Friday, September 29, 2017

U.S. Cares Nought for Its Citizens - Watch Out Puerto Rico! And VI and Guam!!!  (Merkel and Hillary Out? Not Far Enough!)  Germany Out of the EU?  (Senate Refuses to Stop Endless War)  Venezuela Stops Accepting $$$  (Shut Up Jamie Dimon!)  J.P. Passes  (Dems A Joke?)  Seth Rich Never Going Away  (Bannon Still Skunking)  Exotic "New" Trump Plague?  (SMASH the Duopoly!)

Imagine, if you will, how much money has been taken off the table of jobs-creation to pay for these "stars."

Who said there were no good jobs being created?

Cree Dangles Millions in Incentives for Its New CEO

Naomi Klein strikes again.

Or is it just that U.S. "leadership" can only get their policies passed during "manufactured" crises?

Or will today's natural ones suffice for those no longer paying attention?

Never Let a Serious Manufactured Crisis Go To Waste

Read Ian.

Keynes once wrote that most politicians are slaves of some defunct economist, generally whose name they don’t even know. That we should regulate the world through markets is an idea which would have been absurd to virtually everyone three hundred years ago, even as the divine right of Kings is absurd to us today. That corporations should shield their owners from liability is an idea which was bitterly opposed by most capitalists two hundred years ago. That greed leads to better outcomes was laughable to virtually everyone, including Adam Smith, who thought it worked only in very specific circumstances and lamented that tradespeople were constantly in conspiracy against the public.
That goods, including food, should be primarily divided based on market success is another idea that most of the world, for most of history, has never held.
What is oddest about our modern ideology is the same thing that is odd about virtually all ideologies: it contradicts itself. We do not have either free or competitive markets, and not one in a hundred free market ideologues could define a competitive market, nor would they want one if they could, since an actual competitive market reduces profits to nearly nothing. Free markets cannot exist without government coercion, yet we have come to assume that it is government which makes markets unfree, which is a half truth at best; it’s markets that make governments unfree when they buy government – and the first thing any good capitalist does upon winning a market is try to eliminate the free market, since an actual free market threatens a monopolist or oligopolist.
An ideology tells us what is thinkable and what is unthinkable, what is moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. Right or wrong. It either says that 90 percent taxation is right and good on great wealth, or an unthinkable burden on “value” creators. It defines what is value, for instance, privileging financial innovation which actually destroys genuine good production. It says that food that makes us sick is acceptable and that banning such food is unethical. It says that it is right and proper that men and women meet their needs by working for other people, without any ability to meet their own needs if the market deems them surplus beyond private or public charity. It says that land that lies fallow is not available for anyone to grow food, that pumping poison into water and food and air is acceptable, that rationing health care by who has the most money is the best way to do it. Or, it could say that healthcare is too important to allow people to buy their way to the front of the line.. . . .

Puerto Rico:  Late Imperial Possession
What is interesting about all this is not so much the scale of the disaster as the indifference.
It is more extreme than that which greated other catastrophes, as when New York was hit, and the areas where the lower classes were ignored, till they could be bought up.
But while more extreme it is in that continuum.  The US has become very bad at disaster relief, because US elites don’t really care unless it affects them.
It is impossible to imagine this level of indifference in the 50s thru 70s, whatever else their flaws.  Americans were proud of their ability to mobilize; proud of their protectorates, and could and would get material and people on the ground, fast.
This indifference, this lack of both fellow feeling and real pride (not saluting the flag, but making the country work), is, next to excessive corruption, the surest sign of America’s decline.
When do you think the U.S. will tire of electing arrogant, vicious, small-time, petty, self-serving, callous to anyone not related to them or a country/territory not belonging to them (or not), privileged, really stupid (in the worst way) con artists who have been driving the U.S. economy toward 4th world status since the 70's?
I wish it were soon.
Remember when it was verboten to mention the word "Nazi?" It was not considered de rigueur; after all if you could say "Nazi" any time you thought of it, that diminished its value as an expressive derisive.
Well, that's changed as we now have people called "Nazi" all the time who may just be concerned about their native country's future, and many who are actually "Nazis" (or neo-) not being mentioned at all in "polite" conversation (see Ukraine). 
To review the international election news (news not found on the NY/D.C. MSM):

Last Sunday’s German election was an opportunity for the German electorate to repudiate Washington vassal Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and to some extent they did. But you would never know it from the news reporting.
The headlines were Merkel wins fourth term. In the US, Hillary’s folks emphasize that Trump lost the popular vote, but Merkel lost it by 70%. Only 3 Germans out of 10 voted for her. Her party’s vote fell from 41.6% in the previous election to just under 33%.
Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SDU) also suffered a vote decline that resulted in the SDU refusing to enter into another coalition government with Merkel. This means that Merkel has to go to the Free Democratic party (FDP) which got 10.7 percent of the vote and to the Greens which got 8.9 percent of the vote. That coalition produces 52.6 percent from which a government can be formed. Merkel’s “win” was such a defeat that she is perhaps on the way out.
Where did the votes lost by Merkel’s party and coalition partner (SDU) go?
They went to a new party that stands for Germany, and not for Washington, not for the refugees from Washington’s wars, and not for conflict with Russia. This party is Alternative for Germany (AfD). It is now Germany’s third largest political party with 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats in the German legislature.
As the party is against the massive Muslim immigration supported by Merkel and against Washington’s policy toward Russia, the AfD was promptly branded “far-right,” a term that is saddled with Nazi connotations.
. . . The German people have been so brainwashed by Washington since World War II that Germans have no positive conception of themselves, only guilt and fear of anything said to be “far right.” Yet, the third largest vote went to the “far right” party.
Clearly, in Germany a political party, which does not want to be in conflict with Russia or to be the dumping ground for the human residue of Washington’s wars in the Middle East and Africa, is defined by presstitutes in the US, Europe, Canada, UK, Australia, and even in English language Russian news services such as Sputnik, as “far right.”
Although it is encouraging to see 12.6% of the German people wake up, the vote seems to be based less on avoiding the looming conflict with Russia and more on not being the dumping ground for the human debris of Washington’s wars. How does one judge these two threats to Germany?
Germany does not exist, nor does Europe, if Washington brings nuclear conflict to the world. Germany does not exist if the country is overrun by other peoples fleeing from Washington’s atrocities in the Middle East and Africa.
In the first case, there is nothing left of Germany. In the second case, there is a country that is no longer German.
As far as we have evidence, Western Europe is captive by Washington and will go to its destruction rather than dissociate from Washington’s foreign policy. But there are signs of hope in parts of Eastern Europe.
Unlike Germany, some of the Eastern European countries have refused to accept their quota of refugees from Washington’s wars. The EU Commission itself accepts its vassalage function as a dumping ground for Washington’s “collateral damage,” the euphemism Washington applies to the casualties of its wars for profits and hegemony, and is suing the EU members who refuse their quotas of refugees. The former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, responded to the EU’s determination to impose immigrant quotas on the Czech nation by declaring:  “The time has come to start preparing the exit of our country from the European Union.”
The dictatorial character of the EU is a good reason for every member to leave it. Countries already subjected to looting by American global corporations and financial entities have no spare money with which to support the victims of Washington’s illegal wars. For the EU to try to force Washington’s external war costs upon its members proves how much of a tool of Washington the EU is.
The more important reason for Eastern Europe, or that part of it that still has the capability of independent thought, is to avoid nuclear armageddon. Washington’s quest for world hegemony is driving the world to the third, and final, World War. Eastern European governments could prevent this looming war by breaking from their vassalage to Washington and forming a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia.
Such realistic behavior on the part of Eastern Europe could possibly even wake up Germany, France, and Great Britain to the extreme danger that they face as Washington’s vassals.
It is extraordinary, as I reported (, that Washington has twice directed attacks against Russian military forces in Syria. This insanity can come to no good end. Americans are so out to lunch that they have no idea of the terrible war that Washington’s madness is brewing. Apparently, neither do the Europeans or the British.
Dear Europeans, yes, non-European immigration is a threat. So is conflict with Russia. Currently, due to your lack of leadership and any significant awareness on your own part, you are incapable of doing anything to save yourselves and the rest of us.
Exhausted, indoctrinated, brainwashed, can Europe do anything except submit to its and the world’s demise?
 How's that for starting your weekend off with a bang?
 Or this?

And . . .

Whoops! Don't tell the U.S. citizens!

Oil Rich Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“But Jesus, when you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both it's health, you worry about getting rupture or something. If everything is simply jake then you're frightened of death.”
J.P. Donleavy passed at 91. Long live the Ginger Man.


Seymour Hersh Is Scared to Tell Us What He Knows about Seth Rich

The great investigative journalist has, in public, said two very different things about the Seth Rich mystery; and, when urged to fess up what he really knows about it (in a private conversation that, unbeknownst to him, was being recorded), said he certainly will not, because he lives in “the real world” — meaning that he knows better than to take so grave a risk.
This “real world” is one where US journalists had better stick to the official line on story after story — a line that tends to be dictated by US intelligence — or else.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And has Hillary come up smelling like the proverbial "rose?

More like skunk cabbage. Whereas Bannon is the skunk.

In any case, the future does not belong to Clinton no matter what happens or doesn’t on her book tour. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, released after Labor Day, found that a record low of 36 percent had “very” or “somewhat” positive feelings of Trump, and even fewer — 30 percent — felt that way about Clinton. (Obama was at 51 percent.) Trump and his claque at Fox News want to believe that she’s still running for president; they persist in re-litigating everything from the emails to Benghazi even as the one-year anniversary of Election Day 2016 approaches. Whatever the masturbatory benefits of this fixation on the right, the fact remains that history is moving on, rapidly now, from all things Clinton.
Steve Bannon began his post–White House media tour with a long 60 Minutes appearance over the weekend, and seems to be supporting it through anonymously-sourced articles publicizing his access to the House Freedom Caucus, billionaire Robert Mercer, and the president (who continues to speak with Bannon “every two to three days”). Will Bannon be as much of a political force as these reports would make him seem?
Of course Bannon talks to Trump regularly — the proof is that the dissembling White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, so pointedly denied it after the 60 Minutes broadcast. And he will certainly be as much of a political bomb thrower as he’s always been.
It’s somewhat astonishing, as others have pointed out, that in a long interview Charlie Rose never asked Bannon about his collaboration with Mercer. Their plan to spend Mercer’s money in 2018 to challenge sitting Republican senators whom they see as disloyal to Trump, like Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, may create serious political havoc for the GOP. And when Bannon promises a “civil war” within the Republican Party over the fate of the Dreamers next year, he has both the media means (in Breitbart) and Mercer’s cash to fan the flames of anti-immigrant xenophobia and make that war as bloody as possible. However much power Bannon does or does not have in the White House, we can be certain that his sway over this president vastly exceeds that of Ryan and McConnell — and maybe even Chuck and Nancy.

New news on these well-trod grounds?

Only if you too don't know what happened.

Darkly Dreaming Hillary 

Losing the election to Donald Trump was her "dark midnight time of the soul," Hillary Clinton confided to rehab specialist Stephen Colbert on his CBS infotainment show. Fresh off his stint of normalizing and endearing professional liar Sean Spicer at the Emmy awards, Colbert was happy to do likewise for Clinton, whose marathon book tour is vying for attention with earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters which always seem to unfairly threaten her campaigns.

. . . She joked that she'll be sticking around unless people take up a huge collection to send her someplace really nice. She demurred from mentioning an actual price for her departure. And since she already is someplace really nice, "I'm not going anywhere." Hillary called Trump's U.N. speech, which ridiculed the North Korean dictator as "Rocket Man," "very dark and very dangerous," threatening as it did to eclipse her own dark night of the soul, not to mention causing an endless loop of the Elton John hit to play inside people's heads.

Trump's words, Hillary complained, were very crass and not befitting the designated purveyor of "respectful" American aggression and exceptionalism.  It's always best to use words which are diplomatic and nuanced and democracy-spreading, she said. Maybe something more in line with how the then-Secretary of State respectfully described to a worldwide TV audience (via another CBS interview) the death-by-sodomy of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, after the US bombing campaign and right before another mass US-inspired immigration crisis:
(Click to enlarge.)

Perhaps that's what prompted her to dish to Colbert about Putin -  whom, she has absolutely no doubt, infiltrated the hive-mind of the American electorate and turned them into millions of zombie Trump-voters. Not only is Putin a giant pod creature from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," he is an evil manspreader whose sexism only added to the free-floating scourge of misogyny which helped propel Trump to his Dark Victory. Hillary also bragged that she got Putin so agitated one time in his dacha, he went into a manspreading frenzy. "He takes me down the stairs... into his inner sanctum... and then asked if my husband would like to come." (on a polar bear-tagging junket, not the other kind of threesome) Oh, the Hillmanity.

With that, Colbert uncorked a bottle of the Chardonnay which Hillary - once again - jokingly admitted is her drug of choice for the dark days of her lives. It's what got her through the agony of blamespreading, and then demanding gobs of money for it.  

Meanwhile, Darkly Dangerous Donald just got insanely handed, with no strings attached, more than ten times the money he'd asked for to help him pursue his dream-quest to redundantly "totally destroy" tiny North Korea:  a whopping three quarters of a trillion dollars.

Also in Trump's beady little sights:  Venezuela and Iran or wherever his pre-adolescent brain takes him next.
. . . I love the way the mainstream media is always in awe of this allegedly "rare" bipartisanship. The two right wings of the war party always act in lockstep when it comes to funding unlimited state-sponsored death. It seems like only yesterday when they near-unanimously funded Johnson's war in Vietnam after the phony Gulf of Tonkin attack (which was glossed over in the current PBS series, incidentally.)

Glossed over? I thought it was lied about outright.

But that's a subject for the next essay. Possibly. If I can remove the ashes taste from my mouth by then.

But this year was also something heartwarming and special, because the vote was also a "tribute" to Senate Hawk John McCain, who is bravely battling cancer, and who muscularly boasted on CNN last week that his treatment isn't costing him a dime, and who is once again the deciding vote on whether millions of other people will lost their own skimpy health insurance.
Giving a blank weapons check to a president whom establishment politicians and their media partners  purport to fear and loathe so much should call them out as hypocrites. But they are not about to expose themselves as such, especially since their message and "the narrative" is congealed within a handful of corporate-owned and controlled conglomerates.
So, just in case you need a good laugh, or a good cry, or simply a rapidly-spreading distraction from other realities, here's the full clip of the Clinton/Colbert Russophobic schmooze-fest (naturally, when Colbert bloviates that "we" have to stop the horrible things going on in government under Trump, he doesn't mean that we have to stop the permanent state of war. The topic never even comes up, because militarism helps pay Colbert's salary, and it enriches the CBS stockholders way too much. As CBS honcho Les Moonves famously said, "Trump might not be good for America, but he's damned good for CBS!")

Click here for the entire essay. Don't miss the Comments! Or the other startlingly well-informed essays found there.

Graham-Cassidy Failed, but Obamacare Is Under Attack for the Foreseeable Future 

Republicans will be back for blood after they bumble tax reform.

The Ponzi Scheme's Namesake Warned Us About the Power of American Greed

Remember synthetic CDOs? They're back.

Ian Welsh solves the mystery of the universe (not really kidding!):

… and think anything but that whatever Clinton’s IQ, she isn’t actually very smart.
It really takes an extraordinarily warped world-view to be able to believe the above.  The simplest explanation is just that she really is unable to think clearly.

Which I've said here, and offered huge evidence for (in the face of screaming Hillbots), most of this millennia.

Driftglass has written almost this same exact essay a hundred times. But he can't stop.

Help him stop!

After reading Thomas Edsall's column today, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage reportedly got knee-walking drunk, downed a whole bottle of prescription Oxford commas and then threw itself off of a precipitously high dangling participle.
Because like pretty much every other Nerf Ball column about partisanship and politics the Beltway generates these days, Mr. Edsall's contribution to the genre is an exercise in attempting to write about why the GOP is a reeking shitpile of bigots and imbeciles without actually, y'know, talking about why the GOP is a reeking shitpile of bigots and imbeciles.
Right off the bat he tries to clear the very first hurdle from the wrong foot.
In the Trump era, Republicans have been revising their views on right and wrong.
No, Mr. Edsall, this is not some exotic new plague that arrived on our shores with the advent of Stupid Administration.
In fact, for decades the Republican party has depended entirely on it's reprogrammable, bigoted, brain-dead base to win elections - a base that has eagerly and radically revised their views on right and wrong over and over again depending on whether or not their party occupies the White House. And they have gotten away with it so often thanks to the invaluable assistance of the Conservative media and the Beltway media that by now they have been conditioned to believe that it is their inalienable right to just doublethink all contradictions out of existence - to wish, wish, wish away their own, inconvenient past as though it had simply never happened.
 And (that Driftglass is a national treasure!):

Here is what The New York Times paid Mr. David Brooks a large pile of money to write today:
Atlantis:  A Land of Contrasts.





Both Sides!

Why won't Obama lead?

What?  You think I'm kidding?

From Mr. David Brooks in The New York Times today:

Harvey, Irma, Jose … and Noah.
And we're off...
Is there anything we can learn from hurricanes, storms and floods?

People have been asking that question for thousands of years, and telling stories that try to make sense of natural disasters. These flood myths are remarkably similar to one another...
. . . And here is the key paragraph:  the razor in the apple of virtually every single thing The New York Times pays Mr. David Brooks to write:

..That’s because we have trouble thinking about authority. Everybody seems to have an outsider mentality. Social distrust is at record highs. Many seem to swerve between cheap, antiestablishment cynicism, on the one hand, and a lemming-like partisan obedience on the other.

Floods are invitations to recreate the world. That only happens successfully when strong individuals are willing to yoke themselves to collective institutions...
In other words, floods, boy, I don't know.
The one salvageable metaphor from this puddle of awful is the image the ark.
Because once again that is exactly what David Brooks and the rest of the Beltway media drivel-mongers are building for themselves and their friends, right out in the open where everyone can see. Another great big Both Siderist lifeboat - just like the one they built after President Cheney lied us into the wrong war, just like the one they built after the Bush Administration collapsed, just like the one they built after the GOP chose to deal with the election of the first black president with a relentless, unified campaign of slander and sedition - on which they plan to once again sail away unscathed from yet another catastrophe for which they bear a huge amount of responsibility.

This is what we're up against . . . .

From CNN:

(CNN) Jane Pauley asked Hillary Clinton a simple question during a sitdown on CBS' "Sunday Morning":  Were there mistakes she made that led to her loss in the 2016 presidential race? Clinton's response was telling.
"I think the - the most important of the mistakes I made was using personal email," Clinton acknowledged. "I've said it before, I'll say it again, that was my responsibility. It was presented in such a really negative way, and I never could get out from under it. And it never stopped."
She's (sort of) right. There's no question that the decision -- during Clinton's early days at the State Department - to exclusively use a private email address/server was a massive mistake.
Not only was she the first secretary of state to exclusively use a private email address (others, like Colin Powell, had used both a private email and an official address) but the decision to use her own private server reinforced many of the negative perceptions people had about Clinton. 
. . . The email server story affirmed for people that everything, or at least lots of what they thought about the Clintons was true. It reminded them that for all of the depth of Hillary Clinton's resume, she was going to be carrying all of that baggage from the 1990s that lots of people wanted to be done with. 
(Side note:  This wasn't just people who hated the Clintons. That was already baked into her electoral calculus before the email server story broke. I am talking about people who were truly undecided about Hillary Clinton for president; they liked her smarts and her experience but just weren't sure whether they wanted to go back to the scandals and controversies of the 1990s.)
To my mind, however, Clinton's greatest mistake in the race wasn't setting up the email server. It was her total inability to recognize - and recognize quickly - the reasons why the server story was so dangerous for her campaign. 
If you look back at Clinton's reactions in the aftermath of Michael Schmidt's story revealing her email address and subsequent reporting from AP about her email server, it's clear she doesn't get why it could be a problem. 
Clinton stayed silent for a week after Schmidt broke the news. But then in a press conference at the United Nations on March 10, 2015, Clinton first revealed her absolute contempt for the story. 
"I went above and beyond what I was requested to do," she responded to one question about the setup. "The laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work," she said at another point. "That is undisputed." 
That not-getting-it-ness (as well as her overly legalistic responses about what she did and didn't do in regards the email server) continued for months and months.
At an August 2015 press availability that produced this famous GIF, Clinton repeatedly sounded defensive and lawyerly. "What I did was legally permitted, number one, first and foremost, okay?," she said at one point. At another, asked why she had wiped her server before turning it over to the Justice Department, Clinton responded sarcastically: "Like with a cloth or something?"

But no.

As a DoD employee holding a security clearance (yes, even several special clearances) for over 20 years (and many times being designated the leading security officer), I can say definitively that nothing I heard about her decision to use a separate unregulated server seemed in line with military standards (or permissions). If someone had been discovered doing that sort of dodge of institutional regulations during my term of service, they would have faced a tough prison sentence. Not a reprimand.

Funny how smart she must be to have dodged that situation.

And that Trump crowd?

Better students than I would have thought. All six of them (or have more piled on now?).

Max and Stacy explain all the other dodges available to those in the well-connected, in-the-know crowd.


My buddy, Lee Camp, has the final word on where our politics has ended up.

The toilet.

My sole acquaintance in NY now, the New York Crank, sees a way out.


But the frontal lobes also exert an inhibiting or constraining influence on what Pavlov called “the blind force of the subcortex”—the urges and passions that might overwhelm us if left unchecked. (Apes and monkeys, like children, though clearly intelligent and capable of forethought and planning, are relatively lacking in frontal lobes, and tend to do the first thing that occurs to them, rather than pausing to reflect. Such impulsivity can be striking in patients with frontal-lobe damage.) There is normally a beautiful balance, a delicate mutuality, between the frontal lobes and the subcortical parts of the brain that mediate perception and feeling, and this allows a consciousness that is free-ranging, playful, and creative. The loss of this balance through frontal-lobe damage can “release” impulsive behaviors, obsessive ideas, and overwhelming feelings and compulsions.
Frontal-lobe damage can lead to difficulties with attention and problem-solving, and impoverishment of creativity and intellectual activity. 
Does that sound like somebody you've seen in the news recently? Does it sound like grounds for removing a sitting president, via the 25th Amendment

And from the peanut gallery? Love those peanuts!

Even when they try to tell the truth they can't help lying.  Case in point today, the ol' Maverick, for some reason granted a space on national TV to maunder on about global warming, which he claims to believe in:
"Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has no idea why his GOP colleagues deny basic climate science...
(Jake) Tapper... asks McCain why, with a few exceptions, the Republican party, “the president, the governor of Florida, et cetera, act as if it’s not real, even though the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it’s real and it’s man made?
“I don’t know because I can’t divine their motives,” McCain said."
He doesn't know their motives.
Well, he knows their motives perfectly well, as does any other rational person:  They are corrupt criminals who have taken bribes to lie about climate change.  Can't be admitting that, though.

Monday, September 4, 2017

(Happy Un-Labor Day?)  Liars Figuring Still  (Stop Democracy Now!) Junior Soprano Unleashed: As*hole Defined  (Ignorant/Racist USA!)  Empire of Never-Ending Debt?  (White Lashed)  Vouchered Rahm?  (After Liberalism? When?)  Watershed History Moment  (New International Economics Needed)  Hillary Hype Resented?

Sorry that this is a ridiculously long one, but I'm catching up as I've been on long-term hiatus due to desperate economic circumstances . . . just grab a tall, cold one; you may need a refill. Many of us do constantly these days.

A brief moment of clarity for the jobs-bereft (as well as the life-bereft (h/t to D. Trump's "Have a good time!" to the desperate refugees as he scrambled back to his gilded lifestyle after viewing the Harvey damage)):

The Vanishing American Dream
Today is Labor Day, a difficult day to celebrate now that American labor has been cast aside and US jobs offshored and given to foreigners. The remainder of the jobs is slated to be replaced by robotics.
Friday’s payroll jobs report was full of bad news. Full-time jobs declined by 166,000. The meager 156,000 new jobs claimed are really only 115,000 net of the prior month’s revision, and this 115,000 jobs estimate is within the range of statistical insignificance. In other words, there is no confidence that the jobs are actually there.
The US work force continues to develop a Third World complexion of lowly paid part-time domestic service employment. The American Dream continues its closedown.
Meanwhile the government tells us that we are at full employment with an unemployment rate of 4.4%.

For the sensitive amongst us:

We are going to have to do far more than take down Robert E. Lee’s statue.

To resolve our internal problems is a monumental job requiring the resources now spent in trying to resolve the rest of the world's problems.

Today our country is far more divided that it was in 1860. Identity Politics has taught Americans to hate each other, but, nevertheless, the zionist neoconservatives assure us that we are “the indispensable, exceptional people.” We, a totally divided people, are said to have the right to rule the world and to bomb every country that doesn’t accept our will into the stone age.
In turn the world hates America. Washington has told too many lies about other countries and used those lies to destroy them. Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and large chunks of Syria and Pakistan are in ruins. Washington intends yet more ruin with Venezuela currently in the cross hairs.
Eleven years ago Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez resonated with many peoples when he said in his UN speech:  “Yesterday at this very podium stood Satan himself [Bush], speaking as if he owned the world; you can still smell the sulphur.”
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that America is a font for hatred both at home and abroad.

Putting a stop to democracy ASAP.

And if you are still wondering when the Republicans and the MIC-loving Democrats are going to finally get down to business about that political genius,Trump, try to remember the pretty recent history (okay, not so pretty) of these "serious" guys:

“This year was totally different,” one attendee told us. “With the current White House and all the overseas activity, military confidence is way up. I can’t tell you how many excited comments there were about the new budgetary reality.” Former CIA director James Schlesinger, recipient of the Carabaos’ 2002 Distinguished Service Award, summed it up well in his acceptance speech:  “Someone once said that war is hell and peace is heaven. But we know that the opposite is true:   war is heaven and peace is hell.” The good times were back, and more than a thousand Carabaos and handpicked guests brayed their approval, leaving us to wonder whether an imperial renaissance is upon us.
Held this year at the swanky Omni Shoreham Hotel, the Carabao Wallow attracts top military brass as well as a bull-necked assortment of politicos and eager defense contractors. Those not in black tie or military dress uniform don a kilt for the four-hour extravaganza. Among the guests, called Hombres, there are precious few women. As recently as 1995, a Carabao scandalized the Herd by arriving with his wife in tow. The couple was forced to eat in the hall.
The evening’s entertainment includes a selection of songs, lovingly composed and performed by members of the Herd, satirizing public figures and current events, with particular emphasis on the lily-livered liberals and their endless efforts to cut the Pentagon’s budget boodle. “It’s the military-industrial complex’s answer to the Gridiron,” as one Wallow regular described it.
Ditties like “Big Bad Bin Laden” and ’’An Afghan Lullaby” aired contemporary concerns, while “Base Closing Blues” evoked the mournful spirit of a blessedly bygone era. But with the greatest appropriation windfall in U.S. military history inching toward approval, it seemed entirely appropriate that this year’s major dramatic theme was "Star Wars."

“Rummy Skywalker” and “Darth Biden” provided the catchiest lyrics. “Colin Solo’s Solo” drew an appreciative response from the crowd, and “Princess Condoleia,” a stirring ode to unilateralism, was affecting indeed, even with a white guy playing Condoleezza Rice.
. . . This year’s guest list didn’t feature the usual heavy hitters — what with the war on terror being waged wide and far. Though invited to the Wallow, Capt. George W. Bush, USAF Reserve, did not attend. Nor did Colin Powell, who sat unobtrusively in the banquet hall in 2000. But the geriatric Sen. Strom Thurmond wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Joining him at the head table were, among others, Schlesinger and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs Vice Chair, and Air Force Secretary James Roche, both Carabaos, played gracious hosts at their own tables.
Once seated at his preassigned table, each tipsy reveler readied himself for a traditional rite:   the bellowing of the Carabao anthem. By this point, the room was thick with smoke — every place setting had been adorned with an authentic Cuban cigar. A disembodied voice calmly requested “Gentlemen, please turn to your songbooks,” and the Marine Corps Band seated to the side picked up a lusty tune. The Carabaos, most of whom seemed to know the words by heart, launched into the first stanza, ferociously banging their fists on the tables at each and every chorus . . . .
Fiery musical manifestoes like this one are hard to come by these days outside of museum displays. And “The Soldier’s Song” is by no means short on history. Its dulcet tones were first hummed by the “hikers” — soldiers dispatched to the Philippines in 1899 by President William McKinley to bring the Filipino independence movement to heel. Wielding smokeless Krag rifles, the forebears of today’s Herd trampled what they called the “Philippine Insurrection” under heavy hoof. Historians estimate that 16,000 Filipino guerrillas and 200,000 civilians — in addition to 10,000 American soldiers — were killed in a campaign that dragged on until 1916. As in a later colonial adventure in Southeast Asia, U.S. commanders made few distinctions between “amigo” and “insurrecto.” Villagers who did not enter “reconcentration camps” similar to Vietnam’s “strategic hamlets” were considered fair game by Carabao bulls.
Though unruffled by the continued American occupation of the Philippines, President Woodrow Wilson waged a halfhearted campaign against “The Soldier’s Song” in 1914, publicly lambasting the Order for its insults to Filipinos. He loftily reminded the Carabaos of “the high conscience with which they ought to put duty above personal indulgence, and to think of themselves as responsible men and trusted soldiers, even while they are amusing themselves as diners out.” When no one listened, Wilson blocked his Secretary of the Navy from accepting a promotion to lead bull of the Herd. Ironically, the offending anthem’s lyrics had been softened just several months before Wilson heard it (the original chorus went, “Damn, Damn, Damn the Filipinos”). Although not otherwise distinguished as a crusader against racism, Wilson may well have been an early specimen of the hated liberal-milquetoast type, the sort of guy Carabao idol Donald Rumsfeld would have stuffed in a gym locker had they been together at Princeton.
“The Soldier’s Song” emerged mostly unscathed from this early encounter with diplomatic propriety, only to meet with another slight alteration in the early Nineties. A guest from this year’s Wallow recounted the sad tale of a “shit-for-brains” who invited a friend from the Filipino government to the annual sing-along. The Filipino, duly horrified, promptly filed a complaint, while the unlucky Carabao was abruptly thinned from the Herd. Following this incident, the above stanza lauding the Filipinos as “our fondest friends” was added. The only foreigner registered for the 2002 Wallow was a Saudi lieutenant colonel named Nayef Al Saud.
For the most part, the Herd thunders in closely guarded seclusion. Apart from the obituaries, the last time a Carabao reared an antlered head in the press was in 1983, when General Dynamics was caught billing the government hundreds of dollars so that its employees could mingle with the Wallowers. This wasn’t a new stunt. The same year, the multimillion-dollar defense contractor had run up the taxpayers’ tab while pressing the flesh at the Iron Gate Dinner in New York, a similar function hosted by the Air Force Association.
In 1999, the presence of independent counsel Ken Starr at the Wallow created a bit of a stir. With the evening’s first toast to Bill Clinton, then grudgingly acknowledged as commander-in-chief, all eyes watched Starr for signs of insubordination. As glasses were raised, Starr dutifully stood, uttering the requisite “Hear, hear.” He did not, however, salute.

Stop frowning!

So, he's really just an abused child.

A very wealthy, vastly catered-to abused child.

A 21st century philosopher speaks:

It is not quite fair to say that Donald Trump lacks core beliefs, but to the extent that we can take apart these beliefs they amount to Give Donald Trump Your Money and Donald Trump Should Really Be on Television More. The only comprehensible throughline to his politics is that everything Trump says is something he’s said previously, with additional very’s and more-and-more’s appended over time; his worldview amounts to the sum of the dumb shit he saw on the cover of the "New York Post" in 1985, subjected to a few decades of rancid compounding interest and deteriorating mental aptitude. He watches a lot of cable news, but he struggles to follow even stories that have been custom built for people like him — old, uninformed, amorphously if deeply aggrieved.
There’s a reason for this. Trump doesn’t know anything or really believe anything about any topic beyond himself, because he has no interest in any topic beyond himself; his evident cognitive decline and hyperactive laziness and towering monomania ensure that he will never again learn a new thing in his life. He has no friends and no real allies; his inner circle is divided between ostensibly scandalized cynics and theatrically shameless ones, all of whom hold him in low regard and see him as a potential means to their individuated ends. There is no help on the way; his outer orbit is a rotation of replacement-level rage-grandpas and defective, perpetually clammy operators..
Trump now “executes” by way of the The Junior Soprano Method. When he senses that his staff is trying to get him to do one thing, Trump defiantly does the opposite; otherwise he bathes in the commodified reactionary grievance of partisan media, looking for stories about himself. It takes days for his oafish and overmatched handlers to coax him into even a coded and qualified criticism of neo-Nazis, and an instant for him to willfully undo it. Of course he brings more vigor to the latter than the former; he doesn’t really understand why he had to do the first thing, but he innately and deeply understands why he did the second. The first is invariably about someone else — some woman, there was a car accident, like during or maybe after that thing — and therefore, as an asshole, he does not and cannot really care about it. The second is about him and therefore, as an asshole, he really, really does.
To understand Trump is also to understand his appeal as an aspirational brand to the worst people in the United States. What his intransigent admirers like most about him — the thing they aspire to, in their online cosplay sessions and their desperately thirsty performances for a media they loathe and to which they are so helplessly addicted — is his freedom to be unconcerned with anything but himself. This is not because he is rich or brave or astute; it’s because he is an asshole, and so authentically unconcerned.

The howling and unreflective void at his core will keep him lonely and stupid until the moment a sufficient number of his vital organs finally resign in disgrace, but it liberates him to devote every bit of his being to his pursuit of himself. Actual hate and actual love, as other people feel them, are too complicated to fit into this world. In their place, for Trump and for the people who see in him a way of being that they are too busy or burdened or humane to pursue, are the versions that exist in a lower orbit, around the self. Instead of hate, there is simple resentment — abject and valueless and recursively self-pitying; instead of love, there is the blank sucking nullity of vanity and appetite.
This is what an asshole is, and lord knows Trump is not the only one in his business, or our culture, who insistently bends every incident or issue back towards his sour and jealous self. Some of the people who do this even care at some level about the broader world, but because they are assholes believe that the solution to that world’s problems lies in paying more attention to one particular asshole and his or her ideas. Trump is not one of those people. The rest of the world is an abstraction to him, a market to exploit; there is no other person in it who is real to him. They’re all supplicants or subjects, fans or haters, but their humanity is transparently not part of the equation. What other people might want, or indeed the fact that they could want at all, is crowded out of the picture by the corroded and corrosive bulk of his horrible self.
There is no room for other people in the world that Trump has made for himself, and this is fundamental to the anxiety of watching him impose his claustrophobic and airless interior world on our own. Is Trump a racist? Yes, because that’s a default setting for stupid people; also, he transparently has no regard for other people at all. Does Trump care about the cheap-looking statue of Stonewall Jackson that some forgotten Dixiecrat placed in a shithole park somewhere he will never visit? Not really, but he so resents the fact that other people expect him to care that he develops a passionate contrary opinion out of spite. Does he even know about . . . Let me stop you there. The answer is no.
The answer is always no, and it will always be no because he does not care. Every lie, every evasion, every massive and blithely issued shock to the conscience Trump authors will only ever be about him. He will never be embarrassed by any of these things, because he cannot understand anyone’s response to them except as it relates to him. Slavery? That’s another thing that his very dishonest enemies want to blame him for. Racism? He’s been accused of it, and honestly it’s so ridiculous, so ridiculous. History? He’s in the business of making it, baby. Violence? Not his fault. People protesting? He doesn’t know them.

And thus his wife's seemingly callous public disregard for his personal desires.

Almost makes you long for Nixon's smarmy attempts for connection with college students, doesn't it?


As you know, Magpie, I have been trying for a while to interest self-absorbed Americans in the fact that even what we are seeing in Texas is a minor thing compared to what is going to happen in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia in the next half century due to global warming. Of course the number of Americans who don't give one God damn about brown people is large enough, and they spend enough time (when they are not in their usual oxycontin haze) screaming about things, that no one will address that except a few lunatic left wingers.

"I believe that our species will not last long. It does not seem to be made of the stuff that has allowed the turtle, for example, to continue to exist more or less unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, for hundreds of times longer, that is, than we have been in existence. We belong to a short-lived genus of species. All of our cousins are already extinct. What’s more, we do damage.

The brutal climate and environmental changes that we have triggered are unlikely to spare us. For Earth they may turn out to be a small blip, but I do not think that we will outlast them unscathed - especially since public and political opinion prefers to ignore the dangers that we are running (from), hiding our heads in the sand. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our individual mortality. I fear that soon we shall also have to become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilization.
As we know more or less well how to deal with our individual mortality, so we will deal with the collapse of our civilization. It is not so different."

- Carlo Rovelli
“Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” Carlo Rovelli (pgs. 77,78) (2014).
(Carlo Rovelli, an Italian theoretical physicist, is the head of the Quantum Gravity group at the Centre de Physique Theorique of Aix-Marseille University. He is one of the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory.)

Of current relevance is the effort to explain Donald Trump’s election in terms of ‘White backlash.’ Both the Clintons and Barack Obama made a small number of rich people much richer while making working class and poor people poorer. From starting positions characterized by unresolved institutional racism — race-based social disadvantage, the Democrats’ economic policies rewarded and punished people by these starting positions and not by capacities and effort. The Democrats ‘meritocracy’ is in this way tautological, a low-budget restatement of Voltaire’s ‘best of all possible worlds.’
For displaced Democrats the theory of White backlash has obvious appeal— barely employed, barely educated hicks get their revenge for eight years of America’s first Black president passing virtuous and inclusive policies. Questions like why a number of Americans sufficient to elect Mr. Trump are barely educated and barely employed eight years into a Democrat administration and economic ‘recovery’ are left for the communists. (The bourgeois and the rich vote — they elected Mr. Trump). And in fact, recent research supports the contention that millions of workers were forced to exit labor ‘markets’ during Mr. Obama’s tenure due to a lack of jobs.
This isn’t to dismiss the theory of backlash entirely. Amongst the 16% of the population that voted for Mr. Trump ((eligible voters / population) X 27% eligible who voted Trump), some fair portion may well be ideologically committed racists.
Furthermore, American history is full of political opportunists periodically exacerbating racial tensions to divide working people and the poor and distract attention away from capitalist predations. The problem for Democrats with charging dim jackass Trump with racial opportunism is that the Clintons mastered that game some twenty years ago. (Click on figure to enlarge.)

Graph:  capital, a remarkably sore subject in economics despite its place at the theoretical core of capitalism, is well described as control over social resources — in particular, productive resources. The Neoliberal epoch has placed most wealth, and with it control over social resources, in a small number of overwhelmingly White hands. The difference between average and median wealth is a measure of this concentration. Through deregulation, financialization, globalization and the concentration of corporate power in the executive suites, Bill Clinton helped build this system of wealth concentration. Through bailouts of Wall Street, Barack Obama restored it to power. As the graph suggests, ‘opportunity’ is a non sequitur when a few connected White people own all of the resources. (Source:  Economic Policy Institute.)
The oft-uttered contention that the Clintons are mere racial opportunists while Mr. Trump is a real racist ignores that the Clintons pushed some of the most destructively racist legislation in American history. The argument that they (the Clintons) shouldn’t be held to account for legislation they supported undermines the base precept of legal liability used to write it. In other words, the Clinton apologia appears to be that they shouldn’t be held to account, but the several million poor Blacks imprisoned under legislation they supported should have been. And there is no hyperbole in linking the language, structure and intent of the 1994 Crime Bill to Nazi Law through precedents in Jim Crow.
Finally, the ‘backlash’ thesis proceeds from the premise that there was something worthy of backlash against.There was celebration around the globe when Barack Obama was elected in 2008. And Republicans did spend the next eight years proclaiming that his neoliberal (state-capitalist) policies were ‘socialist.’ But the debased state of American political discourse hardly makes this so.
The more descriptively accurate term for a politician who bails out Wall Street, passes a ‘market-based’ health insurance sales scheme, pushes high-capitalist trade agreements and works to cut social spending is ‘Republican.
None of this is to give dim tool Trump a pass for fanning the flames of hatred and intolerance. It is to argue that the premise of difference, and therefore that there is refuge in the Democrat Party, is based on ignorance, wishful thinking and delusion. As vile as Mr. Trump is, the governing ideology of the national Democrats’ (paging Antonio Gramsci) revivifies White nationalism through reifying starting positions of asymmetrical economic power (graph above). Race and class repression have grown in lockstep with resurgent capitalism supported most effectively by national Democrats.
Ultimately neoliberalism is for those hearty souls who took Margaret Thatcher’s (and Ayn Rand’s) brain-farts seriously. From Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street, she appears to have confused prescriptive with descriptive in the sense laid out above — she believed the educated fools in $3,000 suits who had just killed the global economy were capable of running the world because they still had jobs. This is the very same ‘creative class’ that Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street to save. It also fits Donald Trump’s preference for ‘winners’ over people otherwise able to do a job.
The difference between living in a flawed capitalist democracy and a relentlessly oppressive totalitarian shithole depends more the social space that one occupies than pre-modern social apologetics. The tautological conception of merit favored by national Democrats implies that Blacks suffer from institutional racism because of some deficiency inherent to Blackness. The American ruling class favors this tautology because it legitimates the concentration of wealth and power under the illusion of merit. Neoliberalism, the governing ethos of Washington, links three centuries of White nationalism to capitalism through this circular social apologetics.
Last, a new article in The Nation gives substantive backing to the long held contention that the ‘Russian hacking’ story is complete and utter bullshit. As Julian Assange and others contemporaneously argued, DNC emails were gotten through a leak — through an inside job, and not through a hack by malevolent outsiders. A quick bet is that this will ultimately do for national Democrats what the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ fraud did for the Bushies and the New York Times. The larger question is why grift-o-crats use short-con fabrications when they will still be in full view when the con falls apart? To save the suspense, these are enthusiastically not-gifted people. So much for a meritocracy.

Lee Camp goes into detail about how easy it was for the FBI/NSA/Homeland Security/CIA/ASPCA/NAACP, etc., etc., (anyone actually) to monitor the throughput of the get.

Published on Aug 25, 2017 
Last year WikiLeaks showed Clinton’s campaign to be laughably corrupt, and suggested that the “D” in “DNC” was perhaps inserted ironically. The media promptly began focusing on the source of this information by equating WikiLeaks with “Russian hackers,” instead of analyzing the proven corruption and its implications. A group founded in 2003 to question the WMD narrative from which our consent was manufactured to attack Iraq, has re-emerged to question the Russian hacking narrative politicians and media pundits have hammered into our brains since the election.

Hard science from these forensic investigators and intelligence analysts now demonstrates the Podesta emails came from a leak, not a hack. Corporate media, unsurprisingly, won’t touch this story, as it would indict them to a devastating degree. The most nefarious things about endless media repetition of the Russian hacking narrative is that it’s been sold to us as an “attack” and an “an act of war,” and that Democratic politicians don’t have to reflect on the neoliberal economic policies that caused so many to vote for Trump in the (false) hope that he’d represent a change. In sum, the military industrial complex wins, and the Democratic establishment successfully avoids all scrutiny of neglecting the people it claims to represent.

Psychologists behind the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program have settled out of their court case with three torture victims defended by the ACLU. These “architects” were paid 81 million dollars for their techniques, yet this torture was largely ineffective. And the settlement is unsurprising, because if this went to court it would be overwhelmingly bad PR for the CIA.

After discounting their heart-stopping Stacker Burger for one day, Burger King gave 50% of that day’s profits to a startup making 3D prosthetic arms. Burger King Argentina has been airing a commercial showing that you It’s ironic because fast food increases the chance of amputations.

And how did we get this far down the rabbit hole?

Moreover, there is no evidence to support the official conspiracy theory of 9/11. Indeed, all known evidence contradicts the official conspiracy theory.
It didn't happen overnight.

But . . . wait.

It did.

In the United States “conspiracy theory” is the name given to explanations that differ from those that serve the ruling oligarchy, the establishment or whatever we want to call those who set and control the agendas and the explanations that support the agendas.
The explanations imposed on us by the ruling class are themselves conspiracy theories. Moreover, they are conspiracy theories designed to hide the real conspiracy that our rulers are operating.
For example, the official explanation of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory. Some Muslims, mainly Saudi Arabians, delivered the greatest humiliation to a superpower since David slew Goliath. They outsmarted all 17 US intelligence agencies and those of NATO and Israel, the National Security Council, the Transportation Safety Administration, Air Traffic Control, and Dick Cheney, hijacked four US airliners on one morning, brought down three World Trade Center skyscrapers, destroyed that part of the Pentagon where research was underway into the missing $2.3 trillion, and caused the morons in Washington to blame Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia.
Clearly, the Saudia Arabians who humiliated Ameria were involved in a conspiracy to do so. Is it a believable conspiracy?
The ability of a few young Muslim men to pull off such a feat is unbelievable. Such total failure of the US National Security State means that America was blindly vulnerable throughout the decades of Cold War with the Soviet Union. If such total failure of the National Security State had really occurred, the White House and Congress would have been screaming for an investigation. People would have been held accountable for the long chain of security failures that allowed the plot to succeed. Instead, no one was even reprimanded, and the White House resisted all efforts for an investigation for a year. Finally, to shut up the 9/11 families, a 9/11 Commission was convened. The commission duly wrote down the government’s story and that was the “investigation.”
Moreover, there is no evidence to support the official conspiracy theory of 9/11. Indeed, all known evidence contradicts the official conspiracy theory.
For example, it is a proven fact that Building 7 came down at freefall acceleration, which means it was wired for demolition. Why was it wired for demolition? There is no official answer to this question.
It is the known evidence provided by scientists, architects, engineers, pilots, and the first responders who were in the twin towers and personally experienced the numerous explosions that brough down the towers that is described as a conspiracy theory.
The CIA introduced the term “conspiracy theory” into public discourse as part of its action plan to discredit skeptics of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Any explanation other than the one handed down, which is contradicted by all known evidence, was debunked as a conspiracy theory.
Conspiracy theories are the backbone of US foreign policy. For example, the George W. Bush regime was active in a conspiracy against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The Bush regime created fake evidence of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” sold the false story to a gullible world and used it to destroy Iraq and murder its leader. Similarly, Gaddafi was a victim of an Obama/Hillary conspiracy to destroy Libya and murder Gaddafi. Assad of Syria and Iran were slated for the same treatment until the Russians intervened.
Currently, Washington is engaged in conspiracies against Russia, China, and Venezuela. Proclaiming a non-existant “Iranian threat,” Washington put US missiles on Russia’s border and used the “North Korean threat” to put missiles on China’s border. The democratically elected leader of Venezuela is said by Washington to be a dictator, and sanctions have been put on Venezuela to help the small Spanish elite through whom Washington has traditionally ruled South American countries pull off a coup and reestablish US control over Venezuela.
Everyone is a threat:  Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Aghanistan, tribes in Pakistan, Libya, Russia, China, North Korea, but never Washington. The greatest conspiracy theory of our time is that Americans are surrounded by foreign threats. We are not even safe from Venezuela.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and the rest of the presstitutes are quick to debunk as conspiracy theories all explanations that differ from the explanations of the ruling interests that the presstitutes serve.
Yet, as I write and for some nine months to date, the presstitute media has itself been promoting the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was involved in a conspiracy with the president of Russia and Russian intelligence services to hack the US presidential election and place Trump, a Russian agent, in the White House.
This conspiracy theory has no evidence whatsoever. It doesn’t need evidence, because it serves the interests of the military/security complex, the Democratic Party, the neoconservatives, and permits the presstitutes to show lavish devotion to their masters. By endless repetition a lie becomes truth.
There is a conspiracy, and it is against the American people. Their jobs have been offshored in order to enrich the already rich. They have been forced into debt in a futile effort to maintain their living standards. Their effort to stem their decline by electing a president who spoke for them is being subverted before their eyes by an utterly corrupt media and ruling class.
Sooner or later it will dawn on them that there is nothing they can do but violently revolt. Most likely, by the time they reach this conclusion it will be too late. Americans are very slow to escape from the false reality in which they live. Americans are a thoroughly brainwashed people who hold tightly to their false life within The Matrix.
For the gullible and naive who have been brainwashed into believing that any explanation that differs from the officially-blessed one is a conspiracy theory, there are available online long lists of government conspiracies that succeeded in deceiving the people in order that the governments could achieve agendas that the people would have rejected.
If liberty continues to exist on earth, it will not be in the Western world. It will be in Russia and China, countries that emerged out of the opposite and know the value of liberty, and it will be in those South American countries, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia that fight for their sovereignty against American oppression.
Indeed, as historians unconcerned with their careers are beginning to write, the primary lesson in history is that governments deceive their peoples.
Everywhere in the Western world, government is a conspiracy against the people.

From Yves at Naked Capitalism:

Yves here. Notice how all the hysteria over evil Rooskies, North Korea, and neo-Nazis on the march has diverted media attention away from fights over economic issues? In Illinois, Governor Rauner is pushing through a scheme to curb funding to schools that is designed to hit lower property tax districts and Chicago particularly hard. Some schools may not be able to open. And this is the way to run a supposedly civilized country?
(By Jennifer Berkshire, the education editor at AlterNet and the co-host of a biweekly podcast on education in the time of Trump. Originally published at Alternet).
While the national education debate is largely focused on Betsy DeVos and school choice, the fiercest fights over the future of public education are playing out at the state level. This week, AlterNet begins a tour across the US to survey some of the biggest education battles. The first stop:  Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner, a conservative billionaire, seems determined to blow up the state’s schools. AlterNet education editor Jennifer Berkshire talks to Dusty Rhodes, an education reporter for NPR in Illinois, about the high-stakes school funding showdown that’s pitting the conservative billionaire Governor against the state’s public schools.
Jennifer Berkshire:  It seems like just weeks ago that we were cheering the fact that Illinois finally had a budget after two long years, during which the state’s higher education system nearly imploded. Help us understand what’s happening now.
Dusty Rhodes: We didn’t have a budget for two years, but the one thing they did fund was K-12 education. That’s because Bruce Rauner is the education governor and he cares very deeply about education, as he likes to remind us at his press conferences. When legislators overrode Rauner’s budget veto earlier this summer in a very dramatic fashion, Rauner’s response was to fire his top people and replace them with people from the Illinois Policy Institute, which is a right-wing think tank. The state’s payment to K-12 schools was due this week, and they’re going to miss it for the first time in Illinois’ history. We have a budget now. We just don’t have a way to fund public schools.
JB: In many ways what’s happening in Illinois is the same story that’s playing out across the industrial Midwest. Rauner and the Illinois Policy Institute don’t like taxes, unions and things with “public” in the name. But the showdown that’s playing out now is also about an ambitious, even inspiring, effort to make the way Illinois funds its schools more fair. Fill us in.
DR: This summer, lawmakers passed what’s called Senate Bill 1. A young Senator named Andy Manar from a little town called Bunker Hill in west central Illinois really led the effort. Picture the lawmaker most likely to be played by a young Jimmy Stewart in the movie version of all of this. Really what SB 1 is is way of quantifying what kind of resources a school needs and coming up with what’s called an adequacy formula for each district. Our current school funding formula just says “here’s how much it costs to educate a kid in Illinois:  $6,119.” Period. The current formula is also heavily dependent on property taxes property taxes, which means that areas with malls and fancy homes are able to spend considerably more on education. So we have a district that spends $32,000 a year per child and districts that spend $7000. This was Manar’s fourth attempt to try to make Illinois’ school funding system more fair. He’d tried every way you can think of and when SB1 passed, I was expecting a balloon drop. It was that euphoric.
JB: Alas, the movie version of Illinois’ school funding wars turns out to be more of a horror flick, complete with a Governor who some have nicknamed Governor Sauron after the bad guy in the Lord of the Rings. I’m going to close my eyes for this next part where you describe how Rauner used what’s called an amendatory veto to slash SB 1.
DR: When the Democrats finally sent Rauner the bill and he issued his amendatory veto,  what we call an AV, it was as though he did every mean thing he could think of to do to Chicago and then all these other school districts just suffer collateral damage. Chicago is infamous for its for TIFs (tax increment financing), so the Governor said ‘OK:  we’re going to recalculate everything as though those TIFs don’t exist.’ That has the effect of making Chicago seem much wealthier than it is. Lots of cities have TIFs, not just Chicago, while others are subject to property tax caps. When you think about who designates a TIF, it’s not a school district, it’s a municipality or a county. Those boundaries and school districts don’t necessarily overlap. The other thing that’s important here is that Rauner just sort of slipped in there that pension costs get shifted to local school districts for future hires. That just ends up piling inequity on top of inequity. What’s going to happen to those poor districts that are already struggling to spend $7,000 per student?
JB: I grew up in central Illinois so remember well hearing lawmakers rail against “Chicago.” Especially in rural parts of the state, throwing the ‘C’ word around was a way of invoking race without ever explicitly talking about race. Is that true with this fight over school funding?
DR:  Lawmakers don’t make it explicitly racist on the floor but a lot of people perceive that undertone.  The problem with Illinois is that it has one big city and so you can demonize that city for the rest of the state. The next biggest school district after Chicago is 1/10th the size of the Chicago Public Schools. So lawmakers stand up and say “this is a bail out of Chicago,” or “this is about pensions for teachers in Chicago” or refer to “extra funds” that are going to the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago gets a $250 million block grant, but over the years their enrollment has dropped. They are not adequately funded even with that. I have heard the governor’s education czar state that those funds have been audited and there is no indication that they’re being used for anything other than the education of children. Implying that somehow that Chicago is getting more than what it’s entitled to plays well downstate.

JB: It’s unclear at this point whether all of Illinois’ schools will be able to open. But the Governor is providing the state’s youngsters with a lesson in civics, not to mention parliamentary procedure. I’m referring, of course, to Rauner’s seeming ignorance about how many votes he’d need in order to make Operation Collateral Damage a reality.
DR: I think what happened was that when Rauner fired his staff and replaced them with right-wing think tankers, he got rid of all of the people who actually knew stuff.  In the press conference where he came out to announce his amendatory veto, it was a big deal. It was in the fancy part of his office and it was completely full of reporters and every TV station from Chicago was there. A reporter asked him how he thought he was going to get ⅗ of the vote on anything he was proposing, to which the Governor said ‘it only takes a simple majority.’ But he was wrong. It takes a super majority to concur and it takes a super majority to override. If you don’t have either of those, than the Governor’s action functions as a pure veto and the whole thing goes down in flames, meaning that schools go without funding. He didn’t know that. A reporter asked him:  shouldn’t your staff know this? Aren’t you scared that this whole thing could blow up? Rauner just blinked and blinked. 
JB: In the meantime, there’s also a proposal for a ginormous school voucher program on the table, one that make close to 70% of students in Illinois eligible for public funds to attend private schools. This week, WBEZ in Chicago broke a story about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicated in an email that he’d be “open” to the possibility of school vouchers. The Governor has also indicated that he wants a $100 million voucher program in exchange for his signature on the school funding bill.
DR: Vouchers aren’t part of SB1, nor are they mentioned in the Governor’s Amendatory Veto. So all that talk is happening behind closed doors. But Manar did indicate recently that negotiations have led up to the point of talking about “a signature and a trailer bill,” meaning that the Gov would sign SB1 if they also put up another bill stuffed with goodies, like vouchers. When I asked Republican Senator Jason Barickman, who serves on the Governor’s Education Funding Reform Commission, about vouchers, we got sidetracked about whether parochial schools are private schools. So, that kind of says something.

We may be living through one of those moments in history that future historians will look back on as a watershed, a period of flux that marked a transition to quite different economic and social arrangements. Unfortunately, in human history a ‘moment’ can be a very long time, so long that it could be decades before the final shape of the new arrangements are even evident; and in the interim, there could be many ‘dead cat bounces’ of the current system.
What is clear is that the established order – broadly defined as neoliberal globalised finance capitalism – is no longer capable of delivering on its promises of either growth or stability, even as it generates more inequality and insecurity across the world. In Marxist terms (as befitting the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital), the property relations under which production is organised have become fetters on the development of productive forces themselves, and generate more and more alienation. This may explain why, perhaps even more significantly, the system is also losing legitimacy in most countries, under attack from both right and left.
Whether we look at straws in the wind or green shoots in the ground, there is no doubt that there are incipient signs of change. But at this point there are many directions in which such change could go, and not all of them are progressive or even desirable. That is why it is important to get social and political traction for alternative trajectories that focus on more equitable, just, democratic and ecologically viable outcomes for most of humanity.
A Familiar Question
The question ‘what is your alternative?’ is a familiar one for most progressives, and too often we are overly defensive or self-critical about our supposed lack of alternatives. In truth, there are many economically-viable, socially-desirable alternative proposals in different contexts. The problem is not their lack of existence but their lack of political feasibility, and perhaps their lack of wider dissemination. But it is certainly true that the alternative does not consist of one over-arching theory (or even framework) that can subsume all others, since there are many good reasons for being sceptical of the days of the ‘grand theory’ that supposedly could take care of everything.
While rejecting the totalising theory, it is possible to think of a broad framework around which there could be much agreement, even among people who do not necessarily identify themselves as of the ‘left’, but are nevertheless dissatisfied with current economic arrangements at both national and international levels.
Much current discussion on economic strategies for global capitalism is framed around the financial crisis of 2007/8 and its continuing repercussions. But it does not really need a crisis to show us that the past strategy for growth and development has been flawed in most countries. Even during the previous boom, the pattern of growth had too many limitations, paradoxes and inherent fragilities. Everyone now knows that the economic boom was unsustainable, based on speculative practices that were enabled and encouraged by financial deregulation. It also drew rapaciously and fecklessly on natural resources, and it was deeply unequal. Contrary to general perception, most people in the developing world, even within the most successful region of Asia, did not gain. 
Global Transfers
The financial bubble in the US attracted savings from across the world, including from the poorest developing countries, so that for at least five years the global South transferred financial resources to the North. Developing country governments opened their markets to trade and finance, gave up on monetary policy and pursued fiscally ‘correct’ deflationary policies that reduced public spending. Development projects remained incomplete and citizens were deprived of the most essential socio-economic rights.
A net transfer of jobs from North to South did not take place. In fact, industrial employment in the South barely increased in the past decade, even in the ‘factory of the world’, China. Instead, technological change in manufacturing and new services meant that fewer workers could generate more output. Old jobs in the South were lost or became precarious and the majority of new jobs were fragile, insecure and low-paying, even in fast-growing China and India. The persistent agrarian crisis in the developing world hurt peasant livelihoods and generated global food problems. Rising inequality meant that the much-hyped growth in emerging markets did not benefit most people, as profits soared but wage shares of national income declined sharply.
Almost all developing countries adopted an export-led growth model, which in turn suppressed wage costs and domestic consumption in order to remain internationally competitive and achieve growing shares of world markets. This led to the peculiar situation of rising savings rates and falling investment rates (especially in several Asian countries) and to the holding of international reserves that were then placed in ‘safe’ assets abroad. This is why the boom that ended in 2007/8 was associated with the South (especially in developing Asia) subsidising the North:  through cheaper exports of goods and services, through net capital flows from developing countries to the US in particular, through flows of cheap labour in the form of short-term migration.
Profit-Led Costs
The collapse in Northern export markets that followed the recession brought that process to a halt, and recent moves towards more protectionist strategies in the US and elsewhere, as well as the persistent mercantilist approach of surplus-producing countries like Germany, have made it more difficult since then. In any case, such a strategy is unsustainable beyond a point, especially when a number of relatively large economies use it at the same time.
In this boom, domestic demand tended to be profit-led, based on high and growing profit shares in the economy and significant increases in the income and consumption of newly-globalised middle classes, which led to bullish investment in non-tradeable sectors such as financial assets and real estate as well as in luxury goods and services. The patterns of production and consumption that emerged meant that growth also involved rapacious and ultimately destructive exploitation of nature and the environment. The costs – in terms of excessive congestion, environmental pollution and ecological degradation – are already being felt, quite apart from the implications such expansion has on climate change.
There have been other negative impacts. Within developing Asia, for example, it led to an internal ‘brain drain’ with adverse implications for the future. The skewed structure of incentives generated by the explosive growth of finance directed the best young minds towards careers that promised quick rewards and large material gains rather than painstaking but socially necessary research and basic science. The impact of relocation of certain industries and the associated requirement for skilled and semi-skilled labour led to increased opportunities for educated employment, but it also led bright young people to enter work that is typically mechanical and does not require much originality or creativity, with little opportunity to develop their intellectual capacities.
At the same time, crucial activities were inadequately rewarded. Farming in particular became increasingly fraught with risk and subject to growing volatility and declining financial viability, while non-farm work did not increase rapidly enough to absorb the labour force even in the fastest growing economies of the region.
Restructuring Economic Relations
The boom was not stable or inclusive, either across or within countries. The subsequent slump (or ‘secular stagnation’) has been only too inclusive, forcing those who did not gain earlier to pay for the sins of irresponsible and unregulated finance. As economies slow down, more jobs are lost or become more fragile, insecure and vulnerable; and people, especially those in the developing world who did not gain from the boom, face loss of livelihood and deteriorating conditions of living. This is why it is so important that we restructure economic relations in a more democratic and sustainable way.
There are several necessary elements of this. Globally, most now recognise the need to reform the international financial system, which has failed to meet two obvious requirements:  preventing instability and crises, and transferring resources from richer to poorer economies. Not only have we experienced much greater volatility and propensity to financial meltdown across emerging markets and now even industrial countries, but even the periods of economic expansion were based on the global poor subsidising the rich.
Within national economies, this system has encouraged pro-cyclicality:  it has encouraged bubbles and speculative fervour rather than real productive investment for future growth. It has rendered national financial systems opaque and impossible to regulate. It has allowed for the proliferation of parallel transactions through tax havens and loose domestic controls. It has reduced the crucial developmental role of directed credit.
Given these problems, there is no alternative but systematic state regulation and control of finance. Since private players will inevitably attempt to circumvent regulation, the core of the financial system – banking – must be protected, and that is only possible through social ownership. Therefore, some degree of socialisation of banking (and not just the risks inherent in finance) is inevitable. In developing countries this is also important because it enables public control over the direction of credit, without which no country has industrialised.
Desirable – and Necessary
The obsessively export-oriented model that has dominated the growth strategy for the past few decades must be reconsidered. This is not a just a desirable shift – it has become a necessity given the obvious fact that the US and the EU are no longer engines of world growth through increasing import demand in the near future. This means that both developed and developing countries must seek to redirect their exports to other countries and most of all to redirect their economies towards more domestic demand. This requires a shift towards wage-led and domestic demand-led growth, particularly in the countries with economies large enough to sustain this shift. This can happen not only through direct redistributive strategies but also through public expenditure to provide more basic goods and services.
This means that fiscal policy and public expenditure must be brought back centre stage. Calls to end austerity are becoming more widespread in the developed world and will soon find their counterpart in developing countries. Clearly, fiscal stimulus is now essential, to cope with the adverse real-economy effects of the current crisis/stagnation and to prevent economic activity and employment from falling, and then to put good, quality employment on a stable footing. Fiscal expenditure is also required to undertake and promote investment to manage the effects of climate change and promote greener technologies. Public spending is crucial to advance the development project in the South and fulfil the promise of achieving minimally acceptable standards of living for everyone in the developing world.
Social and Economic Rights
Social policy – the public responsibility for meeting social and economic rights of citizens – contributes positively to both growth and development. This means especially the provision of universal good quality care services, funded by the state, with care workers properly recognised, remunerated and provided with decent working conditions. This also helps to reduce gender and other social inequalities generated by the imposition of unpaid care work, and has strong multiplier effects that allow for more employment increases over time and generate a ‘bubbling up’ of economic activity.
There must be conscious attempts to reduce economic inequalities, both between and within countries. We have clearly crossed the limits of what is ‘acceptable’ inequality in most societies, and policies will have to reverse this trend. Globally and nationally, we must reduce inequalities in income and wealth, and most significantly in the consumption of natural resources.
This is even more complicated than might be imagined because unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are deeply entrenched in richer countries and are aspired to in developing countries. But many millions of citizens of the developing world still have poor or inadequate access to the most basic conditions of decent life, such as electricity, transport and communication links, sanitation, health, nutrition and education. Ensuring universal provision across the global South will inevitably require greater per capita use of natural resources and more carbon-emitting production.
Both sustainability and equity therefore require a reduction of the excessive resource use of the rich, especially in developed countries but also among the elites in the developing world. This means that redistributive fiscal and other economic policies must be especially oriented towards reducing inequalities of resource consumption, globally and nationally. Within countries, for example, essential social and developmental expenditure can be financed by taxes that penalise resource-wasteful expenditure.
New Demand and Production
This requires new patterns of demand and production. It is why the present focus on developing new means of measuring genuine progress, well-being and quality of life are so important. Quantitative GDP growth targets, which still dominate the thinking of policy-makers, are not simply distracting from these more important goals but can be counterproductive.
For example, a chaotic, polluting and unpleasant system of privatised urban transport involving many vehicles and over-congested roads generates more GDP than a safe, efficient and affordable system of public transport that reduces congestion and provides a pleasant living and working environment. It is not enough to talk about ‘cleaner, greener technologies’ to produce goods that are based on the old and now discredited pattern of consumption. Instead, we must think creatively about consumption itself, and work out which goods and services are more necessary and desirable for our societies.
This cannot be left to market forces, since the international demonstration effect and the power of advertising will continue to create undesirable wants and unsustainable consumption and production. But public intervention in the market cannot be knee-jerk responses to constantly changing short-term conditions. Instead, planning – not in the sense of the detailed planning that destroyed the reputation of command regimes, but strategic thinking about the social requirements and goals for the future – is absolutely essential. Fiscal and monetary policies, as well as other forms of intervention, will have to be used to redirect consumption and production towards these social goals, to bring about such shifts in socially-created aspirations and material wants, and to reorganise economic life to be less rapacious and more sustainable.
Since state involvement in economic activity is now an imperative, we should be thinking of ways to make involvement more democratic and accountable within our countries and internationally. Large amounts of public money will be used for financial bailouts and to provide fiscal stimuli. How this is done will have huge implications for distribution, access to resources and living conditions of the ordinary people whose taxes will be paying for this. So it is essential that we design the global economic architecture to function more democratically. And it is even more important that states across the world, when formulating and implementing economic policies, are more open and responsive to the needs of the majority of their citizens.
International Framework
These are general points and obviously leave much to the specific contexts of individual countries and societies. But finally, we need an international economic framework that supports all this, which means more than just that capital flows must be controlled and regulated so that they do not destabilise these strategies.
The global institutions that form the organising framework for international trade, investment and production decisions need to change and become not only more democratic in structure but more genuinely democratic and people-oriented in spirit, intent and functioning. This is particularly the case with respect to the dissemination of knowledge, now privatised and concentrated thanks to the privileging of intellectual property rights. Financing for development and conservation of global resources must become the top priorities of the global economic institutions.
These proposals may seem like a tall order, but human history is replete with stories of major reversals of past trajectories and transformations that come when they are not expected and from directions that are unpredictable. What has been created and implemented by human agency can also be undone to bring in better alternatives. It may well be that the time is ripe in terms of greater social acceptance of such ideas and thoughts about how to refine and adapt them to particular contexts.

Originally published in the Red Pepper, August 6, 2017.

Why we are doomed in the short term (and don't even think about the long term after you comprehend how much you've lost in value during the last 40 years). (Click on figure to enlarge.)

Gross domestic product (GDP) has risen smartly since 2000, but the share of GDP going to wages and salaries has plummeted:  this is simply an extension of a 47-year downtrend.

Norma Desmond still ready for her closeup?


No further comment is needed.

And ending with a well-deserved (and long-expected) poisonous bite from someone with plenty of them to go around:

. . . a bit of Sméagol pathos before baring her Gollum teeth. But, yesterday, as per her 1.61 million follower Twitter account, (Ann) Coulter live-tweeted her ousting from an “extra room” seat on a Delta Airlines flight that she had paid for, and reserved well in advance of her flight. Coulter is a tall person — and to use the liberal-HR argot she professes to despise, this makes her a special needs air passenger. And anyone not of the right body size to help the airlines maximize their dollars-to-person seating knows what a relief that extra room can be. And then, Delta’s bookers decided they’d give Coulter’s seat away to someone else, and so they did.

A tiny bit of illicit joy in Mudville?