd by Trump
Mohammed Ghobari and Phil Stewart | Sanaa/Washington

Neil Wilson — Labour Hours and Labour Services

Neil posts an analysis of the job guarantee. Must-read.
Employment is about buying the former and generating the latter. How does that relate to the Job Guarantee?
Modern Money Matters
Labour Hours and Labour Services
Neil Wilson

Brad DeLong — Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…

For almost my entire adult life–since I was a sophomore, IIRC–I have thought that the key social theorist for our age is neither Marx nor Mill nor Toqueville nor Weber nor Durkheim, but rather John Maynard Keynes. Now I think, I am slowly swinging around to thinking that the key social theorist is Karl Polanyi. The problem is that Polanyi writes so damnably badly–a fault he shares with, among others, Hyman Minsky. Just as Charlie Kindleberger is a much better Minsky than Minsky is, we need a much better Polanyi than Polanyi…
I tried my hand, with some but not adequate success:
Grasping Reality
Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…
Brad DeLong | Professor of Economics, UCAL Berkeley

Tony Wikrent — Government should “vindicate the oppressed, and restrain and punish the oppressor…”

Sunday sermon.
A Sermon On The Day Of The Commencement Of The Constitution, Boston, 1780, by Samuel Cooper (1725-1783).

Their Congregation shall be established before me: and their Nobles shall be of themselves, and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them. XXXth Jeremiah, 20, 21 Ver.
This is really a good sermon setting forth the foundational principles of social and political philosophy for people of the Book. Definitely a keeper.

America was founded as country whose founders regarded its destiny the destiny of the West, which was shaped by the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the Greek intellectual tradition, Roman law, and modern science as integrated in the 18th century Enlightenment.

History also recorded the challenges to those traditions and what happened when the people departed from them.

real economics
Government should “vindicate the oppressed, and restrain and punish the oppressor…”
Tony Wikrent

Branko Milanovic — Is liberalism to blame?

What went wrong? (Explaining "Trump.")


Some of the paradoxes of liberalism as they manifested in contemporary bourgeois liberalism that have led to the present context and its various conflict subtexts.

V. I. Lenin's famous question begs asking, "What is to be done?"

Global Inequality
Is liberalism to blame?
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

See also

Chris Dillow sees some of Trump's program and initial moves as at least soft fascism and incipient feudalism replacing capitalism.

While his analysis always insightful and informed, it is from the point of view of an outsider with respect to US politics. 

Just as the risk of socialism is totalitarian collectivism as manifested in Communism, so to the risk of capitalism as economic liberalism dominate over social and political liberalism is fascism based on corporate totalitarianism and plutocratic oligarchy as a form of feudalism.

From this perspective, the interaction that is manifesting is the logical progression of events discussed above by Branko Milanovic.

This elicited a reaction from the have-nots in America, who had nowhere else to turn but to a billionaire that was willing to represent their interests vis-à-vis the establishments of both parties. Again, this was a logical iteration based on the social and political structure being based on wealth as power.

What appears to be fascism to liberals is the expression of the will of the people that delivered the election to Trump, based on his political advisers reading of the mood of the electorate, chiefly Steve Bannon.

Donald Trump's challenge is to deliver on his promises to the people that delivered power to him, while also using that power to further his own interests and those of his cohort.

Liberals need to stop obsessing on Donald Trump and the people that put him in power and setting their own house in order. As Branko Milanovic observes, they created Donald Trump and they can only remove him successfully if they get their own houses in order by consecutive self-criticism rather than blame, admitting their mistakes and failures, and formulating and executing a new plan that corrects the mistakes and advances their game. 

Right now they are mostly wasting time flailing about and screaming "Hitler."

Stumbling and Mumbling
On soft commerce
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven — What Can We Learn from Alternative Theories of Economic Development?

Short review of Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development by Erik Reinert (Tallinn University of Technology), Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Rainer Kattel (Tallinn University of Technology).
In addition to the strong bias towards Neoclassical Economics, the editors also identify Eurocentric and Anglophone biases in the field.…
The volume also takes historical development processes seriously and has devoted the first part of the book to the study of historical development, including Chinese, Indian, Muslim, Ottoman, Nordic, and African perspectives. Finally, seminal development economists such as Giovanni Botero, Friedrich List, Karl Marx, Albert Hirchman and Michal Kalecki are discussed in depth, as well as broader traditions such as feminist approaches, Schumpeterian and Keynesian approaches, the dependency school, regulation theory, classical economists, and evolutionary economists. This book will be interesting for anyone seeking to expand and deepen their understanding of economic development beyond what is taught in mainstream courses.... 
Developing Economics — A Critical Perspective on Development Economics
What Can We Learn from Alternative Theories of Economic Development?
Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven, PhD student in Economics at The New School

California threatens to cut off funds to Federal gov't. Hahahahahahahaha!!!

What a bunch of idiot lawmakers in California.

I guess they don't understand that their state is a TAKER of U.S. dollars, not a MAKER. The maker would be the Federal gov't itself.

It would be like car owners withholding cars from Ford or General Motors. Those companies MAKE the fucking cars!

If I were Trump I would laugh in those Cali lawmakers' faces.

At the end of the day we'll see who are the bigger idiots--these California lawmakers or Congress and the Administration. Washington may actually feel threatened by this. Because, you know, the Federal gov't "needs" the money.

Idiots everywhere.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Gilbert Doctorow — Towards a New Foreign Policy that is Both Coherent and Informed

Good analysis and good advice to the new president.
One of the main strands of destructive criticism of Donald Trump’s newly launched presidency is that the President is volatile, inconsistent and rambling all over the place. Since the mainstream media are indeed the Opposition, as presidential strategist Stephen Bannon has correctly if indiscreetly called out, The New York Times or The Washington Post are not concerned about the truth of such allegations when they insert them in front page coverage of most any word or action coming from the Trump White House.
However, the reality is great coherency in Donald Trump’s vision of both the domestic and foreign policies he has begun to implement, as well as clear understanding of how both fit together....
Conceptually this all makes great sense. It throws out entirely the wrongheaded ideological preoccupations with democracy promotion and regime change abroad that both Democratic and Republican administrations have pursued these past 25 years to the detriment of the homeland. Trump rejects the American Empire and is seeking to revive the American Republic. Hoorah, indeed....
In a word, the enactment of the foreign policy revolution that Donald Trump has invited will require the intellectual inputs from a great many thinkers who have been on the outs and who hold different viewpoints among themselves. Only such a free and public exchange of ideas can ensure high quality foreign….and domestic policies from what promises to be a much needed recalibration of national interest.
Doctrow makes some good points with which I am in basic agreement.

It's not all good, however. President Trump's confrontational rhetoric directed toward China and Iran is misguided and his remarks about Iraq and taking the oil are inflammatory. Then president's position on torture is in violation of US law, and the insertion of US ground troops into Syria and the creation of a US-controlled safe space there is particularly stupid in that it constitutes an act of aggression against a sovereign nation, a war crime. Not a good way to begin your administration.

This strikes me as shooting from the hip. The president needs to take Gilbert Doctrow's advice and assemble a foreign policy team and group of advisers from the realist school and jettison the idealists, whether they be liberal interventionists, neocons, or war hawks intent on imposing "American values" on the world. Imposing liberalism is illiberal.

Une parole franche
Towards a New Foreign Policy that is Both Coherent and Informed
Gilbert Doctorow | European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd.

George Lakoff — The Public’s Viewpoint: Regulations are Protections

The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public....
It's all in the framing. Don't let them frame you.

George Lakoff
The Public’s Viewpoint: Regulations are Protections
George Lakoff | Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society and retired Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley

Reuters — Trump puts five-year lobbying ban on his political appointees

President Donald Trump on Saturday put restrictions on the kind of lucrative lobbying gigs his White House aides and other administration officials can accept after they leave government....
Trump's order also requires his officials to agree to a lifetime ban on working on behalf of foreign governments or foreign political parties....
Good move toward draining the swamp.

But the devil is in the details on these matters. Often headlines don't match reality. So we'll see. On the surface anyway this is a positive step toward shutting the revolving door.

Ernice Gilbert — Warren Mosler Announces 2018 Bid for Governor of USVI

Warren's headed back into politics.
According to his site, Mr. Mosler is credited for creating what has been dubbed “Mosler’s Law”, which states, “There is no financial crisis so deep that a sufficiently large fiscal adjustment cannot deal with it.”
The Virgin Islands Consortium
Warren Mosler Announces 2018 Bid for Governor of USVI
Ernice Gilbert

Moon of Alabama — Moon of Alabama The End Of Mingling - "Moderate Rebels" Join Al-Qaeda In SyriaThe End Of Mingling - "Moderate Rebels" Join Al-Qaeda In Syria

Syria update.

Moon of Alabama
The End Of Mingling - "Moderate Rebels" Join Al-Qaeda In Syria

Reuters — Putin, Trump, in 'positive' call, say want to cooperate in Syria: Kremlin

In an eagerly awaited phone call, the first since Trump's inauguration, the two men stressed the importance of restoring economic ties between the two countries and of stabilizing relations, the Kremlin said.…
So far, so good.

Putin, Trump, in 'positive' call, say want to cooperate in Syria: Kremlin

See also an open letter by former US Ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock, to Presidents Trump and Putin.
As one who advised President Reagan on how to end the Cold War, I welcome your plans to discuss US-Russian relations tomorrow, January 28. Relations have reached a state that is dangerous for both our countries and, in fact, the entire world. One brief conversation cannot resolve the contentions issues, but it can reject the widespread but false assumption that the fundamental interests of our two countries are in conflict.
Details of the conversation should remain confidential, but I would hope that, after the call, both presidents or their spokespersons could make comments along these lines:
1. The presidents agreed that there is no good reason to consider their countries enemies and there are compelling reasons for the United States and Russia to cooperate in solving common problems.
2. The presidents recognize that a nuclear war would be catastrophic for humanity, must never be fought, and that their countries bear a special responsibility to cooperate to reduce the nuclear danger and prevent further proliferation.
3. Regarding specific issues, they agree to begin, on an urgent basis, consultations with each other and with allies and neighbors regarding ways in which current confrontations could be replaced by cooperation.
One question that will inevitably arise regards the continuation of U.S. sanctions on Russia. In my view, these sanctions are now doing more harm than good, but I would hope that decisions regarding them would be made in concert with U.S. allies, who have been pressed by the United States to adopt them. Perhaps President Trump could state that he agrees that sanctions are incompatible with the sort of relationship he seeks with Russia, and he intends to explore ways to create conditions that make them unnecessary.
Jack F. Matlock, Jr.Special Assistant to President Reagan, 1983-86U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, 1987-91January 27, 2017
In a 45-minutes phone call on Jan. 28, the Presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, agreed to maintain regular contact and charged their teams with organizing their meeting in person, the Kremlin press service said....
Russia Beneath the Headlines
Putin, Trump agreed to keep in touch regularly during phone call - Kremlin

Robert Mackey — Protesters Demand Release of Travelers at JFK as Trump’s Muslim Ban Sows Chaos

Trump’s order also bars legal permanent residents of the U.S. from returning home if they are now abroad, even though they already went through intense vetting procedures to get their green cards.…
According to Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, border agents appeared unsure how to enforce the new regulations, detaining green-card holders in handcuffs and even questioning them on their views on Trump and social media posts.
The Intercept

Doug Bandow — Goodbye Susan Rice, Hello National Security Options

Obviously, the world is a messy place. But what stresses American policymakers? It’s not the problem of defending America. In fact, that’s rather easy and doesn’t require either constant war or pervasive stress.
No other country has a conventional capability to reach America. The United States enjoys the protection of large oceans in the east and west that are buttressed by overwhelming maritime superiority. America also benefits from Pacific neighbors north and south and is backed by air superiority. Thus, the United States will not be invaded. It will not be blockaded or bombarded. In this way, the national security adviser—along with the president, secretary of state and other U.S. officials—need not worry about the sort of potential threats facing virtually every other nation on earth. That includes America’s chief rivals, China and Russia.
Only the latter two countries possess nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, with the theoretical will to use their arsenals against America. Both would be destroyed in return, which makes such a conflict unthinkable....
In other words, the US has no national defense issues other than domestic terrorist attack. National security issues are virtually all in excess of national defense and are based on projecting power internationally.

The National Interest
Goodbye Susan Rice, Hello National Security Options
Doug Bandow | Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan

See also
Haley told reporters, "Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way to show value is to show our strength, show our full voice. Have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our backs as well."

She then added, "For those who don't have our backs, we're taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly."
Continuing in Samantha Powers' footsteps. 

What is it with America? Is arrogance in the blood or in the water?

US Ambassador Nikki Haley at UN: 'We're taking names'
Richard Roth, CNN

Sputnik International — UK to Lead Joint War Games in Persian Gulf Simulating Conflict with Iran

The US, UK, France and Australia will run a war games drill in the Persian Gulf that will simulate a confrontation with Iran.
While Trump and Putin are talking on the phone for the first time.

Is the Trumpster as crazy as Killary, or possibly crazier?

The Saker — A “Color Revolution” Is Under Way in the United States

A Russian 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....
And Killary was dissing the Donald during the campaign for suggesting that he might not immediately accept the reported results of the election. What irony — or hypocrisy.

Clinton royalists loyalists versus Cromwell Trump?

I think that the Saker goes over top on this but a lot of people don't. He is hardly original in his analysis.

The takeaway is that the US is passing the point of political differences to division. This probably has not been this extreme since the lead up to the Civil War.

The Unz Review
A “Color Revolution” Is Under Way in the United States
The Saker

SouthFront — Official Presentation of Russian MiG-35 Fighter Aircraft (Photo Report)

Lots of photos and a short video.

Official Presentation of Russian MiG-35 Fighter Aircraft (Photo Report)

See also

The well-dressed Russian soldier.

Algora Blog
A Comparison: Russian Soldiers Have the Best Personal Protection Gear
Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Alastair Crooke — Deep State vs. Donald Trump

The door is indeed “open,” and it is possible that the two leaders may indeed conjure up a détente. But it is no “slam dunk” (certainty). And Moscow certainly does not regard it to be “slam dunk” – at all. On the contrary, they are aware that whereas there are areas of common approach, there are also areas of obvious difference – and possible disagreement – between the new U.S. administration and Moscow. The hope for détente ultimately may prove to lie just beyond reach. We shall have to see.

Trump not as either Hitler or Mussolini on one hand, or Reagan or Andrew Jackson on the other, but rather as America's Oliver Cromwell.

Will Trump succeeded in remaking America, which is what he means by making America great again, and will it stick?

Cromwell was successful during his lifetime but shortly after his death his revolution was largely reversed with the restoration of the monarchy, the force of the revolt apparently having been spent and in the absence of a successor of his stature.

High stakes game. And everyone at the table is armed.

Consortium News
Deep State vs. Donald Trump
Alastair Crooke | Founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, and former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence and European Union diplomacy

Ramanan — Dani Rodrik On Free Trade

I would argue that there is not enough homogeneity in the world yet to formulated a general case theory of trade that fits the diversity of facts enough to be useful as a policy tool.

Another problem that is seldom acknowledged is asymmetry of power. Nations are assumed to pursue their own national interest and asymmetrical power allows  powerful nations to achieve their interest at the expense of other nations if they so chose and there is a lot of social, political, and economic pressure domestically to do so.

As a result modeling international trade in terms of universally applicable principles is often more a matter of rhetoric (persuasion) rather than evidence-based reasoning (science).

Here I think the Chinese principle of social harmony is the wiser choice that the liberal principle of individual preference and and pursuit of interest "because freedom."

International conflict almost always has a strong economic component if not a foundational one. That was true historically under mercantilism, and it has changed much since abandoning the metals. Political power generates economic power, and economic power conditions political power.

Humans are territorial animals. We need to talk about this instead of assuming that an invisible hand will right the scales in a liberal world order of "free trade" and floating exchange rates. 

In the fist place, there is no really free trade owing to all the artificial boundaries that are imposed legally. This is what the recent trade agreements were really all about (TPP, TTIP and TiSA). The "free" was just rhetoric to persuade.

The "free" in "free trade" means free of government intrusion, which implies loss of national sovereignty to global forces and institutions.  This predictably leads to a global technocratic plutocracy ruled by transnational corporations and oligarchs. 

Workers in all countries get the short end of the stick, even though "everyone is better off" statistically looking at aggregates.

The Case for Concerted Action
Dani Rodrik On Free Trade
V. Ramanan

Brad DeLong — William Nordhaus: Do Real-Output and Real-Wage Measures Capture Reality?

William Nordhaus wrote a book on the history of light. I heard his elevator speech about it on NPR several years ago. Here's a transcript. It's short.

I found his talk interesting in that we now take on-demand supply of light and electricity for granted at negligible cost. This post is based on it cost and availability  of lumens historically. Most of us probably don't realize how good we have it — until the power goes down temporarily.

Units of different kinds of energy are more relevant in economic history as a numeraire rather than physical goods like gold and silver, which tend to be used instead of energy — apparently owing to close relationship of the metals with money historically. But taking the metals as numeraire rather than energy could produce a distorted picture.

Nordhaus looks at a unit of energy, in this case lighting, per hour of work.

Energy is the driver of productivity and economic activity. It is possible to have a thriving economy without monetary exchange but not without energy use. Human labor is also a highly sophisticated form of energy use.

Grasping Reality
Reading: William Nordhaus: Do Real-Output and Real-Wage Measures Capture Reality?
Brad DeLong | Professor of Economics, UCAL Berkeley

The Wall

Trump the materialist these days wielding the metaphor "The Wall" at least as deftly as artist Roger Waters ever did.

Trump not looking for advice and assistance from his mother...

Mother do you think they'll drop the bomb?
 Mother do you think they'll like the song?
 Mother do you think they'll try to break my balls?
 Oooh, ahh Mother should I build the wall?
 Mother should I run for President?
 Mother should I trust the government?
 Mother will they put me in the firing line?
 Oooh ahh, Is it just a waste of time?
 Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry.
 Mama's gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
 Mama's gonna put all her fears into you.
 Mama's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
 She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama's gonna keep baby cosy and warm.
 Ooooh baby, ooooh baby, oooooh baby,
Of course mama's gonna help build the wall. 
 Mother, did it need to be so high?

Friday, January 27, 2017

David Haggith — More Fake News: Media Contrived Photos to Diminish Trump’s Inauguration Crowd

Oh my gosh, who cannot possibly tell from looking at these photos that Trump’s audience was minuscule? The Obama crowd has packed the place, but Trump’s audience looks like everyone is huddling for mutual support. Both photos are completely true. Both were taken at essentially the same time.
There is no photoshopping. So, clearly the dozens, if not hundreds, of mainstream media outlets that ran the comparison photos or other photos very much like them, were telling the truth! The new presidents audience is practically nonexistent.
Oh, but wait a minute …
As it turns out, the only thing the mainstream media’s comparison photos actually reveal is whose audience — Trump’s or Obama’s — arrived first!
The comparison photos were each taken about an hour before the inauguration speech began. The third photo of the huge Trump audience was taken at the time of the inauguration. It was all a matter of timing. To explain why Obama’s crowd surged into the mall an hour or so earlier than Trump’s, consider the following likely explanations:
Obama’s crowd gathered on a bright and sunny day. Trump’s crowd attended on a rainy day. People don’t like to stand in the rain, so perhaps Trump’s supporters have enough sense come in out of the rain for as long as they can until the event is ready to begin.
Obama’s audience had more reason to arrive early. They were attending a unique historic event — the inauguration of America’s first Black president — in which position of the audience on the lawns of the mall is on a first-come-first-serve basis. People wanting to attend might reasonably think they would not even find standing room at a first-of-its-kind event and so would go extra early to make sure they reserved a space for themselves.
Nearly a hundred protest groups, made up largely of Democrats who said they refused to accept the election results (after castigating Donald Trump for not being willing to say before the election that he would accept the results no matter what) said they were coming with the intentions of diminishing the event. Many of those groups said they would do all they could to block streets and block access points to try to make sure the inauguration couldn’t even happen. With such determination and planning, might they have actually managed to slow down people’s ability to get to the mall … just a little?With so many protests going on, Trump’s supporters might have lallygagged in route to watch some of the action.
Because of the numerous threats of violence, the security fences set up around the mall had fewer access points onto the mall, through which everyone had to be screened. Couldn’t fewer access points have caused it to take longer for the crowds to get through?…
This is the essence of it. More, including pictures for comparison at the link. Looks like the media has been caught out.

The Great Recession Blog
More Fake News: Media Contrived Photos to Diminish Trump’s Inauguration Crowd
David Haggith

See also

When their Anointed One lost the election, big television news networks and primary newspapers coined the term “fake news” because they were angry at alternative media for eroding deep into their domain. It was time to expose these fakers because audiences were fleeing to alternatives to establishment media as certainly as they fled to alternatives to establishment politicians.
Without a doubt there is a ton of fake news on alternative media sites, which often publish what works for them without much fact checking. So, to launch a war on their competition, the mainstream media employed their standard sound-byte strategy that has worked well for them in the past. They simultaneously started circulating the new talking point “fake news” to try to stop the migration of audiences toward alternative news sites. It was time to point out how they, the mainstream media, do a superior job of editing out the baloney for you.
Everybody else’s news became fake news, but the mainstream media’s own exaggerated and highly spun stories, which they ran day after day … that was just bedrock reality. Following Fox’s years of example, the MSM dropped even the pretense of separating their own commentary from news stories, and much of their news became commentary about alternative media; but the “fake news” mantra all backfired this time....
Fake News: The Fake-Stream Media Devours Itself

Mikhail Gorbachev — 'It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War'

It does, doesn't it. Although the war drum seems to be beating from the US and is being picked up by NATO. Naturally, those threatened are reacting.

Mikhail Gorbachev: 'It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War'
Mikhail Gorbachev

Melvin A. Goodman — David Ignatius, the CIA’s Apologist-in-Chief

Carrying water masquerading as reporting.

David Ignatius, the CIA’s Apologist-in-Chief
Melvin A. Goodman | senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, and a former CIA analyst

Mike Whitney — Game Over for Democrats?

Sums it up. Clueless losers that have no one to blame but themselves. No, Putin didn't do it.
They’re going to get beat to a pulp unless they get it together and stop running around with their hair on fire yelling, “The Russians are coming” instead of rebuilding the party on a commitment to basic progressive values; civil liberties, non intervention, and economic fairness. The Democratic Party has to be more than a membership register attached to a donor’s list. It needs to reconnect with its base and try to understand why working people are either leaving the party altogether or so disenchanted they won’t even vote.
How about a little self-examination, eh? How about clearing out the deadwood starting with crooked Hillary and her sleazy handler, Podesta? How about committing to a vision for change that’s more than a public relations scam aimed at hoodwinking your base? How about ending the buck passing bullshit and pushing legislation that offers some relief for rampant economic insecurity, student debt, dwindling retirements, universal health care, and environmental devastation.
The Democratic party doesn’t have to be a place where progressive ideas go to die. But they’d better get it together fast or it’s going to be Game over.
Game Over for Democrats?
Mike Whitney

James Petras — President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalizatio

Pluses and minuses of Trumpismo.

James Petras Website
President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalization
James Petras | Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dan Froomkin — Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors


Unemployment is exists in America because so many American workers are unqualified, unmotivated, or  can't pass a drug test, you see.

Well, I guess it is an improvement over the nonsensical assumption that all unemployment is voluntary because workers are unwilling to lower their wage demands in the labor market.

The Intercept
Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors
Dan Froomkin

See also
As a point of social logic, if economic outcomes differ by race and gender but the entities doing the hiring aren’t racist or sexist, the fault must lie with jobseekers. Enter the bourgeois storyline of racism and sexism as misplaced blame from ‘losers’ for their own failures.
An obvious problem with this explanation is the systemic nature of institutional racism and sexism. The White / Black employment rate (below) is one of many measures that demonstrate systematic differences in economic outcomes by race across time. Unless one wants to posit bottom-up causality, that corporate hiring, compensation and wealth distribution are decided along racial lines by working class ‘deplorables,’ blame belongs with those who control the institutions that produce it....
The practice of blaming down in an increasingly hierarchical and anti-democratic society produces an obvious benefit for the economic powers-that-be and their servants in the political class. It blames the powerless for social dysfunction over which they have little to no control. And the self-serving tautology at work, that social power is distributed through a natural distribution of virtues— qualifications in the language of corporate apologists, provides faux meritocratic cover for the social violence of economic exclusion.
The issue here is not racism per se, but rather the division of the working class along racial and gender lines for the benefit of plutocrats and their servants. In what configuration of the world does it make sense that a working class that has been systematically disempowered for the last half-century is responsible for the social disintegration currently unfolding across the West?...
The fear-mongering storyline of White backlash used to explain Donald Trump’s election perpetuates the myth of democratic rule in a plutocracy. It assumes that the political class is led from below when all evidence has it that wealth = political power. The political class does the bidding of the rich and the institutions they control. Race and gender bias are evidence of the mal-distribution of social resources, not the cause.
What anti-establishment voters, and those who consciously withheld their votes, got right in the recent election is that the illusion of choice provided by the major Parties is anti-politics. Liberals, as guardians of the status quo, are class warriors on the side of economic mal-distribution and the immiseration of the laboring classes and poor for the benefit of the rich. The ease with which the misdirection of ‘deplorables’ was sold illustrates the conundrum confronting any actual Left political movement.
Bourgeois liberalism.

Liberalism as Class Warfare
Rob Urie

Alex Emmons — The President of the United States Explicitly Endorses Torture — a Crime Against Humanity

President Trump doubles down.

The Intercept
The President of the United States Explicitly Endorses Torture — a Crime Against Humanity
Alex Emmons

The Moscow Times — Second FSB Agent Arrested for Treason Revealed as Notorious Hacker

More information developing on arrest of hackers in Russia. The FSB is the Russian government internal security service, which comparable to the FBI in the US.

More information than before, but the picture is still unclear and the Russian authorities have not clarified yet.

The Moscow Times in an English language paper, but the translation from Russian of the second seems to be originated by machine rather than the work of a competent human translator. 

The Moscow Times
Second FSB Agent Arrested for Treason Revealed as Notorious Hacker

Vanessa Beeley — Syria: «There are No Moderates», Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports from Syria

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has recently returned from an “under-wraps” fact finding mission to Syria where she met with Syrian people across a wide spectrum of Syrian society, including those recently liberated from Nusra Front-led terrorist occupation in East Aleppo. What she found, confirmed that the corporate media, NATO-aligned NGOs and the US interventionist coalition have been misrepresenting the facts on the ground in Syria for the last six years, funding terrorism and fanfaring an illegal regime-change programme....
Strategic Culture Foundation
Syria: «There are No Moderates», Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports from Syria
Vanessa Beeley

Lord Keynes — I Know a Keynesian when I Hear One

Lord Keynes has the Keynesian part right but I think he is too optimistic in saying that other countries should exert their rights to protectionism, too.
A final issue: Trump’s “America First” trade policy will inevitably mean that the Trump administration will push trade deals on other countries and even some of the more odious US corporate vulture-style capitalism, such as opening up, or pushing privatisation, of nationalised industries and the public sector in other nations, with predatory US capitalism.

The answer to this: the rest of the world – particularly the Western world – must learn its own protectionism, guard public sectors, and rebuilt its own gutted manufacturing. The rest of the world needs to grow some balls and learn some economic nationalism of its own.
The first paragraph is clearly correct since it is the American modus operandi and fundamental to US foreign policy. The second paragraph is therefore problematic, since it is merely a matter of resisting but having the power to do so.

The historical record is not encouraging on this since the entire might of US finance, industry, the foreign policy establishment, the intelligence services and the military are aligned in making sure that the US wishes are met. The US brooks no resistance.

All leaders know that to do so put make the country a target is in US sights and pins a target to leaders banks. They realize that the the US has the power to take them apart and does not lack the will to do so. Even the European powers have to bend the will of the US, or else.

Furthermore, Donald Trump has left no doubt that he will not be shy about doing just that. There will be continuity in US policy in this regard — in spades. Trump will squeeze out every drop he can, because that is the kind of guy he is. Just "doing what comes natural."

Social Democracy For The 21St Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective
I Know a Keynesian when I Hear One
Lord Keynes

Tania Diaz Bazan — Financial Trust Index: Americans are Angrier at the Current Economic Situation, Particularly Low-Income Whites

Can Donald Trump turn this around?

Pro Market
Financial Trust Index: Americans are Angrier at the Current Economic Situation, Particularly Low-Income Whites
Tania Diaz Bazan

Brad DeLong — Must-Read: Noah Smith: The Ways That Pop Economics Hurt America

I could have linked to Noah Smith directly, but Brad DeLong makes some worthwhile observations, too.

The heterodox have been saying this forever, but now the mainstream is picking it up and it is starting to stick, not only owing to the correctness of the analysis but the need of the times. It's obvious to all but the true believers that the story being peddled is not only bogus and is resulting in disaster that has spilled out of economics and finance into the social and political spheres. 

Mainstream economists are increasingly beginning to realize that this can't be ignored any longer without incurring reputational risk personally and damaged credibility to the profession as a whole, including themselves if they don't speak out.

Trump at war with libertarians on trade

More libertarian reliance on the gold standard era conditional theory of  'comparative advantage'... libertarians still too stupid to figure it out.

Alternative Fact: We are NOT "out of money!"

FTR morons.

Zero Hedge — China Says It Is Ready To Assume "World Leadership", Slams Western Democracy As "Flawed"

Without directly referencing the new president, China wrote that democracy has reached its limits, and deterioration is the inevitable future of capitalism, according to the People’s Daily, the flagship paper of China’s Communist Party. It devoted an entire page on Sunday to critiquing Western democracies, quoting former Chairman Mao Zedong’s 1949 poem asking people to "range far your eyes over long vistas" and saying the ultimate defeat of capitalism would enable Communism to emerge victorious.
"The emergence of capitalism’s social crisis is the most updated evidence to show the superiority of socialism and Marxism," said one of the People’s Daily articles.
"Western style democracy used to be a recognized power in history to drive social development. But now it has reached its limits," said another article on the same page. "Democracy is already kidnapped by the capitals and has become the weapon for capitalists to chase profits."
Called throwing down the gauntlet.

Zero Hedge
China Says It Is Ready To Assume "World Leadership", Slams Western Democracy As "Flawed"
Tyler Durden

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Charles Hugh Smith — The Collapse of the Left

The Left is not just in disarray- - it is in complete collapse because the working class has awakened to the Left's betrayal and abandonment of the working class in favor of building personal wealth and power.
Bill and Hillary Clinton became the epitome of that syndrome.

The Democratic establishment as the American "left" imploded owing to corruption and became swamp critters.

of two minds
The Collapse of the Left
Charles Hugh Smith

TASS — US general accuses Russia of covertly building anti-satellite laser weapons

Space wars, for real.
A senior US military official has accused Russia of covertly running various programs to enhance its anti-satellite capabilities, including designing laser weapons to use in space, the Department of Defense press service said.
Speaking at the Stanford University in California, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, who heads the U.S. Strategic Command, accused Russia and China of building weapons in the low earth orbit and in the geosynchronous orbit, as well as systems to manage them from the ground.
"In the not-too-distant future, they (Russia and China) will be able to use that capability to threaten every spacecraft we have in space. We have to prevent that, and the best way to prevent war is to be prepared for war. So the United States is going to do that, and we're going to make sure that everybody knows we're prepared for war," he said.
Both Russia and China have repeatedly declared their commitment to the peaceful use of outer space and are members of the relevant United Nations Committee, COPUOS. The official said that Russia, which has had an anti-satellite capability since the 1980s, is now exploring significant anti-satellite capabilities, including lasers for use in space and other "capabilities that would threaten our satellites, and many of which would create debris" that could hinder access to space.
"We have to deter bad behavior in space and we have to deter conflict in space," the head of the Strategic Command said.
So let me get this straight. Russia and China are violating the no weaponization of space agreement by developing weapons to attack existing US weapons systems in space when it well known that US advanced weapons systems are dependent on satellites.

It's OK when we do it but not when anyone else does. Does that make any sense?


Trump isn’t lying, he’s bullshitting – and it’s far more dangerous

After Trump administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer rebuked the media for accurately reporting the relatively small crowds at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Spicer wasn’t lying; he was simply using “alternative facts.”
"Alternative facts" = bullshit.

Not to be confused with "fake news."

The Conversation
Trump isn’t lying, he’s bullshitting – and it’s far more dangerous
Lauren Griffin | Director of External Research, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida

Issac Davis — Rothschild Family Wealth Is Five Times That Of World’s Top 8 Billionaires Combined

Listed below are the 8 billionaires along with their estimated wealth, which combined equals $426.2 billion.
  1. Bill Gates – $75 b
  2. Amancio Ortega – $67 b
  3. Warren Buffett – $60.8 b
  4. Carlos Slim Helu – $50 b
  5. Jeff Bezos – $45.2 b
  6. Mark Zuckerberg – $44.6 b
  7. Larry Ellison – $43.6 b
  8. Michael Bllomberg – $40 b

At $2 trillion plus [estimated], the family’s reported wealth is closing in on five times as much as the combined wealth of the world’s top 8 individual billionaires, meaning that the Rothschild family alone controls more wealth than perhaps three-fourths or more of the world’s total population.…
But no Rothschild appears on the richest list because the family's wealth is dispersed among the members. Moreover, the actual figures are not public since the bulk of the wealth is privately held and doesn't have to be disclosed publicly.

Lord Keynes — The Secret of Why the Modern Left in the West is Impotent and Clueless

Bingo. Although it is no secret. It's why HRC lost the election to DJT.

Can the Democrats turn this around. No. It's everything they stand against. There are the "deplorables."

The only left in the US is the pseudo-left.

Social Democracy For The 21St Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective
The Secret of Why the Modern Left in the West is Impotent and Clueless
Lord Keynes

David Nir — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has turned into a stooge for Syria's dictator. Who will primary her?

Here's the Democrats' view of Tulsi Gabbard as a prospective leader. Oh, and she met with not only Bashir Al-Assad but also Donald Trump.

Daily Kos
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has turned into a stooge for Syria's dictator. Who will primary her?
David Nir


John Undonne — What is the Alt Right?

Good short summary. "John Undonne" is pretty obviously an alt-right monicker.

The Alt-Right has the ingredients to become a successful movement.

Before you dismiss the alt-right as a flash-in-the-pan, consider the rise of neoconservatism out of Trotskyism turned rightward and encountering Leo Strauss.

What is the Alt Right?
John Undonne

Sophia Tesfaye — Mutiny at Foggy Bottom: State Department management resigns en masse

Draining the Swap edition. These people left before they were fired.

Clean out the top levels at State and the intelligence services and let the lower levels know that politicization is streng verboten.

Otherwise prepare to be run by the deep state.

Mutiny at Foggy Bottom: State Department management resigns en masse
Sophia Tesfaye

Jeremy Scahill — Seymour Hersh Blasts Media For Uncritically Promoting Russian Hacking Story

Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence community proved its case that President Vladimir Putin directed a hacking campaign aimed at securing the election of Donald Trump. He blasted news organizations for lazily broadcasting the assertions of U.S. intelligence officials as established facts.
Hersh denounced news organizations as “crazy town” for their uncritical promotion of the pronouncements of the director of national intelligence and the CIA, given their track records of lying and misleading the public.
“The way they behaved on the Russia stuff was outrageous,” Hersh said when I sat down with him at his home in Washington, D.C., two days after Trump was inaugurated. “They were just so willing to believe stuff. And when the heads of intelligence give them that summary of the allegations, instead of attacking the CIA for doing that, which is what I would have done,” they reported it as fact. Hersh said most news organizations missed an important component of the story: “the extent to which the White House was going and permitting the agency to go public with the assessment.”….
“It’s high camp stuff,” Hersh told The Intercept. “What does an assessment mean? It’s not a national intelligence estimate. If you had a real estimate, you would have five or six dissents. One time they said 17 agencies all agreed. Oh really? The Coast Guard and the Air Force — they all agreed on it? And it was outrageous and nobody did that story. An assessment is simply an opinion. If they had a fact, they’d give it to you. An assessment is just that. It’s a belief. And they’ve done it many times.”
Should add, "through anonymous sources without attribution." Sure sign of fixing the policy.

Cui bono?

1. The Never-Trumpers

2. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment

3. The advocates of regime change in Russia.


The Intercept
Seymour Hersh Blasts Media For Uncritically Promoting Russian Hacking Story
Jeremy Scahill